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Cellphones

Children As Young As 13 Attending 'Smartphone Rehab' As Concerns Grow Over Screen Time (independent.co.uk) 152

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Children refusing to put down their phones is a common flashpoint in many homes, with a third of British children aged 12 to 15 admitting they do not have a good balance between screen time and other activities. But in the U.S., the problem has become so severe for some families that children as young as 13 are being treated for digital technology addiction. One "smartphone rehab" center near Seattle has started offering residential "intensive recovery programs" for teenagers who have trouble controlling their use of electronic devices. The Restart Life Center says parents have been asking it to offer courses of treatment to their children for more than eight years. Hilarie Cash, the Center's founder, told Sky News smartphones, tablets and other mobile devices can be so stimulating and entertaining that they "override all those natural instincts that children actually have for movement and exploration and social interaction."
The Military

US Navy Bans Vaping On Ships (go.com) 230

The U.S. Navy announced today that it will no longer allow sailors to use electronic cigarettes on ships, following several reports of explosives and injuries. ABC News reports: Naval commanders said in a statement Friday that the temporary electronic cigarette policy aims to protect sailors and the fleet. It starts next month. Officials cited overheated batteries in vaping equipment as the problem. Explosions have led to fires, first-degree burns and facial disfigurement. During a recent eight-month stretch, 12 incidents put sailors out of work for a combined 77 days. Injuries also restricted some to light duty for a total of five months.
Hardware

FriendELEC Releases $40 NanoPi K2 Board That Competes With ODROID-C2, Raspberry Pi 3 (cnx-software.com) 80

DeathByLlama writes: The single board computer market, broken wide-open just a few years ago by the Raspberry Pi Foundation, continues to flourish today as FriendELEC releases their $40 NanoPi K2 board. This SBC packs a 1.5 GHz 64-bit quad core Amlogic S905 processor, and paired with 2GB of DDR3 RAM and the Mali-450MP GPU, it is able to stream 4K at 60 FPS. Add in gigabit ethernet, onboard Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, IR (and a remote!), eMMC compatibility, a familiar GPIO header, and a $40 price tag, and you end up with some stiff competition for other market leaders like Hardkernel's ODROID-C2 and Raspberry Pi's flagship Pi 3. The release is clearly in early phases with Ubuntu images and house-sold eMMC modules still on their way. It's amazing to see such strong competition in this market -- and with so many sub-$100, incredibly capable SBC options, which will choose?
Nintendo

Zelda: Breath of the Wild Is Now the Fastest-Selling Nintendo Launch Title of All Time (theverge.com) 47

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: It's no surprise that The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild is the best-selling game on the Nintendo Switch, a console that just had its strongest U.S. opening ever for the company. But managing to sell more copies than consoles that can actually play it? That's what's happened in the U.S., amazingly -- Nintendo just announced that it sold 906,000 Switch consoles in March along with 925,000 copies of Breath of the Wild. The Wii U version moved almost 460,000 units on top of that, making for total sales of over 1.3 million. Breath of the Wild is now the fastest-selling Nintendo launch title of all time and the fastest-selling Legend of Zelda game ever. Nintendo says it thinks the Switch attach rate of more than 100 percent might be explained by people who bought a limited edition version to collect and a regular version to actually play, though another possibility is that some bought the game before they could find the console itself in stock.
Advertising

Burger King Won't Take a Hint; Alters TV Ad To Evade Google's Block (washingtonpost.com) 606

ewhac writes: Earlier this week, Burger King released a broadcast television ad that opened with an actor saying, "Ok, Google, what is the Whopper?" thereby triggering any Google Home device in hearing range to respond to the injected request with the first line from the Whopper's Wikipedia page. Google very properly responded to the injection attack by fingerprinting the sound sample and blocking it from triggering responses. However, it seems Burger King and/or its ad agency are either unwilling or congenitally incapable of getting the hint, and has released an altered version of the ad to evade Google's block. According to spokesperson Dara Schopp, BK regards the ad as a success, as it has increased the brand's "social conversation" on Twitter by some 300%. It seems that Burger King thinks that malware-laden advertising infesting webpages is a perfectly wonderful idea (in principle, at least), and has taken it to the next level by reaching through your TV speakers and directly messing with your digital devices. You may wish to consider alternate vendors for your burger needs.
Operating Systems

Microsoft Confirms Only a Handful of Windows Phones Will Receive Windows 10 Creators Update (zdnet.com) 46

Windows Phone has less than a 1 percent market share in the mobile industry, but it is not completely dead, yet. In fact, if you own a relatively new Windows Phone, it may receive a new update that will give new life to it. Microsoft has confirmed today that only a subset of Windows Phone handsets will be getting the Windows 10 Creators Update when it begins rolling out on April 25. ZDNet reports: [Here's] Microsoft's list of supported phones: Alcatel IDOL 4S; Alcatel OneTouch Fierce XL; HP Elite x3; Lenovo Softbank 503LV; MCJ Madosma Q601; Microsoft Lumia 550; Microsoft Lumia 640/640XL; Microsoft; Lumia 650; Microsoft Lumia 950/950 XL; Trinity NuAns Neo; VAIO VPB051. "Devices not on this list will not officially receive the Windows 10 Creators Update nor will they receive any future builds from our Development Branch that we release as part of the Windows Insider Program. However, Windows Insiders who have devices not on this list can still keep these devices on the Windows 10 Creators Update at their own risk knowing that it's unsupported," said Windows Insider chief Dona Sarkar in today's blog post. Microsoft attributed the short list of support phones to Insider feedback that indicated older phones might not be providing "the best possible experience" for customers. Microsoft also released a Fast Ring test build of Windows 10 Mobile for phones to Fast Ring Insiders today. That build number is 15204 and it includes a number of bug fixes. This is the first Redstone 3 build for Windows Phones. It's only available to Insider phone users of handsets that are on the list above.
Medicine

FDA Slams St. Jude Medical For Ignoring Security Flaws In Medical Devices (securityledger.com) 30

chicksdaddy quotes a report from The Security Ledger: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration issued a letter of warning to medical device maker Abbott on Wednesday, slamming the company for what it said was a pattern of overlooking security and reliability problems in its implantable medical devices at its St. Jude Medical division and describing a range of the company's devices as "adulterated," in violation of the U.S. Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, the Security Ledger reports. In a damning warning letter, the FDA said that St. Jude Medical knew about serious security flaws in its implantable medical devices as early as 2014, but failed to address them with software updates or by replacing those devices. The government found that St. Jude, time and again, failed to adhere to internal security and product quality guidelines, a lapse that resulted in at least one patient death. St. Jude Medical, which is now wholly owned by the firm Abbott, learned of serious and exploitable security holes in the company's "high voltage and peripheral devices" in an April, 2014 "third party assessment" commissioned by the company. But St. Jude "failed to accurately incorporate the findings of that assessment" in subsequent risk assessments for the affected products, including Merlin@home, a home-based wireless transmitter that is used to provide remote care for patients with implanted cardiac devices, the FDA revealed. Among the security flaws: a "hardcoded universal unlock code" for the company's implantable, high voltage devices. The report casts doubt on a defamation lawsuit St. Jude filed against the firm MedSec Holdings Ltd over its August, 2016 report that warned of widespread security flaws in St. Jude products, including Merlin@home. The MedSec report on St. Judes technology was released in conjunction with a report by the investment firm Muddy Waters Research, which specializes in taking "short" positions on firms. At the time, MedSec said that the security of the company's medical devices and support software was "grossly inadequate compared with other leading manufacturers," and represents "unnecessary health risks and should receive serious notice among hospitals, regulators, physicians and cardiac patients." St. Judes has called the MedSec allegations false, but it now appears that the company had heard similar warnings raised by its own third-party security auditor more than a year prior.
Security

NSA-Leaking Shadow Brokers Just Dumped Its Most Damaging Release Yet (arstechnica.com) 111

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Shadow Brokers -- the mysterious person or group that over the past eight months has leaked a gigabyte worth of the National Security Agency's weaponized software exploits -- just published its most significant release yet. Friday's dump contains potent exploits and hacking tools that target most versions of Microsoft Windows and evidence of sophisticated hacks on the SWIFT banking system of several banks across the world. Friday's release -- which came as much of the computing world was planning a long weekend to observe the Easter holiday -- contains close to 300 megabytes of materials the leakers said were stolen from the NSA. The contents (a convenient overview is here) included compiled binaries for exploits that targeted vulnerabilities in a long line of Windows operating systems, including Windows 8 and Windows 2012. It also included a framework dubbed Fuzzbunch, a tool that resembles the Metasploit hacking framework that loads the binaries into targeted networks. Independent security experts who reviewed the contents said it was without question the most damaging Shadow Brokers release to date. One of the Windows zero-days flagged by Hickey is dubbed Eternalblue. It exploits a remote code-execution bug in the latest version of Windows 2008 R2 using the server message block and NetBT protocols. Another hacking tool known as Eternalromance contains an easy-to-use interface and "slick" code. Hickey said it exploits Windows systems over TCP ports 445 and 139. The exact cause of the bug is still being identified. Friday's release contains several tools with the word "eternal" in their name that exploit previously unknown flaws in Windows desktops and servers.
Japan

The Great Japan Potato-Chip Crisis: Panic Buying, $12 Bags (bloomberg.com) 110

Demand for potato chips has surged in Japan this week, with products on offer for 6 times their retail price online after Japanese snack company Calbee halted the sale of some of its most popular chip brands. From a report: Calbee's pizza-flavored chips were going for about 1,250 yen ($12) on Yahoo Japan Corp.'s auction website Friday. One bag usually sells for less than 200 yen. Photos of near-empty shelves at their local supermarkets were trending on Twitter. The crunch came after Calbee warned on Monday that it will temporarily halt the sale of 15 types of potato chips due to a bad crop in Hokkaido, a key potato-producing region. The northern island was hit by a record number of typhoons last year. Calbee, which has a market value of 507.9 billion yen and is 20 percent-owned by PepsiCo Inc., has a 73 percent market share of potato chips. Potato chips are a big deal in Japan, a country also known for its senbei rice crackers and Pocky sticks. Calbee's potato-snack products were the most and second-most popular snacks in a TV Asahi poll of 10,000 people and 13 confectionery makers last year, and the subject of a primetime show that lasted more than two hours.
Robotics

A New Survey Shows Consumers Are Not That Freaked Out By Tech (fastcompany.com) 52

Lippincott, a global creative consultancy, asked 2,000 "leading edge" consumers in the U.S. whether they were excited to welcome our robot overlords or terrified of them. A report on FastCompany adds: Some of their findings go against conventional wisdom, like the belief that consumers are scared about the future. Turns out 80 percent said they are excited about changes in technology. Some 78 percent feel more powerful and in control of their lives thanks to the support from smart machines, artificial intelligence, and robotics. There is some anxiety about the incursion of tech into our lives, with over 40 percent reporting that they are scared about changes to the economy, society, culture, and the government. Despite that, 64 percent of them still expect that the world will be better in 10 years than it is today.
Google

Google Is Working On a Tool For Managing Job Applicants (axios.com) 64

Google is quietly testing "Google Hire," a job applicant tracking system that appears to rival services like Greenhouse and Lever, Axios is reporting. From the report: The service lets employers post job listings, then accept and manage applications, according to job listing links spotted by Axios reader Colin Heilbut. So far, several tech companies seem to be using (or testing) Google Hire, including Medisas, Poynt, DramaFever, SingleHop, and CoreOS.
Google

Google Kills Off Octane JavaScript Benchmark Due To 'Diminishing Returns and Over-Optimization' (betanews.com) 88

Google has announced that its widely used Octane JavaScript benchmark is being retired, with Google saying that it's no longer a useful way for browser developers to determine how best to optimize their JavaScript engines. From a report: Google goes as far as saying that developers were essentially cheating the system. It says that compiler optimizations needed to achieve high benchmark scores have become common and, in the real world, these optimizations translate into only very small improvements in webpage performance. In fact, in some instances it was found that tactics used to boost benchmark performance actually had a detrimental effect on real-world performance. Developers exploited known bugs in Octane to achieve higher scores than were warranted, and Google believes the time has now come to retire the system completely.
Businesses

It's Official: Apple is Testing Self-Driving Cars 76

Apple has been granted a license for testing autonomous vehicles in California, marking the formal launch of its race with the likes of Uber, Alphabet and Tesla to define the future of driverless transportation. The permit was revealed with Apple's appearance on the list of approved companies on the California automotive regulator's website on Friday morning. From a report: This suggests Apple's ambitions in the auto industry are alive, despite some reported upheaval in the project, code-named "Project Titan." Reports last year centered on changing leadership and shifting focus within the project, which is under the command of veteran Apple executive Bob Mansfield. Still, as Apple looks for its next major growth driver after the iPhone -- and as cars increasingly become computers -- it's easy to see why the company would be interested.
Microsoft

Microsoft Experimenting Tabs Experience On File Explorer, Other Apps On Windows 10 (windowscentral.com) 104

Microsoft has begun experimenting with browser tabbing experience on all apps in Windows 10, including File Explorer. From a report on WindowsCentral: According to sources familiar with the matter, Microsoft is currently experimenting internally with a new feature called "Tabbed Shell", which brings the familiar browser tabbing module to all app windows in Windows 10, including the File Explorer. Per our sources, Tabbed Shell is a feature being worked on at an OS level, and doesn't require work from app developers to take advantage of it. By default, Tabbed Shell works with any app window, whether it be Photoshop, File Explorer, or Microsoft Word. Any UWP, Win32 or Centennial app will work. Much like in Edge, you'll find a tabbed interface at the top of a window where you can switch between instances of the same app.
Youtube

YouTube Has a Secret 'Dark Mode' (thenextweb.com) 118

It appears Google has quietly introduced a new "dark mode" for its video portal YouTube, several people are reporting. Here's how to activate it, via The Next Web:
1. Open the Chrome developer tools tab.
2. Windows users can do this by pressing Ctrl + Shift + I.
3. Mac users can do this by pressing Option + Cmd + I.
4. Select the Console tab.
5. Once in Console, paste the following text: document.cookie="VISITOR_INFO1_LIVE=fPQ4jCL6EiE"
6. Hit enter.
7. Close the developer tools tab and refresh the page. Just a little heads-up: YouTube might look slightly different -- though still in white.
8. Click the main settings menu in the top right and find the 'Dark Mode' section.
9. Toggle 'Dark Mode' on and you're settled.

Privacy

Virgin Media Starts Turning Customer Routers Into Public Wi-Fi Hotspots (arstechnica.co.uk) 149

UK ISP Virgin Media is expanding its public Wi-Fi network by co-opting customers' home routers as hotspots. Only the most recent router design (the SuperHub v3) will be recruited at first, and customers can opt-out from the program if they wish. Virgin says the change will have "no impact on customers" because affected homes will be allocated extra bandwidth. ArsTechnica offers more context: A little background: a couple of years ago, Virgin Media started trialling a public Wi-Fi service very similar to "BT Wi-Fi with FON," where residential BT customers have their routers turned into hotspots. For some reason the broad rollout of Virgin's service was delayed until now. There are some curious differences between BT and Virgin Media's approach, though. For starters, it seems only Virgin Media customers will have access to this nationwide Wi-Fi network; BT grants free access to BT customers, but non-customers can pay for access ($5 per hour). The owner of that subverted hotspot doesn't get any of the money, of course. Furthermore, while BT customers must share their ADSL or VDSL bandwidth with any public Wi-Fi users, Virgin Media promises that "your home network is completely separate from Virgin Media WiFi traffic, meaning the broadband connection you pay for is exclusively yours, and just as secure."
Piracy

Cloudflare Doesn't Want To Become the 'Piracy Police' (torrentfreak.com) 63

Cloudflare is warning that far-reaching cooperation between copyright holders and internet services may put innovation in danger. From a report: As one of the leading CDN and DDoS protection services, Cloudflare is used by millions of websites across the globe. This includes thousands of "pirate" sites, including the likes of The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent, which rely on the U.S.-based company to keep server loads down. Copyright holders are not happy that CloudFlare services these sites. Last year, the RIAA and MPAA called the company out for aiding copyright infringers and helping pirate sites to obfuscate their actual location. [...] In a whitepaper, Cloudflare sees this trend as a worrying development. The company points out that the safe harbor provisions put in place by the DMCA and Europe's eCommerce Directive have been effective in fostering innovation for many years. Voluntary "anti-piracy" agreements may change this. [...] Cloudflare argues that increased monitoring and censorship are not proper solutions. Third-party Internet services shouldn't be pushed into the role of Internet police out of a fear of piracy. Instead, the company cautions against far-reaching voluntary agreements that may come at the expense of the public.
Privacy

Microsoft Says US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Requests More Than Doubled (reuters.com) 42

Microsoft Corp says it received at least a thousand surveillance requests from the U.S. government that sought user content for foreign intelligence purposes during the first half of 2016. From a report: The amount, shared in Microsoft's biannual transparency report, was more than double what the company said it received under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the preceding six-month interval, and was the highest the company has listed since 2011, when it began tracking such government surveillance orders. The scope of spying authority granted to U.S. intelligence agencies under FISA has come under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks, sparked in part by evolving, unsubstantiated assertions from President Donald Trump and other Republicans that the Obama White House improperly spied on Trump and his associates.
Businesses

Apple May Invest Billions of Dollars In Toshiba's Memory Chip Business (bloomberg.com) 27

Toshiba shares recovered after Japan's national broadcaster reported that Apple is considering an investment of several billion dollars in its semiconductor unit, raising the prospect that the struggling electronics conglomerate will get a much-needed cash infusion. From a report: Toshiba has put its memory chips business up for sale to make up for a writedown of 716.6 billion yen ($6.56 billion) in its U.S. nuclear equipment operations. One option being considered is an investment accompanied by Toshiba holding shares, so that a majority of the semiconductor unit will be held by U.S. and Japanese interests, satisfying the respective governments, NHK said.
Android

Google Photos Can Now Stabilize All Your Shaky Phone Camera Videos (theverge.com) 54

In early August, Google announced a feature for the Google Photos mobile app that would automatically stabilize videos in your camera roll. That feature is now rolling out via Photos v2.13 on Android. The Verge reports: A lot of flagship smartphones offer optical image stabilization when shooting video, a hardware feature that helps keep footage smooth. Others, like Google's Pixel, use software to try and stabilize jerky movements. Putting stabilization inside the Google Photos app could enhance results further if you're already working with hardware OIS, or improve recordings significantly if your phone lacks any means of steadying things out of the box. The stabilized video is cropped in a bit, as you might expect, and the original clip remains in your Photos library; there's no overwriting. Here's a side-by-side demo someone else made of the app's latest trick.
Earth

New Solar-Powered Device Can Pull Water Straight From the Desert Air (sciencemag.org) 202

sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: You can't squeeze blood from a stone, but wringing water from the desert sky is now possible, thanks to a new spongelike device that uses sunlight to suck water vapor from air, even in low humidity. The device can produce nearly 3 liters of water per day, and researchers say future versions will be even better. That means homes in the driest parts of the world could soon have a solar-powered appliance capable of delivering all the water they need, offering relief to billions of people. To find an all-purpose solution, researchers led by Omar Yaghi, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, turned to a family of crystalline powders called metal organic frameworks, or MOFs. Yaghi developed the first MOFs -- porous crystals that form continuous 3D networks -- more than 20 years ago. The networks assemble in a Tinkertoy-like fashion from metal atoms that act as the hubs and sticklike organic compounds that link the hubs together. By choosing different metals and organics, chemists can dial in the properties of each MOF, controlling what gases bind to them, and how strongly they hold on. The system Wang and her students designed consists of a kilogram of dust-sized MOF crystals pressed into a thin sheet of porous copper metal. That sheet is placed between a solar absorber and a condenser plate and positioned inside a chamber. At night the chamber is opened, allowing ambient air to diffuse through the porous MOF and water molecules to stick to its interior surfaces, gathering in groups of eight to form tiny cubic droplets. In the morning, the chamber is closed, and sunlight entering through a window on top of the device then heats up the MOF, which liberates the water droplets and drives them -- as vapor -- toward the cooler condenser. The temperature difference, as well as the high humidity inside the chamber, causes the vapor to condense as liquid water, which drips into a collector. The findings were published in the journal Science.
Businesses

Drupal Developers Threaten To Quit Drupal Unless Larry Garfield Is Reinstated (drupalconfessions.org) 478

An anonymous reader writes: Slashdot previously covered the story of Larry Garfield, a Drupal developer who was allegedly banned from the community for his BDSM/Gorean lifestyle, after he was outed by a colleague with a grudge. Now, dozens of core Drupal developers, committers, and funders have banded together in an open letter to Dries Buytaert, the CTO of Acquia, Drupal trademark owner, and Benevolent Dictator for Life (BDFL) of the Drupal project. Among other things, they demand that Larry Garfield be reinstated, threatening to abandon the project if their demands are not met. Here's an excerpt from the letter: "If you will not fight for us and restore our faith in the professionalism of the Drupal community, then a number of us will be permanently leaving the Drupal community, ceasing all contributions to the official, Drupal-branded branch of the codebase, and ceasing participation in all Drupal communities. This is not our first choice, but we cannot and will not participate in a community that encourages abusers to totally destroy people's careers for personal or ideological reasons."

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