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Updated: 2 min 58 sec ago

Comodo Attempting to Register 'Let's Encrypt' Trademarks, And That's Not Right

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 8:00pm
Let's Encrypt is a nonprofit aimed at encrypting the entire web. It provides free certificates, and its service is backed by EFF, Mozilla, Cisco, Akamai and others. Despite it being around for years, security firm Comodo, which as of 2015, was the largest issuer of SSL certificates with a 33.6% market share on 6.6% of all web domains, last year in October filed for the trademark Let's Encrypt. The team at Let's Encrypt wrote in a blog post today that they have asked Comodo to abandon its "Let's Encrypt" applications, directly but it has refused to do so. The blog post adds: We've forged relationships with millions of websites and users under the name Let's Encrypt, furthering our mission to make encryption free, easy, and accessible to everyone. We've also worked hard to build our unique identity within the community and to make that identity a reliable indicator of quality. We take it very seriously when we see the potential for our users to be confused, or worse, the potential for a third party to damage the trust our users have placed in us by intentionally creating such confusion. By attempting to register trademarks for our name, Comodo is actively attempting to do just that. Update: 06/23 22:25 GMT by M :Comodo CEO has addressed the issue on company's forum (screenshot).

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Facebook Offers Political Bias Training In Wake Of Trending Controversy

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 7:20pm
Michael Nunez, reporting for Gizmodo:Facebook is adding political scenarios to its orientation training following concerns, first reported by Gizmodo, that workers were suppressing conservative topics in its Trending news section. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, announced the change during an interview with conservative leader Arthur Brooks, president of the prominent conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute. Brooks also attended a private meeting between Facebook executives and prominent conservative leaders following the controversy. "We had an ex-contractor on that team who accused us of liberal bias," Sandberg said during the interview. "Frankly, it rang true to some people because there is concern that Silicon Valley companies have a liberal bias. We did a thorough investigation, and we didn't find a liberal bias."

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Volkswagen To Pay $10.2 Billion In Emissions Lawsuit

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 6:40pm
Reader Khashishi writes: Slashdot has been following the story of Volkswagen manipulating diesel emissions tests for some time now. The control software contained algorithms which reduced emissions during testing but not during normal driving. Well, now Volkswagen has agreed to pay $10.2 billion (alternate source: BBC) to settle the case, according to Associated Press. This is higher than the $430 million damages estimated in this story. It appears that vehicle owners will have the choice of fixing their cars or selling them back. Most of the money will go towards fixing the cars, buying them back, and compensating owners.

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Google Launches Android Programming Course For Absolute Beginners

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 6:00pm
If you're on the fence on whether or not should you spring for learning how to code, Google is willing to offer a helping hand. The company has partnered with Udacity to offer a "nanodegree" class designed for people with no programming experience at all. The program costs $199 per month. ZDNet reports:The course material, developed by Google, is hosted on learning platform Udacity and builds on earlier programs such as the Android Nanodegree for Beginners. The basics course takes around four weeks if the student commits six hours a week and upon completion they'll have created two basic apps built in Android Studio."Google, in partnership with Udacity, is making Android development accessible and understandable to everyone, so that regardless of your background, you can learn to build apps that improve the lives of people around you," Google announced on its developer blog.

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Senate Report Says Charter, Time Warner Cable Overcharges Its Customers

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 5:20pm
According to an investigation by a U.S. Senate, Charter and its new subsidiary Time Warner Cable have been overcharging customers at least $7.2 million per year for equipment and service. Time Warner Cable over-billed customers nationwide an estimated $639,948 between January and April period this year. This projects the sum to a yearly total of $1,919,844. Charter admitted that it overbilled its customers by "at least $442,691 per month." A report on BroadcastingCable states:The study found that "Time Warner Cable estimates that, in 2015, it overbilled 40,193 Ohio customers a total of $430,393 and 4,232 Missouri customers a total of $44,152," while "Charter estimates that it has annually overcharged approximately 5,897 Missouri customers a total of $494,000 each year. Charter does not provide service in Ohio." The report also said that Charter and Time Warner Cable have taken steps to correct the situation as a result of the investigation.

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BitTorrent Adds Music, Video Streaming Options With Re-Launched BitTorrent Now

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 4:40pm
Dan Rys, reporting for Billboard:As streaming continues to consolidate its foothold as a major force in the music-listening community, more and more players are getting into the increasingly crowded space. Today, BitTorrent announced it is adding an ad-supported streaming option to its BitTorrent Bundle offerings, which is officially re-launching as BitTorrent Now. But before anyone thinks the company is throwing its hat into the ring alongside Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal (or even Netflix and Hulu), BitTorrent Now isn't designed as a full-catalog competitor. Rather, its streaming component will be part of the distribution framework established with BitTorrent Bundle in 2013, giving artists who use its direct-to-fan platform the option to allow fans to stream their releases rather than download them. BitTorrent Now is currently available as an app on Android devices, with iOS and Apple TV apps on the horizon "shortly," according to a rep.

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Huawei Is Working On Its Own Mobile OS In Case Things Sour With Google

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 4:00pm
According to a report from The Information, Huawei, the world's third largest smartphone manufacturer is working on its own mobile operating system (paywalled; alternate source). The report adds that the team that is developing this new operating system includes ex-Nokia employees. The new operating system is "meant as a contingency measure in case Google further tightens its grip on Android or stops offering it to smartphone makers." Additionally, Huawei is also putting efforts on making big changes to EMUI, its Android-based skin. From the report:According to The Information, changes could include the addition of an app drawer, redesigned icons (they're all currently iPhone-like rounded squares), and a new, "very clean, fresh" color palette. EMUI's current color scheme focuses on unusually dingy and muted colors -- grays and browns. Abigail Brody (an ex-Apple designer, which Apple hired last year) is reportedly planning to change these for brighter tones including blues and whites, and is looking to animals like jellyfish for inspiration.

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Xiaomi Launches Foldable Electric Bike QiCycle At a Price Of $450

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 3:20pm
Xiaomi on Thursday unveiled its first ever electric bike -- the QiCycle Electric Folding Bike. The bike, made of carbon fibre, packs a host of sensors and weighs just 7kg. From a report on IndianExpress:QiCycle has an integrated electric motor, which can be used for propulsion. The bike is powered by 250W-36V electric motor, and uses Torque Measurement Method (TMM) to assist the rider's pedal-power. It comes with Shimano Gear Shifters to let users switch gears based on the terrain. It also has a bike computer display to show all the fitness-related parameters such as calories burned, distance traveled, speed, etc. Xiaomi says the QiCycle has a large Panasonic 18650 battery, which can last up to 45 kms on a single charge. Qicycle can be folded and kept in the trunk of a car.The QiCycle is priced at roughly $450, and is currently only available for sale in Chinese cities.

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Apple Says iOS Kernel Cache Left Unencrypted Intentionally, Nothing To Worry About

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 2:40pm
The iOS 10 kernel, which Apple released to enthusiasts last week, is not encrypted, according to a report. Security experts expressed their surprise and puzzlement over this in a report by MIT News. The iPhone maker, after remaining tight-lipped over the matter for a week, has now offered an explanation. In a statement to The Loop, Apple said: The kernel cache doesn't contain any user info, and by unencrypting it we're able to optimize the operating system's performance without compromising security.It is worth mentioning that Apple is talking about kernel's cache, whereas MIT News' original report talks about kernel code.

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Leaked Docs Provide An Unprecedented Look At Income Of Uber Drivers

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 2:00pm
In 2013, Uber told the Wall Street Journal that a typical Uber driver takes in more than $100,000 in annual gross fares. The ride-hail platform, which has shared similar estimates many times since, says that the company's efforts toward its drivers is a pathway to a modest, more attainable American dream. Turns out, the it has been exaggerating. According to BuzzFeed News, which obtained leaked documents, drivers in some markets don't take home much more than service workers at major chains like Walmart when it comes to net pay. According to the publication, drivers in three major U.S. markets -- Denver, Detroit, and Houston -- earned less than an average of $13.25 an hour after expenses. From the report:Based on these calculations, it's possible to estimate that Uber drivers in late 2015 earned approximately $13.17 per hour after expenses in the Denver market (which includes all of Colorado), $10.75 per hour after expenses in the Houston area, and $8.77 per hour after expenses in the Detroit market, less than any earnings figure previously released by the company.

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Google Fiber To Acquire Gigabit Internet Provider Webpass

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 1:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: Google Fiber has announced a deal to acquire high-speed internet service provider Webpass. Webpass is a 13-year-old company that provides high-speed internet, including gigabit service, for businesses and residential customers across parts of the U.S.. Webpass is most widely known in California, with service running in San Fransisco, Oakland, Emeryville, Berkeley and San Diego. It also has service in Miami, Miami Beach, Coral Gables, Chicago, and Boston. The President of Webpass, Charles Barr, said in a blog post: "Joining Google Fiber will be a great development for our users because the companies share the same vision of the future and commitment to the customer," he said. "Google Fiber's resources will enable Webpass to grow faster and reach many more customers than we could as a standalone company." The acquisition should help Google Fiber with its plans to grow to more than 20 U.S. cities in the near future, helping connect to business and residential markets.

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Computer Simulations Point To the Source of Gravitational Waves

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 10:00am
An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: On February 11th, scientists at the LIGO observatory made history when they announced the detection of the first gravitational waves. A new study says the gravitational waves likely came from two massive suns that formed about 12 billion years ago, or two billion years after the Big Bang. The researcher's calculations have been published today in the journal Nature, and were determined by running a complex simulation called the Synthetic Universe: a computer model that simulates how the Universe may have evolved since the start of the Big Bang. The simulation even includes a synthetic LIGO detector to determine the types of objects that the observatory would detect over time. The Synthetic Universe can also make predictions as it includes a mock-LIGO to chronologically sync when we detected the waves. If the model is correct, we should see LIGO pick up to 60 detections when it begins its next observation run this fall. It could hear up to 1,000 detections annually at its peak sensitivity. The lead study author Chris Belczynski speculates specifically the size of black hole mergers that the LIGO should be able to detect from gravitational waves, a combined mass between 20 and 80 times the mass of our sun, indicating that they're likely from soon after the Big Bang when stars had lower metal content and formed proportionately larger black holes. His model suggests that the ones that collided to make these gravitational waves were stars that formed 12 billion years ago, became black holes 5 million years later, and then merged 10.3 billion years after that.

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India Launches Record 20 Satellites In Space Using A Single Rocket

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 7:00am
William Robinson writes from a report via Times of India: The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) used its workhorse PSLV-C34 to inject 20 satellites which includes 17 satellites from various countries like US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia, into orbit in a single mission and set a new record on Wednesday. In the final stages of the mission, ISRO also demonstrated the vehicle's capability to place satellites in different orbits. In the demonstration, the vehicle reignited twice after its fourth and final stage and moved further a few kilometers into another orbit. Also included are a couple of satellites from academic institutions, Sathyabamasat from Sathyabhama University, Chennai and Swayam from College of Engineering, Pune. From the report: "The 320 ton Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C34) took off on its 36th flight at 9:26 a.m. from the Satish Dhawan Space Center with 20 satellites including its primary payload Cartosat-2 series, which provides remote sensing services, and earth observation and imaging satellites from U.S., Canada, Germany and Indonesia. It was also the 14th flight of PSLV in 'XL' configuration with the use of solid strap-on motors. ISRO scientists said, the vehicle had been pre-programmed for today's launch to perform tiny maneuvering to place the 20 satellites into polar sun-synchronous orbits with different inclinations and velocities. It ensured that the satellites were placed with enough distance to prevent collision."

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Why Drones Could Save Door-To-Door Mail Delivery

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 3:30am
An anonymous reader writes: Online shopping aside, people don't have as many physical items to mail as they used to, which is largely the reason why Canada Post announced it would be phasing out door-to-door mail delivery. Motherboard reports: "The corporation is exploring future use of drone technology to make deliveries, according to a report from the Canadian Press. At this point, Canada Post is engaging in a 'proper exercise,' a spokesperson told the Canadian Press, adding that the project is in its earliest, experimental stages. According to Graham Scott, the deputy editor of Canadian Business, even if mail-delivering drones remain a theoretical concept for now, it's inevitable they'll be considered as a way to drive costs down. There are many good reasons why mail delivery drones may never get off the ground. For one thing, current technology limits them to delivering one item of post at a time, which is tremendously impractical. But, as we've seen with the rolling out of community mailboxes -- a program that was put on hold earlier this year when the review was launched -- the invisible hand of the market is always looking to drive costs down. So don't count out flying robot deliveries for good. From a manager's perspective at least, drones have their advantages. They don't suffer from dog bites, and they (ideally) don't deviate from their routes. 'Drones don't twist their ankle, they don't get tired, and they don't form a union.' said Scott." In 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed during a CBS 60 Minutes interview that the company is working on a service called "Prime Air" to deliver packages by autonomous octocopter drones within 30 minutes of hitting the "buy" button. The Guardian reported last year that Amazon has been testing its drone delivery service at a secret site in Canada, following repeated warnings by the e-commerce giant that it would go outside the U.S. to bypass what it sees as the U.S. federal government's lethargic approach to the new technology.

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Sony Agrees To Pay Millions To Gamers To Settle PS3 Linux Debacle

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 1:25am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: After six years of litigation, Sony is now agreeing to pay the price for its 2010 firmware update that removed support for the Linux operating system in the PlayStation 3. Sony and lawyers representing as many as 10 million console owners reached the deal on Friday. Under the terms of the accord, (PDF) which has not been approved by a California federal judge yet, gamers are eligible to receive $55 if they used Linux on the console. The proposed settlement, which will be vetted by a judge next month, also provides $9 to each console owner that bought a PS3 based on Sony's claims about "Other OS" functionality. Under the plan, gamers eligible for a cash payment are "all persons in the United States who purchased a Fat PS3 model in the United States between November 1, 2006, and April 1, 2010." The accord did not say how much it would cost Sony, but the entertainment company is expected to pay out millions. On March 28, 2010, Sony announced that the update would "disable the 'Install Other OS' feature that was available on the PS3 systems prior to the current slimmer models." This feature, Sony claimed, would be removed "due to security concerns." Sony did not detail those "concerns," but the litigation alleged piracy was behind the decision. A gamer can get the $55, but they "must attest under oath to their purchase of the product and installation of Linux, provide proof of their purchase or serial number and PlayStation Network Sign-in ID, and submit some proof of their use of the Other OS functionality." To get the $9, PS3 owners must submit a claim, at the time they bought their console, they "knew about the Other OS, relied upon the Other OS functionality, and intended to use the Other OS functionality." Alternatively, a gamer "must attest that he or she lost value and/or desired functionality or was otherwise injured as a consequence of Firmware Update 3.21 issued on April 1, 2010," to get $9.

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154 Million Voter Records Exposed Due To Database Error

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 12:45am
blottsie writes: Chris Vickery, a security researcher at MacKeeper, has uncovered a new voter database containing 154 million voter records, exposed as a result of a CouchDB installation error. The database includes names, addresses, Facebook profile URLs, gun ownership, and more. Who exposed the voter database? Vickery believes the suspect may be linked to L2, a company specializing in voter data utilization, after he noticed that the voter ID field was labeled "LALVOTERID." After calling the company, L2 said the database likely belongs to one of their clients, noting that there are very few clients big enough to have a national database like that. The database was secured within three hours of their phone call. L2's CEO Bruce Willsie said that the client told L2 that they were hacked and the firewall had been taken down. Their client is conducting their own research to figure out the extent of the incursion. The Daily Dot reports: "Why does this keep happening, and what is our government doing about it? No federal agency is enforcing data security in political organizations or non-profits, and so far, neither are state attorneys general."

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KFC Introduces Meal Box That Doubles As A Smartphone Charger

Thu, 23/06/2016 - 12:05am
An anonymous reader writes: KFC has introduced a limited edition 5-in-1 Meal Box to select KFC outlets in Delhi and Mumbai. The box has one mighty special feature: it will charge a user's smartphone while they eat. The company has partnered with a Mumbai-based digital agency, Blink Digital, to make the "Watt a Box" concept a reality. In terms of specs, the box features a built-in 6100 mAh power bank, and two USB-ports with the ability to charge Android smartphones and iPhones. KFC has launched a contest on its Facebook page, giving users a chance to win the box. You can watch the "Watt a Box" promo video here on YouTube.

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German Government Agrees To Ban Fracking Indefinitely

Wed, 22/06/2016 - 11:25pm
An anonymous reader writes: On Tuesday, the German coalition government agreed to ban fracking for shale gas indefinitely. Reuters reports: "Test drilling will be allowed but only with the permission of the respective state government, officials said. German industry is keen to keep the door open to fracking -- which involves blasting chemicals and water into rocks to release trapped gas -- arguing it could help lower energy costs, but opposition is strong in the country, where a powerful green lobby has warned about possible risks to drinking water. If the law is approved by parliament, Germany will follow France, which has banned fracking, whereas Britain allows it subject to strict environmental and safety guidelines. The two parties agreed on Tuesday to an indefinite ban, but the compromise legislation calls for the German parliament to reassess whether the decision is still valid in 2021, said Thomas Oppermann, who heads the SPD's parliamentary group. CDU officials confirmed that a compromise had been reached. Friends of the Earth Germany (BUND) criticized the proposal and said that by setting a date for a fresh look, the coalition had essentially agreed to allow fracking in five years." Last year, Bloomberg published an article making the case that the U.S. must consider the earthquake situation in Oklahoma a national security threat.

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Europe's Robots To Become 'Electronic Persons' Under Draft Plan

Wed, 22/06/2016 - 10:45pm
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Yahoo News: Under the European Union's new draft plan, Europe's growing army of robot workers could be classed as "electronic persons," with their owners liable to paying social security for them. Robots are only becoming more prevalent in the workplace. They're already taking on tasks such as personal care or surgery, and their population is only expected to rise as their abilities are expanded with the increased development of new technologies. A draft European Parliament motion suggests that their growing intelligence, pervasiveness and autonomy requires rethinking everything from taxation to legal liability. The draft motion called on the European Commission to consider "that at least the most sophisticated autonomous robots could be established as having the status of electronic persons with specific rights and obligations." It also suggested the creation of a register for smart autonomous robots, which would link each one to funds established to cover its legal liabilities. Patrick Schwarzkopf, managing director of the VDMA's robotic and automation department, said: "That we would create a legal framework with electronic persons -- that's something that could happen in 50 years but not in 10 years. We think it would be very bureaucratic and would stunt the development of robotics," he told reporters. The report added that the robotics and artificial intelligence may result in a large part of the work now done by humans being taken over by robots, raising concerns about the future of employment and the viability of social security systems. The draft motion also said organizations should have to declare savings they made in social security contributions by using robotics instead of people, for tax purposes.

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The New Censorship: 'How Did Google Become The Internet's Censor and Master Manipulator?'

Wed, 22/06/2016 - 10:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: Robert Epstein from U.S. News and World Report writes an article describing how Google has become the internet's censor and master manipulator. He writes about the company's nine different blacklists that impact our lives: autocomplete blacklist, Google Maps blacklist, YouTube blacklist, Google account blacklist, Google News blacklist, Google AdWords blacklist, Google AdSense blacklist, search engine blacklist, and quarantine list. The autocomplete blacklist filters out select phrases like profanities and other controversial terms like "torrent," "bisexual" and "penis." It can also be used to protect or discredit political candidates. For example, at the moment autocomplete shows you "Ted" (for former GOP presidential candidate Ted Cruz) when you type "lying," but it will not show you "Hillary" when you type "crooked." While Google Maps photographs your home for everyone to see, Google maintains a list of properties it either blacks out or blurs out in its images depending on the property, e.g. military installations or wealthy residences. Epstein makes the case that while YouTube allows users to flag videos, Google employees seem far more apt to ban politically conservative videos than liberal ones. As for the Google account blacklist, you may lose access to a number of Google's products, which are all bundled into one account as of a couple of years ago, if you violate Google's terms of service agreement because Google reserves the right to "stop providing Services to you ... at any time." Google is the largest news aggregator in the world via Google News. Epstein writes, "Selective blacklisting of news sources is a powerful way of promoting a political, religious or moral agenda, with no one the wiser." Google can easily put a business out of business if a Google executive decides your business or industry doesn't meet its moral standards and revokes a business' access to Google AdWords, which makes up 70 percent of Google's $80 billion in annual revenue. Recently, Google blacklisted an entire industry -- companies providing high-interest "payday" loans. If your website has been approved by AdWords, Google's search engine is what ultimately determines the success of your business as its algorithms can be tweaked and search rankings can be manipulated, which may ruin businesses. Epstein makes an interesting case for how Google has become the internet's censor and master manipulator. Given Google's online dominance, do you think Google should be regulated like a public utility?

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