Bitcoin

US Indicts Suspected Russian 'Mastermind' of $4 Billion Bitcoin Laundering Scheme (reuters.com) 55

schwit1 shares a report from Reuters: A U.S. jury indicted a Russian man on Wednesday as the operator of a digital currency exchange he allegedly used to launder more than $4 billion for people involved in crimes ranging from computer hacking to drug trafficking. Alexander Vinnik was arrested in a small beachside village in northern Greece on Tuesday, according to local authorities, following an investigation led by the U.S. Justice Department along with several other federal agencies and task forces. U.S. officials described Vinnik in a Justice Department statement as the operator of BTC-e, an exchange used to trade the digital currency bitcoin since 2011. They alleged Vinnik and his firm "received" more than $4 billion in bitcoin and did substantial business in the United States without following appropriate protocols to protect against money laundering and other crimes. U.S. authorities also linked him to the failure of Mt. Gox, a Japan-based bitcoin exchange that collapsed in 2014 after being hacked. Vinnik "obtained" funds from the hack of Mt. Gox and laundered them through BTC-e and Tradehill, another San Francisco-based exchange he owned, they said in the statement.
Privacy

German Court Rules Bosses Can't Use Keyboard-Tracking Software To Spy On Workers (thelocal.de) 42

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Local: The Federal Labour Court ruled on Thursday that evidence collected by a company through keystroke-tracking software could not be used to fire an employee, explaining that such surveillance violates workers' personal rights. The complainant had been working as a web developer at a media agency in North Rhine-Westphalia since 2011 when the company sent an email out in April 2015 explaining that employees' complete "internet traffic" and use of the company computer systems would be logged and permanently saved. Company policy forbade private use of the computers. The firm then installed keylogger software on company PCs to monitor keyboard strokes and regularly take screenshots. Less than a month later, the complainant was called in to speak with his boss about what the company had discovered through the spying software. Based on their findings, they accused him of working for another company while at work, and of developing a computer game for them. [...] So the programmer took his case to court, arguing that the evidence used against him had been collected illegally. The Federal Labour Court agreed with this argument, stating in the ruling that the keylogger software was an unlawful way to control employees. The judges added that using such software could be legitimate if there was a concrete suspicion beforehand of a criminal offense or serious breach of work duties.
Businesses

Where's All My CPU and Memory Gone? The Answer: $5B Worth Slack App (medium.com) 129

Slack, valued at $5 billion, has received buyout pitches from several companies including Amazon and Microsoft. But the team collaborations service, which has over 5 million active users, continues to offer one of the most resource intensive apps you could find on Mac and iOS. From an article: TLDR; If you care about battery life or availability of your finite CPU and memory on your computer, then you probably won't want to use Slack desktop with more than one or two accounts. Slack resource usage increases linearly as you add more accounts, and it quickly adds up. [...] I noticed that my machine has been sluggish and its battery life has become poor. Whilst investigating this, it turns out that Slack desktop fails badly when used with multiple accounts. This is because CPU and memory usage increases linearly as you add more accounts to your Slack desktop client. As a result, I believe the growing trend to use Slack to be part of multiple communities is seriously flawed until Slack resolve this problem. The author, Matthew O'Riordan, has shared screenshots of Activity Monitor which shows that Slack application on his Mac was consuming more than 1.5GB of memory, and as much as 70 percent of the energy. The company's iOS app instills several more issues.
Communications

Why Your Call Center is Only Getting Noisier (mckinsey.com) 80

From a report by research firm McKinsey & Company: Organizations have been investing in all manner of customer-facing technology solutions to replace live calls. Of all operational call-center technologies, digital solutions were ranked as one of the most important over the next five years by four out of five executives. Only agent desktop tools ranked higher. These technologies begin with websites, chat bots, and apps and extend to artificial-intelligence robots that simulate human conversations -- redefining the way organizations interact with customers -- as well as more tried-and-tested functionalities such as improved web, app, or self-service capabilities in interactive voice-response (IVR) systems. And yet, despite this plethora of technology solutions, we see that calls are not going away and instead are catching call-center executives off guard in their efforts to reduce volumes. It's not that a spike in call volumes is necessarily a bad thing. On the contrary, the proliferation of digital tools can awaken previously dormant customers, sparking new inquiries from an engaged customer base. But in many instances, we've also observed that the volumes of unwanted calls exceed what would be expected during a learning period, or remain constant or rise over time, defeating strategic goals and leaving managers bewildered and unable to tie tech investments to improved operational outcomes. Why are so many organizations struggling with reaping the full benefits from these investments? In our experience, the answer often lies in two core areas. First, as companies turn to technology to address call-center volumes, they allow customer experience to take a back seat to digital technology in their operations, creating dissonance in direct customer interaction, where the objective is harmony and efficiency. Second, by counting on technology to solve their call-center issues, executives lose focus on core operations and upset the balance between human interaction and automation in an era of evolved customer service.
Twitter

Twitter Added Zero New Users Last Quarter Despite Trump Tweets (nypost.com) 223

Twitter did not add any new users in Q2, a disappointing follow-up to what had been a promising start to 2017. Twitter reported earnings Thursday morning, claiming 328 million total users -- the same number it reported after Q1. Analysts had been hoping the company would add around four million new users last quarter. From a report: Despite its appeal among celebrities and public figures, Twitter has struggled to sustain its closely watched user growth even as it invests in features and live content to help draw viewers and boost user engagement. It is in stiff competition for advertising dollars with other platforms like larger rival Facebook and Snap's messaging app Snapchat. The company also reported a wider quarterly net loss and lower revenue, and said it did not expect its total revenue growth to pick up in the second half of the year. [...] President Donald Trump, one of the most active politicians on Twitter, has tweeted multiple times a day on average since his inauguration in January, according to social media analytics company Zoomph.
Android

Samsung Said To Open Its Pay Service, Could Make It Available On Rival Companies' Smartphones (phonedog.com) 39

Samsung Pay, the second most OEM-Pay mobile payments service (only second to Apple Pay), may be available on smartphones from other manufacturers, according to a report. From an article: Samsung is in talks with other device makers about bringing Samsung Pay to non-Samsung high-end devices, according to a report from Gadgets 360. Samsung is reportedly aiming to offer Samsung Pay support for these non-Samsung devices by mid-2018. As for how it'll happen, Samsung is said to be considering two options. Samsung Pay relies on MST chips in order to offer contactless payments with non-NFC terminals, and so Samsung is said to be talking with other smartphone makers about adding MST tech to their devices. Another option that Samsung is thinking about is an external accessory like the LoopPay Card Case. This would enable Samsung Pay on supported devices without requiring the phones' manufacturers to add MST tech into their phones. Magnetic Secure Transmission technology is patented to LoopPay, which Samsung acquired two years ago. The feature, which mimics a card swipe, enables Samsung Pay to work on any card swiping machine, an advantage it has over Android Pay and Apple Pay.
Businesses

Apple Discontinues iPod Nano and iPod Shuffle (macrumors.com) 135

From a report: Apple today removed the iPod nano and iPod shuffle from its website and online store around the world, suggesting the iconic portable media players may be discontinued. Apple continues to sell the iPod touch. Beyond new colors and storage capacities, Apple had last updated the iPod nano in October 2012 and the iPod shuffle in September 2010. Apple last updated the iPod touch in July 2015 with an 8-megapixel rear camera. Apple introduced the iPod shuffle in January 2005, followed by the iPod nano in September 2005. In total, there were seven generations of the iPod nano, and four generations of the iPod shuffle. The company has confirmed that it has discontinued the devices.
Businesses

More Than One Billion People Use Facebook's WhatsApp Service Every Day (whatsapp.com) 81

Facebook has announced that more than one billion people use its instant messages and voice calling app WhatsApp every day. To put that in perspective, there are 7.5 billion people on this planet. And Facebook, whose marquee service itself is used by more than two billion people every month, says that 13.3 percent of the world's population is using Whatsapp every day.
Businesses

Not Made in America, Wal-Mart Looks Overseas For Online Vendors (reuters.com) 100

Walmart.com, trailing Amazon.com in the number of goods for sale on its website, is recruiting vendors in China and other countries to boost its online offerings in a pivot away from Wal-Mart's Made-in-America campaign. From a report: While there is a financial incentive behind the move, Wal-Mart's decision comes out of necessity: not all the goods its customers want -- ranging from jeans to bicycles to beauty products -- are manufactured within the United States. That reality pits Wal-Mart against President Donald Trump's "Made in America" push. It also risks alienating some of Wal-Mart's existing U.S. vendors since it runs counter to the American-made pledge the retailer made in 2013 in a bid to win customers, and satisfy unions and other critics who said its drive for low cost goods was undermining American jobs. According to two sources with knowledge of the matter, Wal-Mart Stores in February began inviting sellers from China, the United Kingdom and Canada to list on the marketplace section of Walmart.com, where it earns a share of revenue from goods sold and delivered to customers by third-party vendors.
Businesses

Jeff Bezos Surpasses Bill Gates as World's Richest Person (bloomberg.com) 138

An anonymous reader shares a report: A surge in Amazon shares Thursday morning in advance of the online retailer's earnings report has propelled founder Jeff Bezos past Bill Gates as the world's richest person. Shares of the online retailer rose 1.3 percent to $1,065.92 at 10:10 a.m. in New York, giving Bezos a net worth of $90.9 billion, versus $90.7 billion for Gates. If that holds through the 4 p.m. close, Bezos, 53, will leapfrog Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. Gates, 61, has held the top spot since May 2013.
Facebook

Facebook Employees Living in a Garage Hope Zuckerberg Will Learn What's Happening in His Own City (cnbc.com) 437

At the beginning of the year, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg set a goal to visit every state in the U.S. so he could learn more about the millions of people who use the social network every day. But two of his employees tell The Guardian that they wonder when the billionaire is going to get to know his own community. From a report: The employees, a married couple named Nicole and Victor, are both contract workers in the cafeteria at Facebook's Menlo Park, Calif. headquarters. And they wish they, and the problems closer to home, could also get a share of Zuckerberg's attention. "He should learn what's happening in this city," Nicole tells The Guardian. The couple says they can barely make ends meet. Together with their three children, Nicole and Victor share a two-car garage adjacent to Victor's parents' home. They borrow money from friends and family to stay afloat and occasionally resort to payday loans. Although they earn too much to qualify for state benefits, they don't earn enough to afford Facebook's health care plan.
Businesses

The Inside Story of the Lily Drone's Collapse (wired.com) 134

New submitter mirandakatz writes: Lily Robotics had everything: Two charismatic young founders; millions in funding; and a product that promised to change the world -- or, at the very least, transform photography. But over 60,000 customers are still waiting for their Lily Drones, and the company is now being sued by the San Francisco District Attorney's office for false advertising. As it turns out, Lily Robotics never actually had the right tools to create the product it was selling -- and it all came crashing down. At Backchannel, Jessica Pishko has the untold story of how such a promising company went so wrong.

From the report: "The magic of the Lily Drone was in its concept: It was a product you could unpack and throw -- so easy, Antoine Balaresque, the cofounder and CEO of Lily Robotics, wrote in emails, that even an old person could do it. But translating that idea into a tangible product proved difficult, and the storytelling that made the Lily Drone so tantalizing to consumers ultimately factored into its downfall. In one of his presentations, Balaresque presented a PowerPoint slide with the sentence, 'Humans have a fundamental need to put themselves in the center of stories.' It appeared to be a quote he made up, but the idea that human nature needs stories is fundamental. Stories are how we make sense of our lives. But while a good story can get you funding and acclaim, ultimately it isn't enough."

Bitcoin

SEC Rules That ICO Tokens Are Securities (vice.com) 95

schwit1 shares a report from Business Insider: On Tuesday, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that "ICOs" (Initial Coin Offerings) can sometimes be considered securities -- and as such are subject to strict laws and regulations. For the uninitiated, ICOs are a fancy new way of fundraising enabled by digital currencies like Ethereum -- participants invest money and receive digital "tokens" in return. Thus far, it has been largely unregulated, with some ICO crowdfunding events raising hundreds of millions of dollars -- leading some observers to argue that it is a massive bubble. But the SEC's warning means that this free-for-all may not last forever.

"Going forward, according to the SEC, companies that are issuing tokens as part of an ICO (if they are considered securities) need to register with the commission," reports Motherboard. "This will force companies to comply with regulations that ask them to reveal their financial position and the identities of their management. The SEC also concluded that online exchanges where tokens are bought and traded may have to register as security exchanges."

schwit1 adds a quote from Benito Mussolini: "All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state."

Businesses

The Quitting Economy (aeon.co) 230

From an essay on Aeon magazing: [...] The CEO of Me, Inc is a job-quitter for a good reason -- the business world has come to realize that market value is the best measure of value. As a consequence, a career means a string of jobs at different companies. So workers respond in kind, thinking about how to shape their career in a world where you can expect so little from employers. In a society where market rules rule, the only way for an employee to know her value is to look for another job and, if she finds one, usually to quit. If you are a white-collar worker, it is simply rational to view yourself first and foremost as a job quitter -- someone who takes a job for a certain amount of time when the best outcome is that you quit for another job (and the worst is that you get laid off). So how does work change when everyone is trying to become a quitter? First of all, in the society of perpetual job searches, different criteria make a job good or not. Good jobs used to be ones with a good salary, benefits, location, hours, boss, co-workers, and a clear path towards promotion. Now, a good job is one that prepares you for your next job, almost always with another company. Your job might be a space to learn skills that you can use in the future. Or, it might be a job with a company that has a good-enough reputation that other companies are keen to hire away its employees. On the other hand, it isn't as good a job if everything you learn there is too specific to that company, if you aren't learning easily transferrable skills. It isn't a good job if it enmeshes you in local regulatory schemes and keeps you tied to a particular location. And it isn't a good job if you have to work such long hours that you never have time to look for the next job. In short, a job becomes a good job if it will lead to another job, likely with another company or organisation. You start choosing a job for how good it will be for you to quit it.
Businesses

Tech Leaders Speak Out Against Trump Ban on Transgender Troops (axios.com) 500

Technology executives, including Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Google CEO Sundar Pichai took to social media to voice their displeasure over President Donald Trump's latest stance on transgendered people in the military.

"I am grateful to the transgender members of the military for their service," Google CEO Sundar Pichai said.
Apple CEO Tim Cook said, "We are indebted to all who serve. Discrimination against anyone holds everyone back."
Brad Smith, Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer said, "We honor and respect all who serve, including the transgender members of our military."
Salesforce said it "believes in equality for all. We support and thank all U.S. service members, including transgender Americans."
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said, "Everyone should be able to serve their country -- no matter who they are."
Veteran entrepreneur Max Levchin urged support for transgender people across party lines. "Trans kids, soldiers etc need our support today and to know they are valued & respected regardless of politics. Let us not be divided."
Uber told news outlet Axios, "We owe the deepest debt of gratitude to all those who volunteer to serve in the US Armed Forces and defend our values. These patriotic Americans deserve to be honored and respected, not turned away because of who they are."
Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey said, "Discrimination in any form is wrong for all of us."
Security

Some Low-Cost Android Phones Come at a Price -- Your Privacy (cnet.com) 86

Cheap phones are coming at the price of your privacy, security analysts discovered. From a report: At $60, the BLU R1 HD is the top-selling phone on Amazon. Last November, researchers caught it secretly sending private data to China. Shanghai Adups Technology, the group behind the spying software on the BLU R1 HD, called it a mistake. But analysts at Kryptowire found the software provider is still making the same "mistake" on other phones. At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas on Wednesday, researchers from Kryptowire, a security firm, revealed that Adups' software is still sending a device's data to the company's server in Shanghai without alerting people. But now, it's being more secretive about it. "They replaced them with nicer versions," Ryan Johnson, a research engineer and co-founder at Kryptowire, said. "I have captured the network traffic of them using the Command and Control channel when they did it." An Adups spokeswoman said that it had resolved the issues in 2016 and that the issues "are not existing anymore." Kryptowire said it has observed the company sending data without telling users on at least three different phones.
Transportation

New Diesel and Petrol Vehicles To Be Banned From 2040 In UK (bbc.com) 396

New submitter puenktli writes: The UK is joining the list of the countries which are making a commitment towards diesel and petrol free vehicles. Other countries might be more progressive with such a ban (e.g. the Netherlands: by 2025), but at least it's a step in the right direction. However, if new bans are put forward at such a high rate as now, in 2040, the UK might be the only western country where petrol-fuelled cars are still on the road. Tesla at least will be happy about this ban, especially now with their Model 3. But these bans will inspire other car makers as well to invest more in EV. Maybe not such a bad idea after all: oil will run out one day, but the sun will always shine.
Businesses

Kaspersky Launches Its Free Antivirus Software Worldwide (engadget.com) 140

Kaspersky has finally launched its free antivirus software after a year-and-a-half of testing it in select regions. From a report: While the software was only available in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, China and in Nordic countries during its trial run, Kaspersky is releasing it worldwide. The free antivirus doesn't have VPN, Parental Controls and Online Payment Protection its paid counterpart offers, but it has all the essential features you need to protect your PC. It can scan files and emails, protect your PC while you use the web and quarantine malware that infects your system. The company says the software isn't riddled with advertisements like other free antivirus offerings. Instead of trying to make ad money off your patronage, Kaspersky will use the data you contribute to improve machine learning across its products. The free antivirus will be available in the US, Canada and most Asia-Pacific countries over the next couple of days, if it isn't yet. After this initial release, the company will roll it out in other regions from September to November.
Businesses

Having a Woman On Your Team Ruins Your Chances For VC Funding (theoutline.com) 288

Laura June, writing for The Outline: It's a well-known, well-documented fact that women entrepreneurs face an uphill battle in the fight to get funding for their businesses. But a new study suggests that it can actually be almost impossible. According to the study, published Tuesday in the journal Venture Capital, having even one woman on a company's team makes them far less likely to get funding than an entirely male one. In fact, an all male team is about four times more likely to get funding than teams with any women on them. The study was done by researchers at Babson College and Wellesley, and looked at data on 6,793 companies funded between 2011 and 2013. This is the first large-scale study in a decade to focus on women's efforts to get funding, and it's not encouraging. The authors write, "We did not determine any significant performance differences between companies with women CEOs from companies with men CEOs, so it is quite surprising that women are still, practically speaking, shut out of the market for venture capital funding, both as CEOs and participants of executive teams."
Education

US Defense Budget May Help Fund 'Hacking For Defense' Classes At Universities (ieee.org) 34

According to an instructor at Stanford, eight universities in addition to Stanford will offer a Hacking for Defense class this year: Boise State, Columbia, Georgetown, James Madison, the University of California at San Diego, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Southern California, and the University of Southern Mississippi. IEEE Spectrum reports: The class has spun out Hacking for Diplomacy, Hacking for Energy, and other targeted classes that use the same methodology. The snowballing effort is now poised to get a big push. This month, the U.S. House of Representatives passed an amendment originated by Rep. Dan Lipinski (D-Ill.) to support development of curriculum, best practices, and recruitment materials for the program to the tune of $15 million (a drop in the $700 billion defense budget but a big deal for a university program). In arguing for the amendment, Lipinski said, "Rapid, low-cost technological innovation is what makes Silicon Valley revolutionary, but the DOD hasn't historically had the mechanisms in place to harness this American advantage. Hacking for Defense creates ways for talented scientists and engineers to work alongside veterans, military leaders, and business mentors to innovate solutions that make America safer."

Slashdot Top Deals