Category Archives: Tech

At press conference, Obama denounces Snowden—and promises reforms

Joe Mullin / C-SPAN

During a Friday afternoon press conference, President Barack Obama said that he would work with Congress to declassify more information about the National Security Agency’s (NSA) secret surveillance programs.

At the same time, Obama denied that it was disclosures by Edward Snowden that moved this issue to the forefront. The reforms were already in the works, he insisted; Snowden’s revelations were made in “the most sensationalized manner possible” and unduly scared people.

Even as he proposed reforms, Obama defended the spying as justified and protected from abuses—and he reiterated that Snowden is an accused felon and “not a patriot.”

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OUYA’s Free The Games Fund now live, offers $1 million toward crowdfunded titles

OUYA Free The Games Fund now live, offers $1 million toward crowdfunded titles

OUYA has launched its promised fund-matching campaign to spur development of games for its recently launched Android console. Now known as the Free the Games Fund, the effort rewards successful Kickstarter campaigns with a matching $50,000 to $250,000; OUYA will back as many games as its $1 million pool allows. There are a few conditions, of course. Producers have to meet that $50,000 minimum, end their campaigns within the next year and agree to a six-month OUYA exclusive. The console maker will also stagger payments across the development cycle, although the company promises an additional $100,000 to the most successful project. If you’re looking for help in building a game and are willing to take a chance on a young platform, full details of the fund await at the source link.

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Source: Free the Games Fund

Editor’s Letter: Will LG get lucky with the G2?

In each issue of Distro, Executive Editor Marc Perton publishes a wrap-up of the week in news.

DNP Editor's Letter Will LG get lucky with the G2

It wasn’t long ago that the electronics divisions of Samsung and Lucky-Goldstar, two massive Korean conglomerates, played second fiddle to Japanese competitors like Sony and Panasonic.

Today, of course, Samsung is a leading manufacturer of everything from tablets to TVs, while Sony makes most of its money by selling life insurance. The renamed LG, meanwhile, continues to battle Samsung on the international stage. In the cellphone industry, for example, LG ranks fourth, behind Apple, Nokia and market-leader Samsung. In TVs, LG ranks second, behind, yes, first-place Samsung.

LG’s latest salvo, fired this week, comes in the form of the G2, a flagship smartphone that left our Sarah Silbert impressed during her brief time with it. Boasting a 13-megapixel camera that can potentially hold its own against the shooters in the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S 4, and a range of new features like Answer Me, which lets the phone automatically connect to incoming calls when held to your ear, the G2 could be, in Sarah’s words, “a compelling flagship.”

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Judge denies Apple’s request to suspend e-book antitrust ruling

Judge denies Apple's request to suspend e-book antitrust ruling

Apple, in its ongoing battle over an e-book price fixing scandal, has been dealt yet another setback. Last month, Judge Denise Cote ruled that Apple had violated antitrust laws in conspiring with publishers to raise e-book prices. Cupertino asked for a temporary suspension of her ruling while it sought to appeal the penalties leveled against it, but today Judge Cote refused that request. The company maintains its innocence, and its co-defendants have jumped to its defense in the wake of a strong restrictions handed down by the Justice Department. But, increasingly, it appears that Apple is fighting a losing battle. We’re sure that there are still tricks in its legal arsenal, but there is little indication that Cupertino will be able to avoid terminating its existing agreements with publishers and will be barred from engaging in agency pricing before the end of the DoJ’s five-year ban.

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Source: Associated Press

Google open sources two Web Lab experiments ahead of shutdown this Sunday (video)

Google open sources Web Lab experiments ahead of shutdown this Sunday

Google’s Web Lab exhibition has had a decent run at London’s Science Museum, but all of that web-linked hardware is being packed up for good after the doors are closed this Sunday. Google’s hoping that at least some of it will live on, though, and has teamed up with research and design firm Tellart to open source two of its most popular experiments. Those include the Universal Orchestra, which lets you control a robotic band from the convenience of your web browser, and the Sketchbot, which is a robotic arm that can sketch your face in sand. Of course, since they’re open source, you can put your own twist on the projects if you have some other ideas, and Google notes that it’s providing software-only versions as well for those lacking the necessary hardware skills. You can see both in action in the videos after the break, and find all the code you need to get started at the source links below.

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Source: The Chromium Blog, GitHub

President Obama proposes review, new oversight measures in wake of NSA scandal

President Obama seeks to improve transparency and restore trust following PRISM scandal

Revelations of government surveillance programs, including the headline-grabbing PRISM, have been nothing short of a PR nightmare for the White House. President Obama, who ran in part on a platform that included opposition to certain elements of the Patriot Act and President Bush’s illegal wiretapping program, has faced tough questions about his role in the NSA data collection system. Today, he addressed reporters in the White House press room and, as part of his regular briefing, began to layout a path to increased transparency that he hopes will re-earn the trust of the citizens.

After consulting with members of congress and civil liberties organizations, President Obama has come up with four initial steps to improve transparency and confidence, while working to maintain essential security apparatus. First up, is a direct dialog with congress about reforming section 215 of the Patriot Act, which is the part of the legislation regarding the collection of telephone records. Obama also took the opportunity to reiterate that the government does not have the ability to eavesdrop on phone calls without a warrant. The second step also involved congress and working to improve confidence in the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC). Most notably, he said the government would pursue reforms that would ensure judges would hear opposing views from independent civil liberties proponents, in addition to government representatives.

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Twitter #Music iOS app updated with discovery features, additional languages

Twitter Music iOS app updated with discovery features, additional languages

Twitter’s Music app for iOS just scored a few more features aimed at helping you discover new tracks, and, if you happen to hail from a handful of European countries, allowing you to navigate in your native tongue. Version 1.2 now lets you quickly jump to an artist’s top tracks, locate similar tunes, and, as a pretty nifty affiliate perk, jump to the musicians that artists follow on Twitter. There’s now also an option to scan your iPhone’s music library in order to recommend relevant tracks, and you can quickly access a list of musical groups that you’ve tweeted about in the past. Finally, the pièce de résistance — for foreign users, at least — is an option to use the app in a variety of European languages, including French, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, German, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish, Swedish and Italian. Molto Buono.

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Source: App Store

Microsoft details “Home Gold” sharing program for Xbox One

Microsoft has confirmed that multiple users will be able to take advantage of Xbox Live Gold features on a single Xbox One console as long as any one user is a Gold subscriber.

In a post today on Xbox Wire, Xbox VP Marc Whitten laid out the “Home Gold” program for the Xbox One, which allows an unlimited number of people to make use of Gold-level features like online multiplayer, streaming video services, game DVR services, Skype, and more, even if the main Gold account holder tied to that console is not logged in—or even home. Digital games downloaded to your home Xbox One console will also be playable by any user on that console, Whitten said.

This is a change from the current policy on Xbox 360, which ties Xbox Live Gold features and games to a specific account on that console, meaning that players who want to take part in multiplayer gaming, Netflix, or other Gold-level features all have to share the same Gamertag.

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Report: Asus, not Samsung, lined up to produce the next Nexus 10

Proof of an Asus-made Nexus 10, or merely a filler listing?

Not long after the unveiling of its new Nexus 7 tablet, Android boss Sundar Pichai told a reporter for the Wall Street Journal that the company was also working on a follow-up to the larger Nexus 10 tablet. The reporter’s Tweet on the subject implicated Samsung as Google’s partner for the new tablet, but a new report today indicates that this may not be the case.

Geek.com’s Russell Holly reports that Asus, the company responsible for both versions of the Nexus 7, will be handling the ten-inch tablet this time around. “Multiple sources” indicate that this new tablet will be sold both in the Google Play store and in Best Buy (no surprises there), and a leaked Best Buy listing for the new tablet (shown above) lists Asus as the manufacturer.

When asked about this new report earlier today, the WSJ reporter said that his original Tweet had been meant to convey that the current Nexus 10 was the one made by Samsung, and that Pichai hadn’t said anything one way or the other about the new version’s manufacturer.

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DOJ defends Apple e-book price fixing injunction, says publishers had it easy

E-book on an iPad

The US Department of Justice isn’t buying publishers’ arguments that proposed injunctions against Apple for alleged e-book price fixing are excessive and contradictory. DOJ attorney Lawrence Buterman claims in a response letter that the penalties against Apple are necessarily harsher, since it didn’t settle the accusations like its reported co-conspirators. The group objection even justifies Apple’s punishment, Buterman claims; it suggests that publishers are just waiting until the end of a two-year ban on agency pricing to raise prices once again. The five-year restriction imposed on Apple could keep prices down for longer, the lawyer says.

Apple, meanwhile, isn’t done with its objections. In addition to an earlier request for a stay on proceedings pending an appeal, it now contends that the court excluded or ignored testimony while giving Amazon and Google witnesses too much credibility. The company will present more of its opinion at a conference today with both the DOJ and the presiding judge, but we’re not expecting a quick resolution — neither side is budging at this stage.

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Via: CNET, GigaOM

Source: Letters to the court (1), (2), (3), (4)