TechSummit Rewind 149

This is the TechSummit Rewind, a daily recap of the top technology headlines.

FCC stopping nine companies from providing federally subsidized internet


FCC Chairman Ajit Pai announced a move Friday that bars nine companies from participating in the Lifeline federal program meant to help them provide affordable internet access to low-income consumers – weeks after they got the green light.

It reverses a decision made by Democratic predecessor Tom Wheeler, and undercuts the companies’ ability to provide low-cost internet access to poorer Americans. In a statement, Pai called the initial decisions a form of “midnight regulation.”

“These last-minute actions, which did not enjoy the support of the majority of commissioners at the time they were taken, should not bind us going forward.”

-Ajit Pai, FCC chairman

The program provides registered households with a $9.25/month credit, which can then be used to buy home internet service. Up to 13.5 million Americans without broadband service at home are eligible for Lifeline, according to the FCC. Roughly 900 service providers participate in the program.

Kajeet, one of the companies initially granted permission to provide service through Lifeline, sees the news as a blow to those that benefitted from the service.

“I’m most concerned about the children we serve. We partner with school districts – 41 states and the District of Columbia – to provide educational broadband so that poor kids can do their homework.”

-Daniel Neal, Kajeet founder

“The most obvious fact in our society is that high-speed internet is astronomically expensive for the middle-class and down. So in any way limiting the Lifeline program, at this moment in time, exacerbates the digital divide. It doesn’t address it in any positive way.”

-Gene Kimmelman, Public Knowledge president

The FCC can freely reconsider decisions it’s made on the matter within 30 days of making them. Four of the nine approvals were revoked in response to a complaint, while the other five were revoked within the 30-day window.

According to the decision, revoking the nine approvals “would promote program integrity by providing the [FCC] with additional time to consider measures that might be necessary to prevent further waste, fraud, and abuse in the Lifeline program.”

Planet acquires Google’s Terra Bella satellite imaging division


Planet will acquire Google’s Terra Bella satellite imaging division and take over the operation of its seven high-resolution SkySat satellites. Once the deal closes, Google will start purchasing images for Earth and other products directly from Planet.

According to Planet co-founder and CEO Will Marshall, some of Terra Bella’s employees will join the company’s team.

“We’ve long admired what the team at Terra Bella has achieved, and we think the SkySat constellation of seven high resolution satellites is highly complementary to Planet’s existing medium resolution 60-satellite fleet. […] The two systems under one roof will be truly unique and will enable valuable new capabilities.”

-Will Marshall, Planet co-founder and CEO

Snap files for IPO


Snap, Snapchat’s parent company, is going public at a valuation between $20 and $25 billion. The Los Angeles-based company’s looking to raise $3 billion in the offering. It will list on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol SNAP.

“In the way that the flashing cursor became the starting point for most products on desktop computers, we believe that the camera screen will be the starting point for most products on smartphones. This means that we are willing to take risks in an attempt to create innovative and different camera products that are better able to reflect and improve our life experiences.”

-Snap, in its S-1 filing

According to the company, Snapchat now has 158 million daily users and had sales of $404.5 million in 2016, up from $58.7 million in 2015.

Oculus CTO Carmack airs grievances over ZeniMax lawsuit on Facebook


Oculus CTO John Carmack posted his disagreement with ZeniMax’s “characterization, misdirection, and selective omissions” during the proceedings on Facebook.

He denied claims that the plaintiff’s computer expert made about being “absolutely certain” that Oculus “non-literally copied” from the source code he wrote when he worked for ZeniMax-owned Id Software. The plaintiff accused Carmack of bringing company secrets with him when he left Id and joined Oculus in 2013. Carmack said that the internet would have “viciously mocked” the expert’s analysis presented in court if the code samples were released publicly.

“The analogy that the expert gave to the jury was that if someone wrote a book that was basically Harry Potter with the names changed, it would still be copyright infringement. I agree; that is the literary equivalent of changing the variable names when you copy source code. However, if you abstract Harry Potter up a notch or two, you get Campbell’s Hero’s journey, which also maps well onto Star Wars and hundreds of other stories. These are not copyright infringement.”

-John Carmack, Oculus CTO

He also denied accusations that he wiped his hard drive when the lawsuit was filed.

“[A]ll of my data is accounted for, contrary to some stories being spread.”

-John Carmack

However, ZeniMax claims that Carmack destroyed 92 percent of his hard drive as soon as he heard of the lawsuit.

“In addition to expert testimony finding both literal and non-literal copying, Oculus programmers themselves admitted using ZeniMax’s copyrighted code (one saying he cut and pasted it into the Oculus SDK), and [Oculus co-founder] Brendan Iribe, in writing, requested a license for the ‘source code shared by Carmack’ they needed for the Oculus Rift. Not surprisingly, the jury found ZeniMax code copyrights were infringed. The Oculus Rift was built on a foundation of ZeniMax technology.

“As for the denial of wiping, the Court’s independent expert found 92 percent of Carmack’s hard drive was wiped – all data was permanently destroyed, right after Carmack got notice of the lawsuit, and that his affidavit denying the wiping was false.”

-ZeniMax, in a statement

Google blurs line between websites, Android apps


With Google’s latest Chrome Beta release, the company has given “Progressive Web Apps,” app-like websites, a higher status on Android. If you launch a site like Flipkart Lite in the latest beta, you’ll now get the option “add to home screen,” where it’ll appear like any other app on your home screen and app drawer. You’ll then be able to control notifications in the Android notification management controls, rather than in the Chrome settings like normal web sites.

Progressive Web Apps use the newest HTML and web features to make sites “reliable, fast, and engaging,” according to Google. To do that, they use “service workers” that cache key resources so the app loads faster and works even if you’re not connected to the internet. Sites also feel more like a “natural app” on the device, according to Google, with an “immersive user experience.”

These apps will also appear in Android settings, and allow you to set “intents” that’ll launch when you tap a certain URL, for instance.

Other new features include “CSS Grid Layout” support that gives developers more website design options and new ways for developers to display artist names, artwork, and song titles on media player lockscreens.

Version 57.0 of the Chrome beta is available now in the Play Store.

Apple selling Final Cut, Logic, other editing apps for $199 in new educational bundle


It’s no secret that professional creative apps cost a pretty penny, but Apple is trying to alleviate the burden for students and educators. For $199, you can snag Logic Pro X, Final Cut Pro X, Motion 5, Compressor 4, and Main Stage 3 – a $430 savings versus buying each of them separately. Together, the apps give students and educators a toolset for editing video, audio, images, and motion graphics.

According to Apple, the bundle is only available for teachers, faculty, staff, and college students. Apple’s student discount policy require verification by the UNiDAYS savings program for college students. After you purchase the bundle, you’ll receive a redemption code by email to unlock those apps in the Mac App Store.

LG redesigns 5K Mac monitor to handle being placed near a router


LG has found a fix for a problem that left its UltraFine 27-inch 5K monitor unable to work property when placed within a few feet of a router.

According to a company spokesperson, LG is adding additional shielding to newly manufactured models.

“LG apologizes for this inconvenience and is committed to delivering the best quality products possible.”

-LG, in a statement

Existing models can also be retrofitted with the enhanced shielding.


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