News & Analysis

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    The Guardian’s Whisper story shows why journalists should never sign NDAs to visit tech companies

    Early today, the Guardian delivered a remarkable scoop: that anonymous app Whisper employees claim to be tracking users in ways that would make the NSA rise to its feet in applause. Even more remarkable, the claims were made directly to Guardian staffers visiting Whisper to discuss a possible partnership with the app. The Guardian witnessed this practice on a three-day visit to the company’s Los Angeles headquarters last month, as part of a trip to explore the possibility of…
  3. ode-to-uber

    After a heated hearing, NYC taxi commission postpones ridesharing vote

    Following a series of arguments from stakeholders across the taxi, car service, and ridesharing spectrum, New York City’s Taxi & Limousine Commission (TLC) decided to postpone a vote on controversial rule changes governing ridesharing services today. The current rules allow for a driver who works for a black car service to also accept rides through Uber or Lyft without any fuss. The TLC’s proposal, however, would require drivers to align themselves with just one company or “base” at a time. If…
  4. apple-press-release

    Apple had a thing today

    Rather than boring you with a redundant summary of what happened at Apple’s keynote event today, we’ll direct you to one of the many many rundowns already out there. Mashable’s will work. [Source: Mashable]
  5. elsewhere

    Whisper CTO defends user-tracking on Hacker News — Hacker News not buying it

    Following a report from the Guardian that accused anonymous app Whisper of tracking users (which Whisper’s editor-in-chief called “a pack of vicious lies”), the company’s CTO Chad DePue wrote a defense of these practices on Hacker News, downplaying the extent to which the app tracks location. But many members of the Hacker News community aren’t buying it, saying that any attempt to track users on an “anonymous” app is a contradiction and a violation of user trust. [Source:
  7. rat-mites

    You already have bed bugs. Now get ready to deal with rat mites.

    You’re not going to like this. Imagine taking the two most disgusting creatures that torment New Yorkers. Now combine them into one creepy abomination whose capacity to repulse is nothing short of complete; a nightmare-monster associated with the diseases of rats, but small enough, like a bed bug, to creep into your bed while you sleep to tear away tiny bits of your flesh, leaving your skin itchy and red, and your ability to ever relax again just totally gone. No, this isn’t a horror movie. This is another awful reality New Yorkers…
  8. UC whispers

    Guardian claims anonymous app Whisper tracks its users; Whisper EIC calls report “a pack of vicious lies.”

    If a new report from the Guardian is to be believed, the anonymous messaging app Whisper isn’t nearly as anonymous as it claims. The outlet reports that the company tracks its users’ locations, shares information with the Department of Defense, and stores data on its servers indefinitely. It doesn’t store its users’ names or phone numbers, but with all that other information, how hard would it really be for the company to learn the identity of a given Whisperer?

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    The War Nerd: Nobody could have predicted Islamic State’s retreat from Kobane (except me)

    KUWAIT CITY — A strange thing happened in Kobane, the Kurdish border town besieged by Islamic State: It didn’t fall. In fact, today the BBC reported that Islamic State, the supposedly invincible jihadis who have been besieging Kobane, is retreating from the city. Nobody expected that. Well, nobody except me. I’ve been saying for a long time that IS(IS) was the most overhyped military force on the planet, and that IS has been attacking Kobane for fifteen months—fifteen…
  11. uber-surge

    Uber seeing deja vu as riders complain of rate gouging following Caltrain fatality

    Uber found itself in a familiar vat of hot water last night after seemingly rate-gouging stranded travelers during a state of emergency. When a Caltrain hit and killed a pedestrian in Palo Alto last night, trains were delayed around the region and and demand for Ubers naturally spiked. The company’s surge pricing algorithm kicked in quickly reaching 3X normal pricing. Frustrated users took to Twitter to voice their outrage, accusing the company of profiteering off of the death and the broader public…
  12. Overheard

    The biggest difference between HBO and Netflix? Their net neutrality stances

    Yesterday, HBO announced it would finally make HBOGO available as a standalone service to customers who don’t subscribe to cable, making it more like Netflix than ever before. But there’s still a key difference between the two companies: Their stances on net neutrality.  [Source: Quartz]
  13. ebola

    BBC’s Whatsapp Ebola alerts are more proof that tech can help save the world — it just can’t do it alone

    In an effort to help combat the spread of Ebola, the BBC has created a new service that sends “audio, text message alerts and images” in both French and English to subscribers in West Africa via WhatsApp, the messaging service Facebook acquired for $22 billion in September. It’s an interesting counterpoint to the idea that technology can’t help address the Ebola crisis, which has been exacerbated by funding problems and poor infrastrucutre in affected areas. (The BBC’s ability to establish…

  15. steve-case-screengrab

    Startups Anonymous: “The Rise of the Rest,” and why Steve Case may owe Minnesota startups an apology

    Steve Case, billionaire former chair of AOL, is undertaking a theoretically noble endeavor with his “Rise of the Rest” bus tour [Editor's note: Carmel DeAmicis rode along with the tour for a few days and reported on it for Pando]. He’s driving across America on a bus to prove to the world that great business ideas are not exclusively born in Silicon Valley or New York City. How’s that going? Well, he just finished up his visit to Minneapolis where…

  16. safety

    Facebook’s Safety Check is the best thing the company has done in months

    Facebook is adding a feature to its mobile applications that allows users in areas affected by earthquakes, tornadoes, and other calamities to tell their friends they’re safe. It’s called Safety Check, and it’s the most self-aware feature Facebook has announced in a long while. It’s not unusual for tech companies to make unpopular decisions. People get set in their ways, and the slightest changes to a service can spark outrage. Just ask Twitter after it added a line
  17. Math

    Calling all quants: Quantopian is launching a hedge fund and wants you to manage the money

    Quantopian is growing up. Five months after opening up its algorithmic trading platform to the world’s mathematicians and data scientists and inviting them to prove they can beat the market, today the company announced plans to launch a hedge fund that would see the best of the best among this community managing money on behalf of major institutions. The company also announced $15 million in Series B funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners (BVP), with participation from
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    Apple might stop selling Fitbits in its stores

    Apple plans to stop selling Fitbit products in its stores, Re/code reports, perhaps because it’s set to release its own smartwatch-slash-fitness tracker and doesn’t want the competition in its own retail stores. [Source: Re/code]
  20. elsewhere

    Reddit acquires third-party browsing app

    Reddit has acquired Alien Blue, the most popular mobile application used to browse its “front page of the Internet,” and hired its developer to continue development on its mobile products. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but taken with the release of Reddit’s Ask Me Anything app last month, it seems that the company might finally take mobile seriously. [Source: Reddit]
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    Listen again to Monday’s PandoLIVE

    If you missed Monday’s PandoLIVE call in show… two things. First, I feel sorry for you. By not listening live, you missed your chance to call in and join the discussion about sexism at Microsoft, what the hell “Dreamforce” is all about and whether Peter Thiel is actually a libertarian. You also missed out on winning a t-shirt for correctly identifying show tunes. Second, all is not lost! Not only is every episode available on iTunes and streamable

The Week in Review