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Data breach exposes trade secrets of carmakers GM, Ford, Tesla, Toyota

Data breach exposes trade secrets of carmakers GM, Ford, Tesla, Toyota Security researcher UpGuard Cyber Risk disclosed Friday that sensitive documents from more than 100 manufacturing companies, including GM, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Tesla, Toyota, ThyssenKrupp, and VW...

How to recover deleted iPhone contacts

How to recover deleted iPhone contacts If you've lost an important contact from your iPhone, there's no need to worry just yet. We show you a few ways to recover it from iCloud, iTunes, or a third-party app How to recover deleted iPhone contacts Source: Mac World How...

How to free up memory on a Mac

How to free up memory on a Mac If your Mac has slowed down it's possible that your RAM is being used to the max. Here's how to clean your Mac memory, including ways to reduce Mac memory usage so you can clear your RAM without restarting How to free up memory on a Mac...

WhatsApp limits message forwarding in bid to reduce spam and misinformation

WhatsApp limits message forwarding in bid to reduce spam and misinformation In a bid to cut down on the spread of false information and spam, WhatsApp recently added labels that indicate when a message has been forwarded. Now the company is sharpening that strategy by...

Alibaba boosts its offline reach with $2B+ investment in outdoor digital marketing firm

Alibaba boosts its offline reach with B+ investment in outdoor digital marketing firm Alibaba is investing big bucks into offline distribution. The Chinese e-commerce giant has forked out $2.23 billion in exchange for a sizeable piece of Focus Media, a Shanghai-based...

How to edit PDFs on Mac

How to edit PDFs on Mac Thanks to Preview, a free app that comes with macOS you can edit PDFs easily. We show you how it's done, plus some alternatives that let you finess the finished product a bit How to edit PDFs on Mac Source: Mac World How...

EU’s Google Android antitrust decision incoming…

EU’s Google Android antitrust decision incoming… A decision in a long running EU antitrust probe of Google’s Android OS is due to land shortly. European Commission officials are trailing a press conference with competition commissioner Margrethe Vestager — to announce...

How to sign a PDF or document on Mac

How to sign a PDF or document on Mac It's quick and easy to create a digital signature on your Mac and then add it to PDFs, images and documents with one click How to sign a PDF or document on Mac Source: Mac World How...

Machine learning boosts Swiss startup’s shot at human-powered land speed record

Machine learning boosts Swiss startup’s shot at human-powered land speed record

The current world speed record for riding a bike down a straight, flat road was set in 2012 by a Dutch team, but the Swiss have a plan to topple their rivals — with a little help from machine learning. An algorithm trained on aerodynamics could streamline their bike, perhaps cutting air resistance by enough to set a new record.

Currently the record is held by Sebastiaan Bowier, who in 2012 set a record of 133.78 km/h, or just over 83 mph. It’s hard to imagine how his bike, which looked more like a tiny landbound rocket than any kind of bicycle, could be significantly improved on.

But every little bit counts when records are measured down a hundredth of a unit, and anyway, who knows but that some strange new shape might totally change the game?

To pursue this, researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s Computer Vision Laboratory developed a machine learning algorithm that, trained on 3D shapes and their aerodynamic qualities, “learns to develop an intuition about the laws of physics,” as the university’s Pierre Baqué said.

“The standard machine learning algorithms we use to work with in our lab take images as input,” he explained in an EPFL video. “An image is a very well-structured signal that is very easy to handle by a machine-learning algorithm. However, for engineers working in this domain, they use what we call a mesh. A mesh is a very large graph with a lot of nodes that is not very convenient to handle.”

Nevertheless, the team managed to design a convolutional neural network that can sort through countless shapes and automatically determine which should (in theory) provide the very best aerodynamic profile.

“Our program results in designs that are sometimes 5-20 percent more aerodynamic than conventional methods,” Baqué said. “But even more importantly, it can be used in certain situations that conventional methods can’t. The shapes used in training the program can be very different from the standard shapes for a given object. That gives it a great deal of flexibility.”

That means that the algorithm isn’t just limited to slight variations on established designs, but it also is flexible enough to take on other fluid dynamics problems like wing shapes, windmill blades or cars.

The tech has been spun out into a separate company, Neural Concept, of which Baqué is the CEO. It was presented today at the International Conference on Machine Learning in Stockholm.

A team from the Annecy University Institute of Technology will attempt to apply the computer-honed model in person at the World Human Powered Speed Challenge in Nevada this September — after all, no matter how much computer assistance there is, as the name says, it’s still powered by a human.

Machine learning boosts Swiss startup’s shot at human-powered land speed record
Source: TechCrunch

Pointy raises $12M Series B to help bricks and mortar retailers fight Amazon

Pointy raises M Series B to help bricks and mortar retailers fight Amazon

Pointy​,​ the​ ​startup​ ​that​ offers tech to help ​bricks and mortar​ ​retailers put their stock online so that it can be discovered via search engines, has picked up $12 million in new funding. The Series B round is led Polaris Partners and Vulcan Capital, and brings total funding for the Irish company to $19 million.

Founded on the premise that people often resort to e-commerce behemoths like Amazon because they can’t find the same item locally, Pointy has developed a hardware and cloud software solution that makes it easy to create a bespoke website as means of making local stock discoverable online. Specifically, the ​”Pointy​ ​box”​ hardware ​gadget connects to a store’s barcode scanner and automatically puts scanned items on a Pointy-powered website for the store.

Store pages are then optimised for search engines, so that when you search for products locally — say your favourite artisan beer — a Pointy-powered result shows up and encourages you to visit the store and make a purchase. In other words, this is about helping local retailers drive more footfall, but with very little additional overhead.

Pointy CEO and co-founder Mark Cummins says the Series B round will be used by the startup to accelerate growth and build on an increased uptake by U.S. retailers. It currently counts 5,500 retailers using Pointy in total, with 70 percent from the U.S, and the remaining in Canada, U.K. and Ireland. “To put the U.S. number in context, just under 1 in 200 U.S retailers is now using Pointy,” a company spokesperson tells me.

Since we last covered Pointy, the started has extended its reach considerably with partnerships with Lightspeed, Clover and Square, which allows retailers using these POS systems to use the Pointy platform for free because it doesn’t require the purchase of the $499 Pointy device. It has also partnered with Google via the search giant’s new See What’s In Store (SWIS) program so that shoppers can discover what a store sells within Google’s search and maps pages.

“For all the hype around e-commerce and the media narrative of ‘Retail Apocalypse’, people still make the vast majority of their purchases in local stores,” adds Cummins in a statement. “But local retailers have lost out in not having their products visible online – we solve that problem for them”.

Meanwhile, Point’s previous backers include Draper Associates, Frontline Ventures, and notable angel investors such as Matt Mullenweg (founder of WordPress), Lars Rasmussen (co-founder of Google Maps), Taavet Hinrikus (co-founder of TransferWise), and Michael Birch (co-founder of Bebo).

Pointy raises M Series B to help bricks and mortar retailers fight Amazon
Source: TechCrunch

How to play music on iPhone

How to play music on iPhone

In this complete guide to using music on the iPhone we’ll look at some of the basics of using the Music app on the iPhone, including how to get music on your phone, how to create playlists, how to play tracks on repeat, and how to view lyrics, and more.
How to play music on iPhone
Source: Mac World How To

Aspire Capital offers fast finance for SMEs in Southeast Asia

Aspire Capital offers fast finance for SMEs in Southeast Asia

Southeast Asia’s digital economy is tipped to grow more than six-fold to reach more than $200 billion per year, according to a report co-authored by Google, with e-commerce accounting for the dominant share. The emergence of e-commerce platforms like Alibaba’s Lazada and U.S.-listed Shopee have enabled online entrepreneurship across the region, but still financial support for online sellers, who are basically SMEs, is lagging.

That’s where Singapore-based Aspire Capital, a six-month-old organization focused on speedy SME lending, is hoping to make a difference.

The company certainly has opportunity. With a cumulative population of over 600 million consumers and a rising middle class, Southeast Asia is increasingly an attractive market for businesses of all kind, and online companies in particular. Chinese giants Alibaba and Tencent have long devoted significant resources to the region where, like India, they see significant growth potential. E-commerce is the clear winner, in terms of size, with the e-Conomy SEA report — a joint research project between Google and Singapore sovereign fund Temasek — forecasting e-commerce revenue will hit $88 billion by 2025 from $10.9 billion in 2017.

Data from the e-Conomy SEA report

The crux of its problem is that online sellers who use Lazada, Shopee or other platforms that are forgoing profit in order to grow, are ironically less able to scale their business since there are few ‘e-commerce friendly’ financing options.

That problem became apparent to Aspire founder and CEO Andrea Baronchelli during a four-year stint with Lazada Singapore where, as CMO, he identified a financing disconnect for Lazada merchants.

“I saw the problem while trying to rally small businesses trying to grow in the digital economy,” Baronchelli told TechCrunch in an interview.

“The problem is really about providing working capital to small business owners. We started with online sellers, but we have expanded a bit as we see demand. There are 65 million small businesses in Southeast Asia, that’s ten times more than the U.S. so we see so much potential,” he added.

Aspire founder and CEO Andrea Baronchelli pictured while at Lazada

Today, Aspire Capital covers Singapore where it has expanded beyond e-commerce merchants to cover other things of SMEs who seek loans, primarily for working capital as Baronchelli explains. So far, he added, it has served loans to over 100 businesses. Typically, its spread goes from as low as SG$5,000 to up to SG$100,000, that’s around $3,600-$73,500 in U.S. terms.

The company was founded in early 2018 and already it has done plenty. It was part of the Y Combinator Winter 2018 cohort and it has closed a $9 million seed round to kick its business off with the working capital that it needs itself.

That round included a range of investors such as Europe-based Hummingbird, New York’s Mark II Capital, ex-Sequoia partner Yinglan Tan’s Insignia Ventures Partners and Y Combinator.

The principle behind the business is to make business financing quick and simple, Baronchelli said.

So rather than stacks of paperwork, SME owners fill out online forms and get a response the same day. Large parts of the application and review process are automated using a proprietary risk assessment engine, but Baronchelli said that ultimately a human makes the final call on whether to accept the application or not.

“We want to really be fast,” Baronchelli explained. “SMEs need quick decisions, they cannot wait three months for a bank. They need super quick, fast and no paperwork.”

The application process for companies seeking loans from Aspire Capital

He paints an example of online merchants who typically buy inventory from China which is sold customers within three to six months. If the business has a track record, it can take a loan to increase its stock and grow its revenues and profit, he explained.

Singapore may be a key market in Southeast Asia, but with a population of just over five million expansion is top of mind for Aspire. Baronchelli said he is doing due diligence on the first market expansion which he expects will happen before the end of this year. He expects that the business will raise further capital, perhaps towards the tail end of this year, which would be used to expand more aggressively across Southeast Asia in 2019.

He is also occupied building out the team. Right now, Aspire has ten people but he is keen to bring in ten to fifteen more staff, particularly on the tech side of the business.

Aspire Capital offers fast finance for SMEs in Southeast Asia
Source: TechCrunch

N26 updates its web app

N26 updates its web app

Fintech startup N26 wants to compete with traditional banks on all fronts. And it means providing a useful web interface to view your past transactions, transfer money and more. Most users likely interact with N26 through the mobile app. But it doesn’t mean web apps are useless.

Contrary to Revolut, N26 has had a web interface since day one. It lets you control most things in your account. For instance, you can add a new recipient and send money. You can configure notifications, get a PDF with your IBAN number and download banking statements.

You can also lock your card, reset the card pin, reorder one or block some features from the web. This way, if somebody steals your phone with a wallet case, you can still go to the website and disable your card.

With today’s update, N26 is mostly refining the design of the interface. The left column is gone, and you now get a feed of transactions front and center. When you press the download button, you can download bank statements, a CSV with all your past transactions in case you want to put them in Excel and the PDF with your IBAN number.

But the company seems to be really excited about one new feature in particular — dark mode. You can now switch the entire interface to black. This will be particularly useful when Apple introduces macOS Mojave with dark mode across the operating system.

You can now also tick a box when you log in to enable discreet mode. This feature hides your balance and transactions in case you don’t want your coffee shop neighbor to look at your bank account.

The new web app is responsive, which means that it works on computers with big screens as well as mobile phones. The information on your screen changes depending on the width of your browser window. The new N26 for web should be available now.

N26 updates its web app
Source: TechCrunch

Timehop discloses July 4 data breach affecting 21 million

Timehop discloses July 4 data breach affecting 21 million

Timehop has disclosed a security breach that has compromised the personal data (names and emails) of 21 million users. Around a fifth of the affected users — or 4.7M — have also had a phone number that was attached to their account breached in the attack.

The startup, whose service plugs into users’ social media accounts to resurface posts and photos they may have forgotten about, says it discovered the attack while it was in progress, at 2:04 US Eastern Time on July 4, and was able to shut it down two hours, 19 minutes later — albeit, not before millions of people’s data had been breached.

According to its preliminary investigation of the incident, the attacker first accessed Timehop’s cloud environment in December — using compromised admin credentials, and apparently conducting reconnaissance for a few days that month, and again for another day in March and one in June, before going on to launch the attack on July 4, during a US holiday.

Timehop publicly disclosed the breach in a blog post on Saturday, several days after discovering the attack.

It says no social media content, financial data or Timehop data was affected by the breach — and its blog post emphasizes that none of the content its service routinely lifts from third party social networks in order to present back to users as digital “memories” was affected.

However the keys that allow it to read and show users their social media content were compromised — so it has all keys deactivated, meaning Timehop users will have to re-authenticate to its App to continue using the service.

“If you have noticed any content not loading, it is because Timehop deactivated these proactively,” it writes, adding: “We have no evidence that any accounts were accessed without authorization.”

It does also admit that the tokens could “theoretically” have been used for unauthorized users to access Timehop users’ own social media posts during “a short time window” — although again it emphasizes “we have no evidence that this actually happened”.

“We want to be clear that these tokens do not give anyone (including Timehop) access to Facebook Messenger, or Direct Messages on Twitter or Instagram, or things that your friends post to your Facebook wall. In general, Timehop only has access to social media posts you post yourself to your profile,” it adds.

“The damage was limited because of our long-standing commitment to only use the data we absolutely need to provide our service. Timehop has never stored your credit card or any financial data, location data, or IP addresses; we don’t store copies of your social media profiles, we separate user information from social media content — and we delete our copies of your “Memories” after you’ve seen them.”

In terms of how its network was accessed, it appears that the attacker was able to compromise Timehop’s cloud computing environment by targeting an account that had not been protected by multifactor authentication.

That’s very clearly a major security failure — but one Timehop does not explicitly explain, writing only that: “We have now taken steps that include multifactor authentication to secure our authorization and access controls on all accounts.”

Part of its formal incident response, which it says began on July 5, was also to add multifactor authentication to “all accounts that did not already have them for all cloud-based services (not just in our Cloud Computing Provider)”. So evidently there was more than one vulnerable account for attackers to target.

Its exec team will certainly have questions to answer about why multifactor authentication was not universally enforced for all its cloud accounts.

For now, by way of explanation, it writes: “There is no such thing as perfect when it comes to cyber security but we are committed to protecting user data. As soon as the incident was recognized we began a program of security upgrades.” Which does have a distinct ‘stable door being locked after the horse has bolted’ feel to it.

It also writes that it carried out “the introduction of more pervasive encryption throughout our environment” — so, again, questions should be asked why it took an incident response to trigger a “more pervasive” security overhaul.

Also not entirely clear from Timehop’s blog post: When/if affected users were notified their information has been breached.

The company posed the blog post disclosing the security breach to its Twitter account on July 8. But prior to that its Twitter account was only noting that some “unscheduled maintenance” might be causing problems for users accessing the app…

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We’ve reached out to the company with questions and will update this post with any response.

Timehop does say that at the same time as it was working to shut down the attack and tighten up its security, company executives contacted local and federal law enforcement officials — presumably to report the breach.

Breach reporting requirements are baked into Europe’s recently updated data protection framework, the GDPR, which puts the onus firmly on data controllers to disclose breaches to supervisory authorities — and to do so quickly — with the regulation setting a universal standard of within 72 hours of becoming aware of it (unless the personal data breach is unlikely to result in “a risk to the rights and freedoms of natural persons”).

Referencing GDPR, Timehop writes: “Although the GDPR regulations are vague on a breach of this type (a breach must be “likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of the individuals”), we are being pro-active and notifying all EU users and have done so as quickly as possible. We have retained and have been working closely with our European-based GDPR specialists to assist us in this effort.”

The company also writes that it has engaged the services of an (unnamed) cyber threat intelligence company to look for evidence of use of the email addresses, phone numbers, and names of users being posted or used online and on the Dark Web — saying that “while none have appeared to date, it is a high likelihood that they will soon appear”.

Timehop users who are worried the network intrusion and data breach might have impact their “Streak” — aka the number Timehop displays to denote how many consecutive days they have opened the app — are being reassured by the company that “we will ensure all Streaks remain unaffected by this event”.

Timehop discloses July 4 data breach affecting 21 million
Source: TechCrunch

Elon Musk says SpaceX is working on a kid-size submarine to extract those boys in Thailand

Elon Musk says SpaceX is working on a kid-size submarine to extract those boys in Thailand

Over the last couple of days, serial entrepreneur Elon Musk has been tweeting about how to potentially help the 12 young soccer players and their coach who began exploring a cave in Thailand on June 23rd, quickly becoming trapped there by rising floodwaters.

Now, suggests Musk, working with cave experts in Thailand, he and engineers from his rocket company, SpaceX, have decided on the “primary path” to attempt to freeing the group: a “tiny, kid-size submarine” that uses the “liquid oxygen transfer tube” of SpaceX’s Falcon rocket as the hull.

It’s “[l]ight enough to be carried by two divers, small enough to get through narrow gaps. Extremely robust,” Musk tweeted a couple of hours ago, adding that construction on the vehicle will be “complete in about 8 hours” after which it will be sent on a 17-hour flight to Thailand. (SpaceX is based in Hawthorne, California, outside of L.A.)

Whether the creation is made and shipped out remains to be seen, but Musk suggested on Twitter that it would be “[f]itted for a kid or small adult to minimize open air” with “[s]egmented compartments to place rocks or dive weights” and “adjust buoyancy.”

Musk had tweeted last night that both SpaceX and his much newer, tunnel boring company, Boring Company, would be sending engineers to Thailand today to see how they could help.

If SpaceX is able to create an escape pod that works, Musk — who enjoys a kind of cult status in the business world for building superior products in challenging, capital-intensive industries — will only further burnish his reputation as a kind of Tony Stark figure. Indeed, his Twitter feed is currently filled with adoring comments relating to his interest in rescuing the soccer team.

It’s a daunting challenge. As reported in the New York Times, the cave complex has never been fully mapped and it features different waterways that don’t appear to be directly linked. Rescue attempts have already led to one fatality, that of former Thai Navy SEAL diver Saman Gunan, who brought tanks of air to the boys and their coach, then lost consciousness in one of its passageways on his swim out of the complex.

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Update: The original version of this story included a short reference to a contest that Musk is not involved in. Thanks to a reader for flagging this for us.

Elon Musk says SpaceX is working on a kid-size submarine to extract those boys in Thailand
Source: TechCrunch