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Japan's SoftBank Says It Could Invest as Much As $880 Billion in Tech

Slashdot - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 12:20
SoftBank could commit as much as $880 billion to tech investments in the coming years, a gargantuan, unprecedented amount of cash that would amount to a seismic shift in tech-sector finance. From a report: "The Vision Fund was just the first step, 10 trillion yen ($88 billion) is simply not enough," CEO Masayoshi Son said in an interview with The Nikkei Asian Review that was published late Thursday. "We will briskly expand the scale. Vision Funds 2, 3 and 4 will be established every two to three years." Son's comment confirms a Recode report that his Vision Fund -- which is sinking $100 billion into the technology sector worldwide -- was only the first in a series of investments that he plans to make in young companies. "We are creating a mechanism to increase our funding ability from 10 trillion yen to 20 trillion yen to 100 trillion yen," Son told the outlet. That comes out to about $880 billion. Companies that SoftBank either completely owns or has major or minor stakes in include Vodafone Japan, Yahoo! Japan, India's Snapdeal, India's Ola, Sprint Corporation, and India's Flipkart. The company is expected to become a major stake holder in Uber as soon as next week.

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Google compensates Pixel 2 buyers who overpaid at pop-up stores

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 12:13
If you rushed out to buy a Pixel 2 at one of Google's pop-up stores on October 19th, you probably got a rude surprise: the Verizon reseller handling your purchase, Victra, was charging customers an extra $30 on top of the normal price. Unless you kne...
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Spotify’s RISE program will try to find future music superstars

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 11:41
It's hard to deny Spotify's influence on the current music landscape. After all, the streaming service has over 50 million paid subscribers. Now, they're using that influence to help up and coming artists. Today, Spotify introduced RISE, which it bil...
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MasterCard Has Finally Realized That Signatures Are Obsolete and Stupid

Slashdot - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 11:39
An anonymous reader shares a report: For years, credit card companies have relied on an illegible squiggly line as the frontline of defense against credit card fraud. Customers are forced to use a pen (how retro!) to scrawl their signature on bills at restaurants and sign digitally at cash registers -- as if somehow in the age of chips, PINs, biometrics, and online fraud alerts, a line on a page is still a great tool against fraud prevention. Personally, I have been known to sign on the dotted line with a doodle of a piece of tofu and no one has ever stopped me, because signatures mean very little in this digital age. Companies are finally seeing the light. Starting in April 2018, MasterCard cardholders will no longer be required to sign their name when they purchase something using their debit or credit cards. The company has been moving away from requiring signatures for a few years now, with only about 80% of purchases (typically over a certain dollar amount) requiring a signature these days. MasterCard did some digging, though, and per its press release, realized that most of their customers "believe it would be easier to pay and that checkout lines would move faster if they didn't need to sign when making a purchase."

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So, We've Come To This: Company Rents Out Grounded Jets So Instagrammers Can Fool Followers About Their Luxurious Lifestyle

GeekOlogy - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 11:30
Because the world is rapidly coming to an end, Private Jet Studio based in Moscow, Russia will rent Instagrammers a grounded Gulfstream 650 jet with professional photographer for 2 hours for around $244 (~$191 if you bring your own cameraman or just plan on taking selfies) so they can trick their followers into thinking they live some sort of luxurious lifestyle. Granted I'm sure there are legitimate photographers who need shots inside or outside a jet for their own purposes, but if you really are just an Instagrammer renting a grounded to fool your followers, you need to take a long hard look at your life, then start living a completely different one. Keep going for a couple more shots of the possibilities.
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The best plug-in smart outlet

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 11:30
By Rachel Cericola This post was done in partnership with Wirecutter, reviews for the real world. When readers choose to buy Wirecutter's independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full a...
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Does social media threaten the illusion of news neutrality?

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 11:00
For journalists, social media can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they can use platforms like Facebook and Twitter to share their opinion on a wide range of matters, from sports to politics. But, at the same time, they have to remember to e...
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Bitcoin Nears $6,000 For the First Time

Slashdot - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 10:57
Bitcoin closed in on another milestone Friday, as the digital currency approached $6,000 for the first time to put its gain in 2017 to above 500 percent. From a report: The push higher comes just three days after bitcoin suffered its biggest one-day drop in a month on rising concern that regulators are increasingly targeting digital currencies. It's added almost $500 in value in the past two days alone.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Vodafone’s introducing a zero-rating scheme too

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 10:50
Just as several of its carrier peers have done recently, Vodafone will soon be jumping on the zero-rating bandwagon. Vodafone Passes, as they're called, are a selection of paid bolt-ons that'll offer unlimited data towards several music and video str...
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Billboard’s charts will give more weight to paid music streams in 2018

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 10:40
Starting in 2018, Billboard will change the way it counts streaming music for its charts. Right now, the way it works for the Billboard Hot 100 songs chart is that there are two tiers for streaming music: on demand (where you can select what you list...
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Man Builds Two Story AT-AT Walker In Front Yard For Halloween

GeekOlogy - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 10:30
These are several shots of the two story AT-AT walker that Parma, Ohio man Nick Myer built in his front yard for Halloween. Some more info while I petition my neighborhood's home owner's association to let me use black magic to revive some real corpses for Halloween (they're sticklers): Obviously, a giant AT-AT walker out in the neighborhood has gained some pretty intense foot traffic and visitors from all over Ohio. Many Star Wars fans have taken to social media to share their pilgrimage to the Hoth land, with some even getting into character, dressing as Imperial Stormtroopers and standing next to the mighty Imperial armored transporter from Episode V. Miraculously, Nick Myer's wife and neighbors fully approve of the AT-AT walker and don't seem to mind all of the attention that the Halloween display is gaining. I think the most hilarious part about this whole thing is how Nick is pretending he did this just for Halloween, like he hasn't dreamed of having a giant AT-AT in his front yard all year round. And can you blame him? It's going to look even better around Christmas when there's snow on the ground. Then Halloween is only another 10 months away so you might as well leave it up. "You haven't taken your Christmas tree down yet, have you, GW?" Not since 2014, no. Keep going for a couple more shots while I speculate if Nick goes the extra mile and hands out full-size candy bars.
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Blue Origin’s BE-4 rocket engine completes first hot-fire test

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 10:09
Blue Origin was a bit of a mystery to the public for quite awhile. After all, unlike competitor SpaceX, the company haven't always been welcoming to the scrutiny that comes with inviting the media in. But that changed in early 2016, when reporters we...
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Vodafone's new PAYG plan will cap your bill at £1 each day

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 10:02
Pay-as-you-go smartphone plans haven't changed much in the last few years. Calls, texts and megabytes are priced individually, putting the emphasis on you to manage your monthly spend. Some networks, such as O2, offer discounted "bundles," but otherw...
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Microsoft's Market Value Hits a Dot-Com Era Milestone: $600 Billion

Slashdot - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 09:40
An anonymous reader shares a report: Microsoft's value is returning to tech-bubble peaks. The software giant closed with a market value of $600 billion Thursday for the first time since January 2000, according to the Journal's Market Data Group. Shares rose 0.4 percent to $77.91, setting a fresh all-time high. For the year, Microsoft shares are up 25% and on track for their best year since 2013, as the firm continues its rebirth as a force in cloud-computing. The firm is the third-largest S&P 500 company in market value, trailing Apple (about $800 billion) and Google's parent company, Alphabet, (about $690 billion). In July, fellow technology and internet stalwarts Facebook and Amazon.com joined the trio as the only U.S.-listed companies valued at more than in the $500 billion. The last time Microsoft was over $600 billion back in 2000, it didn't stay there for long. The tech bubble would peak in March of that year, and the Nasdaq Composite Index wouldn't climb back to the level it reach that year until 2015.

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This week’s ‘live’ giant robot battle was fake

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 09:39
We've been following the development of the giant robot battle for years now, and it finally took place earlier this week. Engadget writer Saqib Shah said of the live stream, "the entire event may have been as choreographed as a WWE match, but it was...
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On the Google Book Scanning Project and the Library We Will Never See

Slashdot - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 09:00
For a decade, Google's enormous project to create a massive digital library of books was embroiled in litigation with a group of writers who say it was costing them a lot of money in lost revenue. Even as Google notched a victory when a federal appeals court ruled that the company's project was fair use, the company quietly shut down the project. From an article published in April this year: Despite eventually winning Authors Guild v. Google, and having the courts declare that displaying snippets of copyrighted books was fair use, the company all but shut down its scanning operation. It was strange to me, the idea that somewhere at Google there is a database containing 25-million books and nobody is allowed to read them. It's like that scene at the end of the first Indiana Jones movie where they put the Ark of the Covenant back on a shelf somewhere, lost in the chaos of a vast warehouse. It's there. The books are there. People have been trying to build a library like this for ages -- to do so, they've said, would be to erect one of the great humanitarian artifacts of all time -- and here we've done the work to make it real and we were about to give it to the world and now, instead, it's 50 or 60 petabytes on disk, and the only people who can see it are half a dozen engineers on the project who happen to have access because they're the ones responsible for locking it up. But Google seems to be thinking ways to make use of it, it appears. Last month, it added a new feature to its search function that instantly connects you with eBook data from libraries near you. From a report: Now, every time you search for a book through Google, information about your local library rental options will be easily available. Yeah, that's right. Your local library not only still exists, but it has eBooks, which are things you can totally borrow (for free) online! Before, this perk was hidden somewhere deep within your local library's website -- assuming it had one -- but now these free literary wonders are all yours for the taking.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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NASA study will help identify potentially habitable planets

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 08:53
NASA has already found tons of exoplanets around nearby stars, and will spot countless more once the James Webb Space Telescope (JWST) launches. The problem is that scientists aren't exactly sure which planet-star combinations are most likely to supp...
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Plex for Android Auto simplifies server-based music streaming

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 08:25
In-car entertainment will have to step up to accommodate our automated driving future. With an AI at the wheel, we'll be free to watch movies, play games, and conduct video calls. It's easy to imagine an all-round media player, like Plex, fitting int...
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Facebook Messenger lets you send cash to friends with PayPal

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 08:00
Messenger started making it easier to pay your friends for dinner back in 2015 when it introduced the option to transfer money in-app with a credit or debit card. If PayPal has always been more convenient, though, you'll love this collaboration: Face...
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Harman Kardon Invoke review: The first Cortana speaker sounds amazing

Engadget - Fri, 10/20/2017 - 08:00
Smart speakers are everywhere this year. So far, we've seen new entries from Apple, Amazon, Google and Sonos. Now, Microsoft is finally ready to join the party. The Harman Kardon Invoke is the first speaker to feature Microsoft's Cortana virtual assi...
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