Technology News

TPP Scuttles Attempts To Fix Orphan Works

(36 minutes ago)
jsrjsr writes: David Post, writing at the Volokh Conspiracy blog, describes how the Trans-Pacific Partnership treaty may prevent any changes to copyright law regarding orphan works. Quoting: "Big problem #1 is that copyright law doesn’t require the plaintiff to show any damage whatsoever. And it authorizes awards of up to $150,000 in “statutory damages” for each work that is infringed — independent of any damage assessment. ... It appears that the latest version of the treaty contains, buried within its many hundreds of pages, language that could require the U.S. to scuttle its plans for a sensible revision of this kind. ... Any provision of U.S. law that eliminated 'pre-established damage' or 'additional damages' for any class of works could be a violation of various TPP provisions requiring that such damages be made available, and it even appears that distribution of orphan works would have to subject the distributor to criminal copyright liability." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The 5 best wearables from IFA 2015

(54 minutes ago)
Wearables playing a big role at major trade shows isn't a surprise, and neither is the fact that most of the ones we've seen at IFA 2015 are smartwatches. Samsung, Motorola and TomTom all introduced new timepieces this week, while Huawei finally re...

The Paris Climate Talks: Negotiating With the Atmosphere

(One hour ago)
Lasrick writes: The Paris climate change talks are in December, but what negotiators plan to propose will only be part of non-legally-binding pledges—and they represent only what is achievable without too much difficulty. 2009's Copenhagen Accord say 114 countries agree that global temperature increases should be held below 2 degrees Celsius. "Paradoxically, an accord that should have spurred the world to immediate action instead seemed to offer some breathing room. Two degrees was meant to be a ceiling, but repeated references to an internationally agreed-upon “threshold” led many people to believe that nothing really bad could happen below 2 degrees—or worse yet, that the number itself was negotiable." Dawn Stover writes about alternatives to the meaningless numbers and endless talks: 'The very idea that the Paris conference is a negotiation is ridiculous. You can't negotiate with the atmosphere." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Recommended Reading: The story behind Google's new logo

(One hour ago)
Recommended Reading highlights the best long-form writing on technology and more in print and on the web. Some weeks, you'll also find short reviews of books that we think are worth your time. We hope you enjoy the read.Evolving the Google Ident...

An Algorithm To Randomly Generate Game Dungeons

(2 hours ago)
An anonymous reader writes: Game developers frequently turn to procedural algorithms to generate some of their game's content. Sometimes it's to give the game more diverse environments, or to keep things fresh upon subsequent playthroughs, or simply just to save precious development time. If you've played a game that had an unpredictable layout of connected rooms, you may have wondered how it was built. No longer; a post at Gamasutra walks through a procedural generation algorithm, showing how random and unique layouts can be created with some clever code. The article is filled with animated pictures demonstrating how rooms pop into existence, spread themselves out to prevent overlap, finds a sensible series of connections, and then fill in the gaps with doors and hallways. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Latest Chrome for Android brings "custom tabs", a faster alternative to WebView for apps (Yusuf Ozuysal/Chromium Blog)

(2 hours ago)
Yusuf Ozuysal / Chromium Blog:Latest Chrome for Android brings “custom tabs”, a faster alternative to WebView for apps  —  Chrome custom tabs smooth the transition between apps and the web  —  Android app developers face a difficult tradeoff when it comes to showing web content in their Android app.

ICYMI: Coral protector bot, non-ugly wearable glasses & more

(3 hours ago)
Today on In Case You Missed It: The nation's largest vision insurance company, VSP, is beta-testing wearable health-tracking glasses and somehow they don't even look ridiculous. An autonomous robot submarine is patrolling coral reefs and killing th...

Robot Submarine Poisons Sea Stars To Save Coral Reefs

(3 hours ago)
schwit1 writes: A 30-kilogram robotic yellow submarine is keeping sea stars in check with poison. The sea stars periodically have huge population booms, and a square kilometer of reef can be home to 100,000 of them. They'll kill off the reefs if left unchecked, but humans can only kill a couple sea stars per minute. The task is overwhelming but simple and repetitive, and thus ripe for automation. The COTSBot has "a maximum speed of over two meters per second and an endurance of over six hours. Five thrusters give it the capability of briefly hovering in the water column, giving it time to attack crown of thorns sea stars with an integrated poison injection system. It's completely autonomous, down to the identification and targeting of [sea stars] lurking among coral." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

IFA Day 3: TVs, TVs and more TVs

(3 hours ago)
At long last, today is the day that the general public is allowed into the hallowed halls of Berlin's Messe to bask in the glory that is IFA. Unfortunately, much of that glory is old and we've seen a big chunk of it before. Still, you should take...

Is There Too Much New Programming On TV?

(6 hours ago) writes: John Koblin writes in the NY Times that there's a crisis in television programming felt among executives, viewers and critics, and it's the result of one thing: There is simply too much on television. John Landgraf, chief executive of FX Networks, reported at the Television Critics Association Summer Press Tour that the total number of original scripted series on TV in 2014 was 371. The total will surpass 400 in 2015. The glut, according to Landgraf, has presented "a huge challenge in finding compelling original stories and the level of talent needed to sustain those stories." Michael Lombardo, president of programming at HBO, says it is harder than ever to build an audience for a show when viewers are confronted with so many choices and might click away at any moment. "I hear it all the time," says Lombardo. "People going, 'I can't commit to another show, and I don't have the time to emotionally commit to another show.' I hear that, and I'm aware of it, and I get it." Another complication is that shows not only compete against one another, but also against old series that live on in the archives of Amazon, Hulu or Netflix. So a new season of "Scandal," for example, is also competing against old series like "The Wire." "The amount of competition is just literally insane," says Landgraf. Others point out that the explosion in programming has created more opportunity for shows with diverse casts and topics, such as "Jane the Virgin," "Transparent" and[..]

Uber pulls down 'share your ETA' links that went public

(7 hours ago)
Uber has pulled down the searchable database people found at "," which contained details of trips people unknowingly made public by using the "Share your ETA" feature. That's one of the app's functions that sends a link with all pertin...

Lack of Teacher Training Hampers UK Programming Education

(9 hours ago)
An anonymous reader writes: The UK government recently introduced a new computer curriculum to the school system in order to get more kids into programming. Unfortunately, they're running into a serious problem: one-third of the secondary schools tasked with teaching these programs have not spent any money training their teachers on the requisite knowledge and technology. The government has provided £4.5 million for this training, and a number of schools have spent their share and more. But it's clearly not filtering down to every school, and that harms the children enrolled in these schools. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft phasing out support for Lumia camera-related apps on Windows Phone 8.1 (Mary Jo Foley/ZDNet)

(10 hours ago)
Mary Jo Foley / ZDNet:Microsoft phasing out support for Lumia camera-related apps on Windows Phone 8.1  —  Microsoft is dropping support and updates for a number of Lumia camera-related apps on Windows Phone 8.1 devices in preparation for the consolidated Windows 10 Camera and Photo apps.

Human Rights Watch, Free Press and 15 other rights groups call on Twitter to restore API access to Politwoops (P. Claire Dodson/Fast Company)

(11 hours ago)
P. Claire Dodson / Fast Company:Human Rights Watch, Free Press and 15 other rights groups call on Twitter to restore API access to Politwoops  —  Human Rights Watch, Transparency Groups Condemn Twitter's Politwoops Ban  —  Last month, Twitter revoked access to its API from Politwoops, a network of sites that automatically archived the deleted tweets of politicians.

'Halo,' 'Destiny' composer Marty O'Donnell wins lawsuit against Bungie

(11 hours ago)
Developer Bungie's former in-house composer Marty O'Donnell had his day in court and it's time for Bungie to pay the piper. In addition to the initial payout of $142,500 he's owed as a profit-sharing program, O'Donnell also gets to hold onto what V...

Persistent Cyber Spies Try To Impersonate Security Researchers

(11 hours ago)
An anonymous reader writes: Rocket Kitten, a cyber espionage group that mostly targets individuals in the Middle East, has been spotted attempting to impersonate security researchers. "We feel fairly certain that Rocket Kitten's prime targets are not companies and political organizations as entire bodies but individuals that operate in strategically interesting fields such as diplomacy, foreign policy research, and defense-related businesses. We believe the espionage factor and political context make their attacks unique and very different from traditional targeted attacks," researchers noted in a recently published new paper (PDF). Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Announcing General Availability of Google Compute Engine Autoscaler and 32 core VMs (Google Cloud Platform Blog)

(12 hours ago)
Google Cloud Platform Blog:Announcing General Availability of Google Compute Engine Autoscaler and 32 core VMs  —  Our customers have a wide range of compute needs, from temporary batch processing to high-scale web workloads.  Google Cloud Platform provides a resilient compute platform for workloads of all sizes enabling …

'Star Wars' BB-8 toy torn apart to see how it works

(12 hours ago)
If your social feeds are anything like mine, they're full of folks squeeing with delight over their new BB-8 droid today. The folks at uBreakiFix got one too, but instead of playing with Star Wars: The Force Awakens' charmer, they cut it apart to s...

Man Behind Virus That Stole Millions, Infected NASA Computers Reaches Deal (ABC News)

(13 hours ago)
ABC News:Man Behind Virus That Stole Millions, Infected NASA Computers Reaches Deal  —  A hacker who played a key role in developing a computer virus that stole millions of dollars from victims and even managed to infiltrate some NASA computers agreed to a plea deal today in New York federal court.

Play 'Evolve' free this weekend on Xbox One and PC

(13 hours ago)
Wondering what to do with your three day weekend? Turtle Rock Studios is hoping you'll (re)visit its co-op shooter Evolve, courtesy of a few days of free access on Xbox One and PC. Even if you already own it, it may be time to knock the dust off be...

Dirty Farm Air May Ward Off Asthma In Children

(13 hours ago)
sciencehabit writes: For researchers trying to untangle the roots of the current epidemic of asthma, one observation is especially intriguing: Children who grow up on dairy farms are much less likely than the average child to develop the respiratory disease. Now, a European team studying mice has homed in on a possible explanation: Bits of bacteria found in farm dust trigger an inflammatory response in the animals' lungs that later protects them from asthma. An enzyme involved in this defense is sometimes disabled in people with asthma, suggesting that treatments inspired by this molecule could ward off the condition in people. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Man arrested for parodying mayor on Twitter gets $125K in civil lawsuit (David Kravets/Ars Technica)

(14 hours ago)
David Kravets / Ars Technica:Man arrested for parodying mayor on Twitter gets $125K in civil lawsuit  —  Mayor concerned about being portrayed as drug abuser who hangs with prostitutes.  —  An Illinois man arrested when his residence was raided for parodying his town's mayor on Twitter is settling a civil rights lawsuit with the city of Peoria for $125,000.

Etsy's Pulling The Plug On Grand St. At The End Of This Month (Megan Rose Dickey/TechCrunch)

(15 hours ago)
Megan Rose Dickey / TechCrunch:Etsy's Pulling The Plug On Grand St. At The End Of This Month  —  When Etsy bought Grand St. last April, the plan was to let Grand St. continue to operate its maker marketplace for tech hardware.  But that's about to change.  At the end of this month, Grand St. will stop processing orders and on October 1 …

Report: Google Will Return To China

(15 hours ago)
An anonymous reader writes: Google famously withdrew from mainland China in 2010 after fending off a series of cyberattacks from local sources. Now, according to a (paywalled) report from The Information, the company is working on plans to return. "As part of the deal Google is looking to strike, Google would follow the country's laws and block apps that the government objects to, one person told The Information." They're also seeking approval for a Chinese version of Google Play. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'Halo,' 'Surgeon Simulator' devs join the War Child game jam

(16 hours ago)
War Child, a London-based charity that aims to improve the lives of children affected by war, is collaborating with influential developers to create a collection of games titled HELP: Real War is Not a Game. Participating developers include 343 Ind...

Bing Pushes Microsoft's Edge Browser When People Search For "Chrome" Or "Firefox" (Danny Sullivan/Marketing Land)

(16 hours ago)
Danny Sullivan / Marketing Land:Bing Pushes Microsoft's Edge Browser When People Search For “Chrome” Or “Firefox”  —  Tactic of using search for self-promotion is common, but it court hurt Microsoft's case that Google shouldn't favor its own products.  —  Searching on Microsoft's Bing search engine for the Firefox or Chrome browsers?

Older Apple TVs can get YouTube back, but it will cost you

(16 hours ago)
A few months ago Google made changes to its YouTube app and pulled it from old second-generation Apple TV boxes (as well as some other older smart TVs). Now, if you're longing for the heady days of 2007 and aren't ready to upgrade (probably a good...

Toyota To Spend $50 Million On Self-Driving Car Tech

(16 hours ago)
An anonymous reader writes: Toyota is the latest automaker to see which way the wind is blowing; they've committed $50 million over the next five years to build research centers for self-driving car technology. They'll be working with both Stanford and MIT, and their immediate goal is to "eliminate traffic casualties." "Research at MIT will focus on 'advanced architectures' that will let cars perceive, understand, and interpret their surroundings. ... The folks at Stanford will concentrate on computer vision and machine learning. ... It will also work on human behavior analysis, both for pedestrians outside the car and the people 'at the wheel.'" Toyota's efforts will be led by Gill Pratt, who ran DARPA's Robotics Challenge. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Twitter clutters up iOS and Android timelines with 'Who to Follow'

(17 hours ago)
Twitter really wants new users to stick around. Now that means helping them find interesting accounts by placing "Who to follow" in the timeline of its iOS and Android apps. So now when you load Twitter on your phone you can expect to see in your t...

Sources: Microsoft weighing multibillion-dollar revamp of Seattle campus to add more open work spaces (Bloomberg Business)

(17 hours ago)
Bloomberg Business:Sources: Microsoft weighing multibillion-dollar revamp of Seattle campus to add more open work spaces  —  Microsoft Said to Weigh Multibillion-Dollar Headquarters Revamp  —  Skidmore, Owings & Merrill hired to design campus overhaul  —  Plan could create more open offices and add amenities

Snowden: Clinton's Private Email Server Is a 'Problem'

(17 hours ago)
An anonymous reader points out comments from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden in a new interview with Al Jazeera about Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server while she was the U.S. Secretary of State. Snowden said, "Anyone who has the clearances that the Secretary of State has or the director of any top level agency has knows how classified information should be handled. When the unclassified systems of the United States government — which has a full time information security staff — regularly get hacked, the idea that someone keeping a private server ... is completely ridiculous." While Snowden didn't feel he had enough information to say Clinton's actions were a threat to national security, he did say that less prominent government employees would have probably been prosecuted for doing the same thing. For her part, Clinton said she used the private server out of convenience: "I was not thinking a lot when I got in. There was so much work to be done. We had so many problems around the world. I didn't really stop and think what kind of email system will there be." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

In New Study, HIV Prevention Pill Truvada Is 100% Effective

(18 hours ago)
An anonymous reader writes: A study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases details the recent trial of a drug named Truvada, which researchers think might excel at preventing HIV infections (abstract). The scientists administered the drug to 657 people at high risk for contracting HIV, including users of injected drugs. At the end of the study, every single subject was still free of the virus. This is encouraging news in the fight against AIDS, though it shouldn't be taken to mean the drug is perfectly effective. Since researchers can't ethically expose people to HIV, we don't know for sure that any of the subjects were definitely saved by the drug. Other studies have also had to be stopped because it was clear subjects who were on a placebo were suffering from noticeably higher rates of infection. Leaders in the fight against AIDS say this new study closes a "critical gap" in existing research by demonstrating that Truvada can work in real-world health programs. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Fiat Chrysler U.S. to recall 7,810 SUVs to prevent hacking (Radhika Rukmangadhan/Reuters)

(18 hours ago)
Radhika Rukmangadhan / Reuters:Fiat Chrysler U.S. to recall 7,810 SUVs to prevent hacking  —  Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV's U.S. arm said on Friday it would recall 7,810 sport utility vehicles in the United States to update software for radios to prevent hacking.  —  The announcement by FCA US LLC, formerly Chrysler Group LLC …

Playdate: Trying out 'Super Time Force Ultra' and 'Grow Home'

(18 hours ago)
Here's a tough choice: would you rather play a game about a gardening robot that experiments with new methods of character animation, or a ridiculous time-travel action game that throws paradoxical caution to the wind? Lucky you -- you don't have t...

Pwn2Own loses HP as its sponsor amid concerns of compliance with the Wassenaar Arrangement, an international treaty that has rules governing software exploits (Dan Goodin/Ars Technica)

(18 hours ago)
Dan Goodin / Ars Technica:Pwn2Own loses HP as its sponsor amid concerns of compliance with the Wassenaar Arrangement, an international treaty that has rules governing software exploits  —  Pwn2Own loses HP as its sponsor amid new cyberweapon restrictions  —  Concerns about violating international arms treaty behind pull-out.

NASA's bouncing 'Hedgehog' robot is designed to explore comets

(18 hours ago)
The last time humanity tried to explore a comet, things didn't go so well -- the ESA comet lander Philae bounced during touchdown and wound up under a cliff, unable to right itself. Eventually its batteries ran down we lost contact. A sad way to en...

Bugzilla Breached, Private Vulnerability Data Stolen

(19 hours ago)
darthcamaro writes: Mozilla today publicly announced that secured areas of bugzilla, where non-public zero days are stored, were accessed by an attacker. The attacker got access to as many as 185 security bugs before they were made public. They say, "We believe they used that information to attack Firefox users." The whole hack raises the issue of Mozilla's own security, since it was a user password that was stolen and the bugzilla accounts weren't using two-factor authentication. According to Mozilla's FAQ about the breach (PDF), "The earliest confirmed instance of unauthorized access dates to September 2014. Thereare some indications that the attacker may have had access since September 2013." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

'Bedtime Stories for Awful Children,' a free ebook from 'Year Walk' devs

(19 hours ago)
The dark, freezing woods of Sweden are the perfect breeding ground for terrifying tales of naughty children who get what they deserve. This week, Simogo -- the developer of beautifully macabre game Year Walk, and mysterious narrative experiences De...

Sources: feds open criminal probe over claims that HubSpot execs tried to get pre-release copy of book about the firm; cofounder fined, two execs have left (Curt Woodward/BetaBoston)

(19 hours ago)
Curt Woodward / BetaBoston:Sources: feds open criminal probe over claims that HubSpot execs tried to get pre-release copy of book about the firm; cofounder fined, two execs have left  —  Feds open criminal investigation of HubSpot book incident  —  Federal law enforcement officials have opened a criminal investigation …
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