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From the Olympic Non-Robbery to Ford Getting Out of Cars, to Evil NSA: A Strange Week
August 22, 2016
There were three stories that caught my eye last week that I think deserve some additional discussion. One is the alleged robbery of U.S. Olympians followed by questions of whether it really happened because their phones weren't stolen. There may be a legitimate reason for that, and it's one that suggests a lot of folks will be getting huge cellphone bills next month.
Lights Out for Gawker.com
August 19, 2016
Gawker Media owner Nick Denton has revealed that Gizmodo, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Jalopnik, Jezebel and Deadspin will continue with their current writers and other staff members following the company's sale to Univision, but that neither he nor Gawker.com will be included in the transition. The Gawker sites will be joining The Onion, ClickHole and other Web properties in Fusion Media Group.
Uber Revs Engine in Self-Driving Race
August 18, 2016
Uber on Thursday announced plans to begin testing semi-autonomous vehicles in Pittsburgh later this month. Its first partially self-driving Volvo XC90 vehicles reportedly will be assigned at random to customers who use the company's app. Each of the prototype cars will have an actual human on board to act as copilot and monitor the vehicle's performance from the driver's seat.
Intel's Project Alloy Tosses Reality Into a Blender
August 17, 2016
Intel on Tuesday presented its virtual reality vision -- a vision that mixes virtual and real worlds into a kind of merged reality -- to developers attending a conference in San Francisco. Mixing reality and unreality sometimes can be a recipe for disaster, but Intel thinks it will be a formula for success. At the center of Intel's vision is its Project Alloy mobile headset and its cutting edge RealSense software.
The Growing Scourge of Cyberbullying, Part 2
August 17, 2016
The digitization of everything has decreased the degrees of separation between everyone. While that interconnectedness has solved many problems, old and new, digitization has worsened one age-old problem: bullying. An online bullying epidemic is now pushing parents, teens, teachers and technology companies to try even harder to mitigate the misery inflicted on its victims.
Intel Snaps Up Nervana to Jump-Start AI
August 16, 2016
Intel last week announced the acquisition of startup Nervana, in a bid to enhance the company's capabilities in artificial intelligence and deep learning. Nervana jumped out of the gate at its 2014 launch with a robust platform for deep learning, a framework called "Nervana Neon," and the Nervana Engine -- a groundbreaking ASIC chip scheduled for introduction by the first quarter of 2017.
Gadget Ogling: Levitating Smart Things, Making WiFi-Perfect Wine, and Staying Safe While Solo
August 16, 2016
Lift is an antigravity charger for Apple Watch and Pebble. The charger is wireless, so there's almost no clutter involved -- except, I suppose, when you have to charge the charger. The watch wraps around a portable battery pack, which the base keeps elevated using magnets. There's a Pro version of the base, which you can use as an iPhone or iPad stand and charger.
Microsoft to Add Beam's Live-Streaming Skills to Xbox
August 16, 2016
Microsoft last week announced a deal to acquire live-streaming startup Beam. It plans to use Beam's interactive technology to enhance the Xbox Live experience. Beam, which was the winner of Techcrunch Disrupt earlier this year, has attracted a number of top investors, including Techstars, Courtside Ventures and Ore Ventures. The deal is designed to help make Xbox Live more social and fun.
Huffington Leaves Post to Focus on Health Startup
August 13, 2016
Arianna Huffington on Thursday announced she would leave her position as editor-in-chief of the eponymous publication she cofounded 11 years ago to focus on her latest project -- Thrive Global, a lifestyle, health and wellness site. The reasons for her exit from The Huffington Post may be more complicated than that, however.
Russian Regulators Scoop Apple Into Price-Fixing Probe
August 12, 2016
A Russian regulatory authority earlier this week named Apple, along with more than a dozen Russian retailers, as a target for an investigation into price-fixing activities. The Federal Antimonopoly Service, or FAS, has seen signs of price-setting coordination among iPhone resellers in Russia, according to a notice published on the agency's website.
Hackability of Volkswagen's Keyless Entry System Exposed
August 12, 2016
Hackers using cheap wireless devices pose a threat to millions of cars equipped with Volkswagen's keyless entry system, according to a study from the University of Birmingham. Scheduled for presentation Friday at the USENIX security conference in Austin, Texas, the study shows that thieves can use a simple wireless device to unlock the doors of millions of cars remotely.
DARPA Rewards Best Bug-Bombing Bots
August 11, 2016
The code warriors of the future literally might be computer code acting as warriors to defend against attackers on computer networks. DARPA gave us a glimpse into that future last Sunday, when it announced the winners of its Cyber Grand Challenge at DEF CON. Seven teams participated in the challenge to create systems that used bots to find and fix software problems without human intervention.
No Man's Sky: The Universe So Far Feels Good
August 10, 2016
One of the most highly anticipated gaming titles ever, No Man's Sky from indie developer Hello Games, has arrived -- and it could have a major impact on the resurgent gaming world this season. The title made its PS4 debut on Tuesday in North America. It will be available for the PC on Friday. The long-awaited game takes players on a mind-bending journey of space exploration.
Amazon's Prime Air Brand Takes Flight
August 10, 2016
Amazon last week unveiled its first Prime Air plane during the Boeing Seafair Air Show in Seattle. The company has undertaken an ambitious effort to gain control of its massive distribution network for delivery of goods to its retail customers. The plane, dubbed "Amazon One," is a Boeing 767-300 operated by Atlas Air. Atlas and ATSG have partnered with Amazon to fly a total of 40 cargo planes.
The Growing Scourge of Cyberbullying, Part 1
August 10, 2016
Smartphones are proliferating among adolescents, and so is cyberbullying. That's particularly worrisome due to its potential contribution to the No. 2 cause of teen death: suicide. About 26.3 percent of the middle- and high-school students who responded to a nine-school survey indicated that they'd been bullied in each of the eight years the poll was taken, researchers found.
Delta's Tech Glitches Cause More Cancellations, Delays
August 9, 2016
Delta Air Lines reportedly canceled 300 flights Tuesday morning, a day after a mammoth outage that forced it to temporarily ground thousands of flights worldwide and ultimately cancel more than 400 of them. Although an update posted at 10:00 p.m. ET Monday night warned that there would be more than 100 flight cancellations and roughly 200 delays Tuesday morning, the actual numbers were worse.
AMD's Budget-Friendly Radeon RX 460 Makes It Easier to Get in the Game
August 9, 2016
AMD on Monday introduced its budget-priced Radeon RX 460 graphics card designed for e-sports gamers. It delivers the high frame rates DirectX 9-based shooters and action games demand, but also handles the more robust next-generation DirectX 12 and Vulkan APIs. The Radeon RX 460 offers a peak performance of 2.2 TFLOPS with support for 1080p frame rates at 1080p.
Nucleus Home Intercom Gets Alexa Advantage
August 8, 2016
The smart home of the future could be a wee bit smarter with the addition of the Alexa-powered connected intercom system Nucleus announced last week. The Nucleus intercom, which last fall made its debut without Alexa, is a tablet that connects to a home network through WiFi or Ethernet to allow family members to communicate with each other both inside and outside the home.
Gawker Founder Sets Personal Bankruptcy Wheels in Motion
August 5, 2016
Gawker founder Nick Denton earlier this week said that he filed for personal bankruptcy protection after exhausting his appeals to stave off collection of damages resulting from a defamation and invasion of privacy lawsuit brought by professional wrestling icon Hulk Hogan. The filing followed a Florida court's rejection of Denton's appeal to block Hogan from collecting a $140 million jury award.
Alexa Takes On Smart Home Security Responsibilities
August 5, 2016
Millions of customers using Amazon's Alexa voice assistant technology now can add locks that can be controlled remotely to the growing ecosystem of smart home capabilities. August Home last week announced that Amazon's line of voice-assisted products, including the Echo, now support its smart products, allowing users to lock and unlock their doors using voice commands.
Nintendo Investors' Futile Hunt for Pokémon Go Profits
August 4, 2016
Nintendo investors who thought they would score big returns after the successful launch of Pokémon Go found that actual profits were more elusive than the colorful characters. Nintendo last week made it painfully clear that The Pokémon Co. and Niantic were far better positioned than it was to reap financial rewards. Much of that revenue potential lies in a wealth of in-app purchases.
Samsung Hones Galaxy Note7 to a Fine Point
August 4, 2016
Samsung on Tuesday unveiled its latest flagship smartphone, the Galaxy Note7. It has an iris-scanning feature that combines with Samsung Knox for security, as well as a fingerprint scanner. The Galaxy Note7 has a water resistant body, a 5.7-inch QHD Super Amoled screen with a front-to-back symmetrical dual-edged curve, HDR video-streaming capabilities for immersive entertainment.
Uber's China Strategy Shifts Into Reverse
August 3, 2016
Didi Chuxing on Monday announced a historic deal to acquire the Chinese ride-sharing operations of rival Uber, which threw in the towel after years of unsuccessful efforts to grow its business in what may prove to be the world's most challenging technology market. Under the agreement, Didi Chuxing acquired all of Uber China's assets, including its brand, data and business operations.
Instagram's Stories Inspired by Snapchat
August 3, 2016
Everyone has a story to tell, and Instagram on Tuesday announced Stories, a new way for users to tell theirs. Stories allows Instagram users to string together images and videos for a dynamic slide show presentation that can be shared with friends or the entire Instagram community. Rather than sharing content individually with others on the platform, a user can choose to share it through a story.
Gadget Ogling: Pokémon Go Drones, New Old Nintendo, and Snowden-Secured Smartphones
August 2, 2016
Pokémon Go, the augmented-reality smartphone game that's been eating away at the fabric of society in recent weeks, is enormously fun. I enjoy the mechanics, and that it pushes me to go on longer walks. That's all well and good in the nicer weather, but when there's two feet of snow, I don't really want to traipse around so much. That's why Pokédrone might be my new favorite thing.
UK Greenlights Amazon's Drone Delivery Tests
August 2, 2016
Amazon, which has appealed to U.S. regulators for years for permission to test package delivery with aerial drones, last week announced a new partnership with the UK government to launch a pilot program there. A cross-government team, supported by the UK Civil Aviation Authority, has granted Amazon permission to begin testing three critical performance factors.
Uber Sees the Cartography on the Wall
August 1, 2016
With an eye on its future, Uber last week announced it was increasing its investment in mapping. "The ongoing need for maps tailored to the Uber experience is why we're doubling down on our investment in mapping," said Brian McClendon, Uber's vice president of advanced technologies. Uber has committed to investing $500 million in the mapping initiative, according to news reports.
SolarCity Deal Would Take Tesla Where No Company Has Gone Before
August 1, 2016
Tesla Motors has announced that it has reached an agreement to purchase SolarCity. The deal could create the world's first vertically integrated sustainable energy company. The merger would drive efforts to develop rooftop solar systems, and better storage batteries for homes and businesses, as well as electric vehicles. It would, in essence, tie together Elon Musk's sustainable energy businesses.
Clinton Campaign Latest Target of Hackers Linked to Russia
July 30, 2016
The campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is the latest possible victim of a series of hack attacks some cybersecurity experts have linked to the Russian government. Campaign officials reportedly acknowledged that an analytics program it uses, which is maintained by the DNC, was accessed in a breach discovered earlier this month.
Xiaomi Unveils Budget-Friendly MacBook Air Rival
July 28, 2016
Xiaomi on Wednesday unveiled the Mi Notebook Air, its challenger to the MacBook Air. The 13.3-inch model is priced at about $750, compared to the MacBook Air's $1,050 price tag in China. The device is also available in a 12.5-inch version. The Mi Notebook Air offers a number of features that aren't available in a MacBook Air. The 13.3-inch model is gaming-ready.
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What do you think of politically inspired Internet memes?
They tend to be brutally honest about their targets.
They're usually cheap shots based on lies.
They're often stupid but amusing.
They can have a dangerous influence on uninformed people.
They don't impress me one way or the other.