Submission + - LA Councilman Asks City Attorney To 'Review Possible Legal Action' Against Waze (

An anonymous reader writes: Yet another Los Angeles city councilman has taken Waze to task for creating "dangerous conditions" in his district, and the politician is now "asking the City to review possible legal action." "Waze has upended our City’s traffic plans, residential neighborhoods, and public safety for far too long," LA City Councilman David Ryu said in a statement released Wednesday. "Their responses have been inadequate and their solutions, non-existent. They say the crises of congestion they cause is the price for innovation—I say that’s a false choice." In a new letter sent to the City Attorney’s Office, Ryu formally asked Los Angeles’ top attorney to examine Waze’s behavior. While Ryu said he supported "advances in technology," he decried Waze and its parent company, Google, for refusing "any responsibility for the traffic problems their app creates or the concerns of residents and City officials."

Submission + - New Alexa Blueprints Let Users Make Custom Skills Without Knowing Any Code (

An anonymous reader writes: Amazon just released a new way for Alexa users to customize their experience with the virtual assistant. New Alexa Skill Blueprints allow you to create your own personalized Alexa skills, even if you don't know how to code. These "blueprints" act as templates for making questions, responses, trivia games, narrative stories, and other skills with customizable answers unique to each user. Amazon already has a number of resources for developers to make the new skills they want, but until now, users have had to work within the confines of pre-made Alexa skills. Currently, more than 20 templates are available on the new Alexa Skill Blueprints website, all ready for Alexa users to personalize with their own content. Any blueprint-made skills you make will show up on the "Skills You've Made" section of the blueprints website. While these skills will exist for your Amazon account until you delete them, they aren't posted to the general Alexa Skills score, so strangers will not have access to your couple's trivia game that's personalized for you, your spouse, and your best coupled friends.

Submission + - You may use adblockers in Germany, after all.

paai writes: The publishing company Axel Springer tried to ban the use of adblockers in Germany, because they endanger the digital publishing of news stories. The Oberlandesgericht Köln followed this reasoning and forbade the use of adblockers on the grounds that the use of whitelists was an aggressive marketing technique. The Bundesgerichtshof (BGH) destroyed this court ruling today and judged that users had a right to filter out advertisements in web pages. (german)

Submission + - Prehistoric humans may have practiced brain surgery on cows (

sciencehabit writes: Humans have been performing brain surgery—or at least drilling holes in one others’ skulls—for thousands of years. But how did they get their practice? A new study analyzing an exquisitely bored hole in the skull of a 5000-year-old cow (above) suggests they may have honed their skills on animals. What remains to be seen, researchers say, is whether the surgery was done to save the cow’s life or if it was used by aspiring surgeons for perfecting delicate techniques before operating on fellow humans.

Submission + - AMD 2nd Gen Ryzen Processors Launched And Benchmarked (

MojoKid writes: AMD launched its 2nd Generation Ryzen processors today, based on a refined update to the company's Zen architecture, dubbed Zen+. The chips offer higher clocks, lower latencies, and a more intelligent Precision Boost 2 algorithm that improves performance, system responsiveness, and power efficiency characteristics. These new CPUs still leverage the existing AM4 infrastructure and are compatible with the same socket, chipsets, and motherboards as AMD's first generation products, with a BIOS / UEFI update. There are four processors arriving today, AMD's Ryzen 7 2700X, the Ryzen 7 2700, the Ryzen 5 2600X, and the Ryzen 5 2600. Ryzen 7 chips are still 8-core CPUs with 20MB of cache but now top out at 4.3GHz, while Ryzen 5 chips offer 6 cores with 19MB of cache and peak at 4.2GHz. AMD claims 2nd Gen Ryzen processors offer reductions in L1, L2, and L3 cache latencies of approximately 13%, 34%, and 16%, respectively. Memory latency is reportedly reduced by about 11% and all of those improvements result in an approximate 3% increase in IPC (instructions per clock). The processors now also have official support for faster DDR4-2933 memory as well. In the benchmarks, 2nd Gen Ryzen CPUs outpaced AMD's first gen chips across the board with better single and multithreaded performance, closing the gap even further versus Intel, often with better or similar performance at lower price points. AMD 2nd Gen Ryzen processors, and new X470 chipset motherboards that support them, are available starting today and the CPUs range from $199 to $299.

Submission + - ZTE may not be able to use Android operating system in its mobile devices (

krazy1 writes: From arsTECHNICA: "The US government is going after another Chinese Android device maker. After shutting down Huawei's carrier deals and retail partners, the government is now pursuing ZTE. The US Department of Commerce has banned US companies from selling parts and software to ZTE for seven years.

ZTE was caught violating US sanctions by illegally shipping telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea. The company then made things worse by "making false statements and obstructing justice, including through preventing disclosure to and affirmatively misleading the US Government," according to the Department of Commerce. The company reached a settlement with the government, agreeing to pay up to $1.2 billion in penalties and discipline the employees involved in the sale."

Submission + - Facebook To Put 1.5 Billion Users Out of Reach of New EU Privacy Law (

An anonymous reader writes: If a new European law restricting what companies can do with people’s online data went into effect tomorrow, almost 1.9 billion Facebook Inc users around the world would be protected by it. The online social network is making changes that ensure the number will be much smaller. Facebook members outside the United States and Canada, whether they know it or not, are currently governed by terms of service agreed with the company’s international headquarters in Ireland. Next month, Facebook is planning to make that the case for only European users, meaning 1.5 billion members in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America will not fall under the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect on May 25. That removes a huge potential liability for Facebook, as the new EU law allows for fines of up to 4 percent of global annual revenue for infractions, which in Facebook’s case could mean billions of dollars.

Submission + - 'Login With Facebook' Data Hijacked By JavaScript Trackers (

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook confirms to TechCrunch that it’s investigating a security research report that shows Facebook user data can be grabbed by third-party JavaScript trackers embedded on websites using Login With Facebook. The exploit lets these trackers gather a user’s data including name, email address, age range, gender, locale, and profile photo depending on what users originally provided to the website. It’s unclear what these trackers do with the data, but many of their parent companies including Tealium, AudienceStream, Lytics, and ProPS sell publisher monetization services based on collected user data. The abusive scripts were found on 434 of the top 1 million websites including freelancer site, camera seller B&H Photo And Video, and cloud database provider MongoDB. That’s according to Steven Englehardt and his colleagues at Freedom To Tinker, which is hosted by Princeton’s Center For Information Technology Policy.

Submission + - Autonomous Boats Will Be On the Market Sooner Than Self-Driving Cars (

An anonymous reader writes: In the autonomous revolution that is underway, nearly every transportation machine will eventually be self-driving. For cars, it’s likely going to take decades before we see them operating freely, outside of test conditions. Some unmanned watercraft, on the other hand, may be at sea commercially before 2020. That’s partly because automating all ships could generate a ridiculous amount of revenue. According to the United Nations, 90 percent of the world’s trade is carried by sea and 10.3 billion tons of products were shipped in 2016. According to NOAA’s National Ocean Service, ships transported $1.5 trillion worth of cargo through US ports in 2016. The world’s 325 or so deep-sea shipping companies have a combined revenue of $10 billion.

Startups and major firms like Rolls Royce are now looking to automate the seas and help maritime companies ease navigation, save fuel, improve safety, increase tonnage, and make more money. As it turns out, autonomous systems for boats aren’t supremely different than those of cars, beyond a few key factors—for instance, water is always moving while roads are not, and ships need at least a couple miles to redirect. Buffalo Automation, a startup in upstate New York that began at the University at Buffalo, just raised $900,000 to help commercialize its AutoMate system—essentially a collection of sensors and cameras to help boats operate semi-autonomously. CEO Thiru Vikram said the company is working with three pilot partners, and intends to target cargo ships and recreational vessels first. Autonomous ships are an area of particular interest for the International Maritime Organization (IMO), which sets the standards for international waters. It launched a regulatory scoping exercise last year to analyze the impact of autonomous boats. By the time it wraps in 2020, market demand may make it so that we already have semi-autonomous and unmanned vessels at sea.

Submission + - MIT just discovered a way to mass produce graphene in large sheets (

Paige.Bennett writes: Up till now, graphene has been produced in small batches in labs. But MIT just found a way to mass produce graphene in large sheets using a process that rolls out five centimeters of graphene each minute. The longest span so far was nearly four hours, which produced about 10 meters of graphene.

Submission + - Microsoft Ports Edge Anti-Phishing Technology to Google Chrome (

An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has released a Chrome extension named "Windows Defender Browser Protection" that ports Windows Defender's —and inherently Edge's— anti-phishing technology to Google Chrome. The extension works by showing bright red-colored pages whenever users are tricked into accessing malicious links. The warnings are eerily similar to the ones that Chrome natively shows via the Safe Browsing API, but are powered by Microsoft's database of malicious links —also known as the SmartScreen API.

Chrome users should be genuinely happy that they can now use both APIs for detecting phishing and malware-hosting URLs. The SmartScreen API isn't as known as Google's more famous Safe Browsing API, but works in the same way, and possibly even better. An NSS Labs benchmark revealed that Edge (with its SmartScreen API) caught 99 percent of all phishing URLs thrown at it during a test last year, while Chrome only detected 87 percent of the malicious links users accessed.

Submission + - Where is HBO Silicon Valley's Real Pied Piper? Look in Troon, Scotland (

Tekla Perry writes: The fictional startup Pied Piper of HBO's Silicon Valley started as a compression algorithm company--advised by Tsachy Weissman and his graduate students at Stanford. Last year, Pied Piper pivoted to "reinventing the Internet," and jumped into the decentralized Web movement. Some real world companies already had that in their mission statement. So maybe it's not a surprise that this year the show's tech twists are coming not from a lab at Stanford, but from the leaders of one of those companies--MaidSafe, in Troon, Scotland. "Without trying to sound too much like Richard," says the real-world decentralized Internet pioneer, "we are 100 percent focused on the goals of the decentralized web. Today's Internet is broken."

Submission + - GDPR : why Facebook is likely to delete 80% of their EU user's data (

superono007 writes: GDPR has one little discussed principle called "data minimisation" that imposes companies to collect as little personal data as possible. The regulation is so strict that is states that "personal data should be processed only if (...) the processing could not be reasonably be fulfilled by other means" (recital 39). An interesting legal study analysed the application of this principle to Facebook, concluding that most of it's EU user's data will have to be deleted.

Submission + - + 'Resourceful Teachers' = Higher Student Achievement, Says

theodp writes: "Could time spent learning to code also help students improve at reading, math, and science?" asks a Medium post from entitled + resourceful teachers = higher student achievement! The tech-bankrolled nonprofit goes on to answer its own question: "Research conducted with 3rd — 5th-grade students in Broward County found that students who did extra CS Fundamentals activities, in classrooms of teachers who reported high levels of resourcefulness, had significantly higher scores on the Achieve3000 reading comprehension exam. But that’s not all. They scored significantly higher on Florida State Math, Science, and English Language Arts Exams too!" That's based upon the "Early Reporting of a Sample of Research Findings" from the Time for CS Project, which is based on work supported under a $1.25 million NSF grant for a partnership between Broward County Public Schools (BCPS Superintendent Robert Runcie sits on's Board), researchers at the University of Chicago, and, which proposed integrating CS and STEM at the grade 3-5 level within the literacy block of the school day. While the preliminary findings have CS educators jazzed, they do come with the following caveat from UChicago's Outlier Research & Evaluation team: "Before moving on, we wish to explicitly acknowledge that this post is not intended to take the place of a comprehensive research report, and that a full manuscript with descriptions of instruments, psychometrics, demographics, measurement approach and further findings is under development for publication. However, we have agreed to report some initial findings here because we believe in open research and because the findings are likely to be of interest to the elementary education and CS education communities. With that in mind, we welcome thoughtful comments as we learn and improve computer science education together." The researchers also remind that there are still some unanswered questions: "So, what are we to make of these findings? Like any study, this one elicits a number of new and interesting questions. Why were there significant findings associated with completion of a higher percentage of 'extra' CS lessons and completing 'additional' CS activities, whereas completion of grade-level specific lessons were not associated with student outcomes? What is the role of teacher resourcefulness and coping in a classroom and how might it be related to student academic achievement? What might explain why teachers who report being more innovative have students with higher academic outcomes?"

Submission + - Southwest Flight 1380 Engine Blows out at 38000ft (

schwit1 writes: The NTSB reported that there was one fatality out of 143 passengers on board. Part of its left engine ripped off, damaging a window and nearly sucking a woman out of the plane. Some passengers said that someone had a heart attack during the flight, but it’s not yet known if this was the fatality reported by the NTSB.

Submission + - Former FCC Broadband Panel Chair Arrested For Fraud (

An anonymous reader writes: The former chair of a panel built by FCC boss Ajit Pai to advise the agency on broadband matters has been arrested for fraud. Elizabeth Ann Pierce, former CEO of Quintillion Networks, was appointed by Pai last April to chair the committee, but her tenure only lasted until September. Pierce resigned from her role as Quintillion CEO last August after investigators found she was engaged in a scam that tricked investors into pouring money into a multi-million dollar investment fraud scheme. According to the Wall Street Journal, Pierce convinced two investment firms that the company had secured contracts for a high-speed fiber-optic system that would generate hundreds of millions of dollars in future revenue. She pitched the system as a way to improve Alaska's connectivity to the rest of the country, but the plan was largely a fabrication, law enforcement officials say. "As it turned out, those sales agreements were worthless because the customers had not signed them,” U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman said in prepared remarks. “Instead, as alleged, Pierce had forged counterparty signatures on contract after contract. As a result of Pierce’s deception, the investment companies were left with a system that is worth far less than Pierce had led them to believe." Quintillion says it began cooperating with lawmakers as soon as allegations against Pierce surfaced last year. Pierce was charged with wire fraud last Thursday and faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Submission + - selling full autonomy before it's ready could backfire for Tesla (

An anonymous reader writes: Tesla has an Autopilot problem, and it goes far beyond the fallout from last month's deadly crash in Mountain View, California. Tesla charges $5,000 for Autopilot's lane-keeping and advanced cruise control features. On top of that, customers can pay $3,000 for what Tesla describes as "Full Self-Driving Capability." "All you will need to do is get in and tell your car where to go," Tesla's ordering page says. "Your Tesla will figure out the optimal route, navigate urban streets (even without lane markings), manage complex intersections with traffic lights, stop signs and roundabouts, and handle densely packed freeways with cars moving at high speed." None of these "full self-driving" capabilities are available yet. "Self-Driving functionality is dependent upon extensive software validation and regulatory approval, which may vary widely by jurisdiction," the page says. "It is not possible to know exactly when each element of the functionality described above will be available, as this is highly dependent on local regulatory approval."

But the big reason full self-driving isn't available yet has nothing to do with "regulatory approval." The problem is that Tesla hasn't created the technology yet. Indeed, the company could be years away from completing work on it, and some experts doubt it will ever be possible to achieve full self-driving capabilities with the hardware installed on today's Tesla vehicles. "It's a vastly more difficult problem than most people realize," said Sam Abuelsamid, an analyst at Navigant Research and a former auto industry engineer. Tesla has a history of pre-selling products based on optimistic delivery schedules. This approach has served the company pretty well in the past, as customers ultimately loved their cars once they ultimately showed up. But that strategy could backfire hugely when it comes to Autopilot.

Submission + - The U.S. Ban on ZTE Accelerates China Pursuit of Technology Independence. (

hackingbear writes: The Commerce Department imposed a seven-year ban on the company's purchases of key U.S. technology. ZTE halted trading of its shares in Shenzhen Tuesday as it prepares to explain itself to anyone who'll listen. The U.S. dominates the essential technologies that go into building China's communications networks, with Broadcom Corp., Qualcomm Inc. and Intel Corp. all probably selling chips to ZTE which has helped create tens of thousands of jobs in the U.S. But all should be worried about Chinese President Xi Jinping's aggressive plan to make his country technology independent. Beijing has earmarked billions of dollars to develop semiconductor industry, which accounted for only 13% of its $104 billion chip market in 2016, to avoid the exact scenario playing out in Washington this week.

Submission + - Japan's Rare Earth Minerals Find Can Supply Global Demand for 700+ Years ( 1

Notabadguy writes: Sixteen million tons of deep sea mud off Minamitori Island have concentrated amounts of rare earth minerals sufficient to supply rare earth mineral demand at current global demand for the next 700 years. More importantly, the find is wholly within Japan's territorial waters and economic control, making Japan poised to devastate China's iron-fisted control of 95% of the world's rare earth mineral supply.

Submission + - Amazon shelves plan to sell prescription drugs ( 1

Major Blud writes: CNBC is reporting that Amazon Business, which considered selling pharmaceutical products after considering it last year, has put it's plans to do so on hiatus.

The change in plan comes partly because Amazon has not been able to convince big hospitals to change their traditional purchasing process, which typically involves a number of middlemen and loyal relationships. Amazon was able to gain licensing in 47 out of the 50 U.S. states, but has struggles to land contracts with large hospital networks.

"The setback illustrates the challenges of getting into the medical supply and pharmaceutical space, even for a company as big as Amazon. Several health-care and pharmaceutical distribution companies saw their stock take a nosedive following recent reports of Amazon potentially getting into the space, but it will likely take some time before those concerns turn into real threats."

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