HBO Hack: No Game of Thrones Material in Latest Leak

Hackers continue to pester HBO, but didn’t release any material related to the network’s hit show Game of Thrones in their latest leak.

The hackers, who broke into HBO’s computer network and have been doling out stolen information for the past several weeks, released more unaired episodes, including several of the highly anticipated return of Curb Your Enthusiasm, which debuts in October.

The latest dump includes Sunday night’s episode of Insecure, another popular show, and what appear to be episodes of other lower-profile shows, including Ballers, the unaired shows Barry and The Deuce, a comedy special and other programming.

The network acknowledged the hack in late July, and the thieves have been dribbling out stolen video and documents since then while demanding a multimillion-dollar ransom .

HBO Hack: No Game of Thrones Material in Latest LeakThey have leaked Game of Thrones scripts, sensitive internal documents like job offer letters and a month’s worth of emails from a programming executive. But the intrusion has so far fallen well short of the chaos inflicted on Sony when the studio was hacked in 2014.

Still, the criminals may be holding on to more damaging data – both intellectual property, like unaired programming, and sensitive personal information of HBO employees – that they can use as leverage to try to get money from HBO, said Gartner analyst Avivah Litan.

“It’s kind of like kidnap and ransom and torture,” she said. “Eventually HBO may have to give in.”

In an emailed statement Sunday, HBO said it’s “not going to participate” in what it described as attempts to generate attention by dropping “bits and pieces of stolen information.” The company added that it was not in communication with the hackers. It has said previously that it doesn’t believe its email system as a whole was breached.

SoundCloud Gets New Funding as CEO Steps Aside

SoundCloud has received a “substantial” round of investment, the online music streaming service said on Friday, insulating it from potentially running out of cash later this year.

The company, which laid off 40 percent of its staff in July, said in a blog post that the financing was raised from media-focused investment bank Raine Group of New York and Singapore’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek.

It did not disclose the amount of the funding or its terms.

One source familiar with the investment said it amounted to around $170 million (EUR 144 million or roughly Rs. 1,087 crores), as reported on Thursday by online news site Axios, which had obtained the deal’s term sheet.

The company said that as part of the new investment, digital media veterans Kerry Trainor and Michael Weissman, respectively the former chief executive and chief operating officer of online video service Vimeo, would take the same roles at SoundCloud.

SoundCloud founder and former CEO Alexander Ljung has agreed to step aside to become chairman of the board, it said. Co-founder and Chief Technology Officer Eric Wahlross will remain at the company as chief product officer.

In July, SoundCloud fired 173 employees or 40 percent of the total and closed its London and San Francisco offices to focus on Berlin and New York. A spokeswoman for SoundCloud said last month it remained fully funded into the fourth quarter, while declining to comment on what lay beyond.

SoundCloud Gets New Funding as CEO Steps Aside“The investment will ensure a strong, independent future for SoundCloud, funding deeper development and marketing of its core tools used by millions of audio creators – musicians, DJs, producers, labels, managers and podcasters,” SoundCloud said.

In its blog post, the decade-old, Berlin-based company said that at current sales levels, it was on track to more than double its retenue to $100 million over the next 12 months.

Its free service remains popular with tens of millions of users worldwide, industry analysts say.

But SoundCloud has struggled to develop a user subscription model to pay hefty royalties and compete with streaming music leaders Spotify, as well as encroaching rivals Apple and Amazon.

Raine Group has been an active US investor in media and entertainment, having backed Vice Media, Important Studios, the production venture of South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker and the fantasy sports team firm Draft Kings.

Temasek has been one of the world’s most active technology investors, backing roughly 90 companies in the sector stretching back to the dot-com era.

Snapchat Parent Buys Data Firm Placed for $135 Million

Snap Inc – which is the parent company of photo-sharing platform Snapchat – has acquired the ‘Placed’ data firm for $135.2 million (roughly Rs. 865 crores) in an all-cash deal, according to documents filed with the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

The data firm would continue to operate independently with David Shim as its Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and report to Snap’s Chief Strategy Officer Imran Khan, AdWeek reported on Saturday.

‘Placed,’ which helps advertisers track real-world purchases and store visits, was acquired by Snap to enhance ‘advertising effectiveness’, the report added.

Snapchat Parent Buys Data Firm Placed for $135 Million“In June 2017, we acquired a component of a business from a social advertising software company that was integrated with our existing advertising platform and adds advertising tools and creative solutions to our advertising customers,” the filing read.

Announcing financial results for the second quarter that ended June 30, Snap Inc had reported a loss of $443 million, with $181 million as revenue which was still below analysts’ expectations of $186 million.

Snap has been hit by the growth of Facebook-owned Instagram ‘Stories’.

It managed to add only seven million daily active users (DAUs) in the second quarter of 2017.

Sarahah App: What Is It, and Why Is Everyone Talking About This Anonymous Messaging App?

The Sarahah app has taken hold in the social media sphere over the past week, joining trends such as Prisma app that rose quickly in public consciousness. Whether it will remain a hit or fade away in a few weeks is anybody’s guess, but for now Sarahah app is something difficult to avoid seeing in your Facebook news feed. You would be surprised to learn that the Sarahah app is actually a few months old, and has already been a hit in regions such as Egypt and Saudi Arabia, according to a BBC report. The premise of the app is pretty simple – send messages to each other, anonymously. Here’s everything you need to know about the app.

Sarahah app – how it works

The idea is simple – you create a Sarahah profile, which anyone can visit. Even without logging in, people can visit your profile and leave messages, anonymously. If they have logged in, messages are still anonymous by default, but users can choose to tag their identity. On the receivers app, all the incoming messages show up in an inbox, and you can flag messages, delete them, reply, or favourite them to find them easily later.

But although the app has become very popular, it’s quite polarising. For instance, although it has (at the time of writing) 10,305 5-star reviews on Google Play, it’s also got 9,652 1-star reviews, showing a near 50-50 split in opinion. The creators described it by saying: Sarahah helps people self-develop by receiving constructive anonymous feedback.

That’s at least in part because of fact that anonymity enables people to act out and behave in hurtful ways without consideration for consequences. Even positive reviews on the App Store still warn that this app is not for the weak hearted. Another 5-star review mentions that people are getting a lot of hateful comments.

sarahah privacy settings sarahah

Now, to be fair, the developers are also looking at ways to improve the experience. Privacy features mean that you can remove your profile from search results, limiting your audience to people who you share your profile with, and you can also turn off access for unauthorised users – that is, only people who are logged in will be able to comment. You can also block senders, so even if you can’t see the name of the user, they won’t be able to send2 you a message again.

The rest of the Sarahah experience remains incredibly barebones though. It’s got one purpose in mind, and delivers a quick and ready experience on that front. It could look better, aesthetically speaking, but from a functional perspective its design easily serves its purpose.

This isn’t the first anonymous messaging app we’ve seen that blew up in popularity though. Yik Yak, Secret, and Whisper are some of the popular apps in recent times to try and fill this function.

For the most part, those apps have been more social, making the interactions more public. Sarahah’s focus is more on messaging and less on social media, and so visiting another users’ profile won’t show anything, unless they choose to make the posts public.

Ultimately though, allowing fully anonymous comments, and not allowing users to respond to messages means that it’s a possible avenue for bullying. It’s very trendy right now, but we’ve seen other secrecy based platforms buzz up and then fizzle out too. There are certain key differences to Sarahah, but it’s too soon to say whether it has what it takes to last longer than the others did.

Google Voice Search Adds Support for More Indian Languages

Manoj Kumar, a roadside tea-seller near Deshbandhu College in Kalkaji, recently purchased his first smartphone from a neighbourhood store. The entry-level phone, priced under Rs. 4,000, has a 4-inch display and runs Android, Google’s mobile operating system that powers more than 90 percent of all smartphones in the country.

Ever since the 33-year-old West Bengal-born Kumar bought his smartphone, he says he often streams cricket matches and movies on his phone. But when he wants to find some information on the Internet, he asks his customers for help.

The problem
Kumar is one of over 230 million people in the country who are not comfortable navigating their phones and swaths of services in English. He would much rather speak to the phone in his native Bengali dialect, he told Gadgets 360. Kumar’s situation represents both a major challenge and at the same time, an avenue for growth for Silicon Valley companies, which are increasingly trying to find their next hundred of millions of customers in India.

On Monday, Google said people will be able to use voice search in many more languages. The Android-maker is adding support for 30 new languages, eight of which are from India. The new Indian languages are Bengali, Gujarati, Kannada, Malayalam, Marathi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu. Prior to the roll-out, which will reach most Android phones Monday, Google’s voice search only supported Hindi language in India. The company said it will roll out these features to its services on iOS in the coming weeks.

The move will enable millions of Indians to access Google’s Search — as well as Gboard app, which is also adding support for these languages today — more easily. There are more people in India (about 234 million as of late last year) who prefer using their native language online than those who can get by with English (about 175 million users), according to a study by KPMG.

As many as 60 percent of such users have cited limited availability of local language and content in that language as the barrier that is withholding them from making much use of these smartphones, the study had said.

Google Voice Search Adds Support for More Indian Languages“A lot of new people who are going to get onboard are going to increasingly bank on systems that they are more comfortable with,” a Google executive said, responding to a query by Gadgets 360. “Voice may be that dominant system versus typing. There is every chance that voice may play a bigger role in bringing those next groups of people online.”

Google said using voice medium to make searches also saves users much time. Voice search is three times faster than typing, the company said citing a study. Without disclosing any India-specific figures, Google said it already sees voice medium used for making 20 percent of all the searches on its search platform.

For several new users, speaking is often an easier way to navigate, a Google executive said. This is especially true in part because several of these people purchase entry-level smartphone with small screens. Typing can especially be a challenge on such phones, Daan van Esch, technical program manager at Google said in a press briefing.

As much of India’s population comes online for the first time in the coming years, the of Indian language Internet users is expected to skyrocket. KPMG expects more than 530 million Indian language speakers to be on the internet by 2021, while people preferring English will see only slight more penetration standing a little shy to 200 million.

You would want those new users to feel at home when using Internet or your services.

Google Camera App Modified to Bring Pixel’s HDR+ Feature to Select Compatible Phones

One of the major selling points of Google’s Pixel smartphone since launch has been its camera, which has managed to impress both users and critics alike. Interestingly, an app developer has now figured out a way to bring the same camera improvements (on the software side) that are carried out on by the Google camera app on Pixel smartphones to other Android smartphones that feature capable processors. Separately, Google has pushed out a new update to the Google Camera app (v4.4) that allows users to take selfies with flash.

Talking first about the workaround to get the Pixel-like image processing, specifically the HDR+ feature, an Ukranian developer who goes by the name B-S-G has shared a modified version of the search giant’s Google Camera app. This modified version of the app reportedly brings along the HDR+ image processing to any device that features either a Snapdragon 820, Snapdragon 821, or Snapdragon 835 SoC. The app, v4.4.012.156195200, was taken from the third Android O developer preview.

Google Camera App Modified to Bring Pixel's HDR+ Feature to Select Compatible PhonesXDA Developers’ writer Adam Conway says that he managed to test the modified version of the app on devices such as LG G6, OnePlus 5, OnePlus 3T, OnePlus 3, and Samsung Galaxy S8. Conway says that he can confirm that the app does work on these aforementioned handsets and works with Google’s HDR+ technology. He further adds that “there was a clear difference in the pictures after it was done processing.”

XDA Developers independently checked the app to see if it is safe to install (sideload link) and during the process discovered that the developer introduced referenced to “muskie” and “Google Pixel XL 2” in order to fool the app into thinking that it is being run on the new generation of Pixel smartphone. Notably, the Google Camera app works on a range of Android 7.1.1 Nougat smartphones, however, it only offers all its features to the latest Google Pixel and Nexus devices.

Coming to the latest update of the Google Camera app, the search giant has introduced the Selfie Flash feature with v4.4. It’s essentially an off-white hued screen flash for when using the front-facing camera. Essentially, with this feature turned on, the app turns the entire display into an off-white colour that provides a soft flash to improve pictures taken in low-light. All users need to do is turn on flash while in front camera mode. The update also brings along the ability to shut off shutter sound in certain regions.