China’s housing unicorn Danke appoints ex-Baidu exec as new COO

    Summary
    A few months after nabbing a handsome $500 million funding round, China’s shared housing startup Danke Apartment got a talent boost. On Monday, Danke announced the appointment of Gu Guoliang as its new chief operating officer to ramp up the company’s offline operational crew. Gu, whose nickname is Michael, stepped down from Baidu after five years as one of the key figures in search, historically the company’s biggest revenue-generating division. He’s known to have managed several tens of thousands of marketing staff and helped generate sales of close to 100 billion yuan ($14.44 billion) for Baidu annually. Gu’s arrival followed a period of explosive expansion at Danke, which is now managing almost 500,000 units of rooms across 10 Chinese cities after founding four years ago. The startup takes the co-living approach akin to that of WeWork’s Welive and rents out fully furnished apartments targeted at young professionals who can’t afford a full suite. Backed by Tiger Global and Alibaba’s financial affiliate Ant Financial, Danke’s valuation crossed $2 billion in its funding round in February. Gu is one of the former Baidu executives who resigned during a recent top-level exodus (report in Chinese) that involved at least five leaders, including the search division boss Xiang Hailong, to whom Gu reported. There were speculations that Xiang’s exit might have triggered his lieutenants to leave, though TechCrunch has learned from a person close to Gu that he had left “one to two weeks” prior to Xiang’s departure. For Gu, joining Danke would almost feel like returning home. “We welcome our comrade and good friend Michael,” said Danke chief executive Gao Jing, who previously worked alongside Gu at Nuomi, the local services startup that was sold to Baidu for $3.2 billion and became integral to the internet giant’s online-to-offline business. Derek Shen, an investor and current chairman of Danke, co-founded Nuomi in 2010 before heading up LinkedIn China between 2014 and 2017. Several other core members of Danke have also hailed from Nuomi. Danke is confident that Gu’s addition will be a boon to its operational capacity. “Gu has abundant experience in operational management, sharp business insights, outstanding leadership, and a deep understanding of the internet sector and user needs,” said Gao. “Under his direction, Danke will enter a new phase of refined operation.” By that, Gao means Gu will be tasked with rolling out more targeted marketing, more efficient housing renovation, more precise acquisition of apartment space, among other quality-control measures to drive sustainable growth at the company.

    Target checkouts hit by outage for a second day in a row

    Summary
    Another day, another Target checkout outage. Many took to social media to complain that checkouts at the retail giant went down for a second day in a row. Many stores were only taking cash and gift cards. It comes after Target suffered a global point-of-sale machine outage on Saturday. Checkouts were down for more than two hours. Target said in a statement yesterday that it could “confirm that this was not a data breach or security-related issue” and “no guest information was compromised at any time.” Instead, the company blamed the outage on an “internal technology issue” without disclosing specifics. The retail giant was forced to pay $162 million in expenses related to a data breach in 2013. A spokesperson for Target didn’t immediately return a request for comment. We’ll update once we know more.

    American Airlines now offers satellite-based Wi-Fi access across its mainline fleet

    Summary
    American Airlines, the world’s largest airline by fleet size and passenger traffic, has finished rolling out satellite-based broadband Wi-Fi to its entire mainline narrowbody fleet of over 700 aircraft (that is, the Boing 737s and Airbus A319 and 320 that typically fly the company’s domestic routes). All of these satellite-equipped planes also offer access to 12 free channels of live TV that you can stream to your personal device, including on international flights where this hasn’t traditionally been an option. Unless you are comfortably sitting in business class and sipping on your pre-departure champagne, modern air travel isn’t exactly a fun or relaxing experience, no matter the reason for your travel. If you need to get work done on a flight, though, having access to fast and reliable Wi-Fi can often make a huge difference. Today’s announcement from American follows a similar announcement from last year, after the airline finishing bringing the same system to all of its widebody fleet. At this time last year, though, American had only brought this same system to a meager 13 percent of its narrowbody planes. One thing worth noting is that it’s my understanding is that American isn’t counting some of its oldest MD-83s in this count. These will never get a Wi-Fi upgrade because they are currently being phased out for more modern jets. As for the technology that powers all of this, American Airlines is betting on satellite-based systems that use either Gogo 2Ku or ViaSat Ka. Unlike some of the earlier ground-based systems, satellite systems have the obvious advantage of offering a larger coverage area (including over oceans) and more consistent connectivity. These new satellite-based systems also allow for significantly faster connections. Among American’s competitors, Delta is currently in the process of updating most of its fleet to satellite-based systems, too, while the situation at United remains a bit complicated. “Elevating the travel experience is one of our top goals at American and we’ve been working hard to provide our customers with the same level of entertainment and connectivity options they enjoy in their own living rooms,” said Kurt Stache, Senior Vice President for Marketing, Loyalty and Sales for American. “In less than two years, we completed broadband internet installation on our entire mainline fleet and we will continue setting new standards in the industry to show our customers we value the time they spend with us.” Soon, American will also bring power outlets to every seat in its mainline fleet, as well as its two-class regional fleet. Since American, just like most of its competitors, is also removing most of its in-seat entertainment systems in favor of personal device entertainment that is streamed to your phone or tablet, it is also now bringing tablet holders to most of its narrowbody fleet as well. Unlike some of its competitors, American doesn’t offer free Wi-Fi access to chat apps — or even free Wi-Fi in general. Still, if you are an American loyalist, you’ll be happy to see that the airline now offers a consistent Wi-Fi product that is clearly a step up from some of the legacy systems that are still in use by some of the other carriers.

    Millions of Venmo transactions scraped in warning over privacy settings

    Summary
    A computer science student has scraped seven million Venmo transactions to prove that users’ public activity can still be easily obtained, a year after a privacy researcher downloaded hundreds of millions of Venmo transactions in a similar feat. Dan Salmon said he scraped the transactions during a cumulative six months to raise awareness and warn users to set their Venmo payments to private. The peer-to-peer mobile payments service faced criticism last year after Hang Do Thi Duc, a former Mozilla fellow, downloaded 207 million transactions. The scraping effort was possible because Venmo payments between users are public by default. The scrapable data inspired several new projects — including a bot that tweeted out every time someone bought drugs. A year on, Salmon showed little has changed and that it’s still easy to download millions of transactions through the company’s developer API without obtaining user permission or needing the app. Using that data, anyone can look at an entire user’s public transaction history, who they shared money with, when, and in some cases for what reason — including illicit goods and substances. “There’s truly no reason to have this API open to unauthenticated requests,” he told TechCrunch. “The API only exists to provide like a scrolling feed of public transactions for the home page of the app, but if that’s your goal then you should require a token with each request to verify that the user is logged in.” He published the scraped data on his GitHub page. Venmo has done little to curb the privacy issue for its 40 million users since the scraping effort blew up a year ago. Venmo reacted by changing its privacy guide and, and later updated its app to remove a warning when users went to change their default privacy settings from public to private. How to change your Venmo privacy settings. Instead, Venmo has focused its effort on making the data more difficult to scrape rather than focusing on the underlying privacy issues. When Dan Gorelick first sounded the alarm on Venmo’s public data in 2016, few limits on the API meant anyone could scrape data in bulk and at speed. Other researchers like Johnny Xmas have since said that Venmo restricted its API to limit what historical data can be collected. But Venmo’s most recent limits still allowed Salmon to spit out 40 transactions per minute. That amounts to about 57,600 scraped transactions each day, he said. Last year, PayPal — which owns Venmo — settled with the Federal Trade Commission over privacy and security violations. The company was criticized for misleading users over its privacy settings. The FTC said users weren’t properly informed that some transactions would be shared publicly, and that Venmo misrepresented the app’s security by saying it was “bank-grade,” which the FTC disputed. Juliet Niczewicz, a spokesperson for PayPal, did not return a request for comment. The FTC settles with Venmo over a series of privacy and security violations

    After Equifax breach, US watchdog says agencies aren’t properly verifying identities

    Summary
    A federal watchdog says the government should stop relying on the credit agencies to verify the identifies of those using government services. In a report out this week, the the Government Accountability Office said several government departments still rely on the credit agencies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to check if a person is who they say they are before they can access their services online. Agencies like the U.S. Postal Service, the Social Security Administration, Veterans Affairs, and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services ask several questions of a new user and match their answers to information held in an individual’s credit file. The logic is that these credit files have information only the person signing up for services can know. But following the Equifax breach in 2017 those answers are no longer safe, the watchdog said. The Equifax breach resulted in the theft of 148 million consumers. Much of the consumer financial data had been collected without the explicit permission of those whose data it held. An investigation later found the breach was “entirely preventable” had the credit agency employed basic security measures. “The risk that an attacker could obtain and use an individual’s personal information to answer knowledge-based verification questions and impersonate that individual led the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) to issue guidance in 2017 that effectively prohibits agencies from using knowledge-based verification for sensitive applications,” wrote the watchdog. In response, the named agencies said the cost of new verification systems are too high and may exclude certain demographics from the population. Only Veterans Affairs implemented a new system but still relies on knowledge-based verification in some cases. The other downside is that if you have no credit, you simply don’t show up in these systems. You need a credit card or some kind of loan in order to “appear” in the eyes of credit agencies. That’s a major problem for the millions who have no credit file, like foreign nationals working in the U.S. on a visa. In 2015, some 26 million people were estimated to be “credit invisible.” “Nevertheless, until these agencies take steps to eliminate their use of knowledge-based verification, the individuals they serve will remain at increased risk of identity fraud,” wrote the watchdog. A year later, Equifax lost your data but faced little fallout

    Genius.com accuses Google of copying its song lyrics

    Summary
    In the last couple of years, if you type a song title into Google, you’ll get a box that includes the its lyrics, alongside the usual search results. It’s a useful tool, but one company that specializes in song lyrics, Genius Media, says that Google has been copying their lyrics for years for its search results. Genius has been around since 2009, and it describes itself as a platform “platform for annotating clever rap lyrics,” and has since expanded into other types of music, and a place for music fans to annotate and discuss their favorite songs. Genius Media says that Google has been copying its lyrics, according to *The Wall Street Journal*. The site says that it’s brought up its complaint with the search giant for years. In a... Continue reading…

    Watch Adam Savage make a flying Iron Man suit in his new show, Savage Builds

    Summary
    Adam Savage became a household name as the cohost of *Mythbusters*, and now, he’s returned to the Discovery Channel with a new show: *Savage Builds*. In each episode of the series, Savage goes out and builds something, consulting with other experts and builders. The series just began airing on Discovery, and the first episode, in which he builds a flying Iron Man costume, is available for free online (at least in the US) for the next two weeks. Think of it like a builder’s version of *Mythbusters*: take a thing from pop culture or history, and make a version that functions as closely as possible to its on-screen counterpart. In the show’s first episode, Savage sets out to build a real, flying Iron Man costume that’s also bulletproof. To do... Continue reading…

    Newly recovered Ground Zero photos show why you should back up your CD-Rs now

    Summary
    When comedian and activist Jon Stewart gave an impassioned speech before Congress to seek ongoing aid for 9/11 first responders, it inspired Internet Archive software curator and digital preservationist Jason Scott to share something timely with the world as well: a newly discovered cache of photos from one of the workers who toiled away at Ground Zero, and who’d saved thousands of those photos on CD-R. In the past week, I was handed a cache of 2,400 photos taken at Ground Zero from the end of September to beginning of October, 2001. They were taken by a worker who was there with a Canon Powershot G1, and who snapped away while toiling through the wreckage. pic.twitter.com/4PHDCJUeB6 — Jason Scott (@textfiles) June 11, 2019 But... Continue reading…

    Amazon laid off ‘dozens’ of game developers amidst reorganization

    Summary
    Amazon has confirmed that it has laid off “dozens” of game developers from Amazon Game Studios amidst a reorganization, and has reportedly canceled some unannounced games, according to *Koktaku*. The layoffs game at the end of this week’s E3 in LA, and an Amazon spokesperson told *Kotaku* that “Amazon Game Studios is reorganizing some of our teams to allow us to prioritize development of *New World*, *Crucible*, and new unannounced projects we’re excited to reveal in the future.” “These moves are the result of regular business planning cycles where we align resources to match evolving, long-range priorities. We’re working closely with all employees affected by these changes to assist them in finding new roles within Amazon. Amazon is deeply... Continue reading…

    Walmart launched an unlimited grocery delivery subscription service

    Summary
    [image: Walmart Black Friday] Walmart has introduced an unlimited grocery delivery service called Delivery Unlimited, as spotted by *TechCrunch*. The service is an expansion of the company’s existing delivery and pickup efforts, and costs $98 a year. The company already offered a delivery service for online orders: customers could have items shipped to their nearest store for free, or to their home for a $9.95 delivery fee for each order. *TechCrunch* notes that this new annual subscription will cost $98 for a year, or $12.95 a month, and allows customers to skip the per-order fee. To use it, customers place their order on Walmart’s site or app, and can select a delivery window for when they want their order delivered. This annual service comes as Walmart has... Continue reading…

    India plans to launch space station by 2030

    Summary
    India's broadening spaceflight ambitions now include a longer-term presence in Earth's orbit. Indian Space Research Organization chief K Sivan (above) recently revealed plans to launch a space station around 2030. It will be a relatively small stat...

    American Airlines offers satellite WiFi to its entire mainline fleet

    Summary
    If you're relying on American Airlines for a summer trip, there's a good chance you'll have internet access most of the way. The company has finished deploying satellite-based internet access to the fleet of 700-plus narrowbody aircraft that mainly...

    Niantic sues group of alleged 'Pokémon Go' cheaters

    Summary
    It's not just multi-platform gaming giants suing cheaters. Niantic has sued members of Global++ for allegedly offering "unauthorized derivative" (read: hacked) versions of Pokémon Go, Ingress and even the still-in-beta Harry Potter: Wizards U...

    Florida allows self-driving car tests without backup drivers

    Summary
    Companies that want to test their self-driving cars will have an easier time of it in the Sunshine State. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis recently signed a bill allowing companies to test autonomous vehicles without backup drivers. It also lets occupan...

    Genius accuses Google of copying its lyrics data (updated)

    Summary
    Have you found yourself using Google's lyrics results more than visiting individual lyrics sites? You're not alone -- and Genius thinks underhanded tactics are involved. The company has accused Google of not only hurting its traffic with its lyrics c...

    Spider-Man's cryptic new teaser leaves Marvel fans spinning - CNET

    Summary
    The saga of teasers that don't make immediate sense continues.

    Toyota wins 24 Hours of Le Mans, but not without final-hour drama - Roadshow

    Summary
    Toyota Gazoo Racing claims second victory in a row in world-renowned endurance race.

    O.J. Simpson joins Twitter with the message 'Got a little getting even to do' - CNET

    Summary
    Twitter just got a bit more interesting.

    Google Doodle celebrates Dad with dutiful duck on Father's Day - CNET

    Summary
    Interactive Doodle shows us patient parenthood from a feathered friend.

    Theragun, Hypervolt & more: The best percussive therapy massage guns - CNET

    Summary
    These massage guns can help ease sore muscles and speedup recovery.

    The ethics of deepfakes aren’t always black and white

    Summary
    Chances are if you’ve seen a deepfake, such as this now infamous video of Obama ‘speaking’ Comedian Jordan Peele’s words, it has left an uncomfortable feeling. Since deepfakes emerged in December 2017, most media coverage has focused on their potentially catastrophic applications. These range from deepfake pornography, ransomfakes, smear campaigns against politicians, and a new age of fake news that could worsen the global ‘post-truth’ crisis. While these malicious uses of deepfakes and synthetic media are rightly a cause for concern, there are also positive uses of the same generative AI technologies. For example, Lyrebird, a Canadian startup, has partnered… This story continues at The Next Web

    EpicPxls offers pro web design assets for life, and it’s over 90% off

    Summary
    Browse through a treasure trove of curated fonts, graphics, templates & more

    CHEAP: Blast tunes like a rock god with 54% off a Marshall Acton Bluetooth speaker

    Summary
    Welcome to CHEAP, our series about things that are good, but most of all, cheap. CHEAP! One of the most iconic images in music is the Marshall stack. Most of us would be lying if we said we never imagined ourselves on a huge stage, a wall of Marshall amps behind us, as we play a twenty minute guitar solo to an adoring crowd. You know, something a bit like this: Unfortunately, most of us aren’t guitar gods shredding on stage. We’re normal people with jobs. But, sometimes, we can get a little taste of that rock and roll lifestyle.… This story continues at The Next Web

    Personal robots won’t catch on until they become more than a novelty

    Summary
    Last month, another well-funded social robot startup, Anki, closed its doors for good. And it wasn’t the first. In March, Jibo, which had received $73 million in funding, announced that it was shutting down its servers. Over the past few years, we’ve seen several much-hyped robots take the stage, promising a friendly at-home companion to do, well, just about anything you’d imagine a home robot to do. Your friend, your photographer, your jukebox, your toy. For both Anki and Jibo, two of the main players in the companion robot space, the public reception was quite positive. Media and investors alike… This story continues at The Next Web

    Turn your YouTube channel into a career with this $11 course

    Summary
    It's no secret that you can make a career out of creating videos on YouTube. From gaming videos to toy reviews, the platform's top creators have made a killing producing all manner of content. But even if you aren’t a world-renowned internet sensation, there’s still plenty of money to be made in monetizing a popular YouTube channel.

    Justin Bieber's Challenge to Tom Cruise Tops This Week's Internet News Roundup

    Summary
    The pop star later claimed he was kidding—but he still inspired a lot of people with his, um, bravery.

    Audi Recall, Shifting Alliances, and More Car News This Week

    Summary
    Audi issued a voluntary recall of its E-Tron SUV; self-driving tech startup Aurora broke up with VW and joined up with Fiat Chrysler.

    Cosmologists Clash Over the Beginning of the Universe

    Summary
    What happened before the Big Bang? And what happened before that? Stephen Hawking's answer—there was no beginning—is now the subject of intense debate.

    It's Time to Switch to a Privacy Browser

    Summary
    Ad trackers are out of control. Use a browser that reins them in.

    Snow Peak’s Fire Pit Makes Me Like Camping Again

    Summary
    The simple, durable, and well-made fire pit helped me recalibrate my relationship to the outdoors.

    Ransomware cyber attacks are targeting large companies and demanding huge payments.

    Summary
    A Norwegian aluminium producer is recovering after hackers took thousands of computers offline and demanded a ransom.

    Amazon executive Werner Vogels on the ethics of facial recognition

    Summary
    Amazon executive Werner Vogels tells the BBC's Dave Lee that the firm is can not be held responsible for how its artificial intelligence technology is used.

    Amazon’s Alexa boss Dave Limp on privacy concerns

    Summary
    Amazon’s head of Alexa, Dave Limp tells the BBC why his team is researching how to make the voice assistant understand emotion.

    Tech Tent: Facebook’s deepfake dilemma

    Summary
    Facebook was confronted this week with a fake video of its own founder Mark Zuckerberg.

    Huawei delays launch of folding smartphone

    Summary
    The Chinese tech giant says it's being "cautious" about the device, which was supposed to launch this summer.

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