Friday, March 13, 2015

YouTube's Ready To Blow Your Mind With 360-Degree Videos


We told you that YouTube would support 360-degree videos . Now, they're here: as of today, Google's streaming video service now serves up videos that let you look in any direction—not just where the camera is pointing. Needless to say, this could be a Big. Freaking. Deal.



ASUS' new gaming laptop packs NVIDIA's latest graphics card


ASUS' new gaming laptop packs NVIDIA's latest graphics card

NVIDIA has officially launched the GTX 960M, and a number of manufacturers have revealed new, thin gaming laptops the video card was designed for at the same time. One of those laptops is the ASUS Republic of Gamers (ROG) G501, which measures 0.81 inch in depth and weighs 4.54 pounds. The GTX 960M card inside it can deliver "sharp, vivid visuals, high-quality textures and smooth framerates in the most demanding games," at least according to ASUS. In addition to the video card, you can find a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, 4GB of GDDR5 RAM and a 512GB SSD under the hood, encased in a typical ROG brushed-metal body with red accents.

The device comes pre-installed with Windows 8.1 and has a 15.6-inch 4K/UHD display, three USB 3.0 ports and an Intel Thunderbolt connection. Plus, it uses the company's dual-fan cooling system for super slim laptops called ASUS Hyper Cool Technology. It will set you back $1,999 when it becomes available in April. If you want a gaming laptop right now, though, ASUS is also re-releasing a couple of older models equipped with NVIDIA's new graphics cards today.

First is the lower-end version of the G751 called the G751JL, which comes with the new GTX 965M graphics card instead of the GTX 980M/970M, like you can find inside the former. It costs $1,399, or $100 cheaper than the previous model's cheapest unit. Finally, the company is updating its GL551 laptops with the GTX 960M cards to release two versions that cost $1,099 and $1,299, depending on their SSDs. All these laptops are (or will be, in G501's case) available in various retail outlets, but make sure to check out the ASUS G-Series website first for more info and a list of stores that where you can find them.

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Source: ASUS


Article: VIRLOCK Combines File Infection and Ransomware

Analysis by Jaaziel Carlos, Jonh Chua, and Rodwin Fuentes Ransomware has become one of the biggest problems for end users are as of late. In the past months alone, we have reported on several variants …

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Article: Gamers targeted by ransomware virus

Gamers are being targeted by a computer virus that stops them playing their favourite titles unless they pay a ransom. On infected machines, the malicious program seeks out saved games and other files and encrypts them. A key to unlock encrypted files is only supplied if victims pay at least $500...

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Article: The NSA registered hundreds of domain names and used them to plant and control malware. Those domains---like be valuable to businesses.

The names suggest a parade of a C-list websites. There was and, and But, these sad-sounding domains actually were artful creations of the National Security Agency: They were fronts for distributing and controlling government malware …

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This Machine Builds Obscure Molecules From Scratch in Hours


This tangle of tubes, bottles and electronics may look a mess—but its appearance belies its impressive abilities. This is a small-molecule synthesizer, a kind of chemical 3D printer, and it can be used to construct the most obscure of molecules from scratch.



Thursday, March 12, 2015

These 5 restaurant chains will dominate the rest of the industry


buffalo wild wings chicken

The restaurant sector is becoming increasingly competitive.

Americans go out to dinner an average of 74 times a year, The Washington Post's Wonkblog reports, citing the consumer research firm NPD Group. That's the lowest reading in three decades.

And a number of fast-casual establishments are threatening traditional fast-food and casual-dining restaurants.

Morgan Stanley recently released a list of restaurants that will outperform the rest of the sector over the next five years.

The chains are primarily winning because they appeal to millennial consumers, who are entering their peak spending years.

Here are their top picks:

1. Starbucks

The coffee chain has growth opportunities through its new tea chain, Teavana. The company has also started selling health and lifestyle products in grocery stores. Starbucks also has the opportunity to expand through its mobile payment app and loyalty program, according to the analysts.

"Starbucks remains a best-in-class secular growth story," the analysts write.

Starbucks Window

2. Chipotle

The hugely successful fast-casual chain will continue to grow, according to Morgan Stanley.

Chipotle's catering business is taking off, and the company continues to invest in its Asian ShopHouse and Pizzeria Locale concepts.

The demographic shift toward younger consumers will also benefit Chipotle, which touts its no-frills marketing scheme and locally sourced ingredients.

chipotle guacamole chip

3. Domino's

The company is suddenly the world's hottest pizza chain, thanks to a reinvented menu.

Domino's has also been aggressive in investing in mobile and online technology.

Finally, a successful international expansion will continue to drive sales, the analysts write.

domino's specialty chicken

4. Panera Bread

Panera Bread is changing its strategy. Notable improvements include kiosks for ordering, in-store pick-up, and outsourcing catering orders to separate locations.

"Though the rollout of Panera 2.0 will likely disrupt earnings growth over the next 1-2 years, we believe the long-term benefits (better throughput, higher customer satisfaction, expanded catering capabilities) will be significant," the analysts write.

panera bread cashier

5. Buffalo Wild Wings

Although it is already one of the fastest-growing restaurants in the sector, executives are planning a myriad of changes to get customers to come more often, stay at the restaurant longer, and spend more money.

This includes tablet ordering and payment and more beer and wing sauce options.

The company also benefits from having an established millennial consumer base, according to Morgan Stanley.

buffalo wild wings

SEE ALSO: 15 companies that will make a ton of money from millennials

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drag2share: No, Bridgewater didn't just build a team of robotic traders รข they've had robot traders for 32 years


ray dalio

In February, Bloomberg reported that Ray Dalio's Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund with $160 billion in assets, was building a new artificial intelligence team under senior technologist Dave Ferucci. It was to launch this month.

The report seemed to offer even a small glimpse into Bridgewater's mysterious investment approach and where it was heading. 

However, a Bridgewater representative tells Business Insider that the hiring of Ferucci was misconstrued. Bridgewater has been developing AI since 1983.

Here's the full statement:

There has been a lot of speculation in the media, as well as some misunderstanding, about what Bridgewater is doing in the area of artificial intelligence, and with Dave Ferrucci. We felt it was important to clarify this.

Ever since 1983 Bridgewater Associates has been creating systematic decision-making processes that are computerized. We believe that the same things happen over and over again because of logical cause/effect relationships, and that by writing one's principles down and then computerizing them one can have the computer make high-quality decisions in much the same way a GPS can be an effective guide to decision making.

Like using a GPS, one can choose to follow the guidance or not follow it depending on how it reconciles. It is through this never ending reconciliation process that the computer decision-making system constantly learns, and the learning compounds over time.

It is because Bridgewater and Dave Ferrucci both have long and deep commitments to this area that Dave has recently joined Bridgewater. It would be a mistake to think that this is a new undertaking for Bridgewater or that the process being used at Bridgewater is like some artificial intelligence systems that are based on data-mining rather than well-examined logic.


BBC to give out one million 'Micro Bit' computers to get kids coding


It's the first year of a major new coding curriculum in the UK, and now the BBC wants to play its part in training the next generation of star programmers. The broadcaster is developing a spiritual successor to the BBC Micro, called the Micro Bit, which will give students a physical companion in their path to coding competence. It's going to be a small, standalone device with an LED display that children can carry around with them and plug into a computer to continue their work. The hardware will be basic, as the BBC calls it a "starting point" for "more complex" devices such as the Raspberry Pi and Kickstarter-funded Kano kits. The project is still in a prototype phase, but the BBC claims it'll be ready to give away one million of the new microcomputers to year 7 students this autumn.

The Micro Bit is just the tip of the BBC's new initiative, however. The organisation is developing classroom resources under its Bitesize and School Report brands, as well as a slate of events to inspire would-be coders. Under a new 'Make it Digital' campaign, the BBC is also pulling on some of its biggest TV shows, including Doctor Who, EastEnders and The One Show, to create new programming that will promote technology-fuelled creativity. BBC Three will be launching a talent show called 'Girls Can Code' and there will even be a drama about the making of Grand Theft Auto. Yes, you read that correctly. Grand Theft Auto. While some of this content will be available straight away, the BBC says it's working towards a "big audience moment" in September, when the kids go back to school.

The BBC has teamed up with a ton of companies to make all of this happen, including Google, Microsoft and Samsung, as well as Code Club, the British Computing Society and Tech City UK. At a time when the licence fee is being scrutinised yet again, such an ambitious project is a timely reminder of the BBC's public service contributions.


Source: BBC


MacBook Air's superfast disk speeds come from Samsung SSDs


MacBook Air's super fast disk speeds come from Samsung SSDs

Lost in the news of Retina-equipped, 12-inch MacBook was the arrival of all-new MacBook Air models with the latest Intel HD6000 graphics and CPUs. Apple also boasted that the 13-inch version has disk speeds "up to two times faster" than the last generation, and thanks to iFixit, we now know why. The bigger model packs a brand new 128GB M.2 x 4 SSD from frenemy Samsung -- which owns the PCIe SSD market at the moment -- giving it a stellar max read speed of 1,285 MB/s.

That's twice as fast as the SanDisk-equipped 11-inch MacBook Air, which still cooks along at a mere 668MB/s. The good news is that the SSDs are one of the few replaceable parts, and you could actually swap in the faster part on the smaller Air. That's assuming you're feeling brave -- the MacBook air only rates 4 out of 10 on iFixit's repairability scale.

[Image credit: iFixit]

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Source: iFixit


This chart shows the number of colleges that have closed over the past 25 years


With the closing of Sweet Briar College last week, many people in higher education fear this is a sign of what's to come, with more and more schools potentially shutting their doors for good.

However, even if several colleges close this academic year, it still wouldn't be unusual. Using data from the National Center for Education Statistics, we've put together a chart showing how many four-year colleges have closed over the past 25 years.

The numbers appear to fluctuate year to year, from a high of 10 closings to a low of zero.

Check out the chart below:

College Closings Chart

Most of the schools included here are private, nonprofit four-year colleges, although a handful are public four-year colleges. The chart does not includes mergers between two or more colleges — just colleges that have closed.

While there doesn't appear to be a visible trend in the above chart, a 2013 Vanderbilt University study found that the average number of private four-year colleges that have closed or were acquired every year had recently doubled, according to Bloomberg.

It's also important to note that while the chart currently looks like this, with no clear trend, this could change in the next few years. If enrollment trends and high deficits cause more colleges to close, there may be higher numbers of schools shuttering their doors than ever before.

SEE ALSO: MARK CUBAN: This is just the start of the college implosion

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Sketchy crowdfunded privacy router gets a new corporate master (update)



Remember Anonabox, the internet privacy router that was outed as a rebranded Chinese device and booted off of Kickstarter for fraud before it headed to Indiegogo? Well, it's getting another lease on life. Sochule, which is best known for its social hotel app HelloTel, tells us that it has snapped up the Anonabox team. The new parent company won't say much about what's happening next until a South by Southwest event on Friday. However, it's stressing that Anonabox founder August Germar is maintaining a similar role -- it apparently doesn't mind the controversies surrounding Germar and his networking gadget.

The Anonabox crew is promising to clear the air surrounding its "issues" at the event, by explaining why Kickstarter cancelled its campaign and showing off real live demo units. Indiegogo orders are already shipping, the company says. It's good to see the company taking those concerns head-on rather than staying silent on the matter. With that said, it's not certain that you'll get straightforward answers. Germar was caught claiming to be more involved in Tor (the anonymizing network that makes Anonabox possible) than he actually was, and this was after the Kickstarter fiasco -- it's not certain that he and his team are ready to tell the whole story.

Update: We've since been in touch with Sochule, which claims that it conducted "thorough vetting" before the acquisition. It also maintains that Tor executive director Andrew Lewman confirmed Germar's role at the privacy project.

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Source: Anonabox


Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Article: After 3 Years And $64M In Seed Funding, Onshape Launches The Mother Of All Products

Behind every product is a product, almost invariably a computer-aided design (CAD) software package known as Solidworks. If you are a designer and want to draft a belt buckle for a new handbag, you have to use this software to carefully extrude the metal contours so that it is ready for manufactu...

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PayPal acquires Israeli company that can predict future malware


It's always good news when a service that processes a lot of cash improves its security measures. PayPal, for instance, has just established a security center in Israel by acquiring a local company called CyActive. The company already has a Fraud and Risk Detection Center in Tel Aviv, but CyActive is a totally different beast: it "specializes in technology that can predict how malware will develop." It's sort of like Minority Report's PreCrime, except it uses predictive analytics instead of human precogs to foresee new cybersecurity threats. The startup's employees will now be in charge of implementing technology that will protect the payment platform from future cyberattacks.

The online payment processor is far from being the first company to expand into Israel by acquiring startups. Israel, especially Tel Aviv, has a thriving tech community, many of which specialize in cybersecurity. PayPal didn't mention how much it paid to snap up CyActive, but earlier reports suggest that the acquisition cost the company $60 million.

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Source: PayPal


Monday, March 09, 2015

drag2share: Google just added something to Android that could reduce phone theft



Google is rolling out its first major Android update since it launched its new operating system back in November.

The most interesting improvement is a new feature that could help drive down phone theft.

With Device Protection turned on, your phone will stay locked until you sign in with your Google account — even if the phone gets reset to factory settings. If your phone gets stolen, thieves won't be able to steal your data and the phone will essentially be a brick.

Apple introduced a similar feature — which it called Activation Lock — in iOS 7 and it has driven iPhone thefts down 40% in San Francisco and 25% in New York. Device Protection will likely have the same effect for people who own Lollipop-running devices like Google's latest Nexus 6

It also added a few new features, like support for multiple SIM cards, high-definition voice calling, and a way to make your phone more secure.

The multiple SIM-card support will be particularly useful in Android One markets, where people may want to share the same phone among multiple family members. The update also lets users join Wi-Fi networks and control Bluetooth devices through the Quick Settings menu. 

The 5.1 update also improves Lollipop's performance and stability overall. When Lollipop 5.0 launched, Google called it its largest, most ambitious OS update ever, but it still had a bunch of bugs that Google has finally ironed out.

Althou gh all these improvements are nice, barely anyone will get to use them. Only 3.3% of Android devices are currently running Lollipop. 

Also, Google's announcement doesn't say anything about whether or not 5.1 fixes one of the biggest gripes about Lollipop: that it changed the way Android's silent mode works


Apple has invented a new kind of gold (AAPL)


king tut gold ancient egypt

On Monday, Apple is finally going to tell us a lot more about the long-anticipated Apple Watch. Namely: how much it costs.

Predictions for the price of the coveted gold "Edition" version of the Apple Watch are ranging as high as $10,000 (or even higher!) — but there are suggestions it could cost significantly less. Why? Because, as Dr. Drang points out on Leancrew, Apple says it has invented a new kind of gold.

We know the watch is going to be 18-karat gold. But 18K gold isn't pure gold — it's an alloy of three parts gold to one part other material.

What Apple has done is produce a new patented alloy that contains less gold per volume while retaining the same 3:1 ratio and 18K classification. The other material isn't one of the standard metals used in alloys; it's ceramic, which is less dense. Dr. Drang on Leancrew explains this in more detail (emphasis ours):

How can this be? It’s because Apple's gold is a metal matrix composite, not a standard alloy. Instead of mixing the gold with silver, copper, or other metals to make it harder, Apple is mixing it with low-density ceramic particles. The ceramic makes Apple's gold harder and more scratch-resistant — which Tim Cook touted during the September announcement — and it also makes it less dense overall.

As developer Marco Arment points out on his blog, this reduced gold content opens the door ! to a sig nificantly cheaper Apple Watch Edition than people are speculating. "The uncomfortable issue of an extremely expensive watch that's completely obsolete in a few years would all be significantly less problematic if the Edition was priced closer to $2,000-$3,000," he writes. "We don't know yet if Apple will do that, but it sure looks like they can."

Apple design chief Jony Ive also talked about Apple's special gold in a recent profile in the Financial Times. He explained how Apple's new gold methods made it "twice as hard as standard gold."

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This simple flow chart illustrates how low oil prices seep through the global economy (USO, OIL)


Some analysts have described the oil crash of late 2014 as the most important economic event since the financial crisis.

In February, Citi's Ed Morse said West Texas Intermediate crude oil prices could fall as low as $20 per barrel from its triple-digit level we saw last summer.

To help us understand how all this fits into the big picture, Morse's team offers this flowchart that shows all the effects that low oil prices continue to have on the global economy.  

citi oil

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