Posts Tagged ‘Internet’


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Groupon Yanks Ads from Trump’s Apprentice Website

Site says: ‘It’s the same reason we don’t run deals on guns or abortion.’

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How controversial has Donald Trump become now that he’s brought his attention-grabbing ways into (what’s become of) the nation’s political debate?
Well, for starters, he’s being mentioned by quasi corporate sponsors in the same breath as guns and abortion.
That’s what happened Thursday, when deal-a-day website Groupon told users that it will no longer allow its advertisements to appear on the web page of Trump’s NBC television show The Apprentice.
“It’s the same reason we don’t run deals on guns or abortion … this isn’t a political statement, it’s avoiding intentionally upsetting a segment of our customers,” the company said on its blog.
Groupon stressed that, contrary to Internet rumors, it was never an actual sponsor of the show or its website.
“We invest heavily in online advertising through networks that place ads on a rolling basis, meaning that we know one will appear on NBC.com but not specifically which page,” the company said.
AdWeek, however, notes that despite the statement, the company is still running a deal for one of Trump’s Atlantic City casinos.
Meanwhile, CNET points out that Groupon is no stranger to bad press:
[I]ts high-profile Super Bowl spot was the first in a campaign of TV ads that mocked calls for charitable donations, and after many people deemed the ads tasteless and insensitive, the company scrapped the campaign.

Here’s Groupon’s full statement:
You know when you hear some juicy gossip about Sarah dating Peter, and it spreads around the office, and suddenly Sarah’s secretly married to Peter who’s cheating on his taxes so that he can pay for magician school? That happened to us today.
Someone online began a petition to boycott Groupon because they believed we were a sponsor of the Apprentice, a show that is in the middle of some political criticism at the moment.
Then, just like that, it was announced we were pulling our sponsorship and boycotting the Apprentice and NBC. Pulling a fake sponsorship that didn’t exist….
Here’s the thing: Groupon has never been a sponsor of The Apprentice on TV or on the web. We invest heavily in online advertising through networks that place ads on a rolling basis, meaning that we know one will appear on NBC.com but not specifically which page. We know that some advertising appeared on the Apprentice home page a few weeks ago.
Enough consumers have contacted us to warrant ensuring that we don’t place ads on the Apprentice homepage in the future. It’s the same reason we don’t run deals on guns or abortion…this isn’t a political statement, it’s avoiding intentionally upsetting a segment of our customers.
Thanks for allowing us to clear this up. Maybe we can make this blog post go viral, too.
Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images.

Groupon vs. Trump: Site yanks ads from Apprentice website

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Stolen Camera Finder Finds Stolen Cameras

Drag a photo onto the box and it will search for other pictures with your camera’s serial number
If you lose your phone or your computer, there’s a fair chance you’ll get it back if you’re using some kind of tracking software. As we have seen before, Apple’s Find my iPhone service has rescued more than one lost phone. But what about your other gadgets?
If your camera is stolen, you now have at least a chance of finding it thanks to the Stolen Camera Finder by Matt Burns. It works by searching the web for photos bearing the serial number of your camera. This number is embedded in the EXIF data of every photograph you take.
Using the tool is easy. Just visit the site and drag a photo from your camera onto the waiting box. The tool searches its database for your camera and if it finds it, you can then go see the pictures. This may — hopefully — give you some clues as to where it is now. You’ll need to use a JPG image (RAW doesn’t work) and some cameras don’t write their serial number into the metadata.
The data comes from Flickr, and also from data crawled from the web. Matt has also written a browser extension for Google Chrome which will check the serial number of photos on every page you visit and add it to the database.
I tried the tool with a photo from my camera, and nothing showed up. I have a ton of photos online, on both on Flickr and here at Wired.com, so I was expecting something. I guess that the service will increase in value as time passes and the database grows. Still, the service is free, and if nothing else it lets you view a whole lot of information about your photos in the drop-down list.
Stolen Camera Finder [Stolen Camera Finder via Photography Bay]
See Also:

Stolen Camera Finder Finds Stolen Cameras | Gadget Lab | Wired.com

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Google plans to tap Brazil’s fertile market

FT.com / Technology – By Samantha Pearson in São Paulo
Published: April 22 2011 23:02 | Last updated: April 22 2011 23:02

Google expects revenue from its Brazilian operations to surge 80 per cent this year as the government pours huge amounts of investment into the sector, making the country one of the company’s most promising growth markets.
Giving Brazil’s poor more access to the internet and improving connection speeds is a priority of the country’s new president, Dilma Rousseff, who sees the web as the best way to accelerate social and economic development.

Latin America accounted for 2-3 per cent of Google’s $29.3bn revenue last year, with analysts estimating that Brazil brought in as much as $500m.
As more Brazilians move into the middle classes and buy their first computer, internet usage has soared.
But even as the economy slows this year, private and public investment under the country’s National Broadband Plan should keep up the momentum of growth in the sector.
“Brazil has a very low broadband penetration and out of 200m or more mobile phones, only about 12m to 14m are smart phones. Most are pre-paid,” Mr Coelho said. “There is a big eco-system to be developed here.”
This week, Paulo Bernardo, the communications minister, said Brazil’s government could spend up to R$1bn (US$640m) a year until 2014 to improve internet services, making the country an attractive destination for Google at a time when it is struggling with censorship issues in other emerging markets such as China and Russia.
Google Brazil plans to increase its workforce by 50 per cent this year from the current 350, said Mr Coelho, who joined the company last month after almost a decade at AT&T and stints at Citi and Gillette.
As well as growth in advertising via YouTube and the rising popularity of the Android mobile phone platform, Mr Coelho is optimistic about Orkut, Google’s social networking site and one of Facebook’s big competitors. Facebook overtook Orkut in India last year and has fast been gaining popularity among young Brazilians, but Orkut still has about four times as many users in Brazil.
Additional reporting by Richard Waters in San Francisco

FT.com / Technology – Google plans to tap Brazil’s fertile market

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Scarred by the Dot-Com Bust, Reinvented for Social Media

Thomas WeiselNoah Berger/Bloomberg NewsBeen there: Thomas Weisel scouted technology start-ups in the 1990s and is doing so again.
SAN FRANCISCO — Thomas Weisel doesn’t have much personal experience with social media. He has never opened a Facebook or Twitter account, and he has resisted buying an iPhone.
But Mr. Weisel knows a lot about overheated markets. His firm, Thomas Weisel Partners Group, was a dominant force in taking technology companies public during the dot-com boom and was hobbled when that bubble burst in 2000.
Today, Mr. Weisel, 70, is assessing the industry landscape from his corner office at the Stifel Financial Corporation, the brokerage firm that bought his struggling company in April 2010. Although the current frenzy raises concerns, he says he thinks it is unfair to compare Internet stocks during the late 1990s to social media companies now.
“In a sentence, the big difference is these companies, in many cases, are enormously profitable out of the gate,” he said.
Mr. Weisel, who as co-chairman of Stifel’s board is still out hustling banking business, is among the many heavyweights from the dot-com days who are reinventing themselves in the era of social media.
Mary Meeker, the research analyst who was called the Queen of the Internet, recently joined theventure capital giant Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers. Frank Quattrone, the Wall Street investment banker who helped take Amazon.com public in 1997, now has his own boutique advisory group working with technology start-ups and stalwarts, including National Semiconductor on its recent deal with Texas Instruments. Sandy Robertson, previously a founder of Robertson Stephens, a technology banking firm, joined Francisco Partners, a private equity shop that focuses on technology.
Lise Buyer, a former Credit Suisse First Boston analyst who currently advises companies on potential public offerings at her firm, Class V Group, jokes that she is “running into everyone” she knew from the go-go period of the late 1990s.
“Social media is a new frontier,” Mr. Robertson said.These veterans offer a unique perspective, having survived the previous technology craze and now playing a role in the current one.
Mr. Weisel, a Rochester, Minn., native who was once a competitive speed skater, rose to fame during the technology boom. In the early 1990s, he ran Montgomery Securities, one of the boutique banks known as the Four Horsemen that dominated technology underwriting during the decade. During his tenure, Mr. Weisel took Yahoo public and helped orchestrate StrataCom’s sale to Cisco for $4.7 billion, at the time the largest technology acquisition that year.
But like many at the time, Mr. Weisel was swept up in the frenzy. In an interview in January 2000, he declared the tech boom was “the Super Bowl of all Super Bowls.” Just a couple months later, the bubble burst — a crushing blow to his firm.After NationsBank bought Montgomery in 1997, he struck out on his own, starting Thomas Weisel Partners. He quickly landed a number of big assignments, including advising Yahoo on its acquisition of GeoCities.
In the aftermath, Mr. Weisel tried to diversify his firm away from technology, which accounted for more than 80 percent of revenue. He expanded into health care and consumer products. To raise capital, he took Thomas Weisel public in 2006.
But the firm never really recovered from the dot-com bust, and in 2010, it was sold to Stifel Financial.
His experience over the last decade has influenced his view. While he remains bullish on technology broadly, he says social media stocks are far from a slam dunk.
“They have great potential, but they have to continue to produce,” Mr. Weisel said.
After years of managing, Mr. Weisel is happy to play the role of sage counsel. He regularly meets with technology entrepreneurs and executives, to help Stifel Financial land deals.
The notable difference this time is the underlying business models of many companies, he says. Technology costs are minimal, which allows social networking sites to be profitable almost immediately. During the dot-com boom, companies burned through cash and took years to turn a profit — if they did at all.
“For the most part, these are real companies with real revenue and are generating real cash flow,” he said.
Even so, Mr. Weisel says it is critical for companies like Groupon, which is said to be valued at roughly $25 billion, to maintain their leadership position.
“First-mover advantage is key,” Mr. Weisel said. “If they don’t continue to produce, someone next door will come in and build a better mouse trap.”
He points to MySpace as a cautionary tale. In 2006, it was the top social networking site, with users topping 50 million that year, according to the research firm comScore. But it has steadily ceded ground since then to Facebook, which claims 150.7 million users today versus 37.7 million for MySpace. Its current owner, the News Corporation, recently put MySpace on the auction block.
Mr. Weisel is also watching valuations. Companies like Facebook, which is worth an estimated $50 billion, may not be able to justify such numbers unless their strategies evolve and they find new sources of profit.
“Right now, these business models are typically brand new and not fully vetted,” Mr. Weisel said. “They have to figure how to continue to monetize the traffic they are getting or valuations will fall off.”

The Barons of Two Booms

Other major Wall Street players from the dot-com bubble have reinvented themselves.
Sandy Robertson
Sandy Robertson
THEN: A founder of the boutique bank Robertson Stephens, he proclaimed in 1999 that tech companies were the most expensive stocks ever.
NOW: While he wonders if sites like Facebook are the modern equivalent of the defunct citizens’ band radio, Mr. Robertson, an executive at the private equity firm Francisco Partners and a director at the software company Salesforce.com, sees great potential.
Mary Meeker
Mary Meeker
THEN: As an analyst for the investment bank Morgan Stanley, Ms. Meeker was referred to as the Queen of the Internet for her bullish investment calls on technology companies like Amazon.com and eBay.
NOW: Ms. Meeker left her perch at Morgan Stanley in late 2010 to join Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, the venture capital firm based in San Francisco. An investor in the start-ups Groupon and Zynga, the firm recently introduced a $250 million social media fund.
Henry Blodget
Henry Blodget
THEN: Once a high-flying technology analyst at Merrill Lynch whose stock recommendations often moved the market, Mr. Blodget was accused by regulators of issuing positive ratings on stocks in public while deriding them in private e-mails. As part of a settlement, he was barred from the securities industry.
NOW: Mr. Blodget is currently the editor and chief executive of The Business Insider, a gossipy news site that covers Wall Street. He has more than 28,000 followers on Twitter.

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New Hacking Tools Pose Bigger Threats to Wi-Fi Users

 

February 16, 2011

You may think the only people capable of snooping on your Internet activity are government intelligence agents or possibly a talented teenage hacker holed up in his parents’ basement. But some simple software lets just about anyone sitting next to you at your local coffee shop watch you browse the Web and even assume your identity online.
“Like it or not, we are now living in a cyberpunk novel,” said Darren Kitchen, a systems administrator for an aerospace company in Richmond, Calif., and the host of Hak5, a video podcast about computer hacking and security. “When people find out how trivial and easy it is to see and even modify what you do online, they are shocked.”
Until recently, only determined and knowledgeable hackers with fancy tools and lots of time on their hands could spy while you used your laptop or smartphone at Wi-Fi hot spots. But a free program called Firesheep, released in October, has made it simple to see what other users of an unsecured Wi-Fi network are doing and then log on as them at the sites they visited.
Without issuing any warnings of the possible threat, Web site administrators have since been scrambling to provide added protections.
“I released Firesheep to show that a core and widespread issue in Web site security is being ignored,” said Eric Butler, a freelance software developer in Seattle who created the program. “It points out the lack of end-to-end encryption.”
What he means is that while the password you initially enter on Web sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Amazon, eBay and The New York Times is encrypted, the Web browser’s cookie, a bit of code that that identifies your computer, your settings on the site or other private information, is often not encrypted. Firesheep grabs that cookie, allowing nosy or malicious users to, in essence, be you on the site and have full access to your account.
More than a million people have downloaded the program in the last three months (including this reporter, who is not exactly a computer genius). And it is easy to use.
The only sites that are safe from snoopers are those that employ the cryptographic protocol transport layer security or its predecessor, secure sockets layer, throughout your session. PayPal and many banks do this, but a startling number of sites that people trust to safeguard their privacy do not. You know you are shielded from prying eyes if a little lock appears in the corner of your browser or the Web address starts with “https” rather than “http.”
“The usual reason Web sites give for not encrypting all communication is that it will slow down the site and would be a huge engineering expense,” said Chris Palmer, technology director at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, an electronic rights advocacy group based in San Francisco. “Yes, there are operational hurdles, but they are solvable.”
Indeed, Gmail made end-to-end encryption its default mode in January 2010. Facebook began to offer the same protection as an opt-in security feature last month, though it is so far available only to a small percentage of users and has limitations. For example, it doesn’t work with many third-party applications.
“It’s worth noting that Facebook took this step, but it’s too early to congratulate them,” said Mr. Butler, who is frustrated that “https” is not the site’s default setting. “Most people aren’t going to know about it or won’t think it’s important or won’t want to use it when they find out that it disables major applications.”
Joe Sullivan, chief security officer at Facebook, said the company was engaged in a “deliberative rollout process,” to access and address any unforeseen difficulties. “We hope to have it available for all users in the next several weeks,” he said, adding that the company was also working to address problems with third-party applications and to make “https” the default setting.
Many Web sites offer some support for encryption via “https,” but they make it difficult to use. To address these problems, the Electronic Frontier Foundation in collaboration with the Tor Project, another group concerned with Internet privacy, released in June an add-on to the browser Firefox, called Https Everywhere. The extension, which can be downloaded at eff.org/https-everywhere, makes “https” the stubbornly unchangeable default on all sites that support it.
Since not all Web sites have “https” capability, Bill Pennington, chief strategy officer with the Web site risk management firm WhiteHat Security in Santa Clara, Calif., said: “I tell people that if you’re doing things with sensitive data, don’t do it at a Wi-Fi hot spot. Do it at home.”
But home wireless networks may not be all that safe either, because of free and widely available Wi-Fi cracking programs like Gerix WiFi Cracker, Aircrack-ng and Wifite. The programs work by faking legitimate user activity to collect a series of so-called weak keys or clues to the password. The process is wholly automated, said Mr. Kitchen at Hak5, allowing even techno-ignoramuses to recover a wireless router’s password in a matter of seconds. “I’ve yet to find a WEP-protected network not susceptible to this kind of attack,” Mr. Kitchen said.
A WEP-encrypted password (for wired equivalent privacy) is not as strong as a WPA (or Wi-Fi protected access) password, so it’s best to use a WPA password instead. Even so, hackers can use the same free software programs to get on WPA password-protected networks as well. It just takes much longer (think weeks) and more computer expertise.
Using such programs along with high-powered Wi-Fi antennas that cost less than $90, hackers can pull in signals from home networks two to three miles away. There are also some computerized cracking devices with built-in antennas on the market, like WifiRobin ($156). But experts said they were not as fast or effective as the latest free cracking programs, because the devices worked only on WEP-protected networks.
To protect yourself, changing the Service Set Identifier or SSID of your wireless network from the default name of your router (like Linksys or Netgear) to something less predictable helps, as does choosing a lengthy and complicated alphanumeric password.
Setting up a virtual private network, or V.P.N., which encrypts all communications you transmit wirelessly whether on your home network or at a hot spot, is even more secure. The data looks like gibberish to a snooper as it travels from your computer to a secure server before it is blasted onto the Internet.
Popular V.P.N. providers include VyperVPN, HotSpotVPN and LogMeIn Hamachi. Some are free; others are as much as $18 a month, depending on how much data is encrypted. Free versions tend to encrypt only Web activity and not e-mail exchanges.
However, Mr. Palmer at the Electronic Frontier Foundation blames poorly designed Web sites, not vulnerable Wi-Fi connections, for security lapses. “Many popular sites were not designed for security from the beginning, and now we are suffering the consequences,” he said. “People need to demand ‘https’ so Web sites will do the painful integration work that needs to be done.”

New Hacking Tools Pose Bigger Threats to Wi-Fi Users – NYTimes.com: “

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By KATE MURPHY
Published: February 16, 2011

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Online-music service Pandora Media today filed its much anticipated IPO, which gives us our first public glimpse at the company’s business plans and successes.
First, the good news.
Pandora’s revenue has sharply ramped up in the last couple of years. Revenue shot up from $19.3 million in the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2009, to $55.2 million for the next fiscal year. For the nine months ended Oct. 31, Pandora posted another huge revenue jump to $90.1 million. More than 85% of Pandora’s revenue comes from advertising, with the bulk of the rest from subscriptions that Pandora sells for ad-free streaming music.

Bloomberg News
Pandora founder Tim Westergren
But wow. Content acquisition — what Pandora pays for the rights to songs — is costing them a fortune. That’s the (very) bad news.
Those costs were $45.4 million for the latest nine month period — equal to half of Pandora’s revenue. The more people listen to Pandora and the more money Pandora makes, the more those costs will grow, putting pressure on the company to sell a boat load more ads than it does now. Largely because of the content acquisition costs, Pandora mostly has been unprofitable.
That’s not totally a surprise, of course. The music royalty fees long have been a question mark about Pandora’s business. Pandora fought hard several years ago to rework the music industry’s royalty fee structure. But now we know just how much those royalties are denting Pandora. On a percentage basis, those costs are down from about 80% of revenue in the fiscal year ended Jan. 31, 2009. But still: How sustainable is Pandora’s business if it has to pay out half or more of its revenue just for the rights to music?
Pandora doesn’t expect the problem to abate soon. The company said it expects it revenue growth rate will slow, because of competition and the “maturation of our business.” And here’s what the company said in its IPO filing about its profits (or lack thereof):
“[A]s our number of listener hours increases, the royalties we pay for content acquisition also increase. We have not in the past generated, and may not in the future generate, sufficient revenue from the sale of advertising and subscriptions to offset such royalty expenses. If we cannot successfully earn revenue at a rate that exceeds the operational costs associated with increased listener hours, we may not be able to achieve or sustain profitability. In addition, we expect to invest heavily in our operations to support anticipated future growth and public company reporting and compliance obligations. As a result of these factors, we expect to continue to incur operating losses on an annual basis through at least the end of fiscal 2012.”

Pandora Files for IPO, But Can It Ever Make Money? – Deal Journal – WSJ


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Google Adds Two-step Verification To All Accounts | ITProPortal.com

Google has added additional security features to all Google Accounts, allowing users to undergo a two-step verification process in order to access their accounts.

The two step verification process was earlier set-up by Google as an additional security option to Google Apps users, but now the functionality is being offered to all Google Account holders.

When a user types in a password for their Google Account, the user will be redirected to a page where an additional code – which is sent directly to a user’s registered mobile – will be required before they can access their account.

Google product manager Nishit Shah wrote in a blog post: “Two-step verification requires two independent factors for authentication, much like you might see on your banking Web site: your password, plus a code obtained using your phone.”

To activate the two step authentication feature, users have to click on the ‘Using 2-step verification’ link under their account settings menu. Google said that the activation process could take up to 15 minutes to finish.

Read more: http://www.itproportal.com/2011/02/11/google-adds-two-step-verification-all-accounts/#ixzz1DgwJFDro


Google Adds Two-step Verification To All Accounts | ITProPortal.com





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