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Communications

When a City Has Gigabit Internet, Prices For Slower Speed Tiers Drop: Study (arstechnica.com) 42

A new industry-funded research study, titled "Broadband competition helps to lower prices and faster download speeds for U.S. residential consumers," analyzed DSL, cable, and fiber broadband plans from the 100 largest designated market areas in the U.S. and found that when a city has gigabit internet speeds, the price of plans with slower speeds drop. Therefore, customers who don't purchase gigabit internet plans will still benefit from their availability. Ars Technica highlights the key findings of the study in their report: -The presence of gigabit service in a market is associated with a $27 decrease in the average monthly price of broadband plans with speeds of 100Mbps or greater but less than 1Gbps. That's a 25 percent price reduction.
-Markets with gigabit Internet also see smaller price decreases for plans as slow as 25Mbps. The presence of gigabit Internet has no significant effect on prices of plans with speeds below 25Mbps. This isn't that surprising since the slowest plans are already the cheapest and aren't suitable substitutes for gigabit speeds.
-Gigabit prices decline when at least two providers offer gigabit service. "If a DMA moves from having one to two providers of gigabit Internet, we estimate that the standard monthly price for gigabit Internet will decline by approximately $57 to $62, which is equal to a reduction in price of between 34 and 37 percent," the study said. Going from one to three gigabit competitors would reduce prices by an estimated $98.11 to $106.50 per month.
-Competition at any speed reduces prices. "An increase of one competitor is associated with approximately a $1.50 decline in the monthly standard broadband price for Internet plans with speeds ranging from 50Mbps to less than 1Gbps," the study said. For plans with download speeds of less than 25Mbps, the decrease in average monthly price is $0.42 for each competitor.
-Availability of fast speeds increases the likelihood that other ISPs will introduce their own higher-speed plans to match competitors. "In particular, we find that each additional competitor offering broadband in a higher speed category will increase the probability that other broadband providers in the market will offer broadband at those higher speeds by 4 to 17 percent on an annual basis," the study said.
-Average monthly prices for each speed category are as follows: $52.60 for speeds less than 25Mbps; $74.05 for plans from 25Mbps to 99Mbps; $108.52 for plans of least 100Mbps but less than 1Gbps; and $165.63 for speeds of at least 1Gbps.

Government

US Finalizes Rules That Require Quiet Hyrbid and Electric Cars To Make Noise At Low Speeds (reuters.com) 361

In an effort to prevent injuries among pedestrians, the U.S. government has finalized rules that require quiet hybrid and electric vehicles to emit alert sounds when they are traveling at low speeds. Reuters reports: The rules, which were required by Congress, will require automakers like Tesla Motors Inc, Nissan Motor Co and Toyota Motor Corp to add the sounds to all vehicles by September 2019. The U.S. Transportation Department said it expects the rules would prevent 2,400 injuries a year by 2020 and require the addition of alert sounds to about 530,000 2020 model vehicles. The U.S. National Highway Transportation Department said the rules will cost the auto industry about $39 million annually because automakers will need to add an external waterproof speaker to comply. But the benefits of the reduced injuries are estimated at $250 million to $320 million annually. NHTSA estimates the odds of a hybrid vehicle being involved in a pedestrian crash are 19 percent higher compared with a traditional gas-powered vehicle. About 125,000 pedestrians and bicyclists are injured annually. The rules will also help the blind and visually impaired. The rules apply to hybrid and electric cars, SUVs, trucks and buses weighing up to 10,000 pounds and seek to prevent crashes at intersections or when electric vehicles are backing up. At higher speeds, the alert is not required because other factors like tire and wind noise adequately warn pedestrians, NHTSA said.
Power

Why Tesla's New Solar Roof Tiles and Home Battery Are Such a Big Deal (techcrunch.com) 280

On October 28th, Tesla founder and CEO Elon Musk unveiled the residential "solar roof," consisting of glass roof tiles with integrated solar panels. Not only are they more durable than traditional roof panels, but they offer efficiency that is 98 percent as good as traditional, photovoltaic panels. The company also announced the Powerwall 2, a home battery that can store 14 kWh of energy, with a 5 kW continuous power draw, and 7 kW peak. It's designed to store the energy from the solar roof during day to power your home at night. Darrell Etherington via TechCrunch explains why these solar roof tiles are such a big deal: It's easy to dismiss the aesthetic import of how Tesla's tiles look, but it's actually important, and a real consideration for homeowners looking to build new homes or revamp their existing ones. The appearance of the tiles, which come in four distinct flavors (Textured Glass, Slate Glass, Tuscan Glass and Smooth Glass) is going to be a core consideration for prospective buyers, especially those at the top end of the addressable market with the disposable income available to do everything they can to ensure their home looks as good as it possibly can. As with other kinds of technologies that are looking to make the leap from outlier oddity to mainstream mainstay, solar has a hurdle to leap in terms of customer perception. Existing solar designs, and even so-called attempts to make them more consistent with traditional offerings like the above-mentioned Dow Chemical project, leave a lot to be desired in terms of creating something that can be broadly described as good-looking. Tesla has been referred to as the Apple of the automotive world by more than a few analysts and members of the media, and if there's one thing Apple does well, it's capitalize on the so-called -- halo effect. This is the phenomenon whereby customers of one of its lines of business are likely to become customers of some of the others; iPhone buyers tend to often go on to own a Mac, for instance. For Tesla, this represents an opportunity to jump-start its home solar business (which it'll take on in earnest provided its planned acquisition of SolarCity goes through) through the knock-on effects of its brisk Tesla EV sales, including the tremendous pre-order interest for the Model 3. Tesla's solar tiles claim to be able to power a standard home, and provide spare power via the new Powerwall 2 battery in case of inclement weather or other outages. Musk says that the overall cost will still be less than installing a regular old roof and paying the electric company for power from conventional sources. But Musk's claims about the new benefits of the new solutions don't end there. Tesla's tiles will actually be more resilient than traditional roofing materials, including terra-cotta, clay and slate tiles. Solar roofing, Powerwall and Tesla cars taken together represent a new kind of ecosystem in consumer tech, one that carries a promise of self-sufficiency in addition to ecological benefits. Tesla has already tipped its hand with respect to how it intends to make vehicle ownership a revenue generator for its drivers, rather than a cost center.
Government

FBI Probes Newly Discovered Hillary Clinton Emails and Reopens Investigation (telegraph.co.uk) 822

The FBI said Friday it is reviewing newly discovered emails related to Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server to determine whether she properly handled classified emails. The reopening of the investigation comes after the FBI recently "learned of the existence of emails that appear to be pertinent to the Clinton investigation," FBI director James Comey said. Comey added, however, that "FBI cannot yet assess whether or not this material may be significant." It is also unclear "how long it will take us to complete this additional work." FBI's announcement today is "certain" to become an issue in the final two weeks of the presidential campaign, however. Donald Trump is naturally pleased hearing the news, at New Hampshire, Trump said the new probe offered the FBI the chance to correct a "grave miscarriage of justice." He added, "We must not let her take her criminal scheme into the Oval Office." Supporters responded with chants of "Lock her up!" Trump added that the email investigation is "bigger than Watergate."
Businesses

Woman Faces $9,100 Verizon Bill For Data She Says She Didn't Use (dslreports.com) 209

A Verizon Wireless customer says she received a bill of $9,100 for hundreds of gigabytes of data usage which never consumed. The woman told the Cleveland Plain Dealer she was on Verizon's 4GB shared data plan, and like any normal person, the bill of $8,535 from Verizon for consuming 569GB of data in a matter of few days doesn't compute well with her. The problem, as DSLR reports, is that when she tried to find out what caused the data usage, Verizon website told her "the activity you are trying to perform is currently unavailable. Please try again later." She couldn't and switched to T-Mobile, after which Verizon charged her a penalty of $600.
Businesses

Logitech Buys Saitek (betanews.com) 69

PC accessories maker Logitech announced that it is acquiring Saiket brand and its line of flight sim controller assets from MadCatz for $13 million in cash. From a report on BetaNews: Today, the company announces a surprising acquisition. Logitech has officially bought Saitek -- maker of simulation controllers. While the move was unexpected, it actually makes a lot of sense. Logitech gains entry into a niche gaming segment that depends heavily on high-priced controllers. "First, these products are just great. We know a thing or two at Logitech about what makes a gaming product stand out and these products deliver exceptional experiences. Don't take our word for it -- we've seen the Saitek fans on the forums. Second, simulation games are cool and getting cooler. Whether you're into driving, flying or exploring space, there are fresh new titles available and more to come. Some of these titles are even VR enabled and we believe that dedicated controllers will stimulate and enhance the total VR experience," says Logitech.
Businesses

Wells Fargo Fires 5,300 Employees For Creating Millions of Phony Accounts (cnn.com) 341

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: Everyone hates paying bank fees. But imagine paying fees on a ghost account you didn't even sign up for. That's exactly what happened to Wells Fargo customers nationwide. On Thursday, federal regulators said Wells Fargo employees secretly created millions of unauthorized bank and credit card accounts -- without their customers knowing it -- since 2011. The phony accounts earned the bank unwarranted fees and allowed Wells Fargo employees to boost their sales figures and make more money. Wells Fargo confirmed to CNNMoney that it had fired 5,300 employees related to the shady behavior over the last few years. Employees went so far as to create phony PIN numbers and fake email addresses to enroll customers in online banking services, the CFPB said. The scope of the scandal is shocking. An analysis conducted by a consulting firm hired by Wells Fargo concluded that bank employees opened up over 1.5 million deposit accounts that may not have been authorized, according to the CFPB. Wells Fargo is being slapped with the largest penalty since the CFPB was founded in 2011. The bank agreed to pay $185 million in fines, along with $5 million to refund customers. The report says that "employees moved funds from customers' existing accounts into newly-created accounts without theier knowledge or consent," which resulted in "customers being charged for insufficient funds or overdraft fees," since their original accounts didn't contain the money. What's more is that "Wells Fargo employees also submitted applications for 565,443 credit card accounts without their knowledge or consent," causing customers who had unauthorized credit cards opened in their names to be "hit by annual fees, interest charges and other fees."
Iphone

Apple Launches the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus; Feature Water-Resistance, Lack Headphone Jack (www.bgr.in) 551

Apple on Wednesday unveiled its new flagship smartphones: the iPhone 7, and the iPhone 7 Plus. Both the iPhones look similar to the last year's iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus, but offer a range of new features. Chief among those features are water and dust resistance, stereo speakers, improved cameras (the iPhone 7 Plus has a pair of 12MP cameras that are able to take SLR-quality images. It offers bokeh capability). And yes, the new iPhones indeed lack the headphone jack. "it's the best iPhone we have ever created," Apple CEO Tim Cook said. The home button is getting taptic feedback, similar to that of the MacBook.

So why is Apple removing the headphone jack? Apple's SVP Phil Schiller said, "courage."The company also announced AirPods wireless earphones. A pair of these will be priced at $169. The iPhones will go on sales starting September 16 in several regions including the United States In places like India, however, it will be available starting October 7.
Google

Google Chrome Begins Warns Users About Insecure Pages (certsimple.com) 86

An anonymous reader shares an article on CertSimple, a firm that helps companies prove their identity on their websites: Today Chrome's stable channel was updated with a new HTTPS UI. The changes in these versions of Chrome (Chrome 53 for Windows, Mac users got them in Chrome 52) complete 'transition 1' in Google's HTTPS plans, first announced in December 2014: T1: Non-secure origins marked as Dubious. In other words: Chrome now explicitly tells users non-HTTPS sites aren't private. If a Chrome user visits a site that isn't private -- for example, there's no HTTPS, broken HTTPS, or HTTPS only on 'checkout' pages -- Chrome now displays a mid-grey colored info box.
Intel

Intel Confuses, Rebrands Some Core M Processors As Core I (laptopmag.com) 61

Reader thegarbz writes: As already covered previously Intel has announced it's 7th generation Kaby Lake processors. Curiously absent from the announcement was any mention of Core m5 and Core m7 product lines. As it turns out, Intel quietly removed the m branding and rolled its budget processors up into the Core i5 and Core i7 brands.

When we met with representatives of Intel to talk about Kaby Lake, they said that consumers didn't understand the Core m branding and that this move would help alleviate customer confusion.But what's more confusing: having two different brand names for different types of CPU or having the same name for both? Intel will tell you that you have to pay attention to the SKU numbers at the end of the chip names. And if you do, you can sidestep the issue. The regular i-series will continue as usual: Core i3, Core i5 and Core i7, with all of the processor numbers ending in the letter "U" (the i3-7100U, i5-7200U and i7-7500U). The former m5 and m7 will have the letter "Y" in the name (i5-7Y54, i7-7Y75 and m3-7Y30).


Sony

Sony To Boost Smartphone Batteries Because People Aren't Replacing Phones (theguardian.com) 210

Not too long ago, people would replace their phone every 18 months. But that isn't the case with most people now. According to new estimates, more people are now changing their phones after at least three years. The problem with this is that by the end of two-three years, the battery on the phone reaches a stage where it gets really annoying. Sony has a solution, or so it says. From The Guardian:Sony is trying to fix that, but not by fixing the battery. That's because the lithium ion cells within smartphones don't exactly need fixing -- they will continue to work for years -- but their ability to hold their original amount of charge rapidly diminishes with repeated recharging cycles. Everyone who finds themselves with a chunky battery pack for their new smartphone or desperately searching for a charger by mid-afternoon knows battery capacity is a never-ending headache that only gets worse as a smartphone, and its battery ages. Rather than fixing the battery, Sony wants to do something about the recharging. Jun Makino, Sony mobile's senior product marketing manager, said; "We've started learning your charging cycles so that our new Xperia X smartphones only complete charging to 100% when they estimate you're about to start using them, so that the damage caused by maintaining a battery at 100% is negated. This is important, a battery that's usually kept at a charge between 20% and 80% of its capacity is much healthier -- it's going to the extremes that wears it out at a faster rate. This is important, a battery that's usually kept at a charge between 20% and 80% of its capacity is much healthier - it's going to the extremes that wears it out at a faster rate. The Japanese electronics firm has partnered with Californian adaptive charging company Qnovo to put technology into its Xperia smartphones. This includes the new top-end Xperia XZ and Xperia X Compact, which Sony reckons will double the life of the battery to around four years.
Communications

Google Fiber Is Changing Its Strategy as Costs Grow (fortune.com) 160

Google is taking a strategy timeout on its high-speed-internet business. According to WSJ, the Google Fiber unit is -- including Los Angeles, Chicago, and Dallas -- after its initial rollouts proved time-consuming and expensive than anticipated -- is rethinking how to deliver internet connections in about a dozen metro areas (could be paywalled; alternate source). From a Fortune report: Turns out it is very expensive to run wires -- or in Google's case, fiber optic cables -- to each and every house that wants service. Known as the "last mile" problem, the high costs, in turn, make it difficult for companies to earn a solid rate of return on the installation investment. Google's effort, through its unit called Fiber that launched in 2010, is now seeking alternative means to connect to consumers homes or finding other people to pay the cost. Google has sought deals with municipalities and power companies to pay for the connections and is also exploring less expensive wireless technology. Meanwhile, Google has suspended efforts to add new cities such as San Jose, Calif., and Portland, Ore., using its prior strategy of stringing up cables to each customerâ(TM)s home.
Republicans

Donald Trump To Announce Mike Pence As Vice-Presidential Running Mate (theguardian.com) 413

Donald Trump has selected Indiana Gov. Mike Pence as his vice-presidential running mate. A senior GOP official, cited by many media outlets today (including the WSJ), confirmed the news, adding that the announcement will be made Friday. The Guardian reports: Pence brings several qualities to the Trump campaign that Republicans have found lacking, not least of which experience in government. The 57-year-old spent 12 years in Congress, including two years in a leadership role with the House Republican Conference. He was elected governor of Indiana in 2012, and gained a degree of national notoriety that's to a controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which he signed into law and then wanted revised, after many argued it would allow discrimination against LGBT people. A Trump-Pence ticket could send a message to Republican dissenters who feel they cannot support a candidate who has proven inconsistent on guns, abortion, LGBT rights and other social conservative issues. Just before the Indiana primary election, the staunchly conservative governor endorsed Ted Cruz, Trump's leading opponent and a far-right senator from Texas.An anonymous reader shared a BuzzFeed article on Pence today. The article digs into some of the opinion pieces Pence has penned over the years. In one such article, Pence wrote that "smoking doesn't kill." "Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn't kill," he wrote. In another piece, he argues that Carbon Dioxide "can't be the cause of increased global temperatures" because it is "a naturally occurring phenomenon in nature..." not an unnatural one.
Software

Linux Letting Go: 32-bit Builds On the Way Out (theregister.co.uk) 378

An anonymous shares a report on The Register:Major Linux distributions are in agreement: it's time to stop developing new versions for 32-bit processors. Simply: it's a waste of time, both to create the 32-bit port, and to keep 32-bit hardware around to test it on. At the end of June, Ubuntu developer Dimitri Ledkov chipped into the debate with this mailing list post, saying bluntly that 32-bit ports are a waste of resources. "Building i386 images is not 'for free', it comes at the cost of utilising our build farm, QA and validation time. Whilst we have scalable build-farms, i386 still requires all packages, autopackage tests, and ISOs to be revalidated across our infrastructure." His proposal is that Ubuntu version 18.10 would be 64-bit-only, and if users desperately need to run 32-bit legacy applications, the'll have to do so in containers or virtual machines. [...] In a forum thread, the OpenSUSE Chairman account says 32-bit support "doubles our testing burden (actually, more so, do you know how hard it is to find 32-bit hardware these days?). It also doubles our build load on OBS".
Games

Activision Abuses DMCA To Take Knock Indie Game Entirely Off Steam 147

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.

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