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Businesses

AR Helmet Startup Skully Has Crashed and Burned (techcrunch.com) 20

An anonymous reader writes from a report via TechCrunch: Sources inside the AR helmet company Skully say the startup is no more. TechCrunch reports: "Operations have ceased within the company, and we're told the website will be turned off at some point today. [Skully's CEO and co-founder Marcus Weller] has also been asked to sign a confidentiality deal with investors. Weller told TechCrunch today he will not sign and that he's completely walked away from all dealings with the company as of 10 days ago. The site is still up for now but it says Skully's AR-1 helmet is sold out in every size and no one is able to order. A source tells us sales were cut off on Monday. The shutdown leaves several vendors and Skully's manufacturer Flextronics with unpaid bills and at least 50 full-time employees out of a job. It's unclear if any of the vendors will be paid. That also means the more than 3,000 people who pre-ordered a helmet may never get one -- and one source tells us it's doubtful any of them will be receiving a refund." One source claims Weller botched a possible acquisition deal with Chinese company LeSports before leaving the company last week, while another says the deal might still happen now that the former CEO is gone. Weller is saying that he and his brother were forced out of the company after investors disagreed with the LeSports deal. Investors from Intel Capital ultimately determined it was best to simply shut down the entire company instead of trying to salvage the company Weller started. "We're disappointed Skully has closed its doors. We've been focused on the company's success for nearly two years and have recently been trying to negotiate a funding round to keep it going," Intel Capital said in a statement. "We're certainly sorry for the employees who are losing their jobs, the crowdfunding backers whose investments didn't work out and the customers who'd pre-purchased product. We continue to be excited by the promise of this kind of wearable technology."
Facebook

Facebook Open Sources 360 Surround Camera With Ikea-Style Instructions (techcrunch.com) 25

Reader joshtops writes: Facebook needs you to fill its News Feed, Oculus Rift, and Gear VR with 360 content. So today it put all the hardware and software designs of its Surround 360 camera on Github after announcing the plan in April. Thanks to cheeky instruction manual inspired by Ikea's manuals, you can learn how to buy the parts, assemble the camera, load the image-stitching software, and start shooting 360 content. Essentially 17 cameras on a UFO-looking stick, the 360 Surround camera can be built for about $30,000 in parts. The 4-megapixel lenses can shoot 4K, 6K, or 8K 360 video, and fisheye lenses on the top and bottom remove the blindspots. Facebook forced a random engineer to try to build the 360 Surround from the open source instructions, and found it took about four hours.FastCompany has more details.
Censorship

Facebook Admits Blocking WikiLeaks' DNC Email Links, But Won't Say Why (thenextweb.com) 266

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has admitted it blocked links to WikiLeaks' DNC email dump, but the company has yet to explain why. WikiLeaks has responded to the censorship via Twitter, writing: "For those facing censorship on Facebook etc when trying to post links directly to WikiLeaks #DNCLeak try using archive.is." When SwiftOnSecurity tweeted, "Facebook has an automated system for detecting spam/malicious links, that sometimes have false positives. /cc," Facebook's Chief Security Officer Alex Stamos replied with, "It's been fixed." As for why there was a problem in the first place, we don't know. Nate Swanner from The Next Web writes, "It's possible its algorithm incorrectly identified them as malicious, but it's another negative mark on the company's record nonetheless. WikiLeaks is a known entity, not some torrent dumping ground. The WikiLeaks link issue has reportedly been fixed, which is great -- but also not really the point. The fact links to the archive was blocked at all suggests there's a very tight reign on what's allowed on Facebook across the board, and that's a problem." A Facebook representative provided a statement to Gizmodo: "Like other services, our anti-spam systems briefly flagged links to these documents as unsafe. We quickly corrected this error on Saturday evening."
The Almighty Buck

Millennials Are Obsessed With Side Hustles Because 'They're All' They've Got (qz.com) 332

Quartz ran an article over the weekend which captures a growing trend among millennials: to have a side job -- or as many of them call it, the "side-hustle." One of the reasons that people need this other gig is obviously money, but there are other factors at play as well. From the article: The side hustle offers something worth much more than money: A hedge against feeling stuck and dull and cheated by life. This psychological benefit is the real reason for the Millennial obsession, I'd argue, and why you might want to consider finding your own side hustle, no matter how old you are. Now one might say that this "side-hustle" is not a new phenomenon at all. People have since forever have had multiple jobs to make the ends meet. But the author argues that in the post 2008-crisis, we have witnessed a whole generation where one gig would simply not cut it all for many. The article adds: Previous generations have also coped with such semi-tragedy; probably every human ever has been a sort of actor-waiter at some point. In any case, those of us who are employed generally understand ourselves to be lucky. Working as a benefits administrator, an ad-sales rep or even a Facebook engineer might not be the dream job. But your side hustle can keep you from feeling pigeonholed. It's the distraction from your disappointment, a bridge between crass realities and your compelling inner life. In the best-case scenario, your side hustle can be like a lottery ticket, offering the possibility -- however remote -- that you just might hit the jackpot and discover that holy grail of gigs. The one that perfectly blends money and love. The one that's coming along any day now.
Programming

Programming Language Gurus Converge on 'Curry On' Conference (curry-on.org) 86

Videos are now online from this week's Curry On conference, which incuded talks by programming pioneers Larry Wall and Matthias Felleisen, as well as speakers from Google, Twitter, Facebook, Microsoft, and Oracle. Dave Herman from Mozilla Research also talked about building an open source research lab, while Larry Wall's keynote was titled "It's the End of the World as We Know It, and I Feel Fine."

Billing itself as a non-profit conference about programming languages and emerging computer-industry challenges, this year's installment included talks about Java, Rust, Scala, Perl, Racket, Clojure, Rascal, Go and Oden. Held in a different European city each year, the annual conference hopes to provoke an open conversation between academia and the larger technology industry.
Government

Homeland Security Border Agents Can Seize Your Phone (cnn.com) 314

Slashdot reader v3rgEz writes: A Wall Street Journal reporter has shared her experienced of having her phones forcefully taken at the border -- and how the Department of Homeland Security insists that your right to privacy does not exist when re-entering the United States. Indeed, she's not alone: Documents previously released under FOIA show that the DHS has a long-standing policy of warrantless (and even motiveless) seizures at the border, essentially removing any traveler's right to privacy.
"The female officer returned 30 minutes later and said I was free to go," according to the Journal's reporter, adding. "I have no idea why they wanted my phones..."

How Apple and Facebook Helped To Take Down KickassTorrents (pcworld.com) 105

Reader itwbennett writes (edited): Artem Vaulin, the alleged owner of the torrent directory service KickassTorrents, was arrested in Poland earlier this week, charged with copyright infringement and money laundering. As we dig deeper as to what exactly happened, it turns out Apple and Facebook were among the companies that handed over data to the U.S. in its investigation. Department of Homeland Security investigators traced IP addresses associated with KickassTorrents domains to a Canadian ISP, which turned over server data, including emails. At some point, investigators noticed that Vaulin had an Apple email account that was used to make iTunes purchases from two IP addresses -- both of which also accessed a Facebook account promoting KickassTorrents.if you're wondering where exactly iTunes came into play, here's a further explanation. It all started in November 2015, when an undercover IRS Special Agent reached out to a KickassTorrents representative about hosting an advertisement on the site. An agreement was made and the ad, which purportedly advertised a program to study in the United States, was to be placed on individual torrent listings for $300 per day. When it finally went live on March 14th 2016, a link appeared underneath the torrent download buttons for five days. Sure it was a short campaign, but it was enough to link KAT to a Latvian bank account, one that received $31 million in deposits -- mainly from advertising payments -- between August 2015 and March 2016. Upon further investigation of the email accounts, and corresponding reverse lookups, it was found that the account holder had made a purchase on iTunes.
Security

Hacker Steals 1.6 Million Accounts From Top Mobile Game's Forum (zdnet.com) 30

Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet: A hacker has targeted the official forum of popular mobile game "Clash of Kings," making off with close to 1.6 million accounts. The hack was carried out on July 14 by a hacker, who wants to remain nameless, and a copy of the leaked database was provided to breach notification site LeakedSource.com, which allows users to search their usernames and email addresses in a wealth of stolen and hacked data. In a sample given to ZDNet, the database contains (among other things) usernames, email addresses, IP addresses (which can often determine the user's location), device identifiers, as well as Facebook data and access tokens (if the user signed in with their social account). Passwords stored in the database are hashed and salted. LeakedSource has now added the total 1,597,717 stolen records to its systems.
Facebook

Facebook Took Its Giant Internet Drone On Its First Test Flight (fastcompany.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes: A year ago, Facebook unveiled Aquila, its effort to put giant drones in the skies to beam Internet connectivity to areas in the developing world without mobile broadband Internet. Today, the company announced it has completed the first full-scale test of its Aquila drone, after months of testing one-fifth-size models. On June 28, the experimental aircraft (featuring a V-shaped wingspan the width of a Boeing 737) took off from the Yuma Proving Grounds in Yuma, Arizona, and flew for 96 minutes at low altitude, as CEO Mark Zuckerberg and many others watched in the dawn sunlight.. Possibly years of work remain before Facebook's connectivity effort fully takes off, according to a head engineer, including figuring out how to keep the drones aloft for hours at a time, and how to effectively send Internet with lasers.Quartz points out that Facebook may not have been given the permission to test the drones. From the article:Earlier this year, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finalized its regulations for flying commercial drones in the US. These regulations, which require commercial drones to be kept within the line of sight of the person flying the drone, and that the drones be kept below 400 feet, do not go into effect until August. Prior to these regulations, any company wishing to fly or test drones outdoors in the US required an exemption from the FAA, called a Section 333. Quartz checked with the FAA last year to ask whether Facebook had one of these exemptions, and was told it did not. (We've asked the FAA again, and Facebook, to see if the company has since received permission to fly drones in the US.) The FAA has started to fine some companies that operate drones commercially without an exemption, including a nearly $2 million fine for a company that was flying drones over people in New York and Chicago without permission.
Facebook

Facebook Messenger Hits 1B Monthly Active Users, Accounts For 10 Percent Of All VoIP Calls (techcrunch.com) 55

Speaking of instant messaging and VoIP call apps, Facebook announced on Wednesday that Facebook Messenger has hit the 1 billion monthly active users milestone. The company adds that Messenger is just more than a text messenger -- in addition to the ambitious bot gamble, a digital assistant, and the ability to send money to friends -- Messenger now accounts for 10 percent of all VoIP calls made globally. Messenger's tremendous growth also underscores Facebook's mammoth capture of the world. The social network is used by more than 1.6 billion people actively every month. WhatsApp, the chat client it owns, is also used by more than one billion people.

TechCrunch has a brilliant story on the growth of Messenger from the scratch.
Microsoft

Skype Finalizes Its Move To the Cloud; To Kill Older Clients -- Remains Tight Lipped About Privacy (arstechnica.com) 74

When it was first created, Skype network was built as a decentralized peer-to-peer system. PCs that had enough processing muscle and bandwidth acted as "supernodes," and coordinated connections between other machines on the network. This p2p system was generally perceived as being relatively private, a belief that has since been debunked. There were several technical challenges, which led Microsoft to move most of Skype's operations to the cloud. Ars Technica is reporting that the company has finalized the switch. From the article: Microsoft has developed a more conventional client-server network, with clients that act as pure clients and dedicated cloud servers. The company is starting to transition to this network exclusively. This transition means that old peer-to-peer Skype clients will cease to work. Clients for the new network will be available for Windows XP and up, OS X Yosemite and up, iOS 8 and up, and Android 4.03 and up. However, certain embedded clients -- in particular, those integrated into smart TVs and available for the PlayStation 3 -- are being deprecated, with no replacement. Microsoft says that since those clients are little used and since almost every user of those platforms has other Skype-capable devices available, it is no longer worth continuing to support them.The issue, as the report points out, is that Microsoft is strangely not talking about privacy and security concerns. The article adds: The Ed Snowden leaks raised substantial questions about the privacy of services such as Skype and have caused an increasing interest in platforms that offer end-to-end encryption. The ability to intercept or wiretap Skype came as a shock to many, especially given Skype's traditionally peer-to-peer infrastructure. Accordingly, we've seen similar services such as iMessage, WhatsApp, and even Facebook Messenger, start introducing end-to-end encryption. The abandonment of Skype's peer-to-peer system can only raise suspicions here.Matthew Green, who teaches cryptography at Johns Hopkins, said: "The surprising thing here is not that Microsoft can intercept Skype calls (duh) but that they won't just admit it."
Communications

Facebook Pitches Laser Beams As The High-Speed Internet Of The Future (pcworld.com) 93

An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: Facebook says it has developed a laser detector that could open the airwaves to new high-speed data communications systems that don't require dedicated spectrum or licenses. The component, disclosed on Tuesday in a scientific journal, comes from the company's Connectivity Lab, which is involved in developing technology that can help spread high-speed internet to places it currently doesn't reach. At 126 square centimeters, Facebook's new laser detector is thousands of times larger. It consists of plastic optical fibers that have been "doped" so they absorb blue light. The fibers create a large flat area that serves as the detector. They luminesce, so the blue light is reemitted as green light as it travels down the fibers, which are then bundled together tightly before they meet with a photodiode. It's described in a paper published on Tuesday in the journal Optica. Facebook says there are applications for the technology both indoors and outdoors. Around the home, it could be used to transmit high-definition video to mobile devices. Outdoors, the same technology could be used to establish low-cost communications links of a kilometer or more in length. In tests, the company managed to achieve a speed of 2.1Gbps using the detector, and the company thinks it can go faster. By using materials that work closer to infrared, the speed could be increased. And using yet-to-be developed components that work at wavelengths invisible to the human eye, the speed could be increased even more. If invisible to humans, the power could also be increased without danger of harming someone, further increasing speed and distance.
Chrome

Safari Browser May Soon Be Just As Fast As Chrome With WebP Integration (thenextweb.com) 105

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Next Web: The Safari browser included in Apple's iOS 10 and macOS Sierra software is testing WebP, technology from Google that allows developers to create smaller, richer images that make the web faster. Basically, it's a way for webpages to load more quickly. The Next Web reports: "WebP was built into Chrome back at build 32 (2013!), so it's not unproven. It's also used by Facebook due to its image compression underpinnings, and is in use across many Google properties, including YouTube." Microsoft is one of the only major players to not use WebP, according to CNET. It's not included in Internet Explorer and the company has "no plans" to integrate it into Edge. Even though iOS 10 and macOS Sierra are in beta, it's promising that we will see WebP make its debut in Safari latest this year. "It's hard to imagine Apple turning away tried and true technology that's found in a more popular browser -- one that's favored by many over Safari due to its speed, where WebP plays a huge part," reports The Next Web. "Safari is currently the second most popular browser to Chrome." What's also interesting is how WebP isn't mentioned at all in the logs for Apple's Safari Technology Preview.
Censorship

Brazil Judge Orders Phone Carriers To Block WhatsApp Message App (reuters.com) 109

A Brazilian judge has ordered wireless phone carriers to block access to Facebook's WhatsApp indefinitely, starting on Tuesday, the third such incident against the popular phone messaging app in eight months. Reuters report: The decision by Judge Daniela Barbosa Assuncao de Souza in the southeastern state of Rio de Janeiro applies to Brazil's five wireless carriers. The reason for the order was not known due to legal secrecy in an ongoing case, and will only be lifted once Facebook surrenders data, Souza's office said. Sao Paulo-based representatives at WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook Inc, as well as the Brazilian five carriers -- Telefonica Brasil SA, America Movil SAB's Claro, TIM Participacoes SA, Oi SA and Nextel Participacoes SA.
Android

Facebook's Android App Can Now Save Offline Videos (ndtv.com) 30

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NDTV: The latest versions of Facebook's Android app now allow users to save videos for offline viewing. The video is saved inside the app in the 'Saved' section, and is not accessible independently to users. Facebook for Android is showing a 'Save video' option in the dropdown menu of a Facebook video post. The videos can be saved and viewed offline for as many times as the user desires and can also be deleted as per his/her wish. The company might not be willing to provide the video file independently to its users in order to encourage sharing over its own social media networking site, however, it is anybody's guess what the actual reason behind this decision is. It seems in line with what companies like Google have been doing with YouTube in developing nations like India, where a save for offline viewing option is present to combat mobile data woes. As per an Android Police report, the option to save videos is currently showing up in versions 85 and 86 (beta) of the Facebook for Android app.
Communications

BuzzFeed and Washington Post To Use Robots For RNC Coverage (engadget.com) 80

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Engadget: The Washington Post and Buzzfeed have sent robots to cover the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The Washington Post is using a telepresence robot from Double Robotics that consists of an iPad mounted on a Segway-like base. It's objective: to roam around the convention, streaming live on Periscope. Those viewing the stream will be able to ask questions of delegates, politicians and other figures who stumble upon the robot. BuzzFeed is using a robot called 'BuzzBot.' It's a Facebook chat bot that collects and caters news from the convention to users' messaging feeds. All you have to do is add the channel to your Messenger app and it will deliver news updates from BuzzFeed reporters. Specifically, it will collect reports from delegates, protesters and others in Cleveland. You have the option to send pictures and other info to BuzzBot, but it may ask you questions about your experience. The questions it asks will be different depending on your location. For example, if you live in Cleveland it will want to know what kind of impact the RNC is having on your daily life. Meanwhile, with roughly 50,000 attendees and likely millions of viewers watching across the country and abroad, the RNC is preparing for cyberattacks that aim to disrupt the network.
Communications

Researcher Finds Way To Steal Cash From Google, Instagram, and Microsoft Through The Phone (onthewire.io) 35

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: A security researcher has discovered a method that would have enabled fraudsters to steal thousands of dollars from Facebook, Microsoft, and Google by linking premium-rate numbers to various accounts as part of the two-step verification process. Arne Swinnen discovered the issue several months ago after looking at the way that several of these companies's services set up their two-step verification procedures. Facebook uses two-step verification for some of its services, including Instagram, and Google and Microsoft also employ it for some of their user accounts. Swinnen realized that the companies made a mistake in not checking to see whether the numbers that users supply as contact points are legitimate. "They all offer services to supply users with a token via a computer-voiced phone call, but neglected to properly verify whether supplied phone numbers were legitimate, non-premium numbers. This allowed a dedicated attacker to steal thousands of EUR/USD/GBP," Swinnen said in a post explaining the bug. "For services such as Instagram and Gmail, users can associate a phone number with their accounts," reports On the Wire. "In the case of Instagram, users can find other people by their phone number, and when a user adds a number, Instagram will send a text to verify the number. If the user never enters the code included in the text, Instagram will eventually call the number. Swinnen noticed that Instagramâ(TM)s robocallers would call any number supplied, including premium-rate numbers. 'One attacker could thus steal 1 GBP per 30 minutes, or 48 GBP/day, 1.440 GBP/month or 17.280/year with one pair. However, a dedicated attacker could easily setup and manage 100 of these pairs, increasing these numbers by a factor 100: 4.800 GBP/day, 144.000 GBP/month or 1.728.000 GBP/year.'"
Facebook

Did Armenia Censor Facebook? (mashable.com) 25

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "Only one day after Twitter was throttled in Turkey during an ill-fated coup attempt, social media again seemed to become a target during unrest in Armenia's capital, Yerevan," reports Mashable. A day after Turkey's president declared that Friday's coup has failed, armed men had taken hostages in nearby Armenia, and "The National Security Service accused the hostage takers' supporters of spreading false rumors on the internet about an uprising and the seizure of other buildings," according to Reuters. "Early Sunday, journalists and others in Armenia used Twitter to suggest Facebook had been blocked for a period as the incident unfolded," Mashable reports, noting that later Facebook access appeared to be restored. Facebook was unavailable for comment.
Facebook

Google, Tesla, and Facebook Attract 'Hordes of Tech Tourists' To Their Headquarters (siliconvalley.com) 80

An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "We just came from Oracle, then we go to HP, Google; we're going to do Tesla, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. And Apple, I forgot Apple..." says one San Francisco resident, describing a tour he's providing for his friend from Tokyo. In fact, Silicon Valley's iconic tech companies have discovered tourists are now dropping in on their headquarters. "It was nice to walk between the buildings, take some pictures and see the employees enjoy their lunch break," wrote one visitor to Google's campus, before complaining that Google hadn't also provided them with bathroom access. "We got told not to use the Google bikes as they are for employees only, which was a bit of a shame," another visitor complained.

"Hundreds of people a day visit the Facebook sign and Google's Android sculpture garden in Mountain View," reports the Bay Area Newsgroup, "with many stopping at other tech giants as well, snapping photos and shooting video..." In fact, Tesla, Apple, Facebook, and Google have all now installed stores where tourists can purchase branded merchandise. (Google sells figurines of their Android mascot for $15). "What you're seeing are people on a pilgrimage..." said Stanford communications professor Fred Turner. "Folks are looking for a physical place behind the kind of dematerialized experience that they have online."

Intel has its own museum, and the Los Altos garage where Steve Jobs started Apple has even been designated a historic site. Are there any other historic tech sites that should be preserved to inspire future generations of tourists?
Republicans

Paypal Founder Peter Thiel To Speak At Trump's Republican Convention (nbcbayarea.com) 268

Slashdot reader speedplane writes: The New York Times is reporting that renowned Venture Capitalist, Paypal Founder, and Gawker Litigation Funder, Peter Thiel will be speaking at the Republican National Convention. The original story does not state what Thiel will discuss at the convention, only that he'll be speaking the last day, but there's plenty of speculation.
Facebook issued a statement that though Thiel is on their board of directors, his appearance was "personal," saying Thiel "is not attending on behalf of Facebook or to represent our views." NBC reports Thiel will be the first openly-gay man to speak at the convention in 16 years, "as party leaders refuse to soften the GOP's formal opposition to gay marriage," noting Thiel "has been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump's run for the oval office, previously supported Ron Paul for president and has identified himself as a conservative libertarian in the past... Other speakers will include four of Trump's children, Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin, and actor and former underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr."

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