Facebook’s Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty

It’s almost the end of 2014 and Facebook has been repeatedly prompting its users to use its Facebook’s Year in Review feature in their feed. Facebook’s “Year in Review” feature creates a photo scrapbook montage automatically from your photos you’ve posted over the year with various festive, playful backgrounds in the background which you can post on Facebook with a default caption “It’s been a great year! Thanks for being a part of it.. ”

However, what if your year wasn’t so great?

Eric Meyer, web advocate and author of many books on CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) penned an excellent post “Inadvertent Algorithmic Cruelty” on Facebook’s repeated prompting on showing a picture of his daughter who passed away this year.

“This inadvertent algorithmic cruelty is the result of code that works in the overwhelming majority of cases, reminding people of the awesomeness of their years, showing them selfies at a party or whale spouts from sailing boats or the marina outside their vacation house.

But for those of us who lived through the death of loved ones, or spent extended time in the hospital, or were hit by divorce or losing a job or any one of a hundred crises, we might not want another look at this past year.

To show me Rebecca’s face and say “Here’s what your year looked like!” is jarring.  It feels wrong, and coming from an actual person, it would be wrong.  Coming from code, it’s just unfortunate.  These are hard, hard problems.  It isn’t easy to programmatically figure out if a picture has a ton of Likes because it’s hilarious, astounding, or heartbreaking.

Algorithms are essentially thoughtless.  They model certain decision flows, but once you run them, no more thought occurs.  To call a person “thoughtless” is usually considered a slight, or an outright insult; and yet, we unleash so many literally thoughtless processes on our users, on our lives, on ourselves…..

Read the full post by Eric Meyer
http://meyerweb.com/eric/thoughts/2014/12/24/inadvertent-algorithmic-cruelty/

Trinidadian and Tobagonians spend over $1billion US online via credit cards in past 2 years

(Photo Credit: http://www.morguefile.com/)

Central Bank Governor (of Trinidad and Tobago) Jwala Rambarran’s address at the 3rd Monetary Policy Forum on December 1 2014 highlighted the increasing use of credit cards for making online payments:

…..There was a time when shortfalls [in foreign exchange supply] would occur seasonally, close to Christmas and the hectic August travel period. Over the last two decades, demand for foreign exchange not only expanded but its composition has also changed to reflect new patterns of consumer spending, for example, use of credit cards for making online payments.

Today is now known as “Cyber-Monday” in the United States and many locals will flood US retailers’ websites from the comfort and warmth of their homes in Trinidad and Tobago thanks to the Internet, credit cards and US delivery addresses.

Foreign credit card purchases devoured US$570 million for the year so far. That excludes today’s Cyber-Monday sales and upcoming Christmas purchases.

Last year, foreign credit card payments consumed US$530 million.
That is more than US$1 billion spent foreign credit card purchases in just two years….

The Trinidad Express December 20 2014 article discusses this and describes the increasing number of freight forwarders and their increasing volume of packages they are bringing.

(Photo Credit: http://www.morguefile.com/)

 

Skype Translator Preview Program launches with English and Spanish spoken languages and over 40 instant messaging languages

Screenshot of Skype Translator Preview (credit: Skype Garage and Updates Blog (http://blogs.skype.com/category/garage-updates/)

 

From the Skype Blog:

“Today, we are excited to announce the first phase of the Skype Translator preview program. The preview program will kick-off with two spoken languages, Spanish and English, and 40+ instant messaging languages will be available to Skype customers who have signed-up via the Skype Translator sign-up page and are using Windows 8.1 on the desktop or device.”
There’s a video of the Skype Translator Preview in action
with two schools one in the US and one in Mexico having a real-time conversation in English and Spanish.
One can register for the Skype Translator Preview at http://www.skype.com/en/translator-preview/
A Skype Garage Blog Post goes into the technology behind Skype Translator , with an Infographic on how Skype Translator works
and video.

 

TTCS end of year lime on Wednesday December 17 2014 ; RSVP

pizza yum!

 

 

 

 

 

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society will be having its end of year pizza lime on Wednesday December 17 2014 from 6:30pm to 9pm at Kava Restaurant at Kapok Hotel.

Come join as we eat and chat about various ICT topics.

Anyone interested in computing and ICT are welcome to attend.

Please note that the contribution per person for this event is $150 TT.

RSVP to [email protected] as space is limited.

We look forward to seeing you.

Season Greetings!

Security updates available December 9 2014 for Adobe Reader and Acrobat for Windows & Macintosh

security-265130_640

 

Adobe has updated its Adobe Reader software (used to view PDF files) and Acrobat software for Windows and Macintosh to “address vulnerabilities that could cause a crash and potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system”.

Such vulnerabilities in Adobe Reader (and Acrobat) before December 9 2014 could allow for execution of unwanted code (typically installing malware or viruses/worms on your PC), without your consent just by opening a PDF.

The affected software versions of Adobe Reader and Acrobat are

  • Adobe Reader XI (11.0.09) and earlier 11.x versions
  • Adobe Reader X (10.1.12) and earlier 10.x versions
  • Adobe Acrobat XI (11.0.09) and earlier 11.x versions
  • Adobe Acrobat X (10.1.12) and earlier 10.x versions

Read Adobe’s security bulletin dated December 9 2014 at http://helpx.adobe.com/security/products/reader/apsb14-28.html for instructions on how to update Adobe Reader and Acrobat.

 

Adobe releases critical security update for Adobe Flash Player for Windows, MacOS X & Linux (December 9 2014)

Adobe Flash Player logo
Adobe Flash Player logo

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adobe has posted a critical security update for Adobe Flash Player on December 9 2014 for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

According to the Adobe Security Bulletin dated December 9 2014:

Adobe has released security updates for Adobe Flash Player for Windows, Macintosh and Linux. These updates address vulnerabilities that could potentially allow an attacker to take control of the affected system. Adobe recommends users update their product installations to the latest versions

So update ASAP!

The latest versions bumps the latest version of Flash Player for Windows and Mac OS X to version 16.

To determine what version of the Adobe Flash player you have on your Windows, Macintosh or Linux system, visit http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/

To download the latest version of Adobe Flash Player without any adware or bundled third party offers, visit
http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/distribution3.html

Windows users should note that the Flash Player in Microsoft Internet Explorer v9 and earlier versions of Internet Explorer and the Flash player in web browsers like Opera, Mozilla Firefox and Safari are separate installs.
You should install and update both versions of Adobe Flash.

For Internet Explorer v10 and Internet Explorer v11 (for users for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows 8), these browsers have Adobe Flash Player built-in and users should update their Internet Explorer browser versions.

Google Chrome browser users has Adobe Flash Player built-in and users should update the Google Chrome browser to the latest version. See https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95414 on how to do so.

Adobe releases 2nd critical security update for Adobe Flash Player for Windows, MacOS X & Linux (November 25 2014)

Adobe Flash Player logo
Adobe Flash Player logo

Adobe has posted a 2nd critical security update for Adobe Flash Player in November 2014 for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux.

According to the Adobe Security Bulletin dated November 25 2014:

Adobe has released security updates for Adobe Flash Player for Windows, Macintosh and Linux.  These updates provide additional hardening against CVE-2014-8439, which was mitigated in the October 14, 2014 release (reference http://helpx.adobe.com/security/products/flash-player/apsb14-22.html)

So update ASAP!

To determine what version of the Adobe Flash player you have on your Windows, Macintosh or Linux system, visit http://www.adobe.com/software/flash/about/

To download the latest version of Adobe Flash Player without any adware or bundled third party offers, visit
http://www.adobe.com/products/flashplayer/distribution3.html

Windows users should note that the Flash Player in Microsoft Internet Explorer v9 and earlier versions of Internet Explorer and the Flash player in web browsers like Opera, Mozilla Firefox and Safari are separate installs.
You should install and update both versions of Adobe Flash.

For Internet Explorer v10 and Internet Explorer v11 (for users for Windows 7 Service Pack 1 and Windows 8), these browsers have Adobe Flash Player built-in and users should update their Internet Explorer browser versions.

Google Chrome browser users has Adobe Flash Player built-in and users should update the Google Chrome browser to the latest version. See https://support.google.com/chrome/answer/95414 on how to do so.