JoeyRox writes: "Decent people see tragedy and barbarism when viewing a terrorism attack. American politicians and intelligence officials see something else: opportunity. Bodies were still lying in the streets of Paris when CIA operatives began exploiting the resulting fear and anger to advance long-standing political agendas. They and their congressional allies instantly attempted to heap blame for the atrocity not on Islamic State but on several preexisting adversaries: Internet encryption, Silicon Valley's privacy policies and Edward Snowden."
JoeyRox writes: Yahoo is running an A/B test (http://fortune.com/2015/11/23/yahoo-ad-block/) that blocks access to Yahoo email if the site detects that the user is running an Ad Blocker. Yahoo informed Engadget that this a trial rather than a new policy, effecting only a "small number" of users. Those lucky users are greeted with a message that reads "Please disable Ad Blocker to continue using Yahoo Mail." Regarding the legality of the move, "Yahoo is well within its rights to do so, said Ansel Halliburton an attorney at Kronenberger Rosenfeld who specializes in Internet law."
JoeyRox writes: With the aid of specialized software, a research team at University of Washington Bothell School of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics has found the first new, non-overlapping hexagon in 30 years, making it only the 15th such hexagon ever found. Study of pentagonal tilings is interesting also because of its potential applications. “Many structures that we see in nature, from crystals to viruses, are comprised of building blocks that are forced by geometry and other dynamics to fit together to form the larger scale structure”
JoeyRox writes: Verizon has discontinued service plans that include subsidies for upgrading a smartphone every two years. The new plans require customers to pay full price for their smartphones, either up front with a single one-time purchase or by monthly payments with interest-free financing provided by Verizon. Unlike their previous subsidized plans, Verizon's new plans don't require a long-term contract.
JoeyRox writes: Thousands of mobile applications are downloading ads that are never presented to users but which collect an estimated $850 million in fraudulent revenue from advertisers per year. The downloading of these invisible ads can slow down users' phones and consume up to 2GB of bandwidth per day. Forensiq, an online technology firm fighting fraud for advertisers, found over 5,000 apps displayed unseen ads on both Apple and Android devices. "The sheer amount of activity generated by apps with fake ads was what initially exposed the scam. Forensiq noticed that some apps were calling up ads at such a high frequency that the intended audience couldn’t possibly be actual humans".
JoeyRox writes: For its next Galaxy S smartphone Samsung will use an internally developed SoC in place of Qualcomm's Snapdragon 810 due to overheating problems discovered during Samsung's testing of the new Qualcomm Snapdragon chip.
JoeyRox writes: Tesla's 'gigafactory' publicized goal is to make electric cars more affordable. However that benefit may soon be eclipsed by the gigafactory's impact on roof-top solar power storage costs, putting the entire business model of utilities in peril. “The mortal threat that ever cheaper on-site renewables pose” comes from systems that include storage, said Amory Lovins, co-founder of the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Snowmass, Colorado-based energy consultant. “That is an unregulated product you can buy at Home Depot that leaves the old business model with no place to hide.”
JoeyRox writes: The city of San Francisco is aggressively enforcing its ban on short-term rentals. SF resident Jeffrey Katz recently came home to an eviction notice posted on his door that read "You are illegally using the premises as a tourist or transient unit". According to Edward Singer, an attorney with Zacks & Freedman who filed the notice against Katz, "Using an apartment for short-term rentals is a crime in San Francisco". Apparently Airbnb isn't being very helpful to residents facing eviction. "Unfortunately, we can't provide individual legal assistance or review lease agreements for our 500,000 hosts, but we do try to help inform people about these issues", according to David Hantman, Airbnb head of global public policy. SF and Airbnb are working on a framework which might make Airbnb rentals legal, an effort helped by Airbnb's decision last week to start collecting the city's 14% hotel tax by summer.
JoeyRox writes: Bill Gates spent his first day as Microsoft's new Technology Adviser by attempting, and failing, to install Windows 8.1. After making no progress by lunchtime, Gates recruited Microsoft's new CEO Satya Nadella for help, but to no avail. "Bill is usually a pretty calm guy, so it was weird to hear some of that language coming out of his mouth," the source said. A Microsoft spokesman said only that Mr. Gates' first day in his new job had been "a learning experience" and that, for the immediate future, he would go back to running Windows 7.
JoeyRox writes: Zappos is replacing its traditional hierarchical business organization with a flat, self-governing system that has no managers or job titles. The company will be made up of 400 circles, within which employees will share the roles and responsibilities that traditionally have been segregated by title. The goal is to promote transparency and collaboration.
JoeyRox writes: The recent decline in Facebook's popularity with teenagers appears to be worsening. A Global Social Media Impact study of 16 to 18 year olds found that many considered the site "uncool" and keep their profiles alive only to keep in touch with older relatives, for whom the site remains popular. Researches say teens have switched to using WhatsApp, Snapchat, and Twitter in place of Facebook.
JoeyRox writes: The exponential growth of rooftop solar adoption has utilities concerned about their financial future. Efficiency gains and cost reductions has brought the price of solar energy to within parity of traditional power generation in states like California and Hawaii. HECO, an electric utility in Hawaii, has started notifying new solar adopters that they will not be allowed to connect to the utility's power grid, citing safety concerns of electric circuits becoming oversaturated from the rapid adoption of soloar power on the island. Residents claim it's not about safety but about the utility fighting to protect its profits.