posted about 3 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous Slashdot reader shares an opinion piece from The New York Times, written by Matthew Ball, former head of strategic planning for Amazon Studios. Here's an excerpt: The next 12 months will see several video services come to market, including Disney+, AT&T/WarnerMedia's HBO Max, Comcast/NBCUniversal's unnamed service, Apple TV+ and Quibi from the Hollywood executive Jeffrey Katzenberg. This increased competition will offer audiences even more high-quality series, the sorts of films that can no longer be found in theaters, interactive storytelling they've never seen before, and further improvements in navigation and advertising. Yet in this new multiplatform world, viewers will find they have to pay for a fistful of streaming subscriptions to watch all of their favorite programs -- and in the process, they'll again end up paying for lots of shows and movies they'll never care to watch. AT&T's WarnerMedia, for example, is bundling its TV channels, like TBS, HBO and TruTV, and film studios, including Warner Bros., DC Films and New Line, into its HBO Max service. Disney+ will have Marvel, Pixar and Lucasfilm, but also National Geographic, "The Simpsons" and Disney's offerings for children. And to navigate these many subscriptions, most households will want companies like Amazon or Apple to further bundle these services together into a single app -- just as they do with Dish or Xfinity. All of this bundling will eventually mean the return of a high monthly bill. Behind this bill is the cost of making high-quality programming. Although much has been said about how Netflix and Amazon have disrupted the video business, no media company has figured out how to make premium movies or TV shows significantly more cheaply. In fact, competition has driven production budgets even higher. Ultimately, these costs are paid by viewers (especially if they choose to watch without ads). But the rise of digital video is bringing back more than just bloated bundles and bills. Many companies are returning to TV's original business model: selling you anything and everything but the television show in front of you. For decades, all TV content was "free." Networks like ABC and CBS distributed their shows free of charge because they weren't really in the business of selling audiences 30 minutes of entertainment. Instead, they were selling advertisers eight or so minutes of the audience's attention. While most digital video services do charge their viewers, their real objective is to lock audiences into their ever-expanding ecosystem. Their TV network is the ad. Amazon, Apple and Roku, for example, use their networks to drive sales of their devices, software, services and other products. For YouTube and Facebook, original movies and shows are about increasing the number of ads they serve and the prices they charge for these ads. "Even as the video industry reconstitutes with new players -- under old business models and familiar problems -- most people agree that TV has never been better," Ball writes in closing. "Consumers have more options, better shows and more diversity than ever before." "But at the same time, weâ(TM)re entering a world in which our culture is programmed by vertically integrated trillion-dollar corporations," he adds. "This may help us escape high prices and ads in the short term, but eventually the bill will come due."

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posted about 5 hours ago on slashdot
Bivacor is working toward human trials of their artificial heart after the implant successfully kept a calf alive for 90-days, helping it stay healthy, energetic, and gain weight at a normal rate. It even jogged on a treadmill for 30-minute stretches. Artificial hearts have been discussed among cardiac surgeons and biomedical engineers for more than 50 years, but what makes Bivacor's artificial heart so unique is its use of a levitating disk, suspended in a magnetic field, that spins 2,000 times per minute to keep blood flowing. IEEE Spectrum reports: We had to overcome many technical challenges to make an artificial heart that's small, biocompatible, energy efficient, and durable. Consider that the human heart beats about 112,000 times a day, which adds up to 42 million times a year, and you'll understand the magnitude of the challenge. We've tested the Bivacor heart in 15 cows so far. While the need for animal testing is unfortunate, it's the only way to prove the device's safety and move forward to clinical trials in humans. These Corriente calves, which are relatively small, are the right size to serve as analogues for adult patients. We've also implanted the Bivacor heart in several sheep, which are more representative of patients with smaller bodies, including children. Our tests have shown that the heart holds up well: With its one moving part levitating in a magnetic field, there's no worry that friction and mechanical wear will cause the machine to give out. Our tests have also shown that the device can adapt to the user's cardiovascular requirements. The Bivacor heart would fit in the palm of your hand -- it's about 650 grams, slightly heavier than an adult human heart. Its shell is made of titanium, a noncorroding material that almost never triggers an immune response. Patients will wear a 4-kg external controller pack that contains two rechargeable batteries (providing about 5 hours of operation each), although they can also plug in directly to a power outlet. Throughout our design process, we used 3D printers to make both titanium and plastic parts for our prototypes, allowing us to rapidly experiment with different geometries. For testing, we built a hardware simulation of the human circulatory system in our engineering office in Los Angeles; this mock-up allows us to validate a device's function thoroughly and repeatedly in a controlled environment, and reduces the need for animal testing.

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posted about 5 hours ago on slashdot
Longtime HP veteran Enrique Lores, who runs the $20 billion printer business, is succeeding Dion Weisler effective November 1. Weisler, who was named CEO in late 2014 after the computing behemoth was split into two companies, is returning to Australia for a "family health matter." He will remain on the company's board. MarketWatch reports: Lores, a native of Spain who started his 30-year career as an intern, vowed to "simplify" and "evolve" the company's business model during a conference call with analysts following the earnings release. The executive change comes amid wrenching changes -- and turmoil -- in the PC market, raising the question of where the market is headed for the rest of the year.

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posted about 6 hours ago on slashdot
The Elektro eDumper dump truck is being put to work at a mine in Switzerland where it's able to produce more power than it consumes. "The dump truck drives up a mountain with no load, and carries double the weight back down the mountain after getting loaded up with lime and marl to deliver to a cement plant," reports Hackaday. "Since electric vehicles can recover energy through regenerative braking, rather than wasting that energy as heat in a traditional braking system, the extra weight on the way down actually delivers more energy to the batteries than the truck used on the way up the mountain." From the report: The article claims that this is the largest electric vehicle in the world at 110 tons, and although we were not able to find anything larger except the occasional electric train, this is still an impressive feat of engineering that shows that electric vehicles have a lot more utility than novelties or simple passenger vehicles.

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posted about 7 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Hackers could have logged into your Nest Cam IQ Indoor and watch whatever was happening in your home by taking advantage of a vulnerability found by security researchers. The hackers could have also prevented you from using the camera, or use access to it to break into your home network. Researchers Lilith Wyatt and Claudio Bozzato of Cisco Talos discovered the vulnerabilities and disclosed them publicly on August 19. The two found eight vulnerabilities that are based in the Nest implementation of the Weave protocol. The Weave protocol is designed specifically for communications among Internet of Things or IoT devices. Nest has provided a firmware update that the company says will fix the vulnerabilities. The vulnerabilities apply to version 4620002 of the Nest Cam IQ indoor device. You can check the version of your camera on the Nest app. Nest says that the updates will happen automatically if your camera is connected to the internet. "We've fixed the disclosed bugs and started rolling them out to all Nest Camera IQs," Google said in a statement to ZDNet. "The devices will update automatically so there's no action required from users."

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posted about 7 hours ago on slashdot
YouTube is being pressured to remove ads from China Central Television, a state media channel that's allegedly spreading misinformation about protesters in Hong Kong. The Verge reports: Users on Twitter and Reddit have posted a number of screenshots of the ads, many of which paint the Hong Kong protests as an illegitimate product of foreign influence. The users accuse YouTube and parent company Google of enabling an "infestation of ads" that "tries to sow political discord." As a result, many supporters of the protests are demanding that Google stop CCTV from running ads on YouTube. "Google, why are you helping China [government] to undermine freedom of [Hong Kong citizens] with your platform," Chu Ka-cheong, an engineer based in Hong Kong, tweeted. YouTube hasn't addressed the advertisements on its own platform yet. Google's ad policies don't directly address state media branches like CCTV, although Google has rules for political advertisements and prohibits content that misrepresents the product or organization an advertisement is talking about. Still, it's unclear whether CCTV's ads violate Google's policies. A representative for YouTube did not respond to The Verge's request for comment by the time of publish. CCTV's main YouTube channel has just over 560,000 subscribers. After being criticized for running promoted tweets by China's largest state agency, Twitter announced it will no longer accept advertising from state media operations, like China Central Television. Although Facebook did not announce any policy changes following the discovery of several accounts and pages spreading misinformation about the protesters, the company is "committed to continually improving to stay ahead," according to Nathaniel Gleicher, Facebook's head of cybersecurity policy.

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posted about 8 hours ago on slashdot
AmiMoJo shares a report from the BBC: Apple has advised owners of its new credit card to keep it away from leather and denim. Keeping the card in a leather wallet or in the pocket of a pair of jeans could cause "permanent discolouration." The Apple Card is a relatively plain matte white credit card made of titanium, which was designed to stand out against other credit cards. But people have poked fun at the company after reading that the card could be so easily damaged. Apple has published a guide advising customers how to "safely store and carry" their Apple Card. The guide warns that storing the card with other credit cards can scratch and damage it. Here's how Apple recommends you safely store and carry your titanium Apple Card: - Store your titanium Apple Card in a wallet, pocket, or bag made of soft materials. - Place your card in a slot in your wallet or billfold without touching another credit card. If two credit cards are placed in the same slot your card could become scratched. - Don't place or store your titanium Apple Card card near magnets. If your card is placed close to a magnetic latch on a purse or bag, the magnetic strip can become demagnetized. - Don't place your titanium Apple Card in a pocket or bag that contains loose change, keys, or other potentially abrasive objects.

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posted about 9 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In an attempt to quell a controversy that has raised the ire of white-hat hackers, the maker of the Steam online game platform said on Thursday it made a mistake when it turned away a researcher who recently reported two separate vulnerabilities. In its statement, Valve Corporation references HackerOne, the reporting service that helps thousands of companies receive and respond to vulnerabilities in their software or hardware. Valve's new HackerOne program rules specifically provide that "any case that allows malware or compromised software to perform a privilege escalation through Steam, without providing administrative credentials or confirming a UAC dialog, is in scope. Any unauthorized modification of the privileged Steam Client Service is also in scope." The statement and the policy change from Valve came two days after security researcher Vasily Kravets, an independent researcher from Moscow, received an email telling him that Valve's security team would no longer receive his vulnerability reports through the HackerOne bug-reporting service. Valve turned Kravets away after he reported a steam vulnerability that allowed hackers who already had a toe-hold on a vulnerable computer to burrow into privileged parts of an operating system. Valve initially told Kravets such vulnerabilities were out of scope and gave no indication that the one Vasily reported would be fixed. The company later publicly denied that the issue was a vulnerability by incorrectly claiming that the exploit required hackers to have physical access to a vulnerable computer. The company went so far as to dispute the vulnerability in the advisory issued by the National Institute of Standards and Technology.

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posted about 9 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a report: Eyre (an anecdote in the story) is one of more than 1,000 young women college-aged or older, hailing from 300 schools around the country, who participated in a recent survey [PDF] about the challenges female engineers face while applying for technical internships. The study was conducted last fall by Girls Who Code, a nonprofit organization that educates and supports girls studying computer science, which has 30,000 college-aged alumnae and 17,000 alumnae potentially entering college this fall. The analysis was limited to young women in the Girls Who Code network who are studying or previously studied computer science and related fields. The results reveal that many young women, whom the tech industry is counting on to diversify its heavily male workforce, are put off by their first encounters with tech companies. More than half of the respondents said they either had a negative experience while applying for engineering internships or knew another woman who had a negative experience, such as being subjected to gender-biased interview questions and inappropriate remarks, or observing a noticeable lack of diversity when they interacted with company representatives during the interview process. Although the survey did not explicitly ask about sexual harassment and discrimination, respondents raised both issues in written responses at the end of the survey. They described instances where a male interviewer flirted with them during the interview, sent an unsolicited photo of himself, asked if they had a significant other, or made sexual remarks in their presence. The respondents also reported feeling dismissed or demeaned because of their gender. One respondent was asked why she would want to go into tech as a woman; in another instance, a male interviewer laughed when the candidate said she saw herself becoming a software engineer in five years.

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posted about 10 hours ago on slashdot
Software company VMware on Thursday said it's acquiring Carbon Black at an enterprise value of $2.1 billion and Pivotal at an enterprise value of $2.7 billion. The deals are expected to close by the end of January 2020. From a report: These are VMware's largest acquisitions yet. The deals build on VMware's strength helping companies run their software in their own data centers. They could help VMware compete better in the security market and hybrid-cloud infrastructure operations. VMware isn't talking about cost synergies that could come out of buying two other enterprise-focused companies. However, CEO Pat Gelsinger told CNBC the companies will be operating profitably under VMware next year. Gelsinger said that by year two, Carbon Black and Pivotal will have contributed more than $1 billion in revenue incrementally, which will mean VMware will have more than $3 billion in hybrid cloud and software-as-a-service revenue. Carbon Black was founded in 2002 and debuted on the Nasdaq under the symbol "CBLK" in May 2018. The company provides anti-malware and endpoint protection products that can see into many of a company's devices and tell if they have been hacked. [...] Pivotal and VMware go way back: The company was created from assets spun out of VMware and Dell (VMware's controlling owner) in 2013. Its products help companies build and deploy their software across different server infrastructure, including public clouds. Competitors include IBM, Oracle and SAP, among others, as well as cloud providers such as Amazon and Microsoft. Pivotal's customers include Boeing, Citi, Ford and Home Depot, according to its website.

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posted about 11 hours ago on slashdot
Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has said his government lacks the resources to fight the record number of fires in the Amazon. And he again suggested that non-governmental organizations had started fires in the rainforest, but admitted he had no evidence for this claim. From a report: He added that his government was investigating the fires. Earlier, Brazil's Environment Minister Ricardo Salles was heckled at a meeting on climate change. Conservationists have blamed Brazil's government for the Amazon's plight. They say Mr Bolsonaro has encouraged the clearing of land by loggers and farmers, thereby speeding up the deforestation of the rainforest. Satellite data published by the National Institute for Space research (Inpe) shows an increase of 85% this year in fires across Brazil, most of them in the Amazon region. The largest rainforest in the world, the Amazon is a vital carbon store that slows down the pace of global warming. Answering questions from reporters on Thursday, Mr Bolsonaro said the government couldn't simply get the ministry of the interior to send 40 men to fight a fire. "Forty men to fight a fire? There aren't the resources. This chaos has arrived," he said.

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posted about 11 hours ago on slashdot
A new broadband mapping system is starting to show just how inaccurate the Federal Communications Commission's connectivity data is. From a report: In Missouri and Virginia, up to 38 percent of rural homes and businesses that the FCC counts as having broadband access actually do not, the new research found. That's more than 445,000 unconnected homes and businesses that the FCC would call "served" with its current system. Given that the new research covered just two states with a combined population of 14.6 million (or 4.5% of the 327.2 million people nationwide), it's likely that millions of homes nationwide have been wrongly counted as served by broadband. A full accounting of how the current data exaggerates access could further undercut FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's claims that repealing net neutrality rules and other consumer protection measures have dramatically expanded broadband access. His claims were already unconvincing for other reasons. The new research was conducted by CostQuest Associates, a consulting firm working for USTelecom, an industry lobby group that represents AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, Frontier, and other fiber and DSL broadband providers. USTelecom submitted a summary of the findings to the FCC on Tuesday. The two-state pilot was intended to determine the feasibility of creating a more accurate broadband map for the whole US.

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posted about 12 hours ago on slashdot
Twelve of the country's largest telephone companies on Thursday pledged to implement new technology to spot and block robocalls, part of an agreement brokered between the industry and 51 attorneys general to combat the growing telecom scourge. From a report: The new effort to be announced in Washington commits a wide array of companies in the absence of regulation to improving their defenses and aiding law enforcement in its investigations into illegal spam calls, which rang Americans' phones an estimated 4.7 billion times in July alone. Under the agreement, the 12 carriers have agreed to implement call-blocking technology, make anti-robocall tools available for free to consumers and deploy a new system that would label calls as real or spam. Known by its acronym, STIR/SHAKEN, the technology takes aim at a practice known as spoofing, where fraudsters mask their identities by using phone numbers that resemble those that they're trying to contact in a bid to get victims to pick up and surrender their personal information. Signing the pledge are larger mobile carriers, such as AT&T, Comcast, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon, which already have said they would implement such robocall protections and in some cases have started testing them around the country. Other carriers adopting the pledge include Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Consolidated, Frontier, U.S. Cellular and Windstream.

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posted about 13 hours ago on slashdot
The next version of the Android operating system (OS) will not be named after a dessert or sweet treat, ending a tradition that started in 2009. From a report: Following the pattern, the name of the new version would have started with Q. But Google said it had ditched the naming scheme because it made it difficult for consumers to know which version of the OS was the latest. The new edition, which will be released later this year, will be called Android 10. Previous versions of the mobile operating system have been nicknamed Jellybean, Kitkat and Lollipop.

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posted about 13 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader shares a report: When climate change comes for our coffee and our wine, we'll moan about it on Twitter, read about it on our favorite websites, and watch diverting videos on YouTube to fill the icy hole in our hearts. We'll do all this until the websites go dark and the networks go down because eventually, climate change will come for our internet, too. That is, unless we can get the web ready for the coming storms. Huge changes will be needed because right now, the internet is unsustainable. On the one hand, rising sea levels threaten to swamp the cables and stations that transmit the web to our homes; rising temperatures could make it more costly to run the data centers handling ever-increasing web traffic; wildfires could burn it all down. On the other, all of those data centers, computers, smartphones, and other internet-connected devices take a prodigious amount of energy to build and to run, thus contributing to global warming and hastening our collective demise. To save the internet and ourselves, we'll need to harden and relocate the infrastructure we've built, find cleaner ways to power the web, and reimagine how we interact with the digital world. Ultimately, we need to recognize that our tremendous consumption of online content isnâ(TM)t free of consequences -- if we're not paying, the planet is. You probably don't think about it when you're liking a photo or reading an article, but everything you do online is underpinned by a globe-spanning labyrinth of physical infrastructure. There are the data centers hosting the web and managing enormous flows of information on the daily. There are the fiber cables transmitting data to into our homes and offices, and even across oceans. There are cell towers sending and receiving countless calls and texts on the daily.

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posted about 14 hours ago on slashdot
The Justice Department have indicted dozens of individuals accused of their involvement in a massive business email scam and money laundering scheme. From a report: Thom Mrozek, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorneys Office for the Central District of California, confirmed more than a dozen individuals had been arrested during raids on Thursday -- mostly in the Los Angeles area. A total of 80 defendants are allegedly involved in the scheme. News of the early-morning raids were first reported by ABC7 in Los Angeles. The 145-page indictment, unsealed Thursday, said the 80 named individuals are charged with conspiracy to commit mail and bank fraud, as well as aggravated identity theft and money laundering. Most of the individuals alleged to be involved in the scheme are based in Nigeria, said the spokesperson. But it's not immediately known if the Nigerian nationals will be extradited to the U.S., however a treaty exists between the two nations making extraditions possible.

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posted about 15 hours ago on slashdot
Spotify today extended the free-trial period for its Premium service from one month to three, tripling the amount of time listeners can take full advantage of the streaming giant's offerings without paying for them. From a report: According to the announcement, the offer is "always-on/not limited time," and will roll out across Spotify Premium plans globally: Individual and Student (where available) starting today, as well as Family (where available) and Duo (where available) in the coming months. The announcement notes that the free trial is open only to users who haven't already tried Premium (and is "not available on Headspace, non-recurring products and most carrier billing (except for individual in JP, AU, DE, CH and Student in JP)."

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posted about 15 hours ago on slashdot
The European Commission is reportedly considering sweeping reforms to facial recognition regulation to protect citizens from public surveillance, said the Financial Times on Thursday. From a report: Quoting an EU official, the newspaper said new legislation could limit "the indiscriminate use of facial recognition technology." European citizens would be given powers to "know when [facial recognition] data is used." The Commission didn't comment directly on the plans, but a spokesman pointed to a high-level expert group that was set up in June to consider the need for new regulation when it comes to tracking and profiling, including facial recognition. Discussions around regulating facial recognition technology follow the introduction of a number of public trials around Europe, some of which have been conducted without people knowing they were taking place. The UK's data protection watchdog is investigating the use of the technology to monitor crowds around London's King Cross. Just this week Sweden's national data protection authority imposed a fine of almost 200,000 kronor ($20,700) on a school that trialed the tech to monitor daily attendance of students. According to the EU's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which was introduced last year, this use of the technology breached student privacy rights.

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posted about 16 hours ago on slashdot
Google's Chrome team proposed a "privacy sandbox" Thursday that's designed to give us the best of both worlds: ads that publishers can target toward our interests but that don't infringe our privacy. From a report: It's a major development in an area where Chrome, the dominant browser, has lagged competitors. Browsers already include security sandboxes, restrictions designed to confine malware to limit its possible damage. Google's proposed privacy sandbox would similarly restrict tracking technology, according to proposal details Google published. The privacy sandbox is "a secure environment for personalization that also protects user privacy," said Justin Schuh, a director of Chrome Engineering focused on security matters, in a privacy sandbox blog post. "Our goal is to create a set of standards that is more consistent with users' expectations of privacy." For example, Chrome would restrict some private data to the browser -- an approach rival Brave Software has taken with its privacy-focused rival web browser. And it could restrict sharing personal data until it's shared across a large group of people using technologies called differential privacy and federated learning.

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posted about 17 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader writes: Apple will launch three new iPhone models in an event next week. Two will be called "Pro" models and will replace the iPhone XS and XS Max. A third phone will replace the iPhone XR and will include dual cameras, Bloomberg reported Thursday. The Pro iPhones will feature triple rear cameras that will include a wide-angle lens, support for higher resolution photos, better low light performance, and better video recording capabilities. These Pro phones will also support reverse wireless charging similar to what Samsung offers with the Galaxy S10. This will allow the phones to charge the AirPods when used with their wireless charging case. Other details include a new, multi-angle, Face ID sensor which will allow the phone to sense your face while lying flat on a table, better waterproofing, and new shatter-resistance technology. Bloomberg doesn't specify which of the new models these features will come to. All the phones will reportedly include a faster A13 processor, as well as a new Matrix chip that could benefit computer vision and augmented reality performance. Outside of a new matte-colored finish, the Pro phones will look broadly similar to last year's models. 3D Touch has reportedly been dropped from all of this year's models and replaced with the Haptic Touch system that debuted with the iPhone XR last year. Apple is also planning to release new 11-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pros this year. Bloomberg says these will feature "upgraded cameras," although it doesn't mention whether they will have more than one camera on their rear. Faster processors are also expected, but their overall appearance will apparently remain the same. Bloomberg claims that Apple will discontinue its existing entry-level 9.7-inch iPad in favor of a new 10.2-inch model. Apple's 2019 MacBook Pros Bloomberg's report also corroborates previous rumors about Apple launching a new 16-inch MacBook Pro this year. The new laptop will reportedly be similar in size overall to the existing 15-inch MacBook Pro, but will be able to include a bigger screen because of a reduction in the size of its screen bezels.

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posted about 18 hours ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MacRumors: The Chicago Tribune recently launched an investigation into the radiofrequency radiation levels output by popular smartphones, and found that some of Apple's iPhones are allegedly emitting radiofrequency radiation that exceeds safety limits. According to the newspaper, it contracted an accredited lab to test several smartphones according to federal guidelines. iPhones were secured below clear liquid formulated to simulate human tissue while probes measured the radiofrequency radiation the liquid absorbed. Several iPhones measured over the legal safety limits in the tests, but the worst performer was the iPhone 7. Its radiofrequency radiation exposure was over the legal limit and more than double what Apple reported to federal regulators. The iPhone X was slightly over limits in some tests, as was the iPhone 8, while the 8 Plus stayed within the legal range. iPhones were tested twice after Apple provided feedback on the testing method. The modified test "added steps intended to activate sensors designed to reduce the phones' power." In these modified tests, where a reporter held the iPhone to activate the sensors in question, the iPhone 8 was under the 5mm limit, but the iPhone 7 models were not. Apple disputed the results found by The Chicago Tribune and said that the lab did not test the iPhones in the same way that Apple does, though Apple would not specify what was done wrong in the testing. Apple also said the modified testing had been done wrong. The investigation also found smartphones from Samsung, Motorola, and Vivo also demonstrated radiofrequency radiation levels that exceed FCC guidelines. However, it's worth noting that testing was done in a way to simulate the worst possible exposure conditions. The FCC said that it will be conducting its own tests over the next couple of months. "We take seriously any claims on non-compliance with the RF (radiofrequency) exposure standards and will be obtaining and testing the subject phones for compliance with FCC rules," agency spokesman Neil Grace said.

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posted about 21 hours ago on slashdot
oxide7 shares a report from International Business Times: Amazon, Microsoft and Intel are among leading tech companies putting the world at risk through killer robot development, according to a report that surveyed major players from the sector about their stance on lethal autonomous weapons. Dutch NGO Pax ranked 50 companies by three criteria: whether they were developing technology that could be relevant to deadly AI, whether they were working on related military projects, and if they had committed to abstaining from contributing in the future. Google, which last year published guiding principles eschewing AI for use in weapons systems, was among seven companies found to be engaging in "best practice" in the analysis that spanned 12 countries, as was Japan's Softbank, best known for its humanoid Pepper robot. Twenty-two companies were of "medium concern," while 21 fell into a "high concern" category, notably Amazon and Microsoft who are both bidding for a $10 billion Pentagon contract to provide the cloud infrastructure for the U.S. military. Others in the "high concern" group include Palantir, a company with roots in a CIA-backed venture capital organization that was awarded an $800 million contract to develop an AI system "that can help soldiers analyze a combat zone in real time." The report noted that Microsoft employees had also voiced their opposition to a U.S. Army contract for an augmented reality headset, HoloLens, that aims at "increasing lethality" on the battlefield. Stuart Russel, a computer science professor at the University of California, argued it was essential to take the next step in the form of an international ban on lethal AI, that could be summarized as "machines that can decide to kill humans shall not be developed, deployed, or used."

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posted about 24 hours ago on slashdot
Maintainers of the RubyGems package repository have yanked 18 malicious versions of 11 Ruby libraries that contained a backdoor mechanism and were caught inserting code that launched hidden cryptocurrency mining operations inside other people's Ruby projects. ZDNet reports: The malicious code was first discovered yesterday inside four versions of rest-client, an extremely popular Ruby library. According to an analysis by Jan Dintel, a Dutch Ruby developer, the malicious code found in rest-client would collect and send the URL and environment variables of a compromised system to a remote server in Ukraine. "Depending on your set-up this can include credentials of services that you use e.g. database, payment service provider," Dintel said. The code also contained a backdoor mechanism that allowed the attacker to send a cookie file back to a compromised project, and allow the attacker to execute malicious commands. A subsequent investigation by the RubyGems staff discovered that this mechanism was being abused to insert cryptocurrency mining code. RubyGems staff also uncovered similar code in 10 other projects. All the libraries, except rest-client, were created by taking another fully functional library, adding the malicious code, and then re-uploading it on RubyGems under a new name. All in all, all the 18 malicious library versions only managed to amass 3,584 downloads before being removed from RubyGems.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: If death is in the cards, it may also be in your blood. Measurements of 14 metabolic substances in blood were pretty good at predicting whether people were likely to die in the next five to 10 years. The data was published this week in Nature Communications. A team of researchers led by data scientists in the Netherlands came up with the fateful 14 based on data from 44,168 people, aged 18 to 109. The data included death records and measurements of 226 different substances in blood. Of the 44,168 people, 5,512 died during follow-up periods of nearly 17 years. The researchers then put their death panel to the test. They used the 14 blood measurements to try to predict deaths in a cohort of 7,603 Finnish people who were surveyed in 1997. Of those Finns, 1,213 died during follow-up. Together, the 14 blood measurements were about 83% accurate at predicting the deaths that occurred within both five years and 10 years. The accuracy dropped to about 72% when predicting deaths for people over 60 years old, though.

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posted 1 day ago on slashdot
Splunk Inc. reached a $1.05 billion deal to buy cloud-monitoring startup SignalFx Inc., a deal that would strengthen the cybersecurity and data-analytics firm's offerings in the fast-growing cloud-computing sector. The Wall Street Journal reports: Founded in 2004, Splunk -- a play on the word "spelunking" -- collects and analyzes data to help companies identify patterns, like customers' beverage preferences, and detect anomalies, say fraud or a cyberattack. Splunk officials told analysts that Splunk has some customer overlap with San Mateo, Calif.-based SignalFx and that the target company's software represents a "top tier asset to the things that matter" to clients. Closely held SignalFx was valued at nearly $500 million after a $75 million funding round that closed in May, according to a Dow Jones VentureSource estimate. The cash-and-stock deal is expected to close in the second half of Splunk's fiscal year, which ends Jan. 31. San Francisco-based Splunk, which went public in 2012 and carries a nearly $1.5 billion deficit, said it would be able to absorb the added operating costs from the deal. Splunk has been increasing its cloud business, which accounted for 25% of revenues in the July quarter and is expected to represent half of operations over the next few years, company officials said.

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