National NewsMan who sued Facebook's Zuckerberg must face fraud charges: judge
By Joseph Ax NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New York businessman must face criminal fraud charges for trying to claim a billion-dollar stake in social media company Facebook Inc, a federal judge ruled on Friday. Paul Ceglia, 40, is accused of forging a 2003 contract with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg that supposedly entitled him to part ownership of the company. After an hour-long hearing in New York, U.S. District Judge Andrew Carter rejected Ceglia's request to throw out the charges, finding he had failed to meet the "high standard" needed to dismiss a grand jury indictment. Ceglia sued Zuckerberg and Facebook in 2010 in a federal court in Buffalo, New York, claiming that he and Zuckerberg had signed a contract while Zuckerberg was a freshman at Harvard University for Ceglia to invest $1,000 in a planned social networking website.
Mexico telecoms regulator reins in Slim and his empire
By Tomas Sarmiento and Christine Murray MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - Mexico's telecommunications watchdog unveiled a slew of regulations on Friday to claw back the massive telephone business of billionaire Carlos Slim, but said it would not order a break-up of his companies for now. Mexico is trying to open up its phone and TV industries to more competition following last year's passage of a major telecoms reform that targets the vast market shares enjoyed by Slim and the country's no. 1 broadcaster, Televisa. Slim's America Movil controls about 80 percent of Mexico's fixed-line business via its Telmex unit and some 70 percent of the mobile sector through its Telcel unit. As was expected, the Federal Telecommunications Institute (IFT) declared America Movil "dominant", and therefore needs to be subject to tougher regulation.
UK court ruling may prompt more scrutiny of Amazon tax plans
By Tom Bergin LONDON (Reuters) - Amazon's tax affairs could come under more scrutiny in Britain, tax experts said, after a judge questioned whether it really was organized in the tax efficient way it said it was. The ruling comes as big technology groups, including Amazon, face increasing scrutiny in Britain over their tax practices. A UK judge ruled earlier this month that Amazon had infringed the trademark of soap maker Lush by posting advertisements on Google mentioning "Lush soap" and by offering customers who searched for "Lush soap" on its own website a list of options. Since Lush products were not available on Amazon's UK website - on the manufacturer's insistence - the judge ruled customers could be confused.
Elite security posse fostered founders of WhatsApp, Napster
By Joseph Menn SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - A few days after selling WhatsApp to Facebook for $19 billion, Jan Koum stepped into a suite at the St. Regis Hotel in San Francisco to celebrate with old friends, including CEOs, reformed hackers and a few people who fell into both those camps. Conducted over snacks and beer, the late-night festivity was a spontaneous reunion of a security super-group that had come to Koum's aid in 2000 as he grappled with a denial-of-service attack that knocked Yahoo offline when Koum was responsible for security there. The two most famous exceptions are WhatsApp, the messaging service that Koum co-founded, and Napster, the pioneering file-sharing company that was shut down by the music industry in 2001. Napster Co-founder Shawn Fanning was one of several members still in high school.
Suspected Russian spyware Turla targets Europe, United States
By Peter Apps and Jim Finkle LONDON/BOSTON (Reuters) - A sophisticated piece of spyware has been quietly infecting hundreds of government computers across Europe and the United States in one of the most complex cyber espionage programs uncovered to date. Several security researchers and Western intelligence officers say they believe the malware, widely known as Turla, is the work of the Russian government and linked to the same software used to launch a massive breach on the U.S. military uncovered in 2008.
U.S. extends Terremark contract as HealthCare.gov host
The Obama administration said on Friday Verizon Communications Inc's Terremark unit will remain under contract as host of the federal website HealthCare.gov to better ensure a smooth end to Obamacare's open enrollment period on March 31. Terremark's contract with the Department of Health and Human Services was due to expire on March 30, the day before the end of open enrollment for 2014, a time when high daily volumes are expected as consumers from 36 states rush to use to website to sign up for subsidized private health insurance. It would be extended for up to seven months, according to federal documents. Hewlett-Packard Co has been named to replace Terremark as website host and operator of the department's federal data center as part of Obama's Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
China's Tencent may take 16 percent stake in JD.com: media
China's largest Internet company Tencent Holdings Ltd may soon announce a deal to take about a 16 percent stake in online retailer JD.com and merge their online shopping platforms, local media reported on Saturday. JD.com, China's second-largest e-commerce company, has a nearly 13 percent market share. Any deal between two of China's largest online companies would help narrow the huge gap between e-retailers and Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, which dominates China's booming online commerce market. Under the deal, both companies will combine their e-commerce business, with Tencent transferring its less popular e-commerce sites, including yixun.com, to JD.com, China's major business paper Caixin reported, citing unidentified company sources.
Aereo's internet TV service in Denver and Salt Lake City shuts down today
Aereo's streams in Denver and Salt Lake City hung on for a while after the US District Court of Utah granted its opponents a preliminary injunction on February 20th, but today they're shutting off. Yesterday a panel of federal court judges denied Aereo's request to stay the injunction while it appeals, claiming "Aereo has not made a strong showing that it is likely to succeed on the merits of its appeal.
Sony teases 'the future of gaming' at developer conference later this month
Sony is widely rumored to be working on a virtual reality headset to compete with the Oculus Rift, and the truth could be revealed quite soon. Sony has just revealed it will host a new session at the 2014 Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, titled "Driving the Future of Innovation at Sony Computer Entertainment." Unlike most presentations at the conference, this particular session has an extremely short description that doesn't reveal what to expect, saying only that Sony will host a presentation on "innovation at PlayStation" and "the future of gaming." PlayStation R&D director Richard Marks and his colleague Anton Mikhailov will be present. As part of Sony's Magic Lab, they've experimented on a number of other ideas, including eye-tracking technology for the PS4.
Cartoon Network is working on an app with 15-second shows
Smartphones have fostered short attention spans for years, and now Cartoon Network plans to take advantage of that with a new app designed to deliver entertainment in extremely short bursts. Later this year, the company will release Cartoon Network Anything, an app with 15-second videos, games, and other tiny chunks of entertainment, reports The New York Times. The free app won't be tied to any cable service provider, says Cartoon Network Digital's vice president Chris Waldron, who added that the company views it as a proving ground for new content that might be deserving of a longer-form production. Cartoon Network is no stranger to mobile software.
Video: Check out this credit card-sized battery for iPhone, Android
The LithiumCard isn’t the only credit card-sized battery for mobile devices seeking crowd-funding, as there’s also a TravelCard project that offers iPhone and Android smartphones exactly the same perk: a credit card-like device that packs enough energy to bring life to a dying smartphone. According to the Go Design company the TravelCard’s 1300mAh battery can offer an additional 5 hours of talk time, 4.5 hours of internet usage or 98 hours of standby time on top of what the phone’s battery has to offer. The device is just 4.77mm thick and weighs 56.7g, fitting into most wallets or pockets, and comes with either a Lightning or microUSB charging cord. The TravelCard will be made in lightweight aircraft grade aluminum and
Now is the perfect time for college students to buy a Moto X
Motorola on Friday announced new customization options for its Moto X flagship handset, including the College Collection that will offer students the option of purchasing a handset that comes in their beloved school colors. “Starting today you can visit our College Collection design gallery and select from pre-configured school color combinations and clear cases with school logos and team names for up to 40 schools and counting,” Motorola wrote. In addition to the preset designs the company also added nine new back colors and three new accents to the Moto Maker palette, so users can create the “ultimate fan phone.” A College Collection Moto X option will cost the same $399 “everyday price,” or $49 with a new two-year contract, although college students
Oppo's Find 7 smartphone poses for glamour shots, two weeks early
So much for surprises. Oppo has been trying to maintain an aura of mystery around the launch of the Find 7 on March 19th, but the design lovers at Red Dot have spoiled things by showing off the smartphone in their product gallery, nearly two weeks ahead of time. While we've had some idea of what the Find 7 will look like, it's now clear that the 5.5-inch device will have a more upscale look than the Find 5 with a seamless front and a "breath light" at the bottom for notifications.
Long-lost fantasy film that accompanied 'Star Wars' will see wider release
A little-known part of Star Wars history is Black Angel, a 25-minute film that tells the story of a medieval knight returning home from the Crusades and discovering a strange land instead. It was the directorial debut of Roger Christian, who designed the sets on the first Star Wars film, and was given a small budget by George Lucas to create the short film, which was later shown to audiences before Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back in Europe and Australia. In a new interview with Esquire, Christian says he stored the original negatives and print of the film at a film studio in London, which ended up going bankrupt and getting rid of the copies after he failed to claim them.
Controversy marks Newsweek's comeback
NEW YORK (AP) — A mystery man. A splashy reveal. A media frenzy. Newsweek staked its return from the dead on a story it knew would get attention. A cover story claiming it had uncovered "the face behind bitcoin," the world's most popular digital currency.
$100 million worth of ads are headed to your Instagram feed
You may not notice a lot of ads in your Instagram feed on a regular basis but that might be about to change. Unnamed sources tell Ad Age that Instagram has reached an advertising deal with ad agency Omnicom that will be worth somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 million. For anyone keeping track, this deal alone would account for 10% of the $1 billion that Facebook paid to acquire Instagram back in 2012. In other words, it won’t take long at all for Facebook to recoup its investment in Instagram if it signs a few more deals like the one Ad Age says it’s signed with Omnicom.
DoubleTwist's new app lets you save iTunes Radio tracks to your PC
The folks at DoubleTwist are at it again. Over the past three months they've crafted Android and OS X apps to help penny-pinching users save the music they hear on iTunes Radio, and now they've gone and done the unthinkable: they made a version for Windows PCs, too.
Global ho-hum greets hubbub over bitcoin's creator
Malaysia Airlines loses contact with plane carrying 239 people
AFP reports that a Malaysia Airlines flight headed from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing went missing this afternoon, having lost contact with air traffic control. The Boeing 777-200 is said to be carrying 239 passengers. According to the airline, Flight MH370 left Malaysia shortly after midnight local time, only to disappear a few hours later. It was meant to land in China at 6:30 Saturday morning local time.
Daily Roundup: Samsung's Milk Music, a stun gun-equipped drone and more!
You might say the day is never really done in consumer technology news. Your workday, however, hopefully draws to a close at some point. This is the Daily Roundup on Engadget, a quick peek back at the top headlines for the past 24 hours -- all handpicked by the editors here at the site. Click on through the break, and enjoy.
Commercial drone legality on hold as FAA appeals court ruling
Unsurprisingly the Federal Aviation Administration disagrees with the decision by an administrative law judge yesterday to lift a six-year-old ban on the commercial use of small drones. Waiting on the NTSB's board "The FAA is appealing the decision of an NTSB Administrative Law Judge to the full National Transportation Safety Board, which has the effect of staying the decision until the Board rules," the FAA said in a statement today. The original decision by administrative law judge Patrick Geraghty came amid the dismissal of a $10,000 fine from the FAA against Raphael Parker. That fine was given to Parker for filming on the University of Virginia campus as part of a project to take aerial photos and videos using the drone, something that was strictly prohibited by the agency's 2007 ban.
500px now lets Prime sellers keep most of the cash from their photos
When 500px unveiled its Prime photo licensing store, it stirred up a hornet's nest -- many photographers were outraged that the image host would keep most of the cash from their sales. Give credit to the company for having a change of heart, though. It just launched Prime in beta, and the royalty rates have become much more favorable.
T-Mobile's tweaked Simple Choice plans come with more data, unlimited international texting
T-Mobile's customer-friendly "Uncarrier" schtick seems to be changing people's minds about the country's 4th largest wireless provider, and it's not done fiddling with that formula just yet. The folks in magenta just announced a slew of tweaks to its Simple Choice plans that make them worth yet another look.
A functional, fashionable smartwatch concept puts Samsung to shame
Although Samsung is making strides in the wearable market, the new Gear models are still sitting uncomfortably on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to form and function. The Gear 2 and Gear Neo watches are sleeker than the Galaxy Gear, but they haven’t completely shed their bulky, boxy exteriors quite yet. The Gear Fit is much more practical and discreet, but lacks the functionality of its larger counterparts. What we need is a middle ground, and that’s exactly what Gábor Balogh’s concept design is hoping to bring to the table. Balogh’s creation is a smartwatch that doesn’t compromise design for performance. The concept just looks like a watch, round face and all. The “smart” applications are all cleverly
T-Mobile's New Simple Choice Plan: 1GB of Data for Just $50
T-Mobile has been shaking up the wireless industry since it officially killed off two-year contracts with the debut of its Simple Choice Plan last March.Now, a year later, the carrier is rolling out a revamped version of Simple Choice that gives users double the high-speed data (1GB) and unlimited international texting from the U.S. for the same $50. However, unlimited data now costs more.
We're live from SXSW Interactive 2014!
We're live on the ground at South By Southwest (#SXSW for short), the annual event that brings together everyone and anyone who's invested in the interactive arts. Those artists include the minds behind emerging startups (like Twitter was here in 2007), as well as established innovators like Mark Cuban and even Grumpy Cat.
Vine bans porn: 90 Seconds on The Verge
Wait, I need to write a description too? What do I write? What do you mean bizarre, nonsensical descriptions that often have nothing to do with the stories in the episode? So just start writing now? Does this count? Do I need to make any reference to 90 Seconds on The Verge? Was that enough of a reference? Also, why is it 91 seconds on YouTube?
T-Mobile adds more data, international texting to its Simple Choice plans
T-Mobile is today announcing new versions of its Simple Choice plans that include more high-speed data and unlimited international texting services. The Simple Choice plans were first introduced last year as part of the carrier's Uncarrier rebranding, and are designed to make it easier for customers to choose a rate plan when buying wireless service. T-Mobile says that all 13 million of its customers already on Simple Choice plans will automatically get upgraded to the improved plans on March 23rd. The new plans double the amount of high-speed data service available before T-Mobile will throttle connection speeds — customers will now get 1GB of high-speed data along with unlimited talk and texting services for $50 per month.
We carved a custom bottle opener with the free Easel web app
Inventables' Shapeoko 2 desktop computer controlled (CNC) milling machine just got a whole lot more attractive. The company's new Easel tool is a free design and fabrication web app designed for the $650 open-source kit, which launched last October. The new duo will enable you to design objects in 2D with a real-time 3D preview, then "print" your creation using a USB-equipped CNC milling machine (such as the Shapeoko) with wood, plastic or soft metal.
Can physics help divorced couples share their children?
When physicist Andrés Gomberoff's second marriage ended, his life suddenly became much more complex. Arranging a day in which he and his girlfriend could spend time with all four of their children became nearly impossible. So, Gomberoff decided to use his knowledge of condensed-matter physics to find a solution. And, as Scientific American reports, what started out as a personal mathematical exercise eventually turned into a full-fledged physics modeling experiment, published last month in the European Physical Journal B.
ASUS' pint-sized Chromebox ships on March 14th for $179
If the simplicity of ASUS' Chromebox is enticing, you'll be glad to hear that you can pick up the miniscule computer very soon. The $179 Chrome OS desktop is now available for pre-order at stores like Amazon, Newegg and TigerDirect, with the first wave of orders due to ship on March 14th. A base system starts out modestly with a 1.4GHz Celeron and 2GB of RAM, although you can splurge for a Core i3 model (the Core i7 variant isn't coming stateside).
Snowden, Assange top bill at Texas tech gathering
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Surveillance. Online privacy. Robots. Food processing. Wearable computers. To get a sense of what's on the minds of the tech industry's thinkers, leaders and tinkerers, it's a good idea to head to Austin, Texas, rather than Silicon Valley this time of the year.
Court blocks government's request to keep NSA phone records longer than five years
The court in charge of overseeing NSA surveillance has nixed a plan to keep American phone records in government databases for longer than five years. In an opinion published today, Judge Reggie Walton said that privacy protection laws overrode the government's argument that it needed to retain evidence for EFF and ACLU lawsuits, denying a request that the Department of Justice made in February. Such a move "would further infringe on the privacy interests of United States persons whose telephone records were acquired in vast numbers and retained by the government," said Walton. "The government seeks to retain these records, not for national security reasons, but because some of them may be relevant in civil litigation in which the destruction of those very same records is being requested."
Video: Meet the iPhone game that’s guaranteed to give you seizures
Have you ever dropped copious amounts of LSD and then gone on a roller coaster all while sitting on top of a paint shaker? If so then you probably have a good understanding of what it’s like to play Wave Wave, a new iOS game that looks something like Flappy Bird for the raver crowd. Essentially, Wave Wave makes you guide a black line through a series of brightly colored triangles that seem to get narrower and more difficult to navigate as the game progresses. Just watching the trailer for the game is enough to give you motion sickness and we’re still seeing tiny little triangles flying in front of our eyes minutes after we’ve stopped watching it. The game
Chevrolet adds Beats Music streaming to its in-car system as Beats opens its API to developers
Beats Music is already integrated with Apple's CarPlay system, which means you'll be able to stream music from Beats' catalog in any vehicle that happens to have Apple's setup installed. Now, new API support could mean we'll be able to pump out the jams from even more cars. The streaming music service made its API public today, a move that gives third-party developers access to its vast music collection.
The indie game console may already be dead
Last year, I predicted that the rising tide of Android gaming would raise all boats — that indie game consoles like the Ouya, the Shield, and the Gamestick could mount a challenge against Xbox and PlayStation because of all the attention they were getting as a whole. Ouya was in the right place at the right time in the summer of 2012. Ouya CEO Julie Uhrman — a former VP of digital distribution for IGN and GameFly — offered a compelling vision of a game system that could bring the traditional strengths of a closed console to the open Android platform. Ouya would make it easier to find great games on Android by curating, promoting, and even funding indies to do their best work, while offering an inexpensive dedicated hardware platform with physical console controls for those developers to target.
Hubble telescope captures rare photos of crumbling asteroid
The Hubble telescope has captured some stunning images showcasing the early stages of an asteroid breaking apart. The crumbling asteroid, officially known as P/2013 R3, was first noticed in September. A follow-up observation on with the Keck Telescope located in Hawaii revealed that the "fuzzy-looking object" was actually at least three distinct parts. The slow speed of the objects combined with the fact that new pieces are still emerging seems to rule out a collision or impact with another asteroid. "This is a rock," said David Jewitt of the University of California, which spearheaded the investigation.
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