Technology News

45 Out of 50 Electronics Companies Illegally Void Warranties After Independent Repair, Sting Operation Finds

Slashdot - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 18:45
U.S. PIRG -- a non-profit that uses grassroots methods to advocate for political change -- found that 90 percent of manufacturers it contacted claimed that a third party repair would void its warranty. "PIRG researched the warranty information of 50 companies in the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) -- an industry group of notorious for lobbying to protect is repair monopolies -- and found that 45 of them claimed independent repair would void their warranty," Motherboard reports. From the report: PIRG poured over the documentation for 50 companies such as Bissell, Whirlpool, and Panasonic to document their warranty policies. When it couldn't find clear language about warranty and repair, it reached out to the companies via their customer service lines. The overwhelming majority of the companies told PIRG that independent repair would void the warranty. The 1975 Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act states that no manufacturer who charges more than $5 for a product can put repair restrictions on a product they're offering a warranty on. In May, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sent warning letters to Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, HTC, Hyundai, and ASUS for violating the act by threatening to void the warranties of customers who repaired their own devices. Within 30 days, many of the companies had complied and changed the language on their websites around independent repair. It was a step in the right direction, but the PIRGs survey of the AHAM members shows that there's still a lot of work to do.

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Facebook Removes Hundreds of Accounts Spamming Political Info

Slashdot - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 18:03
Facebook is purging hundreds of accounts and pages in the U.S., many of which spread political misinformation, for breaking the company's terms against "inauthentic" content and spam. The Verge reports: The company said in a blog post that 559 pages and 251 accounts would be removed. While the accounts used "sensational political content," Facebook did not say that was the reason for the purge. Instead, the accounts and pages will be taken down after they had "consistently broken" the company's rules against gaming its platform. Facebook noted that many used strategies like posting on fake or multiple accounts to generate traffic, or to inflate their popularity. Still, Facebook noted the proximity to the U.S. midterm elections, and said that networks like the ones it removed today are "increasingly" promoting political content that is "often indistinguishable from legitimate political debate." The company said this was the reason it has turned to "behavior" instead of "content" when searching for bad actors.

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Apple narrows iOS loyalty rate gap with Android in Q3, retention rates at all-time high

Apple Insider - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 17:55


Apple's iOS is catching up to Google's Android in terms of customer customer loyalty, continuing a three-year trend that has seen both operating systems enjoy extremely high retention rates, according to a research report published Thursday.
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How Genealogy Websites Make It Easier To Catch Killers

Slashdot - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 17:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum: Over the past six months a small, publicly available genealogy database has become the go-to source for solving cold case crimes. The free online tool, called GEDmatch, is an ancestry service that allows people to submit their DNA data and search for relatives -- an open access version of AncestryDNA or 23andMe. Since April, investigators have used GEDmatch to identify victims, killers, and missing persons all over the U.S. in at least 19 cases, many of them decades old, according to authors of a report published today in Science. The authors predict that in the near future, as genetic genealogy reports gain in popularity, such tools could be used to find nearly any individual in the U.S. of European descent. GEDmatch holds the genetic data of only about a million people. But cold case investigators have been exploiting the database using a genomic analysis technique called long-range familial search. The technique allows researchers to match an individual's DNA to distant relatives, such as third cousins. Chances are, one of those relatives will have used a genetic genealogy service. More than 17 million people have participated in these services -- a number that has grown rapidly over the last two years. AncestryDNA and 23andMe hold most of those customers. A genetic match to a distant relative can fairly quickly lead investigators to the person of interest. In a highly publicized case, GEDmatch was used earlier this year to identify the "Golden State Killer," a serial rapist and murderer who terrorized California in the 1970s and 1980s, but was never caught. In April, investigators were able to use a genealogy database to narrow down DNA data from crime scenes and identify the "Golden State Killer," a serial rapist and murderer who terrorized California in the 1970s and 1980s.

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Researchers Develop 3D Printed Objects That Can Track and Store How They Are Used

Slashdot - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 17:20
Researchers at the University of Washington have developed 3D printed assistive technology that can track and store their use -- without using batteries or electronics. From a blog post on University of Washington: Cheap and easily customizable, 3D printed devices are perfect for assistive technology, like prosthetics or "smart" pill bottles that can help patients remember to take their daily medications. But these plastic parts don't have electronics, which means they can't monitor how patients are using them. Now engineers at the University of Washington have developed 3D printed devices that can track and store their own use -- without using batteries or electronics. Instead, this system uses a method called backscatter, through which a device can share information by reflecting signals that have been transmitted to it with an antenna. "We're interested in making accessible assistive technology with 3D printing, but we have no easy way to know how people are using it," said co-author Jennifer Mankoff, a professor in the UW's Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering. "Could we come up with a circuitless solution that could be printed on consumer-grade, off-the-shelf printers and allow the device itself to collect information? That's what we showed was possible in this paper." The UW team will present its findings next week at the ACM Symposium on User Interface Software and Technology in Berlin.

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Photos show Apple's first Thai store likely located in futuristic ICONSIAM complex

Apple Insider - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 16:49


The first Apple Store opening in Thailand has seemingly been confirmed as images of the ICONSIAM construction site make their way online, clearly revealing the company's trademark fruit-shaped logo prominently displayed on the building's glass facade.
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EU Ruling: Self-Driving Car Data Will Be Copyrighted By the Manufacturer

Slashdot - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 16:40
Yesterday, at a routine vote on regulations for self-driving cars, members of the European Peoples' Party voted down a clause that would protect a vehicle's telemetry so that it couldn't become someone's property. The clause affirmed that "data generated by autonomous transport are automatically generated and are by nature not creative, thus making copyright protection or the right on data-bases inapplicable." Boing Boing reports: This is data that we will need to evaluate the safety of autonomous vehicles, to fine-tune their performance, to ensure that they are working as the manufacturer claims -- data that will not be public domain (as copyright law dictates), but will instead be someone's exclusive purview, to release or withhold as they see fit. Who will own this data? It's unlikely that it will be the owners of the vehicles. It's already the case that most auto manufacturers use license agreements and DRM to lock up your car so that you can't fix it yourself or take it to an independent service center. The aggregated data from millions of self-driving cars across the EU aren't just useful to public safety analysts, consumer rights advocates, security researchers and reviewers (who would benefit from this data living in the public domain) -- it is also a potential gold-mine for car manufacturers who could sell it to insurers, market researchers and other deep-pocketed corporate interests who can profit by hiding that data from the public who generate it and who must share their cities and streets with high-speed killer robots.

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Moons Can Have Their Own Moons and They Could Be Called Moonmoons

Slashdot - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 16:05
Two astronomers have asked a question for the ages: Can moons have moons? The delightful, if theoretical, answer is: Yes -- yes, they can. Sarah Laskow, writing for Atlas Obscura: As Gizmodo reports, this particular scientific inquiry began with a question from Juna Kollmeier's son. Kollemeier, who works at the Observatories of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, recruited Sean Raymond, of the University of Bordeaux, to help her answer the question. In a paper posted on arXiv [PDF], they lay out their case that moons can have moons. The conditions have to be right -- the primary moon has to be big enough and far away enough from the planet it's orbiting for the smaller, secondary moon to survive. But, even given these caveats, they found that moons in our very own solar system could theoretically have their own smaller moons. Two of Saturn's moons and one of Jupiter's are candidates. So is our favorite moon -- the Earth's moon. [...] One of the great challenges of talking about recursive places is deciding what call them. The prefix "sub-" can do a lot of work here: We can islands within islands "subislands," and in the arXiv paper, Kollmeier and Raymond call a moon's moon a "submoon." But there are other options. New Scientist notes that "moonmoon" has been put forth as a name for a moon's moon. For those of us who are less than fluent in meme culture: This is a reference to Moon Moon, sometimes described as the internet's derpiest wolf. Moon Moon was born in 2013, from a werewolf name generator, and soon started frolicking across Tumblr and all other places memes can be found.

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Kanye West delivers impromptu 'keynote' at Washington Apple store

Apple Insider - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 15:43


Following his meeting with President Donald Trump, rapper Kanye West visited an Apple Store in Washington, D.C., on Thursday, where he proceeded to climb atop a display table and deliver a "keynote" to gathered customers.
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The US Military Wants To Teach AI Some Basic Common Sense

Slashdot - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 15:25
DARPA, the research arm of the U.S. military, has a new Machine Common Sense (MCS) program that will run a competition that asks AI algorithms to make sense of questions with common sense answers. For example, here's one of the questions: "A student puts two identical plants in the same type and amount of soil. She gives them the same amount of water. She puts one of these plants near a window and the other in a dark room. The plant near the window will produce more (A) oxygen (B) carbon dioxide (C) water." MIT Technology Review reports: A computer program needs some understanding of the way photosynthesis works in order to tackle the question. Simply feeding a machine lots of previous questions won't solve the problem reliably. These benchmarks will focus on language because it can so easily trip machines up, and because it makes testing relatively straightforward. Etzioni says the questions offer a way to measure progress toward common-sense understanding, which will be crucial. [...] Previous attempts to help machines understand the world have focused on building large knowledge databases by hand. This is an unwieldy and essentially never-ending task. The most famous such effort is Cyc, a project that has been in the works for decades. "The absence of common sense prevents an intelligent system from understanding its world, communicating naturally with people, behaving reasonably in unforeseen situations, and learning from new experiences,"https://www.darpa.mil/ Dave Gunning, a program manager at DARPA, said in a statement issued this morning. "This absence is perhaps the most significant barrier between the narrowly focused AI applications we have today and the more general AI applications we would like to create in the future."

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CoinMiners Use New Tricks To Impersonate Adobe Flash Installers

Slashdot - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 14:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bleeping Computer: Cryptocurrency miners are now being distributed by a new campaign pretending to be Adobe Flash Player installers. While this is not new, this particular campaign is going the extra mile to appear legitimate by not only installing a miner, but also updating Flash Player as well. In a new malware campaign discovered by Palo Alto Unit 42 researcher Brad Duncan, it was found that a fake Flash Player Trojan not only installed a XMRig miner, but it also automatically updated his installed Flash Player. This real Flash installer was downloaded by the Trojan from Adobe's site. By actually performing an upgrade of the desired program, it makes the user less suspicious and adds further legitimacy that the Trojan was a real Adobe installer for Adobe Flash Player. While Flash Player is now updated, what the victim does not know is that a coinminer was silently installed on the computer and started. Once started, this sample would connect to a mining pool at xmr-eu1.nanopool.org and begin to use almost 100% of the computer's CPU in order mine the Monero digital cryptocurrency.

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Apple begins using smaller Subaru cars to capture Apple Maps data

Apple Insider - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 14:13


Apple is reportedly deploying a new vehicle, the Subaru Impreza hatchback, to its fleet of vehicles driving the world to collect first-party Maps data.
Categories: Technology News

Boston Dynamics' Robot Went From a Drunk Baby To a Nimble Ninja in a Matter of Years

Slashdot - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 14:07
In a new video from robotics company Boston Dynamics, which Alphabet sold to SoftBank last year, a robot is shown hopping over a log and then up a series of blocks, an activity called parkour. From a report: In previous videos, the robot did a backflip -- now it's leaping over obstacles and climbing up large, uneven stairs with fleet-footed ease. But Atlas wasn't always so graceful. In some of the first videos where Boston Dynamics' robots could walk upright, way back in 2015, Atlas lumbered through the woods, looking like it was narrowly avoiding falling with each step, rather than moving with any kind of purpose.

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Apple says half of all iOS devices are now running iOS 12

Apple Insider - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 13:56


Apple has confirmed iOS 12 is on over half of all devices produced by the company, with the latest official figures indicating 53 percent of compatible iPhones, iPads, and iPod touch models running the latest iteration of the mobile operating system.
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Here are all of the Apple retail store openings, moves, and remodels in 2018

Apple Insider - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 13:46


With few setbacks, Apple is almost continuously expanding and updating its global retail chain, now over 500 locations. Here's the company's evolution in 2018 so far, updated on Oct. 11 with the reopening date for Apple Covent Garden.
Categories: Technology News

Over Nine Million Cameras and DVRs Open To APTs, Botnet Herders, and Voyeurs

Slashdot - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 13:26
Millions of security cameras, DVRs, and NVRs contain vulnerabilities that can allow a remote attacker to take over devices with little effort, security researchers have revealed today. From a report: All vulnerable devices have been manufactured by Hangzhou Xiongmai Technology Co., Ltd. (Xiongmai hereinafter), a Chinese company based in the city of Hangzhou. But end users won't be able to tell that they're using a hackable device because the company doesn't sell any products with its name on them, but ships all equipment as white label products on which other companies put their logo on top. Security researchers from EU-based SEC Consult say they've identified over 100 companies that buy and re-brand Xiongmai devices as their own. All of these devices are vulnerable to easy hacks, researchers say. The source of all vulnerabilities is a feature found in all devices named the "XMEye P2P Cloud." The XMEye P2P Cloud works by creating a tunnel between a customer's device and an XMEye cloud account. Device owners can access this account via their browser or via a mobile app to view device video feeds in real time. SEC Consult researchers say that these XMEye cloud accounts have not been sufficiently protected. For starters, an attacker can guess account IDs because they've been based on devices' sequential physical addresses (MACs). Second, all new XMEye accounts use a default admin username of "admin" with no password.

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Plex for Linux Now Available as a Snap

Slashdot - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 13:05
An anonymous reader shares a report: Today, a very popular app, Plex Media Server, gets the Snap treatment. In other words, you can install the media server program without any headaches -- right from the Snap store. "In adopting the universal Linux app packaging format, Plex will make its multimedia platform available to an ever-growing community of Linux users, including those on KDE Neon, Debian, Fedora, Manjaro, OpenSUSE, Zorin and Ubuntu. Automatic updates and rollback capabilities are staples of Snap software, meaning Plex users will always have the best and latest version running," says Canonical.

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Kanye West pitches Apple-designed Air Force One 'iPlane' replacement in oval office

Apple Insider - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 12:51


Outspoken musician Kanye West made the suggestion to President Donald Trump to replace Air Force One with a new hydrogen-powered plane to be worked on by Apple, with the idea shown off via iPhone during an Oval Office meeting.
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iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max carrier deals: Buy one, get one $700 off; $0 per month with eligible trade & more

Apple Insider - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 12:49


Now that Apple's iPhone XS and XS Max have hit store shelves, wireless carriers are offering deals on the new devices. We're rounding up where to get the best discounts, including buy one, get one $700 off promotions.
Categories: Technology News

Apple's iOS App Store continues domination of worldwide mobile app revenue

Apple Insider - Thu, 10/11/2018 - 12:47


App analytics firm Sensor Tower is is once again finding that Apple's iOS App Store continues dominating revenue generated tallies, versus the Google Play store -- and the lead is only getting bigger.
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