Youtube

YouTube Claims 1.5 Billion Monthly Users (cnbc.com) 44

An anonymous reader shares a report: Google's YouTube unit says it now reaches 1.5 billion viewers every month -- and its users watch more than an hour of mobile videos per day -- as it expands its video programming to sell more digital ads. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki also wrote that YouTube Red, the company's foray into original videos, has launched 37 series that have generated "nearly a quarter billion views." YouTube Red has 12 new projects in the works, she said.
Businesses

McDonald's Hits All-Time High As Wall Street Cheers Replacement of Cashiers With Kiosks (cnbc.com) 576

McDonald's is expected to increase its sales via new digital ordering kiosks that will replace cashiers in 2,500 restaurants. As a result, the company's shares hit an all-time high, rallying 26 percent this year through Monday. CNBC reports: Andrew Charles from Cowen cited plans for the restaurant chain to roll out mobile ordering across 14,000 U.S. locations by the end of 2017. The technology upgrades, part of what McDonald's calls "Experience of the Future," includes digital ordering kiosks that will be offered in 2,500 restaurants by the end of the year and table delivery. "MCD is cultivating a digital platform through mobile ordering and Experience of the Future (EOTF), an in-store technological overhaul most conspicuous through kiosk ordering and table delivery," Charles wrote in a note to clients Tuesday. "Our analysis suggests efforts should bear fruit in 2018 with a combined 130 bps [basis points] contribution to U.S. comps [comparable sales]." He raised his 2018 U.S. same store sales growth estimate for the fast-food chain to 3 percent from 2 percent.
Businesses

Remember When You Called Someone and Heard a Song? (vice.com) 147

An anonymous reader shares a Motherboard article: If you were youngish in the early 2000s, you probably remember this phenomenon -- calling a friend's cell phone, and instead of hearing the the standard ring, you heard a pop song. Called ringback tones, this digital music fad allowed cell phone owners to subject callers to their own musical preference. Ringback tones were incredibly trendy in the early and mid-2000's, but have since tapered off nearly to oblivion. Though almost nobody is buying ringbacks anymore, plenty of people still have them from back in the day. [...] In the process of writing this story, I heard from several people that they or someone they knew still had a ringback tone, in large part because they have had it for years, and don't know how to get rid of it.
Security

How Hollywood Got Hacked: Studio at Center of Netflix Leak Breaks Silence (variety.com) 79

Earlier this year, hackers obtained and leaked the episodes of TV show Orange Is the New Black. In a candid interview, Larson Studios' chief engineer David Dondorf explained how the audio post-production business allowed the hacker group to gain access to the Netflix original content. Dandorf says the company hired private data security experts to find how it was breached. The investigation found that the hacker group had been searching the internet for PCs running older versions of Windows and stumbled across an old computer at Larson Studios still running Windows 7. From the report: Larson's employees just didn't know all that much about it. Having a computer running an ancient version of Windows on the network was clearly a terrible lack of oversight, as was not properly separating internal servers from the internet. "A lot of what went on was ignorance," admitted Rick Larson. "We are a small company. Did we even know what the content security departments were at our clients? Absolutely not. I couldn't have told you who to call. I can now." It's a fascinating story about how the hacker group first made contact and tried to threaten Larson Studios' president and his wife, and how they responded. Worth a read.
Bitcoin

NYTimes: Move Over, Bitcoin. Ether Is the Digital Currency of the Moment. (nytimes.com) 117

An anonymous reader shares a report: The price of Bitcoin has hit record highs in recent months, more than doubling in price since the start of the year. Despite these gains, Bitcoin is on the verge of losing its position as the dominant virtual currency. The value of Ether, the digital money that lives on an upstart network known as Ethereum, has risen an eye-popping 4,500 percent since the beginning of the year (alternative source). With the recent price increases, the outstanding units of the Ether currency were worth around $34 billion as of Monday -- or 82 percent as much as all the Bitcoin in existence. At the beginning of the year, Ether was only about 5 percent as valuable as Bitcoin. The sudden rise of Ethereum highlights how volatile the bewildering world of virtual currency remains, where lines of computer code can be spun into billions of dollars in a matter of months. [...] The two-year old system has picked up backing from both tech geeks and big corporate names like JPMorgan Chase and Microsoft, which are excited about Ethereum's goal of providing not only a digital currency but also a new type of global computing network, which generally requires Ether to use. In a recent survey of 1,100 virtual currency users, 94 percent were positive about the state of Ethereum, while only 49 percent were positive about Bitcoin, the industry publication CoinDesk said this month.
Encryption

Microsoft, Accenture Team Up On Blockchain-based Digital ID Network (reuters.com) 53

Accenture and Microsoft are teaming up to build a digital ID network using blockchain technology, as part of a United Nations-supported project to provide legal identification to 1.1 billion people worldwide with no official documents. From a report: The companies unveiled a prototype of the network on Monday at the UN headquarters in New York during the second summit of ID2020, a public-private consortium promoting the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goal of providing legal identity for everyone on the planet. The project aims to help individuals such as refugees prove who they are in order to gain access to basic services such as education and healthcare. Blockchain, first developed as a public ledger of all transactions in the digital currency bitcoin, is increasingly being used to securely track data in other fields.
Businesses

How Can Businesses Close 'The Cybersecurity Gap'? (venturebeat.com) 179

Companies can't find enough qualified security personnel, and fixing it requires "a fundamental shift in how businesses recruit, hire, and keep security talent," according to a VentureBeat article by an Intermedia security executive: The trickle of security students emerging from post-secondary schools may not be fully prepared to tackle complicated security issues -- what we need are people who can protect businesses environments from everything from spam and BYOD vulnerabilities to complex threats like APTs and spear phishing. Second, certain companies may not know what to look for in a professional. Third, when skilled professionals are hired, they can often be overworked to the point where they don't have the time to keep up with the latest developments in the field -- and even in their own security tools... The fundamental problem facing the skills gap, however, is that there aren't enough people coming into the field to begin with. Here, companies need to do two things: step-up their advocacy when it comes to promoting cybersecurity careers, and look internally for employees who have the skills and desire to take on a security position but need the training and support to succeed...

Finally, businesses need to recognize that security threats today go well beyond just one department. Every employee should be responsible for knowing what to look for in an attack, how to report a suspected threat, and how they can simply disengage from content and files they deem suspicious. Basic security training needs to become a part of the onboarding process for any employee -- especially for those in the C-Suite, where a greater number of spear-phishing attacks occur.

The article also cites a study which found "about a quarter of all cybersecurity positions are left unfilled for about six months."
The Almighty Buck

Venezuelans Flock To Cryptocoins Amid Spiralling Inflation (bloomberg.com) 126

An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg: Demand for digital coins is soaring in Venezuela amid an escalating political crisis that has protesters demanding that President Nicolas Maduro step down. Inflation has spiraled to the triple digits, debasing the bolivar and depleting savings, while citizens struggle to find everything from food to medicine on store shelves. "If you're going to be in something volatile, you might as well be in something that's volatile and rising than volatile and falling," says Ryan Taylor, chief executive officer of crypto currency Dash Core, the third-largest digital coin by number of transactions... Bitcoin trading volume in Venezuela jumped to $1.3 million this week, about double the amount that changed hands two months ago, according to LocalBitcoins.com...

Venezuela's currency has become nearly worthless in the black market, where it takes more than 6,000 bolivars to buy $1, while bitcoin surged 53 percent in the past month alone. But it's not just about shielding against the falling bolivar, as some Venezuelans are using crypto currencies to buy and sell everyday goods and services, according to Jorge Farias, the CEO of Cryptobuyer.

Security

Firm Responsible For Mirai-Infected Webcams Hires Software Firm To Make Its Products More Secure (securityledger.com) 18

chicksdaddy writes from a report via The Security Ledger: After seeding the globe with hackable DVRs and webcams, Zhejiang Dahua Technology Co., Ltd. of Hangzhou, China will be working with the U.S. firm Synopsys to "enhance the security of its Internet of Things (IoT) devices and solutions." Dahua, based in Hangzhou, China said it will with Mountain View based Synopsys to "enhance the security of its Internet of Things (IoT) devices and solutions." In a joint statement, the companies said Dahua will be adopting secure "software development life cycle (SDLC) and supply chain" practices using Synopsys technologies in an effort to reduce the number of "vulnerabilities that can jeopardize our products," according to a statement attributed to Fu Liquan, Dahua's Chairman, The Security Ledger reports. Dahua's cameras and digital video recorders (DVRs) figured prominently in the Mirai botnet, which launched massive denial of service attacks against websites in Europe and the U.S., including the French web hosting firm OVH, security news site Krebsonsecurity.com and the New Hampshire based managed DNS provider Dyn. Cybercriminals behind the botnet apparently exploited an overflow vulnerability in the web interface for cameras and DVRs to gain access to the underlying Linux operating system and install the Mirai software, according to research by the firm Level3. In March, Dahua was called out for another, serious vulnerability in eleven models of video recorders and IP cameras. Namely: a back door account that gave remote attackers full control of vulnerable devices without the need to authenticate to the device. The flaw was first disclosed on the Full Disclosure mailing list and described as "like a damn Hollywood hack, click on one button and you are in."
AMD

Six Companies Awarded $258 Million From US Government To Build Exascale Supercomputers (digitaltrends.com) 40

The U.S. Department of Energy will be investing $258 million to help six leading technology firms -- AMD, Cray Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Intel, and Nvidia -- research and build exascale supercomputers. Digital Trends reports: The funding will be allocated to them over the course of a three-year period, with each company providing 40 percent of the overall project cost, contributing to an overall investment of $430 million in the project. "Continued U.S. leadership in high performance computing is essential to our security, prosperity, and economic competitiveness as a nation," U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said. "These awards will enable leading U.S. technology firms to marshal their formidable skills, expertise, and resources in the global race for the next stage in supercomputing -- exascale-capable systems." The funding will finance research and development in three key areas; hardware technology, software technology, and application development. There are hopes that one of the companies involved in the initiative will be able to deliver an exascale-capable supercomputer by 2021.
Privacy

Dubai Airport Will Use Biometric Scanning By 2020 To Replace Entry With Passport (gulfnews.com) 45

dryriver quotes a report from Gulf News: For visitors or residents coming in to Dubai, a new face-recognition software in the offing at the Dubai International Airport will enable them to walk straight to the baggage claim area after deplaning without having to stop at passport control. British start-up ObjectTech announced that they will work with the Dubai government to install biometric tunnels that scan people's faces as they walk to baggage reclaim. The "biometric border" walkway takes a 3D scan of people's faces as they enter the airport and checks it against a digital passport using face-recognition software. If this project is completed, passengers arriving at Dubai airport will be able to step off their flight and walk straight to baggage reclaim via biometric verification tunnels -- allowing them to be registered into the country using a pre-approved and entirely digitized passport.
Google

Google Searches Show That America Is Full of Racist and Selfish People (vox.com) 709

gollum123 shares a report by Sean Illing via Vox: "Google is a digital truth serum," Seth Stephens-Davidowitz, author of Everybody Lies , told me in a recent interview. "People tell Google things that they don't tell to possibly anybody else, things they might not tell to family members, friends, anonymous surveys, or doctors." Stephens-Davidowitz was working on a PhD in economics at Harvard when he became obsessed with Google Trends, a tool that tracks how frequently searches are made in a given area over a given time period. As a barometer of our national consciousness, Google is as accurate (and predictive) as it gets. In 2016, when the Republican primaries were just beginning, most pundits and pollsters did not believe Trump could win. After all, he had insulted veterans, women, minorities, and countless other constituencies. But Stephens-Davidowitz saw clues in his Google research that suggested Trump was far more serious than many supposed. Searches containing racist epithets and jokes were spiking across the country during Trump's primary run, and not merely in the South but in upstate New York, Western Pennsylvania, Eastern Ohio, rural Illinois, West Virginia, and industrial Michigan.
Piracy

HBO, Netflix, Other Hollywood Companies Join Forces To Fight Piracy (theverge.com) 195

New submitter stikves writes: It looks like media and technology companies are forming a group to "fight piracy." The Verge reports: "A group of 30 entertainment companies, including power players like Netflix, HBO, and NBCUniversal, have joined forces today in an effort to fight online piracy. The new group is called the Alliance for Creativity and Entertainment (ACE), and the partnership, while somewhat thin on specifics, will allow the content creators involved to pool resources to conduct research and work closely with law enforcement to find and stop pirates from stealing movies and TV shows. The first-of-its-kind alliance is composed of digital media players, networks, and Hollywood outfits, and all recognize how the internet has paved the way to an explosion in quality online content. However, piracy has boomed as a result: ACE says that last year saw 5.4 billion downloads of pirated films and TV shows." I'm not sure how these statistics hold against real revenue loss (or the imaginary one), however this might be a development to watch for.
Android

Google Hires Key Apple Chip Architect To Build Custom Chips For Pixel Phones (variety.com) 52

A recent hire at Google indicates big changes are coming for future versions of the Google's Pixel phone. Manu Gulati, an Apple micro-architect who worked on the company's chip development for nearly eight years, has just joined Google. From a report: Gulati started working at Apple in 2009, and was instrumental to the company's efforts to build custom chips for the iPad, the iPhone and Apple TV. Apple began using its own chips in 2010, starting with the introduction of the iPad in 2010, which was powered by the company's A4 chip. To this day, the company uses custom-designed microchips for each of their devices, which make it possible to optimize processors both for performance and energy consumption. In the industry, these integrated chips for mobile devices are also known as SoCs, or "systems on a chip." In contrast, Google relied on a chip designed and manufactured by Qualcomm when it introduced its first Pixel phones last fall. The same chip is being used by a number of other Android phone manufacturers, including HTC, LG, Lenovo and Asus -- all of which goes to say that these phones all offer very similar performance specs. Qualcomm has become the de facto-manufacturer for higher-end Android phone chips, making it harder for the companies to differentiate their devices from one another.
Security

Linux Malware Infects Raspberry Pi Devices And Makes Them Mine Cryptocurrency (hothardware.com) 84

An anonymous reader quotes Hot Hardware: If you're a Raspberry Pi user who's never changed the default password of the "pi" user, then heed this warning: change it. A brand new piece of malware has hit the web, called "Linux.MulDrop.14", and it preys on those who haven't secured their devices properly... After scanning for RPis with an open (and default) SSH port, the "pi" user is logged into (if the password is left default), and the password is subsequently changed. After that, the malware installs ZMap and sshpass software, and then it configures itself. The ultimate goal of Linux.MulDrop.14 is to make digital money for someone else, namely the author of the malware, using your Raspberry Pi.
The Military

DARPA Funds Development of New Type of Processor (eetimes.com) 84

The Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) is funding a completely new kind of non-von-Neumann processor called a HIVE -- Hierarchical Identify Verify Exploit. According to EE Times, the funding is to the tune of $80 million over four-and-a-half years, and Intel and Qualcomm are participating in the project, along with a national laboratory, a university and defense contractor North Grumman. From the report: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (Richland, Washington) and Georgia Tech are involved in creating software tools for the processor while Northrup Grumman will build a Baltimore center that uncovers and transfers the Defense Departments graph analytic needs for the what is being called the world's first graph analytic processor (GAP). Graph analytic processors do not exist today, but they theoretically differ from CPUs and GPUs in key ways. First of all, they are optimized for processing sparse graph primitives. Because the items they process are sparsely located in global memory, they also involve a new memory architecture that can access randomly placed memory locations at ultra-high speeds (up to terabytes per second). Together, the new arithmetic-processing-unit (APU) optimized for graph analytics plus the new memory architecture chips are specified by DARPA to use 1,000-times less power than using today's supercomputers. The participants, especially Intel and Qualcomm, will also have the rights to commercialize the processor and memory architectures they invent to create a HIVE. The graph analytics processor is needed, according to DARPA, for Big Data problems, which typically involve many-to-many rather than many-to-one or one-to-one relationships for which today's processors are optimized. A military example, according to DARPA, might be the the first digital missives of a cyberattack.
Media

Ask Slashdot: What Is Your View On Sloot Compression? (youtube.com) 418

An anonymous reader writes: A Dutch electronics engineer named Jan Sloot spent 20 years of his life trying to compress broadcast quality video down to kilobytes -- not megabytes or gigabytes (the link in this story contains an 11 minute mini-documentary on Sloot). His CODEC, finalized in the late 1990s, consisted of a massive 370Mb decoder engine that likely contained some kind of clever system for procedurally generating just about any video frame or audio sample desired -- fractals or other generative approaches may have been used by Sloot. The "instruction files" that told this decoder what kind of video frames, video motion and audio samples to generate were supposedly only kilobytes in size -- kind of like small MIDI files being able to generate hugely complex orchestral scores when they instruct a DAW software what to play. Jan Sloot died of a heart attack two days before he was due to sign a technology licensing deal with a major electronics company. The Sloot Video Compression system source code went missing after his death and was never recovered, prompting some to speculate that Jan Sloot was killed because his ultra-efficient video compression and transmission scheme threatened everyone profiting from storing, distributing and transmitting large amounts of digital video data. I found out about Sloot Compression only after watching some internet videos on "invention suppression." So the question is: is it technically possible that Sloot Compression, with its huge decoder file and tiny instruction files, actually worked? According to Reddit user PinGUY, the Sloot Digital Coding System may have been the inspiration for Pied Piper, a fictional data compression algorithm from HBO's Silicon Valley. Here's some more information about the Sloot Digital Coding System for those who are interested.
Bitcoin

What the Hell Is Happening To Cryptocurrency Valuations? (techcrunch.com) 258

The investment category of cryptocurrencies hit a new milestone this week, one that would have been unfathomable just a couple of years ago: $100 billion in combined market capitalization. The break above the 12-digit threshold is largely attributable to bitcoin, which is by far the largest digital currency in the still-nascent category, and which has been on a tear lately. From a TechCrunch article: There is one rational explanation that, if true, would totally justify this rapid increase in price across some of the major cryptocurrencies. And that is, maybe these currencies are actually worth these high prices, and maybe even worth many times more than that at which they are currently trading. But the problem is we have no way to figure out their value. Cryptocurrencies aren't public companies with earnings and expenses and EPS. For example, we can look at Apple's financials and determine its book value -- what the company's assets would be worth if hypothetically liquidated today. Of course, stocks trade at a premium to this, because people are enthusiastic that Apple will continue to perform well and this book value will continue to rise. But we can't do this with cryptocurrencies. We could guess -- and compare it to things like the total money or gold supply in the U.S. For example, if you're someone who thinks of cryptocurrencies as a store of value, the total estimated value of all gold in the world is more than $8 trillion dollars... meaning if bitcoin would ever replace or supplant gold, its current value is pennies on the dollar.
Google

Wall Street Journal's Google Traffic Drops 44% After Pulling Out of First Click Free (bloomberg.com) 257

In February, the Wall Street Journal blocked Google users from reading free articles, resulting in a fourfold increase in the rate of visitors converting into paying customers. The tradeoff, as reported by Bloomberg, is a decrease in traffic from Google. Since the WSJ ended its support for Google's "first click free" policy, traffic from Google plummeted 44 percent. From the report: Google search results are based on an algorithm that scans the internet for free content. After the Journal's free articles went behind a paywall, Google's bot only saw the first few paragraphs and started ranking them lower, limiting the Journal's viewership. Executives at the Journal, owned by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp., argue that Google's policy is unfairly punishing them for trying to attract more digital subscribers. They want Google to treat their articles equally in search rankings, despite being behind a paywall. The Journal's experience could have implications across the news industry, where publishers are relying more on convincing readers to pay for their articles because tech giants like Google and Facebook are vacuuming up the lion's share of online advertising. Google says its "first click free" policy is good for both consumers and publishers. People want to get the news quickly and don't want to immediately encounter a paywall. Plus, if publishers let Google users sample articles for free, there's a better chance they'll end up subscribing, Google says. The tech giant likens its policy to stores allowing people to flip through newspapers and magazines before choosing which one to buy.
Republicans

Trump Wants To Modernize Air Travel By Turning Over Control To the Big Airlines (theverge.com) 341

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Today, President Donald Trump endorsed a plan to hand over oversight of the nation's airspace to a non-profit corporation that will likely be largely controlled by the major airlines. Republicans argue that privatizing air traffic control will help save money and fast track important technological upgrades. But Democrats and consumer groups criticize that plan as a corporate giveaway that will inevitably harm passengers. The air traffic reform proposal, which fell short in Congress last year, would transfer oversight from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a government-sanctioned, independent entity that would be made up of appointees from industry stakeholders. The effort picked up steam when the union representing air traffic controllers endorsed the plan, citing years of understaffing by the FAA. Some passengers may balk at the idea of handing over day-to-day management of the nation's highly complex air traffic control system to the same companies that rack up tens of thousands of customer complaints a year, and occasionally physically assault or drag passengers off their planes. But the Trump administration argues this is the only way to modernize a system that still runs on technology that's been around since World War II. The FAA is already years into a technology upgrade known as NextGen, which involves moving from the current system based on radar and voice communications to one based on satellite navigation and digital communications. The FAA wants to use GPS technology to shorten routes, save time and fuel, and reduce traffic delays by increasing capacity.

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