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'Futurefon' Crowdfunded on Indiegogo Was Part Of a Multimillion-dollar Scam

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 13:34
"The crowdfunded phone of the future was a multimillion-dollar scam," reports the Verge: In 2014, Jeffrey Tschiltsch opened an email from Indiegogo and saw the future of computing. The email showed something called the "Dragonfly Futurefon," a kind of computer-phone hybrid. The Futurefon's page showed a sleek, palm-sized touchscreen that slotted into a laptop dock, then folded flat and flipped open again, revealing a second screen and a full-sized laptop keyboard. It could run both Windows and Android, and its creator, a startup called IdealFuture, promised to replace your phone, laptop, and tablet at an incredible price of $799. Dubious but intrigued, Tschiltsch put down a $200 deposit. Five years later, Tschiltsch still wouldn't have a Futurefon. Instead, he'd be sitting in an Illinois courthouse testifying at the behest of the FBI, which claimed the device was the last step in a decade-long fraud operation that cost victims nearly $6 million. "I always thought it was ambitious," Tschiltsch says now. "It didn't occur to me that the guy had just taken the money." Tschiltsch is just one of many angry Indiegogo backers who say Futurefon creator Jeff Batio strung them along with lies, excuses, and faked product updates. But the backers aren't just angry with Batio. They're frustrated by how easily a scammer could flourish in the high-risk world of gadget crowdfunding -- and how poorly Indiegogo was equipped to deal with it. The Futurefon raised hundreds of thousands of dollars, the article reports, adding that Batio also apparently raised $5 million for another dual-screen project. Unfortunately, investors later found out that Batio "had been indicted on fraud charges that spanned 13 years..." Nobody ever got a Futurefon, and "A jury convicted Batio of 12 mail and wire fraud counts, each carrying a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison."

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The next Apple Watch may come in titanium and ceramic models

Engadget - Sat, 2019-08-17 13:15
Apple Watch Series 4 appeared to mark the death of the Edition line, but those luxurious models might be ready to come roaring back. iHelp BR said it has discovered animations in the watchOS 6 beta that reference not just the previously rumored retu...

June Windows Security Patch Broke Many EMF Files

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 13:04
reg (Slashdot user #5,428) writes: A Windows security patch in June broke the display of many Windows Metafile graphics across all supported versions of Windows, resulting in many old PowerPoint files and Word documents not displaying figures, and graphics from some popular applications not displaying, including at least some ESRI GIS products and files created using the devEMF driver in R. This likely also impacts EMF files created with Open Source Office suites. While the problem can be fixed by recreating the files using a newer set of options, or resorting to using bitmaps, it means that presentations or documents that used to display perfectly no longer do. Microsoft promised a fix in July, but there is still no news of when it will be available.

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Windows Update To Fix Critical 'Wormable' Flaws May Break VB Apps

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 12:34
"This week's Windows updates fix critical 'wormable' [Bluekeep] flaws but may also break Visual Basic apps, macros, and scripts," warns ZDNet: "After installing this update, applications that were made using Visual Basic 6 (VB6), macros using Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), and scripts or apps using Visual Basic Scripting Edition (VBScript) may stop responding and you may receive an 'invalid procedure call error'," Microsoft says. The issue affects all supported versions of Windows 10, Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and their corresponding server versions. "Microsoft is presently investigating this issue and will provide an update when available," the company said. Microsoft didn't offer an explanation for the problem but it did flag earlier this month that it will move ahead with sunsetting VBScript, by disabling it in IE11 by default via an update in this week's patch. "The change to disable VBScript will take effect in the upcoming cumulative updates for Windows 7, 8, and 8.1 on August 13, 2019," Microsoft warned in a blog post. The change brought these versions of Windows in line with Windows 10. However, it's not clear that the issues under investigation are related to this measure. Regardless of the cause, the error could be a hassle for organizations that rely on Microsoft's various incarnations of Visual Basic... In a blog post shared by Slashdot reader CaptainDork, Microsoft warned that "any future malware that exploits these could propagate from vulnerable computer to vulnerable computer without user interaction." "The affected versions of Windows are Windows 7 SP1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1, Windows Server 2012 R2, and all supported versions of Windows 10, including server versions."

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Hitting the Books: How big tech might monopolize AI

Engadget - Sat, 2019-08-17 12:00
Welcome to Hitting the Books. With less than one in five Americans reading just for fun these days, we've done the hard work for you by scouring the internet for the most interesting, thought provoking books on science and technology we can find and...

'Mining Bitcoin On a 1983 Apple II: a Highly Impractical Guide'

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 11:34
option8 ((Slashdot reader #16,509) writes: TL;DR: Mining Bitcoin on a 1MHz 8-bit processor will cost you more than the world's combined economies, and take roughly 256 trillion years. "But it could happen tomorrow. It's a lottery, after all," explains the blog post (describing this mad scientist as a hardware hacker and "self-taught maker", determined to mine bitcoin "in what must be the slowest possible way. I call it 8BITCOIN....") There's also a Twitch.TV stream, with some appropriate 8-bit music, and the blog post ends by including his own bitcoin address, "If you feel like you absolutely must throw some money at me and this project." "Upon doing some research, I found that, not only were other 8-bit platforms being put to the task, but other, even more obscure and outdated hardware. An IBM 1401 from the 1960s, a rebuilt Apollo Guidance Computer, and even one deranged individual who demonstrated the hashing algorithm by hand. It turns out, those examples all come from the same deranged individual, Ken Shirriff."

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Ikea doubles down on smart home tech with new business unit

TechCrunch - Sat, 2019-08-17 11:25

Ikea’s smart home investments to date have been smart but scattered – now the Swedish home goods brand says it’s going to amp up its smart home bets with a brand new dedicated business unit.

The company’s smart home endeavors began in 2012, and focused on wireless charging and smart lighting. It’s iterated in both areas since, developing self-installed integrated wireless chargers for its furniture, as well as light/charger combos, and finally with a new partnership with Sonos that produced the Symfonisk line of wireless smart speakers.

Ikea also has its own ambitions in terms of being the hub for future smart home products, not only from a hardware perspective, but also via its Home smart app, which it rebranded from being more strictly focused on its Tradfri line of connected bulbs in June. During the Symfonisk launch, Ikea told me it has broader ambitions for the Home smart app as a central hub for connected home control for its customers.

“At IKEA we want to continue to offer products for a better life at home for the many people going forward. In order to do so we need to explore products and solutions beyond conventional home furnishing,” said Björn Block, Head of the new IKEA Home smart Business Unit at IKEA of Sweden, in a press release from the company.

Ikea also characterized this as its biggest new focus area in terms of the overall business and brand since it introduced its Children’s Ikea line.

The partnership between Sonos and Ikea that produced the Symfonisk line is a long-term one, and both companies told me to expect more products to come out of that team-up in future. But it sounds like Ikea intends to explore how smart home tech might touch all aspects of its business, so it’s fair to anticipate more partnerships and product categories to follow as a result of this new investment focus, too.

Chrome and Firefox Changes Spark the End of 'Extended Validation' Certificates

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 10:34
"Upcoming changes in Google Chrome and Mozilla Firefox may finally spark the end for Extended Validation certificates as the browsers plan to do away with showing a company's name in the address bar," reports Bleeping Computer. When connecting to a secure web site, an installed SSL/TLS certificate will encrypt the communication between the browser and web server. These certificates come in a few different flavors, with some claiming to offer a more thorough verification process or extra perks. One certificate, called EV Certificates, are known for having a browser display the owner of the certificate directly in the browser's address bar. This allegedly makes the site feel more trustworthy to a visitor. In reality, the different types of SSL/TLS certificates all serve a single purpose and that is to encrypt the communication between a browser and web site. Anything extra is seen by many as just a marketing gimmick to charge customers for a more expensive "trustworthy" certificate. In numerous blog posts, security researcher Troy Hunt has stated that EV Certificates will soon be dead as more and more sites switch away from them, because they are much harder to manage due to extra verification times, and because people have become to associate a padlock with a secure site rather than a company name. With Safari already removing EV Certificate company info from the address bar, most mobile browsers not showing it, and Chrome and Mozilla desktop browsers soon to remove it, Hunt's predictions are coming true. EV Certificates will soon be dead. AmiMoJo shared this post from Google's Chromium blog: Through our own research as well as a survey of prior academic work, the Chrome Security UX team has determined that the EV UI does not protect users as intended. Users do not appear to make secure choices (such as not entering password or credit card information) when the UI is altered or removed, as would be necessary for EV UI to provide meaningful protection. Further, the EV badge takes up valuable screen real estate, can present actively confusing company names in prominent UI, and interferes with Chrome's product direction towards neutral, rather than positive, display for secure connections. Because of these problems and its limited utility, we believe it belongs better in Page Info.

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Behind the wheel of VW’s electric dune buggy prototype

Engadget - Sat, 2019-08-17 10:30
Pebble Beach seems a bit too fancy for a dune buggy. But as I slowly roll down 17 Mile road behind the wheel of Volkswagen's latest electric concept car while trailing supercars, priceless vintage vehicles and RVs, folks alongside the road are ta...

The Morning After: The struggles of Formula 1's underdogs

Engadget - Sat, 2019-08-17 10:00
Welcome to your weekend. Work email is off and it's time to enjoy the summer weekend. Maybe that'll include a new pair of wireless noise-canceling headphones from Bose, maybe it'll include applying for some free money from Google. You could also get...

The Audiophiliac is on hiatus - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2019-08-17 09:47
Steve Guttenberg’s long-running Audiophiliac column is taking a breather.

Ask Engadget: I'm a student trying to find my first job or internship

Engadget - Sat, 2019-08-17 09:30
The support shared among readers in the comments section is one of the things we love most about the Engadget community. Over the years, we've known you to offer sage advice on everything from Chromecasts and cameras to drones and smartphones. In fac...

Next Apple Watch could include new ceramic and titanium models

TechCrunch - Sat, 2019-08-17 09:22

Apple’s next Apple Watch revision could include new materials for the case, including titanium and ceramic. That’s according to new assets pulled form the latest watchOS beta release, as uncovered by Brazilian site iHelp.br (via 9to5Mac). The new screens discovered in the beta show graphics used to pair the Apple Watch during setup, and list “Titanium Case” and “Ceramic Case” alongside model size identification info.

Apple has previously offered a ceramic Apple Watch, alongside its Series 2 and Series 3 models, with a premium price and white and black case options. The company hasn’t previously used titanium, but the lightweight, durable metal is popular among traditional watchmakers because it can really significantly reduce the heft of a watch case, while still providing a premium look and feel.

apple watch titanium ceramci

Last year’s Apple Watch Series 4 was the first significant change in body design for the wearable since its introduction in 2015, so it seems unlikely that Apple will change that this year again. The new physical design includes larger case sizes (40mm and 44mm, respectively, vs. 38mm and 42mm for previous generations), a thinner profile and a display with rounded corners and slimmer bezels.

Offering new materials is a way for Apple to deliver new hardware that is observably new on the outside, in addition to whatever processor and component improvements they make on the inside. Apple will likely also offer these alongside their stainless steel and aluminum models, should they actually be released this fall, and would probably charge a premium for these material options, too.

The Series 4 Apple Watch proved a serious improvement in terms of performance, and added features like the onboard ECG. Splashy new looks likely won’t be the extent of what Apple has planned for Series 5, however, especially since the company is revamping watchOS to be much more independent of the phone, which would benefit from more capable processors.

Nintendo Switch V2 vs original Switch: Battery life showdown - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2019-08-17 09:01
Is the ever-so-slightly updated Nintendo Switch worth tracking down?

Withings, Fitbit, Garmin, Eufy and JaxJox: The best smart scales, tested - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2019-08-17 09:00
These scales can tell you about much more than just your weight.

US Set To Give Huawei Another 90 Days To Buy From American Suppliers

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 09:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Commerce Department is expected to extend a reprieve given to Huawei Technologies that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from U.S. companies so that it can service existing customers, two sources familiar with the situation said. The "temporary general license" will be extended for Huawei for 90 days, the sources said. Commerce initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in May shortly after blacklisting the company in a move aimed at minimizing disruption for its customers, many of which operate networks in rural America. An extension will renew an agreement set to lapse on August 19, continuing the Chinese company's ability to maintain existing telecommunications networks and provide software updates to Huawei handsets. The situation surrounding the license, which has become a key bargaining chip for the United States in its trade negotiations with China, remains fluid and the decision to continue the Huawei reprieve could change ahead of the Monday deadline, the sources said.

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France's Wattway solar road proves to be a big, expensive failure - Roadshow

CNET News - Sat, 2019-08-17 08:00
A number of factors contributed to the Wattway's downfall, but mostly it was poor planning and rushed design.

9 great reads from CNET this week - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2019-08-17 08:00
From curbing nuclear proliferation to battling bedbug infestations, we bring you our biggest and best stories.

Apple Watch 5: Rumors, price, fitness features, battery and more - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2019-08-17 08:00
What Apple could introduce for our wrists in 2019, or so we've heard.

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