Windows Performance, Facebook, Google Chrome, More: Friday Afternoon Buzz, January 12, 2018


DarkReading: Microsoft Confirms Windows Performance Hits with Meltdown, Spectre Patches. “Microsoft in a blog post today confirmed that Windows servers will experience noticeable performance slowdowns, as will Windows 7 and 8 client machines running older processors (2015-timeframe PCs with Haswell or older CPUs). While newer Windows 10 platforms won’t experience perceptible performance drops, those on older hardware will.”

New York Times: Facebook Overhauls News Feed to Focus on What Friends and Family Share. “Facebook has introduced sweeping changes to the kinds of posts, videos and photos that its more than two billion members will see most often, saying on Thursday that it would prioritize what their friends and family share and comment on while de-emphasizing content from publishers and brands.”

Alphr: Google is removing Chrome’s ‘supervised users’ parental controls. ” In a frustrating blow for parents everywhere, Chrome’s ‘supervised users’ feature is being phased out only four years after it was launched, according to an email sent to users of the feature.”

Recode: Facebook is testing a new section of the app specifically for local news and events. “Facebook wants to make it easier for people to find local news from vetted sources. The social network is testing a new section inside its app called ‘Today In,’ a feed made up entirely of local news, events and announcements.”


Wired: When It Comes To Gorillas, Google Photos Remains Blind. “IN 2015, A black software developer embarrassed Google by tweeting that the company’s Photos service had labeled photos of him with a black friend as ‘gorillas.’ Google declared itself ‘appalled and genuinely sorry.’ An engineer who became the public face of the clean-up operation said the label gorilla would no longer be applied to groups of images, and that Google was ‘working on longer-term fixes.’ More than two years later, one of those fixes is erasing gorillas, and some other primates, from the service’s lexicon. The awkward workaround illustrates the difficulties Google and other tech companies face in advancing image-recognition technology, which the companies hope to use in self-driving cars, personal assistants, and other products.” The comments (I don’t recommend reading them) miss the point: if Google and other tech companies want to deploy AI for every last thing, it absolutely cannot wallpaper over problematic results simply by censoring the words that are causing the problems.

Bloomberg Quint: Google Is Said to Plan Vetting of YouTube Premium Videos. “Google is planning a new push to vet top-tier YouTube videos that it bundles for major advertisers, people familiar with the effort said, moving to address resurgent concerns that inappropriate content is being shown alongside brand messages.”


Reuters: Researchers find pop-up porn malware on Google game apps. “Security firm Check Point on Friday said it had discovered new malicious software on 60 gaming apps available to both children and adults at Google Play Store that displayed pornographic ads and tried to trick users into buying premium services.”

Krebs on Security: Microsoft’s Jan. 2018 Patch Tuesday Lowdown. "Microsoft on Tuesday released 14 security updates, including fixes for the Spectre and Meltdown flaws detailed last week, as well as a zero-day vulnerability in Microsoft Office that is being exploited in the wild. Separately, Adobe pushed a security update to its Flash Player software."


Phys .org: Research finds social media users actually calm down. “Contrary to conventional wisdom, people tend to wind down rather than whip themselves into a frenzy while browsing Facebook and Twitter, according to a prize-winning dissertation by a newly minted Ph.D. from UC Berkeley’s School of Information.”


Hyperallergic: Zoom Through European Art History in An Endless Vortex of Paintings. “Take a wondrous and slightly nauseating journey through western art history in a new video by Alexander Mordvintsev, which uses machine learning to create an endless vortex of paintings that zoom into one another. A software engineer at Google, Mordvintsev created DeepDream, a computer vision program that uses neural networks to interpret and generate new, often creepy images.” Good afternoon, Internet…

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