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In Canada's North, a Single Satellite Outage Means Losing Basic Services
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 11:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
Jordan Pearson, writing for Motherboard: Around 5 PM Eastern time on Sunday, a satellite providing internet services to most of North America went offline due to a technical glitch, the CBC reported. If you live the vast majority of communities in southern Canada or the US, you probably didn't notice. But in some parts of Canada's sparsely populated North, losing just one satellite means giving up basic services like access to ATMs or a flight out of town. In other words, life went offline before the satellite's function was restored on Monday afternoon. The satellite in question was Ottawa-based Telesat's Anik F2, which first went online in 2004 and has a coverage area spanning Canada's northernmost tip down to the southern US. Most places in North America don't totally depend on Anik F2 for an internet connection, and have landlines as well as other satellites -- even some of Telesat's -- to fall back on if one piece of equipment goes offline. But Canada's northern communities are desperately lacking in internet infrastructure, a situation that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has pledged to remedy. Some places depend on Anik F2's connection for everything. There is no backup.

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Google, Lagging Amazon, Races Across the Threshold Into the Home
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 10:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's google-mania department:
Google will unveil its answer to Amazon's Echo at an event on Tuesday, the New York Times reports. The Google Home device, which looks like an "air freshener," is expected to go on sale later this month (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source), the publication added. The Google Home is powered by what Google calls Assistant, which uses "artificial intelligence" to understand what users are saying and respond conversationally with the best answers. "Amazon is the accidental winner here," Scott Galloway, a professor of marketing at the Stern School of Business at New York University, told the paper. "Amazon got there first, which is superimpressive, and it has been a huge hit." From the report: Google is a leader in natural language processing -- the ability to turn spoken words into terms that computers can digest -- and its search engine is the starting point for how most people get answers on the internet. In fact, the company says 20 percent of Google searches on mobile phones are done by voice. So why didn't Google create an Echo-like device before Amazon? In part, Google was hindered by a balkanized structure that prevented different groups within the company from working together, according to four current and former employees. Google, based in Mountain View, Calif., had a large team working on voice search but its focus was on an app for smartphones. The company had a separate team working on the Android operating system, which runs on smartphones, tablets and internet-connected home devices, and they were building virtual assistant technology into mobile devices.Google is also expected to launch two new smartphones, expected to be called Pixel and Pixel XL. Earlier today, both the phones showed up on a retailer's website, revealing their specifications. The Guardian reports: The leaked images show two sizes of the phone -- a regular and "XL" version, USB-C fast charging, a new interface, video calling and the Google Assistant, which first launched within the company's Allo messaging app. Both devices will have 32GB or 128GB of storage, 4GB of RAM, Qualcomm's latest 821 processor, AMOLED screens, fingerprint scanners on the back, an eight-megapixel selfie camera and a 12-megapixel camera on the back with optical image stabilisation, according to the smartphone retailers listings which have since been removed.

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Facebook Launches Marketplace On App, Takes On eBay and Craigslist
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 10:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's omnipresence department:
Facebook today also announced the launch of "Marketplace," allowing users to buy and sell items on the social media platform. The company says more than 450 million people already visit buying and selling groups on Facebook each month. The new service will be available to people over 18 years of age in the United States, the UK, Australia, and New Zealand on Facebook's iPhone and Android over the coming days. BetaNews adds: The primary aim of Facebook Marketplace is to keep things as simple as possible. Both listing and searching for items is incredibly easy, and the focus is on putting would-be buyers in contact with sellers as close by as possible. The new feature sits alongside the many existing pages that have been set up to facilitate the buying and selling of goods, and Facebook has made it possible to post items to the Marketplace and individual pages simultaneously to help maximize your audience.

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Samsung Says It's Taking Some Time Off For Thinking and Waiting To See How the VR Market Shapes Up
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 08:55 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's time-out department:
Samsung says it is taking some time off to think before creating the next-generation VR headsets. The company said it wants to see the direction the market takes over the next few months and years. The company added that it is satisfied with the progress it has made in the mobile VR space (rightfully so, Samsung is among the frontrunners in VR tech), but it isn't happy with the state of display technology that goes along with the headsets. One solution the company sees right now is 10K displays, but that alone would require $5-10 billion commitment from Samsung. From an article on XDA: Samsung believes display technology needs to advance to at least twice the pixel density that we have in smartphones today. So it looks like the company is waiting and seeing how the experience of a standalone VR headset will be with Ultra HD display panels. Samsung's President & Chief Strategy Officer, Young Sohn, says this could be an incentive for the company to advance the technology faster, but it would cost them at least $5 to $10 billion to do so and develop a 10K mobile display.

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Source Code For IoT Botnet 'Mirai' Which Took Down Krebs On Security Website With DDoS Attack Released
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 08:55 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
As if the state of security wasn't already a headache worldwide, we now may have one more reason to worry about: a hacker has made available the source code that could allow more people to wage the kinds of extraordinary large assaults that recently knocked security news site KrebsOnSecurity offline. Brian Krebs reports:The source code that powers the "Internet of Things" (IoT) botnet responsible for launching the historically large distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack against KrebsOnSecurity last month has been publicly released, virtually guaranteeing that the Internet will soon be flooded with attacks from many new botnets powered by insecure routers, IP cameras, digital video recorders and other easily hackable devices. The leak of the source code was announced Friday on the English-language hacking community Hackforums. The malware, dubbed "Mirai," spreads to vulnerable devices by continuously scanning the Internet for IoT systems protected by factory default or hard-coded usernames and passwords. Vulnerable devices are then seeded with malicious software that turns them into "bots," forcing them to report to a central control server that can be used as a staging ground for launching powerful DDoS attacks designed to knock Web sites offline. The Hackforums user who released the code, using the nickname "Anna-senpai," told forum members the source code was being released in response to increased scrutiny from the security industry.

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Tim Cook Defends Apple's Approach To Security: 'Encryption is Inherently Great'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 07:25 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-stand department:
Apple CEO Tim Cook has once again defended his company's hardline approach to security. At Utah Tech Tour event while taking questions from the audience, Cook said, (via BusinessInsider):"This is one of the biggest issues that we face. Encryption is what makes the public safe. As you know, there are people kept alive because the grid is up. If our grid goes down, if there was a grid attack, the public's safety is at risk" -- hence the need for encryption to protect it. "You can imagine defence systems need encryption, because there are a few bad actors in the world who might like to attack those. [...] Some people have tried to make it out to be bad," the chief executive told the audience at the Utah question-and-answer session. "Encryption is inherently great, and we would not be a safe society without it. So this is an area that is very, very important for us... as you can tell from our actions earlier this year, we throw all of ourselves into this." he added. "We're very much standing on principle here."

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Microsoft Expands Azure Data Centers To France, Launches Trust Offensive vs AWS, Google
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 07:25 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's 'good-will'-cloud-game department:
Microsoft announced on Monday that it plans to build its first Azure data center in France this year as part of its $3 billion investment for building cloud services in Europe. The company today also launched a new publication dubbed, Cloud for Global Good with no fewer than 78 public policy recommendations in 15 categories such as data protection and accessibility issues. TechCrunch adds:The new expansion, investment and "trust" initiative were revealed by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, who was speaking at an event in Dublin, Ireland. He said that the expansion would mean that Microsoft covers "more regions than any other cloud provider... In the last year the capacity has more than doubled." As a measure of how Microsoft and Amazon are intent on levelling each other on service availability right now, the news of the French data center comes one month after Amazon announced that it would also be building a data center in France. Nadella, of course, did not mention AWS by name but that is the big elephant in the room for Microsoft. Nadella said today that Microsoft has data centers covering 30 regions across the globe, "more regions than any other cloud provider," with the European footprint including Ireland, the Netherlands, the UK and Germany.An anonymous reader writes: Satya Nadella, currently on a whirlwind tour of Europe, says that Microsoft has now invested over $3 billion in cloud infrastructure in Europe, and will extend that to governance-friendly French data centers in 2017. The company has also released a new publication calling for 78 policy reviews in 15 sectors of Cloud, including an overhaul of the verbose and opaque way that end-users are required to click legal agreements over data, some of which are specious and others of which are critical: "Because data is now collected and used in so many different ways, people can be overwhelmed if constantly presented with privacy choices and requests to consent to data collection. Requiring express consent in every situation could also make it difficult to understand which situations raise serious privacy implications and which are trivial."

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Facebook Releases Messenger Lite For People On Slower Networks and With Old and Basic Android Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 07:25 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's good-things department:
Facebook has launched a slimmed-down version of its popular Messenger app in an effort to appeal to its users in countries with slower internet access. The app is called Messenger Lite, and it is also aimed at users who have basic Android smartphones. From a CNET article: Facebook Messenger Lite takes up a much smaller amount of a phone's storage --just 10 megabytes -- than the full-fat app that most users have installed on their phones, and it has been pared back so that it runs nippily over slower than average network speeds. It is the companion app to Facebook Lite, a stripped-down version of the social network, also for old Android phones, launched in 2015. The app's launch is one cog in the wheel of Facebook's strategy to make the social network and the internet as a whole more accessible to users in the developing world. One of Facebook's stated aims is to bring the next 3 billion people online and it has a number of initiatives to that end, including internet.org, Free Basics and its Lite apps.

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Vint Cerf Warns About the Perishability Of Human Knowledge
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 04:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's data-dumped department:
Vint Cerf "worries about the decreasing longevity of our media, and, thus, about our ability as a civilization to self-document -- to have a historical record that one day far in the future might be remarked upon and learned from." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Motherboard:

Magnetic films do not quite have the staying power as clay tablets. Clay tablets are more resilient than papyrus manuscripts are more resilient than parchment are more resilient than printed photographs are more resilient than digital photographs. At stake, according to Cerf, is "the possibility that the centuries well before ours will be better known than ours will be unless we are persistent about preserving digital content.

"The earlier media seem to have a kind of timeless longevity while modern media from the 1800s forward seem to have shrinking lifetimes. Just as the monks and Muslims of the Middle Ages preserved content by copying into new media, won't we need to do the same for our modern content...? Unless we face this challenge in a direct way, the truly impressive knowledge we have collectively produced in the past 100 years or so may simply evaporate with time."

He points out that much of this century's digital documents can't be viewed without software. Do we need to start carving our web pages into clay tablets?

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India Ratifies The Paris Climate Change Agreement
Posted by News Fetcher on October 03 '16 at 12:31 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's world's-second-largest-population department:
"India just ratified the Paris climate deal -- bringing it extremely close to taking effect," reports the Washington Post, calling India the world's fourth-largest producer of greenhouse gas. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes NPR's update on the Paris agreement:
It will not become binding until it's ratified by 55 countries that contribute a total of at least 55% of global greenhouse gas emissions. The 55-country requirement has already been fulfilled -- India is No. 62 -- but...the current signatories account for about 52 percent of global greenhouse emissions, according to a statement released by the U.N. on Sunday.

India currently produces about 4.5 percent of the world's greenhouse gas emissions [and] has set a goal of producing 40 percent of its electricity with non-fossil fuel sources by 2030. India also promised to plant or preserve enough tree cover to act as a sink for at least 2.5 billion tons of carbon dioxide, and has called on the U.S. and other fully developed countries to share technologies that help decrease emissions.

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Linus Torvalds Officially Announces the Release of Linux Kernel 4.8
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '16 at 08:22 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's kernel-of-wisdom department:
Slashdot reader prisoninmate brings news from Softpedia:

Today, Linus Torvalds proudly announced the release and availability for download of the Linux 4.8 kernel branch, which is now the latest stable and most advanced one. Linux kernel 4.8 has been in development for the past two months, during which it received no less than eight Release Candidate testing versions that early adopters were able to compile and install on their GNU/Linux operating system to test various hardware components or simply report bugs...
A lot of things have been fixed since last week's RC8 milestone, among which we can mention lots of updated drivers, in particular for GPU, networking, and Non-Volatile Dual In-line Memory Module (NVDIMM), a bunch of improvements to the ARM, MIPS, SPARC, and x86 hardware architectures, updates to the networking stack, as well as to a few filesystem, and some minor changes to cgroup and vm.

The kernel now supports the Raspberry Pi 3 SoC as well as the Microsoft Surface 3 touchscreen.

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WikiLeaks' Big Tuesday Announcement Will Now Take Place Via Video
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '16 at 07:03 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's on-again-off-again department:
Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike writes that media outlets including Fox News were reporting WikiLeaks cancelled a big announcement scheduled for Tuesday and expected to reveal damaging information about Hillary Clinton. But they were all citing a tweet from NBC as their source. "Due to security concerns at the Ecuadorian Embassy, Julian Assange's balcony announcement on Tues has been cancelled," tweeted NBC producer Jesse Rodriguez -- which was apparently taken to mean the announcement had been cancelled altogether.

But six hours ago, citing WikiLeaks, that same producer reported that Assange "will appear via video link" at a Tuesday press conference in Berlin marking the 10th anniversary of WikiLeaks. While it's possible this "appearance" will be different than the originally scheduled "announcement," it also seems very possible that the NBC producer's tweets were just misunderstood.

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Splunk CTO Urges Collaboration Against Cyberattacks - And 'Shapeshifting' Networks
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '16 at 04:23 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's network-transmogrifier department:
"The cost of cyber attacks is 1/10th to 1/100th the cost of cyber defense," says the CTO of Splunk -- because the labor is cheap, the tools are free, and the resources are stolen. "He says what's needed to bring down the cost of defense is collaboration between the public sector, academia and private industry...the space race for this generation," reports Slashdot reader davidmwilliams.

Splunk CTO Snehal Antani suggests earlier "shift left" code testing and continuous delivery, plus a wider use of security analytics. But he also suggests a moving target defense "in which a shapeshifting network can prevent reconnaissance attacks" with software defined networks using virtual IP addresses that would change every 10 seconds. "This disrupts reconnaissance attacks because a specific IP address may be a Windows box one moment, a Linux box another, a mainframe another."

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iPhone 7 Finishes Last In New Test of Battery Life
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '16 at 03:02 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's phoning-it-in department:
"Pitted against the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10 and LG G5, Apple's latest handset came in last place... and by some distance," reports BetaNews. Here's the results of a new test from the U.K. consumer advocacy group, Which?:

We compared the iPhone 7's battery life, when making calls and browsing the web, to those of three top Android competitors: the Samsung Galaxy S7, HTC 10 and LG G5, and the results were staggering. While the iPhone 7's 712 minutes of call time (nearly 12 hours) may sound acceptable, the rival Samsung Galaxy S7 lasted twice as long -- and it doesn't even have the longest lasting battery. The HTC 10 lasted an incredible 1,859 minutes (that's almost 31 hours).

When it comes to internet browsing time, arguably the more important measurement, the results were a lot closer...but the iPhone 7 still came bottom. The 615 minutes of battery life offered by the iPhone 7 is 25 minutes less than its nearest rival, the LG G5, and 175 minutes less than the top performing HTC 10.

The researchers point out that the iPhone 7 has a smaller battery -- but that's leaving critics unimpressed. The Guardian newspaper is asking, "How good can a phone be if the battery doesn't last even a day?"

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No One's Bidding on The Shadow Brokers' Stolen NSA Hacking Tools
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '16 at 03:02 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mocking-the-auction department:
That group auctioning the NSA's hacking tools is "very upset" no one's bidding on them. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Motherboard:

"TheShadowBrokers" authored another bizarre rant expressing their annoyance at the seeming lack of interest in ponying up bitcoins to release their full set of stolen files. "Peoples is having interest in free files ... But people is no interest in #EQGRP_Auction," the mysterious hacker group complained in a ranting post on Medium, which seems to be purposely written in Borat-style broken English. "TheShadowBrokers is thinking this is information communication problem."

The message also blindly lashes out at hackers, foreign intelligence services, and basically anyone else who hasn't bid on the files... At the time of this writing, TheShadowBrokers have only received bids for a total of 1.76 bitcoins -- or about $1,082 -- far below the group's asking price of $1 million.

At least five transactions came from a prankster who was trying to Rickroll the group with bitcoin addresses containing the words "Never Gonna Give You Up."

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Krebs Warns Source Code Leaked From Massive IoT Botnet Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '16 at 01:42 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's telnet-botnet department:
Remember that historically massive denial-of-service attack last month against security researcher Brian Krebs? The source code's just been leaked, Krebs reports, "virtually guaranteeing that the Internet will soon be flooded with attacks from many new botnets powered by insecure routers, IP cameras, digital video recorders and other easily hackable devices." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes KrebsOnSecurity:

The malware, dubbed "Mirai," spreads to vulnerable devices by continuously scanning the Internet for IoT systems protected by factory default or hard-coded usernames and passwords. Infected systems can be cleaned up by simply rebooting them -- thus wiping the malicious code from memory. But experts say there is so much constant scanning going on for vulnerable systems that vulnerable IoT devices can be re-infected within minutes of a reboot. Only changing the default password protects them from rapidly being reinfected on reboot...

The user who leaked the source code says "there's lots of eyes looking at IOT now... I usually pull max 380K bots from telnet alone. However, after the Krebs DDoS, ISPs been slowly shutting down and cleaning up their act. Today, max pull is about 300K bots, and dropping"...

Now that the source code has been released online for that 620-Gbps attack, Krebs predicts "there will soon be many Internet users complaining to their ISPs about slow Internet speeds as a result of hacked IoT devices on their network hogging all the bandwidth. On the bright side, if that happens it may help to lessen the number of vulnerable systems."

He points out that 5.5 million new things get connected to the internet each day, according to Gartner. And they're also predicting that 6.4 billion things will be connected to the internet by the end of the year -- reaching 20.8 billion over the next four years.

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French Banks Offer Credit Card Numbers That Change Every Hour
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '16 at 12:24 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's nope-guess-again department:
Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes The Memo:
What if the numbers on your card changed every hour so that, even if a fraudster copied them, they'd quickly be out of date? That's exactly what two French banks are starting to do with their new high-tech ebank cards... The three digits on the back of this card will change, every hour, for three years. And after they change, the previous three digits are essentially worthless, and that's a huge blow for criminals... As most fraud happens a few hours or days after your card details are actually taken, this would leave criminals essentially with a bunch of useless numbers.

It's just like credit cards you have now -- other than the tiny digital screen that's embedded into the back of the card.

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As ICANN Gains Full Oversight Of Domain Name System, Some Wonder If It Means the US Has Given Away The Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '16 at 11:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's complicated-things department:
The U.S. has given up its remaining control over the Internet. The formal handover, which took effect on Saturday, followed a last-ditch attempt by a group of Republicans to block the move. They had argued that the US concession would open the door for authoritarian governments get control of the network of networks, leading to greater censorship. From a BBC report:A judge in Texas has put the kibosh on a last-minute legal attempt to block the controversial decision for the US to give up control of one of the key systems that powers the internet. It's a move being breathlessly described by some as the US "giving up the internet" to the likes of China, Russia and the Middle East. For starters, while they can take the credit for inventing the underlying technology, the US never "had the internet" to begin with. Nobody did. It's a, duh, network. Decentralised. That's what makes it so powerful. But there are bits of internet infrastructure that some people and governments do have control over, and that's what this row is all about. One of them is the DNS - Domain Name System. This is the system for looking after web addresses. Thanks to the DNS, when you type bbc.com, you're taken to the correct servers for the BBC website. It saves you the grief of having to remember a string of numbers. That pairing of names and numbers is kept in one great big master file, the land registry of the web. The only organisation that can make changes is Icann, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers. As of Saturday 1 October 2016, Icann will no longer be under US government oversight.

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Scientists Identify Another Source of Dangerous Greenhouse Gases: Reservoirs
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '16 at 11:02 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's dammed-if-you-do department:
A team of researchers from Canada, Holland, China, the U.S. and Brazil "found that greenhouse gas emissions from man-made reservoirs were likely equal to the equivalent of one gigaton of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere every year...a little less than one-sixth of the United State's greenhouse gas emissions." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Popular Science:

A reservoir is usually created by damming a river, overflowing the banks and flooding the surrounding area, creating a man-made lake...the perfect conditions for microbes to generate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane (a gas that is about 25 times more potent than carbon dioxide)... "When reservoirs are first flooded there's organic matter in the soil and vegetation that can be converted by microbes into methane and carbon dioxide," John Harrison, a co-author of the paper, tells Popular Science.

"Also, reservoirs because they are in line in rivers, they receive a lot of organic matter and organic sediment from upstream that can fuel the production of methane, carbon dioxide and nitrous oxide." Harrison says that reservoirs also tend to occur in areas where fertilizers are used on the surrounding land. Runoff from those fertilizers into bodies of water can cause algal blooms that can also produce more methane and carbon dioxide.

If the world's reservoirs were a country, they'd be #8 on a list of polluters -- right behind Brazil, China, the EU and the U.S.

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Apple Loses Patent Retrial To VirnetX, Owes $302.4 Million
Posted by News Fetcher on October 02 '16 at 09:31 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Apple-Pay(s) department:
Slashdot reader chasm22 quotes Reuters:

A federal jury in Texas on Friday night ordered Apple Inc to pay more than $302 million in damages for using VirnetX Holding Corp's patented internet security technology without permission in features including its FaceTime video conferencing application. The verdict came in a new trial in Tyler, Texas that had been ordered by the judge in the case, Robert Schroeder, who last August threw out VirnetX's $625.6 million win over Apple from a previous trial because he said jurors in that case may have been confused...

A jury in 2012 awarded $368.2 million in damages, but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, D.C., partly overturned that verdict, saying there were problems with how the trial judge instructed jurors on calculating damages.
On remand, VirnetX's two suits were combined, and in February, a jury returned with an even bigger verdict, $625.6 million, one of the highest ever in a U.S. patent case... However, Schroeder later voided the result, saying that the repeated references to the earlier case could have confused jurors and were unfair to Apple... Apple will also have to contend with the trial in a second lawsuit VirnetX filed against Apple over newer versions of Apple security features, as well as its iMessage application.

The article points out that "Many patent cases are handled in the Texas court, which has a reputation for awarding favorable verdicts to plaintiffs alleging infringement."

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