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58% of High-Performance Employees Say They Need More Quiet Work Spaces
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 12:32 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-we-work department:
An anonymous reader shares a CNBC article: Behold the open industrial office space. At one moment, it feels like such a hip environment, bustling with easy communication and collaboration, innovation and headphones just behind every monitor. At another moment, the open office is the loudest, most annoying, distracting and unproductive environment one can imagine. What if the open industrial office is just part of a larger misguided fantasy? What if this office style is hurting our employees working on the hardest problems -- our high-performance employees (HPEs)? What if the open office is causing retention problems, and affecting the quality of our end products? As I outlined in my HPE article, executives and high-performance employees tend to optimize against completely different trade and life principles -- they generally have very different views of the world. This disconnect shows itself very clearly in the environmental conditions of our creative and technical offices. My latest anonymous survey shows that 58% of HPEs need more private spaces for problem solving, and 54% of HPEs find their office environment "too distracting."

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Millions of Records Leaked From Huge US Corporate Database
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 11:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Millions of records from a commercial corporate database have been leaked. ZDNet reports: The database, about 52 gigabytes in size, contains just under 33.7 million unique email addresses and other contact information from employees of thousands of companies, representing a large portion of the US corporate population. Dun & Bradstreet, a business services giant, confirmed that it owns the database, which it acquired as part of a 2015 deal to buy NetProspex for $125 million. The purchased database contains dozens of fields, some including personal information such as names, job titles and functions, work email addresses, and phone numbers. Other information includes more generic corporate and publicly sourced data, such as believed office location, the number of employees in the business unit, and other descriptions of the kind of industry the company falls into, such as advertising, legal, media and broadcasting, and telecoms.

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Canonical Preps Security Lifeboat, Yells: Ubuntu 12.04 Hold-Outs, Get In
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 11:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's XP-moment department:
Gavin Clarke, writing for The Register: Canonical is extending the deadline for security updates for paying users of its five-year-old Ubuntu 12.04 LTS -- a first. Ubuntu 12.04 LTS will become the first Long Term Support release of Canonical's Linux to get Extended Security Maintenance (ESM). There are six LTS editions. All others have been end-of-lifed -- and given no security reprieve. LTS editions of Ubuntu Linux are released every two years. Desktop support runs for three years and the server edition receives security patches and updates for a period of five years. Security updates for 12.04 were scheduled to run out on April 28, 2017 but that now won't happen for those on Canonical's Ubuntu Advantage programme. They'll now receive important security fixes for the kernel and "most essential" userspace packages on their servers running 12.04. In what's shaping up to be Canonical's Windows XP moment over at Microsoft, the Linux spinner rolled out the lifeline because customers are clinging to 12.04.

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Google Tells Army of 'Quality Raters' To Flag Holocaust Denial
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 11:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fixing-things department:
Google is using a 10,000-strong army of independent contractors to flag "offensive or upsetting" content, in order to ensure that queries like "did the Holocaust happen" don't push users to misinformation, propaganda and hate speech. From a report on The Guardian: The review of search terms is being done by the company's "quality raters", a little-known corps of worldwide contractors that Google uses to assess the quality of its systems. The raters are given searches based on real queries to conduct, and are asked to score the results on whether they meet the needs of users. These contractors, introduced to the company's review process in 2013, work from a huge manual describing every potential problem they could find with a given search query: whether or not it meets the user's expectations, whether the result offered is low or high quality, and whether it's spam, porn or illegal. In a new update to the rating system, rolled out on Tuesday, Google introduced another flag raters could use: the "upsetting-offensive" mark.

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Cooling To Absolute Zero Mathematically Outlawed After a Century
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 11:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's debate-settled department:
After more than 100 years of debate -- which at one point even elicited interest from Albert Einstein and Max Planck, physicists have finally offered up mathematical proof of the third law of thermodynamics, which states that a temperature of absolute zero cannot be physically achieved because it's impossible for the entropy (or disorder) of a system to hit zero. While scientists have long suspected that there's an intrinsic 'speed limit' on the act of cooling in our Universe that prevents us from ever achieving absolute zero (0 Kelvin, -273.15 C, or -459.67 F), this is the strongest evidence yet that our current laws of physics hold true when it comes to the lowest possible temperature. From a report on NewScientist: Now Jonathan Oppenheim and Lluis Masanes at University College London have mathematically derived the unattainability principle and placed limits on how fast a system can cool, creating a general proof of the third law. "In computer science, people ask this question all the time: how long does it take to perform a computation?" says Oppenheim. "Just as a computing machine performs a computation, a cooling machine cools a system." So, he and Masanes asked how long it takes to get cold. Cooling can be thought of as a series of steps: heat is removed from the system and dumped into the surrounding environment again and again, and each time the system gets colder. How cold depends on how much work can be done to remove the heat and the size of the reservoir for dumping it. By applying mathematical techniques from quantum information theory, they proved that no real system will ever reach 0 kelvin: it would take an infinite number of steps. Getting close to absolute zero is possible, though, and Masanes and Oppenheim quantified the steps of cooling, setting speed limits for how cold a given system can get in finite time.

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Apple Found Guilty of Russian Price-Fixing
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 08:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's price-fixing department:
An anonymous reader shares a BBC report: Russia's competition watchdog has found that Apple fixed the prices of certain iPhone models sold in the country. The Federal Anti-Monopoly Service (Fas) said that Apple's local subsidiary told 16 retailers to maintain the recommended prices of phones in the iPhone 5 and iPhone 6 families. Non-compliance with the pricing guidelines may have led to the termination of contracts, it found. At the time of the investigation, Apple denied that it controlled its products' pricing, telling Reuters that resellers "set their own prices for the Apple products they sell in Russia and around the world." The regulator said Apple had now ended its price-fixing practices but has not said whether the company faces a fine. The FAS claimed that Apple Rus monitored the retail prices for the iPhone 5c, 5s, 6, 6 Plus, 6s and 6s Plus.

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Many Smartphone Owners Don't Take Steps To Secure Their Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 08:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-they-live department:
From Pew Research's new report: More than a quarter (28%) of smartphone owners say they do not use a screen lock or other security features to access their phone. And while a majority of smartphone users say they have updated their phone's apps or operating system, about 40% say they only update when it's convenient for them. Meanwhile, some users forgo updating their phones altogether: Around one-in-ten smartphone owners report they never update their phone's operating system (14%) or update the apps on their phone (10%).

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Justice Department Charging Russian Spies and Criminal Hackers in Yahoo Intrusion
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 07:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-tension department:
The Justice Department is set to announce Wednesday, reports the Washington Post, the indictments of two Russian spies and two criminal hackers in connection with the heist of 500 million Yahoo user accounts in 2014, marking the first U.S. criminal cyber charges ever against Russian government officials. From the report: The indictments target two members of the Russian intelligence agency FSB, and two hackers hired by the Russians. The charges include hacking, wire fraud, trade secret theft and economic espionage, according to officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the charges have not yet been announced. The indictments are part of the largest hacking case brought by the United States.

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Hacking Victim Can't Sue Foreign Government For Hacking Him On US Soil, Says Court
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 05:42 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
According to Motherboard, a court of appeals in Washington D.C. ruled that an American citizen can't sue the Ethiopian government for hacking into his computer and monitoring him with spyware. "The decision on Tuesday is a blow to anti-surveillance and digital rights activists who were hoping to establish an important precedent in a widely documented case of illegitimate government-sponsored hacking." From the report: In late 2012, the Ethiopian government allegedly hacked the victim, an Ethiopian-born man who goes by the pseudonym Kidane for fear for government reprisals. Ethiopian government spies from the Information Network Security Agency (INSA) allegedly used software known as FinSpy to break into Kidane's computer, and secretly record his Skype conversations and steal his emails. FinSpy was made by the infamous FinFisher, a company that has sold malware to several governments around the world, according to researchers at Citizen Lab, a digital watchdog group at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs, who studied the malware that infected Kidane's computer. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that Kidane didn't have jurisdiction to sue the Ethiopian government in the United States. Kidane and his lawyers invoked an exception to the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which says foreign governments can be sued in the U.S. as long as the entire tort on which the lawsuit is based occurred on American soil. According to the court, however, the hacking in this case didn't occur entirely in the U.S. "Ethiopia's placement of the FinSpy virus on Kidane's computer, although completed in the United States when Kidane opened the infected email attachment, began outside the United States," the decision read. "[It] gives foreign governments carte blanche to do whatever they want to Americans in America so long as they do it by remote control," Nate Cardozo, a staff attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a digital rights group who represented Kidane in this first-of-its-kind lawsuit, told Motherboard.

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Parenthood Can Help You Live Longer In Older Age, Research Suggests
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 03:02 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fountain-of-youth department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Parenthood could boost your chances of living longer in your later years, according researchers who believe the effect could be down to children helping with care and support. While previous research has shown that adults with children live longer than those without, the new study unpicks how the effect plays out in older age. Modig and colleagues used national registry data to follow almost 1.5 million Swedes born between 1911 and 1925 as they aged. The team found that while the risk of death increased with age for all adults, having children was linked to greater longevity. The results are published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. At the age of 60, men who had children had almost two years more on their remaining life expectancy than those without, at 20.2 and 18.4 years respectively. A similar trend was seen for women aged 60, with life expectancies of 23.1 years for those without children and 24.6 years for mothers. By contrast at the age of 80, parents had a life expectancy of 7.7 years for men and 9.5 years for women, compared to 7 years for men without children and 8.9 years for women without children. The findings reveal that the benefits of having children became more pronounced with age -- an effect that was greater for men than women. Furthermore, the team found that having children had a stronger impact on the longevity of men who were not married than those with a spouse.

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Hundreds of Verified Twitter Accounts Compromised, Post Swastikas, Pro-Erdogan Content
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 01:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
From a report on Bloomberg: At least 25 verified international Twitter accounts (Editor's note: other outlets are saying the number is in hundreds) have posted content supporting Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in his feud with Germany and the Netherlands, with hashtags reading, in Turkish, "NaziGermany" and "NaziHolland." The accounts that were hacked include international news organizations such as the German newspaper Die Welt, Forbes Magazine, BBC North America, and Reuters Japan. It also targeted the Twitter accounts of the European Parliament, French politicians like Alain Juppe, Sprint Corp's CEO and President Marcelo Claure, among others. Gizmodo adds:It was an incredibly bad week for Dutch-Turkish relations. Turkish voters go to the polls next month on April 16th to decide whether President Erdogan should be given more powers. In the lead up to this vote, Turkish diplomats in the Netherlands had been speaking at Dutch rallies to Turkish ex-pats in support of the referendum. But Dutch officials prevented the Turkish ministers from speaking, causing a dust-up between the two countries. [...] Even where some of the tweets have been deleted, the banner image of the Turkish flag sometimes remains, like on the account for Starbucks Argentina.

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Researchers Convert Biomass To Hydrogen Using Sunlight
Posted by News Fetcher on March 15 '17 at 12:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's savings-at-the-pump department:
New submitter omaha393 writes: Cambridge chemists have developed a new catalytic approach capable of converting biomass into hydrogen gas using only sunlight as an energy source. The method converts lignocellulose, one of Earth's most abundant biomaterials, into hydrogen gas and organic byproducts when in a basic water and in the presence of the cadmium sulfide/oxide nanoparticle catalysts. The new method, published in Nature Energy, offers a relatively cheap fuel alternative that researchers are looking to scale up to meet consumer demands at the industrial level. Per R&D Magazine: "'With this in place we can simply add organic matter to the system and then, provided it's a sunny day, produce hydrogen fuel,' says joint lead author David Wakerley. 'Future development can be envisioned at any scale.'" In addition to lignocellulose, the team was also able to produce hydrogen gas using unprocessed material including wood, paper and leaves. Further reading: New Atlas; ScienceDaily

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Kickstarter Campaign Aims To Add a Full Android Device To the Back of Your iPhone
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '17 at 08:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dream-come-true department:
A new Kickstarter campaign aims to expand the iPhone's functionality with its "Eye Smart iPhone Case," which features a fully functional Android device built into the case itself. The campaign was launched on March 1 and has already raised over $100,000. Mac Rumors reports: An always-on 5-inch AMOLED display is built into the case, which runs the Android 7.1 Nougat operating system. The case connects to the iPhone using its Lightning port to enable file transfers, power delivery, and more. A microSD card slot provides up to 256GB of storage for holding photos, videos, and other media, all of which is accessible using the Android file explorer. A built-in 2,800 mAh battery provides additional charge to the iPhone, and the Eye case itself supports Qi wireless charging. Two SIM card slots are included, and higher-end models support 4G LTE connectivity, so up to three phone numbers can be used with an iPhone. Android exclusive features, like native call recording, the file explorer, customization, file transfers, and Android apps are all made available to iPhone users via the Eye case. A 3.5mm headphone jack lets iPhone owners with an iPhone 7 or an iPhone 7 Plus to use wired headphones with the device, and the Eye case includes NFC, an IR blaster and receiver for controlling TVs and other devices, and a car mount. It's available for the iPhone 6 and later, and will allegedly be available for the new wave of iPhones coming in 2017 within a month of their release. The Smart iPhone Case is available for a Super early bird pledge of $95, with prices going up for 4G connectivity. The estimated retail price is between $189 and $229.

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West African Village Weighs Using Genetically Modified Mosquitoes In Malaria Fight
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '17 at 08:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pros-and-cons department:
New submitter omaha393 writes: A public engagement campaign is underway in the hopes of convincing Burkina Faso residents to allow the release of genetically modified mosquitoes to combat deadly mosquito-borne pathogens. GM mosquitoes rely on a technology called "gene drives." Different gene drives offer different solutions, typically leading to subsequent broods being sterile, predominantly male, resistant to infection or nonviable due to toxic traits. Researchers in this case are only in the preliminary stages of releasing sterile males but hope to begin wider releases of GM mosquitoes in about 6 years.

Burkina Faso is not the only country to pursue GM mosquitoes in efforts to prevent disease. Brazil has become a testing ground for wide release, and last fall voters in Florida Keys approved measures to begin releasing GM mosquitoes to fight the spread of Zika. Both the WHO and the U.S. FDA have approved the technique, but skeptics are critical of the method.

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Most People Would Give Lab-Grown Meat a Try, New Survey Reveals
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '17 at 08:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's taste-like-chicken department:
Clive Phillips and Matti Wilks report via ScienceAlert: In a recent survey, published this month in PLOS One, we investigated the views of people in the United States, a country with one of the largest appetites for meat and an equally large appetite for adopting new technologies. A total of 673 people responded to the survey, done online via Amazon Mechanical Turk, in which they were given information about in vitro meat (IVM) and asked questions about their attitudes to it. Although most people (65 percent), and particularly males, were willing to try IVM, only about a third said they would use it regularly or as a replacement for farmed meat. But many people were undecided: 26 percent were unsure if they would use it as a replacement for farmed meat and 31 percent unsure if they would eat it regularly. This suggests there is scope to persuade consumers that they should convert to IVM if a suitable product is available. As an indication of this potential, 53 percent said it was seen as preferable to soy substitutes. The biggest concerns were about IVM's taste and lack of appeal, particularly in the case of meats seen as healthy, such as fish and chicken, where only two-thirds of people that normally ate them said that they would if it was produced by in vitro methods. By contrast, 72 percent of people who normally eat beef and pig products would still do so if they were produced as IVM.

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Uber Is Using In-App Podcasts To Dissuade Seattle Drivers From Unionizing
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '17 at 05:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's corporate-propaganda department:
Uber doesn't like unionization, like many corporations. In January, the company sued the city of Seattle to challenge the city's authority to implement a law that would allow ride-share drivers to unionize. The Verge is reporting today that the company has been using in-app podcasts to dissuade their Seattle drivers from unionizing by explaining, in their view, how the city's unionization law would negatively affect drivers. From the report: Uber spokesperson Nathan Hambley pushed back on a story from The Wall Street Journal over the weekend that suggested Uber drivers in Seattle were forced to choose whether or not to listen to the company-produced podcasts every day before they can begin picking up riders. The podcasts, which are produced in a number of geographic markets for Uber drivers, appear as notifications at the bottom of the app that can be dismissed or ignored -- or acted upon to start the latest podcast episode, which usually run under 10 minutes. Drivers are not required to listen to the podcast, said Hambley in an interview. "They are not required to look down at the notification at all. The most prominent button is to go on or offline to accept rides." The notification first appears as the limited message on the left, and, if the driver swipes up, the full message appears. The notification remains at the bottom of the driver screen regardless of whether it is ignored, or if the podcast is listened to or not.

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Chrome 57 Limits Background Tabs Usage To 1% Per CPU Core
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '17 at 05:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's limited-resources department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: Starting with Chrome 57, released last week, Google has put a muzzle on the amount of resources background tabs can use. According to Google engineers, Chrome 57 will temporarily delay a background tab's JavaScript timers if that tab is using more than 1% of a CPU core. Further, all background timers are suspended automatically after five minutes on mobile devices. The delay/suspension will halt resource consumption and cut down on battery usage, something that laptop, tablet, and smartphone owners can all relate. Google hinted in late January that it would limit JavaScript timers in background tabs, but nobody expected it to happen as soon as last week's Chrome release. By 2020, Google hopes to pause JavaScript operations in all background pages.

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You Can Now Send, Request Money In Gmail On Android
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '17 at 04:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's split-the-tab department:
While Google Wallet has been integrated into Gmail on the web since 2013, it has yet to be available for mobile users. Today, Google is officially rolling out the new integration so that users of the Gmail app on Android will be able to send or request money with anyone -- even those who don't have a Gmail email address. TechCrunch reports: The user experience has been designed to make exchanging money as easy as attaching a file, Google explains in its announcement. To access the new feature, you tap the attachment icon (the paperclip), then choose either send or request money, depending on your needs. A pop-up window appears where you can input the amount and add a note, and send. The entire process takes place in the Gmail app -- you don't have to have Google Wallet installed. In addition, recipients can configure it so the money they receive through Gmail goes directly into their bank account. There are no fees involved, notes Google. The goal, seemingly, is to take on quick payment apps like PayPal, Venmo or Square Cash, by offering a feature to move money right within Gmail's app. This could be useful for those times where the money is already a topic of an email conversation -- like when you're planning a trip with friends, or getting the family to go in together on a gift for your parents, for example.

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Secretary of State Rex Tillerson Allegedly Used Email Alias As Exxon CEO
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '17 at 04:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's buddy-cop-film department:
According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, Rex Tillerson used an email alias of "Wayne Tracker" to communicate with other Exxon executives about climate change while serving as CEO of Exxon Mobil. "New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman has been leading an investigation of Exxon Mobil centered on whether the company misled investors by publicly arguing against the reality of climate change even though its executives knew the science was accurate," reports Ars Technica. "The investigation was triggered by news reports describing climate research the company undertook in the 1970s and 1980s, which affirmed the work of other climate scientists and showed that greenhouse gas emissions were causing climate change. Exxon buried that work and spent the next couple decades claiming that the science was unclear, although it has recently publicly acknowledged reality." From the report: The e-mails that were provided allowed the attorney general to figure out that Tillerson used the account between 2008 and 2015 at least, but it didn't appear on Exxon's list of accounts for which records were preserved. The letter also mentions 34 other e-mail accounts "specifically assigned to top executives, board members, or assistants" that the attorney general thinks should have been included. In a statement, an Exxon spokesperson explained, "The e-mail address, Wayne.Tracker@exxonmobil.com, is part of the company's e-mail system and was put in place for secure and expedited communications between select senior company officials and the former chairman for a broad range of business-related topics." The Office of the Attorney General's letter claims that "Exxon has continuously delayed and obstructed the production of documents from its top executives and board members, which are crucial to OAG's investigation into Exxon's touted risk-management practices regarding climate change."

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Vibrator Maker To Pay Millions Over Claims It Secretly Tracked Use
Posted by News Fetcher on March 14 '17 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's smooth-vibrations department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: The makers of the We-Vibe, a line of vibrators that can be paired with an app for remote-controlled use, have reached a $3.75 million class action settlement with users following allegations that the company was collecting data on when and how the sex toy was used. The We-Vibe product line includes a number of Bluetooth-enabled vibrators that, when linked to the "We-Connect" app, can be controlled from a smartphone. It allows a user to vary rhythms, patterns and settings -- or give a partner, in the room or anywhere in the world, control of the device. Since the app was released in 2014, some observers have raised concerns that Internet-connected sex toys could be vulnerable to hacking. But the lawsuit doesn't involve any outside meddling -- instead, it centers on concerns that the company itself was tracking users' sex lives. The lawsuit was filed in federal court in Illinois in September. It alleges that -- without customers' knowledge -- the app was designed to collect information about how often, and with what settings, the vibrator was used. The lawyers for the anonymous plaintiffs contended that the app, "incredibly," collected users' email addresses, allowing the company "to link the usage information to specific customer accounts." Customers' email addresses and usage data were transmitted to the company's Canadian servers, the lawsuit alleges. When a We-Vibe was remotely linked to a partner, the connection was described as "secure," but some information was also routed through We-Connect and collected, the lawsuit says.

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