Snapchat Adds More Accessible Search Feature

Snap Inc. said Friday that its Snapchat messaging app would add an option for users to search through photos and videos that users have posted to the public.

The move came days after larger rival Facebook Inc. stepped up efforts to encourage users to take more photos and edit them with digital stickers that show the influence of Snapchat.

Snapchat will enable users to search for photos and videos known as “Snaps” posted to the “Our Story” option on the app, by creating new “Stories” using machine learning technology, the company said in a blog post.

The “Our Story” option is derived from Snap’s widely copied “Stories” feature that is a slideshow of user content that disappears after 24 hours.

“Our Story” allows users to post their Snaps as part of a larger public collection, which users will be able to search through with the latest update.

For instance, users can use the search feature to find “Snaps” related to events such as local basketball games and topics such as puppies.

The search feature, which was rolled out in some cities Friday, is an addition to curated “Stories,” where public “Snaps” about major events like Wimbledon or the Coachella music festival already appear.

Snapchat popularized the sharing of digitally decorated photographs on social media, especially among teenagers, but faces intense competition from larger Facebook and Facebook-owned Instagram.

Users will now be able to search for over 1 million “Stories” on Snapchat, Snap said, making the app more accessible.

Snap’s shares were up 1.5 percent in afternoon trading, while Facebook’s stock was down marginally.

your ad here

Georgian Entrepreneurs Look to Silicon Valley for Funding

Boris Kiknadze, chief executive of Pawwwn, took a deep breath as he looked out to the crowd of Silicon Valley venture capitalists and began his pitch.

With just 10 minutes to speak, Kiknadze rapidly described his business idea — Pawwwn, an online payment and management system to make transactions easier for pawnshop owners and their customers. The pain point for pawn shops is payment. Pawwwn takes away that pain, he said.

For months, Kiknadze and his co-founder had developed Pawwwn in his home country of Georgia before getting on a plane for San Francisco. Since the firm launched in March, Kiknadze has had 20 customers trying out the service.

But with 1,400 pawnshops in Georgia and 12,000 more in the U.S., Kiknadze saw a big opportunity. And to achieve that, he needs cash — $1 million, which he said he would use to launch Pawwwn in the U.S.

Competing for investors

Kiknadze is part of Startup Georgia, a project administered by Georgia’s Innovation and Technology Agency, that connects U.S. experts and investors with startups in Georgia.

More than 250 entrepreneurs tried out in Georgia to qualify for a week of training in Tbilisi, the nation’s capital. Among those 50 who participated in the training, 20 were selected for seed funding and three months of additional training with a Silicon Valley expert with weekly videoconferencing meetings.

Of those, eight were chosen to travel to the U.S. for a boot camp and to pitch to investors directly.

Georgia, a country of fewer than 4 million people, is looking to the success of small countries, such as Estonia and Israel, to pitch itself as a burgeoning tech hub, said Mark Iwanowski, founder and president of Global Visions-Silicon Valley, which provided the U.S. support for the program.

For U.S. investors, typically reluctant to invest beyond U.S. tech hubs, there is an opportunity to get more value in overseas companies, where labor costs are lower, he said. To attract these investors, foreign companies need to incorporate in the U.S. and set up a team here.

Over the past week in Silicon Valley, the Georgian entrepreneurs received one-on-one mentorship training as they refined their pitches. They heard from lawyers on protecting intellectual property and listened to venture capitalists talk about how to approach investors.

“If a venture capitalist says they love it, it kind of doesn’t mean anything,” said Steve Goldberg, operating partner at Venrock, a venture firm. “My advice is to have people on the team who understand venture-speak.”

“Understand what the investor is looking for,” said Ron Weissman of Band of Angels, Silicon Valley’s oldest seed fund. He suggested approaching investors seeking a conversation — “I’m not here to raise money. I’m here to get a sense of what it would take to interest you.”

Tech’s next ‘unicorn’?

That is the kind of approach honed by Vamekh Kherkheulidze, founder and medical adviser to ORsim, a Georgian operating room virtual reality simulator.

By slipping on a virtual reality headset and a special glove that gives all the sensations of holding instruments and operating on a person, medical students can better learn how to become surgeons, Kherkheulidze said. And that’s important, because there’s a shortage of surgeons both in the U.S. and worldwide.

From potential investors, ORsim is looking “for supporters,” he said. “We promote new ways of education and we want investors who understand that.”

Still, his ambition is big. “We want to expand and expand fast,” Kherkheulidze said. Already, ORsim, with $35,000 in pre-seed funding from Startup Georgia, has an appendectomy simulator.

“Our hope is to be a unicorn,” Kherkheulidze said, referring to the term used to describe startups worth more than $1 billion in valuation. But in addition to greatly improving surgical training worldwide, he sees his company as a way to help his home country.

“If we are worth $1 billion, you can increase the economy. What was Skype’s influence in Estonia?” he said, referring to the Estonian internet communication service bought by Microsoft for more than $8 billion.

After the pitches, the entrepreneurs mingled with investors. No one got investment on the spot, but most are hopeful and are following up with meetings next week.

your ad here

Trump Set to Overturn Online Privacy Protections, Stirring Debate

U.S. President Donald Trump is poised to sign legislation overturning privacy protections for Internet users, a move supporters say will level the playing field for providers but critics argue will hurt consumers.

The bill eliminates Obama-era regulations that required Internet service providers, or ISPs, to get permission before collecting or selling sensitive user data, such as Internet browsing history.

Supporters say the bill will create a more even field for ISPs, which are regulated by the Federal Communications Commission. Other Internet companies, such as Facebook and Google, are managed by the Federal Trade Commission, which places fewer restrictions on how they can collect and sell user data.

“Having two privacy cops on the beat will create confusion within the Internet ecosystem and will end up harming consumers,” said Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a Republican from Tennessee, on Tuesday.

Democrats, groups object 

Supporters also argue that the reaction has been overblown, noting that the Obama-era FCC rules, which had been approved in December, hadn’t even been put in place yet.

The bill passed Congress this week with the overwhelming support of Republicans. White House officials have previously said Trump will sign the legislation, despite objections from Democrats and privacy advocate groups.

“This legislation will seriously undermine the privacy protections of the overwhelming majority of Americans who believe that their private information should be just that — private — and not for sale without their knowledge,” a group of 46 Democratic lawmakers said this week in a letter urging Trump to veto the bill.

Tom Wheeler, the former head of the FCC, wrote an opinion piece for The New York Times calling the repeal a “dream for cable and telephone companies, which want to capitalize on the value of such personal information.”

U.S. Internet companies have long profited from U.S. privacy regulations, which are generally considered weaker than those in parts of the developed world, such as the European Union.

Big companies make big money from data

Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Amazon “profit heavily from the mining of consumer data,” says Evan Swarztrauber with the Internet privacy advocacy group TechFreedom.

“It’s at least arguable that the U.S. has more successful tech firms than the EU because the U.S. has a more relaxed privacy framework, which allows for more innovation and experimentation,” he says.

But profit should not be the only consideration, according to critics, such as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group.

“Should President Donald Trump sign S.J. Res. 34 into law, big Internet providers will be given new powers to harvest your personal information in extraordinarily creepy ways,” Ernesto Falcon, a legislative counsel at EFF, said in an online post.

Bill has limited international impact

Falcon slammed lawmakers who “have decided to give our personal information to an already highly profitable cable and telephone industry so that they can increase their profits with our data.”

The bill itself has limited international impact. Falcon says the bigger concern for global web users is state-sponsored surveillance, such as that conducted by the NSA.

“No real amount of commercial deregulation or regulation would offset the loss of privacy rights that state-sponsored surveillance violates in terms of international issues,” he told VOA.

 

your ad here

Research Bridges Spinal Cord Injury, Restores Some Movement

Researchers in a pilot clinical trial have made it possible for a paralyzed man to move his arm. As Bronwyn Benito reports, it is a critical step toward restoring mobility to people with paralysis.

your ad here

White House Defends Plan to Eliminate Obama-era Internet Privacy Rules

The White House on Thursday defended a bill recently passed by Congress to repeal Obama-era internet privacy protections, saying the move was meant to create a fair playing field for telecommunication companies.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer, during a Thursday news briefing, reiterated President Donald Trump’s support for the plan to repeal a rule forbidding internet service providers from collecting personal data on users.

Spicer said the Obama administration’s rules reclassified internet service providers as common carriers, similar to hotels and other retail stores, treating them unfairly compared with edge providers, like Google and Facebook.

Repealing the rules, he said, will “allow service providers to be treated fairly and consumer protection and privacy concerns to be reviewed on a level playing field.”

Critics of the repeal bill say it could put the internet browsing histories of private citizens up for sale to the highest bidder.

“Apparently [House Republicans] see no problem with cable and phone companies snooping on your private medical and financial information, your religious activities or your sex life,” said Craig Aaron, president and CEO of net neutrality group Free Press Action Fund. “They voted to take away the privacy rights of hundreds of millions of Americans just so a few giant companies could pad their already considerable profits.”

Win for telecoms

Repealing the rules, which were instituted just prior to last year’s presidential election by the Federal Communications Commission but hadn’t yet taken effect, could be seen as a win for major telecom companies like Verizon and AT&T, which can use the consumer data to target digital ads more effectively.

The companies have said the privacy rules put them at a disadvantage compared with websites like Facebook and Google, which aren’t normally regulated by the FCC and weren’t affected by the rules.

Spicer called the rules “federal overreach” instituted by “bureaucrats in Washington to take the interests of one group of companies over the interests of others, picking winners and losers.”

“[Trump] will continue to fight Washington red tape that stifles American innovation, job creation and economic growth,” Spicer said.

your ad here

Long Now Foundation Thinks 10,000 Years Ahead

In a cave in a mountain in western Texas, the Long Now Foundation is building a clock – a big clock, 150 meters tall. The clock will tick only once each year, go bong once a century, and once a millennium, it will send out a cuckoo. Its creators plan for it to last at least 10,000 years.

But they’re not doing it just to build a better clock.

“The goal of the Long Now Foundation,” explains its Executive Director Alexander Rose, “is fundamentally to foster long term responsibility and to think about the future in much deeper terms.”

He calls the enormous, slow-ticking timepiece an icon of long-term thinking, one of many projects Long Now has launched on that scale.

“There’s certain problems such as climate change, or education or things like that that can only be solved if you’re thinking on a multi-generational or even longer time frame,” he said.

 

Ferrets and mammoths

One of those long-term projects is an effort to save the black-footed ferret. This endangered, New World weasel is vulnerable to the old-world disease known as plague.

The Long Now’s Revive and Restore project is exploring how to genetically modify the ferret’s DNA to resist plague.

Rose says that Revive and Restore is also looking for ways to bring back the woolly mammoth. 

“We’re sitting on the cusp of one of the very first times in human history where we can do that. That project has been pulling together different scientists as well as ecologists to figure out not only what species we could do but what we should do to help the environment.”

Disappearing languages are another Long Now priority. This century, thousands of rare human languages may disappear. The Long Now is partnering with linguists and native speakers to preserve these languages on line. The foundation also has created language “decoder rings.” Each of these palm-sized disks, made from long-lasting nickel, holds miniaturized language pages for over 1,000 languages.

University of Colorado archives director Heather Ryan has assisted what’s called the Rosetta Project. She says the Rosetta Disks are a great thought experiment for long-term thinking. And if we ever lose our on-line experts, she says, they may also be practical.

“Looking 10,000 years into the future, somebody could come across and . . . pick up the fact that there’s information etched on here. We can then find clues to all the languages of human civilization over time,” Ryan said.

In the here and now

To foster long-term responsibility, the Long Now Foundation sponsors talks and podcasts with visionaries, such as Dr. Larry Brilliant. The physician and epidemiologist is a former hippie and current philanthropist, who helped the World Health Organization eradicate smallpox.

Audience members say hearing these long-term thinkers gets them thinking about their future. One teenage boy announces, “Eventually, I want to make a difference in the world.” A man in the crowd observes, “We have to have a long-term view in order to have a long term life.”

 

As for pessimists who wonder, what’s the point of thinking 10,000 years ahead, when the world might not survive another 10 months, another member of the audience answers with a laugh, “Makes you wonder, but you’ve always got to keep your eye on the future or else you’ll be stuck. And you can’t get anything done if you’re stuck.”

By helping people care, dream and do, the Long Now Foundation plans to make the world a better place for a long time to come.

your ad here

Vote to Repeal US Broadband Privacy Rules Sparks Interest in VPNs

The vote by the U.S. Congress to repeal rules that limit how internet service providers can use customer data has generated renewed interest in an old internet technology: virtual private networks, or VPNs.

VPNs cloak a customer’s web-surfing history by making an encrypted connection to a private server, which then searches the Web on the customer’s behalf without revealing the destination addresses. VPNs are often used to connect to a secure business network, or in countries such as China and

Turkey to bypass government restrictions on Web surfing.

Privacy-conscious techies are now talking of using VPNs as a matter of course to guard against broadband providers collecting data about which internet sites and services they are using.

“Time to start using a VPN at home,” Vijaya Gadde, general counsel of Twitter Inc, said in a tweet on Tuesday that was retweeted by Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey.

Gadde was not immediately available for comment. Twitter said she was commenting in her personal capacity and not on behalf of the company.

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted 215-205 on Tuesday to repeal rules adopted last year by the Federal Communications Commission under then-President Barack Obama to require broadband providers to obtain consumer consent before using their data for advertising or marketing.

The U.S. Senate, also controlled by Republicans, voted 50-48 last week to reverse the rules. The White House said President Donald Trump supported the repeal measure.

Supporters of the repeal said the FCC unfairly required internet service providers like AT&T Inc, Comcast Corp and Verizon Communications Inc to do more to protect customers’ privacy than websites like Alphabet Inc’s

Google or Facebook Inc.

Critics said the repeal would weaken consumers’ privacy protections.

VPN advantages, drawbacks

Protected data includes a customer’s web-browsing history, which in turn can be used to discover other types of information, including health and financial data.

Some smaller broadband providers are now seizing on privacy as a competitive advantage. Sonic, a California-based broadband provider, offers a free VPN service to its customers so they can connect to its network when they are not home. That ensures that when Sonic users log on to wi-fi at a coffee shop or hotel, for example, their data is not collected by that establishment’s

broadband provider.

“We see VPN as being important for our customers when they’re not on our network. They can take it with them on the road,” CEO Dane Jasper said.

In many areas of the country, there is no option to choose an independent broadband provider and consumers will have to pay for a VPN service to shield their browsing habits.

Private Internet Access, a VPN provider, took a visible stand against the repeal measure when it bought a full-page ad in the New York Times on Sunday. But the company, which boasts about a million subscribers, potentially stands to benefit from the legislation, acknowledged marketing director Caleb Chen.

VPNs have drawbacks. They funnel all user traffic through one point, so they are an attractive target for hackers and spies. The biggest obstacle to their routine use as a privacy safeguard is that they can be too much of a hassle to set up for many customers. They also cost money.

“The further along toward being a computer scientist you have to be to use a VPN, the smaller a portion of the population we’re talking about that can use it,” said Ernesto Falcon, a legislative counsel for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which opposed the bill.

your ad here

Advanced Trash-to-Fuel Plant Goes Online in Israel

While President Trump’s latest executive order gives renewed life to power plants that burn coal, energy companies continue to seek and find alternative, less expensive and cleaner sources of fuel. One possibility is turning trash into fuel in an environmentally responsible way. VOA’s George Putic reports that authorities in Tel Aviv say their new garbage processing plant is on track to produce as much as 500 tons of fuel daily.

your ad here

Tackling Global Health Care: Tips for Aspiring Entrepreneurs

Imagine a vaccine vial with a temperature-sensitive label that changes colors when exposed to excessive heat.

That’s the sort of technology that can make a huge difference for doctors working in challenging conditions, allowing them to determine at-a-glance whether heat-sensitive vaccines are viable.

The vaccine vial monitor is one of the projects at the Program for Appropriate Technology in Health (PATH), an international nonprofit based in Seattle with more than 22 offices around the world, including sub-Saharan Africa, India and Southeast Asia.

The organization partners with foundations, non-governmental organizations and governments to expedite the development of global health solutions such as vaccines, drugs and medical devices. PATH’s aim is to help deliver breakthroughs in drug and medical devices on a global scale.

Tribendimidine (TrBD) is one of those potential breakthroughs — a drug treatment for soil-transmitted helminths, or intestinal worm infections.

According to the World Health Organization, over 1.5 billion people, or 24 percent of the global population, have acquired soil-transmitted helminths infections. Tropical and subtropical regions of the world are most affected, with the highest rates of incidences in sub-Saharan Africa, the Americas, China and East Asia.

The development of new drugs like TrBD helps deter increasing resistance to existing drugs, when used in tandem with or as a replacement for these drugs.

Advice for entrepreneurs

David Shoultz, program leader for drug development at PATH, considers three factors essential to the long-term success of health care solutions, and advises aspiring entrepreneurs to keep them in mind: demand, cost and consumer-oriented product design.

“Unless we understand what the user is looking for and if we can then actually project what the demand will be … any technology, no matter how good it is, is likely to fall flat,” he said.

Shoultz recommends entrepreneurs find partners who can be a bridge into the global health arena.

“It may be that the entrepreneur truly does have a brilliant idea and it’s already available in a different setting,” he said. Organizations like PATH and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation can help filter and shape ideas, along with facilitating important industry connections.

Cost is another important consideration for entrepreneurs. Medical technologies developed in high-income countries can be less accessible to those in middle- or low-income countries, which is why Shoultz advises entrepreneurs to keep prices as low as possible.

For example, PATH’s drug for soil-transmitted helminths will sell for $0.06 to $0.07 cents a tablet.

“To be honest, there are comparable drugs that are even a little bit less expensive than that,” noted Shoultz, “We’re constantly trying to think of, OK, how could we make it even a little bit less expensive.'”

WATCH: Shoultz Talks about Common Mistakes by Entrepreneurs

Ultra Rice

Global entrepreneurs should also consider end-users not just as patients, but as consumers, Shoultz said.

“Sometimes we think about consumers or users in low-income settings as being very utilitarian, and in fact, my experience … is that they’re looking for the same thing that all of us are looking for in consumer goods — they do want to be excited and delighted,” he said.

To that end, PATH developed a rice fortification technology called Ultra Rice in which grains made from rice flour are fortified with vitamins and minerals and produced to resemble real rice grains. The Ultra Rice grains are then mixed with local, natural rice supplies to significantly boost their nutritional value.

The product aids those around the world suffering from micronutrient deficiencies, of which the United Nations World Food Program says there are 2 billion.

“I think really understanding the consumer impulse … is critically important, rather than just imagining that we’re going to build drab or utilitarian tools, because that’s not very exciting to consumers, regardless of their income level,” Shoultz said.

your ad here

US Vote to Repeal Broadband Privacy Rules Sparks Interest in VPNs

The vote by the U.S. Congress to repeal rules that limit how internet service providers can use customer data has generated renewed interest in an old internet technology: virtual private networks, or VPNs.

VPNs cloak a customer’s web-surfing history by making an encrypted connection to a private server, which then searches the Web on the customer’s behalf without revealing the destination addresses. VPNs are often used to connect to a secure business network, or in countries such as China and Turkey to bypass government restrictions on Web surfing.

Privacy-conscious techies are now talking of using VPNs as a matter of course to guard against broadband providers collecting data about which internet sites and services they are using.

“Time to start using a VPN at home,” Vijaya Gadde‏, general counsel of Twitter Inc, said in a tweet on Tuesday that was retweeted by Twitter Chief Executive Jack Dorsey.

Gadde was not immediately available for comment. Twitter said she was commenting in her personal capacity and not on behalf of the company.

The Republican-led U.S. House of Representatives voted 215-205 on Tuesday to repeal rules adopted last year by the Federal Communications Commission under then-President Barack Obama to require broadband providers to obtain consumer consent before using their data for advertising or marketing.

your ad here

Elon Musk’s Latest Target: Brain-computer Interfaces

Tech billionaire Elon Musk is announcing a new venture called Neuralink focused on linking brains to computers.

The company plans to develop brain implants that can treat neural disorders —  and that may one day be powerful enough to put humanity on a more even footing with possible future superintelligent computers, according to a Wall Street Journal report citing unnamed sources.

Musk, a founder of both the electric-car company Tesla Motors and the private space-exploration firm SpaceX, has become an outspoken doomsayer about the threat artificial intelligence might one day pose to the human race.

Continued growth in AI cognitive capabilities, he and like-minded critics suggest, could lead to machines that can outthink and outmaneuver humans with whom they might have little in common.

In a tweet Tuesday, Musk gave few details beyond confirming Neuralink’s name and tersely noting the “existential risk” of failing to pursue direct brain-interface work.

 

Stimulating the brain

Some neuroscientists and futurists, however, caution against making overly broad claims for neural interfaces.

Hooking a brain up directly to electronics is itself not new. Doctors implant electrodes in brains to deliver stimulation for treating such conditions as Parkinson’s disease, epilepsy and chronic pain. In experiments, implanted sensors have let paralyzed people use brain signals to operate computers and move robotic arms. Last year , researchers reported that a man regained some movement in his own hand with a brain implant.

Musk’s proposal goes beyond this. Although nothing is developed yet, the company wants to build on those existing medical treatments as well as one day work on surgeries that could improve cognitive functioning, according to the Journal article.

Neuralink is not the only company working on artificial intelligence for the brain. Entrepreneur Bryan Johnson, who sold his previous payments startup Braintree to PayPal for $800 million, last year started Kernel, a company working on “advanced neural interfaces” to treat disease and extend cognition.

Risk of overhype

Neuroscientists posit that the technology that Neuralink and Kernel are working on may indeed come to pass, though it’s likely to take much longer than the four or five years Musk has predicted. Brain surgery remains a risky endeavor; implants can shift in place, limiting their useful lifetime; and patients with implanted electrodes face a steep learning curve being trained how to use them.

“It’s a few decades down the road,” said Blake Richards, a neuroscientist and assistant professor at the University of Toronto. “Certainly within the 21st century, assuming society doesn’t implode, that is completely possible.”

Amy Webb, CEO of Future Today Institute, pointed out that the Neuralink announcement is part of a much larger field of human-machine interface research, dating back over a decade, performed at the University of Washington, Duke University and elsewhere.

Too much hype from one “buzzy” announcement like Neuralink, she said, could lead to another “AI Winter.” That’s a reference to the overhype of AI during the Cold War, which was followed by a backlash and reduced research funding when its big promises didn’t materialize.

“The challenge is, it’s good to talk about potential,” Webb said. “But the problem is if we fail to achieve that potential and don’t start seeing all these cool devices and medical applications we’ve been talking about then investors start losing their enthusiasm, taking funding out and putting it elsewhere.”

your ad here

Samsung Plans to Sell Refurbished Galaxy Note 7s

Tech giant Samsung Electronics plans to sell refurbished versions of the Galaxy Note 7 smartphones, the company said late on Monday, signaling the return of the model pulled from markets last year because of fire-prone batteries.

Samsung’s Note 7s were permanently scrapped in October after some phones self-combusted, prompting a global recall roughly two months after the launch of the near-$900 devices.

A subsequent investigation found manufacturing problems in batteries supplied by two companies — Samsung SDI Co and Amperex Technology.

Analysis from Samsung and independent researchers found no other problems in the Note 7 devices except the batteries, raising speculation that Samsung will recoup some of its losses by selling refurbished Note 7s.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters in January that it was considering the possibility of selling refurbished versions of the device or reusing some parts.

Samsung’s announcement that revamped Note 7s will go back on sale, however, surprised some with the timing – only days before it launches its new S8 smartphone on Wednesday in the United States, its first new premium phone since the debacle last year.

Under pressure to turn its image around after the burning battery scandal, Samsung had previously not commented on its plans for recovered phones.

“Regarding the Galaxy Note 7 devices as refurbished phones or rental phones, applicability is dependent upon consultations with regulatory authorities and carriers as well as due consideration of local demand,” Samsung said in a statement.

South Korea’s Electronic Times newspaper, citing unnamed sources, said on Tuesday that Samsung will start selling refurbished Note 7s in its home country in July or August and will aim to sell between 400,000 and 500,000 of the Note 7s using safe batteries.

Samsung said in a statement to Reuters that the company has not set specifics on refurbished Note 7 sales plans, including what markets and when they would go on sale, though it also said it does not plan to sell refurbished Note 7s in India or the United States.

The company said refurbished Note 7s will be equipped with new batteries that have gone through Samsung’s new battery safety measures.

“The objective of introducing refurbished devices is solely to reduce and minimize any environmental impact,” it said.

The company estimated that it took a profit hit of $5.5 billion over three quarters because of the Note 7’s troubles. It had sold more than 3 million of the phones before taking the model off the market.

Samsung also plans to recover and use or sell reusable components such as chips and camera modules, as well as rare metals such as copper, gold, nickel and silver from Note 7 devices it opts not to sell as refurbished products.

Environment rights group Greenpeace and others had urged Samsung to come up with environmentally friendly ways to deal with the recovered Note 7s. Greenpeace said in a separate statement on Monday that it welcomed Samsung’s decision and that the company should carry out its plans in a verifiable manner.

your ad here

No Wi-Fi, No Internet, No Problem

Broadband access in the United States is not universal, with a longtime digital divide beween urban and rural areas.

But in one small town just four hours from Washington, D.C., there’s no internet service at all.

The town of Green Bank, West Virginia, is the site of the largest fully steerable radio telescope in the world, so internet connections and anything else that can create electromagnetic waves, such as microwave ovens, are banned.

It becomes apparent in Green Bank that visitors have to navigate the old-fashioned way: by reading road signs. That’s because GPS comes to a screeching halt as you approach this West Virginia town, which has two churches, an elementary school, a library and the world’s largest radio telescope.

Sherry, who manages the largest store in Green Bank, was born here so the lack of internet access is normal for her.

“Yes, we are different. Many would say that we live the old-fashioned way, in the past. But for us, it’s just the way of life that we have always lived,” Sherry said.

On her store wall, an artifact from the past … a phone attached to a wall jack … the only way to call someone in Green Bank.

No modern wireless conveniences, such as smartphones, are usable here.

Green Bank is frozen in time, somewhere in the 1950s, because there’s a 33,000-square-kilometer zone of silence due to the telescope. Cellphone towers are forbidden.

But that’s OK for residents because there are several payphones.

The closer you get to the telescope, the greater the restrictions. There’s a 16-kilometer radius around the observatory where radio-controlled items, even toys, cannot be used. Compliance with these conditions is strictly enforced.

Jonah Bauserman acts as a “technical” policeman. If he suspects there’s an unauthorized signal, he drives to the house and inspects it for prohibited devices.

“This equipment allows me to catch even the weakest signals that could affect the telescope,” Bauserman said.

Telescope employees even work in a special room — much like a sarcophagus — that blocks electromagnetic waves from leaving the interior.​

“Here imagine a submarine, water cannot get inside, and so this room is an electric submarine. No electromagnetic waves can get into this room, just as you can’t go beyond it,” Michael Holstein, an observatory officer, said.

The job of these scientists is to minimize the impact of outside interference on the radio telescope.

Only once a week, when there’s regularly scheduled maintenance, some prohibited devices are allowed near the telescope, Holstein said.

The size of a football field, the telescope is so sensitive it could pick up signals sent from an alien world. And scientists can’t wait for that to happen.

“All the signals that we now receive with the help of telescopes are signals that come from cosmic objects — stars, galaxies. We have not yet received anything from intelligent civilizations,” scientist Richard Lynch said.

Local people respect the work of the scientists. And they are more than happy to live life Wi-Fi free.

“When we want to meet friends, we just call each other on a wire phone. //// And instead of sitting in front of your screen, we talk, we go fishing, to the mountains,” resident Sherry said.

For the latest news, residents read the weekly local newspaper. When she’s looking for a phone number, Sherry reaches for the phone book.

And instead of Facebook, Sherry enjoys daily conversations with her customers. In this town, everyone knows each other and communication is face to face.

your ad here

Facebook’s Messenger App to Allow Live Location-sharing

Facebook Inc will add a feature to its Messenger app Monday to allow users to share their locations, the company said, ramping up competition with tools offered by Apple Inc and Alphabet Inc’s Google Maps.

The company has found that one of the most used phrases on Messenger as people talk to friends and family is “How far away are you?” or some variation, Stan Chudnovsky, head of product for Messenger, said in an interview.

“It happens to be what people are saying, what they’re interested in the most,” he said.

Sharing location information will be optional, he said, but it will also be live, so that once a user shares the information with a friend, the friend will be able to watch the user’s movement for up to 60 minutes.

Messenger was once part of the core Facebook smartphone app, but the company broke it out as a separate app in 2014 and has since invested in frequent changes to build a service distinct from the massive social network.

Google Maps said last week that it was adding a similar feature, an attempt to boost engagement on a product of increasing strategic importance to that company.

The close proximity of the announcements tells Facebook “that we’re working on the right things,” Chudnovsky said.

The Messages app on Apple’s iPhone has such a feature, too.

Facebook has been testing its change in Mexico, he said. It was ready as long ago as October, he added, but the company worked on it for five more months to minimize the impact on the battery life of phones.

your ad here

Uber Resumes Self-Driving Car Program in San Francisco After Crash

Driverless vehicles operated by Uber Technologies Inc. were back on the road in San Francisco on Monday after one of its self-driving cars crashed in Arizona, the ride-hailing company said.

Uber’s autonomous vehicles in Arizona and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, remained grounded but were expected to be operating again soon, according to a spokeswoman for the company, who refused to be identified.

“We are resuming our development operations in San Francisco this morning,” she said in an email.

Uber’s San Francisco program is currently in development mode. It has two cars registered with the California Department of Motor Vehicles, but is not transporting passengers.

The spokeswoman said because of this, the company felt confident in putting the cars back on the road while it investigates the collision in Arizona.

On Friday, Uber suspended its pilot program in the three states. A human-driven vehicle “failed to yield” to an Uber vehicle while making a turn in Tempe, Arizona, said Josie Montenegro, a spokeswoman for the city’s police department.

“The vehicles collided, causing the autonomous vehicle to roll onto its side,” Montenegro said in an email. “There were no serious injuries.”

Two “safety” drivers were in the front seats of the Uber car, which was in self-driving mode at the time of the crash, Uber said on Friday, a standard requirement for its self-driving vehicles. The back seat was unoccupied.

Photos and a video posted on Twitter by Fresco News showed a Volvo SUV flipped on its side after an apparent collision involving two other, slightly damaged cars. Uber said the images appeared to be from the Tempe crash scene.

 

 

 

 

your ad here

Qatar Wealth Fund to Open Office in Silicon Valley

The Qatar Investment Authority, the Gulf Arab state’s acquisitive sovereign wealth fund, is setting up an office in San Francisco to manage its growing portfolio in the United States, the CEO of QIA said in London on Monday.

“Soon we will be opening an office in the Silicon Valley in San Francisco,” Sheikh Abdullah Bin Mohammed al-Thani told reporters at an investment conference.

The fund is one of the most active sovereign investors in the world, snapping up stakes in everything from real estate to luxury goods.

Much of its activity has traditionally been in Europe but the fund has said it is looking to diversify into Asia and the United States, announcing last year a plan to spend $20 billion in Asian investments over the next five years.

your ad here