If you recently installed or updated uTorrent on your PC, you may have have picked up an unwanted passenger: a bitcoin miner called Epic Scale. If you don't pay attention, that piece of code can be inadvertently installed with the latest uTorrent build (version 3.4.2). It can then use your computer as part of a bitcoin farm (Litecoin, to be exact) to generate revenue for third parties. Users first reported the situation on uTorrent's forums, and it was quickly confirmed by a senior support manager. He said that the app "cannot be installed without permission," but one user claimed that there was "never a warning about it," even though he opted out of other bundled software.
Lenovo bagged a paltry US$250,000 from the deal that saw it install the Superfish certificate slurper onto PCs, according to reports.
The PC maker was last month caught installing the ad/bloat/malware into its consumer PCs, sparking a very considerable backlash once the software's ability to intercept encrypted website communications was revealed.
Forbes sources' now say Lenovo made between US$200,000 to US$250,000 from the deal to pre-install Superfish, a paltry amount given its net profit was US$253 million in the three months to December.
At $250,000 the return on investment for Superfish is abominable: Lenovo initially defended the installation as a helpful tool for online shoppers, but quickly back-pedalled and started wheeling out senior execs at all hours of day and night to make apologetic utterances.
CAPTCHAs are an unfortunate side effect of the internet. They're those irritating collection of numbers and letters morphed into some Surrealist dreck that leaves us guessing, and guessing, and guessing. Google wants to improve all of that with updates to reCAPTCHA, a one-click solution for telling websites that you are, in fact, a human being.
Wouldn't abandoning those Dali-like distortions defeat the purpose of protecting websites from bots? Not really, Google says, because the old CAPTCHA system wasn't working that great anyways:
While the new reCAPTCHA API may sound simple, there is a high degree of sophistication behind that modest checkbox. CAPTCHAs have long relied on the inability of robots to solve distorted text. However, our research recently showed that today's Artificial Intelligence technology can solve even the most difficult variant of distorted text at 99.8% accuracy. Thus distorted text, on its own, is no longer a dependable test.
Seeing a threat to their ecosystem, French publishers follow their German colleagues and prepare to sue startup Eyeo GmbH, the creator of anti-advertising software AdBlock Plus. But they cannot ignore that, by using ABP, millions of users actively protest against the worst forms of advertising.
On grounds that it represents a major economic threat to their business, two groups of French publishers are considering a lawsuit against AdBlockPlus creator Eyeo GmbH.(Les Echos, broke the news in this story, in French).
Plaintiffs are said to be the GESTE and the French Internet Advertising Bureau. The first is known for its aggressive stance against Google via its contribution to the Open Internet Project. (To be clear, GESTE said they were at a “legal consulting stage”, no formal complaint has been filed yet.) By his actions, the second plaintiff, the French branch of the Internet Advertising Bureau is in fact acknowledging its failure to tame the excesses of the digital advertising market.
Regardless of its validity, the legal action misses a critical point. By downloading the plug-in AdBlock Plus (ABP) on a massive scale, users do vote with their mice against the growing invasiveness of digital advertising. Therefore, suing Eyeo, the company that maintains ABP, is like using Aspirin to fight cancer. A different approach is required but very few seem ready to face that fact.
Microsoft first started supporting the MKV file format natively on the company’s Xbox One console earlier this year, and now the company is bringing those changes to Windows. Starting today, Windows 8.1 will now natively support the Matroska Multimedia Container (MKV) file format with the built-in video app. The open standard container format has long been used to provide pirated copies of movies and TV shows through BitTorrent or other file sharing sites, but Microsoft’s move to provide native support lends the file format some much-needed legitimacy.
> While it’s likely most content providers will continue to provide streaming video instead of DRM-free download options, native MKV support in Windows adds another option to share video or audio files without having to download third-party players like VLC. Microsoft has also pledged to support MKV in the upcoming release of Windows 10, alongside support for Free Lossless Audio Codec (FLAC) files. Microsoft’s MKV implementation in Windows 8.1 is still limited by the operating system's codec and subtitle support, but the company may choose to improve both of these drawbacks in Windows 10.