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Let’s Hangout: Re/Code reports Google changed Hangouts for businesses and Chromebox for Meetings today. Users of Google Apps for Business will now get access to Hangouts without needing a G+ ID. Hangouts will allow up to 15 participants, and will interoperate with video conferencing from Blue Jeans and IntercCall. Starting in September, Dell will sell a version of Chromebox for Meetings with the ability to connect it to more than one display at a time and new management capabilities for administrators.
Come on, Mario: According to the BBC, Nintendo reported a larger first-quarter loss than expected, with a 9.9 billion yen loss (97 million USD), compared with an 8.6 billion loss (about 86 million USD) deficit a year earlier. Nintendo did sell 2.82 million copies of Mario Kart 8 during the quarter, but overall sales fell 8%. Nintendo said it expected new releases in the coming months to boost demand before the holiday shopping season. Hyrule Warriors to the rescue?
Oh, snap: Bloomberg reports China’s Alibaba is part of talks to provide another round of investment in SnapChat. The financing would value SnapChat at $10 billion. Alibaba rival TenCent is already a small and quiet investor in SnapChat.
Fly, Cortana, be free! The Next Web reports Microsoft announced its first update to Windows Phone 8.1 will release Cortana to roam across the world. The voice-activated assistant will be launched as a beta in the UK and in China under the name Xiao Na. Alpha versions of Cortana will arrive in Canada, India and Australia. All the versions will be localized with spellings and pronunciation. The U.S. version will get new features like snooze times for reminders, impersonations and a hands-free mode. Folders are also coming to the home screen and VPN supports WiFi hotspots. Preview for Developers will get the update next week and the rest of us mere mortals will see it in the coming months.
Spy vs. Spy, 2014: Apple Insider reports Russia’s Ministry of Communications and Mass Media asked Apple and SAP to provide source code for inspection. The government wants to make sure the code doesn’t hide any nefarious spy programs. Microsoft agreed to a similar proposal in 2010.
Assume the worst: Security Week reports The Tor Project disclosed details of an attack that attempted to deanonymize users. The attack was detected on July 4 while Tor was trying to identify attacks leveraging a method discovered by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University’s CERT. Tor project leader Roger Dingledine believes the attack may have been conducted by the researchers as a test, but is frustrated because Tor can’t get access to the research. A talk on the topic was planned for Black Hat, but then was canceled at the request of the University. Dingledie advised that users who operated or accessed hidden services between February and July 4 should assume they have been affected.
No seat drivers? GigaOm reports the UK will permit driverless cars on British roads for testing starting in January 2015. The trials will last between 18 months and 3 years. Tests are already taken place on public roads in Japan and parts of the US. Trials on Swedish roads begin in 2017.
Whatevs, EA: Wondering why EA Access only came to the Xbox One? Ars Technica reports that a Sony representative told Game Informer that it essentially just wasn’t worth it. The unnamed Sony rep touted the 200% growth of PlayStation Plus memberships since the launch of PlayStation 4 saying, “We don’t think asking our fans to pay an additional $5 a month for this EA-specific program represents good value.” So, basically, take your early access to Madden 15 and shove it.
Free data! GigaOm reports FreedomPop will begin selling first-gen iPad Minis and Samsung Tab 3s which will come with the service’s standard free 500 Megabytes a month as well as 500 SMS and 200 voice minutes. Yes, you heard that right. You can make calls through FreedomPop’s voice app on your tablet. You can bring your own tablet on too, as long as it’s compatible with the Sprint LTE network that FreedomPop uses. The iPad mini will sell for $319 and the Tab 3 for $199.
News From You
melchizedek74 posted the Ars Technica article that a survey by the US Government Accounting Office came to the shocking conclusion that people don’t like data caps on home Internet service. They also found that home Internet service providers admit that data caps aren’t really needed to prevent congestion. Instead data caps are needed in order to charge people more for Internet.
spsheridan submitted the Wired article the peers of the realm in the House of Lords have, after weighty consideration, determined that the so-styled “right to be forgotten” as described by the European Commission is simply “wrong.” The EU sub-committeee of the Lords consulted with the Information Commissioner’s Office, Minister for Justice and Civil Liberties Simon Hughes and Google, before arriving at their inescapable conclusion. Chairman of the Sub-Committee Baroness Prashar said the reality was “crystal clear” — “neither the 1995 Directive, nor the Court of Justice of the European Unions’s (CJEU) interpretation of it, reflects the incredible advancement in technology that we see today, over 20 years since the Directive was drafted”.
And finally, sdc111 passed along the BoingBoing post of an NPR report that astronomers at two different radio telescopes on opposite ends of the earth have now picked up fast “burst” radio signals that seem to originate outside our galaxy. Now before you submit your bid to build the wormhole surfing machine based on the schematics that are surely embedded deep within the signal, responsible scientists would like to remind you that these radio bursts could caused by blitzars, pulses of energy from a supermassive star collapsing into a black hole. Or by powerful solar flares from closer stars. Or by something an equally wondrous and yet unknown natural phenomenon. OR ALIENS SCIENTISTS!
Pick of the Day: Francisco Rivera picks testmy.net
Forever, I’ve used speedtest.net by Ookla to check my connection. It’s pretty and all, but I’ve since found testmy.net and it’s great, free, and allows for automatic repeat testing at almost any interval, which is great if you’re trying to find out if your service drops out at odd intervals.
Thursday’s guest: Patrick Beja!