Facebook is now available through Tor for ramped-up privacy

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The “deep web” is not only home to shady online drug bazaars where you can exchange bitcoins for drugs, but also portals where whistleblowers can safely pass sensitive documents to journalists.

Now, it’s also also home to Facebook.

The social network announced on Friday that it is now hosted directly on the Tor network to allow for an even more secure and private way to connect to Facebook.

People using Tor, software that allows for safe and anonymous web browsing, can now connect directly to Facebook using its new onion address (http://ift.tt/1wNmVPE), also known as a hidden service. Read more…

More about Facebook, Tor, Social Media, Us, and World

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This App Cuts Off Your Access To Work Emails At Night

As one of David Thielen’s sales engineers was being prepped for emergency gallbladder surgery last year, the engineer started to answer a support ticket on his smartphone.

“I said, ‘Cut off his domain access, now. I don’t care if it’s in the middle of the ticket,’” said Thielen, CTO and founder of Windward Studios, the creators of the new app Enforced Vacation, which pauses employees’ access to company email after work hours.

Thielen beta tested the app, which launched Wednesday, with his employees. He said they took a few days to understand that life would go on without nighttime emailing. One employee claimed he was actually shaking from the lack of email access during the first days of his vacation. (By the end of his trip, the shakes were gone and he was glad he’d been cut off.)

Making downtime a priority benefits both employees and the companies they work for. Clocking more hours actually makes people less productive, according to a 2011 paper by the International Labour Organization. And Stanford researchers have shown that overwork diminishes productivity for a number of reasons, including sleep deprivation, stress and depression.

“It’s actually in the self-interest of a company to do this,” Thielen said.

Remote access for workers also has its benefits, of course, allowing people more flexibility in their schedules and commutes. And a recent Gallup poll found that workers who regularly check email after work were more likely to report having better overall lives than those who never check email outside of work — but that could be because higher-status, higher-paying jobs are usually the ones requiring the most connection. They might also require more of a commitment: the same poll also reported that workers who frequently check email outside of work hours are more stressed than those who don’t.

Enforced Vacation, which will cost $1 per worker per month after a one-month free trial period, does allow for situations where employees need to bring work home. While the aim is to make workers’ personal time completely their own, it’s possible for emails to be viewed and sent when crucial. If an email is marked “high priority” or has certain words in the subject line, such as “urgent,” it goes through.

Thielen said the company is working on getting the app out both in the U.S. and in Europe, where after-hours email bans are more common. Some French companies have adopted an after-hours email ban, which, contrary to rumors, is not a formal law. The German labor minister has commissioned a study on the impact of work-related stress, and the findings could bring about legislation that outlaws after-work email. Volkswagen takes an extreme approach and completely shuts off employees’ email access at night.

Enforced Vacation provides some flexibility. The app can be temporarily disabled, but an administrator can override a user from making any changes when there’s no emergency.

“You can go, ‘Yes, they’re on vacation, and no, they’re not going to turn it off,’” Thielen said. “They are not going to get their email until they’re back from vacation.”

That functionality is called “Ryan mode,” named for the sales engineer who had to be forced to put his phone down as he entered surgery.

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uBeam Just Raised $10 Million So You Can Charge Your Phone While Walking Around Your House

Meredith Perry uBeam

If you want to charge your phone without being stuck by a power outlet, you don’t have many options.

There’s the charging phone case mophie, of course. And there are charging mats, too, but your phone needs to be connected to the mat in order for it to charge.

uBeam is a company that wants to change all that. It’s using ultrasound waves to wirelessly charge your phone.

To make that a reality, the company just raised $10 million in a Series A funding round led by Upfront Ventures with participation from Shawn Fanning, Mark Cuban, Troy Carter, Zappos’ Tony Hsieh, Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer, Ludlow Ventures, CrunchFund, Andreessen Horowitz, and Founders Fund, TechCrunch reports.

uBeam founder Meredith Perry came up with the idea for uBeam while she was still a student at the University of Pennsylvania. She showed up to class with a dead laptop and without a power cord, and was annoyed enough to think of a solution. 

Perry won an invention contest at Penn, and after graduating, she kept the uBeam momentum going. She raised $1.7 million in seed funding from Ken Seiff, Marissa Mayer, Ellen Levy, Tony Hsieh, CrunchFund, and Andreessen Horowitz in 2012.

After going into stealth mode for a while, the startup reemerged in August with an update about its first functional prototype.

The technology behind uBeam is something that’s unprecedented. It converts electricity to inaudible sound waves, which travel through the air. The sound waves get converted back to electricity, which then charges up your devices. In order to work, the uBeam system needs a charger (which can be attached to a wall) and a receiver (which gets put on each device you want to charge). 

“We’ve developed a powerful and intelligent ultrasonic transmitter that beams high intensity ultrasound through the air,” Perry told Business Insider.

“The ultrasound in the air then hits a receiver, which can be in the shape of a case around an electronic device or can be embedded within a device. The receiver vibrates in response to the sound at a frequency too fast for people to feel, and then converts that vibration into electrical power.”

The technology has one caveat: it can’t beam sound waves through walls. So if you’re buying a uBeam system for your house and you want to charge in every room, you’d have to buy a transmitter for each room in which you want to wirelessly charge your phone.

The company is hoping to sell uBeam’s products to consumers by 2016. uBeam is making a version for homes and a more industrial version so you could wirelessly charge your phone in an airport or at a conference. It could become as ubiquitous as Wi-Fi.

“If wireless power is everywhere, then the size of your battery can shrink because it’s always charging. You’ll never need a cord again, and you won’t need international charging adapters,” Perry told the New York Times in August.

“We’re going to sell directly to consumers, and we’ll sell them to restaurant chains and hotels — we are going to saturate the market with uBeam transmitters. In addition to your local coffee shop saying it has free Wi-Fi, it will also say it has free uBeam.”

SEE ALSO: All The Cords You Use To Charge Your Phone Might Be Obsolete Soon

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The Mobile Payment Industry Is About To Explode, With Apple Leading The Way

Forecast US Mobile Payments

It’s an incredibly exciting time in mobile payments thanks to a number of shakeups that promise to turn the industry on its head. 

In a new report from BI Intelligence, we look at the most important developments in the last few months, how they’ve reshaped the mobile payments landscape and whether they’ll be the catalyst for people to finally start paying with their phones. 

  • Apple Pay: The biggest shakeup was Apple’s launch of its new payments feature: Apple Pay. The NFC-compatible system allows iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users to make payments at over 200,000 retail locations in the US. Apple Pay boasts a number of security features that speak directly to consumers’ top mobile payments concerns. 
  • Big Retail’s move: Hoping to steal the show, MCX, a consortium of over 70 of the largest retailers in the US, announced its own mobile wallet, “CurrentC,” days before Apple. These merchants control one in five retail dollars spent in US stores, and MCX merchants won’t be accepting Apple Pay, according to sources familiar with the matter. 
  • The in-app crowd: Finally, a new breed of apps that bypass the payment terminal by allowing users to make in-store purchases entirely within their phone. They promise to fundamentally change the way we pay in restaurants and bars, and make it a software-only process. 

Access the Full Report, Dozens Of Charts, And Data By Signing Up For A Free Trial Today >>

Here are more of the key takeaways:

  • Mobile payments will see explosive growth. Mobile in-store payments will grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 154%, to $189 billion in 2018 from $1.8 billion in 2013, according to our forecast. While the growth will be explosive, in-store mobile payments will still account for less than 4% of brick-and-mortar transaction value by 2018.
  • A small percentage of people have used mobile payments. In late 2013, just 6% of US adults said they had made a payment in a store by scanning or tapping their smartphone at a payment terminal. That percentage will go up to 8% this year. Apple’s introduction of the Apple Pay mobile wallet in the iPhone 6 line will be the key factor that will drive this percentage up.
  • Millennials are early adopters of mobile wallets. Fifty-five percent of people who say they use mobile wallets are millennials (ages 18 to 34). These mobile natives are likely to continue to drive mobile wallet adoption. 
  • Of the two leading in-store mobile-payments technologies — NFC and QR codes — NFC will be the winner. Scanning a QR code or a barcode has been the top method for making a payment via smartphone in recent years because it can be done with Android phones and iPhones. But with Apple’s adoption of NFC for the iPhone 6 line, many more people will begin using NFC-based mobile payments. 
  • Apple Pay will succeed and bring mobile in-store payments into the mainstream. Apple has a devoted fan base and the unique ability to change consumer behavior on a large scale. A majority of US tech consumers said they would absolutely use Apple Pay, according to a survey of Business Insider readers. In addition, the company has included a number of features within Apple Pay to address consumer privacy and security concerns. 

In full, the report:

For full access to all BI Intelligence’s charts and data on the Payments Industry, sign up for a free trial.

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Make Your Photos Terrifying With Google’s Halloween Filter

Happy Halloween!

To help you get into the spirit, Google+ Photos released a neat “Halloweenify” feature that lets you transform your smiling face into a horrifying, ghoulish grimace. 

Like this:

GoogleHalloween2 HALLOWEEN

To try it yourself, go to photos.google.com. You’ll see an option to try either a fun or a spooky effect.

The fun effect adds virtual face paint, turning you into a pumpkin, kitten, or puppy:

GoogleHalloween2 HALLOWEEN(1)

It’s actually kind of addicting:

BI Portraits Med 0704 HALLOWEEN

Spooky

 

SEE ALSO: Here’s What Our Google Sources Are Saying About Sundar Pichai’s Sudden Rise

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This App Predicts When You’re Going To Die

Deadline app

Like most other apps that work with Apple’s HealthKit ecosystem, “Deadline” motivates you to be healthier, but in a darker sort of way.

“You’re going to die,” the app’s description says. “Sorry, we all do eventually. I don’t want to, either. But, what if you knew the date of your death?”

And that’s exactly what “Deadline” does, it tries its best to predict how long you have left, right down to the second.

While it’s obviously impossible to know, “Deadline” uses  your Apple HealthKit data and asks you a series of questions to generate your own personal death clock.

“Deadline” is also tough to overlook thanks to its iOS 8 widget, which inserts your life timer in your iPhone’s “Today” view.

Deadline app

It’s morbid, but the app’s integration with HealthKit means you can add time to your clock by living healthier and exercising more.

For those who can’t find motivation in the other colorful health apps out there, perhaps the gloominess of “Deadline” can serve as a reminder that life is finite and they’ll exercise more.

Just keep in mind it’s a rough estimate based on an algorithm.

To download “Deadline,” head on over to the App Store.

SEE ALSO: Find Out What Your Zip Code Says About You With This Creepily Accurate Website

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Meet The Man Who’s Now Leading Google’s Top-Secret Robotics Projects In Place Of Andy Rubin

James Kuffner

Big news leaked from the Googleplex last night: Andy Rubin, founder of Android who had been running Google’s top-secret robotics projects since 2013, is leaving the company.  

Taking his place is James Kuffner, an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon and long-time humaniod robotics expert. 

Kuffner first came to Google to work on its self-driving car projects in 2009, though focused on other robotics research as well. 

I’ve always been interested in seeing forward-looking technology go from just an idea in a research lab to actually doing something practical and useful,” he told MIT’s Technology Review in an interview at a DARPA robotics contest last year. 

Google has made it clear that it’s willing to invest in robotics. It bought Boston Dynamics, an engineering company that creates crazy mobile research robots for the military, last December. That was the ninth robotics company it had purchased in six months.  

Kuffner has been working on humanoid robots for about 20 years and has published over 100 technical papers, including one about how to use a cloud-based system to help robots recognize and grasp 3D objects. 

“So far robotics has been very brittle, and it’s going to take best-in-class software and hardware, and a lot of hard work to make these robots achieve the same level of performance and agility that humans and animals have,” he told MIT. “I think that’s sort of an inspiration goal and something to motivate everyone to work toward.”

What specific robotics projects Kuffner will be leading at Google remains shrouded in mystery. 

When asked about why Google bought so many robotics companies, he has declined to comment

“I know James well and honestly can’t imagine a better person for the job,” another robotics expert, Russ Tedrake, told The Wall Street Journal. “He has the vision, the passion, and the technical chops to do great things with this opportunity.” 

SEE ALSO: Here’s What Google Sources Are Saying About Sundar Pichai’s Sudden Rise To Power

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