Amazon, Apple and Google, along with the Zigbee Alliance, have started a new working group to develop a royalty-free connectivity standard to increase compatibility among the various smart home devices from Amazon and others.
Despite the multitude of companies involved in this Connected Home over IP project, it doesn’t include any mobile operators.
Companies involved include IKEA, Legrand, NXP Semiconductors, Resideo, Samsung SmartThings, Schneider Electric, Signify (formerly Philips Lighting), Silicon Labs, Somfy and Wulian, as well as the major connected home players.
“By building upon Internet Protocol (IP), the project aims to enable communication across smart home devices, mobile apps, and cloud services, and to define a specific set of IP-based networking technologies for device certification,” reports a joint statement on the project.
The working group says it will launch a preliminary specification in late 2020. This spec “aims to make it easier for device manufacturers to build devices that are compatible with smart home and voice services such as Amazon’s Alexa, Apple’s Siri, Google’s Assistant, and others,” says the consortium. The forthcoming protocol will work across multiple networks, such as WiFi, Bluetooth Low Energy and cellular.
The project is a rare moment of agreement for three of the top tech companies in the world. The working group deal is especially unusual for Apple and Google, which appear to be putting aside years of heated competition to create this smart device standard.
At present, however, it appears that there will be no mobile operators involved in crafting this smart device protocol. Major carriers, like AT&T, have certainly taken part in their own connected home efforts, but are not involved in this effort.
AT&T appears to be working to somewhat similar aims through its project with ex-Microsoft man Ray Ozzie and his startup Blue Wireless. “Notecard will enable developers of a broad range of commercial and industrial products to embed connectivity that just works, near globally,” says AT&T of its work with the startup.
The carrier, as well as many operators in the smart home and IoT areas, is still focused on delivering purely cellular connectivity and doesn’t deal in the IP layer, as the tech giants’ latest project does.
— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading
How to keep your online history private as tracking technology improves – CBC.ca
If you use the internet in any capacity, you’ve likely experienced this: after visiting one website, you may go to another website and find that it’s showing you ads for the first one. Or ads for a website you’ve visited in the past.
This is all because these websites are collecting your personal information to target you with ads, according to CBC’s Information Morning tech columnist Nur Zincir-Heywood, a professor in the computer science department at Dalhousie University in Halifax.
“Basically, the website tries to personalize our experience, so they collect information about us, and they store this information in a database at the website,” she said.
“Then, to be able to find us in that database, they leave our identifiers on our computers, on our smartphone.”
Those identifiers are called “cookies” — and they don’t come with chocolate chips.
“They’re small in size, but they do a great job in terms of profiling us,” said Zincir-Heywood. “Think of them as cookie crumbs. They follow us.”
But it doesn’t stop there. Those websites may also have agreements with other companies that allow those third-party companies to leave their cookies on your computers and smartphones, too.
You might have seen messages popping up in your browser from time to time, asking you to manage your cookies, or accept cookies.
“They’re asking … ‘Do you want to be profiled?’ Think of it that way,” said Zincir-Heywood. “And I would like to hope that you say no.”
Cookies can be potentially be hijacked by hackers, who may be able to take control of people’s accounts and steal personal data.
Information Morning – NS7:00How to keep your online history private, even as Internet tracking technology improves
Zincir-Heywood said you can opt out of cookies by going to the privacy tab under the preferences menu of your browser, though some websites might not give you access without cookie permission.
If that happens, Zincir-Heywood said you can still accept the cookies and browse the website, but to make sure to delete your history and clear those cookies by using your preferences menu.
Browsing the web in incognito mode can also help bypass cookies, she said.
The new threat of favicons
While those measures may help with cookies, Zincir-Heywood says there’s a new threat to internet privacy: favicons.
Favicons are the little icons you see in the corner of the tab while browsing a website. While those icons may appear harmless, Zincir-Heywood said researchers recently found they can be used as a way to follow someone’s internet activity.
“This image can be piggybacked with information that can identify us. And just like a cookie, they can then be used to match us in a database,” she said.
But unlike a cookie, there’s no way to opt out of it because they are managed by your browser.
After this discovery, Zincir-Heywood said some browser companies acted on it, such as Brave, a privacy-enabled browser.
In a Wednesday blog post, Google’s director of product management, ads privacy and trust, David Temkin, said the company continues “to get questions about whether Google will join others in the ad tech industry who plan to replace third-party cookies with alternative user-level identifiers.
“Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.”
While ad-blockers can be used to block targeted advertisements, Zincir-Heywood said they won’t prevent your information from being collected.
“Hopefully now that we know about [favicons], some entrepreneurial [person] will come up with a way to block them, too,” she said.
“But until then, keep a watch on it.”
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After getting his COVID-19 vaccine, this 103-year-old jazz musician was ready to do some drinking – CBC.ca
Stanley Sepchuk was just a baby when the so-called Spanish flu killed tens of thousands of Canadians, but he got through it just fine.
In his teens, he sold the brand-new bicycle his father got for him so he could buy his first trumpet. He did it, his daughter says, because he was fascinated by music and wanted to give it a try.
That budding passion quickly turned into a way of life, starting with local gigs when he was about 17. He then went on to play alongside some of the greats, including Frank Sinatra.
The 103-year-old resident of Hudson, Que., has seen much in his long life, but lately he’s been seeing nothing but the inside of his home so as to avoid catching COVID-19.
On Wednesday, he finally ventured outdoors with his daughter, Melody, to get inoculated against the coronavirus at a makeshift vaccine site at Decarie Square in Côte Saint-Luc, Que., on the Island of Montreal.
A joker with a broad smile, Sepchuk said he was looking forward to the vaccine “more or less. Mostly more.”
A recent fall has him in a wheelchair for now, but his spirits were high, even with safety goggles and a mask on his face as he was administered the potentially life-saving vaccine.
Even before he got the shot, Sepchuk was ready to cap off the long day with some wine.
WATCH: One of Quebec’s oldest veterans get vaccinated
Music and ‘looking for girls’
Sepchuk is no stranger to enjoying a drink after a long day. He used to play clubs across Montreal at a time when the city’s nightlife was hopping with live music, dancing and plenty of booze.
In his 20s, during World War II, he served as a trumpeter for the Royal Canadian Air Force Band.
He went on to become a popular jazz musician, playing his trumpet, trombone, singing and, he said, “looking for girls.”
Sepchuk, who went by the stage name of Stan Martin, was the music director of the McGill University’s production of Red and White Revue in 1949. He also played at the first Montreal Jazz Festival in 1980.
As well as Sinatra, Spechuk accompanied plenty of big-name musicians such as Chubby Checker, Oscar Peterson, Dean Martin and Louis Armstrong.
While Peterson was local, many others came from afar to play Montreal.
They chose Spechuk and his band, Stan Martin and his Orchestra, to take the stage with them, as he was considered the best in town. Sinatra became a regular, and Spechuk got to know him well.
“We had a little tiff now and again, but he was OK,” Sepchuck remembered. “Nice fellow.”
Veteran of WW II
Sepchuk, a father of four, is now considered Quebec’s oldest veteran of WW II, his daughter says.
He lived most of his life in Montreal but moved west to Hudson in his 80s as he slowly began retiring from the music scene.
At the Hudson Legion Branch #115, he is known as Stan the Man. Sepchuk says he is 104, noting this is his 104th year.
For his 100th birthday in November 2017, the local newspaper, The Journal, asked him if he still played the trumpet and he is quoted as saying: “Hey, I’m just glad to be breathing!”
He cracked a similar joke with CBC Montreal when asked the same question on Wednesday.
“Oh my God,” he said. “I’m lucky to be alive.”
After getting the shot, he gave a thumbs up and waved to health-care staff on his way out. He said getting the vaccine was “OK” and he feels “like I felt yesterday.”
He said it was time to go home, get some sleep and do some drinking.
VIDEO: SpaceX Starship lands upright, then explodes in latest test – Trail Times
SpaceX’s futuristic Starship looked like it aced a touchdown Wednesday, but then exploded on the landing pad with so much force that it was hurled into the air.
The failure occurred just minutes after SpaceX declared success. Two previous test flights crash-landed in fireballs.
The full-scale prototype of Elon Musk’s envisioned Mars ship soared more than 6 miles (10 kilometres) after lifting off from the southern tip of Texas on Wednesday. It descended horizontally over the Gulf of Mexico and then flipped upright just in time to land.
The shiny bullet-shaped rocketship remained intact this time at touchdown, prompting SpaceX commentator John Insprucker to declare, “third time’s a charm as the saying goes” before SpaceX ended its webcast of the test.
But then the Starship exploded and was tossed in the air, before slamming down into the ground in flames.
There was no immediate comment from SpaceX on what went wrong. But Musk looked on the bright side in a tweet: “Starship 10 landed in one piece! RIP SN10, honourable discharge.”
He added: “SpaceX team is doing great work! One day, the true measure of success will be that Starship flights are commonplace.”
Musk plans to use Starships to send people to the moon and Mars.
The last two prototypes reached a similarly high altitude in December and February, but slammed into the ground at Boca Chica, Texas, and exploded.
Each of these last three test flights lasted 6 1/2 minutes.
The Associated Press Health and Science Department receives support from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Department of Science Education. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
Marcia Dunn, The Associated Press
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