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Portables (Apple)

No New MacBook Airs as Apple Instead Makes Lower-End, $1,500 MacBook Pro ( 15

Alongside the two new MacBook Pros, Apple also unveiled a refresh for its popular MacBook Air lineup. The company is calling this: the MacBook Pro, same branding as the other two MacBook Pros. It's a lower-end version of the new MacBook Pros, with no "Touch Bar" (or the Touch ID) and is powered by a slightly slower processor. Starting at $1,499, this MacBook Pro model is slightly cheaper too, though. From an ArsTechnica report:Apple said it will continue selling the existing 13" MacBook Air, but the company made a point of comparing that model to this new lower-end Pro, putting it somewhere between the Air and the other Pros in the lineup. The new 13" MacBook Pro starts at $1,499 and will begin shipping today. The new higher-end Pros will start at $1,799 for the 13" model and $2,399 for the 15" model while shipping in two to three weeks. If you don't select any hardware upgrades, the low-end 13" Pro has a sixth-generation Intel Core i5 processor with dual cores clocked at 2.0GHz, Intel Iris Graphics 540, 8GB memory, and 256GB SSD. It is available in space grey and silver, and it can cost up to $2,599 if you select the highest CPU, memory, and storage upgrades. Those available upgrades include a 2.4GHz Core i7 processor, 16GB of memory, and 512GB or 1TB of SSD storage. The new 13" laptop has a 2560x1600 Retina display, two Thunderbolt 3/USB-C ports, and a headphone jack. It has the same Force Touch trackpad and redesigned keyboard as the higher-end models despite not integrating the Touch Bar and Touch ID.

Wikipedia Community and Internet Archive Partner To Fix One Million Broken Links on Wikipedia ( 9

More than one million formerly broken links in the English Wikipedia have been updated to archived versions from the Wayback Machine, thanks to a partnership between the Internet Archive, and volunteers from the Wikipedia community, and the Wikimedia Foundation. From a blog post: The Internet Archive, the Wikimedia Foundation, and volunteers from the Wikipedia community have now fixed more than one million broken outbound web links on English Wikipedia. This has been done by the Internet Archive's monitoring for all new, and edited, outbound links from English Wikipedia for three years and archiving them soon after changes are made to articles. This combined with the other web archiving projects, means that as pages on the Web become inaccessible, links to archived versions in the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine can take their place. This has now been done for the English Wikipedia and more than one million links are now pointing to preserved copies of missing web content. What do you do when good web links go bad? If you are a volunteer editor on Wikipedia, you start by writing software to examine every outbound link in English Wikipedia to make sure it is still available via the "live web." If, for whatever reason, it is no longer good (e.g. if it returns a "404" error code or "Page Not Found") you check to see if an archived copy of the page is available via the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. If it is, you instruct your software to edit the Wikipedia page to point to the archived version, taking care to let users of the link know they will be visiting a version via the Wayback Machine.

Twitter is Shutting Down Its Video App Vine ( 32

Twitter's plan to refocus on its core business consists of laying off 9 percent of its staff, and also killing off Vine. The company announced today that it will shut down Vine's video app in the coming months. From a Recode report: Vine has been struggling for some time, so Thursday's move is surprising but not unbelievable. The app was never a revenue driver for the company, and it was no longer growing. Many of its top executives left over the spring and early summer. What's interesting is that Twitter is shutting the app down instead of trying to sell it off. Or perhaps it did try and simply couldn't find a buyer (like a buyer for itself). Either way, Vine will soon shut down. The company says that users will be able to download their Vine videos before that happens, but there has been no specific timetable announced. Vine general manager Hannah Davis, who just joined the company this spring, will stay on to oversee the transition, according to a spokesperson.
Portables (Apple)

Apple Unveils New MacBook Pro Featuring OLED Touch Bar, Touch ID - Powered By Intel Skylake Processor ( 201

At an event on Thursday, Apple unveiled the new 2016 MacBook Pro. The redesigned MacBook Pro comes with "incredible extreme" all-metal body. The main attraction of the new MacBook Pro is an OLED touch strip at the top that Apple is calling the Touch Bar. The Touch Bar comes with a fingerprint scanner Touch ID that users can tap to log-in quickly to their computer as well as make online payments. The touch strip offers on-screen button that changes according to the application you're running. Schiller, Apple SVP, said it was time Apple gotten rid of the dedicated function keys. The new MacBook Pro is thinner and lighter than the existing model, and it is powerful too. It comes in two screen sizes: 13-inch, which weighs 3 pounds and measures 14.9mm -- down from 18mm from older MacBook Pro. The trackpad is larger too, Apple says, twice as larger than the older one. Also, it's Force Touch trackpad. ArsTechnica adds: Both laptops are still recognizably MacBook Pros, but in keeping with Apple's design priorities they've got slimmer profiles and smaller footprints. This is made possible in part by the move to USB Type-C ports like the one in the MacBook, all four of which support Thunderbolt 3. All four ports can be used to charge the system, too. Compared to the measly one port in the MacBook, the MacBook Pros are much more appealing to people who plug lots of stuff into their computers at once. Apple has also made the cowardly decision to retain the headset jack. Both systems include new Intel Skylake processors -- dual-core chips in the 13-inch Pro and quad-core chips in the 15-inch model, just like before. The 13-inch Pros ship exclusively with Intel Iris 540 GPUs, while the 15-inch models ship with Polaris-based AMD Radeon graphics at the high-end.The 13-inch model MacBook Pro starts at $1,799, whereas the 15-inch model starts at $2,399.

Web Bluetooth Opens New Abusive Channels ( 53

An anonymous reader writes: Recently, browsers are starting to ship Web Bluetooth API, soon to become a component of Web of Things. Web Bluetooth will allow to connect local user devices with remote web sites. While offering new development and innovation possibilities, it may also open a number of frightening security and privacy risks such as private data leaks, abuses and complexity. Web Bluetooth as currently defined by W3C may introduce unexpected data leaks such as location, and personally-identifiable data. "There are numerous examples of data processing methods possible of extracting insight previously seemingly hidden," said Steve Hegenderfer, director of Developer Programs at the Bluetooth Special Interest Group. "With Web Bluetooth, core security and privacy responsibility is delegated to the already powerful Web browser. Browsers should consider the types of information made available to websites and act accordingly in designing their data privacy layers." Is pairing kettles with web sites a good idea?

Samsung Sales, Profits Dive on Note 7 Recall ( 28

Samsung's smartphone division struggled to breakeven between July and September as sales plunged due to the recall of its high-end Note 7. The smartphone giant said quarterly sales in its IT and Mobile Communications division were down 15 percent on the same period last year to 22.5 trillion Korean won (US$19.8 billion) while operating profit crashed 95 percent to 100 billion won. From a PCWorld report: Problems with the Note 7 starting hitting sales shortly after it went on sale in mid-August. By early September, reports that several units had caught on fire prompted Samsung to begin a costly recall and replacement program. When it became clear that the replacements had the same problem, Samsung pulled the phone for good. Perhaps remarkably, Samsung said it saw no significant effect during the quarter on sales of its two other high-end handsets, the Galaxy S7 and S7 Edge, but it conceded that "regaining consumer confidence" will be a key objective in the months ahead. And for the current quarter, which includes the key year-end sales period, Samsung said it expects profit in the smartphone divison to bounce back to normal levels due to solid sales of the two flagship phones and increasing sales of mid-level Galaxy A- and J-series handsets. "As for 2017, the company anticipates a turnaround with the launch of new flagship smartphones," it said in a statement. "Next year will also see expansion of Samsung Pay rollouts and cloud-related services as well as the introduction of artificial intelligence related offerings."

Qualcomm To Buy NXP Semiconductors in $47 Billion Deal ( 25

Qualcomm, the largest maker of mobile-phone chips, will acquire NXP Semiconductors NV in a transaction valued at $47 billion, aiming to speed an expansion into new industries and reduce its dependence on the smartphone market. Bloomberg reports: San Diego-based Qualcomm agreed to pay $110 a share in cash for NXP, the biggest supplier of chips used in the automotive industry, or 11 percent more than Wednesday's close, the companies said in a statement Thursday. The deal will be funded with cash on hand as well as new debt. Chief Executive Officer Steve Mollenkopf is betting the deal, the largest in the chip industry's history, will accelerate his company's entry into the burgeoning market for electronics in cars. Eindhoven, Netherlands-based NXP is strong in that sector following its acquisition last year of Freescale Semiconductor Ltd. "It's no secret that we've been looking around," Mollenkopf said in an interview. "If you look at our growth strategy it's to grow into adjacent markets at the time that they are being disrupted by the technology of mobile."

Uber's 'Elevate' Project Aims To Bring Flying Electric Cars To Cities By 2026 ( 86

Uber has revealed a new project through which it aims to bring flying cars to commuters by 2026. The company published a white paper today outlining its plans for Uber Elevate, a network of on-demand electric aircraft. Business Insider adds: Known as VTOL aircraft -- short for Vertical Take-Off and Landing -- the aircraft would be used to shorten commute times in busy cities, turning a two-hour drive into a 15-minute trip. According to a piece out from Wired on the new plans, Uber doesn't plan to build the aircraft themselves. The ride-hailing company will bring together private companies and the government to deal with the larger issues of making this project a reality, Wired reports. The vehicles would be able to travel at about 150 mph for up to 100 miles and carry multiple people, including a pilot, according to Wired.

Twitter Is Cutting 9% of Its Global Workforce ( 70

Twitter is planning to lay off 9 percent of its global workforce, as the ailing San Francisco tech giant struggles to please Wall Street despite beating earnings expectations. The company officially announced the cuts today in its third-quarter earnings, days after reports began to surface of the impending cuts. AdWeek reports: According to Twitter, the majority of the reductions will take place in its sales, partnerships and marketing divisions in order to "continue to fully fund our highest priorities," according to a letter to shareholders. However, the earnings also came with some good news. Total monthly active users grew for the second consecutive quarter to 317 million users, gaining 4 million over the past three months since its second-quarter results. Daily active users also increased, rising 7 percent year over year. Twitter's revenue totaled $616 million -- an 8 percent increase year over year. Earnings per share totaled 13 cents, beating expectations of 9 cents per share and $606 million in total revenue. However, the company reported profit fell by $103 million.

World Wildlife Falls By 58% in 40 years ( 129

Global wildlife populations have fallen by 58% since 1970, BBC reports citing The Living Planet assessment by the Zoological Society of London (ZSL) and WWF. The report adds that if the trend continues, the decline would reach two-thirds among vertebrates by 2020. The figures suggest that animals living in lakes, rivers and wetlands are suffering the biggest losses. Human activity, including habitat loss, wildlife trade, pollution and climate change contributed to the declines. From the report: Dr Mike Barrett. head of science and policy at WWF, said: "It's pretty clear under 'business as usual' we will see continued declines in these wildlife populations. But I think now we've reached a point where there isn't really any excuse to let this carry on. This analysis looked at 3,700 different species of birds, fish, mammals, amphibians and reptiles - about 6% of the total number of vertebrate species in the world. The team collected data from peer-reviewed studies, government statistics and surveys collated by conservation groups and NGOs. Any species with population data going back to 1970, with two or more time points (to show trends) was included in the study.

Hotel CEO Openly Celebrates Higher Prices After Anti-Airbnb Law Passes ( 204

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Washington Post: A hotel executive said a recently-passed New York law cracking down on Airbnb hosts will enable the company to raise prices for New York City hotel rooms, according to the transcript of the executive's words on a call with shareholders last week. The law, signed by New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo on Friday, slaps anyone who lists their apartment on a short-term rental site with a fine up to $7,500. It "should be a big boost in the arm for the business," Mike Barnello, chief executive of the hotel chain LaSalle Hotel Properties, said of the law last Thursday, "certainly in terms of the pricing." Barnello's comment adds fuel the argument, made repeatedly by Airbnb and its proponents, that a law that was passed in the name of affordable housing also allows established hotels to raises prices for consumers. It was included in a memo written by Airbnb's head of global policy, Chris Lehane, to the Internet Association, a tech trade group, reviewed by the Washington Post. LaSalle, a Bethesda, MD-based chain, owns hotels around the country, including New York City. The memo is the latest volley in a bitter fight that has pit the hotel industry, unions, and affordable housing advocates against Airbnb and its supporters. At the heart of the fight is a debate over the societal value of the Airbnb platform and its role in the economy of cities throughout the world. The question is whether Airbnb has been a net benefit, by enabling middle class city-dwellers to make extra money by renting out their homes, or whether it has had the unintended consequence of exacerbating affordable housing crises in expensive cities such as New York and Los Angeles.

WhatsApp Is Rolling Out Video Calls On Its Android App ( 35

WhatsApp appears to be rolling out its video calling feature for beta users of the Android app. The arrival of the feature was first spotted by Android Police, which found that an updated app interface caused some users of the beta builds of the application to be able to access video calling. TechCrunch reports: For those on a version of WhatsApp which includes video calling support, you're able to tap the call button or tap on a contact card to kick off a video call. In this case, a new dialog box will appear, offering the choice between a standard voice call and a video call. In addition, the call log will show which calls were made via video by annotating them with the camera icon, instead of the telephone icon. However, there isn't yet a way to call other WhatsApp users who don't also have video calling support. If you try to, WhatsApp defaults to a voice call. Android isn't the only platform where video calling has been switched on. Last week, some users on the WhatsApp beta for Windows Phone were also surprised to find that the feature was now functional. And in this case, it didn't require an app update -- indicating a server-side change could enable it. Some users have also reported seeing the feature on iOS.
The Almighty Buck

Rich People Pay Less Attention To Other People, Says Study ( 211

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: In a small recent study, researchers from New York University found that those who considered themselves in higher classes looked at people who walked past them less than those who said they were in a lower class did. The results were published in the journal of the Association for Psychological Science. According to Pia Dietze, a social psychology doctoral student at NYU and a lead author of the study, previous research has shown that people from different social classes vary in how they tend to behave towards other people. So, she wanted to shed some light on where such behaviors could have originated. The research was divided into three separate studies. For the first, Dietze and NYU psychology lab director Professor Eric Knowles asked 61 volunteers to walk along the street for one block while wearing Google Glass to record everything they looked at. These people were also asked to identify themselves as from a particular social class: either poor, working class, middle class, upper middle class, or upper class. An independent group watched the recordings and made note of the various people and things each Glass wearer looked at and for how long. The results showed that class identification, or what class each person said they belonged to, had an impact on how long they looked at the people who walked past them. During Study 2, participants viewed street scenes while the team tracked their eye movements. Again, higher class was associated with reduced attention to people in the images. For the third and final study, the results suggested that this difference could stem from the way the brain works, rather than being a deliberate decision. Close to 400 participants took part in an online test where they had to look at alternating pairs of images, each containing a different face and five objects. Whereas higher class participants took longer to notice when the face was different in the alternate image compared to lower classes, the amount of time it took to detect the change of objects did not differ between them. The team reached the conclusion that faces seem to be more effective in grabbing the attention of individuals who come from relatively lower class backgrounds.
United States

New Study Shows HIV Epidemic Started Spreading In New York In 1970, Clears the Name of 'Patient Zero' ( 309

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: A new genetic study confirms theories that the global epidemic of HIV and AIDS started in New York around 1970, and it also clears the name of a gay flight attendant long vilified as being "Patient Zero." Researchers got hold of frozen samples of blood taken from patients years before the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS was ever recognized, and teased out genetic material from the virus from that blood. They use it to show that HIV was circulating widely during the 1970s, and certainly before people began noticing a "gay plague" in New York in the early 1980s. "We can date the jump into the U.S. in about 1970 and 1971," Michael Worobey, an expert on the evolution of viruses at the University of Arizona, told reporters in a telephone briefing. Their findings also suggest HIV moved from New York to San Francisco in about 1976, they report in the journal Nature. Their findings confirm widespread theories that HIV first leapt from apes to humans in Africa around the beginning of the 20th century and circulated in central Africa before hitting the Caribbean in the 1960s. The genetic evidence supports the theory that the virus came from the Caribbean, perhaps Haiti, to New York in 1970. From there it spread explosively before being exported to Europe, Australia and Asia. The Worobey team also sequenced samples of virus taken from Gaetan Dugas, a Canadian flight attendant named as "Patient Zero." Dugas died in 1984 and stunned researchers when he told them he'd had about 250 sexual partners a year between 1979 and 1981, although it later became clear that was not uncommon. The sequences make it clear he was a victim of an epidemic that had already been raging, and not its originator, Worobey said. "It's shocking how this man's name has been sullied and destroyed by this incorrect history," said Peter Staley, a former Wall Street bond trader who became an AIDS activist in New York in the 1980s. "He was not Patient Zero and this study confirms it through genetic analysis," Staley told NBC News. "No one should be blamed for the spread of viruses," Worobey said.

Delta Now Lets You Track Your Baggage In Real-Time ( 70

Let's face it, tracking down a lost bag at the airport is a pain-in-the-ass. While airlines will often compensate you with money and new clothes for your troubles, the experience is certainly not pleasant. Delta is now attempting to further reduce the number of lost bags through its real-time luggage tracker in the latest version of its mobile app. The Next Web reports: The feature apparently cost $50 million to build. It allows you to see where your stuff is -- provided that it's at one of the 84 airports that support Delta's new tracking tech. Here's how it works. All bags will get a Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tag. This allows Delta to track them in real-time using radio waves. Scanners positioned throughout the baggage system will allow Delta to monitor where the bag is, and relay that information to the passenger. Delta has traditionally been one of the best airlines when it comes to handling baggage. During 2012, it lost only 200,000 bags. That sounds like a lot, but bear in mind it carried 98 million passengers during the same period. You can try the feature on your next Delta flight by grabbing the app from Google Play and the App Store.
Wireless Networking

Apple Delays AirPods Beyond Original 'Late October' Window ( 76

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Apple's new wireless, $180 AirPods have less than a week to meet their original shipping target of "late October," and now the company has confirmed that such a launch is officially off the table. A Wednesday statement, given to Ars Technica just one day ahead of the company's latest Mac-related press event, confirmed Apple's decision to delay the wireless headphones' launch. In the statement, Apple tells Ars that the company "needs a little more time before AirPods are ready for our customers." "The early response to AirPods has been incredible," the Apple statement reads. "We don't believe in shipping a product before it's ready." Apple declined to offer any estimate or release window information about when to expect the AirPods' official launch.

Tesla Posts Second Profitable Quarter Ever ( 108

anderzole writes from a report via BGR: Tesla on Wednesday posted its earnings report for the quarter gone by and investors will have a lot to cheer about. While analysts on Wall St. were expecting Tesla to post a loss, Tesla during its September quarter actually posted a profit, and an impressive profit at that. When the dust settled, Tesla posted a quarterly profit of $22 million and EPS of $0.71. Revenue for the quarter checked in at $2.3 billion. Illustrating how impressive Tesla's performance was this past quarter, Wall St. was anticipating Tesla to post a loss amid $1.9 billion in revenue for the quarter. As far as deliveries are concerned, Tesla during the quarter boasted that it achieved record vehicle production, deliveries and revenue. More importantly, Tesla reaffirmed via a shareholder letter that the Model 3 is still on track for a late 2017 release. You can read Tesla's shareholder letter here.

AI-Powered Body Scanners Could Soon Speed Up Your Airport Check-in ( 104

An anonymous reader shares a report on the Guardian:A startup bankrolled by Bill Gates is about to conduct the first public trials of high-speed body scanners powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the Guardian can reveal. According to documents filed with the US Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Boston-based Evolv Technology is planning to test its system at Union Station in Washington DC, in Los Angeles's Union Station metro and at Denver international airport. Evolv uses the same millimetre-wave radio frequencies as the controversial, and painfully slow, body scanners now found at many airport security checkpoints. However, the new device can complete its scan in a fraction of second, using computer vision and machine learning to spot guns and bombs. This means passengers can simply walk through a scanning gate without stopping or even slowing down -- like the hi-tech scanners seen in the 1990 sci-fi film Total Recall. A nearby security guard with a tablet is then shown either an "all-clear" sign, or a photo of the person with suspicious areas highlighted. Evolv says the system can scan 800 people an hour, without anyone having to remove their keys, coins or cellphones.

176 Original Emojis Join Van Gogh and Picasso At Museum of Modern Art ( 29

If you happen to walk through the Museum of Modern Art in New York between December to March of next year, you may see 176 emoji on display next to Van Gogh and Picasso. On Wednesday, the museum announced that Shigetaka Kurita's original pictographs would be added to its collection. Los Angeles Times reports: Nearly two decades ago, Shigetaka Kurita was given the task of designing simple pictographs that could replace Japanese words for the growing number of cellphone users communicating with text messages. Kurita, who was working for the Japanese mobile carrier NTT Docomo at the time, came up with 176 of them, including oddities like a rocking horse, two kinds of umbrellas (one open, one closed) and five different phases of the moon. He called them emojis. An estimated 74% of Americans now use emojis every day, nudging the written word to the side in favor of a medium that can succinctly and playfully convey emotions in a society often more adept at texting than talking. That marriage of design and utility prompted the art world to take notice. Museum officials say emojis are the modern-day answer to an age-old tradition of communicating with pictures. "Emojis as a concept go back in the centuries, to ideograms, hieroglyphics and other graphic characters, enabling us to draw this beautiful arch that covers all of human history," said Paola Antonelli, a senior curator at MoMA. "There is nothing more modern than timeless concepts such as these."

How Vigilante Hackers Could Stop the Internet of Things Botnet ( 61

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Some have put forth a perhaps desperate -- and certainly illegal -- solution to stop massive internet outages, like the one on Friday, from happening: Have white-hat vigilante hackers take over the insecure Internet of Things that the Mirai malware targets and take them away from the criminals. Several hackers and security researchers agree that taking over the zombies in the Mirai botnet would be relatively easy. After all, if the "bad guys" Mirai can do it, a "good guys" Mirai -- perhaps even controlled by the FBI -- could do the same. The biggest technical hurdle to this plan, as F-Secure chief research officer Mikko Hypponen put it, is that once it infects a device, Mirai "closes the barn door behind it." Mirai spreads by scanning the internet for devices that have the old-fashioned remote access telnet protocol enabled and have easy to guess passwords such as "123456" or "passwords." Then, once it infects them, it disables telnet access, theoretically stopping others from doing the same. The good news is that the code that controls this function actually doesn't at times work very well, according to Darren Martyn, a security researcher who has been analyzing the malware and who said he's seen some infected devices that still have telnet enabled and thus can be hacked again. Also, Mirai disappears once an infected device is rebooted, which likely happens often as owners of infected cameras and DVRs try to fix their devices that suddenly have their bandwidth saturated. The bad news is that the Mirai spreads so fast that a rebooted, clean, device gets re-infected in five minutes, according to the estimates of researchers who've been tracking the botnets. So a vigilante hacker has a small window before the bad guys come back. The other problem is what a do-gooder hacker could do once they took over the botnet. The options are: brick the devices, making them completely unusable; change the default passwords, locking out even their legitimate owners; or try to fix their firmware to make them more resistant to future hack attempts, and also still perfectly functioning. The real challenge of this whole scenario, however, is that despite being for good, this is still illegal. "No one has any real motivation to do so. Anyone with the desire to do so, is probably afraid of the potential jail time. Anyone not afraid of the potential jail time...can think of better uses for the devices," Martyn told Motherboard, referring to criminals who can monetize the Mirai botnet.

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