How AR will make the real world work like the digital world

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Everyone says augmented reality will change everything. But how, exactly? Nobody seems clear on that point.

(Read my column)

AR confusion is caused in part by everyone's personal experience with, or personal reading about, actual existing AR applications.

AR, we have learned, is for playing Harry Potter: Wizards Unite or getting graphical walking directions on Google Maps with your phone.

But these rudimentary applications don't point to the ultimate outcome of AR going mainstream.

The most revolutionary outcome of AR is that the physical world will function like the digital world -- searchable, hyperlinked and app-enabled.

Hopefully this "smart pacifier" on Kickstarter will never exist as a product

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Everything is “smart” these days. Including — wait for it — baby pacifiers. Some Swiss knucklehead is kickstarting a smart pacifier called the Still Baby that lets you leave your baby alone in the house while you go hang out with neighbors or have a romantic evening with your partner, all secure in the knowledge that the smart pacifier will alert you the baby wakes up. The pacifier has a built-in camera and sleep monitor. The translated Kickstarter page says you can also “calm” the baby “on the radio,” whatever that means."

(This is an excerpt from Saturday’s Mike’s List. Subscribe free here now!)

Another reason to visit Ecuador: guinea pig-flavored ice cream!

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An ice cream maker in Quito named María del Carmen Pilapaña specializes in ice cream flavored with guinea pig meat. (Tastes like chicken!)

The 78-year-old started her business after taking a class for entrepreneurs, where she was told that innovation is key. So she innovated.

If guinea pig isn’t your flavor, Pilapaña also makes beetle and mushroom ice cream.

Google might buy this TikTok-like social video-sharing app. Google on social? What could go wrong?

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Google is trying to buy a video-sharing app called Firework, a TikTok-like social app. The app is owned by Silicon Valley-based Loop Now Technologies and launched seven months ago as an iPhone and Android app.

Weibo also wants to buy it, reportedly.

The article ominously reported that Google is looking at other acquisitions in the social space.

I get PTSD just thinking about Google launching another social network.

Still, Firework does at least one neat trick. When you're watching a video (which can be as long as 30 seconds), you can turn your phone in any orientation, and no matter how you turn it, the video stays level. The feature is called "Reveal," and Firework owns the patent. Google may just be buying the technology for use on YouTube.

The app also uses AI for discovery and content filtering, and has person-to-person messaging in place of anonymous commenting, so it won't become a cesspool like YouTube comments are.

Interestingly, Firework is monetized by sponsored hashtags.

Unlike TikTok, whose algorithm is censored by the Chinese Communist Party and favors videos of voluptuous 15-year-old girls lip-synching to hip hop, Firework is designed to be less young and less toxic.

Here are some more videos that show what Loop Now can do.

Corrupt Chinese Communist Party official caught with 13 tons of gold in his basement. He's basically Scrooge McDuck.

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A Chinese Communist Party big shot and former mayor of Haikou City, named Zhang Qi, was busted with 13.5 tons of gold and huge piles of cash (in dollars, euros and yuan) collectively worth millions or billions of dollars in the basement of his home, according to a variety of sensationalist and disreputable news organizations.

The bust was part of a nationwide crackdown on corrupt officials.

I wonder if he would occasionally go down to the basement and kind of roll around in it.

I predicted "Disinformation as a service" targeted at businesses and now it’s here

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Two years ago, I wrote a piece published in Computerworld called "Disinformation as a service? DaaS not good!," in which I predicted the the rise of Disinformation as a service that would target businesses.

My prediction has now come true, unfortunately.

ZDNet Senior Reporter Danny Palmer wrote a piece published yesterday called "The dark web's latest offering: Disinformation as a service."

He reported that new disinformation services are being advertised now to businesses. He writes that it's "the first time underground forums have been found to be offering commercial disinformation services."

The article continues:

"For as little as a few hundred dollars, members of the criminal forums will craft full-scale disinformation campaigns which organisations can use to falsely generated positive propaganda about themselves – or to generate negative disinformation campaigns designed to tarnish rivals with lies and malicious material."

And more recently Ars Technica’s Sean Gallagher did some great reporting into the phenomenon, highlighting research into Disinformation as a Service companies by Recorded Future. These companies will deploy bots or plant fake stories online to use false information to boost your reputation or destroy your enemy’s.

Gallagher details pricing for these services, and they’re stunningly cheap. Read it here.

10 reasons why Microsoft's Android phone might succeed

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Microsoft today announced a clamshell phone called the Microsoft Surface Duo, and promised to ship it in time for the holidays. Next year. As in: 2020.

The most surprising bit is the operating system, which is Android. (The fact that it was code-named Andromeda should have been a clue.)

Beyond that we know it has two 5.6-inch screens, and a hinge. We don't know the price or any other details.

I predicted this phone a year and a half ago. I even predicted that Microsoft would “de-emphasize the phone function“ in its branding and marketing of the phone.)

And even after today’s announcement, we really don’t know much more about the device, other than the Android part.

More importantly, however, I talked about the advantages of a Microsoft-designed dual-screen phone and gave 10 reasons why it might succeed. Namely:

1. Phones and tablets are boring

2. Clamshell is the perfect mobile form factor

3. The pen is back

4. Combining pen and finger gestures is a Microsoft strength

5. The on-screen keyboard revolution is coming

6. Microsoft has killer hinge technology...

7. … hinge orientation is a ‘gesture." And that means...

8. … Courier is a feature, not a product

9. Microsoft even has interesting camera technology

10. Microsoft is better off in business

Long story short: Microsoft is well positioned to create a great phone with a clamshell form-factor. Unfortunately, the company is just too slow. Chinese companies will copy and ship long before Microsoft ships the original.

Don't look now, but the cyberattack target is YOU

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(Read my column)

Let’s talk about the “people problem.” Cybersecurity defenses and cyberattack methods are evolving rapidly, but human beings, not so much. This is why nearly all cyberattacks are now based on exploiting people.

More than 99 percent of attacks now involve human interaction at some point.

Your organization's surface: It's made out of people. Here's what you can do about it.