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Record Number of Consumers Waiting To Upgrade Their Cellphones
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 04:47 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fewer-than-expected department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Wireless customers are hanging on to their old phones longer than ever. That's the message from Verizon, which said its upgrade rate fell to a record low last quarter -- a harbinger of tough times ahead for the iPhone and other devices. Faced with $1,000 price tags on moderately improved phones, consumers may be waiting to hear more about new 5G networks before committing to new models. The faster, more advanced services won't roll out in earnest until 2020. "Incremental changes from one model the the next, hasn't been that great, and it hasn't been enough of an incentive," Verizon Chief Financial Officer Matt Ellis said in an interview Tuesday after the company reported fewer-than-expected new customers for the first quarter. He expects replacement rates to be down for the year.

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California's Politicians Rush To Gut Internet Privacy Law With Pro-Tech Giant Amendments
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 03:25 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pro-privacy-proposals department:
The right for Californians to control the private data that tech companies hold on them may be undermined today at a critical committee hearing in Sacramento. The Register reports: The Privacy And Consumer Protection Committee will hold a special hearing on Tuesday afternoon to discuss and vote on nine proposed amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) -- which was passed last year in the U.S. state but has yet to come into force. Right now, the legislation is undergoing tweaks at the committee stage. Privacy advocates are warning that most of the proposals before the privacy committee are influenced by the very industry that the law was supposed to constrain: big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

In most cases, the amendments seek to add carefully worded exemptions to the law that would benefit business at the cost of consumer rights. But most upsetting to privacy folk is the withdrawal of an amendment by Assembly member Buffy Wicks (D-15th District) that incorporated changes that would enhance consumer data privacy rights. Wicks' proposal would have given consumers more of a say of what is done with their personal data and more power to sue companies that break the rules. But the Assembly member pulled the measure the day before the hearing because it was not going to get the necessary votes. If a measure is voted down it cannot be reintroduced in that legislative session.

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Engineers Develop Colorful Printed Patch That Hides People From AI
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 03:25 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's invisibility-cloak department:
A group of engineers from the University of KU Leuven in Belgium have come up with a solution to make users invisible to one specific algorithm. "In a paper shared last week on the preprint server arXiv, these students show how simple printed patterns can fool an AI system that's designed to recognize people in images," reports The Verge. From the report: If you print off one of the students' specially designed patches and hang it around your neck, from an AI's point of view, you may as well have slipped under an invisibility cloak. As the researchers write: "We believe that, if we combine this technique with a sophisticated clothing simulation, we can design a T-shirt print that can make a person virtually invisible for automatic surveillance cameras."

In the case of this recent research -- which we spotted via Google researcher David Ha -- some caveats do apply. Most importantly, the adversarial patch developed by the students can only fool one specific algorithm named YOLOv2. It doesn't work against even off-the-shelf computer vision systems developed by Google or other tech companies, and, of course, it doesn't work if a person is looking at the image.

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US Farmers Are Being Bled By the Tractor Monopoly
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 02:04 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's right-to-repair department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: As tractors become as complex as Teslas, agricultural equipment manufacturers and their authorized dealerships are using technology as an excuse to force farmers to use the authorized service center -- and only the authorized service center -- for repairs. That's costing farmers -- and independent repair shops -- dearly. John Nauerth III, a farmer in remote Jackson, under pressure to plant, waited a costly "two or three hours" for an authorized dealer to show up at his farm to plug in a computer and diagnose the problem. Worse, the dealer didn't have the repair part -- and independent repair shops, excluded from the repair monopoly, didn't either. "Right now, you're at the mercy of the dealers," Nauerth said. "Good thing is we figured out a way to get it running with a two-by-six piece of plywood."

< article continued at Slashdot's right-to-repair department >

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Skyscraper's Rooftop Pool Spills Everywhere as Earthquake Rocks Manila
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 02:04 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
The Philippines was rocked with a 6.3 earthquake this week that sent buildings swaying and people running for safety. An anonymous reader shares a report: But one of the most bizarre videos of the earthquake so far has to be this footage of water pouring out of a residential skyscraper in Manila's Binondo district. According to local reports, that water is from a penthouse swimming pool. The building, called the Anchor Skysuites, is relatively new and didn't officially open until 2015. It's one of the tallest buildings in the area and is credited as the tallest building in any Chinatown around the world outside of China. The video, credited to Michael Rivo, was just one of many videos capturing the terrifying experience.

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Nintendo Squashes Super Mario Commodore 64 Port Which Took Seven Years To Make
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 02:04 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's hitting-lows department:
Last week, after seven years of work, Nintendo fan ZeroPaige finally released a working port of Super Mario Bros. for the Commodore 64. The achievement -- and hard graft behind it -- caught the eye of C64 fans, who praised the effort of recreating one of gaming's greatest masterpieces for the much loved home computer. But then -- of course -- Nintendo swung into action. From a report: Four days after its release, Nintendo began taking it down. The file has been removed from the its most prominent hosting sites -- and from the Commodore Computer Club website, where it was hosted.

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Microsoft Displays Warning Messages in Windows 7 About the Impending End of Support
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 12:44 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's time-to-move-on department:
Windows 7 users have started to report the appearance of a pop-up message from Microsoft informing them that support for the operating system is coming to an end. From a report: While this will not come as a surprise to everyone, not all Windows 7 users will be aware that Microsoft is on the verge of dropping the aging OS. We have already seen pop-ups encouraging users to update to Windows 10 but now Microsoft is turning up the pressure, telling Windows 7 users: "After 10 years, support for Windows 7 is nearing the end." People have been reporting that the message started appearing as early as April 18, but not all Windows 7 users are seeing it yet. The message includes a link to a Microsoft website that encourages people to backup their data, buy a modern computer and make the jump to Windows 10.

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FAA Paves Way For Alphabet Unit To Make First US Drone Deliveries
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 12:44 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Alphabet's Wing Aviation unit on Tuesday got the okay to start delivering goods by drone in Virginia later this year, making the sister unit of search engine Google the first company to get U.S. air carrier certification, the Federal Aviation Administration said. From a report: This means Wing can begin a commercial service delivering goods from local businesses to homes, which includes flights beyond visual line of site and over people, the FAA and Wing said. Wing Aviation plans to start commercial package delivery in Blacksburg, Virginia later this year. Wing partnered with the Mid-Atlantic Aviation Partnership and Virginia Tech, as one of the participants in the Transportation Department's Unmanned Aircraft Systems Integration Pilot Program.

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Computers, Not TV, Are To Blame For Increase in US Sitting Time, Study Says
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 11:26 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's captain-obvious department:
There's a key culprit in the battle against sitting. Time spent watching TV and videos has remained consistently high in the United States over the past 15 years, but time sitting at a computer has increased dramatically, new research finds. From a report: Leisure-time computer use increased between 4.8% and 38% for various age groups between 2001 and 2016, said Yin Cao, senior author of the new study and an assistant professor of surgery at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Overall, up to 43% of the US population used a computer for two or more hours a day and up to 25% used a computer for three or more hours each day in 2016. The result of these increases: Teens spent about 8.2 hours a day sitting while adults sat for 6.4 hours a day. Both groups saw a one-hour increase over the decade ending in 2016, Cao said.

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Apple is Working To Speed Up Repairs of Its Bad MacBook Keyboards
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 11:26 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department:
Apple is now conducting repairs of MacBook, MacBook Air, and MacBook Pro keyboards on-site at its stores, and it's promising a next-day turnaround for pickup in many cases. From a report: The company previously sent machines out to its repair depot, but it's now telling its Genius Bar employees to handle "most" keyboard-related repairs at the store "until further notice." The company wrote in a service memo that "additional service parts have been shipped to stores to support the increased volume." Apple's attempt to expedite the keyboard repair process is just the latest development in the ongoing saga of the much-maligned butterfly keyboards that are found on all modern Mac laptops. The keys are vulnerable to sudden failure and unpredictable behavior if dust or outside debris makes its way into the mechanism.

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ShadowHammer Targets Multiple Companies, ASUS Was Just One of Them
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 10:04 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
ASUS was not the only company targeted by supply-chain attacksduring the ShadowHammer hacking operation as discovered by Kaspersky, with at least six other organizations having been infiltrated by the attackers. From a report: As further found out by Kaspersky's security researchers, ASUS' supply chain was successfully compromised by trojanizing one of the company's notebook software updaters named ASUS Live Updater which eventually was downloaded and installed on the computers of tens of thousands of customers according to experts' estimations. The tampered with binaries were signed using a legitimate certificate which helped the attackers avoid breaking the digital signature and having the malicious updater flagged.

Among the similarities, they discovered that the ASUS samples and the newly found ones were both using very similar algorithms to calculate API function hashes, while the IPHLPAPI.dll was heavily used within all malware samples for various reasons. As in the ASUS case, the samples were using digitally signed binaries from three other Asian vendors: Electronics Extreme, authors of the zombie survival game called Infestation: Survivor Stories. Innovative Extremist, a company that provides Web and IT infrastructure services but also used to work in game development. Zepetto, the South Korean company that developed the video game Point Blank. Besides these three Asian gaming companies, Kaspersky was also able to find three other organizations which were successfully compromised, "another video gaming company, a conglomerate holding company and a pharmaceutical company, all in South Korea."

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Microsoft Paint To Remain Part of Windows 10 After All
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 10:04 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's change-of-heart department:
Microsoft had been planning to remove its popular Paint app from Windows 10, but the company has now reversed course. From a report: The software maker had been warning Windows 10 users for months that Paint would be removed, and those warnings vanished in the latest May 2019 Update (1903). "Yes, MSPaint will be included in 1903," says Brandon LeBlanc, a senior program manager for Windows at Microsoft. "It'll remain included in Windows 10 for now." LeBlanc didn't reveal why Microsoft had removed its warnings, but it's clear Paint will no longer be removed from Windows 10 in the immediate future. Microsoft previously marked Paint as "deprecated," meaning it wasn't in active development and could be removed in future releases of Windows.

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SoftBank Founder Masayoshi Son Lost $130 Million on Bitcoin
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 08:43 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's major-bets department:
Masayoshi Son, the billionaire founder of SoftBank Group, made a huge personal bet on bitcoin just as prices for the digital currency peaked, losing more than $130 million when he sold out, WSJ (paywalled) reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. From the report (alternative source): Mr. Son, who launched the world's biggest venture-capital fund on the strength of his long-term investing acumen, made the investment at the recommendation of a well-known bitcoin booster, whose investment firm SoftBank bought in 2017, the people said. The investment came at the peak of the bitcoin frenzy in late 2017 after the digital currency had already risen more than 10 fold that year. The exact size of the bet couldn't be determined, but bitcoin peaked at nearly $20,000 in mid December 2017 and Mr. Son sold in early 2018 after bitcoin had plummeted, the people said.

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NVIDIA Launches GeForce GTX 16 Series Turing Gaming Laptop GPUs
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 08:43 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's aggressive-expansion department:
MojoKid writes: NVIDIA has launched a new family of more budget friendly Turing graphics chips for gaming laptops, called the GeForce GTX 1650, GeForce GTX 1660, and GeForce GTX 1660 Ti. The new GPUs will power roughly 80 different OEM mainstream gaming notebook designs, starting in the $799 price range. Compared to a 4-year-old gaming laptop with a GeForce GTX 960M, NVIDIA says that a modern counterpart equipped with a GeForce GTX 1660 Ti can deliver 4x the performance in today's battle royale-style games like Apex Legends, Fortnite, and PUBG. As for the GeForce GTX 1650, NVIDIA is promising a 2.5x performance advantage compared to the GTX 950M and a 1.7x advantage compared to the previous generation GTX 1050. Gamers should expect consistent 60 fps performance in the above-mentioned gaming titles at 1080p, though the company didn't specifically mention GTX 1660 vs 1060 performance comparisons. According to NVIDIA, every major OEM will be releasing GeForce GTX 16 Series laptops, including well-known brands like ASUS, Dell/Alienware, Acer, Hewlett-Packard, and Lenovo (among others).

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Intel's 9th-Gen Mobile Core Chips Aim For the High End, Rocking 8 Cores at Up To 5GHz Speeds
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 07:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department:
Intel debuted six new 9th-gen mobile H-series Core chips on Tuesday -- with its fastest, the Core i9-9980HK, soaring to a new high-water mark: 8 cores, 16 threads, and a whopping 5GHz clock speed, after boost. From a report: After launching its 9th-generation Core chips for desktop PCs last October, Intel has now brought that same capability to notebooks. Intel executives said systems based upon the 9th-gen chips are expected to debut shortly. All the chips are based on the "Coffee Lake Refresh" (Coffee Lake-R) architecture, and all are fabricated on a 14nm process. Last year's 8th-gen mobile Core chips topped out at 4.8GHz, and offered only 6 cores.

Though theoretically anyone can benefit from the increased performance, Intel is aiming at two particular segments: professional content creators and gamers. Intel said it expects its 9th-gen Core i9-9980HK (8 cores/16 threads, 2.4GHz/5GHz turbo) to deliver up to 18 percent higher frames per second in games and 28 percent faster 4K video editing than the 8th-gen Core i9-8950HK (6 cores/12 threads, 2.9GHz/4.8GHz turbo). When performing general office tasks and web browsing, the chips can run in a low-power mode, with an "aspirational goal" of ten hours of battery life, or just an hour while gaming, executives said. Price, performance, and power are the old battlefronts, though. Further reading: All the Desktop and Mobile 45W CPUs Announced (AnandTech).

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The New Microsoft Edge Sometimes Impersonates Other Browsers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 06:03 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's whatever-works department:
AmiMoJo writes: The new Chromium-based Microsoft Edge will impersonate other browsers depending on the site being visited. This is may be done for compatibility reasons, like properly rendering pages or how video will be streamed and played back. When the new Microsoft Edge starts, it will connect to config.edge.skype.com and download a JSON configuration for the browser. One section of the JSON configuration file is called EdgeDomainActions and is a series of rules that specify what browser Microsoft Edge should impersonate when visiting a particular site.

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Tesla Investigates After Parked Model S Appears To Explode In China
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 06:03 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's to-be-continued department:
"CNN reports on CCTV footage from China showing a parked Model S bursting violently into flames," writes Slashdot reader dryriver. From the report: Tesla is investigating after one of its vehicles appeared to explode in China. A short video of surveillance footage posted on Chinese social media site Weibo (WB) showed white smoke emerging from what looks like a white Tesla car parked at a lot in Shanghai. After a few seconds, the electric vehicle bursts into flames and the clip ends soon afterward. The video, which was filmed just after 8:15 pm local time on April 21, appears to show a Tesla Model S sedan. It was posted on Chinese social media a couple of hours later and has since been shared widely. The clip attracted a mix of derision and outrage on Weibo. "Us car owners demand an explanation," wrote user Miao Hongyang. "Jeopardizing our safety in a moment's instant and the fact it ignited so quickly is something we will not tolerate." Another Weibo user registered under the name Your Dad, added: "One thing I've learned from this incident: from now on, don't ever park next to a Tesla.'"

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Windows 10's 'Sets' Feature Is Gone and Not Expected To Return
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 03:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department:
Sets, one of two new features teased in 2017 to be coming to Windows 10, has reportedly been scrubbed. "Microsoft dropped plans for Sets, a Windows-management feature, which would have allowed users to group app data, websites and other information in tabs, months ago," reports ZDNet, citing their sources. "Although Microsoft did test Sets last year with some of its Windows Insider testers, the feature generally wasn't well received or understood. For apps like Office to work well with Sets, the Office engineering team was going to have to do a lot of extra work." From the report: Sets didn't make an reappearance in the Insider test builds leading up to the May 2019 Update/1903, and officials haven't mentioned the Sets feature in months. Over the weekend, Microsoft Senior Program Manager Rich Turner tweeted "The Shell-provided tab experience is no more, but adding tabs is high on our to do list." (That's likely the closest we will get to an "official" comment on the future of the Sets feature.)

Turner pointed to a Devblogs.Microsoft.com post originally dated June 29 about tabs coming to the Windows Console. At that point in time, the Console team was planning to use the new Sets feature as the base for adding Tabs in the Windows Console. But since the Windows team has decided against moving forward with Sets, the Console team is now going to have to build Tabs into the Console without using Sets as the foundation, my sources say.

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Botanists Rediscover a Rare Hawaiian Flower Thought To Be Extinct -- Thanks To a Drone
Posted by News Fetcher on April 22 '19 at 11:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department:
Hibiscadelphus woodii, a relative of the hibiscus flower thought to be extinct, has been spotted by a drone on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. The last known sighting of H. woodii was in 2009. Quartz reports: In 2016, Ben Nyberg, a drone specialist, began working with the National Tropical Botanical Garden on Kauai to scope out extreme spots in the verdant valleys of the island. He's found examples of several rare species over the last few years, expanding the number of their individuals known to exist in the wild by a few here and there. But on a sunny day in February 2019, the drone's camera picked up an even more exciting tuft of flora. Nyberg and [botanist Ken Wood who discovered the flower in 1991] stood on a ledge over a sheer wall of green. They'd hiked 700 ft down from the top of the Kalalau Valley cliffs to get there, but couldn't get farther down into the valley, so Nyberg flew a drone another 800 ft down to look at a particularly verdant patch. "It's probably never been looked at," he says. Wood could tell from afar that it was a patch of native vegetation. On an island plagued by invasive plant species, that is always a welcome sight.

And then they saw it on the monitor: Hibiscadelphus woodii, like a ghost from the recent past, yet very much alive. They were thrilled. "There were some high fives for sure," Nyberg says. In the drone footage, as the fluted cliffs slowly come into closer view, what first seems to be a carpet of green differentiates itself into individual plants, until eventually an unassuming little tree is in frame. To the untrained eye, it might be lost in the wash of its green surroundings but Wood knew it immediately to be the rare hibiscus relative he discovered in the 1990s. In the video here, you can see it at around the 00:58 mark. As far as Nyberg knows, it's the first time a drone has been used to rediscover a species of plant thought to be extinct.

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Greenland Is Melting Even Faster Than Experts Thought, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on April 22 '19 at 08:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-blink department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: Climate change is eliminating giant chunks of ice from Greenland at such a speed that the melt has already made a significant contribution to sea level rise, according to a new study. With global warming, the island will lose much more, threatening coastal cities around the world. Forty percent to 50% of the planet's population is in cities that are vulnerable to sea rise, and the study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences is bad news for places like New York, Miami, Los Angeles, Tokyo and Mumbai.

Researchers reconstructed the mass balance of the Greenland Ice Sheet by comparing estimates of the amount of ice that has been discharged into the ocean with the accumulation of snowfall in the drainage basins in the country's interior for the past 46 years. The researchers found that the rate of ice loss has increased sixfold since then -- even faster than scientists thought. Since 1972, ice loss from Greenland alone has added 13.7 millimeters (about half an inch) to the global sea level, the study estimates. The island's ice sheet is the leading source of water added to the ocean every year.

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