Flowbox is a tool that makes it easy to build special effects

What do you get when you connect a bunch of filmmakers with a bunch of programmers? Something like Flowbox. Flowbox, which began life as a unique object-oriented programming language for visual effects, has grown into something truly powerful in the moviemaking industry. Run by Mikołaj Valencia​, Michał Urbańczyk​, Paweł Pietraszko, and Mat Bujalski, this Polish company is currently working with a number of big studios to add VFX to huge productions. “Flowbox is an industrial strength image processing platform incorporating many recent innovations in computer graphics field,” said Valencia. “It delivers semi-automated rotoscopy, one of the most tedious manual labor used in 25 precent of all video content processing. It allows for huge time savings.” The team is working on adding other tools to the toolchain as well including color correction and image composition. The system is unique in that it uses a visual interface to change the video.
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Chinese internet giant Tencent suffers a rare profit drop

Tencent, Asia’s most valuable tech firm, delivered a surprise drop in profit on account of lower investment gains. The firm recorded strong growth with revenue up 30 percent year-on-year to reach 73.7 billion RMB ($10.7 billion) in Q2 2018. But net profit slipped by two percent annually to reach 17.9 billion RMB, or around $2.6 billion. That breaks a growth streak that stretches back more than a decade and, more crucially, it comes at a time of relative crisis for Tencent . The company became Asia’s first $500 billion tech business last November, but it has endured a torrid 2018 with its share price slipping more than 25 percent since a January highcontroversy around a banned game knocked it down further this week.

Gaming has always been Tencent’s strongest point — it helped the firm log a 60 percent profit jump in the previous
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Twitter puts Infowars’ Alex Jones in the ‘read-only’ sin bin for 7 days

Twitter has finally taken action against Infowars creator Alex Jones, but it isn’t what you might think. While Apple, Facebook, Google/YouTube, Spotify and many others have removed Jones and his conspiracy-peddling organization Infowars from their platforms, Twitter has remained unmoved with its claim that Jones hasn’t violated rules on its platform. That was helped in no small way by the mysterious removal of some tweets last week, but now Jones has been found to have violated Twitter’s rules, as CNET first noted. Twitter is punishing Jones for a tweet that violates its community standards but it isn’t locking him out forever. Instead, a spokesperson for the company confirmed that Jones’ account is in “read-only mode” for up to seven days. That means he will still be able to use the service and look up content via his account, but he’ll be unable to engage with it. That means no tweets,
😄
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“Unhackable” BitFi crypto wallet has been hacked

The BitFi crypto wallet was supposed to be unhackable and none other than famous weirdo John McAfee claimed that the device – essentially an Android-based mini tablet – would withstand any attack. Spoiler alert: it couldn’t. First, a bit of background. The $120 device launched at the beginning of this month to much fanfare. It consisted of a device that McAfee claimed contained no software or storage and was instead a standalone wallet similar to the Trezor. The website featured a bold claim by McAfee himself, one that would give a normal security researcher pause: Further, the company offered a bug bounty that seems to be slowly being eroded by outside forces. They asked hackers to pull coins off of a specially prepared $10 wallet, a move that is uncommon in the world of bug bounties. They wrote:
We deposit coins into a Bitfi wallet
If you wish to participate
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Nvidia’s new Turing architecture is all about real-time ray tracing and AI

In recent days, word about Nvidia’s new Turing architecture started leaking out of the Santa Clara-based company’s headquarters. So it didn’t come as a major surprise that the company today announced during its Siggraph keynote the launch of this new architecture and three new pro-oriented workstation graphics cards in its Quadro family. Nvidia describes the new Turing architecture as “the greatest leap since the invention of the CUDA GPU in 2006.” That’s a high bar to clear, but there may be a kernel of truth here. These new Quadro RTx chips are the first to feature the company’s new RT Cores. “RT” here stands for ray tracing, a rendering method that basically traces the path of light as it interacts with the objects in a scene. This technique has been around for a very long time (remember POV-Ray on the Amiga?). Traditionally, though, it was always very computationally intensive,
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Hacking the websites responsible for election information is so easy an 11 year-old did it

It’s time to talk about election security. Over the weekend at Def Con, the annual hacker convention in Las Vegas to discuss some of the latest and greatest (or scariest) trends in the wild world of hacking, a pair of election security hacking demonstrations set up for adults and kids alike offered up some frightening revelations about America’s voting infrastructure. (I’m not even going to begin to touch Voatz.)

For 11 year-old Emmett from Austin, hacking the website for the Florida Secretary of State was as easy as a simple SQL injection. While it took Emmett only 10 minutes to break into the election reporting section of the Florida Secretary of State web page, it’s important to note that these pages were set up as replicas. The idea, according to event organizers from Wickr (a secure communications

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Fossil announces new update to Android Wear watches with HR tracking, GPS

Fossil’s Q watch line is an interesting foray by a traditional fashion watchmaker into the wearable world. Their latest additions to the line, the Fossil Q Venture HR and Fossil Q Explorist HR, add a great deal of Android Wear functionality to a watch that is reminiscent of Fossil’s earlier, simpler watches. In other words, these are some nice, low-cost smartwatches for the fitness fan. The original Q watches included a clever hybrid model with analog face and step counter. As the company expanded into wearables, however, they went Android Wear route and created a number of lower-powered touchscreen watches. Now, thanks to a new chipset, Fossil is able to add a great deal more functionality in a nice package. The Venture and the Explorist adds untethered GPS, NFC, heart rate, and 24-hour battery life. It also includes an altimeter and gyroscope sensor. The new watches start at $255
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Outgoing Facebook CSO Alex Stamos will join Disrupt SF to talk cybersecurity

At Disrupt SF 2018, Facebook’s soon-to-be-former chief security officer Alex Stamos will join us to chat about his tenure in the top security role for the world’s biggest social network, how it feels to have weathered some of the biggest security and privacy scandals to ever hit the tech industry and securing U.S. elections in the 2018 midterms and beyond. Following his last day at Facebook on August 17, Stamos will transition to an academic role at Stanford, starting this September. Since March, Stamos has focused on election security at Facebook as the company tries to rid its massive platform of Russian interference and bolster it against disinformation campaigns aiming to disrupt U.S. politics. “It is critical that we as an industry live up to our collective responsibility to consider the impact of what we build, and I look forward to continued collaboration and partnership with the
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Salesforce promotes COO Keith Block to co-CEO alongside founder Marc Benioff

Salesforce is moving to a two CEO model after it promoted executive Keith Block, who was most recently COO, to the position of co-CEO. Block will work alongside Salesforce’s flamboyant founder, chairman and CEO (now co-CEO) Marc Benioff, with both reporting directly to the company’s board. Block joined Salesforce five years ago after spending 25 years at Oracle, which is where he first met Benioff, who has called him “the best sales executive the enterprise software industry has ever seen.” News of the promotion was not expected, but in many ways it is just a more formalized continuation of the working relationship that the two executives have developed. Block’s focus is on leading global sales, alliances and channels, industry strategy, customer success and consulting services, while he also oversees the company’s day-to-day operations. Benioff, meanwhile, heads of product, technology and culture. The latter is a major piece for
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Gmail for iOS and Android now lets you turn off conversation view

When Gmail launched with its threaded conversation view feature as the default and only option, some people sure didn’t like it and Google quickly allowed users to turn it off. On mobile, though, you were stuck with it. But here’s some good news for you conversation view haters: you can now turn it off on mobile, too. The ability to turn off conversation view is now rolling out to all Gmail app users on iOS and Android . So if you want Gmail to simply show you all emails as they arrive, without grouping them to”make them easier to digest and follow,” you’re now free to do so. If you’ve always just left conversation view on by default, maybe now is a good time to see if you like the old-school way of looking at your email better. I personally prefer conversation view since it helps me keep track of conversations
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Google Cloud gets support for Nvidia’s Tesla P4 inferencing accelerators

These days, no cloud platform is complete without support for GPUs. There’s no other way to support modern high-performance and machine learning workloads without them, after all. Often, the focus of these offerings is on building machine learning models, but today, Google is launching support for the Nvidia P4 accelerator, which focuses specifically on inferencing to help developers run their existing models faster. In addition to these machine learning workloads, Google Cloud users also can use the GPUs for running remote display applications that need a fast graphics card. To do this, the GPUs support Nvidia Grid, the company’s system for making server-side graphics more responsive for users who log in to remote desktops. Because the P4s come with 8GB of DDR5 memory and can handle up to 22 tera-operations per second for integer operations, these cards can handle pretty much anything you throw at them. And because
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Apple has removed Infowars podcasts from iTunes

Apple has followed the lead of Google and Facebook after it removed Infowars, the conspiracy theorist organization helmed by Alex Jones, from its iTunes and podcasts apps. Unlike Google and Facebook, which removed four Infowars videos on the basis that the content violated its policies, Apple’s action is wider-reaching. The company has withdrawn all episodes of five of Infowars’ six podcasts from its directory of content, leaving just one left, a show called ‘Real News With David Knight.’ The removals were first spotted on Twitter. Later, Apple confirmed it took action on account of the use of hate speech which violates its content guidelines. “Apple does not tolerate hate speech, and we have clear guidelines that creators and developers must follow to ensure we provide a safe environment for all of our users. Podcasts that violate these guidelines are removed from our directory making them no longer searchable or
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Sagewise pitches a service to verify claims and arbitrate disputes over blockchain transactions

Sometimes smart contracts can be pretty dumb.

All of the benefits of a cryptographically secured, publicly verified, anonymized transaction system can be erased by errant code, malicious actors, or poorly defined parameters of an executable agreement. Hoping to beat back the tide of bad contracts, bad code and bad actors, Sagewise, a new Los Angeles-based startup has raised $1.25 million to bring to market a service that basically hits pause on the execution of a contract so it can be arbitrated in the event that something goes wrong. Co-founded by a longtime lawyer, Amy Wan, whose experience runs the gamut from the U.S. Department of Commerce to serving as counsel for a peer-to-peer real estate investment platform in Los Angeles, and Dan Rice, a longtime entrepreneur working with blockchain, Sagewise works with both Ethereum and the Hedera Hashgraph (a newer distributed ledger technology, which purports to solve
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Arm acquires data management service Treasure Data to bolster its IoT platform

Arm, the semiconductor firm you probably still remember as ARM, today announced that it has acquired Treasure Data, a data management platform for large enterprise customers. The companies didn’t announce the financial details of the transaction, but earlier reporting by Bloomberg pegged the price at $600 million. This move strengthens Arm’s IoT nascent play, given that Treasure Data’s specialty is dealing with the large streams of data that these systems produce (as well as data from CRM, e-commerce systems and other third-party services). This move follows Arm’s recent acquisition of Stream and indeed, the company calls the acquisition of Treasure Data “the final piece” of its “IoT enablement puzzle.” The result of this completed puzzle is the Arm Pelion IoT Platform, which combines Stream, Treasure Data and the existing Arm Mbed Cloud into a single solution for connecting and managing IoT devices and the data they produce. Arm says Treasure
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UK report highlights changing gadget habits — and our need for an online fix

A look back at the past decade of consumer technology use in the UK has shone a light on changing gadget habits, underlining how Brits have gone from being smartphone dabblers back in 2008 when a top-of-the-range smartphone cost ~£500 to true addicts in today’s £1k+ premium smartphone era. The report also highlights what seems to be, at times, a conflicted relationship between Brits and the Internet. While nine in ten people in the UK have home access to the Internet, here in 2018, some web users report feeling being online is a time-sink or a constraint on their freedom. But even more said they feel lost or bored without it. Over the past decade the Internet looks to have consolidated its grip on the spacetime that boredom occupied for the less connected generations that came before. The overview comes via regulator Ofcom’s 2018 Communications Market report. The full report commenting on
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There’s more: Google is also said to be developing a censored news app for China

Can Google’s week get any worse? Less than a day after the revelation that it is planning a censored search engine for China, so comes another: the U.S. firm is said to be developing a government-friendly news app for the country, where its search engine and other services remain blocked. That’s according to The Information which reports that Google is essentially cloning Toutiao, the hugely popular app from new media startup ByteDance, in a bid to get back into the country and the minds of its 700 million mobile internet users. Like Toutiao, the app would apparently use AI and algorithms to serve stories to readers — as opposed to real-life human editors — while it too would be designed to work within the bounds of Chinese internet censorship. That last part is interesting because ByteDance and other news apps have gotten into trouble from the government for failing
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JBL’s $250 Google Assistant smart display is now available for pre-order

It’s been a week since Lenovo’s Google Assistant-powered smart display went on sale. Slowly but surely, its competitors are launching their versions, too. Today, JBL announced that its $249.95 JBL Link View is now available for pre-order, with an expected ship date of September 3, 2018. JBL went for a slightly different design than Lenovo (and the upcoming LG WK9), but in terms of functionality, these devices are pretty much the same. The Link View features an 8-inch HD screen; unlike Lenovo’s Smart Display, JBL is not making a larger 10-inch version. It’s got two 10W speakers and the usual support for Bluetooth, as well as Google’s Chromecast protocol. JBL says the unit is splash proof (IPX4), so you can safely use it to watch YouTube recipe videos in your kitchen. It also offers a 5MP front-facing camera for your video chats and a privacy switch that
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Duolingo hires its first chief marketing officer as active user numbers stagnate but revenue grows

Duolingo, the popular language learning service, today announced that it has now hit more than 300 million users worldwide. A year ago, Duolingo reported 200 million total users. That’s great, but the number of monthly active users on the service remains stagnant. Duolingo reported 25 million active users a year ago — and that’s still the same today, a company spokesperson confirmed. The company argues this is due to its focus on revenue growth instead of user growth in the last year, but it did grow by 100 million total users. Update: After this post went live, Duolingo called to provide us with revenue numbers to put its user numbers into context, something it hasn’t disclosed before. Its revenue in 2016 was $1 million. It grew that to $13 million in 2017 and a spokesperson tells us that it’s on track for $40 million in 2018. The company
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Google is reportedly planning a censorship-friendly search service for China

Google’s search service could be poised to make a dramatic return to China next year, according to an explosive report from The Intercept. Google yanked its search service from China in 2010 in the face of pressure over censorship, but now the publication reports that it has developed a censored version that could launch in the country in six to nine months, according to information supplied by a source with knowledge of the plans. The alleged product would block Western services already outlawed in China, including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and also scrub results for sensitive terms, such as the Tiananmen Square massacre, and international media including the BBC and New York Times. Google didn’t explicitly deny the report in a statement: “We provide a number of mobile apps in China, such as Google Translate and Files Go, help Chinese developers, and have made significant investments in Chinese companies like JD.
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Google adds new Singapore data center as Southeast Asia reaches 330M internet users

Google is adding a third data center to its presence in Singapore in response to continued internet growth in Southeast Asia. It’s been three years since it added a second center in Singapore, and during that time the company estimates that something in the region of 70 million people across Southeast Asia have come online for the first time. That takes the region to over 330 million internet users, but with a population of over 650 million, there’s plenty more to come. The local data centers don’t exclusively serve their immediate proximity — Asia data centers can handle U.S. traffic, and likewise — but adding more local capacity does help Google services, and companies that run their business on Google’s cloud, run quicker for internet users in that specific region. So not only is it good for locals, but it’s important for Google’s business, which counts the likes of 
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