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Updated: 19 min 11 sec ago

Trillion-Dollar World Trade Deal Aims To Make IT Products Cheaper

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 4:29pm
itwbennett writes: A new (tentative) global trade agreement, struck on Friday at a World Trade Organization meeting in Geneva, eliminates tariffs on more than 200 kinds of IT products, ranging from smartphones, routers, and ink cartridges to video game consoles and telecommunications satellites. A full list of products covered was published by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, which called the ITA expansion 'great news for the American workers and businesses that design, manufacture, and export state-of-the-art technology and information products, ranging from MRI machines to semiconductors to video game consoles.' The deal covers $1.3 trillion worth of global trade, about 7 percent of total trade today. The deal has approval from 49 countries, and is waiting on just a handful more before it becomes official,

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'Stagefright' Flaw: Compromise Android With Just a Text

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 3:47pm
An anonymous reader writes: Up to 950 million Android phones may be vulnerable to a new exploit involving the Stagefright component of Android, which lets attackers compromise a device through a simple multimedia text — even before the recipient sees it. Researchers from Zimperium zLabs reported the related bugs to Google in April. Google quickly accepted a patch and distributed it to manufacturers, but the researchers say they don't think the manufacturers have yet passed it on to most consumers. "The weaknesses reside in Stagefright, a media playback tool in Android. They are all "remote code execution" bugs, allowing malicious hackers to infiltrate devices and exfiltrate private data. All attackers would need to send out exploits would be mobile phone numbers, Drake noted. From there, they could send an exploit packaged in a Stagefright multimedia message (MMS), which would let them write code to the device and steal data from sections of the phone that can be reached with Stagefright's permissions. That would allow for recording of audio and video, and snooping on photos stored in SD cards. Bluetooth would also be hackable via Stagefright."

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Musk, Woz, Hawking, and Robotics/AI Experts Urge Ban On Autonomous Weapons

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 3:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: An open letter published by the Future of Life Institute urges governments to ban offensive autonomous weaponry. The letter is signed by high profile leaders in the science community and tech industry, such as Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, Steve Wozniak, Noam Chomsky, and Frank Wilczek. It's also signed — more importantly — by literally hundreds of expert researchers in robotics and AI. They say, "The key question for humanity today is whether to start a global AI arms race or to prevent it from starting. If any major military power pushes ahead with AI weapon development, a global arms race is virtually inevitable, and the endpoint of this technological trajectory is obvious: autonomous weapons will become the Kalashnikovs of tomorrow. Unlike nuclear weapons, they require no costly or hard-to-obtain raw materials, so they will become ubiquitous and cheap for all significant military powers to mass-produce."

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Steam Bug Allowed Password Resets Without Confirmation

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 2:22pm
An anonymous reader writes: Valve has fixed a bug in their account authentication system that allowed attackers to easily reset the password to a Steam account. When a Steam user forgets a password, he goes to an account recovery page and asks for a reset. The page then sends a short code to the email address registered with the account. The problem was that Steam wasn't actually checking the codes sent via email. Attackers could simply request a reset and then submit a blank field when prompted for the code. Valve says the bug was active from July 21-25. A number of accounts were compromised, including some prominent streamers and Dota 2 pros. Valve issued password resets to those accounts with "suspicious" changes over the past several days.

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Clinton Promises 500 Million New Solar Panels

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 1:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: Hillary Clinton, widely regarded as most likely to win the Democrat nomination for the 2016 U.S. presidential election, has unveiled her campaign climate plan. Speaking at Iowa State University, Clinton said she would set up tax incentives for renewable energy to drive further adoption. She also set a goal of installing half a billion new solar panels within her first term, if elected. Her plan would cost roughly $60 billion over 10 years, and she intends to pay for it by cutting tax breaks to the oil and gas industry. According to The Guardian, "Clinton has promised to make the issue of climate change a key pillar of her campaign platform."

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Police Shut Down Anti-Violence Fundraiser Over Rapper's Hologram

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 12:56pm
An anonymous reader writes: A Chicago rapper by the name of Chief Keef has been making headlines recently after the city launched a campaign to deny his performance at an anti-violence event. The event was organized to raise funds for victims of recent Chicago murders in which another rapper was slain. Keef is currently wanted on warrants in the region but is living on the East Coast. He was expected to perform via a live stream projection. While Chicago officials worked to deny his performance from occurring in the city, promoters vowed that he would still perform. A recent concert called Craze Fest was just held at the Wolf Lake Pavilion in Hammond, Indiana. The Pavilion is part of a public park. The city of Hammond refused to let promoters hold the event unless they agreed that Chief Keef would not be allowed to perform. Instead, the promoters setup a live stream projection of the rapper and showed it at the end of the concert. Once the Hologram of Keef began performing, police rushed in and began shutting down the event. This raises some interesting questions about free speech and the role of technology in it. Here's a local news article, and some brief cellphone footage of the event.

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For the Love of the Analytics of the Game: Before Beane, There Was AVM Systems

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 12:13pm
theodp writes: Those of you slugging your way through EdX's (free) Sabermetrics 101: Introduction to Baseball Analytics MOOC course might want to take a break from your R and SQL coding to check out Grantland's Before Beane, in which Ben Lindbergh tells the story of AVM Systems, the little-known company that jump-started sabermetrics and made Moneyball possible. Ken Mauriello, whose love-for-the-analytics-of-the-game led him to ditch a trading career to co-found AVM in the mid-90's, said of the early days, "Back in the day we weren't doing presentations [to skeptical MLB teams] with laptops. We were carrying around two enormous boxes with an enormous monitor and an enormous tower. It was like Planes, Trains & Automobiles traveling around with that stuff. Watching a great big Gateway box with your monitor come tumbling out upside down, and you pick it up and it's rattling. ... So we're in the hotel, saying, 'Please lord, let this thing work.'"

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LinkedIn (Temporarily) Backs Down After Uproar At Contact Export Removal

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 11:27am
Mark Wilson writes: LinkedIn caused a storm a couple of days ago when it removed the option to instantly download contacts. Many users of the professional social network were more than a little irked to discover that while contact exporting was still available, a wait of up to three days had been put in place. Unsurprisingly, users revolted, having been particularly upset by the fact the change was implemented with no warning or announcement. But the company has managed to turn things around by quickly backtracking on its decision after listening to a stream of complaints on Twitter.

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A Plea For Websites To Stop Blocking Password Managers

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 9:10am
An anonymous reader writes: Password managers aren't a security panacea, but experts widely agree that it's better to use one than to have weak (but easy-to-remember) passwords. Just this week, they were listed as a tool non-experts don't use as much as experts do. I use one, and a pet peeve of mine is when a website specifically (or through bad design) interferes with the copying and pasting of a password. Thus, I appreciated this rant about it in Wired: "It's unacceptable that in an age where our lives are increasingly being played out online, and are sometimes only protected by a password, some sites deliberately stop their users from being as secure as possible, for no really justifiable reason."

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Fiat Chrysler Hit With Record $105 Million Fine Over Botched Recalls

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 6:03am
An anonymous reader writes: The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has levied a record fine against Fiat Chrysler Automobiles to punish them for failing to adequately recall and fix defective cars. (If Fiat sounds familiar, it's the same company that issued a 1.4 million-vehicle recall on Friday over a remote hack.) The NHTSA's $105 million fine is half-again as much as the next biggest fine (given to Honda last year over faulty airbags). Fiat Chrysler "admitted to violating federal rules requiring timely recalls and notifications to vehicle owners, dealers and regulators." The company will be forced to buy back hundreds of thousands of vehicles (at the owners' discretion, of course) that have problems with the suspension that could lead to a loss of control. A million more Jeep owners will be given a chance to trade in their vehicle at a higher rate than market value because of rear-mounted gas tanks that are prone to catching fire.

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Smithsonian Increases Goal For Spacesuit Crowdfunding Effort

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 3:26am
An anonymous reader writes: The recently launched Kickstarter campaign by the Smithsonian to preserve Neil Armstrong's Apollo 11 spacesuit has surpassed its goal. As of Saturday, the campaign raised about $525,000, and now The National Air and Space Museum has increased its goal to $700,000 in order to save Alan Shepard's Mercury spacesuit.

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China Lifts Ban On Video Game Consoles

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 3:05am
An anonymous reader writes: The Chinese government has decided to end its 15-year ban on video game consoles. In the year 2000 China imposed a blanket ban on video game consoles but started to allow them to be sold in the experimental free trade zone in Shanghai last year. The Independent reports: "It's good news for the companies that will now be able to operate in the country, where the gaming market is estimated to be worth $22.2 billion this year. China is second only to the gaming-crazy nation of Japan when it comes to gaming in Asia."

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Google Studies How Bad Interstitials Are On Mobile

Mon, 27/07/2015 - 12:15am
An anonymous reader writes: A Google study of their own Google+ site and app found that 69% of visitors abandoned the page when presented with the app interstitial. Google said it was getting rid of them and asked others to do the same. TechCrunch reports: "It's worth noting that Google's study was small scale, since the company was only looking at how an interstitial promoting the Google+ social service native app performed (and we don't know how many people it surveyed). It may very well be the case that visitors really didn't want the Google+ app specifically — and that Google+ itself is skewing the data. (Sadly Google is not offering comparative stats with, say, the Gmail app interstitial, so we can but speculate.)"

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Gmail Messages Can Now Self-Destruct

Sun, 26/07/2015 - 11:09pm
New submitter Amarjeet Singh writes: Dmail is a Chrome extension developed by the people behind Delicious, the social bookmarking app/extension. This extension allows you to set a self-destruct timer on your emails. You can use Dmail to send emails from Gmail as usual, but you will now have a button which can set an self destruct timer of an hour, a day or a week. Dmail claims it will also unlock a feature that won't allow forwarding, meaning only the person you sent your message to will be able to see it.

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Intel Core I7-5775C Desktop Broadwell With Iris Pro 6200 Graphics Tested

Sun, 26/07/2015 - 10:06pm
bigwophh writes: 14nm Broadwell processors weren't originally destined for the channel, but Intel ultimately changed course and launched a handful of 5th Generation Core processors based on the microarchitecture recently, the most powerful of which is the Core i7-5775C. Unlike all of the mobile Broadwell processors that came before it, the Core i7-5775C is a socketed, LGA processor for desktops, just like 4th Generation Core processors based on Haswell. In fact, it'll work in the very same 9-Series chipset motherboards currently available (after a BIOS update). The Core i7-5775C, however, features a 128MB eDRAM cache and integrated Iris Pro 6200 series graphics, which can boost graphics performance significantly. Testing shows that the Core i7-5775C's lower CPU core clocks limit its performance versus Haswell, but its Iris Pro graphics engine is clearly more powerful.

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Tortoise Gets a new 3D Printed Shell After Forest Fire

Sun, 26/07/2015 - 9:00pm
ErnieKey writes: Fred, a Red-Footed Tortoise in Santos, São Paulo, Brazil, was unfortunately caught up in a recent forest fire that deteriorated the majority of his shell. He needed a new shell in order to survive, so veterinarians in Santos teamed up with a dentist and a graphical designer to create a new 3D printed shell for Fred that was ultimately surgically placed on the tortoise. From the 3dPrint story: "Fred unfortunately came down with a terrible case of pneumonia post-surgery, which prevented him from eating for about a month and a half, but in the end survived and is now doing very well with his new 3D printed shell. The shell, which was printed with the same PLA material that is found on most desktop 3D printers, has been holding up very well, although researchers are not exactly sure how long it will hold up for or if Fred will be able to be released into the wild."

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Windows 10's Automatic Updates For NVidia Drivers Causing Trouble

Sun, 26/07/2015 - 8:03pm
Mark Wilson writes: One of the features that has been removed from Windows 10 — at least for home users — is the ability to pick and choose when updates are installed. Microsoft has taken Windows Update out of the hands of users so the process is, for the most part, completely automated. In theory, this sounds great — no more worrying about having the latest patches installed, no more concerns that a machine that hasn't been updated will cause problems for others — but an issue with NVidia drivers shows that there is potential for things to go wrong. Irate owners of NVidia graphics cards have taken to support forums to complain that automatically-installed drivers installed have broken their computers.

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Winklevoss Twins Get Closer To Launching Their Bitcoin Exchange

Sun, 26/07/2015 - 7:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: Reuters has an update on the Winklevoss twins plan to launch a regulated Bitcoin exchange called Gemini. The two have filed a New York trust application necessary for them to launch their Gemini bitcoin exchange. If approved, the exchange would be able to accept deposits, and issue loans. The twins say they want to make digital currency mainstream in the United States.

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How Amazon Could Drive Blended Reality Into The Living Room

Sun, 26/07/2015 - 6:08pm
An anonymous reader writes: Here's an interesting story on TechCrunch joining the dots on Amazon's interest in computer vision and its connected speaker-plus-virtual assistant in-home device, the Amazon Echo. The author speculates that if Amazon adds a camera to the Echo the device could be used for augmented reality-powered virtual try-ons of products such as clothes, streaming the results to the user's phone or TV. From the article: "The product development process for Microsoft's Kinect sensor took around four to five years from conception to shipping a consumer product. The computer vision field has clearly gained from a lot of research since then, and Woodford reckons Amazon could ship an Echo sensor in an even shorter timeframe — say, in the next two years — provided the business was entirely behind the idea and doing everything it could to get such a product to market."

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Apple and Nike Settle FuelBand Lawsuit

Sun, 26/07/2015 - 5:11pm
An anonymous reader writes: Nike and co-defendant Apple have reached an agreement to settle a class action suit that alleged false advertising from the two companies indicating that the FuelBand fitness watch had capabilities to track health. The two companies agreed that Nike would pay $2.4 million out to customers who purchased a FuelBand between January 19, 2012 and June 17, 2015. Apple was a co-defendant in the case, but only Nike has been found liable for falsely advertising the wristband.

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