Yahoo! News - Technology
AT&T aims to sidestep shareholder request on surveillance data
(Reuters) - AT&T has asked regulators to let it ignore a shareholder request for details of its customer-information sharing with government agencies, a move that could forestall a heated debate at the telecommunications giant's annual meeting. The No. 2 U.S. mobile operator made the request in a December 5 letter to the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission in response to shareholder activists pressing it on the matter. Among them is New York State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli, who is the trustee of the state retirement fund. DiNapoli and other shareholders of AT&T and its biggest rival Verizon Communications Inc last month sought details on sharing of personal data and communications from the two companies following revelations from former U.S. National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.
Group charged in PayPal cyber attack pleads guilty
By Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A group of 13 defendants who had been charged in a cyber attack on PayPal's website pleaded guilty and admitted to the December 2010 attack over PayPal's suspension of WikiLeaks accounts. Following the release of a large amount of classified documents by WikiLeaks, PayPal suspended its accounts so that the anti-secrecy website could no longer receive donations. In retribution, the group "Anonymous" coordinated and executed denial-of-service attacks against PayPal. EBay's PayPal unit is a service that facilitates the electronic transfer of money between parties.
U.S. court upholds trial plan over defunct Nortel's $7.5 billion cash
The fight over defunct Nortel Networks' $7.5 billion in cash will be decided in joint U.S.-Canadian court hearings and not in arbitration, a U.S. appeals court ruled on Friday. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit in Philadelphia upheld a bankruptcy court ruling in March that there was never an agreement to use arbitration to divide the pile of cash among various Nortel estates around the world. Nortel sought protection from creditors in courts around the world in 2009 and its businesses were quickly sold, reducing a once-global corporate giant to little more than a pile of cash. An agreement governing the money refers to undefined "dispute resolvers" that Nortel's European estates argued was arbitration.
Insight: Tech start-ups show little imagination on board gender diversity
By Sarah McBride and Poornima Gupta SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - At Pinterest, the four-year-old online bulletin board service that is valued near $3.8 billion, some 70 percent of the users are female. Male-heavy boards dominate in the start-up mecca of Silicon Valley, which prides itself on progressive thinking and putting talent first. A Reuters survey of the 10 top venture-backed start-ups, as measured by venture funds raised, shows that six do not have any women on the board, including Pinterest. Reuters' research relied on publicly available data and discussions with start-up executives and board members.
Supreme Court to decide on patent protections for software
By Lawrence Hurley WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Supreme Court agreed on Friday to rule on the divisive issue of what kinds of software are eligible for patent protection in a case being closely watched by the technology industry. The court said in a one-line order that it would hear a case brought by Alice Corporation Pty Ltd, which holds a patent for a computer system that facilitates financial transactions. The court took no action on another case raising the same issue involving a patent dispute between WildTangent Inc and Ultramercial Inc. The deep interest that the software industry and patent experts have in what is a threshold issue in patent litigation was underscored by the number of companies and industry groups that asked the court to decide the issue. Companies including Google Inc, Hewlett-Packard Co, Facebook Inc and Netflix Inc had already signaled their interest in the issue by asking the court to hear the WildTangent case.
Apple spent over $60 million on U.S. lawyers against Samsung
By Dan Levine SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Apple Inc has paid its leading outside law firm approximately $60 million to wage patent litigation against Samsung Electronics Co Ltd in a California federal court, according to Apple legal documents filed late on Thursday. Apple and Samsung are engaged in global litigation over each other's intellectual property. The two mobile technology rivals have gone to trial twice in the last two years in a San Jose, California federal court, and juries have awarded Apple a total of roughly $930 million. In court filings, Apple asked U.S. District Judge Lucy Koh to order Samsung to pay $15.7 million of the total amount Apple has spent in legal fees.
Read Manning and Assange's chat logs from the weeks before 'Collateral Murder'
Many of the details of the chats between WikiLeaks head Julian Assange and Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning have been dissected in court and the public eye, but from a series of trial documents, Wired has unearthed a copy of long IM conversations between the two in March of 2010, just before the release of the "Collateral Murder" video. The chat logs between Manning and a "Nathaniel Frank" (believed to be an alias of Assange) reveal political pontification, emoticons, and terse strategizing about leaks that would soon put both Manning and Assange at the center of a political firestorm.
'Titanfall' introduces more mechanized firepower in two new trailers
At the Spike VGX video game awards show, Respawn Entertainment introduced two more of the game's titular Titans, the hulking mechanized suits that bring devastating firepower to the battlefield. The trailers also introduce Hammond Robotics, the fictional company that designed the Titans in Titanfall's sci-fi world. Hammond Robotics now has a full website to its name, as well as a Twitter account.
Elijah Wood and Wil Wheaton join the cast of adventure game 'Broken Age'
Broken Age, a point-and-click adventure game from beloved studio Double Fine, is welcoming Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood and several other veteran actors to the cast. In a pair of new videos, the studio has introduced the people who will breathe additional life into the game's already lushly illustrated world, and shared footage of both Wood and Wil Wheaton reading lines of dialogue for their characters. Wood will be playing Shay, one of the game's two protagonists, a young boy seeking to take control of an artificially intelligent starship which has been his parent and guardian ever since birth. Meanwhile, Wil Wheaton will be playing Curtis the Lumberjack, a character the company showed off in an early concept video (before the game was named or even really explained) but initially planned to cut.
'Walking Dead' studio confirms 'Game of Thrones' video game series for 2014
Telltale Games, the studio behind the award-winning video game based on The Walking Dead, has said that it will give the same treatment to HBO's fantasy epic Game of Thrones. As with other Telltale releases such as The Walking Dead and the recently released The Wolf Among Us, the Game of Thrones title will be an episodic series, and is said to start in 2014. Telltale says it's working with HBO on the game series, suggesting it will bear more similarity to the TV show than George R. R. Martin's original A Song of Ice and Fire books. It's TRUE! We're working with @HBO to create an all-new episodic game series based on GAME OF THRONES in 2014! #VGX pic.twitter.com/d5GkhS2MOw — Telltale Games (@telltalegames) December 8, 2013
Enormous world exploration sim 'No Man's Sky' announced from 'Joe Danger' creator Hello Games
It's a big leap from cartoonish motorcycle racing game Joe Danger to a nearly infinite, sci-fi exploration simulator, but that's where British studio Hello Games looks to go with its just-announced title No Man's Sky. Unveiled this evening at Spike's VGX Awards, Polygon reports that the ambitious-sounding game is said to be procedurally generated down to "every atom," suggesting that the world that the player comes in contact with — or worlds, in this case — will be unique to their personal playing experience. Even the creatures you encounter are procedurally generated. ...
Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition coming to PS4 and Xbox One January 28th, but you can pre-order now
Lara Croft is making her way to Sony's and Microsoft's latest gaming consoles next month. At Spike's VGX show, we got our first glimpse of Tomb Raider: Definitive Edition, which will be available for both PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on January 28th. The game, which is a collaboration effort between Crystal Dynamics, Nixxes and United Front Games, is essentially a new version of the 2013 game built specifically for the next-gen consoles, and is already up for pre-order on Amazon for $60.
Motorola CEO sees Project Ara as the future of Moto Maker customization
At the end of October, Motorola made a surprising announcement: it was working on an open-source initiative called Project Ara that would allow for the creation of modular, customizable smartphone hardware. It's an ambitious and seemingly unlikely project, but Motorola CEO Dennis Woodside says it's all part of a plan to make consumers more involved with building their smartphones. "Moto Maker was the beginning of a much more exciting and longer-term story," Woodside says in an interview with YouTube personality Marques Brownlee. "The line between Ara and ... Moto Maker might converge."
White House promises more transparency in second Open Government plan
Earlier this week, the Obama administration released its second Open Government National Action Plan, building on an earlier initiative to make government more transparent. Both documents were published to help meet the standards of the Open Government Project, an international agreement founded by the US and seven other countries in 2011, and they're behind much of the administration's "big data" push, which strives to put government records in the public eye. With the newest plan, the White House says it's committed to "concrete and measurable goals for achieving a more transparent, participatory, and collaborative government." Some of the plan is meant to streamline and expand services that were built under the first action plan, including White House petition platform We the People and Data.gov, a repository of data collected by federal agencies.
Samsung Galaxy J coming to Taiwan on December 9th, according to YouTube teaser
Samsung Taiwan thought it was being sneaky when it released a teaser video of a mystery smartphone on YouTube, describing it as "just fast," "just elegant," "just for you" and "just simple." Naturally this ...
5 Elegant Gadgets That Could Save Lives
Most of us don't think twice about what it really means to switch on a light when night falls or to pour a glass of water to quench thirst, but there are billions of people worldwide who struggle for access to these simple things in life. These designers have created ingenious and inexpensive design solutions that address our most basic needs.
Machine battles nature in this insane trailer for 'Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark'
Earlier this year the Syfy movie Sharknado set the internet abuzz with a whirling mix of meteorological activity and razor-sharp teeth. Mega Shark vs. Mecha Shark is actually the third entry in the Mega Shark franchise, following such "classics" as Mega Shark vs. Giant Octopus and Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus.
Uh-oh: SpaghettiOs pulls its ridiculous Pearl Harbor tweet
After receiving significant criticism last night, SpaghettiOs has apologized for and removed a tweeted photo of its cartoon-noodle mascot waving an American flag in honor of Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. The tweet prompted a series of disgusted replies, with some questioning "who is going to be fired tomorrow" and others appropriating #UhOhSpaghettiOs — the brand's own advertising slogan — as a hashtag. Comedian Patton Oswalt took a number of shots at the tweet as well: "I know how we'll fix this! Somebody photoshop Mr. O shaking hands with Mandela!" -- damage control at the @SpaghettiOs Twitter feed — Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) December 7, 2013
On RoboCop: Somewhere, there is a crime happening
Last year, Detroit decided that it needed RoboCop. Back in the near future of 1987, a corporate conglomerate named Omni Consumer Products had the same idea, but its RoboCop wasn’t a symbol of hope. It was a cynical solution to an ultraviolent future — and the protagonist of the action movie to end all action movies. RoboCop is part of my personal action-movie canon, which (like everybody’s canons, probably) is tailed by a dismaying list of sequels, prequels, and reboots.
Japan's new state-secrets law gives leakers up to 10 years in prison
Japan has enacted a new state-secrets law that strengthens punishments for journalists and government officials who leak or seek top secrets, reports Reuters. The legislation has been met with protests and criticism by the public, with many fearing that the law will be used to silence media outlets or allow government officials to cover up their actions. Reuters reports that under the law, public employees and others with access to state secrets could be jailed up to 10 years for leaking them, while journalists and other private sector employees could be jailed up to five years for seeking out state secrets through "grossly inappropriate" means. But many are concerned that private employees could be punished simply for seeking information that they weren't aware was a state secret in the first place.
Motorola's modular phone prototype is almost ready, final product might be sold on Moto Maker
Sure, Moto Maker makes it easy to deck out your phone with a fresh paint job, but the company's CEO has bigger goals in mind for the customization engine. Speaking with YouTuber Marques Brownlee, Dennis Woodside envisioned a Moto Maker capable of customizing not just your smartphone's color scheme, but its functionality too. He was talking, of course, about Project Ara.
The Weekender: self-help secrets, website woes, and calculated climates
Self-help superstar James Arthur Ray led three people to their deaths during a 2009 seminar. It may have to do as much with talking to the West as it does with speaking to their own country.
National Geographic puts more than 500 historic maps on Google
National Geographic and Google are trying to recreate the thrill of cracking open one of the magazine's signature paper maps, but in the digital world. A new project puts more than 500 of National Geographic's 800 historic maps online using Google's Maps Engine platform. "People have collected our magazine fold-out maps for over a hundred years, and many of those maps are sequestered away in attics and garages," Frank Biasi, the director of digital development at National Geographic wrote in a Google blog post announcing the effort. Biasi added that National Geographic will also offer high resolution versions of the maps for sale and through licensing deals, where the works could end up in "travel and home decor businesses." That's on top of existing sales of paper maps, as well as digital versions sold as paid apps on Apple's iOS platform.
Xbox One owners warned to avoid 'backwards compatibility' prank that bricks consoles
Every Xbox One console is a developer unit, but an option to enable the dev kit mode is being used to prank gamers this week. An image (embedded below) has been making the rounds on forums and social networking sites promising Xbox 360 backwards compatibility through six steps on an Xbox One console. Instead of providing any type of backwards compatibility, the steps will render an Xbox One useless in a constant reboot cycle, effectively bricking the console. To be clear there is no way to make your Xbox One backwards compatible & performing steps to attempt this could make your console inoperable — Larry Hryb (@majornelson) December 6, 2013
ASUS Padfone Mini 4.3 pictured ahead of its launch next week
We only just got a whiff of a smaller version of ASUS' odd Padfone series as it passed through certification, and now serial leaker @evleaks can show us what it looks like. As its name indicates, the ASUS ...
Apple Can Track You in Its Stores, and That Might Not Be Bad
Apple Wants to Know Your Exact Location
AT&T shoots down shareholder demands for transparency on law enforcement requests
Last month, institutional investors in AT&T and Verizon asked the two companies begin to issue the kinds of transparency reports popularized by internet businesses like Twitter and Google. Today, AT&T is issuing its response to the request, reports the New York Times, and unsurprisingly, it’s not too excited about the idea. To AT&T, its response to law enforcement requests represent "ordinary business operations," outside the purview of ordinary shareholders, so it’s excluding the request from the ballot for next spring’s annual shareholder meeting. Companies like Google are actively pushing the DOJ
FCC's wireless spectrum auction delayed to 2015 to prep bidding infrastructure
The lead-up to the government's wireless spectrum auction is going to be a little longer than expected, according to the Official FCC Blog. Partly because the government needs to finalize the event's rules and bidding structure. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler writes that he wants to make certain that the event's infrastructure is up to the challenge, too.
Amazon drones will face constant threats… from snipers and birds
In addition to meeting whatever requirements the Federal Aviation Administration may have in place for such projects, Amazon Prime Air drones may also have to face actual physical threats. Assuming the company will be allowed to use unmanned autonomous flying devices to deliver goods in 30 minutes or less, Amazon will need to figure out a way to help its drones avoid bird attacks and even sniper threats. Slate mentions a variety of examples from the wild, in which various species of birds attack other birds or flying devices perceived as potential dangers to their habitat. “Open-country raptors – hawks, eagles, kites, harriers, etc – don’t take kindly to interlopers on their hunting grounds, and frequently chase, dive-bomb and take talons
FDA approves new $1,000-a-day hepatitis C pills
The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug that promises to treat hepatitis C with a daily pill instead of the more common weekly injection. The drug, called Sovaldi from Gilead Sciences, has been designed to block the protein hepatitis C uses to replicate itself. Hepatitis C has multiple strains, and can require different methods of attack. Today's approval is the latest of such drug treatments;
iPhone 5s shipping times drop to just 1-3 days
Don’t worry, procrastinators: You’ll be able to make the iPhone 5s a last-minute holiday gift. MacRumors notes that shipping times for the iPhone 5s have fallen to just 1 to 3 days, which means that you’ll be able to slip it under your Christmas tree as long as you order it on December 22nd. The improved shipping times come amid reports that Apple has shut down some of its iPhone 5c production and has shifted it over to iPhone 5s production in response to higher-than-expected demand. But while supplies of Apple’s flagship smartphone seem to have caught up with demand, you still shouldn’t expect to see the Retina iPad mini in stock until after the holiday season as Apple is
Climate study reveals that Tolkien's land of Mordor is a lot like Los Angeles
Director Peter Jackson may have been able to recreate all of Middle-earth in New Zealand, but the land as described in J.R.R. Tolkien's novels stretches across a wide variety of landscapes and climate types. A tongue-in-cheek study from the Cabot Institute at the University of Bristol takes a look at those climates, and how they compare to some locales modern humans may be a little more familiar with. Credited to Radagast the Brown — the eccentric wizard portrayed by Sylvester McCoy in Jackson's recent films — it describes how a climate model simulation was run based upon the weather and topography described throughout Tolkien's works. That was then compared to a prehistoric version of Earth, as well as a simulation based on our current era, dubbed "Modern Earth." Among the discoveries were that The Shire so fancied by Frodo Baggins has an annual climate very similar to parts of New Zealand (not a complete surprise), and that the ships setting sail for the Undying Lands depart from Grey Havens because there are actually strong winds present in that region.
Up-close with a Bitcoin mining powerhouse (video)
Alex Lawn is in New York on a pitstop, arriving in from Sweden on his way to next week's Inside Bitcoin conference in Las Vegas. He hasn't slept much. The way he describes it, no one at KnCMiner does much sleeping these days, as the company races to become the driving force in the rapidly expanding world of Bitcoin mining.
Outdated maps of New York linked to surprise Hurricane Sandy devastation
Outdated flood maps of New York City put in danger some 35,000 buildings, many of which later ended up being damaged in the wake of Hurricane Sandy last year, according to a new report. A new investigation by ProPublica says the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) ignored numerous pleas to update maps that dated back to the 1980s, resulting in surprise damage for city dwellers who unknowingly bought and lived in high risk flood areas that would have been identified using newer cartographic and scientific techniques. The digital versions were scans of paper maps
Dell looks to trim workforce before Christmas
According to The Wall Street Journal, Dell offered buyout packages to a portion of its massive workforce. The struggling computer maker currently has 110,000 employees, and with this “voluntary separation program” Dell hopes to streamline its operations. Dell spokesman David Frink said, “a critical element of our strategy has been, and always will be, about improving our cost structure and freeing up capital to make the investments in growth areas that matter to our customers.” Employees have until December 20th to accept the offer. Dell did not say how many jobs it hopes to cut. Dell has struggled to adapt to the post-PC era, with failed attempts at making smartphones and tablets. In addition, Windows 8.1, Microsoft’s latest desktop operating system,
Google pushes campaign to end warrantless email snooping
Law enforcement officials legally need to get search warrants when they tap your phone or read your mail but they face no such restrictions on a federal level when it comes to electronic communications. With this in mind, both Google and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have started banging the drum for a campaign aimed at pressuring lawmakers to amend the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act (ECPA) to make law enforcement officials get court-issued warrants before snooping on suspects’ email. Google and the EFF are both part of a larger coalition of companies that are urging an overhaul of the ECPA, including Apple, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook.
Spec Sheet: Canon takes a second shot at the mirrorless market with the EOS M2
Canon's first mirrorless camera, the EOS M, was something of a disappointment: its control scheme wasn't great, its autofocus was sluggish, and its photos weren't much to brag about either. But now Canon is trying to address at least one of those issues with the EOS M2, which it's announced for sale in Japan for ¥84800 (just over $820) with an 18-55mm kit lens. There's almost certainly not enough of a change to put Canon on top of most buyers' mirrorless camera wish list, but we're looking across the range of mirrorless cameras to see exactly where it's standing now. The big difference is that it includes Canon's relatively new Hybrid CMOS AF II technology, which places pixels over 80 percent of the camera's APS-C sensor that are capable of phase detection autofocus.
10 Surprising New Twitter Stats to Help You Reach More Followers
In case you're in the same boat with me, I gathered up some really interesting Twitter stats that can help you improve the way you reach your followers.