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Google

Google Fiber To Cut Staff In Half After User Totals Disappoint, Says Report (dslreports.com) 19

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Sources claim that Google Fiber has been disappointed with the company's overall number of total subscribers since launching five years ago. A paywalled report over at The Information cites a variety of anonymous current and former Google employees, who say the estimated 200,000 or so broadband subscribers the company had managed to sign up by the end of 2014 was a fary cry from the company's original projection of somewhere closer to 5 million. Google Fiber has never revealed its total number of subscribers. A report last October pegged the company's total broadband subscribers at somewhere around 120,000, though it's unclear how many of those users had signed up for Google Fiber's symmetrical 5 Mbps tier, which was originally free after users paid a $300 installation fee. Disappointed by sluggish subscriber tallies, The Information report states that last month Alphabet CEO Larry Page ordered Google Fiber boss Craig Barratt to cut the total Google Fiber staff in half to roughly 500 people. That's a claim that's sure to only fuel continued speculation that the company is starting to get cold feet about its attempts to bring broadband competition to a broken duopoly market.
Wireless Networking

Italy Quake Rescuers Ask Locals To Unlock Their Wi-Fi (bbc.com) 41

Rescue teams searching for earthquake survivors in central Italy have asked locals to unlock their Wifi passwords. The Italian Red Cross says residents' home networks can assist with communications during the search for survivors, reports BBC. From the report: On Wednesday a 6.2 magnitude earthquake struck central Italy and killed more than 240 people. More than 4,300 rescuers are looking for survivors believed to still be trapped in the rubble. On Twitter, the Italian Red Cross posted a step-by-step guide which explains how local residents can switch off their Wifi network encryption. Similar requests have been made by the National Geological Association and Lazio Region. A security expert has warned that removing encryption from a home Wifi network carries its own risks, but added that those concerns are trivial in the context of the rescue operation.
AT&T

ISP Lobbyists Pushing Telecom Act Rewrite (dslreports.com) 36

Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports:Telecom lobbyists are pushing hard for a rewrite of the Telecom Act, this time with a notable eye on cutting FCC funding and overall authority. AT&T donated at least $70,000 to back Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan, and clearly expects him to spearhead the rewrite and make it a priority in 2017. The push is an industry backlash to a number of consumer friendly initiatives at the FCC, including new net neutrality rules, the reclassification of ISPs under Title II, new broadband privacy rules, new cable box reform and an attempt to protect municipal broadband. AT&T's Ryan donation is the largest amount AT&T has ever donated to a single candidate, though outgoing top AT&T lobbyist Jim Cicconi has also thrown his support behind Hillary Clinton.
IOS

iPhones and iPads Fail More Often Than Android Smartphones (softpedia.com) 87

An anonymous reader writes: The main question when picking a new phone is whether to choose an Android one or an iPhone. A new study coming from Blancco Technology Group sheds some light on which devices are the most reliable, based on reliability. The study entitled State of Mobile Device Performance and Health reveals the device failure rates by operating systems, manufacturers, models and regions, as well as the most common types of performance issues. The report reveals that in Q2 2016, iOS devices had a 58% failure rate, marking the first time that Apple's devices have a lower performance rate compared to Android. It seems that the iPhone 6 had the highest failure rate of 29%, followed by iPhone 6s and iPhone 6S Plus. Android smartphones had an overall failure rate of 35%, an improvement from 44% in Q1 2016. Samsung, Lenovo and LeTV were among the manufacturers with the weakest performance and higher failure rates. Samsung scored 26% in failure rate, while Motorola just 11%. The study also reveals that iOS devices fail more frequently in North America and Asia compared to Android. Specifically, the failure rate in North America is 59%, while in Asia 52%. The failures could be influenced by the fact that the quality of smartphones shipped around the world varies.
Windows

Windows 10 Computers Crash When Amazon Kindles Are Plugged In (theguardian.com) 142

It appears that many users are facing an issue with their Windows 10 computers when they plug in an Amazon Kindle device. According to reports, post Windows 10 Anniversary Update installation, everytime a user connect their Amazon Paperwhite or Voyage, their desktop and laptop lock up and require rebooting. The Guardian reports:Pooka, a user of troubleshooting forum Ten Forums said: "I've had a Kindle paperwhite for a few years no and never had an issue with connecting it via USB. However, after the recent Windows 10 updates, my computer BSOD's [blue screen of death] and force restarts almost as soon as I plug my Kindle in." On Microsoft's forums, Rick Hale said: "On Tuesday, I upgraded to the Anniversary Edition of Windows 10. Last night, for the first time since the upgrade, I mounted my Kindle by plugging it into a USB 2 port. I immediately got the blue screen with the QR code. I rebooted and tried several different times, even using a different USB cable, but that made no difference."
Government

Malware Sold To Governments Helped Them Spy on iPhones (washingtonpost.com) 23

One of the world's most evasive digital arms dealers is believed to have been taking advantage of three security vulnerabilities in popular Apple products in its efforts to spy on dissidents and journalists, reports The New York Times. (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled, here's an alternate source). From the report: Investigators discovered that a company called the NSO Group, an Israeli outfit that sells software that invisibly tracks a target's mobile phone, was responsible for the intrusions. The NSO Group's software can read text messages and emails and track calls and contacts. It can even record sounds, collect passwords and trace the whereabouts of the phone user. In response, Apple on Thursday released a patched version of its mobile software, iOS 9.3.5. Users can get the patch through a normal software update.The Washington Post reports that these "zero-day" flaws were previously used by the governments to take over victims' phones by tricking them into clicking on a link to a text message. Motherboard says that this is the first time anyone has uncovered such an attack in the wild. "Until this month, no one had seen an attempted spyware infection leveraging three unknown bugs, or zero-days, in the iPhone. The tools and technology needed for such an attack, which is essentially a remote jailbreak of the iPhone, can be worth as much as one million dollars."
Google

You Can Now Play Solitaire and Tic-Tac-Toe in Google's Search Results (venturebeat.com) 44

Paul Sawers, writing for VentureBeat: Google announced a couple of fun little nuggets today: you can now play Solitaire and Tic-Tac-Toe directly in Google's search results. Available through the desktop and Google mobile apps, anyone searching for the keywords "solitaire" or "tic-tac-toe" will see the usual search results, but featured prominently alongside them you'll also now see a "tap to play" option which whisks you off to play the game. Google is no stranger to hiding so-called "easter eggs" in its products, including Search -- for example, last year it had a surprise in store to mark the anniversary of Super Mario. Moreover, Google already lets you play some games within Search, including Pacman.
China

China To Crackdown On Unauthorised Radio Broadcasts (www.bgr.in) 38

An anonymous reader writes: Reportedly, in a national campaign aided by more than 30,000 airwave monitors, in over past six months, more than 500 sets of equipment for making unauthorised radio broadcasts were seized in China. The campaign, launched on February 15 by the State Council, resulted in 1,796 cases related to illegal radio stations, after 301,840 hours of monitoring from February to July, according to an online statement by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. The number of incidents was down by 50 per cent from April to August, the China Daily quoted the statement as saying. So-called pirate radios have appeared in most parts of China since 2015 and this "has been a channel for criminals to defraud and promote aphrodisiacs, along with counterfeit and poor-quality medicine," according to the Ministry of Public Security's Criminal Investigation Department. The operating cost of a pirate radio is low, but profit can be high. A pirate radio station that broadcasts advertisements for aphrodisiacs can pocket more than 70,000 yuan ($10,500) a month, with an overhead cost of no more than 10,000 yuan, investigators said in a post on Sina Weibo. It said most spare parts for broadcasting equipment can be bought on the internet.
Games

Driver Killed a Pedestrian in Japan While Playing Pokemon Go (fortune.com) 144

An anonymous reader writes: One woman was killed and another injured. In what police are calling Japan's first death linked to Pokemon Go, a driver playing the smartphone game hit two pedestrians on Tuesday night, officials said. The collision broke the neck of one woman, killing her, and left another woman with a broken hip, the Wall Street Journal reports. Police in Tokushima, on the western Japanese island of Shikoku, told the Wall Street Journal the women were crossing the street when the car struck them. The man driving the car did not see them because was playing Pokemon Go.
Businesses

Uber Loses At Least $1.2 Billion In First Half of 2016 (bloomberg.com) 130

An anonymous reader writes: The ride-hailing giant Uber Technologies Inc. is not a public company, but every three months, dozens of shareholders get on a conference call to hear the latest details on its business performance from its head of finance, Gautam Gupta. On Friday, Gupta told investors that Uber's losses mounted in the second quarter. Even in the U.S., where Uber had turned a profit during its first quarter, the company was once again losing money. In the first quarter of this year, Uber lost about $520 million before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, according to people familiar with the matter. In the second quarter the losses significantly exceeded $750 million, including a roughly $100 million shortfall in the U.S., those people said. That means Uber's losses in the first half of 2016 totalled at least $1.27 billion. "It's hardly rare for companies to lose large sums of money as they try to build significant markets and battle for market share," said Joe Grundfest, professor of law and business at Stanford. "The interesting challenge is for them to turn the corner to become profitable, cash-flow-positive entities."
Transportation

Singapore Launches World's First 'Self-driving' Taxi Service (theguardian.com) 47

Days before ride-hailing service Uber debuts its self-driving car in Pittsburgh, a company in Singapore has beaten Uber to the race. The Guardian reports: The world's first "self-driving" taxi service has been launched in Singapore -- albeit with a human backup driver and co-pilot on board for the time being. Members of the public selected to take part in the trial would be able to hail a free ride through their smartphones, said nuTonomy, an autonomous vehicle software startup. The cars -- modified Renault Zoe and Mitsubishi i-MiEV electrics -- had a driver in the front prepared to take back the wheel and a researcher in the back watching the car's computers, the company said. Each was fitted with Lidar, a laser-based detection system like radar. An Associated Press reporter taking a ride on Wednesday observed that the safety driver had to step on the brakes once, when a car was obstructing the test car's lane and another vehicle, which appeared to be parked, suddenly began moving in the oncoming lane. The service would start with six cars, growing to a dozen by the end of the year, said nuTonomy, adding that it aimed to have a fully self-driving taxi fleet in Singapore by 2018.
Facebook

WhatsApp To Share Some Data With Facebook (bloomberg.com) 88

Two years ago when Facebook bought WhatsApp, the instant messaging client said that the deal would not affect the digital privacy of its users. Things are changing now, WhatsApp said Thursday. The Facebook-owned app will share with the company some member information, as well as some analytics data of its users. Bloomberg reports: WhatsApp announced a change to its privacy policy today that allows businesses to communicate with users. The messages could include appointment reminders, delivery and shipping notifications or marketing material, the company said in its revised terms of service. In a blog post, WhatsApp said it will be testing these business features over the coming months. The strategy is an important step for Facebook as it attempts to make money from its most expensive acquisition. In addition to the messages from businesses, WhatsApp said it would begin sharing more information about its users with the "Facebook family." The data, including a person's phone number, could be used to better targets ads when browsing Facebook or Instagram, WhatsApp said.
Social Networks

Researchers Create Algorithm That Diagnoses Depression From Your Instagram Feed (inverse.com) 74

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Inverse: Harvard University's Andrew Reece and the University of Vermont's Chris Danforth crafted an algorithm that can correctly diagnose depression, with up to 70 percent accuracy, based on a patient's Instagram feed alone. After a careful screening process, the team analyzed almost 50,000 photos from 166 participants, all of whom were Instagram users and 71 of whom had already been diagnosed with clinical depression. Their results confirmed their two hypotheses: first, that "markers of depression are observable in Instagram user behavior," and second, that "these depressive signals are detectable in posts made even before the date of first diagnosis." The duo had good rationale for both hypotheses. Photos shared on Instagram, despite their innocent appearance, are data-laden: Photos are either taken during the day or at night, in- or outdoors. They may include or exclude people. The user may or may not have used a filter. You can imagine an algorithm drooling at these binary inputs, all of which reflect a person's preferences, and, in turn, their well-being. Metadata is likewise full of analyzable information: How many people liked the photo? How many commented on it? How often does the user post, and how often do they browse? Many studies have shown that depressed people both perceive less color in the world and prefer dark, anemic scenes and images. The majority of healthy people, on the other hand, prefer colorful things. [Reece and Danforth] collected each photo's hue, saturation, and value averages. Depressed people, they found, tended to post photos that were more bluish, unsaturated, and dark. "Increased hue, along with decreased brightness and saturation, predicted depression," they write. The researchers found that happy people post less than depressed people, happy people post photos with more people in them than their depressed counterparts. and that depressed participants were less likely to use filters. The majority of "healthy" participants chose the Valencia filter, while the majority of "depressed" participants chose the Inkwell filter. Inverse has a neat little chart embedded in their report that shows the usage of Instagram filters between depressed and healthy users.
Businesses

Canon Unveils EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR (canonrumors.com) 146

It's been a little more than 4 year since Canon unveiled the EOS 5D Mark III. Today, Canon took the wraps off its successor -- the EOS 5D Mark IV. The Mark IV features a 34-megapixel, full-frame CMOS sensor and Digic 6+ processor with support for capturing 4K video at 23.98, 24, 25 and 30 fps. In addition, it features a 61-point autofocus system, built-in digital lens optimizer, NFC, Wi-Fi and an ISO range of 100-32,000. The continuous shooting mode is set at 7 fps, compared to 6 fps on the 5D Mark III. It will also take both CompactFlash and SD cards, and there is GPS included in the body for geotagging images. Canon is selling the Mark IV in early September for $3,499 for the body only. They're also selling two new L-series EF lenses -- the Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L III USM Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens and EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM Standard Zoom Lens. President and COO, Canon U.S.A., Inc, Yichi Ishizuka said in a statement: "Canon's EOS 5D series of DSLR cameras has a history of being at the forefront of still and video innovation. And today, we add to this family of cameras the EOS 5D Mark IV -- the first in our 5D series to offer 4K video and built-in Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. In developing this new DSLR camera, we listened to the requests of current EOS users to create for them a modern, versatile camera designed to help them create and share beautiful still and video imagery." Here's a blast from the past: Canon's EOS 1Ds Mark II. Slashdot reader LoudMusic submitted this story back in 2004, highlighting the camera's "802.11a/g and wired networking capabilities."
ISS

NASA Astronaut Jeff Williams Sets New US Space Endurance Record With 521 Days (cbsnews.com) 42

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: Space station commander Jeff Williams set a new U.S. space endurance record Wednesday, his 521st day in orbit over four missions, eclipsing the 520-day record set earlier this year by astronaut Scott Kelly at the end of his nearly one-year stay aboard the lab complex. Williams now moves up to 17th on the list of the world's most experienced astronauts and cosmonauts. The overall record is held by cosmonaut Gennady Padalka, who logged 878 days in orbit over five missions. Williams, Soyuz TMA-20M commander Alexey Ovchinin and flight engineer Oleg Skripochka were launched to the space station March 18. They plan to return to Earth Sept. 6 (U.S. time), landing in Kazakhstan to close out a 172-day mission. At landing, Williams will have logged 534 days aloft, moving him up to 14th on the space endurance list. Williams first flew in space in 2000 aboard the shuttle Atlantis, the third shuttle flight devoted to station assembly. He served as a flight engineer aboard the station in 2006 and completed a second long-duration stay in 2010, serving as a flight engineer and then commander of Expedition 22. "I wanted to congratulate you on passing me up here in total number of days in space," Kelly radioed Williams Wednesday. "It's great to see another record broken. [...] But I do have one question for you. And my question is, do you have another 190 days in you?" Kelly was referring to the time Williams' current mission would have to be extended to equal Kelly's U.S. single-flight record. Williams laughed, saying "190 days. That question's not for me, that's for my wife!"

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