The attack on the New York Times' web site this week was accomplished via a method that proponents of anti-piracy measures wanted written into U.S. law.

FORTUNE -- The attack that knocked The New York Times offline this week was an old-school hack: simple DNS blocking. The Syrian Electronic Army, which apparently mounted the attack, broke into domain-name servers run by Melbourne IT (and not into the NYT's own systems, which would have been a much bigger deal) and changed some numbers, redirecting the NYT's incoming traffic away from the site.
As tech journalist Rob Pegaro points out at Sulia (which, fair warning, is a confusing, unnavigable mess of a website), this technique is pretty much what the backers of the anti-copyright-infringement laws SOPA and PIPA wanted written into the law. It "would have let copyright holders require Internet providers to use DNS redirection to block access to allegedly infringing sites," Pegaro notes. "That authority would inevitably have been abused in social-engineering exploits -- and we'd likely see a lot more outages like the NYT's."
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It's hard to know that for sure, but DNS blocking was something that backers of the bills insisted upon, and thanks to the backlash -- including from many security experts -- that insistence helped kill the bills in Congress. Blocking domain-name service -- which is one of the foundational technologies
Not only is DNS blocking dangerous, it's also "laughably ineffective" for something like stopping piracy, says Mike Masnick of TechDirt. That's because blocking DNS doesn't actually knock a site offline -- it merely causes the domain name (in this case, to not work. The site is still there, behind its Internet protocol address. (Domain-name service is what maps an IP address, expressed in numbers, to a web domain like The Washington Post has an excellent explainer on all this, including the hack.)
Masnick's right to a point. Some people did figure out how to get to the Times' web page. But most people would have no idea how to do so, and the newspaper lost a ton of traffic while it was down. When it comes to piracy, yes, people who want free movies from Pirate Bay would be able to get to that site even if its DNS were blocked -- and presumably more of them than average would be tech-savvy enough to figure out how to do so.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Twitter was able to withstand a similar attack because it has something called a "registry lock" in place. It can be had for $50.
nintendo 2ds By unveiling the 2DS and cutting Wii prices, Nintendo is shaking things up ahead of a looming holiday battle with Sony and Microsoft

Nintendo on Wednesday slashed the price of the struggling Wii U and unveiled the new '2DS' portable game console -- one of Nintendo's strangest releases yet.

As the name implies, the Nintendo (NTDOF) 2DS strips out the novel, but not quite essential 3-D display technology that its older sibling possesses. Perhaps even more interestingly, it doesn't fold like all other DS consoles. Instead, it's a wedge-shaped slate.
The analog stick and buttons have been moved closer to the upper screen, but otherwise the functionality is identical to the Nintendo 3DS. Same guts, same screen size, same game compatibility.
Nintendo has a long history of selling slightly altered variants of its portable consoles. There was the Game Boy, the Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Advance and the DS. But the 2DS is the first to remove functionality.
Nintendo keeps betting on Wii U  
Nintendo keeps betting on Wii U
The 2DS does come with a price cut, however. While the current 3DS costs $170, the new 2DS will only cost $130. It's arguable that a $100 price tag would have made the introduction of the 2DS a bit more impactful, but $40 is nothing to scoff at either way.
Related story: Microsoft reverses course on controversial Xbox One restrictions
The Wii U Deluxe set was also a recipient of a $50 markdown, going from $350 to $300. The Wii U Basic, which offered less storage space and did not include a premium Nintendo Network subscription, has not been available via retail channels since June and Nintendo has yet to comment on the matter.
The price cut should come as little surprise, given the imminent arrival of the $400 Sony (SNE) PlayStation 4 and $500 Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) Xbox One. Those new consoles will be considerably more powerful, and in the wake of the Wii U's anemic sales this year, Nintendo had to justify its value against the competition.
The Wii U price cut will take effect on September 20, and the Nintendo 2DS will arrive on October 12.

-Arduino is great, but Arduino is also pretty hard to wrap your head around, especially for newbies. The Espruino is “world’s first JavaScript microcontroller for beginners or experts,” and has been offered up to hobbyists and enthusiasts for a couple of years now by Cambridge, UK-based Gordon Williams, but now he’s taking to Kickstarter to make it even easier to use.
The Kickstarter project is designed to help Williams take his open source hardware board and get his Source Code cleaned, accessible and ready for Open Source release. Williams says via his Espruino project page that another goal of the Kickstarter is to make it possible to ship boards pre-installed with Espruino software, so that users can just order one and get started with coding immediately.
espruino_kickstarter_image_minus_wordsThe concept of a “JavaScript for Things” is amazing for home hardware hackers, since it considerably simplifies the process of making devices behave the way you want them to. Williams uses the blinking light example to compare the amount and complexity of code required for both an Espruino-based board and an Arduino one. the JavaScript method is not only familiar to people who’ve done some web development, but it’s much easier to modify and extend, whereas Arduino often requires a lot of rework to accomplish even similar things.
Williams is a software developer with experience working for Altera, Microsoft, Nokia Collbaora and more, and he now heads up his own company, which makes the Morphyre 3D music visualizer. Hey’s a Cambridge computing grad and an avid at-home DIY gadget enthusiast, whose passion led to the creation of the Espruino as a way to help others enjoy similar hobbies via events-based programming.
The plan is for these to ship to backers (who can pre-order a board starting at £19) beginning in January 2014. Williams has experience making the hardware already, and a very detailed production plan in place to meet that target. Other kits include low power wireless radios, multicolour LED lights and more for higher pledge amounts.

Higher temperatures are opening up sea lanes in the Arctic. Now new technology allows even conventional vessels to safely navigate them.

FORTUNE -- In early August, the 21,000-ton shipping vessel Yong Sheng pulled out of the northeastern Chinese port of Dalian bound for Europe. But instead of setting a southerly course that would take the ship through the Strait of Malacca and across the Indian Ocean to the Suez Canal and European markets beyond, the Rotterdam-bound Yong Sheng turned northeast, toward Alaska and the Arctic Circle. It is the first Chinese commercial cargo ship to attempt the Northeast Passage, a shortcut that runs north around the Eurasian continent, shaving as much as two weeks off the journey from China to Europe, China's largest export market.
A warming climate and melting ice sheets are opening up Arctic sea lanes for longer and longer periods each year, creating a three- to four-month window in which conventional ships can operate amid the ice flows and icebergs above the Arctic Circle. But the Northeast Passage, like the long-sought Northwest Passage across the icy waters north of Canada, remains a treacherous place for ships to operate, especially those lacking ice-hardened, reinforced hulls. For the commercial interests that want to operate there -- primarily oil and gas exploration companies and commercial shippers -- all that melting ice represents something of a double-edged sword, allowing conventional vessels into the Arctic while at the same time making it a more dangerous place to operate as ice floes and other potential hazards become less predictable.
A few years ago, defense contractor Raytheon (RTN) began developing a new Arctic navigation system that allows conventional, non-ice-hardened ships to operate in the Arctic not through reinforced hulls or better icebreakers, but through better information and enhanced situational awareness. By merging data from an increasing number of sources ranging from legacy technologies like satellites and sonar to next-generation systems like unmanned aircraft and submersible underwater robots, the company has created a tidy software solution to a vexing hardware problem -- a means to navigate the Arctic with precision in a conventional, non-ice-hardened hull. The U.S. Navy, eager to expand its own Arctic capabilities, has already taken the technology for a successful 30-day spin through the Arctic in a conventional, non-reinforced vessel. And as higher average temperatures continue to open up sea lanes, the Raytheon Arctic Monitoring and Prediction (RAMP) system could potentially open the once-impassible Arctic to a commercial shipping industry that moves more than $4 trillion worth of cargo over the ocean every year.
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"One of the biggest challenges up there is maintaining vigilance with respect to ice and ice floes," says Tim Raglin, program manager for Raytheon's innovation and prototyping team. "Even in waters that are termed 'ice free,' we discovered that that's a misnomer -- that actually means they're mostly free of ice, that there's still icebergs and other ice hazards in the water. So there's a critical need for situational awareness up there, and unless you're going to go to the expense and effort to redesign and ice-harden a number of ships, this is a very cost-effective way of enabling Arctic operations."
The lack of situational awareness in the Arctic stems from several problems inherent in the Arctic itself. There are relatively few satellites -- communications, mapping, or otherwise -- covering the Arctic, so there's very little information for ship navigators to access as well as limited means to transmit or receive it. Likewise, since there are so few ships operating there, there's little anecdotal information shared between vessels. The Arctic is something of a data desert, leaving navigators to pilot blindly in some of the world's most unforgiving waters.
In this context, RAMP serves as an oasis of information. Optimized for the Arctic's low-bandwidth environment ("During the Navy demo we had to come up with some clever ways to pack and unpack data above the 70-degree mark," Raglin says. "They got to see some high-res imagery they weren't used to seeing up there"), RAMP meshes everything from conventional weather and oceanographic data to real-time X-band radar satellite imagery to radar and sonar data from the ship's own sensors, data that usually comes to the bridge independently rather than integrated into a clear picture of the maritime environment around the ship. The system can accommodate more than 200 different data types, so each ship doesn't have to have access to the same kinds or sources of data. The power of RAMP, Raglin says, is that it takes whatever information a vessel can give it and uses it not only to identify threats, but to predict where threats are emerging, as well as where passable sea lanes are opening up or which potential route is the safest.
"Essentially what it does is bring together a disparate set of information and data, both native to the ship and remote sensor information," Raglin says. "We worked with [the Navy] to bring a subset of unique and brand new, cutting edge technologies, and data sources together into a single system that we then deployed on a couple of laptops aboard the USS Porter in the Arctic, just to show the art of the possible. But this is the tip of the iceberg with respect to what kind of information and technology we can bring to bear."
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Many of those technologies and information sources are only now becoming sophisticated and affordable enough for commercial vessels to deploy. Satellites, radar, and sonar have for years provided data from a distance, but their resolution can leave something to be desired. Increasingly mature technologies like unmanned aircraft that can fly ahead of a ship scanning for potential hazards and unmanned surface or submersible robots that can likewise seek out submerged threats ahead of a ship provide far more usable data and are increasingly employed by oil and gas exploration crews and other commercial entities (just this month the FAA certified two unmanned aircraft for use in the Arctic, the first certifications to their kind). All of that high-resolution data can be fed into systems like RAMP to drastically enhance their accuracy and reliability.
The Navy is interested in technologies like RAMP for all the obvious reasons. The kind of situational awareness provided by RAMP could one day allow the existing naval fleet to operate more freely in the Arctic environment without major hardware upgrades or having to design and procure new purpose-designed, Arctic-optimized ships. But what's good for the Navy is good for commercial interests as well. Systems like RAMP won't open up the Arctic overnight, but some analysts already predict that up to 15% of China's total foreign trade (its foreign trade volume was $3.87 trillion last year) could shift to Arctic routes within the next seven years. RAMP, or something like it, will undoubtedly accelerate that shift, Raglin says.
"By putting RAMP on the ship for 30 days and operating, we were able to demo to the Navy that with the right tech in place and the ability to integrate this into the ship's navigation system, you can put ships in the Arctic without reinforcing hulls, without icebreakers," Raglin says. "The same tech can be leveraged for commercial activities, for oil and gas exploration, for shipping, for eco-tourism. We're seeing more opportunities for ice-free summers in both the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage, and we're going to see a lot more activity there. The more and more traffic that gets up there, the more viable it becomes."
nyt hacked

Two days after hackers took down the New York Times website, some readers were still having trouble accessing it Thursday.

The Times' website went down for several hours Tuesday after an attack for which the Syrian Electronic Army, a hacktivist group, claimed responsibility.
Marc Frons, chief information officer at the Times, told employees Tuesday that the SEA "or someone trying very hard to be them" had launched the attack on Melbourne IT, the company's domain name registrar.
The culprits rerouted traffic directed at the Times to other addresses. The Times' computer system wasn't compromised internally.
Melbourne IT said it had fixed the problem by 5 p.m. ET Tuesday, but some users were still having problems accessing the Times site on Wednesday and Thursday. The Times said in an email to readers Thursday afternoon it expected all access to be restored for all users by the end of the day.
Related: Oil jumps as Syria conflict heats up
Melbourne IT chief technology officer Bruce Tonkin said in an email that users who attempted to access the site while it was down had the incorrect domain records stored temporarily on their computers or servers. It's the computer equivalent of having the wrong telephone number.
After the records are updated for those users, their computers or servers will be able to access again.
"A rough rule of thumb when trying to make an intentional change to a [domain name system] setting is that it will take 48 hours for the change to fully propagate to all users on the Internet," Tonkin said.
Readers who didn't try to access the site while it was down shouldn't have any problems, he added.
Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy said Thursday that the company was adopting additional security measures "given the vulnerabilities that this incident exposed at the registrar level."
Melbourne IT said it was reviewing what other layers of security it could add. It recommended that clients utilize special security features to lock their domain names, which the Times apparently hadn't done.
Alex McGeorge, senior security researcher at Immunity Inc., said the attack underscored the importance of vetting business partners for security weaknesses.
"I think the lesson for companies is that if you've got something that's this significant and this sensitive, you need to demand that the people that provide services to you undergo security audits and make those results available to you," he said.
Earlier this month, the Syrian Electronic Army breached a news recommendation engine that provides links on news sites including CNN, The Washington Post and Time.
CNNMoney's Julianne Pepitone and CNN's Brian Vitagliano contributed reporting.

Chinese Internet and smartphone company Xiaomi has poached Google executive Hugo Barra to help fulfill its ambition to become a global player.

Barra, who was vice president of Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) Android, announced his departure on his Google Plus account. He will take up his new post in October, Xiaomi CEO Lei Jun wrote in a Weibo post, China's version of Twitter.
Xiaomi, which operates a version of the Android mobile platform, is China's sixth-biggest smartphone company and is growing rapidly.
Barra's vast network of contacts will be an obvious asset and he'll also lend credibility to Xiaomi, said Rachel Lashford, vice president of analysis at research firm Canalys.
"The relationship is going to be pretty powerful for both of them, and obviously globally, in terms of helping Xiaomi to establish itself internationally," Lashford said.
Xiaomi is a little company -- literally, as its name means "little rice" -- with big dreams. Since starting up in 2010, the Beijing-based company has taken China by storm, offering affordable smartphones to consumers.
Last year, the company raked in $2 billion in revenue. And its China smartphone sales overtook Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) in the second quarter this year, according to Canalys. Xiaomi phones represented 5% of total shipments in China during that period, though it still lags Samsung (SSNLF), Lenovo (LNVGF), Yulong, ZTE and Huawei.
The fast-growing company is poised to grab a greater share of a market that could reach 740.5 billion yuan ($117.8 billion) by 2017, estimates research firm IDC.
And it's making waves. Xiaomi's latest offering, a low-cost smartphone called Hongmi (which means "red rice"), sold its entire first batch of 100,000 units within 90 seconds and it has orders for another 7.45 million.
Related story: China's Internet hit by biggest cyberattack in its history
Xiaomi founder and CEO Lei is often called China's Steve Jobs. It's an apt comparison -- Lei even dresses like Jobs, often donning black shirts and jeans.
And he's dedicated to the customer: "I always ask myself these two questions," Lei told Fortune earlier this year. "Can Xiaomi give the customer a great surprise? And can Xiaomi customers win praise for their recommendations to friends?"
Lei, who also sits on the board of Hong Kong-listed software firm Kingsoft as a non-executive director, is ranked by Forbes as one of China's wealthiest entrepreneurs, valued at $1.75 billion.
While Google hasn't yet announced a replacement for Barra, a spokeswoman said: "We wish Hugo Barra the best. We'll miss him at Google and we're excited that he is staying within the Android ecosystem."
In an odd twist, Barra recently ended a romantic relationship with a fellow Googler who is now dating company co-founder Sergey Brin, according to a source familiar with the matter. Brin has been living apart from his wife for several months.
Barra's decision to leave Google was unrelated to his former relationship, the source said. The details were reported earlier by AllThingsD.
CNNMoney's James O'Toole contributed reporting.
facebook mobile ads

Remember when Facebook admitted it wasn't making a penny off its mobile users? Just one year after finally launching mobile ads, the company is on track to capture nearly 16% of the market in 2013.

That's triple the global mobile ad market share Facebook controlled last year, according to eMarketer, a firm that publishes research on digital marketing. In a report published Wednesday, eMarketer said Facebook is taking the market by storm and far outperforming the firm's earlier estimates.
Facebook's accomplishment is even more striking when taking into account that the social network's mobile ads raked in exactly $0 in 2011 -- that is, they didn't exist. Facebook admitted shortly after its May 2012 initial public offering that it wasn't making "any meaningful revenue" from mobile. The company didn't start showing mobile ads until August 2012.
What a difference that year has made. Facebook (FB) stock was in the toilet for months after its IPO, plunging below $18, weighed down by investors' concerns about the missed mobile opportunity.
But shares have more than doubled since Facebook introduced mobile ads a year ago. Facebook also debuted other new mobile products, including a more visual news feed, a Facebook Home startup screen for Android phones and a test program for one-click mobile shopping checkout.
Related story: Facebook friends could change your credit score
Those efforts have paid off, with Facebook reporting in May that mobile accounted for 41% of the company's total ad revenue in the second quarter. Facebook shares are finally above their $38 IPO price, nearing $42 earlier this week.
But Facebook still faces some obstacles for future growth. Mobile ad revenue can't keep growing at such a rapid clip forever, so the company will need to find a way to continue innovating and to keep investors satisfied.
Meanwhile, Facebook is still far outmatched in global mobile ad market share by No .1 Google (GOOG, Fortune 500). EMarketer expects Google will notch a 53.2% share of the market in 2013.
Facebook also has plenty of room to grow in the overall digital ad market, which combines mobile with desktops and laptops.
EMarketer expects Google to control newarly a third of the digital ad market in 2013, while Facebook is slated for a 5.4% share. Yahoo (YHOO, Fortune 500), despite CEO Marissa Mayer's focus on mobile, is expected to be a distant third with less than 3% of the digital ad market this year.

How much more do you think it would cost to make a smartphone in the United States rather than in China? $50 per phone? $100?

Try $4.
Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) made a big splash when it announced the Moto X, the new flagship phone of the company's Motorola division, will be manufactured in Texas. An analysis of the smartphone's internal components by IHS iSuppli on Wednesday revealed that the Moto X costs between $3.50 and $4 more per phone to make than the Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S4 -- both of which are assembled in China.
"In spite of its 'Made in the USA' label, overall costs are still competitive with similar smartphones," said Andrew Rassweiler, IHS' senior director of cost benchmarking services.
Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
It's a remarkable feat at a time when making gadgets and gizmos in the Far East has become the norm.
Manufacturing high-profile devices in America has some precedent: Last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook made the surprising announcement that some of the company's Macintosh production would be shifted to the U.S.
Related story: Moto X is wonderful for reasons you wouldn't expect
But don't expect a "Made in the USA" revolution. The Moto X is a nice phone, but no one is predicting that it will sell anything close to the volume of iPhones or Galaxy S phones. Similarly, the Macintosh is by far the smallest of Apple's "core four" products in terms of unit sales. Apple sold 17 million Macs in the past four quarters, compared to 138 million iPhones.
And if you assume that it would also cost Apple an extra $4 a phone to make the iPhone in the U.S., that works out to added costs of $550 million -- a non-starter for a company already struggling to stem the tide of shrinking profit margins. That estimate also could be too low because of possible costs involved to enhance domestic manufacturing facilities and train workers.
But at $4 a phone, cost clearly isn't the only issue. The real stumbling blocks are speed and education.
Unlike U.S. plants, Foxconn and other Chinese manufacturing operations house employees in dormitories and can send hundreds of thousands of workers to the assembly lines at a moment's notice. Workers are subjected to what most Americans would consider unbearably long hours and tough working conditions.
That system gives tech companies the efficiency needed to race products out the door. Plus, most of the component suppliers for tech companies are also in China or other Asian countries. That gives companies the flexibility to change a product design at the last minute and still ship on time.
China also has far more skilled engineers than the United States does. Apple has said it requires 30,000 industrial engineers to support its on-site factory workers -- numbers that simply don't exist in America.
"There has to be a fundamental change in the education system to bring back some of this [labor]," said Apple CEO Tim Cook in an interview last year with AllThingsD.
nyt site down The New York Times' website went down for several hours on Tuesday and some readers were still reporting problems Wednesday.

The New York Times' website went down for several hours on Tuesday and some users were still having problems Wednesday after it was hit with a "malicious external attack."

A tweet from the official Times Twitter account was directing readers to an alternative website -- -- if they were having difficulties accessing the main site at Readers in Europe and Asia were reporting problems Wednesday.
Marc Frons, chief information officer at the Times, told employees Tuesday that the outage was the result of an attack on Melbourne IT, the company's domain name registrar, according to the New York Times.
Frons told the Times that the hacktivist group Syrian Electronic Army was responsible for the attack -- "or someone trying very hard to be them." The Syrian Electronic Army is a group of hackers aligned with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Related: Oil jumps as Syria conflict heats up
The group sent a tweet claiming responsibility for the Times attack, and SEA also claimed that it took over Twitter's own domain on Tuesday afternoon.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation has begun looking into the website disruption, a law enforcement official told CNN. The "preliminary inquiry" is still in its early stages, the official said.
The Times did not reply to a request for comment.
uber taxi app Startups like Uber -- an app that lets people hail a taxi or car service from their mobile phone -- say they are facing unfair legal challenges from the established players.

They call it a backlash against innovation.

Cutting-edge start-up companies are crying foul, claiming they're being blocked from entering local markets by established businesses.
In fields such as transportation, hospitality, and energy, the old-line industries are evoking laws and regulations to keep upstarts at bay, leading to less choice and higher prices for consumers.
But the industries say the rules are there for good reason -- to protect the public.
Take the taxi businesses. Uber is an app that lets people hail a taxi or car service from their mobile phone -- sometimes through a regulated provider like a traditional yellow cab or black car service, and sometimes through independent drivers with their own private vehicles.
Uber has been rapidly expanding, but company executives say that in a handful of cities, laws designed to protect the existing taxi industry are making it impossible for Uber to do business.
For example, in Miami there's a requirement that customers must wait an hour from the time they call for a black car service to the time they can get in the vehicle. There's also a minimum fare of $70.
"That law has kept us out of cities where we want to do business, and where people want us to do businesses," said Andrew Noyes, a spokesman for Uber.
Related: Smart takes from the brightest minds in tech
Some traditional taxi and car service operators in the city say the rules serve a just purpose. The minimum fare is designed to let car service companies make money while meeting the requirement that they field expensive, late-model vehicles and carry $5 million worth of insurance. The minimum wait time is to protect yellow cab drivers, who have to fork out tens of thousands of dollars for a license.
An official at Miami Dade County, which regulates the taxi and car service industry, said there is a hearing to change the law set for the end of September.
In San Francisco, new ride share apps have sparked outright physical confrontation. Officials at the airport have reportedly gone so far as to make citizen's arrests of ride share drivers, saying they don't have the necessary paperwork to pick people up.
Related: 3 reasons why New York tech is still lagging
The hotel business has also been shaken up by the entry of scrappy upstarts.
One of the most well-known, Airbnb, allows individuals to rent out their homes or apartments on a nightly basis. The company has brought its users either significant extra income, or substantial savings on a night's stay.
But for the hotel industry, it's created stiff competition.
New York hoteliers backed a recent state law banning such "unregulated" hotels. They say the fire and safety codes aren't there to protect the public. They also note that some neighbors of these Airbnb hosts are none too pleased when they find that a total stranger now has a key to their building.
Airbnb argues the law is really targeted at illegal commercial hotels -- not individuals renting out their homes -- and is trying to get it modified.
But that won't help Nigel Warren, who was fined $2,400 earlier this year for renting out his New York City apartment on Airbnb.
Solar energy is another space where new technology is chafing up against the established players.
In many places, people who put solar panels on their roofs are allowed to sell any excess power they generate back to the utility at retail prices. That's a key selling point for solar, said Edward Fenster chief executive of Sunrun, a rooftop solar provider.
But a lot of utilities don't like this arrangement. If people are harnessing their own solar power, then the utility doesn't have to build new power plants -- which enables them to convince regulators to sign off on rate increases.
In Arizona, Fenster said the main public utility is lobbying the regulator to let it pay below retail rates for solar power. It also wants to charge solar customers $150 a month just for having solar panels -- $10 more than the average utility bill in the state.
"They don't have a justification for it," said Fenster. "They're just trying to kill the industry."
But a spokeswoman for the utility, Arizona Public Service, said paying the retail rate was an incentive designed to help solar in its infancy, and that solar customers often had no electricity bill. But that's not fair, she said, as solar customers are still connected to the grid and use grid power when there is no sun, like at night. She also said the maximum charge would be closer to $100.
The utility isn't trying to stifle innovation, but enable it, she said, by ensuring the grid is properly maintained so rooftop solar can continue to expand.
blackberry10 phone

BlackBerry is reportedly considering spinning off its Messenger unit into a more agile subsidiary.

The news first appeared in The Wall Street Journal Tuesday. BlackBerry wouldn't confirm or deny the report. It simply told CNNMoney that any such talk is "complete rumor."
But regardless of whether the story is true or not, just the mere idea of spinning off BlackBerry Messenger is completely pointless.
BlackBerry Messenger was once the best mobile messaging app around. But that was five years ago.
As market share reports from IDC and many other tech research firms show, the vast majority of smartphone users have fled BlackBerry. As a result, they've ditched BlackBerry Messenger too.
Since then, several other superior messaging alternatives have helped to make BlackBerry Messenger largely irrelevant.
Sure, BlackBerry (BBRY) still has 60 million users for Messenger. But WhatsApp has 300 million active users. Microsoft's (MSFT, Fortune 500) Skype has 300 million "connected" users. Apple's (AAPL, Fortune 500) iMessage has 140 million minions of its own. Lesser-known apps such as Line and Viber have a significantly larger active user base than BlackBerry.
And then there's Facebook (FB) and Google (GOOG, Fortune 500).
Facebook has 470 million mobile app users, with 53 million using the standalone Facebook Messenger app. Gmail has 425 million active users and the Google Hangouts chat service is tightly bundled into it. It also offers apps for Android as well as iOS.
While Blackberry does plan to make its Messenger app available on iOS and Android, those apps have not yet surfaced. Every day that those apps go unreleased is another day BlackBerry loses ground to the competition.
There was once a point when iPhone users were once envious of BlackBerry Messenger. Not anymore. BlackBerry Messenger now just reminds us of how we all used to chat on our phones.
nintendo 2ds By unveiling the 2DS and cutting Wii prices, Nintendo is shaking things up ahead of a looming holiday battle with Sony and Microsoft

Nintendo on Wednesday slashed the price of the struggling Wii U and unveiled the new '2DS' portable game console -- one of Nintendo's strangest releases yet.

As the name implies, the Nintendo (NTDOF) 2DS strips out the novel, but not quite essential 3-D display technology that its older sibling possesses. Perhaps even more interestingly, it doesn't fold like all other DS consoles. Instead, it's a wedge-shaped slate.
The analog stick and buttons have been moved closer to the upper screen, but otherwise the functionality is identical to the Nintendo 3DS. Same guts, same screen size, same game compatibility.
Nintendo has a long history of selling slightly altered variants of its portable consoles. There was the Game Boy, the Game Boy Color, the Game Boy Advance and the DS. But the 2DS is the first to remove functionality.
The 2DS does come with a price cut, however. While the current 3DS costs $170, the new 2DS will only cost $130. It's arguable that a $100 price tag would have made the introduction of the 2DS a bit more impactful, but $40 is nothing to scoff at either way.
Related story: Microsoft reverses course on controversial Xbox One restrictions
The Wii U Deluxe set was also a recipient of a $50 markdown, going from $350 to $300. The Wii U Basic, which offered less storage space and did not include a premium Nintendo Network subscription, has not been available via retail channels since June and Nintendo has yet to comment on the matter.
The price cut should come as little surprise, given the imminent arrival of the $400 Sony (SNE) PlayStation 4 and $500 Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500) Xbox One. Those new consoles will be considerably more powerful, and in the wake of the Wii U's anemic sales this year, Nintendo had to justify its value against the competition.
The Wii U price cut will take effect on September 20, and the Nintendo 2DS will arrive on October 12.

Android accounts for 79%, the government warns police, fire, EMS and security personnel.

Source: U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
Click to enlarge. Source: U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security
FORTUNE -- The memo, prepared by the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Intelligence and Analysis and released last Friday, is titled Threats to Mobile Devices Using the Android Operating System. It's stamped UNCLASSIFIED/FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY, but it's the kind of information you'd think the government might want to share with the mobile phone buying public as well.
On the face of it, the purpose of the report, unearthed and published by Public Intelligence, is to alert police and other security personnel to the risks of relying on phones that run on Google's (GOOG) Android platform. Citing Android's dominant market share and open source software, the report notes that it accounted in 2012 for nearly four out of five malware attacks.
Apple's (AAPL) iOS, by contrast, accounted for fewer than one in a 100.
But given that the report also includes a handy summary to the most prominent forms of mobile malware (copied below) it could also serve as a primer for cops interested in tapping into mobile devices for their own purposes.
Screen Shot 2013-08-27 at 7.14.19 AM
The Next Web's Josh Ong notes that as bad as Android looked in the government's alert, it looked worse in Juniper Networks' third annual malware survey, which reported in June that Google's OS was responsible for 92% of all mobile malware
LINK: Threats to Mobile Devices Using the Android Operating System (pdf).
china ddos

Were you trying to access a .cn Internet address over the weekend? Are you still hitting refresh?

Internet users in China were met with sluggish response times early Sunday as the country's domain extension came under a "denial of service" attack.
The attack was the largest of its kind ever in China, according to the China Internet Network Information Center, a state agency that manages the .cn country domain.
The double-barreled attacks took place at around 2 a.m. Sunday, and then again at 4 a.m. The second attack was "long-lasting and large-scale," according to state media, which said that service was slowly being restored.
Official state media said the attack targeted websites with the .cn country domain, as well as the popular microblogging site Sina Weibo.
Denial of service attacks aren't technically "hacks," since they can be done without breaking into any systems. Typically, DoS attacks overwhelm a website's servers by flooding them with requests. That makes websites unreachable or unresponsive.
To bring down bigger sites, attackers will sometimes organize large numbers of infected computers to send requests all at once.

Why Chinese are buying U.S. real estate
Chinese authorities closely regulate content and websites available to Internet users in the country. The restrictions are extremely sophisticated, leading some to call it a second "Great Wall."
It's unclear whether the attack is related to political events in China, which appears to be in the midst of carrying out a crackdown on Internet dissent.
The government is also wrapping up the trial of former political kingpin Bo Xilai, leading some Internet users in China to note the timing of the attack.
"CN domain name under attack?," one user said on Weibo. "Saw this news and laughed. On every 'festive occasion' doesn't China's Internet become paralyzed?"
Another user lodged a more practical complaint, noting that the sluggish Internet would probably leave many Chinese without sleep.
-- Sophia Yan contributed reporting. To top of page

To avoid cannibalizing new models, Apple would sell old ones cheap to underserved markets.Photo:
FORTUNE -- In early June, Bloomberg's Peter Burrows reported that before the end of the month Apple (AAPL) would launch a trade-in program to make it easier for existing iPhone owners to upgrade to an iPhone 5.
June came and went. July as well, and most of August.
It turns out Burrows got both the month wrong and the model Apple would be pushing.
According to MacRumors' Eric Slivka, the company is just now getting ready to begin a nationwide iPhone trade-in program designed to swap huge numbers of old phones for huge numbers of new ones.
On Monday, Slivka writes, first line staffers at U.S. Apple stores will get their instructions. The rest will get theirs next week, well before September 10.
By then, according to pretty much everybody, Apple will be ready to have customers upgrade to even newer phones: A faster iPhone 5S and a cheaper iPhone 5C.
There was one angle -- perhaps the most interesting -- that Burrows didn't get wrong. The trade-in program, according to someone who was blabbing to Bloomberg two months ago, kills two of Apple's birds with one stone:
"Used iPhones collected in the U.S. will only be resold in emerging markets, where Apple's share is lower and demand for cheap devices is greater, said one of the people. That way, the resale of Apple's older models won't cannibalize iPhone 5 sales in the U.S., the person said."
Whoever succeeds Steve Ballmer as Microsoft's chief executive will have to make up for a lot of lost time. The reason? Microsoft (MSFT, Fortune 500), once the dominant technology company, is fighting obsolescence. It failed to capitalize on the biggest technology trends of the past decade -- mobile devices and Internet search -- and must now play catch-up to rivals like Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) and Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500).
Microsoft disclosed its search for a new leader on Friday. Ballmer, the voluble salesman who has led the company since 2000, said he planned to resign within the next 12 months. There are a number of potential successors, but no obvious front-runner has emerged. Whoever is chosen must be comfortable in the spotlight along with the intense pressure that comes with trying to revive such a high-profile company.
Candidates must be well versed in technology and have experience at a large public company. Familiarity with Microsoft's business, which still depends heavily on selling Windows desktop software, is a plus. Microsoft's board will likely consider a number of internal candidates. But there are also executives from an array of other companies like Facebook (FB), Nokia (NOK), and Juniper Networks (JNPR) who could step into the role.
Whether the board gives the job to an insider or outsider could be telling. Boards seeking modest reorganizations and smooth transitions typically choose an internal candidate. Picking an outsider usually signals a more radical approach. What follows are some of the potential candidates for Microsoft's chief executive job, their selling points and their liabilities.
iphone 5c

Apple has a China problem and it has a profit problem. The eagerly anticipated "iPhone 5C" will address the latter issue.

Many analysts and investors have called for Apple (AAPL, Fortune 500) to enter into the low-end smartphone market to lure in customers in China and other emerging markets. But the rumored iPhone 5C likely won't be cheaper for consumers; it will, however, be cheaper to manufacture.
According to the latest images leaked to tech blog Sonny Dickson, the iPhone 5C is a plastic-shelled, colorful version of today's iPhone 5. Why plastic? The casing of the iPhone 5C could reduce manufacturing costs by $17 dollars per phone, according to Morgan Stanley analyst Jasmine Lu -- no small amount when Apple is selling tens of millions of iPhones each quarter.
When Apple releases a new iPhone, the company's current strategy is to knock $100 off the price of its year-old iPhone and continue selling it as a "mid-tier" option. The two-year old iPhone remains on store shelves too with a $200 price cut.
Related story: Selling your old iPhone? Do it now
That strategy has become a problem for Apple: Older iPhones are an incredibly popular option among consumers, but the bill of materials on those devices is still exceedingly high. The year-old iPhone 4S and two-year old iPhone 4S comprised just less than half of iPhone sales in the United States in 2013, according to Consumer Intelligence Research Partners. Gross margins have tumbled over the past year as a result.
The iPhone has never been a particularly cheap device to manufacture, but last year's iPhone 5 was the most expensive, resource-intensive device to produce yet. That's why it makes sense for Apple to take the iPhone 5 completely off store shelves when it unveils the new flagship iPhone 5S (or whatever it will be called). The iPhone 5C can slip in as the No. 2 phone in Apple's product hierarchy.
It's the best way to maximize profit margins without cutting into Apple's core, high-end market -- it would be foolish for Apple to cut corners on its best-selling, premium iPhone.
Apple declined to comment for this story.
But plastic doesn't have to mean "low-end." Plastic can actually add functionality and even fun. Plastic backs can endure more drops and hide more scratches than their glass and metal-clad peers. Colors can represent a form of personal expression for smartphone users who view their phones as extensions of themselves. It's why people loved the early iMacs, and colorful iPods.
The iPhone 5C can have an appeal that goes beyond value. If the iPhone 5C is a way to get consumers excited about a cheaper-to-manufacture device at the same price point, that sounds like a goldmine for Apple. To top of page

How NASCAR is using social listening technology to bolster its brand.

130821111633-nascar-command-center-614xaFORTUNE -- Inside NASCAR's Charlotte, N.C., headquarters, on the eighth floor where its digital group is housed, is a 500-square-foot room packed with monitors that during races display not only the action on the track but the reactions from fans on social media networks. Other monitors show graphs offering real-time analysis of the deluge of tweets and Facebook posts that every one of its events inspires. The NASCAR Fan and Media Engagement Center represents one of the most sophisticated data mining operations in sports.
"Essentially what the Fan and Media Engagement Center is," says NASCAR Chief Marketing Officer Steve Phelps, "is a platform or a tool that allows us to take on what I'll broadly call big data." The Center was developed in conjunction with Hewlett-Packard (HPQ). "For us, our big data is fans -- through social media, things that are being blogged, traditional media, television -- and [the FMEC] takes all that massive amount of data and culls it down."
The ability to respond quickly in real time is crucial for an industry that's not only based on the premise of speed, but which boasts a massive audience -- around 75 million fans -- with a huge social media footprint. During this year's Daytona 500, HP executive vice-president of enterprise services Mike Nefkens estimates that they analyzed around 60,000 social media interactions per minute.
MORE: 3 reasons why New York tech is still lagging
The FMEC, the result of a collaboration between HP and NASCAR that began in June 2012 (the company became NASCAR's official technology partner in June 2013, and a new ad campaign touting the partnership features footage of racing interspersed with analysts working in the center), has been operational since January.
It has already yielded results, such as one incident involving an incorrect graphic on a race broadcast in which NASCAR wanted to immediately react. "We thought the fan reaction was going to be way over the top and was going to dominate what was happening on social media, when in fact it wasn't -- it was about 1% of the dialogue," says Phelps. "We informed [the broadcasters] what went on and the fan reaction, and let the folks at SPEED and FOX respond themselves. If we had overreacted we probably would have just had this thing cycle on itself even more."
FMEC also allows NASCAR to collect data that's not time-sensitive but reflects its fans' opinions in the wild, without the formality of surveys. The company launched a new digital platform encompassing the site and a number of mobile apps around the time that it also launched FMEC, and has made at least nine major revisions to it since, based on data the center has collected. And when partner Chevrolet (GM) unveiled its 2014 Chevrolet SS production model at Daytona, NASCAR was able to give the company immediate feedback.
MORE: NASCAR chief's Executive Dream Team
With so much data being pumped into social networks around the clock, the biggest practical problem is separating the signal from the noise. "We've got a system that we've put together that goes out and monitors and analyzes this unstructured data," Nefkens says, "and is able to pick up patterns around keywords, around phrases, etc., to bring patterns together." Out of the tens of thousands of pieces of data FMEC may be analyzing per minute, Nefkens says, a keyword appearing in half a percent of them is enough for the filters to bring it to the top of the list.
Of course, public sentiment about data mining has been trending negatively since the NSA's domestic Internet monitoring programs have been made public. Phelps believes that won't have any bearing on the FMEC project, though. "Our fans are the most loyal fans in sports, and they love to be heard. If there are things they do that influence the product, that influence the way they engage with the sport, they want us to listen. I believe that the fans are very interested in having us understand the direction that they would like to see the sport go in."

A former Windows product manager puts his finger on the difference between MSFT and AAPL.

Ballmer. Photo: Wikicommons.
Ballmer. Photo: Wikicommons.
FORTUNE -- If you read only one story Monday morning about Steve Ballmer's departure from Microsoft (MSFT), skip Kara Swisher's gossipy piece about how it happened more precipitously than Microsoft let on and go straight to Ben Thompson's If Steve Ballmer ran Apple on his stratechery blog.
In this provocative thought experiment, Thompson -- a former Microsoft Windows product manager -- imagines what Apple's new CEO would do over the next five years, starting with the rollout of the iPhone 5C:
Ballmer .. would push out the low cost version I advocated and attack non-subsidized markets. Ballmer would do more than catch enterprise accounts that fall in his lap; he would aggressively court CIOs and make changes to the iPhone to accommodate them. Ballmer would expand the iPad range to multiple screen sizes and price points, and would push for every school district in the world to standardize on them, far more aggressively than Apple is today. Ballmer would leverage iTunes, and all those credit cards, by making a play for payments and identity. As for computers, well, the XMac might even become a reality.
There would, of course, be handsome incentives to make this happen. Apple's sales team would be hugely expanded, and their pay directly connected to the above becoming a reality. The product teams would be pedal to the metal filling in all the holes in Apple's current lineup, and marketing would be aggressively targeting everyone from CIOs to developing nations. Apple would give both China Mobile and NTT Docomo whatever concessions necessary to gain access to their customers, and Apple's carrier base would double, perhaps even triple to Samsung's level.
The revenue and profits would flow.
Thompson's punchline -- which gets to the heart of the difference between Microsoft and Apple (AAPL) -- is that if Ballmer ran Apple, the company would never again ship a disruptive new product.
Part of this he attributes to the innovator's dilemma -- Clay Christensen's idea that a company focused on maximizing profits can't pursue a successful new product because of its impact on existing profit margins. Part of it is the kind of people who are attracted to and stay with a company like that.
But if Apple's success has proved anything, Thompson suggests, it's that measurables like profits and incentive bonuses aren't the half of it. "Things like design can't be measured," he writes, "nor can user experience. How do you price delight, or discount annoyance?"
In the consumer market, it's the immeasurables that matter. It's the ability to surprise and delight, and create evangelists. It's about creating something that developers demand access to, and that consumers implicitly trust. The consumer market is about everything you can't measure, everything Microsoft's legion of mini-Ballmer's can't see and will never appreciate.
It turns out that all of Ballmer's good qualities, especially when it came to maximizing revenue and profits, were also his worst qualities, especially as the consumer market came to dominate computing. And, to Microsoft's short-term benefit but long-term detriment, the incentives Microsoft gave its employees to achieve Ballmer's aims choked out the sensitivity to truly understand what's next."
By contrast, Thompson offers Jony Ive's set speech on Apple's core values:
Our goal isn't to make money. Our goal absolutely at Apple is not to make money. This may sound a little flippant, but it's the truth…Our goal and what gets us excited is to try to make great products. We trust that if we are successful people will like them, and if we are operationally competent we will make revenue, but we are very clear about our goal.
That's not something you'd ever hear Steve Ballmer say.

US Internet Access May Be as Good as It GetsUS Internet Access May Be as Good as It Gets

A surprisingly large number of households in the U.S. -- 20 percent -- have no broadband Internet access. That may seem like a problem that needs correcting, but for many, it could be a matter of preference, and courting them could prove futile. "They may not have or even want computers or anything to do with the Internet," noted tech analyst Jeff Kagan.

The number of U.S. households connected to the Internet has risen, but 20 percent of households nationwide still don't have broadband access, according to a study released Monday by the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Seventy percent of U.S. homes have an Internet connection, the study found, while 10 percent rely solely on connectivity via a smartphone.
Pew broke down the numbers by a variety of factors. College graduates, people between the ages of 18 and 29, suburban residents, and adults living in households with a total income of more than US$75,000 per year are the most likely to have Internet access in their homes. Seventy-four percent of whites reported having broadband in their household, compared to 64 percent of blacks and 53 percent of Latinos.
Smartphone ownership helps to bridge the access gap; 56 percent of U.S. adults now own smartphones, up from the 45 percent who reported owning one a year ago.
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Internet for All?

Pew released its data shortly after a few tech companies announced initiatives to improve worldwide access to the Internet. Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is spearheading, a program to accelerate Internet adoption for the 5 billion people worldwide who don't have it, especially in developing countries.
Google recently announced tests of its Project Loon, which will employ specially designed antennas and balloons to help citizens worldwide receive Internet access.
"The initiative will certainly help to foster positive sentiments from governments and NGOs," Pivotal Research Group analyst Brian Wieser told TechNewsWorld. "On a global basis, most people lack affordable access to the Web, and no existing broadband delivery system has managed to provide a sufficiently inexpensive service to provision those who live in remote or rural areas."

Different Access Needs

Those remote or rural areas are often thought of as far away from the U.S., but Pew's recent numbers show that there is still a relatively significant chunk of U.S. citizens who aren't connected, said industry analyst Jeff Kagan.
However, purely from a business standpoint, it might not be worth it for companies like Google and Facebook to go after that roughly 20 percent of Americans, said Kagan. If those consumers haven't created a Gmail account or logged onto Facebook now, they might never do so -- making it more advantageous to go after the consumers in large-scale emerging economies like India, Brazil and China.
"We must make sure everyone has access to the Internet now," Kagan told TechNewsWorld. "Before it was not as necessary, but it is becoming more so every year. Big companies and private organizations see this as well. They want to get as many online as possible and as quickly as possible. That means other countries. If we spend lots of time and money getting the remaining 20 percent of Americans online, it may not be worthwhile. They may not have or even want computers or anything to do with the Internet."
They also might one day be part of the growing consumer crowd that relies solely on a connected mobile device for an Internet connection, especially as smartphones become better equipped to handle complex tasks such as shopping, paying bills or online banking, Kagan added.
"Not everyone wants or needs the same thing from the Internet," he pointed out. "Some want full computer usage. Others just want 'Internet Lite' over their smartphones and are satisfied with that. As long as we make the Internet available in a variety of ways and let the users choose, it is the right track."

Shared FB Photo Albums Now In With the In Crowd

Shared FB Photo Albums Now In With the In Crowd
As many as 50 Facebook friends can now work together on a shared photo album. That may be good news for users, but for the makers of Keepsy, Hipstamatic and other like-minded services? Not so much. "It now seems unwise to base an entire business on a Facebook app," said author Brian Carter. "If you're successful, there's even greater danger of Facebook suddenly making your innovation unnecessary."

Facebook on Monday began rolling out a new feature that allows multiple users to upload images to the same online photo album, according to a Mashable report.
Whereas previously users could upload photos only to albums they had created themselves -- with a maximum of 1,000 photos per album -- the new feature allows up to 50 people to contribute to the same album on the social network.
Each individual user can upload 200 photos, bringing the maximum total to 10,000 images in a single shared album. Each individual contributor can also tag, edit and give captions to the photos they add. Creators of the albums can determine who gets to see the photos, whether it's just contributors, friends of contributors or the public at large.
The new feature was reportedly built during one of Facebook's companywide hackathon sessions, so some of the features are still being adjusted.
Facebook did not respond to our request to comment for this story.

'An Even Deeper Socialization'

The ability to share images collectively could be particularly attractive following parties and events.
"Shared albums are a great feature," Josh Crandall, principal analyst at Netpop Resarch, told TechNewsWorld. "Kids, families and friends get together and all want to remember their moments together."
Indeed, "it's smart because it's an even deeper socialization of photos," concurred Brian Carter, author of Facebook Marketing and LinkedIn for Business.
Tags are already a powerful way for friends to become aware of new photos, Carter pointed out. Now, "with photo album sharing, the interaction and visibility to friends and friends of friends will explode exponentially," Carter told TechNewsWorld.
"We'll see photo albums that aren't just about events or trips, but on themes like 'the 99 percent' or 'memes we love,' he predicted. "It makes me wonder if they'll add this option to Facebook Pages as well."

The Danger of Success

Of course, startups including Keepsy, Hipstamatic and Alumatic have already been offering apps and services that do much the same thing. Facebook's addition of that functionality to its base service effectively makes those third-party offerings redundant -- and puts their creators on potentially shaky ground.
"When Facebook launches a new social feature such as shared albums, it's going to change the course for an ecosystem of startups and independent developers," Netpop Research's Crandall noted. "We're now seeing second-generation social sites that add features and grab the momentum of startups trying to launch a company around a simple experience."
Some Facebook apps "are in trouble because of this," Carter said. "The larger trend is Facebook stealing crowdsourced app ideas to make them part of the core functionality.
"It now seems risky and unwise to base an entire business on a Facebook app," he concluded. "If you're successful, there's even greater danger of Facebook suddenly making your innovation unnecessary."

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