Uber could be worth $120 billion in an IPO next year

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Uber could be valued at $120 billion when it finally goes public next year according to recent proposals made by US banks, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter.

The ride-hailing company’s most recent valuation was pegged at $76 billion, following a $500 million investment from Toyota Motor Corp in August.

Reuters reported in late September that Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley were in pole position to secure top roles in Uber IPO.

Uber and smaller rival Lyft have been actively preparing to go public next year. While Lyft has hired IPO advisory firm Class V Group LLC, Uber is behind in its preparations.

Uber hired Nelson Chai as its chief financial officer in August, filling a long-standing vacancy and clearing the way for its much-anticipated IPO.

News Corp. is a network of leading companies in the world of diversified media, news, and information services.

 

October 16, 2018

Sources: New York Post

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  • Facebook Failed to Police How Its Partners Handled User Data

    Facebook Failed to Police How Its Partners Handled User Data

    anting them access to the personal data of hundreds of millions of people, according to a previously unreported disclosure to Congress last month.</p><p>Facebook’s loose oversight of the partnerships was detected by the company’s government-approved privacy monitor in 2013. But it was never revealed to Facebook users, most of whom had not explicitly given the company permission to share their information. Details of those oversight practices were revealed in a letter Facebook sent last month to Senator Ron Wyden, the Oregon Democrat, a privacy advocate and frequent critic of the social media giant.</p><p>When a team from PricewaterhouseCoopers conducted the initial F.T.C.-mandated assessment in 2013, it tested Facebook’s partnerships with Microsoft and Research in Motion, maker of the BlackBerry handset. In both cases, PricewaterhouseCoopers found only “limited evidence” that Facebook had monitored or checked its partners’ compliance with its data use policies. That finding was redacted from a public version of PricewaterhouseCoopers’s report released by the F.T.C. in June.</p><p>“Facebook claimed that its data-sharing partnerships with smartphone manufacturers were on the up and up,” Mr. Wyden said. “But Facebook’s own, handpicked auditors said the company wasn’t monitoring what smartphone manufacturers did with Americans’ personal information, or making sure these manufacturers were following Facebook’s own policies.” He added, “It’s not good enough to just take the word of Facebook — or any major corporation — that they’re safeguarding our personal information.”</p><p>In a statement, a Facebook spokeswoman said, “We take the F.T.C. consent order incredibly seriously and have for years submitted to extensive assessments of our systems.” She added, “We remain strongly committed to the consent order and to protecting people’s information.”</p><p>Facebook, like other companies under F.T.C. consent decree, largely dictates the scope of each assessment. In two subsequent assessments, Facebook’s October letter suggests, the company was graded on a seemingly less stringent policy with data partners. On those two, Facebook had to show that its partners had agreed to its data use policies.</p><p>A Wyden aide who reviewed the unredacted assessments said they contained no evidence that Facebook had ever addressed the original problem. The Facebook spokeswoman did not directly address the 2013 test failure, or the company’s apparent decision to change the test in question.</p><p>Because the United States has no general consumer privacy law, F.T.C. consent decrees have emerged as the federal government’s chief means of regulating privacy practices at Facebook, Google and other companies that amass huge amounts of personal data about people who use their products. In letters and congressional testimony, F.T.C. officials have pointed to the decrees as evidence of robust consumer privacy protection in the United States.</p><p>A spokesman for PricewaterhouseCoopers acknowledged in a statement that Facebook defines the privacy procedures, known as “controls,” that are tested during the assessments.</p><p>“Changes to controls may occur as platforms evolve, such that a control tested in one period may not be identical in a subsequent period,” the spokesman said.</p><p>The October letter to Senator Ron Wyden details Facebook’s oversight of its partnerships with device makers.</p><p>While the assessment reports were publicly released by the F.T.C. in June, they included significant redactions, which Facebook and PricewaterhouseCoopers said were necessary to protect trade secrets.</p><p>Mr. Wyden, whose staff had viewed the full assessments, said at the hearing that he found parts of the unredacted reports “very troubling” and pressed Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, to release them in their entirety.</p><p>The Electronic Privacy Information Center, a Washington-based consumer rights group that helped obtain the 2011 consent decree, is currently suing the agency for release of the full assessments, arguing that the public cannot otherwise judge how effectively the F.T.C. is policing privacy violations.</p><p>“What is clear is that the F.T.C. has failed to enforce the consent order,” said Marc Rotenberg, the president of the privacy rights group. “And this has come at enormous cost to American consumers.”</p><p>Facebook’s compliance with the consent decree is the subject of a new F.T.C. investigation opened in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica scandal.</p><p>In the letter last month, Facebook’s vice president for United States public policy, Kevin Martin, noted that the assessors’ findings had not caused Facebook to fail PricewaterhouseCoopers’s overall evaluation: The assessors concluded that Facebook was operating “with sufficient effectiveness to provide reasonable assurance” that it was protecting its users’ privacy.</p><p>It remains unclear whether Facebook has ever scrutinized how its partner companies handled personal data. A spokeswoman declined to provide any examples of the company’s doing so.</p><p>A BlackBerry official, who declined to discuss details of the companies’ data-sharing agreement, said BlackBerry did not think that Facebook had ever audited its data use, but noted that BlackBerry’s business model relies on protecting users’ personal information.</p>

    1 November 13, 2018
  • Samsung to start testing mind-controlled TVs

    Samsung to start testing mind-controlled TVs

    sion.</p><p>Samsung TVs are already some of the most popular options for high-end home theater systems and the company is now using its television-making prowess to help people with disabilities live more normal lives. A new project by a Samsung team in Switzerland could yield the first smart TV that can be controlled with thoughts.</p><p>Brain-controlled gadgets aren’t entirely new — you can even buy simple brain-controlled “Mindflex” games made by Mattel if you want to play around with the technology in your own home — but the Project Pontis system is obviously much more robust.</p><p>At present, the system combines brain monitoring sensors and eye-tracking hardware to identify what selections the individual intends to make. Going forward, the partnership hopes to make the system smart enough to accept commands via brain commands alone, meaning that you’d only need to think about changing the volume for the action to be performed.</p><p>Now, before you go thinking this is the ultimate accessory for a lazy channel surfer or Netflix binge-watcher, it’s important to note that this is all aimed specifically at aiding those with severe disabilities. Samsung hasn’t even hinted at the idea that this would be a commercially available product. That being said, if the technology reaches a point where it’s essentially plug-and-play, it’s hard to imagine Samsung or another company at least testing the waters with everyday consumers.</p><p>In any case, the project is still in a relatively early stage, with Samsung forecasting new prototype testing sometime in early 2019. If a thought-controlled TV ever does arrive, it likely won’t be for quite a while.</p><p> News Corp. is a network of leading companies in the world of diversified media, news, and information services. </p>

    1 November 12, 2018
  • This is what a sunrise on Mars sounds like

    This is what a sunrise on Mars sounds like

    sion.</p><p>Scientists know a lot about Mars, at least when it comes to what it looks like. Sound, on the other hand, is a lot more challenging and it’s not like we have high-powered microphones listening to the wind sweep across the Martian plains.</p><p>Now, researchers from Anglia Ruskin University and the University of Exeter have created an interesting piece of music that wasn’t just inspired by Mars but was actually composed by a computer algorithm using a Mars sunrise as data. The result is a surprisingly pleasing piece of music and you can listen to it yourself.</p><p>So how was it created? Anglia Ruskin University describes its creation as follows:</p><p>Researchers created the piece of music by scanning a picture from left to right, pixel by pixel and looking at brightness and color information and combining them with terrain elevation. They used algorithms to assign each element a specific pitch and melody.</p><p>As you might assume, the quieter notes and flowing background sounds come from the dark area surrounding the Sun in the image. Higher pitched notes are brighter pixels near the bright orb in the center.</p><p>The piece will actually be “performed,” so to speak, at the SC18 supercomputing conference in Dallas on November 13th. Audience members will hear the song through traditional speakers as well as “vibrational transducers” that will let them feel it. Pretty neat.</p><p> News Corp. is a network of leading companies in the world of diversified media, news, and information services. </p>

    1 November 12, 2018
  •  50 countries vow to fight cybercrime - US and Russia don't

    50 countries vow to fight cybercrime - US and Russia don't

    d document to work together to prevent malicious activities like online censorship and the theft of trade secrets.</p><p> French President Emmanuel Macron had pushed for the initiative, whose unveiling comes a day after dozens of world leaders gathered in Paris on Sunday for the centenary of the end of World War One.</p>

    1 November 12, 2018
  • Amazon’s New Neighbor: The Nation’s Largest Housing Project

    Amazon’s New Neighbor: The Nation’s Largest Housing Project

    azon for residents of the Queensbridge Houses, the country’s largest public housing project, was that any packages left in a lobby would likely be stolen.</p><p>But Amazon may soon be a far larger presence in their New York City neighborhood.</p><p>Here, where livings are eked out on meager paychecks, or social service assistance, with nearly 60 percent of its households relying on food stamps, the new neighbor will be one of the world’s most profitable and famous high-tech companies, bringing what could be a work force of 25,000 people making salaries upward of $100,000.</p><p>The stark contrast amplifies some of the social and economic tensions coursing through American society — a widening income gap, a lack of access to high-paying jobs for many minorities and a technology sector struggling to diversify.</p><p>The planned location for the new headquarters is still unclear, as is whether Amazon will deliver any benefits to the roughly 6,000 people who live in the Queensbridge Houses and other disadvantaged parts of the neighborhood.</p><p>“What are they going to do for the community? Are they going to guarantee us employment opportunities?” said April Simpson, the president of Queensbridge Tenants Association. “I’m worried about, when they come, they’re not going to have opportunities for people. Not just people from Queensbridge — but other lower- and middle-income people in this area.</p><p>As New York City seeks to challenge Silicon Valley’s dominance as a tech hub — Google recently announced plans for a significant expansion in New York — the explosion of jobs has helped propel the local economy. But it has not mitigated the “tale of two cities” narrative of economic disparity that Mayor Bill de Blasio has vowed to address in a city where the poverty rate in 2016 was 19.5 percent, significantly higher than the national rate.</p><p>That stratification is keenly felt in Queensbridge, a gritty complex just across the East River from the East Side of Manhattan and some of the wealthiest neighborhoods and real estate in the country. Many Queensbridge residents said they feel left out of the city’s booming economy.</p><p>Hard by the Queensboro Bridge, the Queensbridge Houses have been plagued with crime and drugs. Those problems have eased in recent years, Ms. Simpson said, and community programs have improved the quality of life. Last year, the housing project did not record a single shooting, something that had not happened in more than a decade and was a source of pride.</p><p>But the neglect that afflicts many public housing developments and has led to harsh criticism of the de Blasio’s administration, persists here, residents and other local leaders said.</p><p>“There are still a lot of problems with the apartments — the lack of heat and hot water, non-working elevators, mold and broken front doors,” said Jimmy Van Bramer, the city councilman whose district includes the Queensbridge Houses.</p><p>Tyshema Basnight, 42, said she had been trying to rejoin the work force after raising a family. She has an associate degree in computer science and a tech job at Amazon would be a dream job, she said.</p><p>“For now, I’m just looking for secretarial work,” said Ms. Basnight, who was among several residents lined up for one of the few aging computers available in the tenants association office for residents who do not have computers of their own.</p><p>The office is not on the cutting edge of the digital frontier. And all the buzz over the e-commerce behemoth transforming Long Island City into a gleaming new-economy tech hub was met with skepticism, if not outright hostility.</p><p>Many businesses — including travel and financial companies and hotel chains — have opened in recent years in the area, but Ms. Simpson said they have not hired local residents or offered to “give back” to the community.</p><p>“They did not hire here — they brought in their own people,” she said. “My thing is: If you build here, hire here.”</p><p>A spokesman for Amazon, Sam Kennedy, declined to comment on its plans in New York, but said that the company has a proven track record of funding and creating programs for the needy in Seattle, where Amazon has its main headquarters.</p><p>This includes donating tens of millions of dollars, creating affordable housing, opening a shelter in its office complex for homeless families and creating a training program for the food service and culinary industries for less-advantaged residents.</p><p>The company also says it has spurred the creation of 53,000 outside jobs in industries ranging from construction to health care, and has stimulated the establishment of more than 2,000 new small businesses.</p><p>The new companies that have come to Long Island City have helped transform the semi-industrial waterfront neighborhood into a haven for moneyed professionals. Since 2010 more apartment buildings have been built in Long Island City than in any other neighborhood in the city. Apartments in the more than 40 new buildings sell for an average of over $1 million.</p><p>But past the gleaming skyline of high-rises, in Queensbridge and several other smaller housing projects in Long Island City, many residents fear that Amazon’s arrival will only intensify the gentrification that is making the neighborhood less affordable for people of limited means.</p><p>It is still unknown what financial incentives city and state officials may have offered Amazon or what, if any concessions, they have extracted from the company to help the neighborhood.</p><p>Amazon’s arrival, city officials insisted, would yield tangible gains for area residents.</p><p>They said they were considering setting up programs similar to a city-funded employment center in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Since it opened in 1999, the center has placed more than 300 people per year in jobs at the navy yard, of which 35 percent have been public housing residents in recent years.</p><p>“Securing training and good jobs for local residents — especially those living in Nycha — is central to the way we craft major economic development initiatives,” said Jane Meyer, a spokeswoman for Mr. de Blasio, referring to the New York City Housing Authority.</p><p>“This is a tremendous opportunity to bring tens of thousands of good jobs to our city and open up good-paying careers in technology for New Yorkers,” Ms. Meyer added.</p><p>Still Mr. Van Bramer questioned the city and state’s eager courting of Amazon at a time when the housing complex is still in need of funding for basic repairs.</p><p>“If we are helping a headquarters with 25,000 employees move in, a stone’s throw from the largest housing development in the United States of America, we need more than lip service for the people of Queensbridge,” he said. “Before we throw corporate welfare at the richest man in the world, we should think about the crisis in Nycha, and address the needs of the community, including training Queensbridge residents for tech jobs — or they will be looking through the glass from the outside.”</p><p>He spoke of belonging to the Queensbridge “family,” and taking pride in its success stories, including the former N.B.A. star, Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest Jr.</p><p>Mr. Jones said he trained on computers in high school and if his rap career fizzles, he would happily take a job at Amazon.</p><p>“If Amazon doesn’t hire from this community, we should boycott them and shut them down,” he said.</p><p>“Not everyone here has a Ph.D., but anyone eager to work should be able to get job,” he said. “It can’t be nothing but a plus.”</p>

    1 November 12, 2018
  •  Pocket money apps aim to help kids in cashless world

    Pocket money apps aim to help kids in cashless world

    gy bank is going virtual.</p><p> Father of two Roland Hall turned to a British startup's digital pocket money app because his kids were still too young to get their own bank cards from traditional banks.</p><p> With prepaid debit cards linked to the app, Hall's kids, aged 8 and 10, can spend their allowance and chore money by shopping online or by tapping at contactless payment terminals in stores. Sounds like a recipe for splurging? Not so, he said.</p><p> "When kids have cash they want to spend it quickly. They want to go to the shops and spend it on rubbish," said Hall, an IT project manager. But an app lets them check their balances online, "which actually makes them start thinking about saving rather than getting rid of the money," said Hall, who also prefers giving digital allowances because he never carries cash.</p><p> The app, which is called gohenry and expanded to the U.S. in April, is part of a wave of digital money apps combined with prepaid cards for kids as young as six that parents have access to. They are powerful new money management and savings tools that replace old-fashioned piggy banks and account passbooks. Some say they can help enhance financial literacy even as the growth of cashless payments upends traditional notions of money.</p><p> Globally, the number of non-cash transactions rose 11.2 percent to 433 billion in 2015 from the year before and are forecast to nearly double by 2020, according to the World Payments Report by financial services firms Capgemini and BNP Paribas. Britain, Canada and Sweden are among the world's most cashless countries, according to a 2017 ranking by currency website ForexBonuses, with widespread use of "contactless" bank cards that let shoppers merely tap on payment terminals for small transactions.</p><p> In China, where mobile payments rule, Alipay and WeChat Pay allow teens to hold accounts. Hong Kong offers a kids' version of its stored value Octopus card, based on older technology.</p><p> In the U.S., the fragmented banking sector means most cards still need to be swiped and, sometimes, require a pin number. Merchants in big U.S. cities are increasingly going cashless because they can gather more customer data, which makes it harder for teens without bank cards, said Stuart Sopp, CEO of Current, a two-year-old U.S. fintech startup.</p><p> "Parents are willing to pay to solve a problem that banks are not solving" - helping youngsters deal with digital money, said Sopp.</p><p> Current, gohenry and others such as Britain's Nimbl and Osper, Australia's Spriggy and Famzoo and Greenlight of the U.S. operate on similar principles. They typically charge a monthly or annual fee for prepaid debit cards. Parents can load money from their bank onto their own account, set weekly allowance amounts and spending limits, list chores to earn extra money, and block certain types of transactions, like online shopping.</p><p> Money is sent to kids' linked accounts, which they can use to set savings goals. The Current app rounds up each transaction and sweeps the change into a savings account.</p><p> Crucially, the apps send instant alerts about transactions, a feature parents love, said gohenry CEO Alex Zivoder.</p><p> "You give cash to a kid, how do you as a parent know what he will do with this money?" he said.</p><p> He said he turned to the app because "I want them to understand what the value of money is."</p><p> The apps are making inroads amid growing adult uncertainty about how the shift to cashless payments is affecting children's view of money. In one U.K. survey commissioned last year by Prudential, about 78 percent of teachers and 37 percent of parents said it hurt youngsters' understanding of money.</p><p> More than a quarter felt contactless cards encouraged them to spend more and didn't help them develop mental arithmetic skills as well as handling cash, the poll of 501 parents found. No margin of error was given.</p><p> They're valid concerns, said Russell Winnard, head of programs and services at financial education charity Young Money, a charity, but he added that apps can help parents explain to children how money works.</p><p> "Young people are seeing less and less cash transactions, which just means that we have to be even more careful to talk about what is happening at each of those stages, because it has become more abstract," said Winnard.</p><p> Paddy Kelly, another gohenry user, says he started using it because he was looking for a better way to help his 8-year-old daughter, Ailish, both save money and improve her math skills.</p><p> She had a piggy bank full of coins but her younger brother kept emptying it, Kelly said.</p><p> He likes the app's savings feature, which his daughter has used to set a goal of saving 20 pounds, at 2 pounds per week, with the aim of buying a pet gerbil. Getting her to figure out how long it would take to reach that goal is better than forcing her to do abstract math questions, which just makes her "irate," he said.</p><p> "It gets her thinking about money in a slightly smarter way," said Kelly. "Money is such an abstract concept, in today's world it kind of makes sense" for kids to use digital pocket money apps, he said.</p><p> Follow Kelvin Chan on Twitter at www.twitter.com/chanman </p>

    1 November 12, 2018
  • The Instagrammers Next Door, Plugging Brands for Peanuts (or Shampoo)

    The Instagrammers Next Door, Plugging Brands for Peanuts (or Shampoo)

    of internet-famous people who have more than a million social media followers and can make big money by plugging various brands. And you may have even heard of microinfluencers, who do the same thing for a still sizable but somewhat smaller social media audience — from the tens to low hundreds of thousands.</p><p>That’s the term (“nanos” for short) used by companies to describe people who have as few as 1,000 followers and are willing to advertise products on social media.</p><p>Their lack of fame is one of the qualities that make them approachable. When they recommend a shampoo or a lotion or a furniture brand on Instagram, their word seems as genuine as advice from a friend.</p><p>Brands enjoy working with them partly because they are easy to deal with. In exchange for free products or a small commission, nanos typically say whatever companies tell them to.</p><p>People who know Ms. Baker were surprised when the hashtags used to denote advertisements — #sponsored and #ad — started popping up on her account. They were also a little impressed that she was Instagramming like an influencer.</p><p>“My friends were like: ‘Wait a minute — you don’t have tens of thousands of followers. How did you get contacted about this?’” Ms. Baker said in an interview. “I didn’t really have an answer for them.”</p><p>Ms. Baker, a leasing manager in Alexandria, Va., said she had stumbled into the hobby-slash-gig after being scouted by Obviously, which describes itself as “a full-service influencer marketing agency.”</p><p>To Mae Karwowski, the chief executive of Obviously, nanoinfluencers are a largely untapped and inexpensive opportunity.</p><p>“Everyone who’s on Instagram has that friend who is just really popular and is racking up ‘likes’ and comments and has great content,” said Ms. Karwowski, who defined nanoinfluencers as people with roughly 1,000 to 5,000 Instagram followers. “They’ve probably never worked with a brand before, but they’re just really good at social media.”</p><p>“There is such a saturation at the top,” Ms. Karwowski said. “We’ve seen a real push to work with smaller and smaller influencers, because their engagement is so high and we have the technology to work with a lot more influencers now and track and measure what is and isn’t working.”</p><p>For most nanoinfluencers, money isn’t part of the deal. Free products are viewed as fair compensation for the ads they post outside their day jobs.</p><p>“If it does happen to blow up and take off full time, then great,” Ms. Baker said. “But that is not what I’m looking for at all. It’s just something I love doing.</p><p>“I love taking really, really great-quality photos,” she continued. “I love challenging myself with how I can advertise and market something, and seeing the impact it has on people is really rewarding.”</p><p>“It’s like one of your friends telling you a new skin care product is amazing, but instead of me telling my friends at happy hour, it’s me telling them on Instagram,” she said.</p><p>“You have to keep it on your feed for a certain amount of weeks,” Ms. Rosenberg said, “and they want you to say certain keywords, like something is ‘cruelty free’ or something ‘smells good,’ or whatever their marketing says. They want you to mimic that.”</p><p>“I’ll send a screenshot of my blog draft, or I’ll give them a few photos to pick from, if it’s going to be one post for Instagram,” she said. “They’ll send kind of like a contract, and the bigger the brand, the more intense their contract.”</p><p>Ms. Stutzman, a product specialist at Better Homes &amp; Gardens, said her co-workers didn’t quite understand what she was up to on social media, even as her account has grown into a “part-time side hustle kind of thing.” Her parents were also mystified — until she snagged a couch from Burrow, a start-up, and a trip to Myrtle Beach, S.C., through Kate Somerville, a beauty brand.</p><p>Sarah Stovold, a managing director at NextWave, a consultancy with a focus on youth marketing, said younger consumers, especially the 13- to 21-year-old cohort known as Gen Z, had a different relationship with companies than their elders.</p><p>“There’s a strong entrepreneurial spirit in this group,” Ms. Stovold said. “They’ve seen friends and people they see as friends developing some prosperity from doing this type of engagement with brands.”</p><p>Krishna Subramanian, a founder of Captiv8, another influencer marketing firm, said he was skeptical about brands’ marketing their wares through people with unremarkable social media followings.</p><p>“Are they able to actually measure something out of it and say, ‘This is successful, we want to do more of it’?” he asked.</p><p>But Ms. Karwowski, of Obviously, said she was confident in the strategy. Her firm has 7,500 nanoinfluencers in its database, she said, and it plans to double that number by March.</p><p>“The youngest generation has grown up with this technology, so they’re very accustomed to seeing people talk about products they like and are recommending, so now there is a new willingness for them to participate in that,” Ms. Karwowski said.</p><p>She added, “You’re able to place a lot of really small bets rather than, ‘We’re going to work with Kim Kardashian.’”</p><p>Some nanoinfluencers are still grappling with allowing brands into their social media accounts.</p><p>“They said: ‘We like your Instagram page and what you’re posting. Would you be interested in testing out our products to see if they work for you?’” Ms. Gee said.</p><p>Along with the free stuff, the company sent her instructions.</p><p>“They gave specific strict guidelines, like ‘Here’s the possible text you could use, here’s the hashtag, and we expect a post within this amount of time,’” she said.</p><p>“I feel kind of like an infomercial, and I’m generally kind of uncomfortable pushing things on people,” she said. “But I’ve seen a return on that, albeit small.”</p>

    1 November 11, 2018
  • 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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