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AT&T Imposes Another $5 Rate Hike On Grandfathered Unlimited Data Plans
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 03:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sky's-the-limit department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: ATT is raising the price of its grandfathered unlimited data plans by $5 a month, the second such increase in the past year. The price increase affects longtime mobile customers who have held onto unlimited data plans for years after ATT stopped selling them to new subscribers. The latest price increase was reported by DSLReports yesterday, and ATT confirmed the move to Ars. "If you have a legacy unlimited data plan, you can keep it; however, beginning in March 2017, it will increase by $5 per month," ATT said. The unlimited data price had been $30 a month for seven years, until ATT raised it to $35 in February 2016. The price increase this year will bring it up to $40. That amount is just for data: Including voice and texting, the smartphone plans cost around $90 a month. ATT encouraged customers to move to one of its new plans, most of which have data limits, saying the newer packages "provide several benefits that our legacy unlimited plan doesn't." For example, the newer plans support mobile hotspot connections allowing a phone's Internet service to be shared with another device. ATT had stopped selling unlimited smartphone data to new customers and to customers who are switching plans, but last year introduced a new unlimited plan that's available only to people who also subscribe to DirecTV or U-verse TV.

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Pentagon Successfully Tests Micro-Drone Swarm
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 03:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-a-bird-it's-a-plane-it's-superman department:
schwit1 quotes a report from Phys.Org: The Pentagon may soon be unleashing a 21st-century version of locusts on its adversaries after officials on Monday said it had successfully tested a swarm of 103 micro-drones. The important step in the development of new autonomous weapon systems was made possible by improvements in artificial intelligence, holding open the possibility that groups of small robots could act together under human direction. Military strategists have high hopes for such drone swarms that would be cheap to produce and able to overwhelm opponents' defenses with their great numbers. The test of the micro-drone swarm in October included 103 Perdix micro-drones measuring around six inches (16 centimeters) launched from three F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, the Pentagon said in a statement.

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Apple Patent Paves Way For iPhone With Full-Face Display, HUD Windows
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 01:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's light-emitting-diode department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Apple Insider: Apple on Tuesday was granted a patent detailing technology that allows for ear speakers, cameras and even a heads-up display to hide behind an edge-to-edge screen, a design rumored to debut in a next-generation iPhone later this year. Awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, Apple's U.S. Patent No. 9,543,364 for "Electronic devices having displays with openings" describes a method by which various components can be mounted behind perforations in a device screen that are so small as to be imperceptible to the human eye. This arrangement would allow engineers to design a smartphone or tablet with a true edge-to-edge, or "full face," display. With smartphones becoming increasingly more compact, there has been a push to move essential components behind the active -- or light-emitting -- area of incorporated displays. Apple in its patent suggests mounting sensors and other equipment behind a series of openings, or through-holes, in the active portion of an OLED or similar panel. These openings might be left empty or, if desired, filled with glass, polymers, radio-transparent ceramic or other suitable material. Positioning sensor inputs directly in line with said openings facilitates the gathering of light, radio waves and acoustic signals. Microphones, cameras, antennas, light sensors and other equipment would therefore have unimpeded access beyond the display layer. The design also accommodates larger structures like iPhone's home button. According to the document, openings are formed between pixels, suggesting a self-illuminating display technology like OLED is preferred over traditional LCD structures that require backlight and filter layers. Hole groupings can be arranged in various shapes depending on the application, and might be larger or smaller than the underlying component. If implemented into a future iPhone, the window-based HUD could be Apple's first foray into augmented reality. Apple leaves the mechanics unmentioned, but the system could theoretically go beyond AR and into mixed reality applications.

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Apple Said To Be Working on AR Glasses With Carl Zeiss
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 01:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's definitely,-maybe department:
Apple seems behind Microsoft, Google, and Facebook on the nascent augmented reality space, but that could change soon. From a report on CNET: The tech titan is working with the German optics manufacturer Carl Zeiss on a pair of lightweight AR/mixed reality glasses, according to tech evangelist Robert Scoble. The project, which could be announced as early as this year, was confirmed by a Zeiss employee, Scoble wrote in a Facebook post.

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Volkswagen Closes In on $4.3 Billion US Settlement in Diesel Scandal
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 12:13 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's paying-up department:
Volkswagen said it's closing in on a deal with U.S. authorities on a $4.3 billion settlement to resolve civil and criminal allegations stemming from its emissions-cheating scandal. From a report on Bloomberg: The agreement, which has yet to be finalized, would lead to a financial expense that exceeds current provisions, the German automaker said. It also includes a guilty plea to some criminal charges, strengthening compliance systems and installing an independent monitor for three years, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based automaker said Tuesday in a statement. VW's management and supervisory boards are scheduled to review the settlement today or Wednesday and may raise provisions related to the scandal, which currently total 18.2 billion euros ($19.2 billion). A final agreement also needs to be approved by U.S. courts. The U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on Volkswagen's statement.

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Author of Swift Language Chris Lattner is Leaving Apple; We're Interviewing Him (Ask a Question!)
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 12:13 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's now-we're-talking department:
Software developer Chris Lattner, who is the main author of LLVM as well as Apple's Swift programming language, is leaving Apple, he said today. From a post: When we made Swift open source and launched Swift.org we put a lot of effort into defining a strong community structure. This structure has enabled Apple and the amazingly vibrant Swift community to work together to evolve Swift into a powerful, mature language powering software used by hundreds of millions of people. I'm happy to announce that Ted Kremenek will be taking over for me as "Project Lead" for the Swift project, managing the administrative and leadership responsibility for Swift.org. This recognizes the incredible effort he has already been putting into the project, and reflects a decision I've made to leave Apple later this month to pursue an opportunity in another space. We're delighted to share that we are interviewing Lattner, who says he's a "long-time reader/fan of Slashdot." Please leave your question in the comments section. Lattner says he'll talk about "open source (llvm/clang/swift/etc) or personal topics," but has requested that we do not ask him about Apple, which is understandable.

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LG's Upcoming Smartphone G6 Will Have 5.7-inch QHD+ Display Featuring 18:9 Aspect Ratio
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 10:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's development-in-display department:
Song Su-hyun, reporting for The Korea Herald: LG Electronics' upcoming flagship smartphone will have a 5.7-inch Quad HD liquid crystal display panel with a ratio of 18:9, LG Display said on Tuesday. LG Electronics confirmed it will be the G6 smartphone slated for launch next month. The new display panel, dubbed "QHD+," will be the world's first 18:9 QHD LCD, according to LG Display. The 18:9 ratio will provide users with greater immersion than previous displays and allow consumers to multitask by using the dual-screen feature.

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Consumer Reports Updates Its MacBook Pro Review
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 10:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Reader TheFakeTimCook writes: Last month, the new MacBook Pro failed to receive a purchase recommendation from Consumer Reports due to battery life issues that it encountered during testing. Apple subsequently said it was working with Consumer Reports to understand the results, which it said do not match its "extensive lab tests or field data." According to an article from Consumer Reports, Apple has since concluded its work, and says it learned that Consumer Reports was using a "hidden Safari setting" which triggered an "obscure and intermittent bug" that led to inconsistent battery life results. With "normal user settings" enabled, Apple said Consumer Reports "consistently" achieved expected battery life. Apple stated: "We learned that when testing battery life on Mac notebooks, Consumer Reports uses a hidden Safari setting for developing web sites which turns off the browser cache. This is not a setting used by customers and does not reflect real-world usage. Their use of this developer setting also triggered an obscure and intermittent bug reloading icons which created inconsistent results in their lab. After we asked Consumer Reports to run the same test using normal user settings, they told us their MacBook Pro systems consistently delivered the expected battery life." Apple said it has fixed the Safari bug in the latest macOS Sierra beta seeded to developers and public testers this week.

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Wikimedia Foundation Nabs $3 Million Grant To Improve Accessibility of Free Commons' Content
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 09:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's things-to-come department:
As with other Wikimedia Foundation projects, Wikimedia Commons (a repository of free-to-use media assets, including photos, audio clips, and videos) is funded through donations, and the organization has now received $3 million grant from the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, a philanthropic body set up in 1934 by the former president and CEO of General Motors. From a report on VentureBeat: With $3 million in the coffers, the Wikimedia Foundation says it will embark on a three-year mission to link assets on Wikimedia Commons with Wikidata, the organization's crowdsourced knowledge base. The upshot of this endeavor will mean that photos, videos, and all the rest will be much easier to find and, crucially, it will be "machine-readable" which opens up a wealth of opportunities to automate the process of integrating content into third-party services, such as apps and services operated by museums, galleries, and libraries. On the flip-side, this will also make it easier for third-party bodies to donate content to Wikimedia Commons while automatically including existing metadata, bypassing the need to manually label media.

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Fitbit Buys Vector, Romanian Startup's Existing Smartwatches Won't Receive Software Updates Anymore
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 09:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's grand-scheme-of-things department:
An anonymous reader shares an Engadget report: One of the more surprising smartwatches of 2015 was from Vector, a Romanian startup led by former Citizen executives. Its 30-day battery life, Pebble-esque UI and classic watch design made it a great device for someone seeking a less ostentatiously geeky wearable. Now, the company has revealed that Fitbit has purchased it and its employees will be joining the fitness wearables firm. Unfortunately for Vector owners, Fitbit will be integrating Vector's hardware and software know-how into its own organization. That means that Vector, as a brand, will die off, and while its watches will remain operational, you can kiss any hope for software updates and new hardware goodbye.

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'Tooth Repair Drug' May Replace Fillings
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 09:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fixing-itself department:
Teeth can be encouraged to repair themselves in a way that could see an end to fillings, according to scientists. From a report on BBC: The team at King's College London showed that a chemical could encourage cells in the dental pulp to heal small holes in mice teeth. A biodegradable sponge was soaked in the drug and then put inside the cavity. The study, published in Scientific Reports, showed it led to "complete, effective natural repair." Teeth have limited regenerative abilities. They can produce a thin band of dentine -- the layer just below the enamel -- if the inner dental pulp becomes exposed, but this cannot repair a large cavity. [...] Scientists discovered that a drug called Tideglusib heightened the activity of stem cells in the dental pulp so they could repair 0.13mm holes in the teeth of mice. A drug-soaked sponge was placed in the hole and then a protective coating was applied over the top. As the sponge broke down it was replaced by dentine, healing the tooth.

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WhatsApp, Gmail Roped Into Tougher EU Privacy Proposal
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's some-concerns department:
Online messaging and email services such as WhatsApp, iMessage and Gmail will face tough new rules on how they can track users under a proposal presented by the European Union executive on Tuesday. From a report: The web players will have to guarantee the confidentiality of their customers' conversations and ask for their consent before tracking them online to serve them personalized ads. The proposal by the European Commission extends some rules that now only apply to telecom operators to web companies offering calls and messages using the internet, known as "Over-The-Top" (OTT) services, seeking to close a perceived regulatory gap between the telecoms industry and mainly U.S. Internet giants such as Facebook, Google and Microsoft.

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Scientists Predict Star Collision Visible To The Naked Eye In 2022
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's looking-forward department:
Scientists predict that a pair of stars in the constellation Cygnus will collide in 2022, give or take a year, creating an explosion in the night sky so bright that it will be visible to the naked eye. From a report on NPR: If it happens, it would be the first time such an event was predicted by scientists. Calvin College professor Larry Molnar and his team said in a statement that two stars are orbiting each other now and "share a common atmosphere, like two peanuts sharing a single shell." They predict those two stars, jointly called KIC 9832227, will eventually "merge and explode ... at which time the star will increase its brightness ten thousand fold becoming one of the brighter stars in the heavens for a time." That extra-bright star is called a red nova. They recently presented their research at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society in Grapevine, Texas.

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WeChat Beats Google in Releasing Apps That Don't Need Downloading or Installing
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 06:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's instant-apps department:
An anonymous reader shares a Mashable report: Click on a link in China's top messaging app, WeChat, and you'll be taken to a rich app-like experience, but without needing to download or install anything. Tencent, WeChat's maker, on Monday released "mini programs." The new mini programs work within the messaging app, and the early crop at launch include a Prisma-like photo editing app, a Pomodoro Timer productivity app, a flight search engine, and one for recipe searches. With the mini programs, the already-dominant WeChat continues its march to become practically ubiquitous on Chinese handsets, where people already use the messenger for real-life tasks like paying at restaurants, to hailing a Didi Chuxing ride. Last year, Google too announced that it would soon allow users to check out apps without downloading or installing them. The feature is yet to go live.

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Two Triple-Screen Laptops Were Stolen From Razer's CES Booth
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 05:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's stupid-is-as-stupid-does department:
In a Facebook post, Razer CEO Min-Liang Tan said two of their prototype laptops shown off at CES 2017 were stolen. "We treat theft/larceny, and if relevant to this case, industrial espionage, very seriously -- it is cheating, and cheating doesn't sit well with us," Tan wrote. "Penalties for such crimes are grievous and anyone who would do this clearly isn't very smart." Both items were prototype models of a laptop, called Project Valerie, that has three 4K displays. The Verge reports: Tan says that Razer is working with law enforcement and CES management to investigate. He's also asking show attendees to email legal@razerzone.com with any info they might have on what happened. A company representative added that a $25,000 reward is being offered for information leading to a conviction. The alleged theft occurred "after official show hours," says Allie Fried, director of global events communications for the Consumer Technology Association, which runs CES. "The security of our exhibitors, attendees and their products and materials are our highest priority," Fried wrote in an email to The Verge. "We look forward to cooperating with law enforcement and Razer as the incident is investigated."

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AMD Announces X300 and X370 AM4 Motherboards For Ryzen, All CPUs Unlocked
Posted by News Fetcher on January 10 '17 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fresh-new-hardware department:
MojoKid writes: AMD has a lot riding on Ryzen, its new generation CPU architecture that is supposed to return the chip designer to a competitive position versus Intel in the high-end desktop X86 processor market. Late last week, at CES 2017, AMD has lined up over a dozen high-performance AM4 motherboards from five hardware partners, including ASRock, ASUS, Biostar, Gigabyte, and MSI. All AM4 motherboards are built around one of two desktop chipsets for Ryzen, the AMD X370 or X300. Motherboards based on the X370 chipset are intended for power users and gamers. These boards bring more robust overclocking controls and support for dual graphics cards, along with more I/O connectivity and dual-channel DDR4 memory support. The X300 is AMD's chipset for mini-ITX motherboards for small form factor (SFF) system platforms. The X300 also supports dual-channel DDR4 memory, PCIe 3.0, M.2 SATA devices, NVMe, and USB 3.1 Gen 1 and Gen 1. Finally, AMD representatives on hand at CES also reported that all Ryzen processors will be multiplier unlocked, hopefully for some rather flexible overclocking options. There will also be several processors in the family, with varying core counts depending on SKU, at launch.

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Our Moon May Have Formed From Multiple Small Ones, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '17 at 11:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's revised-theories department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: A series of cosmic collisions may have spawned multiple moonlets that morphed into the one big moon we know today. Rather than one giant impact that knocked off part of early Earth and created the moon, a number of smaller collisions may have produced lots of mini-moons, Israeli scientists reported Monday. And those mini-moons, over millions of years, may have clumped together to make one large one. The researchers conducted nearly 1,000 computer simulations and estimate about 20 impacts could do the job. They say that would explain why the moon seems to be composed of material from Earth, rather than some other planet, too. It's actually an old theory revitalized now by the Weizmann Institute of Science's Raluca Rufu in Rehovot, Israel, and his team. Their findings were published in Nature Geoscience.

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2016 Was Second Hottest Year For US In More Than 120 Years of Record Keeping
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '17 at 08:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's recording-breaking department:
Last year was the second hottest year for the United States in more than 120 years of record keeping, according to the National Climatic Data Center, marking 20 above-average years in a row. While Georgia and Alaska recorded their hottest year, every state had a temperature ranking at least in the top seven. Climate Central reports: The announcement comes a week before the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which released the U.S. data, and NASA are expected to announce that 2016 set the record for the hottest year globally. Both the global record and the U.S. near-record are largely attributable to greenhouse gas-driven warming of the planet. In addition to the pervasive warmth over the last year, the U.S. also had to deal with 15 weather and climate disasters that each caused more than $1 billion in damage. Together, they totaled more than $46 billion in losses and included several disastrous rain-driven flooding events. These events, along with continued drought, lay bare the challenge for the country to learn how to cope with and prepare for a changing climate, said Deke Arndt, the climate monitoring chief of NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. The temperature for the contiguous U.S. was 2.9 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average for 2016, displacing 2015 and ranking only behind 2012, when searing heat waves hit the middle of the country. More notable than the back-to-back second place years, Arndt said, was that 2016 was the 20th consecutive warmer-than-normal year for the U.S. and that the five hottest years for the country have all happened since 1998. Those streaks mirror global trends, with 15 of the 16 hottest years on record occurring in the 21st century and no record cold year globally since 1911.

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The End of Yahoo: Marissa Mayer To Resign; Yahoo To Change Its Name To Altaba
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department:
maxcelcat writes: Spotted on The Register's twitter feed: Yahoo! Submission to The SEC. Most of the board is leaving, including CEO Marissa Mayer. The company has been bought by Verizon and is changing its name to Altaba Inc. I'm old enough to remember when Yahoo was a series of directories on a University's computers, where you could browse a hierarchical list of websites by category. And here I am watching the company's demise. According to the regulatory filing, the changes will take place after the sale of its core business is completed with Verizon for roughly $4.8 billion. The Wall Street Journal notes: "Verizon officials have indicated all options remain possible, including renegotiating the terms of the deal or walking away."

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Windows 10 Will Soon Let You Opt-Out of Automatic Driver Updates
Posted by News Fetcher on January 09 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's oppressive-regimes department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: Microsoft is giving users some more control over Windows 10 updates, with a new beta build of its operating system released Monday. The build allows folks with the Windows 10 Professional, Education, and Enterprise versions to defer new updates for up to 35 days. In addition, the company will allow those users to decide whether or not they want to include driver updates when they want to update Windows. It's a move that helps respond to one of the key criticisms of Windows 10: that Microsoft's regime of forced, cumulative updates has caused problems for users with some configurations. This way, users can steer clear of updates they don't want to install yet and dodge problematic driver updates. The newly-minted update changes are just one part of the improvements added to Windows 10 with the build released Monday. Microsoft is also working on making the initial Windows 10 setup more accessible using Cortana. The company's virtual assistant can ask users questions at setup -- when they speak languages that it can understand -- and use those answers to configure devices. A small number of beta users will also begin to see a battery life experiment pop up on their devices. Microsoft is also giving users an easier way to connect to a virtual private network. Once Windows 10 has a user's VPN settings loaded, it's possible to activate the connection with the tap of a button without opening up VPN settings.

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