By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-name-same-service department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: AT&T is eliminating the DirecTV Now brand name it uses for its struggling Internet-based TV service. DirecTV Now will become "AT&T TV Now" later this summer, AT&T announced today. DirecTV Now (the future "AT&T TV Now") offers a bundle of linear TV channels, similar to traditional cable or satellite services, and AT&T said its core offering won't be changed. AT&T's 2015 purchase of DirecTV, the nation's largest satellite TV network, doesn't seem to be paying off as AT&T hoped. AT&T launched DirecTV Now -- a stripped-down, online-only version of DirecTV -- in 2016, and it was immediately plagued by multiple outages, unexpected blackouts of live local sports games, and missing channels.
While the technical problems got sorted out, AT&T's subscriber gains were short-lived. As we wrote last week, AT&T lost 946,000 TV subscribers in Q2 2019 after announcing a series of price increases. The 946,000-subscriber loss consisted of a net loss of 778,000 subscribers in AT&T's DirecTV satellite and U-verse wireline TV services, as well as 168,000 lost subscribers to DirecTV Now. The losses are much bigger when you look at the past year instead of just the past three months. Including all three services, AT&T's total number of video subscribers dropped from 25.4 million in Q2 2018 to 22.9 million in Q2 2019. DirecTV Now subscribers dropped from 1.8 million to 1.3 million in the past year. The report notes that the satellite TV service will still keep the DirecTV name, at least for the time being. AT&T said the actual DirecTV Now service will remain the same despite the name change. "Our DirecTV Now subscribers will simply need to re-accept the terms of service and their streaming will continue as usual without interruption," AT&T said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department
An anonymous reader shares a report from VentureBeat: Google today launched Chrome 76 for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. The release includes Adobe Flash blocked by default, Incognito mode detection disabled, multiple PWA improvements, and more developer features. You can update to the latest version now using Chrome's built-in updater or download it directly from google.com/chrome. Google has been taking baby steps to kill off Flash for years. In 2015, Chrome started automatically pausing less important Flash content. In 2016, Chrome started blocking "behind the scenes" Flash content and using HTML5 by default. In July 2017, however, Adobe said it would kill Flash by 2020. With Chrome 76, Flash is now blocked by default. Users can still turn it on in settings, but next year, Flash will be removed from Chrome entirely.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department
As end of support for the still-popular Windows 7 draws near, risks of unpatched operating systems are likely to be a significant security concern in the near future. intensivevocoder writes: There is a relatively old -- though still fundamentally true -- adage about Windows: Microsoft's biggest competition is Microsoft, as a specific subset of users (and businesses) only upgrade to the latest version of Windows kicking and screaming. According to SpiceWorks' Future of Network and Endpoint Security report, published Tuesday, 32% of organizations still have at least one Windows XP device connected to their network, despite extended support for XP ending in 2014. (Notably, the last variant of XP, Windows POSReady 2009, reached end of life in April 2019 .)
With the looming end of free support for Windows 7, this reticence of users and enterprises to upgrade to newer versions of Windows is likely to create significant security issues. Presently, 79% of organizations still have at least one Windows 7 system on their network, according to SpiceWorks, which also found that two thirds of businesses plan to migrate all of their machines off Windows 7 prior to the end of support on January 14, 2020, while a quarter will only migrate after that deadline. Separately, a Gartner market forecast from April forecasted that only 75% of professional PCs will be on Windows 10 by 2021.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Baseball's future has arrived in the Atlantic League, a collection of eight independent professional teams that span from New Britain, Conn., to Sugar Land, Texas. Last week marked the introduction of the most significant innovation: an automated strike zone, shifting responsibility for calling balls and strikes from a person to an emotionless piece of technology free of the biases and inconsistencies of mere humans. And if the test goes well, the days of big-league players imploring umps to schedule an eye exam could soon come to an end.
Ducks manager Wally Backman predicted that MLB will adopt the system within five years. "It's going to happen," he said. "There have been a few pitches that are questionable, but not as many as if it was a human. The machine is definitely going to be more right than they are." Every Atlantic League stadium, including the Patriots' TD Bank Ballpark in Central New Jersey, now features a TrackMan device perched high above the plate. It uses 3-D Doppler radar to register balls and strikes and relays its "decision" through a secure Wi-Fi network to the umpire, equipped with an iPhone in his pocket connected to a wired earbud. That umpire, positioned behind the plate as normal, hears a man's voice saying "ball" or "strike" and then signals the verdict.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
An anonymous reader shares a report: More than two years ago, Facebook revealed it was working on a project for typing words onto a computer right from your brain, without requiring invasive surgery to make it work. The company has been working with several universities on the effort, including the University of California, San Francisco. Facebook helped pay for UCSF researchers to study whether electrodes placed in the brain could help us learn to "decode" speech from brainwaves in real time. As it turns out, this is possible: A study published Tuesday showed that researchers could instantly see -- as text on a computer screen -- a word or phrase that a participant was thinking from brain activity, as long as it was a response to a limited set of questions. The study includes three epilepsy patients voluntarily implanted with electrodes.
Facebook is also footing the bill for a new, year-long study that UCSF is currently conducting where it will try to use brain activity to help a person who can't speak communicate. The social network hopes the efforts could help reveal which brain signals are key for that non-invasive wearable that it's planning for in the years ahead. "We expect that to take upwards of 10 years," Mark Chevillet, a research director at Facebook Reality Labs who runs its brain-computer interface group, told CNN Business of the overall project. "This is a long-term research program."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's time-to-face-the-music department
A new bill, sponsored by Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), targets snapstreaks, YouTube autoplay, and endless scrolling that, the bill alleges, are designed in a way to make services "addictive." Reader Zorro writes: Hawley's Social Media Addiction Reduction Technology Act, or the SMART Act, would ban these features that work to keep users on platforms longer, along with others, like Snapstreaks, that incentivize the continued use of these products. If approved, the Federal Trade Commission and Health and Human Services could create similar rules that would expire after three years unless Congress codified them into law. "Big tech has embraced a business model of addiction," Hawley said. "Too much of the 'innovation' in this space is designed not to create better products, but to capture more attention by using psychological tricks that make it difficult to look away."
Deceptive design played an enormous part in last week's FTC settlement with Facebook, and Hawley's bill would make it unlawful for tech companies to use dark patterns to manipulate users into opting into services. For example, "accept" and "decline" checkboxes would need to be the same font, color, and size to help users make better, more informed choices. "Social media companies deploy a host of tactics designed to manipulate users in ways that undermines their wellbeing," said Josh Golin, executive director of campaign for a Commercial Free Childhood.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
Apple Wireless Direct Link (AWDL), a protocol installed on over 1.2 billion Apple devices, contains vulnerabilities that enable attackers to track users, crash devices, or intercept files transferred between devices via man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks. From a report: These are the findings of a research project that started last year at the Technical University of Darmstadt, in Germany, and has recently concluded, and whose findings researchers will be presenting later this month at a security conference in the US. The project sought to analyze the Apple Wireless Direct Link (AWDL), a protocol that Apple rolled out in 2014 and which also plays a key role in enabling device-to-device communications in the Apple ecosystem. While most Apple end users might not be aware of the protocol's existence, AWDL is at the core of Apple services like AirPlay and AirDrop, and Apple has been including AWDL by default on all devices the company has been selling, such as Macs, iPhones, iPads, Apple watches, Apple TVs, and HomePods. But in the past five years, Apple has never published any in-depth technical details about how AWDL works. This, in turn, has resulted in very few security researchers looking at AWDL for bugs or implementation errors.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's never-improve department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Another day, another massive data breach. This time it's the financial giant and credit card issuer Capital One, which revealed on Monday a credit file breach affecting 100 million Americans and 6 million Canadians. Sound familiar? It should. Just last week, credit rating giant Equifax settled for more than $575 million over a date breach it had -- and hid from the public for several months -- two years prior. Why should we be surprised? Equifax faced zero fallout until its eventual fine. All talk, much bluster, but otherwise little action. Equifax's chief executive Richard Smith "retired" before he was fired, allowing him to keep his substantial pension packet. Lawmakers grilled the company but nothing happened.
An investigation launched by the former head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, the governmental body responsible for protecting consumers from fraud, declined to pursue the company. The FTC took its sweet time to issue its fine -- which amounted to about 20% of the company's annual revenue for 2018. For one of the most damaging breaches to the U.S. population since the breach of classified vetting files at the Office of Personnel Management in 2015, Equifax got off lightly. Legislatively, nothing has changed. Equifax remains as much of a "victim" in the eyes of the law as it was before -- technically, but much to the ire of the millions affected who were forced to freeze their credit as a result.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's secret-partnerships department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: At least 200 law enforcement agencies around the country have entered into partnerships with Amazon's home surveillance company Ring, according to an email obtained by Motherboard via public record request. Ring has never disclosed the exact number of partnerships that it maintains with law enforcement. However, the company has partnered with at least 200 law enforcement agencies, according to notes taken by a police officer during a Ring webinar, which he emailed to himself in April. It's possible that the number of partnerships has changed since the day the email was sent. The officer who sent the email told Motherboard that the email was a transcribed version of handwritten notes that he took during a team webinar with a Ring representative on April 9. Additional emails obtained by Motherboard indicate that this webinar trained officers on how to use the "Law Enforcement Neighborhood Portal." This portal allows local police to see a map with the approximate locations of all Ring cameras in a neighborhood, and request footage directly from camera owners. Owners need to consent, but police do not need a warrant to ask for footage. "This doesn't surprise me at all, and it's the perfect example of how corporate surveillance and government surveillance are inextricably linked," Evan Greer, deputy director of Fight for the Future, told Motherboard. "Amazon is building a for-profit surveillance dragnet and partnering with local law enforcement agencies in ways that avoid any form of oversight or accountability that police departments might normally be required to adhere to."
"It's time to come to grips with the fact that the 1984 dystopian future we all fear isn't something a future authoritarian government might impose," Greer told Motherboard, "it's something that's being built right now, in plain sight, through partnerships between private companies and government agencies."Read Replies (0)