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Updated: 11 min 21 sec ago

Nest's Time At Alphabet: A 'Virtually Unlimited Budget' With No Results

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 5:25pm
Ron Amadeo, reporting for Ars Technica (edited and condensed): Nest CEO Tony Fadell wasn't officially "fired" from Nest, but it certainly feels like it. In just the last few months, Nest has had to deal with reports of an "employee exodus," a string of public insults from Dropcam co-founder and departing Nest employee Greg Duffy, news that even Google supposedly didn't want to work with Nest on a joint project, and fallout from the company's decision to remotely disable Nest's deprecated Revolv devices. [...] It's hard to argue with the decision to "transition" Fadell away from Nest. When Google bought Nest in January 2014, the expectation was that a big infusion of Google's resources and money would supercharge Nest. Nest grew from 280 employees around the time of the Google acquisition to 1200 employees today. In Nest's first year as "a Google company," it used Google's resources to acquire webcam maker Dropcam for $555 million, and it paid an unknown amount for the smart home hub company Revolv. Duffy said Nest was given a "virtually unlimited budget" inside Alphabet. In return for all this investment, Nest delivered very little. Two-and-a-half years under Google/Alphabet, a quadrupling of the employee headcount, and half-a-billion dollars in acquisitions yielded minor yearly updates and a rebranded device. That's all.

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Oracle Whistleblower Suit Raises Questions Over Cloud Accounting

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 4:40pm
Svetlana Blackburn, a former senior finance manager for Oracle claims that the company has fired her for not "inflating" revenues in its cloud services division. She alleges that her bosses had instructed her to add "millions of dollars of accruals" for expected business "with no concrete or foreseeable billing to support the numbers." Oracle eventually inflated the numbers without her assistance, anyway, she adds. From NBC News report: The lawsuit, filed on Wednesday in U.S. District Court in San Francisco by former Oracle senior finance manager Svetlana Blackburn, also revives longstanding questions about proper accounting when software and computer services are bought on a subscription basis rather than as a single package, analysts said. Those questions are becoming more urgent as companies including Oracle, IBM, Microsoft and SAP race to transform their businesses for an era in which customers no longer own and operate their own information technology systems and instead lease computing services and software from cloud vendors using vast data centers.A spokesperson for Oracle says that Blackburn's claims are wrong, adding, "We are confident that all our cloud accounting is proper and correct."

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Uber Denies Access To Harvard Startup That Compared Ride-Hailing Prices

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 4:00pm
In April, a group of Harvard Business School students created an app called Urbanhail that allowed users to see side-by-side real-time pricing -- including surge rates -- for different ride-sharing apps including Uber. The app received a tremendous response from users. Shortly after that, the group received emails from several Uber representatives, asking them to remove Uber's data from the app citing terms and policies. "Uber's developer terms explicitly forbid using its data in any manner that is competitive to Uber," said Chris Messina, Lead at Uber Developer Experience. This has resulted in Urbanhail removing Uber's data from price-comparison-list. Urbanhail's Amber James didn't find Uber's stance on the matter. He said: They are absolutely a champion of competition when it's them against taxi companies or them against regulators. However, in its own ride-hailing niche of the transportation market, Uber's stance is ironically absolutely anti-competitive.

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Why UK's Government Digital Service Decided To Ditch Apps

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 3:19pm
In a world where there's an app for nearly every product and service, the UK Government Digital Service (GDS) still rely on its website to serve its customers. "But why?" You ask. Ben Terrett, former head of design at GDS outlined some of the reasons in a recent interview. He said the problem with mobiles apps is that they require a lot of commitment and resources. Apps are "very expensive to produce, and they're very very expensive to maintain because you have to keep updating them when there are software changes." He concludes that government services are much better off with responsive websites (websites whose layout and design adapt in accordance with the device it's being accessed on). "If you believe in the open internet that will always win," Terrett said, adding that responsive websites are also much cheaper to build and maintain. Another benefit of responsive websites is, he adds, that when you want to push an update, only one platform needs to get updated. From the report: Key to the GDS' approach is designing for user needs, not organizational requirements, Terrett says. "That is how good digital services designed and built these days. That is how everyone does it, whether that's Google or Facebook or British Airways or whoever." The problem is that public sector agencies tend not to design with citizens in mind. "Things are just designed to suit the very silos that the project sits in, and the user gets lost in there," Terrett adds.According to estimates, the move to go the responsive website way has saved them $8.2B in four years.

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Over 100M Accounts of Russia's Largest Social Network VK On Sale

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 2:40pm
Accounts of over 100 million users of VK.com, Russia's largest social network is being traded on the digital underground. A hacker who goes by the alias "Peace," listed the date for sale on a dark web marketplace. Vice's Motherboard publication reports that it received a dataset of over 100,544,934 records from Peace. From the report: According to Peace, the passwords were already in plain text when the site was hacked, and were not cracked at a later date. Peace is selling the data for 1 bitcoin, or around $570 at today's exchange rates. Out of 100 randomly selected email addresses from the larger dataset, 92 corresponded to active accounts on the site, Motherboard found. A Russian friend contacted by Motherboard confirmed that the password was correct.The report adds that the actual hack occurred between 2011 and 2013, and that Peace has data of another 70 million users that it isn't selling right now.

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Mark Zuckerberg's Twitter and Pinterest Accounts Hacked

Mon, 06/06/2016 - 1:59pm
An anonymous reader writes: Saudi Arabian hacking group OurMine yesterday claimed responsibility for the defacement of Mark Zuckerberg's Twitter and Pinterest accounts, claiming additionally that the Facebook CEO re-used the very low-security password 'dadada' across the accounts. The hack was facilitated by the 2012 data breach of unsalted LinkedIn passwords, offered for sale by hacker 'peace' last month at an equivalent price in Bitcoin of approximately $2,200.The aforementioned group said to have hacked Zuckerberg's Instagram account as well, a claim that has since been refuted by a Facebook spokesperson. Zuckerberg's Google+ account remains intact if you're wondering.

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