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Waymo's Driverless Cars Have Logged 10 Million Miles On Public Roads
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '18 at 06:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's insert-pun-about-Waymo-driving-way-mo-miles-than-other-companies-here department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: Alphabet's driverless-car company Waymo announced a new milestone today (Oct. 10): its vehicles have driven a collective 10 million miles on U.S. roads. With cars in six states, Waymo has really been racking up the miles since April 2017, when it launched a program giving rides to passengers around the Phoenix, Arizona area. At that point, Waymo cars had driven not quite 3 million miles since the company's earliest days as a research project within Google in 2009. But in the last 18 months, the company more than tripled its road mileage.

Competing with other companies with autonomous-vehicle programs like Uber, Tesla, Apple, and GM's Cruise, Waymo is leading the pack in terms of road miles driven. [...] The company's next 10 million miles, CEO John Krafcik said in today's announcement, will focus on "striking the balance" between its safety-first algorithms and driving assertively in everyday maneuvers, like merging, and navigating bad weather. But it's worth keeping things in perspective: U.S. drivers rack up some 3 trillion miles each year, so Waymo still has some ground to cover.

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The Military Chooses Which Rockets It Wants Built For the Next Decade
Posted by News Fetcher on October 11 '18 at 02:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hand-selected department:
The U.S. Air Force on Wednesday awarded funds to three rocket companies to help them complete development of their boosters. The three winners include:
United Launch Services: $967,000,000 for the development of the Vulcan Centaur launch system.
Northrop Grumman: $791,601,015 for development of the Omega launch system
Blue Origin: $500,000,000 for the development of the New Glenn launch system
< article continued at Slashdot's hand-selected department >

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Razer Phone 2 Launches With Notch-less Display, Wireless Charging, and RGB Lighting
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 11:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-shiny department:
Last November, Razer unveiled a smartphone designed for gamers who value performance and power over bells and whistles like waterproofing and wireless charging. At an event Wednesday night, Razer took the wraps off its successor, aptly named Razer Phone 2, which sports a brighter, notch-less, 5.72-inch IGZO LCD display with a 2560x1440 resolution and HDR, wireless charging, IP67 water- and dust-resistance rating, and RGB lighting behind the Razer logo on the rear. Given the addition of waterproofing and wireless charging, the Razer Phone 2 appears to be much more well-rounded than its predecessor, making the decision all the more difficult when shopping for a premium, high-end smartphone. AnandTech reports: This display is rated at 645 nits peak, up to 50% higher than the previous Razer Phone, and also supports HDR. Razer states that the display also has wide color gamut, which turns out to be 98.4% of DCI-P3. Also on the front, it has two front facing speakers in identical positions to the previous generation, and it has a front facing camera and sensor (albeit with swapped positions). That front camera is an 8MP f/2.0 unit, capable of recording at 1080p60, a user-requested feature for streaming and selfie recording. The front of the device is Corning Gorilla Glass 5, an upgrade from GG3 in the last generation.

< article continued at Slashdot's new-and-shiny department >

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James Murdoch In Line To Replace Musk As Tesla Chairman, Says Report [Update]
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 10:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-in-line department:
21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch is the lead candidate to replace Elon Musk as Tesla chairman, the Financial Times reported today. The company has until November 13 to appoint an independent chairman of the board, part of settlements reached last month between Tesla, Musk and U.S. regulators in the wake of Musk tweeting in August that he had secured funding to take the company private. Reuters reports: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which said the statement was fraudulent, allowed the billionaire to retain his role as CEO while stripping him of his chairmanship and imposing a penalty of $20 million on each party. Murdoch, who is a nonexecutive director of Tesla, has signaled he wants the job, the report said. The son of Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch, he joined Tesla's board in July 2017 after years of work with media companies. He has no experience in manufacturing and has never led a company that makes cars or electric vehicles.

Murdoch currently serves on the boards of 21st Century Fox and News Corp. He stepped down from the board of Sky Plc on Tuesday following the completion of Comcast Corp's takeover of the broadcaster. Glass Lewis research director Courteney Keatinge said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that while Murdoch's departure from Sky could alleviate some concerns, the Tesla chairmanship would still require a big time commitment as the company faces pressures on many fronts. Update: In a tweet late Wednesday, Musk said Financial Times' report was inaccurate.

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Newly Discovered Volcanic 'Lost World' Is a Haven For Marine Life
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 08:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Australian scientists have discovered a previously unknown chain of volcanic seamounts near Tasmania. The area appears to be brimming with marine life, including a surprising number of whales who may be using the undersea volcanoes as a navigational tool. The volcanic chain was discovered by scientists from the Australian National University and CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, while on a 25-day mission aboard the research vessel Investigator to conduct detailed seafloor maps of the region. The undersea volcanoes are about 250 miles (400 kilometers) east of Tasmania, and they're quite deep.

The tallest of the seamounts extends 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) from the seafloor, so they're not tiny. It's hard to believe that something so large has gone undetected for so long, but our oceans are notoriously understudied. A mere 20 percent of Earth's oceans has been explored, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. [T]he seamounts appeared to serve as a kind of mid-ocean oasis for a host of marine organisms. In addition to finding copious amounts of plankton in the area, the researchers observed various seabirds and a surprising number of whales. The volcanic seamounts, the researchers say, are likely important stopping points for migratory animals, particularly whales, who rely on seafloor structures for navigation. The volcanoes are likely serving as important signposts as the whales travel from their winter breeding areas to summer feeding grounds, the researchers say.

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Google Home Hub Is Nothing Like Other Google Smart Displays
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
On Tuesday, Google announced the Google Home Hub, a 7-inch display that gives you visual information, making it easier to control smart home appliances and view photos and the weather. The unusual thing about it is that it doesn't run the smart display software that it introduced for third-party OEMs. Ars Technica explains: First, let's talk about what the third-party smart displays run. When Google created its smart display software, it also came up with a turnkey solution for OEMs. So far, we've seen Lenovo, LG, and Samsung's JBL all produce devices on the same basic platform. Just like with smartphones, these devices are all an extension of the Android/Qualcomm partnership -- they run Android Things on Qualcomm's SD624 Home Hub Platform. Android Things is Google's stripped-down version of Android that is purpose-built for IoT products, and the third-party smart displays are the first commercial devices to run the OS.

Unlike regular phone Android, Android Things is not customizable by third-parties. All Android Things devices use an OS image direct from Google, and Google centrally distributes updates to all Android Things devices for three years. Android Things doesn't really have an interface. It's designed to get a device up and running and show a single app, which on the smart displays is the Google Smart Display app. Qualcomm's "Home Hub" platform was purposely built to run Android Things and this Google Assistant software -- the SD624 is for smart displays, while the less powerful SDA212 is for speakers. When it came time to build the Google Home Hub, Google didn't use any of this. After talking to Google's VP of product management, Diya Jolly, Ars Technica's Ron Amadeo discovered that the Home Hub is actually built on Google's Cast platform and uses an Amlogic chip instead of Qualcomm's SD624 Home Hub Platform.
< article continued at Slashdot's stranger-things department >

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Microsoft Passes Acer To Become Top 5 PC Vendors In the US
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's top-five department:
During the 3rd Quarter of 2018, Microsoft reportedly broke into the top five list of PC vendors in the U.S. for the first time, thanks to its line of Surface computers, laptops, and tablets. VentureBeat reports: Q3 2018 was flat; it did not continue the growth we saw in the previous quarter. Gartner estimates that worldwide PC shipments increased 0.1 percent to 67.2 million units while IDC counts a 0.9 percent decline to 67.4 million units. Gartner's top five vendors were Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, and Acer (in that order) while IDC's were Lenovo, HP, Dell, Acer, and Apple (also in that order). But Gartner also provides a U.S. breakdown every quarter, and Q3 2018 was the first time that Microsoft made an appearance, displacing Acer.

Microsoft is still a far cry from the other players in the top 5, and its shipments were in fact only up slightly by 11,000 units, gaining just 0.1 percentage points (to 4.1 percent market share). Still, Dell and Apple were down, and the overall U.S. market was flat (down some 50,000 units) in Q3 2018, so in that context, Surface sales are doing just fine.

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Magic Leap Expands Shipments of Its AR Headset To 48 US States
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's expanding-territory department:
At the company's first developer conference, Magic Leap announced they are opening orders of the Magic Leap One Creator's Edition headset to the 48 contiguous states of the USA. If you're in Hawaii or Alaska, no dice. TechCrunch reports: Previously, you had to be in Chicago, LA, Miami, NYC, San Francisco or Seattle in order to get your hands on it. Also, if you had previously ordered the headset in one of those cities, someone would come to you, drop it off and get you set up personally. That service is expanding to 50 cities, but you also don't need to have someone set it up for you in order to buy one now. It's worth reiterating that this thing costs $2,295. The company is doing a financing plan with Affirm so that interested buyers can spread the cost of the device over 24 months.

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Amazon Is Raising Some Workers' Pay Further, Adding Bonuses After Controversy
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's can't-please-everyone department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Amazon is sweetening the pay for some of its longtime warehouse workers after employees criticized the loss of bonuses and stock awards as part of the company's pledge to boost all wages to at least $15 an hour. The world's largest online retailer grabbed headlines last week with its minimum-pay pledge -- followed by concerns from veteran workers who feared their compensation would actually decline because the company also eliminated bonuses and stock awards. Amazon said any workers already earning $15 would get raises of $1 per hour. Now, some of those employees are learning their hourly raises will actually be $1.25 an hour. Additionally, Amazon is introducing a new cash bonus of $1,500 to $3,000 for tenure milestones at five, 10, 15 and 20 years. Workers with good attendance in the month of December will also get a $100 bonus, according to the company. "All hourly Operations and Customer Service employees will see an increase in their total compensation as a result of this announcement," Amazon said in a statement. "The significant increase in hourly cash wages effective Nov. 1 more than compensates for the phase out of incentive pay and future (stock) grants."

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Automated Warehouse In Tokyo Managed To Replace 90 Percent of Its Staff With Robots
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hands-free department:
Japanese retailer Uniqlo in Tokyo's Ariake district has managed to cut 90% of its staff and replace them with robots that are capable of inspecting and sorting the clothing housed there. The automation also allows them to operate 24 hours a day. Quartz reports: The company recently remodeled the existing warehouse with an automated system created in partnership with Daifuku, a provider of material handling systems. Now that the system is running, the company revealed during a walkthrough of the new facility, Uniqlo has been able to cut staff at the warehouse by 90%. The Japan News described how the automation works: "The robotic system is designed to transfer products delivered to the warehouse by truck, read electronic tags attached to the products and confirm their stock numbers and other information. When shipping, the system wraps products placed on a conveyor belt in cardboard and attaches labels to them. Only a small portion of work at the warehouse needs to be done by employees, the company said."
The Tokyo warehouse is just a first step in a larger plan for Uniqlo's parent company, Fast Retailing. It has announced a strategic partnership with Daifuku with the goal of automating all Fast Retailing's brand warehouses in Japan and overseas. Uniqlo plans to invest 100 billion yen (about $887 million) in the project over an unspecified timeframe. (The Japan News reported that it costs about 1 billion to 10 billion yen to automate an existing warehouse.) Uniqlo believes the system will help it minimize storage costs and, importantly, deliver products faster around the world. The company has set a target of 3 trillion yen (about $26.6 billion) in annual revenue. Last year its revenue was about 1.86 trillion yen (pdf).

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James Murdoch In Line To Replace Musk As Tesla Chairman, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-in-line department:
21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch is the lead candidate to replace Elon Musk as Tesla chairman, the Financial Times reported today. The company has until November 13 to appoint an independent chairman of the board, part of settlements reached last month between Tesla, Musk and U.S. regulators in the wake of Musk tweeting in August that he had secured funding to take the company private. Reuters reports: The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which said the statement was fraudulent, allowed the billionaire to retain his role as CEO while stripping him of his chairmanship and imposing a penalty of $20 million on each party. Murdoch, who is a nonexecutive director of Tesla, has signaled he wants the job, the report said. The son of Fox mogul Rupert Murdoch, he joined Tesla's board in July 2017 after years of work with media companies. He has no experience in manufacturing and has never led a company that makes cars or electric vehicles.

Murdoch currently serves on the boards of 21st Century Fox and News Corp. He stepped down from the board of Sky Plc on Tuesday following the completion of Comcast Corp's takeover of the broadcaster. Glass Lewis research director Courteney Keatinge said in a telephone interview on Wednesday that while Murdoch's departure from Sky could alleviate some concerns, the Tesla chairmanship would still require a big time commitment as the company faces pressures on many fronts.

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The Breach That Killed Google+ Wasn't a Breach At All
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 03:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's technically-speaking department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: For months, Google has been trying to stay out of the way of the growing tech backlash, but yesterday, the dam finally broke with news of a bug in the rarely used Google+ network that exposed private information for as many as 500,000 users. Google found and fixed the bug back in March, around the same time the Cambridge Analytica story was heating up in earnest. [...] The vulnerability itself seems to have been relatively small in scope. The heart of the problem was a specific developer API that could be used to see non-public information. But crucially, there's no evidence that it actually was used to see private data, and given the thin user base, it's not clear how much non-public data there really was to see. The API was theoretically accessible to anyone who asked, but only 432 people actually applied for access (again, it's Google+), so it's plausible that none of them ever thought of using it this way.

The bigger problem for Google isn't the crime, but the cover-up. The vulnerability was fixed in March, but Google didn't come clean until seven months later when The Wall Street Journal got hold of some of the memos discussing the bug. [...] Part of the disconnect comes from the fact that, legally, Google is in the clear. There are lots of laws about reporting breaches -- primarily the GDPR but also a string of state-level bills -- but by that standard, what happened to Google+ wasn't technically a breach. Those laws are concerned with unauthorized access to user information, codifying the basic idea that if someone steals your credit card or phone number, you have a right to know about it. But Google just found that data was available to developers, not that any data was actually taken. With no clear data stolen, Google had no legal reporting requirements. As far as the lawyers were concerned, it wasn't a breach, and quietly fixing the problem was good enough.

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Mozilla Challenges Educators To Integrate Ethics Into STEM
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 02:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's open-challenge department:
Today, Mozilla, along with Omidyar Network, Schmidt Futures, and Craig Newmark Philanthropies, is launching a competition for professors and educators to effectively integrate ethics into computer science education at the undergraduate level. From a report: The context, called the Responsible Computer Science Challenge, will award up to $3.5 million over the next two years to proposals focused on how to make ethics relevant to young technologists. "You can't take an ethics course from 50 or even 25 years ago and drop it in the middle of a computer science program and expect it to grab people or be particularly applicable," Mitchell Baker, the founder and chairwoman of the Mozilla Foundation, said. "We are looking to encourage ways of teaching ethics that make sense in a computer science program, that make sense today, and that make sense in understanding questions of data."

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WhatsApp Fixes Bug That Let Hackers Take Over App When Answering a Video Call
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 02:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
WhatsApp developers have fixed a bug in the Android and iOS versions of the WhatsApp mobile app that allowed hackers to take over the application when users answered an incoming video call. From a report: Natalie Silvanovich, a security researcher with Google's Project Zero security research team, discovered the WhatsApp vulnerability at the end of August. She described the vulnerability as a "memory corruption bug in WhatsApp's non-WebRTC video conferencing implementation." "Heap corruption can occur when the WhatsApp mobile application receives a malformed RTP packet," Silvanovich said in a bug report. "This issue can occur when a WhatsApp user accepts a call from a malicious peer." It is unclear how popular the video feature is on WhatsApp, which is used by more than 1.2 billion users. But in July, the company said users were spending over two billion minutes on calls (including voice) each day.

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Apple Plans To Give Away Original Content For Free To Device Owners as Part of New Digital TV Strategy, Report Says
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 12:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Apple is planning a new digital video service that will provide original content free to its device owners, CNBC reported Wednesday. From the report: Apple is preparing a new digital video service that will marry original content and subscription services from legacy media companies, according to people familiar with the matter. Owners of Apple devices, such as the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV will find the still-in-the-works service in the pre-installed "TV" application, said the people, who asked not to be named because the details of the project are private. The product will include Apple-owned content, which will be free to Apple device owners, and subscription "channels" which will allow customers to sign up for online-only services, such as those from HBO and Starz. Apple plans to debut the revamped app early next year, the people said. As Bloomberg reported in May, the subscription channels will essentially copy Amazon's Prime Video Channel Subscriptions. Customers will be able to access all of their content from within the TV app so they won't need to download individual apps from multiple media providers.

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FBI Director on Whether Apple and Amazon Servers Had Chinese Spy Chips: 'Be Careful What You Read'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 12:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's wray-weighs-in department:
During a hearing in front of the Senate Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, FBI Director Christopher Wray told senators to "be careful what you read," when asked about a recent story involving spy chips from China being secretly embedded into servers owned by Apple, Amazon and other big companies. From a report: Senator Ron Johnson, R-Wis., chairman of the committee, asked Wray when his agency found out about the chips that server manufacturer Super Micro implanted into server hardware, as reported last week by Bloomberg Businessweek. "I would say to the newspaper article or, I mean, the magazine article, I would say be careful what you read," Wray replied. "Especially in this context." Johnson called on Wray to speak to the accuracy of the story, telling the FBI director that, "We don't want false information out there." Wray said he couldn't offer much detail because the agency has a policy of not confirming or denying that an investigation is underway. "I do want to be careful that my comment not be construed as inferring or implying, I should say, that there is an investigation," Wray said. "We take very seriously our obligation to notify victims when they've been targeted."

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State Attorneys Urge FCC To Combat Neighborhood Spoofing
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 11:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's do-something-already department:
Attorneys general from 35 states are urging the Federal Communications Commission to allow telephone companies to block illegally manipulated calls that appear to come from consumers' neighborhoods. From a report: The rule change could help reduce "spoofed" calls from numbers with the same area code as the consumer, or even calls from the consumer's own number. Combating junk marketing calls has been a top consumer protection priority for FCC Chairman Ajit Pai. The FCC last November adopted a set of robocall rules that allowed telephone companies to proactively block calls from invalid, unassigned or unused numbers. The agency then sought public comments on empowering telephone companies further. The attorneys general want to the FCC to create new rules specifically targeting neighborhood spoofing, they said in comments filed Oct. 9 with the agency.

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Apple Said To Have 'Dramatically Reduced' Multi-Billion-Dollar iPhone Repair Fraud in China
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 11:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
From a report: Within the past four years, Apple has managed to "dramatically reduce" the rate of iPhone-related repair fraud in its retail stores in China, according to The Information's Wayne Ma. The report is based on interviews with more than a dozen former Apple employees who spoke on condition of anonymity. In 2013, Apple is said to have discovered a highly sophisticated fraud scheme in which organized thieves would buy or steal iPhones, remove valuable components like the processor or logic board, swap in fake components, and return the "broken" iPhones to receive replacements they could resell. From the report: "Thieves would stand outside stores with suitcases full of iPhones with some of the original components stripped out and replaced with inferior parts, two of the people said. The fraudsters would hire people to pretend to be customers to return them, each taking a device to stand in line at the Genius Bar, the people said. Once the phones were swapped, the actors would pass the new phones to the fraudsters and get paid for their time, the people said."

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BBC Had To Replace Live Broadcasts With Recorded Material on its TV News Channels For an Hour Today Because of a Technical Glitch
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's oops department:
The BBC had to replace live broadcasts with recorded material on its TV news channels for about an hour on Wednesday following a technical glitch. BBC News reports: The News at Six was also presented from the BBC's Millbank studio instead of its usual home of New Broadcasting House. The issue affected OpenMedia, a new computer system rolled out across BBC News outlets over the past six months. OpenMedia supplier Annova has been helping to investigate the fault. Engineers believe they have now addressed the problem. BBC News Home Editor Mark Easton shared on social media that he was rushing across London to the Millbank studio.

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More Than One Third of Music Consumers Still Pirate Music
Posted by News Fetcher on October 10 '18 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
More than one-third of global music listeners are still pirating music, according to a new report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI). From a report: While the massive rise in legal streaming platforms such as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal was thought to have stemmed illegal consumption, 38% of listeners continue to acquire music through illegal means. The most popular form of copyright infringement is stream-ripping (32%): using easily available software to record the audio from sites like YouTube at a low-quality bit rate. Downloads through "cyberlocker" file hosting services or P2P software like BitTorrent came second (23%), with acquisition via search engines in third place (17%).

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