Moving forward. That's the title of an internal memo that went out to Microsoft employees this morning. While internal memos are nothing special at Microsoft, today's memo was probably the most important one of the decade. Today, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer announced his plans to retire within the next 12 months.
In the memo, he says that there's never a perfect time for this type of transition but right now he feels it is the right time. He goes on to refer to his recent restructuring initiative and says that the time is now right for the company to face the new opportunities and challenges ahead. He mentions that in his time at Microsoft, they have grown from a $7.5 million company to a corporation worth more than $78 billion. He said that when he first started, they employed just over 30 people and now they write paychecks to almost 100,000 individuals.
Ballmer concluded that by saying this is a very emotional event for him and that he knows Microsoft has its best days ahead and that he takes pride in being one of the largest owners of the company. I speak for all of us here at TweakTown when I wish Mr. Ballmer nothing but the best in whatever endeavors the future holds for him. It's kind of sad to see him go, but we look forward to seeing what new leadership may bring to the Redmond, Washington-based computing giant known as Microsoft.
This week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced the formation of a new initiative whose goal is to make the Internet available to every person on the planet. The announcement was kicked off with the launching of a new website, Internet.org, which also happens to be the name of the initiative.
Internet.org's aim is to conquer three specific challenges: affordability, data efficiency, and developing business models that will provide incentives for companies to help bring cheaper, more plentiful Internet access to emerging markets around the globe.
The press release, which was published on Facebook, says that only 2.7 billion people, which makes up one-third of the world population, have access to the Internet. With Internet adoption rates growing by less than 9 percent each year, this makes for a very slow--and very tedious--worldwide rollout. This is why Zuckerberg teamed up with Facebook, Ericsson, MediaTek, Nokia, Opera, Qualcomm, Samsung, and other partners to explore new ways to collaborate and solve this problem of lack of worldwide Internet. You can check out the full press release at Source #1 below.
Earlier this week, Facebook publicly denied a bounty that was claimed by a Palestinian researcher over a security flaw found in Facebook's code. Basically the flaw allowed Khalil Shreateh to post on any Facebook user's wall regardless of their security settings, whether he was their friend or not.
After reporting the bug to Facebook several times, the white hat hacker took matters into his own hands and managed to post on Mark Zuckerberg's wall. This obviously got the attention of Facebook's support staff, but they denied Shreateh's penalty claim saying that by hacking posts onto users walls, he actually violated Facebook's terms of service.
This is where Marc Maiffret, CTO of BeyondTrust comes into the picture. He feels that Shreateh's efforts to inform the social network of a serious security flaw should not go unnoticed and should be compensated accordingly. He has turned to crowdfunding site GoFundMe to raise $10,000 to compensate the hacker for his efforts. Maiffret put his money where his mouth is and started the campaign with $3000 out of his own pocket.
The owners of the popular "Open Source" legal advice website Groklaw announced today that they will follow in the footsteps of Lavabit and close their doors forever. The official announcement says that Groklaw planned to shut down after Lavabit's owner announced that he had stopped using email and that if we "knew what he knew then we would stop too."
That announcement must have shook the Groklaw owners to the core as they say that without secure email there is no way their website can continue to exist. The official announcement goes on to hit on topics such as Scripture, 9/11, and even into the personal break-in and burglary of the owner's home. I feel like Groklaw is taking the situation as an easy way out and using recent events as a scapegoat to justify the closure of their website.
Over 100 miles of Britain's historic canals and waterways will soon make their way onto Google's Street View project as the UK Canals and River Trust has managed to borrow one of the company's Trekker backpacks for the project.
The 4-foot, 40-pound photographic backpack will capture the 200-year-old canals in their full 360-degree glory at a rate of one photo every 2.5 seconds. The trek will begin with the Regents Canal in London this week. On this journey, the group will capture the 3.25-mile-long Standedge Tunnel in Yorkshire as well as the Grand Union Canal in Stoke Bruerne.
The Trust's Wendy Hawk said: "We're delighted to be the first people in the UK to get the Trekker on our backs - it's fantastic that our 200-year old network is being given a different lease of life thanks to cutting edge, 21st-century technology. The footage we get will allow millions of people from all over the world to see our canals, rivers and towpaths, and will hopefully encourage some people to make a trip to see them."
Edward Snowden, who you should know by now is one of the biggest whistleblowers ever, has said that the NSA targeted reporters who wrote 'critically' about the government over the September 11, 2001 attacks in the US and warned it was "unforgivably reckless" for journalists to use unencrypted e-mail when discussing sensitive matters.
This is coming from an interview between Snowden and the New York Times Magazine, where Snowden said he came to trust Laura Poitras, a documentary filmmaker who helped report his disclosure of the NSA's spying programs along with Guardian reporter, Glenn Greenwald, because she herself had been targeted by the US spy agency.
Snowden said in the article: "Laura and [Guardian reporter] Glenn [Greenwald] are among the few who reported fearlessly on controversial topics throughout this period, even in the face of withering personal criticism, and resulted in Laura specifically becoming targeted by the very programs involved in the recent disclosures."
On Friday, LG held an event called LG In The Clouds in one of the outdoor parks in Seoul, South Korea, to promote its new G2 smartphone launch. During the event, LG released 100 helium filled balloons with a voucher for a free G2 inside each balloon.
Guests arrived with BB guns, knives, sticks, and pointed staffs that would be used to shoot down the balloons containing the vouchers that are worth about KRW 950,000 or $851 USD. As you can expect, things did not go as planned and at least 20 attendees were injured in the mad dash to grab one of the vouchers.
LG has agreed to cover the medical costs of those injured who went to the hospital on Friday and in a statement said that similar planned events have been canceled due to safety concerns. One TV channel in Seoul dubbed the event "World War G," making a comparison to the movie World War Z in which zombies climb over each other in order to reach a wall.
Today, Newegg announced that it will be opening its first ever "pop-up" retail store in the US. The store is located inside The Oaks shopping center in Thousand Oaks, California, and will be open for three days only on the dates of August 16-18. Newegg says that the store will feature over 70 products from big-name brands, including Intel, Samsung, Sony, Western Digital, and many more.
The event is designed to give customers the unique opportunity to test drive the latest back-to-school technology products including PCs, laptops, tablets, monitors, and external hard drives. Newegg says that staff will be on hand to answer any questions consumers may have. Store hours will be 10am-9pm PDT on the 16th and 17th and 11am-7pm on the 18th.
"Showrooming is a reality today, so this back-to-school season, we wanted to give our customers a chance to interact with some of our most popular products in person in a traditional in-store environment," said Soren Mills, chief marketing officer at Newegg. "Newegg has already built an outstanding reputation for being a trusted online retailer of computers and electronics. We're thrilled to open Newegg's first ever pop-up store and hope our customers enjoy this special opportunity."
A document on the NSA.gov website has stated that the government spy agency "touches" 1.6% of the huge 1,826 petabytes of data that crosses the data cables that makes up the Internet each day.
Of this data, the NSA flicks through 29PB of it, or 29 million gigabytes, which is quite the insane number. The NSA says that just 0.025% of that data is selected for review. The document states: "The net effect is that NSA analysts look at 0.00004 percent of the world's traffic in conducing their mission - that's less than one part in a million. Put another way, if a standard basketball court represented the global communications environment, NSA's collection would be represented by an area smaller than a dime on that basketball court."
Throughout the document, the NSA defends its legal basis, dismissing claims that it was conducting dragnet-style operations, except for the instances that fall under the umbrella of counter-terrorism and involve telephone metadata. You can read more on the document here, which is just filled with "it's okay, American citizens, we're not spying on you..."
We've been covering as much of the Edward Snowden news as possible, but it looks like there are plenty of other people and groups who think he's being treated unfairly. Over 150 civil society organizations from around the world are pressuring President Obama to end the prosecution of the NSA whistleblower.
Human rights, digital rights and media freedom campaigners from across the globe have joined together to call on the US administration to acknowledge Snowden as a whistleblower. They're wanting him protected, not persecuted. At the end of the day, all he has done has exposed the truth - something the US government and its various agencies have been using billions of dollars of tax payers' money to build, and then spy on those citizens with.
If Snowden is persecuted, it's going to stop other "whistleblowers" in the future from stepping forward. The US is already a police state, but if people are hunted down and murdered (Michael Hastings, for example), then we need to redefine the word "freedom."
One would think this is fear mongering, but it's real, and it's here. Security experts are now warning website operators to test their HTTPS traffic, as it might be vulnerable to a new crypto attack that can be used to take users' information.
The attack is called Browser Reconnaissance and Exfiltration via Adaptive Compression of Hypertext, or BREACH, and was detailed in a Department of Homeland Security (DHS) "BREACH vulnerability in compressed HTTPS" advisory issued on Friday. The DHS warned that "a sophisticated attacker may be able to derive plaintext secrets from the ciphertext in an HTTPS stream."
The vulnerability was exposed last Thursday at the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas by Salesforce.com Lead Product Security Engineer, Neal Harris, along with Salesforce.com Lead Security Engineer, Yoel Gluck. Their HTTPS crypto attack can watch "the size of the cipher text received by the browser while triggering a number of strategically crafted requests to a target site" according to exploit details provided to the DHS by Prado.
I've said it once, and I'll say it again, there is no privacy anymore. If you're connected to an electronic device, or live in a country with electricity and technology, then you're monitored in one way or another. But just how bad can it get?
Well, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have been receiving tips from the National Security Agency (NSA). DEA officials in a highly secret office dubbed the Special Operations Division (SOD) are assigned to handle tips from the NSA. These tips are added to a DEA database that includes "intelligence intercepts, wiretaps, informants and a massive database of telephone records."
The SOD's work is completely classified, so that DEA cases that started from NSA tips can't be tracked back to the NSA as its source. But what exactly does the DEA do? Well, they create a story of how they came to the case, in something they call "parallel construction," reports Reuters. Reuters explains this: "Some defense lawyers and former prosecutors said that using "parallel construction" may be legal to establish probable cause for an arrest. But they said employing the practice as a means of disguising how an investigation began may violate pretrial discovery rules by burying evidence that could prove useful to criminal defendants."
After working for three years with TweakTown, I never thought I'd be typing the words "Justin Bieber" into a news post, but here I am. The teen pop sensation has a new enemy in Anonymous after he wore the iconic Guy Fawkes, or "anonymous" mask. Anonymous has struck back, creating a Facebook event with the tag #OPButtHurtForBieber. The creator of the page says:
Greetings citizens of the world we are Anonymous!
It has come to are attention that Justin Bieber has made mockery of anonymous
we now unite and make it known to justin that anonymous are not to be taken lightly
flood his Twitter and Facebook
We Are Anonymous
We Do Not Forgive
We Do Not Forget
I don't think anything will happen, but Bieber's Facebook or Twitter pages could be hacked in the coming days. Or maybe 1000 Anonymous people will spit on Bieber from a rooftop, maybe.
It looks like conspiracy theorists aren't so crazy after all, with the last couple of weeks proving them more and more right. Well, now we're getting told about yet another NSA spy program: XKeyscore.
What is XKeyscore? Well, we'll let the NSA tell you: XKeyscore is their "widest reaching" system for developing intelligence from the Internet. XKeyscore gives NSA analysts the ability to search through the entire database of your information, without any authorization whatsoever. This means they don't require a warrant, court clearance, or any signature from anyone above their pay grade.
All an NSA analyst must do is complete a simple on-screen form, and just mere seconds later your online history appears before their eyes. The NSA claims that XKeyscore covers "nearly everything a typical user does on the Internet."
Edward Snowden, the former NSA employee who blew the whistle on PRISM, has been sitting in a isolated room at the Moscow Airport since June 23 and has not been allowed to leave or fly to another country. Today, he met with his lawyer in hopes of seeing his temporary request for asylum granted.
Today around 2:18 BST, Snowden met with his Russian Lawyer, Anatoly Kucherena, and shortly there after, the lawyer addressed the press saying that Snowden would be staying in the airport's transit zone for now. He said that the immigration officials are still looking at the request for asylum and are drawing the process out. Snowden withdrew the permanent request and filled a temporary one which would allow him up to one year, but comments from Kucherena seem to sound like Snowden might stay in Russia permanently.
He is not planning to leave for now. He asked for temporary asylum, which in the case of a positive decision, is granted for a term of one year. Currently his final country of destination is Russia.
He's planning to arrange his life here [Russia]. He [Snowden] plans to get a job. And, I think, that all his further decisions will be made considering the situation he found himself in.
Starbucks has began upgrading its Silicon Valley stores to include wireless charging tables that allow a patron's wireless device to get a boost of energy while their owners get their much needed recharge as well. The company says that 10 of its stores located in Silicon Valley are getting tables that are outfitted with high-tech Duracell Powermat equipment.
"More and more customers are using Starbucks as their home base, and they are looking to recharge in a number of ways," said Adam Brotman, chief digital officer, Starbucks Coffee Company, in a statement to the press. "We have seen positive customer response to wireless charging through our tests in Boston and are pleased to now extend this experience for our customers in the Silicon Valley area."
Unfortunately, not all wireless charging platforms are compatible with the tables as there are at least three different wireless charging standards out at the moment. The company says that the tables are compatible with those that adhere to the Power Matters Alliance (PMA) standards which have been adopted by Google, BlackBerry, HTC, LG, Samsung, ZTE, and a few other brands.
Today, Reuters has reported that Yandex Co-Founder and CIO of the Russian search giant Yandex has been pronounced brain dead. Llya Segalovich was recently diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer and has been receiving treatment for some time now and this turn of events came abruptly and was quite unexpected.
"Mr. Segalovich had been diagnosed with a treatable form of cancer and was responding well to treatment and working a full schedule, before unexpectedly succumbing to complications last night," the Russian company said in a statement at 10:55 a.m. in Moscow, after receiving information that he had died.
"We want to clarify an earlier statement that the company put out. We have since learnt that Ilya is in coma and on life support although not showing any brain function. Our thoughts are with him at this time," Arkady Volozh said on a conference call later in the day.
Segalovich co-founded the business over two decades ago with Volozh when they created software that allowed searching The Bible based on context, and then in 2007 they created Yandex.ru, Russia's largest Internet search engine. Back in March, Segalovich sold off 0.2 million of his shares and had planned on donating the money to charity. This left him with 2.5 percent of the company, while Volozh retained 10.5 percent.
Here's a list of the US Congressmen who voted for, and against the amendment to stop the NSA spying on the world
Ah, US politics - it's all a House of Cards. Well, the NSA nearly had their funding cut earlier today, but there were more 'for' votes than 'against' votes with Congress today.
Representative Justin Amash presented an amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill, which would have seen the NSA lose their ability to use tax payers money to spy on everyone. TechCrunch embedded a Scribd document, where you can see all of the members' votes. It's interesting, to see just who is with the Americans, and who is not.
We're not trying to start anything here, but any Congressmen who votes for the spying of the American people doesn't sound too patriotic now, do they? Check out the list here.
During a press event later today, UK Prime Minister David Cameron is expected to announce that all UK broadband accounts will have adult content filtered by default before the end of the year. These restrictions can only be removed by the account-holder calling up their ISP and specifically requesting that porn be allowed on their account. Additionally, public Wi-Fi providers will now be forced to advertise if they utilize the porn filter or if they have removed it.
Cameron has also made it known that he wishes to outlaw what he calls "extreme pornography," of which the details are vague but we do know that it includes child pornography, and other extreme acts that are considered illegal in the UK. He will be requesting that the Child Exploitation and Online Protection center compile a "blacklist" of terms that might be used to search for such "extreme pornography." This was would then be used to block searches containing the terms. Additionally, ISPs have no choice in participating in the blacklist-filtering as Cameron says that they will be forced into action.
The founder of Bose Corp., Amar Bose, died on Friday, aged 83. Bose had been a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology unveil his death.
Bose's discoveries lead to new designs for speakers and other audio components that led him toward his path of being a billionaire. Bose's first contracts were actually quite large, with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration - you know, NASA - for improvements on audio communications.
It wasn't long after this contract that Bose entered the commercial audio market and have seen huge success since.
Human Rights Watch's Senior Russian Researcher Tanya Lokshina has just revealed that Edward Snowden is planning to file for asylum in Russia and will then prepare to travel to Latin America. Lokshina was a member of the team of human rights experts that were invited to meet with Snowden recently. New York Times reporter Ellen Barry replayed Lokshina's reports via Twitter early this morning.
Latin America would be a very friendly place for Snowden to travel to as Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador have all offered him asylum. Venezuela is the only official offer that is outstanding. The other countries listed require Snowden to be in-country before the request for asylum can be processed.
Russian president Vladimir Putin commented that his country would only grant asylum to Snowden if he ceased any activities with which he intends to harm Russia's "American Partners." Snowden replied by saying "No actions I take or plan are meant to harm the US." I wonder if he meant no harm when he disclosed US spying activities to the Chinese?