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ReportTT: Skype's Project Chess investigated legal and technical issues with making Skype calls readily available to government

More and more continues to surface regarding the NSA and its spying programs. Now the New York Times has reported that Skype worked on a secret project roughly five years ago and involved fewer than a dozen Skype employees. Project Chess, as it's called, was started to investigate the legal and technical issues with making Skype calls readily available to the government.

 

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Many believed that changes instituted by Microsoft were to make it easier to snoop on calls. Thanks to the leaked Prism documents, it's known that Skype had joined back on February 6, 2011. According to the report, Microsoft officials will no longer affirm that Skype calls cannot be wiretapped.

 

There's still a lot we don't know about NSA spying and Prism, though it's starting to become abundantly clear that all digital communications could be tapped by government agencies fairly easily.

Google takes a sip of Starbucks, offers Starbucks' free Wi-Fi users trial offer for Google Play Music All Access

Sitting at Starbucks sipping on a coffee while enjoying their free Wi-Fi? You'll now be shown a free trial offer which will give you access to Google Play Music All Access. The deal started this week, which saw the two companies partnering up to connect Starbucks' free Wi-Fi offer promotional deals to content on Google Play.

 

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Starbucks will now be displaying an advertisement for Google Play Music All Access, where they will be promoting features of Google's music service and offering a click-through for a free trial. Clicking through will offer up a full browser page where you'll see the full features of the service, offering a 30-day free trial. It also offers the same $7.99 discounted price when signing up before June 30, but doesn't offer this deal beyond Starbucks customers.

MakerBot acquired by Stratasys

MakerBot, one of the hobbyist 3D printer manufacturers, has been acquired by Stratasys, a major global player in the professional 3D printing market. Stratasys makes 3-D printers capable of printing objects as solid as plastic injection molded objects with incredible resolution.

 

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MakerBot, meanwhile, produces lower cost options for those who want 3D printing at home. MakerBot isn't going away and will likely benefit from this merger. According to the company's blog post, "MakerBot's mission remains the same and will continue to operate as a separate subsidiary within Stratasys, once the transaction is complete."

 

We're excited to see what will come of this merger. Hopefully we will see cheaper, better 3D printers that are easier to use.

ReportTT: Microsoft almost acquired Nokia, talks have now broken down

According to a Wall Street Journal report, Microsoft and Nokia were close to striking a deal that would see Microsoft acquiring Nokia's device business. According to sources familiar with the matter, talks were taking place as recently as this month, though they are unlikely to be revived after Microsoft walked away.

 

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The two companies were reportedly close to an oral agreement over the acquisition before talks broke down. The deal would have likely made use of Microsoft's off-shore cash piles that amount to nearly $66 billion. This would have been great for Microsoft because it would have incurred a massive tax bill to bring the cash home.

NVIDIA set to license out Kepler technology to mobile manufacturers

It looks like NVIDIA is taking a different, and great new path with their business - where they'll shift from simply making their own GPU's and SoC's to licensing their technology to other manufacturers.

 

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NVIDIA will begin by offering their Kepler GPU architecture, which the company state is the world's most advanced and efficient GPU, and the reference design for their next-generation Tegra mobile processors. Licensees of NVIDIA's technology will receive designs, collateral and support to integrate Kepler into their devices. NVIDIA will also license their vast visual computing portfolio, which will open up to licensees the intellectual property necessary to make their own GPU's.

 

The company have had trouble getting into the mainstream with their Tegra processors, as good as they are, it's still not mainstream. This new path could lead to a much better future for NVIDIA, as OEM's will most likely just dive onto this plan versus spending buckets of money on their own internal R&D.

Facebook CEO met with Samsung to discuss possible partnerships

Facebook's CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has met with Samsung's head of handsets to talk about possible partnerships to boost advertising sales from mobile devices. This comes shortly after the recently launched HTC First was deemed a failure by most. AT&T quickly reduced the purchase price to just $0.99 with a new contract.

 

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It's not clear if Facebook would like to create another device like the HTC First with Samsung, or if a partnership would include something different. Facebook's CEO has pledged to invest in products to reward investors. Facebook's stock price is down 37 percent since it launched in May 2012.

 

Facebook declined to comment on the visit.

Adobe beats expectations with $1.011B in revenue, $0.36 EPS

Adobe has performed better than expectations by posting second-quarter revenues of $1.011 billion and earnings-per-share of $0.36. Analysts had predicted that Adobe would post earnings-per-share of just $0.34 on $1 billion in revenue. While not massively higher than expectations, it is good news for Adobe that they performed better than expectations.

 

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Creative Cloud seems to be the highlight in the earnings report. Adobe reported that they had 700,000 paid Creative Cloud members, up from the 479,000 reported during the first-quarter earning's report.

 

It's important for Adobe to continue adding Creative Cloud subscribers as Adobe has transitioned the Creative suite to a cloud-only subscription model.

Google seeks to disclose FISA requests separately, invokes first amendment rights as part of argument

Google is one of the first companies to release transparency reports that disclose the number of requests for personal data they receive from various governments. Unfortunately for Google, FISA and NSL requests often come with gag orders to prevent them from disclosing the fact they even received a request.

 

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We have long pushed for transparency so users can better understand the extent to which governments request their data-and Google was the first company to release numbers for National Security Letters. However, greater transparency is needed, so today we have petitioned the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to allow us to publish aggregate numbers of national security requests, including FISA disclosures, separately. Lumping national security requests together with criminal requests-as some companies have been permitted to do-would be a backward step for our users.

Continue reading 'Google seeks to disclose FISA requests separately, invokes first amendment rights as part of argument' (full post)

Yahoo looking to acquire video maker app Qwiki for a reported $50 million

In a world where we see startups and dev houses being snatched up left and right, it is no surprise that someone is looking to purchase the automated video maker app Qwiki. With Vine growing every day in popularity and Instagram looking to add video to its service later this week, Yahoo is looking to get in on the video app craze that is so popular at the moment.

 

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According to All Things D, sources close to the company are disclosing that Yahoo is looking to purchase Qwiki for somewhere close to $50 million. Things could still go south in the deal, but word on the street is that both companies are in the advanced stages of the acquisition, and transfer of ownership looks to be imminent.

 

For those not familiar, Qwiki is an app that lets iPhone users quickly combine photos and videos into a single stylized video for sharing with friends on the web. This is yet another purchase in a long line of acquisitions since CEO Marissa Mayer took the head seat at the company.

Oculus receives $16 million in funding, Rift could see new heights

If there's one technology that has me positively tingling with excitement over, it's Oculus' Rift. The company announced yesterday that they have just closed a deal that will see them with a cash injection of $16 million.

 

 

The funding comes from Spark Capital and Matrix Partners with Santo Politi, Spark founder and general partner and Antonio Rodriguez, entrepreneur and general partner of Matrix, joining Oculus' board of directors. The injection of cash will help speed up the development of virtual reality hardware, software and services, which will hopefully see Oculus' Rift as a great, commercially available VR platform.

 

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Considering Oculus raised $2.4 million from their Kickstarter campaign, which was close to 10 times the amount they originally needed, this $16 million should do some wonderful things for the company.

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