Power

People Are Using Recycled Laptop Batteries To Power Their Homes (vice.com) 14

New submitter gooddogsgotoheaven writes: DIY Powerwall builders from around the world are harvesting old laptop batteries and turning them into powerful batteries capable of supplying energy to their entire homes. "It's the future. It's clean, simple, efficient and powerful," Jehu Garcia, one of the most popular powerwall builders, told me. He and people like him are deciding for themselves what the future of alternative energy will look like, instead of waiting for technology companies to shape it for them. "The end result is being able to rely on something I not only built myself but understand the ins and outs of to power some or all of my electricity in my home. That is inspiring," Joe Williams, another powerwall builder, told me.
Privacy

Sonos Says Users Must Accept New Privacy Policy Or Devices May Cease To Function (zdnet.com) 86

An anonymous reader writes: Sonos has confirmed that existing customers will not be given an option to opt out of its new privacy policy, leaving customers with sound systems that may eventually "cease to function". It comes as the home sound system maker prepares to begin collecting audio settings, error data, and other account data before the launch of its smart speaker integration in the near future. A spokesperson for the home sound system maker told ZDNet that, "if a customer chooses not to acknowledge the privacy statement, the customer will not be able to update the software on their Sonos system, and over time the functionality of the product will decrease. The customer can choose to acknowledge the policy, or can accept that over time their product may cease to function."
Bitcoin

Two-Factor Authentication Fail: Identity Thieves Hijack Cellphone Accounts to Go After Virtual Currency (nytimes.com) 35

Reader Cludge shares an NYT report: Hackers have discovered that one of the most central elements of online security -- the mobile phone number -- is also one of the easiest to steal. In a growing number of online attacks, hackers have been calling up Verizon, T-Mobile U.S., Sprint and AT&T and asking them to transfer control of a victim's phone number to a device under the control of the hackers. Once they get control of the phone number, they can reset the passwords on every account that uses the phone number as a security backup -- as services like Google, Twitter and Facebook suggest. "My iPad restarted, my phone restarted and my computer restarted, and that's when I got the cold sweat and was like, 'O.K., this is really serious,'" said Chris Burniske, a virtual currency investor who lost control of his phone number late last year. A wide array of people have complained about being successfully targeted by this sort of attack, including a Black Lives Matter activist and the chief technologist of the Federal Trade Commission. The commission's own data shows that the number of so-called phone hijackings has been rising. In January 2013, there were 1,038 such incidents reported; by January 2016, that number had increased to 2,658. But a particularly concentrated wave of attacks has hit those with the most obviously valuable online accounts: virtual currency fanatics like Mr. Burniske. Within minutes of getting control of Mr. Burniske's phone, his attackers had changed the password on his virtual currency wallet and drained the contents -- some $150,000 at today's values. Most victims of these attacks in the virtual currency community have not wanted to acknowledge it publicly for fear of provoking their adversaries. But in interviews, dozens of prominent people in the industry acknowledged that they had been victimized in recent months.
Businesses

People Start Hating Their Jobs at Age 35, Study Says (bloomberg.com) 94

Older workers tend to be more unhappy in their jobs than their younger colleagues, according to a survey of more than 2,000 U.K. employees by human resource firm Robert Half U.K. One in six British workers over age 35 said they were unhappy -- more than double the number for those under 35. Nearly a third of people over 55 said they didn't feel appreciated, while 16 percent said they didn't have friends at work. From a report: There's the stress of being in a high-ranking position -- or the disappointment of not making it far enough up the career ladder. True, salaries are higher, but life starts to get more expensive. "Work-life balance" starts to mean taking care of children, rather than just personal stress management. "There comes a time when either you haven't achieved success, work has burned you out, or lived experience tells you family is more important," said Cary Cooper, a workplace researcher at Manchester Business School. "You ask yourself: 'What am I doing this for?'"
Verizon

Verizon To Start Throttling All Smartphone Videos To 480p or 720p (arstechnica.com) 128

Verizon Wireless will start throttling video streams to resolutions as low as 480p on smartphones this week. Most data plans will get 720p video on smartphones, but customers won't have any option to completely un-throttle video. From a report: 1080p will be the highest resolution provided on tablets, effectively ruling out 4K video on Verizon's mobile network. Anything identified as a video will not be given more than 10Mbps worth of bandwidth. This limit will affect mobile hotspot usage as well. Verizon started selling unlimited smartphone data plans in February of this year, and the carrier said at the time that it would deliver video to customers at the same resolution used by streaming video companies. "We deliver whatever the content provider gives us. We don't manipulate the data," Verizon told Ars in February. That changes beginning on Wednesday, both for existing customers and new ones. The changes were detailed today in an announcement of new unlimited data plans. Starting August 23, Verizon's cheapest single-line unlimited smartphone data plan will cost $75 a month, which is $5 less than it cost before. The plan will include only "DVD-quality streaming" of 480p on phones and 720p on tablets.
Robotics

Bricklaying Robots and Exoskeletons Are the Future of the Construction Industry (vice.com) 129

David Silverberg reports via Motherboard: One of the most staid and digitally conservative industries is on the verge of a robotic makeover. The global construction space isn't known for ushering new tech into their workforce, but a painful labour shortage, calls for increased worker safety and more low-cost housing, and the need to catch up to other tech-savvy sectors is giving upstarts in robotics and exoskeletons their big moment. The construction industry isn't immune to this phenomenon, but robots and humans may increasingly work hand-in-hand in industrial sectors, according to Brian Turmail, senior executive director of public affairs at the Associated General Contractors of America. This is especially true when the construction industry en masse uses exoskeleton vests, which aim to assist workers with heavy loads and thus reduce their risk of injury.

The Hadrian X is a bricklaying robot courtesy Australia's Fastbrick Robotics, which uses its 30-meter metal arm to lay bricks at a rate of 1,000 bricks per hour, compared to a human worker's average of 1,000 a day. Due for release in late 2017, Hadrian X can read a 3D CAD model of the house and then it follows those instructions precisely, working day and night. New York-based Construction Robotics has also developed its take on a bricklaying robot. SAM can lay 3,000 bricks a day, and the company said it's about time this industry got a whiff of the change almost every other market has been seeing.

Facebook

Facebook Makes Safety Check a Permanent Feature (techcrunch.com) 90

Facebook announced today that its "Safety Check" feature will be permanent in its app and on the desktop. The feature lets you check to see whether friends and family are safe following a crisis. TechCrunch reports: The change comes following new terrorist attacks, including one in Barcelona, where a vehicle was driven into a crowd, as well as the attack in Charlottesville, here in the U.S. According to Facebook, the dedicated button is gradually rolling out to users starting today, and will complete over the upcoming weeks. That means you may not see the option right away, but likely will soon. When Safety Check is accessed by way of the new button, you'll be able to view a feed of disasters, updates from friends who marked themselves as safe and offers of help. An "around the world" section will display where Safety Check has been recently enabled, too.
China

China Relaunches World's Fastest Train (fortune.com) 86

China has decided to relaunch the world's fastest train service following a fatal crash in 2011, where the high speed train service reduced its upper limit from its then-record holding 350 km/h (217 miles/hour) to 250-300 km/h (155-186 miles/hour). Fortune reports: Government-controlled website Thepaper.cn reported that seven pairs of bullet trains will be operating under the name "Fuxing," meaning rejuvenation, according to the South China Morning Post. The trains will once again run at 350 km/h, with a maximum speed of 400 km/h (248 mph). It is reported that the train service will boast a monitoring system that will automatically slow the trains in case of emergency. The Beijing-Shanghai line will begin operating on 21 September and will shorten the nearly 820 mile journey by an hour, to four hours thirty minutes. Nearly 600 million people use this route each year, providing a reported $1 billion in profits . Other routes include Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei, which will begin operation today.
Iphone

iPhone 8's 3D Face Scanner Will Work In 'Millionths of a Second' (phonearena.com) 139

According to a report by the Korea Herald, Apple's upcoming iPhone 8 will ditch the fingerprint identification in favor of 3D face recognition, which will work "in the millionths of a second." PhoneArena reports: The Samsung Galaxy series were among the first mainstream devices to feature iris recognition, but the speed and accuracy of the current technology leave a lot to be desired, and maybe that is why current phones ship with an eye scanner AND a fingerprint reader. The iPhone 8, on the other hand, is expected to make a full dive into 3D scanning. Both Samsung and Apple are rumored to have tried to implement a fingerprint scanner under the display glass, but failed as the technology was not sufficiently advanced. The new iPhone will also introduce 3D sensors on both its front and back for Apple's new augmented reality (AR) platform. This latest report also reveals that Apple will not use curved edges for its iPhone 8 screen, but will instead use a flat AMOLED panel. The big benefit of using AMOLED for Apple thus is not the curve, but its thinner profile compared to an LCD screen.
Software

DJI Spark Owners Must Update Firmware By September, Or Their Machines Will Be Bricked (suasnews.com) 161

garymortimer shares a report from sUAS News: News has arrived of a mandatory firmware update from DJI. Owners of DJI's latest and smallest quadcopter must update their firmware by September the 1st or their machines will automatically ground themselves. The Firmware update apparently is to stop in flight shutdowns that have been occurring. So no bad thing to fix, a safety issue. Perhaps questionable is DJI's ability to brick other peoples property if required. The "Kill Switch" option is already causing consternation in user groups.
Bitcoin

Third Party Trackers On Web Shops Can Identify Users Behind Bitcoin Transactions (helpnetsecurity.com) 54

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Help Net Security: More and more shopping websites accept cryptocurrencies as a method of payment, but users should be aware that these transactions can be used to deanonymize them -- even if they are using blockchain anonymity techniques such as CoinJoin. Independent researcher Dillon Reisman and Steven Goldfeder, Harry Kalodner and Arvind Narayanan from Princeton University have demonstrated that third-party online tracking provides enough information to identify a transaction on the blockchain, link it to the user's cookie and, ultimately, to the user's real identity. "Based on tracking cookies, the transaction can be linked to the user's activities across the web. And based on well-known Bitcoin address clustering techniques, it can be linked to their other Bitcoin transactions," they noted. "We show that a small amount of additional information, namely that two (or more) transactions were made by the same entity, is sufficient to undo the effect of mixing. While such auxiliary information is available to many potential entities -- merchants, other counterparties such as websites that accept donations, intermediaries such as payment processors, and potentially network eavesdroppers -- web trackers are in the ideal position to carry out this attack," they pointed out.
Communications

Disney Will Price Streaming Service At $5 Per Month, Analyst Says (fiercecable.com) 106

Earlier this month, Disney announced it would end its distribution deal with Netflix and launch its own streaming service in 2019. Now, according to MoffettNathanson analyst Michael Nathanson, we have learned that Disney's new streaming service will be priced around $5 per month in order to drive wider adoption. FierceCable reports: Nathanson said that the new Disney streaming service and the upcoming ESPN streaming service need a clear distinction. The ESPN service will likely test different prices as it prepares ESPN to be ready to go fully over-the-top, according to the report, but the Disney service is about building asset value instead of taking licensing money from SVOD deals. At $5 per month in ARPU, Nathanson sees revenues from the Disney streaming service ranging from $34 million to $38 million in the first year and more than $230 million by year three. But with the loss of Netflix licensing revenues and accelerated marketing costs for launching the new service, Nathanson predicted Disney's losses will increase by about $200 million to $425 million per year. If Disney's new streaming service does end up costing around $5 per month, could you justify paying for it?
United Kingdom

Energy Firm Slapped With $65,000 Fine For Making 1.5 Million Nuisance Calls (theregister.co.uk) 64

A UK firm offering people energy-saving solutions has been fined after making almost 1.5 million unsolicited calls without checking if the numbers were registered on the UK's opt-out database. From a report: Southampton-based Home Logic used a dialler system to screen the telephone numbers that it planned to call against the Telephone Preference Service register, which allows people to opt out of receiving marketing calls. This system was unavailable for at least 90 days out of the 220 between April 2015 and March 2016 due to technical issues -- but that didn't stop Home Logic from continuing to make phone calls. Some 1,475,969 were made in that time. And, as a result, Blighty's data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office received 133 complaints about the firm from people who had registered with the TPS and did not expect to be picking up the phone to marketeers. It ruled that the biz had breached the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations and duly fined it 50,000 pound ($64,500).
Science

Scientists Create Smart Labels To Tell You When To Throw Away Expired Food and Makeup (sciencemag.org) 68

At the 254th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society, researchers are presenting a low-cost, portable, paper-based sensor that can let you know when to toss food and cosmetics. The sensor can detect antioxidants in tea and wine, and be used to explore remote locations, such as the Amazon rainforest, in search of natural sources of antioxidants. "I've always been interested in developing technologies that are accessible to both industry and the general population," Silvana Andreescu, Ph.D., says. "My lab has built a versatile sensing platform that incorporates all the needed reagents for detection in a piece of paper. At the same time, it is adaptable to different targets, including food contaminants, antioxidants and free radicals that indicate spoilage." Phys.Org reports: What sets Andreescu's sensors apart from others, she says, are the nanostructures they use to catch and bind to compounds they're looking for. "Most people working on similar sensors use solutions that migrate on channels," Andreescu says. "We use stable, inorganic particles that are redox active. When they interact with the substances we want to detect, they change color, and the intensity of the change tells us how concentrated the analyte is." Additionally, because all of the reagents needed to operate the device are incorporated in the paper, users don't need to add anything other than the sample being tested. The American Chemical Society has published a video detailing the sensor. Their paper has been published in the journal Analyst.
AI

Leading Chinese Bitcoin Miner Wants To Cash In On AI (qz.com) 20

hackingbear writes: Bitmain, the most influential company in the bitcoin economy by the sheer amount of processing power, or hash rate, that it controls, plans to unleash its bitcoin mining ASIC technology to AI applications. The company designed a new deep learning processor Sophon, named after a alien-made, proton-sized supercomputer in China's seminal science-fiction novel, The Three-Body Problem . The idea is to etch in silicon in some of the most common deep learning algorithms, thus greatly boosting efficiency. Users will be able to apply their own datasets and build their own models on these ASICs, allowing the resulting neural networks to generate results and learn from those results at a far quicker pace. The company hopes that thousands of Bitmain Sophon units soon could be training neural networks in vast data centers around the world.

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