Apple Sets Much-Anticipated September New-Product Preview

Apple will take the wraps off new products in a much-anticipated 9 September event at the Flint Center in Cupertino, California, where Steve Jobs launched the Mac computer. Some reporters are billing it as the most anticipated since Apple launched the iPad in 2010. The company has not released details. Industry observers speculate the firm will show new iPhones as well as its first wearable device. (The Associated Press)(re/Code – 1)(re/Code – 2)

US Comic is Serious about Hybrid Social-Media Promotions

You know the face. He’s got a hit television show in the US——playing Tom Haverford on NBC’s Parks and Recreation—and frequently performs stand-up comedy dates across the country. He’s even sold out Madison Square Garden in New York City. His name is Aziz Ansari, and .he has 4 million Twitter followers, which he is using to his advantage. Ansari employs a mix of social media, posts on his website <http://popup.azizansari.com/ >, and text messages to promote shows in small venues to his fans and give them a chance to buy tickets. He sends a tweet instructing fans to head to his site and enter their cellular-phone numbers for a chance to buy tickets. When Ansari did this in San Francisco, there were 35,000 entries in three days. Winners are notified by phone and given a code to buy tickets free of processing fees. “If I tweet out that ‘I’m doing a show at the Punchline’ (the small club where Ansari appeared in San Francisco)’ it would sell out really fast, like in 30 seconds,” he explained to re/Code. “No one would have a chance to get tickets unless they’re maniacally checking Twitter. And I didn’t want those to be the only people.” A team headed by online publisher David Cho created Ansari’s custom software. (re/Code)(Aziz Ansari)

Hackers Target Large Banks

Several large US banks were attacked by hackers who appear to have used malware and a zero-day vulnerability to infiltrate networks and obtain corporate and customer data. At least five banks—only JP Morgan Chase was identified—were involved in the attacks, in which cybercriminals stole “gigabytes of customer data,” according to the anonymous sources cited by news outlets. However, it is unclear whether they took credit card or other account information. The fact that there have been no reports of money moved from accounts indicates the attack was politically motivated, according to a US government source. The US FBI, Secret Service, and National Security Agency are investigating the breaches. Initial investigations indicate the attacks were routed through computers in Latin America from servers that Russian hackers are known to use. Security vendor Trend Micro reported an uptick in attacks on US and European banks since 24 July 2014 from computers whose IP addresses appear to be in former Soviet bloc countries. JP Morgan Chase spokesperson Brian Marchiony declined comment on the recent incidents, saying only, “Companies of our size unfortunately experience cyberattacks nearly every day. We have multiple layers of defense to counteract threats and constantly monitor fraud levels.” In April, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon said the company was increasing its annual expenditures on security by 25 percent—to $250 million—compared to 2013. (CNN Money)(re/Code)(Bloomberg)

Court Denies Apple’s Request to Bar Samsung’s Infringing Smartphones in US

A US federal judge has rejected Apple’s request asking for her to ban the domestic sale of nine Samsung smartphones—most in the Galaxy line—that Apple claims infringed on its patents. Apple sought a permanent injunction after a US jury found in May that Samsung, which is appealing the finding, infringed on three of its patents and had to pay $120 million of the $2.2 billion in damages sought. In a 42-page ruling, US District Judge Lucy Koh contended that Apple did not prove that “it suffered significant harm in the form of either lost sales or reputational injury.” Additionally she said Apple had not “satisfied its burden of demonstrating irreparable harm and linking that harm to Samsung's exploitation of any of Apple’s three infringed patents.” Earlier this month, the companies agreed to end their patent battles outside the US. (Tech Spot)(The San Jose Mercury-News)(The Wall Street Journal)(Ars Technica)

US-Based eTailers Increasingly Accept Bitcoin

More US-based online retailers—including Dish Network, Expedia, and Overstock.com—are allowing payments via bitcoin. Market analysts say the virtual currency is moving toward mainstream acceptance for online purchases, with full adoption occurring in about five years. Currently, market analysts note, consumers still prefer to use credit cards. Continuing volatility in the bitcoin exchange rate, which is unregulated, is also deterring consumer acceptance. However, merchants like using bitcoin to avoid credit-card fraud and transaction fees paid to credit-card companies. (Reuters)(Mashable)

Major US Carrier’s Internet Service Restored after Massive Outage

Time Warner Cable’s Internet service was knocked out across the US for about 90 minutes Wednesday morning. Millions of customers—primarily in key markets of California (including Los Angeles), New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Texas—were left without service. In a statement, the company explained, “During our routine network maintenance, an issue with our Internet backbone created disruption with our Internet and on-demand services. Industry observers say this incident could bolster arguments made by those opposing the pending merger between Time Warner and Comcast, the country’s largest cable TV provider.  “People are questioning whether this merger will be good for consumers,” Steve Beck, founder of the management consulting firm CG42, told the Los Angeles Times. Service interruptions happen. The world is an imperfect place, but it really comes down to how these companies handle the problem and resolve their customer's complaints.” (re/Code)(The Los Angeles Times)

Tricorder X Finalists Announced

Qualcomm announced 10 finalists in a competition to develop a handheld healthcare device inspired by the tricorder medical scanner used in the Star Trek TV series. The Qualcomm Tricorder X Prize will award $7 million prize for the best noninvasive wireless device weighing less than five pounds that can diagnose 16 different diseases—such as anemia, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, mononucleosis, and tuberculosis—and accurately measure vital signs. Many tricorder technologies currently exist but not in a single, portable device. Participants in the contest include research teams from Canada, India, Ireland, Slovenia, the UK and the US, from universities, medical-device manufacturers, and tech start-ups, including one funded by NASA and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. Thy have until mid-2015 to develop a working prototype. A total of $10 million in prizes will be awarded. (BBC)(CNET)(Qualcomm)

Bug Throws Wrench into Google Image Searches

Computer users in many parts of the world trying to find images via Google for eight hours on 26 August 2014 were served up repeated images of a grisly Russian car accident and photos of NBA star Kevin Durant rather than those they sought. The problem affected Google encrypted searches, which are now the default search mode, across multiple Google domains. In a statement sent to ZDNet, the company said only that the issue was caused by an accident. A source familiar with the issue said it was the result of a bug in Google’s software. Google didn’t comment on exactly what precipitated the problem. (TIME)(ZDNet)

Cyberattack Compromises Data on US Homeland Security Employees

A cyberattack on USIS, formerly known as US Investigations Services, a company that conducts background checks for federal government employees, compromised the personal data of at least 25,000 of those workers, including undercover investigators. For example, the breach exposed personal information of Department of Homeland Security (DHS) employees. The compromised information includes Social Security numbers, education and criminal history, birth dates, and personal information about relatives and friends. Dmitri Alperovitch, chief technology officer with cybersecurity firm CrowdStrike, said hackers “would be collecting this data to identify individuals who might be vulnerable to extortion and recruitment.” USIS disclosed the attack earlier this month—saying it has “all the markings of a state-sponsored attack”—but did not say how many records had been compromised or which agencies were affected. DHS suspended all work with the company and the FBI is investigating the attack. USIS could not be reached for comment. (Reuters)(NBC News)

Designer Ralph Lauren Puts Technology in Iconic Polo Shirt

Ralph Lauren, the fashion house best known for its preppy collared shirts featuring a mallet-wielding rider on a polo pony, is adding a biometric shirt to its offerings. The Polo Tech shirt uses biometric sensors to collect data about the wearer’s motions and direction of movement. It debuted at the US Open tennis tournament, which just began. Some of the ball boys will wear the shirt, which was developed with the assistance of OMsignal, which developed the biometric technology for the shirt. The shirt, made from an antimicrobial smart fabric with sensors embedded in it, will collect data, including heart rate and respiration, based on the wearer’s movements. It transmits   he information to a cloud-based system, which will analyze the data and report its findings. Although designers such as Diane Von Fürstenberg and Tory Burch are collaborating with technology firms – Google and FitBit, respectively -- to make wearable accessories fashionable, observers say this move by a mainstream brand like Ralph Lauren on a smart garment and its use at a major sporting event could signal the greater acceptance of wearable technology. (ZD Net)(Mashable)

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