Odds and Ends 

Apple ad focuses on iPhones most marketable feature privacy

Apple is airing a new ad spot in primetime today. Focused on privacy, the spot is visually cued, with no dialog and a simple tagline: Privacy. That’s iPhone. In a series of humorous vignettes, the message is driven home that sometimes you just want a little privacy. The spot has only one line of text otherwise, and it’s in keeping with Apple’s messaging on privacy over the long and short term. “If privacy matters in your life, it should matter to the phone your life is on.” The spot will…

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Skymind raises $11.5M to bring deep learning to more enterprises

Skymind, a Y Combinator-incubated AI platform that aims to make deep learning more accessible to enterprises, today announced that it has raised an $11.5 million Series A round led by TransLink Capital, with participation from ServiceNow, Sumitomo’s Presidio Ventures, UpHonest Capital and GovTech Fund. Early investors Y Combinator, Tencent, Mandra Capital, Hemi Ventures, and GMO Ventures, also joined the round/ With this, the company has now raised a total of $17.9 million in funding. The inclusion of TransLink Capital gives a hint as to how the company is planning to…

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Headlines 

Finally! A DNA Computer That Can Actually Be Reprogrammed

DNA is supposed to rescue us from a computing rut. With advances using silicon petering out, DNA-based computers hold the promise of massive parallel computing architectures that are impossible today. But there’s a problem: The molecular circuits built so far have no flexibility at all. Today, using DNA to compute is “like having to build a new computer out of new hardware just to run a new piece of software,” says computer scientist David Doty. So Doty, a professor at the University of California, Davis, and his colleagues set out…

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Vinli raises $13.5M Series B to expand its vehicle data intelligence platform

Connected-car service provider Vinli today announced it closed a $13.5 million Series B financing round. The company says this infusion of capital allows it to broaden its mobility services and integrations as it attempts to connect cars around the world. The funding came from new and existing investors and brings the total amount the company raised to more than $20 million. Based in Dallas, TX, Vinli launched in 2014 in TechCrunch Startup Battlefield as a direct consumer company that allowed owners to add cloud services to automobiles. It was a…

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Samsung fakes test photo by using a stock DSLR image

Samsung’s Malaysian arm has some explaining to do. The company, in an effort to show off the Galaxy A8 Star’s amazing photo retouching abilities, used a cleverly shot portrait, modified it and then ostensibly passed it off as one taken by the A8. The trouble began when Serbian photographer Dunja Djudjic noticed someone had bought one of her photos from a service called EyeEm that supplies pictures to Getty Images, a renowned photo reseller. Djudjic, curious as to the buyer, did a quick reverse search and found her image —…

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Odds and Ends 

Contentful raises $33.5M for its headless CMS platform

Contentful, a Berlin- and San Francisco-based startup that provides content management infrastructure for companies like Spotify, Nike, Lyft and others, today announced that it has raised a $33.5 million Series D funding round led by Sapphire Ventures, with participation from OMERS Ventures and Salesforce Ventures, as well as existing investors General Catalyst, Benchmark, Balderton Capital and Hercules. In total, the company has now raised $78.3 million. Contentful, a Stripe for content management, raises $28M led by General Catalyst Read more: https://techcrunch.com/2018/12/06/contentful-raises-33-5m-for-its-headless-cms-platform/

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Qualcomm expands its PC bet with its new 7nm 8cx platform

Qualcomm wants to become a major player in the PC/laptop market. Now that there is Windows 10 on ARM, that’s more than a pipe dream, but in its earliest iterations, those Qualcomm-based Windows 10 laptops used the Snapdragon 850 system on a chip that was specifically designed for PCs but still very much a direct descendant of its smartphone platform. Today, the company announced its Snapdragon 8cx platform, “the most extreme Snapdragon ever,” in Qualcomm’s parlance, which still leverages some of the company’s mobile expertise and building blocks, but which…

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Odds and Ends 

Buggy software in popular connected storage drives can let hackers read private data

Security researchers have found flaws in four popular connected storage drives that they say could let hackers access a user’s private and sensitive data. The researchers Paulos Yibelo and Daniel Eshetu said the software running on three of the devices they tested — NetGear Stora, Seagate Home and Medion LifeCloud — can allow an attacker to remotely read, change and delete data without requiring a password. Yibelo, who shared the research with TechCrunch this week and posted the findings Friday, said that many other devices may be at risk. The software, Hipserv,…

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Odds and Ends 

A Twitter employee groomed by the Saudi government prompted 2015 state-sponsored hacking warning

An explosive report in The New York Times this weekend sheds new light on the apparent targeting of Twitter accounts by “state-sponsored actors” three years ago. It comes in the wake of the confirmed death of Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi on Friday, two weeks after he disappeared in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Khashoggi had long been a target of a Saudi troll army, according to the report, which employed hundreds of people to stifle the speech of government critics, like Khashoggi, who left the kingdom to live and…

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Odds and Ends 

Sonatype raises $80 million to build out Nexus platform

Sonatype, a cybersecurity-focused open-source company, has raised $80 million from investment firm TPG. The company said the financing will help extend its Nexus platform, which it touts as an enterprise ready repository manager and library, which among other things tracks code and helps to keep everything in the devops pipeline up-to-date and secure. It’s that kind of technology that Sonatype says can prevent another Equifax -style breach of over 147 million consumers’ data. Earlier this year, the company found over dozens of Fortune Global 100 companies that downloaded outdated and…

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The Pansar Augmented watch hides it smarts behind an analog face

The Pansar Augmented is a Swedish smart watch that looks like a standard three-handed wristwatch. However, with the tap of a button, you can view multiple data points including weather, notifications, and even sales data from your CRM. Pansar is a Swedish watch company that uses Swiss movements and hand assembled components to add a dash of luxury to your standard workhorse watch.

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Odds and Ends 

The VoCore2 is a tiny computer that can play tiny Doom

The VoCore2 is a Wi-Fi capable computer with a 580 MHz CPU and 128 RAM that supports video, USB, and Ethernet. And it plays Doom. That’s right: this is a computer you can easily swallow and allow your biome flora to play a hard core FPS while you slowly digest the package. The product started life on Indiegogo where it raised $100,000. Now it’s available for $17 for the barebones unit or $24 for the unit with USB and MicroSD card. You can also buy a four inch display for…

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Flowbox is a tool that makes it easy to build special effects

What do you get when you connect a bunch of filmmakers with a bunch of programmers? Something like Flowbox. Flowbox, which began life as a unique object-oriented programming language for visual effects, has grown into something truly powerful in the moviemaking industry. Run by Mikołaj Valencia​, Michał Urbańczyk​, Paweł Pietraszko, and Mat Bujalski, this Polish company is currently working with a number of big studios to add VFX to huge productions. “Flowbox is an industrial strength image processing platform incorporating many recent innovations in computer graphics field,” said Valencia. “It…

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Unhackable BitFi crypto wallet has been hacked

The BitFi crypto wallet was supposed to be unhackable and none other than famous weirdo John McAfee claimed that the device – essentially an Android-based mini tablet – would withstand any attack. Spoiler alert: it couldn’t. First, a bit of background. The $120 device launched at the beginning of this month to much fanfare. It consisted of a device that McAfee claimed contained no software or storage and was instead a standalone wallet similar to the Trezor. The website featured a bold claim by McAfee himself, one that would give…

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Odds and Ends 

Apple is rebuilding Maps from the ground up

I’m not sure if you’re aware, but the launch of Apple Maps went poorly. After a rough first impression, an apology from the CEO, several years of patching holes with data partnerships and some glimmers of light with long-awaited transit directions and improvements in business, parking and place data, Apple Maps is still not where it needs to be to be considered a world-class service. Maps needs fixing. Apple, it turns out, is aware of this, so it’s re-building the maps part of Maps. It’s doing this by using first-party data…

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