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Trump’s AT&T merger position at odds with FCC dismantling of net neutrality

(TECH NEWS) We all know Trump hates the TWC/AT&T merger, but no one has noticed that the FCC is simultaneously filling the companies’ pockets. Is Trump’s administration even aware of this conflict?

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A snag in Trump’s fabric

Though it’s been clear from the start of his campaign for presidency that Donald Trump’s focus is to bring jobs and grow small America’s wealth, one snag in the fabric of his stout business-first beliefs is that of net neutrality.

The administration is currently fighting against a “big cable” merger while simultaneously preparing to stuff their pockets by dismantling net neutrality.

The contradiction makes it impossible to tell if they’re in favor of the mega brands or not.

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Fighting the potential monopoly

Referred to by his fans and biggest supporters as the “champion for the forgotten millions” and being for the “little man” (referring to small business in America), he has repeatedly spoken out against the potential AT&T/Time Warner Cable merger.

It would, indeed, be a huge monopoly. The biggest service provider merged with a company that owns HBO, Warner Bros (that means Harry Potter, folks), and the NBA (I mean – name a network, TWC likely owns it. Yep, that’s one of them. That one too. And that one).

Though mildly surprising, it doesn’t quite reach shock-level when noted that CNN is also owned by Time Warner Cable. The network with which Trump potentially has the biggest beef. It makes sense that the man who casts a side eye at the media would not want to deepen their pockets or their reach.

So – that’s easy, right? Done. Figured it out.

Not so fast.

Limiting Americans’ access to info

Trump’s hand-selected FCC Chairman pick, Ajit Pai, is slashing through net neutrality safeguards. Pai is a former Verizon attorney, and not to say he can’t do his job at the FCC without bias, but these unpopular moves are a clear win for his former employer.

The Trump administration has been loud and clear on their intentions for the nation. All except for this – the one issue where two things are being said at once. Loudly.

The freedom of access to information, AKA net neutrality, allows all Americans to have the same information available to them as any other American. Whether you’re in Brooklyn or a small town in Nebraska, running a startup in SF, or a mom ‘n’ pop shop in Louisiana, the pipeline is open and equal.

Once regulations that sustain this flow are removed, broadband and cable providers have the opportunity to cash in by segmenting information or even diverting it away.

Want to stream video games? That’ll cost extra. Want to use Facebook? Sure, but our company made a deal with Google+ and that means Zuck’s stuff will just move… very… slowly. Want to watch Fox News, CNN, or MSNBC? No, you don’t. You can’t afford that package. But Cartoon Network is free!

The same regulations that keep access to information free from bundling and extra fees, when removed, would deepen the pockets and reach of companies like AT&T and TWC. In the same way that the proposed merger would. Scratching your head? Us too.

This conflict will likely inflame Trump’s relationship with the Libertarian arm of the Republican party, and could spell disaster for the Trump movement, not to mention the fact that no party is openly in favor of nixing net neutrality. The American people who can see through the poorly marketed concept of net neutrality are universally in favor of keeping information free.

So what now?

So, where will it go from here? If the merger reaches the SEC (possible, but not an absolute), will there be a clash between departments in a Trump administration?

Does Trump really stand behind Pai’s decisions, and if so, will he back down from his formerly harsh stance on the merger? Is the Trump administration aligned with cable companies or not? It’s impossible to tell.

Most importantly, can the market really be free if access to information is controlled by the few?

#CableContradictions

Jenna keeps the machine well-oiled as the Operations Coordinator at The American Genius and The Real Daily. She earned her degree in Spanish at the University of North Texas and when she isn't crossing things off her to-do list, she is finding her center in the clean and spacious aisles of Target or rereading Harry Potter for the billionth time.

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iOS 15 beta has blur nude photos opt-in, but its not without fault

(TECH NEWS) To protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos.

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Woman looking at Apple iPhone representing new iOS 15 beta that will blur nude photos.

In a move to protect children from explicit content, the most recent beta version of iOS 15 includes a feature that allows users to blur nude photos received in the Messages app. Amid privacy concerns, the feature has yet to be released.

The option to blur nude photos is opt-in, reports The Verge, and does not prevent users from choosing to view the photos in question even after being implemented.

This iteration of the feature is distinct from the original one insofar as it will no longer alert a parent or guardian when nude photos are encountered. While this may seem like a controversial change, several experts pointed out that exposing nude content on a child’s device in some households could result in abuse or, as Harvard Cyberlaw Clinic instructor Kendra Albert suggests, the outing of “queer or transgender children to their parents.”

With the most recent version of this feature enabled, children who receive inappropriate photos via the Messages app would be able to do two things: choose to avoid (or see) the content, and choose to send a report to a trusted adult if they see fit to do so.

Blurring photos is just one of several aspects of Apple’s Communication Safety suite, a feature that aims to prevent child sex abuse by making it easier for children to avoid and report predatory content.

 

Child on electronic device- iOS 15 beta that will allow blur nude photos should protect children.

Another feature that Apple has tested – but not released – is their Child Sex Abuse Imagery Detection (CSAM-detection), which scans and reports iCloud content that shows child pornography or abuse to Apple moderators for further review. As one can imagine, the feature drew mixed criticism, the majority of which came from privacy advocates.

While the vast majority of humanity can (hopefully) agree that fighting against child exploitation is a noble cause, these groups argue that scanning and reporting individuals’ personal photos via an algorithm opens the door to government interference and increased surveillance. Switching the algorithm’s baseline to scan for things like anti-government content, for example, would be easy, these groups posit, making the feature extremely dangerous in principle.

There is no current release date set for any of these aforementioned features, though iPhone users can reasonably expect them to drop at some point during iOS 15’s development.

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Amazon Music debuts synchronized text transcripts for popular podcasts

(TECH) The first feature to hit Amazon Music is auto-generated and synchronized text transcripts for their most popular podcast shows. Sign us up!

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Amazon Music Transcripts

Amazon set out to accelerate the growth and evolution of podcasts last year by acquiring the podcasting network, Wondery. Now, the company is doing just that with the launch of its auto-generated and synchronized podcast transcripts feature on Amazon Music.

According to an Amazon Music tweet, with this feature, you’ll be able to “Roll it back, jump ahead, and follow along” with the podcast you’re listening to. For instance, you can scrub through the transcript to find that line of text with that quote or movie and book suggestion you can’t quite remember. When you tap on a particular line of text in the transcript, you’ll be able to jump straight into that specific part of the podcast. I can already see all the time saved! But, if you just want to read along as you listen, you can do that, too. The transcript will match the audio as you’re hearing it.

Right now, the company is only rolling out podcast transcripts in the US on both iOS and Android devices. When it will expand to other countries isn’t known, and the feature isn’t available for all podcasts yet. For now, it is only available on a selection of popular podcasts like Smartless, Crime Junkie, This American Life, Uncommon Ground, and Modern Love, but more are coming.

Amazon Music Homescreen

To use it, all you have to do is open the podcasts tab on Amazon Music and select one of the podcasts you’d like to listen to. Of course, you’ll need to select a show with the podcast transcription feature to see it. When your show is playing, on the top of the album art and in fullscreen mode, the transcriptions will be available for you to read along to.

Oh, and if you’re worried about having to read through the ads, you have nothing to fret about. Ads won’t be transcribed. Instead, the transcription will read “audio not transcribed” when they are playing.

So far, Amazon seems to be going strong in the podcasting game with the release of podcast transcripts. The feature makes it easy to search and find what you are looking for in a show. And, for those on a long and noisy bus and subway ride, you’ll finally be able to read the information you previously couldn’t hear.

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UX design: If you don’t have it, get yourself an audit made easy

(TECH NEWS) UX design is important. By conducting a simple audit to make sure your site is accessible, you can minimize the number of people that quickly go away.

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Two UX design people standing in front of a whiteboard with a UX map.

A good UX design is essential in attracting and retaining customers. A seamless and positive experience will keep customers happy and bring your business many benefits, like increasing audience engagement and sales.

But, how do you know if your user experience is in need of help, so people don’t bounce away quickly? Well, if UX is not your forte, the best thing to do is to hire a good UX designer. Unfortunately, sometimes hiring one isn’t always within the budget.

So, what do you do then? The next best thing is to conduct a UX audit of your website or app. Not sure where to begin? Fulcrum’s Do It Yourself UX Audit kit is one place to start.

According to the website, this DIY UX audit “can help you gain valuable insights about the usability of your product.” The tool detects problems in your UX, prioritizes them for you, and finds out how you can fix any existing issues.

The tool is made out of free easy-to-use Notion templates. These UX audit checklists are all customizable, and you can print them or save them on your Notion dashboard to use later.

Inside each template, there are cards with descriptions and examples. Depending on if you meet certain criteria or not, you drag and drop the card into the “Yes” or “No” column. When you’re finished, you will easily see what issues you have, and you can work on fixing them.

The templates are divided into Junior and Middle-level templates.

The Junior level has templates for things such as field and forms, login, mobile UX, and architecture. Most of these templates help make sure you cover your basic UX bases. For instance, it looks at whether your website is desktop and mobile-friendly, and if each element makes sense and is easily identifiable.

The Middle Level dives in a little deeper. The “Visibility of system status” audit checks if you are keeping your audience informed on what’s going on. Things like battery life, loading, or Wi-Fi connection indicators can make a huge difference. No one wants to stare at a screen with no clue if what they clicked on is working or not.

If you can afford it and want a UX virtuoso to do the work for you, you can get a UX audit from Fulcrum. The experts will conduct a full-fledged UX audit and create wireframes with solutions for your UX issues.

However, no matter how you go about it, a good UX design is important. Higher rate conversions and user retention won’t happen if your product is just pushing people away.

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