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Businesses

eBay To Spin Off PayPal 14

Posted by Soulskill
from the watch-out-for-the-chargeback dept.
In 2002, eBay bought PayPal for $1.5 billion in stock. Nowadays, PayPal's yearly revenues exceed $7 billion, and investors are worried that eBay and PayPal together are too big to compete effectively. (They're also too big to be acquired, which is on their minds after the ludicrously successful Alibaba IPO.) To solve that problem, eBay today announced it will be spinning off PayPal in 2015, creating two separate publicly traded companies. eBay's current CEO is stepping down, and each of the companies will have a new CEO. "As part of the separation, eBay and PayPal will sign arm’s length commercial operating agreements to work together, with payments on both sides for various referrals and services. That’s no surprise since about 30 percent of PayPal’s business is still on eBay, although that is down from 50 percent only a few years ago."
HP

HP Introduces Sub-$100 Windows Tablet 80

Posted by timothy
from the race-to-bottom dept.
jfruh writes While Windows-based tablets haven't exactly set the world on fire, Microsoft hasn't given up on them, and its hardware partners haven't either. HP has announced a series of Windows tablets, with the 7-inch low-end model, the Stream 7, priced at $99. The Stream brand is also being used for low-priced laptops intended to compete with Chromebooks (which HP also sells). All are running Intel chips and full Windows, not Windows RT.
Media

Matchstick and Mozilla Take On Google's Chromecast With $25 Firefox OS Dongle 55

Posted by timothy
from the what-can-it-slurp dept.
An anonymous reader writes Matchstick and Mozilla today announced their open-source take on the Chromecast: a $25 Firefox OS-powered HDMI dongle. The streaming Internet and media stick will be available first through Kickstarter, in the hopes to drive down the price tag. Jack Chang, Matchstick General Manager in the US, described the device to me as "essentially an open Chromecast." He explained that while the MSRP is $25 (Google's Chromecast retails for $35), the Kickstarter campaign is offering a regular price of $18, and an early bird price of $12.
Facebook

Interview With Facebook's Head of Open Source 22

Posted by timothy
from the complete-transparency dept.
Czech37 writes Facebook may be among the world's most well-known tech companies, but it's not renowned for being at the forefront of open source. In reality, they have over 200 open source projects on GitHub and they've recently partnered with Google, Dropbox, and Twitter (among others) to create the TODO group, an organization committed to furthering the open source cause. In an interview with Opensource.com, Facebook's James Pearce talks about the progress the company has made in rebooting their open source approach and what's on the horizon for the social media network.
Graphics

Adobe Photoshop Is Coming To Linux, Through Chromebooks 114

Posted by timothy
from the scared-of-a-little-gimp-action-eh dept.
sfcrazy writes Adobe is bringing the king of all photo editing software, Photoshop, to Linux-based Chrome OS. Chrome OS-powered devices, such as Chromebooks and Chromeboxes, already have a decent line-up of 'applications' that can work offline and eliminate the need of a traditional desktop computer. So far it sounds like great news. The bad news is that the offering is in its beta stage and is available only to the customers of the Creative Cloud Education program residing in the U.S. I have a full subscription of Creative Cloud for Photographers, and LightRoom, but even I can't join the program at the moment.
Stats

Microsoft's Asimov System To Monitor Users' Machines In Real Time 201

Posted by timothy
from the all-persons-who-enter-herein dept.
SmartAboutThings writes Microsoft will monitor users in the new Windows 9 Operating System in order to determine how the new OS is used, thus decide what tweaks and changes are need to be made. During Windows 8 testing, Microsoft said that they had data showing Start Menu usage had dropped, but it seems that the tools they were using at the time weren't as evolved as the new 'Asimov' monitor. The new system is codenamed 'Asimov' and will provide a near real-time view of what is happening on users' machines. Rest assured, the data is going to be obscured and aggregated, but intelligible enough to allow Microsoft to get detailed insights into user interactions with the OS. Mary Jo Foley says that the system was originally built by the Xbox Team and now is being used by the Windows team. Users who will download the technical preview of Windows 9, which is said to get unveiled today, will become 'power users' who will utilize the platform in unique scenarios. This will help Microsoft identify any odd bugs ahead of the final release.
Technology

Robotic Taster Will Judge 'Real Thai Food' 76

Posted by timothy
from the what-about-best-barbecue? dept.
HughPickens.com (3830033) writes The NYT reports that Thailand's former prime minister, Yingluck Shinawatra repeatedly encountered a distressing problem while traveling the world: bad Thai food. Too often, she found, the meals she sampled at Thai restaurants abroad were unworthy of the name, too bland to be called genuine Thai cooking. The problem bothered her enough to raise it at a cabinet meeting. Even though her political party has since been thrown out of office, in a May military coup, the Thai government is unveiling its project to standardize the art of Thai food using a robot. The government-financed Thai Delicious Committee, which oversaw the development of the machine, describes it as "an intelligent robot that measures smell and taste in food ingredients through sensor technology in order to measure taste like a food critic." Thailand's National Innovation Agency has spent about $100,000 to develop the e-delicious machine. The e-delicious machine has 10 sensors that measure smell and taste, generating a unique fingerprint (signature) for each sample of food that passes its digital maw. Generally with electronic tasting, there are electronic sensors that work just like the taste buds on your tongue, measuring the quantity of various taste-giving compounds, acidity, etc. While these electronic sensors can't actually tell you how something tastes — that's a very subjective, human thing — they are very good at comparing two foods scientifically. Meanwhile at a tiny food stall along one of Bangkok's traffic-clogged boulevards, Thaweekiat Nimmalairatana, questioned the necessity of a robatic taster. "I use my tongue to test if it's delicious or not," said Nimmalairatana. "I think the government should consider using a human to gauge authenticity."
Bug

Apple Fixes Shellshock In OS X 103

Posted by timothy
from the that's-mac-os-x-to-you-buddy dept.
jones_supa (887896) writes Apple has released the OS X Bash Update 1.0 for OS X Mavericks, Mountain Lion, and Lion, a patch that fixes the "Shellshock" bug in the Bash shell. Bash, which is the default shell for many Linux-based operating systems, has been updated two times to fix the bug, and many Linux distributions have already issued updates to their users. When installed on an OS X Mavericks system, the patch upgrades the Bash shell from version 3.2.51 to version 3.2.53. The update requires the OS X 10.9.5, 10.8.5, or 10.7.5 updates to be installed on the system first. An Apple representative told Ars Technica that OS X Yosemite, the upcoming version of OS X, will receive the patch later.
Government

California Governor Vetoes Bill Requiring Warrants For Drone Surveillance 75

Posted by Soulskill
from the quis-custodiet-ipsos-drones? dept.
schwit1 sends word that California governor Jerry Brown has vetoed legislation that would have required warrants for surveillance using unmanned drones. In his veto message (PDF), Brown said, "This bill prohibits law enforcement from using a drone without obtaining a search warrant, except in limited circumstances. There are undoubtedly circumstances where a warrant is appropriate. The bill's exceptions, however, appear to be too narrow and could impose requirements beyond what is required by either the 4th Amendment or the privacy provisions in the California Constitution."

The article notes that 10 other states already require a warrant for routine surveillance with a drone (Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Montana, Oregon, Tennessee, Utah, and Wisconsin). Further, Brown's claims about the bill's exceptions are overstated — according to Slate, "California's drone bill is not draconian. It includes exceptions for emergency situations, search-and-rescue efforts, traffic first responders, and inspection of wildfires. It allows other public agencies to use drones for other purposes — just not law enforcement."
The Internet

Analyzing Silk Road 2.0 57

Posted by Soulskill
from the welcome-to-narcoanalytics dept.
An anonymous reader writes: After a recent article about breaking the CAPTCHA on the latest incarnation of Silk Road (the darknet-enabled drug market place), Darryl Lau decided to investigate exactly what narcotics people were buying and selling online. He found roughly 13,000 separate listings. Some sellers identify the country they're in, and the top six are the U.S., Australia, England, Germany, and the Netherlands, and Canada. The site also has a bunch of product reviews. If you assume that each review comes from a sale, and multiply that by the listed prices, reviewed items alone represent $20 million worth of business. Lau also has some interesting charts, graphs, and assorted stats. MDMA is the most listed and reviewed drug, and sellers are offering it in quantities of up to a kilogram at a time. The average price for the top 1000 items is $236. Prescription drugs represent a huge portion of the total listings, though no individual prescription drugs have high volume on their own.
Education

How Tech Is Transforming Teaching In a South African Township 25

Posted by Soulskill
from the please-say-cyborgs-please-say-cyborgs dept.
An anonymous reader writes: The founders of the African School for Excellence have an ambitious goal — nothing less than redefining low cost, scalable teaching that brings international standards to the poorest schools in Africa. Their first model school is off to a good start: in just 18 months, all grade 9 students are achieving scores higher than 50% on Cambridge Curriculum Checkpoint tests, and only one student scored less than 50% in math. The national average score in math is 13%. The school relies on a locally designed piece of marking software to function. Their teach-to-pupil ratios are not great, but the teachers are committed to using technology to stretch themselves as far as they can. What's most remarkable is that the school's running costs are already half the cost of a traditional government school, and the quality of education is much, much better. All this, and they're only a year and a half into the program.
Security

FBI Plans To Open Up Malware Analysis Tool To Outside Researchers 18

Posted by Soulskill
from the definitely-totally-detects-fbi-malware-totally-definitely dept.
Trailrunner7 writes: The FBI has developed an internal malware-analysis tool, somewhat akin to the systems used by antimalware companies, and plans to open the system up to external security researchers, academics and others. The system is known as Malware Investigator and is designed to allow FBI agents and other authorized law enforcement users to upload suspicious files. Once a file is uploaded, the system runs it through a cluster of antimalware engines, somewhat akin to the way that Virus Total handles submissions, and returns a wide variety of information about the file.

Users can see what the detection rate is among AV engines, network connection attempts, whether the file has been seen by the system before, destination and source IP addresses and what protocols it uses.Right now, Malware Investigator is able to analyze Windows executables, PDFs and other common file types. But Burns said that the bureau is hoping to expand the portal's reach in the near future. "We are going to be doing dynamic analysis of Android files, with an eye toward other operating systems and executables soon," he said.
Communications

LTE Upgrade Will Let Phones Connect To Nearby Devices Without Towers 134

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-yell-really-loud dept.
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from MIT's Technology Review: A new feature being added to the LTE protocol that smartphones use to communicate with cellular towers will make it possible to bypass those towers altogether. Phones will be able to "talk" directly to other mobile devices and to beacons located in shops and other businesses. Known as LTE Direct, the wireless technology has a range of up to 500 meters, far more than either Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. It is included in update to the LTE standard slated for approval this year, and devices capable of LTE Direct could appear as soon as late 2015. ... Researchers are, for example, testing LTE Direct as a way to allow smartphones to automatically discover nearby people, businesses, and other information.
Cloud

CloudFlare Announces Free SSL Support For All Customers 63

Posted by Soulskill
from the big-step-in-the-right-direction dept.
Z80xxc! writes: CloudFlare, a cloud service that sits between websites and the internet to provide a CDN, DDOS and other attack prevention, speed optimization, and other services announced today that SSL will now be supported for all customers, including free customers. This will add SSL support to approximately 2 million previously unprotected websites. Previously SSL was only available to customers paying at least $20/month for a "Pro" plan or higher.

Browsers connect to CloudFlare's servers and receive a certificate provided by CloudFlare. CloudFlare then connects to the website's server to retrieve the content, serving as a sort of reverse proxy. Different security levels allow CloudFlare to connect to the website host using no encryption, a self-signed certificate, or a verified certificate, depending on the administrator's preferences. CloudFlare's servers will use SNI for free accounts, which is unsupported for IE on Windows XP and older, and Android Browser on Android 2.2 and older.
Power

Energy Utilities Trying To Stifle Growth of Solar Power 394

Posted by Soulskill
from the fortunate-sun dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Incremental improvements have been slowly but surely pushing solar power toward mainstream viability for a few decades now. It's getting to the point where the established utilities are worried about the financial hit they're likely to take — and they're working to prevent it. "These solar households are now buying less and less electricity, but the utilities still have to manage the costs of connecting them to the grid. Indeed, a new study from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory argues that this trend could put utilities in dire financial straits. If rooftop solar were to grab 10 percent of the market over the next decade, utility earnings could decline as much as 41 percent." The utilities are throwing their weight behind political groups seeking to end subsidies for solar and make "net metering" policies go away. Studies suggest that if solar adoption continues growing at its current rate, incumbents will be forced to raise their prices, which will only persuade more people to switch to solar (PDF).

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