Tech News Feed

Transportation Department Proposes Allowing In-Flight Phone Calls

SlashDot - 6 min 9 sec ago
Yesterday, France's Le Monde newspaper issued a report, citing documents from NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, that says American and British spies have since 2005 been working on intercepting phone calls and data transfers made from aircraft. Assuming the report is accurate, national security agencies may soon have their hands full if a new proposal by the Department of Transportation becomes official, which would allow each airline to decide whether its passengers will be permitted to make in-flight phone calls using the aircraft's onboard Wi-Fi system. ABC News reports: The Department of Transportation's proposal leaves it up to airlines whether to allow the calls. But carriers would be required to inform passengers at the time they purchase a ticket if the calls are allowed. That would give passengers the opportunity to make other travel arrangements if they don't want to risk the possibility of sitting near passengers making phone calls. The Federal Communications Commission prohibits using mobile phones to make calls during flights, but not Wi-Fi calls. There is a minimum 60-day comment period and the proposal leaves the door open to an outright ban. The Wall Street Journal first reported on the proposal.

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Google invites third parties to develop for Google Assistant - CNET

CNET News - 9 min 41 sec ago
Tech giant opens up development tools for Google Assistant, the software that powers its Google Home smart speaker.

Yik Yak Lays Off 60 Percent of Employees As Growth Collapses

SlashDot - 46 min 9 sec ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Yik Yak has laid off 60 percent of employees amid a downturn in the app's growth prospects, The Verge has learned. The three-year-old anonymous social network has raised $73.5 million from top-tier investors on the promise that its young, college-age network of users could one day build a company to rival Facebook. But the challenge of growing its community while moving gradually away from anonymity has so far proven to be more than the company could muster. Employees who were affected were informed of the layoffs Thursday morning, sources told The Verge. Yik Yak employed about 50 people, and now only about 20 remain, the company said. The community, marketing, design, and product teams were all deeply affected, one source said. Atlanta-based Yik Yak was founded in 2014 by Furman University students Tyler Droll and Brooks Buffington. The app updated the concept of dorm newsletters for the mobile era, letting anyone post comments about school, their campus, or life in general. The fact that comments were anonymous initially helped the app grow, as it encouraged more candid forms of sharing than students might otherwise post on Facebook or Instagram.

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Dino tail found preserved in amber, has feathers - CNET

CNET News - 49 min 19 sec ago
The small chunk of amber contains the first dinosaur remains found preserved in amber, and is the first clear association between dinosaurs and well-preserved feathers.

Spotify said to drop bid to buy SoundCloud - CNET

CNET News - 1 hour 4 min ago
Marriage of the music streaming services is reportedly called off over Spotify's IPO concerns.

Secret's anonymous sharing app is now a publishing platform

Engadget - 1 hour 6 min ago
Remember Secret? The standard bearer for the anonymous social app movement shuttered in 2015 before co-creator David Byttow teased a possible Version 2 in the wake of Donald Trump's election. While the old app-based Secret won't be coming back, Bytto...

Twitch To Host White House Gaming Marathon

PCMag News - 1 hour 7 min ago
Streaming legends with hundreds of thousands of followers will encourage gamers to sign up for health insurance.

Fake Fisher-Price pub playset for babies may drive some to drink - CNET

CNET News - 1 hour 9 min ago
No, the toy company didn't make a watering hole for kids, but it's a pretty well-done hoax photo.

Watch an Apple store being robbed in 12 seconds - CNET

CNET News - 1 hour 19 min ago
Commentary: A video released by the San Francisco Police Department shows how quick a robbery can be.

Mummified child could change history of smallpox - CNET

CNET News - 1 hour 22 min ago
DNA from a mummy buried under a church indicates the contagious and sometimes fatal disease may have struck much later than previously thought.

Watchdog Group Claims Smart Toys Are Spying On Kids

SlashDot - 1 hour 26 min ago
The Center for Digital Democracy has filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission warning of security and privacy holes associated with a pair of smart toys designed for children. Mashable reports: "This complaint concerns toys that spy," reads the complaint, which claims the Genesis Toys' My Friend Cayla and i-QUE Intelligent Robot can record and collect private conversations and offer no limitations on the collection and use of personal information. Both toys use voice recognition, internet connectivity and Bluetooth to engage with children in conversational manner and answer questions. The CDD claims they do all of this in wildly insecure and invasive ways. Both My Friend Cayla and i-QUE use Nuance Communications' voice-recognition platform to listen and respond to queries. On the Genesis Toy site, the manufacturer notes that while "most of Cayla's conversational features can be accessed offline," searching for information may require an internet connection. The promotional video for Cayla encourages children to "ask Cayla almost anything." The dolls work in concert with mobile apps. Some questions can be asked directly, but the toys maintain a constant Bluetooth connection to the dolls so they can also react to actions in the app and even appear to identify objects the child taps on on screen. While some of the questions children ask the dolls are apparently recorded and sent to Nuance's servers for parsing, it's unclear how much of the information is personal in nature. The Genesis Privacy Policy promises to anonymize information. The CDD also claims, however, that My Friend Cayla and i-Que employ Bluetooth in the least secure way possible. Instead of requiring a PIN code to complete pairing between the toy and a smartphone or iPad, "Cayla and i-Que do not employ... authentication mechanisms to establish a Bluetooth connection between the doll and a smartphone or tablet. The dolls do not implement any other security measure to prevent unauthorized Bluetooth pairing." Without a pairing notification on the toy or any authentication strategy, anyone with a Bluetooth device could connect to the toys' open Bluetooth networks, according to the complaint.

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The Libreboot C201 from Minifree is really really really ridiculously open source

TechCrunch - 1 hour 31 min ago
screen-shot-2016-12-08-at-1-01-12-pm Open source laptops – ones not running any commercial software whatsoever – have been the holy grail for free software fans for years. Now, with the introduction of libreboot, a truly open source boot firmware, the dream is close to fruition. The $730 laptop is a bog standard piece of hardware but it contains only open source software. The OS, Debian, is completely open source and… Read More

Berkeley project tests tracking imperiled forests with 3D multispectral drone imaging

TechCrunch - 1 hour 54 min ago
pix4d-projects-agriculture-sequoia-3d-ndvi-01 Droughts, climate change and deforestation are putting forests at risk worldwide, so studying these ecosystems closely is more important than ever — but it’s a hell of a lot of work to climb every tree in the Sierra Nevada. Drones and advanced imaging, however, present an increasingly practical alternative to that, as a UC Berkeley project shows. Read More

German Intel chief: Russia is trying to 'destabilize' the country

Engadget - 2 hours 2 min ago
America's recent elections weren't the only event that Russia has been accused of meddling in. On Thursday, President Dr Hans-Georg Maaßen of the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz (BfV), Germany's internal intelligence service, issued a brut...

AT&T To Cough Up $88 Million For 'Cramming' Mobile Customer Bills

SlashDot - 2 hours 6 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: Some 2.7 million ATT customers will share $88 million in compensation for having had unauthorized third-party charges added to their mobile bills, the Federal Trade Commission announced this morning. The latest shot in the federal government's years-long battle against such abuses, these refunds will represent the most money ever recouped by victims of what is known as "mobile cramming," according to the FTC. From an FTC press release: "Through the FTC's refund program, nearly 2.5 million current ATT customers will receive a credit on their bill within the next 75 days, and more than 300,000 former customers will receive a check. The average refund amount is $31. [...] According to the FTC's complaint, ATT placed unauthorized third-party charges on its customers' phone bills, usually in amounts of $9.99 per month, for ringtones and text message subscriptions containing love tips, horoscopes, and 'fun facts.' The FTC alleged that ATT kept at least 35 percent of the charges it imposed on its customers." The matter with ATT was originally made public in 2014 and also involved two companies that actually applied the unauthorized charges, Tatto and Acquinity.

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Witness the return of Alpine in this new teaser video - Roadshow

CNET News - 2 hours 6 min ago
The all-new Alpine sports car is slated to launch in 2017, and we're geeking out.

Google Gives Developers the Keys to Google Home

PCMag News - 2 hours 8 min ago
Letting developers onto the Google Assistant platform will help it compete with Amazon Alexa.

AT&T will finally refund $88 million in unauthorized charges

Engadget - 2 hours 18 min ago
Thanks to some shady business dealings between AT&T and a pair of companies known for bloating customers' cell phone bills, roughly 2.7 million current and former AT&T mobile subscribers are getting more than $88 million dollars in refunds fr...

Lightroom for iPhones takes big step closer to PC version - CNET

CNET News - 2 hours 21 min ago
In ability, the mobile app for editing and cataloging photos steadily approaches the PC version. Also, there's a helpful new comparison mode for Windows and Mac.

AI Will Disrupt How Developers Build Applications and the Nature of the Applications they Build

SlashDot - 2 hours 46 min ago
AI will soon help programmers improve development, says Diego Lo Giudice, VP and principal analyst at Forrester, in an article published on ZDNet today. He isn't saying that programmers will be out of jobs soon and AIs will take over. But he is making a compelling argument for how AI has already begun disrupting how developers build applications. An excerpt from the article: We can see early signs of this: Microsoft's Intellisense is integrated into Visual Studio and other IDEs to improve the developer experience. HPE is working on some interesting tech previews that leverage AI and machine learning to enable systems to predict key actions for participants in the application development and testing life cycle, such as managing/refining test coverage, the propensity of a code change to disrupt/break a build, or the optimal order of user story engagement. But AI will do much more for us in the future. How fast this happens depends on the investments and focus on solving some of the harder problems, such as "unsupervised deep learning," that firms like Google, FaceBook, Baidu and others are working on, with NLP linguists that are too researching on how to improve language comprehension by computers leveraging ML and neural networks. But in the short term, AI will most likely help you be more productive and creative as a developer, tester, or dev team rather than making you redundant.

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