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2016 MacBook Pro Fails To Receive a Recommendation From Consumer Reports
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 04:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's wildly-inconsistent department:
Consumer Reports has released its evaluation of the new MacBook Pro laptops, and it's not good. The 2016 MacBook Pro is the first MacBook to fail to receive a recommendation from the nonprofit organization dedicated to unbiased product testing. 9to5Mac reports: In a post breaking down the decision not to recommend the new MacBook Pros, Consumer Reports explains that while the new models held up well in terms of display quality and performance, the battery life issues were too big of an issue to overlook. The organization tested three MacBook Pro variants: a 13-inch Touch Bar model, a 15-inch Touch Bar model, and a 13-inch model without the Touch Bar. The general consensus was that "MacBook Pro battery life results were highly inconsistent from one trial to the next." Consumer Reports explains that the 13-inch Touch Bar model saw battery life of 16 hours in one test and 3.75 hours in another, while the non-Touch Bar model maxed out at 19.5 hours, but also lasted just 4.5 hours in another test. The 15-inch model ranged from 18.5 hours to 8 hours. Generally, according to the report, it's expected for battery life to vary from one trial to another by less than 5 percent, meaning that the battery life variances with the new MacBook Pro are very abnormal. Once that was completed, Consumer Reports experimented by conducting the same test using Chrome and "found battery life to be consistently high on all six runs." While the organization can't let that affect its final decision due to its protocol to only use the first-party browser, it's something users may want to try.

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Russians Used Malware On Android Devices To Track and Target Ukraine Artillery, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 04:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-out-come-out-wherever-you-are department:
schwit1 quotes a report from Reuters: A hacking group linked to the Russian government and high-profile cyber attacks against Democrats during the U.S. presidential election likely used a malware implant on Android devices to track and target Ukrainian artillery units from late 2014 through 2016, according to a new report released Thursday. The malware was able to retrieve communications and some locational data from infected devices, intelligence that would have likely been used to strike against the artillery in support of pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine, the report from cyber security firm CrowdStrike found. The hacking group, known commonly as Fancy Bear or APT 28, is believed by U.S. intelligence officials to work primarily on behalf of the GRU, Russia's military intelligence agency. The implant leveraged a legitimate Android application developed by a Ukrainian artillery officer to process targeting data more quickly, CrowdStrike said. Its deployment "extends Russian cyber capabilities to the front lines of the battlefield," the report said, and "could have facilitated anticipatory awareness of Ukrainian artillery force troop movement, thus providing Russian forces with useful strategic planning information."

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Tesla Updates Autopilot To Make It Follow the Speed Limit On Roads
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's follow-the-rules department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: Before a recent update that is being gradually pushed to Tesla owners, the automaker allowed its Autopilot to be set at a higher speed than the speed limit on all roads where the driver assist system could be enabled, but now Tesla is pushing a new update to make Autopilot follow the rules of the road more closely. Owners of Tesla vehicles equipped with Autopilot have, up until now, been able to set the speed of the Autopilot's 'Traffic-Aware Cruise Control' feature to up to 5 mph over the speed limit on roads and non-divided highways. Now they are restricted to following the speed limit exactly, without the 5 mph leeway. On highways, the speed limit doesn't have a direct effect on the Autopilot's speed. The speed is still limited by the Autopilot's overall 90 mph speed limit. Every time Tesla introduces new restrictions to its Autopilot system, it gets a mixed response from owners. While the new restrictions are often coming from the aspiration of making the system safer, some owners always see them as taking away capabilities that they already had and had paid for. With the introduction of the software update v8.0 in September, Tesla introduced a more aggressive "Autopilot nag," which prompts more 'Hold Steering Wheel' alerts.

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Pokemon Go Arrives On the Apple Watch
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's long-overdue department:
Niantic, the developers behind Pokemon Go, have finally launched the Apple Watch version of the game. The new smartwatch app will let you play Pokemon Go without having to constantly pull out your smartphone. Instead, you can use the watch to tap to find nearby Pokemon, collect items from PokeStops, and log your gameplay as a "workout." TechCrunch reports: The AR and GPS-powered game, which has been downloaded 600 million times as of November, offers a unique combination of gameplay and physical activity that makes sense for a platform like the Apple Watch. The new app will take advantage of the watch's fitness-tracking capabilities, as gameplay counts toward your personal Activity rings. In addition, your Apple Watch sessions will count toward hatching your Pokemon Eggs, too, as well as receiving Candy with your Buddy Pokemon. In addition to fitness tracking, Pokemon Go will also tie into the Apple Watch's ability to push notifications to your wrist. The app will send alerts about a variety of important events, including when there are nearby Pokemon to catch, when you're near a PokeStop, when your Eggs hatch, and when medals are awarded, says Niantic. However, when it comes time to actually catch the Pokemon, you'll still need to break out your iPhone.

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Norway Aims To Allow Testing Of Self-Driving Cars in 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 01:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's forward-thinking department:
The Norwegian government aims to pass a law in the spring of next year to allow testing of self-driving vehicles on Norwegian roads, it said on Thursday. From a report: Norway is one of the largest markets for Tesla Motors electric vehicles, thanks to generous government subsidies. Tesla said in October its new models will come with hardware, including cameras and a radar, to enable them to be fully-self driving. The move to permit testing of self-driving vehicles is also aimed at giving a competitive edge to Norwegian technology companies as the country seeks to diversify away from the offshore petroleum sector, hit by a plunge in global oil prices.

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Congressional Report Claims Snowden In 'Contact With Russian Intelligence'
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 01:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Edward Snowden has been in contact with Russian intelligence officials since arriving in Russia in 2013, according to a new report from Congress. "Since Snowden's arrival in Moscow, he has had, and continues to have, contact with Russian intelligence services," the 33-page report, issued Thursday by the bipartisan House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, said. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor who leaked volumes of information on American intelligence and surveillance operations to the media, settled in Moscow after initially traveling to Hong Kong following his 2013 public disclosure of classified information. The Russian government granted asylum to Snowden shortly thereafter. Large portions of the pertinent section, entitled "foreign influence," are redacted, but one paragraph reveals the Russian link, saying that Frants Klintsevich, the deputy chairman of the Russian parliament's defense and security committee, "publicly conceded that 'Snowden did share intelligence' with his government." Snowden immediately took to Twitter following the report's release to dispute the accusations, writing "they claim without evidence that I'm in cahoots with the Russians." The report cites classified material in the section linking Snowden to Russian intelligence. The investigation also noted that Snowden left encrypted hard drives containing classified information in Hong Kong and that the CIA had refused to grant Snowden access to sensitive information years before he began working with the NSA, documenting numerous issues that Snowden had with supervisors and co-wokers during his various jobs in the intelligence community.

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China Opens Door For Tesla and Other Foreign Automakers To Produce Electric Vehicles
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 12:24 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's open-arms department:
Despite its strong protectionism laws in place that require any automaker wanting to establish production capacity in the country to partner and share its technology with a local manufacturer, China is proposing to relax laws. In an attempt to accelerate electric vehicle production in the country and fight its air pollution problem, China is now proposing to relax those laws for what they call "new energy vehicles," a.k.a. electric vehicles, in order to attract more foreign investments. From a report: The new rules are expected to open the door to Tesla and other automakers who recently expressed desires to establish manufacturing capacity in China to produce electric vehicles. The National Development and Reform Commission and the Ministry of Commerce released the new policy last week, and it is seeking public comment until next month. The new rules could go into effect soon after.

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Google Isn't Giving Up On Smartwatches; Two Flagship Android Wear 2.0 Watches Launching Early Next Year
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 12:24 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-smartwatches-incoming department:
Google isn't giving up on its smartwatches. The company said today it will be launching two new flagship smartwatches in the first quarter of next year. These watches will run Android Wear 2.0 operating system and will be the first ones to launch with the new platform. From the report: Following the launch of the new devices, existing Android Wear watches will get the update to Android Wear 2.0. Not every existing Android Wear watch will be updated, but Google says most of the recent models will be. Certain features, such as Android Pay, require specific hardware, so not all models will support them. [...] Google will release the fifth and final developer preview of Android Wear 2.0 in January, and it is expected to include support for both Google Assistant and Android Pay (on supported devices) in it. It will also work with iOS devices, and Chang confirmed that while there will be differences between Wear 2.0 on Android and iOS, Android Pay will work on both platforms.

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Google's Free Wi-Fi in India Now Live in 100 Railway Stations; 15,000 New Users Connect to Web Everyday
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's good-will-and-data department:
Last year, Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the company will be bringing free Wi-Fi to 100 railway stations in India by the end of 2016. The company began, what was the "the largest public Wi-Fi project in the world", in India earlier this year. Today, it announced its free Wi-Fi has reached 100th Indian railway station in the country. From a report: Google announced Thursday its free Wi-Fi is now working at the 100 busiest railway stations in India. Over five million people in the country latch onto Google's free internet service every month, with 15,000 of them accessing the internet for the first time in their lives every day, the company said. The growth of what Google described as "the largest public Wi-Fi project in the world" is in line with company's expectations. Interestingly, Google has partnered with Indian government-run RailTel ISP for free internet service, and it lets users access as much data as they want and visit whichever website they would like. This is in contrast to Facebook's Free Basics, which offered Indians access to select websites. The Indian government earlier this year banned Free Basics on the grounds of net neutrality. Nobody in India has an issue with Google's approach.

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Bitcoin Circulation Hits Record High Of $14 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's booming-currency department:
Bitcoin, the digital currency that most people have never actually used, has hit a record value of $14 billion after jumping 5 percent on Thursday. From a report on The Guardian: The price of one bitcoin reached $875 on the Europe-based Bitstamp exchange, its strongest level since January 2014, putting the cryptocurrency on track for its best daily performance in six months. That compared with levels around $435 at the start of the year, with many experts linking bitcoin's rise with the steady depreciation of the Chinese yuan, which has slid almost 7% in 2016. Data shows the majority of bitcoin trading is done in China, so any increase in demand from there tends to have a significant impact on the price.

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Apple Delays App Store Security Deadline For Developers
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's gentle-reminder department:
Reader Trailrunner7 writes: Apple has pushed back a deadline for developers to support a key transport security technology in apps submitted to the company's app stores. Officials said at the Apple Worldwide Developers Conference earlier this year that developers would have to support Apple Transport Security by the end of 2016. But on Thursday, the company announced that it has decided to extend the deadline indefinitely. ATS is Apple's collection of transport security standards designed to provide attack resistance for data that's sent between iOS and macOS apps and backend servers. It requires apps to support a number of modern transport security technologies, including TLS 1.2, AES-128 or stronger, and certificates must be signed using SHA-2. ATS also requires the use of forward secrecy, a key-exchange method that protects encrypted sessions even if the server certificate is compromised at some point in the future.

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Encrypted Messaging App Signal Uses Google To Bypass Censorship
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's outwitting-with-tech department:
Developers of the popular Signal secure messaging app have started to use Google's domain as a front to hide traffic to their service and to sidestep blocking attempts. Bypassing online censorship in countries where internet access is controlled by the government can be very hard for users. It typically requires the use of virtual private networking (VPN) services or complex solutions like Tor, which can be banned too. From a report on PCWorld: Open Whisper Systems, the company that develops Signal -- a free, open-source app -- faced this problem recently when access to its service started being censored in Egypt and the United Arab Emirates. Some users reported that VPNs, Apple's FaceTime and other voice-over-IP apps were also being blocked. The solution from Signal's developers was to implement a censorship circumvention technique known as domain fronting that was described in a 2015 paper by researchers from University of California, Berkeley, the Brave New Software project and Psiphon. The technique involves sending requests to a "front domain" and using the HTTP Host header to trigger a redirect to a different domain. If done over HTTPS, such redirection would be invisible to someone monitoring the traffic, because the HTTP Host header is sent after the HTTPS connection is negotiated and is therefore part of the encrypted traffic.

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A Record High of 455 Scripted TV Shows Aired in 2016
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's so-much-tv department:
In case you wanted to ground your abstract TV FOMO in hard numbers, FX has data on the fact that, yes, there really is too much TV. An anonymous reader shares a report: The network, whose CEO John Landgraf coined the idea of "peak TV," has released its unofficial tally of the number of shows on TV, finding that 455 different scripted television series from broadcast, cable, and streaming sources aired in the last year. That's an 8 percent increase from last year, when 421 shows aired on TV; a 71 percent increase from 2011, when a mere 266 shows were on TV; and a 137 percent increase from 2006, when there were 192 shows on TV.

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Prepare For Even More Volatile Weather in 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
An anonymous shares a report on Engadget: Ice isn't just great for keeping your drinks cool at parties, it also helps keep our planet cool by reflecting some of the sun's heat away. But thanks to our steadfast refusal to address climate change, there's going to be a lot less ice in the Arctic next year. Scientists are observing record high temperatures in the Arctic circle that's likely to lead to record low levels of ice coverage in 2017. Long story short, we're currently melting the wall that's helped stop the seas boiling for all of these years. Normally, by November, the global temperature has dropped sufficiently that ice can form again in the Arctic ready for the following summer. This year, however, climate scientists saw a spike to -7 celsius (19f) -- 15 degrees celsius (27f) warmer than usual. While the readings have fluctuated since November 11, they're expected to rocket up again in the next few days.

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Raspberry Pi's Linux-Based PIXEL Desktop Now Available For PC and Mac
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 07:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's weekend-project department:
From a report on BetaNews: If you own a Raspberry Pi, you're probably familiar with PIXEL. The desktop environment is included in the Raspbian OS. The Raspberry Pi Foundation describes PIXEL as the "GNU/Linux we would want to use" and understandably so. It offers a smart, clean interface, a decent selection of software, the Chromium web browser with plug-ins, and more -- and from today it's available for PC and Mac. The version of Debian+PIXEL for x86 platforms is described as "experimental" but having taken it for a spin, it seems pretty stable to me. To run PIXEL on your PC or Mac, download the image, burn it onto a DVD or flash it onto a USB memory stick, and boot from it. The desktop environment will load ready for use.

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After Insisting For Years That Facebook Is Not a Media Company, Zuckerberg Says Just Not a 'Traditional' One
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 07:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's more-clarification department:
Mark Zuckerberg is still trying to explain what his company does. The Facebook CEO said in August that the social-networking giant had no ambitions of being a content provider, insisting that Facebook is "a tech company, not a media company." On Wednesday, he appeared to retreat a bit on that statement, painting a slightly different portrait of his company during a Live video chat with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg. From a report on CNET: "Facebook is a new kind of platform," Zuckerberg said during the video chat. "It's not a traditional technology company. It's not a traditional media company. You know, we build technology and we feel responsible for how it's used. We don't write the news that people read on the platform, but at the same time we also know that we do a lot more than just distribute the news, and we're an important part of the public discourse." His comments come amid increased criticism that Facebook's news feed algorithms -- the software that picks the first posts you see -- sometimes fan the flames of "fake news" and allow misinformation to thrive. Numerous allegations have been made that fake news shared on Facebook helped Trump win -- a suggestion Zuckerberg initially called "a pretty crazy idea."

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Uber Stops Self-Driving Car Pilot In San Francisco After The DMV Steps In
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 05:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's you-shall-not-pass department:
93 Escort Wagon writes: San Francisco bicyclists can breathe a sigh of relief now that Uber has suspended testing of its autonomous fleet in the city. The company announced the decision after the California Department of Motor Vehicles suspended the registration of the vehicles involved in the testing. Uber remains "100 percent committed to California and will be redoubling our efforts to develop workable statewide rules," the company said. A spokesperson for Uber told Recode, "We are open to having the conversation about applying for a permit, but Uber does not have plans to do so."

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Worldwide Gaming Market Hits $91 Billion In 2016, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 02:52 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's that's-a-lot-of-money department:
According to a new SuperData Research report, the worldwide gaming market was worth a whopping $91 billion this year, with mobile gaming leading the way with a total estimated market value of $41 billion. The PC gaming market did very well too, as it pulled in nearly $36 billion over the year. PC Gamer reports: The mobile game segment was the largest at $41 billion (up 18 percent), followed by $26 billion for retail games and $19 billion for free-to-play online games. New categories such as virtual reality, esports, and gaming video content were small in size, but they are growing fast and holding promise for 2017, SuperData said. Mobile gaming was driven by blockbuster hits like Pokemon Go and Clash Royale. The mobile games market has started to mature and now more closely resembles traditional games publishing, requiring ever higher production values and marketing spend. Monster Strike was the No. 1 mobile game, with $1.3 billion in revenue. VR grew to $2.7 billion in 2016. Gaming video reached $4.4 billion, up 34 percent. Consumers increasingly download games directly to their consoles, spending $6.6 billion on digital downloads in 2016. PC gaming continues to do well, earning $34 billion (up 6.7 percent) and driven largely by free-to-play online titles and downloadable games. Incumbents like League of Legends together with newcomers like Overwatch are driving the growth in PC games. PC gamers also saw a big improvement with the release of a new generation of graphics cards, offering a 40 percent increase in graphics power and a 20 percent reduction of power consumption.

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China Claims Tests of 'Reactionless' EM Drive Were Successful
Posted by News Fetcher on December 22 '16 at 12:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-generation-space-travel department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Popular Science: The "reactionless" Electromagnetic Drive, or EmDrive for short, is an engine propelled solely by electromagnetic radiation confined in a microwave cavity. Such an engine would violate the law of conservation of momentum by generating mechanical action without exchanging matter. But since 2010, both the United States and China have been pouring serious resources into these seemingly impossible engines. And now China claims its made a key breakthrough. Dr. Chen Yue, Director of Commercial Satellite Technology for the China Academy of Space Technology (CAST) announced on December 10, 2016 that not only has China successfully tested EmDrives technology in its laboratories, but that a proof-of-concept is currently undergoing zero-g testing in orbit (according to the International Business Times, this test is taking place on the Tiangong 2 space station). If China is able to install EmDrives on its satellites for orbital maneuvering and altitude control, they would become cheaper and longer lasting. Li Feng, lead CAST designer for commercial satellites, states that the current EmDrive has only a thrust of single digit millinewtons, for orbital adjustment; a medium sized satellite needs 0.1-1 Newtons. A functional EmDrive would also open up new possibilities for long range Chinese interplanetary probes beyond the Asteroid belt, as well freeing up the mass taken up by fuel in manned spacecraft for other supplies and equipment to build lunar and Martian bases. On the military side of things, EmDrives could also be used to create stealthier, longer lasting Chinese surveillance satellites.

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NIST Asks Public For Help With Quantum-Proof Cryptography
Posted by News Fetcher on December 21 '16 at 07:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-be-safe-than-sorry department:
chicksdaddy quotes a report from The Security Ledger: With functional, quantum computers on the (distant?) horizon, The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is asking the public for help heading off what it calls "a looming threat to information security:" powerful quantum computers capable of breaking even the strongest encryption codes used to protect the privacy of digital information. In a statement Tuesday, NIST asked the public to submit ideas for "post-quantum cryptography" algorithms that will be "less susceptible to a quantum computer's attack." NIST formally announced its quest in a publication on The Federal Register. Dustin Moody, a mathematician at NIST said the Institute's main focus is developing new public key cryptography algorithms, which are used today to protect both stored and transmitted information. "We're looking to replace three NIST cryptographic standards and guidelines that would be the most vulnerable to quantum computers," Moody said. They are FIPS 186-4, NIST SP 800-56A and NIST SP 800-56B. Researchers have until November, 2017 to submit their ideas. After the deadline, NIST will review the submissions. Proposals that meet the "post-quantum crypto" standards set up by NIST will be invited to present their algorithms at an open workshop in early 2018.

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