Technology

Technology

Alabama Supreme Court blocks order to preserve digital voting records

Following an eleventh-hour order instructing voting officials in Alabama to keep the digital ballots generated in Tuesday’s controversial Senate election, the state’s Supreme Court has issued a stay to block that decision. The order to preserve the records was issued by the Montgomery County Circuit Court on Monday afternoon — less than 24 hours before voting was set to begin — and the stay that will effectively nullify that order was issued late Monday night. “All counties employing digital ballot scanners in the Dec. 12, 2017 election are hereby ordered to set their voting machines to save all processed images in order to preserve all digital ballot images,” the Montgomery County order stated. Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill and Alabama state election administrator Ed Packard are...

Trump wants to send astronauts to the Moon on the way to Mars

The Trump administration had previously signaled its intentions to send astronauts back to the Moon, but now that renewed space exploration objective is official. On Monday, the president signed Space Policy Directive 1, a document detailing a shift in U.S. policy that would reprioritize a mission to put American boots on the Moon for the first time in 45 years. While Mars is widely considered to be the primary goal of much current space exploration, a Moon mission would “establish a foundation for an eventual mission to Mars,” President Trump asserted during the signing. “The directive I am signing today will refocus America’s space program on human exploration and discovery. It marks a first step in returning American astronauts to the Moon for the first time since 1972, for long-term ex...

Lyft goes international with Toronto launch

Lyft has officially opened for business in Toronto, its first market outside the U.S. The Canadian expansion was announced last month, and December 12 is the first day of official operations with ride-hailing services available in the city. Lyft service in Toronto includes standard Lyft service, Lyft Plus, Lyft Premiere, Lyft Lux and Lyft Lux SUV rides. It also can be used to hail a ride to and from Toronto’s Pearson Airport for travelers. This has been a busy year for Lyft, which has more than doubled its total number of rides given, and managed to rack up its most recent 100 million rides in only three months, compared to taking four years to reach that number for its first 100 million. It’s also now offering service to around 95 percent of the U.S. population, having increased its cover...

How hate speech crowdfunding outfit Hatreon crept back online

If you want to make a living creating white supremacist content, you’re probably not going to do it via sites like Kickstarter and Patreon, which prohibit hate speech. Fortunately there’s Hatreon, a hate speech crowdfunding site that, despite having been booted from the web by a couple hosts, is back online and eager to let you back your favorite xenophobe. Hatreon was essentially removed from the public web in August, when its host Digital Ocean and CDN Cloudflare terminated its services. But it has reappeared, its domain registered at Tucows through Njalla, a privacy-focused domain registry service that obscures the identity of the registrant. Cloudflare seems to be providing DNS and the rest of its usual CDN and DDoS protection services. I contacted all three to see if they’re aware tha...

Trump signs bill banning Kaspersky Lab software from federal use

Capping off months of controversy, espionage claims and international intrigue, the U.S. government ban on Kaspersky Lab software has been signed into law. The ban, wedged into the Fiscal Year 2018 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), would preclude all federal computers and connected networks from using antivirus software made by the Russian cybersecurity firm. “Considering the grave risk that Kaspersky Lab poses to our national security, it’s necessary that the current directive to remove Kaspersky Lab software from government computers be broadened and reinforced by statute,” said New Hampshire Senator Jeanne Shaheen, a key proponent of the legislation. “The case against Kaspersky is well-documented and deeply concerning. This law is long overdue, and I appreciate the urgency of m...

Facebook Messaging VP David Marcus joins Coinbase board

Coinbase is growing up fast — or at least trying to. As an emblem of its current effort to accommodate the massive demand on its platform, the mainstream U.S. cryptocurrency exchange just added Facebook Vice President of Messaging Products David Marcus to its board of directors. Coinbase announced the news in a post on Medium. Thrilled to join the @Coinbase Board! Looking fwd to doing my best to help @brian_armstrong and the amazing team he’s assembled, continue to democratize access to cryptocurrencies, and deliver on the mission to create an open financial system for the world https://t.co/CDGPu4RhYO — David Marcus (@davidmarcus) December 12, 2017 With unprecedented trading volumes and bitcoin at an astronomical all-time high, it’s a critical — and challenging — time for Coinbase. ...

WATCH: What is net neutrality?

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‘The Last Jedi’ is the most moving Star Wars movie — and the funniest

One of the most common ways to praise a new Star Wars movie is to claim that it’s the best one since The Empire Strikes Back. But sometimes the clichés are accurate. And I have to say it: The Last Jedi is the best Star Wars movie since The Empire Strikes Back. The comparison seems particularly apt, since Last Jedi occupies a similar spot in the new Star Wars trilogy. It doesn’t openly ape the story of Empire the way The Force Awakens gleefully copied the original, but there are some pretty obvious parallels: Episodes V and VIII both open with a spectacular attack on a rebel base, then jump back-and-forth between multiple threads, one where our heroes flee from the Empire (or the First Order), another where a talented young Jedi seeks guidance from a reluctant teacher. Like Empire, The Last...

Box launches new consulting unit to help customers struggling with digital transformation

Box announced a new consulting organization today called Box Transform. It is designed to help companies understand that transformation requires a new way of working and thinking as an organization, beyond simply adopting new technologies like Box. Box CEO Aaron Levie says that as his company has grown, they see their mission as more than selling software. It’s about helping change the entire way people work and interact with the content they use on a daily basis. Box wants to use its experience working with thousands of customers to help those companies that need an organizational push to get their transformation off the ground. “From our experience, there is a tremendous amount of optimism around change, but challenges about where to get started. Instead of them shooting arrows in the da...

Facebook opens AR platform and “world effects” to all developers

Facebook is trying to close the augmented reality gap with Snapchat with the help of an army of third-party developers. Today, eight months after debuting its Augmented Reality Camera Effects platform and AR Studio tool at F8, Facebook is allowing all developers to start building AR experiences for its Facebook Camera. That includes “World Effects” — Facebook’s copy of Snapchat’s World Lenses — that augment your environment with 3D objects rather than just your selfies. AR Studio becomes available to all developers today, and World Effects creation will open up there in the next few days for use on Facebook and Messenger. For example on Messenger you’ll be able to add a 3D heart floating above someone’s head, add an arrow to point to something in a panorama, or add a celebrating robot that...

Twitch launches an Alexa skill that plays your channels on Echo Show, offers live audio streams

Twitch, the Amazon-owned video game streaming service, is now available on Alexa. The company says it has launched a new skill for Alexa device owners that will allow Twitch users to track their favorite video creators and be notified when they start streaming, as well as discover new games and channels, among other things. The skill seems best designed for the Echo Show, the Alexa-powered device that includes a screen for watching videos. After all, hearing the action taking place on an audio stream isn’t nearly the same as seeing it play out before your eyes, in real time. According to Twitch’s announcement, users can get started with the new skill by first connecting their Twitch account to Alexa. Then, they can ask Alexa at any time for various information, like which channels they fol...

Storify’s standalone service is shutting down next year

Storify’s eventual shuttering has been a long time coming. The social timeline curation service was acquired by commenting platform Livefyre back in 2013, which, in turn, was picked up by Adobe in May of last year. In a pithily worded note on its homepage today, the service announced that it will cease to exist as a standalone offering starting next year. The process of disappearing from it current form will take a few months, but beginning today, users will no longer be able to sign up for new accounts. On May 1 of next year, the company will kill the ability to create new stories. Two weeks after that, at 5PM Pacific Time on May 16, the site will shut down for good. The shuttering of the service applies to all content and accounts hosted by Storify. As such, it’s suggesting that users us...