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Amazon's Alexa Goes to Work in 2 New Devices
March 3, 2016
Amazon on Thursday announced two products, Echo Dot and Amazon Tap, that extend the range of the Alexa-enabled home automation products anchored by the company's Echo device, which uses voice recognition to manage routine tasks. The Echo Dot is a small, hands-free device that uses the same far-field voice-recognition tech as Amazon Echo. It lets users control their stereos with voice commands.
German Authorities to Examine Facebook's Data Practices
March 3, 2016
The German Cartel Office on Wednesday announced the launch of an investigation into Facebook over allegations that it abused its market position by infringing data protection rules, specifically in connection with the terms of service on the use of user data. The office, or Bundeskartellamt, is looking into whether Facebook's terms of service violate data protection provisions.
Facebook Exec Sprung From Brazilian Jail
March 2, 2016
A Brazilian judge on Wednesday ordered the release of Facebook Regional Vice President Diego Dzodan, one day after Brazilian police placed him under arrest for WhatsApp's failure to produce messages the government believed relevant to a drug ring investigation. Judge Ruy Pinheiro concluded the exec's detainment amounted to coercion, according to press reports.
Report: 3.5 Million HTTPS Servers Vulnerable to DROWN
March 2, 2016
A report released Tuesday on the DROWN vulnerability raises concerns about possible attacks that could expose encrypted communications. DROWN is a serious vulnerability that affects HTTPS and other services using SSL version 2, according to the team of security researchers who compiled the report. The protocols affected are some of the essential cryptographic protocols for Internet security.
The Salesforce Health Cloud
March 2, 2016
Salesforce is opening a can of snakes with its new Health Cloud, which became generally available this week. Having worked in the healthcare software industry for many years in the last century, I have mixed feelings about the announcement. While I'm relieved that an innovative company is taking on healthcare software at last, part of me thinks it could be a long and expensive slog.
Fresh Raspberry Pi Has Better Hardware Baked In
March 1, 2016
The Raspberry Pi Foundation on Monday announced the availability of the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B for $35, the same price as the previous model. It is the second major upgrade to the board in just over a year. The hardware upgrade boosts the single-core processor of the original Pi to a faster, more capable quad-core chipset in the Pi 3. The current model is based on a 64-bit chipset.
Gadget Ogling: Playful Projectors, Star Wars Sounds, and Spotify-to-Go
March 1, 2016
Sony's Xperia Projector Concept turns any surface into an interactive display. One can, for instance, check the latest temperature, play games, edit documents, or make video calls. It is a self-contained system, and it does not need to connect to a smartphone or a computer to operate. It seems that Sony has designs on turning this into a portable device as well.
Facebook Gives Marketers a Blank Canvas
February 27, 2016
Facebook on Thursday yanked the drapery off its Canvas, inviting marketers to splash it with their best promotions. The new platform will provide brands with a new medium for storytelling, and it will return ad pages up to 10 times faster than mobile Web pages do, the company proclaimed. It's a big screen ad experience for the small screen, compatible with both Android and iOS devices.
Google Brings Project Shield to DDoS Battlefield
February 26, 2016
Google on Thursday announced that it was expanding its Project Shield program, offering to protect news and human rights websites from distributed denial of service attacks for free. Project Shield uses Google's security infrastructure to detect and filter DDoS attacks, which flood websites with Internet traffic or service requests in order to impair their functioning or take them down altogether.
Facebook Gives Us More Ways to Push Each Other's Buttons
February 24, 2016
Facebook on Wednesday rolled out a new set of options for its 1.5 billion monthly users to use when responding to posts in their News Feeds. The six "Reactions," as Facebook has termed them, allow users to make more nuanced responses to posts rather than simply clicking on Like. The additional options are Love, Haha, Wow, Sad and Angry.
Facebook Uses AI to Map Population Density
February 23, 2016
Facebook has been using artificial intelligence to sharpen its focus on the roughly 10 percent of the world that has been overlooked by the Internet revolution, the company announced Sunday at the Mobile World Congress. The work has been led by the Connectivity Lab, Facebook's research and development wing, which is tasked with making the breakthroughs needed to connect the world to the Internet.
Greenwave Brings Unity to IoT Networks
February 23, 2016
Greenwave Systems on Monday announced the expansion of its AXON Platform to unite mobile machine-to-machine and residential IoT networks into one fully manageable network service. Mobile carriers, telecommunications operators and service providers can use AXON for Mobile IoT to integrate a variety of communications protocols into the same standard IP-based language.
Dell's Embedded PCs Take the IoT to the Mainstream
February 23, 2016
Dell on Tuesday announced the release of its first purpose-built industrial PC products for the mainstream market: the Embedded Box PC 3000 Series and 5000 Series. The products are a response to the growing embedded computing market and the lack of reliable devices, Dell said. The embedded systems market is expected to reach $23.1 billion in 2019, according to a Technavio study.
Twitter Puts Some Eggs in Customer Service Basket
February 22, 2016
Twitter last week announced two tools designed to help businesses improve their customer service capabilities. One product would allow users to move from sending companies tweets to using Direct Messages, according to product manager Ian Cairns. Companies will be able to embed on their sites a Direct Messages link that would allow customers to send information directly.
Facebook May Launch Risky Messenger Ad Program
February 22, 2016
Facebook has been preparing to push personalized ads through its Messenger app, according to a report last week. The company will allow brands to send their own marketing materials through the popular chat app, suggests a leaked document apparently intended for Facebook's advertising partners. The changes could go into effect during the second quarter of the year.
Investors Bet $57M on Jana's Global Internet Access Strategy
February 19, 2016
Jana on Thursday announced it has raised $57 million in Series C funding, enabling it to continue its plans to connect developing countries to the Web. Verizon Ventures led the funding round, with backing from Spark Capital and Publicis Groupe. The backing will give Jana the boost it needs to connect its next billion users, according to company spokesperson Meagan Ward.
DHS Ready to Share Intelligence With Private Sector
February 18, 2016
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security this month will start sharing threat information with a small number of hand-picked companies under the newly enacted Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act. DHS hopes to collect threat indicators from companies and redistribute them to other companies so everyone gets a better view of threats and can use that knowledge to bolster defenses.
Glitches Mar Makulu's Appeal
February 17, 2016
Makulu 10 Xfce edition continues developer Jacque Raymer's track record of pushing the limits with useful and innovative features to keep his distro line a step ahead of the crowd. He released Makulu 10 Xfce this week after more than 12 months in the making. The focus is stability, speed and social integration. The Xfce edition can claim success with two of those three goals.
CRM and GDP
February 17, 2016
I was gobsmacked when I read this in Robert Gordon's The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil War: "Electric light, the first reliable internal combustion engine, and wireless transmission ... were all invented within the same three-month period at the end of 1879." It's a book full of surprises emanating from an analysis of major inflection points.
AT&T Jumps Into the 5G Race
February 13, 2016
AT&T on Friday announced plans to start testing 5G technology, with a possible limited commercial rollout before the end of 2016. 5G offers the promise of besting the speeds of today's fastest wireless networks by a factor of 10 to 100, through the use of millimeter waves, network function virtualization, and software-defined networking. AT&T is collaborating with Ericsson and Intel on the effort.
Time Scoops Up MySpace With Viant Buy
February 13, 2016
Time on Thursday announced an agreement to acquire the assets of Viant Technology. The deal will let Time combine its premium content, subscriber data and ad inventory with Viant's first-party data and targeting technology. "We're going to be able to deliver both data-driven capabilities and premier content in a single platform," Time spokesperson Jill Davison said.
Google Expands Europeans' Internet Amnesia Zone
February 12, 2016
Google is expanding the right of Europeans to be forgotten on the Internet to domains outside their countries, according to reports Thursday. Searches made from European IP addresses for people whom Google has granted a right to be forgotten will turn up zero links, regardless of which version of Google is used. Previously, links from such searches were blocked only from European versions.
Zuckerberg Aims to Set Things Right With India
February 12, 2016
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg on Wednesday went into damage-control mode following a tweet from board member Marc Andreessen about India and colonialism. Andreessen was reacting to the Indian telecom regulator's ban on Facebook's Free Basics service. "Another in a long line of economically suicidal decisions made by the Indian government against its own citizens," he reportedly tweeted.
Pew: More Americans Looking for Love Online
February 12, 2016
Online dating numbers are up in the United States, the Pew Research Center said Thursday, based on the results of a recent survey. Today, it's possible for singles from all walks of life to find a date who's compatible with them -- at least virtually -- the findings suggest. In its national survey of 2,001 adults, Pew found that 12 percent had used an online dating site.
IRS Halts Hack Attack
February 11, 2016
The Internal Revenue Service on Tuesday said it recently discovered and halted an automated bot attack on its electronic filing PIN application website. Identity thieves used malware in an attempt to generate E-file PINs for 464,000 Social Security numbers stolen from another source, the IRS said. The hackers succeeded in accessing an E-file PIN for 101,000 of those numbers.
Amazon Opens Lumberyard to Game Devs
February 11, 2016
Amazon on Tuesday announced that it has widened its footprint in the game industry, complementing its development studio with the Lumberyard 3D game engine. Based on core components of Crytek's CryEngine, Lumberyard will support development for PCs and consoles (Xbox One and PlayStation 4). Amazon plans to add support for mobile devices and virtual reality gear soon.
Yahoo May Have Found a Lifeline
February 11, 2016
Verizon CEO Lowell McAdams last week confirmed that his company was exploring an acquisition of some of Yahoo's assets, which would be placed under the corporate umbrella of Verizon's AOL unit. McAdams discussed Verizon's interest in an interview with Mad Money host Jim Cramer. Giving AOL CEO Tim Armstrong control of some of Yahoo's assets would be good for investors.
Twitter's New Algorithm Raises De-Democratization Fears
February 10, 2016
Twitter on Wednesday gave users the option of using a new algorithmically organized feed that would deliver more relevant messages -- not necessarily the newest -- first. The new approach to disseminating tweets was spearheaded by Twitter's CEO Jack Dorsey, who is under pressure because of the company's lack of growth. Compared to other social media sites, like Facebook, Twitter is lagging behind.
Twitter Creates Advisory Panel on Tweet Speech
February 10, 2016
Twitter on Tuesday announced the formation of a panel to advise it on speech, abuse and safety issues. The Trust & Safety Council, which has more than 40 members, will be part of a strategy to help people feel safe when they express themselves, said Twitter's Patricia Cartes. The council "will help us tap into the expertise and input of organizations at the intersection of these issues."
The Pirate Bay Is Now Streaming
February 10, 2016
The Pirate Bay may be vying to become the world's largest streaming site. It recently began testing a plug-in that turns browsers into torrent-streaming clients. Having returned from its latest exile, The Pirate Bay now is using the Torrents Time plugin to deliver an illegal answer to Netflix. Users can access a wealth of movies and TV shows without paying a cent to the copyright holders.
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What best reflects your opinion on online privacy?
We need new laws to curb government spying.
It's dead -- Google, Facebook and others killed it.
Personalized advertising is the worst -- it's creepy.
It's achievable through encryption and other tech.
It's an overblown issue -- I have nothing to hide.