Food delivery app Deliveroo raises $100m to expand beyond Europe

The premium food delivery app has closed its third funding round this year, bringing its total raised in 2015 to $195m

Deliveroo has raised $100m (£66m) from a group of venture capital funds including Facebook investors Accel and DST Global to fuel the London-based food delivery start-up’s international expansion.

The funding round is Deliveroo’s third this year, bringing its total capital raised in the past 12 months to $195m.

Will Shu, chief executive, said the investment would fuel the company’s expansion to Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Melbourne and Sydney.

“This is our first foray outside Europe. We’re now very much a global company and that’s significant,” said Mr Shu, a former investment banker who founded the company alongside software developer Greg Orlowski in 2013.

The Series D funding round was led by Yuri Milner’s investment firm DST Global – which has backed Twitter, Spotify and Airbnb – and San Francisco-based Greenoaks Capital.

Deliveroo also raised funds from existing investors Accel, Hummingbird Ventures and Index Ventures, whose portfolios include Facebook, Asos and King Entertainment.

In addition to its international expansion, the Soho-based businesses will ramp up its marketing and hiring activities to increase its presence in its current markets amid strong competition from other food delivery technology companies such as Just Eat and Hungry House.

Deliveroo differs from its rivals because it connects users with high quality restaurants, from Michelin-starred establishments and independent eateries such as Trishna and Dishoom to upmarket chains including Wagamama, Dirty Burger and Busaba Eathai.

“There’s been a big boom in premium casual dining across the world over the last 10 to 15 years,” Mr Shu said. “In 2001, Paris was either Michelin-starred restaurants or kebab shops, and London wasn’t that far off.

“Now there’s the Parisian take on the burger, Hong Kong’s take on the taco and the Berlin take on dim sum. There’s been a strong movement towards better food in a more casual setting. We’re creating a mainstream product.”

Deliveroo’s daily orders have increased 10-fold since January, when the company took its first step beyond London and opened in Brighton. It has since expanded outside of the UK, launching first in Dublin in April and then branching out into another 19 European cities.

Online transactions now account for 40pc of all food delivery orders in the UK, up from 8pc in 2008, according to the market research firm NPD Group.

Just Eat, the online food ordering service that launched in 2001, raised £1.47bn when it listed on the London Stock Exchange last year in the UK’s largest technology flotation in eight years.

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Jeff Bezos’ space company does world first in landing reusable rocket

The Amazon chief used Twitter for the first time to announce historic landing of Blue Orbit rocket, but got trolled by Elon Musk

Jeff Bezos’ privately-funded space company Blue Origin announced a historic first today – it successfully landed a fired rocket back on Earth after an unmanned flight to space.

Bezos announced the compelling test flight video on Twitter – the first time he has ever tweeted – calling the achievement the “rarest of beasts.”

In this test flight, the rocket separated itself from the New Shepard vehicle, which flew to an altitude of 93km on Monday, at almost 4 times the speed of sound.

Usually, the rocket would have fallen back to Earth and been unable to complete any more flights. “Rockets have always been expendable,” Bezoswrote in blog post about the landing. “Not anymore.”

In this case, it was guided towards a launchpad on Earth where it slowed down and landed, intact. This means the rocket can be re-used for subsequent flights, which companies like Blue Origin claim will make spaceflight far less expensive.

Bezos told the Wall Street Journal in an interview that he planned to start commercial suborbital flights with tourists potentially in less than two years. “I’m thinking it could be sometime in 2017,” he said.

But not everyone was as triumphant about the event. Rival space entrepreneur and billionaire Elon Musk responded on Twitter saying it wasn’t really that rare, linking to his own SpaceX Grasshopper rocket which has done multiple flights – although it hadn’t gone as far as Blue Orbit’s 93km distance.

He then went on to Tweet from his own account about the distinction between space and orbit, and why getting into orbit was a lot harder than reaching the edge of space.

Mr Musk’s private space transport company SpaceX has also beenattempting to land its Falcon 9 rocket but has failed to do so yet. In June, it exploded after lift-off.

Earlier this month, SpaceX was awarded its first Nasa contract to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station.

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Smartphone sales stutter across Europe

Smartphone sales slowed across Europe in the third quarter, despite overall global sales reaching their highest ever levels, according to a new report

While smartphone sales reached their highest figure on record during the third financial quarter of 2015, growth in Europe stalled as user demand slowed, a new report has found.

Smartphone unit growth across Western Europe saw a rise of around 3pc year-on-year during the quarter, with the French market slowing to 5pc growth and the UK declining by 1pc, according to a report by GfK, which is based on consumer ‘point-of-sale’ data.

Growth was marginally higher in Eastern Europe at 4pc, where Russia and Ukraine’s declined by 6pc and 19pc respectively.

The report predicts a lift in demand in central Europe, forecasting an upturn of 4pc in the year’s final quarter, before rising to 9pc growth in early 2016.

Elsewhere in the world, growth was particularly strong in emerging Asian Pacific (APAC) countries including India, where sales rose by 40pc year-on-year – driven by strong demand from smartphone priced at $100 and under, which accounts for around 48pc of the market.

Over in China, mid-range and high-end smartphones were the drivers behind increased growth of 6pc overall. Sales of high-end handsets, defined as such by their $500 upwards price tags, which include Samsung Galaxy S6 flagship and Apple’s iPhone series, rocketed 65pc, while sales of more modestly priced mid-range units rose 25pc year-on-year.

Separately conducted research from Gartner found that smartphone sales fell for the first time during the second quarter of the year in the face of the rapidly cooling economy, falling by 4pc.

GfK predicts overall smartphone market growth in China will fall 4pc throughout 2015, before rising to a modest 3pc growth in 2016.

Unit demand in South Korea, home of Samsung and LG, fell 3pc compared to the same time a year ago, while Argentina and Brazil reported respective declines of 16pc and 15pc.

By the end of 2015, GfK estimates 1.3bn smartphones will have been sold, bolstered by a 13pc global sales rise in the fourth quarter.

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Microsoft’s female workforce shrank 2 percent last year

The company’s diversity efforts suffer a setback due to cuts at overseas factories where a high percentage of women held jobs.

Despite Microsoft’s efforts to increase employee diversity, women make up a smaller percentage of the company’s workforce than they did a year ago.

Women made up 26.8 percent of the company’s global workforce at the end of September, a drop from 29 percent a year earlier, Microsoft said in a diversity report released Monday.

The decline was due to layoffs from the restructuring of the phone businesses Microsoft acquired from Nokia last year, Gwen Houston, Microsoft’s general manager of global diversity and inclusion, wrote in the report. As part of the restructuring, the company eliminated many manufacturing jobs at factories outside the US. Those jobs were held by a high percentage of women, she said.

“We are not satisfied with where we are today regarding the percentage of women in our workforce,” she wrote. “Our senior leaders continue to be deeply committed to doing everything possible to improve these numbers.”

Like most large tech companies, Redmond, Washington-based Microsoft continues to grapple with how to increase diversity in its workforce. From Facebook to Google to Twitter, some of the largest technology companies in the world have confronted the problem by starting programs aimed at increasing the number of women and minorities in the workplace.

On average, 30 percent of the tech industry workforce is female, even though women make up 59 percent of the total workforce and 51 percent of the population, according to US Census Bureau data. Microsoft is among a handful of major tech companies participating in initiatives unveiled in August by President Barack Obama to close that gap.

In a new company mission statement released in June, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella noted the company’s ongoing diversity initiatives, a topic that made headlines last year when the CEOimplied female employees shouldn’t ask for raises but should instead trust karma.

“We will be open to learning our own biases and changing our behaviors so we can tap into the collective power of everyone at Microsoft,” Nadella wrote in the new mission statement. “We don’t just value differences, we seek them out, we invite them in. And as a result, our ideas are better, our products are better and our customers are better served.”

Despite the decline in the percentage of women employed at Microsoft, there are signs the company’s diversity efforts are paying off. Microsoft said that women now make up 27.2 percent of senior leadership team, the highest it’s ever been. The company also said that 30.6 percent of hires from universities are women, up from 27.7 percent the previous year.

“While certain leading indicators are trending up and we are starting to see signs of progress, systemic challenges remain when it comes to increasing the presence of women and minorities at all levels of the workforce,” Houston wrote.

Minorities also saw modest increases in the company’s makeup. Of the 115,905 people employed by Microsoft worldwide, blacks made up 3.5 percent of the workforce compared with 3.4 percent a year ago. Latino employees increased to 5.4 percent from 5.1 percent a year earlier, while Asians made up 29.3 percent of the company, up from 28.8 percent.

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Dell to fix flaw of its own making that puts its computers at risk

The company acknowledges it recently sold PCs loaded with a form of identification that could make them vulnerable to cyberattack.

dell-xps-15-oct150010Computer maker Dell warned late Monday of a security hole affecting recently shipped computers that could leave users vulnerable to hackers.

The issue affects computers made by Dell that come with a particular preinstalled customer service program. Through a certificate that would identify the computer to Dell support staff, this program makes the computers vulnerable to intrusions and could allow hackers to access encrypted messages to and from the machines, Dell said. There is also a risk that attackers could attempt to reroute Internet traffic to sites that look genuine but are in fact dangerous imitations.

Dell said that customers should take steps to remove the certificate from their laptops, offering instructions on how to do that manually. Starting Tuesday, it also plans to push a software update to computers to check for the certificate and then remove it.

“Customer security and privacy is a top concern and priority,” the Round Rock, Texas-based company said in a statement. Dell did not respond to a request for more information.

Security researcher Brian Krebs said that the problem affects all new Dell desktops and laptops shipped since August. That would mean a vast number of computers are at risk. In the third quarter,Dell shipped more than 10 million PCs around the world, according to market researcher IDC.

The disclosure by Dell is another sign of the dangers that lurk as we check our bank accounts online, go shopping via Amazon and share personal information over Facebook. While big data breaches at retailers like Target and Home Depot affect thousands of people all at once, consumers can also be hit much closer to home through their own laptops and smartphones.

Even as they’ve become attuned to taking security precautions, though, consumers typically don’t have to worry about brand-new technology they’ve just brought home from the store. For sure, some programs that computer manufacturers install can prove irritating or cumbersome. The revelation that one might be genuinely dangerous has the potential to erode trust in the computer in one’s hands and in the company that supplied it.

This isn’t the first time this year that out-of-the-box PCs have contained vulnerabilities. Some Lenovo laptops were found to have a similar security flaw thanks to a preloaded program called Superfish. This software altered search results to show different ads, but it also tampered with the computer’s security. It was eventually fixed with a specially released tool.

Dell said that its certificate isn’t adware or malware, nor was it used to collect personal information.

The program in question is being removed from all new Dell computers, the company said, and once it is properly removed according to the recommended process, it will not reinstall itself.

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Nvidia unveils Pascal specifics — up to 16GB of VRAM, 1TB of bandwidth


Nvidia may have unveiled bits and pieces of its Pascal architecture back in March, but the company has shared some additional details at its GTC Japan technology conference. Like AMD’s Fury X, Pascal will move away from GDDR5 and adopt the next-generation HBM2 memory standard, a 16nm FinFET process at TSMC, and up to 16GB of memory. AMD and Nvidia are both expected to adopt HBM2 in 2016, but this will be Nvidia’s first product to use the technology, while AMD has prior experience thanks to the Fury lineup.

HBM vs. HBM2

HBM and HBM2 are based on the same core technology, but HBM2 doubles the effective speed per pin and introduces some new low-level features, as shown below. Memory density is also expected to improve, from 2Gb per DRAM (8Gb per stacked die) to 8Gb per DRAM (32Gb per stacked die).


Nvidia’s quoted 16GB of memory assumes a four-wide configuration and four 8Gb die on top of each other. That’s the same basic configuration that Fury X used, though the higher density DRAM means the hypothetical top-end Pascal will have four times as much memory as the Fury X. We would be surprised, however, if Nvidia pushes that 16GB stack below its top-end consumer card. In our examination of 4GB VRAM limits earlier this year, we found that the vast majority of games do not stress a 4GB VRAM buffer. Of the handful of titles that do use more than 4GB, none were found to exceed the 6GB limit on the GTX 980 Ti while maintaining anything approaching a playable frame rate. Consumers simply don’t have much to worry about on this front.

The other tidbit coming out of GTC Japan is that Nvidia will target 1TB/s of total bandwidth. That’s a huge bandwidth increase — 2x what Fury X offers — and again, it’s a meteoric increase in a short time. Both AMD and Nvidia are claiming that HBM2 and 14/16nm process technology will give them a 2x performance per watt improvement.

Historically, AMD has typically led Nvidia when it comes to adopting new memory technologies. AMD was the only company to adopt GDDR4 and the first manufacturer to use GDDR5 — the Radeon HD 4870 debuted with GDDR5 in June 2008, while Nvidia didn’t push the new standard on high-end cards until Fermi in 2010. AMD has argued that its expertise with HBM made implementing HBM2 easier, and some sites have reported rumors that the company has preferential access to Hynix’s HBM2 supply. Given that Hynix isn’t the only company building HBM2, however, this may or may not translate into any kind of advantage.

HBM2 production roadmap

With Teams Red and Green both moving to HBM2 next year, and both apparently targeting the same bandwidth and memory capacity targets, I suspect that the performance crown next year won’t be decided by the memory subsystem. Games inevitably evolve to take advantage of next-gen hardware, but the 1TB/s capability that Nvidia is talking up won’t be a widespread feature — especially if both companies stick to GDDR5 for entry and midrange products. One of the facets of HBM/HBM2 is that its advantages are more pronounced the more RAM you’re putting on a card and the larger the GPU is. We can bet that AMD and Nvidia will introduce ultra-high end and high-end cards that use HBM2, but midrange cards in the 2-4GB range could stick with GDDR5 for another product cycle.

The big question will be which company can take better advantage of its bandwidth, which architecture exploits it more effectively, and whether AMD can finally deliver a new core architecture that leaps past the incremental improvements that GCN 1.1 and 1.2 offered over the original GCN 1.0 architecture, which is now nearly three years old. Rumors abound on what kind of architecture that will be, but I’m inclined to think it’ll be more an evolution of GCN rather than a wholesale replacement. Both AMD and Nvidia have moved towards evolutionary advance rather than radical architecture swaps, and there’s enough low-hanging fruit in GCN that AMD could substantially improve performance without reinventing the entire wheel.

Neither AMD nor Nvidia have announced a launch date, but we anticipate seeing hardware from both in late Q1 / early Q2 of 2016.

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Tor is getting a major security upgrade


To hackers, spies, and cyber-criminals these days, calling Tor “secure” is a bit laughable. There are so many exploits and workarounds, along with unavoidable weaknesses to side-channel attacks performed in the physical world, that in some cases the false sense of cyber-security can end up making relaxed use of Tor less secure than paranoid use of the regular internet. If you’re someone looking to buy some weed on the internet (or communicate securely with your mistress), Tor is probably alright for you. If you’re looking to sell some weed on the internet, get in contact with a government informant, or share sensitive information between foreign activists, it probably isn’t. Tor is looking to change that.

This is coming specifically in the wake of recent revelations of wide-ranging vulnerabilities in Tor’s anonymity protocols. A high-profile expose accused researchers at Carnegie Mellon of accepting a government bounty (reportedly a cool million dollars) to de-anonymize certain Tor users (those specifically mentioned in the expose include a child porn suspect and a Dark Market seller). Their attack vector and others are just what cynical hacker-forum users have been prophesying for years, things like malicious Tor nodes and directory servers that exist solely to suck up the personal info of those Tor users they serve.

TorOne major initiative involves the algorithm governing the selection and use of “guard nodes,” which are the first anonymizing nodes used by a Tor hidden service, and thus the only nodes interacting with the legitimate IP, directly. Right now, a Tor connection might use multiple guard nodes and as a result open itself up to more vulnerability than necessary — now, the developers want to make sure that Tor connections use the minimum possible number of guard nodes, and preferably just one.

Another push hopes to reinforce the wall between dark web domains, the crawlers used by search engines, and specialized server-finders. One of the strengths of a hidden service is that it’s hidden — not just the physical location of the server hosting the service, but the digital address of the service itself, unless you’re specifically handed the randomly generated onion address. Keeping hidden services off of search engine results means that a private service can remain private, used only by those people specifically handed the address. Should an attacker find that address, Tor’s anonymity protocols should protect it. But attackers can’t even try to access services they have no idea exist.

silk road head

If you’re up to delving a bit deeper into the Dark Web, and you don’t mind looking at 99 useless sites for every interesting one, boot up the Tor Browser and take a look at this ingenious hidden service indexing tool for an idea of the level of crawling that can currently be done on the Deep Web.

The Tor Project exists to provide anonymity — that is its main function, and all other functions are in service to that. So, to attack the security of a Tor user (even a legitimately horrible criminal) is to attack Tor itself. It’s a tough principle to stand behind, at the end of the day — to get mad about police efforts to catch child pornographers. Yet, the security world is united; security researcher Bruce Schneider has called Carnegie Mellon’s alleged collaboration “reprehensible,” as did numerous other academic security researchers.

silk road 2Their reasoning is sound. There is simply no way to attack the availability of anonymity to bad people without also undermining the availability of anonymity to good ones. We also need to have a class of disinterested researchers who can interface with the criminal/quasi-legal cyber underground and have meaningful, honest conversations — we need this for social understanding, the maintenance of free speech, and effective law enforcement.

That’s not a perspective that seems to exist in the government, to any extent. The recent terrorist attacks in Paris have led to sustained attacks on encryption and anonymity, even before the investigation produced any evidence that the attackers had used encryption, and certainly in absence of any evidence that if they had not used encryption that they would have been detected reliably by French or international security agencies. The New York Times, which broke the story of an alleged encryption aspect to the attacks, has since pulled the story from their website.

Of course, the hacker/security community will take some time to win back, and may never return to the fold. There’s a significant number of people who still believe that Tor is an elaborate government honeypot with zero real security from government spying. That’s unlikely, but ultimately it’s the perception that counts. Can the Tor Project win back the hardcores? Perhaps not. But with its continuing, aggressive updates, it could keep us normies safer as we browse drug-lists without buying, stare uncomprehendingly at ISIS statements posted in Arabic, and just generally indulge the extremes of our intellectual curiosity.

In other words, it could keep the basic tenets of liberty alive just a little bit longer.

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Sky Q: What you need to know about Sky’s new TV box

Sky has unveiled what it calls the ‘next generation’ of home TV. We examine its key features including what we know about its pricing and release date

Sky Q

Since launching Sky+ in 2001, Sky has added feature upon feature to its offering, such as high-definition broadcasting, on-demand services and mobile streaming for remote viewing.

However, the hardware and basic user experience has remained familiar. The remote and set-top box are pretty much the same as is, largely, the interface used to select programmes or recordings.

In the last 14 years, the arrival of online streaming, smart TVs and YouTube has changed how we watch videos enormously. Not only is Sky’s dominance of the living room television being challenged by BT, TalkTalk and others, but the living room is no longer the only game in town, with viewers watching on-demand video on smartphones, tablets and laptops.

Sky Q technologySky Q covers the living room, additional TVs with the Sky Q mini, and tablets  Photo: Sky

In response, Sky has unveiled Sky Q, which it describes as “the next generation home entertainment system, opening up a new way of watching TV”. As well as a newly-designed interface that puts on-demand TV and recordings, as well as live TV, at the centre, it has also announced a collection of new hardware products that it says will allow users to transport the Sky experience around the house.

Sky says Sky Q will not be a replacement for Sky+ or NOW TV, its internet TV box, but a “new premium option”.

“We wanted to re-imagine TV so that it’s flexible and seamless across different screens and to put a huge choice of entertainment at their fingertips,” Sky’s chief executive Jeremy Darroch said.


At the centre of Sky Q is a new set-top box, which, as always, is connected to an outside satellite dish. It has a 2 terabyte hard disk, which can store up to 350 hours of video, and 12 tuners, which will allow watching and recording of multiple channels across devices.

Additional Sky Q “mini” boxes will connect TVs in other parts of the house, such as a bedroom or kitchen, and connect wirelessly to the main box. These offer a full, independent, Sky service on additional TVs, rather than mirroring or interfering with what’s on the main box.

A new remote uses a touch-sensitive pad, which lets users navigate menus by swiping and tapping, rather than the arrow buttons on the Sky+ remote. It connects to boxes via Bluetooth, rather than infra-red, meaning it doesn’t need to be pointed at the TV to work. And if you lose it, pressing a button on the Sky box will trigger a bleeping sound from the remote. The remote will support voice control, although this won’t be available at launch.

Sky Q boxA new remote has a touch-sensitive pad  Photo: Sky

Finally, Sky has unveiled the Sky Q hub, a new broadband router, designed to work with the other hardware. It can connect to boxes using your home’s electric wiring when this will enable a better signal than Wi-Fi, and in this case, can turn Sky Q boxes into a Wi-Fi hotspot to boost connections in parts of the house away from routers. This so-called “powerline” networking will “supercharge” your Wi-Fi, Sky says.

The TV hardware is ultra-high definition (4K) compatible, although this won’t be available until Sky launches the services later in 2016.


Sky has completely re-designed the menu, putting on-demand services and recordings at the front of the new interface. For example, searching for a show will allow you to select from recordings, catch-up TV and upcoming broadcasts.

Selecting shows, services and recordings is far more visual than under Sky+, with a new tile-based menu to browse around.

Sky Q user interfaceSky Q’s new menu  Photo: Sky

A new menu feature, called “My Q”, is designed to be a hub for what you might want to watch. For example, you can pick up a programme that you stopped watching last night, find the next episode in a series you’re watching, or open a recommendations section that will offer shows tailored to your viewing habits at different times of the day.

There are also some new menu features for sports and music. For example you can see what games or matches are being shown live, search by sport, or specific music content.

‘Fluid viewing’

At the core of Sky Q is what Sky calls a “fluid viewing” experience. Essentially, you can pick up where you left off on a different TV box, or on Sky’s tablet app, by going to the “My Q” section and pressing play.

However, although boxes and tablets are connected, they are totally independent. The 12 tuners in the main Sky box means that different programmes can be watched on five different screens, whether tablets or connected TVs, with four other channels being recorded, without interruption.

A special Sky Q tablet app will essentially replicate the experience on tablet computers, allowing access to live TV, recordings and catch-up, as opposed to the current Sky Go app, which only allows live TV and on-demand viewing. Viewers will also be able to download programmes onto their tablets for offline viewing later.

Sky Q on tabletSky Q’s tablet app replicates the TV experience  Photo: Sky

Broadly, this allows you to take the full Sky Q service with you around the house, whether you’re watching on a TV or tablet.

A smartphone app will come soon, Sky says, and its director of product Andrew Olson said a version for PCs was a possibility too. In the meantime, you can send sound from apps like Spotify or Apple Music to your TV over Apple’s AirPlay or Bluetooth if you want to play music through a TV sound system.

Content and apps

While Sky has continually updated its technology, its key advantage has always been content – it invests heavily in sports rights, movies and other programming.

That hasn’t changed much with Sky Q. Sky’s own content is still at the centre of the product. However, it has added a few new features.

Sky has signed deals with several publishers, such as GoPro, GQ and Wired for a new section it calls “online video”, which will offer on-demand videos about various subjects.

Additionally, it has a few “apps” – accessed via the menu – including YouTube and music service Vevo. Sky also has its own Sports and News apps, as well as Facebook photos, that lets users browse scores, news and information on a side screen while continuing to watch video.

Sky Q VevoSky Q’s Vevo app  Photo: Sky

Other apps are likely to join the service, although Sky will have to work closely with any that want to develop them. This is unlike internet TV boxes like Apple TV and Amazon’s Fire TV, which have an open ecosystem for which anyone can develop apps.

It is unclear whether rival content providers like Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Instant Video will at some point feature.

Release date and price

Sky has not announced pricing for Sky Q, although given that it isn’t getting rid of Sky+, which charges based on what channels one might want, an educated guess might be that Sky will charge a premium above that.

Some element of the pricing could involve charging extra for additional hardware. The main box might come with the service, with Sky charging more for the “mini” boxes.

Stephen van Rooyen, Sky’s chief marketing officer, compared Sky’s strategy to a BMW, with Now TV representing the Mini brand, Sky +HD a 3 Series BMW and Sky a top-of-the-range 7 Series.

The service is due to launch in early 2016, with features like Ultra-HD, smartphone support and voice control coming later.


Sky has always had the UK’s best TV content, and has successfully been able to charge a premium for it. As time has moved on, it has added new technology – recording, high-definition, catch-up, remote viewing and so on.

Sky Q represents an evolution of this idea. Sky still has most of the best content, but viewers want to be able to watch it in their own way. The new service essentially lets users take the experience with them, with as little hassle as possible.

If you’re a “cord-cutter” – someone who does without a pay TV subscription, relying on internet services like Netflix, iPlayer and YouTube for your TV fix – this probably isn’t going to change your mind. It is not the radical re-thinking of the TV experience than some might have hoped (although nobody seems to have come up with a realistic idea of what that might be), being more of a significant upgrade than a revolution.

But for Sky’s 10 million-plus existing customers, or those on rival platforms, it is enough to keep it ahead of the competition. Pricing is likely to be crucial to how many homes this will sit in in a year’s time.


Help wanted: Obama’s tech-training project now accepting applications

Organizers of innovative training programs can now apply for a federal grant to help prepare low-wage workers for more-lucrative tech jobs.

Could high-tech training be the ticket out of a low-paying job?

The Obama administration thinks so. The White House took steps Tuesday to advance its nationwide initiative to help young, unemployed and low-skill workers get trained in technology and placed in well-paying tech jobs.

In March, President Barack Obama announced his TechHire initiative, which offers $100 million in federal grants to innovative programs that provide tech training to people with a low income, a disability, or limited proficiency in English. On Tuesday, the Department of Labor opened the application process for those grants.

The initiative comes as almost every American industry needs workers with technical skills in an array of areas, such as software development, network administration and cybersecurity. Meanwhile, more than 6 million Americans from 16 to 24 years old are out of work and not in school, the White House said.

TechHire is supposed to be a way for private industry to work with local communities to not only build a well-trained work force, but also give people the opportunity for a well-paying tech job who otherwise wouldn’t have it. The White House claims that in America the average salary in a job that requires information-technology skills is 50 percent higher than the average salary in a private-sector job.

“When these tech jobs go unfilled, it’s a missed opportunity for low-wage workers who could transform their earnings potential with just a little bit of training,” Obama said in March. “And that costs our whole economy in terms of lost wages and productivity.”

The Department of Labor competition will award money to about 30 to 40 grant recipients, according to the White House press release. At least $50 million of that grant money will go toward programs for young Americans, ages 17 to 29, who have “barriers to training and employment,” the release said. These programs are expected to help prepare them for jobs in technology, health care and advanced manufacturing.

TechHire is also looking beyond traditional modes of training workers, such as university and community college programs, and it’s providing funding to programs that offer coding boot camps and online courses to get workers trained more quickly and for less money. As part of the initiative, the Department of Education is currently accepting applications for a financial aid experiment that will let students access federal student aid to enroll in nontraditional job training programs.

Since TechHire was announced, the White House said, 35 cities, states and rural areas have joined the initiative, along with 500 employer partners. Cities already participating include New York City, Philadelphia, San Francisco Washington, DC, and San Jose, California, with more expected to sign on.

In New York City, for instance, Mayor Bill de Blasio has created the NYC Tech Talent Pipeline. The effort builds on an existing relationship with the City University of New York, the Department of Education and the Department of Small Business Services to combine city, state, federal and private funding to establish a program that trains mostly women and minorities for tech jobs in the city. The program also helps set up internships or full-time software development jobs with employers, such as Etsy, Foursquare and Goldman Sachs.

Major tech companies Microsoft and Cisco are also listed on the White House website as participating in the initiative.

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​Mystery startup from ex-Mozilla CEO aims to go where tech titans won’t

Brendan Eich, who left the Firefox maker during a firestorm over his anti-gay-marriage views, says his new startup’s software will make the Internet faster, safer and better in ways today’s Net powers won’t pursue.

Brendan Eich is back in business.Brendan Eich

A year and a half after resigning as Mozilla’s chief executivefollowing an uproar over his anti-gay-marriage stance, Eich is spinning up a new company called Brave Software. With nine employees and $2.5 million in early funding from angel investors, the San Francisco startup has begun work on software that promises to make the Internet safer and faster when the company publicly launches it in early 2016.

Though he parted ways with Firefox maker Mozilla, the Brave CEO is carrying some of the nonprofit’s power-to-the-people ethos to his new for-profit venture. Eich won’t share any details yet but said Brave’s software will help give people independence from technology giants that often seem to care more about shareholders than users.

Companies such as Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon and Microsoft wield tremendous power over the technology we all use daily, from smartphones at the center of our lives to communications with our closest contacts. But anyone who doesn’t agree with such companies’ policies has little choice but to stick with them. That’s because boycotting any of them means cutting oneself off from the mainstream. Brave evidently aims to shift the balance of power back toward the user through new software that will give people some type of ability to collectively push back.

“It’s vitally important to put the user first,” Eich said in an exclusive interview. “Since all the big powers are public companies, they have to serve their shareholders…. We’re trying to innovate in dimensions that a lot of incumbents won’t innovate, where the user will have more control and maybe bargaining power.”

Helping to co-found Brave are Brian Bondy, a programmer who worked on Firefox at Mozilla and more recently was an engineer at online education specialist Khan Academy, and Kevin Grandon, who worked on Firefox OS and the WebVR technology for virtual reality on the Web.

On Tuesday, Brave plans to announce two more employees. One is Yan Zhu, previously of the Yahoo security team, who worked on the SecureDrop software for helping whistleblowers share documents, helped develop the Tor software that lets people use the Net anonymously, and a fellow of theElectronic Frontier Foundation. Another is Marshall Rose, a programmer and longtime contributor to Internet standards who developed online payment technology and more recently worked on the Internet of Things technology to spread the Net to more types of devices.

Eich rose to prominence by co-founding Mozilla, maker of the Firefox Web browser and Firefox OS software to power mobile phones, and by inventing the JavaScript programming language that makes websites interactive instead of just static documents. By 2014, he had been promoted to Mozilla chief technology officer and then to CEO, but a firestorm erupted after gay-marriage advocates discovered his 2008 donation to the Proposition 8 effort to ban gay marriage in California. He stepped down as CEO after nine days.

His new company seeks to tap into the ideals behind Mozilla’s founding. Mozilla was launched back in 1998 to keep the Internet’s inner workings open so that powerful companies like Microsoft couldn’t control it and lock people into their technology.

Firefox succeeded in that mission a decade ago, heading off the dominance of Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Web browser. But that success was in large measure because Firefox was faster and had better features. Eich took that lesson to heart: He promises Brave will offer tangible benefits, not just something that appeals to a small group with philosophical motives.

Eich, who regrets that he didn’t push into the ranks of management earlier in his career, said he still plans to program while raising funds and running Brave.

“I’m writing code, but I need to write more,” he said. At Brave, it’s “going to be like [the movie] ‘Starship Troopers’: Everybody fights and no one quits.”


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