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Television

The Mojave Desert: Home of the New Machine Movement 12

pacopico writes: Most people think of the Mojave Desert as a wasteland located somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. For decades, though, Mojave has served as something of an engineering playground for people in the automotive and aerospace industries. Bloomberg has produced a documentary that looks at what's taking place with these engineers in 2016. There's a dude trying to make a flying car, Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic, a group called Hackrod using artificial intelligence software to make a car chassis, and the hacker George Hotz taking his self-driving car along the Las Vegas strip for the first time. One of the cooler parts of the show has a team of students from UCSD sending up a rocket with a 3D printed engine -- the first time any university team had pulled something like this off. Overall, it's a cool look at the strange desert rat tinkerers.
Space

Study: Astronauts Who Reach Deep Space 'Far More Likely To Die From Heart Disease' 64

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Astronauts who venture into deep space appear to be much more likely to die from heart disease, according to a new study. In another sign that leaving planet Earth is fraught with danger and a potential blow to hopes of establishing a colony on Mars, researchers discovered deep space radiation appears to damage the body's cardiovascular system. They reported that three out of the seven dead Apollo astronauts died as a result of a cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke. Although the numbers are small, that rate of 43 percent is four to five times higher than found among astronauts who flew in low Earth orbit or who did not actually go into space, according to a paper in the journal Scientific Reports. In an attempt to test whether the higher numbers of cardiovascular deaths were simply a statistical blip or a genuine sign of the effect of traveling into deep space, the scientists exposed mice to the same type of radiation that the astronauts would have experienced. After six months, which is the equivalent of 20 human years, the mice showed damage to arteries that is known to lead to the development of cardiovascular disease in humans.
The Almighty Buck

Dark Patterns Across the Web Are Designed To Trick You 71

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: Harry Brignell has posted a 30-minute video documenting dark patterns, deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces (not exclusive to the internet) that trick users into setting up recurring payments, purchasing items added to a shopping cart, or spamming all contacts through pre-checked forms on Facebook games for example. Basically, they're tactics used by online services to get users to do things they wouldn't normally do. Yael Grauer has written an in-depth report on Ars Technica about dark patterns, where he discusses Brignull's work with UX designers and business executives: "Klein [Principal at Users Known and author of UX for Lean Startups] believes many of the worst dark patterns are pushed by businesses, not by designers. 'It's often pro-business at the expense of the users, and the designers often see themselves as the defender or advocate of the user,' she explained. And although Brignull has never been explicitly asked to design dark patterns himself, he said he has been in situations where using them would be an easy solution -- like when a client or boss says they really need a large list of people who have opted in to marketing e-mails. 'The first and easiest trick to have an opt-in is to have a pre-ticked checkbox, but then you can just get rid of that entirely and hide it in the terms of conditions and say that by registering you're going to be opted in to our e-mails,' Brignull said. 'Then you have a 100-percent sign-up rate and you've exceeded your goals. I kind of understand why people do it. If you're only thinking about the numbers and you're just trying to juice the stats, then it's not surprising in the slightest.' 'There's this logical positivist mindset that the only things that have value are those things that can be measured and can empirically be shown to be true, and while that has its merits it also takes us down a pretty dark place,' said digital product designer Cennydd Bowles, who is researching ethical design. 'We start to look at ethics as pure utilitarianism, whatever benefits the most people. Yikes, it has problems.'" Brignull's website has a number of examples of deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces.
Television

Apple's Rigid Negotiating Tactics Cost Us 'Skinny Bundles' For Apple TV, Says Report 54

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the reason we don't have actual TV channels on the Apple TV is because the company tried to strong-arm networks -- and failed. Apple's Senior Vice President Eddy Cue is said to have taken the wrong approach. In one meeting, he reportedly told TV executives that "time is on my side." Cue is also accused of bluffing executives by claiming other networks -- specifically Disney and Fox -- were already signed up. The company also refused to show off the Apple TV interface, or "sketch it on the back of a napkin," as one media executive requested. Cue also tried to strike hard bargains, says WSJ. He reportedly asked that Disney put off the royalties Apple would have to pay for several years. Those 'skinny bundles' we heard so much about were what Apple was planning to build its TV experience around, too. In 2015, a bundle consisting of Fox, ESPN and Disney content was conceptualized (and priced at $30), but no agreements were ever signed. In an effort to create more original programming, Apple is scheduled to release its 'Planet of the Apps' TV show about app developers next year.
The Courts

UK Judge Calls For An Online Court Without Lawyers To Cut Costs 48

mi writes from a report via The Times: A senior judge has called for the establishment of an online court (Warning: source may be paywalled) that does not have lawyers and can deal with claims of up to 25,000 British Pound (around $32,850). The proposal is the centerpiece of a package of reforms to the civil justice system, drawn up by Lord Justice Briggs, a Court of Appeal judge. Just how exactly will this court ensure no one is, in fact, a trained professional on the internet, where no one knows who you really are, is not explained. We discussed the idea last year. Apparently, it is still alive. The judge's report says this computer court would provide "effective access to justice without having to incur the disproportionate cost of using lawyers." The Law Gazette reported earlier in June that Briggs has mused about a three-stage process -- triage, conciliation and final judgement -- in which there might be some lawyer involvement.
Bitcoin

North Korea Is Blackmailing Top South Korean Online Retailer For $2.66 Million (softpedia.com) 34

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: South Korea says that North Korea is behind a data breach that occurred last May, where hackers stole details about 10 million user accounts from Interpark.com, one of the country's biggest shopping portals. The hackers later tried to extort Interpark management by requesting for 3 billion won ($2.66 million / 2.39 million euros), otherwise they were going to release the data on the internet. [The hackers wanted the money transferred to their accounts as Bitcoin.] Authorities say they tracked the source of the hack to an IP in North Korea, previously used in other attacks on South Korean infrastructure. "Besides the evidence related to the IP addresses and the techniques used in the attacks, investigators also said that the emails Interpark management received, written in the Korean language, contained words and vocabulary expressions that are only used in the North," reports Softpedia.
Businesses

Microsoft To Lay Off Another 2,850 People In the Next 12 Months (businessinsider.com) 106

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Business Insider: Microsoft is planning to lay off 2,850 more employees in the next 12 months or so, according to Microsoft's full 10-K report it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Part of the document reads: "In addition to the elimination of 1,850 positions that were announced in May 2016, approximately 2,850 roles globally will be reduced during the year as an extension of the earlier plan, and these actions are expected to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2017." Business Insider reports: "The first 1,850 layoffs mentioned here were mainly from Microsoft's struggling smartphone business, including 1,350 employees in Finland working at what was once Nokia world headquarters. These layoffs also included people in Microsoft's salesforce, which was recently reorganized and saw the departure of COO Kevin Turner. In total, Microsoft laid off 7,400 employees in its last fiscal year, which ended on June 30th, 2016. The new layoffs are a continuation of the same plan, and include the sales group as well as others. About 900 people affected by the new layoffs were already informed during the sales reorganization, according to a person familiar with Microsoft's plans."
Businesses

Samsung Beat Apple In Smartphone Shipments, Profit Surges To 2-Year High (thehindu.com) 63

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier reports speculated this to be true, but now it's official: Samsung has beat Apple in smartphone shipments to lift the company to its most profitable quarter in over two years. The Hindu reports: "Riding on the strong sales of its Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones, Samsung Electronics on Thursday declared 8.14 trillion won ($7billion) year on-year operating profit -- 18 percent in the second quarter results. Touted as bad news for Apple that saw a 15 percent decline in iPhone sales in its second quarter results announced this week, Samsung saw substantial earnings improvement led by sales of its flagship products such as Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. A streamlined mid-to low-end smartphone lineup also contributed to improved profitability for the company. According to Samsung, it shipped about 90 million handsets in the April-June period with smartphones making up more than 80 per cent of the total, the Korea Herald reported. Samsung's second-quarter smartphone shipments are estimated at about 72 million units, almost doubling Apple's iPhone shipments of 40.4 million units during the same period."
Democrats

WikiLeaks Releases Hacked Voicemails From DNC Officials (thenextweb.com) 135

An anonymous reader writes: Late Wednesday afternoon as the Democratic National Convention was in full swing, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks decided to follow through with an earlier statement by publishing hacked voicemails of top democratic officials. There are 29 leaked recordings, which are identified by phone number and total about 14 minutes combined. Many of the voicemails are messages of callers leaving their numbers in hopes of being called back. Others are from voters upset that the DNC was giving too much support to Sanders. The Hill reports that "One caller with an Arizona area code called to blast the DNC for putting Sanders surrogate Cornel West on the platform drafting committee. 'I'm furious for what you are doing for Bernie Sanders,' another caller says in a message. 'He's getting way too much influence. What I see is the Democratic Party bending over backwards for Bernie,' adds the caller, who threatens to leave the party if the DNC doesn't stop 'coddling' the Vermont senator."
Government

Stiglitz Calls Apple's Profit Reporting In Ireland 'a Fraud' (bloomberg.com) 144

Jeanna Smialek, and Alex Webb, reporting for Bloomberg: Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz said U.S. tax law that allows Apple to hold a large amount of cash abroad is "obviously deficient" and called the company's attribution of significant earnings to a comparatively small overseas unit a "fraud." "Our current tax system encourages companies to keep their money abroad, opens up a vast loophole through what is called the transfer-pricing system that allows them not only to keep their money abroad but, effectively, to escape taxation," Stiglitz, who advises Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, said. Stiglitz was speaking in response to a question about whether policy makers like Clinton and Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, could develop a plan to encourage companies like Apple to bring their accumulated foreign earnings back to the U.S. About $215 billion of Apple's total $232 billion in cash is held outside of the country, third-quarter earnings results showed this week.
Communications

AT&T Violated Rule Requiring Low Prices For Schools, FCC Says (arstechnica.com) 52

Jon Brodkin, reporting for Ars Technica: AT&T overcharged two Florida school districts for phone service and should have to pay about $170,000 to the U.S. government to settle the allegations, the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday. AT&T disputes the charges and will contest the decision. The FCC issued a Notice of Apparently Liability (NAL) to AT&T, an initial step toward enforcing the proposed punishment. The alleged overcharges relate to the FCC's E-Rate program, which funds telecommunications for schools and libraries and is paid for by Americans through surcharges on phone bills. The FCC said AT&T should have to repay $63,760 it improperly received from the FCC in subsidies for phone service provided to Orange and Dixie Counties and pay an additional fine of $106,425. AT&T prices charged to the districts were almost 400 percent higher than they should have been, according to the FCC. AT&T violated the FCC's "lowest corresponding price rule" designed to ensure that schools and libraries "get the best rates available by prohibiting E-Rate service providers from charging them more than the lowest price paid by other similarly situated customers for similar telecommunications services," the FCC said. Instead of charging the lowest available price, "AT&T charged the school districts prices for telephone service that were magnitudes higher than many other customers in Florida," the FCC said. Between 2012 and 2015, the school districts paid "some of the highest prices in the state... for basic telephone services."
Medicine

E-Cigarettes Emit Toxic Vapors, Says Study (upi.com) 290

An anonymous reader quotes a report from UPI: All electronic cigarettes emit harmful chemicals, and levels of those toxic compounds are affected by factors such as temperature, type and age of the device, a new study finds. In laboratory tests, scientists found that the heat-related breakdown of propylene glycol and glycerin -- two solvents found in most e-cigarette liquids -- causes emissions of toxic chemicals such as acrolein, acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. All three are either respiratory irritants or carcinogens, the investigators said. The researchers also found that levels of harmful chemicals in e-cigarette vapor increase between the first few puffs and later puffs as the device gets hotter, and with each use of the device.The new study was published July 27 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. "Advocates of e-cigarettes say emissions are much lower than from conventional cigarettes, so you're better off using e-cigarettes," study corresponding author Hugo Destaillats said in a Berkeley news release. "I would say, that may be true for certain users -- for example, long-time smokers that cannot quit -- but the problem is, it doesn't mean that they're healthier. Regular cigarettes are super unhealthy. E-cigarettes are just unhealthy," he explained. The FDA will start regulating e-cigarettes like tobacco on August 8, 2016.
Earth

ULA Interns Launch Record-Breaking 50-Foot Rocket (space.com) 70

schwit1 writes: A team of United Launch Alliance (ULA) interns, working in their spare time, have successfully launched the largest model rocket every built. Space.com reports: "On Sunday (July 24), ULA launched the 50-foot-tall (15.24 meters) Future Heavy rocket out of Fort Carson Army Post, breaking the record for 'the largest sport rocket launched anywhere in the world,' according to a statement from ULA. The Future Heavy is also notable because it was built entirely by company interns and their mentors. 'We like [our interns] to have a very realistic experience,' ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno told Space.com at the Space Symposium meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, last April." Calling it a "model rocket" really isn't fair. The thing is big, and really ranks up there with many of the suborbital rockets NASA used to routinely fly out of Wallops Island. [The fact that] ULA has provided support for this effort again suggests that the leadership of Bruno is reshaping the company into a much more innovative and competitive company.
Democrats

Tech Takes Its K-12 CS Education and Immigration Crisis To the DNC (cnet.com) 117

theodp writes: In early 2013, Code.org and FWD.us coincidentally emerged after Microsoft suggested tech's agenda could be furthered by creating a crisis linking U.S. kids' lack of computer science savvy to tech's need for tech worker visas. Three years later, CNET's Marguerite Reardon reports that tech took its K-12 computer science and immigration crisis to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, where representatives from Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon called for the federal government to invest in more STEM education and reform immigration policies -- recurring themes the industry hopes to influence in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. "We believe in the importance of high-skilled immigration coupled with investments in education," said Microsoft President Brad Smith, repeating the Microsoft National Talent Strategy. The mini-tech conference also received some coverage in the New Republic, where David Dayen argues that the DNC is one big corporate bride.
Businesses

Tesla and Autopilot Supplier Mobileye Split Up After Fatal Crash (usatoday.com) 126

An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Tesla and Mobileye, one of the top suppliers to its Autopilot partial self-driving system, are parting ways in the wake of the May accident that killed an owner of one of its electric Model S sedans. Mobileye is considered a leader in developing the equipment that will be needed for fully self-driving cars. The Israeli tech company will continue to support and maintain current Tesla products, including upgrades that should help the Autopilot system with crash avoidance and to better allow the car to steer itself, said Chairman Amnon Shashua in releasing the company's second-quarter earnings Tuesday. Shashua said moving cars to higher levels of self-driving capability "is a paradigm shift both in terms of function complexity and the need to ensure an extremely high level of safety." He added there is "much at stake" in terms of Mobileye's reputation, and that it is best to end the relationship with Tesla by the end of the year. Tesla CEO Elon Musk, meeting with reporters at the company's new battery Gigafactory outside Reno, indicated that Tesla can go forward without Mobileye. "Us parting ways was somewhat inevitable. There's nothing unexpected here from our standpoint," Musk said. "We're committed to autonomy. They'll go their way, and we'll go ours."
Earth

Hyperloop One Announces Opening of Its First Manufacturing Plant (techcrunch.com) 117

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Hyperloop One is today announcing the opening of its first manufacturing plant. Called Hyperloop One Metalworks, the 105,000 square-foot building in North Las Vegas will be the new professional home of many of the company's 170 employees, including engineers, machinists and welders. These folks will build and test a number of components for the DevLoop, a full-system prototype of the Hyperloop, set for testing in 2017. The project, if successful, promises a half-hour travel time between Stockholm and Helsinki, which is the equivalent of about 300 miles. The company plans to have a working prototype of the Hyperloop by 2017 thanks to this new plant."Hyperloop One Metalworks is the first Hyperloop manufacturing plant in the world," said co-founder and President of Engineering Josh Giegel in a press release. "The ability to have a world-class machine shop in-house gives us an advantage to build rapidly and develop the Hyperloop in real-time."
Medicine

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge Funding Leads To New Genetic Findings (yahoo.com) 32

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers are crediting the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, a fundraiser for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis that went viral in 2014, for funding a new study that has possibly identified a common gene that contributes to the nervous system disease. Yahoo reports via Good Morning America: "In a study published in The Nature Genetics Journal, researchers from various institutions, including the University of Massachusetts Medical School and the University Medical Center Utrecht, identified the gene NEK1 as a common gene that could have an impact on who develops the disease. Variants of the gene appear to lead to increased risk of developing ALS, according to preliminary findings. Researchers in 11 countries studied 1,000 families in which a family member developed ALS and conducted a genome-wide search for any signs that a gene could be leading to increased ALS risk. After identifying the NEK1 gene, they also analyzed 13,000 individuals who had developed ALS despite no family history and found they had variants in that same gene, again linking that gene with increased ALS risk. Starting in the summer of 2014, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge led to 17 million videos made and $220 million raised, according to the ALS Association -- $115 million of which went to the association."
The Almighty Buck

Amazon Debuts a Dedicated Shop For Kickstarter Products (techcrunch.com) 18

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Today, Amazon announced it's teaming up with Kickstarter to offer those successful Kickstarter products a way to reach more customers through a dedicated section on Amazon's website. Via www.amazon.com/launchpad/kickstarter, the online retailer is now featuring a group of over 300 Kickstarter products across a variety of categories, like electronics, books, home and kitchen, movies and tv, and more. The products can also be browsed by theme, like STEM products, "Always be Learning," "Exquisite Objects," "Inventing the Future," and "Public Benefit," for example. The new Kickstarter section is actually an expansion on Amazon's Launchpad platform, launched a year ago. In July 2015, the retailer debuted a dedicated portal that offered both marketing and sales for hardware and physical goods from younger tech companies. Today, Amazon says it has now worked with over 100 VCs, accelerators and crowdfunders and has helped more than 1,000 launch products across the U.S., the U.K., China, Germany, and France. All startups who participate in Launchpad receive custom product pages, a comprehensive marketing package, and access to Amazon's global fulfillment network, the retailer notes.
Businesses

Comcast Excited To Have Lost 4,000 TV Subscribers This Spring (consumerist.com) 64

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Consumerist: Comcast has released their second quarter results and they are happy to announce that they lost 4,000 TV subscribers in the last three months. Why are they so happy to announce such a loss? Because, compared to the same time last year where they lost 69,000 TV subscribers, the loss this year is much better for them. Comcast said in a statement to investors that "video customers net losses improved to 4,000, the best second quarter result in over 10 years." That Consumerist reports: "That means that for the most than a decade, the best Comcast can do in April to June of every year is to lose only 4,000 TV subscribers. At this time last year, Comcast reported 22.3 million TV subscribers, and at the same time this year, they report roughly 22.3 million TV subscribers. The major driver of increased subscriptions comes, as you'd guess, from broadband. Comcast reports an increase of 220,000 broadband customers in the second quarter which, in the overall growth of the company, entirely offsets a lost of 4,000 TV viewers."
Security

Rio Olympics Will Be First Sporting Event Watched By 'Eye In The Sky' Drone Cameras (fastcompany.com) 33

tedlistens quotes a report from Fast Company: When the Olympic Games begin next month in Rio de Janeiro, billions of people are expected to watch athletes from countries around the world compete. But also watching over the Olympic and Paralympic events will be a set of futuristic, balloon-mounted surveillance camera systems capable of monitoring a wide swath of the city in high resolution and in real-time. Initially developed for use by U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan by Fairfax, Virginia-based Logos Technologies, the technology is sold under the name Simera, and offers live aerial views of a large area, or what the company calls 'wide-area motion imagery,' captured from a balloon tethered some 200 meters above the ground. The system's 13 cameras make it possible for operators to record detailed, 120-megapixel imagery of the movement of vehicles and pedestrians below in an area up to 40 square kilometers, depending on how high the balloon is deployed, and for up to three days at a time. The Rio Olympics marks the "first time [Simera] will be deployed by a non-U.S. government at a large-scale event," according to the company. Simera is being compared to a live city-wide Google Maps combined with TiVo, as it can let law enforcement view ground-level activities in real time in addition to letting them rewind through saved images. Doug Rombough, Logo's vice president of business development, says the image clarity is not good enough to make out individual faces or license plate numbers, though it is clear enough to follow individual people and vehicles around the city. "However, a higher resolution video camera attached to the same balloon, which captures images at 60 times that of full HD resolution, or 15 times 4K, at three frames per second, will allow operators to get a closer look at anything or anyone that looks suspicious," reports Fast Company.

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