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GM Commits To 100% Renewable Energy By 2050

Sat, 17/09/2016 - 1:50am
We've seen a number of entities announce plans to operate with 100% renewable energy over the years. Costa Rica, for example, has gone 76 straight days using 100% renewable electricity. General Motors is the latest company to release a roadmap to achieving 100% renewable energy. The catch? It won't be until 2050. CleanTechnica reports: American multinational General Motors, or GM, has committed to generating or sourcing 100% of the electricity for its operations across 59 countries from 100% renewable energy by 2050. GM made the announcement on Wednesday, revealing that it planned to generate or source all its electrical power needs for its 350 operations in 59 countries with 100% renewable energy such as wind, solar, and landfill gas, by 2050. In turn, the company has joined the 100% renewable energy campaign RE100, lending its considerable global business weight to an already important and successful campaign. "Establishing a 100% renewable energy goal helps us better serve society by reducing environmental impact," said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO. "This pursuit of renewable energy benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs."

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Alleged Hacker Lauri Love To Be Extradited To US

Sat, 17/09/2016 - 1:20am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: An autistic man suspected of hacking into U.S. government computer systems is to be extradited from Britain to face trial, a court has ruled. Lauri Love, 31, who has Asperger's syndrome, is accused of hacking into the FBI, the U.S. central bank and the country's missile defense agency. Mr Love, from Stradishall, Suffolk, has previously said he feared he would die in a U.S. prison if he was extradited. Earlier, his lawyer said his alleged hacking had "embarrassed" U.S. authorities. Tor Ekeland said the U.S. government "had very, very bad security and these hacks utilized exploits that were publicly-known for months." Mr Love's lawyers said he could face up to 99 years in prison if convicted of the hacking offenses. Mr Love's defense team argues his depression and Asperger's syndrome mean he should not be sent abroad, but U.S. prosecutors say he is using his mental health issues as an excuse to escape justice.

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How Cities Are Using Dry Ice To Kill Rats

Sat, 17/09/2016 - 12:45am
Some of the United States' biggest cities have resorted to using dry ice to kill rats. Since dry ice (frozen carbon dioxide) turns into a gas, sanitation officials simply need to drop chunks of it into rat infested burrows and let science do the rest. Longtime Slashdot reader mi writes: USA Today reports: "Earlier this week, USA TODAY observed Chicago sanitation department workers at one of the city's oldest parks scoop chunks of smoking dry ice into a burrow before quickly covering the entry and exit holes with dirt and newspaper to stop any rats from escaping as the -109.3-degree Fahrenheit gas dissipated. Sanitation workers say they treat burrows during morning hours, when rats are less active and most likely to be huddled inside the burrows. The asphyxiated dead rats then decompose in place and out-of-sight of city denizens who count the disease-carrying vermin among the vilest of indignities of urban living. 'We are seeing 60% fewer burrows in areas where we are using the dry ice,' said Charles Williams, Chicago's streets and sanitation commissioner. 'It's more environmentally friendly, and it's very humane on the rodents as well.'" Humane or not, what is so especially "undignified" about rats? What makes them worse, than, for example, cats, deer or wild horses?

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26% of Netflix Users May Cancel Cable TV This Year, Says Survey

Sat, 17/09/2016 - 12:05am
The future looks grim for cable TV providers like Comcast and Time Warner Cable. A new survey says that as many as 26 percent of Netflix users may cancel their cable TV service by next year. Huffington Post reports: Where are they going? If you say "Netflix," you're not exactly correct. The fact is that, according to a recent survey by CutCableToday, 67 percent of Netflix subscribers still have cable. That's pretty much right in line with last year's numbers, insinuating that Netflix isn't necessarily synonymous with cord cutting. However, perhaps a more interesting statistic from the study shows that 26 percent of Netflix users may not have cable by next year. More specifically, 11 percent of Netflix users say they're going to cancel their cable contracts. 15 percent say they are unsure if they'll keep cable or cut the cord. What about the other 74 percent? The survey goes on to say that the most common reason people aren't canceling is due to Big Cable's greatest weapon. The bundle. The survey states that 80% of Netflix subscribers have their internet bundled with TV or phone service.

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23 Years Later: the Apple II Receives Another OS Update

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 11:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Yesterday, software developer John Brooks released what is clearly a work of pure love: the first update to an operating system for the Apple II computer family since 1993. ProDOS 2.4, released on the 30th anniversary of the introduction of the Apple II GS, brings the enhanced operating system to even older Apple II systems, including the original Apple ][ and ][+. Which is pretty remarkable, considering the Apple ][ and ][+ don't even support lower-case characters. You can test-drive ProDOS 2.4 in a Web-based emulator set up by computer historian Jason Scott on the Internet Archive. The release includes Bitsy Bye, a menu-driven program launcher that allows for navigation through files on multiple floppy (or hacked USB) drives. Bitsy Bye is an example of highly efficient code: it runs in less than 1 kilobyte of RAM. There's also a boot utility that is under 400 bytes -- taking up a single block of storage on a disk. The report adds: "In addition to the Bitsy Boot boot utility, the ProDOS 2.4 'floppy' includes a collection of utilities, including a MiniBas tiny BASIC interpreter, disk imaging programs to move files from physical floppies to USB and other disk storage, file utilities, and the 'Unshrink' expander for uncompressing files archived with Shrinkit."

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Laurene Jobs Awards $10M To Pet Charter School Network of Zuckerberg, Gates

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 10:40pm
theodp writes: The XQ Institute -- a nonprofit backed by Laurene Powell Jobs (Steve's widow) -- announced the winners of its $100 million competition (Warning: may be paywalled) to rethink the American high school this week. Among the 10 lucky schools winning a $10M grant was Summit Elevate ("a new high school planning to open in Fall 2018"), part of the Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg-supported Summit Charter Schools network (HP CEO Meg Whitman is on Summit's Board). In announcing the grant, XQ praised Basecamp, Summit's personalized learning software platform that was developed by Facebook engineers, which Bill Gates has spent $1+ million on to get schools to adopt it (the NY Times characterized the Facebook-Summit partnership as "more of a ground-up effort to create a national demand for student-driven learning in schools"). U.S. education, it seems, is becoming The Game of Billionaires -- at last May's NewSchools Venture Summit, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (now working for Jobs) was interviewed by former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education and Gates Foundation Program Director Jim Shelton (now working for Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan).

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NYPD Says Talking About Its IMSI Catchers Would Make Them Vulnerable To Hacking

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 10:00pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Typically, cops don't like talking about IMSI catchers, the powerful surveillance technology used to monitor mobile phones en masse. In a recent case, the New York Police Department (NYPD) introduced a novel argument for keeping mum on the subject: Asked about the tools it uses, it argued that revealing the different models of IMSI catchers the force owned would make the devices more vulnerable to hacking. The New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), an affiliate of the ACLU, has been trying to get access to information about the NYPD's IMSI catchers under the Freedom of Information Law. These devices are also commonly referred to as "stingrays," after a particularly popular model from Harris Corporation. Indeed, the NYCLU wants to know which models of IMSI catchers made by Harris the police department has. "Public disclosure of this information, and the amount of taxpayer funds spent to buy the devices, directly advances the Freedom of Information Law's purpose of informing a robust public debate about government actions," the NYCLU writes in a court filing. The group has requested documents that show how much money has been spent on the technology. After the NYPD withheld the records, the FOI request was escalated to a lawsuit, which is where the NYPD's strange argument comes in (among others). "Public disclosure of the specifications of the CSS [cell site simulator] technologies in NYPD's possession from the Withheld Records would make the software vulnerable to hacking and would jeopardize NYPD's ability to keep the technologies secure," an affidavit from NYPD Inspector Gregory Antonsen, dated August 17, reads. Antonsen then imagines a scenario where a "highly sophisticated hacker" could use their knowledge of the NYPD's Stingrays to lure officers into a trap and ambush them.

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Apple Replaced the Headphone Jack On the iPhone 7 With a Fake Speaker Grill

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 9:20pm
Not long ago, Apple CEO Tim Cook explained why the company felt a need to remove the headphone jack from the new iPhones -- the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. He said, "that jack takes up a lot of space in the phone, a lot of space. And there's a lot of more important things we can provide for the consumer than that jack." His colleague Phil Schiller cited "courage" for the same. As people learn to live in a world where they have to use a dongle to use their existing pair of headphones, gadget repair community iFixit found today that Apple isn't really using that "extra space" it got after getting rid of the headphone jack. BusinessInsider reports: "In place of the headphone jack, we find a component that seems to channel sound from outside the phone into the microphone... or from the Taptic Engine out," they write. Yep -- in the place where the headphone jack used to be there's a piece of molded plastic. "No fancy electronics here, just some well-designed acoustics and molded plastic," iFixit writes.iFixit adds, "Closer inspection shows a new, second lower speaker grille that leads ... nowhere? Interesting." Update: 09/16 21:21 GMT by M : Apple says it's a "barometric vent." The Verge reports: Apparently adding all the waterproofing to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus meant that it was more of a sealed box, and so to be able to have an accurate and working barometer, Apple used that space. The barometer is the thing that allows a phone to measure altitude, and Apple points out that on the iPhone 7 it can measure even minor changes like climbing a flight of stairs.

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Mozilla Checks If Firefox Is Affected By Same Malware Vulnerability As Tor

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 8:40pm
Mozilla is investigating whether the fully patched version of Firefox is affected by the same cross-platform, malicious code-execution vulnerability patched on Friday in the Tor browser. Dan Goodin, reporting for ArsTechnica: The vulnerability allows an attacker who has a man-in-the-middle position and is able to obtain a forged certificate to impersonate Mozilla servers, Tor officials warned in an advisory. From there, the attacker could deliver a malicious update for NoScript or any other Firefox extension installed on a targeted computer. The fraudulent certificate would have to be issued by any one of several hundred Firefox-trusted certificate authorities (CA). While it probably would be challenging to hack a CA or trick one into issuing the necessary certificate for addons.mozilla.org, such a capability is well within reach of nation-sponsored attackers, who are precisely the sort of adversaries included in the Tor threat model. In 2011, for instance, hackers tied to Iran compromised Dutch CA DigiNotar and minted counterfeit certificates for more than 200 addresses, including Gmail and the Mozilla addons subdomain.

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Web Security CEO Warns About Control Of Internet Falling Into Few Hands

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 8:00pm
The idea behind the internet was to make a massive, decentralized system that wasn't under control of anyone, but that is increasingly changing, according to Matthew Prince, CEO of web security company CloudFlare. His statements come at a time when Google and Facebook and other companies are increasingly building new products and services and locking in users to their respective walled gardens. From a CNBC report: "More and more of the internet is sitting behind fewer and fewer players, and there are benefits of that, but there are also real risks," said Matthew Prince, chief executive officer of web security company CloudFlare, in an interview with CNBC. His comments came at CloudFlare's Internet Summit -- a conference featuring tech executives and government security experts -- on Tuesday in San Francisco. "If everything sits behind Facebook and you can't publish pictures like that, is the world a better place? Probably not," said Prince. "Before you know it, you could wake up and find more of the internet sits behind a small number of gate-keepers," said Prince. Putting that sort of power in the hands of a small number of people and companies "might not be the best thing," he said. Still, the wave of consolidation among the major internet companies is likely to continue, at least for now, he said.

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Half Of US Smartphone Users Download Zero Apps Per Month

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 7:20pm
Apple's iOS users may have downloaded more than 140 billion apps since the App Store was launched in 2008, but the reality is that a huge number of people just don't try out so many apps anymore. We noted a few weeks ago how people were showing less interest towards apps, and now we have more confirmation on that front. According to comScore, some 49 percent of U.S. smartphone users download zero apps in a typical month. Recode reports: Of the 51 percent of smartphone owners who do download apps during the course of a month, "the average number downloaded per person is 3.5," comScore's report says. "However, the total number of app downloads is highly concentrated at the top, with 13 percent of smartphone owners accounting for more than half of all download activity in a given month."

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Windows 10 Haters: Try Linux On Kaby Lake Chips With Dell's New XPS 13

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 6:40pm
Attention Linux enthusiasts. Your OS of your choice can finally work on laptops with Intel's Kaby Lake chips. Dell is releasing three new models of slick XPS 13 Developer Edition that will be available with Ubuntu OS and 7th Generation Core processors in the U.S. and Canada starting on Oct. 10, reports PCWorld. From the article:Prices for XPS 13 DE will start at $949. Dell also announced the XPS 13 model with Kaby Lake and Windows 10, which will ship on Oct. 4 starting at $799. Dell didn't share details on what version of Ubuntu desktop OS will be preloaded. It officially supports Ubuntu 14.04 in existing laptops, but could pre-load version 16.04 on the new XPS 13 DE. Dell has remained committed to Linux while major PC vendors shift to Windows 10 on PCs. Intel made a major commitment to supporting Windows 10 with its new Kaby Lake chips but hasn't talked much about Linux support. XPS 13 DE is perhaps the sexiest and thinnest Linux laptop available, with an edge-to-edge screen being a stand-out feature. It is the latest in Dell's Project Sputnik line of laptops, and it is targeted at computer enthusiasts who want a Windows or Mac alternative. A knock against Linux is that the OS has lagged behind Windows on driver development and on supporting the latest technologies like USB-C ports, 4K screens, and Thunderbolt. Project Sputnik started four years ago as an effort between Dell and the open-source community to bridge that gap, and since then, the resulting laptops have achieved cult status among Linux enthusiasts. A Dell XPS 13 with a Core i5 chip will have a full HD screen, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Another configuration will have a 3200 x 1800-pixel screen, Core i5, and a 256GB SSD. A fully loaded model will have a Core i7 chip, a 512GB SSD, 16GB of RAM, and a 3200 x 1800-pixel screen.

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Woman Faces $9,100 Verizon Bill For Data She Says She Didn't Use

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 6:00pm
A Verizon Wireless customer says she received a bill of $9,100 for hundreds of gigabytes of data usage which never consumed. The woman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer she was on Verizon's 4GB shared data plan, and like any normal person, the bill of $8,535 from Verizon for consuming 569GB of data in a matter of few days doesn't compute well with her. The problem, as DSLR reports, is that when she tried to find out what caused the data usage, Verizon website told her "the activity you are trying to perform is currently unavailable. Please try again later." She couldn't and switched to T-Mobile, after which Verizon charged her a penalty of $600.

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AP, Vice, USA Today Sue FBI For Info On Phone Hack of San Bernardino Shooter

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 5:20pm
Three news organizations filed a lawsuit Friday seeking information about how the FBI was able to break into the locked iPhone of one of the gunmen in the December terrorist attack in San Bernardino. From a USA Today report: The Justice Department spent more than a month this year in a legal battle with Apple over it could force the tech giant to help agents bypass a security feature on Syed Rizwan Farook's iPhone. The dispute roiled the tech industry and prompted a fierce debate about the extent of the government's power to pry into digital communications. It ended when the FBI said an "outside party" had cracked the phone without Apple's help. The news organizations' lawsuit seeks information about the source of the security exploit agents used to unlock the phone, and how much the government paid for it. It was filed in federal court in Washington by USA TODAY's parent company, Gannett, the Associated Press and Vice Media. The FBI refused to provide that information to the organizations under the Freedom of Information Act. The lawsuit charges that "there is no lawful basis" for the FBI to keep the records secret.

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Right To Be Forgotten? Web Privacy Debate in Italy After Women's Suicide

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 4:40pm
The suicide of a woman who battled for months to have a video of her having sex removed from the internet is fuelling debate in Italy on the "right to be forgotten" online. The 31-year-old, identified as Tiziana, was found hanged at her aunt's home in Mugnano, close to Naples in the country's south on Tuesday, reports Agence France-Presse. From the report: Her death came a year after she sent a video of herself having sex to some friends, including her ex-boyfriend, to make him jealous. The video and her name soon found their way to the web and went viral, fuelling mockery of the woman online. The footage has been viewed by almost a million internet users. In a bid to escape the humiliation, Tiziana quit her job, moved to Tuscany and tried to change her name, but her nightmare went on. The words "You're filming? Bravo," spoken by the woman to her lover in the video, have become a derisive joke online, and the phrase has been printed on T-shirts, smartphone cases and other items. After a long court battle, Tiziana recently won a "right to be forgotten" ruling ordering the video to be removed from various sites and search engines, including Facebook.

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Autonomous Vehicles Won't Give Us Any More Free Time, Says Study

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 4:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: People hoping that the driverless cars of the future will give them more free time while travelling may be in for a disappointment. Increased productivity is one of the expected benefits of self-driving cars, but a new study claims that they will have little impact. The study showed that nearly 36 percent of Americans say they would be so apprehensive using a driverless vehicle that they would only watch the road. Meanwhile, UK drivers were even more cautious at 44 per cent. "Currently, in the US, the average occupant of a light-duty vehicle spends about an hour a day traveling -- time that could potentially be put to more productive use," said Michael Sivak, research professor at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. "Indeed, increased productivity is one of the expected benefits of self-driving vehicles."

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Russia Bans Pornhub, YouPorn - Tells Citizens To Meet Someone In Real Life

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 3:22pm
Russia has blocked two of the biggest porn websites. The Russian state watchdog Roskomnadzor, which oversees internet in the country, announced that it was blockeing Pornhub and YouPorn. When a Russian citizen asked on Twitter about an alternative, it replied; "as an alternative you can meet someone in real life,". From a report: The regulator dropped the banhammer on Tuesday, applying rules which had previously been imposed by two separate regional courts. Any Russian citizen visiting PornHub or YouPorn is now redirected to a simple message telling them that the sites have been blocked "by decision of public authorities." Sexually explicit material isn't illegal in the country, but according to the BBC's Vitaliy Shevchenko, the law confusingly appears to ban "the illegal production, dissemination, and advertisement of pornographic materials and objects."

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Apple Japan Unit Ordered To Pay $118M Tax For Underreporting Income

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 2:40pm
Apple's unit in Japan was ordered to pay 12 billion yen, or $118 million tax by local authorities after they determined it had underreported income. Apple has since reportedly paid the sum. From a Reuters report: The Tokyo Regional Taxation Bureau determined that the unit, which sends part of its profits earned from fees paid by Japan subscribers to another Apple unit in Ireland to pay for software licensing, had not been paying a withholding tax on those earnings in Japan, according to broadcaster NHK. Apple and other multinational companies have come under much tax scrutiny from governments around the world. The European Union has ordered Apple to pay Ireland 13 billion euros ($14.6 billion) in back taxes after ruling it had received illegal state aid. Apple and Dublin plan to appeal the ruling, arguing the tax treatment was in line with EU law.

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Logitech Buys Saitek

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 2:00pm
PC accessories maker Logitech announced that it is acquiring Saiket brand and its line of flight sim controller assets from MadCatz for $13 million in cash. From a report on BetaNews: Today, the company announces a surprising acquisition. Logitech has officially bought Saitek -- maker of simulation controllers. While the move was unexpected, it actually makes a lot of sense. Logitech gains entry into a niche gaming segment that depends heavily on high-priced controllers. "First, these products are just great. We know a thing or two at Logitech about what makes a gaming product stand out and these products deliver exceptional experiences. Don't take our word for it -- we've seen the Saitek fans on the forums. Second, simulation games are cool and getting cooler. Whether you're into driving, flying or exploring space, there are fresh new titles available and more to come. Some of these titles are even VR enabled and we believe that dedicated controllers will stimulate and enhance the total VR experience," says Logitech.

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Apple Is Still Ignoring One of the Biggest iPhone Engineering Flaws of All Time: 'Touch Disease'

Fri, 16/09/2016 - 1:00pm
Jason Koebler, writing for Motherboard: As Apple is preparing to ship its brand new iPhone, the company continues to ignore one of the biggest hardware defects to ever plague its smartphone line. Just two years after it was released, the touchscreens of thousands upon thousands of iPhone 6 Pluses are completely losing their functionality under normal use, which experts say is the long-term effect of the engineering flaw that gave us "bendgate." By most accounts, dead touchscreens have become an iPhone 6 Plus epidemic, and yet the company has not commented on it, leaving consumers uninformed and harming independent repair businesses. In many cases, Apple has charged hundreds of dollars to replace a broken phone with a refurbished one that is subject to the same engineering defect that caused the phone to break in the first place. A lawsuit has been filed against Apple, claiming the company "has long been aware of the defective iPhones," but continues to do nothing about it. "Notwithstanding its longstanding knowledge of this design defect, Apple routinely has refused to repair the iPhones without charge when the defect manifests," the lawsuit reads. "Many other iPhone owners have communicated with Apple's employees and agents to request that Apple remedy and/or address the Touchscreen Defect and/or resultant damage at no expense. Apple has failed and/or refused to do so." As for how many iPhones are affected by this? It's hard to tell for sure. But according to an Apple Insider report that cites anonymous Genius Bar employees at four large Apple stores, 11 percent of all iPhone-related service issues at those stores were related to Touch IC problems, and Touch IC issues made up about a third of all iPhone 6 Plus-related problems at those stores.

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