Good Monday morning. It’s December 30th. There are only two more days until our Roaring Twenties begin. Wednesday is also when California’s Consumer Privacy Act takes effect. Organizations that earn at least $25 million in annual revenue or that retain information for 50,000 or more consumers or households have new rules to follow. And you will keep getting email notices this week from those companies advising you that their privacy policies have changed. As with the European GDPR privacy launch 19 months ago, those emails will stop soon.
Today’s Spotlight takes about 4 minutes to read. Want to chat about something you see here? Here is a contact form.
1. News To Know Now
1. Microsoft will no longer support Windows 7 as of January 14. That matters to everyone because there are up to one billion computers with Windows 7 still installed, they are going to become less reliable, and they will be great hacking and virus targets for the ten year old operating system. I’ve seen dozens of messages in the last week from people who insist that they won’t upgrade — even for free. Good luck with that if you’re one of them.
How Many PCs are Still Running Windows 7 at ZDNet
You Can Still Get Windows 10 for Free at How-To Geek
How to Move on or Keep Living With Windows 7 — Tom’s Hardware
2. News broke last week that Chinese government hackers can breach a system with two-factor authentication (2FA). That includes servers containing sensitive information or controlling traffic signals, power plants, and more. The hackers still need to get to the servers in question, usually through a phishing or password cracking attempt. The bigger issue is their ability to fake the code that is sent to a mobile phone or similar physical device check.
Smart links: ZDNet broke the story, the 40 page report as PDF
3. Facebook is piloting a fact-checking program of part-time contractors who are ‘ordinary people’, reports Axios. The company reportedly wants to feature work done by regular individuals instead of trained researchers as a way of creating a higher threshold. Axios also reported that Facebook and Reuters are teaming up to offer a free 45 minute class on how individuals can spot “manipulated media and deepfakes.”
2. Amazon Delivery
Amazon made a lot of money this month. The company reports that tens of millions of its devices were sold worldwide this holiday season. Consumers also began five million new or trial Amazon Prime memberships, the company stated in a December 26 report.
Amazon delivery statistics caught the attention of many analysts. Amazon said that the company and its contractors delivered 3.5 billion packages during 2019, more than half of what UPS delivered. Critics say that the company reached that volume by skipping planned driver training and requiring unrealistic productivity, which are similar to complaints lodged about conditions in Amazon’s distribution centers where items are stored and packed.
Drivers reach productivity goals by skipping meal breaks and urinating in bottles stored in their trucks to save time, according to an expose by Pro Publica and BuzzFeed. Amazon is ramping up its logistics capabilities by outsourcing to small companies that handle between twenty and forty routes.
Dozens of these subcontractors are not in compliance with Amazon standards and rules. The report also alleges that at least 60 collisions have occurred with serious personal injuries. The scale at which Amazon delivery has grown has also required the company to write guidelines for how to address deaths that occur after collisions with Amazon delivery vehicles.
Three U.S. Senators signed a letter in September asking Amazon for more information regarding its delivery practices. After receiving the company’s response, Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called Amazon’s answers “evasive” and demanded that the company “throw open the books” to lawmakers.
3. Google Search Updates
Your organization’s website has a source of “primary content” that you can’t edit. Coverage of a Twitter conversation this month by Search Engine Roundtable included the statement by Googler John Mueller that Google uses public comments to help rank a website’s content.
Google can also help you remember upcoming movies. 9 to 5 Google reports that mobile users can now choose a “Watched It?” checkmark to track movies they’ve seen. There is also a “Watchlist” feature that will allow you to store the names of movies you would like to see.
Don’t forget that we publish a free weekly newsletter that updates Netflix DVD and streaming release dates. We also include information about many Amazon Prime Video dates and even some Canadian data. We pioneered this category of information way back in 2011 and have published steadily since then. You can always see the latest movie dates at our Everything Netflix page.
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4. Debugged: Plant Based Burgers & Breasts
The good folks at Tri-State Livestock News claim that men might grow breasts after eating Burger King’s new Impossible Whopper. The claim, made without evidence, is a good example of how inaccurate news can be passed around via official-looking sources. Understanding information’s original source is critical.
For the record, men already have breasts, and eating too many of any kind of burger will cause them to grow larger.
Ars Technica debunks this one.
5. Also in the Spotlight: Spotify Stops Political Ads
Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders and the Republican National Committee are two advertisers that will soon say goodbye to Spotify. The music streaming giant has 141 million users on its ad-supported tier and will stop accepting political advertising soon. Sanders and the RNC are its two highest profile political advertisers.
6. Great Data: Annotated Animations
No one is going to criticize your data if you add helpful annotations. This short video of Moore’s Law visualized over time makes great use of short annotations that appear among the techspeak throughout its runtime.
Moore’s Law states the number of components per integrated circuit would double every year. The animation explains the principle, debunks a popular misquote, and explains other technically advanced information as it also reports on the data.
Have a look at Visual Capitalist’s video here.
7. Protip: Share Notes Between Your Chrome Devices
The new version of Google’s Chrome browser features an easy-peasy way to transfer links and notes between your phone and a computer or tablet.
Lifehacker has the helpful details.
8. Following Up: Hackers Release Pensacola Files
Two weeks ago, we told you that the Pensacola, Florida, government was a ransomware victim. The hackers behind the attack demanded $1 million to release the network. The group published two gigabytes of files last Monday and claim that they have ten times that amount in reserve.
Bleeping Computer says that they’re in touch with the hackers.
9. ICYMI — Top links from the past 30 days
Tracking President Trump (via cellphone data) at the New York Times.
Deep Sea visualization showing where creatures live at Neal.fun
RFK, Jr. is Single Largest Anti-Vax Advertiser at Ars Technica
10. Coffee Break: Deer Scores Goal, Celebrates
There were about 55 hours remaining in the year when I typed this. Lots of people will share resolutions and greetings over the next two days.
My wish for you is that you are as happy in the coming year as this deer who scored a goal with a soccer ball and then celebrated.