Good Monday Morning

It’s September 25th. Spotlight is off next week and back with you on October 9th.

Today’s Spotlight is 892 words — about 3 1/2 minutes to read.

3 Stories to Know

1. Wirecutter revoked its endorsement of Wyze security cameras after a breach allowed some users to access live video from other users’ cameras. The NYT feature criticized Wyze’s communications and security measures, urging the company to be proactive, accountable, and transparent.

2. Meta will allow Facebook users to create up to four additional personal profiles, embracing the “finsta” concept. Aimed at separating personal and professional lives, these extra profiles come with limitations, including no support for Messenger, Facebook Dating, or Marketplace.

3. Amid ongoing scrutiny for throttling competitor links, X — formerly Twitter — faces further turbulence as Elon Musk announced plans for a “small monthly payment” to combat bots. X is taking up to 100 times longer to load links to competitors such as Facebook and Substack, according to an analysis by The Markup.

Spotlight on The Illusion of Ownership

Think you own that eBook? Think again.

In a digital world, ownership and licensing blur; from Amazon’s ads to George R.R. Martin’s lawsuit against OpenAI, buckle up as we explore the shifting landscape.


  • Ads in Amazon Prime Video: Settling in for movie night? Expect ads in your ‘ad-free’ Amazon Prime Video next year. Still feel like you own that movie?
  • E-Books That Change: Hitting “buy” often means renting. Your e-books can be edited or vanish without notice.
  • Authors vs. AI: George R.R. Martin and other authors are suing ChatGPT maker OpenAI for using their work without permission. Critical: Who owns the AI-generated content?
  • Movies That Disappear: Ever lose an ‘owned‘ digital movie? Platforms can lose licensing rights, and your copy can vanish. Refunds aren’t guaranteed.

What we think of as “ownership” is often just a changeable lease, but artists, writers, and musicians are taking matters into their own hands.

  • High-Profile Cases: Author George R.R. Martin isn’t only dealing with the Iron Throne; he’s also in a legal fight with OpenAI over the use of his work to train its large language models. He’s not alone; creators are suing tech companies for using their work without permission.
  • Hollywood Writers’ Strike: Writers have been on strike for 5 months, demanding fair streaming revenue and protection against AI job loss.

Lawsuits and strikes could change the game. Imagine a future where your favorite author’s new book isn’t online due to a legal dispute, or your curated music playlist vanishes. These battles impact what you can and can’t do with content you think you own.

In a world where digital ‘ownership’ is an illusion, stay informed and question what you’re really getting when you press ‘buy.’ The landscape is shifting — stay vigilant.

Practical AI

Quotable“I think we’re still a way away from: ‘ChatGPT, please write a Wikipedia entry about the Empire State Building’, but I don’t know how far away we are from that, certainly closer than I would have thought two years ago,”

—Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales to The Evening Standard

Indeed on Job Futures: Indeed’s “AI at Work Report” finds that GenAI will impact nearly every U.S. job, with software development roles most vulnerable and driving jobs least exposed. The report analyzed 55 million job postings to assess the reach of GenAI. 

Tool of the Week: YouTube is rolling out new tools that include an AI-generated image or video background tool for YouTube Shorts, a mobile editing app, and an automatic dubbing tool to create content in multiple languages.\

 Did That Really Happen — Immigrants Pay Taxes, Rent

AP Fact Check debunks new viral claims on Instagram and X that immigrants in the U.S. don’t pay taxes or rent, clarifying that many immigrants, including those undocumented, contribute to tax revenue and pay for housing. 

Also an issue: claims of 18 million unauthorized immigrants when experts put the actual number 40% lower.

Following Up — Passkeys Spread

1Password is rolling out passkey support for its web browser extension, enhancing security features we’ve previously covered. The update allows users to generate unique, secure keys for each site, improving overall account safety. Those passkeys can be accessed by PIN, fingerprint, or face scan — removing the need for passwords.

Protip — Transfer to an iPhone 15

CNET offers a step-by-step guide on transferring your data to Apple’s new iPhone 15. The article covers everything from iCloud backups to direct device-to-device transfers.

Screening Room — Father Knows Best-ish

Science Fiction World — Make All the Lights

An Audi technology known as Traffic Light Information advises drivers on the optimal speed to hit all green lights. The Autopian wonders why this feature isn’t more widely discussed, given its potential to improve driving efficiency. Wouldn’t you drive a certain speed to miss red lights?

Coffee Break — Hidden Spotify Game

Spotify’s mobile app has a hidden snake game. The Easter egg is called “Eat this Playlist,” and the game includes cover art from your playlist’s tracks.

Sign of the Times

Good Monday Morning

It’s September 18th. Happy National Cheeseburger Day. Wendy’s will sell you one for a penny today, while McDonald’s has double cheeseburgers for fifty cents. Details.

Today’s Spotlight is 822 words — about 3 minutes to read.

3 Stories to Know

1. A critical flaw in a code library for web images is being actively exploited. The vulnerability affects major browsers like Chrome and Firefox. Users should update their browsers immediately to apply auto-updating security fixes. Check for updates via Help > About in your browser’s setting or options.

2. Ransomware group ALPHV managed to infiltrate MGM Grand’s network by posing as an employee and having the company’s help desk reset a password. The $34 billion company has locations in multiple states.

3. Crocs subsidiary Hey Dude agreed to a $1.95 million fine from the FTC for suppressing negative customer reviews and violating shipping regulations. The case, similar to a prior FTC action against Fashion Nova, is pending federal court approval. 

Midjourney 5.4, prompted by George Bounacos

Spotlight on Google’s Trial


In the latest chapter of U.S. Big Tech trials — following AT&T, IBM, and Microsoft—Google stands accused of monopolizing online search and advertising.

At issue: Google’s $10B annual payments to tech firms for default search engine status that allegedly manipulated consumer choices and stifled  competition. Penalties could include a breakup of Google, now valued at $1.7T.

Week One Recap: The government zeroed in on “the power of defaults,” criticizing Google’s payments to Apple and Mozilla that favor its search engine. The practice not only limits consumer choice but also blocks small businesses from the search industry and inflates ad rates.

Prosecutors’ Take: Google’s ability to dismiss major customers yet grow its business is “direct evidence of monopoly power,” said prosecutors. They’re ready to show that even companies Google paid found the default terms restrictive but accepted them.

What’s Ahead: The trial is expected to run through the holidays, with a decision in early 2024. Possible outcomes include separating Google’s ad and search businesses or dividing its consumer and B2B operations.

Practical AI

Quotable“If a company wants to use AI to, say, control the electrical grid or all of the self-driving cars on our roads or the water supply … we need a safety brake, just like we have a circuit breaker in every building and home in this country.

 Microsoft President Brad Smith before the Senate Judiciary Committee

Amazon Product Descriptions: Amazon is rolling out an AI tool that auto-generates product listings for sellers. The company says it makes listings more consistent and complete and creates more sales. Amazon hints this is just the start of AI’s role in its retail platform.
Tool of the Week: Stable Audio can convert text into high-quality music, thanks to its advanced algorithms trained on a 19,500-hour library of music. You can try it for free or opt for a $12 monthly subscription for more features.

Did That Really Happen — Rogan’s $6 Billion Ukraine Claim

AP News debunks a viral claim that the U.S. accidentally sent $6 billion in additional military aid to Ukraine. Originating from conspiracy theorist Joe Rogan’s podcast, the claim misconstrued a Pentagon announcement about a $6.2 billion overestimation in weapon value.

Following Up — Chromebooks Get 10 Years Support

We wrote this summer about school districts and consumers getting stuck with obsolete Chromebooks. Starting in 2024, new Chromebooks will get updates for 10 years. Google is also adding adaptive charging to keep batteries at 80% and an energy saver mode that kicks in at 20% battery. Users can also extend updates and set charge limits.

Protip — Don’t Trash Your Old Chargers

Don’t trash your old Lightning chargers; it’s bad for the planet. Instead, recycle them at Best Buy, Earth911, or donate to Goodwill. The EU pushed Apple to USB-C, making these chargers obsolete beginning with the newest Apple products. STEM programs may also accept old tech.

Screening Room — Petsmart’s I’d Do Anything 

Science Fiction World — Making Oxygen on Mars

NASA’s Perseverance rover has made breathable air on Mars for the first time. The MOXIE experiment, run by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and led by MIT, generated 12 grams of nearly pure oxygen per hour. This breakthrough could make future human missions to Mars more feasible by providing essential life support and fuel resources right on the Red Planet.

Coffee Break — Free Audiobooks

Project Gutenberg and Microsoft are offering free, high-quality audiobooks that you can customize. Using AI, they’ve made classics by authors like Shakespeare sound almost human. You can listen on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or even download them for later. It’s a big step in making good reads accessible to everyone.

Sign of the Times

Good Monday Morning

It’s September 11th. Google’s long awaited trial for anticompetitive behavior begins tomorrow. It’s the latest in a series of Big Tech trials that have previously targeted Microsoft, AT&T, and IBM.

Today’s Spotlight is 920 words — about 3 1/2 minutes to read.

3 Stories to Know

1. A federal judge has temporarily halted a new Arkansas law requiring parental consent for minors to create social media accounts. The injunction comes after tech trade group NetChoice, representing companies like TikTok and Meta, questioned the law’s constitutionality.

2. IBM plans to use AI to revamp programs written in COBOL, a programming language that’s over 60 years old but still crucial to many global systems. The tool aims to rewrite the code in modern programming languages since many COBOL practitioners are no longer in the workforce.

3. Google has launched its “Privacy Sandbox” feature in Chrome, which tracks users to generate ad topics for advertisers. It’s part of a digital future Google promised would not include tracking cookies. Despite widespread criticism, Google argues that this is a step toward a more private web. We’ll cover browser security in an upcoming Spotlight issue.

Displays showing car privacy data dilemma

Spotlight on Car Data Privacy Dilemma


Data privacy concerns are growing in the automotive world. As cars become more connected and feature-rich, they also become fertile ground for data collection, raising alarms among privacy advocates.

The Extent of Data Collection

A recent report from Mozilla’s Privacy Not Included project reveals a startling lack of privacy and security standards across major car brands. These modern vehicles are not just modes of transportation; they are “data-harvesting machines” that collect sensitive personal information, from the obvious like location and driving habits to the more intimate like race, weight, and even sexual activity. Brands like BMW, Ford, Toyota, Tesla, and Subaru are among those gathering this extensive range of data.

Worth noting: sexual activity is often inferred from a combination of other data such as location, time spent in the car, and other sensor data, rather than being directly observed.

Nissan & BMW Singled Out

Nissan stands out as a particularly egregious offender. The company reserves the right to sell your data to third parties, including law enforcement agencies. This raises serious questions about consent and the potential for misuse of personal information.

BMW recently dropped its controversial subscription-based heated seats to refocus on selling software services. The company’s experiment with installing physical features that unlock with subscriptions rather than digital subscriptions was met with owner outrage. While this latest move was met with relief, it underscores the industry’s broader shift toward monetizing car features, often at the expense of user privacy.

Tesla’s Onboard Cameras Worry ACLU

The ACLU has raised concerns about Tesla’s in-car cameras that capture images inside the car, adding another layer of surveillance to their already extensive data collection.

In a move toward transparency, Forbes has introduced a groundbreaking tool called Vehicle Privacy Report. This tool aims to unveil the automotive industry’s secretive data collection practices and could be a game-changer in raising consumer awareness and pushing for more transparent policies. Think of it as a burgeoning Carfax for car data privacy concerns.

Practical AI

Quotable“While some (including OpenAI) have released tools that purport to detect AI-generated content, none of these have proven to reliably distinguish between AI-generated and human-generated content.

— Newly published FAQ section at ChatGPT parent OpenAI

ChatGPT Bot Blocked: 12% of the top 1,000 websites have blocked OpenAI’s GPTBot just two weeks after OpenAI released blocking guidelines. Major sites like Amazon and Quora are among those restricting access as are news sites CNN and The New York Times.

Tool of the Week: Facebook has launched a new tool for users to manage some of how their data is used in generative AI models. The tool allows users to access, correct, or delete their third-party information used for AI training.

Did That Really Happen — CashApp is Not Bankrupt

PolitiFact debunked a claim circulating on social media that falsely said CNN claimed that Cash App was filing for bankruptcy. The claim directed people to file their claims with a bankruptcy court.

Following Up — Meta Not Following Ad Policies

We wrote just before Labor Day about the free-for-all in some political digital advertising. Shortly after that, Wired published an expose about Meta failing to follow its rules regarding PragerU ads targeting children. Some ads were removed, but many remain.

Protip — Speed Up Your Android & iPhones

Revitalize your Android phone by clearing its browser cache and cookies. Learn the quick steps for Chrome, Samsung Internet, and Firefox to boost speed and enhance privacy. Go here if you have an iPhone.

 Screening Room — Airport Dads Meet Uber Reserve

Science Fiction World — Telescopes Attacked

Two of the world’s most advanced telescopes, Gemini North in Hawaii and Gemini South in Chile, have been temporarily shut down due to cyberattacks. The nature and origin of the attacks are still under investigation. 

 Coffee Break — Rebranding Doritos & Twinkies as Health Food

Marketing guy Matt Rosenman has one of the year’s viral video series as he hilariously imagines rebranding food that is bad for us as health food. Watch a master marketer spin a pastry as good for you.

Sign of the Times