Yahoo! News - Technology
Web founder Berners-Lee calls for online 'Magna Carta' to protect users
The inventor of the world wide web, Tim Berners-Lee, called on Wednesday for bill of rights to protect freedom of speech on the Internet and users' rights after leaks about government surveillance of online activity. Exactly 25 years since the London-born computer scientist invented the web, Berners-Lee said there was a need for a charter like England's historic Magna Carta to help guarantee fundamental principles online. Web privacy and freedom have come under scrutiny since former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden last year leaked a raft of secret documents revealing a vast U.S. government system for monitoring phone and Internet data.
Vivendi hunts for the right telecom exit
When Vivendi's board meets on Friday to choose between two bids for its French telecom unit SFR, "seller beware" may be more appropriate. Both offers - from conglomerate Bouygues and local cable operator Numericable - leave Vivendi with a significant minority stake in the newly-created operator and continued exposure to the French telecom market, which has been in the throes of a price war since 2012. Complicating matters further, Bouygues' bid has garnered support from an outspoken industry minister who says it better serves France's interests, as well as the backing of the other telecom companies - leader Orange and low-cost challenger Iliad - which would benefit from taking the mobile market back down to three from four players. So will Vivendi's board members - led by veteran chairman Jean-Rene Fourtou and his chosen successor, tycoon Vincent Bollore - be able to drown out the noise and decide what is best for the group and its shareholders?
Alibaba buys ChinaVision stake for $804 million; gains TV, movie content
China's largest e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding has agreed to buy a controlling stake in ChinaVision Media Group Ltd for $804 million, giving it access to TV and movie content as competition in the world's biggest Internet market becomes increasingly cutthroat. The pact, which sent ChinaVision's stock surging, comes amid a flurry of deals as Alibaba, social media giant Tencent Holdings Ltd and search engine Baidu Inc seek to expand into each other's turf. This week Tencent said it was taking a stake in China's No. 2 online retailer JD.com, with the new partnership gunning for Alibaba's Achilles heel - its weakness in mobile. ChinaVision and Alibaba said they will establish a strategic committee to explore future opportunities in online entertainment and media-related areas.
Facebook's San Francisco-area HQ secured after threat made: police
(Reuters) - Police searched and secured the headquarters of social media giant Facebook Inc on Tuesday evening after receiving a threat against the company, which San Francisco-area authorities said turned out to be "totally not credible". Facebook personnel held employees at the campus until officers were on scene, Menlo Park Police Department spokesman Dave Bertini said. Police officers allowed Facebook staff to leave at about 8:30 p.m. (0330 GMT). "I am not even sure that it was specifically to the Menlo Park campus of Facebook." Facebook declined to comment on the incident.
U.S. judge freezes assets of Mt. Gox bitcoin exchange boss
By Tom Hals (Reuters) - A U.S. federal judge on Tuesday temporarily froze the U.S. assets of Mt. Gox chief Mark Karpeles and allowed alleged victims of the shuttered bitcoin exchange to demand evidence of what they claim is a massive fraud. The market for the digital currency was rocked last month when Mt. Gox, once the world's largest bitcoin exchange, ceased operations, and soon after filed for bankruptcy. Mt. Gox said it may have lost 750,000 bitcoins, worth hundreds of millions of dollars, in a hacking attack. ...
'The Walking Dead' game maker raises $6 million in funding round
Finnish start-up Next Games has raised $6 million in funding in the latest of several venture capital investments in the Nordic country's booming mobile games industry, the company said on Wednesday. Founded in 2013 by former employees of Rovio and Supercell, which are known for their hit games "Angry Birds" and "Clash of Clans" respectively, Next Games said it was working on a mobile game based on the U.S. TV series "The Walking Dead." The company added in a statement it also had a second game in the making. Entrepreneur Jari Ovaskainen, an early investor in Supercell which last year sold a 51 percent stake to Japanese mobile operator SoftBank for $1.5 billion, also took part.
More iOS 8 details revealed: Big iTunes Radio changes could be coming
Following preliminary details surrounding iOS 8 that began trickling out last month, a steady flow of information seems to be coming now. On Tuesday we saw some new iOS 8 details leak surrounding big improvements coming to Apple’s Maps app — improvements that are much needed, since it’s still pretty terrible — and now 9to5Mac is back with some additional information about Apple’s big mobile software update that will likely debut this summer. According to the new report, Apple is considering some big changes for iTunes Radio, which was first released alongside iOS 7 last year. The service is now buried on a tab in the iOS Music app, but 9to5Mac says it may soon get its own dedicated app.
Human Unexpectedly Beats Robot in Epic Ping Pong Battle
Mr. Boll faces off against his robot nemesis (Screengrab: YouTube) Good news, humanfolk: we don't have to prepare ourselves for the inevitable robot apocalypse quite yet, because a ping pong pro beat a super powerful robot at table tennis yesterday. As we noted last month, robot manufacturing company KUKA Robotics decided to celebrate the opening of its first plant in Shanghai, China, with a battle royale between ping pong champ Timo Boll and the company's own "Agilus" robot. Judging by the heavily-edited YouTube footage of the face-off and the catchy "Not the best in table tennis.
Fourth Amendment law is at a crossroads
In this commentary, Cato's Jim Harper says the Supreme Court needs to carefully consider how police search the contents of cellphones in two huge cases the Justices will hear in April.
LaCie's hyper fast 1TB Thunderbolt 2 disk now on sale for $1,300
Though 1,375MB/s worth of disk speed might seem extravagant, applications like 4K RAW video need to squeeze every byte. Luckily, you'll get all of that with LaCie's 1TB Little Big Disk with Thunderbolt 2 packing two 500GB SSDs, now available for $1,300. If even that isn't enough -- and you happen to have a new Mac Pro with six Thunderbolt 2 ports -- you can put two in parallel for an eye-watering 2.5GB/s (capital 'B').
‘Need for Speed’ review: not so fast, not so furious
Maybe it’s that it looks like a video game is booting up, or maybe we just all know movies adapted from video games are at a high risk of being absolutely terrible. This one is Need for Speed, a movie based on EA’s long-running game franchise with just the thinnest of plot parameters to work with: there are fast cars, and there are cops. Presumably, everything else was fair game for screenwriter George Gatins, who shares a credit for the movie adaptation with his more broadly accomplished brother John (Real Steel, Flight). Alas, they still arrived on an elementary, age-old formula involving a down-on-his-luck kid with a talent for racing and a heart of gold, Tobey, played by Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul.
Federal Aviation Administration Losing Its Fleeting Grip On Drone Regulation
Professional photographers are setting the commercial precedent for drone use. This is the Drone used to shoot scenes from Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. In the first case of its kind, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) fined a photographer in 2013 for use of a drone in shooting a promotional video. The FAA told Betabeat via email it would be appealing the fine, effectively halting the decision against them, “The agency is concerned that this decision could impact the safe operation of the national airspace system and the safety of people and property on the ground.”
The studio behind 'Rolando' is back with a fantastic-looking new mobile game
Released in 2008, Rolando was arguably the first game to truly show the potential of the iPhone as a gaming platform — and now developer Handcircus is making a return to the platform with an intriguing new release. It looks to be very different from the puzzle-heavy Rolando, instead presenting players with a large open world to explore and lots of quests to undertake. Handcircus is partnering with Dragonvale developer Backflip Studios to publish the game, which is slated to launch sometime this summer for unannounced mobile platforms. The arrangement appears similar to the Rovio Stars program, which has the Angry Birds maker teaming up with a relatively small number of studios to publish their games, resulting in some excellent games like Tiny Thief. "We are looking to bring a small handful of new games to market in the coming year, from indie developers with a history of innovation," says Backflip's Simon Jeffery, who will lead the new program.
Samsung kicks off Galaxy S5 pre-orders, but not yet in the U.S.
Samsung on Wednesday announced that U.K. buyers interested in the Galaxy S5 will be able to pre-order the smartphone starting with Friday, March 28, from select retailers, the company’s local e-store and the Stratford Westfield Experience Store. While Samsung did not say in its press release how much the device will cost, various retailers and mobile operators that are already taking Galaxy S5 pre-orders have debunked a rumor that said the phone will be more affordable than the Galaxy S4. Unsurprisingly, the U.K. will be one of the first markets to get it, as Samsung kicked off the release of other flagship Galaxy handsets with a U.K. pre-order and launch. The company did not reveal pre-order details for other regions,
Maker of "Candy Crush" sees $613 million in IPO
NEW YORK (AP) — The company behind the addictive blockbuster game "Candy Crush Saga" believes it could raise nearly $613 million in an initial public offering.
US Cellular may give customers more data for the same money
US Cellular's shared data plan subscribers might be able to enjoy more data sometime soon. That'll be the case anyway, if the carrier's truly increasing its shared data subscribers' caps, as indicated by a leaked internal document unearthed by Droid Life. If the memo is legit, then the $40 shared plan will come with 1GB of data that triples the original 300MB, the $50 tier will come with a 2GB cap instead of 1GB and the $60 plan will net subscribers 3GB of data, up from 2GB.
Funny or Die Was Healthcare.gov’s Number One Traffic Referrer Yesterday
Funny or Die made serious waves yesterday when it brought “Community Organizer” Barack Obama in for its latest episode of the popular webseries Between Two Ferns. The project was a long-term collaboration. It all started when Mr. Obama met with “Between Two Ferns” Executive Producer Mike Farah past July.
Here’s Why Not To Let Business Books Shape Your Workplace
“What are you doing?” a senior manager asked one of my friends, walking into his office and seeing him with no obvious task at hand. My friend, we’ll call him Pat, had not been working for this particular manager very long. By almost any quantifiable metric Pat is a superstar employee.
Surprise: Xbox Live crashes amid Titanfall launch
Titanfall is one of the year’s most anticipated games and it’s been getting rave reviews so far that say it’s lived up to the hype. However, the launch of Titanfall coincided with the crash on Xbox Live for many users, a fact that Microsoft Xbox Live programming director Larry Hryb acknowledged on his Twitter feed on Tuesday evening. Specifically, Hryb said that Microsoft was working to fix issues that were preventing many gamers from signing into Xbox Live although he insisted that “this is not a Titanfall issue.” If the problems Xbox Live experienced Tuesday were unrelated to Titanfall, then that’s a pretty big coincidence: The game was widely expected to push Xbox Live to its limits since it’s an incredibly popular
Facebook headquarters cleared after false threat
MENLO PARK, Calif. (AP) — Police flooded Facebook's headquarters in Northern California to investigate a threat they later found wasn't credible.
Rdio ditches music recommendation service after Spotify acquisition
Rdio plans to stop using The Echo Nest music recommendation service after Spotify, a fierce music-streaming competitor, acquired the company last week. Speaking to CNBC, Rdio CEO Anthony Bay says the company has other sources of data and partners that can help fill the gap for its music recommendation features. Spotify’s acquisition of The Echo Nest allows it to control the main music recommendation service that its competitors have utilized in their music-streaming services. For commercial customers like Rdio, Spotify says all of The Echo Nest's existing business contracts will be fulfilled, but it’s less clear about any future plans for rivals to continue using the service.
Google's latest acquisition could foreshadow a Nexus TV
Google is rumored to be releasing a "Nexus TV" Android-powered set-top box this year, and the search giant has recently acquired parts of a gaming company that might provide some hints at what’s on the way. PandoDaily reports that Matt Crowley and Karl Townsend, of Green Throttle Games, have both joined Google thanks to a recent deal. Green Throttle Games started shipping an Android Bluetooth gaming controller last year, allowing Kindle Fire HD users to turn Amazons’s tablet into a gaming console that connects to a TV via HDMI. It’s not clear how much of the technology behind Green Throttle Games’ Android controller has been acquired, and the company is still selling the device at retailers. Two of the co-founders are joining Google, but the third, Charles Huang, reportedly retains rights over the Green Throttle business.
Bend it like robo-Beckham with the U14 Free Kick toy
Axpro is a Taiwanese company that makes flash drives, so it's surprising to see it building app-connected toys like U14 Free Kick - a game that's a weird hybrid between Frujit Ninja, Subbuteo and Robot Football. Making Fruit Ninja-style ...
Massive Titanfall install is required on slower PCs
Respawn found a way to offer gamers a better Titanfall gameplay experience on slower PCs, although that means buyers should have plenty of storage on their hard drives to install a massive 48GB version of the game. That’s 31GB more than the Xbox One install that comes in at 17GB, and it all has to do with audio files, Eurogamer has learned. In order to prevent CPUs on low-end PCs from having to deal with audio decompression, Respawn decided to have all the uncompressed audio saved on the PC’s drive. Of the 48GB PC install on those machines, 35GB is uncompressed audio. “Yeah, basically when you download the game or the disc itself, it’s a lot smaller than that,” Respawn
Africa could account for half of the world's particle pollution by 2030
Africa could account for more than half of the world's particle pollution by the year 2030, according to a study published this week in the journal Environmental Research Letters. The paper, published Tuesday, cites Africa's booming urban population and growth in mining, oil, and biofuel industries as the main drivers behind the projected surge in particle pollution, which has been linked to a variety of respiratory ailments and even cancer. The study's authors found that in 2005, Africa accounted for just 5 percent of the world's nitrogen oxide and sulphur dioxide emissions, and up to 20 percent of organic carbon. The United Nations projects that Africa could account for 40 percent of the world's population by 2100, with its urban population doubling from 2000 to 2030.
Google-Backed Incubator Looks to Increase Women in Tech by 25 Percent
A high-profile launchpad for startups is teaming up with big business to increase the paltry numbers of women working in the technology industry. With a big assist from Google, tech incubator 1871, is launching a new initiative, 1871FEMtech, to foster female-led startups, John Pletz writes at Crain’s Chicago Business. Based in Chicago's Merchandise Mart — the biggest building in the world when it opened in 1930 — FEMtech, which starts in the fall, will help 10 to 15 women-owned tech start-ups a year and will launch with $500,000 to $1 million in support. Google's involvement in the project is part of a #40Forward, a $1 million effort to boost the number of women in tech by 25 percent and launch 40 incubators. About 28 percent of the teams or companies at 1871 have a woman among their founders, and Howard Tullman, CEO of 1871, says the success rate of tech startups with women is about 30 percent higher than startups overall.
Microsoft promises new version of Office for the Mac in 2014
After essentially ignoring the productivity needs of Apple computer owners for three years, a fully updated Office suite, offering the same functionality as the PC version, is finally on its way. The last time Microsoft launched a new Mac edition of Office -- Office:mac 2011 -- was actually back in 2010. Adding to the uncertanty is that historically, Microsoft has only offered full support to an Apple version of Office for five years, compared with the 10 years of support it offers PC versions. However, at this week's CeBIT tech fair in Hanover, Germany, Microsoft's Thorsten Hübschen confirmed that a new Mac-centric Office suite is on the way and should debut before the end of the year.
iPod killer tops $1M on Kickstarter in first day
PonoMusic’s PonoPlayer is a Neil Young-backed music player that has smashed through its $800,000 Kickstarter funding goal in less than a day – it’s currently at over $1 million in pledges from over 3,300 backers, with 34 days to go until the campaign ends – and seems to be the next iPod killer. According to the team behind it, PonoMusic aims to deliver a better listening experience than regular MP3 players, but the device will also be quite expensive. “PonoMusic is an end-to-end ecosystem for music lovers to get access to and enjoy their favorite music exactly as the artist created it, at the recording resolution they chose in the studio,” the company wrote on Kickstarter. “We offer PonoMusic customers
Inventor of Web calls for digital bill of rights
LONDON (AP) — The British inventor of the World Wide Web wants a digital bill of rights to protect Internet users from surveillance.
Netflix UK adds 'Homeland' and 'American Horror Story' to its US TV show roster
UK Netflix subscribers looking to get their fix of US TV will soon have two new popular series available to add to their binge-watching schedule. Expanding its partnership with Twentieth Century Fox, the streaming giant announced today it will ...
Starbucks’ new app lets you tip baristas digitally
Starbucks will soon let you tip a barista straight from an iPhone. An update to the iOS Starbucks app, due March 19th, will allow customers in the US to tip digitally with their phones while paying for a coffee. You’re typically free to tip any amount in cash at a counter tip jar, but Starbucks is limiting digital tips to just 50 cents, $1, or $2 through the updated app. Starbucks' move to digital tips compliments the impressive growth of its mobile apps.
Join the search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight
Authorities have yet to locate Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which mysteriously lost contact with air traffic control on over the weekend, but a satellite operator in the US hopes that crowdsourcing could help find it. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Colorado-based DigitalGlobe has sent two of its satellites to survey the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea, targeting areas that haven't been covered by other satellites or where inclement weather could have hindered previous attempts. After DigitalGlobe published its first satellite images on Monday, the site saw an unprecedented influx of traffic — more than 500,000 unique visitors within 24 hours — forcing it to reboot its servers. According to DigitalGlobe senior manager Luke Barrington, 100,000 users scanned the first images, collectively examining each pixel 100 times over.
Toshiba sticks to what it knows with new LED HDTV range
Toshiba's already spilled the beans on its 4K TV line-up for this year, and right on cue, it's just revealed the new range of 2014 LED sets that might interest us folk still clinging on to the regular HD era. The entry-level 3 series gains a number of new recruits, all with some smart TV features, baked-in WiFi and Freeview HD, in the UK at least. The L3 range is full HD, with 40- and 48-inch options, while the lone W3 model is a 32-inch, 1,366 x 768 affair.
Ting lets you bring your iPhone 5 to its pay-for-what-you-use cellular service
You haven't had many choices for non-Android phones if you've wanted to switch to Ting, where you only pay for the cellular service you use -- aside from the since-vanished HTC 8XT, you've had to bring over an aging ...
Rumors of an Amazon music service, TV set-top box swirl yet again
We're still not sure whether Amazon's truly launching a music streaming service, but if it does, you might only be able to access songs and albums for a limited time. According to the Wall Street Journal, the e-commerce company hopes to offer music streaming as part of Prime to justify an annual membership (from $79 to $119) price increase. Unlike other services like Spotify or Pandora, Amazon's end goal is to entice people to download tracks from its MP3 store, hence, the time limit.
Inventor of the web marks its 25th anniversary by calling for net neutrality
On March 12th, 1989, Sir Tim Berners-Lee put forth a proposal to make information sharing possible over computers, using nodes and links to create a "web" that would eventually stretch worldwide and become the modern internet. Now, 25 years to the day after he disseminated that proposal, Berners-Lee has called for the internet he invented to stay free and open. In a guest post on Google's official blog, Berners-Lee asked internet users to press for the development of a "digital bill of rights" that would "advance a free and open web for everyone." Berners-Lee hails today's anniversary as a day to celebrate, but also warns that internet users should think and act ahead of "key decisions on the governance and future of the Internet" that he says are "looming." Berners-Lee hopes the campaign — which also features a video message from the inventor — will act as a focal point for the kind of grassroots action he's calling for.
Rdio plans to stop using Echo Nest, because Spotify bought it
Rdio's CEO, Anthony Bay, doesn't want Spotify knowing what it knows, and to that end, the music service is looking to break away from Echo Nest. However, the music intelligence company, recently bought by Spotify, is just one of several partners that Rdio taps for its music data, including Rovi. Spotify has previously said that it'll run Echo Nest as a "wholly-owned subsidiary" which should keep the data service relatively free from any meddling.