TIME Web

Alleged Owner of ‘Revenge Porn’ Site Banned From Posting Nude Images

TIME.com stock photos Computer Keyboard Typing Hack
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

Craig Brittain allegedly posted pictures of naked women and charged them to have the photos removed

A man who allegedly ran a “revenge porn” website that hosted naked pictures of women posted without their permission is getting his operation shut down.

Craig Brittain acquired a horde of intimate photos and posted them on his website, according to the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC says women who wanted their photos removed had to pay between $200 and $500 to purported third-party services which were actually operated by Brittain.

Now the consumer protection agency is banning Brittain from publicly sharing more nude photographs or videos of women without their consent. It’s also requiring him to destroy the images and personal contact information he collected while running the site.

Brittain acquired the photos mostly by soliciting disgruntled men who provided photographs along with the subject’s first and last name, date of birth, town and state, and a link to the subject’s Facebook profile and phone number, the FTC says. He also allegedly instituted a “bounty system” that awarded $100 or more for photos of specific people.

“This behavior is not only illegal but reprehensible,” said Jessica Rich, director of the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection. “I am pleased that as a result of this settlement, the illegally collected images and information will be deleted, and this individual can never return to the so-called ‘revenge porn’ business.”

TIME Web

This Is One of the Easiest Ways to Make a GIF

Try Imgur's new GIF-making tool

Looking to turn a video into an animated GIF like all the cool kids on the Internet? Image-hosting service Imgur just released a super-easy tool to make that happen.

Imgur’s Video-to-GIF tool works like this:

1. Drop in a link to a video somewhere else on the web, like YouTube.

2. Pick where you’d like your GIF to start and end. Remember, longer GIFs result in bigger files.

3. Let Imgur process for a bit.

4. Boom, you’ve got a GIF file you can share anywhere on the web. Sometimes it actually gives you a .GIFV file, which result in better-quality looping videos at smaller file sizes than regular old GIFs.

Here’s a quick GIF of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk clobbering one another for good measure.

Avengers, assemble (GIFS)!

TIME Web

This Is the Future of Humanity in One Disturbing Photo

Sitting, eating and virtual reality

I have a dream: That one day, all women, men and children will live in a virtual world devoid of social connection and existential meaning, suckled by a constant stream of saccharine liquids and delectable quasi-nutrients, and preoccupied by an unending wave of sensory distractions and entertainments.

Actually, that’s more of a nightmare, and we may be about to live it. Thanks to the increasing ubiquity of virtual reality headsets and the general physical ease of daily life, it’s going to be more and more common to see people living like the guy in this photo posted on Reddit. (“So I got a glimpse of the future of this morning“)

So I got a glimpse of the future this morning...

The problem is, we all want virtual reality headsets, and we all want to eat delicious food, and we often want to sit around if we can. But will all those temptations lead to a dystopian nightmare?

The answer is ‘yes,’ according to one interpretation in this prophetic scene from Disney’s Wall-E, in which the befuddled robot sees firsthand a physically satiated but spiritually bankrupt humanity. (Hat/tip to Sploid on connecting the dots here.)

TIME Web

Feds Tell Hotels They Can’t Block Your Wi-Fi

Apple iPad Arrives In Stores
An new iPad owner syncs the device with his laptop computer while visiting a Starbucks Coffee location April 3, 2010 in Fort Worth, Texas. Tom Pennington—Getty Images

After some hotels start jamming personal hotspots

The Federal Communications Commission is cracking down on hotels that try to ban customers from using their personal hotspots.

The agency issued an enforcement advisory Tuesday explicitly prohibiting hotels from interfering with Wi-Fi hotspots that customers may set up using their mobile phones and data plans. The ban also extends to convention centers and other commercial establishments.

“The Enforcement Bureau has seen a disturbing trend in which hotels and other commercial establishments block wireless consumers from using their own personal Wi-Fi hot spots on the commercial establishment’s premises,” the FCC wrote. “As a result, the Bureau is protecting consumers by aggressively investigating and acting against such unlawful intentional interference.”

The issue came to a head thanks to consumer complaints at a Marriott-owned hotel in Nashville, where people’s personal hotspots were being blocked in the hotel’s conference rooms. The FCC fined Marriott $600,000 for the act in October, though Marriott claimed it shut down the hotspots for security reasons. With the new decree, it seems that line of reasoning wasn’t good enough for the FCC.

TIME Internet

Google Fiber Expands Into Southeastern U.S.

Plans for Portland, San Antonio and other cities also in the pipeline

Google’s high-speed broadband service will soon be available to consumers in four metropolitan areas in the Southeastern U.S.

The company announced Tuesday that Google Fiber will soon be available in Atlanta, Charlotte, Nashville and Raleigh-Durham. Since the expansion encompasses the surrounding areas of these metropolitan hubs, Google says it’s technically expanding into 18 new cities total.

Google launched Google Fiber nearly three years ago in Kansas City and has since expanded the service to Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah. Google Fiber offers download and upload speeds of up to one gigabit per second, which the company says is 100 times faster than basic broad speeds, for $70 per month.

The service has mostly been viewed as a way to shame traditional ISPs into boosting their own broadband speeds. A speedier Internet benefits Google because it allows people to execute search queries faster, which lets Google serve users more ads.

Google didn’t offer a timetable for when customers can start buying Google Fiber in the new cities. It has also tapped Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Antonio and San Jose as five additional cities where Google Fiber may be rolled out in the future.

TIME Companies

Here’s Everything You Need to Know About Box

Box, Inc. Chairman, CEO & co-founder Aaron Levie, second from right, gets a high-five during opening bell ceremonies to mark the company's IPO at the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 23, 2015.
Box, Inc. Chairman, CEO & co-founder Aaron Levie, second from right, gets a high-five during opening bell ceremonies to mark the company's IPO at the New York Stock Exchange on Jan. 23, 2015. Richard Drew—AP

The cloud storage company went public Friday

The cloud: it’s a buzzy form of computing technology as nebulous as the climatic phenomenon for which it’s named. The largest technology companies, from Google to Amazon to Microsoft, are investing in cloud-based storage services for customers. All of us dabble in the cloud every day when we log into Facebook or stream a movie on Netflix, but a lot of us don’t know exactly how it’s used.

No, this isn’t an explainer about the cloud. But it is an introduction to a hot company that’s using the cloud — and could be Wall Street’s next Silicon Valley darling.

The company is Box, and Friday is its first day of public trading. Offering individuals and businesses easy-to-use cloud-based storage and other enterprise solutions, the $1.7-billion company has caught plenty of investors’ attention.

Here’s why so many people care about Box:

What is Box?

Box is a cloud storage company. What that means is that you can upload files—documents, videos, photos, etc.—to the service from your phone, tablet or computer. Then you can access those files anywhere. Think of it as a floating hard drive that’s connected to all your devices. You can store up to 10GB on it for free, and up to 100GB for a $10 per-month fee.

Who is using Box?

Mostly businesses. About 99% of its 32-million users are employees from Fortune 500 companies. It’s aiming a lot of its services toward particular industries, including health care and retail, by creating purpose-built sharing tools.

Last year, Box acquired MedXT to let customers in medicine annotate medical images, and the company has been attracting executives from the law, retail, health care and media worlds.

Does Box have competitors?

Lots of them. Several top companies are offering cloud-based storage, with products like Amazon Web Services, Google Drive, Microsoft’s OneDrive, Apple’s iCloud, and Dropbox all competing for users. But the services all target different markets, and Box’s strength could be its popularity among large companies. About 275,000 companies use Box.

Who is Box’s CEO?

Aaron Levie, 30, is what you might expect of a Silicon Valley executive. A University of Southern California dropout, Levie founded Box out of his dorm room in 2005. He wears bright sneakers with snazzy business outfits. And he works pretty much non-stop. He also owns about 4% of the company.

So today was Box’s IPO. How is its first day trading on the New York Stock Exchange going?

Surprisingly well. Its initial public offering price of $14 was history by midday on Friday, with its stock rising as high as $24.73, up nearly 70% before cooling somewhat. Box sold 12.5 million shares at $14 a piece — above the expected $11-$13 range — raising some $175 million and giving the company a market capitalization of about $1.6 billion in the process. Box ended Friday at $23.15 a share.

Sounds like Box is doing great.

Not so fast. Its first day of trading has so far surpassed expectations, but the company has a lot of challenges. Besides sparring against well-funded competitors in the cloud storage business, Box has some financial troubles of its own. First, the company doesn’t make a profit: In fact, it’s lost a cumulative total of $483 million since its founding, partially due to sales and marketing expenses. It also delayed its IPO by nearly a year to wait for better market conditions, which made some observers nervous about the company’s future.

What’s next for Box?

According to Levie, Box is “just a couple months” into building services for particular industries, a business that’s likely to be profitable for the company. With all the new funding from its IPO, Box should also be able to more effectively invest in sales and marketing.

TIME Web

This Is How Richard Scarry Would Draw Silicon Valley’s Most Infamous Stereotypes

There's the "Patent Troll," the "Thought Leader" and more

Author and illustrator Richard Scarry penned some of the most iconic children’s books of the past few decades, like the Busytown series about animals doing human jobs in a pretend town. More than 100 million of Scarry’s books were sold, and his work was turned into all sorts of television shows, movies and video games.

Now, artist Tony Ruth is honoring Scarry’s legacy with a series of scathing satirical illustrations showing how the legendary illustrator might pen Silicon Valley stereotypes. Ruth’s new series, “Businesstown,” features such Valley staples as the Patent Troll, the Digital Prophet, the Thought Leader and more.

Check out some of Ruth’s work in the gallery above. Be sure to visit his constantly-updating Twitter, Tumblr and Instagram pages for fresh updates.

TIME Web

Why the Upcoming ‘Leap Second’ Could Be a Big Headache for the Internet

Leap Second
Leap second Tetra Images via Getty

It could crash websites and delay flights

Pop quiz: How many seconds are in a day?

If you guessed 86,400, you’d be right—except on June 30, 2015, when an extra second is being added to the clock.

This additional unit of time, dubbed a “leap second,” is meant to account for a naturally-occurring slowing of the Earth’s rotation. But the extra second could cause headaches for computer systems, which aren’t ready to deal with 61 seconds in a given minute.

The problem is reminiscent of Y2K, that turn-of-the-century panic when companies worried their computers would go haywire because they recognized the year 2000’s double-zero ending as “1900.”

While no one is predicting this year’s leap second to cause a tech apocalypse like they did fifteen years ago, there’s a chance the leap second could crash your favorite website or maybe even delay your flight.

Here’s everything you should know about this quirky unit of time:

Where do leap seconds come from?

Leap seconds were introduced to keep our notion of time in line with an ongoing slowdown in Earth’s rotation, caused by volcanoes, earthquakes and other natural phenomena. While that slowing rotation is extraordinarily gradual, over long periods it adds up to notable chunks of time, potentially throwing our concept of time off from Earth’s day-and-night cycle — or even seasonal schedules.

The “leap second” attempts to rectify this by inserting an extra second into a day to give the Earth time to “catch up” to where it’s supposed to be based on the traditional solar cycle. The leap second was established as an international standard in 1972, and there have been 25 such seconds added since that year.

Why is it a problem for computers?

For computers, a day is 86,400 seconds, no matter what. When you try to introduce an extra second that doesn’t fit into the normal format of time (the official leap second timestamp on June 30 will be 23h:59m:60s), it can throw off computer systems’ processes. In particular, apps and programs based on Unix, a popular open-source operating system, are susceptible to these problems because Unix predates the establishment of the leap second.

What’s the worst that could happen?

In the past, leap seconds have caused outages at popular websites such as Reddit, Yelp and Foursquare. A 2012 leap second even led to 400 flight delays in Australia, forcing airport workers to conduct check-ins by hand rather than using computers. However, technical glitches related to the leap second are relatively isolated. There’s little chance of a large-scale technological shutdown, as was predicted in the runup to Y2K. But the fact that people spend so much time online now means technical problems related to the leap second could affect more people than in the past.

Is there a way to stop these problems?

There are a few solutions. Google uses a trick it calls the “leap smear,” in which a millisecond or two is added to computers’ clocks gradually over the course of a day so computers add the additional second without noticing.

A more permanent fix would be to abandon leap seconds entirely. The International Telecommunications Union, which sets international time standards, will vote on whether to keep the leap second in November 2015. One time expert told Wired that deliberation over how to deal with the leap second could easily be put off for another decade — or just a little longer, depending on how many leap seconds we get until then.

TIME Web

This Google App Will Soon Automatically Translate Foreign Languages

Google Translate
The Google Inc. company logo is seen on an Apple Inc. iPhone 4 smartphone in this arranged photograph in London, U.K., on Wednesday, Aug. 29, 2012. Bloomberg—Bloomberg via Getty Images

After Microsoft's Skype made a big push into real-time translation

There’s a big update in the works for Google’s translation app that will make it possible for people speaking different languages to converse in real time.

Google Translate will soon start immediately converting words spoken in one language into text in another language during online conversations. The update is coming “soon,” according to The New York Times.

Google is also planning another instant-translation feature that will let users point their phones at foreign street signs and have the text of the signs converted into another language.

Google has about half a billion monthly users for its Translate service across platforms, a company executive told the Times. The product features translations of 90 languages via text, along with a few via voice as well.

The new feature will follow a December update to Skype that offers instant translations in conversations between English and Spanish speakers.

Read next: These GIFs Show the Freakishly High Definition Future of Body Scanning

TIME Web

Kickstarter Passed Half a Billion Dollars in Pledges in 2014

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Exchanging money digitally PM Images—Getty Images

More than 3.3 million people pledged $529 million total

Kickstarter had its biggest year yet in 2014. The crowdfunding website saw more than 3.3 million people pledge $529 million to various projects over the course of the year, up from 3 million people pledging $480 million in 2013.

Like past years, 2014 brought a slew of highly memorable crowdfunding projects. The Coolest Cooler, a high-tech icebox that plays music in addition to storing drinks, earned $13.2 million in pledges last summer and became the most-funded project in Kickstarter history. In July, Levar Burton’s campaign to resurrect Reading Rainbow generated more than $5 million in pledges and became the first Kickstarter project to gain 100,000 backers.

Other highly successful projects included Neil Young’s high-fidelity digital music player Pono ($6.2 million in pledges), the Micro 3D printer ($3.4 million) and a pair of wireless earbuds that can store music and track your vital signs ($3.4 million).

Since Kickstarter only doles out money if projects reach their initial funding goals, that full $529 million wasn’t paid out to project starters. However, more than 22,000 projects were successfully funded in 2014, the most ever in a single year. Music was the most popular category for campaigns, with about 4,000 projects being successfully funded. However, technology attracted the most pledged dollars, as backers offered up $125 million to fund various gadgets. Here’s a breakdown of how many pledged dollars each category attracted:

image (2)

This year Kickstarter also shed some light on when projects are most likely to be funded. Wednesdays are the most popular day for pledging money to projects, while Sundays are the least popular. During a single given day, the most pledges occur around 1 PM, indicating that people may be browsing Kickstarter during work more often than they do at home.

Check out more stats at Kickstarter’s “Year in Review” presentation.

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