All posts in “Software”

Company raises $347K ICO, vanishes

A company called Confido raised a small ICO by selling special CFD designed to allow “safe and trustless cryptocurrency payments. According to ICODrops they raised their goal of about $400,000 and quickly disappeared, taking the cash with it. The site is currently a parked web server that points to nothing.

The apparent founder and former eBay employee, Joost van Doorn, posted a message to a Confido Reddit board claiming that “We are in a tight spot, as we are having legal trouble caused by a contract we signed. We signed the contract with assurance from our legal advisor that there was minimal risk and it would not be an issue. I can’t and won’t go into details, but he was wrong. It is a problem.”

According to the Reddit coordinator for the ICO, the move “is completely out of character” for Joost.

“There is potential that the removal of everything was due to the legal situation that they are facing, which is possible as I got the feeling that the situation was dire. I don’t agree with this course of action however, as it has left the entire community, and myself, in the dark,” he wrote.

The ICOs or token sales are red hot right now but I’ve spoken to a number of founders who are dealing with the same legal troubles – albeit in far less drastic ways – and who are eschewing the process entirely due to legal, logistical, and security issues. Given the amounts of cryptocurrency involved and the multiple moving parts including legal cover, white paper production, and monetary management, it’s a wonder more token sales don’t flame out like this one.

As of today there is no way to contact the founding team. The tokens rose to a price of about $1 before crashing back to a penny.

“These were very good scammers,” Eli Lewitt, co-founder of TokenLot, told Motherboard.

UPDATE – Kraft & Wurgaft write they they do not have any of the wayward coins:

“Our firm provides escrow services for, a company which hosted the Confido ICO. The services we provide include maintaining funds received from ICO investors until the Tokens are distributed by the issuing company. Once we receive confirmation that the Tokens have been distributed, we release the funds received to for distribution to the Company selling the Tokens. Thus, once the Token sale is complete, we no longer maintain a wallet or hold any funds related to the sale. We furthermore have no direct involvement with the issuing company, i.e. Confido, as our client is”

Twitter to revoke verification for some accounts as part of overhaul

Twitter says that it’s making progress on its plan to review its authentication system, which it’s conducting in the wake of backlash against the social network verifying the account of a white supremacist rally organizer. In a series of tweets today, the Twitter Support account acknowledges that verification comes across as endorsement, and that the social network’s treatment of verification has led to this. As a result, it’s going to change how it treats verification of accounts, and will unverify some users “whose behavior does not fall within” its new guidelines.

The Twitter Support account begins with an admission that providing “visual prominence” to verified accounts has contributed to the perception that it’s an endorsement by the network of those specific users, and that it should have taken action earlier to clear up any confusion in this regard. It also says that opening up the verification process to public submission further exacerbated this problem.

Now, it says it’s reworking the entire system, and has already changed its official guidelines on what verification means, and it’s still not accepting any submissions for verification from the general public.

The biggest news here is likely that the company will take action to remove existing verification for accounts where their activity doesn’t meet its restated guidelines. It’s unclear who will be affected and when, but there’s bound to be some attention given to it should any highly visible profiles become unverified as a result of this review.

It’s inexcusable for Apple and Google to ship pricey phones with busted software

Phone makers like Apple, Google, and Samsung have mastered the art of making desirable smartphones that command premium prices. 

But they’re screwing up with the software big-time, and it’s starting to look really embarrassing. When you’re asking people to pony up $1,000+ for a phone, these mistakes are inexcusable.

It feels like every other day there’s some new problem plaguing Google’s Pixel 2 and 2 XL. At first it was color-shifting OLED screens and screen burn-in problems on the 2 XL. 

Then there were audio clicking issues. On the Pixel 2, the notification LED doesn’t work even when the feature is turned on. 

People are reporting the oleophobic coating that’s supposed to help resist fingerprint smudges on the displays are wearing off unusually quick.

Personally, I’ve noticed the camera app frequently won’t turn on (it gets stuck on a black screen) until I reboot the phone.

Some people even received Pixel 2’s without Android installed on them.

And now there’s multiple reports of the Google Assistant not working when Bluetooth headphones are paired with the phones and the edges of the screens being unresponsive.

To be fair, these problems don’t plague all Pixel 2 and 2 XL phones (our review unit only has the color-shifting, which Google says is actually acceptable) and none of them single-handedly cripple them to the point where they’re unusable or dangerous (thank god, it’s not a Note 7 repeat).

But there are now enough issues piling up on the daily that some people are demanding a recall. Google hasn’t caved yet and it’s even pledged to address some of these issues with software updates, but is this what you should expect from a phone that starts at $650 and is supposed to offer the best Google hardware and software experience?

Hell no.

I expect this kind of quality from a budget phone. A $50 phone with Amazon ads. But not one that’s made of premium materials and is supposed to provide the best time you’ll ever have with a phone.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

The Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL.

Image: raymond wong/mashable

And these kinds of bugs aren’t exclusive to the Pixel 2’s. Apple’s iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X have their own set of  problems that are equally as unforgivable.

A bug that causes the letter “I” to autocorrect to “A[?]”? How about a software glitch that’s causing the iPhone X to stop responding to touch when it gets just a little bit cold? Or reports of green lines running down the side of their iPhone X’s?

Guys, this isn’t normal. 

Apple’s been making iPhones and developing iOS for a decade. Google’s been crafting Android for nearly as long and even though it’s only in its second year of Pixel releases, it’s not like the company is a complete n00b at hardware.

It’s like everyone is collectively sh*tting the bed. 

How the hell are they screwing things up so badly? It’s like everyone is collectively sh*tting the bed. 

The Essential Phone’s a beautiful titanium phone, but its cameras are a hot mess. Samsung launched the Galaxy S8 without Bixby, the digital assistant it deemed so crucial it has its own dedicated button.

When this happens, customers have to wait for multiple patches to arrive after launch to fix issues that shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

We’re so enamored by new hardware with edge-to-edge screens and slimmer bezels that we’re starting to overlooking the details — the basic stuff that these companies are tasked to get right. 

I don’t have answers as to why these bugs keep slipping through. Apple prides itself on how laser-focused it is on hardware and software and yet it’s dropping the ball. 

I applaud these companies for listening to customers and pushing out software updates to address issues that they overlooked, but they’re promising perfection and we should be getting that (or something damn near close).

Still, it’s time to demand better from phone makers and hold them more accountable for releasing phones and software updates that clearly haven’t been thoroughly tested. 

I know that Google and Apple are beloved tech brands, but there’s no better way to let them know it’s not okay to ship sub-par hardware and software than by not giving them your money.

Vote with your wallet by not buying pricey phones that are effectively broken. And if you have just purchased a phone that suffers from myriad problems, return it. 

Another option: Voice your device’s issues on social media, Google’s Pixel User Community forum or Apple’s Support Communities, and Reddit. Phone makers won’t be forced to reevaluate their standards and improve them to meet customer feedback if they aren’t aware there are problems.

After all, we are paying more for our phones. “We’ll fix it later” isn’t acceptable. It should never be.

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AI pioneer Chris Boos talks about the future of machine learning

This week on Technotopia I talk to Chris Boos, the creator of a bot that can play FreeCiv, a Civilization clone. His solution demonstrates the power of machine learning and, wildly, has beat multiple humans and the game.

Boos’ company, Arago, specializes in building tools that build themselves. Humans can show his bots how to do something – manage a piece of software, for example – and the bots can write scripts automatically. He is bullish on AI on the whole but still thinks we have a long way to go before we hit a truly intelligent future.

Technotopia is a podcast about a better future by John Biggs. You can subscribe in Stitcher, RSS, or iTunes and listen the MP3 here.

Niantic’s follow-up to Pokémon Go will be a Harry Potter AR game launching in 2018

Niantic Labs had tremendous success with Pokémon Go, which paired their expertise in building location-based augmented reality mobile experiences with a top-flight IP with a ravenous fan base. So, it stands to reason that we should expect a similar fan response to Harry Potter: Wizards Unite, an AR title set to launch in 2018, co-developed by Warner Bros. Interactive and its new sub brand Portkey Games.

Niantic building a Harry Potter game similar to Pokémon Go was rumoured last year, when the company noted that it had acquired the rights to the app. But the rumour was subsequently debunked, oddly enough, with the original article containing the information pulled from the web.

The app is now official, bu the details are still scarce, with the launch timeframe of just sometime next year, but it sounds like there will be significant influence from the Niantic game Ingress, which allows players to roam the real world collecting power-ups, defending locations and exploring their environment.

The mechanics of Ingress would actually translate pretty well to the fictional Harry Potter universe, and seems almost ready-made for a fantasy spell casting coat of paint to replace its science-fiction special forces veneer. Also, like Pokémon Go, it could benefit from the location database built up by Ingress originally (and expanded by the Pokémon title) to incorporate real-world locations into the in-game experience.

Featured Image: Warner Bros.