Microsoft co-founder, philanthropist Paul Allen dies at 65

He died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, his company Vulcan Inc. announced.

Gates said he was heartbroken about the loss of one of his "oldest and dearest friends."

"Personal computing would not have existed without him," Gates said in a statement.

"But Paul wasn't content with starting one company. He channeled his intellect and compassion into a second act focused on improving people's lives and strengthening communities in Seattle and around the world. He was fond of saying, 'If it has the potential to do good, then we should do it,'" Gates wrote.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella called Allen's contributions to the company, community and industry "indispensable."

Allen, an avid sports fan, owned the Portland Trail Blazers and Seattle Seahawks.

"Millions of people were touched by his generosity, his persistence in pursuit of a better world, and his drive to accomplish as much as he could with the time and resources at his disposal," Vulcan CEO Bill Hilf said in a statement.

Allen was on the list of America's wealthiest people who pledged to give away the bulk of their fortunes to charity. "Those fortunate to achieve great wealth should put it to work for the good of humanity," he said.

Allen and Gates met while attending a private school in north Seattle. The two friends would later drop out of college to pursue the future they envisioned: A world with a computer in every home.

Gates so strongly believed it that he left Harvard University in his junior year to devote himself full-time to his and Allen's startup, originally called Micro-Soft. Allen spent two years at Washington State University before dropping out as well.

They founded the company in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and their first product was a computer language for the Altair hobby-kit personal computer, giving hobbyists a basic way to program and operate the machine.

After Gates and Allen found some success selling their programming language, MS-Basic, the Seattle natives moved their business in 1979 to Bellevue, Washington, not far from its eventual home in Redmond.

Microsoft's big break came in 1980, when IBM Corp. decided to move into personal computers and asked Microsoft to provide the operating system.

Gates and Allen didn't invent the operating system. To meet IBM's needs, they spent $50,000 to buy one known as QDOS from another programmer, Tim Paterson. Eventually the product refined by Microsoft — and renamed DOS, for Disk Operating System — became the core of IBM PCs and their clones, catapulting Microsoft into its dominant position in the PC industry.

The first versions of two classic Microsoft products, Microsoft Word and the Windows operating system, were released in 1983. By 1991, Microsoft's operating systems were used by 93 percent of the world's personal computers.

The Windows operating system is now used on most of the world's desktop computers, and Word is the cornerstone of the company's prevalent Office products.

Gates and Allen became billionaires when Microsoft was thrust onto the throne of technology.

With his sister Jody Allen in 1986, Paul Allen founded Vulcan, the investment firm that oversees his business and philanthropic efforts. He founded the Allen Institute for Brain Science and the aerospace firm Stratolaunch, which has built a colossal airplane designed to launch satellites into orbit. He has also backed research into nuclear-fusion power.

Allen also funded maverick aerospace designer Burt Rutan's SpaceShipOne, which in 2004 became the first privately developed manned spacecraft to reach space.

The SpaceShipOne technology was licensed by Sir Richard Branson for Virgin Galactic, which is testing a successor design to carry tourists on brief hops into lower regions of space.

Branson tweeted Monday: "So sad to hear about the passing of Paul Allen. Among many other things he was a pioneer of commercial space travel. We shared a belief that by exploring space in new ways we can improve life on Earth."

When Allen released his 2011 memoir, "Idea Man," he allowed 60 Minutes inside his home on Lake Washington, across the water from Seattle, revealing collections that included the guitar Jimi Hendrix played at Woodstock to vintage war planes and a 300-foot yacht with its own submarine.

Allen served as Microsoft's executive vice president of research and new product development until 1983, when he resigned after being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma.

"To be 30 years old and have that kind of shock — to face your mortality — really makes you feel like you should do some of the things that you haven't done yet," Allen said in a 2000 book, "Inside Out: Microsoft in Our Own Words."

Two weeks ago, Allen announced that the non-Hodgkin's lymphoma that he was treated for in 2009 had returned and he planned to fight it aggressively.

"My brother was a remarkable individual on every level," his sister Jody Allen said in a statement. "Paul's family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern," she added.

His influence is firmly imprinted on the cultural landscape of Seattle and the Pacific Northwest, from the bright metallic Museum of Pop Culture designed by architect Frank Gehry to the computer science center at the University of Washington that bears his name.

In 1988 at 35, he bought the Portland Trail Blazers professional basketball team. He told The Associated Press that "for a true fan of the game, this is a dream come true."

He also was a part owner of the Seattle Sounders FC, a major league soccer team, and bought the Seattle Seahawks. Allen could sometimes be seen at games or chatting in the locker room with players.


October 16, 2018

Sources: ABC News

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  • Get Better TV Sound (Without a Lot of Wires)

    Get Better TV Sound (Without a Lot of Wires)

    se simple tips and gear upgrades can give you great sound without a lot of work.</p><p>The latest TVs pack better image quality than ever before into impossibly thin bodies, but their designs leave little room for decent built-in speakers. Forget room-rumbling explosions — making out basic dialogue can be difficult on all but the highest-volume settings for many TVs. </p><p>A soundbar is the easiest way to upgrade the sound from your TV. Installation is as simple as plugging in a single cable (in addition to the power cord). Once it’s connected, any sound that would have come out of the TV’s tinny speakers routes through the soundbar’s superior speaker instead. A single bar of speakers and a subwoofer can’t match the immersive sound of a full surround-sound system with separate speakers wired into every corner of the room, but the ease of installation is worth the trade-off.</p><p>Alternatively, many recent TVs also have built-in Bluetooth support that lets you link any Bluetooth headphones to them with no additional equipment. You’ll probably need to consult your TV manual, however, since this option can be hidden under mystifying menu layers. </p><p>For the absolute best TV sound, you need an AV receiver (essentially an amplifier with the ability to coordinate multiple speakers at once) and separate surround-sound speakers. This means a significant investment, in both money and time to install them, so unless you’re dead set on theater-quality sound, it’s probably not worth the cost or the effort. </p><p>If you’ve wall-mounted your TV, for example, it might have a setting that adjusts the audio to sound better in that configuration. Some models also offer a “dialogue enhancement” setting (it could go by another name, like “news” or “clear voice”), which makes it easier to hear what actors are saying. Or you may see an option to turn on “dynamic compression,” which makes all sounds more similar in volume so you don’t get jarring highs and unintelligible lows. </p><p>Your TV still won’t sound as good as it would with a soundbar or separate speakers, but these tricks are free — and you can do them in five minutes, before settling in to watch tonight’s shows.</p>

    1 November 11, 2018
  • Alibaba Had Another Big Singles Day. The Party May Not Last.

    Alibaba Had Another Big Singles Day. The Party May Not Last.

    and weeks of advertising and promotions before it, the Alibaba Group announced that its sales hit another titanic high on Singles Day, the Nov. 11 shopping festival that the Chinese e-commerce behemoth cooked up a decade ago.</p><p>This time, as China’s vast economy slows, the party was held with icebergs in sight from the deck.</p><p>But all around China, gloom and uncertainty are the word.</p><p>Meanwhile, some young Chinese shoppers seem less enthused this year about celebrating manic consumerism.</p><p>Yang Sun, a 26-year-old from the northern city of Xi’an, said that the Singles Day discounts were no longer good enough to persuade her to wait all year to buy the things she wanted. Wang Xin, 24, an engineer in Shanghai, said he had rediscovered the joys of shopping offline.</p><p>“Singles Day just doesn’t hold that much appeal for me,” Mr. Wang said.</p><p>Asked about the current mood among Chinese consumers, Joseph C. Tsai, Alibaba’s executive vice chairman, told reporters on Sunday that Alibaba should be understood in the context of the epochal rise of China’s middle class.</p><p>“That trend is not going to stop, trade war or no trade war,” he said. “Any kind of short-term economic effects, we believe, will be cyclical.”</p><p>Alibaba is not like Amazon in that it is not a retailer. It merely provides the digital shelves and aisles for other merchants to sell their goods. But in its relentless ambition, Alibaba may be Amazon’s only global equal. Both companies want to fulfill their customers’ every desire and need.</p><p>The business case for all this empire-building, Alibaba says, is that the company’s lakes of commercial data give it a leg up in anything that requires understanding customers or merchants.</p><p>But Wall Street is still waiting for results, and has grown skeptical in the meantime of the costs of expanding into new areas. Alibaba’s shares have lost nearly one-third their value since June.</p><p>Singles Day 2018 showed that Alibaba remains, if nothing else, China’s king of hype. During the broadcast event, the M.C.s periodically encouraged people watching at home to open up their phones and check out the great deals. As acrobats with Cirque du Soleil twirled in midair, the logo of Kukahome, a Chinese furniture maker, shone brightly behind them.</p><p>At one point, the performer Liu Wei rapped out the specs of a new model of Skoda sport utility vehicle.</p><p>Anna Lin, a 25-year-old who works in finance in Shanghai, said she was feeling more lukewarm about the whole thing than in years past. Singles Day is now just one of many big shopping festivals each year, she said.</p><p>Plus, Ms. Lin said, the Singles Day promotions have become increasingly baroque. This year, there were coupons for specific items and brands, coupons that were available only at certain times of day, and coupons that appeared randomly and could be grabbed only by playing a game. Gathering friends into a team could help you collect even more coupons.</p><p>“That’s too much work,” Ms. Lin said. “It also isn’t worth it when you realize that after you’ve done all that, all you’ve got is 10 to 15 percent off, or even less.”</p><p>“My time is more valuable than that,” Ms. Lin said. “I honestly think all the math is a way to hide the fact that there isn’t much of a discount.”</p><p>Alibaba does not lack for other methods of subtle persuasion on Singles Day. If you had opened your Taobao shopping app on Sunday, you would have seen how your spending that day ranked against that of other people in your area.</p><p>The company’s methods for ginning up excitement have come under scrutiny before. Two years ago, Alibaba said that the United States Securities and Exchange Commission was investigating it for the way it reports Singles Day sales. The company’s preferred metric, gross merchandise value, is supposed to represent the amount of money that changes hands on its platforms. But there is no standardized way of calculating it.</p><p>The company has since de-emphasized the number. But the episode illustrated the way that Alibaba sees itself — as a company that breaks the mold.</p><p>Ever since Alibaba listed its shares in New York four years ago, the company has used a sense of manifest destiny to beguile investors, stock analysts and an eager news media. China was on the long road to middle-class prosperity, the company said, and Alibaba had the biggest tollbooth. A bet on Alibaba was a bet on China itself.</p><p>Now, though, it is clear that Alibaba’s privileged place in China’s rise is not guaranteed.</p><p>In takeout delivery, for instance, Alibaba is facing off against several wealthy rivals. It has made big bets that have struggled, including on the troubled bike-rental company Ofo.</p><p>No one expects Alibaba to generate whopper Singles Day sales growth numbers every year for eternity. At some point, when growth starts decelerating quickly, the event could change, to focus on one week’s sales instead of one day’s, or on something else entirely.</p><p>Alibaba’s track record suggests that when the time comes, it will have no trouble pulling off another act of conjuring.</p><p>“I’m not worried about Alibaba at all,” said Steven Zhu, an analyst in Shanghai with the research firm Pacific Epoch. “These guys are really good at creating things from nothing.”</p>

    1 November 11, 2018
  • Hackers have found a new way to break into ATMs and steal your cash

    Hackers have found a new way to break into ATMs and steal your cash

    ritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes. </p><p>With the advent of cardless ATM transactions on mobile phones, criminals have found a new way to steal your money.</p><p>The arrests came after Cincinnati, OH.-based Fifth Third Bank began getting customer complaints about text messages claiming that their accounts were locked, according to the report. When customers clicked on a link to unlock their accounts, it took them to a fake website that asked for sensitive credentials such as passwords. This is a&#xA0;classic phishing scam where victims are prompted for information such as usernames, passwords, one-time passcodes and PIN numbers.</p><p>The bank contacted the FBI after losing $68,000 from 17 ATMs in Illinois, Michigan and Ohio, according to WCPO.</p><p>In one case, a man made 19 withdrawals totaling more than $9,000. The same man allegedly made other withdrawals. He had a total of $14,000 in cash at the time of his arrest.</p><p>Ultimately, the scam succeeded in stealing personal information from over 120 customers and losses at Fifth Third Bank totaled $106,000, according to court records cited in the WCPO report.</p><p>On November 7, a grand jury indicted four men who participated in the cardless ATM scheme, WCPO said.</p><p>Though many customers have likely never heard of cardless ATM transactions, that could change as it becomes more popular, giving criminals new opportunities. In January 2017, a California woman lost $3,000 via a cardless ATM operated by Chase Bank, KrebsOnSecurity added.</p><p>&#x201C;In that incident, the thieves didn&#x2019;t even need to know her ATM PIN,&#x201D; KrebsOnSecurity wrote.&#xA0;They were able to use the phone number and mobile device they controlled and associate it with the woman&#x2019;s Chase account using her username and password.</p><p>&#x201C;This time last year, cardless ATMs were offered mainly by the big banks, and then only at some of their ATMs. Now, many smaller regional and local banks have upgraded their cash machines to enable the new technology,&#x201D; KrebsOnSecurity added in the post.</p><p>This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. ©2018 FOX News Network, LLC. All rights reserved. All market data delayed 20 minutes.</p>

    1 November 11, 2018


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