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Facebook Leads an Effort to Lower Barriers to Internet Access

MENLO PARK, Calif. — About one of every seven people in the world uses Facebook. Now, Mark Zuckerberg, its co-founder and chief executive, wants to make a play for the rest — including the four billion or so who lack Internet access.

On Wednesday, Facebook plans to announce an effort aimed at drastically cutting the cost of delivering basic Internet services on mobile phones, particularly in developing countries, where Facebook and other tech companies need to find new users. Half a dozen of the world’s tech giants, including Samsung, Nokia, Qualcomm and Ericsson, have agreed to work with the company as partners on the initiative, which they call Internet.org. Read the rest of this entry

Investigation finds fake Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter followers

Investigation finds fake Facebook ‘likes’ and Twitter followers could be misleading consumers

How much do you like courgettes? According to one Facebook page devoted to them, hundreds of people find them delightful enough to click the “like” button — even with dozens of other pages about courgettes to choose from.

There’s just one problem: the liking was fake, done by a team of low-paid workers in Dhaka, Bangladesh, whose boss demanded just $15 per thousand “likes” at his “click farm”. Workers punching the keys might be on a three-shift system, and be paid as little as $120 a year.

The ease with which a humble vegetable could win approval calls into question the basis on which many modern companies measure success online — through Facebook likes, YouTube video views and Twitter followers. Read the rest of this entry

YouTube’s Founders Challenge Vine and Instagram With New Video App

After months of teasing, the wait is over: Chad Hurley and Steve Chen, who brought us the video-sharing site YouTube, are taking the wraps off their newest project, a video creation app called MixBit.

Versions for Apple mobile devices and the Web will be going live on Thursday, and an Android version is due in several weeks.

On the surface, MixBit resembles two other leading video apps, Twitter’s Vine and Facebook’s Instagram. As with those apps, users press and hold the screen of their smartphone to record video. Instagram users can capture up to 15 seconds of video, a bit longer than Vine’s six-second maximum. MixBit allows 16 seconds. Read the rest of this entry

Two Providers of Secure E-Mail Shut Down

Two major secure e-mail service providers on Thursday took the extraordinary step of shutting down service.

A Texas-based company called Lavabit, which was reportedly used by Edward J. Snowden, announced its suspension Thursday afternoon, citing concerns about secret government court orders.

By evening, Silent Circle, a Maryland-based firm that counts heads of state among its customers, said it was following Lavabit’s lead and shutting its e-mail service as a protective measure.

Taken together, the closures signal that e-mails, even if they are encrypted, can be accessed by government authorities and that the only way to prevent turning over the data is to obliterate the servers that the data sits on. Read the rest of this entry

Chrome exposes user passwords in plain-text without additional verification

If you’ve enabled Google Chrome’s ‘Offer to save passwords I enter on the web’ feature and have saved some or all of your passwords through it, you should remember to sign-out of your Google account in Chrome, especially if you use the browser on a shared computer.

Google’s popular Web browser allows you to save your passwords and manage them through a menu in the browser’s Settings page. When you click on ‘Manage saved passwords’ you get a list of your Saved passwords as well as a list of websites where you have instructed the browser to ‘never save’. Interestingly, when you click on one of your saved passwords, Google gives you the option to see the password in plain text by clicking on the ‘Show’ button which is placed along with the listing. It doesn’t ask for a confirmation or any additional verification by, say, prompting for your Google account’s password. Read the rest of this entry

Facebook Adjusts Its News Feed to Bump Up Older Posts

The Facebook news feed is getting slightly less mysterious — and perhaps more relevant, too.

In a blog post on Tuesday, the company explained some of the mysteries of the news feed, which is the flow of status updates and other posts on a user’s home page or screen.

On any given visit to Facebook, the average user could potentially see about 1,500 items, the company said, from wedding photos posted by a close friend to a mundane notice that an acquaintance is now friends with someone else. Read the rest of this entry

Tech Magnates Bet on Booker and His Future

The conference room in the Mountain View, Calif., headquarters ofLinkedIn was packed with the stars of Silicon Valley. Top executives of Facebook, Google and Twitter gathered around a table; the billionaire Sean Parker looked on from a back row. The guest of honor: Cory A. Booker, the mayor of Newark.

The stated purpose of the gathering was to give Mr. Booker, already a Twitter fanatic, a seminar on social-networking technologies. But hanging in the air was an electrifying sense of being in the presence of an ascendant politician they believed understood the potential of the new digital world they were shaping. Read the rest of this entry

Michael Dell Salvages Bid for His Company

When Michael S. Dell’s takeover bid for the company he founded appeared to be in peril on Wednesday, he sprang into action to try to save it.

After a special board committee rebuffed his request to change the voting rules for his nearly $25 billion offer, Mr. Dell held talks with his main partner in the deal, Egon Durban of the investment firm Silver Lake Partners, about a potential compromise, a person briefed on the matter said. The men, who were working from their homes in Hawaii, reached out to the special committee late Wednesday.

By Thursday evening, the two sides began completing a revised agreement and announced new terms Friday morning, keeping the takeover effort alive for at least another month.

Under the terms of the new offer, Mr. Dell and Silver Lake will pay $13.75 a share plus a special dividend of 13 cents a share. Shareholders would still receive a regularly scheduled third-quarter dividend of 8 cents a share.

Mr. Dell is effectively financing the special dividend by taking a bigger discount on the nearly 16 percent stake that he is contributing toward the buyout, people briefed on the matter said. He is now valuing his shares at a little more than $12.50 each, down from $13.36. Read the rest of this entry

Apps that know what you want, before you do

In Hollywood, there are umbrella holders. Outside corner offices, there are people who know exactly how much cream to pour in the boss’s coffee. And then there is Silicon Valley, where mind-reading personal assistants come in the form of a cellphone app.

A range of start-ups and big companies like Google are working on what is known as predictive search — new tools that act as robotic personal assistants, anticipating what you need before you ask for it. Glance at your phone in the morning, for instance, and see an alert that you need to leave early for your next meeting because of traffic, even though you never told your phone you had a meeting, or where it was. Read the rest of this entry

10 Major Advantages of HTML5

Basically HTML5 has it’s many new syntactical features, which include the <video>, <audio>, and <canvas> elements, as well as the integration of SVG content. Due to these new elements, it will be very easy to integrate multimedia and graphical content to web without using flash and third party plugins. There are also another new elements like <section>, <article>, <header> and <nav> which enrich the semantic value of the document. Other major advantages of HTML5 are described below. Read the rest of this entry

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