[PHOTOS] The Siren of Silicon Valley: Prostitute Pin-Up Perp Alix Tichelman Gallery

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The family of the prostitute sentenced to six years in prison for her role in the death of a Google executive have continued to show their support both in person and on social media during her trial.54_Alex_Tichelman

“Alix Tichelman, 27, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to involuntary manslaughter and administering drugs to married father-of-five Forrest Timothy Hayes who died of a heroin overdose aboard his yacht in November 2013.”

Tichelman’s parents Bart and Leslieann were present in a Santa Cruz County Superior Court offering support for their daughter’s Tuesday sentencing.

“Since leaving her parents’ home, her life appears to have been a complete rejection of her privileged upbringing.”

The couple – and their other daughter Monica who is three years Alix’s junior – haven’t spoken publicly since their daughter’s arrest. But, as well as supporting her in court, they’ve also used Facebook to show that in spite of her crimes and troubled, past they still stand by her.

“Alix has been a heroin addict and turned to high-class prostitution to support herself.”

Sister Monica, 24, posted a photo on Facebook on May 10 of the family to which her mom wrote, ‘missing my girls today’ and ‘love you more’.

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[Read more here: How Alix Tichelman injected Google’s Forrest Timothy Hayes with heroin – Daily Mail]

Alix Tichelman grew up in a wealthy, upper-class family, first in Atlanta, Georgia, and then California.

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Since leaving her parents’ home, her life appears to have been a complete rejection of her privileged upbringing. Alix has been a heroin addict and turned to high-class prostitution to support herself.

Yet despite her failings, the family has maintained a united front.

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In court on Tuesday, Jerry Christensen, one of Tichelman’s public defenders, said that Alix didn’t want to stand trial because she did not want to put her family through it…(read more)

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fotonoticia_20140711162921_800 Ex_Ybor_City_club_owner_s_death_surfaces_1790620000_6775115_ver1.0_640_480 article-0-1F94A4F300000578-396_634x654 Read the rest of this entry »


‘Sugar Baby’ Escort Alix Tichelman Sentenced to 6 Years in Google Executive’s Heroin Death

(CNN) Dana Ford reports: An alleged prostitute accused in the death of a Google executive pleaded guilty on Tuesday, and was sentenced to six years in prison.Alix-T

[Also see – The Black Widow of Silicon Valley: Alix Tichelman’s Trail of Dead and Damaged Men]

Alix Tichelman faced a series of charges in the death of Forrest Timothy Hayes, 51. The married father of five was found dead in November 2013 aboard his 50-foot yacht in California’s Santa Cruz harbor.

[More – Alix Tichelman Pleads Not Guilty in Google Exec’s Heroin Death]

[VIDEO] Last Taste of Sugar: Escort Charged in Google Executive’s Fatal Heroin Overdose]

[Hooker Business Booms in Silicon Valley]

Authorities say Tichelman gave Hayes an injection of heroin and then, as he began to die, she sipped her wine, gathered her belongings, and calmly walked away.

She pleaded guilty to involuntary manslaughter, administering a controlled substance, possession of a controlled substance, destroying or concealing evidence, and engaging and agreeing to engage in prostitution, according to the Santa Cruz Superior Court. Read the rest of this entry »


Does Artificial Intelligence Pose a Threat?

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A panel of experts discusses the prospect of machines capable of autonomous reasoning

Ted Greenwald writes: After decades as a sci-fi staple, artificial intelligence has leapt into the mainstream. Between Apple ’s Siri and Amazon ’s Alexa, IBM ’s Watson and Google Brain, machines that understand the world and respond productively suddenly seem imminent.

The combination of immense Internet-connected networks and machine-learning algorithms has yielded dramatic advances in machines’ ability to understand spoken and visual communications, capabilities that fall under the heading “narrow” artificial intelligence. Can machines capable of autonomous reasoning—so-called general AI—be far behind? And at that point, what’s to keep them from improving themselves until they have no need for humanity?

Meka's M1 robot is one of the systems that has been acquired by Google

The prospect has unleashed a wave of anxiety. “I think the development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” astrophysicist Stephen Hawking told the BBC. Tesla founder Elon Musk called AI “our biggest existential threat.” Former Microsoft Chief Executive Bill Gates has voiced his agreement.

How realistic are such concerns? And how urgent? We assembled a panel of experts from industry, research and policy-making to consider the dangers—if any—that lie ahead. Read the rest of this entry »


Google Patents Customizable Robot Personalities

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patent that has just been awarded to Google suggests that either could be possible and that we could potentially download different personality types from the cloud.

In fact, if you can’t choose what kind of personality you want for your future robo-pal, it’s highly possible that it might be able to choose for you. It would do this by accessing your devices and learning about you, before configuring a tailored personality based on that information. In addition it could use speech and facial recognition to personalise its interactions with you.

“It’s possible that if you uploaded its personality to the cloud you might be able to transfer it to another robot.”

The original question posed still stands though — you could potentially always choose a specific personality type for your Google robot that represents the kind of person you enjoy interacting with. This personality could even be triggered by specific cues or circumstances that the robot could detect, says the patent, which was spotted by Quartz.

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“Unlike Newton and Stephanie from Short Circuit who were devastated when they believed their beloved Johnny Five had been destroyed, you never need get emotional over or be concerned about the physical destruction of your robot.”

“The robot personality may also be modifiable within a base personality construct (i.e., a default-persona) to provide states or moods representing transitory conditions of happiness, fear, surprise, perplexion (e.g., the Woody Allen robot), thoughtfulness, derision (e.g., the Rodney Dangerfield robot), and so forth,” states the patent.

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“A more concerning concept perhaps though is that a robot could be programmed to take on the personality of a real-world person — the patent suggests a deceased loved one or a celebrity — so that effectively you could get someone to live on after their death in robot form.”

It also suggests that should a cruel fate befall your robot, that might not spell the end of its days. It’s possible that if you uploaded its personality to the cloud you might be able to transfer it to another robot.

Unlike Newton and Stephanie from Short Circuit who were devastated when they believed their beloved Johnny Five had been destroyed, you never need get emotional over or be concerned about the physical destruction of your robot. Read the rest of this entry »


The Message is the Medium

Messaging Services Are Rapidly Growing Beyond Online Chat

“I PROPOSE, if and when found, to take him by his beastly neck, shake him till he froths, and pull him inside out and make him swallow himself.” It is not often that Silicon Valley’s denizens quote P.G. chat appsWodehouse. But this is what Benedict Evans of Andreessen Horowitz, a venture-capital firm, expects the success of messaging services could do to both mobile and corporate software.

The most striking example so far of this process came on March 25th when Facebook announced at a conference in San Francisco that it has started to turn its Messenger service into a “platform” that can carry, and be integrated with, all manner of apps created by other software firms. So Facebook Messenger, which is itself an app for smartphones that run on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android operating systems, will then be competing with those operating systems’ services for buying apps and downloads. In plain language, it could become the app that ate Apple’s app store.

The prospect may surprise those who thought messaging apps were just another way for teens to share this week’s tragic news about One Direction (a pop group, apparently). But their continuing explosive growth suggests that they will be a
lasting phenomenon. According to Flurry, a market-research firm, the total number of users grew by more than 100% last year (which explains why old-style text messages seem to have peaked, see chart). Together the ten biggest messaging 20150328_WBC665apps, which include KakaoTalk, Viber and WeChat, now boast more than 3 billion users. WhatsApp, the leader of the pack, alone has 700m—a big reason why Facebook last year paid $22 billion for the firm, despite continuing to develop its own Messenger app.

As the number of users has grown, specialised versions of messaging apps have emerged. What made Snapchat popular was the ability to exchange pictures that vanish after a few seconds (and often contain nudity). Secret, Whisper and Yik Yak let users remain anonymous (including bullies, unfortunately). Telegram stands out because of its strong encryption (making intelligence services unhappy). And FireChat works without cellular service: users’ phones communicate directly, which was a popular feature during recent protests in Hong Kong. Read the rest of this entry »


Twitter Launches Livestreaming App ‘Periscope’ – Its Own Version of Meerkat

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Kurt Wagnerkurt-wagner1 writes: Twitter is officially pulling back the curtain on Periscope, a livestreaming video app that’s been in beta since the company acquired it back in January, reportedly for $100 million.

Periscope streams live audio and video from a user’s smartphone that other people can watch and comment on within the app — the link to the livestream can be shared on Twitter as a way to spread the word and boost the audience.

The free app, which is only available on iOS for now, provides immediate competition to Meerkat, a similar livestreaming app that took off at the Southimg_2914 by Southwest Interactive conference in Austin, Texas, earlier his month.

Meerkat, which launched just two weeks before the conference, relies heavily on Twitter’s platform. It uses Twitter login and had used its social graph to help users find people to follow before Twitter cut it off.

Given the relationship between the two products, speculation that Twitter might buy Meerkat made sense, but it bought competitor Periscope instead. Things haven’t been all bad for Meerkat, though. The app has more than 400,000 users, according to CEO Ben Rubin, and it just raised $12 million in a deal that values it at $52 million.

The two apps work in a similar way, but Twitter-owned Periscope is actually more independent from Twitter than Meerkat. Unlike Meerkat, where any Likes and comments are reflected on your Twitter profile, all the engagement on Periscope is kept within the app. Read the rest of this entry »


Protesters Stage Anti-Robot Rally at SXSW

“I say robot, you say no-bot!”

Jon Swartz reports: The chant reverberated through the air near the entrance to the SXSW tech and entertainment festival here.

About two dozen protesters, led by a computer engineer, echoed that sentiment in their movement against artificial intelligence.

“Machines have already taken over. If you drive a car, much of what it does is technology-driven.”

— Ben Medlock, co-founder of mobile-communications company SwiftKey

“This is is about morality in computing,” said Adam Mason, 23, who organized the protest.

Signs at the scene reflected the mood. “Stop the Robots.” “Humans are the future.”

The mini-rally drew a crowd of gawkers, drawn by the sight of a rare protest here.

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The dangers of more developed artificial intelligence, which is still in its early stages, has created some debate in the scientific community. Tesla founder Elon Musk donated $10 million to the Future of Life Institute because of his fears.

Stephen Hawking and others have added to the proverbial wave of AI paranoia with dire predictions of its risk to humanity.

“I am amazed at the movement. I has changed life in ways as dramatic as the Industrial Revolution.”

— Stephen Wolfram, a British computer scientist, entrepreneur and former physicist known for his contributions to theoretical physics

The topic is an undercurrent in Steve Jobs: The Man in the Machine, a documentary about the fabled Apple co-founder. The paradoxical dynamic between people and tech products is a “double-edged sword,” said its Academy Award-winning director, Alex Gibney. “There are so many benefits — and yet we can descend into our smartphone.”

As non-plussed witnesses wandered by, another chant went up. “A-I, say goodbye.”

Several of the students were from the University of Texas, which is known for a strong engineering program. But they are deeply concerned about the implications of a society where technology runs too deep. Read the rest of this entry »


‘Hillary Email Story About to Metasticize': Clinton Ran Own Computer System

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The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives

WASHINGTON (AP) – Jack Gillum and Ted Bridis report: The computer server that transmitted and received Hillary Clinton’s emails – on a private account she used exclusively for official business when she was secretary of state – traced back to an Internet service registered to her family’s home in Chappaqua, New York, according to Internet records reviewed by The Associated Press.

“In November 2012, without explanation, Clinton’s private email account was reconfigured to use Google’s servers as a backup in case her own personal email server failed, according to Internet records. That is significant because Clinton publicly supported Google’s accusations in June 2011 that China’s government had tried to break into the Google mail accounts of senior U.S. government officials.”

The highly unusual practice of a Cabinet-level official physically running her own email would have given Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, impressive control over limiting access to her message archives. It also would distinguish Clinton’s secretive email practices as far more sophisticated than some politicians, including Mitt Romney and Sarah Palin, who were caught conducting official business using free email services operated by Microsoft Corp. and Yahoo Inc.

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Most Internet users rely on professional outside companies, such as Google Inc. or their own employers, for the behind-the-scenes complexities of managing their email communications. Government employees generally use servers run by federal agencies where they work.

“The AP has waited more than a year under the open records law for the State Department to turn over some emails covering Clinton’s tenure as the nation’s top diplomat, although the agency has never suggested that it didn’t possess all her emails.”

In most cases, individuals who operate their own email servers are technical experts or users so concerned about issues of privacy and surveillance they take matters into their own hands. It was not immediately clear exactly where Clinton ran that computer system.

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“Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails.”

Clinton has not described her motivation for using a private email account – hdr22@clintonemail.com, which traced back to her own private email server registered under an apparent pseudonym – for official State Department business.

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Operating her own server would have afforded Clinton additional legal opportunities to block government or private subpoenas in criminal, administrative or civil cases because her lawyers could object in court before being forced to turn over any emails. And since the Secret Service was guarding Clinton’s home, an email server there would have been well protected from theft or a physical hacking.

“It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches.” 

But homemade email servers are generally not as reliable, secure from hackers or protected from fires or floods as those in commercial data centers. Those professional facilities provide monitoring for viruses or hacking attempts, regulated temperatures, off-site backups, generators in case of power outages, fire-suppression systems and redundant communications lines.

A spokesman for Clinton did not respond to requests seeking comment from the AP on Tuesday. Clinton ignored the issue during a speech Tuesday night at the 30th anniversary gala of EMILY’s List, which works to elect Democratic women who support abortion rights.

It was unclear whom Clinton hired to set up or maintain her private email server, which the AP traced to a mysterious identity, Eric Hoteham. That name does not appear in public records databases, campaign contribution records or Internet background searches. Hoteham was listed as the customer at Clinton’s $1.7 million home on Old House Lane in Chappaqua in records registering the Internet address for her email server since August 2010. Read the rest of this entry »


SELFIE: Mars Rover Curiosity Gears Up

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After cooling its heels for a month on the Red Planet, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity is gearing up for lots of action in the coming weeks.

Curiosity’s handlers sent no commands to the rover for most of April, because Mars was on the opposite side of the sun from Earth at the time. But this planetary alignment, known as a Mars solar conjunction, is now over, and the mission team is planning to drill into a Red Planet rock soon and then send Curiosity off on an epic, miles-long trek to the base of a huge and mysterious mountain.

“A couple of weeks to move to the site and drill, and then the experiments themselves can take also a couple of weeks — that’s about the time scale we’re looking at,” said Curiosity deputy project scientist Ashwin Vasavada, of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. “And then we’d hopefully get going.”

[Curiosity’s Latest Amazing Mars Photos]

He stressed, however, that this timeframe could shift depending on how the drilling operation goes, and what Curiosity discovers.

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Curiosity healthy after ‘spring break’

The Curiosity rover wasn’t idle during conjunction. It continued monitoring Martian weather and radiation and perfomed some relatively simple science work using commands sent up in advance, Vasavada said.

“That all went fine — it kind of executed flawlessly a long set of preplanned activities,” he told SPACE.com. “We had never planned 30 days at once [before], so that was a relief.”

But things have picked up since mission controllers got back in touch with Curiosity late last week. They’ve already uploaded a minor software update to the rover, which emerged from conjunction in fine health, Vasavada said.

Curiosity continues to operate on its backup, or B-side, computer, which it switched to after a glitch knocked out its primary computer (or A-side) in late February.

The rover team has still not fully figured out what happened to the A-side, but engineers have made significant troubleshooting progress. For example, Curiosity would have been OK if an issue during conjunction had forced the rover to swap back over to the A-side computer, Vasavada said.

Curiosity Mars Rover Self Portrait

Curiosity Mars Rover Self Portrait

Drilling another hole

Curiosity touched down inside Mars’ huge Gale Crater last August, kicking off a two-year surface mission to determine if the Red Planet could ever have supported microbial life.

The rover team has already checked off this primary goal, announcing in March that a spot dubbed Yellowknife Bay was indeed habitable billions of years ago. Scientists reached this conclusion after studying Curiosity’s analyses of material pulled from a 2.5-inch-deep (6.4 centimeters) hole the rover drilled into a Red Planet outcrop.

[Ancient Mars Could Have Supported Life (Photos)]

Now that conjunction’s over, the mission team wants to drill another hole in a nearby rock, to confirm and perhaps extend the exciting results gleaned from the first drilling activity.

“Probably in the next week or two, we will slightly move the rover to a new location, which the science team is actively choosing right now,” Vasavada said. “Primarily, it will be to duplicate the results from the first hole, because they were so exciting and, in some cases, unexpected that the people who run the experiments just want to make sure it’s really correct before writing all the papers up.” Read the rest of this entry »


Apple’s Titan Car Project to Challenge Tesla

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Apple Has 100s Working on Design of a Minivan Like Vehicle 

Daisuke Wakabayashi and Mike Ramsey report: Apple Inc. has revolutionized music and phones. Now it is aiming at a much bigger target: automobiles.

The Cupertino, Calif., company has several hundred employees working secretly toward creating an Apple-branded electric vehicle, according to people familiar with the matter. The project, code-named “Titan,” initially is working on the design of a vehicle that resembles a minivan, one of the people said.

“There are products that we’re working on that no one knows about. That haven’t been rumored about yet.”

— Chief Executive Tim Cook, to Charlie Rose, in September

An Apple spokesman declined to comment.

Apple ultimately could decide not to proceed with a car. In addition, many technologies used in an electric car, such as advanced batteries and in-car electronics, could be useful to other Apple products, including the iPhone and iPad.

Apple often investigates technologies and potential products, going as far as building multiple prototypes for some things that it won’t ever sell. Any car would take several years to complete and obtain safety certifications.

But the size of the project team and the senior people involved indicate that the company is serious, these people said. Apple executives have flown to Austria to meet with contract manufacturers for high-end cars including the Magna Steyr unit of Canadian auto supplier Magna International Inc. A Magna spokeswoman declined to comment.

Apple’s industrial design team is staffed with several people who have experience at European auto makers. Last year, Apple hired Marc Newson, a famous industrial designer and close friend of the company’s design guru, Jony Ive. In the past, Mr. Newson created a concept car for Ford Motor Co.

Apple hopes to put its stamp on the electric vehicle market in the same way it did the smartphone with its iPhone, said a person familiar with its work. Even though Apple defied expectations of slowing growth with a 30% rise in revenue in the quarter ended December, the company is under constant scrutiny of where its next breakthrough product will come from.

Last year, Apple hired Marc Newson, a well-known industrial designer and close friend of the company’s design guru, Jony Ive. In the past, Mr. Newson has created a concept car for Ford. Photo: Getty Images

Last year, Apple hired Marc Newson, a well-known industrial designer and close friend of the company’s design guru, Jony Ive. In the past, Mr. Newson has created a concept car for Ford. Photo: Getty Images

Earlier this week, Mr. Cook said at an investor conference that he does not believe that companies naturally start to slow as their revenue grows. He said this was “dogma” and that Apple didn’t believe in putting limits on what it was capable of.

A side benefit of the project, according to one of the people, is that it has persuaded many Apple employees who were thinking of leaving the company to stay and work on an exciting new endeavor without the pressure of churning new products every year.

Other Silicon Valley giants are looking at autos. Google Inc. has been working on a self-driving car for years. The head of Google’s autonomous vehicle project said last year that the company aims to forge a partnership with auto makers to build a self-driving car within the next few years. A self-driving car is not part of Apple’s current plan, one of the people familiar with the project said. Read the rest of this entry »


KickassTorrents Has Switched Domains Again

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It’s hard to be a torrent site

Popular torrent site KickassTorrents switched back to a Tongan top-level domain (.to) this week after authorities apparently banned its Somalian address, KickassTorrents.so.

The file-sharing site had only been at the Somalian address since last November, but it appears a crackdown has forced it to move again, Mashable reports. The domain frequently rotates between different countries.

KickassTorrents is one of the Internet’s most popular web sites, ranked by online analytics company Alexa as the world’s 68th biggest.

Torrents have come under increased scrutiny after recent server raids on the popular torrent site the Pirate Bay, and investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice into sites like Demonoid and Torrentz in 2011.

[Mashable]

Via: TIME


[VIDEO] Google Lunar XPRIZE: Back To The Moon For Good – The New Space Race

Narrated by Tim Allen (voice of Buzz Lightyear), this is a complete behind-the-scenes feature on the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, the largest incentivized prize in history. Adapted from the award-winning digital planetarium show, the 24-minute movie chronicles 18 teams from around the world looking to make history by landing a privately funded robotic spacecraft on the Moon. This global competition is designed to spark imagination and inspire a renewed commitment to space exploration, not by governments or countries – but by the citizens of the world. Learn more

 


Chinese Newspaper Condemns Paris Attack, But Says Exposes Dangers of Press Freedom

Pictures that an Internet poster on China's Weibo microblogging site went viral when it was suggested they were of officials in Lujiang County.

Clifford Coonan reports: A state-run Chinese newspaper has run a commentary condemning the terror attack on the Charlie Hebdo magazine, but at the same time underlined how the incident exposes the dangers of press freedom.

“Even after China officially determines their terrorist nature, Western mainstream media puts quotation marks when describing these bloody assaults as ‘terrorist,’ saying that it is a claim of the Chinese government. This always upsets Chinese people.”

“We notice that many Western leaders and mainstream media outlets highlighted their support for press freedom when commenting on the incident. This remains open to question,” ran the commentary in the Global Times newspaper, part of the group that publishes the official Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily.

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“It’s inspiring that mainstream opinion worldwide supports Paris. But if the West can be milder in expressing cultural clashes and consider the feelings of many others, it would be very rewarding and respectable.”

China’s media are all state-controlled and content is heavily censored, and the ruling Communist Party keeps a tight grip on dissenting views and rejects calls for greater press freedom, saying it is Western core value.

Security guards stand outside newspaper offices in Guangdong province in January, where banners and flowers were laid in protest of censorship.

Security guards stand outside newspaper offices in Guangdong province in January, where banners and flowers were laid in protest of censorship.

“If the West thinks of globalization as an absolute expansion and victory of certain values, then it is in for endless trouble.”

The attack should make Western governments and media rethink their approach to press freedom when it comes to causing conflict with other cultures. Read the rest of this entry »


Forbidden: Gmail Blocked in China

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Gmail Appeared to Be Blocked on Applications That Were Previously Able to Connect With It

BEIJING— Chuin-Wei Yap reports: Google Inc. ’s popular Gmail email service has become unavailable in China, in what appears to be the latest move by Beijing to curb the U.S. search giant’s presence there.

“Chinese authorities, who strictly control online content, sometimes block or unblock Internet sites and services without stating a reason. It wasn’t clear whether Gmail access would return.”

Data on Google’s website showed Gmail traffic in China dropped sharply beginning on Friday. The service appeared to be blocked on computer applications that were previously able to connect with it.

Google spokesman Taj Meadows said Monday that “there’s nothing wrong on our end.”

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“Foreign services such as Facebook Inc., Twitter Inc. and Google’s YouTube, among others, are blocked in China.”

China’s State Internet Information Office didn’t respond to a request for comment Monday. At a daily press briefing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she wasn’t aware of the matter. She added that the government “always welcomes foreign businesses to carry out relevant work in China.”

Chinese authorities, who strictly control online content, sometimes block or unblock Internet sites and services without stating a reason. It wasn’t clear whether Gmail access would return. Read the rest of this entry »


Government for the Strongest and Richest

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george-f-will-114x80George Will writes: Intellectually undemanding progressives, excited by the likes of Senator Elizabeth Warren (D., Mass.) — advocate of the downtrodden and the Export-Import Bank — have at last noticed something obvious: Big government, which has become gargantuan in response to progressives’ promptings, serves the strong. It is responsive to class-conflictfactions sufficiently sophisticated and moneyed to understand and manipulate its complexity.

[Check out Joel Kotkin’s book “The New Class Conflict at Amazon]

Hence Democrats, the principal creators of this complexity, receive more than 70 percent of lawyers’ political contributions. Yet progressives, refusing to see this defect — big government captured by big interests — as systemic, want to make government an ever-more-muscular engine of regulation and redistribution. Were progressives serious about what used to preoccupy America’s Left — entrenched elites, crony capitalism, and other impediments to upward mobility — they would study “The New Class Conflict, by Joel Kotkin, a lifelong Democrat.

[Also see – The New Class Conflict’: Glenn Reynolds reviews Joel Kotkin’s Book]

The American majority that believes life will be worse for the next few decades — more than double the number who believe things will be better — senses that 95 percent of income gains from 2009 to 2012 went to the wealthiest 1 percent.

“The fortunes of those Kotkin calls ‘the new Oligarchs’ are based ‘primarily on the sale of essentially ephemeral goods: media, advertising and entertainment.'”

This, Kotkin believes, reflects the “growing alliance between the ultra-wealthy and the instruments of state power.” In 2012, Barack Obama carried eight of America’s ten wealthiest counties.

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“In 2013…Houston had more housing starts than all of California.”

In the 1880s, Kotkin says, Cornelius Vanderbilt’s railroad revenues were larger than the federal government’s revenues. That was the old economy. This is the new: In 2013, the combined ad revenues of all American newspapers were smaller than Google’s; so were magazines’ revenues. In 2013, Google’s market capitalization was six times GM’s, but Google had one-fifth as many employees. The fortunes of those Kotkin calls “the new Oligarchs” are based “primarily on the sale of essentially ephemeral goods: media, advertising and entertainment.”

AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

 “Since 1945, government employment has grown more than twice as fast as America’s population. The Founders worried about government being captured by factions; they did not foresee government becoming society’s most rapacious and overbearing faction.”

He calls another ascendant group the Clerisy, which is based in academia (where there are now many more administrators and staffers than full-time instructors), media, the nonprofit sector, and, especially, government: Since 1945, government employment has grown more than twice as fast as America’s population. The Founders worried about government being captured by factions; they did not foresee government becoming society’s most rapacious and overbearing faction. Read the rest of this entry »


Google Takes Over Operations Of Moffett Airfield From NASA, Will Invest $200M Into The Site

Originally posted on TechCrunch:

After years of using Moffett Field as the home and launch pad for the private jets of Google’s founders, the company has agreed to a deal in which it will lease the airfield from NASA for the next 60 years. As part of the lease, Google will take over operations of the airfield while the U.S. government retains ownership of the land.

In a press release, NASA announced that Planetary Ventures LLC, a shell organization operated by Google for real estate deals, will contribute $1.16 billion over the course of the lease, while reducing the government agency’s maintenance and operation costs by $6.3 million annually.

The best part of the press release is this quote from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden: “As NASA expands its presence in space, we are making strides to reduce our footprint here on Earth,” he says.

NASA and the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) will…

View original 285 more words


Surveillance-Proof

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First Apple and then Google announced that they would use encryption on new phones that wouldn’t permit them to help police execute warrants to examine data on a cell phone or other device.

For City Journal, Judith Miller writes: Law enforcement officials in New York and Washington criticized technology superpowers Google and Apple this week for selling cell phones and other devices that cannot be accessed by the government, warning that such technology jeopardizes public safety.

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Judith Miller is a contributing editor of City Journal, and an adjunct fellow at the Manhattan Institute

In his first major policy address, FBI director James B. Comey called on Congress and the Obama administration to counter the expanding use of such devices, which he and other law enforcement officials assert endanger efforts to prevent terrorism and fight crime. Without lawful government access to cell phones and Internet devices, Comey warned, “homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could walk free, and child exploitation victims might not be identified or recovered.”

“Law enforcement officials many legitimate ways to obtain the data stored on our devices. Weakening the security of smartphones and trusted communications infrastructure should not be one of them.”

— Nuala O’Connor, president of the Center for Democracy and Technology

Comey, who became FBI director last year, said that he understood Americans’ “justifiable surprise” at former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s revelations about U.S. government surveillance practices. Read the rest of this entry »


Joanna Stern: OS X Yosemite Review

Drew Evans/The Wall Street Journal.

Macs and iPhones finally speak the same language.

I can begin replying to an email on my phone, then walk over to my laptop and finish it off there. While my phone charges on my nightstand, I can pick up calls from my mom with a mouse click at my desk. And when someone texts me a photo, it’s already on my laptop, where I can quickly jazz it up in Photoshop then tweet it.

With the Thursday release of the Mac’s free OS X Yosemite updateApple is finally getting its devices to behave like a real, happy family—a family that not only talks to each other but even looks very much alike. The Mac operating system has acquired apps and features from iOS—and vice versa—over the past few years, but this is the biggest leap toward each other yet.

The advantage is so big that if you are an iPhone or iPad owner but don’t have a Mac, Yosemite might get you to consider buying one. It makes living in Apple’s ecosystem harder to resist. But before you fall into the Apple trap, keep in mind that there are still plenty of reasons to play with Google (and even Microsoft ) on a Mac or iPhone.

An iOS-Inspired Face-Lift

With an iPhone running iOS 8.1, users can receive and send standard-carrier text messages from a computer. Drew Evans/The Wall Street Journal

OS X’s icons have been revamped to look flatter and more modern.  Drew Evans/The Wall Street Journal.

Late one night, Jony Ive, Apple’s design chief, threw on the “White Album,” took out a bucket of translucent primer, mixed it together with some of his rainbow-colored iOS paint and tossed it at the computer screen. At least, that’s how I imagine the Mac operating system got its new look.

There are traces of iPhone and iPad design everywhere you look. Icons have been revamped to look flatter and more modern. The edges of windows are translucent so you can see what’s behind them. The red, yellow and green window-position buttons look like a futuristic traffic light. Even the notification pane now has a “Today” view that is identical to the iPhone’s. Read the rest of this entry »


Keep Hong Kong’s Window Open

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Journalists covering the protests include some who have been expelled from China amid crackdowns

renocol_GordonCrovitzOct. 5, 2014 5:03 p.m. ET, L. Gordon Crovitz writes: Information has been the main currency of Hong Kong since colonial days, when word reached mainland Chinese that if they escaped to “touch base” in Hong Kong, they would get refuge under British rule. Hong Kong became Asia’s first global city thanks to hardworking immigrants who made the most of their open trade, English legal system and free speech.

“By breaking the promise that Hong Kong can select its own government, China’s current rulers are violating clear obligations.”

Hong Kong protesters are driven by hope that a leader selected by Hong Kong voters—as Beijing promised for 2017 before it reneged—can protect their way of life. But as the Communist Party narrows freedoms on the mainland, Deng Xiaoping ’s “one country, two systems” formulation for the 1997 handover entails a widening gap between life in Hong Kong and the rest of China. Without a government to represent them, Hong Kong people had no better choice than to take to the streets.

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

“This year has seen unprecedented physical attacks on journalists in Hong Kong, presumably at Beijing’s behest. China extorted advertising boycotts of pro-democracy publishers in Hong Kong. It forced critical bloggers to close down.”

Mainland China is in an era of brutal suppression. Beijing jails reformers, controls journalists and employs hundreds of thousands of censors on social media. Twitter Facebook , YouTube and many global news sites are blocked. Instagram was closed down after mainlanders shared photos of Hong Kong people using umbrellas against pepper spray and tear gas.

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“Hong Kong’s fate is to be the world’s window on an unpredictable China. “

As a financial capital, Hong Kong cannot survive without open access to information. It has more newspapers than any other city in the world. It’s been a window on China since the communist revolution. An unintended consequence of Beijing’s recent crackdown is that expelled foreign journalists now operate from Hong Kong, delivering news of the protests.

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

Exclusive: punditfromanotherplanet Hong Kong Bureau

Google searches from China are routed to Hong Kong servers so that results can be delivered uncensored

The Wall Street Journal’s first overseas edition was launched in Hong Kong in 1976. A running joke among Journal opinion writers is that it’s the only place in the world where our free-market, free-people beliefs are mainstream. Google searches from China are routed to Hong Kong servers so that results can be delivered uncensored. Read the rest of this entry »


Phone Apps Spy on Hong Kong Protesters

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Security experts say China is a leading source of hacking attacks aimed at foreign governments and companies to computers in China

HONG KONG (AP) — The Chinese government might be using smartphone apps to spy on pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong, a U.S. security firm said.

“The Xsser mRAT represents a fundamental shift by nation-state cybercriminals from compromising traditional PC systems to targeting mobile devices.”

The applications are disguised as tools created by activists, said the firm, Lacoon Mobile Security. It said that once downloaded, they give an outsider access to the phone’s address book, call logs and other information.

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The identities of victims and details of the servers used “lead us to believe that the Chinese government are behind the attack,” said a Lacoon statement.

China is, along with the United States and Russia, regarded as a leader in cyber warfare research. Security experts say China is a leading source of hacking attacks aimed at foreign governments and companies to computers in China. Read the rest of this entry »


‘I AM Big. It’s the Devices that Got Small’

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How the Smartphone Ushered In a Golden Age of Journalism 

For WIRED writes: When I first arrived in New York, some time back in the last century, I gazed in awe and fascination at subway riders reading The New York Times. Thanks to a precise and universally adopted method of folding the paper (had it been taught in schools?), they could read it and even turn its pages without thrusting them in anyone else’s face. The trick? Folding those big, inky broadsheets into neat little rectangles—roughly the same size, in fact, as an iPad. It’s as if they were trying to turn the newspaper into a mobile device. And that, we can now see, is precisely what news is meant for. Today, New York newspaper origami is an all-but-lost art; straphangers have their eyes glued to their smartphones.

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Illustration by Oliver Munday

“Like Twitter, mobile has long been underestimated: People assume that because the screen is small, the content should be too. That’s turning out to be both simplistic and wrong.”

Journalism, however, is holding its own. Statistics from the Times say roughly half of the people who read it now do so with their mobile devices, and that jibes with figures from the latest Pew report on the news media broadly. But if you were to assume that means people have given up reading actual articles and are just snacking instead, you’d be wrong. The Atlantic recently reported that a gorgeously illustrated 6,200-word story on BuzzFeed—which likewise gets about half its readers through mobile devices—not only received more than a million views, it held the attention of smartphone users for an average of more than 25 minutes. (WIRED‘s in-depth web offerings have also attracted audiences. A profile of a brilliant Mexican schoolgirl garnered 1.2 million views, 25 percent of them from phones, and readers spent an average of 18 minutes on it.) Little wonder that for every fledgling enterprise like Circa, which generates slick digests of other people’s journalism on the theory that that’s what mobile readers want, you have formerly short-attention-span sites like BuzzFeed and Politico retooling themselves to offer serious, in-depth reporting. “Maybe we’re entering into a new golden age of journalism,” venture capitalist Marc Andreessen mused in a recent blog post, “and we just haven’t recognized it yet.”

Even just two years ago, such an assessment would have seemed almost ludicrous. Read the rest of this entry »


Microsoft to Cut up to 18,000 Jobs

ms-cuts-approved-HT

Microsoft confirmed it will cut up to 18,000 jobs over the next year, part of the tech titan’s efforts to streamline its business under new CEO Satya Nadella.

In a statement released Thursday, Microsoft says about 12,500 of the professional and factory positions will be cut as part of its $7.2 billion acquisition of Nokia’s handset business. Read the rest of this entry »


Sacré Bleu! French Blogger Fined for Bitching Online About Restaurant Food & Service

Critique de Restaurant: Blogueuse Condamnée
'The Place to be Avoided at Cap-Ferret'

What is perverse, is that we look for bloggers who are influential, but only if they are nice about people.”

— Caroline Doudet, Blogger

For arretsurimages.netVincent Coquaz reports:

— Translated from French via Google Translate —

“New: restaurants continue their customers who dare to criticize I must say they are the judges to prove them right.”. The lawyer-blogger Maître Eolas was surprised last night of the decision of the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Bordeaux on June 30, which condemned referred blogger “The Irregular” € 1500 as a provision on damages 1000 € of costs of proceedings (Article 700 of the Code of Civil Procedure) for a review of a restaurant in Cap Ferret (33).

[A better analysis of this at The Corner by National Review‘s Ian Tuttle  – “French Court Criminalizes Food Critic’s Google Success”]

This restaurant had just enjoyed a post “The Irregular” titled “The place to be avoided at Cap-Ferret” followed by the name of the institution (the article has since been removed but is still available in the cache here) published in August 2013, and appeared on the first page of Google when you typed the name of the restaurant.

[Also see – “French blogger fined over review’s Google search placing” BBC News]

‘The Place to be Avoided at Cap-Ferret’ 

The paper lamented including disruption of service in the institution and the attitude of the owner of the premises, described as a “diva”. “All that for two appetizers … take what wars” concluded the post with reference to a dark history of appetizers arrived at the same time as the main course (the blogger had therefore returned). Read the rest of this entry »


‘Sugar Baby’ Escort Alix Tichelman Pleads Not Guilty in Google Exec’s Heroin Death

Alix Tichelman, left, of Folsom, Calif., confers with public defender Diane August during her arraignment in Santa Cruz Superior Court Wednesday, July 9, 2014, in Santa Cruz, Calif. Tichelman, an alleged upscale prostitute, is facing manslaughter charges for the November 2013 death of Forrest Hayes, a Google executive. Tichelman, who is also facing drug and prostitution charges, is being held on $1.5 million bail. Photo: Shmuel Thaler, AP

Alix Tichelman, left, of Folsom, Calif., confers with public defender Diane August during her arraignment in Santa Cruz Superior Court Wednesday, July 9, 2014, in Santa Cruz, Calif. Tichelman, an alleged upscale prostitute, is facing manslaughter charges for the November 2013 death of Forrest Hayes, a Google executive. Tichelman, who is also facing drug and prostitution charges, is being held on $1.5 million bail. Photo: Shmuel Thaler, AP

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. (AP) — A high-priced prostitute accused of leaving a Google executive to die on his yacht in California after shooting him up with a fatal hit of heroin has pleaded not guilty to manslaughter and heroin charges.

Twenty-six-year-old Alix Tichelman entered the plea on Wednesday in a Santa Cruz County courtroom. Prosecutors, additionally, Jonathan-Copsey-AP-Dean-Riopellecharged her with great bodily injury.

A judge refused to reduce her $1.5 million bail.

[The Black Widow of Silicon Valley: Alix Tichelman’s Trail of Dead and Damaged Men]

Police say Tichelman did not help 51-year-old Forrest Hayes or call 911 as he went unconscious after she administered heroin to him.

[Last Taste of Sugar: Escort Charged in Google Executive’s Fatal Heroin Overdose]

According to police, surveillance footage from the yacht shows Tichelman gather her belongings, including the heroin and needles, casually step over Hayes’ body to finish a glass of wine, clean up a counter, then lower a blind before leaving the yacht on Nov. 23.

[Hooker Business Booms in Silicon Valley]

Hayes was found the next day. Read the rest of this entry »


The Black Widow of Silicon Valley: Alix Tichelman’s Trail of Dead and Damaged Men

Alix-tats

Police hunted down the prostitute accused of watching a Google exec overdose—and found a trail of dead and damaged men in her past

For The Daily BeastMichael Daly reports: The detectives from the Santa Cruz police department could see an unmistakable injection mark in the arm of the deceased Google executive.Alix-cuffed
But the detectives could see no drugs and no syringe on the yacht where 51-year-old Forrest Timothy Hayes had been found dead from a heroin overdose. What the detectives did see was a pair of wine glasses on a table. They also noted that somebody appeared to have straightened up the cabin.

“We’re like, ‘Holy smoke, this isn’t her first rodeo.'”

The body had been discovered on the floor of the main cabin by the captain, who had been retained by Hayes after he purchased the 50-foot powerboat. Hayes had started out as an automotive executive in his native Michigan, which was in keeping with his decision to eschew eco-friendly sails such as were favored by other Silicon Valley types and buy a craft powered by big fuel guzzlers.

[Also see – Last Taste of Sugar: Escort Charged in Google Executive’s Fatal Heroin Overdose  [Hooker Business Booms in Silicon Valley]

But he had come West to take increasingly senior positions with Sun Microsystems and then Apple and finally with Google X, the research and development division whose projects included the perfect one for a one-time car guy: the self-driving auto. Hayes had become enough of a techie that he had installed a wireless surveillance camera system on his yacht. Read the rest of this entry »


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