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Businesses

Here's How Pinterest Plans to Get You To Shop More (fortune.com) 18

Pinterest is figuring out new ways to bolster its revenue. On Tuesday, the social media company announced a range of new e-commerce features that will encourage its users (the service attracts more than 100 million users every month) to purchase items directly from its website. One of the biggest features is visual search for products, which will allow users to take a picture of an object and then see similar items to buy on Pinterest. The company has also announced a shopping bag that can be accessed on its mobile apps and website. From a Fortune report:Merchants will be able to create dedicated pages displaying all the merchandise being sold through Pinterest and, like Amazon, will suggest items that a user might want to buy. [...] The company wants to make it increasingly easier for people to buy items on its site. If Pinterest does have ambitions of becoming more of an e-commerce destination, it makes sense for Pinterest to start emulating moves made early on by e-commerce giant Amazon, such as personalization and recommended items. The key to personalization for Amazon has been the trove of data it has accumulated in order to recommend more products to its users. Pinterest said that its users are currently pinning four million items per day, and this data could be key to providing users with more personalized recommendations.
Security

US Healthcare Records Offered For Sale Online 44

An anonymous reader writes:Three U.S. healthcare organisations are reportedly being held to ransom by a hacker who stole data on hundreds of thousands of patients. The hacker has also put the 650,000 records up for sale on dark web markets where stolen data is traded. Prices for the different databases range from $100,000 to $411,000. Buyers have already been found for some of the stolen data, the hacker behind the theft told news site Motherboard. No information about the size of the ransom payment sought by the data thief has emerged, although he did say it was "a modest amount compared to the damage that will be caused to the organisations when I decide to publicly leak the victims."
China

China Tells App Developers To Increase User Monitoring 27

An anonymous reader writes: The Cyberspace Administration of China has imposed new regulation for the mobile app community, requiring that developers keep a close watch over users and keep a record of their activities. However, the proposed legislation would also prevent apps from requesting unnecessary access to users' contacts, camera, microphone and other spurious installation requests. The regulator introduced the new laws in the name of cracking down on illegal use of mobile platforms for the distribution of pornography, fraud and the spread of 'malicious' content.
The Courts

Airbnb Has Sued Its Hometown Of San Francisco (cnn.com) 114

Robert Mclean, reporting for CNN:Airbnb is taking its hometown to federal court. The company has filed a lawsuit against the city of San Francisco, objecting to short-term rental rule changes approved by its Board of Supervisors. A new ordinance set to take effect in late July would require all Airbnb hosts to register with the city. If they do not, Airbnb would be fined up to $1,000 a day for each listing, putting the burden on the company to make sure each listing is legal. But the city's $50 registration process is analog enough to turn off many hosts. It can't be completed online and requires submitting all the documents in person. Airbnb contends the new rule violates the Communications Decency Act, Stored Communications Act and the First Amendment.
Windows

Microsoft To Make Saying No To Windows 10 Update Easier (zdnet.com) 115

Less than a week after a California-based woman won $10,000 lawsuit against Microsoft over Windows 10 upgrades, the Redmond-based company has announced it will make it easier for users to say no to Windows 10 updates. The company plans to change the Windows 10 update prompt to make it clearer and easier for Windows 7 and Windows 8.x users to schedule or reject upgrading to Windows 10. ZDNet reports:Microsoft officials said late on June 27 that the new update experience -- with clearer "upgrade now, schedule a time, or decline the free offer" -- will start rolling out this week. Microsoft also will revert to making clicking on the Red X at the corner of the Windows 10 update box dismiss the update, rather than initiate it, as it has done for the past several weeks. Microsoft officials said they are making the change "in response to customer feedback."
Hardware Hacking

How Sony, Microsoft, and Other Gadget Makers Violate Federal Warranty Law (vice.com) 114

Reader citadrianne shares a Motherboard article: There are big "no trespassing" signs affixed to most of our electronics. If you own a gaming console, laptop, or computer, it's likely you've seen one of these warnings in the form of a sticker placed over a screw or a seam: "Warranty void if removed." In addition, big manufacturers such as Sony, Microsoft, and Apple explicitly note or imply in their official agreements that their year-long manufacturer warranties -- which entitle you to a replacement or repair if your device is defective -- are void if consumers attempt to repair their gadgets or take them to a third party repair professional. What almost no one knows is that these stickers and clauses are illegal under a federal law passed in 1975 called the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act . To be clear, federal law says you can open your electronics without voiding the warranty, regardless of what the language of that warranty says.
Facebook

Facebook Backtracks, Now Says It Is Not Using Your Phone's Location To Suggest Friends 81

A report on Fusion on Monday, which cited a number of people, claimed that Facebook was using its users' phone location to suggest people to them. The publication also noted the privacy implications of this supposed feature. At the time of publishing, Facebook had noted that location was indeed one of the signals it looks into when suggesting new friends. But the social juggernaut has since backtracked on its statement with new assurances that it is not using anyone's location. In a statement to Slashdot, the company said:We're not using location data, such as device location and location information you add to your profile, to suggest people you may know. We may show you people based on mutual friends, work and education information, networks you are part of, contacts you've imported and other factors.
Google

Google Partners With LyricFind To Display Songs Lyrics In Search Results (billboard.com) 29

Google has signed a multi-year licensing deal with LyricFind, a Toronto-based firm that provides lyrics of songs. As a result of the collaboration, users will now see song lyrics directly in the search results, both the companies have announced. From a BillBoard report:A query for the lyrics to a specific song will pull up the words to much of that song, freeing users from having to click through to another website. Google rolled out the lyrics feature in the U.S. today (June 27), though it has licenses to display the lyrics internationally as well. While the terms of the deal weren't disclosed, LyricFinder Chief Executive and co-founder Darryl Ballantyne projects publishers and songwriters seeing "millions" of dollars in additional revenue from this arrangement.The move comes six years after Microsoft partnered with LyricFind to display lyrics on Bing.com (Archived link).
Games

Activision Abuses DMCA To Take Knock Indie Game Entirely Off Steam 126

Reader He Who Has No Name writes: We've seen brain-dead, overzealous, and entirely over-automated DMCA takedown requests bring down music and videos, but this may be the first case of an entire video game being knocked out. Earlier today David Prassel, creator of Trek Industries and developer of the not-without-controversy ORION: Dino Horde / Prelude and the early-access Guardians of ORION, posted that his current project had been entirely removed from Steam after a questionable DMCA allegation from Activision. Prassel explains further, "We've made Steam our primary platform, but this has put a definite scare into us going forward considering our entire livelihood can be pulled without a moment's notice, without any warning or proper verification. I cannot even confirm that the representative from Activision is a real person as absolutely no results pop up in any of my searches." Image comparisons against at least two of the weapon models claimed to be infringing were posted by Prassel and in at least one thread on a forum.
What's more, it appears Activision is alleging not a vertex-for-vertex and texel-for-texel theft and duplication of the Call Of Duty: Black Ops 3 2D -- 3D art assets, but in fact an infringing artistic similarity and design of separately created art content -- something that the DMCA does not cover (and which more would likely fall under copyright or possibly trade dress). Since this takedown falls directly in the middle of the Steam Summer Sale -- which probably is not a coincidence -- it will profoundly impact Trek Industry's potential sales.
Polygon has more details.
Piracy

Judge Dismisses Movie Piracy Case, IP-Address Doesn't Prove Anything (torrentfreak.com) 138

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: In what's believed to be a first of its kind ruling, a federal court in Oregon has dismissed a direct infringement complaint against an alleged movie pirate from the outset. According to the judge, linking an IP-address to a pirated download is not enough to prove direct copyright infringement. In the Oregon District Court, Magistrate Judge Stacie Beckerman recently recommended dismissal of a complaint filed by the makers of the Adam Sandler movie The Cobbler. According to the Judge both claims of direct and indirect infringement were not sufficient for the case to continue. What's unique in this case, is that the direct infringement claims were dismissed sua sponte, which hasn't happened before. To prove direct infringement copyright holders merely have to make it "plausible" that a defendant, Thomas Gonzales in this case, is indeed the copyright infringer. This is traditionally done by pointing out that the IP-address is directly linked to the defendant's Internet connection, for example. However, according to Judge Beckerman this is not enough. In response to community backlash, Oculus has decided to change its DRM policy (again) to allow HTC Vive games to play on the Oculus Rift virtual-reality system.
AI

AI Downs 'Top Gun' Pilot In Dogfights (dailymail.co.uk) 333

schwit1 writes from a report via Daily Mail: [Daily Mail reports:] "The Artificial intelligence (AI) developed by a University of Cincinnati doctoral graduate was recently assessed by retired USAF Colonel Gene Lee -- who holds extensive aerial combat experience as an instructor and Air Battle Manager with considerable fighter aircraft expertise. He took on the software in a simulator. Lee was not able to score a kill after repeated attempts. He was shot out of the air every time during protracted engagements, and according to Lee, is 'the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI I've seen to date.'" And why is the US still throwing money at the F35, unless it can be flown without pilots. The AI, dubbed ALPHA, features a genetic fuzzy tree decision-making system, which is a subtype of fuzzy logic algorithms. The system breaks larger tasks into smaller tasks, which include high-level tactics, firing, evasion, and defensiveness. It can calculate the best maneuvers in various, changing environments over 250 times faster than its human opponent can blink. Lee says, "I was surprised at how aware and reactive it was. It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment. It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking. It moved instantly between defensive and offensive actions as needed."
Movies

Minecraft Movie To Compete With Avengers and Star Wars In 2019 (polygon.com) 80

An anonymous reader writes: Warner Bros. announced today that it will be releasing its upcoming Minecraft movie on May 25, 2019, if all things go according to plan. It will be competing directly with Lucasfilm's Star Wars: Episode IX film, which will be released the same weekend, only a few weeks after Marvel's Infinity War film. The Minecraft movie has already faced some problems. The film's original director, Shawn Levy, left the project in 2014 after his Goonies-inspired movie idea was rejected by Warner Bros. executives. Mojang announced a new director for the movie last July -- Rob McElhenney, star of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. The movie is likely to be a hit at the box office as the game has a massive following. Earlier this month, Mojang announced the game passed 100 million sales across all platforms, including PC, Mac, consoles and mobile.
Government

US Customs Wants To Know Travelers' Social Media Account Names (helpnetsecurity.com) 313

Orome1 quotes a report from Help Net Security: The U.S. Customs and Border Protection agency has submitted a request to the Office of Management and Budget, asking for permission to collect travelers social media account names as they enter the country. The CBP, which is part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, proposes that the request "Please enter information associated with your online presence -- Provider/Platform -- Social media identifier" be added to the Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) and to the CBP Form I-94W (Nonimmigrant Visa Waiver Arrival/Departure). "It will be an optional field to request social media identifiers to be used for vetting purposes, as well as applicant contact information," the CBP noted. "Collecting social media data will enhance the existing investigative process and provide DHS greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections by providing an additional tool set which analysts and investigators may use to better analyze and investigate the case." The public and affected agencies are asked to comment on the request within 60 days of its publication. Commenters are asked to send their comments to this address.
Government

Tour de France To Use Thermal Cameras To Spot Cheats (npr.org) 128

An anonymous reader writes: At this year's Tour de France, thermal cameras and various other tools will be used to detect "mechanical doping." The image tests can be done anywhere and their locations will not be publicized, according to officials. NPR reports: "As far back as at least 2010, accusations have flown that elite cyclists were turning in superhuman performances with the help of motors that are hidden inside their bike's seat tube. Commercial versions of such devices can provide a steady power stream of around 200 watts -- the lower range of a pro cyclist's average output in a stage race. They can also be set to assist riders automatically if their pedaling cadence falls below a certain threshold. Tour de France officials explain how the detection system will work: 'Developed by the CEA (the French Atomic Energy Commission), the method consists of using a thermal imaging camera capable of detecting mechanical anomalies on the riders' bikes. The checks can be made in the race and on the side of the roads.'"
Earth

Physicists Confirm a Pear-Shaped Nucleus, and It Could Ruin Time Travel Forever (sciencealert.com) 200

An anonymous reader writes from a report via ScienceAlert: Physicists have confirmed the existence of pear-shaped nuclei, which challenges the fundamental theories of physics that explain our Universe. "We've found these nuclei literally point towards a direction in space. This relates to a direction in time, providing there's a well-defined direction in time and we will always travel from past to present," Marcus Scheck from the University of the West of Scotland told Kenneth MacDonald at BBC News. Until recently, it was generally accepted that nuclei of atoms could only be one of three shapes: spherical, discus, or rugby ball. The first discovery of a pear-shaped nucleus was back in 2013, when physicists at CERN discovered isotope Radium-224. Now, that find has been confirmed by a second study, which shows that the nucleus of the isotope Barium-144 is also asymmetrical and pear-shaped. In regard to time travel, Scheck says that this uneven distribution of mass and charge caused Barium-144's nucleus to "point" in a certain direction in spacetime, and this bias could explain why time seems to only want to go from past to present, and not backwards, even if the laws of physics don't care which way it goes.
Botnet

A Massive Botnet of CCTV Cameras Involved In Ferocious DDoS Attacks (softpedia.com) 69

An anonymous reader writes: "A botnet of over 25,000 bots is at the heart of recent DDoS attacks that are ferociously attacking businesses across the world with massive Layer 7 DDoS attacks that are overwhelming Web servers, occupying their resources and eventually crashing websites," reports Softpedia. This botnet's particularity is the fact that attacks never fluctuated and the attackers managed to keep a steady rhythm. This is not a classic botnet of infected computers that go on and off, but of compromised CCTV systems that are always on and available for attacks. The brands of CCTV DVRs involved in these attacks are the same highlighted in a report by a security researcher this winter, who discovered a backdoor in the firmware of 70 different CCTV DVR vendors. These companies had bought unbranded DVRs from Chinese firm TVT. When informed of the firmware issues, TVT ignored the researcher and the issues were never fixed, leading to crooks creating this huge botnet.
Transportation

Rolls-Royce Eyes Autonomous Ships, Expects Remote-Controlled Cargo Ships By 2020 (pcmag.com) 127

An anonymous reader writes from a report via PC Magazine: Speaking at a recent symposium in Amsterdam, Rolls-Royce vice president of innovation for marine, Oskar Levander, said, "The technologies needed to make remote and autonomous ships a reality exist." In partnership with the Advanced Autonomous Waterborne Applications Initiative (AAWA) project, Rolls-Royce, DNV GL, Inmarsat, Deltamarin, NAPA, Brighthouse Intelligence, Finferries, and ESL Shipping are leading the $7 million effort. Unmanned ships could save money, weight, and space, making way for more cargo and improving reliability and productivity, the AAWA said in a recent white paper. "The increased level of safety onboard will be provided by additional systems," Rolls-Royce said on its website. "Our future solutions will reduce need for human-machine interaction by automating selected tasks and processes, whilst keeping the human at the center of critical decision making and onboard expertise." Initial testing of sensor arrays in a range of operating and climatic conditions is already underway in Finland. Phase II of the project will continue through the end of 2017. Rolls-Royce plans to launch the first remote-controlled cargo ships by 2020, with autonomous boats in the water within the next two decades. Rolls-Royce was in the news last week when they unveiled their first driverless vehicle called The Vision Next 100.
Businesses

Cisco Seen As Trying To 'Slow Down Arista Anyway They Can' With Patent Lawsuits (crn.com) 115

An anonymous reader shares an article by CRN:Partners say Cisco's end game with its patent lawsuits against Arista Networks is simply to slow the fast-growing networking company and stunt any innovation efforts from competitors. "Cisco's goal is to try to slow down Arista and competitors any way they can," said Chris Becerra, president and CEO of Terrapin Systems, a Morgan Hill, Calif.-based Arista partner. "If they don't have the technology to beat them out there, they're going to try to slow them down any way possible." Last week, the San Jose, Calif.-based network giant won three of five patent infringement suits against Santa Clara, Calif.-based Arista dealing with its networking switches. The International Trade Commission recommended a ban on Arista product imports containing the infringing technology. Additionally, the ITC also ruled earlier this year that Arista infringed on several other Cisco patents pertaining to its private VLANS, system database and externally managing router configuration with a centralized database -- recommending a similar ban on Arista imports.For those unfamiliar, Cisco had filed its trade complaint in December 2014, in which it sought a ban on Arista's switches. Arista, which designs and sells multilayer network switches to deliver software-defined networking solutions, was formed by former Cisco employees.
Earth

Google's Satellite Map Gets a 700-Trillion-Pixel Makeover (theatlantic.com) 62

An anonymous reader writes: On Monday, Google Maps has received a makeover with 700 trillion pixels of new data added to the service. The Atlantic reports: "The new map, which activates this week for all users of Google Maps and Google Earth, consists of orbital imagery that is newer, more detailed, and of higher contrast than the previous version. Most importantly, this new map contains fewer clouds than before -- only the second time Google has unveiled a "cloudless" map. Google had not updated its low- and medium- resolution satellite map in three years. The new version of the map includes data from Landsat 8, the newer version of the same satellite (Landsat 7, the U.S. government satellite which supplied the older map's imagery data), letting Google clear the ugly artifacts. Google's new update doesn't include imagery at the highest zoom levels, like the kind needed to closely inspect an individual house, pool, or baseball field. Those pictures do not come from Landsat at all, but from a mix of other public and private aerial and space-based cameras, including DigitalGlobe's high-resolution satellites. The image processing for this most recent map was completed entirely in Google Earth Engine, the company's geospatial-focused cloud infrastructure. In fact, the entire algorithm to create the cloudless map was written in Javascript in the Earth Engine development interface."
The Courts

President Obama Should Pardon Edward Snowden Before Leaving Office (theverge.com) 327

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Ever since Edward Snowden set in motion the most powerful public act of whistleblowing in U.S. history, he has been living in exile in Russia from the United States. An article in this week's New York Magazine looks at how Snowden may have a narrow window of opportunity where President Obama could pardon him before he leaves office. Presumably, once he leaves office, the chances of Snowden being pardoned by Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump are miniscule. Obama has said nothing in the past few years to suggest he's interested in pardoning Snowden. Not only would it contradict his national security policy, but it will severely alienate the intelligence community for many years to come. With that said, anyone who values a free and secure internet believes pardoning Snowden would be the right thing to do. The Verge reports: "[Snowden] faces charges under the Espionage Act, which makes no distinction between delivering classified files to journalists and delivering the same files to a foreign power. For the first 80 years of its life, it was used almost entirely to prosecute spies. The president has prosecuted more whistleblowers under the Espionage Act than all president before him combined. His Justice Department has vastly expanded the scope of the law, turning it from a weapon against the nation's enemies to one that's pointed against its own citizens. The result will be less scrutiny of the nation's most powerful agencies, and fewer forces to keep them in check. With Snowden's push for clemency, the president has a chance to complicate that legacy and begin to undo it. It's the last chance we'll have."

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