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Chrome 70 Won't Ship With a Patch For Autoplay-Blocking Web Audio API Which Broke Web Apps and Games Earlier This Year

/. - 2 hours 18 min ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Earlier this year, Google made a seemingly crowd-pleasing tweak to its Chrome browser and created a crisis for web game developers. Its May release of Chrome 66 muted sites that played sound automatically, saving internet users from the plague of annoying auto-playing videos. But the new system also broke the audio of games and web art designed for the old audio standard -- including hugely popular games like QWOP, clever experiments like the Infinite Jukebox, and even projects officially showcased by Google. After a backlash over the summer, Google kept blocking autoplay for basic video and audio, but it pushed the change for games and web applications to a later version. That browser version, Chrome 70, is on the verge of full release -- but the new, autoplay-blocking Web Audio API isn't part of it yet. Google communications manager Ivy Choi tells The Verge that Chrome will start learning the sites where users commonly play audio, so it can tailor its settings to their preferences. The actual blocking won't start until Chrome 71, which is due in December.

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Chinese Phone Maker Huawei Launches Mate 20 Pro Featuring In-Screen Fingerprint Sensor, Two-Way Wireless Charging, 3 Rear Cameras and 4,200mAh Battery

/. - 2 hours 59 min ago
Huawei's new Mate 20 Pro has a massive screen, three cameras on the back and a fingerprint scanner embedded in the display. From a report: The new top-end phone from the Chinese firm aims to secure its place at the top of the market alongside Samsung, having recently beaten Apple to become the second-largest smartphone manufacturer in August. The Mate 20 Pro follows Huawei's tried and trusted format for its Mate series: a huge 6.39in QHD+ OLED screen, big 4,200mAh battery and powerful new Huawei Kirin 980 processor -- Huawei's first to be produced at 7 nanometres, matching Apple's latest A12 chip in the 2018 iPhones. New for this year is an infrared 3D facial recognition system, similar to that used by Apple for its Face ID in the iPhone XS, and one of the first fingerprint scanners embedded in the screen that is widely available in the UK, removing the need for a fingerprint scanner on the back or a chin on the front. The Mate 20 Pro is water resistant to IP68 standards and has a sleek new design reminiscent of Samsung's S-series phones, with curved glass on the front and back. The back also has an new pattern etched into the glass, which is smooth to the touch but ridged when running your nail over it. On the back is a new version of Huawei's award-winning triple camera system using a 40-megapixel standard camera, an 8-megapixel telephoto camera with a 3x optical zoom and new for this year is a 20-megapixel ultra-wide angle camera, replacing the monochrome sensor used on the P20 Pro. The Mate 20 Pro runs EMUI 9, which is based on Android 9 Pie. The variant with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage is available for 899 Euro starting today.

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Slack Doesn't Have End-to-End Encryption Because Your Boss Doesn't Want It

/. - 3 hours 46 min ago
Business communications service Slack, which has more than three million paying customers, offers a bouquet of features that has made it popular (so popular that is worth as much as $9 billion), but it lacks a crucial feature that some of its rivals don't: end-to-end encryption. It's a feature that numerous users have asked Slack to add to the service. Citing a former employee of Slack and the company's chief information security officer, news outlet Motherboard reported Tuesday that the rationale behind not including end-to-end encryption is very simple: bosses around the world don't want it. From the report: Work communication service Slack has decided against the idea of having end-to-end encryption due to the priorities of its paying customers (rather than those who use a free version of the service.) Slack is not a traditional messaging program -- it's designed for businesses and workplaces that may want or need to read employee messages -- but the decision still highlights why some platforms may not want to jump into end-to-end encryption. End-to-end is increasingly popular as it can protect communications against from interception and surveillance. "It wasn't a priority for exec [executives], because it wasn't something paying customers cared about," a former Slack employee told Motherboard earlier this year.

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Apple 'Deeply Apologetic' Over Account Hacks in China

/. - 4 hours 28 min ago
Apple has issued an apology over the hacking of some Chinese accounts in phishing scams, almost a week after it emerged that stolen Apple IDs had been used to swipe customer funds. From a report: In its English statement Tuesday, Apple said it found "a small number of our users' accounts" had been accessed through phishing scams. "We are deeply apologetic about the inconvenience caused to our customers by these phishing scams," Apple said in its Chinese statement. The incident came to light last week when Chinese mobile-payment giants Alipay and WeChat Pay said some customers had lost money. The victims of the scams, Apple said Tuesday, hadn't enabled so-called two-factor authentication -- a setting that requires a user to log in with a password and a freshly-generated code to verify their identity.

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Sony Tries Using Blockchain Tech For Next-Gen DRM

/. - 5 hours 28 min ago
Sony announced Monday that it's using blockchain technology for digital rights management (DRM), "starting with written educational materials under the Sony Global Education arm of the business," reports Engadget. "This new blockchain system is built on Sony's pre-existing DRM tools, which keep track of the distribution of copyrighted materials, but will have advantages that come with blockchain's inherent security." From the report: Because of the nature of blockchain, which tracks digital transactions in records that are particularly difficult to forge or otherwise tamper with, its application as a DRM tool makes sense and may also help creators keep tabs on their content. Currently, it's up to creators themselves (or the companies they create for) to monitor their contents' rights management. Sony's system could take over the heavy lifting of DRM. The way blockchain works allows Sony to track its content from creation through sharing. This means that users of the blockchain DRM tool will be able to see -- and verify -- who created a piece of work and when. Sony Global Education is the current focus of the DRM tool, but going forward, the company hints that the rest of its media -- including entertainment like music, movies, and virtual reality content -- may be protected the same way.

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Medtronic Locks Down Vulnerable Pacemaker Programming Kit Due To Cybersecurity Concerns

/. - 8 hours 28 min ago
AmiMoJo shares a report from The Register: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is advising health professionals to keep an eye on some of the equipment they use to monitor pacemakers and other heart implants. The watchdog's alert this week comes after Irish medical device maker Medtronic said it will lock some of its equipment out of its software update service, meaning the hardware can't download and install new code from its servers. That may seem counterintuitive, however, it turns out security vulnerabilities in its technology that it had previously thought could only be exploited locally could actually be exploited via its software update network. Malicious updates could be pushed to Medtronic devices by hackers intercepting and tampering with the equipment's internet connections -- the machines would not verify they were actually downloading legit Medtronic firmware -- and so the biz has cut them off.

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Google's CEO Says Tests of Censored Chinese Search Engine Have Been Very Promising

/. - 11 hours 28 min ago
At Wired's 25th anniversary summit, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said the company's internal tests developing a censored search engine in China have been very promising. Pichai is strengthening his commitment on the controversial search engine, codenamed Project Dragonfly, saying the potential to expose the world to more information is guiding Google's push into China. "We are compelled by our mission [to] provide information to everyone, and [China is] 20 percent of the world's population." Wired reports: Pichai was careful to emphasize that this was a decision that weighs heavy on the company. "People don't understand fully, but you're always balancing a set of values," in every new country, he said. Those values include providing access to information, freedom of expression, and user privacy. "But we also follow the rule of law in every country," he said. This is a reversal of a decision from about eight years, when Google pulled its search engine, which was also censored, from the Chinese market. Pichai said the time had come to reevaluate that choice. "It's a wonderful, innovative market. We wanted to learn what it would look like if we were in China, so that's what we built internally," Pichai said. "Given how important the market is and how many users there are," he added, "we feel obliged to think hard about this problem and take a longer-term view." In response to the company's decision to back out of a project with the Department of Defense, nicknamed Project Maven, to build AI and facial recognition technology, and the employee concerns surrounding it, Pichai said: "Throughout Google's history, we've given our employees a lot of voice and say. But we don't run the company by holding referendums. It's an important input. We take it seriously." On the issue of Maven, however, "it's more also the debate within the AI Community around how you perceive our work in the area."

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'Hyperalarming' Study Shows Massive Insect Loss

/. - 15 October 2018 - 11:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source), the study found, and the forest's insect-eating animals have gone missing, too. The latest report, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that this startling loss of insect abundance extends to the Americas. The study's authors implicate climate change in the loss of tropical invertebrates. Bradford Lister, a biologist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, has been studying rain forest insects in Puerto Rico since the 1970s. "We went down in '76, '77 expressly to measure the resources: the insects and the insectivores in the rain forest, the birds, the frogs, the lizards," Lister said. He came back nearly 40 years later, with his colleague Andrés García, an ecologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. What the scientists did not see on their return troubled them. "Boy, it was immediately obvious when we went into that forest," Lister said. Fewer birds flitted overhead. The butterflies, once abundant, had all but vanished. García and Lister once again measured the forest's insects and other invertebrates, a group called arthropods that includes spiders and centipedes. The researchers trapped arthropods on the ground in plates covered in a sticky glue, and raised several more plates about three feet into the canopy. The researchers also swept nets over the brush hundreds of times, collecting the critters that crawled through the vegetation. Each technique revealed the biomass (the dry weight of all the captured invertebrates) had significantly decreased from 1976 to the present day. The sweep sample biomass decreased to a fourth or an eighth of what it had been. Between January 1977 and January 2013, the catch rate in the sticky ground traps fell 60-fold. The study also found a 30-percent drop in anole lizards, which eat arthropods. Some anole species have disappeared entirely from the interior forest. Another research team captured insect-eating frogs and birds in 1990 and 2005, and found a 50 percent decrease in the number of captures. The authors attribute this decline to the changing climate.

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The Full Photoshop CC Is Coming To the iPad In 2019

/. - 15 October 2018 - 9:00pm
The "real version" of Photoshop is coming to the iPad next year, complete with a user interface similar to the desktop application and all the main tools. Ars Technica reports: Photoshop for iPad has a user interface structured similarly to the desktop application. It is immediately familiar to users of the application but tuned for touch screens, with larger targets and adaptations for the tablet as well as gestures to streamline workflows. Both touch and pencil input are supported. The interface is somewhat simpler than the desktop version, and although the same Photoshop code is running under the hood to ensure there's no loss of fidelity, not every feature will be available in the mobile version. The first release will contain the main tools while Adobe plans to add more in the future. Cloud syncing is a key element of Photoshop on iPad. Edits made on the iPad will be synchronized transparently with the desktop -- no conversions or import/export process to go through. Using a feature not available in the iPad version should then be as simple as hitting save and then opening the file on the desktop, picking up where you left off. Adobe is also reportedly building a tablet painting app called Project Gemini, which "simulates real brushes, paints, and materials as well as the interactions between them," reports Ars. "It combines raster graphics, vector drawing, and the Photoshop engine into a single application designed for artwork and illustration."

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Printer Makers Are Crippling Cheap Ink Cartridges Via Bogus 'Security Updates'

/. - 15 October 2018 - 8:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Printer maker Epson is under fire this month from activist groups after a software update prevented customers from using cheaper, third party ink cartridges. It's just the latest salvo in a decades-long effort by printer manufacturers to block consumer choice, often by disguising printer downgrades as essential product improvements. For several decades now printer manufacturers have lured consumers into an arguably-terrible deal: shell out a modest sum for a mediocre printer, then pay an arm and a leg for replacement printer cartridges that cost relatively-little to actually produce. The Electronic Frontier Foundation now says that Epson has been engaged in the same behavior. The group says it recently learned that in late 2016 or early 2017, Epson issued a "poison pill" software update that effectively downgraded user printers to block third party cartridges, but disguised the software update as a meaningful improvement. The EFF has subsequently sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, arguing that Epson's lack of transparency can easily be seen as "misleading and deceptive" under Texas consumer protection laws. "When restricted to Epson's own cartridges, customers must pay Epson's higher prices, while losing the added convenience of third party alternatives, such as refillable cartridges and continuous ink supply systems," the complaint notes. "This artificial restriction of third party ink options also suppresses a competitive ink market and has reportedly caused some manufacturers of refillable cartridges and continuous ink supply systems to exit the market."

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Most Americans Can't Tell the Difference Between a Social Media Bot and A Human, Study Finds

/. - 15 October 2018 - 7:40pm
A new study from Pew Research Center found that most Americans can't tell social media bots from real humans, and most are convinced bots are bad. "Only 47 percent of Americans are somewhat confident they can identify social media bots from real humans," reports The Verge. "In contrast, most Americans surveyed in a study about fake news were confident they could identify false stories." From the report: The Pew study is an uncommon look at what the average person thinks about these automated accounts that plague social media platforms. After surveying over 4,500 adults in the U.S., Pew found that most people actually don't know much about bots. Two-thirds of Americans have at least heard of social media bots, but only 16 percent say they've heard a lot about them, while 34 percent say they've never heard of them at all. The knowledgeable tend to be younger, and men are more likely than women (by 22 percentage points) to say they've heard of bots. Since the survey results are self-reported, there's a chance people are overstating or understating their knowledge of bots. Of those who have heard of bots, 80 percent say the accounts are used for bad purposes. Regardless of whether a person is a Republican or Democrat or young or old, most think that bots are bad. And the more that a person knows about social media bots, the less supportive they are of bots being used for various purposes, like activists drawing attention to topics or a political party using bots to promote candidates.

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The New and Improved MacBook Keyboards Have the Same Old Problems

/. - 15 October 2018 - 7:00pm
Casey Johnston, writing for The Outline: Apple never actually caved to user complaints that its top-of-the-line computers developed sticky or dead keyboards very easily, despite having now been served with several keyboard-related class action lawsuits. In June, the company offered to repair computers with these keyboards for free for four years following the date of purchase (the cost of being without their computer notwithstanding). It claimed only a "small percentage" of users were affected. I was one of them, several times, and there were many, many others. Compared to this time last year, its computer sales are down ten percent, and not a few people have been holding off on purchasing any computer from its line in fear of getting stuck with a keyboard that doesn't work. In July, Apple slightly redesigned the very low profile butterfly keyboard on its MacBooks and MacBook Pros, not because "a small percentage" of the previous version was rendered useless by a speck of dust, the company said, but to make it quieter; it even invited the tech press to try it out. iFixit teardowns of the hardware revealed that, in fact, Apple had added a silicone membrane under the keys that looks quite a bit like it's meant to keep dust and debris from lodging under the key and locking it up. Was that the idea? No, Apple unequivocally said. [...] But checking around online, it appears the new keyboards have the same old issues. They may be delayed, but they happen nonetheless. The MacRumors forum has a long thread about the the "gen 3 butterfly keyboard" where users have been sharing their experiences since Apple updated the design.

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Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Dies of Cancer At Age 65

/. - 15 October 2018 - 6:17pm
CNBC is reporting that Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen has died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Vulcan Inc. said Monday that Allen passed this afternoon in Seattle at the age of 65. From the report: "While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much-loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend. Paul's family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern," [Paul Allen's sister, Jody Allen] said in a statement. "For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us -- and so many others -- we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day." Earlier this month, Allen revealed that he had started treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the same type of cancer he overcame nine years earlier. The longtime CEO left Microsoft when he was first diagnosed with the disease. Allen also ranked among the world's wealthiest individuals. As of Monday afternoon, he ranked 21st on Forbes' list of billionaires with an estimated net worth of $20.3 billion.

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Former Google+ UI Designer Suggests Inept Management Played Role In Demise

/. - 15 October 2018 - 6:00pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Morgan Knutson, a UI designer who seven years ago, spent eight months at Google working on its recently shuttered social networking product Google+ and who, in light of the shutdown, decided to share on Twitter his personal experience with how "awful the project and exec team was." It's a fairly long read, but among his most notable complaints is that former Google SVP Vic Gundotra, who oversaw Google+, ruled by fear and never bothered to talk with Knutson, whose desk was "directly next to Vic's glass-walled office. He would walk by my desk dozens of times during the day. He could see my screen from his desk. During the 8 months I was there, culminating in me leading the redesign of his product, Vic didn't say a word to me. No hello. No goodbye, or thanks for staying late. No handshake. No eye contact." He also says Gundotra essentially bribed other teams within Google to incorporate Google+'s features into their products by promising them handsome financial rewards for doing so atop their yearly bonuses. "You read that correctly, "tweeted Knutson. "A f*ck ton of money to ruin the product you were building with bloated garbage that no one wanted." Gundotra is today the cofounder and CEO of AliveCor, maker of a device that captures a "medical grade" E.K.G. within 30 seconds; AliveCor has gone on to raise $30 million from investors, including the Mayo Clinic. Asked about Knutson's characterization of him, Gundotra suggested the rant was "absurd" but otherwise declined to comment. Knutson goes on to paint "a picture of a political, haphazard, wasteful and ultimately disappointing division where it was never quite clear who should be working on what or why," reports TechCrunch.

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Facebook To Ban Misinformation On Voting In Upcoming US Elections

/. - 15 October 2018 - 5:20pm
"Facebook will ban false information about voting requirements and fake reports of violence or long lines at polling stations in the run-up to and during next month's U.S. midterm elections," reports Reuters. The latest efforts are to reduce voter manipulation across its platform. From the report: The world's largest online social network, with 1.5 billion daily users, has stopped short of banning all false or misleading posts, something that Facebook has shied away from as it would likely increase its expenses and leave it open to charges of censorship. The ban on false information about voting methods, set to be announced later on Monday, comes six weeks after Senator Ron Wyden asked Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg how Facebook would counter posts aimed at suppressing votes, such as by telling certain users they could vote by text, a hoax that has been used to reduce turnout in the past. The information on voting methods becomes one of the few areas in which falsehoods are prohibited on Facebook, a policy enforced by what the company calls "community standards" moderators, although application of its standards has been uneven. It will not stop the vast majority of untruthful posts about candidates or other election issues.

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Fire At AT&T Facility Causes Outage For Over a Million U-Verse Fiber Customers In Texas

/. - 15 October 2018 - 5:08pm
New submitter JustChapman writes: Local Dallas/Fort Worth WFAA is reporting a major outage of AT&T U-Verse fiber internet, due to a lightening strike at a switching facility in Richardson, TX. Apparently the strike took out primary and secondary power systems, setting fire to the building. One commenter states a representative allegedly said that 1.5 million customers are currently without service.

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99.7 Percent of Unique FCC Comments Favored Net Neutrality, Independent Analysis Finds

/. - 15 October 2018 - 4:40pm
When a Stanford researcher removed all the duplicate and fake comments filed with the Federal Communications Commission last year, he found that 99.7 percent of public comments -- about 800,000 in all -- were pro-net neutrality. From a report: "With the fog of fraud and spam lifted from the comment corpus, lawmakers and their staff, journalists, interested citizens and policymakers can use these reports to better understand what Americans actually said about the repeal of net neutrality protections and why 800,000 Americans went further than just signing a petition for a redress of grievances by actually putting their concerns in their own words," Ryan Singel, a media and strategy fellow at Stanford University, wrote in a blog post Monday. Singel released a report [PDF] Monday that analyzed the unique comments -- as in, they weren't a copypasta of one or dozens of other letters -- filed last year ahead of the FCC's decision to repeal federal net neutrality protections. That's from the 22 million total comments filed, meaning that more than 21 million comments were fake, bots, or organized campaigns.

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US Voter Records From 19 States Is Being Sold on a Hacking Forum, Threat Intelligence Firms Say

/. - 15 October 2018 - 4:00pm
Catalin Cimpanu, reporting for ZDNet: The voter information for approximately 35 million US citizens is being peddled on a popular hacking forum, two threat intelligence firms have discovered. "To our knowledge this represents the first reference on the criminal underground of actors selling or distributing lists of 2018 voter registration data," said researchers from Anomali Labs and Intel471, the two companies who spotted the forum ad. The two companies said they've reviewed a sample of the database records and determined the data to be valid with a "high degree of confidence." Researchers say the data contains details such as full name, phone numbers, physical addresses, voting history, and other voting-related information. It is worth noting that some states consider this data public and offer it for download for free, but not all states have this policy.

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Jeff Bezos Predicts We'll Have 1 Trillion Humans in the Solar System, and Blue Origin Wants To Help Get Us There

/. - 15 October 2018 - 3:20pm
Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos predicted Monday that we'll have one trillion humans in the solar system one day -- and he showed off how the rocket company plans to help get there. "I won't be alive to see the fulfillment of that long term mission," Bezos said at the Wired 25th anniversary summit in San Francisco. "We are starting to bump up against the absolute true fact that Earth is finite." From a report: Blue Origin's aim is to lower the cost of access to space, Bezos said. Elon Musk's SpaceX and Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic are also eyeing commercial space travel. "The dynamism that I have seen over the last 20 years in the internet where incredible things have happened in really short periods of time," Bezos said. "We need thousands of companies. We need the same dynamism in space that we've seen online over the last 20 years. And we can do that." Further reading: Jeff Bezos Wants Us All to Leave Earth -- for Good.

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Winamp Media Player To Return as a Platform-Agnostic Audio Mobile App Next Year; Desktop Application Receives an Update

/. - 15 October 2018 - 2:34pm
The charmingly outdated media player Winamp is being reinvented as a platform-agnostic audio mobile app that brings together all your music, podcasts, and streaming services to a single location. From a report: It's an ambitious relaunch, but the company behind it says it's still all about the millions-strong global Winamp community -- and as proof, the original desktop app is getting an official update as well. For those who don't remember: Winamp was the MP3 player of choice around the turn of the century, but went through a rocky period during Aol ownership and failed to counter the likes of iTunes and the onslaught of streaming services, and more or less crumbled over the years. The original app, last updated in 2013, still works, but to say it's long in the tooth would be something of an understatement (the community has worked hard to keep it updated, however). So it's with pleasure that I can confirm rumors that substantial updates are on the way. "There will be a completely new version next year, with the legacy of Winamp but a more complete listening experience," said Alexandre Saboundjan, CEO of Radionomy, the company that bought Winamp (or what remained of it) in 2014. "You can listen to the MP3s you may have at home, but also to the cloud, to podcasts, to streaming radio stations, to a playlist you perhaps have built. People want one single experience," he concluded. "I think Winamp is the perfect player to bring that to everybody. And we want people to have it on every device."

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