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Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht receives life sentence

US District Judge Katherine Forrest has given Ross Ulbricht, the founder and operator of Silk Road, a life sentence in prison. The underground website was involved in more than 1.5 million transactions that netted $214 million, and Ulbricht was described as the "kingpin of a worldwide digital drug trafficking enterprise."

 

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Ulbricht was convicted of distributing narcotics on the Internet and engaging in a continuing criminal enterprise, among other charges. He automatically faced a minimum 20-year prison sentence, though it was expected he would receive a much harsher sentence. The judge noted: "What you did in connection with Silk Road was terribly destructive to our social fabric..."

 

"He developed a blueprint for a new way to use the Internet to undermine the law and facilitate criminal transactions," according to a statement from the US attorney for the Southern District of New York. "Using that blueprint, others have followed in Ulbricht's footsteps, establishing new 'dark markets' in the mold of Silk Road, some selling an even broader range of illicit goods and services."

Continue reading 'Silk Road creator Ross Ulbricht receives life sentence' (full post)

Making sense of Taylor Swift's decision to pull music from Spotify

Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify, with her record label showing little interest in working with the music service. Unfortunately, her decision doesn't actually hurt Spotify, and leaves her music fans with one less outlet to listen to her music.

 

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It's unknown how much money Spotify actually paid out to Swift's record label, Big Machine, though most of her money is made from live music concerts and promotional appearances.

 

Spotify, the No. 1 streaming service, pays a whopping 70 percent of revenue directly to the music labels - writing a check for around $1 billion in 2014 - with the number of subscribers increasing in 2015. However, the record labels only collect less than one penny for each song played through the popular service.

Continue reading 'Making sense of Taylor Swift's decision to pull music from Spotify' (full post)

Apple appoints Jony Ive as the company's first Chief Design Officer

Jony Ive has been an integral part of Apple for quite sometime now, with the company recently promoting him from Senior Vice President, to Apple's first-ever Chief Design Officer.

 

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Ive's new role as Chief Design Officer will have him "oversee the company's broader design efforts" reports Engadget, but there will be "leaders dedicated to user interfaces", the site adds. Ive has explained the move, saying that it "frees [him] up" from the usual management role, and let's him focus on design work.

 

Apple's new "spaceship" campus has had Ive's eye on design helping the futuristic new campus and its design, but this new role for Ive might hopefully change the direction of the look and design of the future iPhone.

Report: Charter close to dropping $55 billion for Time Warner Cable

Comcast couldn't get a deal done to purchase Time Warner Cable, but it looks like Charter Communications is one step closer. Charter and TWC are reportedly close to a $55 billion acquisition deal, in what would help create a sudden new cable powerhouse.

 

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The $55 billion acquisition is 47 percent higher than what Charter offered in 2014 - and 14 percent higher than TWC's most recently closing stock price. It's possible a public announcement could be made as soon as Tuesday morning, with the deal pending government approval.

 

Following news that Comcast was unable to acquire TWC, there seemed to be immediate interest from Charter once again. The Comcast-TWC merger would have given the company around 40 percent control of the competitive high-speed broadband market - while a Charter-TWC deal would be about 20 percent overall market share.

Microsoft rumored to be looking at acquiring BlackBerry

It's that time again folks, where BlackBerry is being eyed up and down for an acquisition... from Microsoft. Yes, the maker of Windows and the Xbox is reportedly looking at acquiring BlackBerry.

 

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Alternate sources are saying that even the likes of Xiaomi, Lenovo and Huawei are also interested in picking at the bones of the former company known as Research in Motion. Microsoft is reportedly talking with a few investment firms about a possible acquisition of BlackBerry, where it would upgrade its entire line of business mobile solutions and its patent portfolio in the Internet of Vehicles (IoV) as well as the mobile platform and communications sectors.

Palmer Luckey being sued by his previous employee over the Oculus Rift

Palmer Luckey is in some very hot water, and unfortunately, this event is happening in the real-world and not a virtual one. The founder of Oculus VR has been accused of stealing confidential information with his previous employer, and "passing it off as his own" reports Reuters.

 

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Hawaii-based Total Recall Technologies has said that it hired Luckey in 2011, where he was tasked at building a prototype head mounted display. Luckey signed a confidentiality agreement, according to a lawsuit filed on Wednesday. In the second half of 2011 and well into 2012, Luckey took feedback and information to "improve the design of the display" reports Reuters. Luckey then reportedly used that information he learned and took to Kickstarter to build his own headset, which has turned into the Oculus Rift.

 

Total Recall Technologies is seeking compensatory and punitive damages, but it hasn't mentioned a specific amount. This could be quite damaging to not only Oculus VR, but Facebook, with Luckey in the firing line. Oculus, Facebook and Luckey have all reportedly denied comment thus far. With the Oculus Rift set to nearly start the VR headset market by itself, I'm sure that amount of considerable.

Smartwatch maker Pebble rumored to be in financial troubles

Even though Pebble raised $1 million just 49 minutes for its new smartwatch, breaking Kickstarter records, the smartwatch maker is reportedly experiencing financial troubles, reports TechCrunch.

 

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Sources close to the site have said that Pebble is "trouble maintaining its growth and has turned to a Silicon Valley bank for a $5 million loan and $5 million line of credit. Valley VCs have been turning down the company's requests for new capital". Pebble currently employs 150 employees, and is still on the look out for more. But even after one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns ever, Pebble is still chasing additional funds from VCs in order to continue its growth, with the company even applying for a bank loan "in order to stay afloat".

 

Many employees are reportedly unhappy with the direction of Pebble, as it has moved away from its original intentions, and now looking to compete against the likes of Apple and its Watch, Google with its various Android Wear-powered devices, and more. A current employee of Pebble said: "We're a young company. The outlook for Pebble is very positive. It's been a remarkable journey thus far".

Artist leaves Naughty Dog for Ubisoft, comes back to Naughty Dog

Environment Artist David Ballard used to work with Naughty Dog on games like Uncharted and The Last of Us, but left the studio last September to join Ubisoft's San Francisco office. After nine months with the Watch Dogs and Assassin's Creed developer, he left and walked back through the doors of Naughty Dog.

 

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Ballard was working on a "AAA next-gen title" over at Ubisoft, but there's no other information available on that title. But now that he is back at Naughty Dog, Ballard has a new position: Multiplayer Level Layout Artist.

 

Naughty Dog should be showing off Uncharted 4: A Thief's End for the PlayStation 4 at E3 2015 next month.

MSI shoots down talks of a possible acquisition by Lenovo

The PC rumor mill is buzzing yet again, with unconfirmed reports published by DigiTimes indicating Lenovo is interested in purchasing the MSI gaming notebook unit. MSI isn't at the top in gaming laptops, but largely releases affordable products that have decent specs - but that doesn't mean MSI wants to get rid of its mobile gaming business.

 

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"In regards to the rumors circulating about [a] Lenovo and MSI acquisition, MSI is not in talk with Lenovo to sell the MSI Gaming Notebook business," said Andy Tung, president of MSI, in a statement to the media.

 

Even though the deal would make logical sense for Lenovo, which has been unable to break into gaming, MSI apparently isn't happy about the rumors - and has threatened possible legal action. "We are currently seeking the source of this false information and reserve the right to take any legal action," Tung confirmed.

Jay-Z defends Tidal, while ripping Apple, Google, Spotify in freestyle

During a concert featuring rare songs, Jay-Z also took the time to rip into Tidal competitors, with jabs thrown at Apple, Spotify and Google. Tidal, which features a $20 per month subscription that is double the cost of most of its rivals, has drawn extreme criticism - and music fans aren't ready to spend the extra money.

 

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Even though Jay-Z says Tidal is "just fine" right now, he took the time to speak his mind about a few competitors:

 

"You bought nine iPhones and Steve Jobs is rich...

Phil Knight is worth millions, you still bought them kicks

Spotify is nine million, they ain't s**t"

Continue reading 'Jay-Z defends Tidal, while ripping Apple, Google, Spotify in freestyle' (full post)

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