Author: News Aggregate

Houston’s Businesses Inching Back To Work

Bobby Jucker has had it with hurricanes. In 2008, Hurricane Ike tore the roof off his business, Three Brothers Bakery. Now, he estimates, he’s facing $1 million in damage and lost revenue from Harvey — the fifth time a storm has put his bakery out of commission. He’s always recovered before. But this time, he wears the weary countenance of a man nearly broken. “This is the last time for me,” he says. “It’s emotionally draining. I just can’t do it anymore.” More than a week after Harvey poured more than 4 feet (1.2 meters) of rain on Houston, killing at least 65 people, destroying thousands of cars and leaving hundreds of thousands of families with flood-damaged homes, America’s fourth-biggest city is striving to reopen for business. Houston’s airports and shipping lanes reopened to limited traffic last week. Some workers returned to their offices Thursday or Friday. More followed on Tuesday after a long Labor Day weekend of cleanup and regrouping. With waters receded, some parts of the sprawling metropolitan area look virtually untouched. Yet in other places — the leafy bedroom community of Kingwood or the Meyerland neighborhood — piles of debris sit above curbs, industrial-size dumpsters dot shopping-center parking lots and the air is thick with the odor of mold and decay. “I’m encouraging people to get up and let’s get going,” Mayor Sylvester Turner said over...

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Facebook: Accounts from Russia Bought Ads During Campaign

Hundreds of fake Facebook accounts, probably run from Russia, spent about $100,000 on ads aimed at stirring up divisive issues such as gun control and race relations during the 2016 U.S. presidential election, the social network said Wednesday. Although the number of ads is relatively small, the disclosure provides a more detailed peek into what investigators believe was a targeted effort by Russians to influence U.S. politics during the campaign, this time through social media. The 470 accounts appeared to come from a notorious “troll farm,” a St. Petersburg-based organization known for promoting pro-Russian government positions via fake accounts, according to two people familiar with the investigation. The people were granted anonymity because they weren’t authorized to publicly discuss details of the investigation. In all, the accounts purchased some 3,000 ads between June 2015 and May 2017. While they ads didn’t specifically reference the election, a candidate or voting, they nevertheless allowed “divisive messages” to be amplified via the social media platform, the company’s chief security officer, Alex Stamos, said in a statement. Facebook has turned over its findings to federal authorities investigating Russian interference in the U.S. presidential election. Robert Mueller, the special counsel, is charged with overseeing Russian meddling in the U.S. election and any potential coordination with associates of President Donald Trump. Sen. Mark Warner of Virginia, the ranking Democrat on the Senate intelligence committee, said...

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Walkie-Talkie App Zello Gets a Hurricane Boost

Everyone’s talking about Zello, but can you actually talk on Zello? One beneficiary of Hurricane Irma’s ominous path toward South Florida: the live voice app Zello. Find it in the App Store on an iPhone or Play Store on an Android device. People all over have been downloading and signing up for the free service and sharing their handles widely in anticipation of cellphone service being down because of Irma. The walkie-talkie-styled app is said to have played a role in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey in Texas. The idea is that channels can be designated for various groups to connect people without phone numbers for easier communication. Sounds great, given the historically spotty access of cellular service in the wake of a major storm — like Irma is certain to be. But, according to Zello, the app can’t work when there isn’t cellular data service, WiFi or an internet connection on your smartphone. Many people took to social media to gripe Wednesday. Zello responded via its Twitter account: “There has been some misinformation spread about Zello requirements. … Zello REQUIRES using either WiFi or a cellular data network of at least 2G.” So the bottom line is: if Zello works, chances are so will your cellphone. However, it does have group messaging capabilities that can be superior to simple text messaging. http://www.newsfactor.com/story.xhtml?story_id=106053 http://www.freenewsfeed.com/rss...

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Selling with the Enemy? Kohl’s To Open in-store Amazon Shops

Amazon has long been blamed for the falling fortunes of department stores. Now, some of them are teaming up with the e-commerce giant. Kohl’s said Wednesday that it will open Amazon shops in 10 of its department stores that will sell Amazon Echos, Fire tablets and other gadgets. The deal comes just a few months after the owner of Sears and Kmart said it would sell its Kenmore-branded appliances on Amazon.com for the first time. The partnership gives Kohl’s a way to differentiate itself from rival department stores and lure in shoppers looking to buy electronics. For Amazon, it gets its devices in front of more people to touch and try them. “It is a smart move for both companies,” analysts at Jeffries said. “They always say you should keep your enemies closer.” Department stores have struggled as more people shop online or at discount stores. Kohl’s, Macy’s and Dillard’s all reported a drop in a key sales figure last month for their latest quarters. But despite the growth of online shopping, most retail transactions still take place in physical stores — and Seattle-based Amazon.com Inc. doesn’t seem to want to miss out. It has opened 11 bookstores in two years and recently bought grocer Whole Foods, allowing it to sell the Amazon Echo voice-activated device next to organic grapes and corn in its more than 460 stores. Kohl’s...

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iPhone 8 May Reveal a Promotion for Siri

If you are a fan of Siri, then good news: Apple’s voice assistant looks like it will be getting a promotion in the near future, thanks to the combination of iOS 11 and the “D22” iPhone (the leaked model thought to be the forthcoming “iPhone Pro, 8 or X”). If you’re not a fan of Siri, well, look away now — some of this isn’t pretty. For the first time, Siri will sync across devices, letting details it has picked up from your phone affect how it answers on your iPad or computer. The service is also seeing a slight refocus: Siri isn’t just a voice assistant anymore, since “Siri” will also be responsible for suggesting topics in Apple News based on your web browsing, or for suggesting a calendar event if you make a booking online. It’ll also be able to do translations for the first time, from English (only) to five languages including French and Chinese. Of course, with all these new features, the eagle-eyed may have noticed a problem: the D22 iPhone won’t have a home button. The home button is how you use Siri, unless you’re the sort of masochist who relies on shouting ?EU?Hey Siri?EU? to your phone all the time. What’s the solution? Developer Guilherme Rambo suggests one possibility using the power button to invoke Siri. Rambo has been poking around inside the...

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