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Republicans

GOP Senators' New Bill Would Let ISPs Sell Your Web Browsing Data (arstechnica.com) 300

Yesterday, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and 23 Republican co-sponsors introduced a resolution that would overturn new privacy rules for internet service providers. "If the Federal Communications Commission rules are eliminated, ISPs would not have to get consumers' explicit consent before selling or sharing web browsing data and other privacy information with advertisers and other third parties," reports Ars Technica. "The measure would use lawmakers' power under the Congressional Review Act to ensure that the FCC rulemaking 'shall have no force or effect.' The resolution would also prevent the FCC from issuing similar regulations in the future." From the report: Flake's announcement said he's trying to "protect consumers from overreaching Internet regulation." Flake also said that the resolution "empowers consumers to make informed choices on if and how their data can be shared," but he did not explain how it will achieve that. The privacy order had several major components. The requirement to get the opt-in consent of consumers before sharing information covered geo-location data, financial and health information, children's information, Social Security numbers, Web browsing history, app usage history, and the content of communications. This requirement is supposed to take effect on December 4, 2017. The rulemaking had a data security component that required ISPs to take "reasonable" steps to protect customers' information from theft and data breaches. This was supposed to take effect on March 2, but the FCC under newly appointed Chairman Ajit Pai halted the rule's implementation. Another set of requirements related to data breach notifications is scheduled to take effect on June 2. Flake's resolution would prevent all of those requirements from being implemented. He said that this "is the first step toward restoring the [Federal Trade Commission's] light-touch, consumer-friendly approach." Giving the FTC authority over Internet service providers would require further FCC or Congressional action because the FTC is not allowed to regulate common carriers, a designation currently applied to ISPs.
Transportation

UPS Develops 'Rolling Warehouse' System In Which Drones Are Launched From Atop Trucks (bloomberg.com) 41

mi writes: A Bloomberg article describes a test conducted by UPS on Monday, "launching an unmanned aerial vehicle from the roof of a UPS truck about a quarter-mile to a blueberry farm outside Tampa, Florida. The drone dropped off a package at a home on the property, and returned to the truck, which had moved about 2,000 feet." The company is looking to design a "rolling warehouse" system in which a drone is "deployed from the roof of a UPS truck and flies at an altitude of 200 feet to the destination." It returns after dropping off the package while the truck is already on its way to the next stop.
China

China's Millennials Are Hustling For Part-Time Gigs Instead of Traditional Jobs (bloomberg.com) 147

Bloomberg has a report today in which it underscores a growing trend among millennials in China who are looking for part-time jobs. From the article: Hopping from one short-term stint to another isn't the sort of aspiration an earlier generation had in China, where the middle-class dream has long been university degrees followed by a stable job -- preferably one backed by the government. In a 2016 poll of 13,000 college students, 48 percent said they didn't want to enter the traditional labor market. Hardly any of these part-time jobs pay well, but it doesn't matter to millennials. The report adds: "The money is little," Zhang Chen, a 21-year-old accounting student said of the short gig that pays about 240 yuan ($35). "But I want a more interesting life." Chen was lined up for the work through DouMi, a startup that focuses exclusively on part-time positions and blends elements of a temp agency with an internet jobs board and marketing service. For around 130 yuan a day, DouMi users can sort crates of milk at a supermarket or hand out pamphlets on frozen sidewalks. Those considered "beautiful women," and between the ages of 18 and 28, can make four times as much plus tips by working as live-streaming models to keep mostly-male viewers entertained. Many of the roles run for mere days or weeks at a time, a flexibility that suits those juggling social lives and university studies. "Every month we have between 300,000 and 400,000 jobs," said Chief Executive Officer Zhao Shiyong.
Robotics

Elon Musk: Humans Need To Merge With Machines Else They Will Become Irrelevant in AI Age (cnbc.com) 251

Billionaire Elon Musk is known for his futuristic ideas. So it didn't come as a surprise when on Monday at the World Government Summit in Dubai, he predicted that over time we will see a "closer merger of biological intelligence and digital intelligence." He added, via a CNBC report: "It's mostly about the bandwidth, the speed of the connection between your brain and the digital version of yourself, particularly output." Musk explained what he meant by saying that computers can communicate at "a trillion bits per second", while humans, whose main communication method is typing with their fingers via a mobile device, can do about 10 bits per second. In an age when AI threatens to become widespread, humans would be useless, so there's a need to merge with machines, according to Musk. "Some high bandwidth interface to the brain will be something that helps achieve a symbiosis between human and machine intelligence and maybe solves the control problem and the usefulness problem," Musk explained.
Microsoft

Cortana Now Reminds You To Do the Things You Promised in Emails (theverge.com) 134

From a report: Microsoft is adding a new feature to Cortana today that will remind you to keep your promises. Suggested reminders lets Cortana remind you when you've promised to do something in an email. Microsoft is using machine learning to highlight phrases in emails where you might promise your boss something, or make a commitment to a friend or family member. The result is a reminder that pops up telling you "don't forget you mentioned this." Cortana's suggested reminders will be available in the US first on Windows 10 PCs, and Microsoft is planning to bring them to iOS and Android in the coming weeks. Microsoft is supporting Outlook.com and Office 365 accounts for these reminders, and other accounts like Gmail will be supported soon. You'll need to connect an Outlook.com or Office 365 account to Cortana to enable the feature, and you'll start receiving reminders once the service detects your promises and commitments.
Transportation

Iris Scans and Fingerprints Could Be Your Ticket On British Rail (silicon.co.uk) 75

Mickeycaskill quotes a report from Silicon.co.uk: Rail passengers could use fingerprints or iris scans to pay for tickets and pass through gates, under plans announced by the UK rail industry. In its current form, the mobile technology is intended to allow passengers to travel without tickets, instead using Bluetooth and geolocation technology to track a passenger's movements and automatically charge their travel account at the end of the day for journeys taken. The Rail Delivery Group (RDG), which represents train operators and Network Rail, said further development could see passengers identified using biometric technology in a way similar to the facial-recognition schemes used at some UK airports to speed up border checks. The RDG said more than 200 research, design and technology projects have been identified to increase the railways' capacity and improve customer service. Other projects include new seat designs that could improve train capacity by up to 30 percent and folding seats that could boost space during peak times, including tables that could fold into seats.
Chrome

Chrome 56 Quietly Added Bluetooth Snitch API (theregister.co.uk) 229

Richard Chirgwin, writing for The Register: When Google popped out Chrome 56 at the end of January it was keen to remind us it's making the web safer by flagging non-HTTPS sites. But Google made little effort to publicise another feature that's decidedly less friendly to privacy, because it lets websites ask about users' Bluetooth devices and harvest information from them through the browser. That's more a pitch to developers, as is clear in this YouTube video from Pete LePage of the Chrome Developers team. "Until now, the ability to communicate with Bluetooth devices has been possible only for native apps. With Chrome 56, your Web app can communicate with nearby Bluetooth devices in a private and secure manner, using the Web Bluetooth API," Google shares in the video. "The Web Bluetooth API uses the GATT [Generic Attribute Profile - ed] protocol, which enables your app to connect to devices such as light bulbs, toys, heart-rate monitors, LED displays and more, with just a few lines of JavaScript." In other words, the API lets websites ask your browser "what Bluetooth devices can you see," find out what your fridge, and so on, is capable of, and interact with it.
Microsoft

Microsoft Foresees AR Tracking Your Keys, Milk, Entire Life (cnet.com) 84

Want a virtual assistant that means you won't lose anything ever again? A patent application filed by Microsoft hints at that future. From a report on CNET: The technology described in the patent filing, published Thursday, would bring sophisticated, automatic object tracking to augmented reality. A cousin of VR, which creates an entirely digital experience, augmented (or mixed) reality blends the real and virtual worlds into a seamless experience -- think Pokemon Go. One of the challenges for more advanced augmented reality is that a system would need to track not only you as a user, but also the other objects in your environment. Microsoft's patent document suggests a technology that would do just that. The new tech would fit neatly with Microsoft's own HoloLens augmented reality platform. As AR becomes more common, it could lead to a future in which you can ask Cortana (or Siri or Alexa) where you left your shoes or if you're out of eggs.
The Almighty Buck

India Just Flew Past Us In the Race To E-Cash (backchannel.com) 216

New submitter mirandakatz writes: Since India's prime minister banned 86 percent of the rupee notes in circulation last month, citizens have been waiting in hours-long lines for ATMs. But these circumstances have also created an unexpected progression: a burgeoning cashless economy. At Backchannel, Lauren Razavi explores how India is now beating many Western countries in adopting mobile payments, and how demonetization has triggered a radical shift toward reimagining India's enormous informal economy as a data-driven digital marketplace. From the report: "Before last month, Paytm, a mobile app that allows users to pay for everything from pizza to utility bills, saw steady business -- it was processing between 2.5 and 3 million transactions a day. Now, usage of the app has close to doubled. 6 million transactions a day is common; 5 million is considered a bad day. Rather than being forced to idle away time in excruciatingly long lines, 'people are proactively exploring other ways to settle payments besides cash,' says Deepak Abbot, senior vice president at Paytm. 'Now people are realizing they don't need to really line up, because merchants are starting to accept other forms of payment.' All of this has created a newfound system that practically incentives mobile payment. With so many people queuing up at banks every day -- and a lot of Indian bureaucracy to wade through in order to open a traditional bank account or line of credit -- the appeal of more convenient digital alternatives is easy to understand. According to a report in the Hindu Business Line, as many as 233 million unbanked people in India are skipping plastic and moving straight to digital transactions. 'Cash has lost its credibility and payments are no longer perceived in the same way,' says Upasana Taku, the cofounder of Indian mobile wallet company MobiKwik, which reported a 40 percent increase in downloads and a 7,000 percent increase in bank transfers since demonetization. 'There's chaos at the moment but also relief that India will now be an improved economy,' she says."
Microsoft

Microsoft Will Soon Start Bundling Drivers With Windows Store Games (thurrott.com) 102

Microsoft will start bundling drivers with Windows Store games to improve the performance of the game once downloaded. A report on Thurrott adds: This will work by the game download trigging Windows Update to acquire the minimum driver requirements to make sure that application works as intended. This may perturb some users who like having complete control over the driver updates for their hardware as this auto-download mechanism will overwrite the existing installation of the driver. Of course, you can still roll-back the update but hopefully Microsoft gives us a way to stop the auto-download of the driver via the Windows Store when this feature arrives.
The Almighty Buck

South Korea To Kill the Coin in Path Towards 'Cashless Society' (cnbc.com) 258

The central bank in South Korea, one of the world's most technologically advanced and integrated nations, is taking a major step in getting rid of coins in the nation in what is an attempt to become a cashless society. The first step is to get rid of the metal, a feat authorities hope to achieve by 2020. From a report on FT: The Bank of Korea on Thursday announced it will step up its efforts to reduce the circulation of coins, the highest denomination of which is worth less than $0.50. As part of the plan it wants consumers to deposit loose change on to Korea's ubiquitous "T Money" cards -- electronic travel passes that can be used to pay for metro fares, taxi rides and even purchases in 30,000 convenience stores. The proposals are just the latest step for a nation at the forefront of harnessing technology to make citizens' lives more convenient. Online shopping is the norm, as are mobile payments for the country's tech-savvy millennials. South Korea is already one of the least cash-dependent nations in the world. It has among the highest rates of credit card ownership -- about 1.9 per citizen -- and only about 20 percent of Korean payments are made using paper money, according to the BoK. But while convenience is at the crux of the central bank's plan, there are other considerations. The BoK spends more than $40m a year minting coins. There are also costs involved for financial institutions that collect, manage and circulate them.
Privacy

China Pilots a System That Rates Citizens on 'Social Credit Score' To Determine Eligibility For Jobs, Travel (technologyreview.com) 204

Speculations have turned out be true. The Chinese government is now testing systems that will be used to create digital records of citizens' social and financial behavior. In turn, these will be used to create a so-called social credit score, which will determine whether individuals have access to services, from travel and education to loans and insurance cover. Some citizens -- such as lawyers and journalists -- will be more closely monitored. From a report on MIT Technology Review: Planning documents apparently describe the system as being created to "allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step." The Journal claims that the system will at first log "infractions such as fare cheating, jaywalking and violating family-planning rules" but will be expanded in the future -- potentially even to Internet activity. Some aspects of the system are already in testing, but there are some challenges to implementing such a far-reaching apparatus. It's difficult to centralize all that data, check it for accuracy, and process it, for example -- let alone feed it back into the system to control everyday life. And China has data from 1.4 billion people to handle.
Networking

Ethernet Consortia Wants To Unlock a More Time-Sensitive Network (networkworld.com) 110

Does Ethernet need new features like "stream reservation" and time synchronization to make sure time-sensitive data isn't delayed on the network? coondoggie quotes Network World: The demand from Internet of Things, automotive networking and video applications are driving changes to Ethernet technology that will make it more time-sensitive. Key to those changes are a number of developing standards but also a push this week from the University of New Hampshire InterOperability Laboratory to set up three new industry specific Ethernet Time-Sensitive Networking consortiums -- Automotive Networking, Industrial Networking, and ProAV Networking aimed at developing deterministic performance within standard Ethernet for real-time, mission critical applications. "Standards-based precise time, guaranteed bandwidth, and guaranteed worst-case latency in a converged Ethernet network is a game-changer to many industries," said Bob Noseworthy, Chief Engineer, UNH-IOL.
The article also acknowledges the work of the Avnu Alliance, which is also trying to build an ecosystem of "low-latency, time-synchronized, highly reliable synchronized networked devices using open standards through certification."
Iphone

Apple Now Sells Refurbished iPhones (9to5mac.com) 26

In the past, Apple has only sold refurbished Macs, iPads and various niche devices on its refurb store. Now the company is officially selling refurbished iPhones, offering the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus in its refurb store. 9to5Mac reports: Apple has sort of sold refurbished iPhones before, but those sales were relegated to an eBay store front and never fully acknowledged by the company. This is the first time that the company has offered iPhones on its official refurb store online. Customers will find the iPhone 6s in 16 GB storage varieties for $449.00. The larger iPhone 6s Plus is being offered in two storage varieties: 16Gb and 64GB for $529 and $589, respectively. It seems that all colors are currently available, which includes Silver, Space Gray, Gold, and Rose Gold. In the end, users can expect to save up to 15% ($110) by going the refurbished route, and remember that these devices come with a full 1-year factory warranty, which makes refurb units a great idea for budget-conscious shoppers. It's also worth noting that all of Apple's official refurbished iPhones are unlocked and come SIM-free, plus they all include a brand new battery and outer shell. It's as close to a new iPhone as you'll get without actually buying one brand new.
Privacy

Nvidia Adds Telemetry To Latest Drivers (ghacks.net) 243

An anonymous reader shares a report on Ghack: Telemetry -- read tracking -- seems to be everywhere these days. Microsoft pushes it on Windows, and web and software companies use it as well. While there is certainly some benefit to it on a larger scale, as it may enable these companies to identify broader issues, it is undesirable from a user perspective. Part of that comes from the fact that companies fail to disclose what is being collected and how data is stored and handled once it leaves the user system. In the case of Nvidia, Telemetry gets installed alongside the driver package. While you may customize the installation of the Nvidia driver so that only the bits that you require are installed, there is no option to disable the Telemetry components from being installed. These do get installed even if you only install the graphics driver itself in the custom installation dialog.Further reading on MajorGeeks.

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