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It's Time For Laptop Companies To Switch To Precision Touchpad
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 10:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's please-to-note department:
A new Windows 10 insider build (version 14946) comes with a new interface for configuring touchpad gestures. In the recent months, Microsoft has also improved the detection of two-finger gestures and clicking on Windows 10, and also added new four-finger gestures. These are welcome changes, and something that many would find useful. Except they won't because their computers likely don't comply with Precision Touchpad spec. ArsTechnica has an opinion piece today in which journalist Peter Bright is calling on all the OEMs to do the needful changes moving forward. From the article: Precision Touchpad made its debut with Windows 8. Co-developed between Microsoft and touchpad company Synaptics, the spec changed how Windows works with touchpads. Traditionally, touchpads masqueraded to Windows as essentially USB- or PS/2-connected mice -- simple two-dimension, single-input devices. Features such as multitouch and gestures were handled by a combination of the touchpad firmware and proprietary drivers. This meant that Windows itself had no ability to add new gestures or refine the finger-detection algorithms; it was all an opaque feature of the third-party drivers. With Precision Touchpad, the raw touchpad input is exposed to Windows itself, allowing the operating system to choose how it handles the complex multi-finger inputs. The gestures, the disambiguation of taps and swipes -- these are all now performed by Windows, not a third-party driver. Unfortunately, many PC OEMs haven't been equipping their laptops with Precision Touchpads. As such, they can't take advantage of the new Windows capabilities. As far as we can tell, it would normally be straightforward for an OEM to make the switch; touchpads from Synaptics, for example, can work as both Precision Touchpads and "legacy" mouse-emulating touchpads that use the Synaptics driver. It's just up to the OEM to pick one option or the other.

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Yahoo Explains Why It Recently Disable Automatic Forwarding On Yahoo Mail; Reinstates the Feature
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fixing-things department:
Earlier this month, Yahoo disabled the auto-forwarding feature from its Yahoo Mail email service, leaving people with little choice but to use Yahoo Mail client to check the emails their received on their Yahoo account. The company has now acknowledged the issue, explaining why it all happened, and most importantly, switched email forwarding feature on again. From a BusinessInsider report: "Why the pause? Over the past year, Yahoo Mail has been upgrading its platform. This has allowed us to bring a better search experience to Yahoo Mail, add multiple account support, and improve performance as we quickly scale this new system globally. The feature was temporarily disabled as part of this process," Michael Albers, VP of Yahoo Mail product management, wrote in a blog post. To turn on mail forwarding, go to Settings -- Account in Yahoo Mail and enter your forwarding address. After confirming that you, in fact, control that other address, automatic forwarding should be turned on.

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Apple CEO Tim Cook On Virtual Reality: There's No Substitute For Human Contact
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-vs-virtual-reality department:
As major tech companies ramp up their efforts to develop new technologies to make sense of virtual and augmented reality spaces, one company is noticeably off the game. We're talking about Apple. And it may have something to do with how it perceives these nascent technology spaces. From an article on CNBC:"There's no substitute for human contact," Apple CEO Tim Cook told BuzzFeed News. "And so you want the technology to encourage that." It's not the first time Cook has indicated that Apple might favor AR. "We are high on AR for the long run," Cook said during an earnings call this past summer. "I think AR can be huge." Huge, indeed -- one could look to the sudden and explosive success of Pokemon Go to see an immediate real-world example.

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OpenCAPI: Google and IBM Lead Tech Consortium To Speed Data Centre Performance
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's working-together department:
An anonymous reader writes: IBM is leading a prestigious consortium of tech players in the open development of a new framework that, the company says, can speed data centre performance by a factor of 10. Participants in the OpenCAPI group include IBM, Google, Nvidia, Mellanox, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Micron and Xilinx. Chris Johnson, a Principal Engineer at Google commented 'Google is committed to open standards and we are excited to contribute to the cross-industry use and development of OpenCAPI'. Google's collaboration with RackSpace on the Zaius server will include IBM's forthcoming POWER9 processor technology, which is built around OpenCAPI. Tom Eby, vice president of Micron's compute and networking business said:"While memory has always been an essential building block for computing, it is quickly becoming the critical technology to unlocking next-generation performance."

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Google To Divide Its Index, Giving Mobile Users Better and Fresher Content
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-unexplained-reasons department:
Desktop Google searches could soon feel slightly out of touch compared to those done via smartphones as the company begins to push mobile search. Google has said it is fully splitting its search index into two versions: a rapid updated mobile one, and a secondary search index for the desktop web. SearchEngineLand reports: The news came today during a keynote address from Gary Illyes, a webmaster trends analyst with Google, at Pubcon. Illyes didn't give a timeline in his talk, but in a follow-up with Search Engine Land, he confirmed that it would happen within "months." Google first announced that it was experimenting with the idea of a mobile index last year at SMX East. Since that time, Google's clearly decided that a mobile index makes sense and is moving ahead with the idea. It's unclear exactly how the mobile index will work. For example, since the mobile index is the "primary" index, will it really not be used for any desktop queries? Will it only contain "mobile-friendly" content? How out-of-date will the desktop index be? Desktop usage is now a minority of Google queries but still generates substantial usage. The most substantial change will likely be that by having a mobile index, Google can run its ranking algorithm in a different fashion across "pure" mobile content rather than the current system that extracts data from desktop content to determine mobile rankings.

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DHS Warns of Mirai Botnet Threat To Cellular Modems
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 05:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's remote-control department:
chicksdaddy writes from a report via The Security Ledger: The Mirai malware that is behind massive denial of service attacks involving hundreds of thousands of "Internet of Things" devices may also affect cellular modems that connect those devices to the internet, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is warning. An alert issued by DHS's Industrial Control System CERT on Wednesday warned that cellular gateways manufactured by Sierra Wireless are vulnerable to compromise by the Mirai malware. While the routers are not actively being targeted by the malware, "unchanged default factory credentials, which are publicly available, could allow the devices to be compromised," ICS-CERT warned. The alert comes after a number of reports identified devices infected with the Mirai malware as the source of massive denial of service attacks against media websites like Krebs on Security and the French hosting company OVH. The attacks emanated from a global network of hundreds of thousands of infected IP-enabled closed circuit video cameras, digital video recorders (DVRs), network video recorders (NVRs) and other devices. Analysis by the firm Imperva found that Mirai is purpose-built to infect Internet of Things devices and enlist them in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. The malware searches broadly for insecure or weakly secured IoT devices that can be remotely accessed and broken into with easily guessed (factory default) usernames and passwords. The report adds: "Sierra said in an alert that the company has 'confirmed reports of the 'Mirai' malware infecting AirLink gateways that are using the default ACEmanager password and are reachable from the public internet.' Sierra Wireless LS300, GX400, GX/ES440, GX/ES450, and RV50 were identified in the bulletin as vulnerable to compromise by Mirai. Furthermore, devices attached to he gateway's local area network may also be vulnerable to infection by the Mirai malware, ICS-CERT warned. Sierra Wireless asked affected users to reboot their gateway. Mirai is memory resident malware, meaning that is erased upon reboot. Furthermore, administrators were advised to change the password to the management interface by logging in locally, or remotely to a vulnerable device."

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Facebook Now Lets You Use Google Cast or AirPlay To Stream Video On Your TV
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 03:12 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's kick-back-and-relax department:
Facebook has made it a high priority over the years to improve its video platform so that it can better compete with the monolithic video service that is YouTube. Today, the company has added another feature, one that allows users to stream Facebook video content to the Apple TV via AirPlay and to various Google Cast-enabled devices. Digital Trends reports: The feature is available on the Facebook iOS app and, according to Facebook, it will be available on Android soon. The best thing about it, however, is how easy it is to use. Simply find a video you want to watch, then tap the TV button and select which device the app should stream to. Another highlight of the feature is that it is truly built for Facebook -- that is to say, when you are watching a video on the big screen, your phone is not on lockdown until the video is over. Instead, you can keep scrolling through the News Feed, treating your TV as more of a second screen than simply a mirror of your phone.

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KDE Turns 20, Happy Birthday!
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 01:57 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's socially-awkward-birthday-parties department:
prisoninmate writes from Softpedia: Can you believe it's been 20 years since the KDE (Kool Desktop Environment) was announced on the 14th of October, 1996, by project founder Matthias Ettrich? Well, it has, and today we'd like to say a happy 20th birthday to KDE! "On October 14, KDE celebrates its 20th birthday. The project that started as a desktop environment for Unix systems, today is a community that incubates ideas and projects which go far beyond desktop technologies. Your support is very important for our community to remain active and strong," reads the timeline page prepared by the KDE project for this event. Feel free to share your KDE experiences in a comment below! You can read the announcement "that started the revolution of the modern Linux desktop," as well as view the timeline "prepared by the KDE team for this unique occasion."

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President Obama Orders Government To Plan For 'Space Weather'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 14 '16 at 12:24 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's out-of-this-world department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: President Barack Obama today issued an Executive Order that defines what the nation's response should be to a catastrophic space weather event that takes out large portions of the electrical power grid, resulting in cascading failures that would affect key services such as water supply, healthcare, and transportation. The Executive Order ideally will coordinate the responses across government agencies such as NASA, the Departments of Homeland Security, Energy and others to help minimize economic loss and save lives by enhancing national security, identifying successful mitigation technologies, and ordering the creation of nationwide response and recovery plans and procedures, the White House stated. Further, the Executive Order will enhance the scientific and technical capabilities of the United States, including improved prediction of space-weather events and their effects on infrastructure systems and services. By this action, the Federal Government will lead by example and help motivate State and local governments, and other nations, to create communities that are more resilient to the hazards of space weather. The Executive Order reinforces the formal National Space Weather Strategy and accompanying Action Plan which were announced last year. It also bolsters other work such as the replacement of aging satellites that monitor and help forecast space weather, proposing space-weather standards for both the national and international air space, development of regulations to ensure the continued operation of the electric grid during an extreme space weather event, proposing a new option for replacing crucial Extra High Voltage (EHV) transformers damaged by space weather, and developing domestic production sources for EHV transformers, the White House wrote.

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Google Creates AI Program That Uses Reasoning To Navigate the London Tube
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 08:25 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's see-in-the-dark department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Google scientists have created a computer program that uses basic reasoning to learn to navigate the London Underground system by itself. Deep learning has recently stormed ahead of other computing strategies in tasks like language translation, image and speech recognition and even enabled a computer to beat top-ranked player, Lee Sedol, at Go. However, until now the technique has generally performed poorly on any task where an overarching strategy is needed, such as navigation or extracting the actual meaning from a text. The latest program achieved this by adding an external memory, designed to temporarily store important pieces of information and fish them out when needed. The human equivalent of this is working memory, a short-term repository in the brain that allows us to stay on task when doing something that involves several steps, like following a recipe. In the study, published in the journal Nature, the program was able to find the quickest route between underground stops and work out where it would end up if it traveled, say, two stops north from Victoria station. It was also given story snippets, such as "John is in the playground. John picked up the football." followed by the question "Where is the football?" and was able to answer correctly, hinting that in future assistants such Apple's Siri may be replaced by something more sophisticated. Alex Graves, the research scientist at Google DeepMind in London who led the work, said that while the story tasks "look so trivial to a human that they don't seem like questions at all," existing computer programs "do really badly on this." The program he developed got questions like this right 96% of the time.

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Samsung Will Credit You $100 If You Exchange Your Note 7 For Another Samsung Phone
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 07:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's money-back-guaranteed department:
In an effort to presumably stop customers from jumping ship to the iPhone 7 or other non-Samsung device, Samsung is offering up to $100 in credit to every customer who exchanges their Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone. Mashable reports: The company said so in its updated Note 7 recall page which plainly states that the recall has now been expanded to "all Galaxy Note 7 devices," and asks consumers with a Note 7 to power it down and return it to the place of purchase. Bear in mind that the new offer, which goes live on Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. ET, is only for U.S. customers, as users in other parts of the world have different recall programs in place. Furthermore, if you've already exchanged your Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, you "will receive up to a $75 bill credit from select carrier or retail outlets in addition to the $25 you previously received." Even if you exchange your Note 7 for another brand or ask for a refund, you will still receive a $25 bill credit from select carriers and retailers -- again, less any incentive credits you've already received. "As a sign of our appreciation for your patience and loyalty, we are offering up to a $100 bill credit from select carrier or retail outlets if you exchange your Galaxy Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, less any incentive credits already received," Samsung wrote.

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Google News Introduces Fact Check Feature -- Just In Time For the US Election
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 05:45 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's day-late-and-a-dollar-short department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: Google today introduced a new feature that will tag and help find "fact checking in large news stories." Tagged articles will show up in the new story box on news.google.com, as well as in the Google News and Weather app for iOS and Android in the US and UK. There's a two-pronged approach to detecting fact checking. First Google looks for actual markup in the site's source code. Then Google looks for pages "that follow the commonly accepted criteria for fact checks." You can learn more about the process here. To be clear, the tags show up in small grey text above the article links -- Google itself isn't passing judgement, nor does it tell you the source article's conclusion in search results. It's merely a sign that says "hey, read me to find out the truth." Still, it's a nice way to make sure readers are at least forming opinions based on fact rather than fiction.

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Ken Bone May Have Violated FTC Guidelines With Uber Tweet
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 05:45 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's internet-fame department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VICE News: In a lot of ways, unlikely presidential debate star Ken Bone is a marketer's dream. He is undecided on his political leanings (for now), inoffensive, instantly recognizable, and affable on TV and social media. So it makes sense that Uber asked him to send a promotional tweet for this week's launch of Uber's black car uberSELECT service in St. Louis, site of the debate Sunday night that launched him to fame. But there's one problem: Bone may have violated Federal Trade Commission guidelines for advertising on social media by not marking his tweet as an ad or mentioning that Uber paid him for making the tweet. "[The tweet] needs to disclose that he was compensated," said lawyer Rick Kurnit, of Frankfurt, Kurnit, Klein + Salz PC. "He and Uber are in violation of FTC guidelines, because Uber is also responsible for what their influencers do." The guidelines that Kurnit is referencing are pretty straightforward, and the FTC offers specific advice for how to craft sponsored posts on Twitter. "The FTC isn't mandating the specific wording of disclosures," an FTC guidelines FAQ states. "However the words 'Sponsored' and 'Promotion' use only 9 characters. 'Paid ad' only uses 7 characters. Starting a tweet with 'Ad:' or '#ad' -- which takes only 3 characters -- would likely be effective." Kurnit added that while the FTC "doesn't like" using simple hashtags for disclosures, he agrees that it might have sufficed. When VICE News initially reached out to Uber asking whether Bone was paid for the tweet, a spokesperson said the company is "providing him with Uber credit for his role in the launch." And although Bone and Uber wouldn't be fined for violating the FTC Act (Section 5 of which prohibits "deceptive advertising"), the guidelines say that "law enforcement actions can result in orders requiring the defendants in the case to give up money they received from their violations."

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HP Plans To Cut Up To 4,000 Jobs Over Next 3 Years Amid PC Slump
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 04:24 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's reduce-heat-and-simmer department:
Yesterday, it was reported that the PC industry is on a two-year downslide as PC shipments have declined for eight consecution quarters. Today, HP announced it will cut between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs over the next three years due to the PC slump. Bloomberg reports: The company will eliminate positions across the board, Chief Executive Officer Dion Weisler said on Thursday. The comments came as HP held its analyst meeting in New York. The reductions could include 1,000 jobs being outsourced if the number of positions edges close to 4,000, Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak said. Weisler is searching for additional ways to drive profitability after his PC company gained independence last year from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which sells corporate tech gear. Earlier this year, Weisler said HP would need to accelerate a plan announced in 2015 to eliminate about 3,000 positions over three years. Instead, those reductions are to be completed this fiscal year. HP has about 50,000 employees now. HP said the newest job cuts will generate cost savings of about $200 million to $300 million annually starting in fiscal 2020. The Palo Alto, California-based computer maker expects to take $350 million to $500 million in charges in connection with the plan, and of that tool about $200 million will be labor costs, according to a regulatory filing.

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Android Devices That Contain Foxconn Firmware May Have a Secret Backdoor
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 04:24 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's secret-backdoor department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: Some Android devices that contain firmware created by Foxconn may be vulnerable via a debugging feature left inside the bootloader, which acts as a backdoor and bypasses authentication procedures for any intruder with USB access to a vulnerable phone. By sending the "reboot-ftm" command to Android devices that contain Foxconn firmware, an attacker would authenticate via USB, and boot the device, running as root with SELinux disabled. There isn't a list of affected devices available yet, but Jon Sawyer, the researchers that discovered this hidden command, provides instructions on how to detect if a phone is affected. "Due to the ability to get a root shell on a password protected or encrypted device, Pork Explosion would be of value for forensic data extraction, brute forcing encryption keys, or unlocking the boot loader of a device without resetting user data. Phone vendors were unaware this backdoor has been placed into their products," Sawyer says.

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Evernote Confirms a Serious Bug Caused Data Loss For Some Mac Users
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 03:07 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's missing-data department:
Evernote has sent an email to users warning of a serious bug "in some versions of Evernote for Mac that can cause images and other attachments to be deleted from a note under specific conditions." The company claims only "a small number of people" are affected, but those who have received the email will need to update their Mac app as soon as possible. The glitch occurs in the September version of the software, and less frequently in the versions released since June. TechCrunch reports: In these applications, certain sequences of events can cause an image or other attachments to be deleted from notes without warning, but text is not affected. For example, the bug can be triggered by skimming quickly through a large number of notes, Evernote says. The email explains that once the company identified the problem, it worked quickly to implement a solution and attempted to restore all lost data. The issue was under discussion in Evernote's forums earlier this month. For heavy Evernote users, the bug could have a major impact. One user in the forums posted that they had 20,000 notes in their Evernote account, as part of their PhD research. Hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of their notes may have now become corrupted, according to their post. Unfortunately for some affected users, data recovery was not possible through automated means, the company's email stated. Instead, Evernote is advising those users who are missing attachments to use Evernote's note history feature in Evernote Premium to try to recover the missing data.

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Verizon Believes Yahoo Email Hacking 'Material,' Could Affect Deal
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 03:07 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's body-of-lies department:
In the aftermath of disclosure of a mega-breach at Yahoo which affects over 500 million users, Verizon may be looking at a way out of Yahoo's $4.83 billion acquisition deal. From a Reuters report: The company has a "reasonable basis" to believe that Yahoo's massive data breach of at least 500 million email accounts represents a material impact that could allow Verizon to withdraw from its $4.83 billion deal to buy Yahoo. Silliman told reporters that the data breach could trigger a clause that could allow Verizon to withdraw from the deal. "I think we have a reasonable basis to believe right now that the impact is material and we're looking to Yahoo to demonstrate to us the full impact. If they believe that it's not then they'll need to show us that," he said.

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4Chan Hackers Claim To Have Remotely Wiped John Podesta's iPhone and iPad
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 01:46 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's private-information department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Gizmodo: For the past several days, WikiLeaks has been publishing thousands of emails belonging to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta -- and the leaks are starting to cause some serious damage. Gizmodo reports: "Many of the leaked emails contained contact info, cell phone numbers, and account data, none of which was redacted by Wikileaks before being posted. With this information accessible to anyone with the time and energy to read through it all, users on 4chan's /pol/ (politically incorrect) board were able to gain access to Podesta's Twitter account, tweeting a message in support of Trump. Imageboard posters also stumbled on an email containing Podesta's Apple ID -- and appear to have exploited it. 'iPad/iPhone info and data wiped out,' a post on Endchan claimed, show screenshots of what seems to be the hacker gaining access to Find My iPhone using Podesta's credentials. If Podesta's Apple ID was compromised, it stands to reason that his iCloud account was similarly vulnerable. And sure enough, Redditor's on r/The_Donald claim Podesta's iCloud data was downloaded. A hacker known as CyberZeist also appears to have uncovered the passwords to dozens of senators' email addresses, as well as social security numbers and credit card info for many Democrats including Vice President Joe Biden, Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and acting Chair of the DNC Donna Brazile. The information was posted to pastebin.

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You Can Now Claim Your Cash In the PS3 'Other PS3' Settlement
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 01:46 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cash-prizes department:
If you've purchased a "fat" PlayStation 3 before April of 2010, you can now claim up to $55 as part of the settlement over the removal of the console's "Other OS" feature. PS3 owners with proof of purchase or evidence of a PSN sign-in from the system can receive $9 from the company. However, if you've used the "Other OS" feature to install Linux on your PS3, you can receive $55. The online claim form can be found here. Ars Technica reports: The opening of claims after a long legal saga that began in March of 2010, when Sony announced it would be removing the "Other OS" feature from the PS3. Sony claimed it was a security concern, but many class-action lawsuits filed in 2010 alleged the company was more worried about software piracy. While one lawsuit over the matter was dismissed by a judge in 2011, another worked its way through the courts until June, when Sony finally decided to settle. Though the company doesn't admit any wrongdoing, it puts itself on the hook for payments to up to 10 million PS3 owners. Note to those affected: "Claims are due by December 7, and payments should be sent out early next year pending final approval of the settlement."

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The Universe Has 20 Times More Galaxies Than We Thought
Posted by News Fetcher on October 13 '16 at 12:26 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's from-a-galaxy-far-far-away department:
A new study by a team of international astronomers has produced some astounding results: they concluded that the universe contains at least two trillion galaxies -- as much as 20 times more than previously thought. The study adds that 90 percent of all galaxies are hidden from us. This hidden portion can't be seen even with our most powerful telescopes. Gizmodo adds: Consequently, this means we also have to update the number of stars in the observable universe, which now numbers around 700 sextillion (that's a 7 with 23 zeros behind it, or 700 thousand billion billion). And that's just within the observable universe. Because the cosmos emerged some 13.8 billion years ago, we're only able to observe objects up to a certain distance from Earth. Anything outside this "Hubble Bubble" is invisible to us because the light from these distant objects simply haven't had enough time to reach us. It's difficult -- if not impossible -- to know how many galaxies reside outside this cosmological blind spot.

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