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Updated: 13 hours 14 min ago

Google To Be Fined $5 Billion by EU in Android Antitrust Case, Reports Say

14 hours 28 min ago
The European Union plans to hit Alphabet's Google with a record antitrust fine of $5.06 billion later today, WSJ, Reuters, and Bloomberg reported Wednesday, a decision that could loosen the company's grip on its biggest growth engine: mobile phones. From a report: A formal decision -- which would mark the EU's sharpest rebuke yet to the power of a handful of tech giants -- is set to be taken during Wednesday morning's meeting of EU commissioners following a presentation by competition chief Margrethe Vestager, according to the person. No discussion of the decision is expected, the official said. The European Commission finding is the most consequential decision made in its eight-year antitrust battle with Google. The fine, to be announced today, would significantly outstrip the $2.8B charge Brussels imposed on the company last year for favoring its own site in comparison shopping searches. The decision takes aim at a core part of Google's business strategy over the past decade, outlawing restrictions on its Android operating system that allegedly entrenched Google's dominance in online search at a time when consumers were moving from desktop to mobile devices. Android is the operating system used in more than 80 per cent of the world's smartphones and is vital to the group's future revenues as more users rely on mobile gadgets for search services. Google has denied wrongdoing.

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System76 Linux Computer Maker Offers a Sneak Peek Into Its New Factory

16 hours 59 min ago
BrianFagioli shares a report from BetaNews: System76 has long been a Linux computer seller, but recently, it has transitioned into a Linux computer maker. What's the difference, you ask? Well, currently, the company doesn't really make its own computers. System76's laptops, for instance, are made by other manufacturers, which it re-brands as its own. No, System76 doesn't just slap its name on other company's laptops and ship them out the door. Actually, it works closely with the manufacturers, tweaks firmware, and verifies that both Ubuntu and its Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS will work well on the hardware. System76 then offers top-notch support too. In other words, the company isn't just selling a computer, but an experience too. Unfortunately, when you rely on other computer manufacturers, you don't fully control the experience. Ultimately, System76 cannot achieve its true vision without building its own laptops. And so, that is exactly what it is going to do! Yes, System76 will be building and selling the computers right here in the USA (Denver, Colorado to be exact). I mean, when your company supports open source ideology and takes pride in being "Made in America," how can you go wrong? Many folks in the Linux community are excited to see the fruits of System76's labor, and today, we get a small peek. No, the company isn't sharing any of its computer designs, but it is showing off its new manufacturing facility. In a new blog post by System76 customer service all-star Emma, she shares several photos of the new factory. [T]he space is absolutely massive! It seems System76 has very lofty goals. Exactly when these new computers both designed and manufactured by System76 will become available for purchase is anyone's guess. Quite frankly, based on the System76's blog post, it seems they are still at very early stages. With that said, it will be interesting to see what is born inside that factory in Colorado. The Linux community is anxiously awaiting something special.

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The SIM Hijackers

18 hours 4 min ago
Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai of Motherboard has a chilling story on how hackers flip seized Instagram handles and cryptocurrency in a shady, buzzing underground market for stolen accounts and usernames. Their victim's weakness? Phone numbers. He writes: First, criminals call a cell phone carrier's tech support number pretending to be their target. They explain to the company's employee that they "lost" their SIM card, requesting their phone number be transferred, or ported, to a new SIM card that the hackers themselves already own. With a bit of social engineering -- perhaps by providing the victim's Social Security Number or home address (which is often available from one of the many data breaches that have happened in the last few years) -- the criminals convince the employee that they really are who they claim to be, at which point the employee ports the phone number to the new SIM card. Game over.

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Is the Earth's Mantle Full of Diamonds?

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 21:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Scientists' models show that sound waves seem to travel too quickly through the old, stable cores of continents, called "cratons," which extend deep into the mantle at depths around 120 to 150 kilometers (75 to 93 miles). Through observations, experiments, and modeling, one team figured that a potential way to explain the sound speed anomaly would be the presence of a lot of diamonds, a medium that allows for a faster speed of sound than other crystals. Perhaps the Earth is as much as 2 percent diamonds by volume, they found. Scientists have modeled the rock beneath continents through tomography, which you can think of as like an x-ray image, but using sound waves. But sound-wave velocities of around 4.7 kilometers per second (about 10,513 mph) are faster than sound-wave velocities in other kinds of minerals beneath the crust, according to the paper in the journal Geochemistry, Geophysics, Geosystems. The researchers realized that if the regions had either 3 percent diamonds by volume or 50 percent of a rock formed at high pressure and temperature called eclogite, it would enable the sound speeds they observed. But both of those numbers seemed too high, based on observations of the minerals that end up on the Earth's surface: diamond-containing rocks called kimberlites. The researchers compromised and figured that 20 percent eclogite and 2 percent diamonds could explain the high velocities. The diamonds could be sprinkled as crystals found uniformly throughout the cratons.

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Egypt's New Law Targets Social Media, Journalists For 'Fake News'

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 18:30
Egypt's parliament passed a law Monday giving the state powers to block social media users and penalize journalists for publishing fake news. "Under the law passed on Monday social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook will be treated as media outlets, which makes them subject to prosecution for publishing false news or incitement to break the law," reports Reuters. From the report: The Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, headed by an official appointed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will supervise the law and take action against violations. The bill prohibits the establishment of websites without obtaining a license from the Supreme Council and allows it to suspend or block existing websites, or impose fines on editors. The law, which takes effect after it is ratified by Sisi, also states that journalists can only film in places that are not prohibited, but does not explain further. Supporters of Sisi say the law is intended to safeguard freedom of expression and it was approved after consultations with judicial experts and journalists. But critics say it will give legal basis to measures the government has been taking to crack down on dissent and extend its control over social media.

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Rolls-Royce Is Developing Tiny 'Cockroach' Robots To Fix Airplane Engines

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 17:50
Rolls-Royce announced today that it is teaming up with robotics experts at Harvard University and University of Nottingham to develop tiny "cockroach" robots that can crawl inside aircraft engines to spot and fix problems. These robots will be able to speed up inspections and eliminate the need to remove an engine from an aircraft for repair work to take place. CNBC reports: Sebastian de Rivaz, a research fellow at Harvard Institute, said the inspiration for their design came from the cockroach and that the robotic bugs had been in development for eight years. He added that the next step was to mount cameras on the robots and scale them down to a 15-milimeter size. De Rivaz said that once the robots had performed their duty they could be programed to leave the engine or could simply be "flushed out" by the engine itself. Also under development are "snake" robots that are flexible enough to travel through an engine like an endoscope. These would enter through a combustion chamber and would inspect damage and remove any debris. The second "snake" would deposit a patch repair that would sit temporarily until the engine was ready for full repair. No schedule is placed on when the crawling robots will be available. You can view animations of each robot type here.

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Saudi Arabia Bans 47 Games In Response To Two Child Suicides

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 17:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IGN: Saudi Arabia is apparently banning 47 games in response to a pair of children committing suicide after allegedly being encouraged to do so while playing an online game. Per the Associated Press, the Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media said yesterday that a 13-year-old girl and a 12-year-old boy have taken their own lives after playing a social media game known as Blue Whale. Also called the Blue Whale Challenge, the disturbing social media phenomenon is a form of extreme cyberbullying. It's not clear how the Saudi government believes this connects to more mainstream video games, but it nonetheless appears to have banned 47 popular indie and AAA games in response.The Saudi General Commission for Audio-Visual Media's website actually says the list of banned games was last updated on July 2, but the Associated Press' report claims the bans were just announced Monday.

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Health Insurers Are Vacuuming Up Details About You -- And It Could Raise Your Rates

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 16:30
schwit1 shares an excerpt from an in-depth report via ProPublica and NPR, which have been investigating for the past year the various tactics the health insurance industry uses to maximize its profits: A future in which everything you do -- the things you buy, the food you eat, the time you spend watching TV -- may help determine how much you pay for health insurance. With little public scrutiny, the health insurance industry has joined forces with data brokers to vacuum up personal details about hundreds of millions of Americans, including, odds are, many readers of this story. The companies are tracking your race, education level, TV habits, marital status, net worth. They're collecting what you post on social media, whether you're behind on your bills, what you order online. Then they feed this information into complicated computer algorithms that spit out predictions about how much your health care could cost them. Patient advocates warn that using unverified, error-prone "lifestyle" data to make medical assumptions could lead insurers to improperly price plans -- for instance raising rates based on false information -- or discriminate against anyone tagged as high cost. And, they say, the use of the data raises thorny questions that should be debated publicly, such as: Should a person's rates be raised because algorithms say they are more likely to run up medical bills? Such questions would be moot in Europe, where a strict law took effect in May that bans trading in personal data.

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Walmart Teams Up With Microsoft To Fight Amazon, Netflix

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 15:50
Slashdot readers hyperclocker and Hallux-F-Sinister have shared news about Walmart's new strategy to take on Amazon. In a nutshell, Walmart will use more of Microsoft's cloud services and work with the company on AI and machine learning projects. The goal is to reduce its energy consumption and improve its delivery systems. Hyperclocker shares an excerpt from a report: Today, Walmart announced that it has established a strategic partnership with Microsoft to, "further accelerate Walmart's digital transformation in retail, empower its associates worldwide and make shopping faster and easier for millions of customers around the world." What that means in reality is, Walmart is embracing Microsoft's cloud services and will run its digital operations by taking full advantage of Microsoft Azure and Office 365. The partnership agreement lasts for five years and starts with a team of Walmart and Microsoft engineers working together to transition the retailer to Microsoft's ecosystem. Hallux-F-Sinister provides some commentary: According to CNN Money, Walmart and Microsoft are ganging up on Amazon.com. I found myself wondering if this was more like Lex Luthor teaming up with the Joker to fight Sinestro, or Bruce Wayne letting Tony Stark use the Bat Computer to fight against the thing Richard Pryor's character designed in whichever godawful nineteen eighties-era Superman sequel he was in. The story itself would bore an accountant to tears, I am convinced, so I did not dare read it for fear of being rendered insensate; but here is the URL if you find you are in desperate need of sleep. Perhaps this other bit of news will wake you up: Walmart is also contemplating starting its own streaming service to compete with Amazon and Netflix. According to GeekWire, citing The Information, "Walmart is considering various ways to stand out, including undercutting Amazon and Netflix on price or offering an ad-supported free service."

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GOP Congressman Introduces Bill To Reinstate Net Neutrality Rules

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 15:10
Rep. Mike Coffman (R-CO) today announced his support for a bill that would institute the basic outlines of the FCC's 2015 Open Internet order, which banned the throttling and blocking of content as well as harmful paid prioritization practices. He is also the first Republican to sign on to the Democrat-led discharge petition, which aims to force a vote on the House floor to roll back the FCC's December decision to repeal net neutrality. The Verge reports: The 21st Century Internet Act aims to restructure the current framework by which the internet has been governed since the '90s. Coffman's bill moves past this argument by amending the 1934 Telecommunications Act and adding the new Title VIII. This new classification would "permanently codify into law the 'four corners' of net neutrality" by banning providers from controlling traffic quality and speed and forbidding them from participating in paid prioritization programs or charging access fees from edge providers. On top of providing stable ground for net neutrality rules to be upheld in the future, the legislation also makes it illegal for providers to participate in "unfair or deceptive acts or practices." It directs the FCC to investigate claims of anticompetitive behavior on behalf of consumers after receiving their complaints. Transparency requirements are heightened for providers as well, as companies must publicly disclose information regarding their network practices to allow consumers to "make informed choices regarding use of such services."

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Microsoft Is Making the Windows Command Line a Lot Better

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 14:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Over the last few years, Microsoft has been working to improve the Windows console. Console windows now maximize properly, for example. In the olden days, hitting maximize would make the window taller but not wider. Today, the action will fill the whole screen, just like any other window. Especially motivated by the Windows subsystem for Linux, the console in Windows 10 supports 16 million colors and VT escape sequences, enabling much richer console output than has traditionally been possible on Windows. Microsoft is working to build a better console for Windows, one that we hope will open the door to the same flexibility and capabilities that Unix users have enjoyed for more than 40 years. The APIs seem to be in the latest Windows 10 Insider builds, though documentation is a little scarce for now. The command-line team is publishing a series of blog posts describing the history of the Windows command-line, and how the operating system's console works. The big reveal of the new API is coming soon, and with this, Windows should finally be able to have reliable, effective tabbed consoles, with emoji support, rich Unicode, and all the other things that the Windows console doesn't do... yet.

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The US is Facing a Serious Shortage of Airline Pilots

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 12:40
An anonymous reader shares a report: The national security of the United States relies on a healthy airline industry. That requires modern reliable airplanes -- and highly skilled pilots to operate them. However, the United States has a shortage of pilots right now, particularly at the regional airline levels. According to the Federal Aviation Administration, there were about 827,000 pilots in America in 1987. Over the past three decades, that number has decreased by 30%. Meanwhile, during this period, there has been a tremendous increase in the demand for air travel. The International Air Transport Association predicts that, over the next 20 years, air travel will double. This is a classic case of low supply and high demand. This mismatch has created a perfect storm that could wreak havoc on the US airline industry over the next decade. The somber news is this shortage is going to get much worse. I have not only studied and researched the airline industry since 1978, but I also was a pilot for 19 years, before going back to academia in 2006. In the 1970s, when most of today's airline pilots like myself were growing up, piloting for an airline was considered a prestigious career. The job offered not only high salaries and nice schedules with many days off, but also a respected position in society. In the early 1990s, pilot salaries approached $300,000 in today's dollars for some international pilots. What's more, during this time, the military had a steady and consistent demand for pilots. A young aspiring aviator could go into the military to receive all of his or her flight training. Once these pilots had fulfilled their military commitment, they were almost guaranteed a good job flying for a major airline. Today, this is no longer the case. The career of the airline pilot has lost its luster.

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Baidu Ends Brazil Operations, Will Now Handle the Brazilian User Base From China

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 12:21
Chinese web search company Baidu is ending its operations in Brazil, five years after it set up shop in the country. From a report: The company will be handling the Brazilian user base for its web services from China. There are currently two employees working on formal procedures related to the firm's local shutdown, according to local newspaper Valor Economico. A representative for the company said there is no formal statement for Baidu's departure from Brazil. It is also unclear whether Yan Di, the Chinese executive responsible for the Brazil operation, will still work for the company. Baidu's plans for the country changed as part of a shift in the company's global strategy. As part of the new plan, the firm started to spin out business units responsible for apps and mobile advertising, as well as financial services, to sharpen its focus on artificial intelligence.

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Thousands of Patient Records Held for Ransom in Ontario Home Care Data Breach, Attackers Claim

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 12:00
CBC reports: The detailed medical histories and contact information of possibly tens of thousands of home-care patients in Ontario are allegedly being held for ransom by thieves who recently raided the computer systems of a health-care provider. CarePartners, which provides home medical care services on behalf of the Ontario government, announced last month that it had been breached. It said only that personal health and financial information of patients had been "inappropriately accessed," and did not elaborate further. However, a group claiming responsibility for the breach recently contacted CBC News and provided a sample of the data it claims to have accessed, shedding new light on the extent of the breach. The sample includes thousands of patient medical records with phone numbers and addresses, dates of birth, and health card numbers, as well as detailed medical histories including past conditions, diagnoses, surgical procedures, care plans and medications for patients across the province.

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Thousands of Mega Logins Dumped Online, Exposing User Files

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 11:41
Thousands of credentials for accounts associated with New Zealand-based file storage service Mega have been published online, ZDNet reports. From the report: The text file contains over 15,500 usernames, passwords, and files names, indicating that each account had been improperly accessed and file names scraped. Patrick Wardle, chief research officer and co-founder at Digita Security, found the text file in June after it had been uploaded to malware analysis site VirusTotal some months earlier by a user purportedly in Vietnam. Wardle passed the data to ZDNet. We verified that the data belonged to Mega, the file-sharing site formerly owned by internet entrepreneur Kim Dotcom by contacting several users, who confirmed that the email address, password, and some of the files we showed them were used on Mega.

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China Negotiating For Cheaper Cancer Drugs

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 04:00
hackingbear writes: "China's medical insurance regulator will begin negotiations with domestic and overseas pharmaceutical companies to lower prices of cancer drugs in a bid to cut the financial burden on patients," reports Reuters. "The State Medical Insurance Administration said it was preparing to include more cancer drugs on its list of medicines eligible for reimbursement, and said 10 foreign and eight domestic pharmaceutical companies had expressed a willingness to work with the authority." Unlike India, or what we may have been told, China enforces pharmaceutical patents rigorously. Recently, the Chinese box office hit Dying to Survive, which told the real life story of a leukemia patient/businessman put on trial due to smuggling imitation drugs to help fellow patients who cannot pay the exorbitant cost of a drug produced by a Swiss pharmaceutical giant, has brought in huge revenues and rave reviews since the movie was released on July 5. Last year, China forced two rounds of NRDL negotiations after seven years of stasis. More than a dozen cancer drugs, including AstraZeneca's Iressa and Roche's Herceptin, are now covered by the country's insurance program, but only after the companies agreed to huge discounts -- a typical move trading lower prices for higher volume. Demand for Herceptin, for example, surged after the discount and triggered a national shortage.

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Netflix's Subscriber Growth Stalls

Tue, 07/17/2018 - 01:00
Netflix shares plunged by more than 14% on Monday, after the firm reported disappointing subscriber growth. While the entertainment service added 5.2 million subscribers last quarter, it forecasted a growth of 6.2 million. BBC reports: Investors are worried about Netflix's growth potential in the face of increased competition from tech giants such as Apple, YouTube and Amazon, as well as traditional firms, which have started to invest more in online streaming. Disney, for example, plans to launch its own streaming service and stop licensing some of its material to Netflix. In a letter to investors, Netflix called it a "strong but not stellar quarter," ending with about 130 million subscribers globally. The firm added just 670,000 subscribers in the U.S. -- far short of the more than one million it added in the second quarter of 2017. It added 4.5 million subscribers internationally, fewer than the two most recent quarters but up 8% year-on-year. However, it said its finances were strong. The company reported $3.9 billion in quarterly revenue, up 40% compared to the second quarter of 2017. Profits totaled $384.3 million, almost six times the figure during the same period a year ago.

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D-Wave's Quantum Computer Successfully Models a Quantum System

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 21:30
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from Ars Technica: D-Wave's hardware has always occupied a unique space on the computing landscape. It's a general-purpose computer that relies on quantum mechanical effects to perform calculations. And, while other quantum-computer makers have struggled to put more than a few dozen qubits together, D-Wave's systems have already scaled to more than 2,000 addressable bits. But the D-Wave systems don't perform calculations in the same way and, despite all those bits, haven't clearly demonstrated performance that can outpace even traditional computing hardware. But D-Wave has come out with a research paper in Science that suggests that the system can do interesting things even in its current state. The company's researchers have set it loose modeling a quantum system that closely resembles the bits used in the hardware itself, allowing them to examine quantum phase transitions. While this still isn't cutting-edge performance, it does allow researchers full control over the physical parameters of a relevant quantum system as it undergoes phase changes.

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Samsung's Galaxy S10 To Come In Three Sizes, With An In-Display Fingerprint Sensor

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 20:26
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo says Samsung will launch the Galaxy S10 in three different sizes: 5.8 inches, 6.1 inches, and 6.4 inches. They are nearly the same sizes that Kuo expects Apple's next series of iPhones to come in. The Verge reports: The larger two S10 models will include in-display fingerprint sensors, Kuo says, while the smaller model will include a fingerprint sensor on the side. That suggests the smaller model will be Samsung's entry-level offering, while the larger two will potentially have higher-end specs and features. Another recent rumor says the S10 might include five cameras, adding an additional wide angle option to the back and another lens to the front for capturing portrait effects. It's very likely plans will change between now and when the Galaxy S10 launches, which should be early next year. The next flagship smartphone to come from the South Korean company will be the Galaxy Note 9. It's expected to make its appearance at an event on August 9th.

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Hacking Campaign Targets iPhone Users With Data-Stealing, Location-Tracking Malware

Mon, 07/16/2018 - 19:15
ZDNet reports of a new mobile malware campaign that is "gaining access to iPhones by tricking users to download an open-source mobile device management (MDM) software package." From the report: Once in control, the unidentified hackers can steal various forms of sensitive information from infected devices, including the phone number, serial number, location, contact details, user's photos, SMS, and Telegram and WhatsApp chat messages. Thirteen users -- all in India -- have been been compromised in the attacks, which have been detailed by Cisco Talos. Those infected use a range of iPhone models and are running iOS versions ranging from 10.2.1 to 11.2.6. The campaign has been active since August 2015. The attackers take control by using the MDM package, which can give attackers complete control of the device and the ability to install fake versions of real apps. Two different MDM services are used in the campaign, enabling system-level control of multiple devices from one location and the ability to install, remove and exfiltrate data from apps. One method of stealing data comes via malicious versions of messaging services like Telegram and WhatsApp being pushed onto the compromised device via fake updates. The apps look legitimate to the user, but malicious code sends information -- including messages, photos and contacts -- to a central command and control server. Deploying these apps requires a side-loading injection technique, which allows for the ability to ask for additional permissions, execute code and steal information from the original application.

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