Author page: Matt Hodges

Foursquare Amends Privacy Policy To Show Full Names

It seems like we can’t go a week without hearing about another new way some social media service is violating our privacy. This week’s catastrophe: Foursquare has update its privacy policy to show users’ full first and last names. Currently, only a first name and initial (such as Matt H.) is visible when a user checks-in.

In an email to users, Foursquare explained the reasoning behind the change. The location-based social media service said that many people have complained that the current setup is too confusing, and that this move is strictly for the sake of convenience.

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Redbox Instant Starts Private Beta

The private beta of Redbox Instant opened its doors today. For the first time, users can sign up for a one month free trial of the service before the official launch. The joint venture, between Coinstar and Verizon, aims to take some of the movie-streaming market away from popular services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Coinstar, which owns and operates the Redbox DVD boxes seen at gas stations and WalMarts across the country, has been working with Verizon to launch the on-demand service. It was previously rumored that the service would be fully available before the start of 2013, but with the rollout of the beta, it looks like we will have to wait a little longer for that.

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Titan: The New Supercomputer King

Every few years, we hear about a new supercomputer that is the fastest machine to date. Recently, we’ve heard a lot about IBM’s Sequoia, which held the throne at the top of the list. However, last month, Sequoia was unseated by a new supercomputer: Titan.

Titan, like Sequoia, is an American made super computer; but it has a number of notable differences. According to The Economist, Titan was built to be an “open” super-computing platform. While IBM spends much of its time cranking through secret nuclear calculations, Titan will be available for scientific research to bidders, in the same way that astronomers can bid for time on telescopes.

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Think Your Smartphone Is Secure With A PIN? Think Again

With more and more of our personal lives moving into technology, it’s a good idea to try to stay as secure as possible. The days of paper records and communications are almost completely behind us and we’re starting to put our trust into the internet and the devices that we carry in our pockets. Especially in the mobile scene, it’s important to understand the types of security we do and do not have.

Many people set their iOS or Android devices to present a PIN lock screen when the device is activated. While this might seem like a good idea, it’s not nearly secure as you might think.

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Eric Schmidt: Android Winning Mobile War

Google Chairman and former CEO, Eric Schmidt, laid down some strong words about his company and his opponents today. In an interview with Bloomberg, Schmidt commented on the recent uptick in sales for Android devices. He said “This is a huge platform change; this is of the scale of 20 years ago — Microsoft versus Apple. We’re winning that war pretty clearly now.”

Schmidt’s remarks come shortly after the announcement by Gartner Inc. that Google managed to grab 72 percent of the market in the third quarter of 2012. Schmidt also says that more than 1.3 million Android devices are activated every day.

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Golden Spike Is Selling Trips To The Moon

Have you ever dreamed of taking a trip to the moon? If so, you may be able to get your wish, if you’re rich enough. A new space start-up called Golden Spike is looking to bring commercial tourism to the moon, The Washington Post reported earlier this week. But don’t start packing your Tang and Freeze Dried ice cream just yet, the preliminary price tag for such a trip is $750 million a seat.

Golden Spike Co. is comprised of former NASA executives and other prominent figures from the aerospace industry. Their goal is to offer trips to the moon to foreign governments and eccentric billionaires. In response to the question of feasibility, former NASA executive Alan Stern said “the trick is 40 years old. We know how to do this.”

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FCC Asks FAA To Expand Use Of Electronics During Flights

Hate having to turn off your electronic device after boarding a plane? Those days may soon be over, if the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has anything to do with it.

Julius Genachowski, the chairman of the FCC has reached out to the Federal Aviation Administration, asking them to allow the use of more electronic devices during flights. According to The Hill, the FCC would like to see passengers be able to have “greater use of tablets, e-readers, and other portable devices” while on board.

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Congress Approves Resolution To Keep Internet Control In US Hands

The United States House of Representatives on Wednesday passed a resolution that signals the United States to oppose a United Nations takeover of the Internet. In a unanimous vote 389 – 0, the House passed the resolution that originated in the Senate by Senators Marco Rubio (R) of Florida and Claire McCaskill (D) of Missouri.

The bipartisan and unopposed passage of the resolutions sends a strong message to the United Nations that the United States has no interest in handing over control of the Internet to the international body. It is in response to the United Nations conference on telecommunications that is happening this week. According to Representative Greg Walden (R) of Oregon, 193 member countries of the UN are meeting to discuss an Internet regulation body similar to the International Telecommunications Union, which was formed in the 1980s to create policy around telephone systems.

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Y Combinator To Shrink Investments In 2013

It seems like new tech startups are popping up every day. One day everyone’s on Instagram, the next, they’re on Snapchat or AirBNB. As consumers, we couldn’t be happier with the situation. New innovation is great! It gives us more tools and services to make our lives easier or more entertaining.

Like most companies, tech startups come about through a lot of work, some luck, and venture capital. Every business needs investors, and tech companies are no exception. There are a number of venture firms in the industry, among the most famous are A16Z, Sequoia Capital, Google Ventures, and Y Combinator.

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Facebook and Zynga Loosen Relationship, Zynga Stumbles

Things just keep getting worse and worse for the social gaming company, Zynga. It seems that the company that brought us the great treasures of FarmVille and Words With Friends just can’t catch a break. On Friday it was announced that Zynga and Facebook have altered their business arrangements.

In filings with the SEC yesterday, Facebook announced the alterations to its relationship with the struggling game company. In short, the announcement consisted of four main pieces:

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How To: Remove Preloaded Software from Android

If you own an Android phone or tablet, there’s a very good chance that it shipped with some bloatware. And, as you probably know, it can be rather challenging to remove software that has been installed by the manufacturer as the typical uninstall methods will not work. Luckily, there is a way to remove the preloaded software, it just takes a little bit of work. This tutorial assumes that you have root privileges on your Android Device and that you know how to connect to the device using the Android Debug Bridge.

Be very careful with these instructions. Every Android device is different and when you start messing around with low-level system files, you always run the risk of accidentally bricking your device. Also make sure you are not violating and Terms of Use with your device manufacturer or carrier.

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Congresswoman Zoe Lofgren Asks Reddit To Help Draft Copyright Bill

Representative Zoe Lofgren (D – California) is in the processes of drafting a new bill to reform copyright legislation, and she’s asking the internet to help. Specifically, Representative Lofgren is reaching out to the Reddit community for suggestions and guidance on the bill. The idea, she says, is to draft legislation designed to protect against fallacious domain seizures from copyright claims.

Reddit has a longstanding reputation of being very vocal and active when it comes to rights online. Most recently, the social media site gained huge recognition for its instrumental efforts to fight off SOPA and CISPA legislation. The effects caught the eyes of many lawmakers, including Lofgren. Lofgren even sported a “STOP SOPA!” banner as her Facebook profile picture during the SOPA deliberations.

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Facebook To Flip Switch On HTTPS

Earlier this week, Facebook announced that it is planning to enable HTTPS (Hypertext Transfer Protocol Secure) as the default setting for all of its 1 billion users. In a move that has apparently been in the works for a couple of years, the default option will help keep users’ data secure.

HTTPS grants benefits over regular HTTP, in that is encrypts all traffic from end to end. For a while now, Facebook has used HTTPS when logging in to the site, but only offered an opt-in service for users who wanted all of their Facebook interactions encrypted. Why the option? First and foremost, HTTPS is slower than HTTP. Because of the overhead necessary to encrypt and decrypt data, page load times take longer. Facebook says, though, that it has been working on infrastructure improvements that should minimize speed decreases once HTTPS is turned on by default.

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FBI Busts LCD Price Fixing Conspiracy

If you purchased a TV, monitor, or laptop between 2001 and 2006, then there’s a good chance that you paid too much for it. On Friday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation reported that it had discovered and prosecuted those involved in an LCD price fixing conspiracy.

According to the report, a Taiwanese LCD producer — AU Optronics Corporation — and two former executives, have been sentenced for LCD price fixing. The two execs will spend three years in federal prison and the company will be forced to pay $500 million in fines.

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