Google mocks Microsoft and Apple in new Chromebook video

It looks like Google is in a fighting mood, as it’s just released a new video that attacks Microsoft’s Windows and Apple’s macOS operating systems, while claiming that Chromebooks are the only laptops you can rely on.

The video (which you can watch below) highlights a number of annoyances that people have complained about through the years when using laptops running Microsoft or Apple software.

These include numerous error messages, annoying pop-up windows and even the dreaded Blue Screen of Death.

Fighting words

According to Google, Chromebooks are free from all these issues, with its ChromeOS operating system relatively virus-free. It’s also constantly updated, so you’re not bugged about downloading updates when you’re trying to work.

It’s certainly a provocative video, and one that may resonate with anyone who has been frustrated by Windows or macOS, but will it be enough to make people ditch their Windows laptops and MacBooks and switch to Chrome? That may take more work.

Via Neowin

Fortnite is coming to Android soon, but we have some bad news

Google snags Sony’s ‘Magic Lab’ VR guru

Google has hired Richard Marks, Sony’s Magic Lab head who was behind much of the company’s VR efforts, to a position in its Advanced Technology and Projects group, VentureBeat reports.

Google confirmed the hire to TechCrunch, sending along a statement from ATAP head Dan Kaufman. “ATAP is at the intersection of science and application where our goal is to solve significant problems and close the gap between what if and what is. We’re super excited about Richard joining the senior team and look forward to his contributions.”

According to LinkedIn, Marks spent the last 19 years at Sony, including time as a research fellow while getting his doctorate at Stanford. Marks has been the public face of Sony’s virtual reality efforts throughout the development of the company’s virtual reality tech, but has also worked on some of the computer vision tech behind other PlayStation products.

The Magic Lab, which Marks ran, was devoted to researching gaming technologies for future generation hardware and software. One of the big projects to emerge from the group was called “Project Morpheus,” a precursor for what would later be called PlayStation VR.

While Sony was quick to express an interest in virtual reality technologies and publicly debut its experiments with PS VR years before its 2016 launch, the technology platform has been facing an uncertain future as headset sales have failed to meet expectations.

The PlayStation VR headset debuted as a cheaper alternative to headsets from Oculus and HTC that debuted at prices that were hundreds of dollars more expensive, but after aggressive price slashing from Oculus moved hardware margins downwards across the board, the console maker seems to have had a tougher time distinguishing its efforts. Also, while it had appeared that Sony’s efforts were arriving ahead of a current-generation Xbox VR play, the company announced that it would not be pursuing a virtual reality headset for the Xbox One X, though that was initially a selling point of the more powerful system.

It’s unclear where exactly Marks will be directing his attention at Google within ATAP, though the company certainly has plenty of efforts in the AR/VR and gaming spaces that would benefit from his experience.

Dixons Carphone now says ~8.8M more customers affected by 2017 breach

A Dixons Carphone data breach that was disclosed earlier this summer was worse than initially reported. The company is now saying that personal data of 10 million customers could also have been accessed when its systems were hacked.

The European electronics and telecoms retailer believes its systems were accessed by unknown and unauthorized person/s in 2017, although it only disclosed the breach in June, after discovering it during a review of its security systems.

Last month it said 5.9M payment cards and 1.2M customer records had been accessed. But with its investigation into the breach “nearing completion”, it now says approximately 10M records containing personal data (but no financial information) may have been accessed last year — in addition to the 5.9M compromised payment cards it disclosed last month.

“While there is now evidence that some of this data may have left our systems, these records do not contain payment card or bank account details and there is no evidence that any fraud has resulted. We are continuing to keep the relevant authorities updated,” the company said in a statement.

In terms of what personal data the 10M records contained, a Dixons Carphone spokeswoman told us: “This continues to relate to personal data, and the types of data that may have been accessed are, for example, name, address or email address.”

The company says it’s taking the precaution of contacting all its customers — to apologize and advise them of “protective steps to minimize the risk of fraud”.

It adds it has no evidence that the unauthorized access is continuing, having taken steps to secure its systems when the breach was discovered last month, saying: “We continue to make improvements and investments at pace to our security environment through enhanced controls, monitoring and testing.”

Commenting in a statement, Dixons Carphone CEO, Alex Baldock, added: “Since our data security review uncovered last year’s breach, we’ve been working around the clock to put it right. That’s included closing off the unauthorised access, adding new security measures and launching an immediate investigation, which has allowed us to build a fuller understanding of the incident that we’re updating on today.

“Again, we’re disappointed in having fallen short here, and very sorry for any distress we’ve caused our customers. I want to assure them that we remain fully committed to making their personal data safe with us.”

Back in 2015, Carphone Warehouse, a mobile division of Dixons Carphone, also suffered a hack which affected around 3M people. And in January the company was fined £400k by the ICO as a consequence of that earlier breach.

Since then new European Union regulations (GDPR) have come into force which greatly raise the maximum penalties which regulators can impose for serious data breaches.

Last month, following Dixon’s disclosure of the latest breach, the UK’s data watchdog, the ICO, told us it was liaising with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Financial Conduct Authority and other relevant agencies to ascertain the details and impact on customers.

Of the 5.9M payment cards which Dixons disclosed last month as having been compromised, it said the vast majority had been protected by chip and PIN technology. But around 105,000 lacked the security tech so Dixons said at the time could therefore have been compromised.

It’s the additional 1.2M records containing non-financial personal data — such as name, address or email address — that have been revised upwards now, to ~10M records, which constitutes almost half the Group’s customer base in the UK and Ireland.

The spokeswoman told us the Group has approximately 22M customers in the region.

48 hours left to score early-bird tickets to Disrupt Berlin 2018

Chaucer wrote that “time and tide wait for no man.” With apologies to the “father” of English literature, we say that time and money wait for no entrepreneur. The deadline for saving big money on passes to Disrupt Berlin 2018, which takes place on November 29-30, comes to an abrupt halt on Wednesday August 1 at 11:59 p.m. CEST — in just 48 hours.

Right now, early-bird pricing tiers start at €595 including VAT. That’s a sweet deal because, depending on the tier you choose, early-bird pricing can save you up to €700. When time runs out, you pay more money. Don’t get sucked out with the tide. Buy your passes today.

Disrupt Berlin 2018 offers two program- and value-packed days for startup founders, investors, marketers, tech-heads, designers and innovators. We’re busy lining up an incredible group of speakers — including founders, VCs, tech titans and rising stars — who will step onto the Disrupt stage and hold forth on the most pressing and interesting tech and investment issues of the day. Here are just a few exciting examples from our lineup:

  • Anne Boden, the founder and CEO of Starling Bank
  • The four partners from VC firm Accel — Philippe Botteri, Sonali De Rycker, Luciana Lixandru and Harry Nelis
  • Aline Sara, founder of NaTakallam

We’re still accepting speaker nominations. If you have a fantastic candidate, by all means, send us your recommendation.

What incredible early-stage startup pitch competition helped launch more than 750 companies that have gone on to collectively raise $8 billion and produce 100 exits? Yeah, OK so it’s an easy answer. Startup Battlefield — with $50,000 cash and the chance for massive global media and investment exposure — is one of the most exciting elements of every Disrupt. Don’t just come and watch. Sign up to compete!

Our Disrupt Berlin exhibition hall — Startup Alley — always features hundreds of the best early-stage startups, and this year is no exception. Exhibiting in the Alley is a magnificent way to place your startup in front of media outlets, investors, accelerators, incubators, solo founders and developers. It’s prime networking territory.

Whether you’re a founder or an investor, you want to be as efficient about that networking as possible in your two days at Disrupt. CrunchMatch, our free, business match-making service, simplifies networking and saves you time. Last year, CrunchMatch generated a total of 888 meetings — and 97 percent of participants said they’d use the service again.

Disrupt Berlin 2018 takes place on November 29-30, and your chance to buy early-bird passes — and save up to €700 in the process — ends on Wednesday August 1 at 11:59 pm. CEST. Don’t make us quote Chaucer again. Buy your tickets now.

Blockchain media project Civil turns to Asia with fund to kickstart 100 new media ventures

Civil, the blockchain-based journalism organization, is casting its eye to Asia after it set up a $1 million fund that’s aimed at seeding 100 new media projects across the continent over the next three years. The organization has teamed up with Splice, a Singapore-based media startup which will manage the fund, according to an announcement.

There’s been a lot of attention lavished on Civil for its promise to make media work more efficiently using blockchain technology and its upcoming crypto token, CVL. The organization has raised $5 million in financing from ConsenSys, the blockchain corporation led by Ethereum co-creator Joe Lubin, and its ICO takes place next month with the goal of raising around $32 million to launch its network and actively onboard new media companies worldwide.

But the company is waiting around. Civil has already actively jumped into the media space — providing financial backing to the newly-formed The Colorado Sun — but the scope of the project in Asia is different in trying to kickstart a wave of new media organizations by giving them money to get off the ground.

Alan Soon, co-founder and CEO of Splice, told TechCrunch that it hasn’t been decided whether the financing will be in the form of grants or equity-based investments. Despite that, he said deals will be “pre-seed, micro-investments to help entrepreneurs take their ideas to prototype stage.”

Soon said that all kinds of media are in play, ranging from the more obvious suspects such as publishers, reporting websites and podcasts to behind-the-scenes tech like automation, bots and adtech.

Notably, though, he clarified that the beneficiaries of the fund will be under no obligation to adopt Civil’s protocol, the technology that will be funded by the upcoming ICO. Splice itself, however, has committed to doing so which will mean it gains access to the network’s content, licensing opportunities and more.

“I’m with Civil because I really believe in their values,” Soon added. “They want to do the right thing for this space.”