Pixels die around 30%, KillDisk wants $, Alexa might hear you, Palm handbags, Unicorns for Careem!

Mobile:

  • Some Google Pixel devices shutting down at 30% battery

Apparently the new Google Pixel seems to suffer from the same issue that was hitting some customers of the Huawei Nexus P6. The phone would shutdown around 30% and wouldn’t do anything unless a charger was hooked to the device. Google and Huawei are investigating the issue.

  • T-Mobile demos nearly 1Gbps speeds on its LTE network with unreleased phone

Although this was done in their labs, the impressive thing is that it was done over their already existing network. Some signal and frequency trickery was involved but still. This is separate from 5G networks even. More here.

Condiments:

  • Destructive KillDisk Malware Turns Into Ransomware

KillDisk was used in espionage operations in the recent past where the affected systems would get their drives or files deleted throwing a wrench into the works of their operations. Now it seems someone has developed a new “strand” that encrypts instead of wipes and ransoms the data for 222 bitcoins (1 bitcoin = $998 on 1-1-2017). Apparently the malware seems to register itself as a service on the affected machines. FYI, the older KillDisk was used as one of the tools during the BlackEnergy attacks on Ukraine’s power grid in late 2015.

  • Here’s North Korea’s Totalitarian Android Tablet

Locked down in every sense of the word. Big brother running Android. The unit doesn’t have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth and you can’t just open any file you dump on it. The unit always checks for a cryptographic signature in the file to ensure the file isn’t unauthorized. If you create files locally on the unit, those are fine. There is built-in propaganda material of course.

  • Windows 10 Reportedly Adding a Game Mode That Would Improve Game Performance

Everyone knows Windows has a lot of things going on in the background when an application is running. In the past, hardcore gamers would disable services and even devices to gain that extra 1% performance boost, or more critically, eliminate the annoying microstutter. In 2008, AMD had a utility called “Fusion” that would quit certain running programs which effectively made a “gaming mode” but that was discontinued not too long after. Our experience with it was that it was a crude utility that couldn’t return the system back to it’s original state, only a reboot would do that. Nice try though. From MS however, this could mean something real.

  • Tesla Autopilot avoids a crash before it happens

The Tesla’s autopilot feature on their cars was often looked at with skepticism that it would actually end up causing accidents because drivers would be thought to ignore the warnings and precautions from regulators etc. and the system would just do something that doesn’t make sense. How about it doing something that doesn’t obviously make sense and actually prevent further pileup in a crash by reacting before something obvious happens? It did just that. Nice job, really.

Tech policy:

  • Police ask: “Alexa, did you witness a murder?”

Back in November 2015, a former police officer was found dead in a hot tub in the backyard of an acquaintance. Indecently, Amazon’s Alexa was streaming music in the vicinity of the scene and the police were asking Amazon if they can “listen” to what Alexa heard that night. The thing is, Alexa does it’s voice recognition/processing in the cloud, but the original audio is packaged in the unit and sent as a JSON message to the service. Their might be a copy of that file on the unit or cloud. Alexa always listens.

  • Czech Republic sets up unit to counter fake news threat

The DNC hack, Hillary’s emails, Trump…these are all sending shivers down the spines of European countries holding elections in the near future. The latest move comes from the Czech Republic where they are setting up “The Center Against Terrorism and Hybrid Threats”. Its job will be to monitor what goes on locally on the cyber front (i.e. Hacks ala DNC) as well as combat “fake news” (ala FB fake news). They really feel the Russians want to spoil the party for them so they want to do something about that. On a positive note, they claim they will inform the public of what they see as threats (kind of like raise awareness), this is in contrast to just pulling the plug on this whole internet thing. Fight fire with awareness.

  • South Korea slaps Qualcomm with record-setting $850M fine

Apparently Qualcomm wasn’t playing fair, according to a Korean court saying that the company refused to license essential tech to other companies that are effectively part of industry standards as they stand today. The fine the court slapped was 1.03 Trillion Won (about $850M). This isn’t a first for the company, China last year fined them almost a BILLION dollars.

  • Trio charged with $4m insider trading by hacking merger lawyers

Law firms hold documents related to mergers and acquisitions for companies. That kind of information is worth a whole lot of money provided you play your stock cards right. But the thing is, this is still considered illegal, as that would still be insider trading even though these guys are not “insiders” per se. But get this, the information was on the cyber backend of the law firms. More on these guys here.

  • Tesla and Panasonic will make solar cells in New York

Tesla will buy long term while Panasonic pays for manufacturing costs (tools, equipment etc.). And this happens in a Tesla owned facility, in New York. More here.

  • Crytek to receive $500m investment from Turkish gov

The Turkish government is backing the German developer because apparently the developer has stretched into Istanbul and was planing to invest in Turkey. The company was having trouble these past few years and it looks like it won’t be out of the woods anytime soon. More here.

Startup news:

  • Fixing Egypt’s waste crisis one handbag at a time

Aswan has around 1.8 million palm trees. These trees produce fronds and dates which means there is an excess of either and part of Nubian culture has been expressed through making things from palm products. 6 startups in Egypt have put their weight behind making products out of palm waste. Napata is one that started from $21K of the founders own money  which grew into a full fledged product line that lead to winning funding from CleanTec Arabia and later won a $10K prize from PepsiCo Social Impact competition. Nice going!

  • Egypt’s Vezeeta gets $5M Series B

Vezeeta the cloudbased proprietary automated doctor’s appointment booking app (that’s a mouthful), has received $5 MILLION dollars in series B funding. In post-floatation Egypt this is significant for a startup. Vezeeta plans to expand into 7 other countries over the next 12 to 18 months. The issue with doctor’s appointments, in the middle east’s most populous nation, is that you usually have to ask friends and family which doctor to go to and end up calling multiple times in an attempt to get an appointment. More so if the doctor is popular. This app cuts that process into an experience that can be accomplished much easier online and/or by calling a call center where they would do the booking for you.

  • Oculus acquires eye-tracking startup The Eye Tribe

Unfortunately we don’t know for how much the acquisition was for, but speculation mounts towards that the move is mainly to improve VR rendering performance by tracking the focus of the user’s eyes ultimately to allow off-focus rendering to be degraded to save computing power. More here.

Spotlight on Entrepreneurs:

  • The Day we became worth 1 Billion$

Wael Fakharany, Managing director at the ride hailing app Careem recounts his experiences that let him to be a part of the startup that was recently valued at $1B.

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