Tech News

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Samsung In Talks With BYD To Buy Stake In Electric-Car Maker

SlashDot - Fri, 2016-07-15 13:40
An anonymous reader writes: Samsung is reportedly in talks with BYD Co. about investing in the Chinese electric-car manufacturer. Bloomberg reports: "Details including the size of the investment will be disclosed when they're confirmed, Samsung said Friday in an emailed statement. The investment in BYD, backed by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway Inc., would bolster Samsung's semiconductor business for cars, the South Korean company said. Samsung is pursuing the investment after its affiliate was among foreign battery makers left off a list of suppliers approved by China, where sales of electric vehicles are surging and the government has sped up construction of charging points. The talks with BYD also add to the global trend of technology companies and automakers collaborating as car buyers increasingly demand more advanced powertrains and features that improve connectivity and safety. 'It puts Samsung into the electric-vehicle subsystem supply chain for a key Chinese electric vehicle and battery manufacturer,' said Bill Russo, a Shanghai-based managing director at Gao Feng Advisory Co. 'BYD gets a technology innovation pipeline partner with a reputable brand.' China surpassed the U.S. as the largest market for electric vehicles last year. The government wants sales of what it calls new-energy vehicles to exceed 3 million units a year by 2025." With the success of its Galaxy S7 flagship smartphones, Samsung said that its second-quarter operating profit likely rose 17.4% from a year earlier.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech News

#PokemonGoMadeMe hashtag has gamers confessing their sins - CNET

Cnet - Fri, 2016-07-15 13:35
Litter-box cleanings and trips to Victoria's Secret and are among the events credited to the Pokemon Go craze.
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Porsches, Porsches, Porsches and some other stuff: Our week on Instagram - Roadshow

Cnet - Fri, 2016-07-15 13:15
Maybe my coworkers should start suggesting titles.
Categories: Tech News

'Game of Thrones' theme rendered in the dulcet tones of 64 floppy drives - CNET

Cnet - Fri, 2016-07-15 13:08
Obsolescence is coming, but it's not quite here yet. Outdated floppy drives revel in a moment of glory by playing the "Game of Thrones" theme song.
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Facebook Makes Little Progress in Race and Gender Diversity

SlashDot - Fri, 2016-07-15 13:00
An anonymous reader shares a Reuters report: Facebook has said about one-third of its workers are female, while black employees accounted for 3% of its US senior leadership, both numbers only slightly higher than a year earlier. The data released by the world's largest social network on Thursday reflects the scant progress made by Silicon Valley heavyweights in making their workplaces more diverse in the face of criticism for having mostly white, male workers. Last month, Alphabet's Google released data on diversity, saying it had more black, Latino and female employees but still lagged its goal of mirroring the population. Women represented 33% of Facebook's global workforce, according to data from 30 June, compared with 32% a year earlier. Women held 27% of senior leadership roles, up from last year's 23%.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Netflix launches Flixtape because music is so passe - CNET

Cnet - Fri, 2016-07-15 12:54
Forget recording tapes and burning CDs -- today is all about the visuals, baby.
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Aston Martin recalls cars for door locks that work too well - Roadshow

Cnet - Fri, 2016-07-15 12:52
Federal regulators frown upon locked doors that cannot be opened from the inside.
Categories: Tech News

Oracle v. Google Not Over Yet: Oracle Seeks Another New Trial While Google Seeks Sanctions On Oracle's Lawyers

TechDirt - Fri, 2016-07-15 12:43
As you probably remember, a jury decided in Google's favor after a somewhat wacky trial that its use of some of the Java APIs was considered fair use. Oracle, of course, isn't going down quietly. It immediately asked the judge, William Alsup, to reject the jury's verdict, which he refused to do. Everyone expects that Oracle will appeal this as high as it can go, though its chances aren't great.

In the meantime, though, Oracle isn't done trying every possible door at the district court level. Last week it simply asked for a new trial in what I can only describe as Oracle's sour grapes motion. It starts out by claiming that "the verdict was against the weight of the evidence" and thus a new trial is necessary. And then it whines about a whole bunch of other issues, including Google's plans to use Android on computers, meaning that the "harm" portion of the trial was unfairly limited to just tablets and phones. It also whines about certain limitations and exclusions of information it was not allowed to present. These are purely "waaaaah, we lost, fix it, waaaaaah" kinds of arguments. The court also excluded lots of Google evidence as well, and Oracle may not really want to revisit some of that either. You can read the full document below or at the link above, but analyzing all of it is pretty silly. It's strictly a sour grapes argument that is unlikely to go anywhere.

At the same time, Oracle filed yet another motion for judgment as a matter of law... that also seems unlikely to go anywhere. Here, though, the argument is basically that the jury got fair use wrong. The argument here is pretty laughable. It goes through each of the four factors and argues why the jury got it wrong. Now, it's true, as some have argued, that a court can take the four fair use factors and basically come to any conclusion it wants, but it's hard to see Judge Alsup doing that here. It would be shocking to see him do so actually. And, rather than go through each argument, I'll just present the table of contents of Oracle's filing here so you can see how desperate the company is: Basically, Oracle is continuing to falsely pretend that fair use only applies to non-commercial use (it doesn't), and that creating something new with an API isn't transformative unless it's like artwork or something (this is wrong). Oracle's interpretation of fair use is not supported by the history or case law of fair use, and it would be shocking to see the court accept it here.

Meanwhile, on the flip side, Google is looking to punish Oracle's lawyers and asking for sanctions against them for revealing in open court sensitive information that had been sealed by the court. On January 14, 2016, Oracle’s counsel Annette Hurst disclosed in open court representations of sensitive confidential financial information of both Google and third-party Apple Inc., as well as extremely confidential internal Google financial information.... After Ms. Hurst’s improper disclosures, Oracle and its counsel neither sought to remedy the effects of the disclosures nor acknowledged their wrongdoing. They instead refused to take responsibility for the disclosures, claimed they were inconsequential because Oracle hoped to use the information at trial (which it never did), and even argued that Google’s motion to seal the third party Apple information—which Judge Ryu subsequently granted,... —was “merely a delaying tactic.” ... Within days of the disclosures, and following Oracle’s failure to take remedial action, this information became headline news for major news outlets, at least one of which noted that, thanks to Ms. Hurst, the press could finally report on confidential information that had theretofore been only a subject of speculation.

Oracle’s disclosures and its subsequent actions reveal a profound disregard for this Court’s Protective Order and for other parties’ confidential information. Google and third party Apple were harmed by Oracle’s counsel’s disclosure regarding the terms of a significant and confidential commercial agreement. Google believes it is important, both for this case and for other cases in this District, for the Court to make clear that Oracle’s counsel’s actions were improper, that Oracle’s excuses for the disclosures are invalid, and that Oracle’s failure, after the fact, to cooperate in remedying the disclosures was inconsistent with the Protective Order.
Disclosing confidential/sealed information in court is a pretty big deal, though I have no idea how the court will rule on this matter.

Either way, it's safe to say that there's little love lost between Google and Oracle (and their lawyers).

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Genius buy: Einstein's smelly leather jacket sells for $146,000 - CNET

Cnet - Fri, 2016-07-15 12:34
Is this the sweet smell of science? Christie's sells the famed physicist's favorite piece of clothing at auction.
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'Tor and Bitcoin Hinder Anti-Piracy Efforts'

SlashDot - Fri, 2016-07-15 12:20
An anonymous reader writes: A new report published by the European Union Intellectual Property Office identifies a wide range of 'business models' that are used by pirate sites. The organization, which announced a new collaboration with Europol this week, signals Bitcoin and the Tor network as two key threats to ongoing anti-piracy efforts. According to the research, several infringing business models rely on encryption-based technologies. The Tor network and Bitcoin, for example, are repeatedly mentioned as part of this "shadow landscape." "It more and more relies on new encrypted technologies like the TOR browser and the Bitcoin virtual currency, which are employed by infringers of IPR to generate income and hide the proceeds of crime from the authorities," the report reads.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google touts new search features to help you vote - CNET

Cnet - Fri, 2016-07-15 12:07
Amid a heated US presidential race, the company is launching tools to help people figure out how to register to vote and get information on the upcoming national conventions.
Categories: Tech News

Bill Introduced To Create Copyright Small Claims Court... Which Copyright Trolls Are Going To Love

TechDirt - Fri, 2016-07-15 11:45
For a while now, some in the copyright community have been pushing for a copyright "small claims court" as an alternative to filing a federal lawsuit over copyright law. It's true that, especially for small copyright holders, the cost of filing a lawsuit may appear to be rather prohibitive. But it's not clear that a small claims court is the answer. A few years ago, we wrote about some potential concerns with such an approach, but have also admitted that if set up right, it could have some advantages. But that requires it be set up right.

Unfortunately, a new bill has been introduced, by Rep. Hakeem Jeffries, along with Rep. Tom Marino, to officially set up such a system -- and it's done in a way that looks like it will not be well-designed, and instead will lead to a massive rush of small claims, especially by copyright trolls. The bill is called the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement Act of 2016, or CASE Act, and... it's got problems.

The "good" news, if you can call it that, is that claims that would go before this appointed tribunal, made up of copyright lawyers recommended by the Register of Copyrights and appointed by the Librarian of Congress, would have much lower statutory damages availability than the federal courts. A copyright claim in a federal court has statutory damages up to $150k, for willful infringement. In the small claims system, the maximum statutory damages would be $15k. But, really, that's just half of today's official statutory damages -- because if there's no willful infringement, the Copyright Act puts a cap at $30k. In the small claims world, there's no option to claim willful infringement.

Another potentially good feature is that this small claims setup would be able to hear two kinds of claims: the standard ones involving claims of someone violating one of the established rights under copyright law... but then also to hear cases about abusive DMCA notifications, under Section 512(f) of the DMCA. Of course, as we've noted in the past, the federal courts have effectively written 512(f) out of the law and refuse to punish those who file bogus DMCA notices. It's not at all clear how things would change here. The bill explicitly notes that the remedies for a 512(f) bogus DMCA notice claim would be limited "to those available under this chapter." But it's unclear if that really means that you could get $15k for a bogus DMCA filing. And that's because the section on statutory damages is clearly written only with people suing for copyright infringement in mind, and not people suing over bogus DMCA takedowns.

For example, it notes that in order to qualify for the $15k maximum statutory damages, it only applies to "works timely registered." But... how does that make sense for 512(f) claims? In those cases, the question of whether or not the defendant timely registered a copyright makes no sense at all. If someone sends a bogus DMCA takedown over a copyright that doesn't exist or that they don't hold, why should its registration status matter? It's almost as if Rep. Jeffries (or the lobbyists who wrote this bill) only tossed in the part about 512(f) claims to appease people concerned about abusive DMCA takedowns, and then completely forgot about it after they included that.

But the really big problem in my mind is that this seems likely to just be swamped by copyright trolls. We already see that they're flooding the federal court system, where multiple rulings against joinder (i.e., the ridiculous bundling of thousands of possible file sharers together) has meant that when trolls do sue, they're generally limited in how many people they can sue. Making the process cheaper, but still offering statutory damages amounts that can be quite scary to the average American, and that can still get the job done of scaring threatened users into paying up fines that are much smaller than the $15,000.

And, yes, this small claims system will allow for discovery, which is the key feature that trolls want. They want to sue, and then get discovery where they can send demands to ISPs for names of subscribers based on IP addresses, and there doesn't appear to be anything in the bill to stop that. It does note that parties seeking discovery need to show "good cause" to enable discovery, but that may be a fairly low bar. It also notes that responding to discovery requests to non-parties in the dispute will be "voluntary" so perhaps ISPs will resist, but that's not certain. And thus, this three-panel board may find itself on the receiving end of a ton of ridiculous claims from trolls who have no intention of following through with the case. One would hope, with the federal court system's copyright docket currently overrun with trolling cases, that whoever drafted this law would have thought through a better plan to stop that from happening here.

Another potential issue: the bill would let individuals go after not just actual infringers, but also service providers if they fail to follow through on a DMCA takedown notice. Basically, it exports the DMCA safe harbors to this small claims process as well, but that may mean that internet platforms are going to get dragged through this process that was meant to focus on small claims that could be easily adjudicated.

There's also this oddity. After laying out the specific responsibilities of the three individuals who will handle all of these small claims cases, the bill notes: When not engaged in performing their duties as prescribed in this chapter, to perform such other duties as may be assigned by the Register of Copyrights. What, exactly, is that going to entail?

Who knows how this will actually play out. A few years back, the UK introduced its own small claims copyright system. But I have no idea how it's doing. I haven't seen any numbers or indication of how widely it's used. Perhaps it works great and is a useful tool for dealing with small scale infringement issues. But I do worry about the way the bill is currently written and how it can be abused, especially by trolls who just want to pressure people into settling, and where the threat of a $15k award might be plenty.

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NASA shows what it would be like to land on Pluto - CNET

Cnet - Fri, 2016-07-15 11:40
New Horizons made a close pass of the distant dwarf planet last year, and now the space agency has visualized a future approach in preparation for reaching the surface.
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White House Pledges $400M To Back Speedier 5G Wireless Networks

SlashDot - Fri, 2016-07-15 11:40
The Obama Administration has announced a new funding initiative to ensure the United States maintains its leadership in the mobile technology space. For this, it will spend over $400 million on large-scale test platforms led by National Science Foundation with an aim to develop and advance wireless technology to 5G and beyond. Fortune reports: To be sure, the private sector has also been getting smarter and better organized for 5G this year and the new Obama effort will be conducted in conjunction with a bevy of technology and telecommunications partners. All four major wireless carriers, AT&T, Verizon Communications, Sprint, and T-Mobile, are participating. Tech companies on board include Intel, Juniper Networks, Qualcomm, and Nokia. Notably, Apple, Google, and Microsoft are missing from the list. "These super-fast, ultra-low latency, high-capacity networks will enable breakthrough applications for consumers, smart cities, and the Internet of Things that cannot even be imagined today," the White House said in a statement. The report adds: The transition to the next generation standard for wireless networks, so-called 5G, has so far been fraught with confusion, complications, and even some contradictions. But in a few years, when 5G gear sending data at up to 100 times the speed of current networks is commonplace, people may remember July 2016 as a major turning point. The private sector has offered mixed messages about when 5G will be available for regular people and just what it will be used for. Without many standards yet agreed upon, some predicted 5G would be ready starting next year, but others said not until 2020 or later. Some wanted to use it to speed up smartphone connections, while others said it was better suited to improve home and business Internet connections or to collect data from smart devices in the "Internet of Things."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Tech News

Police plead with Pokemon Go players to stop calling 911 - CNET

Cnet - Fri, 2016-07-15 11:17
Technically Incorrect: Oh, yes. The belief that there are monsters in police stations and firehouses is causing players to call in and check.
Categories: Tech News

Comcast Expands $10 Low-Income Internet Plan

SlashDot - Fri, 2016-07-15 11:00
Jon Brodkin, reporting for Ars Technica: Comcast's Internet Essentials program that provides $10-per-month Internet service to low-income families has been expanded to make about 1.3 million additional households eligible. Comcast created Internet Essentials in order to secure approval of its acquisition of NBCUniversal in 2011 and has decided to continue it indefinitely even though the requirement expired in 2014. Comcast says the 10Mbps plan has connected more than 600,000 low-income families since 2011, for a total of 2.4 million adults and children, and provided 47,000 subsidized computers for less than $150 each. Advocates for the poor have complained that the Internet Essentials service is too hard to sign up for, in part because of problems with the application process but also because it's usually only available to families with kids in school. That latter issue is what Comcast addressed today, announcing that "adults without a child eligible for the National School Lunch Program will be eligible to apply for Internet Essentials." Previously, pilot programs gave access to some low-income seniors and low-income community college students, but this is the first time that Internet Essentials will be available to adults without children nationwide.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Federal Revenge Porn Bill Not As Bad As It Could Have Been, Still Probably Unconstitutional

TechDirt - Fri, 2016-07-15 10:39
For the last two and half years or so, my Congressional Representative, Jackie Speier, has insisted that she was just about to introduce a federal law outlawing revenge porn. And then it wouldn't come. There would be an article saying it was almost ready... and then nothing. Months would go by, another article would appear... and then nothing. Finally, on Thursday, Speier introduced the bill, insisting that the delay was in convincing Silicon Valley companies to sign on to it. Of course, that leaves out the fact that the reason many refused to sign on was because previous iterations of the bill were incredibly problematic and almost certainly unconstitutional. With two and half years to work on it, however, the finally introduced bill, called the Intimate Privacy Protection Act of 2016, or IPPA, is not nearly as bad as it could have been, nor as bad as some of the suggestions passed around by those who "consulted" on drafting the bill.

But that doesn't mean the bill isn't unconstitutional.

Let's be clear: revenge porn is horrific. The creeps who put up revenge porn sites deserve to be shamed and mocked. The people who actually upload images to such sites or visit them are complete losers who need to get a life. But there are really important legal issues that come up when you try to outlaw such things, starting with the First Amendment. Yes, yes, as everyone will say, there are some exceptions to the First Amendment (though if you claim that shouting fire in a crowded theater is one of them, you're going to be mocked as well). But the exceptions to the first First Amendment are very narrowly prescribed by the Supreme Court, and they're much more narrow than most armchair lawyers believe. Looking over the list, it's pretty difficult to see how revenge porn fits.

Next up, context matters a lot, and while the bill tries to take some of that into account, it's unclear if it actually succeeds. The bill has a vague and nearly totally undefined "public interest" exception -- but what does that actually include? That's left unclear. Remember last year when Lenny Kravitz accidentally exposed himself at a concert. Was everyone who passed around videos of images of that violating this new revenge porn bill? It would seem so. That would be "knowingly" using an "interactive computer service... to distribute a visual depiction of a person who is identifiable from the image itself or information displayed in connection with the image... of the naked genitals... of a person, with reckless disregard for the person's lack of consent to the distribution."

Remember, tons of people were passing around that image and video last year. Should all of them face five years in prison plus fines? That seems... extreme. And extremely problematic.

The ACLU has a rather simple request to fix this problem with the law: add an intent requirement, such that it only applies to those who "maliciously and intentionally invade another person's privacy." Even that may have some First Amendment issues, but supporters of the law refused to add an intent standard, claiming that such a standard would be too limiting, and wouldn't cover those who weren't motivated by "malice" but by money or fame. But, that's ridiculous. Any court would likely decide that setting up a revenge porn site for money was a form of malice.

Thankfully, this version of the law says that it does not apply to online platforms, as defined by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which is a big jump from where some of the crafters of this bill were a few years ago, in which they openly discussed undermining CDA 230 as a way to attack revenge porn.

In the end, two and a half years of effort means that the bill isn't as horrible as some of the earliest suggestions, but it's still not clear that it's constitutional. It seems likely that the ACLU, and possibly others, will likely challenge this law should it pass and then I guess we'll find out what the courts actually think of it.

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Daily Deal: Ultimate Adobe Photo Editing Bundle

TechDirt - Fri, 2016-07-15 10:34
Learn how to edit your pictures like a pro with the $29 Ultimate Adobe Photo Editing Bundle. The 8 courses cover what you need to know about Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, from becoming familiar with the interfaces and learning shortcuts to how to properly use layers and color correction to enhance your photos. Throughout the courses, you'll be learning from graphic designers and entrepreneurs about how to create images for various industries or your own social media, and you will have unlimited access to the instructional materials so you can reference them whenever you need them. You'll learn how to take your photos from merely Instagram good to frame-worthy.

Note: The Techdirt Deals Store is powered and curated by StackCommerce. A portion of all sales from Techdirt Deals helps support Techdirt. The products featured do not reflect endorsements by our editorial team.

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Microsoft: Windows 10 Won't Hit 1 Billion Devices By Mid-2018

SlashDot - Fri, 2016-07-15 10:20
Despite Microsoft's aggressive efforts to get everyone to upgrade to Windows 10 by mid-2018, the company says it is unlikely to meet its self-imposed deadline. In a statement to ZDNet, the company said: Windows 10 is off to the hottest start in history with over 350M monthly active devices, with record customer satisfaction and engagement. We're pleased with our progress to date, but due to the focusing of our phone hardware business, it will take longer than FY18 for us to reach our goal of 1 billion monthly active devices. In the year ahead, we are excited about usage growth coming from commercial deployments and new devices -- and increasing customer delight with Windows. ZDNet's Mary Jo Foley writes: Microsoft Windows and Devices chief Terry Myerson made the original claim at Build 2015, noting that the 1 billion figure would encompass all kinds of devices that would run Windows 10 in some variant, including desktops, PCs, laptops, tablets, Windows Phones, Xbox One gaming consoles, Surface Hub conferencing systems, HoloLens augmented reality glasses and various Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Officials said at that time that the majority of those 1 billion devices would be PCs and tablets. But Windows Phones running Windows 10 Mobile also were expected to help Microsoft reach that total by mid-2018.Since April 2015, the bottom has fallen out of the Windows Phone market, with Microsoft officials conceding that Windows Phone isn't much of a focus for Microsoft in calendar 2016.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Newt Gingrich: Merely Visiting An ISIS Or Al Qaeda Website Should Be A Felony

TechDirt - Fri, 2016-07-15 09:41
Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich is making some news today for some silly remarks he made on Fox News last night in response to the attack last night in Nice, France. It comes right at the beginning of this video: All of the press -- for good reason -- is focusing on the first part of what he said, about deporting anyone "of Muslim background" (whatever that means) who "believes in Sharia." We'll skip over why this is totally clueless and unconstitutional, because plenty of other news sites are handling that.

Instead, we'll move on to the second craziest thing he said, right after that first statement, which is something that fits much more with Techdirt's usual themes: Gingrich then claims two ridiculous things, each only slightly less ridiculous than his first statement: Anybody who goes on a website favoring ISIS, or Al Qaeda, or other terrorist groups, that should be a felony and they should go to jail. Any organization which hosts such a website should be engaged in a felon. It should be closed down immediately. Our forces should be used to systematically destroy every internet based source... He then goes on to note that if we can't take them off the internet, we should just kill them all. Which, you know, I'm sure won't anger any more people against us.

Either way, this is idiotic. Merely visiting a website should put you in jail? What if you're a journalist? Or a politician? Or a researcher trying to understand ISIS? That should be a felony? That's not how it works. This also assumes, idiotically, that merely reading a website about ISIS will make people side with ISIS. It's also not, at all, how the law works. Same with the second part about it being a felony to host such content. We're already seeing lawsuits against social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube for hosting accounts from ISIS, and many are voluntarily taking down lots of those accounts. But making it a felony to keep them up? That's also not how the law works.

Reacting to a very real problem with stupid unconstitutional solutions suggests someone who has no clue what he's doing.

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