[News] Back to the ’70s with ABBA-tars for comeback tour
ABBA is back! Sweden’s most famous foursome, Abba, released the new album Voyager this week, after 40 years away from the music scene. Touring the new material in May 2022, ABBA has promised to also perform as digital versions of themselves singing old favorites. Fans are sure to love it!.
The “Abba-tars”, will use holographic suits to perform today, but appear as they looked when at their peak in 1979. The real band members (in their 70s) will perform, and the audience will see them move for real, yet this will be combined with past footage – to make them look as if they are 40 years younger.
Behind this technology feat of motion capture mastery is the team at Industrial Light & Magic, (founded by George Lucas). The 850-strong team uses the latest design technology to make holograms look real. They’re most famous for their work in the film Avatar.
The fabulous four; Björn Ulvaeus, Benny Andersson, Agnetha Fältskog and Anni-Frid Lyngstad so-named ABBA after their first initials. ABBA enlisted the ILM team to create avatars of themselves and project holograms to a 3000 capacity specially built venue, called the ABBA Arena.
The band has always had a clear passion for technology and especially music production. Björn and Benny polished most of their studio recordings to get those famous vocal harmonies just so. This was key to ABBA’s rocking success. The techy duo is also behind the recreation of their concerts as ABBA-tars.
Today, Björn Ulvaeus is the president of the International Confederation of Societies of Authors and Composers. Since 2016, he has been involved in developing a software system that ensures songwriters and musicians receive the royalty payments they are due.
Set to perform their first concerts in London since they ‘officially’ parted ways in 1982, it’s kind of a big deal for fans around the world.
If you enjoyed the plot of Mamma Mia, where the madcap antics of the past created excitement in the present, a specially-built ABBA arena where you can see ABBA’s original performances as if they were happening for real sounds amazing. (Not that we’re ABBA-tizing!)
In other news
- Apple backs down. After outcry from almost everyone in the tech space, Apple has decided to roll back its plans to scan users’ devices for child sexual abuse materials. In a statement sent to Gizmodo, Apple said: “Based on feedback from customers, advocacy groups, researchers and others, we have decided to take additional time over the coming months to collect input and make improvements before releasing these critically important child safety features.” Apple’s quest to stop CSAM, while a noble one, had prompted concerns from security researchers worried about the ease of hacking the system, as well as privacy advocates who feared that these plans would open the door to other invasive actions in the future.
- Cybercriminals draining gift cards in email. In an interesting low-stakes scam, KrebsonSecurity reports a new trend in which hackers gain access to email accounts and then, using automated tools, find gift cards, frequent flyer miles, hotel rewards and similar points and rewards services that they can skim and resell. According to KrebsOnSecurity’s source, these hackers “are looking for low-hanging fruit — basically cash in your inbox. Whether it’s related to hotel or airline rewards or just Amazon gift cards, after they successfully log in to the account their scripts start pilfering inboxes looking for things that could be of value.” The best way to protect yourself from these scammers is to immediately enable two-factor authentication on your email accounts so that even if someone obtains your password, they will not be able to access your account.
- Facebook admits user engagement isn’t all it seems. In a recent announcement, Facebook acknowledges that they have been researching how users interact with political content in their feed, and have discovered that using engagement (items a viewer clicks on, likes, or even lingers on) isn’t the best way to determine what their users want to see in their feed. In particular, political content tended to show extremely high engagement numbers, but in reality, their research showed that users want less, not more, politics in their feeds.
As Wired notes, this announcement from Facebook is “perhaps the most explicit recognition to date by a major platform that ‘what people engage with’ is not always synonymous with ‘what people value’.” In other words, just because you click on something or comment on it doesn’t mean you actually want to see more of it.
Tip of the week
Working remotely in a coffee shop or community office space is a popular practice. Our tip this week is on the off-chance you’ve forgotten your charger cable, or yours is broken, think twice before you borrow a lightning cable from a friendly stranger. Despite being a hacker’s delight, OMG lightning cables, previously an experimental product used for cyber penetration testing, are now available to retailers for sale.
This lightning cable looks exactly like Apple’s version, and creates a wireless hotspot inside the cable, allowing hackers to monitor all your keystrokes, stealing any passwords. The cable has geofencing features, so hackers can block and intercept communications to your device. The hotspot, if used by someone else in the vicinity, compromises their device too. They can block other devices which want to connect with yours, preventing a security feature from warning you of the infiltration. All this is possible with a hacker sitting up to one mile away.
In a Mission Impossible type twist, if engagement is detected, the cable has a self-destruct feature, making the hacker impossible to trace. If you’ve forgotten your cable, or left your phone unattended for a period of time in a common space, perhaps make that coffee ‘to go’?