Month: September 2018

Washington Officials Have To Airlift Mountain Goats Out Of Park After They Become Addicted To Human Urine

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When most people think about Olympic National Park in Washington state, they likely think about the park’s epic coastlines, scenic forests, and gorgeous mountains.

However, the park is facing an issue that not many would imagine they’d have to tackle: a massive population of mountain goats that have developed an unusual craving for human urine, as reported by Motherboard.Their addiction has become so serious that the National Park Services (NPS) and the USDA Forest Service have started tagging and recoating the goats two at a time via helicopter to forests in the nearby North Cascades, making sure to blindfold them so they can’t find their way back.

“The plan is to reach a zero population level of mountain goats in the park and adjacent Olympic National Forest lands…[removing] approximately 90 percent of the projected 2018 mountain goat population, or approximately 625 to 675 mountain goats,” state park officials told Motherboard.

The goats are to be fitted with GPS collars so park officials can keep an eye on the herd in a location more suitable for their quickly growing population.

The goats aren’t a native species to the park but have thrived there since their introduction in the 1920’s, developing their taste for human waste due to their never-ending search for life-sustaining salt and minerals in mountain environments where both are scarce.

Thankfully, hikers answering nature’s call while trekking the trails have become a major source of that much-needed nutrition.

According to the NPS, however, the goat’s thirst for human pee is leading to the goat’s developing some strange habits.

“Mountain goats can be a nuisance along trails and around wilderness campsites where they persistently seek salt and minerals from human urine, packs, and sweat on clothing. They often paw and dig areas on the ground where hikers have urinated or disposed of cooking wastewater.” the NPS said. The Washington Department Of Fish and Wildlife advises people hiking the trails to “Never urinate within 50 yards of a hiking trail” because it leads increased interactions between the goat population and people.

While that might sound adorable, it can actually lead to some issues for both the goats and the people involved.

For example, a 63-year-old visitor to the park was gored and killed by an aggressive ram in 2010, as reported by Seattle Times.

The NPS has tried all types of methods to curd the goat population’s interaction with people along the trail, removing more than 500 goats during the 1980’s, according to a Washington Post report, and even using a trained border collie to herd the goats away from trails.

Olympic State Park is not alone in dealing with similar human urine-related issues. Similar problems have also been reported in Montana’s Glacier National park, according to the NY Times.

Facebook Data Breach — What To Do Next

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Yesterday, Facebook notified users of a massive data breach affecting over 50 million people. The breach had taken place three days earlier, on the afternoon of 25 September.

The social media giant says it doesn’t know exactly what kind of information has been compromised. However, in an updated statement yesterday, it did admit the hack affected those who use Facebook to log into other accounts.

How do you know if you’ve been impacted?

If you’ve been affected by the breach, Facebook logged you out of your account yesterday. The social network said it would also notify these people in a message on top of their News Feed about what happened.

However, an important thing to note: If you were logged out, you weren’t necessarily breached. Facebook has also logged out everyone who used the ‘View As’ feature since the vulnerability was introduced as a “precautionary measure”. The social network says this will require another 40 million people or more to log back into their accounts, adding: “We do not currently have any evidence that suggests these accounts have been compromised.”

Has the issue been fixed?

According to Facebook, yes. It believes it has fixed the security vulnerability, which enabled hackers to exploit a weakness in Facebook’s code to access the ‘View As’ privacy tool that allows users to see how their profile looks to other people.

Attackers would then be able to steal the access tokens that allow people to stay logged into their accounts. Then, Facebook admits, they could use these to take over people’s profiles.

Facebook is also temporarily turning off the ‘View As’ feature while it conducts a “thorough security review”.

What should you do if you’ve used Facebook to log in to other accounts/apps?

Facebook has admitted this could be an issue, but it can be hard to know what you’ve logged into using your account. This information can be found in your settings. First, go to ‘apps and websites’, then ‘logged in using Facebook’.

There you will be able to find all the apps you have used Facebook to log in to. It’s a good idea to remove these, even if you think you haven’t been impacted by the breach. If you have been affected, you’ll also need to change the passwords for those accounts, to be safe.

What can you do to secure your Facebook account?

Facebook says there’s no need for people to change their passwords. However, there is no harm in doing so – ensuring that your new password is secure and that you do not use it to log into other accounts. You could also log yourself out of Facebook, even if you don’t think you’ve been impacted, using the ‘security and login’ section in ‘settings’. This lists the places people are logged into Facebook with a one-click option to log out of all of them. People who’ve forgotten their passwords can access Facebook’s Help Center.

If you haven’t already, you should also enable two-factor authentication, which again can be found in Facebook settings.

Of course, you could also delete your Facebook account altogether.

Does this breach come under GDPR?

Many of the 50 million customers breached will reside in Europe, so their data does fall under the EU general update to data protection regulation (GDPR). We don’t know exactly what information has been impacted – fines are applicable for sensitive and personal data such as credit card details, which Facebook initially said has not been affected. However, if attackers have accessed personal messages, all kinds of sensitive information could have been breached.

As Facebook investigates the breach, it will be interesting to see the regulatory impact. The number of accounts impacted dwarfs that of British Airways at 50 million versus 380,000 but the nature of the information accessed is important.

For now, users need to ensure their own security is tight. Breaches are happening every day and it’s important to use strong passwords and two-factor authentication at a bare minimum.

Planning to Buy a New iPhone? Here’s Why You Should Prefer iPhone XR Over iPhone XS

If you have been active on social media or the internet in the recent few days, then you must have come across the news regarding Apple announcing three new iPhones. If you are an ardent Apple user, you must already be planning for an upgrade. But, with three new options available — Apple iPhone XR, iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, which one should you pick? While Apple has garnered a reputation for designing high-end expensive products, the prices of the new iPhones seem to come in as a surprise.

However, if Apple has launched the most expensive iPhone to date, then it has also launched one low-priced iPhone to the Apple mobile price list. The iPhone XS and XS Max are up for pre-orders and will go on sale on September 28. On the other hand, iPhone XR will go on sale sometime during the month of October. All this comes down to one thing — should you wait for iPhone XR or grab the iPhone XS or iPhone XS Max? Well, here are some of the reasons why we think Apple iPhone XR is the better pick.

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Screen Space

If you haven’t seen all the three iPhones placed next to one another, then this might come as a bit of a shock. Interestingly, iPhone XR has a bigger display when compared to iPhone XS. As the name suggests, the iPhone XS Max comes with a huge 6.5-inch OLED display. However, iPhone XS only comes with a 5.8-inch OLED display. On the other hand, iPhone XR features a 6.1-inch LCD display. All-in-all, iPhone XR provides a bigger display at a much affordable cost.

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A12 Bionic Processor

All the new iPhones of this year are powered by the newest A12 Bionic processor along with a 7nm chipset. So, when it comes to performance, Apple iPhone XR will be able to deliver as much as iPhone XS and XS Max. The A12 Bionic processor is designed with 6-core CPU and 4-core GPU. Additionally, the chipset will help in launching apps faster, improve low-light photography, enhance AR apps and will feature machine-learning. All the three new iPhones are at par when it comes to performance. Moreover, along with a powerful processor, the new iPhones have also been added to the 4G mobile phone price list. With 4G VoLTE, all three iPhones will provide fast and seamless internet browsing.

Colours to Choose From

When it comes to colour variations, iPhone XS and XS Max come in Black, Gold and Space. Except for iPhone 5C, Apple has not offered varying colour options to choose from. However, Apple brings new colour variations for you to choose from with iPhone XR. iPhone XR is available in six colour choices. The options include Black, White, Red, Blue, Yellow and Coral. If you are looking to add a splash of colour or a little more personality to your phone, iPhone XR has a lot of options to choose from.

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Longer Battery Life

Battery life is the one thing that iPhone users have always complained about. With the 2018 iPhones, Apple has worked on overcoming that drawback. When looked at

  • iPhone XS can last for 30 minutes more than iPhone X
  • iPhone XS Max can last for 90 minutes more than iPhone X
  • And lastly, iPhone XR can last for 90 minutes more than iPhone 8 Plus

Here is how the 2018 iPhones battery specifications look like:

If you are looking for an iPhone with a healthy and long battery life, iPhone XR has the best battery specifications out this year.

Conclusion

It goes without saying that, iPhone XR is a more economical choice. However, don’t disregard the iPhone XS or XS Max as of yet. Even iPhone XS and XS Max come with features that make them an ideal choice. Both iPhone XS and XS Max come with a dual rear camera, IP68 rating and a 512GB storage variant, which gives them a front foot compared to iPhone XR. Overall, Apple iPhone XR comes with the same ecosystem and features like iPhone XS and XS Max, only with a few changes. What gives it an edge is the reasonable price range and size.

Instagram Is Too Big Not to Mess With

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On the face of it, there’s nothing surprising about Instagram’s founders leaving six years after the company was sold. Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom’s tenures at Facebook were longer than that of most Facebook employees, where the average is 2.5 years. And Instagram has come a long way since Facebook bought it in April 2012 for a reported $1 billion. In the past six years, Instagram has grown from 50 million users to more than a billion users, and it currently employs more than 700 people. Today, its estimated worth is over $100 billion.

When Facebook acquired Instagram, it promised that it would not mess with the company. But the truth may be that Instagram has become far too important to Facebook’s bottom line for Mark Zuckerberg to keep that promise. With Mr. Krieger and Mr. Systrom’s departures, the future of Instagram is now completely in Mr. Zuckerberg’s hands.

Instagram’s explosive growth is a success story in its own right, and a big part of the credit is due to Instagram’s executive team, which carried out its vision of an uncluttered feed of photographs. Another part of the company’s story, however, is how much Instagram was able to leverage the technical and advertising infrastructure built by its parent company.

READ MORE: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/28/opinion/instagram-facebook.html?action=click&module=Well&pgtype=Homepage&section=Contributors

Nike Nearly Dropped Colin Kaepernick Before Embracing Him

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Nearly a month after Colin Kaepernick was revealed as the face of Nike’s groundbreaking new advertising campaign, the unveiling videohas garnered more than 80 million views on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube.

The ads have sent Kaepernick into a new realm of celebrity, quickly becoming among the most talked-about and successful campaigns in recent years. And they have allowed Nike, which has a history of provocative marketing campaigns, to capitalize on the so-called Resistance movement in a way it only recently realized it could.

They are also yet another vehicle for Kaepernick to raise his own profile as a sort of civil rights entrepreneur unlike anyone before has, certainly in sports. He has signed deals to write a book — which is set to be published next year and will be accompanied by a speaking tour — and to develop a comedy series.

But it almost didn’t happen. In the summer of 2017, a debate raged in Nike’s headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., over whether to cut loose the controversial, unemployed quarterback — and the company very nearly did, according to two individuals with knowledge of the discussions who requested anonymity because of nondisclosure agreements each has with Nike.

When the company did decide to embrace the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, it risked angering the National Football League, a Nike partner since 2012, but the company ultimately decided it was a risk worth taking, given the credibility the company would gain with the young, urban market it has long targeted.

Kaepernick ignited a national discourse in 2016 when he began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games to protest racism, social inequality and police brutality. He left the 49ers after the 2016 season and became a free agent, but executives throughout the N.F.L. considered him radioactive because of his on-field protests, which drew vocal criticism from President Trump, and no team signed him.

That left Nike’s sports marketing group flummoxed. There seemed to be little they could do with a lightning-rod professional football player who was not playing football.

Before the company severed ties with Kaepernick, though, its top communications executive persuaded his colleagues to reverse course because of the potential for negative publicity. Kaepernick would remain on Nike’s roster of sponsored athletes — though he was largely ignored for nearly a year.

Through interviews with current and former Nike employees, individuals close to Kaepernick, analysts and others involved with the ad campaign, a picture emerged of Nike’s about-face in which the company concluded that getting behind Kaepernick’s crusade, at the urging of its longtime advertising firm, made good business sense despite the risk of angering the N.F.L.

When the company did decide to embrace the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, it risked angering the National Football League, a Nike partner since 2012, but the company ultimately decided it was a risk worth taking, given the credibility the company would gain with the young, urban market it has long targeted.

Kaepernick ignited a national discourse in 2016 when he began kneeling during the playing of the national anthem before games to protest racism, social inequality and police brutality. He left the 49ers after the 2016 season and became a free agent, but executives throughout the N.F.L. considered him radioactive because of his on-field protests, which drew vocal criticism from President Trump, and no team signed him.

That left Nike’s sports marketing group flummoxed. There seemed to be little they could do with a lightning-rod professional football player who was not playing football.

Before the company severed ties with Kaepernick, though, its top communications executive persuaded his colleagues to reverse course because of the potential for negative publicity. Kaepernick would remain on Nike’s roster of sponsored athletes — though he was largely ignored for nearly a year.

Through interviews with current and former Nike employees, individuals close to Kaepernick, analysts and others involved with the ad campaign, a picture emerged of Nike’s about-face in which the company concluded that getting behind Kaepernick’s crusade, at the urging of its longtime advertising firm, made good business sense despite the risk of angering the N.F.L.
READ MORE:https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/26/sports/nike-colin-kaepernick.html

Freezing Credit Will Now Be Free. Here’s Why You Should Go for It.

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Consumers will soon be able to freeze their credit files without charge. So if you have not yet frozen your files — a recommended step to foil identity theft — now is a good time to take action, consumer advocates say.

Security freezes, often called credit freezes, are “absolutely” the best way to prevent criminals from using your personal information to open new accounts in your name, said Paul Stephens, director of policy and advocacy with Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, a consumer advocacy nonprofit group.

Free freezes, which will be available next Friday, were required as part of broader financial legislation signed in May by President Trump.

Free security freezes were already available in some states and in certain situations, but the federal law requires that they be made available nationally. Two of the three major credit reporting bureaus, Equifax and TransUnion, have already abandoned the fees. The third, Experian, said it would begin offering free credit freezes next Friday. To be effective, freezes must be placed at all three bureaus.

The Federal Trade Commission says that when the law takes effect, its identity theft website will provide links to each bureau’s freeze website.

A security freeze makes it harder for criminals to use stolen information to open fraudulent new accounts, or borrow money, in your name. Credit bureaus house records of your accounts and payment history, which card companies and lenders use to decide whether you are likely to pay your bills. If you freeze your file, the bureaus will not provide information to lenders unless you “thaw” the freeze first, using a special personal identification number.

Free security freezes are becoming available more than a year after a huge data breach was discovered at Equifax. The breach compromised the personal information, including Social Security numbers, birth dates and other sensitive details, of more than 145 million people — nearly half the population of the United States.

Despite the scale of that breach, and a steady stream of other incidents, security freezes have not really caught on. An AARP survey of about 2,000 adults found that just 14 percent had frozen their credit files. (The survey, conducted in July by GfK Group using a probability-based online panel, has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus two percentage points.)

In-depth interviews with 24 consumers by researchers at the University of Michigan School of Information found that many people knew about the Equifax breach, but few had taken the step of freezing their credit files as a result.

Consumers suffer from “optimism bias,” the researchers found. They realized that the breach created risk, but did not think anything would happen to them personally. “People tend to underestimate their own risk,” said Florian Schaub, an assistant professor at the school and one of the study’s authors.

Others incorrectly assumed that because they had poor credit or little wealth, they would be unattractive targets for identity thieves. “They think: ‘I don’t have much money. I have nothing to lose,’” Mr. Schaub said. “But that’s not how identity thieves operate.”

People interviewed also cited the cost of freezes as a barrier. It can cost as much as $10 per bureau to place a freeze, and a similar fee is charged to thaw it temporarily when you want to apply for credit.

Consumer advocates hope that making freezes free will spur more consumers to use them. (The new law requires that a thaw must also be free.)

But the freeze process is not as easy as it could be, said Mike Litt, consumer campaign director for U.S. PIRG, the consumer advocacy group. He would prefer credit files to be “frozen” by default, and thawed on request. As it stands, consumers must place freezes separately at all three bureaus, and keep track of three PINs.

And because it’s not always possible to know in advance what credit bureau a lender will use, consumers typically must lift the freezes at all three bureaus when they want to apply for new credit.

Brett Merfish, a lawyer in Austin, Tex., said she froze her credit at all three bureaus several years ago, after her personal information was used to open “a steady flow” of fraudulent credit card accounts. The freeze process was “tedious,” she recalled, but ultimately effective because she no longer has problems with fake accounts. “It’s worth it to do it,” she said.

One credit bureau, TransUnion, introduced a smartphone app, myTransUnion, this month that consumers can use to more easily freeze and thaw their credit. The app is available for both Apple and Android phones. Mr. Stephens, of the Privacy Rights Clearinghouse, said he had not seen the app, but cautioned consumers to tread carefully, in case it is used to market other, fee-based products and services.

The credit bureaus also offer something called a credit “lock,” which they promote as a more convenient way to protect your information. But some offerings carry fees, and consumer advocates prefer freezes because the rules are set by law, rather than by the credit bureaus.

One other less-protective option is a fraud alert, which requires credit bureaus to contact you to verify your identity when a company requests your credit file. Under the new law, initial fraud alerts must last for one year once established. Fraud alerts are free, and, unlike the freezes, an alert placed at one bureau is automatically placed at all three.

U.S. PIRG also recommends freezing your file at a lesser-known reporting agency known as the National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange. The exchange provides credit information to some cellphone, pay television and utility companies. (Some consumers have reported having cellular accounts opened in their names, even though they had placed freezes on their credit reports at the main bureaus.)

The website for the utilities exchange says its database is “housed and managed” by Equifax. But the exchange is a “distinct” entity that requires its own freeze, said Craig Caesar, outside counsel to the exchange. “A separate request to N.C.T.U.E. is required because it is a separate database,” Mr. Caesar said in an email. There is no cost for a freeze, he said.

The new law also requires credit bureaus to allow parents to create and freeze credit files for their children under 16, to prevent their identities from being misused. The Federal Trade Commission offers information on what to do.

Freezes will not protect you from other types of fraud, like someone using the number of a credit card you already have, or impersonating you online to claim your Social Security benefits. To help prevent those types of theft, Mr. Litt recommends checking your credit card statements regularly for suspicious charges, and setting up and monitoring an online Social Security account, to prevent criminals from opening one first and diverting your benefit checks. A PIRG report suggests other helpful steps as well.

Checking your credit report periodically is also wise. You are entitled to one free copy each year from the big three bureaus at annualcreditreport.com. (A security freeze will not prevent you from getting your free annual report, the F.T.C. says.)

Here are the websites to visit to set up security freezes:

TransUnion: transunion.com/credit-freeze

Experian: experian.com/freeze/center.html

Equifax: www.freeze.equifax.com/Freeze/jsp/SFF_PersonalIDInfo.jsp

National Consumer Telecom and Utilities Exchange: www.nctue.com/Consumers