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Apple Jams Facebook's Web-Tracking Tools

/. - 5 June 2018 - 3:00am
The next version of iOS and macOS "will frustrate tools used by Facebook to automatically track web users," reports BBC. At the company's developer conference, Apple's software chief Craig Federighi said, "We're shutting that down," adding that Safari would ask owners' permission before allowing the social network to monitor their activity. BBC reports: At the WWDC conference - held in San Jose, California - Mr Federighi said that Facebook keeps watch over people in ways they might not be aware of. "We've all seen these - these like buttons, and share buttons and these comment fields. "Well it turns out these can be used to track you, whether you click on them or not." He then pointed to an onscreen alert that asked: "Do you want to allow Facebook.com to use cookies and available data while browsing?" "You can decide to keep your information private." Apple also said that MacOS Mojave would combat a technique called "fingerprinting", in which advertisers try to track users who delete their cookies. The method involves identifying computers by the fonts and plug-ins installed among other configuration details. To counter this, Apple will present web pages with less details about the computer. "As a result your Mac will look more like everyone else's Mac, and it will be dramatically more difficult for data companies to uniquely identify your device," Mr Federighi explained.

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'Carbon Bubble' Could Spark Global Financial Crisis, Study Warns

/. - 4 June 2018 - 11:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The existence of a "carbon bubble" -- assets in fossil fuels that are currently overvalued because, in the medium and long-term, the world will have to drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions -- has long been proposed by academics, activists and investors. The new study, published on Monday in the journal Nature Climate Change, shows that a sharp slump in the value of fossil fuels would cause this bubble to burst, and posits that such a slump is likely before 2035 based on current patterns of energy use. Crucially, the findings suggest that a rapid decline in fossil fuel demand is no longer dependent on stronger policies and actions from governments around the world. Instead, the authors' detailed simulations found the demand drop would take place even if major nations undertake no new climate policies, or reverse some previous commitments. That is because advances in technologies for energy efficiency and renewable power, and the accompanying drop in their price, have made low-carbon energy much more economically and technically attractive.

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Tesla Faces Accelerating Rate of Model 3 Refunds

/. - 4 June 2018 - 8:50pm
According to new U.S. data from analytics company Second Measure, Tesla is facing an accelerated rate of Model 3 refunds. As of the end of April, some 23 percent of all Model 3 deposits in the U.S. had been refunded. "Model 3 deposits are fully refundable up until the customer configures a car by selecting features and paying an additional fee of $2,500," notes Second Measure. "After configuration, vehicles are typically delivered in just a few weeks." Recode reports: These cancellations aren't necessarily bad for Tesla, since its production rate is nowhere near as high as it needs to be to fulfill the more than 450,000 reservations it still has. Last quarter, it delivered just 8,180 Model 3s. Presumably, potential Tesla customers could make a deposit again when production is more regular. The potential longer-term harm would be in alienating them so that they choose a different brand of car altogether. About 60 percent of Model 3 reservations so far in the U.S. were made back in April 2016, when Tesla first began taking deposits. About 18 percent of the total refunds on the Model 3 happened this past April, the largest share out of any month, according to Second Measure. That's when Musk explained that Model 3s would be delayed six to nine months. A Tesla spokesperson said that Second Measure's data does not align with its internal data, but would not be more specific as to how far off it is. But the analytics company's numbers did match up to Tesla's numbers last August, "when CEO Elon Musk disclosed that there were 455,000 net reservations out of 518,000 gross reservations, suggesting 63,000 cancelations and a 12 percent cancellation rate," reports TechCrunch.

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SpaceX Delays Plans To Send Space Tourists To Circle Moon

/. - 4 June 2018 - 8:10pm
SpaceX will reportedly no longer be sending a pair of space tourists to circle the moon this year. The flight was scheduled for late 2018, but has been delayed, according to The Wall Street Journal. The reason for the delay is unclear. CNET reports: The flight was announced in February 2017, with SpaceX saying that two unidentified private citizens had put down a "significant deposit" for the trip and that other flight teams had expressed interest in taking a similar journey. The plan was for the tourists to fly on a Dragon Crew spacecraft launched from Earth by a Falcon Heavy rocket. "SpaceX is still planning to fly private individuals on a trip around the moon and there is growing interest from many customers," company spokesman James Gleeson wrote in a statement. "Private spaceflight missions, including a trip around the moon, present an opportunity for humans to return to deep space and to travel faster and farther into the solar system than any before them, which is of course an important milestone as we work toward our ultimate goal to help make humanity multi-planetary."

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Japan May Be First Country To Have Self-Driving Cars

/. - 4 June 2018 - 7:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Outline: The Olympic Games are an international muscle-flexing competition, where countries show off their technological, architectural, and (oh yeah) athletic prowess to the rest of the world. Now, according to Reuters, Japan is promising a public system of self-driving cars in time for the for the 2020 Olympics, which it's hosting in Tokyo. Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced Monday that the investment company SoftBank Group is investing $2.25 billion in order to develop the Cruise, the self driving car acquired by General Motors back in 2016. The country's goal is to have a fully functioning self-driving car system in time for the 2020 Olympics, and a more developed, privatized commercial self-driving car system by 2022. The Cruise has been tested in the U.S. since 2017, but Abe said that it would also be tested on Japanese roads by the end of this fiscal year.

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Micron, Samsung, Hynix Investigated By China Over Antitrust Violations

/. - 4 June 2018 - 6:50pm
hackingbear shares a report from Yahoo Finance: Micron Technology Inc., the largest U.S. maker of computer memory chips, said Chinese regulatory authority representatives visited its offices in that country, potentially opening another front in a growing trade dispute between the world's two largest economies. Chinese media reported that Samsung and SK Hynix also received visits from local regulators seeking information. Micron got about half of its sales from China last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. China has been spending heavily on attempts to boost its domestic supply of semiconductors and lessen a bill that has exceeded the cost of oil imports. "In 2015, Qualcomm, another U.S. chip giant currently under antitrust investigation in Europe, paid near $1 billion to settle its antitrust matter in China," notes Slashdot reader hackingbear.

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Apple CarPlay Will Now Support Third-Party Navigation and Mapping Apps

/. - 4 June 2018 - 6:20pm
Apple today announced that it will now let third-party navigation and mapping apps work with CarPlay starting with iOS 12. "Up to now, Apple only allowed its own mapping app, Maps, to work over CarPlay, but now you can use Waze, Google Maps, Here, or whatever other app you might want to use to get from A to B," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The change marks a big shift for Apple, which is well known for favoring its own native apps and generally a more tightly controlled ecosystem on iOS and across devices. But Maps hasn't been the most popular mapping app by some measure, even for users of iOS. This is in a sense is a tacit acknowledgement that iPhone owners are using a wide variety of other services, and so to get CarPlay used more, this needed to be enabled. It's not clear why Apple didn't extend third-party support for other mapping and navigation apps until now. Perhaps it was to sweeten the deal for more people to use its own Maps app.

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watchOS 5 Brings Automatic Workout Detection, Walkie-Talkie Mode, Podcast App To Apple Watch

/. - 4 June 2018 - 5:50pm
At WWDC 2018, Apple announced several new features in watchOS 5 that will be coming to the Apple Watch later this year. Digital Trends summarizes all the big new additions including more watch faces and improved health tracking features: Apple is putting a huge emphasis on ensuring fitness tracking data is accurate in WatchOS 5. The company studied more than seven terabytes of fitness data from more than 12,000 participants to make sure its tracking measurements are on point. You'll also find a new competition mode on WatchOS 5. The mode allows you to enter a seven-day competition with a friend. WatchOS 5 also features new fitness modes. The Yoga mode will track your activity via the heart rate monitor while the Hiking mode will use your pace and elevation to better determine the number of calories burned. The Running mode now offers a custom pace alert, tracks your cadence and will even provide time data on the previous mile run. Finally, you'll see new start and end workout alerts. WatchOS 5 also brings several awesome communications improvements. First off is the new Walkie-Talkie mode. With Walkie-Talkie, you can add friends to your Apple Watch and communicate with them directly by tapping the Talk button within the Walkie-Talkie app. Your Siri watch face will also get a huge update as well. The new Siri watch face will provide more information on your favorite sports teams, offer commute and traffic information, as well as heart rate. Also available in watchOS 5 are Siri Shortcuts, an official Podcast app, and WebKit, which will let you view webpages from Messages or emails. You will also no longer need to say "Hey Siri" to activate Siri. Now you can simply raise your wrist to your mouth and Siri will automatically be listening. Note: The original Apple Watch won't get watchOS 5's new features. You will need a Series 1 or newer timepiece.

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Nvidia Launches AI Computer To Give Autonomous Robots Better Brains

/. - 4 June 2018 - 5:10pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: At Computex 2018, Nvidia unveiled two new products: Nvidia Isaac, a new developer platform, and the Jetson Xavier, an AI computer, both built to power autonomous robots. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang said Isaac and Jetson Xavier were designed to capture the next stage of AI innovation as it moves from software running in the cloud to robots that navigate the real world. The Isaac platform is a set of software tools that will make it simpler for companies to develop and train robots. It includes a collection of APIs to connect to 3D cameras and sensors; a library of AI accelerators to keep algorithms running smoothly and without lag; and a new simulation environment, Isaac Sim, for training and testing bots in a virtual space. Doing so is quicker and safer than IRL testing, but it can't match the complexity of the real world. But the heart of the Isaac platform is Nvidia's new Jetson Xavier computer, an incredibly compact piece of hardware that's comprised of a number of processing components. These include a Volta Tensor Core GPU, an eight-core ARM64 CPU, two NVDLA deep learning accelerators, and processors for static images and video. In total, Jetson Xavier contains more than 9 billion transistors and delivers over 30 TOPS (trillion operations per second) of compute. And it consumes just 30 watts of power, which is half of the electricity used by the average light bulb. The cost of one Jetson Xavier (along with access to the Isaac platform) is $1,299, and Huang claims the computer provides the same processing power as a $10,000 workstation "AI, in combination with sensors and actuators, will be the brain of a new generation of autonomous machines," said Huang. "Someday, there will be billions of intelligent machines in manufacturing, home delivery, warehouse logistics and much more."

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Apple Brings iOS Apps Into Mac, But Won't Merge Platforms

/. - 4 June 2018 - 4:30pm
Stephen Shankland, writing for CNET: With its next-generation MacOS Mojave software, Macs will be able to run some apps written for iPhones and iPads, a big new step in bringing the two technology platforms closer together. Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, announced the change Monday at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference in San Jose. And he said Mojave will include four apps Apple itself brought from its iOS mobile software to MacOS: Home, Stocks, News and Voice Memo. "There are millions of iOS apps out there, and we think some of them would look great on the Mac," Federighi said. For now, it's only Apple that has the ability to move iOS apps to MacOS. But that'll change in 2019.

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5 Years on, US Government Still Counting Snowden Leak Costs

/. - 4 June 2018 - 3:50pm
National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden blew the lid off U.S. government surveillance methods five years ago, but intelligence chiefs complain that revelations from the trove of classified documents he disclosed are still trickling out. From a report: That includes recent reporting on a mass surveillance program run by close U.S. ally Japan and on how the NSA targeted bitcoin users to gather intelligence to combat narcotics and money laundering. The Intercept, an investigative publication with access to Snowden documents, published stories on both subjects. The top U.S. counterintelligence official said journalists have released only about 1 percent taken by the 34-year-old American, now living in exile in Russia, "so we don't see this issue ending anytime soon." "This past year, we had more international, Snowden-related documents and breaches than ever," Bill Evanina, who directs the National Counterintelligence and Security Center, said at a recent conference. "Since 2013, when Snowden left, there have been thousands of articles around the world with really sensitive stuff that's been leaked."

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Apple Unveils macOS 10.14 Mojave With Dark Mode and Finder Photo Tools

/. - 4 June 2018 - 3:10pm
Alongside iOS 12, at its developer conference WWDC on Monday, Apple also unveiled macOS 10.14 -- named "Mojave" -- the upcoming software update for the company's laptop and desktops lineups. The headline feature of macOS 10.14 is dark mode, a feature that people who work during late hours might appreciate. VentureBeat: A new Mojave feature called Dynamic Desktop can subtly change the desktop throughout the day, morning, afternoon, and evening. There's also Desktop Stacks, which can automatically clean up a messy desktop by arranging desktop contents into stacks based on content, date, or tag. Gallery View in the Finder lets you see content in a Photos-like display, including full metadata from cameras that can appear in an optional second sidebar; you can rotate photos and do basic automation of Actions within the Finder. The macOS screenshot creation tool has been expanded, as well, to enable instant creation of screengrabbed videos from current screen content. Continuity has been expanded with Continuity Camera, leveraging your phone's camera to instantly add photos and scans to programs that request them. It also includes a Mac version of the Apple News aggregation app that debuted on iOS two years ago, including the Stocks feature and new sidebar that were shown off for the updated iPad version of News earlier in the Keynote. Voice Memos is also being brought to the Mac, as is Home, the HomeKit app from iOS. Apple also announced a collection of heightened security features for macOS, including protection by default of camera access, microphone access, your mail database, message history, and other private data. Apple has also redesigned the App Store, and is bringing favicons to Safari tabs.

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Apple Unveils iOS 12

/. - 4 June 2018 - 2:30pm
Apple on Monday unveiled iOS 12, the major software update that is coming later this year to all the iPhones and iPad models the company has released since 2013. iOS 12 offers a handful of new features but the focus this year, said company's VP of engineering Craig Federighi onstage, is on performance improvements. Apps will launch up to 40 percent faster, and you can slide to take a photo at up to 70 percent faster than with iOS 11, Federighi said. Part of the major push this year is also on augmented reality. The company is introducing a Measure app, which will people to use their phone's camera to measure real-life objects accurately. There's also 3D graphics that you can place into the real world through AR. Apple made a new file format called USDZ, which was developed in conjunction with Pixar. Apple is also introducing something called "personalised Memoji characters," ability to have a group FaceTime call, and minor new features and improvements to Siri, and Photos. There is also grouped notifications, a feature that Apple claims to have invented. (Android has had it for more than 8 years.) Additionally, Apple is also bringing new tools to iOS that will allow users to take better control of the time they spend interacting with their iPhones and iPads. Note from the press release: New modes in Do Not Disturb automatically end based on a specified time, location or action and Do Not Disturb during Bedtime helps people get a better night's sleep by dimming the display and hiding all notifications on the lock screen until prompted in the morning. To help reduce interruptions, iOS 12 gives users more options for controlling how notifications are delivered. They can instantly manage notifications to be delivered quietly or turned off completely. Grouped notifications make it easier to view and manage multiple notifications at once. Screen Time provides users with detailed information and tools to help them better understand and control the time they spend with apps and websites. Daily and weekly Activity Reports show the total time spent in individual apps, usage across categories of apps, how many notifications are received and how often iPhone or iPad are picked up.

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Doctors Hail World First as Woman's Advanced Breast Cancer is Eradicated

/. - 4 June 2018 - 1:42pm
A woman with advanced breast cancer which had spread around her body has been completely cleared of the disease by a groundbreaking therapy that harnessed the power of her immune system to fight the tumours. From a report: It is the first time that a patient with late-stage breast cancer has been successfully treated by a form of immunotherapy that uses the patient's own immune cells to find and destroy cancer cells that have formed in the body. Judy Perkins, an engineer from Florida, was 49 when she was selected for the radical new therapy after several rounds of routine chemotherapy failed to stop a tumour in her right breast from growing and spreading to her liver and other areas. At the time, she was given three years to live. Doctors who cared for the woman at the US National Cancer Institute in Maryland said Perkins's response had been "remarkable": the therapy wiped out cancer cells so effectively that she has now been free of the disease for two years. "My condition deteriorated a lot towards the end, and I had a tumour pressing on a nerve, which meant I spent my time trying not to move at all to avoid pain shooting down my arm. I had given up fighting," Perkins said. "After the treatment dissolved most of my tumours, I was able to go for a 40-mile hike."

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Mobile Devs Making the Same Security Mistakes Web Devs Made in the Early 2000s

/. - 4 June 2018 - 1:10pm
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: Mobile app developers are going through the same growing pains that the webdev scene has gone through in the 90s and 2000s when improper input validation led to many security incidents. But while mobile devs have learned to filter user input for dangerous strings, some of these devs have not learned their lesson very well. In a research paper published earlier this year, Abner Mendoza and Guofei Gu, two academics from Texas A&M University, have highlighted the problem of current-day mobile apps that still include business logic (such as user input validation, user authentication, and authorization) inside the client-side component of their code, instead of its server-side section. This regretable situation leaves the users of these mobile applications vulnerable to simple HTTP request parameter injection attacks that could have been easily mitigated if an application's business logic would have been embedded inside its server-side component, where most of these operations belong.

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Humans Are Still Crucial To Amazon's Fulfillment Process

/. - 4 June 2018 - 12:30pm
Amazon's fleet of automated warehouse robots, now more than 100,000 machines strong, is working alongside human employees to help meet the e-commerce giant's massive fulfillment demand. From a report: The company's robots carry inventory around massive warehouse floors, compiling all the items for a customer's order and reducing the need for human interaction with the products. But the chief technologist of Amazon Robotics, Tye Brady, insists that these robots are enhancing human efficiencies rather than eliminating warehouse jobs. Amazon has been going full steam ahead when it comes to hiring and now employs over 500,000 people. Brady views the robots as necessary to this growth. "When there are tens of thousands of orders going on simultaneously, you are getting beyond what a human can do," he told the audience at MIT Technology Review's first EmTech Next conference today. Humans still provide necessary skills in the fulfillment process, like dexterity, adaptiveness, and plain old common sense. For example, when some popcorn butter accidentally fell off a pod in a fulfillment center, it got squished, creating a big buttery mess in the middle of the floor. The curious robots didn't know how to handle the situation but wanted to go check it out. "The robots were driving through it, and they'd slip and get an encoder error," says Brady.

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Tech Support Scammers Used Victims' Webcams To Secretly Record 'Testimonials' For YouTube

/. - 4 June 2018 - 11:50am
A team of scammers sneakily filmed dozens of Australians by remotely accessing their webcams, then uploaded those videos onto YouTube, according to Australian news outlet ABC. From a report: The victims were reportedly lured in through a false tech support operation. One victim, Geoff Sussman, told ABC he looked online for a service that could help him download Adobe software. He says he was duped by a fake Adobe support page claiming to provide "Support for Adobe Australia," and called a 1-800 number on the site. The number led him to an operation called Macpatchers, which told him he had a virus and asked him to download software to give them remote access to his computer. This is a common scam technique, but Macpatchers seems to have taken it a step farther and asked him to read a script that appeared on the screen, claiming he was pleased with the service. Unbeknownst to him, Macpatchers were accessing his camera, and recorded the statement. The group then reportedly uploaded the video to YouTube along with the videos of 68 other victims -- a chorus of fake testimonials recommending the service. A man who describes himself as a "scam-baiter" uncovered the operation and shared his finding with ABC. He told ABC that Macpatchers recommended he check out their reviews.

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Car Makers Used Software To Raise Spare Parts Prices

/. - 4 June 2018 - 11:10am
An anonymous reader writes: Ever had the nagging suspicion that your car's manufacturer was charging outrageous prices for parts simply because it could? Software might be to blame. Reuters has obtained documents from a lawsuit indicating that Jaguar Land Rover, Peugeot, Renault and other automakers have been using Accenture software (Partneo) that recommended price increases for spare parts based on "perceived value." If a brand badge or other component looked expensive, Partneo would suggest raising the price up to a level that drivers would still be willing to pay. It would even distinguish parts based on whether or not there was "pricing supervision" over certain parts (say, from insurance companies or focused publications) to avoid sparking an outcry.

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Linux 4.17 Released

/. - 4 June 2018 - 10:30am
Mark Wycislik-Wilson, writing for BetaNews: In his weekly message to the Linux community on Sunday, Linus Torvalds announced the release of Linux 4.17. The release comes a couple of months after the first release candidate, and in his message Torvalds also talks about version 5.0 of the Linux kernel. Having previously said that Linux kernel v5.0 "should be meaningless," he said that this next major numerical milestone will come around "in the not too distance future." For now, though, it's version 4.17 -- or Merciless Moray, if you prefer -- that's of interest. Linux kernel 4.17 is not a major release, and Torvalds announced it without much fanfare. "So this last week was pretty calm, even if the pattern of most of the stuff coming in on a Friday made it feel less so as the weekend approached. And while I would have liked even less changes, I really didn't get the feeling that another week would help the release in any way, so here we are, with 4.17 released." You can read the complete changelog here.

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Microsoft Acquires GitHub For $7.5B

/. - 4 June 2018 - 9:15am
As rumored, Microsoft said Monday that it has acquired code repository website GitHub for a whopping sum of $7.5B in Microsoft stock. Microsoft Corporate Vice President Nat Friedman, founder of Xamarin and an open source veteran, will assume the role of GitHub CEO. GitHub's current CEO, Chris Wanstrath, will become a Microsoft technical fellow, reporting to Executive Vice President Scott Guthrie, to work on strategic software initiatives. From the blog post: "Microsoft is a developer-first company, and by joining forces with GitHub we strengthen our commitment to developer freedom, openness and innovation," said Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft. "We recognize the community responsibility we take on with this agreement and will do our best work to empower every developer to build, innovate and solve the world's most pressing challenges." Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will acquire GitHub for $7.5 billion in Microsoft stock. Subject to customary closing conditions and completion of regulatory review, the acquisition is expected to close by the end of the calendar year. GitHub will retain its developer-first ethos and will operate independently to provide an open platform for all developers in all industries. Developers will continue to be able to use the programming languages, tools and operating systems of their choice for their projects -- and will still be able to deploy their code to any operating system, any cloud and any device. The two companies, together, will "empower developers to achieve more at every stage of the development lifecycle, accelerate enterprise use of GitHub, and bring Microsoft's developer tools and services to new audiences," Microsoft said. A portion of the developer community has opposed the move, with some already leaving the platform for alternative services. Update: In a conference call with reporters, Mr. Nadella said today the company is "all in with open source," and requested people to judge the company's commitment to the open source community with its actions in the recent past, today, and in the coming future. GitHub will remain open and independent, Mr. Nadella said.

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