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DC Judge Approves Government Warrant For Data From Anti-Trump Website

3 months 2 weeks ago
According to Reuters, a D.C. Superior Court judge on Thursday approved a government warrant seeking data from an anti-Trump website related to Inauguration Day protests, but he added protections to safeguard "innocent users." From the report: Chief Judge Robert Morin said DreamHost, a Los Angeles-based web-hosting company, must turn over data about visitors to the website disruptj20.org, which is a home to political activists who organized protests at the time of Donald Trump's inauguration as U.S. president in January. Morin, who will oversee review of the data, said the government must explain what protocols it will use to make sure prosecutors do not seize the data of "innocent users." Morin said at a hearing on Thursday that he recognized the tension between free speech rights and law enforcement's need to search digital records for evidence. He said he added safeguards to his order granting the government's request for information in an effort to balance those two concerns. Besides reviewing the prosecutors' privacy protocols, Morin also shortened the time frame for records to those generated from October to Inauguration Day and instructed the prosecutors to explain why anything they want to seize is germane to the investigation.

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Many People Still Don't Want To Ride in Self-driving Cars, Survey Finds

3 months 2 weeks ago
A lot of people may still have serious reservations about riding in fully autonomous vehicles, a new survey from Gartner indicates. From a report: The Gartner Consumer Trends in Automotive people surveyed about 1,500 people in the United States and Germany from April through May, and found that 55 percent of the people they spoke to would not ride in a fully autonomous car. However, just over 70 percent would ride in a car that was partially autonomous. Gartner defined partially autonomous vehicles as those that could drive autonomously, but allow a driver to retake control of the car if needed. Advocates of autonomous driving have said the technology will actually make driving safer, since statistics indicate human behavior is the major cause of most auto crashes. But many consumers familiar with the tendency of other electronic devices to sometimes malfunction or perform erratically still seem to have trouble accepting the idea of being held in a vehicle that could fail.

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Amazon To Complete $13.7B Whole Foods Deal Monday, Promises Lower Prices and Prime Integration

3 months 2 weeks ago
Amazon announced today that its $13.7 billion acquisition of Whole Foods will close this Monday, Aug. 28, and revealed how it plans to lower prices and integrate its Prime membership program into the Whole Foods checkout process. From a report: Amazon said that starting Monday, it will lower prices of items at Whole Foods like organic bananas, brown eggs, salmon, ground beef, and more. It also plans to "make Amazon Prime the customer rewards program at Whole Foods Market and continuously lower prices as we invent together," as Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon's consumer business, said in a press release. Amazon will place its Amazon Lockers package pickup machines in some Whole Foods stores. It will also make Whole Foods' private label products available on its website, on AmazonFresh, on Prime Pantry, and Prime Now. Whole Foods CEO John Mackey will stay in his current role, and Whole Foods' HQ will remain in Austin. The grocer will maintain operations under its current brand.

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These Are the 10 Most Popular Mobile Apps in America

3 months 2 weeks ago
Today comScore released its 2017 US Mobile App Report, which among other things, lists the top mobile apps in the nation. From a report: Between smartphones and tablets, Americans spend more than half of their digital media consumption time -- 57 percent -- in apps, according to the report. That's about the same as a year ago -- evidence that the dramatic shift to mobile has now leveled out in the U.S. These are the winners, according to comScore, as measured by their penetration of the U.S. mobile app audience: Facebook (81 percent), YouTube (71 percent), Facebook Messenger (68 percent), Google Search (61 percent), Google Maps (57 percent), Instagram (50 percent), Snapchat (50 percent), Google Play (47 percent), Gmail (44 percent), and Pandora (41 percent). 8 out of 10 apps here are owned by Facebook and Google.

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Node.js Forked Again Over Complaints of Unresponsive Leadership

3 months 2 weeks ago
New submitter Kant shares a report: The codebase for popular Node.js JavaScript runtime has been forked again -- the second time in less than three years -- with a growing number of contributors charging that the Technical Steering Committee (TSC) leadership is ignoring repeated violations of the project's code of conduct. The new project, called Ayo will be managed under an open governance model. The complaints centered around ongoing behavior of NodeSource Director of Engineering, and Node.js TSC member Rod Vagg. The TSC received multiple complaints from Node.js members about a Tweet from Vagg promoting a Men's Rights Activist-slanted article, one that cast doubt on the validity of project Code-of-Conducts. In that Tweet, Vagg commented "If you've never considered the potential downsides of codes of conduct, here's a good place to start." [...] On August 21, The TSC voted on whether or not to remove Vagg from its ranks. Of the 10 TSC members who voted, 60 percent voted against removing Rod from the TSC and 60 percent voted against asking Rod to voluntarily resign. That the TSC voted to keep Vagg on the committee inflamed others in the project. One committee member, Myles Borins, resigned in protest. The decision to keep Vagg "undermines our Conduct Guidelines, drives away potential contributors, and in my opinion undermines the Committee's ability to govern," he wrote in a blog post. In a post further explaining the need for the forked Ayo project, developer Rudolf Olah explained that "Driving away contributors can be fatal in the open source world where most developers are essentially using their free time and volunteering to contribute. It is already difficult enough to attract contributors to smaller projects and larger projects, such as Node.js, need to be careful to make all contributors feel welcome."

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Smartphone Maker HTC Explores Strategic Options

3 months 2 weeks ago
An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: HTC, the beleaguered manufacturer that once ranked among the world's top smartphone makers, is exploring options that could range from separating off its virtual-reality business to a full sale of the company, according to people familiar with the matter. The Taiwanese firm is working with an adviser as it considers bringing in a strategic investor, selling or spinning off its Vive virtual reality headset business, the people said, asking not to be identified as the discussions are private. A full sale of HTC, which has businesses ranging from VR to headset manufacturing, is less likely because it doesn't fit obviously with one acquirer, one of the people said.

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Water Found Deep Inside the Moon

3 months 2 weeks ago
From a report: There's even more water on the moon than we previously thought, according to new analysis of tiny glass beads left over from ancient volcanic eruptions. The naturally occurring beads were collected in the 1970s as part of the Apollo 15 and 17 missions, which landed near zones of volcanic activity. The beads formed when magma bursting onto the surface crystallized in such a way that water became trapped inside. However, scientists couldn't be sure if the Apollo samples are unique or if other volcanic flows on the moon are filled with water-bearing glass. In a new study published today in Nature Geoscience, scientists reexamined the Apollo samples and used more recent satellite data to look for signs of water-bearing beads elsewhere on the moon. They found that the volcanic deposits are indeed widespread, which suggests that the material inside the moon is wetter than previously thought.

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AccuWeather Updates Its iOS App To Address Privacy Outcry

3 months 2 weeks ago
Taylor Hatmaker, writing for TechCrunch: Responding to privacy concerns, AccuWeather is out with a new version of its iOS app that removes a controversial data sharing behavior. Earlier this week, security researcher Will Strafach called attention to the practice in a post and users took to Twitter to announce their intention to dump the app in droves. "AccuWeather's app employed a Software Development Kit (SDK) from a third party vendor (Reveal Mobile) that inadvertently allowed Wi-Fi router data to be transmitted to this third-party vendor," the company wrote in a statement accompanying the app update. "Once we became aware of this situation we took immediate action to verify the operation and quickly disabled the SDK from the IOS app. Our next step was to update the IOS app and remove Reveal Mobile completely."

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Samsung TV Owners Furious After Software Update Leaves Sets Unusable

3 months 2 weeks ago
Thousands of owners of high-end Samsung TVs have complained after a software update left their recently acquired $1,800 sets with blank, unusable screens. From a report: The Guardian has been contacted by a number of owners complaining that the TVs they bought -- in some cases just two weeks ago -- have been rendered useless by an upgrade sent out by Samsung a week ago. Others have been posting furious messages on the company's community boards complaining that their new TVs are no longer working. The company has told customers it is working to fix the problem but so far, seven days on, nothing has been forthcoming. The problem appears to affect the latest models as owners of older Samsung TVs are not reporting the issue. The report doesn't identify the models that have been affected. But we scanned the forums and found that at least UE49MU7070, UE49MU7070TXXU, and MU6409 models are affected.

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JavaScript Is Eating The World

3 months 2 weeks ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Incase you haven't heard the news, JavaScript and NodeJS are single handedly eating the world of software. NodeJS is an Open Source server-side JavaScript environment based on the V8 JS rendering engine found in Google Chrome. Once only thought of as a "hipster" framework, NodeJS is fastly becoming one of the most commonly used language in building web applications and is beginning to find its way into the Enterprise. Netflix, Microsoft, PayPal, Uber, and IBM have adopted the popular "hipster" server-side JavaScript engine for use inside high traffic, high profile production projects. Java still powers the backend of Netflix, but all the stuff that the user sees comes from Node. In addition to Node, Netflix is also using ReactJS in their stack. PayPal too is moving away from Java and onto JavaScript and NodeJS for use in their web application platform. Uber has built its massive driver / rider matching system on Node.js Distributed Web Architecture. IBM has also embraced NodeJS as well. Even Microsoft has embraced NodeJS, offering direct integrations into their Azure Platform, releasing a wealth of tutorials targeted at Node and they have even announced plans to fork the project and build their own version of Node powered by their Edge Javascript engine instead of Chrome's V8.

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America Wasted $160 Million Trying To Get Afghanistan To Use E-Payments

3 months 2 weeks ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: The country might be home to America's longest-running war, but the US has spent more time, energy, and money trying to rebuild Afghanistan than it has spent killing the Taliban. American taxpayers send billions to Kabul every year and every year billions disappear into the pockets of Afghan government officials. Electronic payment systems would go a long way to solving that problem. The US Agency for International Development (USAID) wanted to do just that. The Agency figured if it could convince those at corruption hotspots, such as customs agents and border guards, to use e-payment methods, then it might curb the amount of cash those agents pocketed every day. Between 2009 and 2017, USAID spent $160 million and partnered American tech companies to set up e-pay in Afghanistan, according to a new report from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). The goal was to get the border guards trained and using the new methods, with an aim of 75 percent of all customs transactions paid electronically by 2017. As of today, less than one percent of those transactions are electronic, SIGAR reports. And custom officials loathe the system. "It's a very long and inefficient process and that's why people do not use this method," one Afghan custom official told SIGAR agents.

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You Can Help Purism Build the Secure Open Source Linux-based Librem 5 Smartphone

3 months 2 weeks ago
BrianFagioli writes: Thankfully, consumers are starting to wake up and become more aware of security and privacy, and some companies, such as Purism, are designing products to safeguard users. The company's laptops, for instance, run an open source Linux-based operating system, called "PureOS" with a focus on privacy. These machines even have hardware "kill switches" so you can physically disconnect a webcam or Wi-Fi card. Today, Purism announces that it is taking those same design philosophies and using them to build a new $599 smartphone called Librem 5. The planned phone will use the GNOME desktop environment and PureOS by default, but users can install different distros too. Sound good? Well you can help the company build it through crowdfunding. "Purism, the social purpose corporation which designs and produces popular privacy conscious hardware and software, has revealed its plans to build the world's first encrypted, open platform smartphone that will empower users to protect their digital identity in an increasingly unsafe mobile world. After 18 months of R&D to test hardware specifications and engage with one of the largest phone fabricators, Purism is opening a self-hosted crowdfunding campaign to gauge demand for the initial fabrication order and add the features most important to users," says Purism.

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India's Top Court Rules Privacy a Fundamental Right in Blow To Government

3 months 2 weeks ago
India's top court unanimously ruled on Thursday that individual privacy is a fundamental right, a verdict that will impact everything from the way companies handle personal data to the roll-out of the world's largest biometric ID card program. From a report: A nine-member bench of India's Supreme Court announced the ruling in a big setback for the Narendra Modi-led government, which argued that privacy was not a fundamental right protected by the constitution. The ruling comes against the backdrop of a large multi-party case against the mandatory use of national identity cards, known as Aadhaar, as an infringement of privacy. There have also been concerns over breaches of data. Critics say the ID cards link enough data to create a comprehensive profile of a person's spending habits, their friends and acquaintances, the property they own and a trove of other information. "This is a blow to the government, because the government had argued that people do not have a right to privacy," said Prashant Bhushan, a senior lawyer involved in the case.

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IRS Now Has a Tool To Unmask Bitcoin Tax Evaders

3 months 2 weeks ago
SonicSpike shares a report from The Daily Beast: You can use bitcoin. But you can't hide from the taxman. At least, that's the hope of the Internal Revenue Service, which has purchased specialist software to track those using bitcoin, according to a contract obtained by The Daily Beast. The document highlights how law enforcement isn't only concerned with criminals accumulating bitcoin from selling drugs or hacking targets, but also those who use the currency to hide wealth or avoid paying taxes. The IRS has claimed that only 802 people declared bitcoin losses or profits in 2015; clearly fewer than the actual number of people trading the cryptocurrency -- especially as more investors dip into the world of cryptocurrencies, and the value of bitcoin punches past the $4,000 mark. Maybe lots of bitcoin traders didn't realize the government expects to collect tax on their digital earnings, or perhaps some thought they'd be able to get away with stockpiling bitcoin thanks to the perception that the cryptocurrency is largely anonymous. "The purpose of this acquisition is to help us trace the movement of money through the bitcoin economy," a section of the contract reads. The Daily Beast obtained the document through the Freedom of Information Act. The contractor in this case is Chainalysis, a startup offering its "Reactor" tool to visualize, track, and analyze bitcoin transactions. Chainalysis' users include law enforcement agencies, banks, and regulatory entities. The software can follow bitcoin as it moves from one wallet to another, and eventually to an exchange where the bitcoin user will likely cash out into dollars or another currency. This is the point law enforcement could issue a subpoena to the exchange and figure out who is really behind the bitcoin.

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Google Pulls 500+ Backdoored Apps With Over 100 Million Downloads From Google Play

3 months 2 weeks ago
Orome1 shares a report from Help Net Security: Security researchers have identified over 500 apps on Google Play containing an advertising software development kit (SDK) called Igexin, which allowed covert download of spying plugins. The apps in question represent a wide selection of photo editors, Internet radio and travel apps, educational, health and fitness apps, weather apps, and so on, and were downloaded over 100 million times across the Android ecosystem. Lookout researchers did not name the apps that were found using the malicious SDK, but notified Google of the problem. The latter then proceeded to clean up house, either by removing the offending apps altogether, or by forcing app developers to upload an updated version with the invasive features (i.e. the Igexin SDK) removed. "Users and app developers have no control over what will be executed on a device after the remote API request is made. The only limitations on what could potentially be run are imposed by the Android permissions system," the researchers pointed out. "It is becoming increasingly common for innovative malware authors to attempt to evade detection by submitting innocuous apps to trusted app stores, then at a later time, downloading malicious code from a remote server. Igexin is somewhat unique because the app developers themselves are not creating the malicious functionality -- nor are they in control or even aware of the malicious payload that may subsequently execute. Instead, the invasive activity initiates from an Igexin-controlled server."

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Elon Musk Posts First Photo of SpaceX's New Spacesuit

3 months 2 weeks ago
Early Wednesday morning, SpaceX founder Elon Musk posted a photo of the spacesuit that will be used by astronauts flying aboard the company's Dragon spacecraft, perhaps as early as next year. Ars Technica reports: In his Instagram post, Musk added that this suit was not a mock-up but rather a fully functional unit. "Already tested to double vacuum pressure," he wrote. "Was incredibly hard to balance aesthetics and function. Easy to do either separately." (Double vacuum pressure simply means the suit was probably inflated to twice the pressure of sea level and then put into a vacuum chamber.) Musk gave no other technical information about the suit. Most strikingly, it is white, in contrast to the very blue spacesuits unveiled by Boeing in January. These are not, strictly speaking, "space suits." Rather, they are more properly flight suits designed to be worn during the ride to space and again on the ride back down to Earth. They have a limited time in which they can operate in a full vacuum and are not intended for spacewalks.

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Engineers Discover How To Make Antennas For Wireless Communication 100x Smaller Than Their Current Size

3 months 2 weeks ago
Engineers have figured out how to make antennas for wireless communication 100 times smaller than their current size, an advance that could lead to tiny brain implants, micro-medical devices, or phones you can wear on your finger. Science Magazine reports: The new mini-antennas play off the difference between electromagnetic (EM) waves, such as light and radio waves, and acoustic waves, such as sound and inaudible vibrations. EM waves are fluctuations in an electromagnetic field, and they travel at light speed -- an astounding 300,000,000 meters per second. Acoustic waves are the jiggling of matter, and they travel at the much slower speed of sound -- in a solid, typically a few thousand meters per second. So, at any given frequency, an EM wave has a much longer wavelength than an acoustic wave. Antennas receive information by resonating with EM waves, which they convert into electrical voltage. For such resonance to occur, a traditional antenna's length must roughly match the wavelength of the EM wave it receives, meaning that the antenna must be relatively big. However, like a guitar string, an antenna can also resonate with acoustic waves. The new antennas take advantage of this fact. They will pick up EM waves of a given frequency if its size matches the wavelength of the much shorter acoustic waves of the same frequency. That means that that for any given signal frequency, the antennas can be much smaller. The trick is, of course, to quickly turn the incoming EM waves into acoustic waves. The team created two kinds of acoustic antennas. One has a circular membrane, which works for frequencies in the gigahertz range, including those for WiFi. The other has a rectangular membrane, suitable for megahertz frequencies used for TV and radio. Each is less than a millimeter across, and both can be manufactured together on a single chip. When researchers tested one of the antennas in a specially insulated room, they found that compared to a conventional ring antenna of the same size, it sent and received 2.5 gigahertz signals about 100,000 times more efficiently, they report in Nature Communications.

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Bill Gates and Richard Branson Back Startup That Grows 'Clean Meat'

3 months 2 weeks ago
A large global agricultural company has joined Bill Gates and Richard Branson to invest in a nascent technology to make meat from self-producing animal cells. "Memphis Meats, which produces beef, chicken and duck directly from animal cells without raising and slaughtering livestock or poultry, raised $17 million from investors including Cargill, Gates and billionaire Richard Branson, according to a statement Tuesday on the San Francisco-based startup's website," reports Bloomberg. From the report: This is the latest move by an agricultural giant to respond to consumers, especially Millennials, who are rapidly leaving their mark on the U.S. food world. That's happening through surging demand for organic products, increasing focus on food that's considered sustainable and greater attention on animal treatment. Big poultry and livestock processors have started to take up alternatives to traditional meat. To date, Memphis Meats has raised $22 million, signaling a commitment to the "clean-meat movement," the company said.

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Chrome Adds Warning For Extensions That Take Over Your Proxy Settings

3 months 2 weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: "Google engineers have added two new features to the Chrome browser that will alert users of extensions that hijack proxy settings or the new tab page," reports Bleeping Computer. Google has been testing these two techniques sparingly with a small subset of users for more than a year, but they have now landed in Google Canary. The techniques are used by malicious Chrome extensions to hijack traffic and insert ads, or to redirect search traffic to affiliate search engine programs. The addition of these popup alerts are part of Google's plan to fight malicious Chrome extensions that have been starting to plague the Web Store.

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Roku Is the Top Streaming Device In the US and Still Growing, Report Finds

3 months 2 weeks ago
Roku is the top streaming media player device in the U.S., and its growth is only increasing. According to the latest industry report from market intelligence firm Parks Associates, 37 percent of streaming devices in U.S. households are Roku devices, as of the first quarter of this year. That's up from 30 percent in the same quarter last year, the report notes. TechCrunch reports: The growth is coming at the expense of Roku's top competitors, like Apple and Google, with only Amazon's Fire TV able to increase its install base during the same timeframe. Fire TV devices are in 24 percent of U.S. households, as of Q1 2017, up from 16 percent last year. That climb allowed Amazon to snag the second position from Google's Chromecast, which has an 18 percent share. Lagging behind, Apple TV's market share fell to 15 percent -- a drop that Parks Associates Senior Analyst Glenn Hower attributes to Apple TV's price point. Roku last fall overhauled its line of streaming players with the intention of plugging every hole in the market. That strategy is seemingly paying off. There's now a Roku device to meet any consumer's needs -- whether that's an entry-level, portable and affordable "stick," to rival the Fire TV Stick or the Chromecast dongle, or a high-end player with 4K and HDR support, lots of ports, voice search remote, and other premium bells and whistles.

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