Would You Pay $700, Plus a Monthly Fee, For a Digital License Plate?

3 months 2 weeks ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: It's been a few weeks now since a Bay Area startup put a digital license plate on my car. So far, nobody seems to have noticed. I haven't yet been pulled aside by police or civilians asking what it is. At first glance, this electronic device looks exactly like a traditional, stamped metal license plate. The new digital plate has the same scripted CALIFORNIA icon up top and uses the exact same size and font to show the numbers and letters. But in actuality, what I have is an "Rplate," a $700 plate-sized Kindle-like screen on the back of my car -- high-contrast grayscale e-ink and all. The device also contains an RFID and GPS chip that allow me to see where my car is at any given moment, to voluntarily track my trips, and to even optionally display DMV-approved customized messages in a small font below the plate number itself. Were I an actual paying customer, I'd be paying $7 per month in a service fee, too, mostly to offset the data connection to Verizon. The one-time $700 price tag alone is a bit high for me. To be clear, I have a loaner model, and by the time this story comes out, I'll soon be sending the plate back to the company, Reviver. The model I've been using is one of the first 1,000 such plates that are legally out on California roads right now. Still, after my experience of a few weeks, there's no clear and compelling case to be made as to why most of us non-rich individuals need this fancy plate. Also, there are still unanswered questions about its security and what it means to voluntarily hand over so much personal location data to a single company.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

BeauHD

Economists Worry We Aren't Prepared For the Fallout From Automation

3 months 2 weeks ago
A new paper from the Center for Global Development says we are spending too much time discussing whether robots can take your job and not enough time discussing what happens next. The Verge reports: The paper's authors, Lukas Schlogl and Andy Sumner, say it's impossible to know exactly how many jobs will be destroyed or disrupted by new technology. But, they add, it's fairly certain there are going to be significant effects -- especially in developing economies, where the labor market is skewed toward work that requires the sort of routine, manual labor that's so susceptible to automation. Think unskilled jobs in factories or agriculture. One class of solution they call "quasi-Luddite" -- measures that try to stall or reverse the trend of automation. These include taxes on goods made with robots (or taxes on the robots themselves) and regulations that make it difficult to automate existing jobs. They suggest that these measures are challenging to implement in "an open economy," because if automation makes for cheaper goods or services, then customers will naturally look for them elsewhere; i.e. outside the area covered by such regulations. [...] The other class of solution they call "coping strategies," which tend to focus on one of two things: re-skilling workers whose jobs are threatened by automation or providing economic safety nets to those affected (for example, a universal basic income or UBI). They conclude that there's simply not enough work being done researching the political and economic solutions to what could be a growing global crisis. "Questions like profitability, labor regulations, unionization, and corporate-social expectations will be at least as important as technical constraints in determining which jobs get automated," they write.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

BeauHD

Best Buy Stops Selling Music CDs

3 months 2 weeks ago
Thelasko writes: Best Buy has stopped selling CDs at its stores as of Sunday, CBS Pittsburgh reports. The arrest of CD sales will happen nationwide. Due to digital streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music, Pandora and others, CD sales have been falling in recent years. Best Buy's CD sales have recently only brought in about $40 million annually.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash

MoviePass Parent Files To Raise $1.2 Billion To Stay Afloat

3 months 2 weeks ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Variety: Helios and Matheson Analytics, the struggling parent company of MoviePass, filed a registration statement with the SEC to raise up to $1.2 billion in equity and debt securities over the next three years. The funding is intended to support the cash-burning operations of MoviePass, as well as the MoviePass Ventures movie investment subsidiary, MoviePass Films and Moviefone, which Helios and Matheson recently acquired from Verizon's Oath. Of course, whether Helios and Matheson can actually persuade investors to keep pouring money into the venture is unknown. The announcement comes after Helios and Matheson, the New York-based data and analytics company that bought MoviePass in 2017, last month announced a $164 million bond sale to provide working capital for MoviePass.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

BeauHD

AT&T Promised Lower Prices After Time Warner Merger -- It's Raising Them Instead

3 months 2 weeks ago
Less than a month after AT&T completed its $85 billion acquisition of Time Warner, the company is raising the base price of its DirecTV Now streaming service by $5 per month. This comes after promising in court that its acquisition would lover TV prices. Ars Technica reports: AT&T confirmed the price increase to Ars and said it began informing customers of the increase this past weekend. "The $5 increase will go into effect July 26 for new customers and varies for existing customers based on their billing date," an AT&T spokesperson said. The $5 increase will affect all DirecTV Now tiers except for a Spanish-language TV package, AT&T told Ars. That means the DirecTV Now packages that currently cost $35, $50, $60, and $70 a month will go up to $40, $55, $65, and $75. "To continue delivering the best possible streaming experience for both new and existing customers, we're bringing the cost of this service in line with the market -- which starts at a $40 price point," AT&T said. In a court filing, trying to convince the Justice Department that its acquisition would be good for consumers, AT&T had this to say: "The evidence overwhelmingly showed that this merger is likely to enhance competition substantially, because it will enable the merged company to reduce prices, offer innovative video products, and compete more effectively against the increasingly powerful, vertically integrated 'FAANG' [Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, and Google] companies," AT&T told U.S. District Judge Richard Leon in the brief.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

BeauHD

Newer Diameter Telephony Protocol Just As Vulnerable As SS7

3 months 2 weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: Security researchers say the Diameter protocol used with today's 4G (LTE) telephony and data transfer standard is vulnerable to the same types of vulnerabilities as the older SS7 standard used with older telephony standards such as 3G, 2G, and earlier. The vulnerabilities are happening because 4G operators are misconfiguring the Diameter protocol (a SS7 replacement) and using it in the same way as SS7. The incorrect use of Diameter leads to the presence of several vulnerabilities in 4G networks that resemble the ones found in older networks that use SS7, and which Diameter was supposed to prevent. Researchers say that the Diameter misconfigurations they've spotted inside 4G networks are in many cases unique per each network but they usually repeat themselves to have them organized in five classes of attacks: (1) subscriber information disclosure, (2) network information disclosure, (3) subscriber traffic interception, (4) fraud, and (5) denial of service. Researchers warn that not fixing these vulnerabilities "could lead to sudden failure of ATMs, payment terminals, utility meters, car alarms, and video surveillance." This is because these types of devices often use 4G SIM card modules to connect to their servers when located in a remote area where classic Internet connections are not possible. Old SS7 attacks such as tracking users' location and intercepting SMS and phone calls are also possible via Diameter as well.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash

Yelp Can't Be Ordered To Remove Posts, Court Rules

3 months 2 weeks ago
Yelp cannot be ordered to remove defamatory posts against a San Francisco law firm, the California Supreme Court said in a 4-3 ruling Monday that overturns one made by a lower court. From a report: In a 4-3 opinion, justices agreed, saying removal orders such as the one attorney Dawn Hassell obtained against Yelp "could interfere with and undermine the viability of an online platform." The decision overturned a lower court ruling that Yelp had said could lead to the removal of negative reviews from the popular website. Hassell said Yelp was exaggerating the stakes of her legal effort. Her attorney, Monique Olivier, said in a statement that the ruling "stands as an invitation to spread falsehoods on the internet without consequence." She said her client was considering an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court. Hassell's 2013 lawsuit accused a client she briefly represented in a personal injury case of defaming her on Yelp by falsely claiming that her firm failed to communicate with the client, among other things.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash

Google Allows Outside App Developers To Read People's Gmails, Says Report

3 months 2 weeks ago
According to The Wall Street Journal, hundreds of app developers have access to millions of inboxes belonging to Gmail users (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source). The developers reportedly receive access to messages from Gmail users who signed up for things like price-comparison services or automated travel-itinerary planners. Some of these companies train software to scan the email, while others enable their workers to pore over private messages. INSIDER reports: It's not news that Google and many top email providers enable outside developers to access users' inboxes. In most cases, the people who signed up for the price-comparison deals or other programs agreed to provide access to their inboxes as part of the opt-in process. In Google's case, outside developers must pass a vetting process, and as part of that, Google ensures they have an acceptable privacy agreement, The Journal reported, citing a Google representative. What is unclear is how closely these outside developers adhere to their agreements and whether Google does anything to ensure they do, as well as whether Gmail users are fully aware that individual employees may be reading their emails, as opposed to an automated system, the report says. It's interesting to note that, judging from The Journal's story, very little indicates that Google is doing anything different from Microsoft or other top email providers. According to the newspaper, nothing in Microsoft or Yahoo's policy agreements explicitly allows people to read others' emails.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

BeauHD

SUSE Linux Sold For $2.5 Billion

3 months 2 weeks ago
Archangel Michael writes: Reuters is reporting that Britain's Micro Focus has agreed to sell its SUSE open-source enterprise software business to Swedish buyout group EQT Partners for $2.535 billion, lifting its shares 6 percent. Micro Focus, a serial acquirer that has been struggling to get to grips with a $8.8 billion Hewlett Packard Enterprise deal, said on Monday it would use some of the proceeds to reduce debt and could return some of the rest to shareholders. SUSE is used by banks, universities and government agencies around the world and is a pioneer in enterprise-grade Linux software serving companies such as Air India, Daimler and Total.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

BeauHD

Samsung Phones Are Spontaneously Texting Users' Photos To Random Contacts Without Their Permission

3 months 2 weeks ago
Some Samsung smartphones are randomly sending pictures from the device to a user's contacts without explicit permission, according to users and media outlets. From a report: Users are complaining about the issue on Reddit and the company's official forums. One user says his phone sent all his photos to his girlfriend. The messages are being sent through Samsung's default texting app Samsung Messages, and the photos are being sent as SMS messages. According to reports, the Messages app does not even show users that files have been sent; many just find out after they get a response from the recipient of the random photos sent to them. Samsung told the news outlet it was aware of the issue and was looking into it.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash

Netflix Is Ending Reviews July 30th

3 months 2 weeks ago
goombah99 writes: Netflix is sending emails to subscribers announcing the end of user-authored reviews on Netflix. Past reviews are being archived. The stated reason is declining usage. This follows on the previous years' decision to remove range voting for user ratings (0 to 5 stars) and substitute a thumbs up/down approval voting system. One suspects that the former is an unintended consequence of the latter, since the purpose of people who write a review is to try to explain the nuances of their decision. An inexpressive rating system defeats that. It can be argued that approval voting has technical advantages in aggregating ratings for a recommendation engine as it doesn't need to normalize the biases in a rating system between different users and mostly heads off gaming the system with exaggerated degrees of rating. But evidently that was also a necessary component of the review process itself regardless of its utility for recommendation engines. The email that Netflix is sending users is short and to the point: "You contributed a review on Netflix within the last year. We wanted to let you know that this feature will be retired on July 30th due to declining usage. We appreciate you taking time to write a review. All of your reviews will be available at netflix.com/reviews through July 30th."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

BeauHD

Facebook Apologizes For Bug That Unblocked 800,000 People

3 months 2 weeks ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Facebook disclosed a new "bug" on Monday that temporarily let some users who'd been blocked on the service send messages to the people who had blocked them. The bug also let some previously-blocked users view posts that were shared "to a wider audience," such as publicly or with friends of friends, Facebook said. Facebook's privacy boss Erin Egan apologized for the error, writing in a blog that the company is reaching out to "over 800,000" users about the screw-up. The "blocking bug" was active between May 29 and June 5, for eight days, though the company now says Messenger should be acting normally. According to Egan's post: "[the bug] did not reinstate any friend connections that had been severed; 83% of people affected by the bug had only one person they had blocked temporarily unblocked; and Someone who was unblocked might have been able to contact people on Messenger who had blocked them."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

BeauHD

Comcast Will Limit Xfinity Mobile Video Streaming Resolution

3 months 2 weeks ago
Xfinity Mobile customers will soon see a change to their video streams. From a report: In the coming weeks, videos streamed using cellular data will be limited to 480p resolution, a move that other carriers including T-Mobile, Verizon and Sprint have implemented for certain plans in the past. Videos streamed over WiFi won't be affected by the change and Comcast says that it will offer the option to stream 720p video over cellular data for an added fee later this year. Until that plan becomes available, customers who would like to continue streaming video at 720p will be able to do so for no charge, they'll just have to call the carrier in order to set that up. Additionally, users with an unlimited plan will see their hotspot speeds capped at 600 Kbps.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash

Amazon's Alexa is Getting Clobbered

3 months 2 weeks ago
An anonymous reader writes: In the first quarter of 2016, Amazon Echo held 80% of the global smart assistant market, according to marketing research firm Canalys. Chinese companies were so far behind that they registered zero. But just a year later, Amazon has collapsed to a 28% market share, behind Google Home's 36% and ahead of China's Alibaba and Xiaomi with a combined 19%. Amazon had a strong head start with its Echo lineup, which launched in 2014. But now it's losing ground both in the U.S. and China, the leading markets for the devices.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash

Coffee Drinkers Are More Likely To Live Longer. Decaf May Do The Trick, Too

3 months 2 weeks ago
Coffee is far from a vice. There's now lots of evidence pointing to its health benefits, including a possible longevity boost for those of us with a daily coffee habit. From a report: The latest findings come from a study published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine that included about a half-million people in England, Scotland and Wales. "We found that people who drank two to three cups per day had about a 12 percent lower risk of death compared to non-coffee drinkers" during the decade-long study, says Erikka Loftfield, a research fellow at the National Cancer Institute. Participants ranged in age from 38 to 73. The association held up among drinkers of decaffeinated coffee, too. In the U.S., there are similar findings linking higher consumption of coffee to a lower risk of early death in African-Americans, Japanese-Americans, Latinos and white adults, both men and women. A daily coffee habit is also linked to a decreased risk of stroke and Type 2 diabetes.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash

Reddit's Case for Anonymity on the Internet

3 months 2 weeks ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: All that's required to create an account and post on any of Reddit's 1.2 million forums is an email address, a username, and a password. You don't need to tell the company your birthday, your gender, or even your real name. As Huffman put it on Thursday at the Aspen Ideas Festival, which is co-hosted by the Aspen Institute and The Atlantic, "Reddit doesn't want the burden of personal information ... and is not selling personal information." Huffman argued that anonymity on Reddit actually makes using the site "more like a conversation one has in real life" than other exchanges on the internet. "When people detach from their real-world identities, they can be more authentic, more true to themselves," he claimed.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash

Delivering Amazon Packages To the Top of the World

3 months 2 weeks ago
Vindu Goel, writing for The New York Times: Perched high in the Himalayas, near India's border with China, the tiny town of Leh sometimes seems as if it has been left behind by modern technology. Internet and cellphone service is spotty, the two roads to the outside world are snowed in every winter, and Buddhist monasteries compete with military outposts for prime mountaintop locations. But early each morning, the convenience of the digital age arrives, by way of a plane carrying 15 to 20 bags of packages from Amazon the convenience of the digital age arrives, by way of a plane carrying 15 to 20 bags of packages from Amazon. At an elevation of 11,562 feet, Leh is the highest spot in the world where the company offers speedy delivery. When the plane arrives from New Delhi, it is met by employees from Amazon's local delivery partner, Incredible Himalaya, who then shuttle the packages by van to a modest warehouse nearby. Eshay Rangdol, 26, the nephew of the owner, helps oversee the sorting of the packages and delivers many of them himself. The couriers must follow exacting standards set by Amazon, from wearing closed-toe shoes and being neatly groomed to displaying their ID cards and carrying a fully charged cellphone. Amazon began offering doorstep delivery in this region last fall, as part of an effort to better serve the remotest corners of India. Sales volume in Leh is up twelvefold since Incredible Himalaya took over deliveries from the postal service, which was much slower and required customers to pick up packages at the post office.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash

NSA Purges Hundreds of Millions of Call and Text Records

3 months 2 weeks ago
schwit1 shares a report: The National Security Agency has purged hundreds of millions of records logging phone calls and texts that it had gathered from American telecommunications companies since 2015, the agency has disclosed. It had realized that its database was contaminated with some files the agency had no authority to receive. The agency began destroying the records on May 23, it said in a statement. Officials had discovered "technical irregularities" this year in its collection from phone companies of so-called call record details, or metadata showing who called or texted whom and when, but not what they said. The agency had collected the data from a system it created under the USA Freedom Act. Congress enacted that law in 2015 to end and replace a once-secret program that had systematically collected Americans' domestic calling records in bulk. The National Security Agency uses the data to analyze social links between people in a hunt for hidden associates of known terrorism suspects.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash

Despite FCC's Promise To Take Aggressive Action To Stamp Out Radio Pirates, Illegal Stations Are Flourishing

3 months 2 weeks ago
Last year, when Donald Trump appointed Ajit Pai chairman of the F.C.C., Pai promised to "take aggressive action" to stamp out pirates. In early May, the Preventing Illegal Radio Abuse Through Enforcement, or PIRATE, Act was introduced in Congress; it would increase fines from a maximum of a hundred and forty-four thousand dollars to two million dollars. But the stations aren't going away, The New Yorker reports. From the article: Transmission equipment has only become cheaper and more sophisticated. "The problem, as I see it, is that the technology has gone beyond what the law has been able to do," said David Goren, a local resident who works as a producer on licensed radio shows. Between 87.9 and 92.1 FM, Goren counted eleven illegal stations, whose hosts mainly spoke Creole or accented English. Pirates, he said, "offer a kind of programming that their audiences depend on. Spiritual sustenance, news, immigration information, music created at home or in the new home, here."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash

Homeland Security Subpoenas Twitter For Data Breach Finder's Account

3 months 2 weeks ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Homeland Security has served Twitter with a subpoena, demanding the account information of a data breach finder, credited with finding several large caches of exposed and leaking data. The New Zealand national, whose name isn't known but goes by the handle Flash Gordon, revealed the subpoena in a tweet last month. The pseudonymous data breach finder regularly tweets about leaked data, found on exposed and unprotected servers. Last year, he found a trove of almost a million patients' data leaking from a medical telemarketing firm. A recent find included an exposed cache of law enforcement data by ALERRT, a Texas State University-based organization, which trains police and civilians against active shooters. The database, secured in March but reported last week, revealed that several police departments were under-resourced and unable to respond to active shooter situations. Homeland Security's export control agency, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), served the subpoena to Twitter on April 24, demanding information about the data breach finder's account. ICE demanded Twitter turn over his screen name, address, phone number -- and any other identifying information about the account, including credit cards on the account. The subpoena also demanded the account's IP address history, member lists, and any complaints filed against the Twitter account.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

msmash
Checked
6 minutes 28 seconds ago
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Subscribe to Slashdot_Main feed