By BeauHD from Slashdot's desperate-for-data department
A new report from TechCrunch details how "desperate" Facebook is for data on its competitors. The social media company "has been secretly paying people to install a 'Facebook Research' VPN that lets the company suck in all of a user's phone and web activity," a TechCrunch investigation confirms. "Facebook sidesteps the App Store and rewards teenagers and adults to download the Research app and give it root access in what may be a violation of Apple policy so the social network can decrypt and analyze their phone activity." From the report: Since 2016, Facebook has been paying users ages 13 to 35 up to $20 per month plus referral fees to sell their privacy by installing the iOS or Android "Facebook Research" app. Facebook even asked users to screenshot their Amazon order history page. The program is administered through beta testing services Applause, BetaBound and uTest to cloak Facebook's involvement, and is referred to in some documentation as "Project Atlas" a fitting name for Facebook's effort to map new trends and rivals around the globe.
We asked Guardian Mobile Firewall's security expert Will Strafach to dig into the Facebook Research app, and he told us that "If Facebook makes full use of the level of access they are given by asking users to install the Certificate, they will have the ability to continuously collect the following types of data: private messages in social media apps, chats from in instant messaging apps -- including photos/videos sent to others, emails, web searches, web browsing activity, and even ongoing location information by tapping into the feeds of any location tracking apps you may have installed." It's unclear exactly what data Facebook is concerned with, but it gets nearly limitless access to a user's device once they install the app.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's overall-revenue department
Due to an economic slowdown in China and diminishing demand for new iPhones, Apple's profits in its most recent quarter were flat compared with a year earlier. "The disappointing financial performance had been expected since Jan. 2, when Apple, for the first time in 16 years, revised its forecast for the quarter," reports The New York Times. "But the announcement on Tuesday indicates a difficult road head for Apple, which just five months ago became the first company to be worth more than $1 trillion. The company said it expected between $55 billion and $59 billion in revenue in the current quarter, just below analysts' expectations for $59 billion. Apple's earnings per share were $4.18, beating analysts' expectations by a penny."
In addition to the quarterly earnings, Apple reported revenue of $84.3 billion, a decline of 5 percent from one year ago. "Revenue from iPhone declined 15 percent from the prior year, while total revenue from all other products and services grew 19 percent," Apple said in a press release. Analysts had estimated revenue of $83.97 billion and earnings of $4.17 per share. "While it was disappointing to miss our revenue guidance, we manage Apple for the long term, and this quarter's results demonstrate that the underlying strength of our business runs deep and wide," said Tim Cook. Apple's active install base of 1.4 billion is "a great testament to the satisfaction and loyalty of our customers, and it's driving our services business to new records thanks to our large and fast-growing ecosystem," Cook said. The Verge adds: "iPhones account for 900 million of those devices. iPad revenues were up 17 percent against the year-ago quarter; Mac was up 9 percent; and Wearables/Home/Accessories were up by 33 percent."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Amazon announced today a plan to fund computer science classes in more than 130 New York City area high schools. Specifically, Amazon will fund both introductory and Advanced Placement (AP) classes across all five NYC boroughs, including more than 30 schools in Queens, near its new headquarters. From a report: The courses will be supported by the Amazon Future Engineer program, whose stated goal is to bring more than 10 million kids to computer science per year, and fund computer science courses for over 100,000 underprivileged kids in 2,000 low-income high schools in the U.S. It also awards 100 students per year with four-year $10,000 scholarships and offers internships at Amazon.
The funding for the New York area schools will cover preparatory lessons, tutorials and professional development for teachers, says Amazon, as well as offer sequenced and paced digital curriculum for students, and live online support for both teachers and students. All participating students will also receive a free membership to AWS Educate, which offers free computing power in the AWS Cloud for coding projects.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
An anonymous reader writes: Today, System76 unveiled its latest laptop -- the 15.6-inch (full-HD) "Darter Pro." It is thin, but not overly so -- it still has USB-A ports (thankfully). The computer is quite modern, however, as it also has a USB-C/Thunderbolt 3 port. It supports Pop!_OS 18.04 LTS (64-bit), Pop!_OS 18.10 (64-bit), or Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (64-bit) operating system. It comes in two variants, with the following processor options: 8th Gen Intel Core i5-8265U: 1.6 up to 3.90 GHz -- 6MB Cache -- 4 Cores -- 8 Threads, or 8th Gen Intel Core i7-8565U: 1.8 up to 4.60 GHz -- 8MB Cache -- 4 Cores -- 8 Threads, with either coupled with Intel UHD Graphics 620 GPU, and up to 32GB Dual Channel DDR4 @ 2400 MHz, and M.2 SATA or PCIe NVMe SSD for storage. As for ports, there is USB 3.1 Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, 2 USB 3.0 Type-A, 1 x USB 2.0, SD Card Reader. The company says it will announce the pricing at a later stage,Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Firefox 65, the latest version of Mozilla's web browser, is now available for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android platforms. The release brings simplified Content Blocking controls for Enhanced Tracking Protection, support for WebP image support with the Windows client getting an additional feature: support for AV1 format.
From a report: Across all platforms, Firefox can now handle Google's WebP image format. WebP supports both lossy and lossless compression and promises the same image quality as existing formats at smaller file sizes. Firefox 65 for desktop brings redesigned controls for the Content Blocking section to let users choose their desired level of privacy protection. You can access it by either clicking on the small "i" icon in the address bar and clicking on the gear on the right side under Content Blocking or by going to Preferences, Privacy & Security, and then Content Blocking.
Next, Firefox now supports AV1, the royalty-free video codec developed by the Alliance for Open Media. AV1 improves compression efficiency by more than 30 percent over the codec VP9, which it is meant to succeed. Lastly, Firefox's new Task Manager page (just navigate to about:performance or find it under "Other" in the main menu) is complete. Introduced in Firefox 64, Task Manager now reports memory usage for tabs and add-ons.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
When you want to watch a movie, which streaming service truly delivers? If you want quality, opt for Netflix. If you prefer quantity, peruse Amazon Prime Video. From a report: That's the conclusion from Streaming Observer. The tech news website looked at all of the movies on Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and HBO Now as of January 20 and analyzed the films' ratings on movie and TV review site Rotten Tomatoes. Also factored in: data from the streaming providers, as well as third-party search sites Reelgood and JustWatch. The site found Amazon had the most movies (17,461) -- four times that of Netflix (3,839) and many more times the amount on Hulu (2,336) and HBO (815). But Netflix had more movies -- 596, more than 15 percent of its library -- with a "Certified Fresh" rating from Rotten Tomatoes, a designation given to the best-reviewed films.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's potential-privacy-concerns department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: Most of the data collected by urban planners is messy, complex, and difficult to represent. It looks nothing like the smooth graphs and clean charts of city life in urban simulator games like "SimCity." A new initiative from Sidewalk Labs, the city-building subsidiary of Google's parent company Alphabet, has set out to change that. The program, known as Replica, offers planning agencies the ability to model an entire city's patterns of movement. Like "SimCity," Replica's "user-friendly" tool deploys statistical simulations to give a comprehensive view of how, when, and where people travel in urban areas. It's an appealing prospect for planners making critical decisions about transportation and land use. In recent months, transportation authorities in Kansas City, Portland, and the Chicago area have signed up to glean its insights. The only catch: They're not completely sure where the data is coming from.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-shiny department
Four new iPad models and a 7th-generation iPod Touch have been found in upcoming iOS 12.2, and seven new iPad models were discovered in the Eurasian Economic Commission Database, reports MacRumors. From the report: Developer Steven Troughton-Smith speculates that the iPad model numbers could be new iPad mini devices, which would be in line with rumors suggesting a new iPad mini 5 is in the works. According to Troughton-Smith, none of the iPads have Face ID, which is what we would expect as a new iPad mini is likely to be positioned as an affordable, lower-end device. There's also a reference to "iPod 9,1," which does not match up with any known iPod touch devices, suggesting it is a new next-generation model. The current sixth-generation iPod touch is "iPod 7,1," for reference. The iPod listed in iOS 12.2 does not appear to have Face ID or Touch ID, which is in line with the current iPod touch.
Previous rumors have indeed suggested Apple is working on a 7th-generation iPod touch, an iPad mini 5, and a new version of the lower-cost 9.7-inch iPad, which may actually be upgraded to 10 inches in its next iteration. There's been mixed information about what to expect from an iPad mini update. A case leak suggested a vertical camera and quad speakers, but a photo of an unreleased iPad mini, which could be the new iPad mini, featured an older A9 processor and a design that's similar to the fourth-generation iPad mini.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's quantum-physics department
"University of Toronto Engineering professor Hoi-Kwong Lo and his collaborators have developed a prototype for a key element for all-photonic quantum repeaters, a critical step in long-distance quantum communication," reports Phys.Org. This proof-of-principle device could serve as the backbone of a future quantum internet. From the report: In light of [the security issues with today's internet], researchers have proposed other ways of transmitting data that would leverage key features of quantum physics to provide virtually unbreakable encryption. One of the most promising technologies involves a technique known as quantum key distribution (QKD). QKD exploits the fact that the simple act of sensing or measuring the state of a quantum system disturbs that system. Because of this, any third-party eavesdropping would leave behind a clearly detectable trace, and the communication can be aborted before any sensitive information is lost. Until now, this type of quantum security has been demonstrated in small-scale systems. Lo and his team are among a group of researchers around the world who are laying the groundwork for a future quantum Internet by working to address some of the challenges in transmitting quantum information over great distances, using optical fiber communication. Because light signals lose potency as they travel long distances through fiber-optic cables, devices called repeaters are inserted at regular intervals along the line. These repeaters boost and amplify the signals to help transmit the information along the line. But quantum information is different, and existing repeaters for quantum information are highly problematic. They require storage of the quantum state at the repeater sites, making the repeaters much more error prone, difficult to build, and very expensive because they often operate at cryogenic temperatures. Lo and his team have proposed a different approach. They are working on the development of the next generation of repeaters, called all-photonic quantum repeaters, that would eliminate or reduce many of the shortcomings of standard quantum repeaters. "We have developed all-photonic repeaters that allow time-reversed adaptive Bell measurement," says Lo. "Because these repeaters are all-optical, they offer advantages that traditional -- quantum-memory-based matter -- repeaters do not. For example, this method could work at room temperature."Read Replies (0)