Today, the New York Times editorial board formally asked the U.S. government to consider a plea bargain for NSA leaker Edward Snowden, who is on the run from charges of espionage and theft. After tallying the instances of surveillance abuse that Snowden’s information uncovered, the Times editorial board states the NSA contractor had no choice but to do what he did, as official channels had failed: “In retrospect, Mr. Snowden was clearly justified in believing that the only way to blow the whistle on this kind of intelligence-gathering was to expose it to the public and let the resulting furor do the work his superiors would not.”
The Syrian Electronic Army strikes again — this time voicing an anti-surveillance message through Skype Read more »
Well, it looks like Winamp won’t die after all: AOL will sell the pioneering music service along with server program Shoutcast to Belgian radio aggregate service Radionomy, according to TechCrunch. The details of the deal are not final, but TechCrunch says that the specifics should surface tomorrow. It seems like Radionomy’s DIY audio philosophy jives well with both Winamp and ShoutCast, especially as both have supported many homegrown radio stations over the years. However, whether Winamp will exist as a standalone product remains to be seen — Radionomy might benefit deeply from integrating the service directly into its current offerings.
After getting acquired by Google in September, former high-flying app Bump has announced its shutdown at the end of the month. Read more »
On the last day of 2013, Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg announced that their website, AllThingsD, would be shut down in the wake of the September deal breakdown with owner Dow Jones. Then, at the stroke of midnight, the pair popped up with their newest venture, Re/code, to launch at midnight on January 2. Not much is known about the venture, or if it will differ much from ATD’s format. Speaking of ATD, its domain name now redirects to the Wall Street Journal’s new tech offering, fittingly titled WSJ.D, and is currently subject to the paper’s paywall.
4.6 million usernames and phone numbers have been scraped from Snapchat’s database and dumped online. Read more »
The massive Black Friday data breach that caused Target to keep call centers open on Christmas to support the 40 million customers affected might not be over just yet. CNNMoney has announced via Twitter that debit card PIN data was also stolen in the attack. This means that customers who purchased items in Target stores between November 27 and December 15 could have their entire bank accounts compromised, not just debit/credit transactions. It’s not the news Target customers want to hear, but it does show how deep this breach really goes.
Nintendo’s eShop merger has not gone as smooth as planned — resulting in Nintendo UK to announce a planned blackout of the service. Read more »
Do you know how much apps can drain on your phone? This website will help you find out. Read more »
Looking for something new to play this holiday? QuizUp and Ski Safari are good bets that are less than a dollar. Read more »
Disney has a new face among its board members: Twitter and Square founder Jack Dorsey Read more »
In an attempt to jump on the solar trend, many homeowners in Oahu plunked down an investment on rooftop photovoltaic systems — but the response was so overwhelming, Scientific American reported, that the local electric company couldn’t manage the scale. The solar grid by Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) was not built to withstand the level of solar energy surging through it, meaning that residences will have to foot the bill for an upgrade. Scaling solar is a complicated issue fraught with many costs — but how much will everyday citizens have to pay to make green energy accessible?
If you wonder how the Steam Controller works out of the box, check out this Youtube series with some helpful demos. Read more »
PKPKT utilizes iPhone technology to enable players to “steal” game money from each other. Read more »
Are you ready for bionic super-strength? Scientists have made a breakthrough in artificial muscles. Read more »
Can an algorithm successfully predict great stock moves? That’s the premise behind Honey Badger Hedge Fund a super-secret Twitter stock-picker that, its founders told Wired, was put together with a little economics know-how and some exploring with Python. So far, the 7 recommendations the algorithm has made have been profitable, producing a 9.38 percent return rate — not bad for something that was made during 12-week programming bootcamp Hack Reactor. Co-creators Andrew Delikat and Tae-Hwan Jo are taking advantage of their handiwork to fund their next startup venture.
In what Fortune described as an “uncommon move,” Square CEO Jack Dorsey has voluntarily given back 10 percent of his shares in Square back to the mobile payments company. Dorsey currently owns 30 percent of the company, so the shares add up to 3 percent of equity or as much as $150 million. The move greatly increases the pool of shares available in Square, and Fortune attributed the move to Dorsey’s interest in rewarding his company’s 700 employees. Dorsey’s stake remains at roughly $877 million.
On Friday, News Corp announced that it acquired social news agency and “open newsroom experience” Storyful for €18 million (approximately $25 million USD). According to the press release, Storyful will continue to act as an independent entity within News Corp, and will likely execute deeper partnerships with the news umbrella’s original programming — including WSJ Live and BallBall in Asia. It’s new territory for News Corp, which has made its money on traditional and broadcast news, but Storyful could help with the pesky task of verifying information from Twitter and other social media platforms — an increasing asset in the breaking news world.
2013 has been a banner year for freemium, and many “free to play” apps have hit the big time in popularity and revenue. Here’s why it might not happen again. Read more »
After Friday, longstanding music player Winamp will fade from existence, as AOL discontinues support, shuts down the website and erases any possibility of downloading the software. In honor of Winamp’s departure, Spotify has released Spotiamp, a lightweight music player with a strong resemblance to its forbear. Users must subscribe to Spotify Premium to use Spotiamp, but the program will play all playlists, search for music in the classic Winamp style, and play on speakers through Shoutcast. It’s no Winamp, but it might ease the sting for those who will lose support for their favorite music player.
Instagram released a blog post on Thursday detailing the results from its foray into advertising content, which rolled out on November 1, and it seems like the company is happy with the data. The company pulled research from the first four programs, with standout data coming from Levi’s and Ben & Jerry’s: the former reached 7.4 million people over nine days, and the latter reached 9.8 million people over eight days. The key metric for Instagram seems to be “Awareness,” as it boasts glowing ad recall increases for both brands. It’s early days, but the ads seem to be doing what Instagram wants them to do.
Maybe it’s not doing so bad after all: All Things D‘s Kara Swisher reports that Fousquare has closed a $35 million Series D round, led by DFJ Growth and the Capital Group’s SMALLCAP World Fund. Swisher says that the round does not significantly raise the previously estimated $600 million value of the company, but it’s definitely better than the $41 million in convertible debt it took earlier this year. Crowley told Swisher that the money “validates” Foursquare’s transformation into a “smart” passive location app, but it’s still early days — Foursquare still needs to perform before that will be true.
Finally, Nintendo of America CEO Reggie Fils-Aime says the company is considering bringing content to mobile. Read more »
The USPTO has published a new patent application from Apple that shows some advances to its Maps app. Read more »
Today, Facebook announced a follow-on offering of 70 million shares of its class A common stock, worth roughly $3.9 billion at the stock’s current price — though the full price is to be determined at the end of today. Facebook said the funds are for “general corporate purposes.” In addition to the new offering, Facebook said that it will be joining the S&P 500 on December 20. It’s a great time for the social network to introduce this offering, as stock shares jumped two percent when the company made its video ad announcement earlier this week.
Instapaper is free for iPhone users — but only until tomorrow. Read more »
Dolphin promises a stripped-down experience with its new “ephemeral” browsing app, Dolphin Zero. Read more »
Hulu had a big 2013, with big increases in revenue and viewership. Read more »
Real-time data public transport planner Moovit has closed a $28 million funding round, led by Sequoia Captial. Read more »
MOOCs have difficulties keeping students engaged in forum discussions, according to new study. Read more »
When Apple posted its year in review on Tuesday, it did something it has never done before: award an education app the top prize. Duolingo, the translation app that was recently updated with more gamified features, was named iPhone App of the Year — beating out VSCO Cam, Endless Alphabet, and other non-gaming apps for the top prize. A rep for the company indicates that this is the first education app that Apple has awarded with the honor, and that the 18-month-old app has more than 16 million users worldwide. The app is available for free on both iPhone and iPad.
Ingress, created by Google’s Niantic Labs, is hard to describe: the real-time, location-based mobile Massive Multiplayer Online (MMO) game also draws in features from the Alternate Reality Game (ARG) genre to keep users enthralled in a kind of global war, and its beta game culminated in a worldwide party that took place in both San Francisco and Buenos Aires. Now, with that chapter finished, Ingress has exited beta and is now available for free on Google Play. The app already has more than 1 million downloads and boasts players across the globe — just be prepared to lose some serious battery life.
Google’s year-end Zeitgeist showed that we searched for catastrophic events and celebrity deaths the most this year. Read more »
Facebook has announced a limited test of its new video ad system. Read more »
Rumors are rumbling after two Italian newspapers “confirmed” that Amazon is somewhere in the process of acquiring payments startup GoPago, according to the Wall Street Journal. GoPago’s CTO, Vincenzo di Nicola, told those newspapers that his startup has already been acquired, but he’s been mum on the issue since (as has Amazon). The “everything store” hasn’t made an overture into payments, dominated by Square and Paypal, in quite some time, so the quiet acquisition would be an interesting tell as to what the company will do next. But it’s best to wait until the giant speaks up.
Facebook’s latest feature helps non-profits and charities accept donations through the social network. Read more »
BlackBerry has announced the departure of more executives, leaving a long list of who has been jettisoned by the ailing company. Read more »
The 60 Minutes’ report on the NSA last night (available here) promised a hard-hitting look, but many called it a “puff piece,” according to a Storify of reactions from journalists built by Circa’s Anthony De Rosa. Of course, Glenn Greenwald chimed in, wondering why reporter John Miller didn’t ask about how Gen. Keith Alexander “routinely lied to Congress & FISA courts.” Miller said in a CBS piece that he “asked the hardest questions we could ask,” but his discrediting of Snowden as a “20-something-year-old high school dropout” doesn’t do well to assuage accusations of bending to the NSA’s will.
Pop icon Beyonce surprised the world on Friday when her self-titled fifth album dropped in the iTunes store without warning — complete with music videos for each track. Billboard reports that the so-called “visual album” is a major success, selling more than 550,000 copies in three days and landing the diva at the top of the Billboard 200. Bey isn’t the first artist to experiment with new album formats — her husband Jay-Z released his latest album, Magna Carta Holy Grail, for free to Samsung owners earlier this year — but this record’s creative “visual” nature may be the key to digital album success.
Netflix has the research to back up how much users really love binge-watching. Read more »