By BeauHD from Slashdot's sneaky-bastards department
Less than a week after ProPublica found that TurboTax lied to taxpayers about its free filing program, "a new class action lawsuit against TurboTax maker Intuit claims the tax service breached its agreement with the Internal Revenue Service by intentionally obscuring its free filing service and charging qualifying taxpayers anyway," reports Gizmodo. From the report: The complaint was filed Sunday in a California district court on behalf of plaintiffs from three different states. TurboTax's free filing service is offered -- alongside programs from other tax companies -- in partnership with the IRS and is meant to benefit 70 percent of U.S. taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of $66,000 or less. In TurboTax's case, the free filing service should be offered to those with adjusted gross incomes of $34,000 or less, per the IRS Free File Software page.
But according to the suit, TurboTax violated its agreement with the IRS by separating its free filing page from its primary service as well as by intentionally hiding the service from search engines -- and therefore qualifying taxpayers -- by altering its code, a discovery unearthed through ongoing investigations into TurboTax's practices by ProPublica. Additionally, TurboTax is accused of using language meant to lead taxpayers to believe that its primary service is free only to later charge them. When asked about the lawsuit, a spokesperson for TurboTax said in a statement: "We are committed to offering Americans the ability to file their taxes for free, and we're committed to the IRS Free File program. More IRS Free File returns have been filed using a TurboTax product than any other of the member companies -- including approximately 1.2 million returns this tax season. We look forward to working with the IRS and private industry to improve the Free File program and help it continue to grow."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's competition-spurs-innovation department
Lenovo is launching a new AR-and-VR system targeted at businesses. It's called ThinkReality, and from the looks and description of the device and platform, it looks like a competitor for Microsoft's HoloLens. Engadget reports: There are two parts to the new ThinkReality system -- the AR headset and a software platform. The ThinkReality A6 is a comfortable 380-gram headset with two fisheye cameras on the front, as well as depth sensors and a 13-megapixel RGB sensor. There's also microphones onboard for voice control, and the headset can also detect where you're gazing to optimize resolution or navigation. You'll also be able to interact with your virtual environments using an included 3DoF controller. Untethered, the A6 can last up to four hours with its 6,800mAh battery, and you can still use the device while it's plugged in and charging.
The headset connects to an SSD-sized compute box that contains a Snapdragon 845 CPU running an Android-based platform. There's also an Intel Movidius chips powering waveguide optics here, and each eye on the A6 offers a 40-degree diagonal field of view and 1080p resolution. By comparison, the HoloLens 2 uses a Snapdragon 850 CPU and packs two 2K MEMS displays. Microsoft also squeezes all the computing components into the headset rather than in a separate box like Lenovo does. While I'm not a fan of having to carry around an additional accessory to power a headset, this setup does make the ThinkReality A6 lighter, so it's a compromise I'm willing to make. You can wear the box on a belt clip or an armband, which should make it easy to move around when wearing this setup at work. Lenovo claims this is "one of the lightest fully featured AR headsets in its class," and during a brief trial with a non-working model, I certainly found the A6 lightweight.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-can-play-that-game department
Walmart will now offer shoppers the option to have their online orders delivered the next day, following Amazon's recently announced plans to spend $800 million for one-day delivery for all Amazon Prime members. CNBC reports: Walmart said Tuesday it is rolling out next-day delivery in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Southern California over the next few days and will expand it to reach roughly 75% of American consumers by the end of 2019, including 40 of the top 50 major metros. Amazon hasn't yet detailed a timeline for its own rollout of next-day shipping. But even before its April announcement, the company had offered same-day and two-hour delivery for Prime members in certain markets for certain products and at an additional cost. Amazon's next-day shipping plan expands the number of items and ZIP codes eligible for expedited service.
Walmart isn't disclosing the cost of its latest delivery push. But the company says it has been working on it for quite some time. To start, next-day delivery will be available for about 220,000 items "most frequently purchased" online, Walmart said, including toys and electronics. The company said it plans to make more items available to ship next day over time. And the option is only free for orders over $35. Amazon, for comparison, has no minimum purchase threshold for free, next-day delivery but requires customers to have a Prime membership, which costs $119 annually.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's remote-attacks-with-global-implications department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Security researchers have discovered serious vulnerabilities affecting dozens of Cisco devices. The flaws allow hackers to deceive the part of the product hardware that checks whether software updates come from legitimate sources. Experts believe this could put emails sent within an organization at risk as they may use compromised routers. Messages sent externally constitute less of a risk, however, as they tend to be encrypted. The California-based firm said it is working on "software fixes" for all affected hardware.
"We've shown that we can quietly and persistently disable the Trust Anchor," Red Balloon chief executive Ang Cui, told Wired magazine. "That means we can make arbitrary changes to a Cisco router, and the Trust Anchor will still report that the device is trustworthy. Which is scary and bad, because this is in every important Cisco product. Everything." Security experts believe that the vulnerability could cause a major headache for Cisco, which has listed dozens of its products as vulnerable on its website. "We don't know how many devices could have been affected and it's unlikely Cisco can tell either," said Prof Alan Woodward, a computer security expert based at Surrey University. "It could cost Cisco a lot of money." Security firm Red Balloon has set up a website with more details on the vulnerabilities, which they are calling "Thrangycat."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's like-it-or-not-here-they-come department
The Verge reports on the new ad types Google announced today that will start showing up throughout its mobile products, including some that interrupt the core Google search and discovery experiences. From the report: Google searches on mobile will soon include "gallery" ads that allow advertisers to display multiple images for users to swipe through. You'll also begin to see ads in Google's discover feed -- the feed of news stories that you find built into many Android home screens, inside the Google app, and on Google's mobile homepage -- though they'll only appear in select locations for now. The new ad formats are meant to make ads a lot more noticeable. In a blog post, Google ad chief Prabhakar Raghavan says that, in tests, gallery ads resulted in "up to 25 percent more interactions" than traditional search ads.
Gallery ads will only be launching on mobile, not the desktop. Discover ads will appear in Google's mobile app, as well as on the discover feed on Android phones. Google tells us those ads won't appear in the discover feed that's built into the google.com mobile homepage. [...] The discover feed -- a personalized feed of recommended news stories that Google displays on mobile -- will also be getting ads for the first time. They'll appear just like any other story, with an image on top, a headline, and a subject field with more information. But they'll have a small badge that says "ad" to let users know it's sponsored. Those ads will extend to YouTube as well, where they'll slot in alongside recommended videos. Discover ads will also roll out later this year.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
With employees organizing sit-ins over retaliation and continuing to agitate for change, Google is locking down internal communications. From a report: Google's top legal executive Kent Walker sent an all-staff email on Thursday informing employees that accessing documents classified as "need to know" without permission could result in termination, sources inside the company tell BuzzFeed News. After BuzzFeed News contacted Google about the email, Walker sent an update on Tuesday in the company's daily newsletter, clarifying that employees were typically only terminated when intentional violations resulted in data leaks, risks to user privacy, or harm to co-workers.
The Thursday email, titled "An important reminder on data classifications," referenced changes to Google's data security policy that were updated in October. Although the policy has been in place since 2007, and updates are visible internally, employees weren't notified by email at the time. The timing of the email announcement rattled employees who've been involved with organizing within the company's ranks and who told BuzzFeed News they saw it as a blow to internal accountability mechanisms. These employees said the "need to know" language in the data security policy leaves which particular documents are considered "need to know" up to Google's interpretation; "need to know" documents aren't necessarily labeled as such, and the punishment for accessing such documents without permission can vary, but include termination.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
Academics have discovered a new class of vulnerabilities in Intel processors that can allow attackers to retrieve data being processed inside a CPU. From a report: The leading attack in this new vulnerability class is a security flaw named Zombieload, which is another side-channel attack in the same category as Meltdown, Spectre, and Foreshadow. Just like the first three, Zombieload is exploited by taking advantage of the speculative execution process, which is an optimization technique that Intel added to its CPUs to improve data processing speeds and performance. For more than a year, academics have been poking holes in various components of the speculative execution process, revealing ways to leak data from various CPU buffer zones and data processing operations. Meltdown, Spectre, and Foreshadow have shown how various CPU components leak data during the speculative execution process.
Today, an international team of academics -- including some of the people involved in the original Meltdown and Spectre research -- along with security researchers from Bitdefender have disclosed a new attack impacting the speculative execution process. This one is what researchers have named a Microarchitectural Data Sampling (MDS) attack, and targets a CPU's microarchitectural data structures, such as the load, store, and line fill buffers, which the CPU uses for fast reads/writes of data being processed inside the CPU. [...] In a research paper published today, academics say that all Intel CPUs released since 2011 are most likely vulnerable. Processors for desktops, laptops, and (cloud) servers are all impacted, researchers said on a special website they've set up with information about the Zombieload flaws.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-Android-phone department
Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus has revealed two flagship smartphones: the OnePlus 7, and the OnePlus 7 Pro. From a report: The OnePlus 7 Pro's headlining features include a 6.67-inch AMOLED display (resolution: 3120 x 1440 pixels) with a 90Hz refresh rate, upgraded fast charging, and a telephoto lens -- and they don't come cheap. At $669, the 7 Pro's sticker price is far higher than that of previous OnePlus devices. The OnePlus 7 Pro's edge-to-edge waterproof design is very "of the moment," and that's not a knock against it. Much like the displays on Samsung's Galaxy S10 series and Huawei's P30 Pro, the OnePlus 7 Pro's is rounded at each corner along the contours of the frame and slightly tapered at either edge, slightly curving toward the rear cover. Other features of the OnePlus 7 Pro include a Snapdragon 855 SoC; 6GB or 8GB, or 12GB RAM; 128GB or 256GB UFS 3.0 storage; 4,000mAh battery; "Warp charge" fast charging (no wireless charging). For its camera system, the OnePlus 7 Pro has three different cameras on the back, with a 48-megapixel main sensor, a 16-megapixel ultra-wide camera, and an 8-megapixel telephoto camera. It runs Android 9 with OxygenOS skin. Now, about the OnePlus 7: So the OnePlus 7 won't hit U.S. stores. It makes do without a retractable selfie cam (it's got a notch instead) and it omits the 7 Pro's curved screen edges in favor of a thicker border between the display's left and right side and the frame. The ultra-wide angle sensor is missing in action, but as something of a consolation, the OnePlus 7 features a slightly larger battery -- 4,150mAh -- that's compatible with Warp Charge. The OnePlus 7's price has yet to be announced, but it's expected to be a good deal cheaper than the OnePlus 7 Pro.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
An anonymous reader shares a report: It all started over lunch at a Dubai restaurant on March 19, 2017. It was the first time 45-year-old Li, met Costa, the 49-year-old Italian who's often known by peers in the industry as "Captain Magic." During their meal, Costa described a robot hedge fund his company London-based Tyndaris Investments would soon offer to manage money entirely using AI, or artificial intelligence. Developed by Austria-based AI company 42.cx, the supercomputer named K1 would comb through online sources like real-time news and social media to gauge investor sentiment and make predictions on US stock futures. It would then send instructions to a broker to execute trades, adjusting its strategy over time based on what it had learned.
The idea of a fully automated money manager inspired Li instantly. He met Costa for dinner three days later, saying in an email beforehand that the AI fund "is exactly my kind of thing." Over the following months, Costa shared simulations with Li showing K1 making double-digit returns, although the two now dispute the thoroughness of the back-testing. Li eventually let K1 manage $2.5bn -- $250m of his own cash and the rest leverage from Citigroup. The plan was to double that over time. But Li's affection for K1 waned almost as soon as the computer started trading in late 2017. By February 2018, it was regularly losing money, including over $20m in a single day -- Feb. 14 -- due to a stop-loss order Li's lawyers argue wouldn't have been triggered if K1 was as sophisticated as Costa led him to believe.Read Replies (0)