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Apple Pay Rival MCX Hit by Data Breach


They want to handle your money, but they can't hold on to your email address.


Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX), the consortium of major retailers developing the CurrentC smartphone-payment service, and which has emerged as a major obstacle to widespread acceptance of the rival Apple Pay service, appears to have its first major security problem.


'Thank you for your interest in CurrentC,' read an email sent out today (Oct. 29). 'You are receiving this message because you are either a participant in our pilot program or requested information about CurrentC. Within the last 36 hours, we learned that unauthorized third parties obtained the email addresses of some of you.'


MORE: Blocking Apple Pay Is Anti-Consumer (Op-Ed)

The message goes on to warn of phishing emails purporting to come from CurrentC, asking recipients 'not to open links or attachments from unknown third parties' and stating that 'neither CurrentC nor Merchant Customer Exchange (MCX) will ever send you emails asking for your financial account, Social Security number or other personally identifiable information.'


A CurrentC help-line number was provided at 855-772-8773. The help-line technician who answered our call said that something had gone wrong with the third-party email-subscription service used by CurrentC, and that the investigation was continuing.


'The CurrentC app itself was not affected,' an MCX spokeswoman told Tom's Guide. 'We have notified our merchant partners about this incident and directly communicated with each of the individuals whose email addresses were involved.'


We received the email because we'd signed up for alerts about when CurrentC might be available in our area. The email sign-up page has disappeared from the CurrentC website.


MCX is a consortium of several dozen major retailers, led by Wal-Mart, who have been developing a smartphone-payment service called CurrentC.


MCX and CurrentC were thrust into the public spotlight earlier this week after two consortium members, CVS and Rite Aid, blocked Apple Pay at their retail locations after discovering that their Near Field Communication (NFC)-enabled credit-card readers were compatible with Apple Pay. CurrentC uses QR codes instead of NFC to authorize payments.


(The card readers would also have been compatible with Google Wallet, the wireless carriers' Isis/Softcard and PayPal's One Touch, but none of those existing NFC payment services have gained much traction with customers.)


MCX's real target is not Apple, but Visa and MasterCard, who take between 2 and 4 percent commission on every transaction involving one of their credit cards - including, presumably, Apple Pay.


CurrentC would bypass Visa and MasterCard altogether by debiting payments directly from customers' bank accounts, much like a debit card. It also app


However, CurrentC, which is being road-tested in a few metropolitan areas (CurrentC wouldn't tell us which ones), will not be widely available until early 2015. Until then, MCX's members, which also include ExxonMobil, Target, Sears, Kohl's, Best Buy, the Gap and Old Navy, among many others, will have to make do without any kind of in-store smartphone-payment system.


Paul Wagenseil is a senior editor at Tom's Guide focused on security and gaming. Follow him at @snd_wagenseil

Drupal Users Had Seven Hours to Patch or Be Hacked

By Sean Michael Kerner | Posted 2014-10-30 Email Print



The open-source content management system used by the White House issues a stern warning.


Whenever a security exploit is fixed, users are advised to patch quickly to reduce the risk of attack. In the case of a recent open-source Drupal content management system (CMS) vulnerability, the window in which users needed to patch before being exploited has been quantified as being only seven hours. On Oct. 15, Drupal issued its SA-CORE-2014-005 advisory, warning of a highly critical SQL injection vulnerability that is also identified as CVE-2014-3704. Drupal is a widely deployed CMS that is used by the White House and the U.S. Federal Communications Commission ( FCC), among other notable organizations. On Oct. 29, the Drupal project issued a follow-up warning that it was aware of public attacks against Drupal sites that had not patched for CVE-2014-3704. 'You should proceed under the assumption that every Drupal 7 website was compromised unless updated or patched before Oct 15th, 11pm UTC, that is 7 hours after the announcement,' the Drupal project warned.


How the Drupal project was able to define the window of vulnerability is thanks in no small part to its community of hosting vendors. Greg Knaddison, director of engineering at Card.com and a member of the Drupal Security Team, explained to eWEEK that several companies that provide hosting focused on Drupal decided to create platform-level protection against this issue that not only mitigated the attacks, but also recorded data about them.


'While the rate of sites upgrading for this release has been better than the historic rate, it's still not ideal,' Knaddison said. 'The statement is perhaps stern, but also realistic. Our goal is to encourage people to take action so that these compromised sites are cleaned up as soon as possible.' While patching is what the Drupal project would prefer all administrators do, there is another mitigation that can help protect unpatched sites. 'A well crafted WAF (Web Application Firewall) rule should be able to prevent this attack, and indeed CloudFlare had a rule running within hours of the release,' Knaddison said. 'They do still recommend upgrading sites as soon as possible, which I think is prudent.'


For the CVE-2014-3704 vulnerability, a Drupal administrator must go into the CMS and update, as there isn't currently an automated update mechanism for the core application. Knaddison explained that Drupal has a system for installing and updating extensions (including modules and themes) but not for the core itself. 'It does require a site admin to actually log in and click a few buttons,' he said. 'Some Drupal-focused hosting companies have tools that make updating the core a similarly simple login-click-click-click operation.' Knaddison added that some Drupal hosting companies also offer more automated updates. The idea of automated CMS updates is one that is already being used by other projects. The open-source WordPress blogging and CMS platform introduced automatic updates for security issues starting with the WordPress 3.7 release in October 2013. Speaking about Drupal in particular, Knaddison noted that there's a risk to automated update systems in that they require configurations of the Webserver that put the system at risk in other situations. 'Given that trade-off, there has always been lukewarm support for the idea of in-site and/or automated upgrades within the Drupal community,' he said. Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.


HP Back In The Game, Reveals New 3D Printer

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Hewlett-Packard Company ( HPQ) has announced its comeback in the world of technology by launching two brand new products; the company's first 3D-printer and a new desktop computer with built-in scanner, projector, and touchpad. With these fresh releases, HP has sent a strong signal to its competitors and skeptics who have been criticizing its diminishing sales growth for a while now.


With its latest release, HP has mainly targeted big businesses that carry out jobs for smaller businesses and have tons of printing to do daily. While the best available commercial printer in the market would require 85 hours to print 1,000 gears, each two inches across, the Hewlett-Packard 3D printer can accomplish the same task within three hours only, along with tracking designs to a five-micron precision. This makes it 10 times faster than the three-dimensional printers available in the market at the moment.


The product is currently in its testing phase, with its production to roll out early next year; but it will be available in the markets by 2016. Most competing industrial printers are priced in the range of $150,000 to $500,000. HP's vice president of inkjet and graphic solutions, Stephen Nigro, signaled that the company's product will be priced near to the lower-end of the range.


According to Forbes, HP's head of printing and personal systems, Dion Weisler, sees three-dimensional printing as an avenue to bring about the next industrial revolution. Mr. Weisler has even hinted toward using this technology in the making of gadgets like tablets, phones, and other devices.


Such a shift by giant companies toward employing 3D-technology into their production systems is not a surprise. IDC international has estimated the scope of this venture by estimating global spending on 3D-printers and other supplies to total about $2.7 billion in 2014. The estimates for long-term growth in this area total to around 29% per year, an estimate which is way above the growth rate of the manufacturing sector.


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Sony rides high PlayStation 4 sales, Q2 losses narrower than expected

Summary: Thanks to strong PlayStation 4 sales, Sony has posted a narrower than expected loss in Q2 -- but the firm's mobile division still suffers.



Sony has reported narrower than expected losses in Q2, due to strong sales of the PlayStation 4 console.


The Japanese electronic giant reported its second-quarter financial results (.PDF) on Friday. Sony reported operating loses of 85.6 billion yen ($785 million) overall in the July-September period, despite a 7.2 percent increase year-on-year in revenue across the board, a total of $17.45 billion.


While Sony's operating losses reached 85.6 billion yen in Q2, analysts polled by Thomson Reuters predicted Sony would suffer operating losses of 164.3 billion yen.


The company, which has lost money in six out of the last seven years, may have performed well in Q2 -- if it had not been for the struggling mobile division, which weighed down overall financial performance thanks to losses of $1.58 billion.


On Thursday, Sony revealed management changes to the company's ailing mobile division. Hiroki Totoki, current senior vice president of Corporate Planning, Finance and New Business, is replacing Kunimasa Suzuki as the new president of Sony Mobile Communications from 16 November. Sony also plans to cut the unit's staff by 15 percent, or roughly 1,000 employees.


In addition, restructuring charges within Q2 2014 increased 1.6 billion yen year-on-year to 9.4 billion yen ($86 million). The company says exiting the PC business -- which has faltered over the past several years -- resulted in recorded losses of 7.7 billion yen ($70 million).


In February, Sony confirmed the sale of its Vaio laptop unit to an investment fund as part of the firm's restructuring plans. In 2012, Sony's board said the PC division would be removed as it is no longer profitable -- and which also saves the company money due to a slashed headcount.


However, it's not all bad news -- as the Japanese electronic giant's gaming unit is doing well. Revenue jumped 83 percent year-on-year due to the PlayStation 4, and the firm's device business -- which includes smartphone camera lenses and image sensors -- reported revenue of $271, which is an increase of 187 percent based on Q2 2013.



Read on: In the enterprise

LG Officially Ends Plasma Production

LG Officially Ends Plasma Production

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We knew it was coming. LG has officially announced that it will shut down its plasma production factory by the end of November. Samsung and Panasonic already pulled the plug on their plasma production, leaving LG as the last major TV manufacturer selling plasmas in the U.S. market.


From ETNewsLG Electronics held a board meeting on the same day where it resolved on withdrawal from PDP TV business and submitted the related documents to Financial Supervisory Service. As for the reasons of business withdrawal and action plans for the future, LG Electronics specified 'decreasing demand' and 'concentration of competencies on OLED LCD TV' respectively, and thus clarified that its TV production and sales strategies for the future are with organic light-emitting diode (OLED) and LCD. The industry regarded LG Electronics' withdrawal from PDP TV business as a 'scheduled move.' In relation to the company's withdrawal from PDP TV business, President Ha Hyeon-hoe of LG Electronics HE (Home Entertainment) Division spoke publicly in August that it was being discussed, and thus raised publicity on this subject. In fact, LG Electronics did not release any new products this year after it had launched two PDP TV models last year. On the 28th, LG Electronics announced the termination of its plasma display panel (PDP) TV business as of the 30th of next month. Following Samsung SDI's announcement of withdrawal from PDP business in July, LG Electronics' decision has left China's Changhong to be the only company in the global PDP TV market.

You can read the complete ETNews story here.


Additional Resources* LG Electronics exit suggests end is near for plasma TVs at Reuters.com.* Samsung to end plasma TV production this year at CNET.com.


FCC reportedly close to reclassifying ISPs as common carriers


Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler is reportedly close to proposing a 'hybrid approach' to network neutrality in which Internet service providers would be partially reclassified as common carriers, letting the commission take a harder stance against Internet fast lane deals.


However, the proposal would not completely outlaw deals in which Web services pay for faster access to consumers.


As reported Thursday by The Wall Street Journal, the broadband service that ISPs offer to consumers would be maintained as a lightly regulated information service. But the FCC would reclassify the service that ISPs offer at the other end of the network to content providers who deliver data over Internet providers' pipes. This would be a common carrier service subject to utility-style regulation under Title II of the Communications Act.


'People close to the chairman' say that Wheeler is 'close to settling on a hybrid approach,' the Journal wrote, continuing:


The plan now under consideration would separate broadband into two distinct services: a retail one, in which consumers would pay broadband providers for Internet access; and a back-end one, in which broadband providers serve as the conduit for websites to distribute content. The FCC would then classify the back-end service as a common carrier, giving the agency the ability to police any deals between content companies and broadband providers.


The emerging plan reflects proposals submitted by the Mozilla Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology, though it departs from both in parts. The main advantage of the hybrid proposal, as opposed to full reclassification, is that it wouldn't require the FCC to reverse earlier decisions to deregulate broadband providers, which were made in the hopes of encouraging the adoption and deployment of high-speed broadband. The authors of the new proposal believe that not having to justify reversing itself would put the FCC on firmer legal ground.


The Mozilla Foundation in May proposed a similar approach in a filing with the FCC that we wrote about at the time.


Later in May, the FCC voted for a plan that would not have reclassified ISPs and did not ban fast lane agreements. But the vote was tentative, allowing the FCC to change its mind after gathering public comments.


The proposal Wheeler is considering now 'would leave the door open for broadband providers to offer specialized services for, say, videogamers or online video providers, which require a particularly large amount of bandwidth,' the Journal wrote. 'The proposal would also allow the commission to explore usage-based pricing at some point, in which consumers are charged based on how much data they use and companies are able to subsidize traffic to their websites or applications.'


While not banning prioritization, the plan would 'shift the burden' to ISPs to prove that deals benefit consumers and give FCC officials stronger legal authority to block anticompetitive arrangements.


Verizon, which sued to overturn the FCC's previous net neutrality rules, claimed Thursday that any use of Title II in broadband, even a hybrid approach, would not stand up in court. TechDirt was quick to point out that Verizon embraces Title II in other cases in order to get special treatment from the government.


HP Sprout desktop PC is smarter than Apple iMac with Retina 5K display: Here's ...


Apple just released the new iMac with a 27-inch 5K Retina display for its core market of designers, but another desktop manufacturer has a brand new machine that is targeted towards Apple's market.


Hewlett-Packard (HP) is cementing its reputation as an innovator with Sprout, the desktop computer system that surpasses our ingrained expectations of what a desktop computer can and cannot do. Sure, it does not have the same big, bold and beautiful graphics that one can enjoy on Apple's latest computer, but that is pretty much where the iMac's superiority over Sprout ends.


Under the hood, Sprout has more or less similar components as the high-end iMac, including an Intel Core i7 processor, a top-of-the-line NVIDIA GeForce graphics card, 8GB of RAM and 1TB of storage. However, it is what designers, filmmakers, musicians and other creative types can do with Sprout that makes the difference.


Key to Sprout's game-changing new computer is the combination of an Illuminator equipped with a 14-megapixel camera and an array of sensors equipped with Intel's RealSense 3D tracking technology and a 20-inch flexible Touch Mat that works as a capacitive, multi-touch projecting screen with 20 touch points. Users can write or draw anything on the mat, which are captured by the scanner on the Sprout's Illuminator and digitized so that they can be resized, rotated, moved around, edited and combined with other elements on the touchscreen.


It's not just 2D, however. HP is making a big leap into blending the physical and digital into what it calls 'blended reality' by allowing users to place real, physical objects, such as a ball, a mug or anything that could fit into the mat, and have them transferred into the screen. For now, scanning can only accommodate one side of the object, but the technology is new, and HP is working on an update that will allow full 3D scanning that will be available in 2015.


Joshua Davis, media arts director at design firm Sub Rosa, is one of the early testers of Sprout. This is what he has to say [video] about HP's new computer:


'A scanner, a depth sensor - these are typically separate things. If you could take all those things and put them into a single device, it means that the entry point is a million times faster. That's the potential of this machine. I can get creative quicker, faster and easier.'


At $1,899, Sprout is less expensive than Apple's $2,499 iMac. Buyers will be able to get hold of their first Sprout computers next month from select Microsoft and Best Buy stores and also through HP's website, which is taking pre-orders now.


The Google shakeup continues: Andy Rubin is out

The corporate shakeup at Google continues and now it's Andy Rubin, the former head of the company's Android business and the current head of its robotics arm, who's out.


A Google spokesperson confirmed to Computerworld Thursday night that Rubin is leaving the company, but declined to say how his departure might affect Google's robotics efforts.


'I want to wish Andy all the best with what's next,' Google co-founder and CEO Larry Page said in a statement. 'With Android, he created something truly remarkable -- with a billion-plus happy users. Thank you.'


Rubin joined Google in 2005 after the company bought Android Inc., the business he had founded. He acted as a senior vice president in charge of Android for about eight years, taking on Apple's iPhones and building the Android brand into the world's most popular mobile operating system


In December 2013, he was repositioned to manage Google's burgeoning robotics division. He took over the division as the company was busily acquiring about eight robotics businesses, including Boston Dynamics, one of the best-known robotics companies in the world.


This latest executive shift comes on the heels of a corporate shakeup that saw several Google executives take a step back as one man -- Sundar Pichai -- took over several major divisions.


Seemingly looking to keep Google acting more like a hungry start-up than an aging company that's trying to fend off competitors, Page put Pichai, a senior vice president at Google, in charge of a large swath of the company's core products and services. The move is expected to give Page more time and energy to focus on strategic moves, while Pichai focuses on the details of day-to-day business.


Before this latest move, Pichai, who joined Google in 2004, had been in charge of Chrome, Google Apps and Android.


He reportedly now also will be oversee research, search, maps, Google+, commerce and ad products and infrastructure. Robotics efforts easily could fall under the 'research' umbrella, potentially giving Pichai control over what was once Rubin's domain.


The executives in charge of the areas Pichai recently took over had been reporting directly to Page. They now report to Pichai.


Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research, said Rubin's departure is not a significant loss to Google.


'It doesn't touch on core businesses,' he said. 'I think robotics for Google is one of a number of potential avenues for future growth, but by no means the only one. I don't think there's a crisis or anything. Companies change.'


Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said he wouldn't be surprised if Rubin didn't care for having to suddenly report to Pichai. He also noted that Google might also be scaling back on the robotics acquisitions, leaving Rubin in a less powerful position.


'After the reorganization, there could have been some disagreement over reporting,' he added. 'Regardless of the trigger point, the shakeup [at Google] continues.'


Despite the fact that Rubin had ridden Android to a high position of popularity and power, Moorhead did not see Rubin's departure as a huge loss for Google.


'He had been off working science projects, not really in the mainstream business anymore,' he explained. 'Additionally, he isn't the most public figure either, so it's not like they lost the face of Google.'



Pirate Bay cofounder found guilty of hacking


Image: AP Photo/Scanpix Sweden/Bertil Ericson/Associated Press


Gottfrid Svartholm Warg, a Swedish hacker and founder of file-sharing website Pirate Bay, was found guilty of hacking crimes in Denmark on Thursday.


In what the prosecution called the country's biggest hacking case, Svartholm Warg, 30, was found guilty of breaking into various Danish public databases controlled by IT service provider CSC in 2012, accessing hundreds of thousands of social security numbers, criminal records and extradition agreements. Svartholm Warg allegedly committed the crime along with his accomplice, a 21-year-old Dane only known as 'JKT' (the judge asked his name not to be published) according to media reports.


Throughout the trial, Svartholm Warg's lawyer argued that the hacker was innocent, and that someone else carried out the crimes by hacking into his computer.


'I have recommended that the court dismiss the case based on the remote access argument,' Svartholm Warg's lawyer Luise Høj said, according to TorrentFreak. 'It is clear that my client's computer has been the subject of remote control, and therefore he is not responsible.'


The hacking theory was supported by security researchers Jacob Appelbaum, who provided evidence in the trial. Appelbaum expressed his disappointment with the conviction on Twitter.


Gottfrid convicted. I'm sad to hear that only two of the jurors understand the technology involved: https://t.co/cpqXvgUHP7 #FreeAnakata


- Jacob Appelbaum (@ioerror) October 30, 2014


The judge will announce the length of their sentence on Friday. The prosecution has asked for six years in prison.


'The punishment should be close to the maximum punishment, which can be six years in prison,' the senior prosecutor in the case, Maria Cingari, said according to local media. 'It shouldn't be under five years.'


Svartholm Warg has already spent 11 months in prison in Denmark. Has was arrested in 2012 in Cambodia, where he was living at the time, and then extradited to Sweden, where he was facing similar charges for hacking into the servers of a company that provided tax services to the Swedish government.


While serving a one-year sentence in Sweden, he was then extradited to Denmark approximately a year ago.


Previously, in 2009, Svartholm Warg and Pirate Bay's three other founders were found guilty of copyright violations.


Have something to add to this story? Share it in the comments.

FCA's Ferrari Move Likely To Make Capital Raising Exercise Run Smoothly

Alfa Romeo 156, Ferrari look tuning by CARROZZERIA SCANNALIATO, front badge, seen in Düsseldorf, Germany (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) shocked investors with its decision to float off 10 per cent of storied luxury sports car manufacturer Ferrari and return the rest of it to shareholders, but as the dust settled on the deal, investors saw the sale more as a canny way to persuade investors to sign up to the capital raising plan, with little impact on the long-term future of FCA.


FCA Wednesday announced plans to raise about $4.7 billion including an estimated around $1 billion from the sale of Ferrari, a $2.5 billion convertible bond, and the sale of shares. FCA owns 90 per cent of Ferrari. Piero Ferrari, son of the founder Enzo, owns 10 per cent.


Before news of the deal, FCA was seen as the world's most indebted automobile manufacturer. After the deal is completed some investment banks don't think much will change.


'FCA will still be left with seven to eight billion euros ($8.8 billion to $10.1 billion) of net debt, over eight billion euros of pensions and healthcare liabilities and massive negative working capital. This still makes FCA the most leveraged automaker in the world, on our reckoning,' said Bernstein Research analyst Max Warburton.


'Spinning off Ferrari is another clever exercise in value maximization. The structure and timing of the deal is genius - as it provides a juicy carrot for shareholders - if they participate in the capital raise, they get to own Ferrari shares too,' Warburton said.


Warburton asked 'what is the real end-game here', and said it was designed to eventually allow family owners the Elkanns to leave the auto business, which will own about one quarter of FCA after the deal.


Commerzbank analyst Sascha Gommel is a sceptic too,


'While we see the rationale behind the decision to make Ferrari independent, it does not change our cautious view on FCA,' said Gommel.


Gommel said FCA's inability to reduce financial leverage organically is a major concern, and cut his rating on FCA to 'Sell'.


Gottfrid Svartholm Found Guilty in Hacking Trial

Gottfrid Svartholm has today been found guilty of hacking crimes by a Danish court. The Swedish Pirate Bay founder and his 21-year-old accomplice were found to have illegally accessed systems operated by IT company CSC. It was the biggest hacking case ever conducted in Denmark.


After being arrested in his Cambodian apartment in September 2012 it took two years before Gottfrid Svartholm went on trial in Denmark.


The Swede and his 21-year-old co-defendant stood accused of hacking computer mainframes operated by US IT giant CSC. It developed into the largest case of its kind ever seen in the Scandinavian country.


The case broadly took shape along two lines. The prosecution insisted that Gottfrid and his Danish accomplice, both experts in computer security, had launched hacker attacks against CSC back in April 2012 and maintained access to those systems until August that same year.


The defense claimed it was a case of mistaken identity and that others had carried out the crimes, remotely accessing Gottfrid's computer after comprising its security.


Evidence was produced by the prosecution which showed discussion taking place between hackers with the names 'Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat' and 'My Evil Twin'. The topic in hand was the security and setup of CSC's databases and systems. These people were Gottfrid and his IT consultant co-defendant, the prosecution said.


From the beginning, Gottfrid's position was that his computer, from where the attacks had taken place, had been compromised. This version of events was supported by respected security expert Jacob Appelbaum who gave evidence for the defense not only in this case, but also in Gottfrid's Swedish trial, a case in which he was partly acquitted.


Speaking with Denmark's TV2 earlier today, Gottfrid's lawyer Luise Høj said that her client should be found not guilty since it had been established that third parties had carried out the crimes.


'My recommendation has always been that the investigation has focused on finding clues that point to my client, even though the tracks have also pointed in another direction,' Høj said.


'I have recommended that the court dismiss the case based on the remote access argument. It is clear that my client's computer has been the subject of remote control, and therefore he is not responsible.'


But it wasn't to be. This morning the Court of Frederiksberg found both Gottfrid and his accomplice guilty of hacking into the systems of CSC. Both unlawfully accessed confidential information including police drivers' license records, social security information plus criminal records.


Dismissing the remote control defense, Judge Ulla Otken said the hacking of CSC had been both 'systematic and comprehensive.'


All three judges and four of six jurors returned guilty verdicts. Two jurors voted to acquit after concluding that the remote access defense could not be ruled out.


Following his extradition from Sweden, Gottfrid has spent 11 months behind bars in Denmark. His Danish accomplice, who refused to give evidence to the police and maintained silence right up until his trial in September, has spent 17 months in jail.


Breaking news, article will be updated.

Gottfrid Svartholm Found Guilty in Hacking Trial

Gottfrid Svartholm has today been found guilty of hacking crimes by a Danish court. The Swedish Pirate Bay founder and his 21-year-old accomplice were found to have illegally accessed systems operated by IT company CSC. It was the biggest hacking case ever conducted in Denmark.


After being arrested in his Cambodian apartment in September 2012 it took two years before Gottfrid Svartholm went on trial in Denmark.


The Swede and his 21-year-old co-defendant stood accused of hacking computer mainframes operated by US IT giant CSC. It developed into the largest case of its kind ever seen in the Scandinavian country.


The case broadly took shape along two lines. The prosecution insisted that Gottfrid and his Danish accomplice, both experts in computer security, had launched hacker attacks against CSC back in April 2012 and maintained access to those systems until August that same year.


The defense claimed it was a case of mistaken identity and that others had carried out the crimes, remotely accessing Gottfrid's computer after comprising its security.


Evidence was produced by the prosecution which showed discussion taking place between hackers with the names 'Advanced Persistent Terrorist Threat' and 'My Evil Twin'. The topic in hand was the security and setup of CSC's databases and systems. These people were Gottfrid and his IT consultant co-defendant, the prosecution said.


From the beginning, Gottfrid's position was that his computer, from where the attacks had taken place, had been compromised. This version of events was supported by respected security expert Jacob Appelbaum who gave evidence for the defense not only in this case, but also in Gottfrid's Swedish trial, a case in which he was partly acquitted.


Speaking with Denmark's TV2 earlier today, Gottfrid's lawyer Luise Høj said that her client should be found not guilty since it had been established that third parties had carried out the crimes.


'My recommendation has always been that the investigation has focused on finding clues that point to my client, even though the tracks have also pointed in another direction,' Høj said.


'I have recommended that the court dismiss the case based on the remote access argument. It is clear that my client's computer has been the subject of remote control, and therefore he is not responsible.'


But it wasn't to be. This morning the Court of Frederiksberg found both Gottfrid and his accomplice guilty of hacking into the systems of CSC. Both unlawfully accessed confidential information including police drivers' license records, social security information plus criminal records.


Dismissing the remote control defense, Judge Ulla Otken said the hacking of CSC had been both 'systematic and comprehensive.'


All three judges and four of six jurors returned guilty verdicts. Two jurors voted to acquit after concluding that the remote access defense could not be ruled out.


Following his extradition from Sweden, Gottfrid has spent 11 months behind bars in Denmark. His Danish accomplice, who refused to give evidence to the police and maintained silence right up until his trial in September, has spent 17 months in jail.


Breaking news, article will be updated.

November's Games with Gold announced for Xbox One and Xbox 360

Gobble gobble

November 2014's Xbox Games with Gold have been announced, and even though Microsoft says they are 'no turkeys,' they are pretty much turkeys. Rather than complain about free things though, I'll just give thanks. It is November after all! Here's what's coming next month to Xbox LIVE Gold members for Xbox One and Xbox 360.


Xbox One

Volgar the Viking (normally $9.99) - Avialable Nov. 1-30



Volgar the Viking poses a challenge gamers haven't seen since the early days of gaming. The controls are easy to learn -- as you only need a couple of buttons -- but the challenge comes from all sides. Literally.


Starting November 1, you'll be able to take on the role of the sword-swinging, shield-blocking, spear-throwing, bearded Viking and defeat enemies in gorgeous 16-bit pixel graphics.


Xbox 360

Viva Piñata: Trouble in Paradise (normally $14.99) - Avialable Nov. 1-15



A sequel to the wildly popular Viva Piñata, you are once again tasked with creating a home for your fellow piñatas. In addition to the challenges you'll face from the evil Professor Pester and his Ruffians, you'll also face the challenges that come with trying to please and attract new piñatas to your garden. Trouble in Paradise gives you 'better controls, more tools, and more robust mulitplayer support' than the original game. For those who don't like the challenge, there's a more-relaxing sandbox mode where you are free to just build your garden with the annoyances of managing peksy piñata needs.


Red Faction: Guerrilla (normally $19.99) - Avialable Nov. 16-30



On Mars circa 2125, the Earth Defense Force -- the original good guys from the first two Red Faction titles -- have become corrupt, and are exploiting the miners and other good folk on the planet. It's your job to take down the oppressive regime and set up a new power structure in its place. Guerrilla is different from other Red Faction games in taht it's open-world, meaning you can go anywhere.


It's not the greatest lineup, but it's not like November's PS Plus is much better.



Feds fine dating site for making fake profiles


Laura Nubuck/SXC


NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -


Turns out I'm not actually that popular with the ladies of flirtcrowd.com.


The Federal Trade Commission has fined UK-based JDI Dating for using fake, computer-generated profiles to trick users into upgrading to paid memberships.


JDI -- which operates 18 dating websites, including cupidswand.com, flirtcrowd.com and findmelove.com -- must pay a $616,165 fine and reform its practices. The case is the first for the FTC against an online dating site.


JDI allowed users to set up profiles on its sites for free, and then sent them fake messages purportedly from people living nearby who wanted to meet, according to the complaint.


The users were unable to respond without setting up paid memberships, which cost between $10 and $30 per month, and JDI renewed those memberships in many cases without consent.


JDI did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Going forward, the company must clearly disclose to users that they will receive messages from fake profiles, and is barred from setting up recurring memberships without authorization.


Zoe Quinn: GamerGate must be condemned

Games publishers and industry figures must 'stand-up and condemn' the movement referred to as 'GamerGate', developer Zoe Quinn has told the BBC.


Ms Quinn has been at the centre of a furore which some argue is about ethics in journalism, but others consider to be a largely misogynist hate campaign.


The 27-year-old was forced to leave her home after receiving death threats.


She said publishers must 'say GamerGate, and what it's been doing, is wrong'.


'The fact that so much of the responsibility is offloaded to the people most harmed by it, when somebody in a much safer position than I am can stand up and condemn it... it's frustrating.'


Intimate details


In a highly-emotional interview, Ms Quinn told the BBC how her life had 'completely changed' after she had become embroiled in the row.


In August, an ex-boyfriend of Ms Quinn published a blog post, that ran to thousands of words, detailing intimate details about their relationship.


'Start Quote

I don't want to set an example that you can do this and get what you want.'


The posts included an accusation that Ms Quinn had had a relationship with a journalist at prominent games site Kotaku in an attempt to get positive reviews for her game, Depression Quest.


The allegation proved untrue - but the debate continued, and is now approaching its third month.


Ms Quinn, who has not returned home since the initial threats, had been speaking at the annual Gamecity event in Nottingham - despite a previous threat she would suffer a 'crippling injury' the next time she went to a games conference.


'I used to go to games events and feel like I was going home,' Ms Quinn said.


'Now it's just like... are any of the people I'm currently in the room with ones that said they wanted to beat me to death?


'It's terrifying. It sucks to not have any privacy. This has all been so public. It's more scrutiny than a politician faces - it's living with constant fear in a place I called home.'


'Horrible misrepresentation'


Some firms - such as Ubisoft - have come forward and said they were strongly against 'harassment, bullying and threats'.


The Entertainment Software Association, a trade group for US developers, released a statement saying: 'Threats of violence and harassment are wrong.'


But Ms Quinn said she did not feel it went far enough.


'We need everybody to stand-up and condemn it - and not in this milquetoast 'harassment is bad you guys' way - because they don't think that what they're doing is harassment.'


She added: 'When people that are prominent in the industry can stand up and say 'I'm part of games, I love games, this hate mob doesn't speak for me, this is not welcome in games', it has the two-fold effect of making it less damaging to those that this can hurt, and it does something repair this horrible misrepresentation of this medium that so many of us love.


'Condemning them and say they do no speak for games - it's so fundamental, otherwise this is going to keep happening.'


'Pure toxicity'


Analysis of discussion about GamerGate has indicated that misogynist abuse - and vitriolic messages in general - is not limited to either 'side' of the argument.


Journalist Allum Bokhari, a writer for TechCrunch, has said there was credible evidence that at least one well-known trolling group was 'working to provoke both sides against each other'.


Meanwhile, some people previously offering highly vocal support of GamerGate have backed off.



'Through a snowball effect of misinformation, trolling, and ideological/emotional bias on both sides, the issue is quickly descending into a quagmire attracting trolls, extremists, and opportunists needlessly stirring the pot of controversy,' said one prominent figure who backed GamerGate, but wished to remain anonymous in this article.


'The harassment is ultimately an unfortunate variable affecting both sides of this situation, and it distresses me to see anyone live in fear.


'Dismissing GamerGate as a misogynist hate movement is not going to make it go away, because it just simply is not that - it's a consumer boycott.


'Until we act like adults and come together to have a conversation on the ethics of games journalism, it's only going to get worse and worse - that's why I'm now choosing to distance myself from the issue.'


Ms Quinn herself suggested that the gaming ethics argument could progress - but only if it distanced itself fully from GamerGate tag.


'If you have any care for this industry, if you have any care for the future of games, you need to leave.


'If you have actual concerns, start over without [GamerGate]. If your concerns can't exist on their own, if they have to be supported off the backs of ruining lives, then how legitimate are your concerns?'


'Maybe they'll be back'


As well as Ms Quinn, other women in the games industry have had to leave home due to threats to their safety, including Brianna Wu, a developer in Boston, and Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist writer and commentator.


Ms Sarkeesian had published a series of YouTube videos criticising the depiction of women in many popular games. Some felt it was applying a level of political correctness not needed in gaming.



Ms Quinn said it was important to keep talking about the issue openly.


'I don't want to set an example that you can do this and get what you want.


'I have a folder on my desktop called 'those who left' - every time somebody sends me a message saying 'hey, I really admire your strength, but it's not worth it for me, I'm leaving', I save these.


'I'm going to hopefully go back through it in a few years, and maybe they'll be back.'


As for whether she would be able to continue her own career, she said: 'I love games more than they hate me.'


Follow Dave Lee An extended interview with Zoe Quinn will be published later on Thursday. on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

Hewlett


Tech giant Hewlett-Packard yesterday launched a new 3D scanner device aimed at those who work in creative industries like engineers, advertisers and artists. The device named Sprout is an all in one desktop computer that features a 23 inch diagonal display and a 4 camera sensory display that will capture the details of 2D and 3D objects for scanning. In place of a keyboard and mouse, the computer can instead come with a 20 point touch pad. It has been promoted as a great way for people to easily create scrapbooks or photo collages of real life items like certificates and awards. By placing the item over the scanner, it will be scanned and a rendition immediately appears on the display which you can manipulate the way you want. It has also been touted as a great choice for professionals looking to share their work with others and allow online communities to make real time changes to projects. The company is offering a software called MyRoom to help in this effort. This device is set to be in stores next month and is expected to retail at $1,899. It is expected to attract plenty of buyers when compared with similar offers from companies like iMac that retail at $2,499. Christmas time is a big sale period for tech devices and HP is hoping to attract innovative professionals who will be delighted with the design and features of Sprout. They have announced that the computer will be available from November 9th at stores like Best Buy and Microsoft. Several stores are also expected to set up interactive displays so that customers have a chance to try it before they buy it.


Why the US Has Fallen Behind in Internet Speed and Affordability


America's slow and expensive Internet is more than just an annoyance for people trying to watch 'Happy Gilmore' on Netflix. Largely a consequence of monopoly providers, the sluggish service could have long-term economic consequences for American competitiveness.


Downloading a high-definition movie takes about seven seconds in Seoul, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Zurich, Bucharest and Paris, and people pay as little as $30 a month for that connection. In Los Angeles, New York and Washington, downloading the same movie takes 1.4 minutes for people with the fastest Internet available, and they pay $300 a month for the privilege, according to The Cost of Connectivity, a report published Thursday by the New America Foundation's Open Technology Institute.


The report compares Internet access in big American cities with access in Europe and Asia. Some surprising smaller American cities - Chattanooga, Tenn.; Kansas City (in both Kansas and Missouri); Lafayette, La.; and Bristol, Va. - tied for speed with the biggest cities abroad. In each, the high-speed Internet provider is not one of the big cable or phone companies that provide Internet to most of the United States, but a city-run network or start-up service.


The reason the United States lags many countries in both speed and affordability, according to people who study the issue, has nothing to do with technology. Instead, it is an economic policy problem - the lack of competition in the broadband industry.


'It's just very simple economics,' said Tim Wu, a professor at Columbia Law School who studies antitrust and communications and was an adviser to the Federal Trade Commission. 'The average market has one or two serious Internet providers, and they set their prices at monopoly or duopoly pricing.'



For relatively high-speed Internet at 25 megabits per second, 75 percent of homes have one option at most, according to the Federal Communications Commission - usually Comcast, Time Warner, AT&T or Verizon. It's an issue anyone who has shopped for Internet knows well, and it is even worse for people who live in rural areas. It matters not just for entertainment; an Internet connection is necessary for people to find and perform jobs, and to do new things in areas like medicine and education.


'Stop and let that sink in: Three-quarters of American homes have no competitive choice for the essential infrastructure for 21st-century economics and democracy,' Tom Wheeler, chairman of the F.C.C., said in a speech last month.


The situation arose from this conundrum: Left alone, will companies compete, or is regulation necessary?


In many parts of Europe, the government tries to foster competition by requiring that the companies that own the pipes carrying broadband to people's homes lease space in their pipes to rival companies. (That policy is based on the work of Jean Tirole, who won the Nobel Prize in economics this month in part for his work on regulation and communications networks.)


In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission in 2002 reclassified high-speed Internet access as an information service, which is unregulated, rather than as telecommunications, which is regulated. Its hope was that Internet providers would compete with one another to provide the best networks. That didn't happen. The result has been that they have mostly stayed out of one another's markets.


When New America ranked cities by the average speed of broadband plans priced between $35 and $50 a month, the top three cities, Seoul, Hong Kong and Paris, offered speeds 10 times faster than the United States cities. (In some places, like Seoul, the government subsidizes Internet access to keep prices low.)


The divide is not just with the fastest plans. At nearly every speed, Internet access costs more in the United States than in Europe, according to the report. American Internet users are also much more likely than those in other countries to pay an additional fee, about $100 a year in many cities, to rent a modem that costs less than $100 in a store.


'More competition, better technologies and increased quality of service on wireline networks help to drive down prices,' said Nick Russo, a policy program associate studying broadband pricing at the Open Technology Institute and co-author of the report.


There is some disagreement about that conclusion, including from Richard Bennett, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and a critic of those who say Internet service providers need more regulation. He argued that much of the slowness is caused not by broadband networks but by browsers, websites and high usage.


Yet it is telling that in the cities with the fastest Internet in the United States, according to New America, the incumbent companies are not providing the service. In Kansas City, it comes from Google. In Chattanooga, Lafayette and Bristol, it comes through publicly owned networks.


In each case, the networks are fiber-optic, which transfer data exponentially faster than cable networks. The problem is that installing fiber networks requires a huge investment of money and work, digging up streets and sidewalks, building a new network and competing with the incumbents. (That explains why super-rich Google has been one of the few private companies to do it.)


The big Internet providers have little reason to upgrade their entire networks to fiber because there has so far been little pressure from competitors or regulators to do so, said Susan Crawford, a visiting professor at Harvard Law School and author of 'Captive Audience: Telecom Monopolies in the New Gilded Age.'


There are signs of a growing movement for cities to build their own fiber networks and lease the fiber to retail Internet providers. Some, like San Antonio, already have fiber in place, but there are policies restricting them from using it to offer Internet services to consumers. Other cities, like Santa Monica, Calif., have been laying fiber during other construction projects.


In certain cities, the threat of new Internet providers has spurred the big, existing companies to do something novel: increase the speeds they offer and build up their own fiber networks.


Is HP's latest the PC of the future?

An all-in-one PC with an integrated 3D scanner, a projector and a 20-inch touch mat where the keyboard would traditionally sit, the Sprout is meant to represent what HP calls the latest in 'blended reality'.


What that means is that you can place an object on the mat and the scanner will capture it in three dimensions. Then the projector will project the digitized image onto the mat and you can manipulate it with your hands.


'Touch' it, turn it around, pull it and stretch it -- think Iron Man -- the computer uses an array of cameras to track your position relative to the object so that everything moves and flows smoothly.


The computer also offers an interesting take on the concept of the second screen -- the 20-inch touch mat also works as a display that can show everything from graphics to palettes and control nobs in editing and manipulation applications, minimizing clutter on the PC's main 23-inch display.



But creating and manipulating digital images is just the start. Once you've finished playing at Tony Stark you can hit print and send it to HP's first 3D printer -- the Multi Jet Fusion.


'We live in a 3D world, but today we create in a 2D world on existing devices,' said Ron Coughlin, senior vice president, Consumer PC & Solutions, HP. 'Sprout by HP is a big step forward in reimagining the boundaries of how we create and engage with technology to allow users to move seamlessly from thought to expression.'


Away from virtual reality manipulation, the Sprout PC is also a traditional desktop. It runs the latest version of Windows and packs a Core i7 Intel processor, Nvidia graphics and has a 1TB hard disk so should be equally impressive at doing less Iron Man things such as running Photoshop, gaming and video editing.


And it will have to be good at the more traditional things because although the Sprout will be going on sale in November in the US for $1899.99, HP's first 3D printers won't be coming to market until 2016.


Tim Cook Comes Out As Gay In Powerful Businessweek Essay

Posted:



Apple CEO Tim Cook came out as gay in a powerful essay for Bloomberg's Businessweek.


In the essay, published Thursday, Cook said that he has never denied being gay, but has not publicly discussed his sexuality until now: 'So let me be clear: I'm proud to be gay, and I consider being gay among the greatest gifts God has given me.'


He described how his sexuality has given him an acute social perspective.


Being gay has given me a deeper understanding of what it means to be in the minority and provided a window into the challenges that people in other minority groups deal with every day. It's made me more empathetic, which has led to a richer life. It's been tough and uncomfortable at times, but it has given me the confidence to be myself, to follow my own path, and to rise above adversity and bigotry. It's also given me the skin of a rhinoceros, which comes in handy when you're the CEO of Apple.


Head over to Businessweek to read Cook's full essay.


Lenovo closes acquisition of Motorola Mobility from Google

Motorola will continue to operate in Chicago under the leadership of President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Osterloh.


Lenovo said on Thursday that it had closed its acquisition of Motorola Mobility, gaining a larger foothold in the US and other developed markets.


CNET

Under the agreement, Lenovo will pay former parent Google $2.91 billion, including $660 million in cash and $750 million in newly issued Lenovo stock. The remaining $1.5 billion will be paid to Google in the form of a three-year promissory note. While Lenovo gets Motorola's mobile device business, Google keeps the patent portfolio.


The transfer of Motorola to Lenovo from Google marks the end of a short chapter for the storied handset vendor. Credited with the invention of the cellphone, Motorola's brand had taken a hit over the last several years as Apple's iPhone and Samsung rose in prominence. Under Google, Motorola had refined its product portfolio to just a few devices, and developed a focus on the low-end and emerging markets with its affordable Moto G and Moto E smartphones.


Motorola will continue to operate out of Chicago and will still be led by President and Chief Operating Officer Rick Osterloh.


'With an impressive portfolio of smartphones, wearables and PCs, our two companies will be uniquely positioned to push the boundaries of choice and value, and bring exciting new experiences to people everywhere,' Osterloh said in a blog post.


For Lenovo, which has a stronger reputation as the No. 1 PC manufacturer in the world, Motorola lends the company badly needed credibility in the smartphone business. Motorola gives Lenovo a recognizable brand in most developed markets, especially the US, where it also has strong relationships with the wireless carriers.


Liu Jin, executive vice president and president of Lenovo's mobile business group, will serve as chairman of the Motorola Management Board.


Jin said he expects to sell more than 100 million mobile devices this year -- including smartphones and tablets.


'Motorola has already built solid momentum in the market, and their recent results show consumers are excited about their exceptional products that stand out for their design and simplicity,' Jun said.


Motorola over the last two months has unveiled a number of strong products, including a revamped Moto X and Moto G, the Nexus 6 for Google, as well as Tuesday's debut of the Droid Turbo for Verizon Wireless.


Android 5.0 Lollipop Update Confirmed for Asus ZenFone Smartphones


Asus has confirmed on its official forum that six of its devices (and their variants) will be receiving an update to Android 5.0 Lollipop next year.


The list of devices scheduled to receive the Android 5.0 Lollipop includes the popular Asus ZenFone series of smartphones - ZenFone 4, ZenFone 5, and ZenFone 6 - alongside Padfone S and Padfone Infinity (second gen).


According to the official listing (via a Taiwanese publication), the ZenFone 4 (A400CG/ A450CG), ZenFone 5 (A500CG/ A501CG), ZenFone 5 LTE (A500KL), ZenFone 6 (A600CG/ A601CG), and PadFone S (PF500KL) will be receiving the Android 5.0 Lollipop update starting April 2015. The refreshed Asus Padfone Infinity (A86), on the other hand, will receive the update in June.



Asus, starting early October, rolled out the Android 4.4 KitKat OS update for the ZenFone 4 A400CG, ZenFone 5 (A501CG) and ZenFone 6 (A601CG) handsets worldwide.


Notably, Google, Motorola, Sony, HTC and LG have already revealed the list of devices expected to receive the Android 5.0 Lollipop update. Meanwhile, Samsung has hinted about few high-end smartphones likely to receive the update.


Some of the notable features of the Android 5.0 Lollipop version include a cleaner, flatter design with a more fluid interface and animations. There is a new 'Quick settings' menu that has been revamped, and includes new controls like flashlight, hotspot, cast screen controls and more. The lock screen now displays richer notifications, and users can view and respond to messages directly from the lock screen.


Android 5.0 Lollipop also comes with an opt-in kill switch dubbed 'Factory Reset Protection', which will allow users to wipe out the device's data on will. There is the new Messenger app; a guest user mode with custom options for access; and screen pinning that lets users fix in place the screen that's displayed without allowing guests to go further. Google has also added a new battery saver feature to Android 5.0 Lollipop, claiming to extend device battery life by up to 90 minutes.


HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D Printer: 10X Faster Speeds


NEW YORK - HP has long been a household name in traditional ink printers, and now the company is going 3D. At a special event in New York, HP today (Oct 29th) announced its new Multi Jet Fusion technology, which is designed to allow for low-cost 3D printing at faster speeds than anything on the market when it arrives in 2016.


An open platform built for use across different types of 3D printers, Multi Jet Fusion aims to be 10 times faster and significantly more affordable than competing devices. The technology uses a print bar that produces over 350 drops per second at 21 microns, which, according to HP, is able to print 1,000 working gears in 3 hours. In addition to these gears, HP showcased a heavy duty chain link that was created with a Multi Jet Fusion printer.


MORE: Best 3D Printers 2014

Multi Jet Fusion starts with a material coating process, after which a fusion agent is applied via a print bar that scans over the material. The material is then detailed, and finally exposed to an energy source in order to become fused together.


At the event, HP showed off a massive, currently-unnamed printer that utilizes Multi Jet Fusion. The device is about as tall as a small refrigerator, and as wide as a heavy-duty copy machine.


HP plans to build on Multi Jet Fusion's feature set, which could someday include the ability to modify the elasticity of a single part of a printed object. The company didn't give a specific name for its first 3D printer, but said to expect the technology to arrive by 2016.



MORE: Best 3D Printers 2014

Must watch: working Project Ara prototype shown off in behind the scenes video


Still in its infancy, Project Ara still has a ways to go before it reaches a consumer release. Over the past few months, we've watch as more information surrounding the project continually trickled out, the most recent being a second round of Project Ara developer's conferences slated for January in both the US and Singapore.


Some might be surprised to know that although Project Ara runs Android, it isn't actually an official Android project or even a Nexus device. In fact, it's not even a Google project. This was made clear in Phonebloks' latest blog post which clears up some confusion about their involvement in the project. The Ara team wants to make it clear that Dutch designer Dave Hakkens who came up with the Phonebloks concept we showed you guys awhile back is more of a community manager, creating videos and giving sneak peeks at Ara development.


That's all good and dandy, but we're sure many of you are dying to see more of the actual prototype and in Phoneblok's latest video - released just today - you can watch as Dave goes behind the scenes at the NK Labs in Boston, MA and fires up a working Project Ara prototype known as Spiral 1. We'd be lying if we said we didn't get goosebumps.


Although space on the Spiral 1 prototype is limited (about 49% of the space available to developers), Spiral 2 which is being developed by Toshiba will have 'most of the area' available for the developers' function. Unfortunately, the Toshiba-built prototype wasn't shown off in the video but will instead take center stage during next years' Project Ara developer's conference.


Once again, pricing for an entry-level Project Ara device will likely run around $50-100, although final pricing of an actual Project Ara device will largely remain in the hands of developers building modules. Sign. Me. Up.


Continue reading:


HP Multi Jet Fusion 3D Printer: 10X Faster Speeds


NEW YORK - HP has long been a household name in traditional ink printers, and now the company is going 3D. At a special event in New York, HP today (Oct 29th) announced its new Multi Jet Fusion technology, which is designed to allow for low-cost 3D printing at faster speeds than anything on the market when it arrives in 2016.


An open platform built for use across different types of 3D printers, Multi Jet Fusion aims to be 10 times faster and significantly more affordable than competing devices. The technology uses a print bar that produces over 350 drops per second at 21 microns, which, according to HP, is able to print 1,000 working gears in 3 hours. In addition to these gears, HP showcased a heavy duty chain link that was created with a Multi Jet Fusion printer.


MORE: Best 3D Printers 2014

Multi Jet Fusion starts with a material coating process, after which a fusion agent is applied via a print bar that scans over the material. The material is then detailed, and finally exposed to an energy source in order to become fused together.


At the event, HP showed off a massive, currently-unnamed printer that utilizes Multi Jet Fusion. The device is about as tall as a small refrigerator, and as wide as a heavy-duty copy machine.


HP plans to build on Multi Jet Fusion's feature set, which could someday include the ability to modify the elasticity of a single part of a printed object. The company didn't give a specific name for its first 3D printer, but said to expect the technology to arrive by 2016.



MORE: Best 3D Printers 2014

Project Ara boots up! DevCon2 set for 14 January 2015


When Phonebloks revealed its vision last year, people swooned at the dream but they stopped at just that: a dream. A pipe dream even. But now, more than 12 months later, with Google also at the helm, that dream is almost a reality. Phonebloks went to Boston to visit NK Labs, the guys designing Google's Project Ara, to see how things are coming along with the prototype . And guess what? It works!


It's far from done, of course, but this is the first functional prototype of Project Ara seen in a form that closely resembles the vision that the likes of Phonebloks and Motorola, now Google, ATAP had for the modular smartphone. You plug in modules, functional components, as needed. For the first prototype, the modules consist of the LED display module, battery, application processor, loudspeakers, and a USB charging port. And voila! You get the first public demonstration of a Project Ara device booting up, caught on video!


Impressive and exciting as that may seem, there's still a bit of work to be done. In particular, in Spiral 1, the first iteration of the platform, there isn't much space left around for developers as the base modules occupy about 50 percent of the area. The much awaited Spiral 2 prototype solves that problem and gives developers much more room to play in and offer functionality to users. That prototype will be shown to the public for the first time at the second Project Ara Developer Conference next year.


Dubbed DevCon2, the conference will be held on 14th of January. More than just an update from Google's side of things, it will also showcase progress made on third-party modules for the device. A big and healthy ecosystem of such modules is necessary for Project Ara to truly take off. And perhaps more interesting to end users, Google plans on using the conference to reveal its 2015 market pilot for Project Ara, hinting that the first truly modular commercial smartphone might be in consumers' hands next year.


SOURCE: Phonebloks, Google


Project Ara boots up! DevCon2 set for 14 January 2015


When Phonebloks revealed its vision last year, people swooned at the dream but they stopped at just that: a dream. A pipe dream even. But now, more than 12 months later, with Google also at the helm, that dream is almost a reality. Phonebloks went to Boston to visit NK Labs, the guys designing Google's Project Ara, to see how things are coming along with the prototype . And guess what? It works!


It's far from done, of course, but this is the first functional prototype of Project Ara seen in a form that closely resembles the vision that the likes of Phonebloks and Motorola, now Google, ATAP had for the modular smartphone. You plug in modules, functional components, as needed. For the first prototype, the modules consist of the LED display module, battery, application processor, loudspeakers, and a USB charging port. And voila! You get the first public demonstration of a Project Ara device booting up, caught on video!


Impressive and exciting as that may seem, there's still a bit of work to be done. In particular, in Spiral 1, the first iteration of the platform, there isn't much space left around for developers as the base modules occupy about 50 percent of the area. The much awaited Spiral 2 prototype solves that problem and gives developers much more room to play in and offer functionality to users. That prototype will be shown to the public for the first time at the second Project Ara Developer Conference next year.


Dubbed DevCon2, the conference will be held on 14th of January. More than just an update from Google's side of things, it will also showcase progress made on third-party modules for the device. A big and healthy ecosystem of such modules is necessary for Project Ara to truly take off. And perhaps more interesting to end users, Google plans on using the conference to reveal its 2015 market pilot for Project Ara, hinting that the first truly modular commercial smartphone might be in consumers' hands next year.


SOURCE: Phonebloks, Google


Microsoft Jumps Into the Growing Market for Wearable Fitness Technology

REDMOND, Wash. - Microsoft has a place on desks, in living rooms and pockets. Now, like many other big technology companies, Microsoft believes it belongs on wrists.


The company has created a wrist-worn fitness device, Microsoft Band, and a related online service, Microsoft Health, that will analyze the data from the band and other devices to help people with their fitness goals.


Microsoft is joining a stampede of companies creating wearable technology products for collecting personal health and exercise data. Technology companies see wearables as a way into the huge wellness business without all the red tape that comes from being a true medical company.


Microsoft's black rubber bracelet resembles other products that have come before it. It contains a display that will show text messages from a cellphone, Facebook alerts and even bar codes that allow people to pay for coffee at a Starbucks from their wrists. Sensors in the device will continuously track heart rate, sleep quality and calories burned.



The band is a departure for Microsoft in many respects, though, brimming with technologies often available only in more expensive products. For instance, the band includes GPS satellite tracking. The inclusion of GPS means runners who want to track distance only need to wear the band - they do not need to carry their cellphones.


What is more, Microsoft is charging $199 for the device. Apple's Apple Watch, due out sometime next year, will start at $349 and require a phone for GPS tracking. Fitbit, a leader in wearable fitness devices, recently announced a watch with GPS called Surge, available early next year, that will cost $250.


And, in an unusual move for a company often criticized for announcing products months before it actually ships them, Microsoft planned to begin selling the band through its website and retail stores starting Thursday.


'We don't think there's any other device with this level of functionality,' said Yusuf Mehdi, a corporate vice president for devices and studios, in a demonstration of the device on Microsoft's campus on Wednesday.


There is much Microsoft must still prove for the device to be successful. Its heart rate tracking has to be accurate, something other wrist-based devices have struggled to do.


But more important, the oodles of data the device collects will need to create useful health insights. While there has been great curiosity from consumers about wearable technologies, many people seem to lose interest in them once the novelty wears off. In a recent survey, PricewaterhouseCoopers found that about a third of respondents who purchased a wearable device more than a year ago now say they no longer use it or do so infrequently.


Furthermore, Microsoft will have to work hard to demonstrate its relevance in a category in which it has no pedigree. 'I'm not sure Microsoft has a brand that speaks to fitness people per se,' said James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research, a technology research firm.


But Microsoft has more credibility in cloud computing and the development of sophisticated algorithms that could help consumers figure out how to use their health data. The company says users of Microsoft Health will be able to upload data from the company's band and other devices, along with information from calendar programs like Microsoft Outlook.


With that data, Microsoft will then be able to tell them how their fitness performance varies relative to their work schedule and whether the number of meetings during the day affects sleep quality.


Microsoft said it was working with other wearable device companies and app makers, including Jawbone, MapMyFitness and RunKeeper, to share data between the different products. The Microsoft Health app, which will wirelessly collect data from the company's fitness band, will work on Apple and Android smartphones, along with Microsoft's own Windows Phone.


Microsoft will have a formidable competitor in Apple, a company that has managed to outflank it again and again in mobile devices. Apple Watch is a more ambitious effort to cater to both fitness enthusiasts and people who wear luxury watches.


'We're not trying to replace your watch,' Mr. Mehdi of Microsoft said. 'This is prioritizing function over form.'


Zoe Quinn: GamerGate must be condemned

Games publishers and industry figures must 'stand-up and condemn' the movement referred to as 'GamerGate', developer Zoe Quinn has told the BBC.


Ms Quinn has been at the centre of a furore which some argue is about ethics in journalism, but others consider to be a largely misogynist hate campaign.


The 27-year-old was forced to leave her home after receiving death threats.


She said publishers must 'say GamerGate, and what it's been doing, is wrong'.


'The fact that so much of the responsibility is offloaded to the people most harmed by it, when somebody in a much safer position than I am can stand up and condemn it... it's frustrating.'


Intimate details


In a highly-emotional interview, Ms Quinn told the BBC how her life had 'completely changed' after she had become embroiled in the row.


In August, an ex-boyfriend of Ms Quinn published a blog post, that ran to thousands of words, detailing intimate details about their relationship.


'Start Quote

I don't want to set an example that you can do this and get what you want.'


The posts included an accusation that Ms Quinn had had a relationship with a journalist at prominent games site Kotaku in an attempt to get positive reviews for her game, Depression Quest.


The allegation proved untrue - but the debate continued, and is now approaching its third month.


Ms Quinn, who has not returned home since the initial threats, had been speaking at the annual Gamecity event in Nottingham - despite a previous threat she would suffer a 'crippling injury' the next time she went to a games conference.


'I used to go to games events and feel like I was going home,' Ms Quinn said.


'Now it's just like... are any of the people I'm currently in the room with ones that said they wanted to beat me to death?


'It's terrifying. It sucks to not have any privacy. This has all been so public. It's more scrutiny than a politician faces - it's living with constant fear in a place I called home.'


'Horrible misrepresentation'


Some firms - such as Ubisoft - have come forward and said they were strongly against 'harassment, bullying and threats'.


The Entertainment Software Association, a trade group for US developers, released a statement saying: 'Threats of violence and harassment are wrong.'


But Ms Quinn said she did not feel it went far enough.


'We need everybody to stand-up and condemn it - and not in this milquetoast 'harassment is bad you guys' way - because they don't think that what they're doing is harassment.'


She added: 'When people that are prominent in the industry can stand up and say 'I'm part of games, I love games, this hate mob doesn't speak for me, this is not welcome in games', it has the two-fold effect of making it less damaging to those that this can hurt, and it does something repair this horrible misrepresentation of this medium that so many of us love.


'Condemning them and say they do no speak for games - it's so fundamental, otherwise this is going to keep happening.'


'Pure toxicity'


Analysis of discussion about GamerGate has indicated that misogynist abuse - and vitriolic messages in general - is not limited to either 'side' of the argument.


Journalist Allum Bokhari, a writer for TechCrunch, has said there was credible evidence that at least one well-known trolling group was 'working to provoke both sides against each other'.


Meanwhile, some people previously offering highly vocal support of GamerGate have backed off.



'Through a snowball effect of misinformation, trolling, and ideological/emotional bias on both sides, the issue is quickly descending into a quagmire attracting trolls, extremists, and opportunists needlessly stirring the pot of controversy,' said one prominent figure who backed GamerGate, but wished to remain anonymous in this article.


'The harassment is ultimately an unfortunate variable affecting both sides of this situation, and it distresses me to see anyone live in fear.


'Dismissing GamerGate as a misogynist hate movement is not going to make it go away, because it just simply is not that - it's a consumer boycott.


'Until we act like adults and come together to have a conversation on the ethics of games journalism, it's only going to get worse and worse - that's why I'm now choosing to distance myself from the issue.'


Ms Quinn herself suggested that the gaming ethics argument could progress - but only if it distanced itself fully from GamerGate tag.


'If you have any care for this industry, if you have any care for the future of games, you need to leave.


'If you have actual concerns, start over without [GamerGate]. If your concerns can't exist on their own, if they have to be supported off the backs of ruining lives, then how legitimate are your concerns?'


'Maybe they'll be back'


As well as Ms Quinn, other women in the games industry have had to leave home due to threats to their safety, including Brianna Wu, a developer in Boston, and Anita Sarkeesian, a feminist writer and commentator.


Ms Sarkeesian had published a series of YouTube videos criticising the depiction of women in many popular games. Some felt it was applying a level of political correctness not needed in gaming.



Ms Quinn said it was important to keep talking about the issue openly.


'I don't want to set an example that you can do this and get what you want.


'I have a folder on my desktop called 'those who left' - every time somebody sends me a message saying 'hey, I really admire your strength, but it's not worth it for me, I'm leaving', I save these.


'I'm going to hopefully go back through it in a few years, and maybe they'll be back.'


As for whether she would be able to continue her own career, she said: 'I love games more than they hate me.'


Follow Dave Lee An extended interview with Zoe Quinn will be published later on Thursday. on Twitter @DaveLeeBBC

HP Reveals New, Ultra


HP today announced Multi Jet Fusion, a new 3D-printing technology that, according to the company, can print objects in 3D at much faster speeds and lower costs than existing methods.


Its speed is due to the fact that it can quickly apply and fuse large areas of material rather than extruding it point by point. HP's 3D-printing system is geared to commercial use in short-run manufacturing, at least for now.


According to HP, the new technology is 10 times faster than the existing 3D-printing methods of fused deposition modeling, in which acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS), polylactic acid (PLA), or similar molten plastic is extruded through a nozzle, and selective laser sintering (SLS). It is designed to produce output that is beautiful and mechanically useful, with the ability to manipulate part and material properties, including form, texture, friction, strength, elasticity, electrical and thermal properties.


HP Multi Jet Fusion incorporates the company's Thermal Inkjet technology that it uses in commercial-grade printers. The process starts with the laying down a thin layer of material in the working area. Next, a carriage containing an HP Thermal Inkjet array passes from left to right, printing chemical agents across the full working area. The layering and energy processes are combined in a continuous pass of a second carriage from top to bottom. The process continues, layer-by-layer, until a complete part is formed. At each layer, the carriages change direction for optimum productivity. Using HP Thermal Inkjet arrays with their high number of nozzles per inch, HP's proprietary synchronous architecture is capable of printing over 30 million drops per second across each inch of the working area.


The technology uses a multi-chemistry process, including a fusing agent that is selectively applied where the particles will fuse together, as well as a detailing agent that is selectively applied where the fusing action needs to be reduced or amplified.


As one example, the detailing agent reduces fusing at the boundary to produce parts with sharp and smooth edges. The method is designed to provide uniform part strength in all three-axis directions. Over time, HP plans to incorporate a full range of colors into a part, to bring the color capabilities of traditional printing into the 3D world.


Availability of the end-to-end HP 3D-printing system is planned in 2016. HP is enlisting early customers in the development process with its Open Customer Engagement Program, which enables HP to work with them for expedited solution product testing and feedback.


For more, check out Hands On With the Weird But Intriguing HP Sprout.


Microsoft Cuts 3000 Jobs, Finishing Layoffs


The bad news: Microsoft cut another 3,000 employees today. The good news: this is pretty much the last of the layoffs announced by CEO Satya Nadella this summer.


In a statement to PCMag, a Microsoft spokesperson said the reductions are taking place across a variety of teams in many different countries, though there's no word as to which departments will be hit hardest.


'We've taken another step that will complete almost all the 18,000 reductions announced in July,' the spokesperson said.


Today's cuts follow two previous rounds of layoffs. Microsoft kicked things off in July, axing 13,000 in the first wave before cutting another 2,100 workers in September.


GeekWire reported that about 638 of today's layoffs were in the Seattle area, for a total of 2,700 layoffs in Microsoft's home region, where the company employed some 42,500 people at the end of September. The report noted that many of the downsized positions were in support roles, including finance, human resources, sales, and marketing.


The reductions come as Microsoft works to integrate the Nokia handset business it acquired in April for $7.2 billion. Following the Nokia deal, Microsoft's employee headcount rose from about 99,000 last year to 127,000. About 12,500 of the 18,000 layoffs came from Nokia, including professional and factory workers.


In a July memo to employees, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, pictured, said the company would largely nix work on Android-based devices. 'We plan to shift select Nokia X product designs to become Lumia products running Windows,' he wrote. 'This builds on our success in the affordable smartphone space and aligns with our focus on Windows Universal Apps.'


IBM Working To Be Hip With Twitter

Source: Twitter press release

IBM and Twitter announced a partnership where Twitter's data will be utilized in cloud-based analytics, customer engagement platforms and consulting services. It makes total sense for these two companies to partner since Twitter has a treasure trove of data and IBM has the chops, including IBM Watson and Bluemix platform-as-a-service, to make use of it. IBM also has the industry expertise to develop specific solutions using Twitter data.


From Twitter's blog 'From a data perspective, Twitter represents an enormous public archive of human thought that captures the ideas, opinions and debates taking place around the world on almost any topic at any moment in time. While companies have long listened to what their customers are saying on Twitter, complex enterprise decisions often require input from a lot of different systems. IBM's expertise is in integrating complex systems and data to make better decisions.'


It also included 'And to ensure that companies maximize the value of this new data set, IBM and Twitter will work together on a unique collection of enterprise solutions that include Twitter data in IBM's analytics solutions.'


This could be material to Twitter's Data Licensing revenue stream

Twitter generated $70 million in data licensing revenue in 2013 and has generated $100 million in the first three quarters this year. The company is on track to hit $140 million which would be double last year's revenue for this segment but it would still be just over 10% of total revenue.


While it would take 2 to 3 years to get data licensing to the mid-teens share of total revenue the incremental revenue may have very good margins (significantly above Twitter's 70% gross margin) since it is leveraging data it has already stored.


For every $100 million in revenue at 85% gross margin this would add about $0.09 in EPS. For a company with estimated EPS of $0.38 in 2015 this would be material to the bottom line. However it should take a couple of years or longer to generate this uptick in revenue.


Also keep in mind that while IBM will train 'tens of thousands of IBM Global Business Services consultants' don't get carried away that Twitter's sales force will have thousands of full-time partners. While I haven't worked at IBM since 1997 (but was in sales for over a decade) there will be some consultants who realize the Twitter solution will help them sell more IBM services. I suspect most will be happy to know it is there but won't be able to leverage it since it wouldn't be applicable to their clients in a big enough way to warrant spending a lot of time on it.


Makes sense for IBM but not incremental on its own

IBM needs these types of partnerships and solutions to tap into new solutions, which means more consulting, software and hopefully hardware. This feels similar to the Apple iPad partnershi p but also like it I don't think it will move IBM's financial needle enough to be noticed. At almost $100 billion in revenue $100 million in incremental revenue is 0.1%. If the Twitter partnership winds up gaining more traction than this it will materially help Twitter, not so much IBM.


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