The 9 Most-Read WIRED Stories in June
June was quite a month for our WIRED world. It started the day after President Donald Trump tweeted about 'covfefe' (whatever that means) and ended with the spread of Petya, a ransomware outbreak many believe to be an act of cyberwar against Ukraine, a nation that has become a sort of testing lab for Russia's cyberwar strategy.
In between, Travis Kalanick resigned from his position as Uber's CEO; Apple announced all of the things at its developer conference (and the iPhone turned 10!); Amazon acquired Whole Foods in a bid to transform grocery shopping; and the European Union slapped Google with a $2.7 billion antitrust fine (and that may not be the end of the company's woes).
Along the way, WIRED covered all of these issues—and more. As your steward of our online coverage, I've compiled our nine most-read stories, as calculated by how much time you, dear reader, spent perusing these pieces.
Apple’s new HQ is a retrograde, literally inward-looking building with contempt for the city where it lives and cities in general. People rightly credit Apple for defining the look and feel of the future; its computers and phones seem like science fiction. But by building a mega-headquarters straight out of the middle of the last century, Apple has exacerbated the already serious problems endemic to 21st-century suburbs like Cupertino—transportation, housing, and economics. Apple Park is an anachronism wrapped in glass, tucked into a neighborhood. — Adam Rogers
It’s the career of Aaron Zebley, a dogged FBI agent turned prosecutor turned confidant, that perhaps best points to how Robert Mueller intends to run his new investigation into the Trump campaigns ties to Russia: With absolute tenacity and strong central leadership from Mueller himself. It’s a team that’s not just a paper office tiger but one with deep experience investigating crime around the world. — Garrett M. Graff
One bite from the lone star tick—which gets its name from the Texas-shaped splash of white on its back—is enough to reprogram your immune system to forever reject even the smallest nibble of perfectly crisped bacon. — Megan Molteni
The overpriced, overcomplicated F-35 program may seem ill-conceived, particularly when today's drones and satellites can do much of the work of a ’90s-era fighter jet. But it's too big and too far along to be abandoned now. Plus, the jet has finally started to prove itself in the skies. — Jack Stewart
Before you can understand how it can be too hot to fly, you have to understand how airplanes fly. — Rhett Allain
Eighty-nine-year-old Max Schlienger looks nothing like your typical tech visionary, but he shares the Silicon Valley ethos that says if there's a better solution, use it. — Alex Davies
Today, Apple showed that it still cares about PCs. The iMac Pro can have processors up to 22 teraflops, memory up to 128 gigs, and as much as 4 terabytes of storage. There’s also a new thermal cooling system with two fans that seems like it has its work cut out for it. — David Pierce
Poppy is built to be mesmerizing. Hers is a new brand of celebrity at the nexus of one-off meme maker, legitimate pop star, and avant-garde artist. The more you learn about her, the harder it is to tear your eyes from your screen as she pushes you to follow, to comment, to subscribe. And so you do, hoping that maybe it will bring you one step closer to understanding her. This is the magic of Poppy, a star for today’s internet, exquisitely designed to dig her pink fingernails into your brain. — Lexi Pandell
As long as Netlflix's subscriber numbers kept rising, the streaming service could use its piles of cash to make all the shows it wanted, from big hits to niche programming. But even the longest tail has an end. — Angela Watercutter
via Wired https://www.wired.com
June 30, 2017 at 07:39PM
Crunch Report | Facebook Helps You Find Wi-Fi
Today’s Stories Facebook is rolling out its ‘Find Wi-Fi’ feature worldwide Delivery Hero’s valuation surpasses $5B following successful IPO Chat app Kakao raises $437M for its Korean ride-hailing service Cabin secures $3.3M for its ‘moving hotel’ Credits Written and Hosted by: Anthony Ha Filmed by: Matthew Mauro Edited by: Chris Gates Notes: Tito… Read More
via TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com
June 30, 2017 at 07:06PM
McClure steps back at 500 Startups after internal sexual misconduct investigation
Dave McClure, the founder and public face of 500 Startups — one of the most prolific and best-known accelerator programs for early stage companies — has stepped away from managing the firm he set up (and largely built in his own image).
McClure is the latest venture capitalist to be ensnared in the industry’s investigations into alleged sexual misconduct by investors with women that they were supposed to be mentoring or backing financially or simply professionally.
News of McClure’s departure was first reported by The New York Times.
Since revelations of sexual misconduct at the venture capital firm Binary Capital (by its co-founder Justin Caldbeck) first appeared at the Information, basically unraveling the firm, other women entrepreneurs have come forward to share their own stories of harassment (and in some cases, assault).
Chris Sacca, another storied investor whose early bets in companies like Uber have made him a millionaire several times over, was also brought up in The Times’ report. Sacca, who stepped away from investing earlier in the year, issued what amounts to a public apology in a Medium post earlier today for his behavior.
While Sacca has stepped away from investment, his former partner, Matt Mazzeo had jumped over to Binary Capital and had been planning to join the firm as a partner before allegations there unraveled the firm.
Meanwhile, here’s the statement from 500 Startups’ new chief executive, Christine Tsai, about the changes there:
Featured Image: Jared Goralnick/Flickr UNDER A CC by-ND 2.0 LICENSE
via TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com
June 30, 2017 at 06:48PM
Kick Back And Relax A Little With Amazon's Twisted Root Hammock Sale
There’s really nothing better than lounging in a hammock when the weather’s nice, drink in hand. If you have the drink part down, but need the lounge, Amazon’s one-day sale on Twisted Root hammocks has you covered. Pick up practically any kind of hammock, plus, grab the accessories you need to kick your feet up.
Here are a couple things you can grab, but see the rest of the Gold Box on Amazon.
via Gizmodo http://gizmodo.com
June 30, 2017 at 06:48PM
ZyXEL Armor Z2 review
The home and office networking market has become a huge mess. While manufacturers are competing to provide unique approaches to Wireless AC connectivity, others are taking a step back to create alternatives to the standard one-unit router, such as the Eero “mesh” networking kit, and Netgear’s Orbi two-piece kit . ZyXEL, it seems, isn’t taking the “mesh” bait just yet, pumping out new routers and compatible repeaters aimed to fill every space in your house or office – the old-fashioned way. For our ZyXEL Armor Z2 review, we put the high-end router to the test to see if it can blanket a whole home in fast Wi-Fi.
It’s a router, but it looks like a robot spider
The Armor Z2 consists of four external antennas capable of delivering up to a theoretical 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band, and up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. To break this down, each antenna has a single outgoing stream of up to 433Mbps on the 5GHz band, and a single outgoing stream of 200Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. Each antenna also has an incoming stream on each of the two bands, at the same speeds.
If your Wireless AC device only has two internal incoming antennas and two outgoing antennas, it will have speeds of up to 867Mbps on the 5GHz band, and 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band. That 2×2 antenna setup is quite common with recent smartphones, tablets, and laptops. Thus, to get the full benefits of the Armor Z2’s wireless speeds, you’ll need a device, wireless adapter, or add-in PC card supporting a 4×4 connection. Most devices don’t have that.
Kevin Parrish/Digital Trends
Kevin Parrish/Digital Trends
Kevin Parrish/Digital Trends
Kevin Parrish/Digital Trends
In addition to the four external antennas, the router relies on a dual-core processor clocked at 1.7GHz, 512MB of system memory, and 4GB of internal storage used only by the operating system. On the back, owners will find a gigabit Ethernet port dedicated to the router-to-modem connection, and four additional gigabit Ethernet ports for wired devices. The router even includes one USB 3.1 Gen1 Type-A port, and one USB 2.0 Type-A port on its right side, for sharing files or a compatible printer across the network.
Visually, the router looks neat, sitting like a silent, robotic spider with its legs jutting up into the air. There are vents lined along the sides to passively dissipate the heat generated inside, along with two gold-lined vents on the front, and two eye-like gold-trimmed vents on the top. Its appearance would fit nicely alongside a gaming PC, but might look out of place in most living rooms.
Finally, a decent router interface without an app
Once the router is connected to the ISP’s modem, there are two ways to set up the network — via a wireless mobile device, or by a wired connection such as a desktop PC. The default wireless connection information is located inside the packaging, but because we’re old school, we chose to set up the Armor Z2 via an Ethernet connection.
We loaded up a web browser and typed in “http://myrouter” into the address bar. From there, the router took us through the process of changing the default username and password, updating the router’s firmware, and creating a name for the two network connections (5GHz and 2.4GHz). After that, we were fee to explore the router’s main interface.
Before we did that, we set up the WRE6606 wireless range extender device provided by ZyXEL. Designed specifically to extend the Armor Z2 router’s reach, it plugs into a wall’s electrical outlet. It can also be powered by a USB-based power supply (sold separately).
Once powered up, we went back into the router’s interface, clicked on Expert Mode (more on that in a minute), clicked the Wireless tab, clicked on the WPS option, and then chose “Push Button,” which told the router we were hitting the WPS button on the extender. When pressed, the extender and router then began talking to each other to extend wireless coverage.
Before moving on, we need to point out that the WRE6606 is an AC1300-class device. That means it has two internal incoming antennas and two outgoing antennas. While the router is capable of speeds of up to 1,733Mbps on the 5GHz band, and up to 800Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, the extender can only handle a maximum speed of 867Mbps and 400Mbps on each respective band.
Take it easy, or flip into expert mode
The web-based interface loads Easy Mode by default. Splashed across the screen is a map of connected devices, such as all laptops, desktops, mobile devices, and even the WRE6606 repeater. Along the bottom of this interface are five on/off switches for the overall wireless broadcast, separate guest access, parental controls, notifications, and the router’s LEDs. Simple, Right?
The screen-wide map is quite useful. Move the cursor over one of the connected devices, and you’ll see a menu appear with choices to rename the device, change its icon, block the device from the network, and see general information such as assigned IP address, MAC address, device type, and operating system. For some reason, the router believed our Windows 10 Pro laptop was running Windows XP, but it was accurate in its description of other connected devices.
Parents will find the renaming feature a necessary component in network management. Although Windows 10 and Android allow you to assign a name locally on the actual device, the router can save time by simply allowing you to assign names on the router side, so they’re easy to identify on the map. This comes in handy later, when setting up parental control rules.
A special Expert interface just for tweakers
For advanced users, ZyXEL has a tab on the right side of the interface window labeled “Expert Mode” that brings up a more detailed view of all the settings and reports. The default window is the main Status page providing device and usage data while a toolbar resides at the bottom for accessing six other sections of the backend: WAN, Wireless, LAN, Applications, Security, and Maintenance.
For instance, the Applications section is where you’ll find tools for parental controls, managing bandwidth, and sharing media (USB, FTP, and SAMBA). The Maintenance area is where you upgrade the firmware, change the router’s login information, turn on remote management, and so on.
In the Parental Control section, parents simply click on the Add Rule button to pull up a new window to set limits. The router will provide a list of all connected devices by their MAC address and any associated name defined by you or the device. Parents add the device to the rule, and then select the days and times the device can access the network in a 24 x 7 grid. Parents can also block sites and addresses using a keyword, and block/allow services that use a specific protocol or port.
The router looks nice, sitting a silent, robotic spider with its legs jutting up into the air.
If you liked the previous network map splashed on the Easy Mode interface, but don’t want to leave Expert Mode, there’s one located under Live Network Monitor in the Status section. This map is a bit more detailed, showing each connected device, their names (network-based or router-based), and the amount of data tossed between device and router. It also shows the up/down data amount between the router and modem.
There’s lot to see and tweak in the Expert Mode. However, customers wanting to simply plug-and-play the router should have enough settings for shallow customization through the Easy Mode interface.
ZyXEL provides the ONE Connect app for Android and Apple’s iOS platform too, which can be used to view all devices connected to the router, see the connection details of both wireless bands, update the router’s firmware, and run a network diagnostics test.
For streams up to 1,733Mbps across 500 square meters
Based on ZyXEL’s product page, the router has a range of around 500 square meters, which translates to 5,381 square feet. In other words, it projects a circle of coverage of up to 41 feet out from its current position. This is where range extenders come in: users place the devices at the edge of the router’s circular coverage to create another extended bubble of connectivity.
ZyXEL Armor Z2 Compared To
However, extenders simply repeat the weakened state of the router’s signal, so you may have connection in an otherwise unreachable area. The throughput of data from the modem, to the router, to the extender, to the connected device, may still be rather slow.
That said, we grabbed our Alienware laptop, which is capable of up to 867Mbps on the 5GHz band and up to 400Mbps on the 2.4GHz band, and tested the throughput in two locations: five feet away from the router, and seated next to the companion extender device. Remember, the extender broadcasts the same network name, so to test its connection, we connected via wireless and via Ethernet.
First, here are the 5GHz numbers sitting near the router:
Here are the 2.4GHz numbers sitting near the router:
Next, we took the same laptop and sat down next to the repeater in the adjacent room. Two walls and around 30 feet of space separate the repeater from the router in this specific test. For starters, here is the 5GHz connection:
Now here are the 2.4GHz connection numbers next to the repeater:
Finally, we assumed we would have better throughput speeds by connecting the laptop directly to the extender via its single gigabit Ethernet port. What we discovered is that although our Alienware laptop resided next to the repeater device, it was apparently still connected to the router itself. The numbers above have nothing to do with the repeater, but rather the drop-in throughput was simply due to the laptop’s distance from the router.
Thus, here are the numbers we received when wired to the repeater device:
Of course, we would likely see better numbers had we tested both devices in an open space, like a ballfield. But that’s not really a real-world scenario given they’re meant to reside within a home environment. Still, on the router front, its performance is admirable at close range, and not too shabby when you’re at least 30 feet away in another room.
Finding warranty information on ZyXEL’s website was a real pain. Eventually we landed here, which states that ZyXEL covers hardware for two years after purchase. If the product fails due to faulty workmanship and/or materials, the company will repair or replace the device. If ZyXEL can’t resolve the problem, then it will provide a refund matching the original purchase price.Our Take
ZyXEL’s Armor Z2 router aims to be future-proof, providing up to 1,733Mbps for wireless devices that can handle four incoming and outgoing streams. Many Wireless AC devices can only handle two, but as component prices continue to drop, wireless devices will eventually catch up to this router. Until then, it performs great up close and admirably from afar. Having a dedicated wireless repeater is a nice touch, but in our testing, the repeater just didn’t perform as expected.
Is there a better alternative?
As of late, the Armor Z2 seems rather average when the client device is placed near the router, if not slightly better. But despite having the WRE6606 wireless extender repeating the signal 30 feet away, we saw better throughput with Netgear’s Orbi two-piece kit at that distance. Then again, the Orbi kit is more expensive, selling for $350 whereas ZyXEL’s combined router ($170) and extender ($80) add up to a cheaper $250. Also make sure to check out our best wireless routers.
How long will it last?
This router should last awhile, given its support for 4×4 wireless connectivity. Wireless AD (WiGig) is crashing the 2017 networking scene, and other manufacturers are testing the networking waters to provide better whole-home coverage than what the typical standalone router can produce. Still, we this the Armor Z2 will feel fast enough for three to five years.
Should you buy it?
The Armor Z2 offers solid performance for gamers and mainstream customers alike, so you can’t go wrong purchasing this router. Heck, it’s even futureproof, as Wireless AC devices with additional internal antennas begin to saturate the market and support this router’s fastest speed.
Remember, though, that the Armor Z2 is not a whole-home solution, so customers wanting “blanket” coverage complemented by quick-and-simply plug-and-play setups should look at a mesh router like the pretty Luma Surround WiFi kit. The Armor Z2 is focused on performance over a smaller area, and customization for enthusiast users.
via Digital Trends http://ift.tt/2p4eJdC
June 30, 2017 at 06:09PM
Game publisher GameMine inks a $20 million partnership with South Africa’s Vodacom
On the heels of a $20 million funding round last month, the new game publishing company GameMine has inked its first big deal with a global carrier.
The company has partnered with the South Africa mobile carrier Vodacom Group to bring GameMine’s subscription-based mobile games to the South African market.
More than 175 GameMine titles will be distributed to Vodacom subscribers ad-free and free of charge during a promotional trial period.
“GameMine recognizes the distinct value and importance of South Africa’s thriving mobile carrier market as an appropriate demographic region for our company’s product, as well as an early trend indicator for the African continent’s entire mobile industry,” said Daniel Starr, GameMine’s chief executive in a statement.
The partnership is a validation for GameMine’s subscription-based pitch to wireless carriers. Rather than rely on ad revenues, GameMine goes through wireless carriers like Vodacom to upsell its customers.
The partnership will significantly boost GameMine’s global subscriber base, as well as its exposure within international mobile carrier markets while providing Vodacom’s South African iPhone and Android users with access to GameMine’s best-in-class mobile games, all of which are being provided in a fully unlocked, ad-free manner.
It’s GameMine’s first big deal since Starr launched the company six months ago. The serial entrepreneur has worked at mobile billing companies for the last decade.
Starr’s last business, Principal Media, was a billing service for international mobile billing. That company was sold to an investment firm for roughly $40 million.
For Starr, the move into game publishing came as a result of watching some of the mistakes and observing the friction that exists in making money off of traditional games.
“Once I got deep into the numbers, I said we should be doing gaming,” says Starr. “We got rid of our old company. Sold it quickly for some cash and jumped into gaming full-speed.”
The company charges through the mobile carriers’ billing platform rather than charging a gamer during gameplay.
Rather than relying on a blockbuster model or the traditional tentpole approach that content companies from game studios to Hollywood studios to record labels have used almost since their inception, GameMine takes more of a “Netflix” approach, Starr says.
GameMine customers aren’t buying into one title, they’re buying a rotating cast of titles that update regularly, are unlocked and ad-free, he said.
“We’re an all-you-can-eat buffet for games,” says Starr. “It’s not, ‘Is steak selling the best, or is chicken selling the best?’ We’re trying to get more people through the buffet,” Starr says.
Leveraging the work he’d done providing billing services to carriers, Starr reached out to carriers and started pitching his game brand.
“The carriers… they want to disintermediate them more than anything you can imagine,” says Starr of the platforms and applications that have been eating into the mobile operators’ revenue. “They’re frustrated that they created these networks and these other companies reap the benefit of the services.”
With the contracts that GameMine is cutting, carriers can take between 5-25 percent of the transaction, depending on the country, Starr said.
Every phone that a carrier ships in the markets within which the company operates will come equipped with GameMine already downloaded, Starr said.
The company’s approach was compelling enough to net it a $20 million investment from the Los Angeles-based investment firm Palisades Venture Capital.
via TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com
June 30, 2017 at 06:00PM
Here are 4 awesome Amazon Warehouse deals to brighten your weekend
If you are in the mood to do some online shopping this weekend, we picked out a handful of the best tech deals available on Amazon Warehouse right now. These weekend Warehouse deals can save you more than $80 on brand-name gadgets including an AV receiver, smartwatch, and more.
Best Weekend Deal
Our top Amazon Warehouse deal for this week is one of our own favorites: The Samsung Gear S3 smartwatch. The Gear S3 is one of the best Android smartwatches available, and Amazon Warehouse has the rugged Frontier model for just $238 in “good” condition, giving you a savings of $89 off of the cost of a new one. The stylish and dressy Gear S3 Classic is also available for $245 in “good” condition for a discount of $77 off of its normal price.
More great offers
Looking for more savings? Here are some other great Amazon Warehouse deals to brighten your weekend:
Remember that Amazon Warehouse stock is limited and these deals won’t last forever, so if something catches your eye, be sure to act quickly. If you are curious about how Amazon Warehouse works, feel free to read more about how these items are inspected, tested, and graded.
Looking for more great tech deals? Check out our deals page to score some extra savings on our favorite gadgets.
via Digital Trends http://ift.tt/2p4eJdC
June 30, 2017 at 05:40PM
Weekly rewind: A new breed of megayacht, the best iPhone photos, AI salvation
A lot can happen in a week when it comes to tech. The constant onslaught of news makes it nigh impossible for mere mortals with real lives to keep track of everything. That’s why we’ve compiled a quick and dirty list of this week’s top 10 tech stories, from how AI could save the world to how an exploding smartphone could come back into the world — it’s all here.
Picture this — It’s the year 2100 and our worst dystopian fears have come true. The Earth is in shambles; society is rife with poverty and inequality; you can hop across the Pacific on floating patches of plastic.
Humanity is facing more problems than it we can probably fix on our own. Without some drastic and immediate changes, we’re sure to usher in a bleak future. But we may also be able to solve these problems, or at least minimize their negative impacts, with the help of AI. Here are some of the ways how.
Samsung, not one to let recalled phones go to waste (even fire-prone ones), may soon sell a refurbished Galaxy Note 7. The smartphone maker announced it is investigating ways to recycle the Galaxy Note 7 in an environmentally conscious way, which may include selling refurbished versions of the previously recalled device.
Most recently, a version called the Galaxy Note 7 FE, or Fandom Edition, has been rumored to launch on July 7. According to The Wall Street Journal, the device will have different internal components, and will be sold in South Korea. Altering the phone’s internals will help the public overcome fears about device safety, and may also lower the initially expensive price.
Some Volvo engineers developing autonomous-vehicle technology recognized that they needed to test it in a range of conditions. After all, that’s why the likes of Waymo and Uber are trying out their self-driving gear in a number of states across the U.S. — to learn about how it handles different weather conditions, landscapes, road systems, and the like … and that includes handling kangaroos.
Ambitious companies as they are, no doubt these firms plan for their technology to one day go global, allowing drivers everywhere to hang up their car keys, sit back, and enjoy the ride. In that case, they’ll need to head Down Under at some point so they can work out how to get their cars to take evasive action when a kangaroo hops onto the road.
There are 7.5 billion people on this planet, and more than 25 percent of them are on Facebook.
In yet another impressive achievement for the social media behemoth, CEO and founder Mark Zuckerberg announced on Tuesday that the Facebook community is now 2 billion people strong (in terms of monthly active users). Given that it started as nothing more than a college directory for the students of Harvard University in 2004, it is safe to say that the project has exceeded expectations.
What is a smart city? Not even the people building them seem to know yet.
“Get 10 people in a room and ask what a smart city is, you’ll get 11 answers,” Bob Bennett, Kansas City, Missouri’s chief innovation officer, told Digital Trends. That might be true, but most involved in smart city projects agree on one thing: No one’s really there yet.
“I think it’s the Wild West at this point, and smart cities mean something different to everybody,” said Jarrett Wendt, executive vice president of strategic innovations at Panasonic.
Pandora is calling it a day in Australia and New Zealand.
The Oakland, California-based music streaming company will shutter its service in the two countries — the only markets outside of the U.S. where it operates — in the next few weeks.
A spokesperson for Pandora said it needed to concentrate its efforts on its main block of users, while pointing out that it’s not abandoning all hope of moving back into international markets at a later date.
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has announced plans for stricter security checks for passengers flying into the U.S.
Recent news reports suggested the DHS would expand an existing ban preventing passengers on certain Middle Eastern and African airlines from taking laptops and other electronic devices into the cabin, but for the time being at least, this won’t happen.
Instead, new security measures affecting 325,000 airline passengers coming to the U.S. daily from 280 international airports will be put in place in July.
The iPhone is now a decade old — and the iPhone Photography Awards (IPPAWARDS) continue to prove that small cameras can still pack a pretty big punch. This week, the IPPAWARDS announced the winners for the tenth annual global competition.
Brooklyn-based photographer Sebastiano Tomada took the grand prize as the iPhone Photographer of the Year with a photo of two children playing in Qayyarah, Iraq, as an oil well burns in the distance. The vertical shot utilizes leading lines and a punch of contrast to add artistic interest to the photojournalist’s shot.
Norwegian company Hareide Design has unveiled a new yacht that makes the common man’s yacht look like a leaky canoe.
The ship is named “108M” after its impressive size: 108 meters, or approximately 350 feet. The concept features a garden, floor-to-ceiling windows in the grand hall, and even its own private beach. The yacht’s design is meant to invoke a seamless indoor to outdoor experience so that passengers can be in touch with nature. It features a classic monohull design, yet it’s quite different from your traditional megayacht, which usually looks more like a luxury hotel than a nature conservatory. But you knew that, right?
One of the great difficulties of writing about Twin Peaks, or even just watching it, is David Lynch’s “18 hour movie” approach to the new season. With most weekly shows, even more serialized productions like Breaking Bad, episodes have a distinct story arc. During the course of our Twin Peaks evaluation and analysis, it’s become clear that each episode is like a chapter of a novel, and without having seen the story from beginning to end, the importance and meaning of each episode can seem inscrutable.
That’s what makes Part 8 so fascinating. If a viewer is hoping for forward movement in Agent Cooper’s story, or ready answers to any of the pestilential questions the show has raised, this episode provides neither. What it does offer is a stunning experiment in form, and perhaps even an origin story for the evils that plague the world of Twin Peaks.
via Digital Trends http://ift.tt/2p4eJdC
June 30, 2017 at 05:40PM
Trump's Voter Fraud Commission Wants All Your Data. What Could Go Wrong?
The private ballot is tradition in the United States. Now, President Trump’s voter fraud commission wants to collect every American’s voting history and make it available to the public—all in the name of “election integrity.”
This week, the newly formed Advisory Committee on Election Integrity asked secretaries of state across the country for their complete voter rolls, including people’s political parties, voting history, the last four digits of their social security numbers, felony history, and more. The request, submitted by committee vice chair Kris Kobach, has both voting rights advocates and privacy hawks on edge. It’s not just a violation of people’s voter privacy expectations, they say, but it also sets the government up to manipulate the often messy data contained in those voter rolls to give the impression that voter fraud is widespread when it isn't.
“There’s a never-ending amount of mischief that can be done with this data in the wrong hands,” says Myrna Perez, director of voting rights and elections at Brennan Center for Justice. “I think there’s going to be a lot of false positives about people voting when they’re ineligible.”
This committee was founded in response to the President’s wholly unfounded claims that millions of people voted illegally in 2016. It’s a charge that even the author of a study President Trump has cited on the subject rejects as an exaggeration. Recent Russian attempts to hack voting software proves there’s ample room for improvement as far as election security goes, but the committee’s approach not only misses the mark, it could make the electoral system more vulnerable than it already is. Which is, perhaps, why more than 20 states and counting have already said they don’t plan to comply with the ask.
“Aggregating the voter rolls from many states creates a bigger privacy risk than the patchwork of state data we have today, because it creates a one-stop shop for people who want to use the data maliciously, from identity thieves to stalkers,” says Jacob Hoffman-Andrews, senior staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Today, much of the voter data housed by states is technically publicly available. But states set their own ground rules about how much information is available to the public, who can access it, what people can do with that information, and, often, how much they have to pay to get their hands on it. States can, for instance, ban commercial entities from using it to bombard their residents with ads. Some also restrict out-of-staters from accessing the data at all. However, the minute a state hands this information over to the federal government, it becomes part of the public domain, no longer subject to those state laws dictating its use.
“Saying that it’s ‘publicly available’ is a truism,” says Perez. “That doesn’t account for the other limits and restrictions.”
The level of detail Kobach’s request asks for is, itself, misleading. One kind of potential voter fraud the president has worried about is people stealing the identities of dead people in order to vote. But if the committee wants to know that, it doesn’t need to know what party those people belong to. Kobach also requested the last four digits of people’s social security numbers, which could, ironically, have the inadvertent effect of exposing voters to identity fraud.
“Researchers have shown that the first five digits can very often be guessed just based on someone’s place and date of birth,” says Julian Sanchez, a senior fellow at the libertarian leaning Cato Institute, referring to a 2009 Carnegie Mellon study. “This seems like all risk and no reward.”
All of it would be utterly puzzling, if it weren’t for the fact that Kobach has been pursuing changes to the national voter rolls since before President Trump even took office. During the transition, he was photographed during a meeting with the president-elect with an agenda that included references to voter rolls. “The commission was founded to put a fig leaf on what are already precooked policy ideas,” says Justin Levitt, law professor at Loyola Law School and former deputy assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division. “That was on the to do list before the committee was established.”
For anyone looking to build a case that voter fraud exists, the country’s messily maintained and inconsistent voter databases would sure seem to provide ample proof. And yet, anyone in the business of standardizing voter rolls—or engaging in list-matching exercises of any kind—knows that these lists need to be cleaned up, at a minimum, to avoid duplications, errors, and typos.
That kind of thing takes time. The Committee has asked for the voter rolls by July 14.
“You’re going to have a list of hundreds of millions of records, including many, many, many, many John Smiths, their addresses, and sometimes the year they were born,” Levitt says. He argues that trying to match that information up with, say, a list of people who immigration has flagged as being undocumented, would be "beyond sloppy and guaranteed to be riddled with errors."
“There’s a lot of worry to be had about garbage in-garbage out,” Levitt says.
Of course, the John Smiths may have an easier time than, say, the Jose Garcias. Rolling Stone investigated one tool that aims to find fraudulent voters, called Crosscheck, which is used by more than two dozen states. It found that the system disproportionately flags Hispanic, black, and Asian-American voters. States can use this list to purge people from voter rolls, whether or not the system accurately pegged them as fraudsters. It’s not out of the question that Kobach is looking to do something similar nationwide. Kobach, in fact, is the person who started Crosscheck.
"There will be allegations of people voting more than once. There will be allegations of people voting when they're dead, allegations of people voting in different states," says Perez. "When you have big numbers like that, you're going to get people who look the same."
The good news here is Kobach’s note is merely a request, not a mandate. Secretaries of state in both red and blue states are taking a stand against it. In this polarized political environment, that should tell you something.
via Wired https://www.wired.com
June 30, 2017 at 05:39PM
Real estate site Redfin files for IPO
Redfin, the popular real estate listings site, has filed for IPO.
The Seattle-based company unveiled its filing, suggesting that it will raise $100 million, a placeholder that is subject to change.
The timing of the filing suggests that Redfin is likely to debut in late July or early August. Because of the JOBS Act, most companies can wait until 15 days before their investor roadshow to reveal their filing. And almost all of them take advantage of this.
This was a long time coming for Redfin, which got its start in 2004. Since then, the company has raised at least $167 million in venture funding.
Greylock Partners is the largest shareholder with a 12.4% stake, followed by Madrona Ventures with 11.4%, Tiger Global at 10.5% and Draper Fisher Jurvetson at 10.2%.
Redfin makes money by taking a 1 to 1.5% commission off of home sales facilitated by their site. They say this is compared to a 5 to 6% industry average, where agent payments can add up.
The company brought in $267.2 million in revenue last year, a significant increase from $187.3 million in 2015 and $125.4 million in 2014. Losses were $78 million for 2016, down from $132.5 million in 2015. Redfin’s first quarter of 2017 was in the red for $52.8 million, up from the $29.5 million loss in the same quarter of last year.
This is a win for the Nasdaq, where the company plans to list under the ticker symbol “RDFN.” Goldman Sachs and Allen & Co. will be leading the offering.Featured Image: Redfin
via TechCrunch https://techcrunch.com
June 30, 2017 at 05:30PM