Posts Tagged ‘internet’

NSA Needs a Zoloft After Obama No-Show, But Here Comes Internet’s Wrecking Ball Letter

December 9, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In a fascinating, only-in-the-Beltway story, the Washington Post is reporting that morale at the National Security Agency is in the doldrums over the controversy related to questionable surveillance techniques that has given the government a decidedly sinister image. And that apparently makes the spies very sad. “Morale has taken a hit at the National Security Agency in the wake of controversy over the agency’s surveillance activities, according to former officials who say they are dismayed that President Obama has not visited the agency to show his support,” wrote Ellen Nakashima, about the the 23 miles not traveled by the commander-in-chief, up the Baltimore-Washington Parkway to Fort Meade in Maryland, where the NSA is headquartered. “Supporters of the NSA say staffers are not feeling the love.” It’s like Fed version of “Wrecking Ball.” (Except thankfully without Miley Cyrus and twerking.) Let’s sing together: I came in like a wrecking ball I never hit so hard your code All I wanted was to break your (fire)walls All you ever did was hack me Yeah, you, you haaaaack me Not so former President George W. Bush, who was a gentleman when he paid a visit to show his support after another NSA excessive spying scandal in 2006. But President Barack Obama has gone all Liam Hemsworth-cold and the NSA is feeling wronged. “It’s become very public and very personal,” according to one former official that Nakashima quoted “Literally, neighbors are asking people, ‘Why are you spying on Grandma?’ And we aren’t.” Grandma gets a pass from smartphone invasion?

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Siri Gets Serious, Microsoft Gets Its Mojo Back and Everything Gets Encrypted in 2014

December 6, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

If it’s December, it’s time to start predicting what’s going to dominate the headlines and trends of 2014. I make it a point every year to sit down with Mark Anderson, an industry analyst and CEO of Strategic News Service, and get an early look at the predictions he makes in a speech at an annual dinner at the Waldorf Astoria Hotel in New York. As with previous rounds of predictions he has made (See 2011 , 2012 and 2013 ), some already make sense if you’ve been paying attention to the way things are going, and will become more pronounced in the year ahead. Others are a little more surprising. Siris head into silos. There will be more products like Apple’s Siri, and they’ll spread out and dive deep into vertical markets. Current voice-recognition products are sitting in the range of 60 percent to 80 percent accuracy, which is still too frustrating to be effective for daily use. “You still get a lot of Siri jokes,” Anderson says. “But as that rate approaches 90 percent and above, they’ll get more useful and start appearing in industry-specific products.” Customers will start trusting these systems more. Visualization goes mainstream. As more companies spin up efforts to harness the capabilities of big data and analytics, making the results more useful will become a higher priority. That’s going to bring a new emphasis on visualization tools. “Let’s stop talking about Big Data and start talking about seeing data. We haven’t yet had any big improvements in ways to help us use all this data we’re gathering.” Price rules consumer electronics

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Broadcom Co-Founder Sees Peace Coming to Warring Wireless Charging Factions in 2014

December 5, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

While wireless charging is a nice feature on a smartphone, it will be absolutely essential for the market of the so-called Internet of Things, where consumers have dozens of Internet-connected devices, from glasses to watches and more. “You are not going to plug in every device you have overnight to charge,” Samueli said in an interview on Wednesday. The problem is right now there are at least three competing efforts including the Wireless Power Consortium, the Power Matters Alliance and the Alliance For Wireless Power. “We need to converge theses standards,” Samueli said. “Without a standard the market won’t take off.” The good news, Samueli said, is that the various parties are talking. Samueli predicted that sometime next year the competing efforts will merge into a unified standard. “They are very similar,” Samueli said. “It’s actually possible to build a chip to be compatible for all three.”

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Pay Attention, Snapchat! China’s WeChat Messaging App Does E-Commerce Well.

November 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

American messaging services could learn a thing or two from WeChat. The mobile-focused app is massively popular in China and spreading quickly abroad; of the 270-million-plus regular users of the service, about a quarter of those are outside of mainland China . Aside from its wide user base, WeChat’s biggest success looks to be in its bottom line: In-app purchases. Take WeChat’s recent experiment with the fast-growing Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi . The two companies teamed up to offer a limited number of Xiaomi’s latest flagship phone, the Mi-3, inside the WeChat app exclusively.

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Vietnamese Government Passes Law to Fine Social Media Critics

November 29, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In the latest of a series of severe crackdowns against online speech, Vietnamese officials announced a new law that could give the government the power to jail or issue steep fines to citizens who criticize the state via social media outlets. The law, known as Decree 72, is a vaguely worded dictum that allows the government to issue fines of up to 100 million dong (about $5,000 USD) to citizens who are “abusing the provision and use of the Internet and information on the web,” or those who “oppose the Socialist Republic of Vietnam,” and “undermining the fine customs and traditions of the nation,” according to language from the bill. Some comments could also warrant imprisonment if considered “criminal,” though the distinction between comments worthy of fines and those worth jail time was unclear. Vietnam has had a history of censoring sites on the Internet to its citizens, intermittently blocking Facebook since 2009. In September, the government banned bloggers and online commentators from discussing news and current affairs on their websites, keeping that news restricted to state-owned press outlets and operations. Another stipulation of Decree 72 requires foreign companies that work in Vietnam to host at least one server inside the country. The Vietnamese government has arrested and jailed record numbers of dissident bloggers and activists in 2013 alone, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Activist groups including the EFF, the Asian Internet Coalition, Human Rights Watch and members of European Parliament have widely condemned the country’s crackdown against online speech. In August, 11 human rights and activist organizations sent a joint letter to the Vietnamese government, condemning the state and requesting that a number of detained writers be released. “We believe Vietnam as a country would benefit from greater respect for the civil liberties of its citizens and Vietnamese society would be richer with the contributions of all its citizens,” the letter said.

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Twitch Takes Up Cat Herding With Ban on PlayStation 4′s Playroom

November 27, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

How did no one see this coming? The PlayStation 4 has an optional camera accessory, games that use that camera, and the option to stream any game live to the Internet via the popular gaming-video service Twitch . Put those three ingredients together, let simmer for a week, and boom: Naked people , among other things. First, Twitch was banning individual users for inappropriate video content and comments in their livestreams. Now it has removed The Playroom , the fun PlayStation Camera demo game bundled with every PS4, from its directory. Twitch’s terms of service explicitly say that it’s only for game content, and I can’t think of a less-bad option for dealing with users who ignore that. But what happens when games that aren’t just hardware demos come along and are similarly abused? A Twitch spokesperson said content is “always gauged on a case by case basis” according to those terms. A “majority” of users streaming The Playroom were using it for “non-gaming related” content, according to a company statement. But, even if one person using a console has read ( hah! ) and agreed to the terms of service, one of the differences between consoles and personal computers — Twitch’s longtime stomping ground — is that they’re designed to be used by many people in various combinations at different times. Entering the living room and expecting everyone to pretend they’re alone at a desk is not a sound strategy as social gamecasting matures. Although initially planned for launch, as it was on the PS4, Microsoft delayed Twitch streaming on its competing next-gen console, the Xbox One, until Q1 2014.

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While Yahoo Gave Few Details About Couric’s New Role, Here’s What a Previous Deal With Her Wanted (Memo)

November 27, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

In her flashy announcement about the hiring of television news star Katie Couric as the global anchor and “face of Yahoo News,” CEO Marissa Mayer gave the very barest of details. According to her blog post, there will be an unspecified “growing team of correspondents.” And Couric will be “shooting features for our homepage.” And she will start in early 2014. For such a big move in news, there was an amazing lack of news about exactly what Couric would do — from the what to the when to the where to the how much. Thank goodness for sources close to the situation, who note that the lack of specificity was due to the still largely undetermined solid specifics about what Couric is going to do for the millions of dollars she will be paid by Yahoo. That’s due to a lot of reasons, including the fact that Couric still has another big job. While she will no longer be a special correspondent for ABC News, which did not work out as planned on either side, that has not actually taken up a lot of her bandwidth of late. Instead, she has been working on her five-day-a-week syndicated daytime talk show, called “Katie.” While its future is unclear, it still needs to complete its second season, and that will take up a lot of Couric’s time, according to numerous sources, which Mayer was aware of. In addition, according to Yahoo sources, Couric can also do other projects, including on television, as part of the deal.

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I Shot the Serif — Why Didn’t Anyone Notice the Tumblr Logo Change?

November 26, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

While everyone was riveted to the change in Yahoo’s logo earlier this fall — mostly due to a monthlong Cecil B. DeMille rollout of the logos not used, followed by the I-made-it-myself grand unveiling by CEO Marissa Mayer — no one seems to have noticed a subtle but significant change to the look of the logo of another of the Silicon Valley Internet giant’s properties. That would be Tumblr, the high-profile New York-based blogging network that Yahoo bought for more than $1 billion in late May . And though it was not touted, the logo changed in mid-October, during an update of Tumblr’s dashboard. Along with making it more clean, several of the logo’s letters had their serifs squared up, in a move not dissimilar to the Yahoo logo change. In other words, some new sharp and straight lines, versus softer ones — mostly all-serif, but some sans-serif thrown in at the same time. Here’s the old Tumblr logo: And here’s the new one: I like this change a lot, almost as much as I did not like the new Yahoo logo. Then again, I am no font expert, and there’s no accounting for taste.

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Wearable Sensors Could Be an Antidote to Football’s Concussion Problem

November 25, 2013  |  All Things Digital  |  No Comments

It’s become clear that the biggest risk to the future of the multibillion-dollar football industry is the high-impact sport’s propensity for giving its athletes concussions. There have already been 29 football-related deaths in 2013, 16 of them attributed to brain injuries. After being blamed for years of denial , the National Football League has agreed to pay hundreds of millions of dollars to compensate former players with brain injuries and to fund research, and it’s also working to change the rules of the game. And at the other end of the spectrum, American youth football enrollment is dropping , with parents citing the risk of concussions as the reason they aren’t signing up their kids. So why is this a tech story? One way to manage risks and concerns is to get better data about them, and some companies are producing wearable devices that measure players’ brain activity during games. The leader seems to be a Seattle-based startup named X2 Biosystems , which just reached a deal to make its systems mandatory for all 32 NFL teams, after a pilot test. X2 benchmarks athlete’s brains so coaches and staff can better determine when they are ready to re-enter the game after a concussion. At the most basic level, X2 offers an iOS app for tracking measurements of brain activity, coordination and balance throughout the season. And some pro teams are already using X2′s stick-on patch, which measures six different axes of acceleration and communicates the data wirelessly while an athlete is playing. After head impact, players are retested and monitored until they have met a standard safe for them to return to the sport. What with wearable, connected sensors being just about the hottest thing in tech right now, X2 has attracted some crossover investors from the Internet sphere. MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe is part of a group of angel investors who have put $9 million into the company, and he recently joined its board amid further fundraising efforts. DeWolfe is now CEO of Social Gaming Networks, and said his fellow MySpace co-founder and SGN COO Colin Digiaro has also invested in X2. “This is one of the world’s big problems,” DeWolfe said in an interview last week, noting that everyone he talks to can think of an example of a kid who got a concussion playing sports

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‘Ray Donovan’ Producer Bryan Zuriff Sentenced to Six Months of Home Confinement

November 25, 2013  |  Variety  |  No Comments

Bryan Zuriff, former executive producer of Showtime’s “Ray Donovan,” has been sentenced to six months home confinement and two years of probation for illegal Internet gambling, as he was arrested earlier this year along with dozens of others as part of an FBI bust of an international gambling ring. He’s also been sentenced to perform... Read more

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