House Passes USA Freedom Act to Curb NSA Surveillance

Late last week the House overwhelmingly passed legislation that is intended to bring an end to the National Security Agency’s bulk phone records program. The USA Freedom Act is designed to restrict the federal government’s ability to collect records about citizens in bulk, a program that had sparked debate regarding privacy and civil liberties. The House voted 303-to-121 in support of the USA Freedom Act, which could signal a change in how both political parties view the power of the NSA. Continue reading House Passes USA Freedom Act to Curb NSA Surveillance

Organic Battery Could Lead to More Affordable Electric Cars

Power Japan Plus has developed an organic battery using cotton’s carbon fiber, which the startup claims will generate more power than a lithium-ion battery and can charge up to 20 times faster. The company also says that its battery can be charged thousands of times without losing energy capacity (unlike lithium-ion batteries). Power Japan Plus envisions the technology enabling more affordable, long-range electric vehicles that can be charged in minutes and travel hundreds of miles. Continue reading Organic Battery Could Lead to More Affordable Electric Cars

Amazon Announces Six New Shows After Another Pilot Season

Amazon.com announced yesterday that it has picked up two dramas, two comedies and two kids shows from the batch of 10 television pilots it was testing with viewers. Amazon considered feedback and ratings submitted by users, as it did with an earlier pilot season. However, this time twice as many viewers (more than two million) were involved with the process. While Amazon’s streaming service normally does not include ads, the pilots were sponsored by Geico so they could be available to all users, not just Prime subscribers. Continue reading Amazon Announces Six New Shows After Another Pilot Season

Expect an Emphasis on Privacy and Security at SXSW Festival

The SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Festival kicks off in Austin, Texas today. The interactive portion of the conference, now in its 21st year, has grown to hundreds of sessions. Privacy, security, wearable tech, the Internet of Things and 3D printing are expected to be hot topics. On Monday, the show will host a conversation between NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden (via videoconference) and Christopher Soghoian of the American Civil Liberties Union. Julian Assange, founder of WikiLeaks, is also scheduled to speak. Continue reading Expect an Emphasis on Privacy and Security at SXSW Festival

Social Network Attempts to Recapture Early Spirit of Facebook

In response to the evolving user base of popular social networks such as Facebook, a new venture called Blend hopes to return social media to a younger crowd with its app designed exclusively for undergraduate students. San Jose, CA-based Blend currently enables users to share photos and win gift cards, but has plans to become more of a social network with interactive features like commenting. Founded in May 2013, Blend has nine employees, including its three young co-founders. Continue reading Social Network Attempts to Recapture Early Spirit of Facebook

Hollywood Executives Discuss Piracy with President Obama

Entertainment media execs met with President Obama this week to discuss including copyright protections in new trade agreements and help in facilitating improved relations between Hollywood and Silicon Valley. During the meeting, the president offered his administration’s assistance in bridging the divide between the two industries. A priority in Hollywood is to stop search engines from linking to websites that stream pirated content. Continue reading Hollywood Executives Discuss Piracy with President Obama

MPAA Study Highlights Role of Google Search in Online Piracy

The Motion Picture Association of America released a report yesterday that criticizes the impact of Google and other search engines on the piracy of movies and television shows. The report determined that between 2010 and 2012, search engines influenced 20 percent of sessions that resulted in acts of piracy. The largest share of search queries (82 percent) that led to infringing film and TV content URLs originated from Google, according to the study. Continue reading MPAA Study Highlights Role of Google Search in Online Piracy

Twitter Announces Filing for IPO in Fewer Than 140 Characters

Twitter announced filing its much-anticipated initial public offering last Thursday, in what could become the highest-profile tech stock market debut since last year’s Facebook IPO. The social media giant filed “confidential” paperwork with securities regulators to sell shares, but did not make public the company’s financials, including revenues. Filing confidentially is a new feature in the stock market created by the JOBS Act, designed for companies making less than $1 billion in revenue. Continue reading Twitter Announces Filing for IPO in Fewer Than 140 Characters

Intel Creates Ultrasmall Quark Chips for Wearable Computing

Chip manufacturer Intel is debuting very small processors that have a wide variety of uses from wearable devices to medical and industrial applications. Some have criticized the company for not entering the smartphone market fast enough, but with Quark, Intel plans to pursue embedded computing technologies emerging in wearable devices and the Internet of Things. Intel will have to address the expected low price of these chips, along with increased competition from other chip makers. Continue reading Intel Creates Ultrasmall Quark Chips for Wearable Computing

Predictive Search Knows What You Want Without You Asking

Startups and large tech companies such as Google are working on predictive search, a software service that acts as a digital personal assistant, anticipating needs and wants before being asked, and presenting this information to the user. This is the newest development in Web searching, particularly with mobile devices. As it becomes more mainstream, some are concerned about privacy and whether the constant data will be less than helpful. Continue reading Predictive Search Knows What You Want Without You Asking

Google Drives Past Auto Manufacturers in Vehicle Automation

Most major automakers are developing more automated driving systems. Some of the features, such as cruise control that adjusts to the speeds of surrounding cars, blind spot radar and other collision avoidance systems, are already available. The push to deliver automated cars reflects the differences of automakers and Silicon Valley tech companies. Established car companies typically take a more incremental tactic than Silicon Valley, taking into account decades of manufacturing experience. Continue reading Google Drives Past Auto Manufacturers in Vehicle Automation

New Audio App is the Pandora for Podcasts and News Radio

Silicon Valley startup Concept.io has launched the Swell smartphone app, which automatically collects Internet radio and podcast content based on user interest. Swell tracks what content is played, how often, and what is skipped, using an algorithm to build a user profile. The app also tracks a user’s Twitter stream to identify areas of interest in order to add relevant audio programs. Swell is currently available for iOS, with Android on the way. Continue reading New Audio App is the Pandora for Podcasts and News Radio

Google All Access: Potential Impact of Another Music Service

Google unveiled its All Access streaming music service at this week’s I/O developers conference in San Francisco. The service, viewed as a potential competitor to Spotify, also has some musicians concerned about a future in which music listeners choose subscriptions to access music libraries rather than paying to download individual songs. Industry execs, labels and artists are debating the pros and cons of cloud-based music distribution. Continue reading Google All Access: Potential Impact of Another Music Service

Tech Giants Developing Open Source Networking Project

According to Raymie Stata, former chief technology officer at Yahoo, deciding to change the way a network operates can lead to cases where you have to physically rearrange hardware. But here’s the problem: networking gear is often old and outdated. While developers are constantly creating and updating software for computers and smartphones, hardware development remains relatively stagnant. Continue reading Tech Giants Developing Open Source Networking Project

Free Messaging Apps Impact Facebook and Mobile Carriers

A fast-growing variety of free messaging apps — including WhatsApp, WeChat, Line and KakaoTalk — are now commonly used by hundreds of millions of people around the world. The apps are causing concern for an array of tech companies since communication via free messaging does not benefit mobile carriers or phone makers financially. Use of the messaging apps can also reduce time spent on conversational channels such as social networks. Continue reading Free Messaging Apps Impact Facebook and Mobile Carriers

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