June bug 2017

As usual, Wamda does a great job at giving us our dose of local startup news:

Dubai launches a smart city accelerator

Lebanese automotive marketplace receives $1.8M seed fund

GITEX announces it’s 2017 Startup event, $180K in prize money

Lebnet Ignite#4 graduates 8 startups

Kuwait’s Carriage acquired by Delivery Hero

STC announces the establishment of its $500M VC fund, STV

Cairo Angels invests in Orcas

GE Egypt Digital Innovation Challenge announced the winners

Compareit4me.com raises $3.5M

Hikma Ventures co-leads $11M Series A round in US startup

We publish decisions of the national council of e-payments
(Translated title, Arabic, Egypt. Proxy required if you are accessing from Egypt)


In other news:

An ancient Martian lake could have been teeming with lots of kinds of life

Hadoop Servers Expose Over 5 Petabytes of Data

Takeoff and cruise: Toyota making ‘flying car,’ luxury boat

CIA Malware Can Switch Clean Files With Malware When You Download Them via SMB
(SMB attacks don’t seen to be going away)

Paul Allen’s colossal Stratolaunch plane emerges from its lair
(Really spread your wings and fly)

ISPs denied entry into apartment buildings could get help from FCC

How We Save Face–Researchers Crack the Brain’s Facial-Recognition Code

Beware! Fireball Malware Infects Nearly 250 Million Computers Worldwide

Gravitational waves: Third detection of deep space warping

China’s Unprecedented Cyber Law Signals Its Intent to Protect a Precious Commodity: Data
(But Data sacrificed himself aboard the Scimitar. Yes himself, watch “Measure of a man”)

After 0 successful submissions, Google quadruples top reward for hacking Android to $200,000
(Getting desperate?)

Qualcomm’s new Quick Charge 4+ standard is 15 percent faster than Quick Charge 4

Parker Solar Probe: NASA’s journey to touch the Sun

SpaceX set to join rare company by re-flying an orbital spacecraft


Articles:
What to Do If the Laptop Ban Goes Global

Side dish:
Wael Fakharani recently had a sit down with Chase Your Light on Facebook. You can watch the entire piece here.

WannaMore?

Logistics company secures $41M in Series B funding

Tunisian startup Expensya raises US $ 1.10 million

Endeavor Catalyst Fund closes first $500,000 investment in Egypt

Abu Dhabi’s Mubadala commits $15bln to SoftBank Vision Fund

Favizone Wins Seedstars Tunis

Intelak Incubator startups are one step closer to reality

Taqadam announced the winners at the Saudi university startups program

Sihatech Wins ArabNet Startup Championship

Flat6Labs and Al Baraka Banking Group to support entrepreneurs

Facebook selects finalists for Bots for Messenger Challenge

Over 400 students in Girls Got IT in Tripoli

Abu Dhabi Masdar to test three solar energy systems


In other news:

Uber launches UberBoat in a partnership with Nile Taxi

Amazon’s Souq v Alabbar’s Noon: the Middle East’s e-commerce battle

Alabbar Acquires Large Stake in MEVP

Dubai launches world’s first Robocop

Electricity Ministry to contract with Siemens wind farms to lower KW tariff

Egyptian Company for Electricity Transmission starts collecting it’s third installment of “Cost Sharing” from solar ventures next month
(Translated title, Arabic, Egypt)

New SMB Worm Uses Seven NSA Hacking Tools. WannaCry Used Just Two

Almost all WannaCry victims were running Windows 7

Vault 7: CIA Co-Developed Athena Malware with US Cyber-Security Company

Net neutrality going down in flames as FCC votes to kill Title II rules

AMD Naples Zen Platform Makes ‘EPYC’ Debut For Data Center Market

State Senate trumps Austin’s ride-hailing regulations

French researchers find way to unlock WannaCry without ransom

Windows XP PCs infected by WCry can be decrypted without paying ransom

WikiLeaks Dump Reveals CIA Malware That Can Sabotage User Software

Apple Is Lobbying Against Your Right to Repair iPhones, New York State Records Confirm

New Battery Technology Draws Energy Directly From Human Body
(*cough*Matrix*cough*)

Delta kiosk checks your face before you check your bag

Climate change is turning Antarctica green, say researchers

3D-printed ovaries allow infertile mice to give birth

Cisco to cut 1,100 more jobs amid a worse-than-expected business outlook

Twitter co-founder Biz Stone is returning to the company


Articles:

3 MENA Healthcare Startups Making a Difference

The importance of entrenching a culture of goal setting in your young company
(Presented by Performly)

Ransomware WannaCry causes fewer tears than feared

You can build your own LTE network over Wi-Fi frequencies. Well, not quite yet.

Stealing Windows credentials using Google Chrome

Inside Russia’s Social Media War on America

We missed you too…

Startup Watch: It’s all about the money, money, money and solar power

24 Emirati Nationals graduate from Flat6Labs Future Innovators Academy

Palestine gets their first equity crowdfunding platform

500 Startups closes $15M on MENA fund

Saudi startup Dokkan Afkar closes $2M round

Payfort introduces card-on-delivery service in UAE
(Reminder: Payfort was part of the Souq.com-Amazon deal)

Egyptians win big in MITEF Arab Startup Competition

UAE’s Trukker announces 1,000 percent growth in 7 months
(Those are quite a few zeros)

Saudi Telecom denies systems affected by WannaCry ransomware

Today .. Emergency meeting of the Supreme Council for Cyber ​​Security to follow up the developments of «ransomware»
(Translated title, Arabic, Egypt)

“Administrative Court” defers the suspension of Uber and Careem licenses for 9th of July.
(Translated title, Arabic, Egypt)

Uber plans to inject more investments into Egyptian market


In other news:

Vortex acquires TerraForm’s 365 MW UK solar portfolio

FCC Chairman Is Laughing at Americans Who Don’t Want to Kill the Open Internet

Microsoft blasts spy agencies for hoarding security exploits
(Ed: “Because we want to do it, we are giving everyone else the opportunity to do it as well!”)

Honeypot Server Gets Infected with WannaCry Ransomware 6 Times in 90 Minutes

Streaming Services Will Pay A Lot More Residuals Under New WGA Pact

Intel’s Management Engine is a security hazard, and users need a way to disable it

Microsoft’s Latest Workplace Tech Demos Creep Me Out

How Amanda Palmer gave the music industry the finger with crowdfunding

Correction: WannaCry Ransomware That Struck the Globe Isn’t Back, Yet

Met Police use of Indian hackers probed by watchdog

Windows 10 Edge, IE: We’re now blocking sites signed with SHA-1 certs, says Microsoft
(Ed: More nails in that coffin)

Microsoft Releases Patch for Older Windows Versions to Protect Against Wana Decrypt0r

‘Accidental hero’ halts ransomware attack and warns: this is not over

China Is on Track to Fully Phase Out Cash
(Ed: I have a theory that leaking economies could benefit a great deal with e-finance, you can’t bribe as easily with electronic transactions)

Google Maps now uses Street View to show you exactly where to make turns
(Ed: Since GPS makes certain drivers “dummer” lets make GPS smarter!)

Leaked NSA Exploit Spreading Ransomware Worldwide

Fiat Chrysler recalls 1.3 million Ram pickups for possibly fatal software problem
(Ed: Mechanical engineers are familiar with design flaws, but a real software bug to affect your mechanical contraption?)

Targeting Netflix, Cannes Will Ban Streaming-Only Movies From Competition
(Ed: Medium-ism?)

Blocked from US tech investing, China goes to Israel instead

Trump signs long-delayed executive order on cybersecurity
(Ed: What is it this time?)

Apple’s Watch can detect an abnormal heart rhythm with 97% accuracy, UCSF study says

New Windows look and feel, Neon, is officially the “Microsoft Fluent Design System”

Ubuntu arrives in the Windows Store, Suse and Fedora are coming to the Windows Subsystem for Linux

Keylogger Found in Audio Driver of HP Laptops

NVIDIA Unveils Beastly Tesla V100 Powered By Volta GPU With 5120 CUDA Cores And 16GB HBM2

Tesla’s highly-anticipated solar roofs go up for pre-order today

Anti-net neutrality spammers are flooding FCC’s pages with fake comments

The intelligent intersection could banish traffic lights forever

Officials fear Russia could try to target US through popular software firm under FBI scrutiny

Canonical starts IPO path

ISPs Could Damage Bitcoin Ecosystem If They Wanted To


Articles:
What do MENA telcos want to be when they grow up? Part – I
What do MENA telcos want to be when they grow up? Part – II
(Ed: I’m guessing not firefighters)

Even if you hate the idea, Windows users should want Windows 10 S to succeed

Robots Aren’t Destroying Enough Jobs — Capital Account

The Traditional Lecture Is Dead. I Would Know—I’m a Professor

We’re back, with a twist…

We’re back!

And, we’re going to do things a little differently this time, as we work on better improving your experience.

First up, Regional news:

Events:
Wael Fakharani will be a keynote speaker at The Marketer Leagues event at the Intercontinental, City Stars in Cairo. This is set to take place on the 29th of this month (April).

Startup Watch: startup civil wars, rich Arabs, and Egypt’s illicit entrepreneurs

Accelerating entrepreneurship in Kuwait: small yet steady steps

Car app fight club in Egypt

Libyan entrepreneurship in the time of war [Opinion]

Bye-bye paper: Dubai kicks off a citywide blockchain-based payment platform

Private investors key to Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy plan

“Competition Protection” investigates “Uber”
(Arabic, Egypt)


In other news:

Microsoft is pushing Office 2016 users towards Office 365
(Ed: Everything will be on the cloud, eventually.)

Python power comes to SQL Server 2017
(Ed: And not a moment too soon.)

Wikileaks Friday: “Weeping Angel” By CIA, A Hacking Tool For Your Television

British power generation achieves first ever coal-free day

Apple appears to be interested in the satellite internet business

Samsung: We’ll Fix the Galaxy S8 Red Tint Issue with a Software Update

Your internet provider can’t pick which apps and services count against your data cap, says CRTC

Tesla recalls 53,000 Model S, Model X cars for stuck parking brakes
(Ed: When brakes break)

Google Home gains support for multiple users
(Ed: No more “Are you talking to me?”)

Airbnb fires back at hotel industry

File System Improvements to the Windows Subsystem for Linux

Physicists observe ‘negative mass’
(Ed: Even mass can be gloomy sometimes)

Ubuntu Is Switching to Wayland

Sources: Nintendo to launch SNES mini this year

These Popular Headphones Spy on Users, Lawsuit Says

Baidu announces new open platform to help speed up the development of self-driving cars
(Ed: But Andrew Ng left them about a month ago)

Samsung Galaxy S8 Review: Android Excellence In Performance And Design

User-Made Patch Lets Owners of Next-Gen CPUs Install Updates on Windows 7 & 8.1
(Ed: Hand gesture not included it seems)

Malaysia Airlines First to Track Fleet With Satellites

AMD Radeon RX 580 And RX 570 Mainstream GPU Review: High Performance Polaris


Articles:

Steve Case explains why innovation can happen anywhere

The Biggest Time Suck at the Office Might Be Your Computer

95% engineers in India unfit for software development jobs, claims report
(Ed: No way!)

The Demise Of Tilt: A Bargain For Airbnb, A Classic Loss For Investors Like Andreessen Horowitz

Round up for Apr 3, ‘17

Arabnet gives us the jist of Amazon’s acquisition of Souq.com. Simply put, why start from scratch when you can just buy what you need? When you wish to enter a market it might be the best shortcut you can ever get your hands on. While the acquisition value was not disclosed, it is believed to be $650M. The deal also includes PayFort, Souq.com’s payment platform. Amazon now has an excellent opportunity to sell Kindles and Prime to the Middle East. More here.

In the bosom of the mother of the world, we are no strangers to mental institution inviting roaming charges. Somebody decided to do something about it. But that something is more or less hacking the system, but in an overt way. Put your SIM in a router like device before you leave home, and that device will “internet” your calls for you through a proprietary app. Clever thinking, if only you can also guarantee your internet connection at home. This piece is about Voxera that was founded as a reaction to massive roaming bills and was even launched using Kickstarter crowd funding money. $20K in 5 days! Post EGP flotation!

Wamda is hosting Mix N’ Mentor on April 22. This is an event where entrepreneurs get to mingle with experienced investors, mentors and other veteran entrepreneurs. Should be an excellent opportunity to discuss the challenges facing any startup on the micro-level and gain insights into basics such as fundraising, team building and business development. The event will be held at Kind Saud University in Riyadh. More here.

Cassablancan startup Moteur.ma secures undisclosed investment amount from a Malaysian investor. What caught our eye at Tekqio was that Moteur.ma specializes in used car classifieds. They say they will use the cash to move into the new car market and offer different services for each market including price comparison and valuation tools. More here.

A15 has done quite a bit in the world of startups in Egypt and now they signed a partnership agreement with DELL EMC to give more to the startup universe in Egypt. This is an important addition to its portfolio.  Dell EMC will provide ‘the required support, guidance, and expertise’ along side funding. According to Fadi Antaki, Egypt’s main challenge to startups is funding. More here.

Arabnet has wind down this year’s Cairo’s Startup Battle and shined a spotlight on a host of interesting Cairo Based Startups. They put together a list for all of us to see. From Chatbots to Food.


‘Today, WikiLeaks publishes the third installment of its Vault 7 CIA leaks. We’ve already had the Year Zero files which revealed a number of exploits for popular hardware and software, and the Dark Matter batch which focused on Mac and iPhone exploits.’
‘Now we have Marble to look at. A collection of 676 source code files, the Marble cache reveals details of the CIA’s Marble Framework tool, used to hide the true source of CIA malware, and sometimes going as far as appearing to originate from countries other than the US.’ A tiny zip file (0.5MB) shows the “magic” behind this CIA cyber-weapon. Of course the announcement has damaging effects on the policy level but the reveal also shows some nasty false flag intentions. Clandestine services can really play the dirty game.

At Tekqio sometimes we’d get the urge to just plug our smartphones into a big screen, hook up a keyboard and get into a typing frenzy to get more stuff done. We distinctly remember a while back a company that had already made a phone that would dock into a screen+keyboard unit (physically looks identical to a laptop) giving laptop like functionality along those lines. If you remember that, drop us a line. Anyways, the guys over at Arstechnica are giving us a run down of the ‘Samsung Dex’ announcement. $150 to turn your shiny new S8 into a desktop computer. Read about it here.


In other news:

Out of Africa: the Egyptians are coming
Walk like an Egyptian

Why Amazon Acquired Souq.com

What Early-Stage Investors Actually Look For
(From A15)

UW professor: The information war is real, and we’re losing it

Britain Wants Tech Firms to Tackle Extremism

Scientists Discover Way to Transmit Taste of Lemonade Over Internet
(ed: When licking Nintendo Switch cartridges gave someone an idea. J/K.)


April fools? The date matches. What do you think?


P.S.: We are taking the next couple of weeks off. Let us know if you’d like us to change anything for when we come back. Yell in our collective ear here.

Round up for Mar 27, ’17

Wamda is at it again with their startup watch. Renewables aren’t getting the love they need. And Saudi Arabia is thinking of opening up to foreign investors for entrepreneurs. More here.

An Egyptian startup wants to recycle your old laptop, or motherboard, or computer case even. These components often have useful (and sometimes precious) metals in them and recovering them only makes sense if the components don’t work any more. Dr. Weee (‘waste of electric and electronic equipment’) is an app that holds and manages the exchange of parts for money where points are rewarded based on the component score and payment is processed based on the number of points awarded. The founder, Essam Hashem, has been into recycling computer related stuff since 2006.

The Germans are crowdfunding an incubator. Not just any incubator, an incubator that was set up to absorb the entrepreneurship talents of refugees. Part of The Deutscher Integrationspreis competition, a crowdfunding campaign was launched in an attempt to make Ideas in Motion a permanent thing instead of a one off as it is so far. This might actually work.

Depending on who you ask in the Valley HQ near Tahrir, you might hear that the answer is Tunisia. Datavora, a Tunisian ecommerce big-data startup, had secured it’s first round of funding to the tune of almost half-a-million dollars. More here.

HTTPS has been around for quite some time now and most users think if the connection is encrypted, then you are good to go. Not so fast, Let’s Encrypt have been issuing SSL certificates left and right so naturally less than trustworthy entities got a hold of some. Actually a lot. 14,766 to be exact. Let’s Encrypt say all they want is the internet to be encrypted, they don’t think they should police internet content for authenticity as they believe that is a herculean task. We don’t disagree, but the URLs are a bit obvious.

When a robot makes a mistake, who is to blame? When an autonomous vehicle gets into an accident, how do you handle the insurance claim? Well, a self-driving Uber got into an accident in Arizona and we aren’t talking a fender bender. The car tipped over on its side. Nobody was seriously hurt apparently and Uber says the accident was the other guy’s fault. Details here.

Twitter has yet to make a profit. This time they are floating the idea to sell subscriptions to an “advacnced” Tweetdeck. ‘more powerful tools to help marketers, journalists, professionals, and others in our community find out what is happening in the world quicker,’ according to Andrew Tavani, a Managing Editor at The New York Times. You can check out Andrew Tavani’s tweet here.

‘Arctic sea ice appears to have reached on March 7 a record low wintertime maximum extent, according to scientists at NASA and the NASA-supported National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) in Boulder, Colorado. And on the opposite side of the planet, on March 3 sea ice around Antarctica hit its lowest extent ever recorded by satellites at the end of summer in the Southern Hemisphere, a surprising turn of events after decades of moderate sea ice expansion.’ More here.

Benha to go PV? S-Energy (a Samsung spin-off) specializes in solar panel production and they signed a cooperation protocol with Benha Electronics with the goal to build a PV factory in Benha. Annual production capacity is aimed at 200MW (no details on panel efficiency). More here.


In other news:

Why the Senate’s Vote to Throw Out Privacy Laws for ISPs Isn’t All Bad

What If There Were a Moore’s Law for Reducing Carbon Emissions?

Molecule kills elderly cells, reduces signs of aging in mice

Apple investigating accessory that turns iPhone, iPad into full-fledged touchscreen laptop

WikiLeaks’ New Dump Shows How The CIA Allegedly Hacked Macs and iPhones Almost a Decade Ago

A new definition would add 102 planets to our solar system — including Pluto

Interview: The bold plan to build the world’s first ship tunnel
(Yes, you read that right, a tunnel for ships)

Round up for Mar 20, ’17

In startup news, Cairo traffic is an example of going nowhere fast. But there are startups that want to “Uber” deliveries. Yes, in Cairo you can order almost anything and have it delivered to your door.

In security news, Pwn2Own was stretched to three days due to popular demand and over $800K was awarded to winners. The big thing that caught our eye was this, ‘Our day started with the folks from 360 Security (@mj0011sec) attempting a full virtual machine escape through Microsoft Edge. In a first for the Pwn2Own competition, they absolutely succeeded by leveraging a heap overflow in Microsoft Edge, a type confusion in the Windows kernel, and an uninitialized buffer in VMware Workstation for a complete virtual machine escape. These three bugs earned them $105,000 and 27 Master of Pwn points. They won’t say exactly how long the research took them, but the code demonstration needed only 90 seconds.’ More about that day here.

Speaking of security, it seems that encryption is really giving clandestine services a hard time. With coded messages and keys and multi-path routing (or similar techniques) the CIA needs to actually go back to “old school” methods to be able to beat these systems. Hit it at the source or destination (ie before/after encryption/decryption respectively). This means your device needs to be infected with something specific, not like simply listening in on your communications over the internet at will.

In development news, Redmonk has released its rankings for 1H 2017. Yes we know, but they did release it just a few days ago. They found that Java Script, Java, Python and PHP seem to be the most prevalent for the forseable future in terms of development. The “ranking” is pieced together by monitoring GitHub for usage and Stack Overflow for tags in discussions. We are impressed to see Matlab, Assembly and FORTRAN in spots that show a good degree of popularity. You can read on the ranking and more languages here.

Manufacturing is still very much productivity. In this case, old school meets new school. We are talking about Google Glass meets factory floor. ‘With Google Glass, she scans the serial number on the part she’s working on. This brings up manuals, photos or videos she may need. She can tap the side of headset or say “OK Glass” and use voice commands to leave notes for the next shift worker.’ AR could really be useful in these situations. But since Glass is not available to the public anymore, it is a shame you can’t use it to assemble flat-pack Swedish furniture.

Adobe is not really synonymous with cryptography. The San Jose Semaphore was launched in 2006 as part of an art festival where four giant disks of LED lights at top floors of Adobe’s Almaden Tower headquarters in San José, California. The disks send out secret coded messages by semaphore. Since 2012, a new message was being broadcast waiting to be deciphered.  Jimmy Waters, a high school math teacher, figured it out and it turns out the lights were transmitting audio, encoded as light. More here.


In other news:

Climate shaped the human nose, researchers say

What if you could eat chicken without killing a chicken?

Microsoft locks Ryzen and Kaby Lake users out of updates on Windows 7 and 8.1

This Is How the Number 3.14 Got the Name ‘Pi’

Boaty McBoatface to go on its first Antarctic mission
(Yes, that name did not go to waste after all)

From one driver to another” by Wael Fakharani

Spoiler Alert!

Round up for Mar 13, ’17

You just can’t escape “Vault 7”. Wikileaks has released the first batch of alleged leaks from the CIA’s Information Operations Center. The hacking tools are code-named Vault 7 and they include a shocking list of capabilities the documents claim the CIA has. The CIA is a clandestine organisation that by nature has secrets, however, the most surprising for us at Tekqio was that the documents suggest the CIA would rather you remain “unsafe” so the can spy on you then make you “safe” and not be able to spy on you. If the CIA can spy on you, then so should other agencies, “friend” or foe. Details here.

Dr. Mark Rettenmaier’s Laptop needed some special attention so he sent it over to Best Buy’s Geek Squad to take care of it. This simple transaction resulted in a child-pornography possession case against the doctor. During the course of the case, several memoranda have surfaced indicating that the FBI was actively seeking search without probable cause on customers’ computers. They even went so far to “recruit” geeks to search for the offensive materials and even thought about automating the searches. This is in clear violation of 4th amendment rights. More here.

Warner Bros, 20th Century Fox, Columbia Pictures, Universal, Disney, Paramount and Viacomhave sued PubFilm/PidTV back in February but the court proceedings were sealed until last Friday. A TRO was issued on the site as the Hollywood giants accused the site operators of direct and secondary copyright infringement, trademark infringement and unfair competition. The sites provided downloading and streaming of very recently released films and TV shows. The kicker is the damages claim. $150K per infringement. The giants claim that 8M visitors went to the site per month. Do the math.

While the names of the companies were undisclosed, Check Point Software, in a blog post, has revealed that 38 Android phones had malware pre-installed perhaps somewhere along the supply chain to the customer. ‘Most of the malicious apps were info stealers and programs that displayed ads on the phones. One malicious ad-display app, dubbed “Loki,” gains powerful system privileges on the devices it infects. Another app was a mobile ransomware title known as “Slocker,” which uses Tor to conceal the identity of its operators.’ For mobile models and further details, see here.

Verifone suffered a breach in it’s internal network and launched an investigation into what happened exactly. The company released a memo to all staff to change their passwords within 24 hours of the memo circulation and block software installs except through their IT department. Later, some of their findings have uncovered station skimmers but hey believe their network is still secure. KrebsOnSecurity.com has a detailed piece into the matter here.

In cryptocurrency news, the Winkelvoss twins’ application to the SEC for their Winklevoss Bitcoin Trust Exchange-Traded Fund (ETF) has been denied. Approval would have given a huge boost to the crypotcurrency’s value and perhaps would have truly allowed it to be a player in traditional financial exchange markets. The reason given by the SEC for it’s disapproval was they believe it is will vulnerable to manipulation. More here.

In last week’s round we reported on the Uber Greyball tool, this week Uber has admitted to have used it to block regulators and city code officers. They did however vow to change their ways and “..are expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward.” More here.

In science news, it seems Mark Watney wasn’t off by much. “The International Potato Center (CIP) launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars atmospheric conditions and thereby prove they are also able to grow in extreme climates on Earth. This Phase Two effort of CIP’s proof of concept experiment to grow potatoes in simulated Martian conditions began on February 14, 2016 when a tuber was planted in a specially constructed CubeSat contained environment built by engineers from University of Engineering and Technology (UTEC) in Lima based upon designs and advice provided by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration in Ames Research Center (NASA ARC), California. Preliminary results are positive.” More here.


In other news:

Proof Daylight Saving Time Is Dumb, Dangerous, and Costly

Why WebAssembly is a game changer for the web — and a source of pride for Mozilla and Firefox

MAC randomization: A massive failure that leaves iPhones, Android mobes open to tracking

(Opinion piece)
The Promise of Blockchain Is a World Without Middlemen

Round up for Mar 6, ’17

In startup news, Wamda’s watch list for March is out, check it out here.

The Snapchat IPO bomb went off, showering lucky owners of stock and early buyers with $$$. The company opened at $24 a share totaling $33B for the entire operation.  The IPO was at $17 and open trading started at $24.


It can’t be good when someone does your work for you. That is what ACROS security did to Windows 10, 8.1, 7 64bit and 7 32bit to patch it from a 0-day vulnerability in the Windows Graphics Device Interface (GDI) that could be exploited to “…expose data found in the victim’s memory, which can then be leveraged to bypass ASLR protection and execute code on the user’s computer”. While the flaw was discovered at Google’s Project Zero by Mateusz Jurczyk, he notified Microsoft of the issue, Microsoft did a patch but only solves some issues so he re-notified expecting a reply in 90 days but got none. Then Microsoft delayed their monthly Patch Tuesday of February to March. That is when ACROS stepped in repairing the vulnerable DLL file with their own patched version to fix the problem until Microsoft finally gets around to doing its job.

‘I’ll just flip burgers.’ Not so fast though. Automation is hitting many sectors of mass production including your neighborhood fast-food soon. While they can’t quite flip patties yet but according to Quartz, Wendy’s is replacing some of it’s ordering stations with automated kiosks. Although the threat seems a bit remote, it isn’t. So far if you aren’t behind the counter taking orders you might be fine, in fact you might actually be safe, for now. Safe? Yes, when ordering gets better, you might have to handle more orders per hour vs. the less efficient human-to-human ordering. More here.

Uber is aggressive, that much is sure. The question is, are they criminally aggressive? TNYT has a piece on something inside Uber called Greyball and a VTOS program. The information was given to the journal on condition of anonymity by four ex-employees, with documents. The program is said to be designed to cut off users who violate the service’s terms of service. Seems fair, until the leaks show that the program was also used to block city regulators and code enforcers from doing their job at regulating the service and/or fine the driver+service for operating in illegal ways. Government over-reach aside, this is another category entirely for a company to behave. Details here.

81 year old Masako Wakamiya has made an iPhone app. That is not a typo. Wakamiya is a retired banker with quite an appetite for trying new things. Popular games are ‘too fast’ so she wanted a game that would suit her age group. Nobody stepped in or perhaps even tried so she took matters into her own hands. Months later, she releases an iPhone app. Very impressive. You go girl!


We reported earlier that AMD wants back into the game with Ryzen and as the reviews pop-up one after another, this seems to be true. HotHardware published their review of the new chip and it does seem that AMD has a winner on their hands. Check out the review here. All 11 pages of it.

The Nintendo Switch was finally released a few days ago and so far the unit shows some promise in being able to bridge a decent home and portable gaming experience. The question is, how will game publishers handle the platform and what are the titles that will help the unit in the long run? So far, only a handful of reviews have been published and Ars seem pretty impressed by what the unit can do. See here.

We are going to try out something a bit different this time and we’ll end with a section we are calling….

In other news:

Summary of the Amazon S3 Service Disruption in the Northern Virginia (US-EAST-1) Region

Robots won’t just take our jobs – they’ll make the rich even richer

Google Chrome users on Apple macOS get enhanced Safe Browsing protection

Researcher Breaks reCAPTCHA Using Google’s Speech Recognition API

Software engineer detained at JFK, given test to prove he’s an engineer
(Yes, they did that, they actually asked him to balance a binary search tree)

FCC chairman says net neutrality was a mistake
U-oh…

Let us know what you think! We’d love to hear from you!

Round up for Feb 27, ’17

In startup news, the Lebanon is on fire. Flat6Labs’ Beirut chapter during, Arabnet Beirut, was accepting applications for a local fund worth $20M. They wish to partner with many startups in Lebanon as they feel the environment there is really fertile for startups and is actually growing very rapidly. UK Lebanon Tech Hub announced their $3.1B fund (yes, billion). They want to build a research center though. Much more here.


In security news, researchers have been able to build two different PDF files that have the same SHA-1 hash. This is serious stuff, although the computations necessary for this achievement are large, hardware is only getting faster and faster. It will only be a matter of time before replicating SHA-1s for different content becomes feasible for the determined hacker in his/her basement. A WebKit repository was corrupted very soon after when proof of concept PDFs were uploaded to it.

Also in security news, it seems that in Java, the built-in FTP client doesn’t stick to it’s boundaries. “‘… it turns out that the built-in implementation of the FTP client in Java doesn’t filter out special CR (carriage return) and LF (line feed) characters from URLs and actually interprets them.'” security researcher Alexander Klink said adding that “‘By inserting such characters in the user or password portions of an FTP URL, the Java FTP client can be tricked to execute rogue commands and can even be tricked to speak SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol) because the syntax for SMTP and FTP is similar.'” More here.


In console news, there is a bill proposed in quite a few US state legislatures that wants to give right-to-repair to customers of electronic devices. Sounds awkward but bear with us. If you buy a Playstation 3 and the optical drive fails, you don’t have to sent it to an authorizes repair establishment or back to Sony. These bills are geared towards allowing third party repair establishments the rights to access the necessary diagnostic and repair information as well at spare parts even for your device. This means manufacturers will lose a big chunk of the revenue they do get when they charge the customer $200 flat rate for any repair (for example) even if the failed component actually costs $1 from the component manufacturer and lets say $30 labor. Game console companies are very worried and are lobbying hard for this (these?) bill(s) not to pass. More here.


In science news, the BBC has a piece on how some US researchers have found that during animal experiments, a diabetic pancreas could regenerate through a type of fasting diet. The diet was not exactly fasting but fast-mimicking where 5 days were low-carb, low-protein, low-calorie and high unsat-fat, then 25 all you can eat bonanza. Details here.

The Guardian, has a piece on 7 exoplanets that maybe Earth-like.
However, this description is reliant on traits most of which are very un-earth like. The only directly comparable feature is the size, they range from %25 smaller, to %10 larger than Earth. The rest are very different but favoring Earth-like conditions on their surfaces (theoretically). The system (indeed dubbed a solar system), is centered by an ultra-cool dwarf star that is slightly larger then our Jupiter and much fainter than our Sun.
So what’s the deal then? The whole system is very compact, the 7 Earth-comparable sized planets are so close to their Sun (called Trappist-1) they lie in its habitable zone. Largest orbit? Closer than Mercury’s to our Sun. Longest year (time to full orbit)? 22 days, give or take.