Tesla farms the sun, Apple TV?, HTC+AI, US is sweating, NSA shares, Rasha Abu AlSaud, SpaceX launch again!

Tesla:

  • Tesla will power its Gigafactory with a 70-megawatt solar farm

70MW makes that nearly 7 times the size of the current largest rooftop solar array. The factory will also have a water recycling facility that will allow it to recycle an estimated 80% of all water demand. Any excess power will be stored in batteries of course and be put to use as necessary. More here.

Apple:

  • Apple planning to make original TV shows and movies as hardware sales soften

The WSJ soft-wall was scaled by Venturebeat to bring us this story about Apple’s venture into the video content creation world. But not just any video content, we are talking scripted shows. Apparently Apple is looking to buy rights to ‘television’ programming bringing it into the fighting ring with Netflix, HBO and Amazon Prime. Apple is a huge name with piles of cash but the story claims they aren’t looking to spend a whole lot on this just yet.

Mobile:

  • HTC’s new flagship phone has AI and a second screen, but no headphone jack

AI because HTC wants the phone to suggest things that cater to your habits. The phone will have a new Sense Companion that will “…suggest you recharge it if it knows you’ll be away from a power outlet for longer than it expects its battery will last. Or it will tell you to dress warm on a cold day.” Also, there is a tiny 2-inch screen that will serve as kind of like the Apple TouchBar. And, no headphone jack.

Consoles:

  • Nintendo’s Joy Con controller contains motion tracking camera, other tricks

Nintendo presented its latest Switch console last Thursday and showed something interesting in its controllers. They are dubbed Joy Con, and the entire unit is boasted to be a portable unit borrowing from technologies in the field of mobile phones and smartphones. These controllers have rumble capabilities that are meant to give simulated sensory feedback while doing certain motions yet to revealed how they will present themselves during gameplay. Swirling a drink with ice in it? That can be simulated in your
hand. Also, an IR camera that can pick up your hand gestures opposite the controller. Techradar compiled a list of 15 facts on the Switch.

Science:

  • It’s Official: 2016 Was Second Hottest Year for U.S.

Alaska saw its warmest year on record since 1925 when they first started recording temperatures there. Mind you, 2016 was actually the third year in a row this happens. Granted the temperature increase value is small, but the climatologists saw this is significant given that not only Alaska is warmer, almost everywhere else is warmer than average.

Tech policy:

  • Obama Drops One Last Executive Order Giving The NSA Leeway To Share Unwarranted Surveillance Data On Americans

The NSA collects data on anybody and everybody it can according to the documents leaked by Ed Snowden. This data previously was only shared to FBI or other law enforcement agencies through a warrant and only after the NSA screens it for unnecessary personal information. This executive order, 12333, drops the warrant requirement. “The recipient can only use the information for foreign intelligence and counterintelligence purposes, not domestic criminal cases.” More here.

  • New Windows 10 privacy controls: Just a little snooping – or the max

Windows 10 telemetry angered many users concerned about their privacy and later it was found that disabling it was not really straightforward. Now, after the Swiss Data protection commissioner sued Microsoft for its apparent hiding of the telemetry baseline, this prompted the latter to build an online dashboard that allows users to delete and basically manage their data at Microsoft, the Swiss were satisfied with that. Soon however, Microsoft will release an update that will allow users to either give MS everything it wants or almost nothing. The almost part is because MS claims it needs some info to ‘improve user experience through future updates’.

  • Microsoft sued by staff traumatized by child sex abuse vids stashed on OneDrive accounts

Microsoft’s ‘Big Brother department’ did not give enough care to it’s employees, a new lawsuit claims. 2 members of the company’s Online Safety Team have suffered from PTSD after reviewing user uploaded content for breaches of “terms of use”. These breaches, according to the lawsuit, included child-pornography and murder videos. You can find a copy of the complaint in PDF here.

Spotlight on Entrepreneurs:

  • Stronger together: uniting Egypt’s women entrepreneurs

Wamda details Rasha Abu AlSaud’s journey to bring Egyptian women entrepreneurs together to further empower them and bring their business and products to the masses. She built platforms that bring modern tools and provide training to allow women to better run their businesses.

Startup news:

  • Startup Emirates: the most well-funded tech startups in the UAE in one infographic

The UAE is a powerhouse for startups in the MENA region. This infographic tells more of that story a thousand words can’t.

Condiments:

  • WATCH: SpaceX Successfully Launches Falcon 9 Rocket, Months After Blast

After the explosion of their rocket last September, SpaceX got their act together quickly and launched their Falcon 9 rocket last Saturday carrying 10 Iridium satellites. Iridium is a satellite phone operator that has dozens of satellites in orbit providing global coverage for its customers.

  • Hacker Steals 900 GB of Cellebrite Data

“The hackers have been hacked.” Cellebrite is an Israeli company that specialized in ripping data out of mobile phones. Cellebrite is reported to have worked with law enforcement and possibly also not so freedom friendly governments.

  • Facebook’s ‘journalism project’ seeks to strengthen online news

Facebook is full steam ahead, it seems, in making changes to its role in the media universe. With this, the social media company defacto acknowledges that its service had an impact on the media landscape and in the spread of news (fake or real). Couple that to the flak it got from the recent viral spread of fake news, they are taking action by collaborating with training and news organizations to help journalists improve their reporting through FB and also give tools to journalists to be able to weed out the fake stories. Campbell Brown, now with FB, will be helping both media and FB work together. More here and here.

  • Google’s parent company killed its solar-powered internet-drone program

They are dropping the solar drone to focus on their other project ‘Loon’ which revolves around high-altitude balloons. Basically, balloons are much cheaper than drones.

  • NSA-leaking Shadow Brokers lob Molotov cocktail before exiting world stage

“The post included 61 Windows-formatted binary files, including executables, dynamic link libraries, and device drivers.” Perhaps the cloves are really off with this one. “Russian ties make sense given the inauguration [of Donald Trump] happens in a short time [from now]. If that narrative is correct and Shadow Brokers is Russian, they wouldn’t be able to release those tools after Trump takes office. If you roll with that narrative, [the burn-it-to-the-ground theory] certainly works.” Jake Williams founder of Rendition Infosec said.

  • Uber has been built directly into Google Maps

This is an interesting development. Previously you can browse ride hailing app fares and times but booking is new. So now you can Uber through-and-through from Google Maps. More here.

  • Uber’s Movement dumps data on city planners

Speaking of Uber, New York city planners have long asked Uber for data on the routes traveled and info on the journeys but Uber refused to share this info as it was too raw in the beginning. Now, Uber built a service called Movement that anonymizes the information they have on journeys and routes with travel times. This, we believe, is what’s truly of value to city planners as travel times and routes are the basis for studying and later improving road and street design and infrastructure. Traffic engineers, rejoice!

  • Hackers trigger yet another power outage in Ukraine

The attack was started using a phishing email from a trusted account that contained an attachment (malware). The target effect rendered remote terminals that control circuit breakers in powerstations offline.

  • Google is shutting down Hangouts API as it lures consumers towards Allo and Duo

Google wants users to move to Allo and Duo, seriously. Hangouts has been for a while a very useful tool for businesses but it is getting clearer that Google wants to split business from pleasure. Hangouts will survive for businesses though but the ability to add Hangouts ability through APIs is now dead.

  • Intel’s new CPUs flawed: full system control over USB

Positive Technologies, a security firm, claims that Intel CPUs from the U series SkyLake family were found to have a debug interface that is accessible via USB 3.0 ports. More here.

  • Autocomplete a novel phishing hole for Chrome, Safari crims

Autocomplete on forms depending on who you ask, is a useful feature especially if you are required to fill in the same info over and over. However, Chrome and Safari are vulnerable in that a phishing site could pose as a form seen before by the browser and offer to autocomplete a form where some boxes might not even be visible to the user. Imagine being asked for your name and another box, hidden, would hold credit-card info. The user would select the autocomplete and know nothing of the potential disaster.

  • Google’s Waymo invests in LIDAR technology, cuts costs by 90 percent

Scaling is a key to the cost cutting. Not many details are given but we guess it is in large orders of mass produced items. Bespoke parts and mods are dropped or streamlined to mass production ready states and the economies of scale bore its fruits. Mind you the LIDAR sensors are the most expensive part of any hardcore autonomous vehicle sensor system (Tesla doesn’t use LIDAR). More here.

  • Opera Neon turns your web browser into a mini desktop

Browser multi-tasking has seen a revolution long ago when tabbed browsing was introduced. It was somewhat slowly picked up and now you can’t imagine browsing without tabs. But that system hasn’t changed in a long time and with the ubiquity of messaging and chatting and streaming usage, Opera thinks they have a better idea to tackle the situation.

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