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Minecraft Creator Markus 'Notch' Persson Eradicated From Splash Text
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gone-in-the-blink-of-an-eye department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Microsoft has removed a trio of references to Markus "Notch" Persson, the creator of Minecraft, from the game's opening menu screen. Random messages known as "splash text" are printed in yellow on this screen, and they used to include "Made by Notch!", "The Work of Notch", and "110813!" (a reference to the day Persson got married), but now all three mentions are gone. Notch is still included in the game's credits, but the change means that Minecraft players will no longer be randomly referenced.

Persson first released the blocky building game in 2009. Five years later, after the game had become a global smash hit, he sold his company Mojang to Microsoft for $2.5 billion, giving Redmond ownership of Minecraft. The references to Notch have remained a feature until their removal in this latest patch. They're reported to have been removed both from the original Java edition played on PCs and the legacy console edition used on PlayStation 4. No official rationale has been offered for the change, but Persson has become something of a polarizing figure on Twitter...

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Fukushima Contaminants Found As Far North As Alaska's Bering Strait
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 07:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department:
Radioactive contamination from Japan's Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant hit by a tsunami in 2011 has drifted as far north as waters off a remote Alaska island in the Bering Strait, scientists said on Wednesday. Reuters reports: Analysis of seawater collected last year near St. Lawrence Island revealed a slight elevation in levels of radioactive cesium-137 attributable to the Fukushima disaster, the University of Alaska Fairbanks Sea Grant program said. The newly detected Fukushima radiation was minute. The level of cesium-137, a byproduct of nuclear fission, in seawater was just four-tenths as high as traces of the isotope naturally found in the Pacific Ocean. Those levels are far too low to pose a health concern, an important point for people living on the Bering Sea coast who subsist on food caught in the ocean.

Those levels are far too low to pose a health concern, an important point for people living on the Bering Sea coast who subsist on food caught in the ocean, Sheffield said. Until the most recent St. Lawrence Island sample was tested by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the only other known sign of Fukushima radiation in the Bering Sea was detected in 2014 by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

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Security Researcher Pleads Guilty To Hacking Into Microsoft and Nintendo
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-do-the-crime-if-you-can't-do-the-time department:
24-year-old security researcher Zammis Clark pleaded guilty today to hacking into Microsoft and Nintendo servers and stealing confidential information. Clark, known online as Slipstream or Raylee, "was charged on multiple counts of computer misuse offenses in a London Crown Court on Thursday, and pleaded guilty to hacking into Microsoft and Nintendo networks," reports The Verge. From the report: Prosecutors revealed that Clark had gained access to a Microsoft server on January 24th, 2017 using an internal username and password, and then uploaded a web shell to remotely access Microsoft's network freely for at least three weeks. Clark then uploaded multiple shells which allowed him to search through Microsoft's network, upload files, and download data. In total, around 43,000 files were stolen after Clark targeted Microsoft's internal Windows flighting servers. These servers contain confidential copies of pre-release versions of Windows, and are used to distribute early beta code to developers working on Windows. Clark targeted unique build numbers to gain information on pre-release versions of Windows in around 7,500 searches for unreleased products, codenames, and build numbers.

< article continued at Slashdot's don't-do-the-crime-if-you-can't-do-the-time department >

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Russia Orders Major VPN Providers To Block 'Banned' Sites
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department:
Russian authorities have ordered ten major VPN providers to begin blocking sites on the country's blacklist. "NordVPN, ExpressVPN, IPVanish and HideMyAss are among those affected," reports TorrentFreak. "TorGuard also received a notification and has pulled its services out of Russia with immediate effect." From the report: During the past few days, telecoms watch Roscomnadzor says it sent compliance notifications to 10 major VPN services with servers inside Russia -- NordVPN, ExpressVPN, TorGuard, IPVanish, VPN Unlimited, VyprVPN, Kaspersky Secure Connection, HideMyAss!, Hola VPN, and OpenVPN. The government agency is demanding that the affected services begin interfacing with the FGIS database, blocking the sites listed within. Several other local companies -- search giant Yandex, Sputnik, Mail.ru, and Rambler -- are already connected to the database and filtering as required.

"In accordance with paragraph 5 of Article 15.8 of the Federal Law No. 149-FZ of 27.07.2006 'On Information, Information Technology and on Protection of Information' hereby we are informing you about the necessity to get connected to the Federal state informational system of the blocked information sources and networks [FGIS] within thirty working days from the receipt [of this notice]," the notice reads. A notice received by TorGuard reveals that the provider was indeed given just under a month to comply. The notice also details the consequences for not doing so, i.e being placed on the blacklist with the rest of the banned sites so it cannot operate in Russia. The demand from Roscomnadzor sent to TorGuard and the other companies also requires that they hand over information to the authorities, including details of their operators and places of business. The notice itself states that for foreign entities, Russian authorities require the full entity name, country of residence, tax number and/or trade register number, postal and email address details, plus other information.

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Would You Put Ads On Your Homescreens For Free Mobile Service?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nothing-is-free department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Moolah Mobile is teaming up with SurgePhone Wireless to offer people a new way to pay their cell phone bills -- by putting ads on their homescreens. Moolah CEO Vernell Woods (pictured above) said the startup has already been offering gift cards and other rewards to users who view its homescreen ads. So this is a similar model, except instead of earning gift cards, the ads are subsidizing cell phone service from Surge. The ads show up on users' homescreens during interstitial moments between using apps, so the goal is to offer free service without consumers having to change their behavior. Woods said all that ad time adds up, with "the average person who's using their phone on a consistent basis" viewing "easily between two to three hours" of homescreen ads each day. And that's enough to pay for the "equivalent" of Surge's $10 monthly plan. On the other hand, if for some reason a subscriber isn't hitting the necessary total, Woods said they can also earn more points by accepting offers or taking surveys. The subsidized wireless service will roll out in Florida, Virginia, Georgia and Texas initially, with an aim of reaching 40,000 locations by the end of the year.

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Google Is Conducting a Secret 'Performance Review' Of Its Censored China Search Project
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's top-secret department:
Google executives are conducting a secret internal assessment of work on a censored search engine for China. "A small group of top managers at the internet giant are conducting a 'performance review' of the controversial effort to build the search platform, known as Dragonfly, which was designed to blacklist information about human rights, democracy, religion, and peaceful protest," reports The Intercept. From the report: Performance reviews at Google are undertaken annually to evaluate employees' output and development. They are usually carried out in an open, peer review-style process: Workers grade each other's projects and the results are then assessed by management, who can reward employees with promotion if they are deemed ready to progress at the company. In the case of Dragonfly, however, the peer review aspect has been removed, subverting the normal procedure. In a move described as highly unusual by two Google sources, executives set up a separate group of closed "review committees," comprised of senior managers who had all previously been briefed about the China search engine.

The existence of the Dragonfly review committees has not been disclosed to rank-and-file Google employees, except for the few who have been evaluated by the committees because they worked on China search. Fewer than a dozen top managers at the company are said to be looped in on the review, which has involved studying documents and technical work related to Dragonfly. "Management has decided to commit to keeping this stuff secret," said a source with knowledge of the review. They are "holding any Dragonfly-specific documents out of [employees'] review tools, so that promotion is decided only by a committee that is read in on Dragonfly." Executives likely feared that following the normal, more open performance review process with Dragonfly would have allowed workers across the company to closely scrutinize it, according to two Google sources.

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Ask Slashdot: How Would You Suggest Making Rugged, Weather-Resistant ARM Systems?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's open-for-suggestions department:
New submitter pecosdave writes: I need suggestions for commercially-made ARM systems that will work in temperature ranges from -35F to 140F (-37C to 60C) for an engineering project. These things are going to be in metal boxes on the side of Texas Highways. The existing Intel systems we're using in other areas are all fan-less, but I'm not going to rule out systems with fans. Considering the extremes of Texas temperatures I'm actually contemplating putting fans on top of our fan-less systems anyways. Almost everything I can find pre-made with ARM is a bare board, or something not nearly as temperature tolerant as some Intel systems I can find. The very nature of an ARM processor should be more tolerant simply because they produce less heat, but I can't seem to find any manufacturers exploiting that fact. Slashdot reader pecosdave added more details in a comment: "It's more closely related to speed cameras, but it's not a speed camera. It's for a toll road, and its main job is to take pictures of a sign at about 10 FPS, though less is probably fine, with a time-stamp so if someone runs the toll we have a separate picture of the current price. If there's a problem with the sign it shows up as well. They just want something local to store it I guess in case the fiber link goes down. We're going to run it rather low-res too to keep the CPU and storage overhead low. I figure 640x480@10FPS is reasonable, but that's not set in stone."

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LinkNYC's 6 Million Users Have Used 8.6 Terabytes of Data
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 03:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's slow-expansion department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: What better way to replace New York City's thousands of aging pay phones than with 9.5-foot-tall kiosks outfitted with 55-inch HD displays, gigabit internet, and Android tablets preloaded with informational apps? So went the thinking back in 2014, when then-mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a competition -- the Reinvent Payphones initiative -- calling on private enterprises, residents, and nonprofits to submit designs for spruced-up, publicly accessible hubs that would provide advertising-subsidized services to the public. CityBridge's LinkNYC beat out piezoelectric pressure plates, EV charging stations, and other competing proposals for a contract, and the consortium wasted no time in getting to work.

Intersection -- which with Qualcomm and CIVIQ Smartscapes manages the kiosks -- said it plans to spend $200 million laying down 400 miles of new communication cables and installing as many as 10,000 Links that supply free Wi-Fi to passersby within a 150-foot radius. The first kiosk went online in January, though the project has quite a ways to go -- 1,780 Links are active currently, short of the initial goal of 4,500 kiosks by July of this year. [...] And the initial kiosks have really taken off. According to Intersection, the LinkNYC network now has more than 6 million unique users who have used 8.597 terabytes of data collectively -- equivalent to about 1.3 billion songs or 292 billion WhatsApp messages. And the project facilitates 600,000 phone calls every month, up from 500,000 in September of last year. Further reading: Free Municipal Wi-Fi May Be the Next Front In the War Against Privacy.

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Researchers Find 36 New Security Flaws In LTE Protocol
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 01:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A group of academics from South Korea have identified 36 new vulnerabilities in the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standard used by thousands of mobile networks and hundreds of millions of users across the world. The vulnerabilities allow attackers to disrupt mobile base stations, block incoming calls to a device, disconnect users from a mobile network, send spoofed SMS messages, and eavesdrop and manipulate user data traffic. They were discovered by a four-person research team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology Constitution (KAIST), and documented in a research paper they intend to present at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in late May 2019.

The Korean researchers said they found 51 LTE vulnerabilities, of which 36 are new, and 15 have been first identified by other research groups in the past. They discovered this sheer number of flaws by using a technique known as fuzzing --a code testing method that inputs a large quantity of random data into an application and analyzes the output for abnormalities, which, in turn, give developers a hint about the presence of possible bugs. The resulting vulnerabilities, see image below or this Google Docs sheet, were located in both the design and implementation of the LTE standard among the different carriers and device vendors. The KAIST team said it notified both the 3GPP (industry body behind LTE standard) and the GSMA (industry body that represents mobile operators), but also the corresponding baseband chipset vendors and network equipment vendors on whose hardware they performed the LTEFuzz tests.

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Zuckerberg is Sitting on More Data About What People Want To Do Online Than Anyone Else in the World, Former Facebook Chief Security Officer Says
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 01:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Former Facebook executive Alex Stamos explained how Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg is able to consistently make decisions that only make sense with the benefit of hindsight. From a report: "Mark Zuckerberg is sitting on more data about what people want to do online than anyone else in the world," said Stamos, who was speaking at the Washington Post's technology and policy conference on Wednesday evening. He cited the acquisitions of private messaging WhatsApp in 2014 for $19 billion, and photo-sharing service Instagram in 2012 for $1 billion, as examples of bets "that people think are insane but turn out to be prophetic because he knows the direction the world is going," Stamos said. Further reading: Facebook Used Its VPN App To Track Competitors, Documents Reveal.

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Startup Coding Bootcamp Modern Labor Says It Will Pay You $2,000 a Month For 5 Months To Learn To Code, and Take Roughly 15% of Your Salary For 2 Years Later
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Modern Labor promises to teach you to code in five months and help find you a job when you graduate -- but you're on the hook for the next two years. From a report: Most coding bootcamps almost sound like get-rich-quick schemes: Devote a few months to learning a new skill from home, and walk into a job that could pay you $70,000 a year to start. For the most immersive programs, you'll need to put your life on hold while you learn full-time. Usually, students pay for those coding bootcamps upfront while they take time off their jobs to learn.

Startup coding bootcamp Modern Labor pays people $2,000 a month for five months while they learn to code, following a curriculum remotely from wherever they live for at least 30 hours every week (working out to roughly minimum wage). After graduation, if they land a job that pays at least $40,000, Modern Labor takes 15 percent of their salary for the next two years. For example, if they find a job that pays $80,000, they'll pay Modern Labor $24,000 over two years. [...] Modern Labor's business model is an example of an "income sharing agreement," a scheme that's on-trend for Wall Street and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs looking to disrupt education.

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Housing Department Slaps Facebook With Discrimination Charge
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's gift-that-keeps-giving department:
The Department of Housing and Urban Development is suing social media giant Facebook for allegedly violating the Fair Housing Act. From a report: HUD says Facebook does so by "encouraging, enabling and causing housing discrimination" when it allows companies that use their platform to improperly shield who can see certain housing ads. In the charging document, HUD accuses Facebook of unlawfully discriminating against people based on race, religion, familial status, disability and other characteristics that closely align with the 1968 Fair House Act's protected classes.

HUD also alleges Facebook allowed advertisers certain tools on their advertising platform that could exclude people who were classified as "non-American-born," "non-Christian" or "interested in Hispanic culture," among other things. It also said advertisers could exclude people based on ZIP code, essentially "drawing a red line around those neighborhoods on a map." "Facebook is discriminating against people based upon who they are and where they live," HUD Secretary Ben Carson said in a statement. "Using a computer to limit a person's housing choices can be just as discriminatory as slamming a door in someone's face."

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Garfield Phones Beach Mystery Finally Solved After 35 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's mystery-solved department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: A French coastal community has finally cracked the mystery behind the Garfield telephones that have plagued its picturesque beaches for decades. Since the 1980s, the Iroise coast in Brittany has received a supply of bright orange landline novelty phones shaped like the famous cartoon cat. Anti-litter campaigners have been collecting fragments of the feline for years as they clean the beaches.

But now, the source of the problem has been found -- a lost shipping container. Last year, campaigners from the Ar Vilantsou anti-litter group made the novelty phone a symbol of the plastic pollution on the beaches of the Finistere region -- part of which is a designated marine park. Once a common household item, its eyes open when the landline receiver is picked up, and thousands were made and sold during the 1980s. Collectors still buy and sell the vintage Garfield phone online today. The beach-cleaning teams had long suspected that a lost shipping container -- perhaps blown overboard -- had regurgitated its precious orange cargo. But they had never been able to find it.

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Internal Documents Show Apple Is Capable of Implementing Right to Repair Legislation
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
A leaked internal document outlines a program that looks almost exactly like the requirements of right to repair legislation that has been proposed in 20 states. From a report: As Apple continues to fight legislation that would make it easier for consumers to repair their iPhones, MacBooks, and other electronics, the company appears to be able to implement many of the requirements of the legislation, according to an internal presentation obtained by Motherboard. According to the presentation, titled "Apple Genuine Parts Repair" and dated April 2018, the company has begun to give some repair companies access to Apple diagnostic software, a wide variety of genuine Apple repair parts, repair training, and notably places no restrictions on the types of repairs that independent companies are allowed to do. The presentation notes that repair companies can "keep doing what you're doing, with ... Apple genuine parts, reliable parts supply, and Apple process and training."

This is, broadly speaking, what right to repair activists have been asking state legislators to require companies to offer for years. "This looks to me like a framework for complying with right to repair legislation," Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit and a prominent member of the right to repair movement, told me on the phone. "Right now, they are only offering it to a few megachains, but it seems clear to me that it would be totally possible to comply with right to repair."

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EU To Ban Plastic Plates, Cups, and Cutlery by 2021; Will Require Plastic Bottles Be Made of 25% Recycled Content By 2025
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-stand department:
The European Union has decided to ban plastic consumer items including plates, cutlery and straws as of 2021 to help clean up oceans. The prohibition on single-use plastics approved by the European Parliament this week in Strasbourg, France, also applies to beverage cups, food containers and cotton bud sticks. A report adds: The new legislation also states that by 2025, plastic bottles should be made of 25 percent recycled content. The new legislation also sets an admirable target of recycling 90 percent of plastic bottles by 2029 -- as well as a goal of making them out of 30 percent recycled material by 2030. Parliament originally rolled out its plan at the end of 2018 and have now made good on the ambition directive.

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Wikimedia Foundation Joins the World Wide Web Consortium
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
Gilles Dubuc, writing for the Wikimedia Foundation: We're excited to announce that we've become a member of the W3C, the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web. Founded by Tim Berners-Lee in 1994, W3C works with hundreds of organizations to ensure that the web's basic building blocks -- like HTML or CSS -- remain consistent across browsers, platforms, and more. You can learn more about what W3C does over on Wikipedia. Joining the W3C fits right into our 2030 strategy, which calls on the Wikimedia movement to "become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge, and [ensure that] anyone who shares our vision will be able to join us."

The underlying technologies and standards of the web are a core part of the infrastructure that can facilitate knowledge equity, and so to achieve our vision, we need to participate and collaborate in designing the future of the web. As part of working groups, we will be collaborating directly with other major stakeholders on the web. Through attending meetings, providing feedback, helping with the drafting of standards, and performing some of the technical work necessary to put standards together (as well as participating in the decision-making process of their design), we're going to contribute to shaping a future of the web that helps everyone create and share free knowledge.

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Huawei's Equipment Poses 'Significant' Security Risks, UK Says
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's where-there-is-smoke department:
The U.K. government warned on Thursday Huawei's telecommunications equipment raises "significant" security issues, posing a possible setback to the Chinese tech firm as it looks to build out 5G networks. From a report: In 46-page report evaluating Huawei's security risks, British officials stopped short of calling for a ban of Huawei's 5G telecommunications equipment. But the assessment cited "underlying defects" in the company's software engineering and cybersecurity processes, citing "significantly increased risk to U.K. operators." The findings give weight to warnings from U.S. officials who have argued Huawei's networking equipment could be used for espionage by the Chinese government. Huawei has repeatedly said it does not pose any risk and insists it would not share customer data with Beijing. In a statement Thursday, Huawei said it takes the U.K. government's findings "very seriously."

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Oracle Tells Supreme Court Google Copyright Breach Knocked It Out Of Smartphone Market
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Joseph Tsidulko, writing for CRN: Oracle asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to not review an appellate court's decision finding Google violated Oracle's copyright of the Java platform when building the Android mobile operating system. In that opposition brief, Oracle's attorneys said Google's copyright violation shut Oracle, the Java platform owner, out of the emerging smartphone market, causing incalculable harm to its business. The complex case pitting two Silicon Valley giants against each other has raged on since 2010, and already saw many twists in turns before a circuit court last year reversed a jury decision in favor of Oracle. That prompted Google's appeal to the nation's highest court. Oracle notes Google had previously asked for a writ of certiorari -- the legal term for review by the high court -- in 2015 without success in an earlier phase of the case, and the company argues nothing has changed in the time since.

Oracle believes Google destroyed its hopes of competing as a smartphone platform developer with the Java platform, which enables development and execution of software written in Java, including through APIs that access a vast software library. The lawsuit alleged Google copied those APIs without a proper license. Java was developed at Sun Microsystems, which Oracle acquired in 2010. "Google's theory is that, having invested all those resources to create a program popular with platform developers and app programmers alike, Oracle should be required to let a competitor copy its code so that it can coopt the fan base to create its own best-selling sequel," Oracle's brief states.

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Office Depot and Support.com To Pay $35 Million To Settle FTC Allegations That They Charged Users Millions in 'Fake' Malware Cleanup Fees
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-lows department:
Office Depot and Support.com have coughed up $35 million after they were accused of lying to people that their PCs were infected with malware in order to charge them cleanup fees. From a report: Late Wednesday, the pair of businesses settled a lawsuit brought against them by the US Federal Trade Commission, which alleged staff at the tech duo falsely claimed software nasties were lingering on customers' computers to make a fast buck. The lawsuit, filed in southern Florida, claimed the two companies, including Office Depot subsidiary OfficeMax, from 2009 until November 2016 misrepresented the state of consumers' computers by using a sales tool designed to convince people to pay for diagnostic and repair services.

"In numerous instances throughout this time period, Defendants used the PC Health Check Program to report to Office Depot Companies customers that the scan had found or identified 'Malware Symptoms' when it had not done so," the complaint stated. "Additionally, in numerous instances, the PC Health Check Program falsely reported to consumers that the program had found 'infections' on the consumerâ(TM)s computer." According to the watchdog's complaint, the PC Health Check Program was incapable of finding malware. Support.com allegedly programmed the software so that whenever an Office Depot Company employee checked any one of four checkboxes describing a generic concern, like slowness, before the scan started, the scan would automatically report the detection of malware symptoms, and for a time, infections.

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Once Again, Apple Isn't Following Its Own Advertising Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's my-way-or-highway department:
Apple News Plus, the company's new magazine (and news) subscription service, is the latest offender because of how easy Apple makes it to subscribe. From a report: Just tap that "Try it Free" button, confirm your payment, and you're off to the races. Thing is, Apple forbids developers from making things seem quite this simple. Typically, Apple protects users from recurring fees by requiring developers to make those numbers so large on the screen that it's painfully obvious what you're getting into, how often you'll pay, and how to cancel if you decide you're not interested anymore. Here are some screenshots from Apple's dev website so you can see just how crystal-clear the developer "guidelines" are. For whatever reason, Apple decided that a cleaner, more attractive layout, one that hides some of the information it asks of developers, was the right choice for Apple News Plus.

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