Monthly Archives: July 2015

Telegraph stories affected by EU ‘right to be forgotten’

EU ruling demands Google removes links to content deemed ‘inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant’ following complaint from anyone named in it. Here we will maintain an up-to-date list of Telegraph content which has been removed from search results

The European Court of Justice ruled in May 2014 that Google must remove links to any content that is “inadequate, irrelevant or no longer relevant” or face a fine. The content itself is not deleted, but Google will not list it in search results. A leading solicitor warns that this could “stifle free speech”.

Users searching for the related topic on google.co.uk will see a message that says: “Some results may have been removed under data protection law in Europe” at the bottom of the page. However, those visiting the American site google.com will be unaffected, even if they reside in the UK.

Over 250,000 requests have been made in total to the search engine asking for links to information be removed from Google’s European site branches. While Google does not disclose the identity of the complainant, applications must supply identity verification to prove the links relate either to themselves, or that they have the legal authority to act on the claimant’s behalf.

In July last year the House of Lords’s EU Committee published a report claiming that the EU’s Right to be Forgotten is “unworkable and wrong”, and that it is based on out-dated principles.

“We do not believe that individuals should have a right to have links to accurate and lawfully available information about them removed, simply because they do not like what is said,” it said.

But David Smith, deputy commissioner and director of data protection for the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), hit back and claimed that the criticism was misplaced, “as the initial stages of its implementation have already shown”.

Full list: Telegraph content removed from Google search results

A story about a British former convent girl who was jailed in France for running a ring of 600 call girls throughout Europe in 2003. Police were tipped-off about Margaret MacDonald’s operation by a former colleague following an argument.

A second article, entitled The vice queen of Windsor, detailing MacDonald’s arrest and the allegations made against her, has also had its link removed.

An article from 2008 about a former Harrow pupil, Alex Fiallos, who returned to his halls of residence after a night out drinking and drove his £4,000 car around the grounds at speeds of 30mph before crashing. He eventually collided with a set of steps in a scene reminiscent of the 1969 cult classic movie starring Michael Caine. His parents had given him the silver Mini just the day before.

A story which includes a section taken from the rambling “war plan” of Anders Behring Breivik to massacre 100 people.

A story from 2009 on our property page documenting how Paul and Fiona Godwin-Brown and their two boys Tom and Charlie gave up pressured London life and moved into a rolling Devon valley.

Google started adhering to the judgment in May 2014

A news story from 2003 on former president of the Law Society, Robert Sayer, being accused of inventing a phantom identity in order to have his former deputy expelled from the profession.

Two stories from 2010 relating to football referee Dougie McDonald coming under scrutiny for a penalty decision in a Celtic v Dundee United match, and subsequently resigning. Both links were subsequently reinstated by Google.

Four images – which are actually two unique images, each hosted twice as separate copies on the Telegraph website – relating to Max Mosley’s 2008 sex scandal. (First image, second image)

Two 2001 stories reporting that three men had appeared in court after being arrested when explosives were found in a Dublin apartment. The three men had been seen looking at something in a car, then refused to stop when police later attempted to pull them over. Inside the car were balaclavas and plastic boxes with switches attached to them, which “could be used as incendiary devices”. Follow-up searches of a number of homes found explosives and similar equipment to that found in the car.

The link to an article from 2001 about a newspaper sales director who “terrorised” a shopkeeper and his wife in an incident before a football game was removed after Google received a request under the EU’s “right to be forgotten”. Patrick McVeigh, who was 30 at the time and earning more than £40,000 a year at Yorkshire Post newspapers, was heading for a football game at Leeds United with his brother Terence and a group of friends when he stopped to steal beer from a newsagent. His brother was also seen removing a security camera.

An article from 2000 detailing the jailing of a butcher who threatened to send his estranged wife’s wealthy parents videos of her participating in group sex, which he filmed. Julian St Quinton was sentenced to two and a half years imprisonment for blackmail and nine months for indecent assault.

A 17 year-old being issued with a three-year Asbo for being held responsible for almost 40 per cent of the crime in a single town. Kyle Ivison, aged 17 at the time, was held responsible for a crimewave of more than 120 offences in the town of Clitheroe, Lancs.

Dr Edward Erin was jailed for six years in 2009 for attempting to spike his pregnant mistress’ drinks with drugs to cause her to miscarry their son. The link concerned was an article detailing an email Erin sent to a colleague following his arrest in February 2008.

An article concerning a vicar who resigned after villagers accused him of standing naked at a vicarage window, swearing at children and staggering around drunkenly.

A pensioner’s body lay undiscovered in her home in Norwich for up to six months before it was discovered by police in August 2011. Norfolk Coroner William Armstrong described the case as “deeply disturbing”.

Tim Blackstone, a former porn star and brother of Baroness Blackstone, was found guilty of two counts of insider trading in 2003.

An army captain who accused her commanding officer of labelling her a “blonde bimbo” had her claim dismissed by an employment tribunal in 2002.

Mark Wilson, a Scottish man, was jailed for life in 2002 for strangling his wife with a tartan tie and hiding her body under their bed for a week.

Two 2002 articles relating to the same story on how a Rolls-Royce driver ‘pulled a gun on Mayfair cabbie‘ in 2002 and was subsequently jailed for four months.

A woman claimed gynaecologist Darwish Hasan Darwish raped her after putting her in a ‘deep hypnotic state’, causing her to become pregnant with his daughter. Darwish, who was already serving a six-year sentence for indecently assaulting 10 other patients, was acquitted of rape during a court case in 2001.

Three young men ‘from respectable families‘ were cleared of plotting to rape a Cambridge University graduate in 2001. Links to an earlier article in which one of the accused, Andrew Udenze, said the student ‘agreed to have sex‘ minutes after getting into a car with him and four other strangers have also been taken down.

A British grandmother left her husband after 38 years to marry a 22-year-old Moroccan she met on the internet, who was refused a visa by the Home Office three times

A former advertising executive with Saatchi & Saatchi who left his family for a younger colleague was jailed for six months in 2000. After the younger woman left him, he was arrested and charged with harassment over bombarding her with phone calls, e-mails and letters.

A hotel manager hid £58,000 in stolen cash taken from her employers and recently married couples in bags and boxes under her bed, Newcastle Crown Court heard in 2002. She was jailed for nine months.

A pilot was killed during a fundraising flight for his village church in Dorset during 2009.

Google has also taken down a link to an online dating profile for user Thom109 on Telegraph Dating.

• A homosexual vicar fled his parish after a campaign of blackmail and intimidation in 2000.

• An “eccentric” sixth-former with a fascination for chemistry sparked a full-scale alert in 2005 after police found a cache of bomb-making chemicals in his bedroom.

• Mother of two Teresa McKenzie was found unanimously not guilty of seven charges made against her by a 16 year-old male pupil, who alleged the pair had a 10-month relationship.

• A “dapper” diamond thief killed his wife before hanging himself at their home in one of London’s most affluent postcodes in 2013.

• A divorced businessman won a legal battle against his former wife in 2002, entitling him to an equal share of their £2.5 million fortune.

• Back-office bank worker Adam Lancelot was prosecuted for fraudulently receiving benefits while being paid £300 a day in the City during 2012.

• British backpacker Alfred Alexandros Mill Saunders, 20, was arrested on suspicion of murdering a woman in a frenzied, drug-fuelled knife attack in Central America in 2012.

• A former headmaster spat in a school governor’s face a decade after a row over scrapping “elitist A levels” in 2008.

• A 2002 article detailing how Britain’s Jewish community staged a 30,000 person-strong demonstration in Trafalgar Square to show support for Israel.

• “Absolute English gent” Hugh Taylor undertook a legal fight against Theresa Hamer over the return of some paving stones from a property Mr Taylor bought from Mrs Hamer for £3.5 million in 2002. Mrs Hamer removed the paving from a 282 square yard piazza on the property when she moved out, prompting Mr Taylor to appeal for the return of the “irreplaceable” stones.

• A 2004 article about the disappearance of 16 year-old Charlotte Pinkneyfrom Ilfracombe, Devon. The teenager’s body was never found, and scaffolder Nick Rose was found guilty of her murder and jailed for life the following year.

• A company director killed himself while on Skype to his partner in 2011. Adrian Rowland was on a business assignment in India when he cut his own throat on camera while talking with his distraught partner in the UK.

• An article detailing how an RAF pilot was accused of sexually assaultinga female junior officer after creeping into her bedroom following a champagne party, a court martial heard in 2005. The link to a second article following his unanimous acquittal a week later has also been removed.

• A 2006 article detailing how an illegal immigrant was allowed by the Court of Appeal to stay in Britain because deporting her would breach her right to a family life with another woman.

• A 2003 article about people under 30 suffering strokes.

• Secretary Laura Cook kicked a fellow train passenger in the face with her stiletto following an argument. Ian Garven was attacked by Ms Cook and her boyfriend Nicholas Rogers after he asked Rogers to take his feet off the train seat. The pair were ordered to complete 80 hours’ unpaid work, pay £200 compensation and £250 prosecution costs in 2008.

• Celebrities were apparently reluctant to be seen with party organiser Nicholas Meikle, who was implicated in the alleged gang rape of a young woman by a group of men including Premiership footballers in 2003. Meikle was later cleared of any criminal wrongdoing.

• The boyfriend of Art Malik’s daughter was found dead in a swimming poolat the actor’s home in 2002.

• Mark Bruton-Young, 36, an architect, allegedly murdered his daughter, Harriet, after he resented the intrusion of the “unplanned” baby into his married life, Bristol Crown Court heard in 2011. He was later cleared.

• A Brazilian woman who claimed she lost her unborn twins in a knife attack by neo-Nazis was not pregnant and probably carved the initials of Switzerland’s main right-wing party into her own skin, Swiss investigators said in 2009.

• A Spanish court ordered an investigation into allegations that Saudi billionaire prince Alwaleed bin Talal raped a model on a yacht in Ibiza in 2008 be temporarily halted in 2012.

• A head teacher of a sixth form college in Somerset wrote to students in 2010 asking them to support a member of staff who was preparing for a sex change.

• Selina Hakki was convicted of using rohypnol to drug wealthy-appearing men in order to rob them in 2004. She was sentenced to five years.

• An Oxford graduate who was among seven British tourists killed in a Nepal plane crash had been taking a final break before starting as an associate at a top City law firm in 2012.

• A sinister message was left on the mobile phone of a wealthy company director days after he was found shot dead in an orchard, an inquest heard in 2008.

• A businesswoman sacked after a night entertaining clients ended in spectacular embarrassment had her hopes of a compensation payout boosted by a tribunal ruling in 2012.

• A policeman’s daughter who willingly took part in sex and bondage with a former boyfriend made a false rape claim against him the next morning, a court heard in 2009. Links to a secondary article detailing the woman’sjailing for two years have also been taken down.

• The principal guest conductor for the English Chamber Orchestra Roy Goodman pled guilty to being in charge of a yacht while under the influence in 2004. Harbour officials saw him staggering on the deck of his new seven-metre yacht, RoyAnna, and urinating into the sea after it had run aground in one of Europe’s busiest shipping lanes.

• Nadia Almada’s entry in a Telegraph article of Big Brother’s most annoying housemates in 2011, in which she was described as “an annoying, unbearable nag“.

• A law student was convicted of killing and burying in concrete his controlling father who wanted him to study at the Sorbonne in Paris instead of living with his girlfriend in London in 2010.

• The younger sister of a schoolgirl who was raped and murdered by a serial sex offender leapt to her death from a multi-storey car park four days before her 16th birthday in 2009.

• A death announcement.

• A 2003 article detailing how the Roman Catholic Church reached a £15,000 out-of-court settlement with a former boy scout who claimed he was abused by Fr John Tolkien, the son of J R R Tolkien, the Lord of The Rings author.

• A 2012 article about 27-year-old Ben Ogden, who was killed in a plane crash in Nepal with six fellow British travellers.

• A computer hacker shut down America’s biggest port when he took revenge on an internet chatroom user who had insulted his girlfriend, a court was told in 2003. A briefer version of the article has also been requested for removal.

• A woman planning a new life in Spain was knifed to death by an ex-lover who she had told police was stalking her, a court heard in 2010.

• A 2003 column by Jenny McCartney speculating whether men, including actor Hugh Grant, said they wanted children purely to bed women.

• A senior manager at a leading London law firm who wanted to work part-time, including half a day a week from home, after having a baby won her claim for unfair dismissal in 2005.

• City trader Asif Turabali Mohamedali, who confided in his boss that he felt suicidal, was told: “Tough luck, dude – pull yourself together,” an employment tribunal heard in 2012.

• A senior Goldman Sachs banker went on holiday with his wife and five children to Bermuda and hoped to arrange for his mistress and her children to stay at a nearby hotel on the island at the same time, a court was told in 2004.

• An article detailing how a British man was jailed for 25 years in Costa Rica for stabbing to death a Czech student at a remote jungle eco-farm in 2013. Google also removed links to three images related to the story, found here,here and here. Numerous links to other articles, including the shock of the man’s family, and how he was initially held in custody, have also been removed.

• A policeman who was a former British international runner announced his intention to sue ;Lancashire police for racial discrimination after the force spent three years and an estimated £450,000 investigating allegations that he overcharged his expenses by £90 in 2006.

• A detective who sparked an armed seige inside a police station after allegedly threatening to kill a colleague appeared in court in 2010.

• A 2004 article by Jenny McCartney about Frank Oz’s remake of The Stepford Wives.

• A 2009 slideshow entitled Root Ginger: a study of red hair by photographer Jenny Wicks.

• A Muslim teenager made up a rape story to cover her shame after losing her virginity to a married doctor, a court was told in 2003.

• A solicitor breached insider trading laws when he tipped off his father-in-law that his company was about to about be taken over by Motorola so the pair could make a £50,000 profit from buying and selling shares, a court was told in 2009. The link to a related article of nine examples of the FSA’s convictions for insider trading, including this case, has also been removed.

• A 2011 liveblog of a Cricket World Cup match between India and England, manned by Rod Gilmour and Jonathan Liew.

• An article recounting the story of a Kosovo-born Muslim and her fight against deportation from Holland, written in 2006.

• An 2014 interview with a British mother of twins, whose estranged husband was awarded full custody of the children by an Austrian family court, despite social workers’ recommendations she be granted sole custody due to his violent and unpredictable behaviour.

• A maid who claimed she had been beaten and kept as a slave by her employers faced prosecution after an employment tribunal ruled she invented the abuse in 2010.

• A glamour model and reality TV star who told police her Blackberry had been stolen after she left it at the gym was spared jail in 2010.

• An 2005 article and related image regarding how a murdered heiress had called off her wedding a fortnight previously.

• Two primary school teachers were cautioned for branding an eight-year-old pupil a “chav” on Facebook in 2008.

• A leading researcher into heart disease escaped jail in 2004 after a court heard that he slapped his fiancée and broke a hotel deputy manager’s arm in a drunken rage on the eve of his wedding.

A banker was one of the chief organisers of the drinking ban protest on the London Underground which descended into violence in 2008.

• A director was jailed for eight years in 2006 for stealing more than £34m from Izodia, a one time dotcom boom company that became a cash shell.

• A feature exploring the anatomy of a £34m theft from 2007, surrounding the arrest of Dr Gerald Smith.

• A leading psychologist tried to kiss a male colleague at a dinner and then tried to stroke another man’s thigh in front of his bemused wife, a hearing was told in 2010.

• An article from 2004 about overly pushy parents accompanying their children to university.

• A yachtsman who was overpowered and tied up by two friends during a storm in the Bay of Biscay had “lost it” after several days without eating or sleeping properly, Spanish police said in 2004. The link to a related brief news story explaining how no further action was to be taken against the trio has also been removed.

• An article relating to the fallout between former Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman and her teenage son’s desire to become a body-builder from 2012.

• A policeman whose assault on a man was filmed by CCTV cameras was jailed for 21 months in May 2003.

• Two articles from August 2014 and November 2014 about how a laywer-turned-sailor claimed sexual discrimination and harassment against organisers of gruelling race but had her case thrown out.

• A former care assistant in an old people’s home was jailed in 2004 for helping her lover to rob elderly women.

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Microsoft wants to ‘stream PC games to Xbox One’

Windows 10 users could soon be able to stream their PC games to their Xbox One consoles

Microsoft is reportedly working on technology that would allow gamers to stream PC games to their Xbox One consoles.

With the launch of Windows 10 yesterday, Microsoft introduced the ability to stream Xbox One games to a PC via a local wireless network. This means that, when someone asks you to stop hogging the TV, you can slope off to a quiet corner and carry on playing your game on a laptop or tablet.

Windows 10 supports the Xbox controller, so Microsoft claims you’ll get a consistent gameplay experience no matter what device you’re playing on. You can also stream any backwards-compatible Xbox 360 games to a Windows 10 device from an Xbox One.

However, Microsoft’s plans for cross-platform compatibility to not stop there. According to a report by The Verge, Microsoft wants to make it possible to stream PC games to your Xbox One as well.

Phil Spencer, Microsoft’s head of Xbox, said: “We understand if you’re going to go PC to Xbox, we need to get keyboard and mouse working completely so you could play those games. In terms of where we want to go with our platform, those are absolutely in scope of things that we want to do.”

He warned that streaming this way around is more challenging, because PC games need to be encoded so that they have the right amount of bandwidth to stream on Xbox One. However, he indicated that this is a challenge Microsoft is willing to tackle.

As part of the Windows 10 upgrade, Microsoft has also updated the Xbox Live app for Windows, allowing users to access their Xbox friends list, achievements, messages and activity feed from their PC or tablet.

Some games have also been optimised for Windows 10, includingMinecraft, Gigantic, Killer Instinct, and Gears of War.

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Uber denies its app displays ‘phantom cabs’

Uber has denied claims that its app gives users a false picture of the number of cabs on the road in their local area

Uber has denied that its app misleads users, after researchers from the Data & Society thinktank accused the cab hire firm of displaying “phantom cars”.

In an article for Vice’s Motherboard, the researchers claimed that the app shows cars in the passenger’s vicinity even when there are none there, citing testimonies from drivers and passengers.

One driver descibed a scenario where the passenger app’s map showed four drivers on the streets immediately by her pick-up location, but the estimated wait time for the closest car was 17 minutes.

The researchers also cited an Uber customer support representative, who reportedly told a passenger that the app “is simply showing that there are partners on the road at the time”.

“This is not a representation of the exact numbers of drivers or their location. This is more of a visual effect, letting people know that partners are searching for fares,” the representative allegedly said.

“I know this seems a misleading to you but it is meant as more of a visual effect more than an accurate location of drivers in the area. It would be better of you to think of this as a screen saver on a computer.”

Uber said that any discrepencies between the app and cars on the street are caused by network delays, and not by any attempts to mislead users.

“Our goal is for the number of cars and their location to be as accurate as possible in real time. Latency is one reason this is not always possible. Another reason is that the app only shows the nearest eight cars to avoid cluttering the screen,” an Uber Spokesperson told The Telegraph.

“Also, to protect the safety of drivers, in some volatile situations, the app doesn’t show the specific location of individual cars until the ride is requested.”

The company added that the “volatility” scenario does not apply to the UK, so the cars that users see on the in-app map are the cars that are physically on the road in their dispatch area.

The only time when an available cab would not show up on the map is in “severe circumstances”, such as such as the recent violence seen in France and Italy against drivers on the Uber platform.

This does not mean that the location is not accurate or representative, but rather that it isn’t visible to the rider until the trip is accepted, according to Uber.

Uber has not commented on other allegations in the Motherboard piece, such as that claim that the company’s controversial “surge pricing” does not always reflect real-time demand.

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Google brings deep neural networks to your phone with Translate

Google’s neural networks are good for more than just making trippy art. If you download and run the company’s latest translation app, you will be using a deep neural network — and not just through the cloud, but right on your own phone. The network instantly adds twenty additional languages to the existing seven that their app could decode before, but that’s just the beginning.

There is little in tech today that can’t be made infinitely better by putting the word ‘deep’ in front of it. What puts the ‘deep’ in neural networks really comes down to having a few hidden layers of neurons in between the input layer and the output layer. That’s where all the so-called deep learning comes into play.

The original neural network from many decades ago, the perceptron, was at its heart just an algorithm. It was run as single layer of neurons connected in a special way. Although the perceptron was intended to be a machine in its own right, its first practical implementation was in software running on a standard processor. Unfortunately, it seems that not all that much has changed.

Neural Network

However, you would be wrong to think that deep neural networks implemented in hardware aren’t coming. Networks made from memristor arrays or constructed from FPGAsare certainly possible now, just not entirely portable. One reason these technologies haven’t been expedited into service already may be that phones are now just that good — they can do many practical computing tasks that once only the cloud could do.

It probably wasn’t easy, but Google was able to extract the essence of a large and general translation architecture running in the cloud, and pare it down to something you could use to translate a menu in a restaurant that blocks or otherwise lacks any cell signal. The network itself is still powerful enough to do things like recognize letters that are rotated through a small offset, but not when they are rotated too much.

To be able to run in real time, Google had to optimize several math operations. Technically speaking, that entailed tuning things like matrix multiplies to fit processing into all levels of cache memory and making use of the smartphone processor’s SIMD instructions. It also involved ‘training’ the network a little differently. For example, they found at one point that ‘$’ started to be recognized as ‘S’. This required them to adjust the warping parameters to fix the bug.

GoogleneuronOne can imagine chips in the near future that have larger and more dedicated neural networks implemented in hardware, which can be accessed for all kinds of mission critical functions. For example, the so-called convolutional neural networks that are used here for letter translation are also used in a variety of other image processing operations. They are based individual neural units much like those in the retina, where they respond to overlapping receptive fields in the visual space.

A recent article in Tech Rev. mentions that several companies including Qualcomm, have been developing neuro-inspired chips that function more like living neurons. In other words, they actually generate spikes, which are accumulated and propagated in such a way that their timing matters. These kinds of networks are the real deal — the kind that will eventually give humans a run for their money in a game of table-tennis or an egg-toss.

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Samsung will cut Galaxy S6 prices to boost demand, improve sales

Samsung’s Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge smartphones may have debuted to strong reviews and positive ratings, but a combination of manufacturing delays and consumer apathy appears to have killed most of the phone’s forward momentum. Earnings in the smartphone business were down again year-on-year, though the company as a whole was buoyed by increased foundry sales. Samsung’s operating profit for the year-to-date fell from 15.68 trillion KRW (South Korean Wan) in 2014 to 12.88 trillion KRW in 2015. That works out to roughly $10.9 billion in operating profit, which is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s still a decline that the company is keen to reverse.

The Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge sales have been pulled down by several factors. First, reports indicate that Samsung underestimated demand for the Edge and was slow to put resources behind ramping up Edge production. As a result, customers who wanted to upgrade to the more expensive SKU either bought other devices or settled for the cheaper Edge that doesn’t earn as much net profit for the Korean manufacturer. This is reflected in the operating profit figures for Samsung’s mobile division.

Samsung Earnings

I’ve made some changes to this chart to make it easier to follow. Samsung’s mobile division (IM)’s sales revenue is outlined in red for the relevant quarters in 2013 – 2015. The operating profit data is outlined in blue. Operating profit in mobile fell 38% from Q2 2014 to Q2 2015. The fact that mobile operating profit shrank 38% while sales revenue from mobile phones only fell 8% is a sign that more of Samsung’s phone sales shifted towards lower-end, cheaper devices. Such devices have lower ASPs and earn Samsung much less money per unit sold, even if the company’s gross margin is identical across its product lines.

Yesterday, Samsung announced that it had resolved its manufacturing issues with the Galaxy S6 series and would henceforth begin “flexibly adjusting the price of the Galaxy S6 and S6 Edge,” which has widely been interpreted as a price cut, possibly to help the phone compete better against other devices, like the LG G4. Less discussed is that this is a self-inflicted wound from start to finish.

Higher price, fewer features

For years, two features dominated Samsung devices: removable batteries and an SD card slot. Waterproofing was added with the Galaxy S5, which also offered USB 3.0. The S6jettisoned the removable battery, chucked the SD card slot, canceled the waterproofing, and went for USB 2.0 instead of the faster transfer standard. The “Edge” that Samsung touted and that consumers apparently wanted to buy isn’t actually that useful. The original Galaxy Note Edge may have had just one, but the curve was sharper and the remaining sliver of screen was wide enough that it could be used to display notification icons in its own separate view. The S6 Edge lacks this capability and Samsung has struggled to define a stand-out feature for the device’s unique screen.

Samsung compensated for this by equipping the Galaxy S6 with 32GB of storage (up from 16GB). The S6’s launch price was broadly comparable to the S5’s — the old device launched around $600-$650, and that’s where the S6 sits today ($600 at Verizon, $684 at AT&T). The S6 Edge, however, tacks on a significant price increase — it’s $700 at Verizon and a whopping $814 at AT&T. The only apples-to-apples comparison we can do against, erm, Apple, is at the 64GB mark. An iPhone 6 w/ 64GB of capacity is $649, while an iPhone 6 Plus is $849. At Verizon and AT&T, the S6 is $700 and $784 respectively, while the S6 Edge is $800 and $914.

386217-samsung-galaxy-s6-t-mobile-design
The price structure here isn’t terrible, especially if you’re a Verizon customer, but this is where the limited uptake of the S6 really hit Samsung. While the S6 Edge is undoubtedly more expensive to manufacture than the S6, you can bet it’s not $100 – $150 more expensive. Added flash storage is pure gravy for the various phone manufacturers who make insane profit margins on selling you a few dollars’ worth of NAND for an extra $100. Samsung’s inability to ship the Galaxy S6 Edge in higher volumes, combined with inevitably higher foundry costs for the new 14nm node and the anger from long-time customers who won’t upgrade to an S6 because they don’t want to lose its unique feature set all combined to torpedo the company’s high-end sales margin. Toss in increased competition from OEMs in the Asia-Pacific region, and the Korean company faced headwinds at both ends of the market.

Samsung will be launching the Galaxy Note 5 within a few weeks, most likely at the Samsung Unpacked event August 13; we’ll wait and see if uptake on that device helps patch some of the damage it’s taken over the past few years.

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Uber to invest $1 billion in India in next nine months

Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] will invest $1 billion in India in the next nine months as the online ride hailing company is bullish on the Indian market.

Uber said it would use the additional investment to improve operations, expand into newer cities, and develop new products and payment solutions.

“Uber has grown exponentially in India, a global priority market for us, which has also quickly become the largest market geographically for Uber outside the U.S.,” Amit Jain, President of Uber India said in a statement.

The news of Uber’s investment in India was first reported by the Financial Times, which said it was the first time the company had set such a target for India.

Earlier this month, a Delhi court revoked a government ban on Uber, clearing the way for the company to operate in the capital city and reapply for a license.

India asked unregistered web-based taxi services to halt operations in December after a driver contracted with Uber was accused of rape. Uber applied for licenses in New Delhi but continued its operations while approvals were pending.

Uber said India and China are its priority markets. It had said last month that it would invest more than $1 billion in China this year as it looks to rev up growth in the world’s second largest economy.

One of the fastest-growing sharing-economy companies, Uber operates in 57 countries, with an estimated value of more than $40 billion. It has also tangled with transportation authorities across the globe, along with attorneys seeking to deem Uber drivers employees entitled to benefits.

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Mozilla CEO slams Microsoft over Windows 10 browser defaults

Company behind Firefox accuses the tech giant of making an “aggressive move to override user choice” by designating its Edge as default browser.

Mozilla isn’t happy with Microsoft’s decision to make its Edge the default browser in Windows 10, and the Firefox maker’s chief executive has taken his displeasure public.

In an open letter to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Mozilla CEO Chris Beard accuses Microsoft of hobbling users’ browser choices by making Edge the default browser in the next generation of its operating system and called on the tech giant to reverse what he called an “aggressive move to override user choice.” While noting that it was still technically possible to preserve users’ browser settings, Beard charged that the default setting changes have made the option less obvious.

“The upgrade process now appears to be purposefully designed to throw away the choices its customers have made about the Internet experience they want, and replace it with the Internet experience Microsoft wants them to have,” he wrote. “It now takes more than twice the number of mouse clicks, scrolling through content and some technical sophistication for people to reassert the choices they had previously made in earlier versions of Windows. It’s confusing, hard to navigate and easy to get lost.”

Beard said that his company contacted Microsoft to discuss its concerns when it first saw Windows 10, but that its efforts “didn’t result in any meaningful progress, hence this letter.”

The letter underscores Mozilla’s battle to gain more users for Firefox, which ranks a distant third behind Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, according to Web traffic numbers recorded by Web tracker Net Applications. In June, Mozilla’s browser grabbed a Web traffic share of 12 percent compared with IE’s 58.1 percent share. Chrome came in second with 27.2 percent, Net Applications found.

The Windows 10 upgrade doesn’t uninstall rival browsers from users’ machines, but if users choose to restore Chrome or Firefox as their default browsers, they must launch their browser of choice and go through a couple of steps to instruct Windows 10 of their preference. Illustrating the technical difficulty of the process, Mozilla has created a step-by-step tutorial to help Firefox user upgrading to Windows 10 restore their browser preferences.

“These changes aren’t unsettling to us because we’re the organization that makes Firefox,” Beard wrote. “They are unsettling because there are millions of users who love Windows and who are having their choices ignored, and because of the increased complexity put into everyone’s way if and when they choose to make a choice different than what Microsoft prefers.”

Microsoft said in a statement that it was open to making adjustments based on user feedback.

“We designed Windows 10 to provide a simple upgrade experience for users and a cohesive experience following the upgrade,” a spokesperson said. “During the upgrade, consumers have the choice to set defaults, including for web browsing. Following the upgrade, they can easily choose the default browser of their choice. As with all aspects of the product, we have designed Windows 10 as a service; if we learn from user experience that there are ways to make improvements, we will do so.”

As Windows 10’s default browser, Edge is intended to jettison the legacy baggage of Internet Explorer, presenting users with a faster, simpler and sleeker experience like rival browsers such as Google’s Chrome.

The company has lofty goals for the new operating system, its first big chance to move beyond the missteps of Windows 8. Microsoft has promised that Windows 10 — released Thursday as a free upgrade to users of Windows 7 and Windows 8 — will run across every device, from desktops with large hard drives all the way down to low-cost smartphones with barely a gigabyte to spare.

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In this fake city, cars learn to talk to each other

As part of Road Trip 2015, CNET visits Mcity, a 32-acre fake city in Michigan designed to test self-driving cars’ navigation and communication abilities — and to keep research from migrating to Silicon Valley.

A total of 122,000 miles of roads link Michigan’s fertile central farmlands to its northern wilderness and its southeastern industrial core. But this month, 4.2 miles of new pavement will link that road system to the future, too.

Those streets are part of Mcity, a 32-acre test facility at the University of Michigan that’s funded in part by automotive and tech companies. There, researchers from academia, government and private industry will explore two profoundly transformative automotive technologies: cars that drive themselves and cars that communicate wirelessly with each other.

The changes coming to cars will make recent decades’ worth of automotive developments look like minor tweaks. Sure, electronic fuel injection improved fuel economy, airbags made cars safer and cupholders are convenient for coffee. But with computers in charge, we’ll be able to take a nap on the way to work, avoid accidents before we can see them and send the car to pick up grandma. Cars will know when others are coming around blind corners and link themselves into impromptu energy-efficient highway trains.

At least, they will if the industry can develop technology that’s smart and reliable enough.

The Mcity site packs a lot of driving variety into 32 acres on the University of Michigan campus.

Mcity plays a role in this future. It lets sponsoring carmakers Ford, Nissan, Honda, General Motors and Toyota cooperate with each other and with technology companies like Verizon and Qualcomm to test self-driving vehicles in an urban environment. Mcity, which officially opened earlier this month, is designed to challenge self-driving car systems with everything from simulated pedestrians to stop signs that are faded to pink and covered with graffiti. Other difficulties include a roundabout (emblazoned with the university’s blocky M logo), train tracks, traffic signals and a road section made of the same type of see-through metal grille that gives drivers the willies when crossing Michigan’s Mackinac Bridge high above the link between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron.

Mcity will also influence national debates such as whether car communications should share radio airwaves with smartphones and other devices or have separate, protected airwaves. And where Google and other Silicon Valley companies stole a march on the auto industry in the early days of computerized cars, Mcity could help Detroit steal some of that initiative back, according to Peter Sweatman, director of the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute and the Mcity project.

“The future of mobility — particularly as it’s influenced by connected and automated technologies — is playing out here,” Sweatman said in an interview here in his offices at the university. “The facilities and capabilities we’re providing are helping the industry in this part of the world move forward quickly. A little bit of healthy competition is a good thing.”

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Putting dollars to charity a la app, with a social twist

A new wave of apps lets you give to charities and challenge your friends with just a few swipes on your phone — and it will cost you as little as nothing.

Tinbox wants to take the chill out of donating to charity.

One of a cohort of new do-good apps, Tinbox aims to let people give a single dollar to a cause every day in a way that’s as easy as sending a Snapchat message, sharing a Facebook post or summoning an Uber ride.

The brainchild of Adrien Guilmineau, 20, studying international business at the University of Warwick in the UK, and 21-year-old co-founder and fellow classmate David Linderman, Tinbox is designed to encourage people to donate to a good cause without even having to actually spend their own money. While users of the app (around 500 private beta testers at the moment) decide on the charity their dollar a day supports, the actual money will be entirely financed by companies that work with Tinbox.

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Guilmineau drew his inspiration from the Ice Bucket Challenge, which went viral last year as people dared friends, family, colleagues and even rivals to either suffer an ice-cold dousing or give money for research into amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. By the end of the year, people around the world had donated more than $220 million, less than five months after ALS sufferer Pete Frakes first posted the challenge on his Facebook page.

“The [Ice Bucket] Challenge made me realize that a lot of people who really care about causes don’t have the money to donate,” said Guilmineau.

Tinbox and a growing list of other apps, such as Charity Miles, Google’s One Today and ResQWalk, aim to encourage charity by giving people a dead-simple way to make small, regular donations. And then there’s Dollar a Day, an online fundraising platform co-created by Kickstarter founder Perry Chen that makes it easy for people to donate — you guessed it — $1 to nonprofit organizations. For donors, it’s automated: Everybody gives $1 per day, every day. Critics may carp that such contributions are mere peanuts, but the accumulation over time does take on some heft. While Dollar a Day donors spend less than the price of a cup of coffee on charity each day, the monthly contribution equates to more than the cost of a monthly Netflix subscription. Since 2014, Dollar a Day has raised $263,000 for charity.

Free mobile app Pledgeling, a Los Angeles startup, operates similarly by encouraging donors to give micro-donations, while also aiming to help users consolidate all of their charitable contributions in one place.

Such apps and services are an offshoot of society’s on-demand life. But instead of catering to our whims or solving first-world problems (like wanting your Uber ride now) with just a few taps on a smartphone, these charitable-giving apps take advantage of technology to make it more impulsive to do good. They make charity instant, easy, social and affordable. And there’s another common thread among these apps: crowdfunding. Whether it’s crowdfunding small, regularly paid amounts of money among app users, crowdfunding corporate sponsorship money, or a combination of both, these apps rely on technology to reach the masses.

Americans are giving more now than at any time over the past six decades — an estimated $358.38 billion to charity in 2014, jumping 7.1 percent compared to 2013, according to a June 16 report from the Giving USA Foundation — and that’s good news for these apps.

Charitable giving has been spurred by the convenience of technology, such as mobile apps, catering to people on the go, said Patrick M. Rooney, associate dean of academic affairs and research at the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, which researches and writes the Giving USA report. He predicts that although online giving — through apps, for example — represents only about 10 percent of total giving at the moment, that percentage will double and possibly triple within five years.

He cites the Blackbaud Index, which tracks charitable-giving rates in the United States and Canada as evidence — in 2014 alone it grew 2.1 percent, but its online giving index grew 8.9 percent. While Rooney notes this index is not a reflection of the total philanthropy in the US, it is suggestive of the growth of online giving in comparison to other, more traditional forms, such as mailing a check.

How Tinbox works

Available in private beta on Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android mobile software as of last week, and due to be available for download by the general public in September, Tinbox is designed to let users select a charity to which they’ll donate $1 daily — nothing more, nothing less — without having to spend any money of their own. Instead, funding for the app is meant to come entirely from corporate sponsors. For now, users can give to various projects related to homelessness in the San Francisco area, where Tinbox is focusing its efforts after moving to an office there from Guilmineau’s UK dorm room.

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Its founders say that users who want to get on the app can sign up now on Tinbox’s website, and they will be the first to be notified when the app is available for download in September from the App Store/Google Play store. A total of 5,000 people have signed up for the notification so far.

“Our goal is to engage with the local community. … Homelessness is a big issue in San Francisco,” Guilmineau said, adding that he aims to expand to other regions, keeping all projects geographically focused. Later this year, the plan is to roll out another project focused on raising money for people who live in rural Bangladesh, helping them with basic healthcare support on a floating hospital.

If you sign up, Tinbox will send you a push notification each day saying that you have $1 available for you to donate from a company. So the entire donation process — from opening the app to clicking on where you want your $1 to go — takes less than 15 seconds. In connection with your donation, you’ll be able to ask people through Twitter or Facebook to help you fund that project or others.

In a similar vein, Google’s One Today app, which has been around since 2013, aims to get people to donate $1 each day — through Google Wallet — to projects that inspire them, all within about 30 seconds. When you download the app the first time, you select from 15 listed causes you care about, including crime, education and the environment, and each day the projects you see are aligned with the causes you’ve chosen.

One Today lets you set up a match donation to encourage your friends on social media to contribute additional money. The people behind apps like One Today say that the ability to share a donation on social media is essential. The new thinking behind charitable giving: it’s not about the amount, it’s about the participation. “The ability for people to invite their friends to give and match donations with One Today amplifies the donation’s impact and raises awareness about the causes that are important to them,” said Erin Daly, product manager of social good at Google. “One Today creates a culture of giving every day.”

During Memorial Day Weekend, the American Red Cross ran a campaign through One Today where people could give $1 to a charity to be matched by software manufacturer SanDisk with an additional $10, $100, or even $1,000. The total amount raised exceeded $50,000.

It all comes down to simplicity

The success of Google’s One Today, Tinbox and others like them will hinge in part on their simplicity.

Founders at Pledgeling, whose Web platform launched in November 2014 and the app in April with $4.1 million in seed funding, realized that from the app’s inception. The company’s namesake app allows people to make “micro-donations” as low as $5, without any cap on how much people can give.

Lee Fentress, a Pledgeling co-founder, says the app is designed to be “Amazon-easy,” allowing users to donate in two clicks. Since the company started last year, the donor base has grown to over 35,000 people who have donated about $500,000 to charity and nonprofit organizations.

Regarding the need for simplicity, he references a January 2014 study by Dunham and Co. that says more than two-thirds of online transactions are abandoned, due to the sheer number of steps typically involved, such as having to take out your credit card and type in log-in information. Fentress estimates that amount to be more than $40 billion.

“We thought if we could cut down the number of steps and have stored information in an app, it would reduce the time it takes to donate to just a few seconds,” Fentress said. That ease of use translates to more philanthropic dollars.

Corporate sponsors

Many apps are also simplifying the donation process for app users by leaning on corporate sponsor money for donations. Tinbox, for example, takes the emphasis away from purely financial contributions for its users and makes it more about engagement (even if it’s as minimal as turning on an app and tapping a few buttons). And Guilmineau isn’t the first to employ this method.

In 2012, Gene Gurkoff built the free mobile app Charity Miles on the premise that power in numbers could spur corporations to donate money as a marketing tool.

A former finance lawyer inspired by a grandfather who has Parkinson’s disease, he founded Charity Miles to help people earn corporate sponsorships for causes they care about. “I always wanted companies to sponsor me when I participated in races to support people with Parkinson’s,” said Gurkoff. “But they would never do that because, even though they wanted to support charity, I was not a celebrity and there was nothing I could do to drive a return on investment.”

By creating an app that got together a big group of people who all wanted to donate, Gurkoff realized he could help create some clout.

For every mile traveled biking, walking or running, tracked using GPS, you can earn up to 25 cents from a sponsor pool for charities like the Wounded Warrior Project, Feeding America, Stand Up to Cancer and the ASPCA. That means running a marathon could earn up to $6.55 for a charity of your choice. While that number sounds minuscule for an entire marathon, all the miles and all the dollars add up.

“Our biggest impact doesn’t come from running a marathon, it comes from people who walk, run or bike every day,” said Gurkoff. “Every mile matters.”

So far, Charity Miles members, many of whom just keep the app on as they walk through their day, have earned over $1 million for their charity partners, from sponsors like Humana, Johnson & Johnson, Timex and Lifeway Foods, which contribute between $25,000 and $100,000 to the donation pool monthly.


Sponsors look at the apps — with networks of philanthropic, tech-savvy users — as opportunities for marketing, improving their name recognition and reputation as a charitable organization. And users want to be involved in the social causes the apps support.

“Healthy living, building community, doing good for the world … these are all things we want to associate ourselves with,” says Derek Miller, a spokesman at dairy products supplier Lifeway Foods, which has donated more than $100,000 to Charity Miles in connection with tragedies including the Boston Marathon bombings, Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines in 2014, and the earthquake in Nepal. “This app lets us connect with people who are just generally interested in a healthy lifestyle through fitness.”

Another spin on that miles-traveled method comes from ResQWalk, which creates a donation pool from a portion of the revenue it earns serving ads across a variety of apps and websites. Each week it distributes to animal charities in proportion to the number of miles walked for each one.

Since ResQWalk launched in July 2014, its users have walked more than 1.6 million miles and donated about $76,000 as of July 1. Looking ahead, founder Bailey Schroeder says she wants to bring corporate sponsors on board to grow the size of the charity pool, which has averaged $1,400 weekly over the past year.

James McQuivey, an analyst at Forrester Research, says companies will get more comfortable with marketing through donations for apps like Charity Miles. Upping the number of “digital interactions” lets companies measure engagement and adjust marketing approaches based on hard data in real time — and that can be highly effective in luring new customers and retaining old ones.

“And the approach of supporting the causes people care about is probably going to be more successful,” he said.

It all comes down to doing philanthropy in a different way than ever before, says Derrick Feldmann, president of research agency Achieve. “People today want to be able to do good anytime, anywhere,” he said. “They want to give to causes in a more impulsive way.”

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OpenDaylight Project Picks Up Steam

The OpenDaylight Project this week announced that AT&T, ClearPath Networks and Nokia Networks have joined, bringing its membership total to 359.

OpenDaylight is a collaborative open source project hosted by the Linux Foundation. Its goal is twofold: accelerate the adoption of software-defined networking; and create a solid foundation for network functions virtualization.

The Linux Foundation announced the project in 2013, and ODL released its third software version, dubbed “Lithium,” last month.

The project’s founding platinum and gold members are Arista Networks, Big Switch Networks, Brocade, Cisco, Citrix, Ericsson, IBM, Juniper Networks, Microsoft, NEC, Red Hat and VMware.

The end game is to offer a functional platform that gives users directly deployed SDN without the need for other components.

“Transition is happening now. It is not an overnight process. Networks are not something you can easily rip and replace,” said Phil Robb, senior director of technical operations for the OpenDaylight Project.

Essential Upgrade

The ODL project gives the industry a new framework to implement software-defined networking. It is a different paradigm for the way people construct and deploy their networks. The industry currently has no competing technology to do this, Robb told LinuxInsider.

“It is a new way of building and deploying your networks. It replaces legacy switches that combine the routing intelligence, as well as the switching and the data flow, in the same box. The idea behind SDN is to separate those two, so the switch becomes less intelligent and there is some kind of centralized controller that can see the network end-to-end,” he explained.

The expansion of cloud and virtualization services and the growth of the Internet of Things are creating challenges for existing networks, which lack the agility to transform with any kind of speed. That is why the industry palyers are all rallying behind ODL and SDN, said Robb.

Replacing Outdated Tech

Telecom carriers like AT&T traditionally invest billions of dollars in specialized hardware for routing network traffic. The cloud now makes it possible, largely by virtualizing physical servers that can scale rapidly to meet customers’ changing demands, according to David Christophersen, managing director at Capital American.

“AT&T, ClearPath and Nokia are embracing software-defined networking and server virtualization for a number of business and technical reasons. Legacy routing equipment is expensive to maintain and does not scale dynamically in the world of cloud computing,” he told LinuxInsider.

“Routing equipment is one of the few remaining areas within the data center that has not been virtualized. Cloud companies looking to compete with Amazon Web Services are seeking specialized niches that can help differentiate their platforms, and the network layer is still up for grabs,” said Christophersen.

Growing Pathway

OpenDaylight technology is showing signs of strong and continued adoption, according to the ODL Project, which released results of its first user survey at this week’sOpenDaylight Summit.

Adoption is closely aligned with open source SDN solutions. For example, some 75 percent of OpenDaylight users polled planned to use the open source SDN technology for network functions virtualization. More than half were considering ODL for cloud orchestration.

Of the 128 respondents to the survey, 31 percent were service providers, 24 percent came from research and academia, and 20 percent from enterprises.

Survey Says

Of those respondents, 73 percent have already deployed or plan to deploy OpenDaylight in the next 12 months. Of those not yet making that claim, 24 percent are considering the switch.

Some 72 percent of the respondents said they used OpenDaylight code in NFV deployments. Meanwhile, 54 percent of the respondents — including some users of OpenStack — said they used it for cloud orchestration.

Forty-seven percent of the respondents reported using it for traffic engineering and QoS, while 41 percent said they used it for network monitoring and analytics.

Tech Primer

SDN provides an alternative to the static architecture of conventional networks, which are ill-suited to the dynamic computing and storage needs of today’s users.

“Software-defined networking is based on the premise that commodity server hardware, running on an open source platform like OpenDaylight, will be more flexible and scalable — not to mention more easily integrated into cloud environments. The cost savings will be significant,” Capital American’s Christophersen said.

SDN architecture decouples the network control and forwarding functions, so admins can directly control it. They can abstract the underlying infrastructure for applications and network services.

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