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Recent Blu Update Locks Users out of Their Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '17 at 08:46 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's dirt-cheap-phones department:
An Android update that Blu shipped to Blu One Life X2 smartphones yesterday, November 28, has locked people out of their phones. From a report: On forums, Reddit, and Blu's official Facebook page, users are complaining that after applying the update and rebooting the device, their phone won't recognize their password, PIN code, or pattern lock, even if users are 100% sure they are entering the correct data. Bleeping Computer has independently verified this bug. "I updated my BLU Life One X2 around 2 hours ago. It asks for a password in order to access Android," said one of the Blu users facing this problem. "I am completely locked out of my phone. Ever single password used is marked incorrect." After ten "failed" login attempts, the user's data is wiped from the device, according to the standard Android OS behavior.

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Apple Accuses Qualcomm of Patent Infringement in Countersuit
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '17 at 07:24 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
From a report: Apple on Wednesday filed a countersuit against Qualcomm, alleging that Qualcomm's Snapdragon mobile phone chips that power a wide variety of Android-based devices infringe on Apple's patents, the latest development in a long-running dispute. Qualcomm in July accused Apple of infringing several patents related to helping mobile phones get better battery life. Apple has denied the claims that it violated Qualcomm's battery life patents and alleged that Qualcomm's patents were invalid, a common move in such cases. But on Wednesday, in a filing in U.S. District Court in San Diego, Apple revised its answer to Qualcomm's complaint with accusations of its own. Apple alleges it owns at least eight battery life patents that Qualcomm has violated.

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Andy Rubin Takes Leave From Essential as Probe Into 'Inappropriate' Google Relationship Goes Public, Report Claims
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '17 at 07:24 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Essential founder and CEO Andy Rubin has taken a leave of absence from his new company for "personal reasons" following a report on the circumstances of his 2014 departure from Google. According to The Information, Rubin left Google shortly after an investigation found that he had maintained an "inappropriate relationship" with a woman who worked under him and filed a complaint to HR. The nature of that relationship isn't detailed in the report, and Rubin's spokesperson Mike Sitrick denies the connection. "Any relationship that Mr. Rubin had while at Google was consensual," Sitrick tells The Information. "Mr. Rubin was never told by Google that he engaged in any misconduct while at Google and he did not, either while at Google or since." Rubin is said to have told Essential employees of his leave of absence on Monday after The Information informed Sitrick of its story.

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HDMI 2.1 Is Here With 10K and Dynamic HDR Support
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '17 at 06:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-and-get-it department:
Swapna Krishna reports via Engadget: Back in January, the HDMI Forum unveiled its new specifications for the HDMI connector, called HDMI 2.1. Now, that HDMI specification is available to all HDMI 2.0 adopters. It's backwards compatible with all previous HDMI specifications. The focus of HDMI 2.1 is on higher video bandwidth; it supports 48 GB per second with a new backwards-compatible ultra high speed HDMI cable. It also supports faster refresh rates for high video resolution -- 60 Hz for 8K and 120 Hz for 4K. The standard also supports Dynamic HDR and resolutions up to 10K for commercial and specialty use. This new version of the HDMI specification also introduces an enhanced refresh rate that gamers will appreciate. VRR, or Variable Refresh Rate, reduces, or in some cases eliminates, lag for smoother gameplay, while Quick Frame Transport (QFT) reduces latency. Quick Media Switching, or QMS, reduces the amount of blank-screen wait time while switching media. HDMI 2.1 also includes Auto Low Latency Mode (ALLM), which automatically sets the ideal latency for the smoothest viewing experience.

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Samsung Develops 'Graphene Ball' Battery With 5x Faster Charging Speed
Posted by News Fetcher on November 29 '17 at 03:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
Heart44 writes: A number of outlets are reporting a Samsung laboratory breakthrough allowing smaller and faster charging lithium-ion batteries using three-dimensional graphene. Digital Trends reports: "Scientists created a 'graphene ball' coating for use inside a regular li-ion cell, which has the effect of increasing the overall capacity by up to 45 percent and speeding up charging by five times. If your phone charges up in 90 minutes now, that number will tumble to just 18 minutes if the cell inside has been given a graphene ball boost. What's more, this doesn't seem to affect the cell's lifespan, with the team claiming that after 500 cycles, the enhanced battery still had a 78 percent charge retention. The graphene coating improves the stability and conductivity of the battery's cathode and electrode, so it's able to take the rigors of fast charging with fewer downsides." The technical paper describing how the graphene ball works and how it's produced is published in the journal Nature.

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Amazon Will Let Alexa Developers Use Voice Recognition To Personalize Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's magic-word department:
Amazon today announced that third-party developers will be able to make use of the Alexa assistant's voice recognition feature to personalize apps for its line of Echo speakers. The news builds on the company's announcement in October that Alexa can now identify individual users' voices to personalize responses. The Verge reports: Until today, that recognition feature only worked for Amazon-built services like shopping lists, flash briefing news updates, and Amazon Music, among other built-in skills. Starting some time in early 2018, however, developers will be able to tap into those voice-based profiles to make apps more personalized to various members of a household. This yet again puts Amazon ahead of rival Google in the smart home and digital assistant fields. In addition to announcing voice recognition for third-party apps, Amazon also revealed today at its re:Invent conference that it's bringing Alexa notifications on Echo speakers to a wider pool of developers starting today.

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AI Goes Bilingual -- Without a Dictionary
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 08:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's computation-and-language department:
sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine: Automatic language translation has come a long way, thanks to neural networks -- computer algorithms that take inspiration from the human brain. But training such networks requires an enormous amount of data: millions of sentence-by-sentence translations to demonstrate how a human would do it. Now, two new papers show that neural networks can learn to translate with no parallel texts -- a surprising advance that could make documents in many languages more accessible.

The two new papers, both of which have been submitted to next year's International Conference on Learning Representations but have not been peer reviewed, focus on another method: unsupervised machine learning. To start, each constructs bilingual dictionaries without the aid of a human teacher telling them when their guesses are right. That's possible because languages have strong similarities in the ways words cluster around one another. The words for table and chair, for example, are frequently used together in all languages. So if a computer maps out these co-occurrences like a giant road atlas with words for cities, the maps for different languages will resemble each other, just with different names. A computer can then figure out the best way to overlay one atlas on another. Voila! You have a bilingual dictionary. The studies -- "Unsupervised Machine Translation Using Monolingual Corpora Only" and "Unsupervised Neural Machine Translation" --
were both submitted to the e-print archive arXiv.org.

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'Break Up Google and Facebook If You Ever Want Innovation Again'
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 07:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tech-giants department:
Hal_Porter shares a report from The Register: If the tech industry wants another wave of innovation to match the PC or the internet, Google and Facebook must be broken up, journalist and film producer Jonathan Taplin told an audience at University College London's Faculty of Law this week. He was speaking at an event titled Crisis in Copyright Policy: How the digital monopolies have cornered culture and what it means for all of us, where he credited the clampers put on Bell then IBM for helping to create the PC industry and the internet. Taplin told his audience that he'd been moved by the fate of his friend Levon Helm, The Band's drummer, who was forced to go back on the road in his sixties, after radiation therapy for cancer. Helm died broke. Today, Taplin points out, YouTube accounts for 57 per cent of all songs streamed over the internet, but thanks to a loophole returns just 13.5 per cent of revenue. "That's not a willing buyer-seller relationship," he said, referring to the UGC loophole that Google enjoys, one not available to Spotify or Apple Music. But it isn't just songwriters and musicians who are poorly paid. The average person "works for two hours a day for Mark Zuckerberg" generating a data profile. Taplin pointed out that Bell held patents on many technologies including the transistor, the laser and the solar cell, that it agreed to license, royalty free, as part of a 1956 consent decree.

< article continued at Slashdot's tech-giants department >

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Three Quarters of Android Apps Track Users With Third Party Tools, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's increased-transparency department:
A study by French research organization Exodus Privacy and Yale University's Privacy Lab analyzed the mobile apps for the signatures of 25 known trackers and found that more than three in four Android apps contain at least one third-party "tracker." The Guardian reports: Among the apps found to be using some sort of tracking plugin were some of the most popular apps on the Google Play Store, including Tinder, Spotify, Uber and OKCupid. All four apps use a service owned by Google, called Crashlytics, that primarily tracks app crash reports, but can also provide the ability to "get insight into your users, what they're doing, and inject live social content to delight them." Other less widely-used trackers can go much further. One cited by Yale is FidZup, a French tracking provider with technology that can "detect the presence of mobile phones and therefore their owners" using ultrasonic tones. FidZup says it no-longer uses that technology, however, since tracking users through simple wifi networks works just as well.

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A Supreme Court Case This Week Could Change US Digital Privacy Standards
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's digital-age department:
On November 29th, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Carpenter v. US, a case essentially asking whether or not authorities need a warrant based on probable cause and signed by a judge to see your cellphone location data. For now, they do not. Given the fact that about 95% of Americans have cellphones, this case has major implications. Quartz reports: Mobile-service providers collect "cell site location information" (CSLI) for all phones, ostensibly to use for things like improving their networks. The U.S. government considers these data "routinely collected business records" rather than private information. That means it can demand the records without proving probable cause. That's what happened in the criminal case of Timothy Carpenter, accused of a series of Detroit, Michigan robberies. At Carpenter's trial, prosecutors presented evidence collected by private companies, obtained by the law without probable cause. They used 127 days-worth of cellphone-location data, amounting to almost 13,000 data points, to tell a circumstantial story of Carpenter comings and goings.

In its brief to the high court, filed in September, the justice department argued that when Carpenter signed onto his cell-phone provider's service, he agreed that his call records weren't private information belonging to him, but rather business records belonging to the company. Therefore, he should have "no reasonable expectation of privacy" when it comes to these records, government attorneys wrote. Carpenter argues that the location evidence was obtained illegally. The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals denied that claim last year, basing their decision on Supreme Court cases from the 1970s: Smith v. Maryland and US v. Miller . The appeals court concluded that, under what's called the "third-party doctrine," Americans don't have a reasonable expectation of privacy in things like check deposit slips, similar banking records, and dialed telephone numbers.

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PSA: Comcast Doesn't Really Support Net Neutrality
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's broken-promises department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Slate: Anyone who has ever paid a bill to or waited for customer service from Comcast knows why it is one of America's most detested companies, its recent efforts to improve its image notwithstanding. While Comcast says its customers will "enjoy strong net neutrality protections," it hasn't explicitly said it won't offer paid prioritization, which is how the company would most likely monetize its new ability to legally muck with internet traffic. In other words, Comcast might not choke or slow service to any website, but it could speed access to destinations that pay for the priority service. The company's promises should sound familiar. As Jon Brodkin pointed out in Ars Technica on Monday, back when the FCC was crafting the network neutrality rules in 2014, Comcast said it had no plans to enact paid prioritization, either. "We don't prioritize Internet traffic or have paid fast lanes, and have no plans to do so," a Comcast executive wrote in a blog post that year.

< article continued at Slashdot's broken-promises department >

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Tesla Owners Are Mining Bitcoins With Free Power From Charging Stations
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's feasibility-study department:
dmoberhaus writes: Someone claimed to use their Tesla to power a cryptocurrency mine to take advantage of the free energy given to Tesla owners. But even with free energy, does this scheme make sense? Motherboard ran the numbers.

From the report: "...If we assume that each of the GPUs in this rig draws around 150 watts, then the 16 GPUs have a total power draw of 2.4 kilowatts per hour or 57.6 kilowatt hours per day if they ran for a full 24 hours. According to Green Car Reports, a Tesla Model S gets about 3 miles per kilowatt hour, meaning that running this mining rig for a full day is the equivalent of driving nearly 173 miles in the Tesla. According to the Federal Highway Administration, the average American drives around 260 miles a week. In other words, running this cryptocurrency mine out of the trunk of a Tesla for a day and a half would use as much energy as driving that Tesla for a full week, on average. Moreover, drivers who are not a part of Tesla's unlimited free energy program are limited to 400 kilowatt hours of free electricity per year, meaning they could only run their rig for a little over 7 days on free energy.

< article continued at Slashdot's feasibility-study department >

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After Two Months of Quiet, North Korea Launches Another Ballistic Missile
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's here-we-go-again department:
South Korean and U.S. officials have confirmed that North Korea has launched another ballistic missile into the sea of Japan. The ballistic missile test -- launched just after 3am Wednesday local time from Sin-ni in South Pyongyang -- is the first since an intermediate-range missile test in September. Ars Technica reports: In a statement to the press, a spokesperson for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, "North Korea fired an unidentified ballistic missile early this morning from Pyongsong, South Pyongan [Province], to the east direction. South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff is analyzing more details of the missile with the U.S. side." The U.S. Department of Defense and the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) have made an initial assessment that the missile was an ICBM, according to Office of the Secretary of Defense spokesperson Col. Robert Manning. The missile traveled 1,000 kilometers, flew over Japan, and landed in the sea east of Japan within its exclusive economic zone.

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MacOS High Sierra Bug Allows Login As Root With No Password
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's trivial-to-exploit department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: A trivial-to-exploit flaw in macOS High Sierra, aka macOS 10.13, allows users to gain admin rights, or log in as root, without a password. The security bug is triggered via the authentication dialog box in Apple's operating system, which prompts you for an administrator's username and password when you need to do stuff like configure privacy and network settings. If you type in "root" as the username, leave the password box blank, hit "enter" and then click on unlock a few times, the prompt disappears and, congrats, you now have admin rights. You can do this from the user login screen. The vulnerability effectively allows someone with physical access to the machine to log in, cause extra mischief, install malware, and so on. You should not leave your vulnerable Mac unattended until you can fix the problem. And while obviously this situation is not the end of the world -- it's certainly far from a remote hole or a disk decryption technique -- it's just really, really sad to see megabucks Apple drop the ball like this. Developer Lemi Orhan Ergan was the first to alert the world to the flaw. The Register notes: "If you have a root account enabled and a password for it set, the black password trick will not work. So, keep the account enabled and set a root password right now..."

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Uber Trained Employees on How To 'Impede, Obstruct or Influence' Ongoing Legal Investigations, Ex-employee Says
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's oh-boy department:
From a report on CNBC: Uber faced fresh allegations on Tuesday that it deliberately took steps to keep " unlawful schemes from seeing the light of day." Hours of testimony on Tuesday centered around a letter from a former Uber security analyst's attorney to an Uber lawyer. The former analyst, Richard Jacobs, said in the letter there was a directive for Uber employees to use disappearing chat apps like Wickr, and that Uber sent employees to Pittsburgh (where it's developing its autonomous vehicles) to "educate" them on how to prevent "Uber's unlawful schemes from seeing the light of day." He reportedly made other bombshell allegations in the letter, including that employees at Uber were trained to "impede" ongoing investigations, multiple media outlets reported.

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'You Had to Be There': As Technologies Change Ever Faster, the Knowledge of Obsolete Things Becomes Ever Sweeter
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's man's-search-for-meaning department:
Alexis C. Madrigal, writing for The Atlantic: There's a question going around on Twitter, courtesy of the writer Matt Whitlock: "Without revealing your actual age, what's something you remember that if you told a younger person they wouldn't understand?" This simple query has received, at this date, 18,000 responses. Here is just a tiny selection: A/S/L, pagers, manual car windows, "be kind, please rewind", "Waiting by the radio for my song to come on so I could record it on a cassette tape", floppy disks, the smell of purple mimeograph ink, WordPerfect, busy signals, paper maps, Winamp, smoking in the hospital, the card catalogue. Our favorite response, "The remote to change the channel on the TV was attached to a box that was attached to the TV", which elicited a response, "What about the remote that was really a clicker... In that it clicked like a frog toy",

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FCC Chairman Ajit Pai Criticizes Companies That Oppose His Efforts To Repeal Net Neutrality Rules
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 12:34 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
Tony Romm, writing for Recode: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai thinks everyone from Cher to Twitter has it wrong when they say that his efforts to roll back the U.S. government's existing net neutrality rules will spell the death of the web. Instead, Pai said during an event in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday that tech giants could pose the greatest threat by discriminating against viewpoints on the internet. "They might cloak their advocacy in the public interest," he said, "but the real interest of these internet giants is in using the regulatory process to cement their dominance in the internet economy." The surprising rebuke came as Pai forged ahead with his plan to end the net neutrality protections adopted by the Federal Communications Commission under former President Barack Obama. Those rules subject broadband providers like AT&T, Charter, Comcast and Verizon to utility-style regulation, all in a bid to stop them from blocking access to web pages, slowing down connections or prioritizing some content over others. [...] He didn't spare tech companies from that criticism, either. Companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter -- speaking through their main Washington, D.C.-based trade group, the Internet Association -- have urged Pai to stand down. In response, Pai sought to make an example of Twitter. He specifically raised the fact that the company at one point prevented a Republican congresswoman from promoting a tweet about abortion, only to change its mind amid a public backlash. "Now look: I love Twitter," Pai began. "But let's not kid ourselves; when it comes to a free and open Internet, Twitter is a part of the problem. The company has a viewpoint and uses that viewpoint to discriminate."

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Bitcoin Hits $10,000 Because Ceilings Are Just a Construct, Man
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 12:34 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's what-in-the-world department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: On Tuesday, the trading price of the most prominent cryptocurrency hit $10,000 for the first time. And that nice round number will almost certainly have the kind of psychological effect that brings in new traders. Based on analysts' recent predictions, the $10,000 milestone could be the beginning of the end or just the beginning. Some thought that $2,000 would be the point at which we'd see a reversal of Bitcoin's ascent. Others predicted it would top out at $4,000. Then, $4,000 became the floor. These days, analysts with decent reputations have predicted the cryptocurrency's trading price could go as high as $50,000, $100,000, and even $1 million.

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New NSA Leak Exposes Red Disk, the Army's Failed Intelligence System
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 11:15 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's so-nothing-new? department:
Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet: The contents of a highly sensitive hard drive belonging to a division of the National Security Agency have been left online. The virtual disk image contains over 100 gigabytes of data from an Army intelligence project, codenamed "Red Disk." The disk image belongs to the US Army's Intelligence and Security Command, known as INSCOM, a division of both the Army and the NSA. The disk image was left on an unlisted but public Amazon Web Services storage server, without a password, open for anyone to download. Unprotected storage buckets have become a recurring theme in recent data leaks and exposures. In the past year alone, Accenture, Verizon, and Viacom, and several government departments, were all dinged by unsecured data.

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Microsoft Sees the Future of Windows 10 as Sets, Ditching Windows For a Tabbed App Interface
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 11:15 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Microsoft said Tuesday that it plans to overhaul Windows 10, with a browser-like, tabbed application view dubbed "Sets" that groups apps and files by project. From a report: Think of Sets as a mashup of existing and emerging Windows 10 technologies. Take Windows Explorer and the little-used Task View within Windows 10, mix in the newer "Pick up where you left off" and "Timeline" features, and wrap it all into a single-window experience. The idea is that every task requires a set of apps -- Mail, a browser, PowerPoint, even Win32 apps like Photoshop -- and those apps will be optionally organized as tabs along a single window. But that's not all. Microsoft knows that one of the most difficult things to remember isn't what you were working on a week or so ago -- browser histories help with that. It's remembering all of the associated apps and documents that went with it: a particular PowerPoint document, that budget spreadsheet, the context an Edge tab provided. The idea is that the delayed Timeline feature will eventually group and associate all of these into a Set, so that when you open one, Windows will suggest the others, too.

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