Technology archive for 2016-06-27

President Obama Should Pardon Edward Snowden Before Leaving Office

(3 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Ever since Edward Snowden set in motion the most powerful public act of whistleblowing in U.S. history, he has been living in exile in Russia from the United States. An article in this week's New York Magazine looks at how Snowden may have a narrow window of opportunity where President Obama could pardon him before he leaves office. Presumably, once he leaves office, the chances of Snowden being pardoned by Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are miniscule. Obama has said nothing in the past few years to suggest he's interested in pardoning Snowden. Not only would it contradict his national security policy, but it will severely alienate the intelligence community for many years to come. With that said, anyone who values a free and secure internet believes pardoning Snowden would be the right thing to do. The Verge reports: "[Snowden] faces charges under the Espionage Act, which makes no distinction between delivering classified files to journalists and delivering the same files to a foreign power. For the first 80 years of its life, it was used almost entirely to prosecute spies. The president has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all president before him combined. His Justice Department has vastly expanded the scope of the law, turning it from a weapon against the nation's enemies to one that's pointed against its own citizens. The result will be less scrutiny of the nation's most powerful[..]

655K patient records from three healthcare breaches are up for sale on the dark web after hacking victims refused extortion demands (Dissent Doe/The Daily Dot)

(3 years ago)
Dissent Doe / The Daily Dot:655K patient records from three healthcare breaches are up for sale on the dark web after hacking victims refused extortion demands  —  For 655,000 patients who were enjoying a quiet Sunday, life may become a lot more complicated.  Their personal, medical, and insurance information is up for sale in a forum on the dark net.

Google Launches 'Project Bloks' Toys To Teach Kids To Code

(3 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes: Google has launched a hardware project dubbed 'Project Bloks' to help teach kids how to code. There are three components to the learning experience: Brain Board, Base Boards, and Pucks. The Brain Board features a processing unit that is based off of Raspberry Pi Zero, which controls and provides power to the rest of the connected components. It does also interact with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth devices. The Base Boards are connective units that let users design instruction flows. Finally, the Pucks are the components you interact with. They're shaped with switches, arrows, buttons, dials and more, and can be programmed to turn things on or off, move avatars, play music, and more. What's neat is you can record instructions from multiple pucks into a single one. Some of them can be made with simple, inexpensive materials like paper with conductive ink. You can watch the official introduction video on YouTube. Google did release a subsequent video about the project called "Developing on Project Bloks." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Twitch debuts Cheering beta feature, so you can tip streamers with animated "emotes" (Dean Takahashi/VentureBeat)

(3 years ago)
Dean Takahashi / VentureBeat:Twitch debuts Cheering beta feature, so you can tip streamers with animated “emotes”  —  Twitch has launched a new way of cheering players that could turn into an important new form of monetization.  Dubbed “Cheering,” the new form of celebration allows spectators to show support for broadcasters with animated emotes.

Facebook Is Using Your Phone's Location To Suggest New Friends

(3 years ago)
Fusion's Kashmir Hill is reporting that Facebook is using your phone's location to suggest new friends. It's unclear exactly when the social juggernaut began doing this, but a number of instances suggest it only started recently. From the report:Last week, I met a man who suspected Facebook had tracked his location to figure out who he was meeting with. He was a dad who had recently attended a gathering for suicidal teens. The next morning, he told me, he opened Facebook to find that one of the anonymous parents at the gathering popped up as a "person you may know." [...] "People You May Know are people on Facebook that you might know," a Facebook spokesperson said. "We show you people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you're part of, contacts you've imported and many other factors." One of those factors is smartphone location. A Facebook spokesperson said though that shared location alone would not result in a friend suggestion, saying that the two parents must have had something else in common, such as overlapping networks.While this feature could be useful in some cases, it could also be seen as a big invasion to users' privacy. Hill has succinctly explained a number of them. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft reaches $10K settlement with a small business over an unplanned Windows 10 update (Matt Day/The Seattle Times)

(3 years ago)
Matt Day / The Seattle Times:Microsoft reaches $10K settlement with a small business over an unplanned Windows 10 update  —  With about a month left for many PC users to upgrade to Windows 10 at no charge, Microsoft is being criticized for its aggressive — some say too aggressive — campaign to get people to install the new operating system.

Microsoft is ending Xbox Fitness, citing content costs, with full shutdown on June 30, 2017 (Andrew Webster/The Verge)

(3 years ago)
Andrew Webster / The Verge:Microsoft is ending Xbox Fitness, citing content costs, with full shutdown on June 30, 2017  —  Xbox One owners are going to have to find another tool for working out in front of the TV: today Microsoft announced plans to shut down its Xbox Fitness service.

New and Improved CryptXXX Ransomware Rakes In $45,000 In 3 Weeks

(3 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes:Whoever said crime doesn't pay didn't know about the booming ransomware market. A case in point, the latest version of the scourge known as CryptXXX, which raked in more than $45,000 in less than three weeks. Over the past few months, CryptXXX developers have gone back and forth with security researchers. The whitehats from Kaspersky Lab provided a free tool that allowed victims to decrypt their precious data without paying the ransom, which typically reaches $500 or more. Then, CryptXXX developers would tweak their code to defeat the get-out-of-jail decryptor. The researchers would regain the upper hand by exploiting another weakness and so on. Earlier this month, the developers released a new CryptXXX variant that to date still has no decryptor available. Between June 4 and June 21, according to a blog post published Monday by security firm SentinelOne, the Bitcoin address associated with the new version had received 70 bitcoins, which at current prices is valued at around $45,228. The figure doesn't include revenue generated from previous campaigns. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

HPE CEO Meg Whitman announces several organizational changes, including the departure of CTO Martin Fink (Stephanie Condon/ZDNet)

(3 years ago)
Stephanie Condon / ZDNet:HPE CEO Meg Whitman announces several organizational changes, including the departure of CTO Martin Fink  —  CEO Meg Whitman announces more organizational changes less than a year after HP spun off its Enterprise business.  —  Less than a year after Hewlett Packard spun off HP Enterprise …

Facebook rolls out Slideshow movie-maker feature on iOS to compete with Google and Apple (Josh Constine/TechCrunch)

(3 years ago)
Josh Constine / TechCrunch:Facebook rolls out Slideshow movie-maker feature on iOS to compete with Google and Apple  —  Most people can't shoot compelling videos, and static photos are boring.  That's why the tech giants are all pushing their own versions of automatically created themed mini-movies based on your media.

HP Adds a Touchscreen To Its 11-inch Chromebook Lineup

(3 years ago)
An anonymous reader shares a report by The Verge:HP today announced the Chromebook 11 G5, the first of the company's Chrome OS laptops in the 11-inch range to include a touchscreen display. The new Chromebook starts at $189 and will go on sale through HP's channel partners in July. It will be more widely available in stores this October. The base model of the Chromebook 11 G5 has a 11.6-inch screen with a sub-HD display (there will be an option for an HD IPS touchscreen panel with Gorilla Glass), weighs 2.51 pounds, and comes with a 1.6gHz Intel Celeron N3060 -- a somewhat common processor for low- to mid-range Chromebooks. HP claims it will be powerful enough to handle video calls and playback, and that it "speeds through spreadsheets," which is the most amazingly modest goal I can imagine for a Chromebook. Of course that limited performance, coupled with Chrome OS's limited feature set, gives the Chromebook 11 G5 up to 11 solid hours of battery life, according to HP. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

You Are Still Watching a Staggering Amount Of TV Every Day

(3 years ago)
Peter Kafka, reporting for Recode:TV! It's cooked! Toast! Doneso. Ready for the fork. Except not yet, because Americans are still watching a ton of TV, every day. For some of them, it's the equivalent of a full-time job. The average American watches an astonishing 4.5 hours of TV a day, according to a new report from Nielsen. Add in DVR time, and that number gets up to 5 hours a day. That usage is shrinking over time -- a couple of years ago, Americans were averaging five hours and twenty-three minutes a day.Nielsen's data also shows that people are now consuming more content on their smartphone devices than ever. Compared to just 47 minutes usage in 2014, it is now up to one hour and 39 minutes. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

.NET Core 1.0 Released, Now Officially Supported By Red Hat

(3 years ago)
Microsoft on Monday announced the release of .NET Core, the open source .NET runtime platform. Finally! (It was first announced in 2014). The company also released ASP.NET Core 1.0, the open-source version of Microsoft's Web development stack. ArsTechnica reports:Microsoft picked an unusual venue to announce the release: the Red Hat Summit. One of the purposes of .NET Core was to make Linux and OS X into first-class supported platforms, with .NET developers able to reach Windows, OS X, Linux, and (with Xamarin) iOS and Android, too. At the summit today, Red Hat announced that this release would be actively supported by the company on Red Hat Enterprise Linux. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google CEO Sundar Pichai's Quora Account Hacked

(3 years ago)
Google CEO Sundar Pichai is the latest high-profile victim of a hacking group called OurMine. Earlier today, the group managed to get hold of Pichai's Quota account, which in turn, gave them access to his Twitter feed as well. In a statement to The Next Web, the group said that their intention is to just test people's security, and that they never change the victim's passwords. Looking at the comments they left after hacking Pichai's account, it is also clear that OurMine is promoting its security services. The same group recently also hacked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's Twitter and Pinterest accounts. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Sergey Brin: Don't Come To Silicon Valley To Start a Business

(3 years ago)
An anonymous reader shares a Business Insider report:If you're itching to start a company out of a garage, then you shouldn't pick up and move to Silicon Valley, according to Google cofounder Sergey Brin. It's easier to start a company outside the Valley than in it, he said onstage at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit. "I know that sort of contradicts what everyone here has been saying," he said with a laugh. "During the boom cycles, the expectations around the costs -- real estate, salaries -- the expectations people and employees have ... it can be hard to make a scrappy initial business that's self-sustaining," he said. "Whereas in other parts of the world you might have an easier time for that."But he adds that Silicon Valley is good for scaling that opportunity. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google beats children's web privacy appeal, Viacom must face one claim

(3 years ago)
(Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Monday said Google and Viacom need not face a nationwide lawsuit claiming they illegally tracked the activity of children under the age of 13 who watched videos and played video games on the Nickelodeon website.

Google beats children's web privacy appeal, Viacom must face one claim

(3 years ago)
(Reuters) - A federal appeals court on Monday said Google and Viacom need not face a nationwide lawsuit claiming they illegally tracked the activity of children under the age of 13 who watched videos and played video games on the Nickelodeon website.

Google To Step Up Smartphone Wars With Release Of Own Handset

(3 years ago)
According to a report by The Telegraph, Google is working on its first Google-branded smartphone, and plans to release it by the end of 2016. Unlike the Nexus program, in which Google mandates the design and specifications of the phone, but leaves the manufacturing aspect to its handpicked OEM, the new supposed phone will be built from the scratch by Google. From the report:The technology giant is in discussions with mobile operators about releasing a Google-branded phone that will extend the company's move into hardware, sources familiar with the discussions told The Telegraph. [...] The new device, which will be released by the end of the year according to a senior source, will see Google take more control over design, manufacturing and software.NYMag questions company's reported move:It's an unsurprising rumor to hear: Google CEO Sundar Pichai has publicly commented on the company's emphasis on phones, and Motorola's Rick Osterloh was hired earlier this year to head up a new hardware division. And there's also the much discussed Google Ara, a modular phone which lets you swap out pieces like a camera or speakers and is slated for release in 2017. But Google is already working with hardware companies like LG and Huawei on the Nexus line of phones, which are made to the company's exact design specifications but are manufactured by third parties. It's hard to see how Google could take more control over design or software than it already does with Nexus, and while the company[..]

Mobcrush Officially Launches Live-Streaming Platform for Mobile Games (Brandy Shaul/SocialTimes)

(3 years ago)
Brandy Shaul / SocialTimes:Mobcrush Officially Launches Live-Streaming Platform for Mobile Games  —  Mobcrush announced the official launch of its live-streaming application on mobile.  The app allows users to watch live streams and broadcast gameplay from mobile games.  —  With the Mobcrush app …

Amazon Unveils Inspire Online Education Service For Teachers and Schools

(3 years ago)
Amazon on Monday launched a new site called Amazon Inspire where K-12 teachers and schools can upload and access unlimited education and classroom resources such as videos, tests, projects, games, lesson plans with their peers across the country for free of charge. In a statement, the company said, "Our ultimate goal is for every teacher in every single subject to benefit from Amazon Inspire. When they walk into a classroom, we want every teacher to benefit from the collective knowledge, the collective insights and the experience of every single one of their peers." GeekWire reports:It's the latest in a series of moves by Amazon in the education technology market. The company acquired the TenMarks online math startup in 2014, and separately markets e-books and tablets for teachers and school districts. The company describes the project as an outgrowth of its involvement in the U.S. Department of Education's GoOpen initiative. Amazon also provides technical resources and support for the department's Learning Registry open database. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Twitter adds stickers for photos and lets you search them like hashtags (Casey Newton/The Verge)

(3 years ago)
Casey Newton / The Verge:Twitter adds stickers for photos and lets you search them like hashtags  —  Twitter will begin letting you add virtual stickers to the photos you post, the company said today.  Hundreds are available at launch, including the standard Unicode emoji and some original work from Twitter.

Google Ponders About a Chromebook Pro

(3 years ago)
Google is currently surveying people about what a Chromebook Pro should be like. VentureBeat's report cites two people who recently shared the development on a forum. One user was asked the question, "How would you think a Chromebook Pro is different than a Chromebook?" whereas the other user was asked, "what a Chromebook Pro should be like in [his/her] opinion and what type of people would want to use it." From the report:The word "Pro" would imply a high-end laptop running Chrome OS, just like, say, the MacBook Pro or the Surface Pro 4. But there are many other companies -- Asus, Dell, HP, and Samsung, among others -- that make Chromebooks, along with Google. It isn't clear from these survey questions if Google is thinking about making a Chromebook Pro itself, just as it has made high-end Chromebook Pixel laptops, or if Google is just wondering how consumers would perceive a Chromebook Pro made by a third party. Meanwhile, Google last month published a job posting entitled "Quality Engineer, Chromebook Pixel," suggesting that a third generation of that device could be on the way.Chromebooks are becoming increasingly popular. They outsold Mac for the first time in the United States earlier this year. The majority of the Chromebooks available today, however, pack in entry-level specifications, giving users very limited choice. Though we have seen devices like Chromebook Pixel, a range of high-end Chromebooks could entice even more customers.[..]

Amazon unveils Inspire, an online education service for teachers, will offer free lesson plans, teaching modules, and other digital resources (Natasha Singer/New York Times)

(3 years ago)
Natasha Singer / New York Times:Amazon unveils Inspire, an online education service for teachers, will offer free lesson plans, teaching modules, and other digital resources  —  Just ahead of the back-to-school season, Amazon is making a major foray into the education technology market for primary and secondary schools …

Bat wings inspire new breed of drone

(3 years ago)
The unique mechanical properties of bat wings could lead to a new breed of nature-inspired drone. A prototype built by researchers at the University of Southampton shows that membrane wings can have improved aerodynamic properties and fly over longer distances on less power.

China moves closer to adopting controversial cybersecurity law

(3 years ago)
BEIJING (Reuters) - China moved closer on Monday to adopting a controversial cybersecurity law, after parliament held a second reading of the draft rules, which carry significant consequences for domestic and foreign business and threaten greater censorship.

China moves closer to adopting controversial cybersecurity law

(3 years ago)
BEIJING (Reuters) - China moved closer on Monday to adopting a controversial cybersecurity law, after parliament held a second reading of the draft rules, which carry significant consequences for domestic and foreign business and threaten greater censorship.

Woman Wins $10,000 Lawsuit Against Microsoft Over Windows 10 Upgrades

(3 years ago)
An anonymous reader shares this story from the Seattle Times:A few days after Microsoft released Windows 10 to the public last year, Teri Goldstein's computer started trying to download and install the new operating system. The update, which she says she didn't authorize, failed. Instead, the computer she uses to run her Sausalito, California, travel-agency business slowed to a crawl. It would crash, she says, and be unusable for days at a time. "I had never heard of Windows 10," Goldstein said. "Nobody ever asked me if I wanted to update." When outreach to Microsoft's customer support didn't fix the issue, Goldstein took the software giant to court, seeking compensation for lost wages and the cost of a new computer. She won. Last month, Microsoft dropped an appeal and Goldstein collected a $10,000 judgment from the company. Microsoft denies any wrongdoing, and says they only halted their appeal to avoid the cost of further litigation. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Bangladesh central bank ends FireEye investigation into cyber heist

(3 years ago)
DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh's central bank has ended a contract with U.S. cyber security firm FireEye to investigate February's online theft of $81 million, turning down a proposal to extend the agreement, a senior official said on Monday.

Bangladesh central bank ends FireEye investigation into cyber heist

(3 years ago)
DHAKA (Reuters) - Bangladesh's central bank has ended a contract with U.S. cyber security firm FireEye to investigate February's online theft of $81 million, turning down a proposal to extend the agreement, a senior official said on Monday.

Flipboard CEO Mike McCue talks about focus on high-end ads, competition from Nuzzel and Apple News, and why he took JPMorgan's $50M investment (Lara O'Reilly/Business Insider)

(3 years ago)
Lara O'Reilly / Business Insider:Flipboard CEO Mike McCue talks about focus on high-end ads, competition from Nuzzel and Apple News, and why he took JPMorgan's $50M investment  —  Flipboard, the magazine-style curation app, is about to turn profitable “reasonably soon,” the company's CEO Mike McCue revealed to Business Insider on Monday.

New 'Civilization' Game Will Be Sold To Schools As An Educational Tool

(3 years ago)
An anonymous reader writes: In the fall of 2017, a special version of Civilization V will be made available for schools to use as an educational tool. "CivilizationEDU will provide students with the opportunity to think critically and create historical events, consider and evaluate the geographical ramifications of their economic and technological decisions, and to engage in systems thinking and experiment with the causal/correlative relationships between military, technology, political and socioeconomic development," announced Take-Two Interactive Software. "We are incredibly proud to lend one of our industry's most beloved series to educators to use as a resource to inspire and engage students further..." said the company's CEO. "I can't think of a better interactive experience to help challenge and shape the minds of tomorrow's leaders." Special lesson plans will be created around the game, and as an alternative to standardized tests teachers will have access to a dashboard showing each student's progress. Of course, this begs an important question: Are educational videogames a good idea? Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Swedish payments firm Klarna taps debt market for the first time

(3 years ago)
STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Swedish payments firm Klarna, one of Europe's most highly valued tech startups, said on Monday it had tapped debt markets for the first time, issuing subordinated notes totaling 300 million crowns ($35.2 million).

China tech powerhouse Tsinghua bets $7.5 billion on R&D, urges faster reforms

(3 years ago)
TIANJIN, China (Reuters) - State-backed Chinese technology group Tsinghua Holdings plans to spend $7.5 billion on research and development over the next five years, accelerating China's drive to build a high-value semiconductor industry to challenge global chipmaking rivals.

Wisconsin's Prison-Sentencing Algorithm Challenged in Court

(3 years ago)
"Do you want a computer to help decide a convict's fate?" asks Engadget, telling the story of a Wisconsin convict who "claims that the justice system relied too heavily on its COMPAS algorithm to determine the likelihood of repeat offenses and sentenced him to six years in prison." Sentencing algorithms have apparently been in use for 10 years.His attorneys claim that the code is "full of holes," including secret criteria and generic decisions that aren't as individually tailored as they have to be. For instance, they'll skew predictions based on your gender or age -- how does that reflect the actual offender...? [T]he court challenge could force Wisconsin and other states to think about the weight they give to algorithms. While they do hold the promise of both preventing repeat offenses and avoiding excessive sentences for low-threat criminals, the American Civil Liberties Union is worried that they can amplify biases or make mistakes based on imperfect law enforcement data. The biggest issue seems to be a lack of transparency, which makes it impossible to determine whether convicts actually are receiving fair sentences. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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