TIME Companies

Reddit Users May Get Free Shares of the Company

But the plan could "totally fail"

Reddit CEO Yishan Wong told the Reddit community this week he wants to give them 10% of the company’s shares. Such a move has never been carried out by a company that depends on user engagement, like Facebook or Twitter.

Wong cautioned that the plan is still in its early stages and added a caveat to his post on Reddit: “KEEP IN MIND THAT THIS PLAN COULD TOTALLY FAIL.”

Wong also said that the idea of “distributing ownership of [Reddit] back to the community” has been a long-held dream by Wong and many of the company’s other employees.

TIME Companies

Microsoft Skips Windows 9 and Goes Right to Windows 10

The skip is to emphasize the company's effort to move forward

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Microsoft is trying to soften an unpopular redesign of Windows by reviving features from older versions while still attempting to nudge desktop users into a world of touch screens and mobile devices.

The company on Tuesday gave an early preview of the new Windows 10 software, which it aims to begin selling by the middle of next year. Although the current version is called Windows 8, Microsoft says it’s skipping ahead to Windows 10 to emphasize its effort to move forward.

“Windows 10 represents the first step in a whole new generation of Windows,” said Terry Myerson, executive vice president of Microsoft’s operating systems group.

Windows 8 was introduced two years ago as an answer to the growing demand for mobile devices. But many users hated it because its tablet-like design and controls weren’t a good fit for many devices using keyboards and mice. Sales of personal computers continued to fall.

With Windows 10, Microsoft is trying to regain the loyalty of longtime PC users, while reaching out to consumers and businesses that are increasingly adopting touch-screen smartphones and tablets.

Analysts consider the success of the new Windows crucial for Microsoft and new CEO Satya Nadella, who must show that Microsoft can embrace mobile devices without sacrificing the traditional computing experience.

The new system will be a blend of the old and the new. For instance, it will have various controls that are familiar to users of older Windows systems, such as a start menu to quickly access apps. But this start button will also open a series of tiles that resemble what’s found in Windows 8.

Analysts said that more gradual transition is important if Microsoft wants to persuade users to upgrade.

“This is what Windows 8 should have been,” said Carolina Milanesi, a veteran tech analyst at the research firm Kantar Worldpanel. “Here they are doing the right thing.”

Microsoft executives signaled they got that message on Tuesday. They stressed repeatedly that using the next version of Windows won’t be a challenge for businesses or consumers who have continued to use Windows 7 or even earlier versions.

The new software seeks to offer “the familiarity of Windows 7 with some of the benefits that exist in Windows 8,” said Joe Belfiore, a Microsoft executive who oversees Windows design and evolution.

He compared it to buying a new car with a more powerful engine and a better audio system, without having to “learn a new way to drive.”

Windows 10, for instance, will suggest new ways to use or navigate through files, without forcing users to abandon the old way, Belfiore said.

“We’re designing the experience so that as you use it, the things you already know are familiar and present, but new value is presented to you at a rate that’s easier for you to ingest,” he said.

The effort drew tentative praise from several industry experts.

“They desperately needed to find a way to bridge that experience. I just wish they’d done that with Windows 8,” said Rob Enderle, a tech analyst with the Enderle Group.

Milanesi said that while many businesses resisted upgrading to Windows 8, they can’t avoid touch screens as younger workers are accustomed to using phones or tablets as their primary computing device.

Windows 10 will also be designed to work on a wider range of computing devices.

Microsoft currently has three main systems — Windows 8 for traditional computers and tablets, Windows Phone 8 for cellphones and Xbox for its gaming console. By unifying the underlying systems in Windows 10, software developers will be able to create apps for the various devices more easily. Consumers will also be able to switch devices more easily and avoid having to buy the same apps multiple times.

That doesn’t mean the apps will always look the same. Developers will still be able to adapt apps for the various screen sizes, but won’t have to start from the beginning for each version.

User interfaces on the various devices may also differ, even as they share underlying technologies. For now, Microsoft plans to keep the current Xbox interface on the game console.

Enderle said Microsoft’s effort to create a single platform should help lure more developers to write apps — something the company needs to boost usage of Windows tablets and phones.

Windows is the most widely used PC operating system in the world, but it is steadily losing ground as more people turn to smartphones and tablets, which primarily run on operating systems from Microsoft rivals Apple and Google. That’s why Nadella wants to create one system that will run on all devices.

“It’s certainly an ambitious goal, but it’s also a little early to tell how it will work,” said Michael Silver, a tech analyst at Gartner.

Apple and Google have both rejected Microsoft’s approach of unifying the various systems, preferring to keep systems for PCs and mobile devices separate.

Microsoft also touted new security and management features for business customers, which represent a lucrative market for the company. Almost half of all PCs are used in the workplace, according to Gartner.

While a “technical preview” version of the software is being released this week, Microsoft said it won’t be ready to talk about new consumer features until next year.

Microsoft declined to say how much the new software would cost or how it will be distributed. Analysts have speculated that the company might be considering a subscription model — as it has with Office software — rather than selling each new version of Windows separately.

TIME Hong Kong

What’s at Stake in Hong Kong

Voting restrictions and an ever-tightening Chinese policies are causing unrest amongst Hong Kongers

(HONG KONG) — Hong Kong’s leader refused to meet with pro-democracy demonstrators by their midnight deadline Tuesday, despite their threats to expand the protests that have clogged the streets with tens of thousands of people in the stiffest challenge to Beijing’s authority since China took control of the former British colony in 1997.

Protesters counted down to midnight and cheered as the deadline passed, but took no immediate action.

Britain’s deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, meanwhile, said Tuesday that he had summoned the Chinese ambassador to discuss the dispute, saying it was essential that Hong Kong’s people have a genuine right to choose their top leader.

“I am extremely concerned about the recent events in Hong Kong. Britain and China have solemn obligations to the people of Hong Kong to preserve their rights and freedoms,” Clegg said in a statement.

China took control of Hong Kong under a “one country, two systems” arrangement that guaranteed the 7 million residents of the city semi-autonomy, Western-style civil liberties and eventual democratic freedoms that are denied to Chinese living on the communist-ruled mainland.

The protesters want a reversal of a decision by China’s government to screen all candidates in the territory’s first direct elections, scheduled for 2017 — a move they view as reneging on a promise that the chief executive will be chosen through “universal suffrage.”

Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying’s rejection of the student demands dashed hopes for a quick resolution of the five-day standoff that has blocked city streets and forced some schools and offices to close.

It was unclear what action the demonstrators would take next. There were no immediate speeches or official statements from the protesters, who chanted “Jiayou! Jiayou!” — or “Keep it up!” — while waving their cellphones with the LED flashlights sparkling in the dark.

Earlier Tuesday, Alex Chow, secretary general of the Hong Kong Federation of Students, the organizer of the university class boycotts that led to the street protests, said the students were considering various options if their demands were not met, including widening the protests, pushing for a labor strike and occupying a government building.

As concern mounted over how the standoff might eventually end, Chinese President Xi Jinping, who has taken a hard line against any perceived threat to the Communist Party’s hold on power, vowed in a National Day speech to “steadfastly safeguard” Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability.

China’s government has condemned the student-led protests as illegal, though so far it has not overtly intervened, leaving Hong Kong authorities to handle the crisis.

Despite the hardening rhetoric from both sides, the mood Tuesday night was festive. Few police were evident, and those who were present appeared relaxed. The crowds were expected to grow, with most people off work both Wednesday and Thursday for public holidays.

Both sides appeared to be waiting out the standoff, as police continued the light-handed approach to the protests they adopted after their use of tear gas and pepper spray over the weekend failed to drive out tens of thousands of people occupying streets near the government headquarters. The sit-ins instead spread to the financial district and other areas.

“We are not afraid of riot police, we are not afraid of tear gas, we are not afraid of pepper spray. We will not leave until Leung Chun-ying resigns. We will not give up! We will persevere until the end!” Lester Shum, another student leader, shouted to a crowd at Admiralty, near Hong Kong’s waterfront.

Leung’s blunt rejection of the demands from the students was not surprising. China’s Communist leadership is wary of any conciliatory moves that might embolden dissidents and separatists on the mainland.

Occupy Central, a wider civil disobedience movement, said in a tweet that the pro-democracy protesters were demanding genuine democracy and Leung’s resignation. It said it would “announce new civil disobedience plans” on Wednesday.

Hong Kong’s free press and social media give the protesters exposure that may help prevent China from cracking down in the same way it has on restive minorities and dissidents living in the mainland, where public dissent is often harshly punished.

The protests have been dubbed the “Umbrella Revolution” by some because the crowds have used umbrellas to block the sun and to deflect police pepper spray.

“We are really basically just calling for the government to speak with us but they’ve been mute,” Peter Chin, a 22-year-old student at Hong Kong University. “We’ll keep staying here until they’re ready to consult with us.”

TIME Television

Ben Affleck Cannot Sing ‘Let It Go’ From Frozen

To his son's disappointment

Apparently being Batman isn’t enough to appease Ben Affleck’s son, who would much prefer his dad to perform the song “Let It Go” from the Disney movie Frozen.

Unfortunately, the actor is no Idina Menzel — as he demonstrated when he tried to sing a line from the famous song.

Affleck is soon to be seen in Gone Girl, and will be playing Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is set to be released in 2016.

TIME China

China Keeps Citizens in the Dark Over Hong Kong Protests

The government blocked Instagram Sunday

China is well known for its censoring social media and certain websites when there’s news it wants to block out — and now that Hong Kong is ablaze with protests, the shutters have come down again.

Some Chinese newspapers have made no mention of the protests, and the countries authorities blocked photo-sharing app Instagram on Sunday, according to CNN.

China even blacked out a live CNN newscast about the protests as host Anderson Cooper narrated. “In the past, they’ve censored us, and it’s gone to black. They might do it again. They might censor us again tonight,” he said, seconds before authorities cut the stream off. “And, we’ve just gone to black in China,” he finished.

 

 

TIME Israel

LIVE: Israel’s Netanyahu Speaks at United Nations General Assembly

Prime minister is likely to address Palestinian leader's claim that Israel committed "war crimes" during Gaza conflict

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will address the United Nations General Assembly on Monday, having vowed to refute “all of the lies” in a speech by Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas last week. Abbas said Israel had committed “a series of absolute war crimes carried out before the eyes and ears of the entire world” during the recent conflict in the Gaza Strip.

TIME Gadgets

Drones Can Now Be Used To Make Movies

The FAA is loosening regulations for select production companies

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government granted six movie and television production companies permission to use drones for filming, an important step toward greater use of the technology by commercial operators, Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced Thursday.

Dozens of other industries are lined up to follow Hollywood’s lead. Until now, the Federal Aviation Administration, which is part of the Transportation Department, had banned commercial drone operations with the exception of two oil companies in Alaska.

The FAA permits come with limitations, including that the unmanned aircraft be used only in a restricted area, that they be flown under 400 feet in altitude and that flights last no more than 30 minutes at a time. Nighttime flights are prohibited, and reality television shows or other unscripted events won’t qualify for the permits.

“Today’s announcement is a significant milestone in broadening commercial (drone) use while ensuring we maintain our world-class safety record in all forms of flight,” Foxx said. “These companies are blazing a trail that others are already following, offering the promise of new advances in agriculture and utility safety and maintenance.”

Tony Carmean, a partner in Aerial MOB of San Diego, predicted drones will fundamentally change moviemaking, providing directors with the ability to get shots they could never get before and making films more dynamic. Small drones with video cameras will be able to fly through a building and in and out of windows, for example, he said. They are also far less expensive than hiring a manned helicopter, he said.

Major movie studios “want their hands on this right away,” but have held off using the technology until the FAA gives the go-ahead, he said.

Brendan Schulman, a New York attorney who represents several drone operators and interest groups that have challenged the FAA’s drone restrictions, said he is concerned that limitations attached to the drone permits may be so onerous that their benefits will be outweighed by the cost and the headache of complying.

“I’m worried that it’s too small a step forward and it’s too narrowly limited,” he said.

Kenneth Quinn, an attorney with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman and a former FAA general counsel, said he expects other industries to oppose some of restrictions imposed on the movie drones, especially requirements that the drone operator have a private pilot’s license and that there be a three-man crew. He said any risk to safety is too small to merit the restrictions.

The FAA is considering 40 requests for exemptions from other commercial entities. Congress and industries that want to use or sell the technology have been pressuring the FAA to relax its ban. Companies want to use drones to monitor pipelines, inspect the undersides of oil platforms and bridges, and spray crops. Amazon and Google want to use them to deliver packages. Wedding videographers, real estate agents, journalists and many others are clamoring to use them as well.

The only previous FAA permits for commercial drone operations were granted to ConocoPhillips and BP, two oil companies that have flown unmanned aircraft in unpopulated areas of Alaska and over the Arctic Ocean. Both permits significantly limited how the drones could be used.

But the commercial drone ban is being undermined daily. Many operators see no harm in flying small, lightweight drones, often no bigger than a backpack, despite FAA warnings that they could collide with manned aircraft or injure people on the ground. Even a congressman who is a member of the House committee that oversees the FAA, Rep. Sean Patrick Maloney, D-N.Y., hired a photographer to produce a video of his wedding using a camera mounted on a small drone.

In 2012, Congress directed the FAA to safely integrate drones of all sizes, from high-flying Global Hawks to small quadrocopters weighing no more than a few pounds, into the national airspace. But the agency has missed several milestones and isn’t expected to meet Congress’ deadline of October 2015 for full integration.

In November, the agency is expected to propose rules commercial operators can follow to fly drones weighing 55 pounds or less. But it could be months or years before the rules are final. Final rules for larger ones are even further off.

The six production companies — Aerial MOB LLC, Astraeus Aerial, HeliVideo Productions LLC, Pictorvision Inc., Vortex Aerial and Snaproll Media LLC — have been working with the Motion Picture Association of America for two years to win FAA approval. A seventh aerial video company that applied with the other companies, Flying-Cam Inc., has been asked by the FAA to supply additional information.

Drones have already been used in in filming some movies overseas, including “Skyfall” and “Transformers: Age of Extinction.”

TIME bendgate

Apple Responds to ‘Bendgate,’ Says Bent iPhones Are Rare

Apple Responds to ‘Bendgate’

Apple responded Thursday to claims that its new iPhone 6 Plus is bendable. The hashtag #Bendgate as well as an Unbox Therapy video of a user bending his phone went viral within a few days of the iPhone 6 Plus’s release last week, and customers were not happy about it.

Apple said that with normal use a bend in the phone is rare, and that the numbers of users that have reported bent phones is extremely low; only 9 so far. Apple has publicly displayed the rigorous tests that phones undergo before being released to consumers, and has announced that some bent phones will be eligible for replacement.

An Apple rep added that the company is “looking into this with an insane amount of detail.”

TIME Television

Watch a Late Night Host Smell Sofia Vergara’s Hair

He said it smelled like pudding

The host of Watch What Happens Live, Andy Cohen, took a whiff of Sofia Vergara’s hair on the show Thursday Night. Cohen said that it smelled delicious, like pudding, but Vergara pointed out that it was actually her perfume.

Vergara has a perfume on the market called “Sofia.” It took her a year to decide on the scent for her fragrance, according to her interview in Allure. The scent she decided on in the end is based off of fruits and florals– but not, as it turns out, pudding.

TIME

LIVE: Obama Announces Eric Holder Retirement

Will step down once a successor has been confirmed

President Obama was expected to announce the impending retirement of Attorney General Eric Holder Thursday afternoon. Justice Department officials confirmed earlier in the day that the country’s first black attorney general would step down once a successor has been confirmed.

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