Good Monday Morning

It’s October 16th, the 100th anniversary of Disney Brothers Cartoon Studio signing its first distribution deal.

Today’s Spotlight is 941 words — about 4 minutes to read.

3 Stories to Know

1.  User data from 23andMe’s genetics database was posted on underground digital markets following an online data scrape, with Ashkenazi Jewish individuals notably targeted. The breach, suspected to be a result of credential stuffing, reignites debates around cybersecurity and how data can target individuals or groups.

2.Big Tech’s evolving ad game:YouTube’s nudging ad-blocker users to pay up, X (formerly Twitter) debuts a covert ad type that dodges forwarding and reporting, while Meta explores premium ad-free accounts in Europe and leverages generative AI to up the ante for advertisers.

The gist: A mixed bag of tactics aiming to redefine advertising-consumer dialogue

3.  From consumers to government, Big Tech’s dance with regulation is intensifying. In India, Facebook faces scrutiny over alleged propagation of hate speech at the government’s request, while in the U.S., the Texas Attorney General sues Yelp over the company’s labeling of “crisis pregnancy centers” typically providing “limited medical services” and operating without a requirement for medical professionals. Meanwhile, significant regulatory lawsuits continue against Google and Amazon and Microsoft fends off an IRS claim for nearly $29B-with-a-B.

Spotlight on Passkeys: One Year Later & Ready for Their Closeup

Nearly one year after we told you about passkeys, the landscape has evolved, with Google recently swinging the door wide open. The search giant announced that they are making passkeys the default for personal accounts, a significant nod to this burgeoning change.

Passkeys, a form of passwordless authentication, are essentially public-key cryptography securing user accounts. Unlike traditional passwords, they don’t require memorization and reduce the common headache of duplicating them on other sites–which led to that 23andMe data scraping. They’re created and stored on devices, with a public key registered to the service and a private key securely tucked away on your device.

Passkeys Pros and Cons

Consumer Reports elaborates on their ease of use, noting a better user experience, while the potential for enhanced security makes a compelling case for passkeys. Apple has also been in the fray, simplifying passkey use in its iOS 17 and macOS Sonoma updates. .

Our previous Spotlight on passkeys highlighted their promise in combating phishing and other cyber threats. The trail blazed by Apple, and now followed by Google, shows growing tech industry alignment.

The Future of Passkeys

Yet, as with any nascent technology, hurdles remain. ZDNet points out the initial setup can be intimidating for non-tech savvy individuals. And there are often questions of what happens if you lose the device your passkey is stored on. Of the two passwords managers we recommend, passkeys are available on 1Password and coming soon to BitWarden.

Google’s pivot, however, is a significant stride towards mainstreaming passkeys, nudging us closer to a potential password-free reality. As passkeys continue to mature, they could very well become the keystones of digital security, blending ease of use with robust protection.

Practical AI

Quotable“BEWARE!! There’s a video out there promoting some dental plan with an AI version of me. I have nothing to do with it,

— Tom Hanks posting on Instagram

Spotify’s new groove: The audio streamer developed an AI-powered voice cloning tool to translate podcasts across languages, broadening auditory horizons while tiptoeing on the thin line of deepfake technology that Hanks wrote about.

The bottom line: Your favorite podcasts could soon speak your language, but at what cost to authenticity?
 Tool of the Week:Likewise, kickstarted five years ago as a haven for shared TV, movie, and book recs among like-minded folks, now generates buzz with its AI chatbot, Pix.

My hands-on test, even post-Goodreads sync of hundreds of books, exposed a clunky rec mechanism. There is a commercial vibe missing Netflix or Amazon’s finesse. The buzz, fueled in part by Bill Gates’ financial backing, hints at a shift: generative AI like ChatGPT or Bard, might soon yield the stage to personalized chatbots like Pix.

Did That Really Happen — Ukrainian First Lady Didn’t Buy Jewelry

A claim went viral alleging Ukrainian First Lady Olena Zelenska splurged $1.1 million on Cartier jewelry and got a salesperson fired during a U.S. visit last month. The tale, originating from a YouTube video, is debunked by Snopes.

Following Up — YouTuber Shot

YouTube creator Tanner Cook was shot by Alan Colie during a Virginia mall prank, but a jury acquitted Colie of aggravated malicious wounding. The incident sparks debate on prank ethics and self-defense as Cook plans to continue pranking, and Colie faces a potential 10-year prison term on other charges.

We’ve covered social media pranks before, as well as this one in particular. This video was played in court.

Protip — How To Set Up Your Passkeys

If you’ve got the urge, here are step-by-step instructions to use passkeys with GoogleApple, and 1Password.

Screening Room — Google Pixel 8 with AI Camera & Recording

Science Fiction World — NASA’s Moon Neighborhoods

NASA unveiled plans to construct lunar houses by 2040, exploring durable, self-repairing materials for sustainable habitation, nudging closer to long-term human presence on the Moon.

Coffee Break — CR’s Permission Slip

Consumer Reports unveiled Permission Slip, an app for iOS or Android that allows users to track, manage, and delete their personal data across companies. Get it here.

Sign of the Times

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