This week on The Shift with Drex, I talked about the Fortnite World Cup and esports, takeaways from the Capital One data leak, and what makes Rocky Mountain’s electric mountain bikes so special.
Tech round-up for July 31: Fortnite World Cup success no surprise, Apex Legends tourney, implications of the Capital One hack, Rocky Mountain's electric bikes astound
This week, what the Capital One hack means for you and Rocky Mountain’s electric-assist mountain bikes are best. But first, the latest eSports news, including Fortnite World Cup and Apex Legends Preseason Invitational.
Fortnite tournament success a surprise to “olds” everywhere
The purse was thirty million U.S. dollars. The winner, a sixteen year old who plays under the moniker “Bugha”, said he was going to buy a new desk with his three million cut, which compares to what the Wimbledon winners took home this year.
Calgary’s Hayden Krueger – gamertag Elevate – came in third in the Duos category and took home $900,000.
The three-day event was held at Arthur Ashe stadium in Queens, New York, which typically hosts tennis matches (like the US Open). It included a “mini theme park” with a zipline and mini golf and an afternoon performance by electronic music performer Marshmello.
The sold out event was attended by 19,000 people. More than half a million watched on YouTube and Twitch, with 2.3 million watching the solo finals.
And despite all the hand-wringing and confusion from many of the major media outlets, Kyle “Bugha” Giersdorf, 16, was a guest on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon on Monday. Same as any other winner of a major competitive event.
If there’s something to question about the Fortnite World Cup, it’s not the arena, or the choice of weapon, or the age of the competitor. It’s the gender.
Keith Stuart, writing in the Guardian wonders why, if some 35 percent of Fortnite players are female, as Epic claims, not one of the 100 finalists in the tournament was female.
The truth is that creating a women only event is probably a good idea. It’s time for the game publishers and esports promoters to get proactive on this.
Apex Legends tournament to be held in Poland this September
Fortnite isn’t the only video game to stage public competitions. In Krakow, Poland, this September, 80 teams from around the world will be playing Apex Legends, created by Respawn and published by Electronic Arts, in a Preseason Invitational.
This is the fourth preseason event. Others include the EXP Pro-Am in Los Angeles and the EXP Invitational being held at the X Games. Both of those events are sponsored by ESPN.
The Preseason Invitational has a prize pool of US$500,000.
Teams of three interested in being considered for the tournament are encouraged to apply.
Capital One hack affirms consumers need to be ready for anything
The personal information of more than 100 million people – including 6 million Canadians – who applied for Capital One credit cards between 2005 and 2019 was stolen.
While the theft occurred sometime after March 2019, the company didn’t even know about it until they were alerted by someone to whom the hacker had bragged about the theft.
In Seattle earlier this week, Paige Thompson, a software engineer who used the handle “erratic” online, was arrested by the FBI.
Capital One Canada says that the vulnerability that permitted the hack has been fixed and that individuals affected will be contacted directly, and will have credit monitoring and identity theft insurance provided for free.
The company said today that it would not be phoning or texting customers, though, so if you get a call or message that seems like it’s come from Capital One, don’t respond. It’s likely a phishing scam.
The information gathered by Thompson include personal details included on application forms, credit scores and balances, and some “transactional data”.
About 1 million Canadian Social Insurance Numbers (SINs) were also collected.
While passwords don’t seem to have been implicated, you should change your passwords anyway.
And you should monitor your Capital One statements for at least the next six months.
As for Thompson, she was strangely open about what she was doing, which suggests there may be more to this story than we know.
Rocky Mountain’s electronic mountain bike technology, Dyname 3.0, and Powerplay bikes are in a class of their own
Rocky Mountain Bicycles make among the best mountain bikes in the world. Designed in North Vancouver, the company has been in the business of making it fun to ride since being founded in 1981.
Now, after ten years of research, Rocky Mountain has developed the Dyname drive, an electric assist technology being deployed on three bikes:
The trick with creating an electric mountain bike is that riding trails is not like riding on a street. There’s nothing constant on a trail. You’re pedalling hard one moment, and coasting the next.
An electric motor that takes a few seconds to catch isn’t much use. There’s virtually no lag with Rocky Mountain’s Dyname 3.0 system, which monitors chain tension to know when it needs to engage. “You pedal, it goes,” reads the company’s promotional material.
The battery is integrated into the downtube of the frame and is completely sealed from the elements, so there’s no need to worry about riding in the rain (or snow).
And you can set the level of assist you want using a smartphone app.
Tech round-up for July 24: Stop using FaceApp, reconsider TikTok, Google fixing private browsing in Chrome, playing the fake news game
This week, Google is fixing a loophole in Chrome’s incognito mode and browser interaction teaches about the disinformation game. But first, why you should stop using FaceApp and TikTok.
Stop using FaceApp right now
If all of the talk and commentary in the past week hasn’t convinced you to delete the app from your smartphone, here’s another opportunity to reconsider.
While the app, which digitally ages a photograph of a person, has been around since 2017, it’s become popular again recently due to the new aging feature.
And while there is no evidence, as yet, that data and images collected by FaceApp have been used maliciously, by using the app you grant the company incredible permission to the use of your inages.
Just check out this section, quoted from the company’s terms of service
“You grant FaceApp a perpetual, irrevocable, nonexclusive, royalty-free, worldwide, fully-paid, transferable sub-licensable license to use, reproduce, modify, adapt, publish, translate, create derivative works from, distribute, publicly perform and display your User Content and any name, username or likeness provided in connection with your User Content in all media formats and channels now known or later developed, without compensation to you… You grant FaceApp consent to use the User Content, regardless of whether it includes an individual’s name, likeness, voice or persona, sufficient to indicate the individual’s identity. By using the Services, you agree that the User Content may be used for commercial purposes.”
If that’s not enough to keep you from installing FaceApp, there’s also news that fake versions are now showing up in app stores that install malware on your smartphone.
Reconsider letting your kids use TikTok
Another app that’s become popular, especially with kids, is TikTok. And it’s another one to be very wary of.
The video sharing app merged with Musical.ly in 2018 and paid $5.7 million to settle an FTC compaint for collecting information about the children who were using it. The company is facing another investigation for collecting data on kids in the United Kingdom.
TikTok is owned by a Chinese company, ByteDance, and while the company’s data policy has been recently revised (in part due to a fine by the FTC), anyone who was a user prior to February 2019 may have had data processed in China.
David Carroll teaches design and technology at the New School in New York and is featured in the new Netflix documentary The Great Hack which makes the argument that while social media is hailed as something that can connect us has in fact been weaponized against us.
Carroll, who sued Cambridge Analytica to find out what happened to his personal data recently tweeted that users of TikTok and FaceApp should assume their data is readily accessible by the Chinese and Russian governments.
PSA: TikTok is Chinese and FaceApp is Russian. Safe to assume those governments can readily access your data if you use these apps.— David Carroll (@profcarroll) July 17, 2019
Google making “incognito” browsing more private
Google is changing how private browsing works in the Chrome browser later this month.
Details were released in a blog post from the company last week.
The change is to close a loophole that has allowed companies and organizations to know if you were browsing in incognito mode. Some content publishers were restricting access to people who were browsing incognito, which is one way of trying to circumvent paywall meters.
The change isn’t being made to thwart publishers, but to affirm the right of Chrome users.
In the post, Barb Fraser, who manages news and web partnerships for Google, wrote; “We want you to be able to access the web privately, with the assurance that your choice to do so is private as well.”
Browser game challenges you to become a “bad actor” in search of followers
Bad News is a new interactive browser experience that puts you in the role of a “bad actor”. The objective is to gain followers and credibility, all while spreading false information.
The game begins by asking you to take the position of “fake news tycoon” and leads you through how people and organizations spread “fake news” by illuminating the tools and tactics they use. Along the way you earn badges for the things you do. The “impersonation” badge, for example, is earned when you, an “angry citizen,” create an online news site and give yourself the title of “editor-in-chief”.
The game was developed as a “publicly accessible media literacy tool” by DROG, a collective of European “academics, journalists, and media-experts”. It’s a great example of how games and interactive experiences can help us to better understand different perspectives by having us walk a mile in those shoes.
Bad News is playable in other languages and the creators have come up with a version of the game intended for kids aged 8 to 10.
Researchers at Cambridge University studied 15,000 players and found that playing the game can act to innoculate people against those same techniques being used against them.
Educating people about how disinformation is created and how to detect it is critical, as we know that it’s nearly impossible to try and correct it after it’s been distributed.
The Shift with Drex, July 17: #FacebookFine, #FaceApp, #TwitterTest, #MacbookAir, #MacbookPro, #RobertaWilliams, #VFS
This week on The Shift with Drex, I talked about the $5 billion fine to be assessed against Facebook, the perils of the FaceApp Facebook app, Twitter’s feature test in Canada, Apple’s updates to the MacBook Air and MacBook Pro 13-inch, and a new scholarship at Vancouver Film School for female game designers.