Technology

Technology

Reports of Fitbit Buying Pebble

TechCrunch is reporting that Fitbit will be purchasing Pebble for around $34-40 million.

The site reports that the acquisition is a “small amount” but there’s no word on exactly how much, or indeed how little. Further, The Information said that the deal will see Pebble and its products closed down over time, with Fitbit acquiring its assets, which include intellectual property and software.

Spark Comes to the Mac

Spark, an email client I’ve often recommended on iOS, has come to the Mac today. MacStories has a good review of the app:

It’s good to see Spark come to the Mac and I’m sure fans of the iOS app will be pleased that Readdle brought many features of the iOS version to macOS. Despite some rough edges and quirks in version 1.0, Spark’s clean design, email management tools, and ability sync with the iOS version using iCloud make it a solid choice, especially for users of Spark for iOS.

I haven’t given it a spin yet, but the screenshots look good.

Wi-Fi Mesh Systems Compared

Wi-Fi mesh systems are the future of home networking. Mac Observer has a really good run down on what they are and which one is best for your home:

Mesh routing completes that puzzle because the access points act as one. They are all aware of each other and can work with client devices to decide which access point is best for that client at that time, not just which one is closest or has the strongest signal. If one device starts streaming a ton of Netflix, for example, the mesh can identify this and either tell that client to move or start moving other clients to free up that radio for the video stream.

This kind of setup is simply not possible to build yourself with off-the-shelf routers.

My place isn’t big enough to need something like this, but damn, it’s still cool.

What.cd Shut Down

One of the more infamous private music sharing sites, What.cd, has been shut down:

What.cd, an invite-only music torrent website first launched in 2007, has been shut down after a raid by French authorities. The private tracker offered free (and often illegal) access to a massive, deeply thorough collection of music and was popular among audiophiles for its strict rules around quality and file formats. The site was created after the shutdown of another well-known torrent website, Oink, which operated between 2004 and 2007.

Google and Facebook to Ban Fake News Sites From Ad Networks

Facebook and Google have decided to ban fake news sites from using their advertising networks. Again, this seems like something that would have been useful a few months ago, but it’s a good step in the right direction.

Google kicked off the action on Monday afternoon when the Silicon Valley search giant said it would ban websites that peddle fake news from using its online advertising service. Hours later, Facebook, the social network, updated the language in its Facebook Audience Network policy, which already says it will not display ads in sites that show misleading or illegal content, to include fake news sites.

Twitter Is Shutting Down Vine

Sara Perez, writing at TechCrunch, on Twitter shutting down Vine:

With Twitter’s future still in question following failed attempts at finding an acquirer and the recently announced layoffs of nine percent of its workforce, the company today announced it’s shutting down its standalone short-form video app, Vine. According a post, nothing is changing immediately — the website and apps will remain online for the time being, and users will be given a chance to download their Vine videos ahead of its official closure.

The founder of the company, on Twitter, had pretty good advice: “Don’t sell your company.” I hope BatDad Blake keeps posting videos somewhere — that was my favorite Vine account.

IBM Is Counting on Its Bet on Watson

New York Times:

At the University of North Carolina School of Medicine, Watson was tested on 1,000 cancer diagnoses made by human experts. In 99 percent of them, Watson recommended the same treatment as the oncologists.

In 30 percent of the cases, Watson also found a treatment option the human doctors missed. Some treatments were based on research papers that the doctors had not read — more than 160,000 cancer research papers are published a year. Other treatment options might have surfaced in a new clinical trial the oncologists had not yet seen announced on the web.

I had a “holy shit” moment reading this.

Many Websites Go Down After DDoS Attack

Quite a few websites and services (Twitter, SoundCloud, Spotify, etc.) are down today after a distributed denial of service (DDoS) attack on the DNS provider Dyn occurred this morning. Gizmodo has the full list of sites and more information:

Domain Name Servers (DNS) act as the internet’s phone book. Basically, they facilitate your request to go to a certain webpage and make sure you are taken to the right place. If the DNS provider that handles requests for Twitter is down, well, good luck getting to Twitter. Some websites are coming back for some users, but it doesn’t look like the problem is fully resolved.

Yahoo Secretly Scanned Customer Emails for U.S. Intelligence

Joseph Menn, writing at Reuters:

Yahoo Inc last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by U.S. intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company complied with a classified U.S. government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, said two former employees and a third person apprised of the events.

Disney Looking at Potential Twitter Bid

Bloomberg is reporting that the Walt Disney Co. is looking at making a bid for Twitter:

The Walt Disney Co. is working with a financial adviser to evaluate a possible bid for Twitter Inc., according to people familiar with the matter. After receiving interest in discussing a deal, Twitter has started a process to evaluate a potential sale. Salesforce.com Inc. is also considering a bid, working with Bank of America on the process, according to other people, who declined to be named because the matter is private.

So Disney could own the happiest place on earth, and one of the biggest collections of hatred the world has ever seen.

Yahoo Confirms 500 Million User Accounts Breached

Yahoo has confirmed a breach of over 500 million user accounts:

Based on the ongoing investigation, Yahoo believes that information associated with at least 500 million user accounts was stolen and the investigation has found no evidence that the state-sponsored actor is currently in Yahoo’s network. Yahoo is working closely with law enforcement on this matter.

Spotify and Tinder Team Up to Add Music to Profiles

Jordan Crook, at TechCrunch, on the team up between Tinder and Spotify:

Just as Tinder allowed folks to connect their Instagram accounts to their Tinder profile, the same is now true for Spotify. Users will be able to check out each others’ most-played songs on Spotify.

But even if you don’t have Spotify, Tinder will still let you use Spotify to add your ‘Tinder Anthem’ to your profile. Think back to the MySpace days of auto-playing songs on profiles and you’ll have a pretty good idea of what this will feel like.

See Cute Is What We Aim For, swipe left.

Samsung Recalls Galaxy Note 7

Ina Fried, writing for Recode, on Samsung’s recall of the Galaxy Note 7:

Samsung said Friday that it will replace all of the Galaxy Note 7 “phablets” it has sold amid reports that some batteries on the phones have exploded.

In what could be the biggest smartphone recall ever, Samsung said it will replace all devices in the coming weeks. The company said it has confirmed an issue with the battery cells used in the phone and has halted sales globally.

Ouch.

43 Million Passwords Hacked in Last.fm Breach

John Mannes, writing at TechCrunch:

The number of passwords and the severity of the hack were not uncovered until today. The passwords were stored using unsalted MD5 hashing. Rather than storing passwords in plaintext, nearly every site that stores critical user information utilizes some form of hashing. Hashing is a method for encrypting data, but some methods are far superior to others.

These are some really bad password practices and if you have an account at Last.fm, you should go change your password. Also, LeakedSource is a good resource to see if your information has shown up in any of these information database dumps over the past few years. You can search by your email address.

Instagram Adds “Stories”

Josh Constine, writing at TechCrunch:

People only post the highlights of their life on Instagram, so today the app adds its own version of “Stories” to poach goofy, off-the-cuff, everyday content from Snapchat. It works exactly like Snapchat Stories, allowing you to post 24-hour ephemeral photo and video slideshows that disappear. But because Instagram Stories appear at the top of the old feed, your followers will inevitably see them without you needing to build a new audience in a different app.

I mean, yeah, it is a clone of Snapchat’s feature, but it is also exactly why I post rarely to Instagram and post stupid things all the time on Snapchat.

Verizon Buys Yahoo for $4.8 Billion

Vindu Goel, reporting for The New York Times:

Verizon, seeking to build an array of digital businesses that can compete for users and advertising with Google and Facebook, announced on Monday that it was buying Yahoo’s core internet business for $4.83 billion in cash.

The deal, which was reached over the weekend, unites two titans of the early internet, AOL and Yahoo, under the umbrella of one of the nation’s largest telecommunications companies. Verizon bought AOL for $4.4 billion last year. Now it will add Yahoo’s consumer services — search, news, finance, sports, video, email and the Tumblr social network — to a portfolio that includes AOL as well as popular sites like The Huffington Post.

Yahoo and AOL, once giants of the industry, now just another part of Verizon. I wonder what Tumblr’s fate will be?

Hacker Involved in ‘Celebgate’ Pleads Guilty

James Vincent, writing for The Verge:

A hacker has pleaded guilty for his role in the “Celebgate” breach of 2014. Edward Majerczyk faces up to five years in federal prison for violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act. Like fellow hacker Ryan Collins, the 28-year-old Majerczyk used a phishing scam to trick celebrities into entering their online credentials into fake ‘security’ sites. Majerczyk then used this information to illegally access more than 300 personal Gmail and iCloud accounts, retrieving private photos and videos from targets including celebrities. No individuals affected by the hack were named in court documents.