Category Archives: Tech News

Employees of Wisconsin Company Volunteer to Get “Chipped”

Three Square Market, often called 32M, held a party last week to celebrate the inauguration of something completely new: workers who voluntarily agreed to have microchips inserted into their hands for the convenience of buying snacks in the cafeteria, opening doors with a mere hand-wave, and easy login to their computer.

The Wisconsin-based company somehow convinced 41 of its 85 employees to introduce the chip into their flesh, saying that although it is a new and unusual phenomenon in the US, in Europe the practice is much more prevalent.

The company also asserts that the chips are encrypted, and do not have a GPS function as other types of microchips have, so that no one will be able to track the movements of the employee-cyborgs. On the other hand, for some talented hackers encryption is not a serious obstacle to access to computer systems if there is enough of a desire.

One observer, sociology professor at the University of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, Noelle Chesley says that she foresees the implantation of chips into employees will go from nuts to normal over the next few years.

Seven Billion Dollar Deal Could Bring 50,000 Jobs to US

The top and side of an iPhone 5S, externally identical to the iPhone 5. Photo courtesy of Calerusnak

Two high tech giants, Foxconn and Apple, are considering a deal to build a panel factory in the United States at a cost of about $7 billion and could create between 30,000 and 50,000 jobs. Chairman Terry Gou of Foxconn said that an investment by Foxconn’s Sharp division will depend on the terms negotiated for the deal at the state and federal levels.

The announcement of the deal comes close on the heels of President Donald Trump’s inaugural address in which the new president promised to make “America First” as the backbone of his policies leading the nation. Trump stated in his speech: “We will follow two simple rules: buy American and hire American.”

One of Trump’s campaign promises was to try and persuade Apple to bring the manufacture of iPhones to US shores. Trump said that he was optimistic that Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, had his “eyes open” to the possibility. Foxconn is the biggest producer of iPhones.

Gou said that Trump-style protectionism was inevitable, but he is unsure how Americans will feel about spending hundreds of dollars more for a phone that does not work any better than a less expensive model that was made overseas.

Gou vowed to increase his investments in China. Apple is also dependent on China, not just for production, but also for sales. Last year China made up 22 percent of Apple’s total revenue, some $46.4 billion.

Uber Growing as Cab and Rental Business Transactions Shrink

Uber won the majority of total ground transportation transactions last quarter for the first time since the ride-hailing startup started up. According to Certify, the second-biggest travel and expense management software provider in North America, Uber Technologies Inc. had 52 percent of the total ground transportation transactions during the last quarter of 2016.

Last year Uber has already become more popular for business travelers than rental cars as measured by transactions, though rental car bookings still accounted for a bigger share of revenue.

As Uber continues to grow, taxis and rentals continue their decline. During 2016’s Q4 rentals had 33 percent of the market while cabs had only 11 percent. For taxis 2016 was a pretty tough year, down over 37 percent since Q1 of 2014, according to Certify.

Uber’s other competitor in the ride-hailing, high-tech niche, Lyft Inc., also grew, doubling its share from 2 percent to 4 percent in Q4 2016. The apartment rental website Airbnb Inc. also doubled their transactions every year since 2014, according to Certify.

Part of what is driving Uber’s fast growth is its low cost. On average, a ride with Uber, as reported on Certify expense reports, was $24.75 last quarter. For Lyft it was $24.99, and for a taxi, $34.62.

UL US Going to Hannover Messe for First Time

The United States is sending the biggest delegation it has ever sent to the Hannover Messe this year. Hannover Messe is the world’s most respected trade convention for industrial and manufacturing technologies, which takes place April 25-29 in Hannover, Germany.
UL, a US safety science company, has been sending a delegation from its European subsidiary, this year a group from the US is joining as well.

“While UL in Europe has been participating at Hannover Messe for more than 15 years, we are excited to join the US business delegation and are looking forward to welcoming visitors at our two booths this year,” said Gitte Schjotz, UL’s SVP and president for EMEA and Latin America.

“UL empowers the next industrial evolution through safe adoption of industrial automation, energy, digital factories, cybersecurity, industrial supply and technology.”

Hannover Messe is expecting upwards of 200,000 participants from over 70 countries. The event attracts investors, buyers, distributors and resellers as well as government representatives.

Huge Breech in Security for Millions of Americans Uncovered

Tech support specialist Chris Vickery said that he uncovered a database with the names, phone numbers, addresses, birth dates, and more of about 191 million voters which was exposed to the open internet. He said it was open due to a mistake in the way the database information was configured.

The database also included party affiliations and emails of voters in every one of the 50 states and Washington, DC.

Vickery, an independent researcher of computer security in Austin, Texas, said that he uncovered the information while tracking down different kinds of information which is exposed on the web. He was hoping to raise awareness of the problem of data leaks.

The database took about one day to download. Vickery said he could not tell if anyone else had looked in the database. Most of the data is considered in the public domain. The danger lies in the fact that so much useful information is all gathered together in one easily accessible place. This cache of voter data could be useful, and highly valuable, to criminals who might be looking for large lists of potential targets of all kinds of fraud schemes.

“The alarming part is that the information is so concentrated,” Vickery said.