curtwoodward writes: Getting your groceries delivered isn't exactly a new idea. But in many large U.S. cities, it's never been easier, with tech companies of all sizes competing for dollars from time-strapped shoppers. After trying out two versions of online delivery services, this reviewer was left feeling they were pretty equivalent — but also had some serious worries about whether the people doing the work had good jobs, or were being exploited in the "independent contractor" economy.
curtwoodward writes: Formlabs became a Kickstarter darling with its high-definition, professional-grade 3D printer, the Form 1. Executives at established 3D printing company 3D Systems were less impressed — they sued Formlabs for patent infringement, a case that's dragged on for about two years. Despite that legal morass, Formlabs is thriving, with a newly expanded staff of about 90 and sales of "thousands" of printers each year, according to the CEO, at $3,300 apiece. Oh, and that lawsuit: Settlement talks look like they're going well.
curtwoodward writes: Ian Wright knows how to build high-performance electric cars: he was a co-founder at Tesla Motors and built the X1, a street-legal all-electric car that can go from zero to 60 in 2.9 seconds. But he only cares about trucks now-in fact, boring old garbage trucks and delivery trucks are his favorite. Why? To disrupt the auto industry with electrification, EV makers should target the biggest gas (and diesel) guzzlers. His new powertrain is very high tech, combining advanced electric motors with an onboard turbine that acts as a generator when batteries run low.
curtwoodward writes: Bitcoin-for-the-masses startup Circle Internet Financial made plenty of headlines this week by unveiling its free (as in beer) digital wallet service to the public. It's got instant, secure transfers. It's got insurance. It's got $26 million in investor cash. But it doesn't have a business model, and its CEO says that's something the company will worry about after it gets lots of users. Should people be suspicious of this setup, or are you willing to bet that its evolution to a "freemium" model will be seamless enough to try?
curtwoodward writes: Many states have laws that prevent car manufacturers from operating their own dealerships, a throwback to the days when Detroit tried to undercut its franchise dealers by opening company-owned shops. But dealers have taken those laws to the extreme as they battle new competition from Tesla, which is selling its cars direct to the public. In some states, dealers have succeeded in limiting Tesla's direct-sales model. But not in Massachusetts: the state's Supreme Court says the dealers don't have any right to sue Tesla for unfair competition, since they're not Tesla dealers. No harm, no foul.
curtwoodward writes: Everyone loves to bag on the younger generation, and millennials are no exception: The selfies! The godawful stretched earlobes! Acting like you're the first ones with student loan debt! It's too much. But grumpy-old types can find solace in the fact that these young punks are starting to hit their middle 30s. E-commerce companies have certainly noticed — they're lining up to cash in as hipsters buy homes, fill them with furniture, and start cranking out babies.
curtwoodward writes: Cotton Bureau is probably the coolest place in the world to buy a T-shirt. But it also probably shouldn't exist. The whole thing started as the side project of another side project for a small group of co-workers who were sick of doing contract Web development. A year later, the dev agency is gone and T-shirt sales are paying the bills for four people. Why does it work? A mix of crowdfunding, curation, and an open-ended platform for creativity that's been stitched together to make a very 21st Century company.
curtwoodward writes: Apple co-founder and legendary nerd Steve Wozniak is a huge gadget enthusiast, often appearing in lines with mere mortals to purchase new Apple products. So you can bet he's tried out most of the smartwatches on the market today. The worst one? By far, the Samsung Galaxy Gear, which The Woz says he sold on eBay after half a day's use. "It was so worthless and did so little that was convenient,” Wozniak said at an appearance in Milwaukee. “You had to hold it up to your ear and stuff.” So maybe the watch sucked, but just imagine being the one who bought Woz's used Gear---do you think they know?
curtwoodward writes: Aereo's just-so copyright workaround got crushed this week by the U.S. Supreme Court, which said the company was basically a present-day knockoff of the old "community antenna" cable TV system. But some media outlets (and the enterprising lawyers they interviewed) went much further, sowing all kinds of F.U.D. about how this case could screw up other popular cloud-computing services. Don't listen to the trolls---the Supremes were very clear that their ruling only applied to Aereo's livestream and things that look just like it. iCloud, Dropbox and friends are fine.
curtwoodward writes: Google bought Nest. Then Nest bought Dropcam. Then Nest opened up its platform to tech partners, including... Google. This may not creep everyone out, but for those who don't like the idea of Google's all-seeing eye owning their smart-home devices, there are some small, independent companies developing alternatives. Maybe they'll survive long enough to get acquired by a company that doesn't make 90 percent of its money from advertising---right?
curtwoodward writes: Amazon is well-established as an e-commerce and cloud computing pioneer. So why do its ambitions include a bigger push into consumer electronics, including a long-rumored leap into the very competitive smartphone market? In a word, control — of data, consumer profiles, and royalties on purchases.
curtwoodward writes: Entrepreneurs in Massachusetts say the state's legal enforcement of non-competition agreements hurts innovation — if you're going to get sued by Big Company X, you're probably not going to leave for a startup in the same industry. But those contracts have powerful supporters, including EMC, which is by far the state's largest tech company. Gov. Deval Patrick is finally picking a side in the debate by introducing his own bill to outlaw non-competes and adopt trade-secrets protections instead. Just one catch: he's a lame duck, and will be out of office in January.
TchrBabe writes: So NYC is now considering equipping it's Health Department inspectors with Google Glass to provide a record of restaurant inspections. Will we now have FOIL access to these behind the scenes videos of our favorite restaurants? Do we even want to see what goes on behind the scenes? "Oh look Mabel, isn't that your cat that went missing?"
mpicpp writes: Cuban officials have accused the U.S. government of bizarre plots over the years, such as trying to kill Fidel Castro with exploding cigars. On Wednesday, they said Washington is using a new weapon against the island: spam.
"It's overloading the networks, which creates bad service and affects our customers," said Daniel Ramos Fernandez, chief of security operations at the Cuban government-run telecommunications company ETECSA.
At a news conference Wednesday, Cuban officials said text messaging platforms run by the U.S. government threatened to overwhelm Cuba's creaky communications system and violated international conventions against junk messages.
The spam, officials claim, comes in the form of a barrage of unwanted text messages, some political in nature.
Ramos said that during a 2009 concert in Havana performed by the Colombian pop-star Juanes, a U.S. government program blanketed Cuban cell phone networks with around 300,000 text messages over about five hours.
ClownPenis writes: Hewlett-Packard has admitted to creating and using slush funds for bribes, money laundering, and clandestine “bag of cash” handoffs in order to profiteer off of lucrative government contracts in Russia, Poland, and Mexico, according to court documents.
HP’s guilty plea carries with it a $108 million penalty — a combination of SEC penalties, as well as criminal fines and forfeitures paid out to the Department of Justice. Thus far no criminal charges have been brought against American HP executives. The multi-agency investigation, which was conducted by multi-national law enforcement partners, the FBI, IRS, and SEC, has revealed kleptocracies in the three foreign governments and corruption and dishonesty among HP corporate fat cats.