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Nokia Sues Apple, Claims Patent Infringement in iPhone and Other Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 12:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's patent-war department:
Nokia today announced a number of patent infringement complaints against Apple in Europe and the U.S. courts. There are 32 patents in total that Nokia claims Apple infringed, covering technologies such as display, user interface, software, antenna, chipsets and video coding. From a report on MarketWatch: Nokia said Apple agreed to license a few of Nokia Technologies' patents in 2011, but has declined offers by Nokia since then to license other patents whose inventions have been used in Apple mobile devices, including the iPhone and iPad, and the Mac. The lawsuits, filed in a Munich, Germany, regional court and a district court in Texas, cover technologies such as display, user interface, software, antenna, chipsets and video coding. Nokia said it's in the process of filing further actions in other jurisdictions as well. "After several years of negotiations trying to reach agreement to cover Apple's use of these patents, we are now taking action to defend our rights," said Ilkka Rahnasto, head of patent business at Nokia.

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LibreOffice Will Have New 'MUFFIN' UI
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 12:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-updates department:
New submitter iampiti writes: The Document Foundation has announced a new user interface concept for LibreOffice. Users will be able to choose from several toolbar configurations including the "Notebook bar" which is similar to Microsoft Office's ribbon. According to TDF, "The MUFFIN (My User Friendly -- Flexible Interface) represents a new approach to UI design, based on the respect of user needs rather than on the imposition of a single UI to all users"

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Google Employee Sues For $3.8 Billion Over Confidentiality Policies
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's company-policies department:
An anonymous reader writes: A Google product manager has filed a lawsuit against the company for its confidentiality policies on the grounds they violate California labor laws. California labor laws give employees the right to discuss workplace issues with law enforcement, regulators, the media, and other employees. Google is accused of firing the employee for exercising his rights, then smearing his reputation in an internal email sent to the rest of the company. These policies are put in place to allegedly prevent the leaking of potentially damaging information to regulators or law enforcement. They in turn prohibit employees from speaking out about illegal activity within the company, even to its own lawyers, and encourage them to report other employees suspected of leaking information. The Verge has obtained a copy of the complaint, linked below in full. "Google's motto is 'don't be evil.' Google's illegal confidentiality agreements and policies fail this test," the lawsuit reads. One policy allegedly even prevents employees from writing a novel about working for a large Silicon Valley corporation -- like, for instance, Dave Eggers' dystopian novel, The Circle -- without first getting final draft approval from Google. The Information confirmed that this lawsuit was filed by the same individual, known in the suit only as "John Doe," who filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this year over many of the same confidentiality policies.

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Twitter Is 'Toast' and the Stock Is Not Even Worth $10, Says Analyst
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fwiw department:
Twitter is "toast" as a company and the stock is not even worth $10, according to a research note published Tuesday, following the departure of another top executive at the social media service. From a report on CNBC: The microblogging platform's chief technology officer, Adam Messinger, tweeted that he would leave the company and "take some time off", while Josh McFarland, vice president of product at Twitter, also said he was exiting the company. Both executives announced their departure on Tuesday. Meanwhile, last month, Adam Bain stepped down as chief operating officer last month to be replaced by chief financial officer Anthony Noto, who has yet to be replaced. Twitter has also lost leaders from business development, media and commerce, media partnerships, human resources, and engineering this year. The departures prompted Trip Chowdhry, the managing director of equity research at Global Equities Research, and a noted "uber-bear" on tech stocks, to issue a note on Tuesday claiming Twitter is "toast" and "not even a $10 stock." "Many investors were foolishly building (an) investment thesis based on complete stupidity," Chowdhry wrote. The analyst said that Twitter's data quality is "horrible". Chowdhry said that many pollsters used Twitter data to predict a Hillary Clinton win in the U.S. election but the fact that Donald Trump won shows that data quality is poor. One reason for this is too many fake users on the platform, Chowdhry claims.

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Nintendo's Mobile Mario Game Sets Download Record But Pricing Proves Sticking Point
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's app-economy department:
Nintendo's first Mario smartphone game has set a download record but gamers baulked at the one-time cost of unlocking content, prompting investors to push the Japanese game makers' stock to a one-month low. From a report on Reuters: Super Mario Run hit 25 million downloads just four days after its Dec. 15 release in 151 countries on Apple's App Store, earning gross sales of about $21 million, showed data from app analyst Sensor Tower. But Nintendo shares have lost 11 percent since the launch as the latest game to feature Nintendo's princess-rescuing Italian plumber received negative reviews from users mainly complaining about its $9.99 one-time cost, rather than the usual model of paying small amounts for special features. "Mario is arguably the most popular gaming franchise in the world, yet we see only about 8 percent of those who try the game actually purchasing it," said Sensor Tower analyst Spencer Gabriel. Super Mario Run is free to download on the App Store where, in Japan, it is rated 2.5 stars out of 5 based on 1,095 reviews.

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Slashdot Asks: Why Are Browsers So Slow?
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-questions department:
Designer Ilya Birman writes: I understand why rendering a complicated layout may be slow. Or why executing a complicated script may be slow. Actually, browsers are rather fast doing these things. If you studied programming and have a rough idea about how many computations are made to render a page, it is surprising the browsers can do it all that fast. But I am not talking about rendering and scripts. I am talking about everything else. Safari may take a second or two just to open a new blank tab on a 2014 iMac. And with ten or fifteen open tabs it eventually becomes sluggish as hell. Chrome is better, but not much so. What are they doing? The tabs are already open. Everything has been rendered. Why does it take more than, say, a thousandth of a second to switch between tabs or create a new one? Opening a 20-megapixel photo from disk doesn't take any noticeable amount of time, it renders instantaneously. Browsers store their stuff in memory. Why can't they just show the pixels immediately when I ask for them? [...] Unfortunately, modern browsers are so stupid that they reload all the tabs when you restart them. Which takes ages if you have a hundred of tabs. Opera was sane: it did not reload a tab unless you asked for it. It just reopened everything from cache. Which took a couple of seconds. Modern browsers boast their rendering and script execution performance, but that's not what matters to me as a user. I just don't understand why programmers spend any time optimising for that while the Chrome is laughably slow even by ten-years-old standards.Do you agree with Birman? If yes, why do you think browsers are generally slow today?

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Microsoft Wins $927 Million Pentagon Contract To Provide Technical Support
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's cash-cow department:
Microsoft has secured a massive $927m contract to provide technical support and consultation to the United States Department of Defense. This is the latest in a series of key deals that Microsoft has won with the US military. From a report: The contract comes after the software giant Microsoft secured a deal in February 2016 with the Department of Defense (DoD) to bring Windows 10 to all 4m of its employees within a 12-month timeframe. This was the largest enterprise deal for Microsoft in the company's history. In 2013, Microsoft signed a similar deal to bring Windows 8 to 75pc of all DoD employees.

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EU's Highest Court Delivers Blow To UK Snooper's Charter
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fighting-back department:
"General and indiscriminate retention" of emails and electronic communications by governments is illegal, the EU's highest court has ruled, in a judgment that could trigger challenges against the UK's new Investigatory Powers Act -- the so-called snooper's charter. From a report on The Guardian: Only targeted interception of traffic and location data in order to combat serious crime -- including terrorism -- is justified, according to a long-awaited decision by the European court of justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg. The finding came in response to a legal challenge initially brought by the Brexit secretary, David Davis, when he was a backbench MP, and Tom Watson, Labour's deputy leader, over the legality of GCHQ's bulk interception of call records and online messages. Davis and Watson, who were supported by Liberty, the Law Society, the Open Rights Group and Privacy International, had already won a high court victory on the issue, but the government appealed and the case was referred by appeal judges to the ECJ. The case will now return to the court of appeal to be resolved in terms of UK legislation.

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Samsung Note 7 User Base Still Larger Than LG V20, OnePlus 3T Combined
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's sad-reality department:
Even after two months of an official global recall for the Samsung Galaxy Note 7, 10 percent of the units sold are still in use. From a report: Research firm Apteligent reports that the number of Galaxy Note 7 phones in use outnumbers LG V20 and OnePlus 3T combined. According to 9to5Mac, which has shared details from Apteligent's research, while the Moto Z beats the Galaxy Note 7 in terms of usage, the margin is quite low.
The report also adds that flagship smartphones such as Google Pixel, Pixel XL and Sony Xperia XZ which were announced around the same time as Note 7's recall have managed to outnumber its user base.

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Sling TV Accidentally Reveals Its Set-Top Box For Cord Cutters
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's chatter-in-the-hallway department:
The Sling TV team has inadvertently spilled the beans on its previously leaked media hub for cord cutters. Zatz Not Funny discovered a briefly available landing website for the AirTV Player, and it's clearer than ever that Sling (read: Dish) is catering to those determined to leave cable and satellite behind. From a report on Engadget: The set-top box will revolve around a home screen that merges over-the-air TV tuning with not only Sling TV, but Netflix -- you won't have to jump between apps or devices to watch both your local news and the latest season of Black Mirror. And since this is an Android device (notice the "G" button on the remote), there's a good chance that other online services will be available as well. It's not certain how much the AirTV Player will cost or when you can get it in your hands. However, a launch at CES in January seems likely given that Dish tends to have a major presence at the trade show. It could be a big deal if there aren't any rude surprises in the pricing or execution, though. Until now, you've typically needed a separate over-the-air TV tuner device (like Nuvyyo's Tablo DVR) if you wanted local live programming wrapped in a slick interface.

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White House: US Needs a Stronger Social Safety Net To Help Workers Displaced by Robots
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's one-day-not-so-far-away department:
The White House has released a new report warning of a not-too-distant future where artificial intelligence and robotics will take the place of human labor. Recode highlights in its report the three key areas the White House says the U.S. government needs to prepare for the next wave of job displacement caused by robotic automation: -- Fund more research in robotics and artificial intelligence in order for the U.S. to maintain its leadership in the global technology industry. The report calls on the government to steer that research to support a diverse workforce and to focus on combating algorithmic bias in AI. -- Invest in and increase STEM education for youth and job retraining for adults in technology-related fields. That means offering computer science education for all K-12 students, as well as expanding national workforce retraining by investing six times the current amount spent to keep American workers competitive in a global economy. -- Modernize and strengthen the federal social safety net, including public health care, unemployment insurance, welfare and food stamps. The report also calls for increasing the minimum wage, paying workers overtime and and strengthening unions and worker bargaining power. The report says the government, meaning the the incoming Trump administration, will have to forge ahead with new policies and grapple with the complexities of existing social services to protect the millions of Americans who face displacement by advances in automation, robotics and artificial intelligence. The report also calls on the government to keep a close eye on fostering competition in the AI industry, since the companies with the most data will be able to create the most advanced products, effectively preventing new startups from having a chance to even compete.

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Japan Successfully Launches Solid Fuel Rocket
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 03:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mission-accomplished department:
randomErr writes: Japan successfully launched a solid fuel rocket named Epsilon-2. The 26-meter-long rocket launched from the Uchinoura Space Center at about 8 p.m. local time. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) said this is the latest in Tokyo's effort to stay competitive in an industry that has robust growth potential and strong security implications. Also, this is to curb costs for rocket launches. The Epsilon-2 three-stage rocket [is part of a new generation of solid propellant rockets that aim] to put communication and weather satellites in space.

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Crytek Closing Five Studios, Will Refocus On 'Premium IPs' and CryEngine
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 12:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rough-year department:
In a press release, Crytek, the developer behind hits such as the Crysis and Far Cry shooters, announced that it will be closing five of its studios in an effort to "refocus on its core strengths." The only studios remaining will be Crytek's Frankfurt, Germany and Kiev, Ukraine locations. Polygon reports: Other than Crytek's Frankfurt headquarters and Kiev studio, which develops free-to-play shooter Warface, the company held offices in Budapest, Hungary; Sofia, Bulgaria; Seoul, Korea; Shanghai, China; and Istanbul, Turkey. Crytek's co-founder and managing director, Avni Yerli, said in the release that the "changes are part of the essential steps we are taking to ensure Crytek is a healthy and sustainable business moving forward that can continue to attract and nurture our industry's top talent. The reasons for this have been communicated internally along the way. "Our focus now lies entirely on the core strengths that have always defined Crytek -- world-class developers, state-of-the-art technology and innovative game development, and we believe that going through this challenging process will make us a more agile, viable, and attractive studio, primed for future success," he added. The studio will now focus on its CryEngine technology, which is used by many other developers and licensors. Crytek said it will also continue to "develop and work on premium IPs."

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Using Multiple Social Networks May Lead To Depression and Anxiety, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 07:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's one-has-to-draw-the-line-somewhere department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Daily Dot: The more social media you use, the higher the likelihood that you'll be anxious or depressed. At least according to the University of Pittsburgh Center for Research on Media, Technology and Health. In a study published online this month with more than 1,700 millennial adults, it found people who report using seven to 11 social media platforms had more than three times the risk of depression or anxiety than millennials who use zero to two platforms. The participants were asked about the most popular social media platforms in 2014, the year the study was conducted, which included Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram, Snapchat, Reddit, Tumblr, Pinterest, Vine, and LinkedIn. Those who used more than seven platforms showed higher levels of depressive symptoms, even when researchers controlled for factors like race, gender, relationship status, household income, education, and total time spent on social media. Brian A. Primack, lead author of the study, notes that the correlation is not certain. He told PsyPost: "It may be that people who suffer from symptoms of depression or anxiety, or both, tend to subsequently use a broader range of social media outlets. For example, they may be searching out multiple avenues for a setting that feels comfortable and accepting. However, it could also be that trying to maintain a presence on multiple platforms may actually lead to depression and anxiety. More research will be needed to tease that apart."

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Human Cells Naturally 'Eat' Silicon Nanowires
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 06:24 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tastes-like-chicken department:
the_newsbeagle writes: By showing that human cells naturally engulf minuscule silicon nanowires, a material scientist from the University of Chicago has opened the way to intracellular electronics. Applications could include very specialized drug delivery, electrically stimulating the organelles inside the cell, or recording the signals that pass between those internal structures. From IEEE Spectrum: "Using both an electron microscope and a specialized optical imaging tool designed by the team, the group recorded the eating of the nanowires in detail. It appears that the cell's outer membrane folds itself like a pocket, grabs the nanowire, and envelops it in a membrane-lined bubble. The process is called phagocytosis; it's the same method used by immune cells to grab a bit of bacteria and swallow it up. Once the nanowire is inside, the cell's machinery then shuttles it through its system with sudden bursts of speed -- up to 99.4 nanometers per second -- and deposits it just outside the cell's nucleus. Tian's group made a video of the process (complete with melodramatic accompaniment)."

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Barnes & Noble's Latest Tablet Is Running Spyware From Shanghai
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 05:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's buyer-beware department:
Long-time Slashdot reader emil writes about how ADUPS, an Android "firmware provisioning" company specializing in both big data collection of Android usage and hostile app installation and/or firmware control, has been found pre-loaded on Barnes and Noble's new $50 tablet: ADUPS was recently responsible for data theft on BLU phones and an unsafe version of the ADUPS agent is pre-loaded on the Barnes and Noble BNTV450. ADUPS' press releases claim that Version 5.5 of their agent is safe, but the BNTV450 is running 5.2. The agent is capable of extracting contacts, listing installed apps, and installing new apps with elevated privilege. Azzedine Benameur, director of research at Kryptowire, claims that "owners can expect zero privacy or control while using it."

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Chicago Electronics Recycler Faked Tear-Downs, Sent Hazardous Waste To Overseas Landfills
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 05:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rule-following department:
Federals agents have accused Brian Brundage, the former owner of Chicago-based electronics recycling company Intercon Solutions and current owner of EnviroGreen Processing, of fraud for failing to properly break down and recycle electronic devices according to federal guidelines. Brundage allegedly shipped Cathode Ray Tubes (CRTs) from old computer and TV monitors, which contained "hazardous amounts of lead," and batteries to overseas landfills for disposal. The leftover electronics that weren't shipped overseas were destroyed inappropriately at his businesses or stored in warehouses, which is forbidden by federal guidelines. Ars Technica reports: According to the indictment (PDF), Brundage also improperly resold many of the electronics he acquired. Between 2009 and 2015, Brundage received shipments of calculators from an unnamed technology company in Texas with instructions to disassemble the calculators and recycle them accordingly. But Brundage apparently resold the calculators to another company based in Tampa, Florida, which purchased and sold used electronics. In exchange for the shipments of calculators, Brundage allegedly had the company in Tampa directly pay some of Brundage's personal expenses. Those expense include between $31,000 and $39,000 per year for a nanny and $26,000 to $42,000 per year for a housekeeper, as well as tens of thousands of dollars for jewelry expenses and payments to an Indiana-based casino. Among the more colorful accusations in the US government's indictment of Brundage: the businessman allegedly went to lengths to fool third-party auditors into giving his companies the certifications necessary to keep doing business as an e-recycler. Brundage allegedly invited unknowing customers on sham tours of Intercon's facility. Once there, he "directed Intercon's warehouse staff to set up a staged disassembly line to make it falsely appear as though Intercon regularly processed e-waste in a manner that was consistent with its public representations." The Chicago Tribune published a feature on Intercon in 2007. In it, Brundage is quoted saying, "We put old products on a disassembly line. We break each item down to raw materials and send them off to be smelted and reused." He added, "nothing that leaves here goes to a landfill."

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US Fails To Renegotiate Arms Control Rule For Hacking Tools
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 03:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's falling-apart department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: The Obama administration has failed to renegotiate portions of an international arms control arrangement to make it easier to export tools related to hacking and surveillance software -- technologies that can be exploited by bad actors, but are also used to secure computer networks. The rare U.S. move to push for revisions to a 2013 rule was derailed earlier this month at an annual meeting in Vienna, where officials from 41 countries that signed onto it were meeting. That leaves it up to President-elect Donald Trump's administration whether the U.S. will seek revisions again next year. U.S. officials had wanted more precise language to control the spread of such hacking tools without the unintended negative consequences for national cybersecurity and research that industry groups and lawmakers have complained about for months. Critics have argued that the current language, while well meaning, broadly sweeps up research tools and technologies used to create or otherwise support hacking and surveillance software. As one of those 41 member countries of the 1996 Wassenaar Arrangement, which governs the highly technical world of export controls for arms and certain technologies, the United States agreed to restrict tools related to cyber "intrusion software" that could fall into the hands of repressive regimes. The voluntary arrangement relies on unanimous agreement to abide by its rules on export controls for hundreds of items, including arms such as tanks or military aircraft and "dual-use" technologies such as advanced radar that can be used for both peaceful and military means.

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Morgan Freeman To Voice Mark Zuckerberg's Jarvis
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 03:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's voice-from-above department:
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg recently demoed his homemade artificial intelligence assistant Jarvis for Fast Company, and while their report didn't mention anything specific about the assistant's synthesized voice at the time, we have now learned that Morgan Freeman will be the voice behind Jarvis. Robert Downey Jr. originally volunteered to be the new voice of Jarvis under certain conditions, but Zuckerberg decided to let the public weigh in on Facebook. With more than 50,000 comments, Morgan Freeman emerged victorious. USA Today reports: Zuckberg told Fast Company he called Freeman and said: "Hey, I posted this thing, and...thousands of people want you to be the voice. Will you do it?â(TM)" Freeman told Zuckerberg: "Yeah, sure." Of course, Freeman has other starring voice roles in the tech world. He's one of the celebrity voices on Google's navigation app Waze. Facebook has not disclosed whether Freeman is getting paid, according to Fast Company.

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AT&T Is Adding a Spam Filter For Phone Calls
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 02:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's access-denied department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Today, ATT introduced a new service for automated blocking of fraud or spam calls. Dubbed ATT Call Protect, the system identifies specific numbers believed to be sources of fraud, and will either deliver those calls with a warning or block them outright. Users can whitelist specific numbers, although temporary blocks require downloading a separate Call Protect app. The feature is only available on postpaid iOS and Android devices, and can be activated through the MyATT system. Phone companies have allowed for manual number blocking for years, and third-party apps like Whitepages and Privacystar use larger databases of untrustworthy numbers to preemptively block calls from the outside. But ATT's new system would build in those warnings at the network level, and give operators more comprehensive data when assembling suspected numbers. More broadly, marketing calls are subject to the national Do Not Call registry. Specific instances of fraud can still be reported through carriers or directly to police.

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