Exclusive interview with the VP of Scion Jack Hollis

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Finsbury Glover Hering in talks to buy rival Sard Verbinnen

Deal for leading communications adviser in US mergers and activism would mark latest consolidation move

Ben Chestnut and Dan Kurzius, the men who made MailChimp

This week the pair, who took no venture capital, agreed to sell their email marketing business for $12bn

JPMorgan: chasing a last-mover advantage

Deep pockets and digital-only strategy give launch into UK consumer banking some chance of success

Endgadget

Elektron's Model:Cycles and Model:Samples grooveboxes are on sale for $249 each

Elektron might have a reputation for making expensive digital instruments, but it's hard to look past the Model lineup if you're in the market for a groovebox. The Model:Samples and Model:Cycles devices are currently on sale at both Amazon and Sweetwater. They're down from $299 to $249, making them an even better option for beatmakers, newbies and veterans alike.

Buy Elektron Model:Samples at Amazon - $249Buy Elektron Model:Samples at Sweetwater - $249

Elektron brought much of its knowhow to the entry-level Model:Samples in 2019. You can add your own samples via the microUSB port. In our review, in which we gave Model:Samples a score of 86, we called it a "best-in-class sequencer" with lots of controls and "tons of opportunity for happy accidents." However, we had reservations about the lack of onboard sampling and "mediocre" quality of the pads.

On the whole, though, it's a great groovebox. Given that Model:Samples cost $449 just a couple of years ago, $249 is an excellent price.

Buy Elektron Model:Cycles at Amazon - $249Buy Elektron Model:Cycles at Sweetwater - $249

Model:Cycles, meanwhile, is a more recent model. It too is a six-track sequencer, but it adopts some of the features of Elektron's Digitakt sampler. It uses FM synth sounds rather than samples. In giving Model:Cycles a score of 88, we found that it offers an "incredibly fun hands-on playing experience." We found the lack of filter and arpeggiator a little disappointing, but it's still a terrific groovebox. On its website, Elektron notes the two devices are on sale until September 30th.

Android 11's auto-reset permissions feature is coming to older versions of the OS

When Google launched Android 11 at the end of last summer, it added a feature that automatically resets app permissions. If you don’t use an app after several months, the OS can revoke some of the permissions that the application asked you to grant when you first installed it. It’s a handy feature that’s unfortunately only available on a relatively small number of devices due to the fact most Android manufacturers only support their devices with platform updates for a couple of years. Thankfully, that’s about to change.

Starting in December 2021, Google will begin rolling out that functionality to all devices running Android 6 (Marshmallow) and above, the company announced today in a developer update. The feature will come courtesy of a Google Play services update the company will roll out to “billions” of devices. Once you have the new software installed on your device, apps that target Android 11 or higher will have the feature enabled by default. For those apps that were built for older versions of the OS, you’ll have the option to enable it manually.

This is one of those small quality-of-life updates that most Android users should be able to appreciate since it can be easy to forget all the permissions you may have granted to an app when you first installed it.  

US will reportedly impose crypto sanctions amid ransomware attacks

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Biden administration plans to implement new measures to make it more difficult for hackers to profit from ransomware attacks using cryptocurrencies. As early as next week, the Treasury Department will reportedly impose sanctions and guidance designed to discourage organizations from using digital currencies to pay for ransoms.

Per The Journal, among the measures the agency is considering are fines and other penalties aimed at businesses that cooperate with hackers. Later in the year, the Treasury Department is also expected to implement new anti-money laundering and terror-financing regulation to limit further the use of cryptocurrencies as a payment method for ransoms and other illegal activity.

The incoming sanctions will reportedly single out specific traders and exchanges instead of casting a wide net and attempting to disrupt the entire crypto ecosystem. In addition to harming organizations that may have facilitated ransomware payments in the past, the hope is that sanctions will scare most cryptocurrency platforms from processing those types of transactions in the future.

“An action of this kind would be an aggressive, proactive approach to going after those who facilitate ransomware payments,” Ari Redbord, a former Treasury Department official, told The Journal.

The measures would be the latest attempt by the Biden administration to tackle the issue of ransomware attacks following a year in which they’ve increased in frequency and severity. After the Colonial Pipeline attack led to fuel shortages in parts of the US, the president signed an executive order that called for, among other things, improved information sharing between federal agencies. More recently, the Department of Homeland Security laid out mandatory rules that call on pipeline operators to appoint cybersecurity coordinators and report incidents to the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency.

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