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Archivo del Autor: Belen De Leon

Ford Is Bringing Huge Screens—and Live Updates—to Its Cars

The bigger screens can display a map, phone, and radio simultaneously. Ford says it won’t be too distracting. 
Source: Wired

Prosus Ventures leads $40M investment in Indian logistics startup ElasticRun

Millions of neighborhood stores that dot large and small cities, towns, and villages in India and have proven tough to beat for e-commerce giants and super-chain retailers are at the center of a new play in the country. A score of e-commerce companies, offline retail chains, and fintech startups are now racing to work with these mom and pop stores as they look to tap a massive untapped opportunity.

A Pune-based startup with an idea to build a logistics network using these kirana stores said today it has won the backing of a major international investor. Three-and-a-half-year old ElasticRun said it has raised $40 million in a Series C financing round led by Prosus Ventures (formerly Naspers Ventures). Existing investors Avataar Ventures and Kalaari Capital also participated in the round.

The startup has raised $55.5 to date, Sandeep Deshmukh, co-founder and CEO of ElasticRun, told TechCrunch in an interview.

Most of these kirana stores each day go through hours of down time — when the footfall is low and the business is slow. ElasticRun works with hundreds of thousands of these stores across 200 Indian cities to have them deliver goods to other kirana stores and consumers.

Supplying goods to these stores are FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) brands that are trying to reach the last mile in the nation. Nearly every top FMCG brand in the country today is a partner of ElasticRun, said Deshmukh.

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Deshmukh, co-founder and CEO of ElasticRun, talking about the startup’s business at a recent conference

It’s a win-win scenario for every stakeholder, Deshmukh said. Stores are getting access to more goods than ever, and also getting the opportunity to increase their business in slow hours. And for brands and e-commerce companies, access to such a wide-reaching delivery pool has never been easier, he said.

Since there is a digital log of each transaction, Deshmukh said the startup has a good idea about the financial capacity of these kirana stores. This has enabled it to connect them with relevant financial partners to access working capital, he said.

Deshmukh said the startup will use the fresh capital to on-board more neighborhood stores and deepen its penetration in the country. ElasticRun is also working on new products to expand its offerings for brands and kirana stores and improving its analytics and machine learning algorithms to tackle larger scale.

“By working with the network of small stores across the country, we solve that problem while helping the store owners grow their businesses at the same time. In addition, offering a flexible logistics extension to consumer goods companies to directly reach these small retail shops is a huge advantage over traditional distribution networks,â€� he said.

In a statement, Ashutosh Sharma, Head of Investments for India, Prosus Ventures, said, “ElasticRun is one of those rare businesses that identified a massive need in the market, matched it with a local solution paired with technology, for the benefit of all parties involved. Consumers get faster deliveries and greater choice of goods, store owners realize increased revenues and touchpoints with their customers, and consumer goods companies get better access and insight into their target audiences.”

Source: TechCrunch

Every Alexa command you can give your Amazon Echo smart speaker – CNET

From controlling Philips Hue lights to getting Prime delivery updates, Alexa offers a lot.
Source: CNET

2019 Kia Stinger GT review: An amazing performance bargain – Roadshow

Kia’s svelte Stinger is one of the best all-around cars you can buy for under $50,000.
Source: CNET

Want a free Innovator pass to Disrupt Berlin 2019? Apply to volunteer

If your budget simply can’t manage a line item for a ticket to Disrupt Berlin 2019, we have exciting news for you. Volunteer for our work exchange program, and we’ll give you a free Innovator pass good for both days of the show (11-12 December). We have a limited number of volunteer positions, and applications close Thursday, 31 October.

Don’t wait — apply to our volunteer work exchange and attend Disrupt Berlin for free.

It takes a lot of hands and a lot of work to produce a world-class tech event, and you’ll have a front row seat to how it all gets done. You’ll also be a big part of making Disrupt an outstanding experience for all attendees.

We might ask you to wrangle speakers, register attendees, scan tickets, stuff goodie bags, assist with other marketing activities, direct attendees, place signage or something else entirely. You’ll work hard, but you’ll also have plenty of time to enjoy that Innovator pass access.

Ready for the fine print? Here’s what you need to know. The Disrupt Berlin volunteer dates are 10-12 December. To be considered, all volunteers must

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Submit an application by Thursday, October 31
  • Attend a mandatory orientation training on Tuesday, 10 December at Arena Berlin
  • Be available for a total of 10 hours over the course of all three days Shifts range between 2 to 5 hours and may start as early as 6 a.m. or end as late as 11 p.m.
  • Provide your own travel, lodging and meals

We’ll assign volunteer schedules 2-3 weeks before the event, and we’ll notify you — whether we accept your application or not — by Wednesday, 6 November.

We keep dangling the free Innovator pass and for good reason. With it, volunteers have access to the full Disrupt agenda, all stages — including the Startup Battlefield competition — exclusive video content access after the event ends, interactive workshops, more than 400 startups and sponsors in Startup Alley, networking events, the full attendee list via Disrupt Mobile App and CrunchMatch, the attendee networking platform.

As a volunteer at Disrupt Berlin 2019, you’ll see everything that goes into producing a large-scale tech event, meet great people and still have time to explore and network. Applications close on 31 October, so apply to volunteer today!

Is your company interested in sponsoring or exhibiting at Disrupt Berlin 2019? Contact our sponsorship sales team by filling out this form.

Source: TechCrunch

NHS pagers are leaking medical data

An amateur radio rig exposed to the internet and discovered by a security researcher was collecting real-time of medical data and health information broadcast by hospitals and ambulances across U.K. towns and cities.

The rig, operated out of a house in North London, was picking up radio waves from over the air and translating them into readable text. The hobbyist’s computer display was filling up with messages about real-time medical emergencies from across the region. For some reason, the hobbyist had set up an internet-connected webcam pointed at the display. But because there was no password on the webcam, anyone who knew where to look could also see what was on the rig’s computer display.

Daley Borda, a security researcher and bug bounty hunter, was at home in Florida when he stumbled upon the exposed webcam. The live stream was grainy, and the quality of the images so poor that it was just possible to make out the text on the display.

“You can see details of calls coming in — their name, address, and injury,” he told TechCrunch.

TechCrunch verified his findings. Messages spilling across the screen appeared to direct nearby ambulances where to go following calls to the 999 emergency services.

One message said a 98-year-old man had fallen at his home address. A few moments later, another message said 49-year-old male was complaining of chest pains at a nearby residence. One after the other, messages were flooding in, describing accidents, incidents, medical emergencies, often including their home addresses.

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Several screenshots of the amateur radio decoding software, revealing unencrypted pager messages from nearby NHS trusts. (Image: TechCrunch)

Borda spends much of his time scouring the internet for things that shouldn’t be online. He looks for exposed databases and devices and, like most other security researchers, privately reports them to their owners. If he’s lucky, the owner takes action. Better yet, they pay out a bug bounty for his efforts.

But he could not figure out who the rig belonged to. TechCrunch contacted the hobbyist’s internet provider to warn of the data exposure.

“Last night we contacted the customer to make them aware that there was a live webcam broadcasting on the open web from their household,” said a spokesperson from the internet provider. “The customer was unaware of the nature of the information being shown so has said that they will stop the feed on that particular camera.”

The hobbyist was picking up and decoding pager communications from a nearby regional National Health Service trust.

“With some cheap, relatively basic, software it is possible for hobbyists to access these frequencies and decode the information being sent, which appears is what has occurred here,” the spokesperson said.

Old but reliable

Pagers — or beepers — may be a relic of the past, but remain a fixture in U.K. hospitals.

These traditionally one-way communication devices allow anyone to send messages to one or many pagers at once by calling a dedicated phone number, often manned by an operator, which are then broadcast as radio waves over the pager network. But pagers still offer benefits where newer technologies, like cell phones, fall down. Because they work a low frequency, pager radio waves are able to travel further and deeper inside large buildings — particularly hospitals — which have thickened walls to protect others from X-rays and other radiation. Pagers also work across long distances, including in cell service dead-spots.

But few were thinking about message security when pager use was at its peak.

“They aren’t secure,” Andy Keck, an electronics and amateur radio hobbyist, told TechCrunch. Keck said messages sent over the pager network are encoded when they are converted into a burst of radio waves and broadcast over the air.

“But people don’t necessarily understand the difference between encryption and encoding,” he said.

Because the two widely used pager protocols — POCSAG and FLEX — are not encrypted, it’s easy to understand what messages are broadcast over the airwaves using free and open-source software.

For years one of the largest barriers to intercepting and decoding pager messages — or any other radio waves — was that hobbyists needed custom, often expensive hardware. But with the advent of software-defined radios, most hobbyists can get by with a $20 plug-in dongle and an antenna.

“It’s just enter the command to start the application, sit back, and start decoding in real time on the screen,” he said.

130,000 NHS pagers

Although the number of pagers has dropped to near-zero from their height in the 1980s, pagers still carry a considerable amount of information every day.

Pager messages can travel over a large distance, said Keck, depending on how high the transmitter is located. Most major cities are covered with some pager service. Given the geography of the U.K., amateur radio hobbyists can often pick up pager messages from different sources.

The NHS still uses about 130,000 pagers, according to the U.K. government’s latest count, or about 10 percent of the world’s current pagers in use. But the NHS has been told to stop using pagers altogether by 2021.

But it’s not clear how many trusts are exposing medical information — if at all.  According to NHS spokesperson Oliver Michelson, “each NHS organization is responsible for its own IT equipment and security.”

GettyImages 128243077

Pagers receive encoded, but not encrypted messages. (Image: Getty Images)

One NHS trust we spoke to said they had around 1,600 pagers and are managed by the trust. (We are not naming the trust, as it would expose their communications.) When asked if the trust was aware that pager messages are not encrypted and can be intercepted by amateur radio hobbyists, the spokesperson responded: “Yes.”

Another trust we spoke to said they were “aware” that the handful of pagers it operates do not encrypt their messages. The trust said their pagers were managed by a third-party.

PageOne, the last remaining pager network in the U.K., says in a brochure that its pager service can deliver “real-time messaging cost effectively and securely to their staff.”

But a spokesperson told TechCrunch: “PageOne ensures customers are aware of the ability to intercept messages in its terms and conditions” and that encrypted services “are available if required.”

The company said the majority of NHS pagers are operated on private pager networks operated by the trusts themselves.

‘Trivially interceptable’

Amateur radio hobbyists know all too well the risks posed by unencrypted pagers.

Over the years there have been numerous headlines of hobbyists picking up signals from nearby hospitals, including patients’ names and medical information. Some have even turned eavesdropping on hospital pagers into an art project.

Last month, hospitals in Vancouver were found broadcasting unencrypted patient medical data across the city.

Sarah Jamie Lewis, executive director at Open Privacy, who first revealed the issue, said the hospital pager messages were “trivially interceptable” by anyone nearby.

“It tends to be pretty common knowledge in the amateur radio community that these kind of broadcasts are going on but it’s only recently that we started seeing a culture of disclosure,” said Lewis.

In the U.K., it’s legal for amateur radio hobbyists to scan the airwaves but unlawful to disclose the contents of messages. That’s put some security-focused hobbyists who disclose exposed sensitive messages in a tough legal spot.

“You get this horrible situation where not disclosing is bad, but people have a right to know that their health data is being breached,” said Lewis.

But the penalties could be far steeper for organizations that expose sensitive health data. Exposing personally identifiable and health information violates GDPR, the Europe-wide data protection laws that came into force last year. Organizations can be fined heavily for breaching the rules.

With more than a year on the clock before the NHS pager ban comes into effect, it’s not a problem that can be easily fixed.

The obvious solution would be not to send sensitive health or medical data over pager messages. Clearly, as seen by the amateur hobbyist’s radio rig, that message isn’t getting through.

Got a tip? You can send tips securely over Signal and WhatsApp to +1 646-755-8849. You can also send PGP email with the fingerprint: 4D0E 92F2 E36A EC51 DAAE 5D97 CB8C 15FA EB6C EEA5.

Source: TechCrunch

Let’s have a word about what3words with Clare Jones at Disrupt Berlin

Addresses are ambiguous, not precise enough or don’t even exist in some places. what3words wants to map the entire world and overhaul addresses three words at a time. That’s why I’m excited to announce that what3words Chief Commercial Officer Clare Jones is joining us at TechCrunch Disrupt Berlin.

The startup has divided the world in 3 meter squares. Each square has been assigned three words. This way, it’s easy to read, easy to write and even easy to say. And more importantly, it’s unique.

And sometimes, simple ideas can be incredibly powerful. For instance, if you’re driving, it’s much faster to say three words to define an address on your navigation system than a full address.

It’s also more precise. If you’re heading to a huge building, you want to arrive at the entrance of the building, not on the other side. It’s incredibly frustrating when it happens — I nearly missed a train when a GPS navigation system led me to the wrong side of the tracks. This could be particularly useful for ride-hailing apps for instance, as they usually only let you enter an address.

And then, there are countries that never had a good address system in the first place. For instance, Lonely Planet added what3words addresses to its Mongolia travel guide. It is much easier to read three words in a book and type them on your phone, instead of tapping GPS coordinates for instance.

It also opens up a lot of new markets for e-commerce companies. In some countries, customers don’t have a good way to indicate where they live. An e-commerce website can add what3words support to add new delivery locations.

There are many other use cases. Emergency services, governments and humanitarian projects could also leverage what3words to improve communication and become more efficient. And I can’t wait to hear Clare Jones describe how people have been using what3words.

Buy your ticket to Disrupt Berlin to listen to this discussion — and many others. The conference will take place December 11-12.

In addition to panels and fireside chats, like this one, new startups will participate in the Startup Battlefield to compete for the highly coveted Battlefield Cup.

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what3words is the world’s first addressing system designed for voice – every 3m x 3m square in the world has been assigned an address made of just three words from the dictionary. These 3 word addresses can be used to route cars or drones, used as an address when ordering online, or simply given as a meeting point for a picnic in the park. what3words is used in 170 countries and is being adopted by governments all around the world as an official addressing system. Its investors include Daimler, Intel Capital, Aramex and Deutsche Bahn.

Clare is the Chief Commercial Officer of what3words; prior to this, her background was in the development and growth of social enterprises and in impact investment. Clare was featured in the 2019 Forbes 30 under 30 list for technology and is involved with London companies tackling social/environmental challenges. Clare also volunteers with the Streetlink project, doing health outreach work with vulnerable women in South London.

Source: TechCrunch

WhatsApp's Case Against NSO Group Hinges on a Tricky Legal Argument

The Facebook-owned messaging company is taking on a notorious malware vendor in what could be an uphill battle.
Source: Wired

Apple’s AirPods Pro set a pricey new standard for earbuds

“These $250 earbuds are nice.� That’s the first thing I wrote to a co-worker after unboxing and trying on the new AirPods. After wearing them around the New York City streets, the subway and into a couple of cafes, that pithy review stands.

Here are a few more words: They’re super comfortable. I’ve used a lot of different Bluetooth earbuds. It’s a weird perk of my job. The AirPods Pro (baffling pluralization aside) are probably the most comfortable, with the possible exception of the Powerbeats Pro, another Apple-manufactured joint venture. That one, however, relies on a lot more plastic to get the job done, with a full over-the-ear hook system.

The new AirPods, on the other hand, just hang comfortably. This is a big win for those who’ve experienced ear discomfort from all sort of different designs. [Sheepishly raises hand.] Granted, every ear is like a beautiful, unique snowflake, and not everyone will have the same experience. That said, the company’s clearly done a lot to correct for the complaints about the original AirPods, using both a more ergonomic design and finally giving in to the sway of silicone tips.

Airpods Pro

Why Apple waited this long on the latter bit is beyond me, but the company has finally done so on its own terms. Each Pro box ships with a total of six tips (a right and left in small, medium and large), with the medium on by default. These, however, are not your standard, run of the mill silicone tips. A firm yank will pull them off to reveal a hard outer edge that snaps into the bud [picture above].

The company says this is part of ensuring a better fit. Another benefit is that the attachment is much more secure. This is a definite plus, speaking as someone who has accidentally littered the streets of New York with earbud tips. These are far less likely to fall off while getting them out of your pocket. If you do lose one, Apple will be selling replacements for probably a buck or so.

Along with an enlarged body, you’ve no doubt noticed that the stems are notably shorter. That’s because the company has been able to consolidate more of the electronics into the top. The stem remains as a way of handling the earbuds. It also now houses a haptic button that replaces the standard AirPod tap interaction. Instead, you give the stem a squeeze, triggering a subtle clicking sound in the process.

Airpods Pro

By default, a single squeeze pauses and plays a track, whereas a squeeze and hold cycles between noise cancellation and transparent modes. All of this can be adjusted in iOS, once you’ve downloaded version 13.2. Setup on iOS is as easy as ever, requiring you to simply open the case near an iPhone or iPad. Android and desktop pairing, meanwhile, involves the more standard Bluetooth setup.

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From there, click into Settings > Bluetooth > and then tap the “i� next to AirPods Pro. From here you switch between noise control modes, assign different functions to the button on the individual AirPods and fire up the Ear Tip Fit Test. Hit “play� and it will start a quick snippet of a song used to test the fit. If you have the right tip on, it will display “good seal.� If something is wrong, it recommends trying a different tip or adjusting the bud in ear.

Not only is every ear different, but some folks have a deal of differentiation between right and left. The mediums worked well for me, right out of the box. That’s me, Mr. Average Ears. Results may very.

The Pros sound great. They’re among the best-sounding earbuds I’ve tried, up there with the similarly priced Sony WF-1000XM3. As such, they’re in pretty rare air. Unlike the Echo Buds, you can’t adjust the levels in settings, but Apple’s buds are tuned well out of the box for a wide range of genres. So far, I’ve listened to Ryuichi Sakamoto, Danny Brown, The Hold Steady, Electric Youth and Sunn 0))), for a pretty diverse sampling. It all comes across rich and full — much as one would expect/hope from a $250 pair of earbuds.

Airpods Pro

The noise canceling, too, is up there with Sony’s. Apple’s works adaptively, similar to what it offers on its over-ear Beats headphones. That means the microphones are constantly listening to your surroundings and adjusting accordingly. It’s not quite a full immersion, like you would get from over-ear headphones, but with a tight seal, it does a pretty terrific job drowning out your surroundings when needed.

For those times you need to be more alert, there’s transparency mode, which uses the on-board mics to beam in ambience. Once again, it’s a good mix, letting in sound without completely overwhelming the music. That was one of my issues with the Echo Buds, which tended to overamplify things like an air conditioning unit. Though again, unlike the Echo Buds, you can turn transparency on an off, versus adjusting levels.

Bit of a side note here, but like their predecessors, these new models will probably go a ways toward shifting societal norms in terms of keeping your headphones in while engaging with others. These are the sorts of things that make me want to go all Andy Rooney on kids today, etc., etc.

Airpods Pro

Noise canceling and transparency have similar impacts on battery, knocking about half an hour off of the Pods’ built-in five hours. With the charging case factored in, total listening time should be about 24 hours in standard mode, per Apple’s estimates. I’m excited to push that to the limit as I board a plane to Asia early next week. Ditto for the comfort level — but after several hours today, all is still well.

The case is a little larger than the original AirPods, but is still carried comfortably in a pocket, unlike, say, the Beats or Sony models. The orientation has shifted, as well. It’s not wider than it is long, owing to the shortening of the AirPods’ stems. The new design means they’re slightly more difficult to maneuver into the case, but you’ll get the hang of that after a couple of tries.

Airpods Pro

Like the AirPods 2, the case can be charged both through the Lightning port or wirelessly. Tapping the case while charging will light up the LED, which will display as either yellow or green to let you know how far along your are.

So, yeah, thumbs up after half a day. No surprise there, of course. The $250 price tag will almost certainly make these cost-prohibitive for many, but after a few hours, it’s going to be hard to go back.

Look for a longer write up soon.

Source: TechCrunch

Resuelto el misterio de las 'lágrimas' que forma el vino en una copa

Durante siglos, los científicos han intentado averiguar por qué se produce este fenómeno, y un equipo parece haberlo descubierto. El responsable es un fenómeno de la mecánica de fluidos conocido como ondas de choque
Source: MIT