Senator Mark Udall has written a blistering letter to President Barack Obama, claiming he knew of the “unprecedented action” of CIA spying on members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which had prepared a critical 6,000-page report of torture policies.
“As you are aware, the CIA has recently taken unprecedented action against the Committee in relation to the internal CIA review, and I find these actions to be incredibly troubling for the Committee’s oversight responsibilities and for our democracy,” wrote Senator Udall. “It is essential that the Committee be able to do its oversight work — consistent with our constitutional principle of the separation of powers — without the CIA posing impediments or obstacles as it is today.”
After fallout from the New York Times exposé, more senators expressed measured outrage. Senator Patrick Leahy said he was “deeply concerned” about the reports.
According to the Times, “The action, which Mr. Udall did not describe, took place after C.I.A. officials came to suspect that congressional staff members had gained unauthorized access to agency documents during the course of the Intelligence Committee’s years-long investigation into the detention and interrogation program.”
Much of the report, and the agency’s response, is classified. The Guardian further notes that the CIA’s actions may have been illegal under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, the anti-hacker law normally applied to citizens.
Read the original NYT article here and Senator Udall’s letter here.
Jack Tretton has left the game. The longtime Sony executive is stepping down from his role as President and CEO of Sony Computer Entertainment America where he was essentially in charge of the state-side PlayStation division.
The news comes from a late-day press release that doesn’t reveal any details about the departure. It simply states that “this is a result of a mutual agreement between Mr. Tretton and SCEA not to renew their contractual relationship.”
Was there a falling out at Sony? Did someone steal Jack’s leftovers from the fridge one too many times? That’s unclear right now.
Tretton was with Sony Computer Entertainment America for 19 years, with 15 dedicated to the PlayStation division and most recently oversaw the launch of the PlayStation 4. This is the man who in part has built the PlayStation brand into a global force by establishing a strong foothold in America.
Shawn Layden, current EVP and COO of Sony Network Entertainment International, will take Tretton’s chair at the head of the boardroom table.
Continued here: The Head Of Sony Computer Entertainment Steps Down
Is this man really the father of Bitcoin? After a full day of wild speculation and anger, the LA press have finally tracked down Nakamoto and he’s receiving a grilling. According to reports, Nakamoto and an AP reporter went to a sushi restaurant earlier this afternoon while the rest of the press followed along. Finally, the 64-year-old man went to the AP offices where he conducted his only interview.
As we see above, the man identified as the father of bitcoin vehemently denies any involvement in this video shot by Buzzfeed reporter Hunter Schwarz. He also denied Bitcoin ties to LA Times Reporter Andrea Chang.
Satoshi Nakamoto, who changed his name Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto in 1973, was outed this morning in a Newsweek article based largely on circumstantial evidence. Much to the chagrin of Dorian, the Bitcoin community, and other journalists, Newsweek released enough details to easily find the man that they claimed was behind Bitcoin and whose BTC horde is rumored to be worth around $400 million.
More as we get it.
See the original post here: Alleged Bitcoin Creator Dorian Prentice Satoshi Nakamoto Denies Involvement
For the past several years, Uber has defended its use of “surge pricing” as a way to ensure supply in times when demand is high. By charging a premium for a ride, the company argues, it gets more drivers on the road, and curtails the number of requests from potential passengers, keeping inventory in check.
That said, there was no good way for passengers to know when that was over. Now, thanks to an update of Uber’s mobile apps, passengers will never have to guess when surge pricing ends, as the company has added a field to allow them to be notified when the multiplier is turned off.
According to Uber’s blog post, the update will begin rolling out to iOS users this week, enabling them to request an update and be notified if surge pricing ends within 30 minutes of their initial request. “In addition to seeing clear information about surge pricing in the app, you’ll be able to wait it out for a cheaper ride and get notified if surge ends,” the post says.
Frequent users of the on-demand transportation service — especially those in major cities — have come to expect the pricing multiplier during rush hours and storms, when demand for service begins to outstrip supply.
That’s something Uber says it’s working on. According to Uber spokesperson Andrew Noyes:
“We’re working hard to bring on more partner drivers in all of the cities we serve so that there’s more supply available at all times. As you know, surge pricing helps get more cars on the road quickly when demand outstrips supply, helping to guarantee people can get a ride when and where they want.”
A new leak from NSA documents obtained by whisteblower Edward Snowden have cast light on Australia’s national security agency — the Australian Signals Directorate — and its access to Indonesia’s telecoms network.
The New York Times reports that the agency obtained nearly 1.8 million encrypted master keys from Indonesian operator Telkomsel. The agency was apparently able to decrypt almost all of the keys, giving it access to the private communications data that they protect.
Access was apparently used to monitor government communication, and, in particular, contact with an American legal firm that represented Indonesia in trade disputes with the US. Australia’s Prime Minister previously stated that the country did not collect information “to the detriment of other countries” — an NSA leak last year suggested Australia tapped phones belonging to Indonesia’s Prime Minister and other top politicians.
Image via BAY ISMOYO/AFP/Getty Images
Here’s what a top mobile game developer can make in a single year: $892 million off two games across Android and iOS.
That’s what Finnish developer Supercell said on a call last that night that it earned last year. Although Supercell is privately held, it still has to report earnings once a year in accordance with Finnish law. The company sold slightly over half of itself to Japanese carrier Softbank and game maker Gung-Ho last year for $1.53 billion.
Their lofty valuation came from explosive earnings from two games: Clash of Clans and Hay Day. Those two titles helped the game maker go from earning $101 million in revenue in 2012 to nearly nine times as much the following year.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization worked out to be $464 million. That’s about $3.4 million in EBITDA per employee at Supercell’s headcount of 138 people. The company is planning on releasing a third title, Boom Beach, next month.
Surprisingly though, the earnings aren’t that much higher than the annualized runrate the company reported back in the first quarter of last year, when it said it earned $179 million in first-quarter revenue. (That would have worked out to slightly over $700 million per year, and that’s before Supercell launched the Android versions of its games.)
There’s one other interesting thing from the call, too. What’s the difference between an American company’s earnings call and a Finnish one?
Supercell’s Ilkka Paananen had to stress how much the company paid in taxes. (Imagine if Apple or Google did that.)
Because of the company’s huge exit last year, Supercell has had to manage domestic press relations in a sensitive way before a country that prides itself on its socioeconomic equality. Paananen said Supercell paid $345 million in taxes to the government, including corporate tax, income tax and taxes related to the sale.
On top of that, Paananen said Supercell was not using any international financial maneuvering to avoid paying taxes to the Finnish government. This is in contrast to companies like Apple, which have used subsidiaries in countries like Ireland, the Netherlands and the Caribbean to avoid billions of dollars in income taxes. In a New York Times piece in 2012, a former Treasury Department economist told the newspaper that Apple’s federal tax bill would have likely been $2.4 billion higher if it hadn’t used these accounting techniques.
“We don’t use any tax optimization,” Paananen said. “We’ve gotten so much from this community here. Helsinki is the best place to set up your company, especially if you’re a games company.”
Here is the original post: Mobile Game Developer Supercell Made $892M Last Year (Oh, And They Paid $345M In Taxes)
What does a company do to convince potential customers that its product is genuinely waterproof? Well, aside from saying so on the packaging, it can sell the product already immersed inside a bottle of water.
Though the device itself was launched a while ago, Sony turned to Auckland-based ad agency DraftFCB to help market the product in New Zealand. And so they came up with the Bottled Walkman, which is sold from vending machines in public places such as gyms. Check out the demo video for yourself.
Heroku, the cloud platform Salesforce acquired in 2010, today launched a new class of dyno that has 12 times the RAM and 40 times the CPU power of a regular dyno. In Heroku’s world, dynos are the containers your applications run in, with the most basic ones costing 5 cents per hour.
The new performance dynos, which are part of the Heroku XL family that the company is launching with this release, run on machines that are highly isolated from the rest of the Heroku infrastructure. While regular dynos run on a multi-tenant infrastructure, performance dynos do not share their CPUs with other applications. This, the company argues, allows for a “high and consistent quality of service” that allows apps to run faster and with better response times.
Heroku argues that some of the largest app on its platform now often exceeds 10,000 requests per second; both Urban Dictionary and headline factory Upworthy run on the platform. In total, Heroku serves over 5 billion requests per day for about 60,000 requests per second on average and 90,000 at peak times. These kinds of large-scale apps, the company says, will benefit from these new performance dynos.
As part of the Heroku XL package, developers also get access to runtime metrics to help them better understand their resource consumption and 24/7 premium support.
Heroku runs on Amazon’s infrastructure and the company says that the performance dynos use Amazon’s c1.xlarge EC2 instances. Amazon charged $0.58/hour for these, while Heroku charges $0.80/hour. While the new dynos are isolated from the rest of the infrastructure, the company notes, users can still easily scale their existing dynos up to the new size (or switch down to a lower-performance dyno) as needed.
As Amazon continues to roll out larger and updated instances, chances are Heroku, too, may move away from just offering a limited amount of dyno types (right now there are three, including the new one) to give its users a wider variety of options.
See original here: Heroku Introduces More Powerful Dynos For Large-Scale Apps
Kim Dotcom, of Megaupload fame (or rather, infamy) and file-sharing service Mega, has today unveiled his latest project by offering a sneak peek of his new music service Baboom, previously known as Megabox. The site is scheduled to open its doors in late 2014, but this “soft launch” serves as a way for users to check out the service in advance, while also sampling Dotcom’s own album, Good Times.
The album, which is already on Google Play and iTunes, is available both for streaming and download on Baboom in MP3, FLAC, and WAV formats. In addition, the accompanying artist profile page features things like photos, videos, interviews, social updates and more. Users can follow an artist’s Twitter account with a click of a button, too. Meanwhile, Baboom’s navigation is available in a simple sidebar on the right, which will soon let you access Search functions, your music library, plus Activity and Jukebox pages, when the service becomes publicly available later this year.
What’s interesting about Baboom, or at least Dotcom’s Europop album featured on the site, is that it’s being offered both as a free download and paid. For paid downloads, the site points users to official music marketplaces, including iTunes, Amazon and Bandcamp.
As Dotcom explains in the video posted next to his own album, “my idea is that artists should make their music available for free, and fans should only pay for it if they really like it.”
“So I’m going to lead by example today,” he adds, encouraging users to make his album number one to prove to that this model can work.
It’s not an entirely crazy idea to release free downloads – after all, the appeal of today’s radio-like streaming services is not necessarily their fancy personalization algorithms, it’s the ability to listen to music you like for free. Services like SoundCloud have also prospered because they’ve allowed a place for lesser-known or upcoming artists to feature their work and grow a fan base. But many of today’s on-demand services, like leading Baboom competitor Spotify, have to some extent struggled with aspects surrounding music discovery, too heavily focusing on the social graph instead of an individual’s own musical tastes. (After all, your Facebook friends don’t necessarily like what you like, nor do you necessarily care what they play.)
That being said, Baboom may be hard-pressed to compete head-on with the established services and platforms in the space, but by making an appeal to forward-thinking artists who have a better understanding of the shifting landscape in the music industry, there’s a chance that Baboom could end up looking more like a modern-day MySpace.
MySpace, for those of you who only recall it vaguely as some pre-cursor to Facebook, originally took off because of its focus on music discovery, and being known as a platform where artists could connect directly with their fans. They could host profile pages, let MySpace users listen to tracks for free, and, fans could in turn, optionally post their favorite songs to their own profiles. Baboom feels familiar, almost like the way MySpace would look had it grown with the changing times instead of exiting to News Corp, and later becoming something of a joke. Baboom may not grow into a social network of its own, but it’s easy to see how, if artists choose to embrace the platform, it could serve those same urges to freely sample music while learning what you like, then buy the albums belonging to your favorites.
You can check out Baboom for yourself, and sign up to be alerted when it launches.
Read the original: Kim Dotcom’s Baboom Looks Like A Modern-Day MySpace