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Google Fiber halts expansion plans as chief steps down

SAN FRANCISCO  — Google's parent company is halting operations and laying off staff in a number of cities where it once hoped to bring high-speed internet access by installing new fiber-optic networks. The company also announced that Craig Barratt, a veteran tech executive who led the ambitious — and expensive — Google Fiber program, is stepping down as CEO of Access, the division of Google corporate parent, Alphabet Inc., that operates the 5-year-old program.   In a statement, Barratt said Google Fiber will continue to provide service in a handful of cities where it's already operating, including Atlanta; Austin, Texas; and Charlotte, North Carolina. But it will put further plans on hold in at least eight more metropolitan areas where it's been holding exploratory talks with local officials. Those include Dallas; Tampa and Jacksonville, …

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Epson offers world’s lightest OLED smart glasses

Epson on Tuesday launched its latest augmented reality smart glasses, the Moverio BT-300 in Southeast Asia. The MoverioBT-300 features Epson’s own cutting edge silicon-based OLED (organic light emitting diode) digital display technology, enabling the device to be the lightest see-through binocular smart glasses on the market, and setting the new standard for augmented reality smart eyewear. Leveraging Epson’s patented optical and precision technologies, Epson’s MoverioBT-300 smart glasses has micro projectors located on each side of the eyeglasses that project transparent overlays of digital content directly in the user’s field of view over the real-world environment. The Moverio BT-300 bring hands-free operability through a front-facing 5-mega-pixel HD camera and intelligent tracking sensors that detects the dimensions and spatial positioning of objects in relation to each other. A key feature is that users can take …

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Facebook expands Safety Center, Bullying Prevention Hub

Social media giant Facebook has relaunched its Safety Center and Bullying Prevention Hub with the aim of encouraging safe and secure sharing among its users. The Safety Center and Bullying Prevention Hub have been redesigned with the help of more than 60 nonprofit organizations, including International Bullying Prevention Association and the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, providing comprehensive tools in more than 50 languages, including Filipino and Bisaya. “People come to Facebook to share some of their most important moments in life, and we’ve built the Safety Center to help people control their experience on our platform and feel safe being themselves,” Facebook’s head of global safety Antigone Davis said in a post. Launched in 2010, the Safety Center, has been expanded to presents users with Facebook’s safety policies, tools and resources. It especially equips users …

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Chinese firm issues webcam recall after massive cyberattack

BEIJING — A Chinese electronics maker has issued a recall for millions of products sold in the U.S. following a devastating cyberattack, but is pushing back against criticism that its devices played a role in the massive disruption. Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology said in a statement that customers failing to change their default passwords resulted in millions of Web-connected cameras and digital recorders becoming compromised. Security experts say unidentified hackers seized control of gadgets including Xiongmai's on Friday and directed them to launch an attack that temporarily crippled websites including Twitter and Netflix. Xiongmai said Monday that it would recall products sold before April 2015 to demonstrate "social responsibility," but added that its devices did not make up the majority used in the attack. Xiongmai also makes dashboard cameras and computer chips.

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U.S. to release Internet of Things principles after Friday’s cyberattacks

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. government said Monday that it will release in the coming weeks a set of principles for securing the Internet of Things, or Internet-connected devices, which were employed partly by hackers to carry out Friday's cyberattacks that disrupted major U.S. websites. U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson said Monday his department is "closely monitoring" events arising from the distributed denial of service attacks on a domain name services company called Dyn on Friday, which caused major services such as Twitter, Paypal and some other U.S. websites to be inaccessible for about two hours for many users, especially those on the U.S. East Coast. According to Johnson, his department has convened a conference call of about 18 major communication service providers to share information about the incident later that …

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Big tech-media mergers raise fresh privacy concerns

They know how you browse the internet, your favorite TV shows and where you shop and travel. Data collected by internet and media companies is a powerful tool, and the big mergers planned by AT&T with Time Warner and Verizon with Yahoo offer those firms more data that can be used to target consumers with content and advertising. Privacy advocates say the prospect of firms using all that online and offline data without safeguards could be alarming. "Twenty-first century media is all about the ability to gather information on a single individual regardless of where they are -- whether they are using mobile phone or watching TV or in a grocery store," said Jeffrey Chester of the Center for Digital Democracy, a privacy rights group. The $85 billion deal unveiled Saturday would combine AT&T, …

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Google acquires Eye-Tracking company for Virtual Reality efforts

Google just picked up a key piece of technology that might move its virtual reality ambitions closer to the masses. Eyefluence, which is working to enable eye movements to control digital screens, wrote in a blog post on Monday that it’s joining the search giant Alphabet Inc. The three-year-old startup, which had reportedly raised $21.6 million in funding, didn’t disclose a price. Google confirmed the deal with Eyefluence in an e-mailed statement. Jim Marggraff, the creator of the pioneering LeapPad tablet computer, started Eyefluence after buying up assets from neurological research firm Eye-Com. He pledged that the startup would allow people to manipulate objects and digital screens with their eye movements. Functional eye-tracking is a widely desired feature in virtual reality and augmented reality, which lets digital images interact with the physical world. Eye-tracking …

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Smartwatch sales tumble, dragged down by Apple

Global smartwatch sales slid 51.6 percent in the third quarter, amid a steep decline for the Apple Watch ahead of its updated device, a market tracker said Monday. The IDC survey said total smartwatch volumes were 2.7 million units, less than half the level of a year earlier. Apple, the largest smartwatch vendor, saw its sales down 71.6 percent. But IDC analyst Ramon Llamas said the decline is not as ominous as it appears -- because many consumers were waiting for the new version of the Apple Watch and upcoming Android devices. "The sharp decline in smartwatch shipment volumes reflects the way platforms and vendors are realigning," Llamas said. "Apple revealed a new look and feel to watchOS that did not arrive until the launch of the second generation watch at the end of …

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Piñol experiences China’s great ‘firewall’

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel “Manny” Piñol shared his first-hand experience of the infamous “great firewall” of China. Piñol, an active figure on Facebook, cited China’s strictly-regulated access to the internet and social networking sites for his lack of regular daily posts in Facebook in almost a week. He accompanied President Rodrigo Duterte and other cabinet members in the chief executive’s state visit to China on October 18–21. “In China, it’s not easy to open your Facebook page or your Gmail account. Access to these internet sites is regulated by government,” he said in his Facebook post Sunday, October 23. While it barred him from his daily Facebook postings about his official activities for almost a week, Piñol did not mention any significance or insignificance of China’s internet censorship. He said his upcoming posts will cover “updates …

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Space lab launches ‘Selfie Stick’

The Tiangong II space laboratory released its companion satellite, Banxing-2, at 7:31 am on Sunday. Weighing 47 kilograms and roughly the size of a desktop printer, the microsatellite has a series of visible light cameras, including a 25 megapixel camera and wide-angle imagers. Its mission is to take photographs of Tiangong II and the Shenzhou XI spacecraft, which docked with the lab on Wednesday. The satellite, which China Central TV has nicknamed "Selfie Stick", also has an infrared camera that is temperature-sensitive, said Chen Hongyu, chief engineer of the satellite program and a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Sciences' Micro-satellite Innovation Institute. "Like a private nurse for Tiangong II and Shenzhou XI, the companion satellite monitors their conditions all the time, which is helpful in detecting failures," he said. With three solar panels, …

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