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07.06.16 | 2:54 pm

Now anyone can build their own cell phone network, thanks to Facebook

Facebook is developing a low-cost, open source hardware and software platform for cellular network infrastructure, the company announced in a blog post

The initial design for what Facebook is calling "OpenCellular" can support 2G, Wi-Fi, and LTE networks, with components that can be deployed by even a single person in remote communities, the company said.

"The hardware was designed with simplicity in mind, to encourage people to deploy their own cellular networks," according to the post. "Many people might not realize that running their own cellular networks is not only possible but also doesn't require substantial technical expertise."

The company has previously announced plans for other technologies to bring Internet access to poor and remote areas, even including orbiting drones beaming laser signals to earth. Another program, called Facebook Free Basics, delivers free Internet access limited to certain websites, though it's drawn criticism and legal challenges in some countries, most notably India.

09.27.16 | 5 minutes ago

Report: FBI is looking into hacks against DNC cell phones, suspects Russia-backed hackers

Reuters cites unnamed sources saying the FBI is currently looking into reports that cell phones used by Democratic National Committee members were targeted by hackers. 

The probe into the DNC cell phones, Reuters says, underscores a widening criminal investigation into hacks on Democratic Party-related organizations, including the Hillary Clinton campaign. U.S. government officials have said they suspect hackers backed by the Russian government of being the culprits in the attacks against the Clinton campaign. 

The Reuters sources say they believe Russian government-backed hackers are involved in the more recent attacks on the DNC phones. The hackers, the sources say, may be trying to disrupt the U.S. presidential election, which culminates in November. 

09.27.16 | an hour ago

Afternoon intel: Everything we know about SpaceX’s Mars mission plans, Bono invests in biotech

• "I would like to die on Mars. Just not on impact." [Drumroll, please] That was Elon Musk back in 2013, describing his lifelong dream of traveling to and living on the red planet. Well today, he unveiled his long-awaited plans for such an ambitious mission, announcing SpaceX's "Interplanetary Transport System" with a slick animated video and plenty of details on how many people can be squeezed onto a rocket (100), how many people Musk wants on Mars (1 million), by how much we need to reduce the cost of a trip to Mars (5 million %) and what kind of timeline he expects for such a mission to actually take place (10 years)

• In non-celestial news, Bono and some partners invested in biotech startup Color Genomics

• Slack unveiled the first of many integrations with Salesforce, reports Fast Company's Mark Sullivan, allowing it to pull in Salesforce record data and sync with its Chatter messaging feature.

Google launched "Station," a new program that seeks to make fast Wi-Fi available to public places all over the planet.

09.27.16 | 2 hours ago

Don’t start packing your bags just yet: the SpaceX Mars mission’s timeline is pretty fuzzy

Elon Musk says he's shooting for a 10-year horizon for the launch of his much-ballyhooed "Interplanetary Transport System," announced today at an event in Mexico. But he admits it's a very complicated endeavor to predict a timeline. He's hoping to establish a steady cadence, much like trains leaving a station, of SpaceX rockets taking off every couple of years.  Here is the timeline presented by Musk and his team:

09.27.16 | 3 hours ago

Elon Musk: The only reason I’m accumulating assets is to colonize Mars one day

Elon Musk says it could cost as little as $140,000 for a person and their luggage to get to Mars, once the technology is established. 

How is this going to work? "It's going to be a huge private-public partnership," said Musk, at the long-awaited announcement of his "Interplanetary Transport System." He added: "The reason I'm personally accumulating assets is to fund this." 

09.27.16 | 3 hours ago

Lean In’s annual report found just one bright spot for women in the workplace

Women now ask for promotions and raises at the same rate as men, according to the study, a collaboration between Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg's and McKinsey that looked at data from 132 companies.

Of course, even if they ask for promotions, women are less likely to win them than their male counterparts. Meanwhile, asking for a promotion makes them 67% more likely than women who don't negotiate to be told that they are "intimidating," "too aggressive," or "bossy." All of which contributes to this problem:

09.27.16 | 3 hours ago

Musk: There will be restaurants on the Mars rocket

This won't be some boring old space rocket, with only Tang and freeze-dried peas for lunch, promised Elon Musk at today's announcement of SpaceX's "Interplanetary Transport System."

"You'll have a great time," Musk told the audience. "It can't be boring." He described something akin to an interplanetary cruise ship—complete with movies, lecture halls, restaurants, and more. 

09.27.16 | 3 hours ago

Musk: We need one million people on Mars

Why go to Mars? 

Elon Musk says that his super-ambitious effort is all about keeping the human species alive, in the event of a disaster that could lead to our extinction. 

To establish a civilization on Mars, he would like one million people to travel there. Given that people can only go every two years, with 100 people per trip, we will need to create at least a thousand ships making many trips. 

09.27.16 | 3 hours ago

SpaceX’s Mars rocket will fit at least 100 people

Fitting 100 people on a single SpaceX rocket will reduce the cost per person. But it also means the ship will be enormous. Carrying between 100 and 200 people, plus luggage, fuel tanks and an iron foundry (to start building on Mars) will require a massive 550-ton structure. It will be 122 meters tall, which is 11 meters taller than the Saturn V, the famous expendable rocket used by NASA between 1966 and 1973.

09.27.16 | 3 hours ago

Too late for Shaq, but VR may help NBA stars shoot better free throws

If you're a basketball fan, you know all too well the sickening feeling when your favorite hoops stars simply can't hit a free throw.

Clank. Clank. Clank. The ineptitude, a sad feature of numerous players, from DeAndre Jordan to Andrew Bogut to Andre Drummond, leads opposing teams to foul them because they know the likely outcome is missed shots at the charity stripe.

Well, Drummond, of the Detroit Pistons, wants to do better, and according to, he's using virtual reality to improve.

"Drummond puts on a headset and watches himself making free throws," wrote. "He can choose a first-person view, where he hears the basketball hitting the court as he dribbles, then sees the ball go over his head, up and into the hoop. Or he can choose third-person perspectives and watch his technique from various angles."

Detroit isn't the only team that's used VR. The Golden State Warriors turned to the technology in their bid to land free-agent superstar Kevin Durant last summer.

09.27.16 | 3 hours ago

Musk: We need to reduce the cost of a Mars trip by 5 million %

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk is currently speaking at the International Astronautical Congress in Mexico to offer his plan for Mars colonization. 

It currently costs about $10 billion per person to take a human to Mars right now. He would like to reduce that to the average price of home in the U.S., which is $200,000. This, he believes, would increase the number of people willing to take the trip drastically. 

Not everybody will want to go, but the few that do could establish a human colony there. 

09.27.16 | 3 hours ago

Presidential debate ratings: Here’s how last night’s Clinton-Trump face-off measures up

Not that anyone needed official tallies, but as was widely expected, last night's presidential throw-down between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump set a record for the most-watched presidential debate in TV history. According to early Nielsen numbers reported by CNN, the event averaged 80.9 million viewers across the dozen TV networks that aired it live. That means it has already edged out the previous record-holder: the 1980 debate between President Jimmy Carter and his challenger, California Gov. Ronald Reagan. That debate, which aired at a time when most households had only three or four channels, averaged 80.6 million viewers. 

The Clinton-Trump figures don't yet include ratings PBS or C-SPAN, CNN reports, which means the final numbers are likely to be measurably higher. They also don't include live-streaming—a far more prevalent viewing format this time around, with Twitter streaming the debate live for the first time. Twitter boasted earlier today that it was the most-tweeted debate in history. No shortage of superlatives going around this week.

Here's how the debate stacks up against the rest of the top 10:

1. 2016 – Clinton/Trump *

2. 1980 – Reagan/Carter

3. 1992 – Clinton/Bush/Perot

4. 1976 – Ford/Carter

5. 1984 – Reagan/Mondale

6. 1988 – Bush/Dukakis

7. 2012 – Obama/Romney

8. 1992 – Clinton/Bush/Perot

9. 1984 – Reagan/Mondale

10. 1988 – Bush/Dukakis

09.27.16 | 3 hours ago

Bono just invested in biotech startup Color Genomics 

Color Genomics, a company founded by Twitter and Google vets, just raised $45 million in a round led by General Catalyst with participation from Bono, Laurene Powell Jobs, and others. It also announced that Susan L. Wagner, COO of BlackRock and an Apple board member, has joined the board. 

Color offers a gene panel to test its users for mutations associated with common hereditary cancers. In a crowded space, it's big differentiator is price. At $249, Color's test is relatively inexpensive, so it doesn't have to grapple with insurance companies. Another upside to this approach is that the results are less likely to appear on the medical record, meaning they face a lower risk of being discriminated against by life insurers (yep, that happens).

With its funding, Silicon Valley-based Color will continue to make a big play for employers. As CEO Elad Gil explained to me last week, genetic testing is increasingly seen by large companies as a hot new perk and a means to potentially lower health costs.