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Could blockchains solve authentication and passwords forever?

(TECH NEWS) Blockchains are earning their way into tech minds from entry level to veteran, and their implications are massive.

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Identity grab bag

Technology is expanding beyond our ability to secure it. Our identities, birthdays, passwords, and the names of our first pets make up the candy bowl of identity for any grubby hand to defile. Currently, our private information is protected by passwords, an antiquated system of whispering secrets to get in the door. Our systems authenticate without actually identifying. This means that anyone with one of your special codes (and we know you have a different password for absolutely everything, right folks?) can access your information, and pretend to be you in the digital world.

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But what if rather than passing along a code that anyone could subvert, our identity was confirmed by the sheer fact that this is us. In a system where everyone controls their individual identity, any company honoring this technology could know immediately if we are who we say we are, or if we’re not.

A new international non profit Sovrin Foundation, is proposing exactly that type of system. Sovrin’s founding goal is to create individual personal identities on the internet in the same way our machines have unique IP’s.

Securing your online presence

Our relationship with our internet identities is founded on mistrust, on the very principle that anyone, with the right flick of keys, could be anyone online. Needless to say, with the growing Internet of Things, that online identity now controls more of your life than you’re probably aware.

Calendar dates, bank info, love letters, the dimness of the lights in your living room, your fridge temperature, and car stats are all protected by the same fragile system. Soon everything with an on and off switch will be connected, leaving us exposed to unimaginable infiltration.

By creating a self-sovereign identity (SSI) for everyone on the planet, Sovrin will change the way we interact with the internet and the way the internet interacts with us.

Each individual or organization will own and have 100 percent control over their identity and with whom they share it. This means that you will choose to share your personal information with governments and institutions rather than governments and institutions storing vast amounts of unsecured identifying data like bait for every two-bit hacker looking to make a buck.

Internet of identity

Sovrins system is complex and massive. Their goal is to be an “internet of identity,” a disconnected but regulating body that manages the systems of identity without having access to the data they manage. Their board of directors is comprised of professionals from an array of industries and countries to ensure neutrality and transparency.

Identities will be broken up into individual packets. Your birthday, address, and phone number will be separately stored, disconnected pieces of information that will only be accessed as you see fit. That way no one has access to all of your information except for you.

With Sovrin we can safely achieve what we can’t currently do online for fear of identity theft.

We can make big purchases, access comprehensive medical records, apply for marriage and birth certificates, even buy homes. Even notarizing may not have to exist in a world where Sovrin has their way. Individual blockchain identities may not replace traditional systems for every company, but users will likely be able to update their Sovrin account to include institutions that may still use passwords.

Something for everyone

The Internet of Things is a complex system in itself that would benefit from a globally recognized blockchain identity like Sovrin. Users will be able to quickly connect devices to their home network of devices without a lot of set up and pairing.

Additionally, businesses wouldn’t have to assume the liability of ensuring that every consumer is who they say they are. Likewise, Sovrin would put consumers on the same playing field. They won’t have to jump through hoops just to purchase something, or remember a million different passwords.

This issue is not just a first world problem for online shoppers, though. Identity storage and identification is a significant question in growing countries as well.

Sovrin proposes that this system will give developing nations an easy way to document land ownership, birth and death certificates, medical records, and refugee information.

We welcome the sovrinty

Sovrin is sort of like the much bigger version of Amazon’s experimental brick and mortar store. It relies on individual identities to create accountability. Once they know that you are who you say you are, Amazon is confident that your connected financial accounts will remit payment for what you took from the shelves. Sovrin seeks to create implicit trust in a world where trust is an oblique and guarded concept.

People just have to be who they are, not remember usernames and passwords and the name of their first dog. Sovrin will help protect all of us from fraud, and keep all of our wonderful devices that we’ve become so reliant on safe.

Sovrin expects to put their program into production in the beginning of 2017. If you’re interested in contributing to the open source service, check out their GitHub page.

#Sovrin

C. L. Brenton is a staff writer at The American Genius. She loves writing about all things, she’s even won some contests doing it! For everything C. L. check out her website

Tech News

Failure to launch: Quibi’s short-form platform is short-lived

(TECH NEWS) Despite receiving major funding from big players, Quibi is shutting down only 6 months after launch. What led to their downfall?

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A mobile phone open to Quibi in feminine hands with decorated nails.

Only 6 short months after launching its platform, Quibi has decided to pull the plug.

The mobile-only streaming service’s vision was to create short-form videos with higher production value than that of competitors like YouTube or TikTok. Having enlisted big names such as Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Jennifer Lopez, and Lebron James, Quibi had high hopes for what the service could accomplish. In an open letter posted to Medium, founding company executives Jeffery Katzenberg and Meg Whitman cited timing and the idea of mobile-first premium storytelling not being strong enough as the primary reasons for shuttering.

“As entrepreneurs our instinct is to always pivot, to leave no stone unturned — especially when there is some cash runway left — but we feel that we’ve exhausted all our options.” The letter stated, “As a result we have reluctantly come to the difficult decision to wind down the business, return cash to our shareholders, and say goodbye to our colleagues with grace. We want you to know we did not give up on this idea without a fight.”

The move is somewhat surprising considering that back in March the service managed to raise an additional $750 million in funding, bringing its total fundraising to $1.75 billion. At the time, Quibi CFO Ambereen Toubassy had touted that the second-round of cash had provided the organization with “a strong cash runway,” that would give Quibi “the financial wherewithal to build content and technology that consumers embrace.”

Originally called “New TV”, the initial investors of the service included Hollywood titans Disney, NBCUniversal, and Sony Pictures Entertainment just to name a few. While the amount of money raised was minuscule compared to services like Netflix, it was still an impressive start for an untested idea.

The service did itself no favors, however, in trying to gain new subscribers. Along with being mobile-only, the service started at $4.99 per month for an ad-supported subscription, only slightly cheaper from more robust offerings like Hulu and ESPN+. While you could pay $7.99 per month to get rid of ads, you were also forbidden from taking screenshots, limiting the ability of content on the service to go viral.

Quibi was also financing content, meaning that ownership would revert back to creators after just a few short years. This means building a growing library of content owned by the service was an uphill battle from the start.

“This was flawed from the start, down to the idea of financing content and then giving it back to the creators after a few years.” Said a veteran producer who refused to work with the company, “There is anger in town right now, because it just makes it harder to raise money.”

Quibi is set to be inaccessible starting around the beginning of December, according to a post on the company’s support site. While much of the service’s content will not be missed, one still wonders what might have been had the company managed to gain some traction, or the COVID-19 pandemic had not come to pass. Either way, Quibi’s business partners may want to read up on some of these tips as they discuss where things should go from here.

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Acorns launches job searching tool, but is that what job hunters need?

(TECH NEWS) When it comes to job searching, many people are able to find jobs online, it’s getting the interview where people need help.

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Woman doing a job search on laptop seated on floor

If you are currently job searching, you are likely going to sites like Indeed (250M unique visitors monthly) and LinkedIn (260M users monthly). You may also be checking out ZipRecruiter because they’ve advertised on every single podcast you’ve ever listened to. Just for fun, you might also be looking at jobs on Craigslist for your local area. This could have excited you or depressed you.

If you want an easy way to aggregate several job search sites, you may like the app Huntr that will pull in job postings (after you put in some preferences) from Glassdoor, Google, LinkedIn, ZipRecruiter, GitHub, the muse, Dice, Monster, Indeed, Angel.co, Dribbble, etc. so you have them all within one place.

Acorns has joined in on the job postings board by implementing a Job Finder within their app, in an effort to help people find work which makes sense if they want more people to save through their platform. “Acorns is an American financial technology and financial services company based in Irvine, California that specializes in micro-investing and robo-investing. As of 2019, Acorns had over 4.5 million users and over $1.2 billion in assets under management.”

The article from The Press that describes it tells consumers about adding in a Job Finder to help millions of people find jobs. But really, it’s great as a positive public relations initiative (and likely will drive more visits to ZipRecruiter postings) since it’s within their app. The gesture is nice but will it really help?

“Within a few taps, Acorns customers at every tier can find millions of full-time, part-time, and remote job opportunities, set job alerts, and explore custom career development content to support their financial wellness at no additional cost. By introducing Job Finder to its financial wellness system, Acorns is looking after the financial best interests of the up-and-coming and removing a main barrier to its customers achieving their money goals.”

Most people know where to find job postings. What they don’t know is why they aren’t hearing back from their applications or how to be invited for more interviews. It would be great if companies really wanted to help make an impact on unemployment by:

  • Offering career coaching services or references to candidates that do not fit what the hiring manager or HR person is looking for.
  • Giving people access to what key skills they need on their resume within the job posting (less vague and generic descriptions).
  • Within the automated rejection letters, including a referral or resources that will help them break through the clutter or introduce them to current employees or how to get to know the company better – in case there’s a position that is a better fit.
  • Ensuring that all job postings are for real jobs and real openings – it should be made clear to candidates if the job posting is for pipelining talent and/or not going to be offered to an external candidate.
  • Bringing back some humans in to the automated process. Yes, ATS (Applicant Tracking Systems) are great for the employers and companies who are fielding hundreds of applicants. They are terrible for the 40 million currently unemployed. More about ATS here from Jobscan if you are curious. They are built to knock out candidates.
  • Considering hosting webinars, educational speakers, or events where candidates can get in front of you versus solely relying on online submissions.
  • Contemplating implementing an apprentice program so that less experienced applicants may gain knowledge and learn from more experienced workers – but you would also be getting fresh ideas and new talent for growth within your organization.

There are many caring people and organizations out there so it would be great to see some more assistance for job seekers versus just more places listing job postings or the same job boards but in different formats.

There also seems to be a mismatch in looking to hire someone based on what they have done in the past – when really, the best qualified candidate may have a different background and be looking to make a switch to continue to grow and learn. The perfect match of key words in a database to a resume are not always the best way to find the right fit.

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Tech News

Bet you forgot about them: Yahoo Groups is shutting down

(TECH NEWS) After over a year-long process, Yahoo is finally shutting down Yahoo Groups for good, marking the end of an internet era.

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Yahoo Groups is shutting down.

For a long while, most of us forgot that Yahoo Groups still existed in a very limited way, of course. But now, it’s going to be discontinued for good. Yahoo announced that the Yahoo Groups website will be shutting down on December 15, 2020.

The removal process of Yahoo Groups is one that began in October of last year. At that time, Yahoo decided to no longer allow new content to be uploaded to the Groups site. Features that allowed for sharing files and photos, creating polls, etc. were all removed. However, users could still view and download any existing content. On its website, a statement read, “Don’t worry, though, Yahoo Groups is not going away…” But, we all knew that was never going to be the case.

In December 2019, the Yahoo Customer Care Twitter account tweeted that content on the Groups site would no longer be available or viewable. Users had until the end of January to download their data before it would be permanently deleted. All public groups became private and would require administrator approval to join. Also, admins had limited access to other administration tools, but group members could, at least, still send messages to each other.

Earlier this month, the creation of new groups was disabled. And now, the end of Yahoo Groups is on the horizon. On its site, a pop-up message reads:

Announcement: End of Yahoo Groups
We’re shutting down the Yahoo Groups website on December 15, 2020 and members will no longer be able to send or receive emails from Yahoo Groups. Yahoo Mail features will continue to function as expected and there will be no changes to your Yahoo Mail account, emails, photos or other inbox content. There will also be no changes to other Yahoo properties or services. You can find more information about the Yahoo Groups shutdown and alternative service options on this help page.

Yahoo said, “Yahoo Groups has seen a steady decline in usage over the last several years.” As a result, this is why the company decided to shut it down. “While these decisions are never easy, we must sometimes make difficult decisions regarding products that no longer fit our long-term strategy as we hone our focus on other areas of the business,” Yahoo added.

What became of Yahoo Groups isn’t even a bare-bones version of what it was during its prime. And, frankly, I don’t think it will ever be resurrected. Sometimes all good things must come to an end.

But, if you are a former Groups user and want to stay connected with your groups, the Yahoo Groups’ help page, hopefully, has all your answers.

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