Russian hackers target Republicans in new twist on election meddling, Microsoft finds

Microsoft President Brad Smith at the 2017 GeekWire Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Dan DeLong) The group associated with the Russian government that attempted to influence the 2016 elections is now targeting conservative organizations ahead of the 2018 mid-term elections. Microsoft said it located and shut down six internet domains created by a group associated with the Russian government known as Strontium, aka Fancy Bear or APT28. The sites were meant to mimic organizations such as the Hudson Institute and the International Republican Institute as well as sites related to the U.S. Senate. The pages aimed to convince users to click through links that would cause them to surrender their passwords… Read More

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Can Microsoft save the mid-terms? Tech giant offers candidates new cybersecurity protections for upcoming elections

Microsoft President Brad Smith speaks at Bloomberg’s Sustainable Business Summit. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper) Microsoft is offering a new cybersecurity program to help political candidates and organizations protect themselves from hackers in the run up to the November mid-term elections. Observers are concerned that the mid-term elections will be targeted by hackers from around the world, and Microsoft is doing its part to fend off attacks with its Defending Democracy program. The latest feature, known as AccountGuard, aims to help campaigns and organizations identify and neutralize threats. “This initiative will provide state-of-the-art cybersecurity protection at no extra cost to all candidates and campaign offices at the federal, state, and… Read More

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Planetary Resources auction put on hold

News Brief: This month’s scheduled sale of hundreds of items from Planetary Resources’ headquarters in Redmond, Wash., has been postponed, according to a website notice by the auctioneer, James G. Murphy & Co. The financially strapped asteroid mining company had planned to sell off laptops, machine tools and other pieces of equipment that were deemed unnecessary due to downsizing. Planetary Resources’ president and CEO, Chris Lewicki, told GeekWire earlier this month that he and his team “continue to work on our updated plans and hope to be able to share some more detailed updates soon.” It’s not clear whether the auction postponement is related to the company’s updated plans, but… Read More

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A ripple in Google Street View: 360-degree camera on a boat captures Bill Gates’ mansion and more

Who needs a street for Google Street View? The 360 camera, left, that Paolo Tosolini and David Geller used to map part of the Lake Washington shoreline from aboard a boat. (Paolo Tosolini Photo; Google screen shot) If you live in the Seattle area, or have visited, and have had the pleasure of boating on Lake Washington, chances are you’ve drifted past the Medina mansion of Bill Gates and family for a closer look at how the billionaire set lives. Maybe you’ve even snapped a few pictures, hoping to preserve your offshore visit to the Microsoft co-founder’s $60 million lakeside dwelling. How to access the footage Search Medina, WA on… Read More

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Amazon ends 20% video game pre-order discounts for Prime members, cuts back Twitch Prime benefits

“More” is less as Amazon cuts back Prime video game benefits Amazon is changing the terms of its Prime benefits for video game pre-orders, replacing the 20 percent discount with a $10 Amazon promotional credit on “select title,” as first spotted by Twitter user Wario64. Canadian gamers are likewise seeing their 10 percent pre-order discount eliminated, with no credit replacing it. First launched in early 2016, the 20 percent discount for members of Amazon Prime originally applied to all new video games pre-ordered or purchased within the first two weeks of release. With most new games priced at $60, the benefit was typically worth $12. A year ago the discount… Read More

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Ofo picks 3 nonprofits to receive donated bikes as bikeshare company shuts down Seattle operation

Ofo bikes in Seattle. (GeekWire Photo / Monica Nickelsburg) As it shuts down service in Seattle, Ofo is donating its bright yellow, shareable bikes to a handful of nonprofit organizations. Ofo confirmed plans to donate bikes to Cup of Cool Water, World Vision, and Working Bikes in an email to GeekWire Monday. The company would not say how many bikes will be donated. Bikes that are in disrepair will be recycled. Ofo operated about 4,000 free-floating bikes in Seattle as part of a year-long pilot program to test dockless bikeshare technology. That pilot concluded in July and Seattle approved a new fee structure for permanent bikeshare permits. When the Seattle… Read More

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The Man Who Almost Discovered the South Pole

In 1914, Sir Ernest Shackleton and his crew embarked upon the vessel Endurance. Their destination: the South Pole, in an attempt to make the first land crossing of the Antarctic continent. But the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition met an untimely end when the ship became trapped by ice just 97 nautical miles from the earth’s most southerly point. Shackleton and his crew became severely ill. Eventually, they abandoned the ship, drifting on sheets of ice for months until they reached Elephant Island, where they were rescued. Glen Milner’s short film Letters of Fire retraces the ill-fated steps of Shackleton’s expedition. Over carefully composed shots of the imposing landscape, actor Dominic West… Read More

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Amazon and startups bet big on checkout-free grocery tech, but widespread adoption is unclear

Shoppers at the QFC in Issaquah, Wash. had a chance to test “Scan, Bag, Go,” a new technology service from Kroger. (GeekWire Photo / Taylor Soper) Food samples, loyalty programs, magazine subscriptions and, of course, Girl Scout cookies are among the items typically featured at promotional tables inside grocery store entrances. But at the entrance to a QFC near Seattle earlier this summer, a new form of shopping technology greeted shoppers instead. On display was “Scan, Bag, Go,” a system built by QFC and Fred Meyer parent company Kroger that lets customers scan items with a handheld device as they shop. The same device is used at the self-checkout kiosks… Read More

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Paul Allen’s Stratolaunch unveils plans for new family of rockets (and a space plane)

Artwork shows Stratolaunch’s giant carrier plane and several classes of launch vehicles, including Northrop Grumman’s Pegasus rocket, a medium-class rocket and its heavy-lift variant, and a fully reusable space plane. (Stratolaunch Illustration) Stratolaunch, the space venture created by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen in 2011, today provided the first details about a new family of launch vehicles it has in the works, including two types of rockets and a reusable space plane that could someday carry astronauts to orbit. The revelation follows up on rumblings that Stratolaunch has been working on its own rockets and a “Black Ice” space plane, along with the world’s biggest airplane to launch them from. Previously,… Read More

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‘Minecraft: Education Edition’ comes to Apple’s iPad, as education features expand to mainstream version of game

Minecraft: Education Edition makes its way to the iPad. (Microsoft Photo) Just in time for back-to-school, “Minecraft: Education Edition” is coming to Apple’s iPad. And also for the first time, a set of features created for the Education Edition has been made available to all Minecraft players. Microsoft announced Monday that the school version of Minecraft will debut on the iPad in September. At that time, the Minecraft: Education Edition app will be downloadable from Apple’s App Store for use with annual Education Edition subscriptions purchased from Microsoft. Free tutorials and other class resources for teachers are on the Minecraft: Education Edition site. The reason Microsoft added iPad support was… Read More

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