U.S. to auction $1.6 million of bitcoin from various cases

NEW YORK The U.S. government said on Monday it plans to auction over 2,700 bitcoins that were forfeited during several cases, several of which stemmed from investigations of the online black market known as Silk Road.The U.S. Marshals Service said that the online auction would be held on Aug. 22, and that potential bidders must register by Aug. 18. The bitcoin are worth about $1.6 million, according to the Bitstamp exchange.The auction is the latest by the Marshals Service of the digital currency. It completed four prior auctions from June 2014 to November 2015 of bitcoins seized during the prosecution of Ross Ulbricht, who authorities say ran Silk Road.His case is one of nine criminal, civil or administrative matters from which the Marshals Service said the 2,719 bitcoins had been forfeited and are subject to the latest auction. Ulbricht, 32, was sentenced in May 2015 to life in prison after being convicted for orchestrating a scheme that enabled more than $200 million of anonymous online drug sales through Silk Road using bitcoin. He is appealing.Only about 2.8 bitcoins in the latest auction came from Ulbricht's case, the Marshals Service said. The bulk of the bitcoins in the auction, 1,294, came from a civil forfeiture case related to a Silk Road drug dealer, Matthew Gillum, who was sentenced in 2015 to nine years in prison, the Marshals Service said.It said another 65 bitcoins came from the case of Carl Force, a former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent who was sentenced in October to 78 months in prison for stealing bitcoins during the Silk Road investigation. The agency said another 664 bitcoins came from the case of Sean Roberson, a Florida man who prosecutors said created an online shop for selling counterfeit credit and debit cards. He was sentenced in November 2015 to 78 months in prison. (Reporting by Nate Raymond in New York; Editing by Bernadette Baum and Frances Kerry)

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The Web is (Finally) a Mature Platform

Or, why MEAN will never be LAMPI started my career as a “web developer” circa 2007. I’d dabbled before with Javascript while making sites in HTML/CSS as early as middle school, but that was my first real job as a real software developer. Back in those days, LAMP (Linux/Apache/MySQL/PHP) was about the only sensible way to build a web application. You could use Java servlets, of course, or build applications using CGI, but once PHP was stable and available and straightforward, and it quickly became the obvious choice for a huge range of applications.I’m telling you this because the other day I stumbled across this question on Quora, from an old PHP/MySQL developer who was just coming back into the game, and wanted to know what the present state of the art was. There were a huge number of different responses (of which my answer was obviously the best), but one that as conspicuously repeated was the idea of the “MEAN” stack.So Why MEAN?MEAN is a stack consisting of MongoDB for a datastore, Express.js for a backend framework, Angular.js for a frontend framework, and Node.js for a server/platform. It’s a perfectly fine technology stack, I’m sure, but to me it doesn’t seem so exceptional. After all, MongoDB has drivers for pretty much any language you would want to use, Express.js likewise has equivalents, and Angular doesn’t care a bit what language you use on the backend. Really, the whole effort just seems like a way to make Node.js development easier and/or more standardized, but it seems to have stuck for whatever reason.So why MEAN? I feel that MEAN is a meme born of developers faced with a paradox of choice. There are so many popular, proven, and acceptable ways to build an application for the web now, each with its own set of tradeoffs but all fully applicable to the general case.In the latest edition of their Web Framework Benchmarks, Techempower tested 162 frameworks, spread across 25 programming languages and running on 69 platforms. All of these are ways that people are really using to write web applications. It’s not like Express or Node is the most performant option (it does ok, tending to end up near the middle of the pack at around 10% of the most performant option) and it’s definitely not the most expressive (compare the express.js source to the flask, which tended to perform about as well).For most projects starting out, before the true performance bottlenecks of the application are even close to understood, MEAN is just one of a veritable universe of perfectly fine choices. It stands out in exactly no dimension, save the number of blog posts (and quora answers, apparently) touting it as the next great thing. MEAN is the next acceptable thing. By the time your application is starting to experience problems, you should have the enough knowledge about the nature of your issues that you can make an educated choice of datastore/language/platform/application architecture.Three years ago when I started at Tapstream, the product was entirely a Django/Postgres application. Now, the core is implemented in Java with Cassandra as a canonical datastore using a variety of big-data and web frameworks for different components, with a single-page (ha! it’s huge) Ember.js dashboard running against a Flask REST backend (although it still uses the same Postgres database as ever (ignoring the Ship-of-Theseus issues with this usage of “same”)). If your application lasts through 3 years of growth, I guarantee you’ll experience a similar transformation.So What Do I Do?If you must keep up with the joneses, in my opinion, this is the next big thing in web development. Otherwise, you should experiment with the myriad of options available and find something that works for you! The more things you try, the better the decision you’ll make when you actually have to make a decision based on real technical tradeoffs.The choice is, and always will be, yours!This original blog post was sponsored by Worklog Assistant, a JIRA time tracker. You can find the original source here. 

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Solar plane takes off from Egypt on final leg of world tour

CAIRO An aircraft powered by solar energy left Egypt on Sunday on the last leg of the first ever fuel-free flight around the globe.Solar Impulse 2, a spindly single-seat plane, took off from Cairo in darkness en route to Abu Dhabi, its final destination, with a flight expected to take between 48 and 72 hours. The plane, which began its journey in Abu Dhabi in March 2015, has been piloted in turns by Swiss aviators Andre Borschberg and Bertrand Piccard in a campaign to build support for clean energy technologies."The round the world flight ends in Abu Dhabi, but not the project," Piccard told Reuters a few days before takeoff. Solar Impulse flies without a drop of fuel, its four engines powered solely by energy collected from more than 17,000 solar cells in its wings. It relies on solar energy collected during the day and stored in batteries for electrical energy to fly at night.The carbon fiber plane, with a wingspan exceeding that of a Boeing 747 and the weight of a family car can climb to about 8,500 meters (28,000 feet) and cruise at 55-100 kph (34-62 mph). "The project is a big promotion of clean technologies around the world and the legacy of Solar Impulse is the created international community," Piccard said.Last week, the solar-powered aircraft landed in Egypt for on its penultimate stop. The flight's takeoff from Egypt to the United Arab Emirates was delayed due to a heatwave in Saudi Arabia. "I started to dream about this project 17 years ago in 1999 when I finished my hot-air balloon landing in Egypt, so 17 years later I take off where the balloon landed," Piccard said. (Editing by Jeremy Gaunt)

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Spanish police issue safety tips for Pokemon Go gamers

MADRID Spanish police issued guidelines on Monday on how to safely use augmented-reality video games after the release of the application Pokemon Go. The police advice included reminders that users are they are in "the real world" and must aware of real-world obstacles such as traffic lights and cars. Players of the game from Japan's Nintendo Co Ltd (7974.T) walk around real-life neighborhoods to hunt down virtual cartoon characters on their smartphone screens.The police issued their guidelines after two Japanese tourists were rescued from a motorway tunnel in Barcelona on Saturday, where they had wandered in search of Pokemon characters, according to Spanish media. The mobile game has become an instant hit just one week after launch.Police warned players that the use of GPS technology for the game means users’ location is visible to others, potentially making them vulnerable to muggings or theft, as well as signaling when they are not at home. Across the United States, players have been drawn down dark alleys and into dangerous neighborhoods in search of the imaginary creatures, only to be targeted by criminals.The police manual warns players not be distracted by the excitement of catching rare Pokémon characters and to remember their safety is paramount. Pokemon Go became available in Spain on July 15, following its release in the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom the previous week. The game has been a runaway success, boosting Nintendo’s market share by $17 billion in just over a week. (Reporting by Catherine Bennett; Edited by Amanda Cooper)

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Tesla crash raises stakes for self-driving vehicle startups

DETROIT/SAN FRANCISCO Concerns raised by the first reported fatality in a semi-automated car were expected to speed adoption of more sensitive technology to help vehicles see and drive themselves safely, increasing demand on the emerging autonomous vehicle technology industry, investors and analysts said.Goldman Sachs forecasts the market for advanced driver assistance systems and autonomous vehicles will grow from about $3 billion last year to $96 billion in 2025 and $290 billion in 2035. More than half of that revenue in 20 years, Goldman estimates, will come from radar, cameras and lidar, a sensor that uses laser – all tools considered essential to building vehicles that can pilot themselves.The May 7 death of Ohio technology company owner Joshua Brown in a Tesla Motors Inc (TSLA.O) Model S while the car's semi-automated Autopilot system was engaged highlighted the limitations of current automated driving systems.Tesla’s Autopilot system uses cameras and radar, but not lidar. The company said its system would have had trouble distinguishing a white semi-trailer positioned across a road against a bright sky.Industry executives and analysts told Reuters they expect the Tesla crash will spur investment in self-driving vehicle systems that combine multiple of sensors, including lidar."As we move to a higher level of autonomy in vehicles, you’re going to want to have more redundancy," which radar and lidar can provide, Dan Galves, senior vice president at vision safety system maker Mobileye NV(MBLY.N) , said in an interview. "The more sensors, the better."Carmakers have been using multiple sensors in prototypes that are in testing but not yet ready for market. A variety of technologies with overlapping capabilities is seen as a way to increase safety under a wider range of circumstances.The valuations of some self-driving startups "may even increase if there are companies that can solve some of the issues" the Tesla accident raised, said Quin Garcia, managing director of AutoTech Ventures, a Silicon Valley investment firm.Semi-automated systems such as General Motor Co's (GM.N) SuperCruise and Traffic Jam Pilot from Volkswagen AG's (VOWG_p.DE) Audi are due on the market in 2017-2018. Ford Motor Co(F.N) expects to deploy a semi-automated system, using Velodyne lidar, in 2018. Toyota Motor Corp(7203.T), which is investing more than $1 billion in such self-driving technologies as robotics and artificial intelligence, said it aims to put fully driverless cars on the road in time for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.Delphi Automotive PLC (DLPH.N) plans to build lidar vision systems with technology from Quanergy Systems, which makes solid state lidar systems. Delphi plans to combine information from the lidar system with radar and other driver assistance technology to create a 360-degree view around a car, a company official said. Delphi has an investment in Quanergy, one of more than 50 self-driving startups that together have raised more than $800 million in investment capital in the past decade, according to a Reuters analysis of publicly available data.At least two of those startups - Quanergy which makes solid state lidar sensors, and Zoox, which is developing fully automated vehicle systems - have jumped in value to more than $1 billion each since GM's $1.2-billion acquisition earlier this year of another self-driving startup, Cruise Automation.Quanergy and Zoox hope to follow the lead of Mobileye, an Israeli supplier of vision-based safety systems to 25 global automakers, including Tesla. Co-founded in 1999 by a computer science professor at Hebrew University, Mobileye went public in 2014 and today is valued at nearly $10 billion.Mobileye plans by 2020 to offer a hardware/software system that can gather, fuse and analyze data from 20 different sensors, including cameras, lidar and radar. The company's new EyeQ5 "system on chip" will be a key component in a fully autonomous driving system that is being jointly developed with BMW AG (BMWG.DE) and Intel Corp (INTC.O) and is aimed at production in 2021.Like Mobileye, Velodyne, a leading supplier of laser-based lidar systems, works with many of the world’s top automakers, including Ford, GM, BMW, Toyota Honda Motor Co(7267.T) and Daimler AG’s (DAIGn.DE) Mercedes-Benz."Our clients want to (combine) lidar and cameras," Velodyne's Marta Hall, president of business development, told Reuters in an interview. Automakers are stepping up orders as lidar systems come down in size and price, she said. Among the potential beneficiaries of this growing interest is LeddarTech, a relatively young startup based in Canada's Quebec City. The company is providing LED-based lidar systems to French supplier Valeo (VLOF.PA), which also buys vision-based systems from Mobileye.Germany's Robert Bosch, which has been developing self-driving components and systems for more than 15 years, buys lidar from an unnamed Tier II supplier and intends to package it in a highly automated “highway pilot” system intended for series production in 2020, said spokesman Tim Wieland."Bosch sees the necessity for a sensor setup that includes radar, video and lidar," Wieland said. The three sensors "complement each other very efficiently."REGULATION AND LITIGATION WILD CARDS Regulation and litigation are two big wild cards for the autonomous driving sector.Safety regulators and industry executives have said self-driving cars ultimately could slash traffic fatalities – about 35,000 last year in the United States and more than 1.2 million globally - by up to 90 percent. But regulators are also concerned that drivers could be lulled into unsafe behavior by systems that take control for a time, but expect human operators to re-take command in an emergency.The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is investigating the role of Autopilot in the Florida accident and another crash in Pennsylvania involving a Tesla vehicle. The agency also is expected to roll out this summer broad guidelines for deploying autonomous vehicle technology."I hope NHTSA does not overreact" to the crash, said Stefan Heck, co-founder of Nauto, another Silicon Valley self-driving startup with corporate backing. "The tradeoff is quite clear: Some safety improvement is better than none."Product liability for automated vehicles is uncharted territory. The U.S. Transportation Department has said an automated driving system could be considered the "driver" for regulatory purposes.Industry executives are betting that consumer interest in the technology will rise.A survey conducted by AlixPartners in June - before the Tesla accident was reported publicly - found that 90 percent of respondents would be interested in a self-driving car that would let the driver take the wheel from time to time. The same survey noted that nearly 80 percent of respondents would pay for the technology - including 10 percent who would spend up to $5,000.The favorable response rates are much higher than in previous surveys on self-driving technology.News of the Tesla crash "is not going to put too much of a dent in public perception" of self-driving cars, said AlixPartners' Mark Wakefield. (Reporting by Paul Lienert in Detroit and Alexandria Sage in San Francisco; Editing by Joe White and Lisa Girion)

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