Submission + - In Lieu of Taxes, Microsoft Gives a Nevada Schoolkid a Surface Laptop

theodp writes: The Official Microsoft Blog hopes a letter from a Nevada middle schooler advising Microsoft President Brad Smith to "keep up the good work running that company" will "inspire you like it did us." Penned as part of a math teacher's assignment to write letters to the businesses that they like, Microsoft says the letter prompted Smith to visit the Nevada school to meet 7th-grader Sky Yi in person as part of the company’s effort to draw attention to the importance of math and encourage students and teachers who are passionate about STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education. In an accompanying video of the surprise meeting, Smith presents Yi with a new Surface Laptop that comes with Windows 10 S, a version of the OS that has been streamlined with schools in mind. "Not bad for a little letter," the Microsoft exec says. Speaking of Microsoft, Nevada, and education, Bing Maps coincidentally shows the school Smith visited is just a 43-minute drive from the software giant's Reno-based Americas Operations Center. According to the Seattle Times, routing sales through the Reno software-licensing office helps Microsoft minimize its tax bills (NV doesn’t tax business income) to the detriment, some say, of Washington State public schools.

Submission + - Computer Algorithm erases Photos Watermarks (

AlejandroTejadaC writes: Research Scientists Tali Dekel, Michael Rubinstein, Ce Liu and Bill Freeman describe on their paper “On The Effectiveness Of Visible Watermarks” their findings about a Computer Algorithm that erases Photos Watermarks and suggest possible ways to make photos watermarks more effective and difficult to erase.

Submission + - Motorola Patents a Display That Can Heal Its Own Cracked Screen With Heat (

An anonymous reader writes: A patent published today explains how a phone could identify cracks on its touchscreen and then apply heat to the area in an effort to slightly repair the damage. The process relies on something called "shape memory polymer," a material that can apparently become deformed and then recovered through thermal cycling. Thermal cycling involves changing the temperature of the material rapidly. This material could be used over an LCD or LED display with a capacitive touch sensor layered in, as well. Although the phone could heat the polymer in order to restore it, a user's body heat can be used, too.

Submission + - Judge Dismisses AT&T's Attempt To Stall Google Fiber Construction (

An anonymous reader writes: AT&T has lost a court case in which it tried to stall construction by Google Fiber in Louisville, Kentucky. AT&T sued the local government in Louisville and Jefferson County in February 2016 to stop a One Touch Make Ready Ordinance designed to give Google Fiber and other new ISPs quicker access to utility poles. But yesterday, US District Court Judge David Hale dismissed the lawsuit with prejudice, saying AT&T's claims that the ordinance is invalid are false. "We are currently reviewing the decision and our next steps," AT&T said when contacted by Ars today. One Touch Make Ready rules let ISPs make all of the necessary wire adjustments on utility poles themselves instead of having to wait for other providers like AT&T to send work crews to move their own wires. Without One Touch Make Ready rules, the pole attachment process can cause delays of months before new ISPs can install service to homes. Google Fiber has continued construction in Louisville despite the lawsuit and staff cuts that affected deployments in other cities.

Submission + - Cisco's Feud With Former Star Executive Turns Personal — And Costly (

cdreimer writes: According to a report in The Wall Street Jouranl (possibly paywalled, alternative source), Cisco's feud with startup Arista Networks is turning personal in a costly lawsuit over allegedly stolen technology as the two companies compete for the same customers.

In a packed headquarters ballroom, Cisco Systems Inc.’s then-chief executive officer John Chambers offered a fond farewell to a star executive and friend, Jayshree Ullal. He celebrated her ability to make complicated things simple and wished her success in her next role. He didn’t expect that much success. Within months of the 2008 party, Ms. Ullal became CEO of Arista Networks Inc., a small startup that has since snagged Cisco customers including Microsoft Corp. and Facebook Inc., and is eating into the share of the networking giant’s most important business. Mr. Chambers couldn’t stand to lose sales, especially to someone he considered family and the rivalry has become personal, according to people close to both executives. Defeating Arista has become a priority for Cisco, a company more than 40 times bigger by annual revenue. In 2013, Ms. Ullal’s image appeared in an internal Cisco presentation pasted onto a bull’s-eye pierced with arrows. “Arm the field, stop the bleeding and fire back,” according to the presentation. Now, the fighting is unfolding in court, where Cisco, once the world’s most valuable company, has accused Arista of stealing its technology. Arista has denied the allegations, saying the Silicon Valley giant sued only because it lacked smart ideas to regain business. Each side has notched incremental wins over the past two and half years with no sign of a resolution.

Submission + - Uber Can't Keep Driving Itself (

mirandakatz writes: It's been nearly two months since Travis Kalanick stepped down as CEO from Uber, and in that time he's also been hit with a lawsuit from Benchmark Capital. The drama is running high at Uber HQ—and the company can't keep running itself forever. In fact, as Jessi Hempel writes at Backchannel, doing so is affecting its future prospects: "The lawsuit, paired with a public appeal to Uber’s employee base, will likely slow down the CEO search even more. And that’s a bad thing for Uber, and anyone else who once believed the company had a chance at being the global transportation and logistics behemoth that its disgraced cofounder originally envisioned. Self-driving cars are hard enough. A self-driving company is a recipe for a wreck."

Submission + - Computer scientists use music to covertly track body movements, activity (

qpttech writes: Researchers at the University of Washington have demonstrated how it is possible to transform a smart device into a surveillance tool that can collect information about the body position and movements of the user, as well as other people in the device’s immediate vicinity. Their approach involves remotely hijacking smart devices to play music embedded with repeating pulses that track a person’s position, body movements, and activities both in the vicinity of the device as well as through walls.

Submission + - New DDoS Assault Pattern: Attackers Use DDoS Pulses to Pin Down Multiple Targets (

whitehatdefender writes: Over the last few months, Imperva Incapsula has witnessed the emergence of a new assault pattern, which we have come to call a “pulse wave” DDoS attack.

Comprised of a series of short-lived bursts occurring in clockwork-like succession, pulse wave assaults accounted for some of the most ferocious DDoS attacks we mitigated in the second quarter of 2017. In the most extreme cases, they lasted for days at a time and scaled as high as 350 gigabits per second.

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