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Google Pixel Buds Are Wireless Earbuds That Translate Conversations In Real Time
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 04:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's future-is-now department:
At its hardware event today, Google debuted new wireless earbuds, dubbed "Pixel Buds." These are Google's first wireless earbuds that give users access to Google Translate so they can have conversations with people who speak a different language. Ars Technica reports: Unlike Apple's AirPods, the Pixel Buds have a wire connecting the two earpieces. However, that wire doesn't connect to a smartphone or other device. Pixel Buds will pair via Bluetooth to the new Pixel smartphones -- and presumably any other devices that accept Bluetooth wireless earbuds. All of the Pixel Buds' controls are built in to the right earpiece, which is a common hardware solution on wireless earbuds. You can access Google Assistant by tapping or pressing on the right earbud, and the Assistant will be able to read notifications and messages to you through the Buds. But the most intriguing feature of the Pixel Buds is the integrated Google Translate feature. Demoed on stage at Google's event today, this feature lets two Pixel Bud wearers chat in their native languages by translating conversations in real time. In the demo, a native English speaker and a native Swedish speaker had a conversation with each other, both using their native languages. Google Translate translated the languages for each user. There was barely any lag time in between the speaker saying a phrase and the Buds' hearing those words and translating them into the appropriate language. The Pixel Buds will use Google Translate to comprehend conversations in 40 different languages. Some other features include a 5-hour battery life, and a charging case that can hold up to 24 hours of battery life. They're available for preorder today for $159.

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Expert Says You're Deluding Yourself If You Think You're Productive On Six Hours of Sleep
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 04:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sleep-deprived department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Chicago Tribune: Getting through the workday on little sleep is a point of pride for some. But skimping on shuteye could be shortening your life and making you a less than stellar employee, according to Matthew Walker, founder and director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at the University of California, Berkeley. "Underslept employees tend to create fewer novel solutions to problems, they're less productive in their work and they take on easier challenges at work," said Walker, author of "Why We Sleep: Unlocking the Power of Sleep and Dreams," out Tuesday. Operating on short sleep -- anything less than seven hours -- impairs a host of brain and bodily functions, said Walker, who is also a professor of neuroscience and psychology. It increases your risk for heart attack, cancer and stroke, compromises your immune system and makes you emotionally irrational, less charismatic and more prone to lying. When asked, "What do you say to people who sacrifice sleep to work?" Walker said: "I often ask the question in return, 'Is the reason you've still got so much to do because you haven't gotten enough sleep and so you're inefficient while you're working?' We know that efficiency and effectiveness are increased when you're getting sufficient sleep and it will take you longer to do the same thing on an under-slept brain, which means you end up having to stay awake longer. So goes the vicious cycle."

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US Congress Investigates Patent 'Gifts' That Evade Inter Partes Review
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's chink-in-the-armor department:
AnalogDiehard writes: Congress created the Inter Partes Review (IPR) in 2012 within the U.S. Patent Office Patent Trials and Appeals Board (PTAB) as a faster and cheaper way to challenge and invalidate bad patents. The IPR expense is a fraction of the cost of a multimillion dollar patent court trial; it is loved by patent challengers and hated by patent owners. The pharmaceutical company Allergen has exploited a novel tactic to evade the IPR process: they hand them to a Native American Indian tribe for safekeeping. Under the arrangement, the tribes earn millions in royalties as long as the patents are valid, they license them back to Allergan, and the patents under the tribes' ownership is immune from lawsuits via sovereign immunity. Under the colonial-era concept of "sovereign immunity" which is codified in the 11th amendment, certain groups like states, universities, and tribes are immune from lawsuits, thus the drug patents are shielded from the IPR process leaving only a full blown multimillion dollar court trial for generic drug companies. This tactic is also attracting the attention of non-practicing entities -- the polite term for "patent trolls" -- and one such NPE company has already exploited sovereign immunity with the intention to sue Apple for infringement. But court cases have limited the scope of sovereign immunity (especially for commercial activity), and now Congress is investigating Allergan over the tactic that has Congress not only greatly concerned about competition in the drug industry (and exorbitant prices of pharmaceuticals), but also the questionable use of the sovereign immunity law. The four lawmakers who signed the letter to Allergan state: "The unconventional maneuver has received considerable criticism from the generic competitors challenging the drug's patents under the process Congress created (IPR) to enable timelier review of such challenges (read: a fraction of the cost of a court trial)." The letter also notes that the key ingredient in the patent was set to expire in 2014 and that Allergan had filed more patents to extend patent protection to 2024, a signal that Congress is watching for exploitation of patent law to enable "perpetual patents" widely used by the pharmaceuticals.

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Google Debuts Its $400 Google Home Max Speaker To Rival Apple's HomePod
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's always-listening department:
In addition to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL, Google debuted a $400 speaker, called Home Max, that looks to compete directly with Apple's recently announced HomePod. The Home Max is a larger Google Home that features stereo speakers and more premium looks and materials. It's expected to go on sale in December in the U.S. TechCrunch reports: It can tune its audio to its own space, analyzing the sound coming from the speaker using its built in microphones to determine the best equalizer settings. This is called Smart Sound, and it evolves over time and based on where you move the speaker, using built-in machine learning. It has Cast functionality, as well as input via stereo 3.5 mm jack. Home Max can output sound that's up to 20 times more powerful than the standard version of Home, Google says, and it has two 4.5 inch woofers on board with two 0.7 inch custom-built tuners. It can sit in either vertical or horizontal orientation, and it comes in both 'chalk' and 'charcoal.' Of course, this bigger speaker also includes a noise isolating array that makes it work even in open rooms with background noise, and it's Assistant-enabled, so you can use it to control your music playback via voice, or manage your smart home devices, set yourself reminders, alarms, and timers and much more. Google also launched a budget-friendly Google Home Mini that features the Google Assistant but in a smaller form factor. 9to5Google reports: Google touts the Home Mini as having a powerful speaker with "crisp" 360 degree sound. The Mini can also be connected to any Chromecast wireless speaker, but there is no 3.5mm jack like Amazon's Echo Dot. In the center, there are four white lights that note when the Home Mini is listening or responding. Besides saying the "Ok, Google" hotword, users can tap on the Home Mini to issue a command. Google also retained the Home's original button for disabling the microphone with a toggle next to the charging port. The Google Home Mini will be go on sale later this month for $49, with pre-orders starting today.

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US Senate Panel Approves Self-Driving Car Legislation
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 01:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fast-lane department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Senate Commerce Committee on Wednesday unanimously approved a bill to speed self-driving cars to market without human controls and bar states from imposing regulatory road blocks. The bill still must be approved by the full Senate. The U.S. House passed a similar version last month unanimously. General Motors Co, Alphabet Inc, Ford Motor Co and others have lobbied for the landmark legislation. Despite some complaints from Republicans, the Senate bill does not speed approval of self-driving technology for large commercial trucks after labor unions raised safety and employment concerns. The measure, the first significant federal legislation aimed at speeding self-driving cars to market, would allow automakers to win exemptions from current safety rules that prohibit vehicles without human controls. States could still set rules on registration, licensing, liability, insurance and safety inspections, but not performance standards.

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Artificial Intelligence Has 'Great Potential, But We Need To Steer Carefully,' LinkedIn Co-founder Says
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 01:52 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-they-see-it department:
LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman joined other tech moguls in voicing concern about artificial intelligence on Wednesday. From a report: "It has great potential, but we need to steer carefully," Hoffman said on Halftime Report. Hoffman stressed corporate transparency when asked what happens if companies use AI to attack nation-states. The possibility of manipulating how people consume information remains an unanswered question. During last year's U.S. presidential election, Facebook advertisements linked to Russia mainly focused on the states of Michigan and Wisconsin, and Hoffman says information battles are "in the very early days." AI must be improved, Hoffman says, to "[hold] corporations accountable" when nation-states are using the technology to attack. "Corporations normally deal with other corporations, not with governments," Hoffman said. The "ultimate" solution, he says, is "having more kinds of functions and features within AI that show abhorrent patterns." That way patterns raise a red flag for humans to investigate, Hoffman noted.

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EU Takes Ireland To Court For Not Claiming Apple Tax Windfall
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's holding-accountable department:
Philip Blenkinsop, reporting for Reuters: The European Commission said on Wednesday it was taking Ireland to the European Court of Justice for its failure to recover up to 13 billion euros ($15.3 billion) of tax due from Apple, a move labeled as "regrettable" by Dublin. The Commission ordered the U.S. tech giant in August 2016 to pay the unpaid taxes as it ruled the firm had received illegal state aid, one of a number of deals the EU has targeted between multinationals and usually smaller EU states. "More than one year after the Commission adopted this decision, Ireland has still not recovered the money," EU Competition Commissioner Margrethe Vestager said, adding that Dublin had not even sought a portion of the sum.

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Google Wants Its New Pixelbook to Win the Laptop and Tablet Battle
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-your-consideration department:
Google is once again trying to make a big splash with laptop computers, this time with its new Pixelbook. From a report: Google debuted its Pixelbook, a new laptop-tablet hybrid during its Pixel 2 event in San Francisco on Wednesday, a high-end version of its barebones Chromebook laptops that rely on Google's Chrome operating system (OS). Google hopes its new Pixelbook, which sells for $999 to $1,649, will give it a viable challenger to Apple's MacBooks and other premium laptops. With Google's low-end Chromebooks, the company supplies the OS while third-party companies like HP Inc. and Dell build the devices. But Chromebooks are bulky, short on processing power, have limited storage, and are incompatible with Google's new Pixelbook stylus pen for drawing digital images on touchscreens. Matt Vokoun, Google's director for Chromebooks, emphasized that his company is serious about the Pixelbook. Although Google previously sold both high-end laptops and tablets, they were mostly "demonstration-oriented," he said, meaning Google didn't produce many of them and that they were instead for showing to potential manufacturers to get them on board with the idea.

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Ask Slashdot: Share Your Security Review Tales
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's let's-get-going department:
New submitter TreZ writes: If you write software, you are most likely subject to a "security review" at some point. A large portion of this is common sense like don't put plain text credentials into github, don't write your own encryption algorithms, etc. Once you get past that there is a "subjective" nature to these reviews. What is the worst "you can't do" or "you must do" that you've been subjected to in a security review? A fictitious example would be: you must authenticate all clients with a client certificate, plus basic auth, plus MFA token. Tell your story here, omitting incriminating details.

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Google Unveils Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL With No Headphone Jack
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-shiny-devices department:
From a report: Google product chief Mario Queiroz today unveiled two new Android 8.1 Oreo smartphones at the company's annual hardware event: the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL. The smaller Pixel 2 sports a 5-inch, 1080p display, with a 16:9 aspect ratio that was until this year the standard on Android flagships. The larger Pixel 2 XL, meanwhile, has a 6-inch, QHD+ display in an 18:9 aspect ratio, in line with 2017's flagship smartphones. The Pixel 2 thus still has a large bezel while the Pixel XL 2 has a noticeably reduced bezel profile, although certainly not the smallest we've seen. As always, smartphone size also dictates battery capacity: 2700 mAh for the Pixel 2 and 3520 mAh for the Pixel 2 XL. Here's the rundown: Snapdragon 835 chipset, 4GB of RAM, either 64GB or 128GB of storage, an 8-megapixel front-facing camera, a 12-megapixel rear camera, front stereo speakers, a fingerprint scanner on the back, a USB-C port on the bottom, and no headphone jack. "Use your existing analog headphones with the included adapter," Queiroz said. [...] The HTC-manufactured Pixel 2 will be available in Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue on October 19. The LG-manufactured Pixel 2 XL will ship in Just Black and Black & White on November 15. The Pixel 2 will be available for $649 (64GB) and $749 (128GB) while the Pixel 2 XL will come in $849 (64GB) and $949 (128GB) flavors.

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Spies Hack. But the Best Spies Hack Other Spies.
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 09:53 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's bridge-of-spies department:
Andrada Fiscutean, writing for BleepingComputer: When cyber spies known as NetTraveler were busy snooping on hundreds of government and military victims in 40 countries a few years ago, little did they know that another hacking group was probably watching them. During their investigation of NetTraveler, Kaspersky Lab researchers discovered an unusual backdoor that could have helped another attacker access one of their main servers, and then use the group's infrastructure or steal data. In the past five years, cybersecurity experts have encountered several cases in which espionage groups likely pilfered one another's spoils, being interested in getting both data and hacking tools. Kaspersky Researchers Costin Raiu and Juan Andres Guerrero-Saade talked about such incidents on Wednesday during the Virus Bulletin 2017 Conference in Madrid, Spain. Government hackers sometimes "obtain data by stealing it from someone else, who took it in the first place from the victims," Raiu told Bleeping Computer in an email interview before the conference. He and Guerrero-Saade believe that citizens' personal data could fall into the hands of a foreign intelligence agency that's better equipped than the domestic one. The experts based their presentation on so far unpublished research that shows how spies walk off with other spies' data and tools, gaining valuable insight into a foreign service's intelligence collection methods, recruitment tactics, procedural guidelines, and the targets operatives have to monitor.

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Steemit Is a Social Network That Pays You For Your Posts In Cryptocurrency
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 09:53 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-developments department:
New submitter mirandakatz writes: Our relationships with most social media are sneakily transactional: We log onto Facebook or Instagram and wind up paying the platforms with our attention and ad clicks. A new social network aims to turn that on its head by paying users for their posts. Steemit runs on Steem, a cryptocurrency that currently has a market cap of $294 million -- and users have made more than $1.2 million in American dollars on the network. At Backchannel, Andrew McMillen takes a deep dive into Steemit, writing that 'By removing the middlemen and allowing users to profit directly from the networks they participate in, Steemit could provide a roadmap to a more equitable social network...Or users could get bored or distracted by something newer and shinier and abandon it. Fortunes could vanish at any moment, but someone stands to get rich in the process.'

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Unselfish People Are More Likely to Wind Up With Depression
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 08:33 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-it-goes department:
People with depression are more likely to feel bad in response to perceived inequality, according to a study published this week in Nature Human Behaviour. From a report: Simply, in experiments where participants were tasked with playing a game with a strong element of unfairness, those participants with higher levels of brain activity in depression-linked brain regions -- as recorded via fMRI scans -- were more likely to later demonstrate signs of clinical depression. This is a new test of an old idea, one that's been demonstrated in previous research. People with depression commonly demonstrate increased concern for others, or for the perspectives of others. More precisely, prosocial attitudes predict depression, which is in contrast to individualist attitudes. Individualist here basically just means selfish, or relatively selfish. The researchers behind the current study hypothesized that they would be able to observe these tendencies at the level of actual brain activity. Fortunately, there are some tried and true methods of testing prosocial behavior. One of these takes the form of what's known as an ultimatum game. The general idea is that participants are offered rewards that are to be shared among a group. Each offer differs in how much the participant gets in relation to the rest of the group, with prosocial participants more likely refuse larger personal rewards in favor of larger rewards going to everybody else. Individualists take the offer that best benefits them, while prosocial people are more concerned with other people in the group.

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HP's Spectre x360 13 Promises Up To 16 Hours of Battery Life in a Faster, Cooler Design
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 08:33 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-offering department:
From a report: The HP Spectre x360 13 is already one of the most popular 360-degree convertible laptops, and it's about to get faster and cooler, thanks in part to Intel's latest 8th-generation Core CPUs. Announced Wednesday, the refreshed Spectre x360 13 also offers greatly improved thermals and other nice tweaks. The Spectre x360 13 will ship on October 29 with a starting price of $1,150, including a color-matched pen. Best Buy will begin taking pre-orders October 4. Multiple configurations will be available, but we're listing below the specs we were given for the higher-end model ae013dx: CPU: Intel 8th-generation Core i7-8550U, a quad-core CPU with a 1.8GHz base clock and turbo boost up to 4GHz. Core i5 CPUs will also be available. RAM: 16GB LPDDR3 SDRAM. Storage: 512GB PCIe NVMe M.2 SSD.

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Dawn of Solar Age Declared as PV Beats All Other Forms of Power
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's where-we-are department:
Solar power blossomed faster than for any other fuel for the first time in 2016, the International Energy Agency said in a report suggesting the technology will dominate renewables in the years ahead. From a report: The institution established after the first major oil crisis in 1973 said 165 gigawatts of renewables were completed last year, which was two-thirds of the net expansion in electricity supply. Solar grew by 50 percent, with almost half new plants built in China. "What we are witnessing is the birth of a new era in solar PV," Fatih Birol, executive director of the IEA, said in a statement accompanying the report published on Wednesday in Paris. "We expect that solar PV capacity growth will be higher than any other renewable technology through 2022." This marks the sixth consecutive year that clean energy has set records for installations. Mass manufacturing and a switch by governments away from fixed payments for renewables forced down the cost of wind and solar technology. The IEA expects about 1,000 gigawatts of renewables will be installed in the next five years, a milestone that coal only accomplished after 80 years. That quantity of electricity surpasses what's consumed in China, India and Germany combined.

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The Absurdity of the Nobel Prizes in Science
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's thing-to-ponder department:
An anonymous reader shares an article: Every year, when Nobel Prizes are awarded in physics, chemistry, and physiology or medicine, critics note that they are an absurd and anachronistic way of recognizing scientists for their work. Instead of honoring science, they distort its nature, rewrite its history, and overlook many of its important contributors. There are assuredly good things about the prizes. Scientific discoveries should be recognized for the vital part they play in the human enterprise. The Nobel Prize website is an educational treasure trove, full of rich historical details that are largely missing from published papers. And it is churlish to be overly cynical about any event that, year after year, offers science the same kind of whetted anticipation that's usually reserved for Oscar or Emmy nominees. But the fact that the scientific Nobels have drawn controversy since their very inception hints at deep-rooted problems. [...] The wider problem, beyond who should have received the prize and who should not, is that the Nobels reward individuals -- three at most, for each of the scientific prizes, in any given year. And modern science, as Ivan Oransky and Adam Marcus write in Stat, is "the teamiest of team sports." Yes, researchers sometimes make solo breakthroughs, but that's increasingly rare. Even within a single research group, a platoon of postdocs, students, and technicians will typically be involved in a discovery that gets hitched to a single investigator's name. And more often than not, many groups collaborate on a single project. The paper in which the LIGO team announced their discovery has an author list that runs to three pages. Another recent paper, which precisely estimated the mass of the elusive Higgs boson, has 5,154 authors.

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IRS Awards $7 Million Fraud Prevention Contract To Equifax
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's alternative-reality department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Politico: The IRS will pay Equifax $7.25 million to verify taxpayer identities and help prevent fraud under a no-bid contract issued last week, even as lawmakers lash the embattled company about a massive security breach that exposed personal information of as many as 145.5 million Americans. A contract award for Equifax's data services was posted to the Federal Business Opportunities database Sept. 30 -- the final day of the fiscal year. The credit agency will "verify taxpayer identity" and "assist in ongoing identity verification and validations" at the IRS, according to the award. The notice describes the contract as a "sole source order," meaning Equifax is the only company deemed capable of providing the service. It says the order was issued to prevent a lapse in identity checks while officials resolve a dispute over a separate contract. Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle blasted the IRS decision.

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According To Star Trek: Discovery, Starfleet Still Runs Microsoft Windows
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 03:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's final-frontier-indeed department:
AmiMoJo shares a report from The Verge: The third episode of Star Trek: Discovery aired this week, and at one point in the episode, Sonequa Martin-Green's Michael Burnham is tasked with reconciling two suites of code. In the show, Burnham claims the code is confusing because it deals with quantum astrophysics, biochemistry, and gene expression. And while the episode later reveals that it's related to the USS Discovery's experimental new mycelial network transportation system, Twitter user Rob Graham noted the code itself is a little more pedestrian in nature. More specifically, it seems to be decompiled code for the infamous Stuxnet virus, developed by the United States to attack Iranian computers running Windows.

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Skipping Breakfast May Be Linked To Poor Heart Health, Study Says
Posted by News Fetcher on October 04 '17 at 12:19 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's whole-and-hearty department:
A new study says that skipping breakfast could be linked to poorer cardiovascular health. The findings reveal that, compared with those who wolfed down an energy-dense breakfast, those who missed the meal had a greater extent of the early stages of atherosclerosis -- a buildup of fatty material inside the arteries. The Guardian reports: The research is part of a larger study that will follow the participants over a decade or more to see how disease in the arteries progresses. Published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the research looked at the health and diets of 4,052 middle-aged bank workers, both men and women, with no previous history of cardiovascular disease. At the start of the study, which is partly funded by the Spanish bank Santander, participants completed a detailed questionnaire into what they had eaten and when over the previous 15 days. Body mass index, cholesterol levels and other measures were collected, together with data including the participants' smoking status, educational attainment and level of physical activity. Imaging techniques were used to track the extent of the early, sub-clinical stages of atherosclerosis in six arteries, including those around the heart, thighs and neck. The results reveal that, compared to those tucking into more than 20% of their daily calories at breakfast, those who consumed next to nothing for breakfast had a greater extent of atherosclerosis.

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Judge Blasts Waymo V. Uber Lawyers, Delays Trial Until December
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '17 at 08:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's holiday-spirit department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The federal judge presiding in the Waymo v. Uber lawsuit has delayed trial for another two months after castigating lawyers on both sides of the case for being dishonest and telling "half-truths." "I'm going to give you a schedule, and we're not going to argue about it," U.S. District Judge William Alsup said after a one-hour hearing today. "We're going to pick the jury on November 29. We will start the trial on December 4, and it will run until December 20." The trial will decide whether Uber has misappropriated trade secrets from Waymo, Google's self-driving car spinoff. Over the course of a 90-minute hearing today, the two sides had a heated dispute over what documents were produced and when depositions happened. Waymo lawyer Charles Verhoeven said that tens of thousands of documents were only handed over after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit recently ruled that Uber must hand over the "due diligence" report produced by Stroz Friedberg. "To say that this volume is surprising is an understatement," said Verhoeven. "It's shocking. It's unbelievable."

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