Billboard Touts New York As Refuge From Silicon Valley Tech Culture

New York City, home of Wall Street, the mafia’s Five Families, Donald Trump, Martin Shkreli and Harvey Weinstein, is also home to a burgeoning technology industry. Thanks to a recent string of notable tech startups, an influx of venture investment, and some heavy cheerleading from former Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Big Apple is now second only to Silicon Valley in terms of venture capital raised by startups.

But now, with a backlash growing toward the tech industry’s overwhelming power and wealth, one New Yorker is trying to capitalize on the opportunity. Andrew Rasiej, founder of New York-based community organization Civic Hall, has purchased a billboard on US 101, the main thoroughfare connecting San Francisco with Silicon Valley. Rasiej’s message, nestled among signs recruiting techies to join startups with goofy names, is that New York City is more pious than Silicon Valley. “I’m frustrated as #%*&! in Silicon Valley,” reads a portion of the billboard designed to look like a text message. “WeWantYouIn.NYC,” reads the response.

At first glance, the billboard appears to be an effort of New York political or business leaders. But Rasiej says he purchased the billboard on his own out of frustration over the way the entire tech industry gets lumped in with Silicon Valley. “I don’t want New York to be associated with Silicon Valley and the culture of Silicon Valley,” he says. “I want to make sure people know there is a very clear distinction between the way New York’s tech community thrives, acts, and thinks of itself.” A spokesperson for the New York City Economic Development Council confirms the city had no involvement in the billboard, but says it is “proud to have built a unique and truly diverse tech ecosystem in New York City.”

Rasiej describes himself on his website as a “civic and social entrepreneur,” and technology strategist. In addition to Civic Hall, he also co-founded Civic Hall Labs, which works on technology pilots to serve the public interest. In an essay on WeWantYouIn.NYC, Rasiej lists the tech industry’s evils (Privacy invasions! Online harassment! Unethical AI! Wealth disparity! A lack of diversity!) and declares that the industry’s response to such problems has been “meager, ineffective and self-serving.” Rasiej says New York is more capable of shifting the industry away from those problems.

He cites the city’s diverse population and more diverse economy, and the city’s many meetups of technologists as reasons. Further, “New York City is more empathetic than Silicon Valley,” he writes, because of its “social change sector” and a handful of companies that have “human equity-first” values. Rasiej also argues New York doesn’t look for unicorn startups with billion-dollar valuations. (Except, of course, it does.)

Rasiej namechecks a few of the many Bay Area philanthropists and organizations dedicated to good causes before concluding that those efforts fall short. He also concedes that New York’s tech companies might have some of the same problems as their Bay Area counterparts.

Since unveiling the billboard Tuesday night, Rasiej says the response has been mostly positive. His site has a form that allows people who agree with him to sign their names in solidarity. It had accumulated around 100 names as of Wednesday morning.

UPDATE, 8pm: This story has been updated to include comments from the New York City Economic Development Council.

Tim Cook touts the future of AR, says the technology isn’t there yet for AR glasses

During his current trip in Europe, Apple’s Tim Cook sat down with The Independent for a wide-ranging interview. The primary focus of the talk was on ARKit and how Apple has implemented it in iOS and where else it augmented reality could be useful…

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Cook explained that one of the biggest benefits of the iOS ecosystem is how Apple can do the “heavy lifting” by building a framework like ARKit, and then letting developers implement it throughout their apps.

“The way that you get lots of great ideas is for us to do the heavy lifting of the complexity of locational things and software, and put those in the operating system,” says Cook. “And then you have all the developers that are able to put their energy into their passion.”

The ecosystem further helps Apple when in competing with other smartphone manufacturers, Greg Joswiack says:

“Our competitors are trying to mimic what we’ve done,” says Greg Joswiack, Apple’s vice president for iOS, iPad and iPhone marketing. “But they just don’t have that scale we bring to it.”

Cook also noted that Apple has an advantage in that it controls both the hardware and the software o the iPhone, a level of control that competitors don’t have:

That gives Apple an especially strong position because its competitors “don’t control the hardware and software”, Cook says. “It goes to what Apple is about – the integration of those two things, with the App Store on the server side. I think it’s going to be hard for other folks.”

The conversation then shifted primarily to augmented reality in general. Cook likened AR’s affect to that of the App Store, saying that it will be just as “dramatic” as the App Store was for mobile technology. The Apple CEO also noted of how ARKit become “the largest AR platform” instantly because of the existing iPhone user base.

“If it were on a different device then you would never have a commercial opportunity, and without the commercial opportunity you’d never have 15 million people that say, ‘I want to design my passion with AR’.”

By putting it on iPhone, Apple was able to “instantly overnight become the largest AR platform”, Cook says.

Cook also vaguely addressed the rumors that Apple is building a pair of augmented reality glasses, saying that the technology to create such a product isn’t there yet, while noting that Apple doesn’t care about being first.

“But today I can tell you the technology itself doesn’t exist to do that in a quality way. The display technology required, as well as putting enough stuff around your face – there’s huge challenges with that.

“The field of view, the quality of the display itself, it’s not there yet,” he says. And as with all of its products, Apple will only ship something if it feels it can do it “in a quality way”.

“We don’t give a rat’s about being first, we want to be the best, and give people a great experience,” he says. “But now anything you would se on the market any time soon would not be something any of us would be satisfied with. Nor do I think the vast majority of people would be satisfied.”

Snap’s Evan Spiegel touts first year Spectacles sales, using the iPod as a comparison

Speaking at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit this afternoon, Snap CEO Evan Spiegel touted how many units of the Snapchat Spectacles the company has sold. Spiegel said the company has sold around 150,000 of the camera glasses during the first year of availability – a number he’s proud of based on first year iPod sales (via CNBC).

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Spiegel, speaking to famed biographer Walter Isaacson, explained that sales figures exceeded initial expectations internally. Isaacson, however, pressed harder on the idea that Spectacles weren’t catching on like Snap had hoped.

The Snap CEO, however, argued that the company is proud of its first year with Spectacles and used the iPod for reference. Apple sold around 143,000 units during the first full year of the iPod’s availability, and Spiegel said the goal from the start was to sell at least 100,000 pairs of Spectacles.

“It’s out-sold our expectation. We’ve sold over 150,000 units,”  Spiegel said. “Our goal was, if we can sell 100,000, then at least people are open to trying a new way to make memories.”

Spiegel’s comparison to the iPod is certainly a bold one as the iPod has gone on to sell more than 300 million units in its lifetime. The Snap CEO, however, is convinced Spectacles have a viable future and teased that there are “so many things” coming for the glasses.

He also touched on Snap’s decision to go public earlier this year in the interview, a move that some have questioned given the company’s performance:

“I think investors are fearful, and fear is a powerful motivator – they’re fearful we’ll never be profitable, or they’re fearful that competition will kill us or something like that,” Spiegel said.

“But I think those are kind of normal fears for any start-up – and the really successful companies just grow through that. And that’s why we’ve just tried to stay focused on the business this year and execute and deliver results.”

Snap has been expanding its horizons over recent months and is attempting to turn itself into a full-fledged camera company rather than a simple social network. Whether or not that works, however, remains to be seen.


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Samsung Touts Brand Vision, ‘Team Of Rivals’ Approach 06/23/2017

CANNES, FRANCE — It is easier to herd cats than to get
agencies to work together. Yet two years ago, Pio Schunker joined Samsung with a vision to reshape the brand by creating a “team of rivals” with Leo Burnett, Turner Duckworth. R/GA, Ogilvy, and Cheil
Worldwide.

“Sometimes, you have a take bold action when bold action is the last thing you want to do,” says Schunker during a presentation at Cannes Thursday, featuring Leo Burnett’s Mark
Tutssel, Turner Duckworth’s David Turner, R/GA’s Nick Law, while Ogivily’s Tham Khai Meng and Cheil Worldwide’s Malcolm Poynton chimed in with pre-recorded videos.

At first, these agencies
weren’t excited about this collaboration.  Their basic attitude was You don’t get to be the best in our field by compromising.

Samsung, however, appealed to them to be “something bigger
than they all were.”  According to Schunker, “This wasn’t about just creating a great brand campaign, but creating a brand vision with a great product” along with an outstanding
campaign. 

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Allowing agencies to develop their own concepts was like letting them loose in a toy store, said Tutssel, whose agency served as creative lead. “Everything looks different but
similar.”

Leo Burnett set the overall guidelines, including that Samsung’s blue would regress into the background in favor of a bold black and white palate. The design principles were “bold,
engineering, innovative and inviting,” says Tutssel.

Leo Burnett directed the other agencies to channel “their energy into ideas rather than logos or typeface.” The initial launch was
widely successful. In one particularly challenging market, India, Samsung vastly improved brand metrics as result of the campaign.

Just when everything went right, it all went wrong.

Samsung’s exploding batteries forced the company to issue massive recalls and hold press conferences. Samsung took a big hit on trust, reputation, positive sentiment and sales. “How would you
feel?” asks Tutssel. “What would you do?”

Samsung and its team of agencies recovered by demonstrating the resiliency of the brand. They developed ads that illustrated the product process and
people.

Then, agencies started work on the next edition S8 design. The phone design itself hadn’t really changed, but the device’s function evolved into becoming a content viewing machine.

Tutssel remembers November 2, 2016 vividly. “It was a blood bath.” The agencies brought their strategy to the client who rejected everything. “All creative work died.”

However, one little
idea that didn’t get killed was that the top and bottom edges of the phone resemble like brackets, says Tutssel. This glimmer was the only concept that proved to potentially have value. The agencies
then went back to work to further expand on this insight. It worked. The brackets fueled the entire S8 campaign by freeing phones from being “[Confined].”

Samsung sought to find an iconic
brand message similar to Nike’s “Find Your Greatness.” Rejected taglines included “Hello Progress,” “Make Progress” and “Defy Barriers.” “Once we shifted our focus to the consume,r we finally hit the
nail on the head,” says Tutssel. “Do what you can’t.”

Microsoft Touts Windows 10 ‘Creators Update’ Ransomware Protections — Redmondmag.com

News

Microsoft Touts Windows 10 ‘Creators Update’ Ransomware Protections

Microsoft has published details about how the Windows 10 “creators update” (version 1703, released in April) provides protection against ransomware, including last month’s infamous “WannaCrypt” (or “WannaCry”) ransomware outbreak.

Windows 10 machines weren’t subject to the WannaCry ransomware outbreak, according to Microsoft’s 13-page retrospective article, announced here. WannaCry took advantage of an exploit in Microsoft’s long-outdated Server Message Block 1 (SMB 1) Windows protocol to proliferate across networks, using purported U.S. National Security Agency attack code. Exploiting the SMB 1 flaw wasn’t a typical ransomware strategy, but it did cause havoc across networks, such as the U.K.’s National Health Service hospitals and other institutions around the world. Ransomware more typically spreads via e-mail attachments, as well as Web sites that run malicious code.

Windows 7 Was Targeted
Early reports about the WannaCry outbreak had suggested that unsupported Windows operating systems, such as Windows XP, were primarily subject to the attack. Microsoft, though, offered a different view. Only users of Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 systems that lacked a March security patch (MS17-010) were subject to the WannaCry attack, according to Microsoft’s article:

Windows 10 customers emerged unscathed in the aftermath of the WannaCrypt attack. The exploit used by the ransomware was meant to work only against unpatched Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 systems. More importantly, however, Windows 10 has built-in security technologies that can help defend against WannaCrypt.

However, unpatched Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 systems that used the Microsoft Security Essentials antimalware program (now called “Windows Defender Antivirus”) were still protected against the WannaCry attack, according to Microsoft. Those antimalware solutions use signals from “billions of downloads, web pages, emails and endpoints” to detect new malware. This approach, referred to as the Microsoft “Intelligent Security Graph,” blocks about “99.992%” of malware, the article claimed.

Windows 10 Creators Update Protections
The article claimed that Windows 10 version 1703, the creators update, has specific protections for fending off malware attacks. For instance, Windows Defender has a new behavior in which it will suspend a suspicious file and run it though a “controlled detonation chamber” service to check for malware. Windows Defender uses an Antimalware Scan Interface technology in the creators update to detect when JavaScript or Visual Basic script is “downloading and executing a ransomware payload.”

Microsoft also touted protections in its Edge browser in the Windows 10 creators update. Pages are opened in “container sandboxes” as a protection against malicious content. Browser downloads are checked against a reputation-checking service. Users also have control over whether Flash-based content can run on a Web site they visit, which Microsoft sees as potential protection against ransomware.

“This [Flash control] can stop ransomware infections that automatically start with malformed Flash objects that exploit vulnerabilities in the Adobe software,” Microsoft’s article claimed.

Some of the protections may require using an upper-end product version of Windows 10 or subscribing to an additional service. Security is a large part of Microsoft’s upsell practices.

For instance, the Windows 10 creators update also supports Device Guard, a Windows 10 Enterprise edition feature. Device Guard is white-list protection scheme that lets organizations specify policies such that only trusted applications can run. It applies the white list to browser plug-ins and add-ins as well.

Device Guard uses CPU hardware virtualization technologies to protect against bad drivers or system files, too. However, tapping that capability requires having specific CPU virtualization technologies in place (AMD-V or Intel VT-x technologies), along with firmware that supports second-level address translation (SLAT) technology.

Microsoft also claimed that its Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection service, a post-breach analysis service, is enhanced with the Windows 10 creators update to more quickly identify ransomware. Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection is sold as a separate service for enterprises, though. It’s not the same thing as Windows Defender Antivirus, which is a “real-time” antimalware solution that’s included with all Windows 10 versions.

Researcher Views
In a proof-of-concept study, Albuquerque, N.M.-based security research firm RiskSense tested Windows 10 x64 Version 1511, first released in November 2015, to check if it’s still possible to use the leaked hacking code against it. The study, “EternalBlue: Exploit Analysis and Port to Microsoft Windows 10,” available here, described version 1511 (code-named “Threshold 2”) as the last potentially vulnerable version of Windows 10 for this particular exploit, although there are workaround protections for it.

In contrast, there are no workarounds to protect older Windows versions, according to the RiskSense report.

“Unfortunately, there are no working mitigations for Microsoft Windows Server 2003 (XP), Server 2008 (Vista/7), or Server 2012 (8/8.1),” the report stated. “While certain versions do have mitigations enabled, the mitigations in place have straightforward workarounds.”

RiskSense made changes to the exploit code as part of its proof-of-concept test. Such “porting” of the code is still a possibility, the security firm warned.

“This research confirms that porting the original exploit to more versions of Microsoft Windows, while difficult, is not an impossible feat,” the study concluded.

About the Author


Kurt Mackie is senior news producer for the 1105 Enterprise Computing Group.