English Chinese (Traditional) French German Italian Japanese Russian Spanish
New From Klipsch.com - SB120 TV Sound System!  Klipsch - Keepers Of The Sound!
  • Home
    Home This is where you can find all the blog posts throughout the site.
  • Categories
    Categories Displays a list of categories from this blog.
  • Bloggers
    Bloggers Search for your favorite blogger from this site.
  • Archives
    Archives Contains a list of blog posts that were created previously.
  • Login
    Login Login form
Recent blog posts
image

Diffbot‘s mission, according to CEO Mike Tung, involves “teaching a robot how to read and understand web pages.” Today it expanded that understanding to include forums, comments, reviews, and other online discussions.

When Tung talks about understanding webpages, he means turning the content into structured data — say, looking at an article and identifying the title, author, text, images, topics, and so on. That information, in turn, can help businesses find track the content that’s relevant to them. (Diffbot customers include Microsoft/Bing, Cisco, and eBay.)

Until today, however, Diffbot could perform its analysis on an article or a product page, but it couldn’t do the same for the comments under the article or the reviews under the product description.

Last modified on

Giving away music is how you get people to pay for it. That might seem crazy, but it’s true, though Jay-Z doesn’t want to listen. He just launched a music streaming service called Tidal with Beyoncé, Daft Punk, Kanye, Arcade Fire, and Rihanna as co-owners contributing exclusive content. The goal is to get artists properly paid.

The problem is Tidal subscriptions costs $20 for high-definition streaming and $10 for regular quality, with no free ad-supported option. Most people won’t pay.

Focusing on exclusives is a cool concept that might appeal to crazy fans, but it’s probably not enough to make Tidal a big success. Watch the video above to hear why. It’s a lot easier than reading a massive article about it.

Last modified on
Hits: 50 Comments

GPS technology has been around for a while. Wikipedia puts the start of development at 1973. But it wasn't until the 1990s that it became available for consumer use. And even then, it took some time before the government removed restrictions on accuracy that it had on its use by civilians. (The government had added an intentional error to the signal that made GPS variably inaccurate up to 50 meters.)

With the loosening of restrictions on GPS came furious development in consumer applications—and a flurry of patents.

Which brings us to this month's Stupid Patent of the Month. The dubious honor goes to U.S. Patent No. 6,442,485, "Method and apparatus for an automatic vehicle location, collision notification, and synthetic voice," filed in 1999. The "Background of the Invention" talks about a need for an automatic voice system that could speak for a driver involved in a collision and transmit location details to 911. For example, the patent says that "[i]t would be desirable to have an automatic vehicle location and collision notification system that would ascertain if a vehicular collision had occurred and communicate directly with an emergency facility."

Last modified on

Posted by on in TechCrunch

Here we go! TechCrunch is winging its way to Montreal and Toronto this week for some amazing meetups. We want to see you there so I hope you’ve purchased your ticket, eh.

All the pitch-off companies are picked and the judges are in line to offer pithy commentary. The pitch-offs will follow our tried and true formula. We’ll pick 6 to 8 startups per city and they will have 60 seconds to pitch. Unless you get an email from me specifically stating you are in the pitch-off then you are not in the pitch-off. Applying is not the same as making it. That said, we want to talk to as many of you as possible so be ready with your pitches as we make the rounds. It’s a great opportunity to show off your work, your ecosystem, and your city.

See you soon!

Last modified on

We've improved Slashdot's video section; now you can view our video interviews, product close-ups and site visits with all the usual Slashdot options to comment, share, etc. No more walled garden! It's a work in progress -- we hope you'll check it out (Learn more about the recent updates).

Last modified on
Hits: 46 Comments

The DOJ's most infamous drone deployments involve justifications for extrajudicial killings. But its agencies also have fleets of (nonlethal) drones, something these agencies tend to avoid discussing until sued into doing so.

The Office of the Inspector General has taken another look at the drones deployed by DOJ agencies and found that, while plenty of money has been spent acquiring and maintaining drones/operators, very little deployment is actually occurring.

Our September 2013 interim report found that between 2004 and 2013, the FBI spent approximately $3 million to acquire small UAS it deployed to support its investigations. As of August 2014, the FBI had acquired 34 UAS vehicles and associated control stations, of which it considered 17 vehicles and a smaller number of control stations to be operational.
$3 million spent on drones, with only half currently considered "operational." In eight years (2006-2014), the drones have only been deployed to assist in 13 investigations, with nine of those occurring in the last four years. This may be good news for those concerned about extensive domestic surveillance, but it's not good news for those interested in how their tax dollars are being spent.

The FBI may have the desire for more unchecked surveillance and the drones needed to do the job, but it apparently lacks the manpower…

Last modified on

Posted by on in Slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Today Microsoft announced the latest device in their line of Windows tablets: the Surface 3. The tablet runs a full version of Windows (the troublesome "RT" line has been deprecated), and aims to compete with Apple's iPad. The Surface 3 has a 10.8" screen running at 1920x1280 (note the 3:2 ratio). It's 8.7mm thick and weighs 622 grams (1.27 lbs). They're somewhat vague about the battery life, but they say it will last up to 10 hours "based on video playback." They've also made it possible to charge the device with a standard micro-USB charger. The base device with 64GB storage, 2GB RAM, and Wi-Fi will cost $500, and it'll scale up with more storage, more ram, and 4G LTE connectivity. (It maxes out at 4GB RAM, so any heavy-duty gaming is probably out of the question.) The keyboard is still a separate $130 accessory as well.
Last modified on
Hits: 9 Comments

Opponents of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission’s new net neutrality rules aren’t giving up, with a conservative advocacy group saying it has collected more than 540,000 signatures on a petition asking Congress to overturn the agency’s action.

American Commitment, a group with connections to Republican billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, delivered those petitions to Congress this week. Each petition went to the three members of Congress, one representative and two senators, representing the person signing the letter, American Commitment said.

“The landslide 2014 elections made crystal clear that the American people reject larger, more intrusive government,” the Web form leading to the letters says in part. “But President [Barack] Obama reacted by moving even further left, ignoring the fact the Federal Communications Commission is supposed to be an independent agency, and openly demanding the FCC take the most radical action imaginable: reducing the Internet to a ‘public utility,’ imposing sweeping new taxes and destroying private investment, competition, and innovation while putting bureaucrats firmly in control.”

Last modified on

Apple Pay is coming up short for many people who attempt to use the mobile payment service at the register.

A survey from research firm Phoenix Marketing International found that 68 percent of respondents who have used Apple Pay had encountered an issue when making an in-store purchase.

The leading compliant made by nearly half of respondents was that retailers’ sales terminals took too long to record a transaction. Other problems: employees who didn’t know how to process sales with the mobile wallet (42 percent); errors in how the sale posted (36 percent), like a transaction appearing twice; and out of service Apple Pay terminals (27 percent). Almost half of the Apple Pay users surveyed (47 percent) found that the particular store they visited didn’t accept Apple Pay although the retailer was supposed to support the service.

Last modified on

What is Tidal?

After Monday's star-studded yet surprisingly uninformative unveiling of Jay Z's new streaming venture in New York City, that question — and a host of others — is still being asked.

To help clear up some confusion, here's a primer on everything we know about the platform, the business decisions behind it, who's involved, and how it differs from rivals such as Spotify.

Last modified on
We already wrote about Monday's unsealed criminal complaint against two government agents who were key players in investigating Silk Road -- but who used that position to steal Bitcoins and a lot of other questionable behavior. Now it comes out that the Justice Department revealed the existence of this investigation to Ross Ulbricht's lawyers five weeks before Ulbricht's trial -- but then blocked Ulbricht's legal team from using that information, even as the Justice Department continued to rely on evidence from both of the apparently corrupt federal agents. Ulbricht's lawyer, Joshua Dratel, has put out a statement pointing out some of the problems here:
In addition to keeping any information about the investigation from the defense for nearly nine months, then revealing it only five weeks prior to trial, and then moving to keep sealed and secret the general underlying information so that Mr. Ulbricht could not use it in his defense at trial, and then stymying the defense at every turn during trial when the defense tried to introduce favorable evidence, the government had also refused to agree to the defense’s request to adjourn the trial until after the indictment was returned and made public – a modest adjournment of a couple of months, since it was apparent that the investigation was nearing a conclusion.

Throughout Mr. Ulbricht’s trial the government repeatedly used the secret nature of the grand jury investigation as an excuse to preclude valuable defense evidence that was not only produced in discovery, independent of the investigation of Mr. Force, but also which was only at best tenuously related to that investigation. In that manner the government deprived the jury of essential facts, and Mr. Ulbricht of due process. In addition, the government failed to disclose previously much of what is in the Complaint, including that two federal law enforcement agents involved in the Silk Road investigation were corrupt. It is clear from this Complaint that fundamentally the government’s investigation of Mr. Ulbricht lacked any integrity, and was wholly and fatally compromised from the inside.

Dratel suggests that the corrupt behavior of Force and Bridges raises questions about nearly all aspects of the Ulbricht case, especially since they have already showed that they abused their access to the Silk Road platform in a way that could change the site and account information.

Additional information shows that Force not only acted as "Chief Compliance Officer" for CoinMKT while still employed as a DEA agent (and abusing his ability to use government databases for the job), but as a report from Sarah Jeong at Forbes shows, he also reached out to Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles:

image
And then even asked about working with Mt. Gox as well, with this bizarre "American government and economy will crash in the next five years" statement:
image
Just about a month later, when Bridges was the affiant on helping the government seize millions of dollars from Mt. Gox (just days after withdrawing the money he himself allegedly stole from Silk Road), Force emailed Karpeles again, saying "told you should have partnered with me!"
image
And that doesn't even get into the fact that the whole "murder plot" that was such a headline grabber in the original criminal complaint only happened after Bridges apparently took the money and Ulbricht reached out to Force to get him to put out a hit on the guy he thought had stolen the money (who had actually been cooperating with the government, which allowed Bridges to get the info to steal the money in the first place).

As we noted in our earlier piece, the criminal complaint shows that Force himself abused his power as a DEA agent to fake a subpoena against Venmo trying to get his own account unfrozen -- and it appears that when that didn't work, Force tried to further abuse his power to seize Venmo's bank account in response. A snippet from an email he sent to a colleague:

Venmo has since registered with FinCEN, but I want to know if they have state money license remitting licenses in California and New York. Can you check? If not, I want to seize their bank accounts (need to identify them) a la BRIDGES and [M.M.’s] seizure warrants for Mt. Gox.
And here's the big question: were Bridges and Force really just two "bad apples" in the investigation? Or could it have gone much deeper? As Jeong notes in her report:
During the trial, the defense kept trying to introduce the character of “mr. wonderful,” a Baltimore DHS agent who coerced a Silk Road moderator into giving her account over to law enforcement. Although many of Force’s aliases are listed in the criminal complaint against him, none of them are “mr. wonderful.” (In any case, Force is a DEA agent, and “mr. wonderful” is DHS). Who is mr. wonderful? What exactly did he do?
In other words, whether or not you believe that Ulbricht was DPR, the investigation and trial against him was a complete and utter mess, and these new charges raise an awful lot of questions about the fairness of that trial.
Last modified on
Hits: 40 Comments

2015-03-31 20:25:46 UTC

Why yes, that is a guy playing a flamethrowing guitar atop a race car.

This trailer for the Mad Max reboot looks to be even crazier than the previous three. With spiked-out cars and creepy villains galore, the clip finally addresses the question of just how many explosions can fit into a two-and-a-half minute video. (The answer: not enough.)

Last modified on

Posted by on in PCWorld

The UK’s Serious Fraud Office may have dropped its investigation of software firm Autonomy earlier this year, but that doesn’t appear to have done much to allay HP’s ire. HP—which acquired Autonomy in 2011—has confirmed that it plans to sue Mike Lynch and Sushovan Hussain, Autonomy’s former CEO and CFO, for $5.1 billion.

HP filed a Claim Form against Lynch and Hussain on Monday alleging they engaged in fraudulent activities while executives at Autonomy, an HP spokeswoman said via email. “The lawsuit seeks damages from them of approximately $5.1 billion.”

HP will not comment further on the case until the proceedings have been served on the defendants, she said.

Last modified on
Germanwings-debrisIn this Thursday March 26, 2015 file photo, rescue workers inspect the debris from the Germanwings jet at the crash site near Seyne-les-Alpes, France.

Image: Laurent Cipriani, File/Associated Press

French officials are denying media reports that a passenger or crewmember on board the doomed Germanwings Flight 9525 recorded a cellphone video in the final seconds before the crash.

German newspaper Bild and French magazine Paris Match reported that investigators found the footage at the crash site. The German paper said the video is blurry and doesn't show any of the passengers' faces.

Last modified on

If Groupon’s history was as a virtual coupon shop, it’s future is starting to look more like a traditional online store.

Case in point: The Chicago-based company has quietly started testing a new concept called Groupon Stores that will let just about any product brand or retail operation set up a Groupon storefront to sell their wares, sources tell Re/code. Groupon has been telling businesses that are part of the Groupon Stores beta program that the stuff they sell through Groupon has to be at least 5 percent cheaper than anywhere else on the Web, sources said. Groupon also has told businesses that it will take a 15 percent cut of these sales. Groupon PR chief Bill Roberts confirmed the new initiative, but said Groupon is still testing the right discounting and commissions structure.

“This is a huge, untapped opportunity for us to turn the Groupon marketplace into even more of an online and mobile shopping destination by increasing our inventory and bringing the power of our platform to even more merchants,” Roberts said in an email.

Last modified on

Most of us keep some flashlights and candles around for when the power goes out, which works well enough. If you’d prefer something a little more automated, Make shows off how to build your own lighting system that turns out when the power goes out.

The whole system is wired into your house, so it knows when the power goes out and responds accordingly. As you’d expect, the project’s a bit complicated, so you’ll need some experience with electronics to get this working properly. Head over to Make for the full guide.

Last modified on

It would have been easy to walk into last Sunday’s Silicon Valley Diversity Brunch in Palo Alto feeling cynical. As noted by one of the introductory speakers, tech companies are not models of diversity.

Finding itself at 3.5 percent black, Intel pledged $300 million to up its own numbers. Jesse Jackson showed up at the most recent Apple shareholders meeting to encourage Tim Cook to do better, faster, more after that company’s internal estimate put its black employee population at 7 percent. At our own Code/Media conference, Tyler the Creator found three black people in the audience — no, wait, “you’re mixed, it’s two and a half.” At the moment, black workers do not have a good seat at the tech table.

But you wouldn’t have known it from the packed room, where each and every table seemed to represent several organizations currently creating change in Silicon Valley. Yes, things are bad, but according to the success stories among the 250 attendants, bad “never looked so good,” as Andrea Hoffman, founder and CEO of Culture Shift Labs, the organization that has been hosting events like these on the East coast for the past five years, quipped from the podium.

Last modified on

Posted by on in Lifehacker

Re-Read Old Notes to Spark New Ideas

If you write down a lot of your ideas, it’s easy to forget about them as time moves on. College professor Bodong Chen points out that it’s worth going back to old notes to spark new ideas.

Using Charles Darwin’s notes as an example, Chen lays out the usefulness of returning to old ideas:

Last modified on

Action camera maker GoPro has obtained a patent for a cube-shaped “housing” to hold and give users access to a cube-shaped camera.

Thing is, GoPro doesn’t officially have a cube-shaped camera. Not yet, anyway.

The images from the USPTO filing, which was dated in January, show a small camera sliding into the housing, which would hold it in place while letting users reach all its buttons and attach it to a “mounting device.”

Last modified on
Microsoft's Project Spartan, the browser designed to replace Internet Explorer, is available for testing on Windows 10.
Previous1 of 7Next

Microsoft released Windows 10 Build 10049 late on March 30. This iteration has only gone out to the "fast" ring of Windows Insiders, people who opt to receive updates as soon as they're available and before any bugs have been addressed.

Build 10049 is the first to contain an early version of Project Spartan, the browser that will eventually replace Internet Explorer for the majority of users when Windows 10 rolls out to the masses this summer.

Although Windows 10 will continue to feature Internet Explorer for business users who rely on the browser, Project Spartan will become the primary source for Internet access. Spartan will feature Microsoft's new Edge rendering engine over IE, an indicator that this is the browser of the future.

Last modified on
Wal-Mart.com USA, LLC