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Law enforcement officers working for the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire) arrested Eric Wamser (PDF), a 57-year-old Placer County man, last Friday for flying his drone too close to a wildfire burning north of Sacramento, California. Wamser’s arrest is the first of its kind in the state. The incident occurred on the evening of June 28, when the Trailhead Fire broke out. A drone was spotted above the fire, so authorities temporarily grounded firefighting aircraft for about 30 minutes. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Julien GONG Min) Microsoft posted revenue of $20.6 billion in the fourth quarter of its 2016 financial year, a decline of 7 percent year on year. Operating income was $3.1 billion, compared to a $2.1 billion loss in the same quarter last year. Net income was also $3.1 billion, as compared to a $3.2 billion loss, and earnings per share were $0.39. The full 2016 financial year figures were revenue of $85 billion, down 9 percent year on 2015, operating income of $20.2 billion, up 11 percent, net income of $16.8 billion, up 38 percent, and earnings per share of $2.79, up 42 percent. Those 2015 losses were substantially a result of the $7.6 billion write-down of Nokia's assets. 2016 also included a further, final Nokia-related write-down but this one was a mere $950 million. The company offers non-GAAP financials wherein all Windows 10 revenue is booked at the point of sale, rather than allocated piecemeal over two to four years (with the exact timeframe depending on the customer type). The revenue deferrals are due to the "Windows as a Service" model wherein support and development commitments for the operating system are an ongoing task that continues after the sale of the software license. The non-GAAP results also change how the company accounts for impairment, integration, and restructuring charges. Under this alternative reporting regimen, revenue for the quarter was was up 2 percent to $22.6 billion, operating income was down 3 percent to $6.2 billion, and net income was up 8 percent to $5.5 billion. Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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The US love affair with big vehicles hasn't gone away. (credit: RL GNZLZ @ Flickr) Way back in 2012, the US government released a relatively ambitious plan to increase US passenger fleet average fuel efficiency to 54.5mpg. Back then, we looked at some of the new technologies that automakers were adopting in order to meet this goal, plenty of which can now be found in our cars. But despite lots of hard work by the boffins in automotive research centers in the US and elsewhere, the 54.5mpg Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) goal is dead in the water. Americans, it seems, are just too in love with their light trucks and SUVs to make it happen. That's according to a new report from the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the California Air Resources Board. The three agencies have published a Draft Technical Assessment Report, "Midterm Evaluation of Light-duty Vehicle GHG Emissions Standards for Model Years 2022-2025" (PDF), that lays out the case for why we could meet the 2012 plan—which would have doubled fleet fuel economy, halved greenhouse gas emissions, and saved 12 billion barrels of oil and prevented 6 billion tonnes of CO2 from entering the atmosphere between now and 2025—but won't. The report—which stretches out to over 1200 pages—spends plenty of time discussing cool technological advances, including improvements to gasoline internal combustion engines, better transmissions, mild (48v) and high-voltage hybrids, battery electric vehicles, fuel cell EVs, and more, but the bad news gets going in Chapter 12. The report projects that 46.3mpg is where we'll be when it comes to CAFE in 2025, a drop of 15 percent compared to where we'd hoped to be. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Carl Lender) A newly disclosed vulnerability could allow attackers to seize control of mobile phones and key parts of the world's telecommunications infrastructure and make it possible to eavesdrop or disrupt entire networks, security experts warned Tuesday. The bug resides in a code library used in a wide range of telecommunication products, including radios in cell towers, routers, and switches, as well as the baseband chips in individual phones. Although exploiting the heap overflow vulnerability would require great skill and resources, attackers who managed to succeed would have the ability to execute malicious code on virtually all of those devices. The code library was developed by Pennsylvania-based Objective Systems and is used to implement a telephony standard known as ASN.1, short for Abstract Syntax Notation One. "The vulnerability could be triggered remotely without any authentication in scenarios where the vulnerable code receives and processes ASN.1 encoded data from untrusted sources," researchers who discovered the flaw wrote in an advisory published Monday evening. "These may include communications between mobile devices and telecommunication network infrastructure nodes, communications between nodes in a carrier's network or across carrier boundaries, or communication between mutually untrusted endpoints in a data network." Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: JaviDex) If you've visited the do-it-yourself project site of Dunlop Adhesives, the official tourism site for Guatemala, or a number of other legitimate (or in some cases, marginally legitimate) websites, you may have gotten more than the information you were looking for. These sites are redirecting visitors to a malicious website that attempts to install CryptXXX—a strain of cryptographic ransomware first discovered in April. The sites were most likely exploited by a botnet called SoakSoak or a similar automated attack looking for vulnerable WordPress plugins and other unpatched content management tools, according to a report from researchers at the endpoint security software vendor Invincea. SoakSoak, named for the Russian domain it originally launched from, has been around for some time and has exploited thousands of websites. In December of 2014, Google was forced to blacklist over 11,000 domains in a single day after the botnet compromised their associated websites by going after the WordPress RevSlider plugin. In this recent wave of compromises, SoakSoak planted code that redirects visitors to a website hosting the Neutrino Exploit Kit, a "commercial" malware dropping Web tool sold through underground marketplaces. The latest string of compromises appears to have begun in May. But since then, both the malware kit and the ransomware have been upgraded. The latest version of the exploit kit attempts to evade security software or virtual machines. Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: CDC/microbiologybytes) Around 11 Californian Republican Party staff members who arrived in Cleveland early to help organize this week's National Convention have fallen ill with what appears to be norovirus infections. Health officials have reportedly taken fecal samples from the sick and sent them for testing at a lab in Columbus, Ohio. "It looks like the norovirus, but we're not going to say that's definitively what it is," Erie County Health Commissioner Pete Schade told the local newspaper, the Plain Dealer. The staffers who have fallen ill are essentially being quarantined at their hotel, the Kalahari Resort in Sandusky, Ohio. That facility is almost 60 miles away from the Cleveland arena where the convention is taking place. They have been instructed to avoid the convention until going 24 hours without symptoms. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: NASA/GISS) After 2014 set the record for annual average global surface temperature, 2015 promptly smashed it. By the end of 2015, the incredibly strong El Niño that had developed to help fuel that record enabled climate scientists to predict that 2016 was almost certain to break the record again. With the first half of 2016’s temperatures in the books, this prediction is proving to be on target. In a press conference Tuesday, NASA scientists highlighted the standout temperatures we've seen so far in 2016. This has been, far and away, the warmest January-to-June period on record. January-to-June average global surface temperatures, compared to the 1880-1899 average. (credit: NASA/GISS) Even though the El Niño event has now come to an end, with forecasts pointing to cooler La Niña waters in the eastern equatorial Pacific Ocean, 2016 is a virtual lock to be significantly warmer than 2015. This June also set the record for the warmest temperature on record in June—the 8th straight month that this has happened. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Tony Young) The Federal Communications Commission has decided not to step up its oversight of contract disputes that sometimes take free, over-the-air channels off cable systems. Broadcast stations can demand carriage fees from cable TV operators even if the channels are otherwise available for free to consumers with an antenna. When cable TV companies and broadcasters don't agree on a price, customers are sometimes deprived of channels. The FCC can already intervene in contract disputes when it deems it necessary, but a lobby group for small and medium-sized cable TV providers wanted the commission to do a lot more. When FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler announced the decision to maintain the status quo last week, the American Cable Association (ACA) lobby group said it was "appalled." Read 15 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Matthias Müller became VW Group's CEO when Martin Winterkorn left, but both men are implicated in the most recent lawsuits from US states. (credit: By Volkswagen AG ) On Tuesday, the attorneys general of Massachusetts, New York, and Maryland launched fresh lawsuits at Volkswagen Group and its affiliates Audi and Porsche, naming more than two dozen engineers and managers in an apparent scheme to install illegal software on diesel VWs, Audis, and Porsches that were sold in the US. The civil lawsuits allege that prior to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) public announcement in September that it had discovered defeat devices to circumvent emissions control systems in VW Group’s diesel cars, the German automaker engaged in a year and a half of cover ups and deception with the knowledge of VW Group’s former CEO, Martin Winterkorn. The company “only confessed to the defeat devices when they knew the regulators had them pinned to the facts,” according to the New York attorney general’s press release. The lawsuits also allege that VW Group has not cooperated with investigators. “When the investigation was getting under way in late 2015, numerous employees, tipped off by a senior in-house lawyer in Germany, allegedly destroyed incriminating documents,” the press release added. Read 25 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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WWE wrestler Chavo Guerrero, Jr (right) is among the 53 plaintiffs in a proposed class-action lawsuit filed in Connecticut on Monday. (credit: Getty Images / Ethan Miller ) Dozens of former professional wrestlers have filed a proposed class-action civil suit against World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), alleging that the organization should be held accountable for "long-term neurological injuries" that the performers suffered while body-slamming and pile-driving each other throughout the decades. The 214-page suit, filed in United States District Court in Connecticut on Monday, includes among its 53 plaintiffs the famous-wrestler likes of Chavo Guerrero Jr, Joseph "Road Warrior Animal" Laurinaitis, James "Kamala" Harris, Paul "Mr Wonderful" Orndorff, and Jimmy "Supafly" Snuka. The lengthy suit attempts to hold the WWE responsible for its performers' issues with concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), the brain-ravaging disease that figured largely in recent class-action suits filed by players' associations for the NFL and NHL American sports leagues. CTE, a degenerative disease linked to repeated concussions that leads to memory loss, dementia, and suicidality, has been connected to injuries in many professional sports leagues, and the WWE is no exception. Among the more notorious examples is that of former WWE wrestler Chris Benoit, whose issues with CTE were confirmed after his murder-suicide case in 2007. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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OK Pikachu, get in the ball. Just get in the ball. GET IN THE DAMN BALL YOU FREAKING ELECTRIC RAT! At the early levels, it's relatively easy to advance in Pokémon Go without spending any money. Provided you're not in a Pokémon-light rural area (or, er, a black neighborhood), it's pretty simple to just keep farming Pidgeys and nearby Pokéstops and gyms for the resources you need to watch your in-game numbers go up. Now that the game has been out for more than a week in many regions, though, some of the first players to hit the game's higher levels are running into a wall that's halting that easy advancement. In a detailed Reddit thread discussing his "late game" progress in Pokémon Go, user Riggnaros discusses a few ways the game grinds progress to a halt once players hit level 25 or so. For instance, Riggnaros says, once you reach a level in the "mid 20s," low-powered Pokémon you encounter in the game start to "have an abnormally high chance to evade capture." That means players will need to start wasting a lot more Pokéballs to capture the most abundant monsters, which are key to gaining the experience points needed for that next level. Getting enough Pokéballs to keep up with all those escaping Pokémon means spending real money or spending inordinate amounts of time farming free Pokéballs from those slowly refilling Pokéstops. Read 8 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Andrew Cunningham) For the third time in less than a year, a Brazilian judge has ordered (Google Translate) messaging app WhatsApp to be blocked by the country’s five major mobile phone companies. According to Reuters, Judge Daniela Barbosa Assunção de Souza in the state of Rio de Janeiro did not give a reason for the blockade due to legal secrecy in an ongoing case and said it "will only be lifted once Facebook surrenders data." It is likely that Brazilian investigators have been frustrated by end-to-end encrypted messages on the Facebook-owned app. Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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This strange-looking orange city car is the fastest electric car you may ever encounter. Jonny Smith Jonny Smith's Flux Capacitor is one of the quirkiest (but most interesting) electric vehicles on the road today. Smith, a British automotive journalist, took an old Enfield 8000 electric city car (built in small numbers in the 1970s) and transformed it into something a lot wilder. Out went the array of 12v batteries and 8hp (6kW) electric motor, to be replaced by an altogether more potent powertrain. And on July 16, Smith and the Flux Capacitor entered the record books as the world's fastest street-legal EV, running the quarter-mile in 9.87 seconds. When last we checked in with Smith, the Flux Capacitor was only Europe's fastest street-legal EV, with a sub-11 second, 1/4-mile time under its (bright orange) belt. Since then, the existing 144-cell Hyperdrive Innovation lithium-ion battery pack has been supplemented by an extra 44 cells located in the trunk. That upgrade has boosted the car from 370v to 400v, and together with lower gearing on the differential, the times at Santa Pod Raceway in the UK began to fall. "The combination of big voltage amps and phenomenal grip gave us early ten-second quarter miles, and when we braved the RPM limit of the motors, we managed a nine [second run]," Smith told Ars. "Despite all of this power and speed, the little Enfield still felt smooth, stable, and happy, which is unbelievable given that it was designed to do 40 miles an hour." Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: demonsparkx) A Fresno-area man who initially made a baffling attempt to explain to law enforcement how his laser pointer repeatedly hit a California Highway Patrol aircraft multiple times—"It just shot upward from my pocket and hit the plane"—has now been sentenced to six months in prison. He pleaded guilty to endangering an aircraft with his laser earlier this year. "I keep thinking this offense was committed by a 12-year-old. But it was not," US District Judge Lawrence J. O’Neill told defendant Jeremy Scott Danielson during the Monday sentencing hearing, according to a statement sent to Ars. "You could have brought the CHP plane down by blinding the pilot. You jeopardized their eyes and their safety." Despite the judge's claim, a plane has never been brought down due to a laser strike. However, for more than a decade, federal authorities have been concerned that terrorists or other ne'er-do-wells might try to. Under the Obama administration, federal penalties for laser strikes have been strengthened. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Although Yahoo reported decent earnings in its Q2 2016 financial call yesterday, the embattled company reported yet another write down on its $1.1 billion Tumblr acquisition. Yahoo is in the process of soliciting bids for its core businesses as well as downsizing significantly, but the company still didn’t have anything to share about a potential buyer on its call, with the third and final round for bids due on Monday. Yahoo said it had lowered its projections for Tumblr’s performance, writing down $482 million in “impairment charges.” Last quarter, Yahoo similarly took a $230 million write down on the social media platform. CNN Money notes that Yahoo has now written down about half the value of its original investment in Tumblr, “rendering [CEO Marissa] Mayer's biggest acquisition to date effectively worthless.” When Yahoo acquired Tumblr in 2013, the company put out a press release to placate angry and worried Tumblr users, promising “not to screw it up.” Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Fitbit) A proposed class-action lawsuit accusing Fitbit of misrepresenting the ability of its wearable fitness products to track sleep can move forward, a federal judge has ruled. The San Francisco federal lawsuit claims that Fitbit materially misrepresented on its packaging the ability of the Flex product to track users' hours slept, times woken up, and sleep quality. The suit alleges false advertising, unfair trade practices, fraud, and a host of other claims. US District Judge James Donato did not rule on the merits of the case but instead refused to toss the lawsuit as Fitbit had wanted. Now Fitbit, which claimed the allegations were based on "bad science," according to the judge, must mount another defense to the allegations. The case could still be dismissed at a later stage, and it might also go to a trial or settle. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Lex Machina) The number of copyright lawsuits in the US over online file-sharing have dropped significantly this year, according to data compiled by Lex Machina. Data released by the legal research company shows there were 249 file-sharing lawsuits filed in the second quarter of 2016, compared to 517 cases the previous year. Anti-piracy copyright lawsuits began increasing in number dramatically around 2012 and last year constituted the majority of all copyright cases nationally. The number of copyright disputes unrelated to file-sharing have held steady for the last five years, as shown in the graph above. Lex Machina defines file-sharing lawsuits as cases having "John Doe or anonymous defendants" and allegations related to file-sharing technology, typically BitTorrent. Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Steve Jurvetson) There’s yet another unhappy Theranos customer. In a lawsuit filed Monday in the US District Court in Arizona, an ex-customer alleges that bum blood tests performed by the beleaguered biotech company directly led to him having a heart attack. (A PDF of the lawsuit is available here.) The test results were later voided by the company, independent of any involvement from the plaintiff, identified only as R.C. in the lawsuit. R.C. joins at least nine other ex-customers suing the company over faulty tests and the company’s lofty but unfulfilled claims. Each lawsuit is seeking class-action status. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Getty Images | BSIP) Two family doctors who are stuck with Verizon DSL say their Internet service is so slow and unreliable that they often can't view online medical records and are having trouble complying with federal guidelines. Doctors Lori Talbot and Christopher Ballas run a practice in Fairfield, New Jersey, and are among numerous people complaining that Verizon hasn't properly maintained its old copper lines or upgraded its network to fiber in South Jersey. Officials in 16 cities and towns petitioned the state to investigate Verizon last December, and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has scheduled a public hearing for August 4 to let residents and businesses detail the network's failings. Talbot and Ballas described their office's problems in a letter to local officials and were profiled last week by The Philadelphia Inquirer. Comcast lines stop about a mile from the doctors' office, leaving them without high-speed cable Internet. Since Verizon hasn't wired up the area with fiber, they must make do with Verizon DSL. Read 9 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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"Hunter Arts" are fun and flashy, without breaking the spirit of the game. Pick up your charge blades, insect glaives, and cheese fondue—there’s monsters what need hunting. The aptly named Monster Hunter series has returned, this time without a number following the name. This time, it’s just Monster Hunter Generations, and the name refers to more than the time it takes to learn these games (assuming you’re in what seems like the majority of Western players that are rightly intimidated by Capcom’s Japanese moneymaker). As with every Monster Hunter since the first, what you're learning is how to strike down massive, and not-so-massive, creatures of the wild. Think of each major monster as a boss fight—one that can take nearly an hour to complete as you track and hack away at prey over wide, repeatedly visited zones. Doing so successfully means chopping them up for parts and turning the material into better equipment. Break it all up with some grinding, gathering, and fetch quests and you've got the thousand-hour-plus loop the series has been known for over multiple "generations" of hardware. It's a legacy this latest entry is particularly aware of. “Generations” refers to the fact that this Monster Hunter is pulling from past entries. It’s like a greatest-hits album for the franchise, if you will. Familiar hunting grounds return from Monster Hunter Freedom 2, the Japan exclusive Portable 3rd, and even the debut game in the franchise. Each locale has been ever-so-gently modified to make available elements from Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. That means there are more ledges on beasts’ backs for you to grab on to as you ride them down to the ground. Read 19 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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Specs at a glance: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1060 CUDA CORES 1280 TEXTURE UNITS 80 ROPS 48 CORE CLOCK 1,506MHz BOOST CLOCK 1,708MHz MEMORY BUS WIDTH 192-bit MEMORY BANDWIDTH 192GB/s MEMORY SIZE 6GB GDDR5 Outputs 3x DisplayPort 1.4, 1x HDMI 2.0b with support for 4K60 10/12b HEVC Decode, 1x dual-link DVI Release date July 19 PRICE Founders Edition (as reviewed): £275/€320/$300; Partner cards priced at £240/€280/$250 What a difference a little competition makes. Nvidia was always going to release the GTX 1060, just like it released the GTX 960, GTX 760, and GTX 560 before that. But few could have predicted how soon it would appear after the launch of the GTX 1080 and GTX 1070, the company's first Pascal-based graphics cards. Fewer still expected it to be faster than a GTX 980, a card that launched at £430/$550 and still sells for a hefty £320/$400 today. We've got AMD to thank. Its aggressively priced RX 480—which offers excellent 1080p and VR-ready performance for a mere £180/$200—brought the budget fight to Nvidia in a segment where its competitor has traditionally struggled. If you want the fastest, buy Nvidia; if you want the best value, buy AMD. The GTX 1060 changes that. For the first time in a long time, Nvidia has a mainstream graphics card that can compete on price and performance with AMD. The GTX 1060 is (mostly) faster than the GTX 980; it runs cool and quiet with a light 120W TDP; and best of all the GTX 1060 costs £240/$250. Yes, that's more expensive than the GTX 960's launch price, continuing Nvidia's tradition of jacking up prices this generation. And yes, AMD's RX 480 is a wee bit cheaper. But with around a 15 percent boost in performance on average for a 10 percent jump in price over the comparable 8GB RX 480, it's good value, and it overclocks like a champ with very little effort. Read 20 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A criminal gang recently found an effective way to spread malware that drains online bank accounts. According to a blog post published Monday, they bundled the malicious executable inside a file that installed a legitimate administrative tool available for download. The legitimate tool is known as Ammyy Admin and is used to provide remote access to a computer so someone can work on it even when they don't have physical access to it. According to Monday's blog post, members of a criminal enterprise known as Lurk somehow managed to tamper with the Ammyy installer so that it surreptitiously installed a malicious spyware program in addition to the legitimate admin tool people expected. To increase their chances of success, the criminals modified the PHP script running on the Ammyy Web server, suggesting they had control over the website. What resulted was a highly effective means for distributing the banking trojan. That's because the legitimate tool Ammyy provided was in many ways similar to the banking trojan in that they both provided remote access to the computer they ran on. As researchers from antivirus provider Kaspersky Lab explained: Read 3 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Brian Wibbenmeyer) A former executive for the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, Christopher Correa, was sentenced Monday to 46 months in prison. In 2013, he successfully guessed a password to access an online database for confidential data held by another baseball team, the Houston Astros. Correa pleaded guilty earlier this year to five counts under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a notorious 1980s-era hacking statute. “You have made it harder for them to live their lives,” US District Judge Lynn N. Hughes said during the court hearing, referred to the necessity of tighter security around all of Major League Baseball. Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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(credit: Netflix) It’s been a little over a year since HBO launched its streaming-only online platform HBO Now, and the network is declaring that investment, along with HBO Go and HBO On Demand, a success. On Monday, HBO sent around a press release saying that the digital platforms had been drivers of “record viewership,” especially with season six of Game of Thrones. Netflix, on the other hand, was not so lucky. That staid bastion of cord-cutter viewership saw its “weakest subscriber expansion in two years,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Still, Netflix was able to keep content costs down enough to beat earnings expectations, the paper noted. Both companies have threatened traditional pay-TV models in the past. Netflix was earliest on the scene, and HBO cut deals with its pay-TV partners to make a standalone HBO package a possibility. Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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A Google self-driving car. (credit: Google) As the recent kerfuffle around Tesla's Autopilot has shown, we still have some way to go before everyone is on board with the idea of people being driven by their cars on public roads. Until we get to a point where fully autonomous (level 4) cars are capable of taking us from A to B with no human intervention beyond telling it the destination, self-driving cars are going to need a (relatively) alert human occupant in the driver's seat, ready to take control if necessary. While it is true that many automakers are pushing for self-driving vehicles, they're not the only ones. Both in the US and elsewhere, governments are also gung-ho for the technology, as it has the potential to make a real dent in the annual death toll on our roads. Over in Germany, Reuters reports that the country's transport ministry has issued a proposal that would allow for drivers of autonomous cars to relax their guard somewhat. They will have to remain seated behind the controls—so don't expect chairs that swivel out of the way just yet—and there will have to be on-board data recorders that log the car's autonomous behavior. Read 2 remaining paragraphs | Comments

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