Eric Lundgren is a renowned innovator in the field of recycling e-waste. The 33-year-old man is the founder of the first electronic hybrid recycling facility in the United States, which uses old mobile phones, computers and other electronics to build...
Amazon lost control of some of its widely used cloud services for two hours on Tuesday morning when hackers exploited a known Internet-protocol weakness that allowed them to redirect traffic to rogue destinations. The attackers appeared to use one server masquerading as cryptocurrency website MyEtherWallet.com to steal digital coins from unwitting end users. They may have targeted other customers of Amazon's Route 53 service as well.
The incident, which started around 6am California time, hijacked roughly 1,300 IP addresses, Oracle-owned Internet Intelligence said on Twitter. The malicious redirection was caused by fraudulent routes that were announced by Columbus, Ohio-based eNet, a large Internet service provider that is referred to as autonomous system 10297. Once in place, the eNet announcement caused some of its peers to send traffic over the same unauthorized routes. Amazon and eNet officials didn't immediately respond to a request to comment.
The highly suspicious event is the latest to involve Border Gateway Protocol, the technical specification that network operators use to exchange large chunks of Internet traffic. Despite it's crucial function in directing wholesale amounts of data, BGP still largely relies on the Internet-equivalent of word of mouth from participants who are presumed to be trustworthy.
Welcome to Cheat Sheet, our brief breakdown-style reviews of festival films, VR previews, and other special event releases. This review comes from the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival.
Silicon Valley is stereotypically full of arrogant geniuses single-handedly forging the future, including Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, and many more. But the ‘90s startup General Magic, as portrayed in a new eponymous documentary, was a team of gentle visionaries in the right place at the wrong time.
General Magic is sometimes credited with trying to invent the iPhone in the 1990s. The startup spun off from Apple with the intent of designing a smartphone-like device known as the Pocket Crystal, but it collapsed as its incredibly ambitious project ran up against technical limitations and poor planning. General Magic, directed by Sarah Kerruish and Matt Maude, offers a detailed, affectionate look at the company’s brief rise and sudden fall.
What’s the genre?
Glossy, nostalgic narrative documentary. General Magic features lots of original 1990s footage from inside General Magic’s offices because its founders actually hired a filmmaker to document their development process. It also rounds up a broad range of former employees and associates, including former Apple CEO John Sculley and iPhone co-creator Tony Fadell, to appear as talking heads. (Disclosure: Kara Swisher, co-founder of The Verge’s sister site Recode, consulted on and appears in the film.)
What’s it about?
In 1990, a handful of superstar Apple employees founded a startup called General Magic to build a groundbreaking pocket-sized computer. This vision was so convincing that General Magic launched on the stock market before even showing a finished device. It was set to be one of the most exciting companies of the decade, thanks to the work of its charismatic CEO, Marc Porat, and several members of the Macintosh computer’s development team, including software geniuses Bill Atkinson and Andy Hertzfeld.
Instead, General Magic became one of Silicon Valley’s most dramatic failures, after shipping a single generation of hardware to abysmal sales numbers. It was blindsided by the newly popular World Wide Web, unable to juggle a complicated set of corporate partnerships, and undercut by its own parent company, Apple, which beat it to market with the similar-looking Newton PDA. But General Magic’s former employees ended up defining the modern tech landscape — including virtually the entire smartphone market. As one of the film’s interview subjects puts it, General Magic is “the most important company to come out of Silicon Valley that no one’s ever heard of.”
What’s it really about?
Silicon Valley idealism, in its brightest and purest form. General Magic is like a nonfiction version of Halt and Catch Fire where nobody fights, and almost everyone ends up incredibly successful. The film credibly argues that General Magic tried to build something very much like a contemporary smartphone, and this plan was doomed to fail in the early 1990s. While the company clearly suffered from management problems and a heavy dose of hubris, the film focuses on missteps that are almost endearing. In one interview, Andy Hertzfeld laments blowing off deadlines to design a virtual coin-flip in a gaming app.
For a film about failure, General Magic is often aggressively optimistic. The company went under, its story goes, but it still incubated an entire generation of Silicon Valley talent. Its employee roster included future White House chief technology officer Megan Smith, future Android co-creator Andy Rubin, future eBay founder Pierre Omidyar, and future iPod and iPhone co-designer Tony Fadell, among others. General Magic’s interviews with Fadell bring its story full-circle: he began as one of General Magic’s youngest employees and ended up bringing its dream to fruition through the iPhone.
But there’s an undertone of melancholy fatalism as well. In General Magic, ideas like the smartphone are destined to exist, and would-be creators can only hope they were born at the right time to get their names on the patent. For all the success that General Magic’s younger team members saw, senior figures like Porat and Hoffman seem to have never emotionally recovered from their failure. They can claim credit for laying the foundations of the iPhone, but it’s a bittersweet triumph — because, after all, somebody else would have done it eventually.
Is it good?
General Magic features a lot of successful tech icons reminiscing about their younger days, a format that’s ripe for blandly self-congratulatory mythmaking. But the film’s subjects are self-aware, candid about their failings, and often infectiously enthusiastic. It’s easy to root for their younger selves, especially when you know just how thoroughly they’ll end up being crushed. The company was genuinely building something exciting, and General Magic captures that sense of excitement well.
General Magic’s unfocused hyper-ambitiousness was financially disastrous, but it created a wealth of quirky hardware and software footage for the film to explore. Some inventions seem genuinely prescient, like a collection of animated proto-emoji stickers. Some are impractical but fascinating, like a “town” computing interface with buildings for apps. Some just drive home how far computing has come, like the final design of Porat’s iPhone-sized concept, which ended up looking like a high-tech Etch A Sketch.
If there’s a dark side to the film’s idealism, it’s General Magic’s lionization of punishing development crunch times. Some employees are clear-eyed about how much they sacrificed, particularly Porat, whose relationship with his wife and children broke down. And the film’s references to people falling asleep under desks and assembling bunk beds in the office are exciting narrative beats. But today, these stories help other companies convince employees to practically work themselves to death, which makes them seem less innocently romantic than they might have in the 1990s.
Even so, during a particularly complicated moment in Silicon Valley, General Magic is a reminder of how compelling stories about technology can be.
Whole Foods will shut down its rewards program, digital coupons, and customers’ online accounts on May 2nd and fold everything into Amazon Prime, according to an email to customers this week. The email, as spotted byMarketwatch, says unused rewards will not roll over to Amazon Prime, so customers should try to use their benefits before the program officially sunsets.
Gmail.com is soon getting its first redesign in seven years, and with that new look comes some new features. We've already heard about new side panels for Google Calendar, Google Keep, and Google Tasks, and now we're getting word of another new feature: self-destructing emails.
TechCrunch has screenshots detailing the feature from the pre-release version of Gmail. In the compose window, there's a new lock icon called "Confidential Mode." When clicked, a message pops up saying, "Options to forward, download or copy this email's contents and attachments will be disabled." The sender can then pick an expiration date for the email, and optionally require an SMS passcode to open the email. The compose window also switches to a blue color scheme, letting the user know they're not just sending a normal message.