Chinese authorities dish out $5M in fines for developers of PUBG hack software

This post is by Jon Russell from TechCrunch

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There has long been speculation and evidence of cheating software for PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG), but action is being taken to stamp it out. The makers of the smash-hit game have confirmed that they have worked with authorities in China who have dished out over $5 million in fines to at least 15 people caught developing hacks that help players cheat.

PUBG, in case you missed it, is one of the top-grossing games in the world this year. A shoot-up battle royale game that sees players battle to survive to the end, PUBG grossed $700 million in revenue via PC sales last year and that’s only increased in 2018 as the title landed on mobile. It’s particularly big in China where internet giant Tencent is the publishing partner.

That Tencent link might have proved useful, as Bluehole — the company behind PUBG — revealed in a statement that Chinese authorities have helped

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Telegram blocked in Iran as the government orders telecoms to cut off access

This post is by Taylor Hatmaker from TechCrunch

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As Moscow erupts in protests over its own ban, Iran’s judiciary has just ordered the nation’s telecommunications providers to block Telegram . According to the Wall Street Journal, Iran’s Islamic Republic News Agency stated that the decision was issued via a court ruling in Tehran. An estimated 40 million Iranians — half of the country’s population — use Telegram to communicate.

“Considering various complaints against Telegram social networking app by Iranian citizens, and based on the demand of security organisations for confronting the illegal activities of Telegram, the judiciary has banned its usage in Iran,” Iranian state TV reported, according to Reuters.

As of Monday, Telegram appears to still be functioning in the country following the court order. When the ban is executed, the popular messaging app will join the ranks of Facebook and Twitter, two other social media platforms banned in Iran. Government employees were ordered to quit

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DARPA is funding new tech that can identify manipulated videos and ‘deepfakes’

The Menlo Park-based nonprofit research group SRI International has been awarded three contracts by the Pentagon’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to wage war on the newest front in fake news. Specifically, DARPA’s Media Forensics program is developing tools capable of identifying when videos and photos have been meaningfully altered from their original state in order to misrepresent their content.

The most infamous form of this kind of content is the category called “deepfakes” — usually pornographic video that superimposes a celebrity or public figure’s likeness into a compromising scene. Though software that makes that makes deepfakes possible is inexpensive and easy to use, existing video analysis tools aren’t yet up to the task of identifying what’s real and what’s been cooked up.

As articulated by its mission statement, that’s where the Media Forensics group comes in:

“DARPA’s MediFor program brings together world-class researchers to attempt

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Twitter announces new video partnerships with NBCUniversal and ESPN

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Twitter is hosting its Digital Content NewFronts tonight, where it’s unveiling 30 renewals and new content deals — the company says that’s nearly twice as many as it announced last year.

Those include partnerships with the big players in media — starting with NBCUniversal, which will be sharing live video and clips from properties including NBC News, MSNBC, CNBC and Telemundo.

Twitter also announced some of the shows it will be airing as part of the ESPN deal announced earlier today: SportsCenter Live (a Twitter version of the network’s flagship) and Fantasy Focus Live (a livestream of the fantasy sports podcast).

Plus, the company said it’s expanding its existing partnership with Viacom with shows like Comedy Central’s Creator’s Room, BET Breaks and MTV News.

During the NewFronts event, Twitter’s head of video Kayvon Beykpour said daily video views on the platform have nearly doubled in the past year. And Kay

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Video: Larry Harvey and JP Barlow on Burning Man and tech culture

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Larry Harvey, founder of the counterculture festival Burning Man, passed away this weekend. He was 70.

Harvey created a movement and contributed to the flowering both of counter-culture and, ultimately, of tech culture.

Both he and John Perry Barlow, who also passed in February this year after a long period of ill health, were huge advocates of free speech. Barlow wrote lyrics for the Grateful Dead, and then became a digital rights activist in later life.

In 2013 I caught up with both of them and recorded a joint 24-minute interview, just a short walk from the venue for the Le Web London conference.

Amid the street noise and the traffic, they discussed some of the intellectual underpinnings of startup entrepreneurship and its parallels with Burning Man, in what might have been their first-ever joint interview.

We went over early computer culture, and how there was a “revolutionary zeal

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WhatsApp CEO Jan Koum quits Facebook due to privacy intrusions

“It is time for me to move on . . . I’m taking some time off to do things I enjoy outside of technology, such as collecting rare air-cooled Porsches, working on my cars and playing ultimate frisbee,” WhatsApp co-founder, CEO and Facebook board member Jan Koum wrote today. The announcement followed shortly after The Washington Post reported that Koum would leave due to disagreements with Facebook management about WhatsApp user data privacy and weakened encryption. Koum obscured that motive in his note that says, “I’ll still be cheering WhatsApp on – just from the outside.”

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg quickly commented on Koum’s Facebook post about his departure, writing “Jan: I will miss working so closely with you. I’m grateful for everything you’ve done to help connect the world, and for everything you’ve taught me, including about encryption and its ability to take power from centralized systems and put it back in

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Covee uses blockchain to allow experts worldwide to collaborate

Solving complex data-driven problems requires a lot of teamwork. But, of course, teamwork is typically restricted to companies where everyone is working under there same roof. While distributed teams have become commonplace in tech startups, taking that to the next level by linking up disparate groups of people all working on the same problem (but not in the same company) has been all but impossible. However, in theory, you could use a blockchain to do such a thing, where the work generated was constantly accounted for on-chain.

That’s in theory. In practice, there’s now a startup that claims to have come up with this model. And it’s raised funding.

Covee, a startup out of Berlin has raised a modest EUR 1.35m, in a round led by LocalGlobe in London with Atlantic Labs in Berlin and a selection of Angels. Prior to this, the company was bootstrapped by CEO

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There’s something called Bacoin now

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To paraphrase a saying popularized by countless dorm room stoners: “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you use the hype around decentralized crypto economies sell bacon.” The latest example of this age-old adage comes to us from Oscar Meyer and involves their exciting new cryp-faux-currency, Bacoin.

The currency can be redeemed for bacon and you “mine” it by sharing the good news of bacoin with your friends. Instead of taking up massive amounts of electricity, the production of the final store of value – pig parts – requires only a massive agricultural system dedicated to the wholesale destruction of mammals that are as smart as dogs and, in the right context, quite cute. The end product, bacon, is considered by many to be far more interesting than anything Vitalik created. In short, it’s a win-win.

How does it work? It’s basically

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Chinese government admits collection of deleted WeChat messages

Chinese authorities revealed over the weekend that they have the capability of retrieving deleted messages from the almost universally used WeChat app. The admission doesn’t come as a surprise to many, but it’s rare for this type of questionable data collection tactic to be acknowledged publicly.

As noted by the South China Morning Post, an anti-corruption commission in Hefei province posted Saturday to social media that it has “retrieved a series of deleted WeChat conversations from a subject” as part of an investigation.

The post was deleted Sunday, but not before many had seen it and understood the ramifications. Tencent, which operates the WeChat service used by nearly a billion people (including myself), explained in a statement that “WeChat does not store any chat histories — they are only stored on users’ phones and computers.”

The technical details of this storage were not disclosed, but it seems clear

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The Pentagon is working on a radio wave weapon that stops a speeding car in its tracks

Vehicular terrorism is on the rise, but technology under development by the U.S. Department of Defense could save lives by disabling a weaponized car before it ever reaches its target. The Pentagon’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Program (JNLWD) is working on a device called a Radio Frequency Vehicle Stopper to address the prevalence of vehicle-based attacks targeting civilians, Defense One reports.

To prevent this kind of violence and other kinds of vehicular attacks (an unauthorized car rushing behind a military security gate, for instance), the Pentagon’s Radio Frequency Vehicle Stopper points high powered microwaves at a vehicle, disabling its electrical components via the engine control unit and making the engine stall out. You can watch the technology in action in the Department of Defense video below.

As Defense One reports, the group is developing two version of its technology, one with a 50-meter range small enough to fit in a

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Stripe expands its Atlas startup kit to let founders form LLCs

Payments company Stripe is today taking another step to expand its operations into a wider set of business services, targeting the startups that form its core base of customers.

Today, the company is announcing that Atlas, the all-in-one service Stripe started two years ago to help founders incorporate in Delaware, can now be used to set up Delaware-based limited liability companies.

As with the C-Corp set-up, Atlas for LLCs costs $500, which includes forming new entity, getting a tax ID, getting a U.S. business bank account and Stripe account, access to expert tax and legal advice, tools for handling taxes, and credits with a number of services; as well as access to the Stripe Atlas Community for networking and extra resources.

Stripe is running a waiting list now for the beta, which should start in the next couple of weeks.

Alongside C-Corps, LLCs are another primary business format

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Younger consumers adopt voice technology faster, but use voice assistants less, report claims

Here’s an odd juxtaposition for you. According to a new report on voice assistants released today by PwC, younger users are adopting voice technology at a faster rate than their older counterparts, but are somehow using their voice assistants less often. The report found that users 18 through 24 had fewer “heavy” users of voice technology, compared with those 25 to 49, and 50 or older.

The study also found that 8 percent of the youngest demographic said they only used a voice assistant a few times per year, compared with 6 percent of those 25 to 49, and only 3 percent of those 50 and up.

That’s an interesting finding, if accurate, given that younger users tend to be not only those who adopt technology at a quicker pace than older people, but who use it more frequently, as well.

And the issue isn’t one of general awareness it

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The Past vs. The Future

Holding on the past is a convenient way to avoid science, technology, and the reality of the world. Future needs reinvention and rethinking. Industrial era dogmas are now in direct conflict with the digitally connected ideologies.

The dissonance between the old industry and the new digital reality is also cultural. We, the humans are now living at a speed of the network and not at the speed of humans, and perhaps that is why we feel powerless and angry. So we try and rationalize and find someone to blame. Facebook, for example.

Human-scale is in direct conflict with machines. The societal norms of yesterday are being challenged by new ideas. The inheritors of the future are challenging the gatekeepers of the old. The grandeur of the past is in direct conflict with the dystopian reality of tomorrow.

Some say that this is human civilization, but now we have networks metastasizing Continue reading “The Past vs. The Future”

Europe eyeing bot IDs, ad transparency and blockchain to fight fakes

European Union lawmakers want online platforms to come up with their own systems to identify bot accounts.

This is as part of a voluntary Code of Practice the European Commission now wants platforms to develop and apply — by this summer — as part of a wider package of proposals it’s put out which are generally aimed at tackling the problematic spread and impact of disinformation online.

The proposals follow an EC-commissioned report last month, by its High-Level Expert Group, which recommended more transparency from online platforms to help combat the spread of false information online — and also called for urgent investment in media and information literacy education, and strategies to empower journalists and foster a diverse and sustainable news media ecosystem.

Bots, fake accounts, political ads, filter bubbles

In an announcement on Friday the Commission said it wants platforms to establish “clear marking systems and rules for

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Email, Twitter, Blog

This post is by Fred Wilson from AVC

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I exchanged emails today with someone who wanted to connect with me on LinkedIn.

I told him that “I don’t do LinkedIn.”

I have a profile there and I use it regularly as a resume database to check out people. I keep a profile there so others can do the same.

But beyond that, I don’t do LinkedIn.

So to everyone who is sending me messages via LinkedIn, please know that I am not reading them. I suspect that is obvious to anyone who has tried that approach more than a few times.

The same is true of many social platforms. I have profiles on Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, and a bunch more social platforms. But I don’t use them.

For me, the trifecta is email, twitter, and this blog.

That is a pretty large surface area via which folks can connect with me.

Email is hit or miss. I

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Achieve resilient cloud applications through managed DNS

This post is by Mark Wilkins from All - O'Reilly Media

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Harnessing DNS for traffic steering, load balancing, and intelligent response.

When designing cloud architecture, it’s critical to consider that your applications could be affected by failures and that you must be prepared to respond to those failures quickly and effectively. Downtime and slow service have a high price in today’s highly connected world, and customers have little patience for slow or disrupted service. Managed DNS, as your gateway to the internet, can provide improved resilience to ensure your applications are always available. If your organization relies on a single point of failure in terms of DNS, you’re open to system failure due to disasters of both technical and natural origins from power outages to sophisticated attacks.

As the pace and complexity of application development and delivery have increased, the role of DNS has changed considerably. Originally, DNS was a simple on-premises location service for matching IP addresses to correct hostnames.

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Four short links: 30 April 2018

This post is by from All - O'Reilly Media

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Haptic Jacket, Markup Diagrams, Idempotence meets IoT, and Rough Javascript Drawings

  1. Disney’s Haptic VR Jacket (WaPo) — The Force Jacket contains 26 inflatable compartments, which can reproduce more than a dozen “feel affects,” such as a hug, a punch or a snake slithering across your body. These sensations are created by modifying the speed, force, and duration of inflating or deflating the airbags. The pressure and vibrations can also correspond with visual displays, allowing users to feel the actions they perform and witness in a VR game.
  2. Mermaid — markup-style generation of diagrams and flowcharts.
  3. You Know How GET Requests are Meant to be Idempotent? (Will Pearse) — hilarious short thread, where web protocol expectations and a physical interface don’t mesh well with a well-meaning cloud service.
  4. Rough.jsopen source Javascript library to create graphics with a hand-drawn, sketchy appearance.

Continue reading Four short links: 30 April 2018.

Blue Origin’s New Shepard skims space in successful 8th test launch

Blue Origin conducted the 8th launch of its New Shepard sub-orbital rocket and crew capsule today out in Texas, and things couldn’t have gone better for the growing space tourism company. The rocket ascended into a cloudless sky, reaching a max velocity of about 2,200 MPH, and delivered its capsule to the edge of space, where its occupant, “Mannquin Skywalker,” will have had a lovely view of the Earth.

New Shepard isn’t meant to deliver things into orbit, of course; Blue Origin has a different purpose and technology from the likes of SpaceX, focusing on giving people a quick, safe lift into space followed by a period of weightlessness and a pleasant descent.

That’s what was demonstrated today, and you can watch the whole thing live in the video below — the pre-launch coverage starts about half an hour in, and liftoff is at the 1h10m mark.

Everything went

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