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+ - Sony streams 'The Interview' online and makes Hollywood history->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "The controversial Sony Pictures comedy "The Interview" was released on YouTube, Google Play, the Microsoft Xbox video game console, and a special Web site.

The movie, which started streaming online around 1 p.m. ET, costs $5.99 to rent and $14.99 to buy.
So it is having historic simultaneous release in both living rooms and, come Christmas Day, about 300 independently-owned theaters across the United States.

Sony announced the digital release just an hour ahead of time, after CNNMoney and other news organizations began to report on the studio's plans to distribute "The Interview" through YouTube's movie rental store. Word spread via social media, and some curious fans started watching — and live-tweeting — the movie right at 1 p.m."

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+ - TripAdvisor Fined in Italy For Fake Reviews->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Good or bad, TripAdvisor usually thrives on reviews — but when antitrust officials in Italy gave their damning opinion of the travel website, it wasn't quite so happy.

Slapped with a 500,000 euro fine ($611,000) for unfair trade activity and "misleading consumers," TripAdvisor has hit back, accusing the Italian Competition Authority (ICA) of being out of touch.

"We think the ruling is unreasonable, strongly disagree with its findings and will file an appeal," it said in a statement.
"We firmly believe that TripAdvisor is a force for good — both for consumers and the hospitality industry."

The regulator complained that people reading TripAdvisor Italy were unable to distinguish between genuine and fake reviews posted on the site. It said both were presented by TripAdvisor as "authentic and genuine in nature."

Demanding payment of the fine within 30 days, the ICA also accused the travel company of failing to provide proper checks to weed out bogus postings.

It said TripAdvisor Italy had fallen foul of three articles of the Italian consumer code, "making it likely to mislead a wide audience of consumers.""

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+ - Apple automatically patches Macs to fix severe NTP security flaw-> 1

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "It's the first time OS X's auto-patcher has been used.

Most OS X security updates are issued alongside other fixes via the Software Update mechanism, and these require some kind of user interaction to install—you've either got to approve them manually or tell your Mac to install them automatically. Apple does have the ability to quietly and automatically patch systems if it needs to, however, and it has exercised that ability for the first time to patch a critical flaw in the Network Time Protocol (NTP) used to keep the system clock in sync.

This security hole became public knowledge late last week. When exploited, the NTP flaw can cause buffer overflows that allow remote attackers to execute code on your system. If you allow your system to "install system data files and security updates" automatically (checked by default), you've probably already gotten the update and seen the notification above. If not, Mountain Lion, Mavericks, and Yosemite users should use Software Update to download and install the update as soon as possible. The flaw may exist in Lion, Snow Leopard, and older OS X versions, but they're old enough that Apple isn't providing security updates for them anymore.

While this was the first time this particular auto-update function has been used, Apple also automatically updates a small database of malware definitions on all Macs that keeps users from installing known-bad software. That feature, dubbed "XProtect," was introduced in Snow Leopard in response to the Mac Defender malware and has since expanded to include several dozen items"

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+ - Uber seeking patent on surge pricing->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Uber is seeking a patent for its "surge pricing," in which riders are sometimes charged exorbitant amounts at times of high demand.
The company submitted a patent application in September 2013. Uber initially had that application rejected by the U.S. Patent Office, but it is appealing that decision.

New guidelines announced by the Patent Office just last week could change the way the office rules on its application, according to a patent expert. The new rules seek to strike more of a balance between rewarding innovators and promoting free commerce, said Michael Messinger, a director at the law firm Sterne Kessler.

The Uber case is the type of case that could show how the Patent Office implements those new guidelines.

The surge pricing is one of the innovations that separates Uber from traditional taxi services, which charge a fixed rate that is generally set by a city's taxi commission. Uber argues the surge prices can attract additional drivers to handle periods of peak demand.

But it came under harsh criticism just last week when it was charging as much as 200 Australian dollars ($165), to passengers who wanted to flee central Sydney as a hostage crisis unfolded in the city. In the face of the criticism for those prices, the company offered refunds and free rides."

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+ - Google Unveils Fully Functional Self-Driving Car Prototype->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Self-driving cars are now a reality.

Google on Monday revealed the first complete build of the fully autonomous vehicle it has been working on, a huge milestone in the company's self-driving car project. Google's first real prototype for fully autonomous driving looks similar to the early mock-up it showed off back in May, with the addition of working headlights and a slick, shiny body that looks something like a tiny Volkswagen Bug.

Over the past six months, Google said it has been working on different "prototypes of prototypes," each designed to test different systems the car will use. The process has involved testing not only typical car parts — like the steering wheel and braking system — but self-driving components like the computer and sensors as well, Google said.

Now, it's time for testing.

"We're going to be spending the holidays zipping around our test track, and we hope to see you on the streets of Northern California in the new year," the company wrote in a Google+ post."

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+ - Orion spacecraft hits speeds of 20,000mph in NASA's dramatic footage of descent->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "This footage shows the dramatic descent of the Orion spacecraft as it returned to Earth.

NASA released the video to demonstrate just what astronauts will witness as they re-enter the planet from Mars.

It shows the final 10 minutes of the unmanned voyage before it landed in the Pacific ocean following its test flight on 5 December.

The extreme environmental conditions the craft and any future crew must contend with as it re-enters the Earth's orbit are laid bare in the clip.

Plasma on the craft is formed as temperature rapidly increases when the atmosphere rubs against Orion's heat shield, changing from white to yellow to lavender to magenta."

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+ - Deepest Dwelling Creatures On Earth Discovered By College Students->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Whitman biology professor Paul Yancey and students Anna Downing '16 and Chloe Weinstock '17 have returned from the first detailed study of the Mariana Trench aboard Schmidt Ocean Institute's research vessel Falkor.

The Mariana Trench — located in the Western Pacific near Guam — has been the focus of high-profile voyages to conquer Challenger Deep, the deepest place on Earth. This recent expedition to the Trenchonboard Research Vessel Falkor targeted multiple depths and found active thriving communities of animals. The expedition set many new records, including the deepest rock samples ever collected and the discovery of new fish species at the greatest depths ever recorded.

New species were discovered on this expedition that will provide insight into the physiological adaptations of animals to this high-pressure environment. This research is being conducted in the lab of Whitman College'sProfessor of Biology Paul Yancey. In the past, Yancey and his students, working on animals from moderate depths, discovered certain organic molecules that protect the cells of deep-sea animals from the effects of high pressure, which distorts proteins such as enzymes. These kinds of protective molecules are also being tested to treat human diseases that are caused by malformed proteins, such as cystic fibrosis. Additionally, his work on protective molecules in fishes predicted that fish would not be able to live below about 8,200 meters (27,060 feet). Prior to this expedition, the deepest documented fish was from 7,700 meters (25,410 feet).

The expedition also broke several records for the deepest living fish either caught or seen on video. Setting the record at 8,143 meters, (26,872 feet) was a completely unknown variety of snail fish, which stunned scientists when it was filmed several times during sea floor experiments. The white translucent fish had broad wing-like fins and an eel-like tail, and slowly glided over the bottom."

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+ - Staples: Breach may have affected 1.16 million customers' cards->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "The office-supply retailer gave new details about a breach at more than 100 of its stores.

Staples said Friday afternoon that nearly 1.16 million customer payment cards may have been affected in a data breach under investigation since October.

The office-supply retailer said two months ago that it was working with law enforcement officials to look into a possible hacking of its customers’ credit card data. Staples said in October that it had learned of a potential data theft at several of its U.S. stores after multiple banks noticed a pattern of payment card fraud suggesting the company computer systems had been breached.

Now, Staples believes that point-of-sale systems at 115 Staples locations were infected with malware that thieves may have used to steal customers’ names, payment card numbers, expiration dates and card verification codes, Staples said on Friday. At all but two of those stores, the malware would have had access to customer data for purchases made between August 10 and September 16 of this year. At the remaining two stores, the malware was active from July 20 through September 16, the company said."

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+ - T-Mobile to pay $90M for unauthorized charges on customers' bills->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "T-Mobile US will pay at least $90 million to settle a Federal Communications Commission suit that alleged it looked the other way while third parties charged T-Mobile subscribers for services they didn't want.

The settlement is the second largest for so-called "cramming," following one that the FCC reached with AT&T in October. It came just two days after the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau sued Sprint for the same practice.

Cramming involves sneaking third-party service charges onto phone bills without getting valid authorization from the subscriber. The most notorious type of unwanted service involved in cramming is PSMS (premium Short Message Service), in which consumers get recurring text messages on topics like jokes of the day and celebrity gossip. The settlements with AT&T and T-Mobile ban those carriers from putting any third-party PSMS charges on their bills. But there are other third-party charges that may appear on phone bills without authorization, including some types of purchases made within mobile apps.

T-Mobile let third parties continue billing its subscribers for services they never approved, even when as many as half the people getting billed for a service had complained to T-Mobile, said Travis LeBlanc, the FCC's enforcement chief. The carrier had a policy of investigating any service with a complaint rate higher than 15 percent, yet it let many of those companies keep putting their charges on T-Mobile bills, he said. T-Mobile got a 35 percent cut of the third-party charges, according to the FCC.

"We learned during this case that T-Mobile was in bed with the crammers," LeBlanc said on a conference call about the settlement on Friday. Under the settlement, T-Mobile did not admit or deny the allegations. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The carrier must pay at least $67.5 million to fund a program to pay its customers back, plus $18 million to state governments participating in the settlement and a $4.5 million penalty paid to the U.S. Treasury. If consumers' claims go higher, T-Mobile will have to pay them, with no upper limit. Consumers who believe they were wrongly charged will be able to apply for refunds at a website set up for the purpose. That site was not immediately available."

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+ - ISS astronaut needs a wrench, NASA successfully 'emails' him one->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "An astronaut aboard the International Space Station needed a socket wrench, so NASA engineers emailed him designs for 3D-printing one. What a world we're living in.

Before 3D printing, if astronauts needed something that wasn't already aboard the ISS, they would have to wait several months for the next shuttle to arrive. Now, scientists and engineers on the ground can design whatever the astronauts might need, and send the file directly to the 3D printer aboard the ISS to be printed and used immediately. A post on Medium by Made in Space co-founder Mike Chen outlines the process.

Made in Space is the group created to design, build and ultimately send a zero-gravity 3D printer to the ISS. The company heard that Wilmore needed a ratcheting socket wrench, and fired up its CAD (computer-aided design and drafting) software and designed one. Once the design for the wrench was complete, they converted it to a 3D-printer-ready format called G-code, and sent it over to NASA, which beamed it up to the ISS where it was printed automatically.

The wrench, as well as the 20 other objects that have been 3D-printed on the ISS thus far, will be sent back to Earth for further analysis. Made in Space plans to compare these 21 objects to identical 3D-printed objects that were printed on Earth to test things like the effect of long-term microgravity on the 3D-printing process so they can model and predict how well things printed in space will hold up in the future. From there, they can further enhance their 3D printer and printing technology to build better objects for use in space.

So, now that scientists have successfully emailed plans for an object to be 3D-printed aboard the ISS, it's only a matter of time before they figure out how to Snapchat or Yo the designs to space."

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+ - You can now explore Google Street View with virtual reality->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Google Cardboard, the tech giant's low-cost virtual reality headset that's literally made of cardboard and works with phones, is now compatible with Street View.

Google announced on Tuesday that users can wear the headset and experience Google Maps Street View in a new, immersive way.

The headset, which costs as little as $10 and is available for purchase online (or you can make one at home), works with any Android phone that can fit within the holder — however, 4.7-inch devices are the limit. Users then open Street View in Google Maps on the phone, double-tap a lower-right, look-around icon on the corner of the display to sync everything up. After that, the headset shows a 360-degree view of the location. This means it's possible to simulate looking up at a skyscraper in Shanghai while sitting in an apartment in the U.S."

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+ - Uber agrees to temporarily suspend service in Portland-> 1

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Uber is standing down for the next three months in Portland, just one of the cities where it has run into trouble.

The company said it would stop picking up customers there for three months after the city sued, asking a judge to order Uber to stop operating until it is in compliance with safety, health and consumer protection rules.

But Uber fully expects to be back. In fact, this could be good news for Uber fans in the long-run.

The city has agreed to update its laws, creating a new regulatory framework for companies like Uber that tend to fall somewhere between a taxi and a ridesharing service. People use it by requesting a driver with a smartphone app.

Uber, which operates in 60 cities across 21 countries, has run into problems because its drivers do not always meet the city's regulations for taxi and car services.

Last week, for example, a judge in Spain temporarily blocked Uber because the Madrid taxi service said it was unfair to competition and not properly licensed."

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+ - Survey: No Consensus How to Curb Eroding Online Privacy->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "new survey says that as online privacy continues to erode, governments, technology workers and individuals will struggle to respond.

The report titled "The Future of Privacy," sponsored by the Pew Research Center and Elon University’s Imagining the Internet Center, was released Thursday and explores the future of digital privacy over the next decade.

It surveyed many privacy advocates, digital entrepreneurs, journalists and Internet pioneers.

Participants were asked to share their thoughts to a question put forward by researchers: Would governments be able to develop digital privacy policies that protected individuals but also allowed for business innovation by 2025?

Fifty-five percent of those responding said no while 45 percent said such a privacy infrastructure was likely to be developed. The study comes as the United Nations General Assembly is considering a measure calling on nations to respect a "right to privacy in the digital age."

Report authors noted several recurring themes among those participating in the study.

For those who were pessimistic about the future of online privacy, many concluded that, with so many different cultural perspectives and government policies on privacy, there was no way to create one global Internet policy."

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+ - Woman on Reddit bearing the name of man's ex-girlfriend gets free world trip->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Jordan Axani planned to travel around the world with his girlfriend Elizabeth Gallagher, until they broke up. Now, he'll embark on Sunday on the circumnavigation with Elizabeth Gallagher.

No need for a double-take: The name may be the same, but the person answering to it isn't.

Axani had booked his-and-her airline tickets in his name — and his girlfriend's, he said. So, after his ex went overboard, he had to find a new co-passenger with the same name, he said, because the tickets were non-transferable.

Axani is Canadian, as is his ex, so the new Elizabeth Gallagher needed to be, too, to make the switch work. So, he took to social messaging service Reddit to find her.

After threw out the offer in early November for a free round-the-world trip, social media posts avalanched down at the hashtag #ElizabethGallagher.

Elizabeth Quinn Gallagher from Nova Scotia quickly tweeted Axani a photo of her passport. Scrawled on the shot in hot pink, the words "Take me!!!"

He did, he announced on Wednesday, but though "Quinn" came at him straight out of the chute, making the final choice wasn't that simple, Axani said in a statement. Many deserving women had contacted him."

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+ - Google Strikes Deal With Verizon to Reduce Patent Troll Suits->

Submitted by mpicpp
mpicpp (3454017) writes "Google Inc. and Verizon Communications Inc. struck a long-term patent cross-license agreement to reduce the risk of future patent lawsuits, the latest in a string of deals that signal a slowdown after years of aggressive patent wars.

The deal effectively bars the companies from suing each other over any of the thousands of patents the companies currently own or acquire in the next five years. It also protects the companies if either sells a patent to another company, and that company attempts a lawsuit.

“This cross license allows both companies to focus on delivering great products and services to consumers around the world,” said Kirk Dailey, Google’s head of patent transactions."

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