Category: News

Biggest Twit prepares to flog his stock

TwitterThe markets were all tutting over Twitter founder Ev Williams deciding to flog a third of his shares.

Apparently, Williams did not want to get rid of his shares because the company was suffering, he just wanted to buy something nice for himself.

In fact, his announcement make it clear that he was not selling because of Twitter performance reasons, just for personal reasons.

Of course, a cynic would suggest that those personal reasons could be that he does not want to lose more money on a company which could not successfully sell itself.

If he wants to buy anything more than a mars bar and a packet of crisps with his shares then he might have to do it now. Williams is the company’s largest individual shareholder, so his recent announcement may make some investors worried. However, Twitter stock was only down less than one percent Thursday following this news. Recode reports:

Twitter’s stock is down more than 15 percent over the past three months. Williams explained the sale in a blog post, and wrote that he has spent a lot of money investing through his venture fund, Obvious Ventures, and also donated a lot to charity and political campaigns over the past year.

“I’d like to continue,” he added. Williams sold about $4 million in stock this week, according to an SEC filing, and has set up a 10b5-1 trading plan, which means he will sell at pre-determined dates moving forward to avoid any concerns over insider trading.

Uber had software designed to diddle drivers and users

A class-action lawsuit against taxi outfit Uber claims that the taxi outfit is running a “clever and sophisticated” scheme in which it manipulates navigation data used to determine ‘upfront’ rider fare prices while secretly short-changing the driver.

According to court documents, when a rider uses Uber’s app to hail a ride, the fare the app immediately shows to the passenger is based on a slower and longer route compared to the one displayed to the driver.

The software displays a quicker, shorter route for the driver. But the rider pays the higher fee, and the driver’s commission is paid from the cheaper, faster route, according to the lawsuit.

Uber implemented the so-called “upfront” pricing scheme in September and informed drivers that fares are calculated on a per-mile and per-minute charge for the estimated distance and time of a ride.

“However, the software that calculates the upfront price that is displayed and charged to the Users calculates the expected distance and time using a route that is often longer in both distance and time to the one displayed in the driver’s application,” according to the suit.

The rider pays a higher fee because the software calculates a longer route and displays that to the passenger. The driver does not even get any benefit because they are paid a lower rate based on a quicker route.

Uber trousers the difference charged to the User and the fare reported to the driver, in addition to the service fee and booking fee disclosed to drivers.

Samsung has a little trouble in Big China

A Chinese court has ordered Samsung’s  mainland subsidiaries to pay $11.60 million to Huawei Technologies for nicking its ideas.

The patent infringement case is Huawei’s first victory against Samsung. Three units of Samsung were ordered by the Quanzhou Intermediary Court to pay the sum for infringing a patent held by Huawei Device Co Limited, the handset unit of Huawei, the Quanzhou Evening News reported.

The verdict is the first of several Huawei lawsuits against the South Korean technology giant. Huawei filed lawsuits against Samsung in May in courts in China and the United States – the first by it against Samsung – claiming infringements of smartphone patents. Samsung subsequently counter sued Huawei in China for IP infringement.

Huawei sued Samsung China Investment, as well as a unit in Huizhou, a unit in Tianjin and two Chinese electronics companies for making and selling more than 20 kinds of Samsung smartphone and tablet products that it said infringed the patent.

It sought compensation for the more than 30 million products that sold for $12.7 billion, including the Galaxy S7, according to the media report.

The court ordered the five firms to stop infringing Huawei’s copyrights and ordered the three Samsung units to pay the damages.

Android phones vulnerable to booby trapped wi-fi signals

 Android phones are vulnerable to attacks that use booby trapped wi-fi signals to achieve full device takeover, a researcher has demonstrated.

The vulnerability resides in a widely used wi-fi chipset manufactured by Broadcom and used in both iOS and Android devices. Before anyone claims it was poor Android programming, the Fruity Cargo-Cult Apple was also vulnerable to the hack but patched the vulnerability with Monday’s release of iOS 10.3.1.

The Google Project Zero researcher Gal Beniamini who discovered the flaw said that an attacker within range may be able to execute arbitrary code on the wi-fi chip.

In a highly detailed blog post Apple said that the flaw  allowed the execution of malicious code on a fully updated 6P “by wi-fi proximity alone, requiring no user interaction”.

Google is in the process of releasing an update in its April security bulletin. The fix is available only to a select number of device models, and even then it can take two weeks or more to be available as an over the air update to those who are eligible.

Company representatives didn’t respond to an e-mail seeking comment for this post. The proof-of-concept exploit uses wi-fi frames that contain irregular values.

The values, in turn, cause the firmware running on Broadcom’s wireless system-on-a=chip to overflow its stack. By using the frames to target timers responsible for carrying out regularly occurring events such as performing scans for adjacent networks, Beniamini managed to overwrite specific regions of device memory with arbitrary shellcode.

Beniamini’s code does nothing more than write a benign value to a specific memory address. Attackers could obviously exploit the same series of flaws to surreptitiously execute malicious code on vulnerable devices within range of a rogue access point.

Mounties always get their LAN

Canadian coppers have admitted that they is spying on mobile phones throughout Canada because they are worried about illegal monitoring by criminals and foreign spies.

The RCMP held the briefing in the wake of a CBC News investigation that found evidence that devices known as IMSI catchers may be in use near government buildings in Ottawa for the purpose of illegal spying.

After hiding their own use of the technology in secrecy for years, the RCMP spoke out about the devices — also known as Stingrays or Mobile Device Identifiers (MDIs).

The RCMP says that MDIs – of which it owns 10 – have become “vital tools” deployed scores of times to identify and track mobile devices in 19 criminal investigations last year and another 24 in 2015.

RCMP Chief Supt. Jeff Adam said that in all cases but one in 2016, police got warrants. The one exception was an exigent circumstance — in other words, an emergency scenario “such as a kidnapping”.

Adam’s office tracks every instance where an MDI has been used by the RCMP. He says using an MDI requires senior police approval as well as getting a judge’s order.

And he says the technology provides only a first step in an investigation allowing officers to identify a device. He says only then can police apply for additional warrants to obtain a user’s “basic subscriber information” such as name and address connected to the phone.

Then, he says, only if the phone and suspect are targets of the investigation can police seek additional warrants to track the device or conduct a wiretap to capture communications. Adam says the RCMP currently has 24 technicians trained and authorized to deploy the devices across Canada. He knows other police forces own and use them too, but declined to name them.

Bezos flogs Amazon stock to become rocket man

Online bookseller Jeff Bezos said he will flog $1 billion worth of his Amazon stock annually to fund his Blue Origin rocket company, which aims to launch paying passengers on 11 minute space rides starting next year.

Blue Origin had hoped to begin test flights with company pilots and engineers in 2017, but that probably will not happen until next year.

Bezos told hacks  at the annual US Space Symposium in Colorado Springs that the plan is for Blue Origin to become a profitable, self-sustaining enterprise, with a long term goal to cut the cost of space flight so that millions of people can live and work off Earth, Bezos said.

Bezos is Amazon’s largest shareholder, with 80.9 million shares, according to Thomson Reuters data. Bezos would have to sell 1,099,771 shares to meet his pledge of selling $1 billion worth of Amazon stock. Bezos’ total Amazon holdings, representing a 16.95 percent stake in the company, are worth $73.54 billion at Wednesday’s closing price.

Initially Blue Origin will work for  11 minute space rides that are not fast enough to put a spaceship into orbit around Earth.

Blue Origin has not started selling tickets or set prices to ride aboard its six passenger, gumdrop shaped capsule, known as New Shepard.

The reusable rocket and capsule is designed to carry passengers to an altitude of more than 100 miles (62 km) above the planet so they can experience a few minutes of weightlessness and see the curvature of Earth set against the blackness of space. Unmanned test flights have been underway since 2015.

At the symposium, Bezos showed off a mockup of the passenger capsule, which sports six reclined seats, each with its own large window. Also on display was a scorched New Shepard booster rocket that was retired in October after five flights.

Blue Origin is developing a second launch system to carry satellites, and eventually people, into orbit, similar to SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule.

 

Samsung makes record earnings from chips

Never mind the fact that one of your flagship products caught fire and your Vice Chairman is in jail, Samsung is still winning.

Record earnings at Samsung Electronics chip division are set to propel the tech giant’s first-quarter profit to a three and a half year high, and the quarters ahead could be even better if its newest smartphone, Galaxy S8, is a success.

A boom in memory chips spurred by demand from smartphones and servers has helped Samsung tide over the costly failure last year of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphone and management turmoil.

Vice Chairman Jay Y. Lee is on trial for bribery and other charges linked to a corruption scandal that led to the ouster and arrest of South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Shares of Samsung, Asia’s biggest company by market capitalization and the world’s largest memory chip maker, are near record highs after gaining nearly 17 percent so far this year, on top of the 43 percent surge in 2016.

Wall Street has on average estimated Samsung’s January to March operating profit to have risen 41 percent from a year earlier to $8.44 billion.  This is the highest profit since the best ever profit clocked in the third quarter of 2013.

And as Samsung prepares to start selling its revamped Galaxy S8 from April 21, the average forecast from the same survey tips Samsung to report a record 11.9 trillion won profit in the second quarter.

Analysts expect tight supply conditions for memory chips to continue this year, particularly in NAND flash chips used for long-term data storage, keeping Samsung’s margins padded. That leaves the mobile division as the key earnings variable, they said.

Some analysts and Samsung’s head of smartphone business expect the phone’s first year sales to beat that of predecessor S7, setting a new record for the South Korean company.

 

General Motors connects its robots to StarNet

In living proof that not enough people go to sci-fi movies, General Moters connected a quarter of its 30,000 factory robots to the internet.

The largest US  automaker already is reaping the benefits of less down time by analyzing data they sent to external servers in the cloud.

Mark Franks, director of global automation, said connectivity is preventing assembly line interruptions and robot replacements that can take as long as eight hours. Internet monitoring allows GM to order parts when it detects they’re wearing out instead of having to store them at the factory.

He said that reduces inventory and saves cash.

Hooking robots to the internet for preventive maintenance is just the start of a spurt of new robotics technology, Franks said.

GM is using robots that can work safely alongside humans in the factory that produces the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid, he said.

Of course putting stuff on the internet makes it less secure and if an AI collective consciousness develops among internet connected devices, then it could use all these robots to take over the world.

You will know this has happened when a GM robot starts to assemble a robot to look for Sara Conner. But in the meantime, GM will be saving a bob or two before that, so that is ok.

Boffins come up with self-repairing smartphone screens

A team of researchers has come up with a new material that could pave the way for self-repairing smartphones, robots and other electronic devices.

The boffins from the American Chemical Society claim that the material, which can stretch up to 50 times its usual size, is able to heal itself “like nothing has happened” even when cut in two.

The material is flexible, transparent and is similar to human skin. When exposed to electrical signals, a current is generated that creates a chemical bonding reaction between molecules.

The most obvious applications for electronics devices seem to be self-healing displays, although lead researcher Dr Chao Wang is also exploring the possibility of a self-healing lithium-ion battery.

The technology is similar to the hydrogen-infused rear cover found on the LG G Flex, which allows for small scratches to be healed. However this material can “automatically stitch itself back together” within one day of being sliced into pieces. The team will present its research at a Tuesday meeting of the American Chemical Society.

Trump wants visiting Brits to hand over all their data

The US government wants visitors from Britain to hand over all their electronic details at the border.

The UK is not the only country being targeted by the new rules, but it does show how stupid the new law is going to be.

Trump is considering whether or not to deploy “extreme vetting” practices at airports around the world, which could force tourists from Britain and other countries visiting the US  to reveal their mobile phone contacts, social media passwords and financial data.

Travelers who want to enter the US could also face questioning over their ideology. Which means that if you make one joke about the country having an orange president, you could be on the next plane home.

Trump made the “extreme vetting” of foreign nationals to combat terrorism a major theme of his presidential election campaign. But his executive order imposing a travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries has twice been blocked in court.

His antics have already gutted the tourism industry with most people thinking twice before going to the US.

Already tourists from the UK, France, Australia and Japan participate in the visa waiver program, which requires adherence to strict US standards in data sharing, passport control and other factors.

This could require people to hand over their phones so officials can study their stored contacts and possibly other information.

The aim is to “figure out who you are communicating with,” a senior Department of Homeland Security official was quoted as saying.  “What you can get on the average person’s phone can be invaluable.”

Applicants will be asked to hand over their social media handles and passwords, so that officials could see information posted privately in addition to public posts, the Wall Street Journal said. Which basically means all those TechEye stories mocking the US will keep me from going to US tech conferences.

The Journal report said the DHS official working on the review indicated that questions under consideration included whether visa applicants believe in so-called honour killings, how they view the treatment of women in society, whether they value the “sanctity of human life” and who they view as a legitimate target in a military operation.

Which is a bit unfair. If they asked me who I would see as a legitimate target, I would be thinking in terms of strategy and see it as an intellectual question and say “Apple headquarters”.