Businesses

The Inside Story of the Lily Drone's Collapse (wired.com) 24

New submitter mirandakatz writes: Lily Robotics had everything: Two charismatic young founders; millions in funding; and a product that promised to change the world -- or, at the very least, transform photography. But over 60,000 customers are still waiting for their Lily Drones, and the company is now being sued by the San Francisco District Attorney's office for false advertising. As it turns out, Lily Robotics never actually had the right tools to create the product it was selling -- and it all came crashing down. At Backchannel, Jessica Pishko has the untold story of how such a promising company went so wrong.

From the report: "The magic of the Lily Drone was in its concept: It was a product you could unpack and throw -- so easy, Antoine Balaresque, the cofounder and CEO of Lily Robotics, wrote in emails, that even an old person could do it. But translating that idea into a tangible product proved difficult, and the storytelling that made the Lily Drone so tantalizing to consumers ultimately factored into its downfall. In one of his presentations, Balaresque presented a PowerPoint slide with the sentence, 'Humans have a fundamental need to put themselves in the center of stories.' It appeared to be a quote he made up, but the idea that human nature needs stories is fundamental. Stories are how we make sense of our lives. But while a good story can get you funding and acclaim, ultimately it isn't enough."

Bitcoin

SEC Rules That ICO Tokens Are Securities (vice.com) 46

schwit1 shares a report from Business Insider: On Tuesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that "ICOs" (Initial Coin Offerings) can sometimes be considered securities -- and as such are subject to strict laws and regulations. For the uninitiated, ICOs are a fancy new way of fundraising enabled by digital currencies like Ethereum -- participants invest money and receive digital "tokens" in return. Thus far, it has been largely unregulated, with some ICO crowdfunding events raising hundreds of millions of dollars -- leading some observers to argue that it is a massive bubble. But the SEC's warning means that this free-for-all may not last forever.

"Going forward, according to the SEC, companies that are issuing tokens as part of an ICO (if they are considered securities) need to register with the commission," reports Motherboard. "This will force companies to comply with regulations that ask them to reveal their financial position and the identities of their management. The SEC also concluded that online exchanges where tokens are bought and traded may have to register as security exchanges."

schwit1 adds a quote from Benito Mussolini: "All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state."

Businesses

The Quitting Economy (aeon.co) 155

From an essay on Aeon magazing: [...] The CEO of Me, Inc is a job-quitter for a good reason -- the business world has come to realize that market value is the best measure of value. As a consequence, a career means a string of jobs at different companies. So workers respond in kind, thinking about how to shape their career in a world where you can expect so little from employers. In a society where market rules rule, the only way for an employee to know her value is to look for another job and, if she finds one, usually to quit. If you are a white-collar worker, it is simply rational to view yourself first and foremost as a job quitter -- someone who takes a job for a certain amount of time when the best outcome is that you quit for another job (and the worst is that you get laid off). So how does work change when everyone is trying to become a quitter? First of all, in the society of perpetual job searches, different criteria make a job good or not. Good jobs used to be ones with a good salary, benefits, location, hours, boss, co-workers, and a clear path towards promotion. Now, a good job is one that prepares you for your next job, almost always with another company. Your job might be a space to learn skills that you can use in the future. Or, it might be a job with a company that has a good-enough reputation that other companies are keen to hire away its employees. On the other hand, it isn't as good a job if everything you learn there is too specific to that company, if you aren't learning easily transferrable skills. It isn't a good job if it enmeshes you in local regulatory schemes and keeps you tied to a particular location. And it isn't a good job if you have to work such long hours that you never have time to look for the next job. In short, a job becomes a good job if it will lead to another job, likely with another company or organisation. You start choosing a job for how good it will be for you to quit it.
Businesses

Tech Leaders Speak Out Against Trump Ban on Transgender Troops (axios.com) 390

Technology executives, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai took to social media to voice their displeasure over President Donald Trump's latest stance on transgendered people in the military.

"I am grateful to the transgender members of the military for their service," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "We are indebted to all who serve. Discrimination against anyone holds everyone back."
Brad Smith, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer said, "We honor and respect all who serve, including the transgender members of our military."
Salesforce said it "believes in equality for all. We support and thank all U.S. service members, including transgender Americans."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, "Everyone should be able to serve their country -- no matter who they are."
Veteran entrepreneur Max Levchin urged support for transgender people across party lines. "Trans kids, soldiers etc need our support today and to know they are valued & respected regardless of politics. Let us not be divided."
Uber told news outlet Axios, "We owe the deepest debt of gratitude to all those who volunteer to serve in the US Armed Forces and defend our values. These patriotic Americans deserve to be honored and respected, not turned away because of who they are."
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said, "Discrimination in any form is wrong for all of us."
Security

Some Low-Cost Android Phones Come at a Price -- Your Privacy (cnet.com) 76

Cheap phones are coming at the price of your privacy, security analysts discovered. From a report: At $60, the BLU R1 HD is the top-selling phone on Amazon. Last November, researchers caught it secretly sending private data to China. Shanghai Adups Technology, the group behind the spying software on the BLU R1 HD, called it a mistake. But analysts at Kryptowire found the software provider is still making the same "mistake" on other phones. At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, researchers from Kryptowire, a security firm, revealed that Adups' software is still sending a device's data to the company's server in Shanghai without alerting people. But now, it's being more secretive about it. "They replaced them with nicer versions," Ryan Johnson, a research engineer and co-founder at Kryptowire, said. "I have captured the network traffic of them using the Command and Control channel when they did it." An Adups spokeswoman said that it had resolved the issues in 2016 and that the issues "are not existing anymore." Kryptowire said it has observed the company sending data without telling users on at least three different phones.
Transportation

New Diesel and Petrol Vehicles To Be Banned From 2040 In UK (bbc.com) 350

New submitter puenktli writes: The UK is joining the list of the countries which are making a commitment towards diesel and petrol free vehicles. Other countries might be more progressive with such a ban (e.g. the Netherlands: by 2025), but at least it's a step in the right direction. However, if new bans are put forward at such a high rate as now, in 2040, the UK might be the only western country where petrol-fuelled cars are still on the road. Tesla at least will be happy about this ban, especially now with their Model 3. But these bans will inspire other car makers as well to invest more in EV. Maybe not such a bad idea after all: oil will run out one day, but the sun will always shine.
Businesses

Kaspersky Launches Its Free Antivirus Software Worldwide (engadget.com) 132

Kaspersky has finally launched its free antivirus software after a year-and-a-half of testing it in select regions. From a report: While the software was only available in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, China and in Nordic countries during its trial run, Kaspersky is releasing it worldwide. The free antivirus doesn't have VPN, Parental Controls and Online Payment Protection its paid counterpart offers, but it has all the essential features you need to protect your PC. It can scan files and emails, protect your PC while you use the web and quarantine malware that infects your system. The company says the software isn't riddled with advertisements like other free antivirus offerings. Instead of trying to make ad money off your patronage, Kaspersky will use the data you contribute to improve machine learning across its products. The free antivirus will be available in the US, Canada and most Asia-Pacific countries over the next couple of days, if it isn't yet. After this initial release, the company will roll it out in other regions from September to November.
Businesses

Having a Woman On Your Team Ruins Your Chances For VC Funding (theoutline.com) 259

Laura June, writing for The Outline: It's a well-known, well-documented fact that women entrepreneurs face an uphill battle in the fight to get funding for their businesses. But a new study suggests that it can actually be almost impossible. According to the study, published Tuesday in the journal Venture Capital, having even one woman on a company's team makes them far less likely to get funding than an entirely male one. In fact, an all male team is about four times more likely to get funding than teams with any women on them. The study was done by researchers at Babson College and Wellesley, and looked at data on 6,793 companies funded between 2011 and 2013. This is the first large-scale study in a decade to focus on women's efforts to get funding, and it's not encouraging. The authors write, "We did not determine any significant performance differences between companies with women CEOs from companies with men CEOs, so it is quite surprising that women are still, practically speaking, shut out of the market for venture capital funding, both as CEOs and participants of executive teams."
Education

US Defense Budget May Help Fund 'Hacking For Defense' Classes At Universities (ieee.org) 34

According to an instructor at Stanford, eight universities in addition to Stanford will offer a Hacking for Defense class this year: Boise State, Columbia, Georgetown, James Madison, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Southern California, and the University of Southern Mississippi. IEEE Spectrum reports: The class has spun out Hacking for Diplomacy, Hacking for Energy, and other targeted classes that use the same methodology. The snowballing effort is now poised to get a big push. This month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment originated by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) to support development of curriculum, best practices, and recruitment materials for the program to the tune of $15 million (a drop in the $700 billion defense budget but a big deal for a university program). In arguing for the amendment, Lipinski said, "Rapid, low-cost technological innovation is what makes Silicon Valley revolutionary, but the DOD hasn't historically had the mechanisms in place to harness this American advantage. Hacking for Defense creates ways for talented scientists and engineers to work alongside veterans, military leaders, and business mentors to innovate solutions that make America safer."
AT&T

AT&T Loses Record Number of Traditional TV Subscribers In Q2, Drops 156,000 DirecTV Satellite Customers (variety.com) 77

According to Variety, AT&T's pay-TV business has lost a record 351,000 traditional video customers in the second quarter, with the internet-delivered DirecTV Now service failing to fully offset the losses. From the report: In Q2, historically a seasonally weak period for the pay-TV business, DirecTV's U.S. satellite division lost 156,000 customers sequentially, dropping to 20.86 million, compared with a gain of 342,000 in the year-earlier quarter. AT&T's U-verse lost 195,000 subs in the quarter, which was actually an improvement over the 391,000 it lost in Q2 of 2016. AT&T touted that it gained 152,000 DirecTV Now customers in Q2, after adding just 72,000 in the first quarter of 2017. Overall, it had signed up 491,000 DirecTV Now subs as of the end of June, after the OTT service launched seven months ago.
Businesses

Cloudflare Wants to Eliminate 'Moot' Pirate Site Blocking Threat (torrentfreak.com) 23

Cloudflare is not happy with the RIAA's efforts to hold the company liable for pirate websites on its network. From a report: Representing various major record labels, the RIAA filed a lawsuit against MP3Skull in 2015. Last year a Florida federal court sided with the RIAA, awarding the labels more than $22 million in damages. In addition, it issued a permanent injunction which allowed the RIAA to take over the site's domain names. Despite the multi-million dollar verdict, MP3Skull continued to operate using a variety of new domain names, which were subsequently targeted by the RIAA's legal team. As the site refused to shut down, the RIAA eventually moved up the chain targeting CDN provider Cloudflare with the permanent injunction. The RIAA argued that Cloudflare was operating "in active concert or participation" with the pirates. Cloudflare objected and argued that the DMCA shielded the company from the broad blocking requirements. However, the court ruled that the DMCA doesn't apply in this case, opening the door to widespread anti-piracy filtering. The court stressed that, before issuing an injunction against Cloudflare, it still had to be determined whether the CDN provider is "in active concert or participation" with the pirate site. [...] Cloudflare now wants the dangerous anti-piracy filtering order to be thrown out. The company submitted a motion to vacate the order late last week, arguing that the issue is moot. In fact, it has been for a while for some of the contended domain names. The CDN provider says it researched the domain names listed in the injunction and found that only three of the twenty domains used Cloudflare's services at the time the RIAA asked the court to clarify its order. Some had never used CloudFlare's services at all, they say.
Transportation

India's Transport Minister Vows To Ban Self-Driving Cars To Save Jobs (arstechnica.com) 140

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Companies in the United States, Germany, Japan, and other countries are racing to develop self-driving cars. But India's top transportation regulator says that those cars won't be welcome on Indian streets any time soon. "We won't allow driverless cars in India," said Nitin Gadkari, India's minister for Road Transport, Highways, and Shipping, according to the Hindustan Times. "I am very clear on this. We won't allow any technology that takes away jobs." Gadkari is taking a very different approach from politicians in the United States, where both the Obama and Trump administrations have been keen to promote the development of self-driving vehicles. "We are bullish on automated vehicles," said Obama Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx last year. His successor, Elaine Chao, has also signaled support for self-driving technology, while also expressing concerns about safety risks and potential job losses.
Businesses

Trump Says Apple's Tim Cook Has Promised Him He'd Build Three US Factories: 'Big, Big, Big' (cnbc.com) 185

President Donald Trump said Tuesday that Apple CEO Tim Cook has committed to build three big manufacturing plants in the U.S., a surprising statement that would help fulfill his administration's economic goal of reviving American manufacturing. From a report: Apple CEO Tim Cook called Trump to share that the iPhone-maker would do more manufacturing domestically, Trump told WSJ. "I spoke to [Mr. Cook], he's promised me three big plants -- big, big, big," Trump was quoted as saying. Apple has already said that it would start a $1 billion fund to promote advanced manufacturing jobs in the United States. With its wide network of developers, Apple has already created two million jobs in the United States, according to Cook.
Businesses

Tech Jobs Are Surging in Seattle, Declining in Silicon Valley (axios.com) 155

The number of posted tech jobs rose by 10.7 percent in the first half of the year from 2016 in the Seattle area, as eight tech hubs continue to dominate the U.S. technology industry, according to a new study by Indeed. From a report: But while Silicon Valley retains its spot as the premier technological center in the U.S., tech listings plunged by 5.9 percent in the western and southern valley around San Jose in the first half of the year, and an even higher 7.8 percent in San Francisco and along the eastern Bay Area, Indeed said. Raleigh, NC, saw the largest plummet, with tech listings dropping by 14.6 percent.
Businesses

Roomba's Next Big Step Is Selling Maps of Your Home to the Highest Bidder (gizmodo.com) 121

The maker of the Roomba robotic vacuum, iRobot -- which we have talked about several times in the past -- has found itself embroiled in a privacy row after its chief executive suggested it may begin selling floor plans of customers' homes, derived from the movement data of their autonomous servants. From a report: While it may seem like the information that a Roomba could gather is minimal, there's a lot to be gleaned from the maps it's constantly updating. It knows the floor plan of your home, the basic shape of everything on your floor, what areas require the most maintenance, and how often you require cleaning cycles, along with many other data points. [...] If a company like Amazon, for example, wanted to improve its Echo smart speaker, the Roomba's mapping info could certainly help out. Spatial mapping could improve audio performance by taking advantage of the room's acoustics. Do you have a large room that's practically empty? Targeted furniture ads might be quite effective. The laser and camera sensors would paint a nice portrait for lighting needs that would factor into smart lights that adjust in real time. Smart AC units could better control airflow. And additional sensors added in the future would gather even more data from this live-in double agent.
Intel

Intel Exits the Maker Movement (hackaday.com) 83

Reader szczys writes: Intel just killed off its last "maker movement" hardware offering without fanfare by quietly releasing a Product Change Notification PDF. The Arduino 101 is halting production on September 17th. This microcontroller board is built around the Intel Curie module around which Intel bankrolled a television series called America's Greatest Makers. News on the end of life for the Arduino 101 board follows the recent cancellations of their Joule, Galileo, and Edison boards. This is the entirety of Intel's maker offerings and seems to signal their exit from entry-level embedded hardware.
Businesses

Amazon Jacked Up Prime Day Prices, Misleading Consumers, Says Vendor (foxbusiness.com) 224

An anonymous reader shares a report: A Charlotte-based startup says e-commerce king Amazon jacked up their suggested retail price during the company's annual discount event -- Prime Day -- to deceive consumers into thinking that they were getting a deal, when in reality, they weren't. Jason Jacobs, founder of Remodeez, a small company that specializes in non-toxic foot deodorizers and other odor stoppers, says he had an agreement with Amazon since 2015 on a suggested retail price of $9.99 for his products and was shocked after the tech giant almost doubled that on Prime Day to make it look like people were getting a discount, when they were actually paying full price. "They showed the product at $15.42 and then exed it out to put '$9.99 for Amazon Prime Day.' And on the final day, the price was like $18.44. So, we put a support ticket in right away and I rallied some friends through social media to go to their complaint board and complain," Jacobs tells FOX Business.
Transportation

German Automakers Formed a Secret Cartel In the '90s To Collude On Diesel Emissions, Says Report (theverge.com) 184

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Last week, Der Spiegel published an explosive report alleging that the major German automakers formed a secret cartel in the 1990s to collude on diesel emissions. These companies, including Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, Porsche, and Daimler, met in secret working groups to discuss "the technology, costs, suppliers, and even the exhaust gas purification of its diesel vehicles," the German weekly reported. The meetings were disclosed to German competition officials in letters from VW and Daimler and viewed by Der Spiegel. The secret meetings "laid the basis" for the 2015 diesel emission cheating scandal, in which VW was caught installing secret software in more than half a million vehicles sold in the US that it used to fool exhaust emissions tests. The admission of cheating ultimately cost the automaker tens of billions of dollars in fines and legal fees, making it one of the most expensive corporate scandals in history.

Years earlier, VW participated in dozens of secret meetings with its competitors, involving over 200 employees in up to 60 working groups, on how to meet increasingly tough emissions criteria in diesel vehicles. The automakers may have colluded to fix prices of a diesel emission treatment called AdBlue through these working groups, Der Spiegel says. Specifically, VW (which owns Porsche and Audi), Daimler (which owns Mercedes-Benz and Smart), and BMW allegedly agreed to use AdBlue tanks that were too small. AdBlue is a liquid solution used to counteract a vehicle's emissions.

Earth

World's First Floating Wind Farm Emerges Off Coast of Scotland (bbc.co.uk) 247

AmiMoJo writes: The world's first full-scale floating wind farm has started to take shape off the north-east coast of Scotland. The revolutionary technology will allow wind power to be harvested in waters too deep for the current conventional bottom-standing turbines. The manufacturer hopes to cash in on a boom in the technology, especially in Japan and the west coast of the U.S., where waters are deep. The tower, including the blades, stretches to 175m and weighs 11,500 tons. The price of energy from bottom-standing offshore wind farms has plummeted 32% since 2012, and is now four years ahead of the government's expected target. Another big price drop is expected, taking offshore wind to a much lower price than new nuclear power.
Democrats

Democrats Propose New Competition Laws That Would 'Break Up Big Companies If They're Hurting Consumers' (arstechnica.com) 326

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Senate and House Democratic leaders today proposed new antitrust laws that could prevent many of the biggest mergers and break up monopolies in broadband and other industries. "Right now our antitrust laws are designed to allow huge corporations to merge, padding the pockets of investors but sending costs skyrocketing for everything from cable bills and airline tickets to food and health care," US Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) wrote in a New York Times opinion piece. "We are going to fight to allow regulators to break up big companies if they're hurting consumers and to make it harder for companies to merge if it reduces competition." The "Better Deal" unveiled by Schumer and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was described in several documents that can be found in an Axios story. The plan for "cracking down on corporate monopolies" lists five industries that Democrats say are in particular need of change, specifically airlines, cable and telecom, the beer industry, food, and eyeglasses. The Democrats' plan for lowering the cost of prescription drugs is detailed in a separate document. The Democrats didn't single out any internet providers that they want broken up, but they did say they want to stop AT&T's proposed $85.4 billion purchase of Time Warner: "Consolidation in the telecommunications is not just between cable or phone providers; increasingly, large firms are trying to buy up content providers. Currently, AT&T is trying to buy Time Warner. If AT&T succeeds in this deal, it will have more power to restrict the content access of its 135 million wireless and 25.5 million pay-TV subscribers. This will only enable the resulting behemoths to promote their own programming, unfairly discriminate against other distributors and their ability to offer highly desired content, and further restrict small businesses from successfully competing in the market."

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