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Everything posted by NelsonG

  1. While laptops are wonderful for watching movies and TV shows, sometimes you just need a dedicated machine for getting the job done with no distractions. A great laptop for business needs to be versatile for an assortment of daily tasks, including word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and web research. SEE ALSO: Best cheap laptops in the UK: 7 options for under £500 In the business world, "the dog ate my homework" is not a good excuse. Business laptops need to be light enough to easily take to meetings and conferences across the country (or around the world), while also performing under pressure and maintaining battery life. The last thing you want is your laptop dying in the middle of an important presentation or meeting. Read more... More about Tech, Microsoft, Tablet, Lenovo, and ComputersView the full article
  2. You may have heard the news earlier this year about an all-digital Xbox One S. Well, Microsoft has now taken the next step and officially unveiled the new console, and you can pre-order it for under £200 from Amazon. The Xbox One S all-digital edition console is due to be released on May 7. You can ensure that you are one of the first to get your hands on the new device by pre-ordering for £199.99. If you order now and the Amazon price decreases between the time you place your order and the release date, you'll be charged the lowest price. So you are guaranteed the best deal. The digital Xbox One S comes with a wireless controller, a one-month Xbox Live Gold subscription, and download codes for Minecraft, Forza Horizon 3, and Sea of Thieves. The new console is identical to the regular Xbox One S except it doesn't have a disc drive. This means you won't be able to play game discs, but everything is downloadable nowadays anyway. Read more... More about Xbox One S, Mashable Shopping, Shopping Solo, Shopping Uk, and Uk DealsView the full article
  3. If you have got a seemingly ever-growing list of items that you absolutely must have, then you are not alone. We definitely aren't recommending going on a massive splurge and ticking everything off. We are recommending taking the opportunity to save on your most wanted products. Until midnight on April 22, you can get your wishlist for less from selected sellers on eBay, with a helpful code. Simply make a purchase of £20 or more on eBay, enter the code PRO10 at the checkout when prompted, and receive a 10 percent discount. It is worth noting that the maximum discount you can receive is £50 per redemption and you are limited to one redemption, but that's still a considerable saving. Read more... More about Ebay, Nintendo Switch, Mashable Shopping, Shopping Solo, and Nintendo Switch Bundles View the full article
  4. Attorney general William Barr held a press conference Thursday morning to discuss the long-awaited Mueller report, a move which has been criticized by Democrats as unnecessary and "inappropriate." Next to him stood deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who spent most of the conference staring intensely into the middle distance. Remember when Chris Christie stood next to Trump during a rally and looked like he'd just woken up on a submarine to hell? This was kind of like that. Several people made "Sound of Silence" jokes. madame tousseau's new rod rosenstein figure looks pretty lifelike — Sopan Deb (@SopanDeb) April 18, 2019 Read more... More about Twitter, Social Media, Rod Rosenstein, Mueller Report, and CultureView the full article
  5. If there weren’t enough obstacles already standing between Congress and the results of the special counsel’s multiyear investigation, lawmakers are expecting to need an optical drive to read the document. A Justice Department official told the Associated Press that a CD containing the Mueller report would be delivered to Congress tomorrow between 11 and noon Eastern. At some point after the CDs are delivered, the report is expected to be made available to the public on the special counsel’s website. Any Congressional offices running Macs will likely have to huddle up with colleagues who still have a CD-capable drive. Optical drives disappeared from Apple computers years ago. With people increasingly reliant on cloud storage over physical storage, they’re no longer as popular on Windows machines either. Tomorrow’s version of the report is expected to come with a fair amount of detail redacted throughout, though a portion of Congress may receive a more complete version at a later date. The report’s release on Thursday will be preceded by a press conference hosted by Attorney General William Barr and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. If you ask us, there’s little reason to tune into that event rather than waiting for substantive reporting on the actual contents of the report once it’s out in the wild. Better yet, hunker down and read some of the 400 pages yourself while you wait for thoughtful analyses to materialize. Remember: No matter what sound bites start flying tomorrow morning, digesting a dense document like this takes time. Don’t trust anyone who claims to have synthesized the whole thing right off the bat. After all, America has waited this long for the Mueller report to materialize — letting the dust settle won’t do any harm. View the full article
  6. Apple's new iPhone models, likely coming out this fall, will get an improved selfie camera, and two new models will get a triple camera with a super-wide lens, a new report claims. The news is courtesy of reliable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors), and while it mostly rehashes his report from early April, it does mention a few new details. SEE ALSO: 2 More New iPhones? Kuo claims that the 6.5-inch OLED and the 5.8-inch OLED iPhones — corresponding to the iPhone XS Max and the iPhone XS — will get the triple camera, while the 6.1-inch LCD model (corresponding to the iPhone XR) will be upgraded to a dual camera. Read more... More about Iphone, Ming Chi Kuo, 2019 Iphone, Tech, and Consumer Tech View the full article
  7. Apple announced today a further investment in its recycling programs and related e-waste efforts, which includes an expansion of its recycling program for consumers and the announcement of a new, 9,000-square-foot Material Recovery Lab based in Austin, Texas, focused on discovering future recycling processes. The company also reported the success of its existing efforts around recycling and refurbishing older Apple devices, and keeping electronic waste from landfills. The expansion of the recycling program will quadruple the number of locations in the U.S. where consumers can send their iPhones to be disassembled by Daisy, the recycling robot Apple introduced last year — also just ahead of Earth Day. The robot was developed in-house by Apple engineers, and is able to disassemble different types of iPhone models at a rate of 200 iPhones per hour. Daisy can now disassemble and recycle used iPhones returned to Best Buy stores in the U.S. and KPN retailers in the Netherlands. Customers can also send in iPhones for recycling through the Apple Store or through Apple’s Trade In program online. When Daisy was first introduced, it could disassemble 9 different iPhone models. Now, it can handle 15. This allows Apple to recover parts for re-use. That includes iPhone batteries, which are now sent back upstream in Apple’s supply chain where they’re combined with scrap, allowing cobalt to be recovered for the first time. Apple also uses 100 percent recycled tin in the main logic boards of 11 different products, and notes its aluminum alloy made from 100 percent recycled aluminum reduced the carbon footprint of the new MacBook Air and Mac mini by nearly half. Apple says Daisy can disassemble 1.2 million devices per year, and it has received nearly a million devices through its various programs. It also in 2018 refurbished over 7.8 million Apple devices for resale, and diverted over 48,000 metric tons of electronic waste from landfills. This year, aluminum recovered through Apple’s Trade In program will be remelted into the enclosures for the MacBook Air. The company announced today another significant investment in its recycling efforts with the opening of a Material Recovery Lab in Austin, which will work with Apple engineers and academia on coming up with more solutions to recycling industry challenges. The lab also houses large equipment, typically found at e-waste facilities, to aid in this research. (See above) “Advanced recycling must become an important part of the electronics supply chain, and Apple is pioneering a new path to help push our industry forward,” said Lisa Jackson, Apple’s vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, in a statement. “We work hard to design products that our customers can rely on for a long time. When it comes time to recycle them, we hope that the convenience and benefit of our programs will encourage everyone to bring in their old devices.” Along with the news around recycling efforts, Apple also released its 2019 Environment report, which contains additional information on the company’s climate change solutions. On Earth Day (April 22), Apple will host environmentally themed sessions at its stores and feature environmentally conscious apps and games on its App Store collections, as well. View the full article
  8. After nearly two years of investigation and months of delays — not to mention partisan bickering the whole time, Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s report on the president’s campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 election is out today. We’re not a politics news site but we’re still looking into it — tech has figured more prominently than ever in the last few years and understanding its role in what could be a major political event is crucial for the industry and government both. The report and discussion thereof is bound to be highly politically charged from the get-go and the repercussions from what is disclosed therein are sure to reach many in and out of office. But there are also interesting threads to pull as far as events and conspiracies that could only exist online or using modern technology and services, and for these the perspective of technology, not politics, reporting may be best suited to add context and interpretation. What do we expect to find in the report that is of particular interest to the tech world? The topic that is most relevant and least explored already is the nature of Russia’s most direct involvement in the 2016 election, namely the hack of the Democratic National Committee email server, attributed to Russia’s GRU intelligence unit, and funneling of this information to WikiLeaks and the Trump campaign. The recent arrest of Julian Assange may prove relevant here. The report will illuminate many things relating to these events, not necessarily technical details — although they may have been furnished by any number of parties — but plans, dates, people involved, and networks through which the hack and resulting data were communicated. Why was this added to Mueller’s pile in the first place? What about Assange? Who knew about the hack and when, and what does that imply? Another topic, which seems more well trodden but about which we can never seem to know enough, is the origin and extent of Russian “troll farm” activity through the so-called Internet Research Agency. We’ve seen a great deal of their work as part of the ongoing barbecue of Facebook’s leadership, and to a lesser extent other social media platforms, but there’s much we don’t know as well. Was there coordination with some U.S. entities? How was the content created, and the topics chosen? Was there a stated outcome, such as dividing the electorate or damaging Clinton’s reputation? Was this contiguous with earlier operations? How, if at all, did it change once Trump was named the Republican candidate, and was this related to other communications with his campaign? The last of our topics of most likely interest is that of the technological methods employed by Mueller in his investigation. Previous investigations of this scale into the activities of sitting presidents and their campaigns have occurred in completely different eras, when things like emails, metadata, and encrypted messaging weren’t, as they are today, commonplace. How did Mueller pursue and collect privileged communications on, for example, private email servers and hosted web services? What services and networks were contacted, and how did they respond? How were the U.S.’ surveillance tools employed? What about location service from tech giants or telecoms? Was other garden-variety metadata — the type we are often told is harmless and which is often unregulated — used in the investigation to any effect? We will be poring over the report with these thoughts and ideas in mind but also with an eye to any other interesting tech-related item that may appear. Perhaps that private server used “admin/password” as their login. Perhaps GRU agents were communicating using a cryptographic method known to be unsafe. Perhaps the vice-president uses a Palm Pre? We’ll leave the politics to cable news and D.C. insiders, but tech is key to this report and we aim to explain why and how. View the full article
  9. It might be time to move on from BBM. The consumer version of the BlackBerry Messenger will shut down on May 31. Emtek, the Indonesia-based company that partnered with BlackBerry in 2016, just announced the closure. It’s important to note, BBM will still exist and BlackBerry today revealed a plan to open its enterprise-version of BBM to general consumers. Starting today, BBM Enterprise will be available through the Google Play Store and eventually from the Apple App Store. The service will be free for the one year and after that, $2.49 for six months of service. This version of the software, like the consumer version, still features group chats, voice and video calls, and the ability to edit and retract messages. As explained by BlackBerry, BBMe features end-to-end encryption. BBMe can be downloaded on any device that uses Android, iOS, Windows or MAC operating systems. The sender and recipient each have unique public/private encryption and signing keys. These keys are generated on the device by a FIPS 140-2 certified cryptographic library and are not controlled by BlackBerry. Each message uses a new symmetric key for message encryption. Additionally, TLS encryption between the device and BlackBerry’s infrastructure protects BBMe messages from eavesdropping or manipulation. BBM is one of the oldest smartphone messaging services. Research in Motion, BlackBerry’s original name, released the messenger in 2005. It quickly became a selling point for BlackBerry devices. BBM wasn’t perfect and occasionally crashed, but it was a robust, feature-filled messaging app when most of the world was still using SMS. Eventually with the downfall of RIM and eventually BlackBerry, BBM fell behind iMessage, WhatsApp, and other independent messaging platforms. Emtek’s partnership with BlackBerry was supposed to bring the service into the current age, but some say the consumer version ended up bloated with games, channels and ads. BlackBerry’s BBMe lacks a lot of those extra features so consumers might find it a better platform for communicating. View the full article
  10. “Some of my fellow musicians who have recently performed in Israel say they are doing it to build bridges and further the cause of peace. Bullshit.”—Roger Waters View the full article
  11. "What's my name?" That's the question the family of Samantha Josephson is making sure everyone asks after getting into a ride-share car. Josephson, 21, was killed last month after getting into what she thought was the Uber she had ordered in downtown Columbia, South Carolina, where she went to college. Her accused killer impersonated an Uber driver. SEE ALSO: You’ve just been harassed in an Uber or Lyft. Here’s what you can do. Now the #WhatsMyName hashtag is spreading — with the help of her family — to make sure more riders safely get home. A website, a growing social presence, and media appearances are all efforts to educate passengers on how to find the correct Uber or Lyft after ordering a car through an app. Read more... More about Uber, Social Good, Lyft, Ride Hailing Apps, and Ride SharingView the full article
  12. Do you ever pause amidst the bloody carnage of Game of Thrones and think: Why can't these people just get along? Well, so does Elmo from Sesame Street, and he's done with all this fighting and incest nonsense. In a magical crossover spot from Game of Thrones and Sesame Street, Elmo shows up in King's Landing to mediate squabbling Lannister siblings Cersei and Tyrion, and...it works. SEE ALSO: 'Game of Thrones' season premiere breaks HBO ratings record The video is part of Sesame Workshop's "Respect Brings Us Together" campaign, which includes videos with Common and a trip to Westworld. You've gotta wonder how far a little respect would go in Westeros, where siblings speak openly about their dreams to murder each other (and might even follow through). If they can't get along, they can at least try! Read more... More about Entertainment, Television, Hbo, Game Of Thrones, and Sesame Street View the full article
  13. At long last, the day has come. A copy of the Mueller report is expected to be released to the general public shortly, and while the American people wait they've decided to pass the time by making comfort memes. Attorney General William Barr is set to release some 400-pages of findings from Mueller's Special Counsel investigation into Donald Trump and his administration's involvement with Russia, but there's a catch: parts of the report will be redacted. The report is said to be "lightly redacted," but having seen the massive redacted portions in the Special Counsel's sentencing memo on Michael Flynn last year, people are rightfully skeptical. As they wonder whether or not the report will be presented with an absurd amount of blacked out text, people are preparing for a potential let down with some jokes. Read more... More about Politics, Memes, Donald Trump, Web Culture, and Robert MuellerView the full article
  14. The NFL's Carolina Panthers hit a sweet spot for fans on Wednesday night as they rolled out their 2019 schedule with the perfect homage to our favorite video games. SEE ALSO: Colin Kaepernick's new 'Icon' jersey sells out in hours There's a lot packed in here for 17 weeks of football (16 games and one off week) but it's incredibly entertaining nonetheless: Skate or Die, Pitfall, Tony Hawk Pro Skater, NBA Jam, Oregon Trail, and Goldeneye all make appearances, scratching that nostalgia itch. But there are a few more recent games, too, including Words With Friends and Pokémon Go. The NFL has made a big to-do in recent years in releasing the official schedule for the upcoming season and each team put out their own spin on a schedule release video, like the Los Angeles Chargers who purposely used stock footage to poke fun at some of their opponents. Read more... More about Nfl, Carolina Panthers, Schedule Release, Culture, and Sports View the full article
  15. The iPhone X is one of Apple's most advanced and most popular smartphones ever. It's a technological marvel inside and out. It's also extremely slippery and you should definitely get a case (even if it's a cheap one) to protect your device. There are a zillion cases you can buy, but which one is right for you and your lifestyle? Here are 6 of the best we recommend. Read more... BEST FOR PROTECTION Image: Amazon The Good Tough • Protects from dust and lint The Bad Bulk • Skinny jeans need not apply The Bottom Line The Defense Series Case from OtterBox can take some abuse, but you will lose some pocketability in the process. 1. OtterBox Defender OtterBox cases are legendary for their ability to take serious abuse and that remains unchanged for the iPhone X. £42.99 from Amazon OtterBox cases are legendary for their ability to take serious abuse and that remains unchanged for the iPhone X. The Defender case is bulky, which means you lose some pocketability (sucks if you wear skinny jeans), but it'll protect your iPhone X from virtually all kinds of impact, dust, and lint. The only downside to Otterbox's iPhone X case is it doesn't shield the screen, which is odd because the Defender cases for other models like the iPhone 8 do. A screen protector will cost you extra, but at least the body is covered up. More about Apple, Lifestyle, Iphone, Shopping, and ProtectionView the full article
  16. The rapper subsequently missed a Boston concert, leading to unrest at the venue View the full article
  17. Hello and welcome back to Equity, TechCrunch’s venture capital-focused podcast, where we unpack the numbers behind the headlines. This week was a bit of a reunion with Kate and Alex on as usual, with the addition of Extra Crunch denizen extraordinaire Danny Crichton. Danny, you may recall, has been a semi-regular Equity co-host over the past year. As Kate explains up front, Equity is out a day early this week due to the Big TechCrunch Robotics Affair in Berkeley today. We’ll be back on Friday with IPO news regarding Zoom and Pinterest and we can’t wait. Ok, all that sorted, what did we talk about? Alex wanted to talk about some market signals that he reads as bullish. Whatever went wrong at the end of 2018 has healed over he thinks because there have been a whole lot of supergiant venture capital rounds and some other stuff. Next, we gave an example of one of those supergiant rounds in the works. The reported Pax round, which could put $400 million into the cannabis vaping company, intrigues us, especially because Pax is the corporate sibling of JUUL, the now-famous e-cigarette company what sold just over a third of itself for nearly $13 billion last year. A truly staggering deal. Then we turned to Brex, the fintech startup that was back in the news this week. Why? Because it raised a $100 million debt round as startups of that sort do. Brex provides a credit card made specifically for startups that require no personal-guarantee. Yeah, risky, we know. We talked about that risk and Brex’s plan to target Fortune 500 business in the future. Rounds for Ro, Kindbody and Carrot Fertility made it a busy week for healthtech, too. Ro is raising at a $500 million valuation to support its three digital health brands: Roman, Rory and Zero. Meanwhile, a pair of fertility startups, Kindbody and Carrot, brought in $15 million and $11 million, respectively. With Danny back on the show, we extended our reach and discussed the latest in the chip and sensor world. NXP, fresh off a failed, multi-billion dollar exit to Qualcomm put money into Hawkeye Technology, a China-based company working in the car sensor space. Equity’s regular hosts mostly nodded as Danny dropped a lot of knowledge. All that and we had some fun. We’ll be back before you know it. Equity drops every Friday at 6:00 am PT, so subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Overcast, Pocket Casts, Downcast and all the casts. View the full article
  18. Google and Amazon are burying the hatchet to better serve users of their respective streaming video platforms, the companies announced this morning. In the months ahead, the official YouTube app will come to Amazon Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs, while the Prime Video app will come to Chromecast and other devices with Chromecast built-in. Prime Video will also become broadly available across the Android TV partner ecosystem, and YouTube’s sister apps — YouTube TV and YouTube Kids — will come to Fire TV later in the year. Google says YouTube users on Fire TV will be able to sign in, have full access to their library, and play videos in 4K HDR at 60 fps on supported devices. Prime Video app users, meanwhile, will be able to stream from the Prime Video catalog, including Amazon’s original programming, 4K videos, and access their Prime Video Channel subscriptions. They can also use Amazon’s X-Ray feature in the app. The truce follows several years of bad relations between the two tech giants, who compete across a number verticals — including their streaming TV platforms and services and, more recently, smart speakers like Echo and Google Home. Chromecast devices and other Google hardware has been off and on banned from Amazon’s retail site, as a result of their disagreements. The companies in 2017 entered another feud — this time over Amazon’s implementation of a YouTube player on its Echo Show, which Google said it did without consultation. It pulled Amazon’s access from YouTube, then Amazon worked around the problem by sending Echo users to the YouTube homepage instead. Today, many of Google’s hardware devices are still unavailable for sale on Amazon, including its smart speakers and other smart home devices, which are direct competitors with Amazon products, like Echo. (A search for “google home mini,” for example, displays Sponsored Listings and Best Seller recommendations for Amazon’s Echo Dot instead.) None of this is good for consumers, of course — especially because the two customer bases overlap. Someone who has a Chromecast may want to watch videos on Prime Video, for example, or shop Google products on Amazon.com. And everyone watches YouTube. The new agreement will only focus on streaming services, we understand. It won’t impact Amazon.com’s assortment or other concerns around hardware. Amazon has a history of anti-competitive behavior when it comes to dealing with rivals. The retailer, for years, was at odds with Apple until finally coming to an agreement in 2017 to allow the Prime Video app on Apple TV and the Apple TV to return to Amazon. In the end, these back-and-forth battles backfired on all involved. Roku emerged as the dominant streaming platform in the U.S., as it played a neutral role and supported all apps and services equally. Amazon has only begun to catch up, thanks to price cuts on Fire TV hardware and fairly popular underground community focused on using its “firesticks” for piracy. “We are excited to work with Amazon to launch the official YouTube apps on Fire TV devices worldwide,” said Heather Rivera, Global Head of Product Partnerships at YouTube, in a statement. “Bringing our flagship YouTube experience to Amazon Fire TV gives our users even more ways to watch the videos and creators they love.” “We’re excited to bring the Prime Video app to Chromecast and Android TV devices, and to give our customers convenient access to the shows and movies they love,” added Andrew Bennett, Head of Worldwide Business Development for Prime Video. “Whether watching the latest season of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, catching teams go head-to-head on Thursday Night Football or renting a new-release movie, customers will have even more ways to stream what they want, whenever they want, no matter where they are.” View the full article
  19. Between their Coachella performances, the band hit “The Late Late Show” View the full article
  20. Before the dawn of the mainstream Internet, underage access to pornographic content meant trying to sneak a glance over someone’s shoulder at a well-thumbed adult magazine. Or, if you were ‘lucky’, finding a VHS cassette in a friend’s dad’s cupboard, behind the coats and shoes, in a box, inside another box, in an envelope marked “holiday video”. Such things apparently happened. With the dawn of the Internet, things have certainly changed. With just a few clicks, one can find pornographic material, with ‘graphic’ often being the operative word. What adults choose to watch is their business, but children being able to access much of the content on today’s platforms is probably not what most parents want. So in the absence of traditional parental controls, the UK government has stepped in to prevent youngsters from inadvertently stumbling across adult content. From July 15, the country will adopt a checking scheme that will require profit-making sites with more than a third of their content pornographic in nature to verify visitors’ ages. It’s believed that the AgeID system, operated by major porn site owner Mindgeek, will one of the key facilitators of that. People who want to access porn sites will be required to provide scans of their driving licenses or passports, provide credit card details, or activate via SMS. Users’ details will then be verified by a third-party. There will be other ways to obtain verification too, since some shops will be selling special cards containing a code that people can use to access sites like Pornhub and YouPorn. However, eligible sites that refuse to play by the verification rules will be blocked by local ISPs, preventing them from doing any business in the UK. In theory, at least. While the aims are noble, circumvention of this entire scheme (for adults and children alike) lies just a few key presses away. Subscribing to a VPN will effectively drive a coach and horses through the legislation, providing no-fuss and instant access to all age-compliant websites, and those that refuse to comply too. The government acknowledges that this could happen, but it wants to be seen to be doing something. Indeed, as part of the Digital Economy Act 2017, the UK will become the first country in the world to proudly deploy such a system. However, thanks to many years of website blocking on the piracy front, large numbers of people will already have the tools at hand to make July 15 seem like life on the 14th. Herein lies the problem. As website blocking increases – whether that’s via direct ISP action or the verification scheme detailed above – people have more and more reasons to learn how to evade those blocks. It doesn’t really matter whether it’s adults or even teenagers spreading the knowledge, on July 15 (if not sooner) circumvention methods will spread like wildfire. And this can only mean bad news for those who have worked incredibly hard to have many hundreds of pirate sites blocked in the UK over the past nine years or so. Once those VPNs get fired up to access XVideos or whatever other sites tickle people’s fancies, it will soon become apparent that every single one of those previously blocked torrent and streaming portals will become accessible again too. Good VPNs do not discriminate and they don’t care what people are looking at. Their aim is to protect their users’ privacy and make web censorship a thing of the past. The only saving grace in respect of the verification scheme is that decent ones also cost money, so teenagers may not always have the means to pay for one. That raises the possibility – or even likelihood – that many people will take the easy option of downloading a ‘free’ VPN from Google Play or Apple’s variant. Many of these have a questionable track history, especially when it comes to privacy, so people flocking in this direction won’t be doing themselves any favors. All that being said, the architects of the scheme say that the potential for circumvention of the verification scheme is low. Perhaps today’s teenagers are less interested in seeing forbidden content than those that went before and will embrace the scheme with open arms. We shall see. For most adults, however, it seems likely that handing over passports, driving licenses, and credit cards will only add to the already considerable but relatively straightforward pressure of remembering browser history wiping and incognito tabs. In the meantime, there’s always The Pirate Bay, RARBG and all the other ‘pirate’ sites offering adult material. None of them will be included in the verification scheme but could see a small surge in traffic, if ‘porn-pass panic’ sweeps the country. And if it does, they’ll be easier to access than ever before. Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons. View the full article
  21. In an era of social media manipulation and disinformation, we could sure use some help from innovative entrepreneurs. Social networks are now critical to how the public consumes and shares the news. But these networks were never built for an informed debate about the news. They were built to reward virality. That means they are open to manipulation for commercial and political gain. Fake social media accounts – bots (automated) and ‘sock-puppets’ (human-run) – can be used in a highly organized way to spread and amplify minor controversies or fabricated and misleading content, eventually influencing other influencers and even news organizations. And brands are hugely open to this threat. The use of such disinformation to discredit brands has the potential for very costly and damaging disruption when up to 60% of a company’s market value can lie in its brand. Astroscreen is a startup which uses machine learning and disinformation analysts to detect social media manipulation. It’s now secured $1M in initial funding to progress its technology. And it has a heritage which suggests it at least has a shot at achieving this. Its techniques include coordinated activity detection, linguistic fingerprinting and fake account and botnet detection. The funding round was led by Speedinvest, Luminous Ventures, UCL Technology Fund, which is managed by AlbionVC in collaboration with UCLB, AISeed, and the London Co-investment Fund. Astroscreen CEO Ali Tehrani previously founded a machine-learning news analytics company which he sold in 2015 before fake news gained widespread attention. He said: “While I was building my previous start-up I saw at first-hand how biased, polarising news articles were shared and artificially amplified by vast numbers of fake accounts. This gave the stories high levels of exposure and authenticity they wouldn’t have had on their own.” Astroscreen’s CTO Juan Echeverria, whose Ph.D. at UCL was on fake account detection on social networks, made headlines in January 2017 with the discovery of a massive botnet managing some 350,000 separate accounts on Twitter. Ali Tehrani also thinks social networks are effectively holed-below the waterline on this whole issue: “Social media platforms themselves cannot solve this problem because they’re looking for scalable solutions to maintain their software margins. If they devoted sufficient resources, their profits would look more like a newspaper publisher than a tech company. So, they’re focused on detecting collective anomalies – accounts and behavior that deviate from the norm for their userbase as a whole. But this is only good at detecting spam accounts and highly automated behavior, not the sophisticated techniques of disinformation campaigns.” Astroscreen takes a different approach, combining machine-learning and human intelligence to detect contextual (instead of collective) anomalies – behavior that deviates from the norm for a specific topic. It monitors social networks for signs of disinformation attacks, informing brands if they’re under attack at the earliest stages and giving them enough time to mitigate the negative effects. Lomax Ward, partner, Luminous Ventures, said: “The abuse of social media is a significant societal issue and Astroscreen’s defence mechanisms are a key part of the solution.” View the full article
  22. Marketers get a lot of incoming from the data they have to deal with, bound up in hundreds of spreadsheets and reports, making it time consuming and tricky to get value out of. Tech companies like Datorama and Funnel.io have appeared to try and lighten this load. Adverity is a data intelligence platform also playing in this space by applying AI to produce actionable insights in real-time. Founded in 2015, it’s a cloud agnostic SaaS platform compatible with Amazon, Google and Microsoft which provides data to destinations such as SQL databases, Snowflake, AWS Redshift, SAP HANA. Its business model is based on yearly subscription fees. It’s now closed an €11 million ($12.4 million) Series B funding round, bringing the total amount raised to date to €15 million ($17 million). The investment is led by London-based Felix Capital, with participation from Silicon Valley’s Sapphire Ventures and the SAP.iO fund. The company now plans to use its war chest to expand into the US market. In addition to the latest round of investors, Adverity continues to be backed by existing investors including, Speedinvest, Mangrove Capital (early backer of Skype, Wix.com and Walkman), 42cap, and local Austrian company the AWS Founders Fund. Adverity’s latest AI-powered product Presense is currently under closed beta testing for selected clients and will be launched later this year. Alexander Igelsböck, CEO and Co-Founder of Adverity, commented: “Every company wants and needs to be data-driven. This is especially true in marketing where the fragmentation of data, and complexity in getting insights from it, poses a huge challenge for CMOs. Adverity’s mission is to solve those challenges by eliminating the hurdles facing companies today.” Adverity’s clients include companies such as IKEA, Red Bull, Mediacom, Mindshare and IPG. Headquartered in Vienna, Austria, the company has offices across London, Sofia and Frankfurt. Sasha Astafyeva, Principal at Felix Capital, commented: “Data is a powerful tool for engaging customers and Adverity helps marketers harness the power of their data to make better decisions, grow their business and better serve their customers.” The company’s founding members are Alexander Igelsböck, Martin Brunthaler and Andreas Glänzer. Igelsböck previously headed a startup incubator in Austria (KochAbo GmbH) and prior to that was VP Product Management at VeriSign Inc, where he met Brunthaler, who was Director of Engineering. Glänzer’s experience was gained in a sales role at Google and as Regional Head of iProspect. The three previously founded a price comparison technology company that was acquired by Heise Media in Germany. View the full article
  23. Weengs, the U.K. logistics startup for e-commerce businesses that need a more convenient way of getting online orders to customers, has raised £6.5 million in Series A funding. Leading the round is venture capital firm Oxford Capital, with Weeng’s seed investors, including Local Globe, Cherry Ventures and VentureFriends, following on. Founded by Alex Christodolou and Greg Zontanos, provides small and medium-sized online stores of various kinds, including eBay and Amazon power sellers and brick ‘n’ mortar stores with an e-commerce component, with a “ship-from-store” logistics solution that handles collection, packing and delivery. The basic premise is that time costs money, which can make e-commerce quite prohibitive. By outsourcing time-consuming and labour intensive logistics, store owners can put their time into other more profitable and differentiating aspects of their business, such as sales and marketing, and customer experience. To make this work, Weengs collects orders daily from retailers’ stores, and professionally packs them back at the Weengs warehouse before they are shipped to customers via the couriers the company partners with. Weengs says it can pack and ship a broad range of products globally, including less obvious items such as plants to musical instruments, electronics and everyday items like cosmetics. It has developed algorithms to pick the most appropriate courier service based on the item and customer priorities. “Our business is part of the rising omnichannel opportunity we are seeing in retail,” says Pier Ronzi, Weeng’s more recently added co-founder and CEO. “Increasingly, it makes sense for retailers to ship-from-store. Basically cities and stores are becoming distributed inventories that retailers can leverage to increase their business and Weengs helps them [by] offering a one-stop-shop solution for their fulfilment while they can focus on their core activity”. Since Weengs’ seed round, the team has grown to 70 people and saw Ronzi, who previously worked at McKinsey&Co, join the company. The startup now has around 400 retailers as customers and says it has fulfilled more than 500,000 online orders to date. “We have learnt that our service saves retailers a huge amount of time and that is the key to our value proposition versus, for example, price,” says Ronzi. Prior to Weengs, customers typically handled fulfilment themselves or used costly fulfilment centres. To that end, Weengs says it will use the new funding to invest heavily in its new warehouse and accompanying automation and technology. The plan is to “supercharge” operations to be able to fulfil more than 15,000 e-commerce orders per day. Explains the Weengs CEO: “The packing operations today is mainly manual. In the new automated warehouse we are implementing a process governed by our software and leveraging a packing machine that automatically performs the packing operations: the order item is fed to the machine and, at the end of a quick automated process, the order comes out packed in a very high standard and bespoke box, labelled and ready to be handed over to the carriers. The process becomes heavily automated but we still add the human touch for value added activities such as preparation of fragile items and supervision of the whole process”. View the full article
  24. Amazon has finally given up the fight with Chinese online shopping giants to capture the domestic market. On Thursday, the Seattle-based ecommerce company announced it will shut down its marketplace on Amazon.cn, which connects mainland Chinese buyers and sellers, while other units of its local venture will stay intact. “We are working closely with our sellers to ensure a smooth transition and to continue to deliver the best customer experience possible,” an Amazon spokesperson told TechCrunch, adding that this segment of the business will end on July 18. The partial retreat, first reported by Reuters and Bloomberg, is indicative of the relentless ecommerce race in China where Alibaba and JD.com dominate, with newcomer Pinduoduo closing on the incumbents’ heels. But this is hardly the end of Amazon’s China story. The American giant has over the years attracted waves of cross-border sellers, many of whom have hailed from China’s traditional export industry looking to sell cheaply manufactured goods to consumers around the world for lucrative margins. To date, Chinese export suppliers are able to sell to 12 countries that include India, Japan, Australia, Canada, the United States, and five Western European countries. Other global ecommerce players also have their eyes set on the massive raft of goods flowing out of China, though each comes with a different geographic focus. Alibaba-backed Lazada, for example, is the bridge between Chinese merchants and Southeast Asian shoppers, while Jumia, which just listed in the U.S., exports from China to Africa. “The biggest appeal [of exporting through Amazon] is the low costs because we are close to a lot of supply chain resources,” a Shenzhen-based vendor selling water-resistant placemats on Amazon told TechCrunch. In the meantime, China has developed a big craving for imported goods as middle-class consumers now demand higher quality products. Amazon is in the import business, too, although it lags far behind more entrenched players such as Alibaba, of which Tmall Global takes the lead with 29 percent market share in the cross-border ecommerce space according to data from iResearch, dwarfing Amazon’s 6 percent. That could change if Amazon finds a prominent local partner. Rumors have swirled for months that Amazon was reportedly in talks to merge its import unit with Kaola, the cross-border shopping business run by Chinese internet giant Netease with a 22.6 percent market share. Not to be forgotten, Amazon also offers cloud computing services to Chinese enterprises although, in this space, it’s again in a direct face-off with Alibaba Cloud, the dominant player in China. Lastly, China remains the largest market for Kindle, so pivotal that the e-reader launched a localized model just for China. “Over the past few years, we have been evolving our China online retail business to increasingly emphasize cross-border sales, and in return we’ve seen very strong response from Chinese customers,” said the Amazon spokesperson. “Amazon’s commitment to China remains strong—we have built a solid foundation here in a number of successful businesses and we will continue to invest and grow in China across Amazon Global Store, Global Selling, AWS, Kindle devices and content.” View the full article
  25. The vast majority of filmmakers are not happy with online piracy. They would rather see people using paid platforms or services. This is also true for German Director Werner Herzog, who has won many prestigious awards during his more than 50-year career. A few days ago, the director received a lifetime achievement award at the Visions du Réel Film Festival in Nyon. During a masterclass, the topic of piracy came up, which prompted Herzog to share some interesting thoughts. When Herzog released his first film in 1962, movie piracy wasn’t an issue. However, that clearly changed in recent years. During the discussion, Ukrainian producer Illia Gladshtein said that the legal availability of Herzog’s films is far from optimal. Often the only way to see them is through torrent sites. While piracy is a sensitive topic among filmmakers, the German director certainly realizes its potential. “Piracy has been the most successful form of distribution worldwide,” Herzog told the audience. While the 76-year old director doesn’t like piracy or seeks to promote it, he’s fine with people downloading his films without permission, if there are no legal alternatives available. “If you don’t get [films] through Netflix or state-sponsored television in your country, then you go and access it as a pirate,” Herzog noted, quoted by Screen. “I don’t like it because I would like to earn some money with my films. But if someone like you steals my films through the internet or whatever, fine, you have my blessing,” the director added. Availability remains an important talking point. Most of the questions the director receives nowadays are from teenagers who ask him where they can find his films. Luckily, his back catalog is now easier to access through legal streaming platforms, Blu-Rays or DVDs. That’s probably a good thing, since 15-year olds generally know their way around pirate sites. Herzog’s comments show that even some of the most respected filmmakers see some benefit in piracy. For them, it’s often more important that their films can be seen by a wide audience. This means that ‘defeating’ piracy ultimately starts with making sure that legal availability is in order. – Werner Herzog photo by Nicolas Genin Source: TF, for the latest info on copyright, file-sharing, torrent sites and more. We also have VPN reviews, discounts, offers and coupons. View the full article
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