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LeEco Who? Chinese Tech Giant Tries Its Luck In the US With 'More Products Than You've Ever Seen' ( 58

LeEco is often called the Netflix of China. Which is funny for two reasons: LeEco is bigger than Netflix, and it has been around for longer than the American on-demand movies and TV shows streaming service. Besides, LeEco runs a fleet of other businesses, including ecommerce portal, smartphones, TVs, and even an autonomous cars. A company executive said this month that this would be a better description of LeEco, "If you were to take Apple, Amazon, Paramount Pictures, Tesla, Uber and Netflix and combine all of those companies, you get what LeEco does in China" But you may not have heard much about LeEco, the company which was until earlier this year known as LeTv. But you will now, because the company today announced a range of products for the U.S. market. TechCrunch adds: Perhaps predictably, one of the first US-based offerings from the company often referred to as "the Netflix of China" will be a content platform. And, as with just about everything else at today's event, LeEco's coming out swinging. The list of partners for LeEco Live includes MGM, Lionsgate, Vice, Showtime, Sling and Magnolia Pictures, along with publication partners like Cosmopolitan and Esquire, to name but a few. From another CNET report, which lists the other things that LeEco announced today: UMax 85 TV is LeEco's flagship 4K smart television. It's 85 inches, comes with 4GB in RAM and 64GB in storage and supports HDR10 and Dolby Vision. It will cost $4,999. Super4 X65 TV is LeEco's second biggest 4K smart television at 65 inches and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. Super4 X55 TV is a 55-inch 4K smart television and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. Super4 X43 Pro TV is 43-inch 4K smart television and comes with most of the same features as the UMax 85. LeEco has an upcoming prototype VR headset; it will have a gyroscope, bluetooth headphones and USB Type-C. LeSee Pro is LeEco's self-driving concept car. It will be fully autonomous and will have a connected interior to let people stream movies, music and work documents. LeSee is LeEco's semi-autonomous vehicle (level 3). It is internet-connected and has streaming content in rear seats. LeEco first unveiled this car in April.

Spanish Police Arrest Their First Ever eBook Pirate ( 48

An anonymous reader writes: Spain's Ministry of the Interior has announced the first ever arrest of an eBook pirate. The suspect is said to have uploaded more than 11,000 literary works online, many on the same day as their official release. More than 400 subsequent sites are said to have utilized his releases. The investigation began in 2015 following a complaint from the Spanish Reproduction Rights Centre (CEDRO), a non-profit association of authors and publishers of books, magazines, newspapers and sheet music. According to the Ministry, CEDRO had been tracking the suspect but were only able to identify him by an online pseudonym. However, following investigations carried out by the police, his real identity was discovered.

Razer Acquires THX, the Audio Pioneer That George Lucas Started ( 44

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Most of us know THX as the logo that comes up when we hear that zooming sound at the start of a film in a surround-sound movie theater. The company is a pioneer in audio technology, and today, gamer gear maker Razer is announcing that it has acquired the majority of THX Ltd.'s assets. Terms of the deal were not disclosed. Irvine, Calif.-based Razer said that it has also hired the management team and employees of THX, which George Lucas started in 1983 to develop audio-visual reproduction standards for movie theaters, screening rooms, home theaters, computer speakers, game consoles, and car audio systems. It will be an interesting match with Razer, which makes laptops and peripherals for game fanatics. THX will operate as an independent startup under its own management and apart from the ongoing business of its parent company. The audio technology business will have discretion to seek agreements with other product makers, service providers and financial partners apart from Razer.

More Performers Are Demanding Audiences Lock Up Their Phones ( 550

More performers -- and other venues -- are discovering a new anti-piracy technology called Yondr -- including comedian Dave Chappelle. Slashdot reader quotes the New York Times: Fans are required to place their cellphones into Yondr's form-fitting lockable pouch when entering the show, and a disk mechanism unlocks it on the way out. Fans keep the pouch with them, but it is impossible to snap pictures, shoot videos or send text messages during the performance while the pouch is locked.

'I know my show is protected, and it empowers me to be more honest and open with the audience,' says Dave Chappelle...But some fans object to not being able to disseminate and see live shows via videotape...

"In this day and age, my phone is how I keep my memory," one live-music fan told the Washington Post, adding "If you don't want your music heard, then don't perform it." But the device is becoming more common, and according to the Times it's now also being used at weddings, restaurants, schools, and when movies are being prescreened.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Co-Founder Announces Benefit Concert to Pay His Medical Bills ( 195

An anoymous Slashdot reader reports: "I was dead for about 8 mins. on Wed. eve," EFF co-founder John Perry Barlow posted last year on Facebook. "total cardiac arrest...sad to report, no Ascending Light." The cyber-rights activist told the San Francisco Chronicle that he had gone "down the tunnel of eternity and it turned out to be a cheap carnival ride." He paused for a moment. "Probably not cheap, though."

Yesterday Barlow posted a Twitter update announcing a big benefit concert in Mill Valley, California to help pay his mounting medical bills on Monday, October 24th. Performers will include Bob Weir (also of The Grateful Dead), Jerry Harrison (of The Talking Heads), Lukas Nelson, Members of The String Cheese Incident, Sean Lennon and Les Claypool, plus 85-year-old folk singer Ramblin' Jack Elliott, as well as "special guests."

Barlow's family describes the last 18 months as a "medical incarceration" with "a dizzying array of medical events and complications" that has depleted his savings and insurance benefits. They've also set up a site for donations from "his fellow innovators, artists, cowboys, and partners-in-crime, to help us provide the quality of care necessary for Barlow's recovery."

Doctors Perform Better Than Internet Or App-Based Symptoms Checkers, Says Study ( 192

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Daily: Increasingly powerful computers using ever-more sophisticated programs are challenging human supremacy in areas as diverse as playing chess and making emotionally compelling music. But can digital diagnosticians match, or even outperform, human physicians? The answer, according to a new study led by researchers at Harvard Medical School, is "not quite." The findings, published Oct. 10 in JAMA Internal Medicine, show that physicians' performance is vastly superior and that doctors make a correct diagnosis more than twice as often as 23 commonly used symptom-checker apps. The analysis is believed to provide the first direct comparison between human-made and computer-based diagnoses. Diagnostic errors stem from failure to recognize a disease or to do so in a timely manner. Physicians make such errors roughly 10 to 15 percent of the time, researchers say. In the study, 234 internal medicine physicians were asked to evaluate 45 clinical cases, involving both common and uncommon conditions with varying degrees of severity. For each scenario, physicians had to identify the most likely diagnosis along with two additional possible diagnoses. Each clinical vignette was solved by at least 20 physicians. The physicians outperformed the symptom-checker apps, listing the correct diagnosis first 72 percent of the time, compared with 34 percent of the time for the digital platforms. Eighty-four percent of clinicians listed the correct diagnosis in the top three possibilities, compared with 51 percent for the digital symptom-checkers. The difference between physician and computer performance was most dramatic in more severe and less common conditions. It was smaller for less acute and more common illnesses.

Amazon Launches New 'Music Unlimited' Service, Starts At $4/Month For Use On Just One Echo ( 25

Speaking of giant ecommerce companies, Amazon has launched a streaming music service dubbed, Amazon Music Unlimited, that starts at $3.99 (cheaper than Spotify or Apple Music) and has tens of millions of songs. There's a catch, however. The service has three payment tiers, but the lowest one -- which again, costs $3.99 -- only works with company's Amazon Echo, or Echo Dot, or Amazon Tap speakers. GeekWire adds: To use Amazon Music Unlimited on multiple devices, including smartphones, you'll need to pay $7.99 if you're an Amazon Prime member, or $9.99 if you're not. In a world where people increasingly expect everything to work everywhere, the Echo-only tier might seem out of place, even at less than $4 a month. But Amazon is pitching the option as an add-on experience for Echo owners, going beyond the 2 million tracks available in the existing Amazon Prime Music service that comes with the $99/year Amazon Prime subscription. The company is also using some smart computing behind the scenes to differentiate the experience. For example, Echo users will be able to ask Alexa to "play the new song by Adele."

WikiLeaks Publishes Cryptic UFO Emails Sent To Clinton Campaign From Former Blink 182 Singer ( 205

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: The former lead singer of Blink 182, Tom DeLonge, has publicly admitted to his obsession with UFOs -- but that still doesn't explain why he was sending two cryptic messages about alien spacecrafts to Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier today. The former rockstar's UFO emails became public in the latest Wikleaks dump, published earlier this month. DeLonge, who is best known for his shitty guitar riffs and vocals in songs like "What's My Age Again," emailed Podesta at least twice from his personal account, urging him to meet in person so he could introduce Podesta to high-level officials (presumably with info about UFOs). Here's a small taste of one of the messages: "I would like to bring two very 'important' people out to meet you in DC. I think you will find them very interesting, as they were principal leadership relating to our sensitive topic. Both were in charge of most fragile divisions, as it relates to Classified Science and DOD topics. Other words, these are A-Level officials. Worth our time, and as well the investment to bring all the way out to you. I just need 2 hours from you." In another email, DeLonge said he's been working with someone named General McCasland, and explained some of the General's public comments. The email is rather strange, given that there's no specific request made or really any context at all for the message: "He mentioned he's a 'skeptic,' he's not.... He just has to say that out loud, but he is very, very aware -- as he was in charge of all of the stuff. When Roswell crashed, they shipped it to the laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. General McCasland was in charge of that exact laboratory up to a couple years ago." It's unclear if Podesta ever responded to the messages, but he has shown interest in UFOs in the past. When he stepped down from his role as a senior advisor to President Barack Obama, Podesta tweeted, "Finally, my biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the #disclosure of the UFO files. #thetruthisstilloutthere cc: @NYTimesDowd." The famous tweet now appears under the name of Obama's new senior advisor Brian Deese.

A Spotify Ad Slipped Malware Onto PCs and Macs ( 96

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes TechHive: Spotify's ads crossed from nuisance over to outright nasty this week, after the music service's advertising started serving up malware to users on Wednesday. The malware was able to automatically launch browser tabs on Windows and Mac PCs, according to complaints that surfaced online...the ads directed users' browsers to other malware-containing sites in the hopes that someone would be duped into downloading more malicious software.
It didn't last long -- Spotify quickly posted that they'd identified "the source of the problem." And they're not the only company dealing with hidden malware in ads, since the same thing has happened to both Google and Yahoo.

12-Year-Old Boy Gets $100K Bill From Google After Confusing Adwords With Adsense ( 140

The names Google gives to its services can be a bit confusing at times, especially since there are so many of them. For example, Adwords and Adsense look and sound very similar but they deal with two different transaction types. While Adwords deals with spending money, Adsense deals with earning money. A 12-year-old boy in Spain managed to confused the two services and ended up with a bill of 100,000 euros ($111,490). The Register reports: Jose Javier, 12, had signed up for Google's Adwords program in order to make money from advertisements placed alongside YouTube videos of his band, the Torrevieja llamada Los Salerosos -- en ingles, the Torrevieja Fun Guys -- named after the Alicante town in which he lives. Unfortunately, for the young musician, Google's AdWords program is for those wishing to advertise at cost, rather than run advertisements for profit. According to a report from Spanish daily El Pais, Jose and a friend planned to buy instruments, play music, get rich and buy a mansion by subscribing to the service. By early September the account was being billed by Google, receiving charges which reportedly rose quickly from an initial 15 euros ($16.72) to 19,700 euros ($21,960.57) at a time until the amount owed hit six figures. Google's statement noted that AdWords has age restrictions in place and encouraged families to familiarize itself with its Safety Center, but the boy's mother complained to El Pais that it was too easy for her son to make the purchases from Google, requiring him only to provide his savings account details, which he did in mid-August. Thankfully, Google was kind enough to cancel the outstanding balance on its Adwords service.

BitTorrent Fires CEOs, Closes Los Angeles Studio, Shutters BitTorrent Now ( 34

Things are not looking good at BitTorrent. Citing multiple sources, Variety reports today that the company has fired two former CEOs -- Robert Delamar and Jeremy Johnson -- and let go an unknown number of staffers. Company's CFO Dipak Joshi has stepped in as interim CEO. BitTorrent is also closing its Los Angeles-based production studio and shutting its BitTorrent Now streaming efforts. From the report: The company had officially announced the appointment of Delamar and Johnson as new co-CEOs in April. At the time, the duo laid out a renewed focus on media production and distribution, which involved the opening of a new Los Angeles-based production studio. These efforts culminated in BitTorrent Now, an ad-supported music and video streaming platform that launched in June. BitTorrent Now built on the company's efforts to strike media distribution deals with independent artists, but didn't actually use BitTorrent's P2P technology for streaming.

Microsoft Allows Users To Remove Some System Applications in Windows 10 Insider Preview 14936 ( 124

Until now, Microsoft restricted users from deleting many of the system applications on Windows 10. But it is finally giving users that option in the latest Windows 10 Insider Preview -- 14936. From an article on Ghacks:If you open the Mail and Calendar application for instance, you will notice that the uninstall button is active now. This means that you can remove the system app from the machine without having to resort to Powershell or third-party programs to do so. Users who are on the stable version of Windows 10 cannot uninstall system apps using the apps & features menu currently. It seems likely that Microsoft will introduce the feature with the next feature update, codename Redstone 2, which will be out in 2017. Before you start jumping up and down in joy, note that some system applications cannot be removed. While you can uninstall Mail and Calendar, Calculator, Groove Music, Maps, and Weather, you cannot remove Alarm & Clock, Camera, Cortana, Messaging, and others.

Google Gets Serious About Home Automation: Unveils Google Home, Actions on Google and Google Wifi ( 91

At its hardware launch event earlier today, Google launched Google Home, a voice-activated speaker that aims to give Amazon's Echo a run for its money. The speaker is always-listening and uses Google's Assistant to deliver sports scores, weather information, commute times, and much more. Tech Crunch reports: So like the Echo, Google Home combines a wireless speaker with a set of microphones that listen for your voice commands. There is a mute button on the Home and four LEDs on top of the device so you can know when it's listening to you; otherwise, you won't find any other physical buttons on it. As for music, Google Home will feature built-in support for Google Play Music, Spotify, Pandora and others. You can set up a default music service, too, so you don't always have to tell Google that you want to play a song "on Spotify." Google also noted that Home's music search is powered by Google, so it can understand relatively complex queries. Music on Google Home will also support podcast listening and because it's a Cast device, you can stream music to it from any other Cast-enabled device. Home integrates with Google's Chromecasts and Cast-enabled TVs. For now, that mostly means watching YouTube videos, but Google says it will also support Netflix, too. Google Home will cost $129 (with a free six-month trial of YouTube Red) and go on sale on Google's online store today. It will ship on November 4. What's more is that developers will be able to integrate their third-party apps with Google Assistant via "Actions on Google." With Actions on Google, developers will be able to create two kinds of actions: Direct and Conversation. Direct is made for relatively simple requests like home automation, while Conversation is made for a back and forth interaction utilizing Actions on Google will also allow third-party hardware to take advantage of Google Assistant. Those interested can sign-up for the service today. But Google didn't stop there. The company went on to reveal all-new, multi-point Wifi routers called Google Wifi. The Verge reports: The Wifi router can be purchased two ways: as a single unit or in a multipack, just like Eero. A single unit is $129, while the three-pack will cost $299. Google says Wifi will be available for preorder in the U.S. in November and will ship to customers in December. There was no mention of international availability. Google says it has developed a number of technologies to make the Wifi system work, including intelligent routing of traffic from your phone or device to the nearest Wifi unit in your home. It supports AC 1200 wireless speeds, as well as simultaneous dual-band 2.4GHz and 5GHz networks. It also has beamforming technology and support for Bluetooth Smart. Google says the system will handle channel management and other traffic routing automatically.

KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS Desktop Officially Released ( 72

prisoninmate writes from a report via Softpedia: KDE will celebrate 20 years of activity on October 14, 2016, and they've just released the first LTS (Long Term Support) version of the KDE Plasma desktop environment. Prominent new features of KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS include support for desktop widgets, a new system-wide search functionality that promises to let users easily search their KDE desktops for everything they want, including apps, music, videos, files, folders, etc., a new tool to get hot new stuff for your KDE Plasma desktop, such as wallpapers, widgets, desktop effects, or window styles, and infinite customization possibilities. Moreover, KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS comes with a unified look for the default Breeze theme so that, no matter what type of application you're using (Qt4, GTK2, GTK3, or Qt5), it will look the same, mobile phone notifications, along with the ability to use your smartphone as a PC remote, transfer files or mute music during calls, all with the new KDE Connect plasmoid. There's also Right-to-Left (RTL) language support, simplified global shortcuts, improvements to many applets, and much better Wayland support. KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS will receive nine point releases until 2018. "Today KDE releases its first Long Term Support edition of its flagship desktop software, Plasma," reads the announcement. "This marks the point where the developers and designers are happy to recommend Plasma for the widest possible audience be they enterprise or non-techy home users. If you tried a KDE desktop previously and have moved away, now is the time to re-assess, Plasma is simple by default, powerful when needed."

Researchers Restore the First Recording of Computer-Generated Music ( 127

BoxRec writes: Alan Turing was part of a team who created the earliest known recording of music produced by a computer. It starts with a few bars of God Save the Queen, a snippet of Baa Baa Black Sheep and then Glenn Miller's swing hit In The Mood. The recording was captured by the BBC in the Autumn of 1951 on a 12-inch (30.5cm) acetate disc. But when Professor Jack Copeland of the University of Canterbury in Christchurch and composer Jason Long discovered the disc, the audio on the disc had been distorted. In a blog post for the British Library, Copeland and Long said it "gave at best only a rough impression of how the computer sounded." BBC News reports: "By analyzing the recording, Copeland and Long realized it was playing at the wrong speed, possibly as a result of the recorder's turntable running too quickly as the acetate was cut. As they knew the notes the computer was actually capable of playing, the pair were able to calculate exactly by how much the recording needed to be speeded up in order to exactly match the sound made by the Ferranti Mark 1. They also removed extraneous noise from the recording -- though not the engineer's voice. 'It was a beautiful moment when we first heard the true sound of Turing's computer,' Copeland and Long wrote. Now anyone can hear it in all its somewhat ramshackle glory."

Samsung's Next Flagship Smartphone May Not Feature a Headphone Jack ( 446

Samsung's next flagship smartphone, which may be released sooner than later due to the Note 7 fiasco, may not feature a 3.5mm headphone jack. In fact, Samsung may be one of many manufacturers to make the jump from the 3.5mm headphone jack to USB-C for audio. The USB Implementers Forum published the Audio Device Class 3.0 specification that brings USB Audio over USB Type-C. What this means is that "mobile devices including smartphones, tablets and ultraportable laptops could ditch the headphone jack in the very near future without worrying about having to bake audio support into USB-C or a new, proprietary port," writes Chris Smith via BGR. SamMobile adds: "Removing the dedicated audio plug will also allow OEMs to create smartphones that are slimmer and have better water resistance capabilities."

Google Tells Home Audio Vendors To Ditch Competing Smart Assistants If They Want To Use Google Cast: Variety ( 60

Google is telling its home audio vendors that they won't be allowed to add support for smart assistants by rivals such as Amazon's Alexa if they want to continue to use Google Cast, according to Variety. The Mountain View-based company reportedly conducted a meeting in June with 50 of the biggest names of home audio to discuss the plan. The publication adds that Google's talks with OEMs were at least partially successful, with many of those companies planning to unveil their Google Cast-powered smart speakers as soon as next year. From the report:"Google Cast has become a Trojan horse," said one of the attendees, who wasn't authorized to speak on the record with Variety. Google's overtures to consumer electronics makers come at a time of upheaval for many home audio brands. Premium stereo equipment makers, in particular, have seen their sales diminished in recent years by both changing listening habits and a rapid evolution of technology. The move to streaming audio led music fans to massively embrace headphones and cheap Bluetooth speakers. Then Sonos came along and established itself as the market leader for premium Wifi-connected speakers. And finally, Amazon surprised everyone with the Echo, a device that redefined what a speaker does, thanks to smart voice control that can be used to request songs, news headlines, the weather, and even to order a pizza or an Uber.Weirdly enough, Google, Amazon, Facebook, IBM, and Microsoft announced a partnership this week to conduct research and promoting best practices on AI.

USB-IF Publishes Audio Over USB Type-C Specifications ( 135

An anonymous reader quotes a report from AnandTech: The USB Implementers Forum this week published the USB Audio Device Class 3.0 (direct download) specification, which standardizes audio over USB Type-C interface. The new spec enables hardware makers to eliminate traditional 3.5mm mini-jacks from their devices and use USB-C ports to connect headsets and other audio equipment. Makers of peripherals can also build their audio solutions, which use USB-C instead of traditional analog connectors. Developers of the standard hope that elimination of mini-jacks will help to make devices slimmer, smarter and less power hungry. As reported, the USB Audio Device Class 3.0 specification supports both analog and digital audio. Analog audio is easy to implement and it does not impact data transfers and other functionality of USB-C cables since it uses the two secondary bus (SBU) pins. The USB ADC 3.0 defines minimum interoperability across analog and digital devices in order to avoid confusion of end-users because of incompatibility. In fact, all ADC 3.0-compliant hosts should support the so-called headset adapter devices, which allow to connect analog headsets to USB-C. However, digital audio is one of the primary reasons why companies like Intel wanted to develop the USB-C audio tech on the first place, hence, expect them to promote it. According to the USB ADC 3.0 standard, digital USB-C headphones will feature special multi-function processing units (MPUs), which will, to a large degree, define the feature set and quality of headsets. The MPUs will handle host and sink synchronization (this is a key challenge for digital USB audio), digital-to-analog conversion, low-latency active noise cancellation, acoustic echo canceling, equalization, microphone automatic gain control, volume control and others. Such chips will also contain programmable amplifiers and pre-amplifiers, which are currently located inside devices. Besides, USB ADC 3.0-compatible MPUs will also support USB Audio Type-III and Type-IV formats (the latest compressed formats), but will retain compatibility with formats supported by ADC 1.0 and 2.0. Finally, among the mandated things set to be supported by USB-C Audio devices are new Power Domains (allows devices to put certain domains in sleep mode when not in use) as well as BADD (basic audio device definition) 3.0 features for saving power and simplified discovery and management of various audio equipment (each type of devices has its own BADD profile).

New iPhone 7 Case Brings Back the Headphone Jack ( 377

Apple removed the headphone jack in the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, forcing users to use either Bluetooth, the Lightning port or included Lightning to 3.5mm headphone jack adaptor in order to listen to music through headphones. However, one company took it upon themselves to create an iPhone 7 case with a built-in 3.5mm headphone jack. The company is called Fuze and they recently launched an Indiegogo campaign that promises to bring the audio port back to the iPhone 7. The Next Web reports: To achieve this, the company is taking Apple's Lightning to 3.5mm adapter and building it straight into a case, where you can plug your headphones with "no dongles, no adapters, no problems." In addition to the audio port, the Fuze Case will also serve as a battery pack as it adds 2,400mAh of extra battery life to the iPhone 7 and 3,600mAh to the 7 Plus. It will be available in five different colors including white, black, gold, rose gold and blue. The case is currently available for $49 to "super early bird" backers, but will increase to $59 once more people have chipped in and will eventually sell for $69 in retail. The company expects to start shipping the accessory in December later this year.

Spotify in Talks To Acquire SoundCloud ( 20

Janko Roettgers, writing for Variety: Spotify is in advanced talks to acquire rival music service SoundCloud, according to a report by the Financial Times. An announcement of the acquisition could be made soon, according to the Times. The acquisition would come just months after SoundCloud launched its own paid streaming service. A Spotify spokesperson declined to comment on the report when contacted by Variety; SoundCloud didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Spotify is the market leader in the growing paid streaming business, disclosing earlier this month that it now has more than 40 million paying subscribers. Its biggest competitor is Apple Music with 17 million paying subscribers.

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