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Governor Cuomo Bans Airbnb From Listing Short-Term Rentals In New York ( 73

An anonymous reader quotes a report from New York Post: Gov. Cuomo on Friday bowed to pressure from the hotel industry and signed into law one of the nation's toughest restrictions on Airbnb -- including hefty fines of up to $7,500 for people who rent out space in their apartments. Backers of the punitive measure -- which applies to rentals of less than 30 days when the owner or tenant is not preset -- say many property owners use Airbnb and similar sites to offer residential apartments as short-term rentals to visitors, hurting the hotel business while taking residential units off the Big Apple's high-priced housing market. Enforcement, however, will be a huge challenge, as thousands of short-term apartment rentals are listed in the city despite a 2010 law that prohibits rentals of less than 30 days when the owner or tenant is not present. Violators could be turned in by neighbors or landlords opposed to the practice, or the state could monitor the site to look for potential violations. But beyond that how the law would be enforced was not immediately clear. The new law won't apply to rentals in single-family homes, row houses or apartment spare rooms if the resident is present. But will apply to co-ops and condos. Airbnb mounted a last-ditch effort to kill the measure, proposing alternative regulations that the company argued would address concerns about short-term rentals without big fines. Tenants who violate current state law and list their apartments for rentals of less than 30 days would face fines of $1,000 for the first offense, $5,000 for the second and $7,500 for a third. An investigation of Airbnb rentals from 2010 to 2014 by the state attorney general's office found that 72 percent of the units in New York City were illegal, with commercial operators constituting 6 percent of the hosts and supplying 36 percent of the rentals. As of August, Airbnb had 45,000 city listings and another 13,000 across the state.

Most 'Genuine' Apple Chargers and Cables Sold on Amazon Are Fake, Apple Says ( 164

Apple says it bought Apple chargers and cables labeled as genuine on and found that nearly 90 percent of them to be counterfeit. The revelation comes in a federal lawsuit the company filed against a New Jersey company over what Apple says are fake products that were sold on Amazon. Engadget reports: When Apple got in touch with Amazon about the issue, the website told the former that it got most of its chargers from Mobile Star LLC. The iPhone-maker stressed that since counterfeit cables and chargers don't go through consumer safety testing and could be poorly designed, they're prone to overheating and catching fire. They might even electrocute users. Tim Cook and co. are now asking the court to issue an injunction against the defendant. They also want the court to order the seizure and destruction of all the fake chargers in addition to asking for damage
Social Networks

Steve Ballmer Says Microsoft Tried To Buy Facebook For $24 Billion ( 66

Former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer told CNBC on Friday that his company tried to buy Facebook when it was "itsy-bitsy" for $24 billion. BusinessInsider adds: Facebook fielded a lot of offers in its early days. When CNBC on Friday asked Ballmer how much Microsoft offered back then, he said, "Oh I think $24 billion when the company was itsy-bitsy and he said no. And I respect that." Zuckerberg clearly made the right choice. He currently has a net worth of $57 billion and Facebook's market cap is $374 billion.

Microsoft Shares Hit All-Time High As Company Strengthens Its Cloud Grip ( 39

Marco della Cava, reporting for USA Today: Microsoft shares surged 5% in early trading Friday, and passed a high set in 1999, helped by enthusiasm for progress in its cloud business. The stock was at up at $60.11, breezing past the $58.72 mark set in December 1999. Friday's rally follows Microsoft's latest quarterly report, out late Thursday, that beat analyst expectations for adjusted sales and profit and showcased a doubling of growth in its Azure cloud business, while reflecting continued strain from consumers' pivot away from PCs and traditional software purchases.Microsoft reported its Q1 2017 earnings yesterday, noting a revenue of $20.5 billion, which was higher than Wall Street's expectations. Company's Intellgent Cloud revenue was up 8 percent, whereas Azure revenue observed 116 percent growth year-on-year.

AT&T Considers Buying Time Warner ( 60

In what would likely be one of the largest telecommunications takeovers in American history, Bloomberg is reporting that ATT has discussed the idea of a possible merger or other partnership with Time Warner Inc (may be paywalled; alternate source). Bloomberg reports: The talks, which at this stage are informal, have focused on building relations between the companies rather than establishing the terms of a specific transaction, the people said, asking not to be identified as the deliberations are private. Neither side has yet hired a financial adviser, the people said. Acquiring Time Warner would give ATT, one of the biggest providers of pay-TV and of wireless and home internet service in the U.S., a collection of popular programming to offer to subscribers, from HBO to NBA basketball to the Cartoon Network. ATT CEO Randall Stephenson has been looking to add more content and original programming as part of his plan to transform the Dallas-based telecommunications company into a media and entertainment giant. Time Warner Chief Executive Officer Jeff Bewkes is a willing seller if he gets an offer he thinks is fair, said one of the people. Bewkes and his board rejected an $85-a-share approach in 2014 from Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox Inc., which valued Time Warner at more than $75 billion. Last year, ATT paid $48.5 billion to acquire satellite-TV provider DirecTV, its biggest deal in at least 10 years, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. ATT has been developing an internet-based version of the pay-TV service, called DirecTV now.

Facebook Bans Animated Breast Cancer Awareness Video Showing Circle-Shaped Breasts ( 95

Last month, Facebook deleted a historic Vietnam war photo of a naked girl fleeing a napalm attack, claiming it violated Facebook's restrictions on nudity. Now it appears that the company has removed a video on breast cancer awareness posted in Sweden after deeming the images offensive, the Swedish Cancer Society said on Thursday. The Guardian reports: The video, displaying animated figures of women with circle-shaped breasts, was aimed at explaining to women how to check for suspicious lumps. Sweden's Cancerfonden said it had tried in vain to contact Facebook, and had decided to appeal against the decision to remove the video. "We find it incomprehensible and strange how one can perceive medical information as offensive," Cancerfoden communications director Lena Biornstad told Agence France-Presse. "This is information that saves lives, which is important for us," she said. "This prevents us from doing so." The Guardian went on to report in a separate article that the the Swedish Cancer Society decided to make the round breasts square to evade Facebook's censorship of female anatomy. The group issued an open letter to Facebook featuring the pair of pair of breasts constructed of pink squares as opposed to pink circles. Facebook did apologize for banning the video, saying in a statement to the Guardian: "We're very sorry, our team processes millions of advertising images each week, and in some instances we incorrectly prohibit ads. This image does not violate our ad policies. We apologize for the error and have let the advertiser know we are approving their ads."

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Thinks Space Can Be the New Internet ( 87

Speaking at the Vanity Fair New Establishment Summit in San Francisco today, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said space is essentially a new internet, as it is the next frontier that needs new infrastructure to support new entrepreneurs. He said the purpose of Blue Origin is to build out a similar kind of infrastructure for space that Amazon used to operate during the days of the early internet, such as the United States Postal Service and long distance phone network. The Verge reports: "Two kids in their dorm room can reinvent an industry," Bezos said, referring to the strengths of the modern internet. "Two kids in their dorm room cannot do anything interesting in space." Bezos says rocket reusability needs to be improved, and both Blue Origin and Elon Musk's SpaceX are working toward the goal of vastly reducing the cost of sending payloads to space. Bezos said there's also a number of restraints right now that prevent the kind of entrepreneurial spirit that helped create Amazon do the same for a next-generation space venture. "We need to be able to put big things in space at low cost." Bezos talked of his earliest days at Amazon more than 20 years ago, where he was driving packages himself to the post office with a 10-person team. "We were sitting on a bunch of a heavy lifting infrastructure," he said. "For example, there was already a gigantic network called United States Postal Service. The internet itself was sitting on time of the long distance phone network." This is the kind of infrastructure Bezos hopes to build out with Blue Origin. "Every time you figure out some way of providing tools and services that allow other people to deploy their creativity, you're really onto something," Bezos said. But building that infrastructure space is still the grandest dream. "I think space is about to enter a golden age."

Target Passes Walmart As Top US Corporate Installer of Solar Power ( 57

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: Target is the top corporate installer of solar power in the USA with 147MW installed on 300 stores. Walmart is close behind with 140MW, while Ikea has installed solar on 90% of its retail locations. The Solar Energy Institute of America (SEIA) report shows over 1,000MW of solar installed in almost 2,000 unique installations by the largest corporate entities in the country. Additionally these groups have more than doubled their installation volume year on year, with 2015 seeing a total of 130MW, while 2016 is projected to be closer to 280MW. Big box retail locations offer some of the best potential spaces for solar power to be installed -- on top of square, flat structures and in previously built parking lots. The average size of an installation by a company in this group is about 500kW -- 75X the size of an average residential solar installation. The RE100 organization has signed up 81 global corporations (many on the SEIA list) who have pledged 100% renewable energy. "We're incredibly proud of the progress we've made in improving building efficiencies and reducing environmental impact. Our commitment to installing solar panels on 500 stores and distribution centers by 2020 is evidence of that progress" -- said John Leisen, vice president of property management at Target. The geographic breakdown of solar installations is based upon three main drivers -- good sunlight, expensive electricity and state level renewable mandates, with Southern California having all three. The northeast USA, with its expensive electricity and aggressive clean energy push, has been on par with California (50% of total solar) for commercial installations. A report put together by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the World Resources Institute (WRI) breaks down the various state level laws that support corporations going green -- and, without surprise, it becomes clear that the legal support of renewable energy is a definite driver.

India's Biggest ATM Breach? 3.2 Million Debit Cards Across 19 Banks May Have Been Compromised ( 34

A total of 32 lakh (3.2 million) debit cards across 19 banks could have been compromised on account of a purported fraud, the National Payment Corporation of India said in a statement. BloombergQuint adds: "The genesis of the problem was receipt of complaints from few banks that their customer's cards were used fraudulently mainly in China and USA while customers were in India," the NPCI said. "The complaints of fraudulent withdrawal are limited to cards of 19 banks and 641 customers. The total amount involved is Rs 1.3 crore as reported by various affected banks to NPCI." SISA Security, a Bengaluru-based company is currently undertaking a forensic study to identify the extent of the problem and will submit a final report in November. Initial reports had suggested that ATMs operated by Hitachi Payment Services had been attacked by malware and were the source of the breach. However, the company has said in a statement that an interim report by the audit agency does not suggest any breach or compromise in its systems.

Samsung Forced YouTube To Pull GTA 5 Mod Video Because It Showed Galaxy Note 7 As Bomb ( 214

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Redmond Pie: The Galaxy Note 7 wasn't just recalled, it was cancelled. For good. And that makes Samsung very cranky indeed. So when YouTube user HitmanNiko created a video showing a Grand Theft Auto 5 mod in which Galaxy Note 7 handsets can be used as grenades, it's perhaps somewhat understandable that someone inside Samsung took offense to the idea. What's incomprehensible though is the fact that Samsung has apparently set about trying to erase that video, and presumably others like it, from the Internet. The first step? Forcing YouTube to remove HitmanNiko's video. Trying to view the video now does nothing but display a message which says that the video is "no longer available due to a copyright claim by Samsung Electronics America" which leaves quite the bad taste in our mouths. The biggest issue here is that this is arguably the worst misuse of the DMCA we have ever come across, simply because nothing was copied, unless Samsung is trying to claim that by making the in-game grenades look like Galaxy Note 7 smartphones then the video creator was in fact in breach of copyright.

All Tesla Vehicles Being Produced Now Have Full Self-Driving Hardware ( 185

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Jalopnik: All current Tesla models that will be produced in its Fremont, California factory will come with self-driving hardware built-in capable of Level 5 autonomy, including the upcoming Tesla Model 3, the company announced tonight. According to the announcement, Tesla will manufacture all of its cars with the hardware necessary for Level 5 self-driving systems going forward, including the Model S, Model X and new Model 3. At the introduction of the Model 3, it wasn't clear whether or not every Model 3 package would come standard with the hardware and software to handle Autopilot and any other self-driving features. That's been cleared up now, but there's a kicker. Just like on current Model S and Model X models, you can purchase the cars with the self-driving hardware included. But, in order to activate the software and actually use the Autopilot or upcoming advanced self-driving safety features, you will have to option it when you order the car, or pay more for it later. Elon Musk stated that the new hardware in all of Tesla's cars going forward are Tesla's own vision software, with a Tesla-developed neural net. The new hardware and software capabilities still need to undergo all of the testing required by Tesla's own standards, as well as government approval before unleashing Level 5 autonomous cars onto the streets.

Czechs Arrest Russian Hacker Wanted By FBI ( 55

Bookworm09 quotes a report from New York Times (paywalled, alternate source): A man identified as a Russian hacker suspected of pursuing targets in the United States has been arrested in the Czech Republic, the police announced Tuesday evening. The suspect was captured in a raid at a hotel in central Prague on Oct. 5, about 12 hours after the authorities heard that he was in the country, where he drove around in a luxury car with his girlfriend, according to the police. The man did not resist arrest, but he had medical problems and was briefly hospitalized, the police said in a statement. The FBI said in a statement that the man was "suspected of conducting criminal activities targeting U.S. interests. As cybercrime can originate anywhere in the world, international cooperation is crucial to successfully defeat cyber adversaries." ABC News reports: "Prague's Municipal Court will now have to decide on his extradition to the United States, with Justice Minister Robert Pelikan having the final say. Russian officials, however, are demanding that the suspect be handed over to them. Spokeswoman Marketa Puci said the court ruled on Oct. 12 that the man will remain in detention until the extradition hearing. No date has yet been set. U.S. authorities have two months to deliver to their Czech counterparts all of the documents necessary for the Czech authorities to decide on the extradition request."

Mark Zuckerberg Defends Peter Thiel's Trump Ties In Internal Memo ( 543

Soon after it was announced that Project Include, a community for building meaningful, enduring diversity and inclusion into tech companies, would no longer work with Y Combinator startups, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg defended Thiel's status as a Facebook board member in a message to employees. "We can't create a culture that says it cares about diversity and then excludes almost half the country because they back a political candidate," Zuckerberg wrote. "There are many reasons a person might support Trump that do not involve racism, sexism, xenophobia, or accepting sexual assault." The Verge reports: A screenshot of the memo was posted to Hacker News yesterday, and it later surfaced on Boing Boing. A Facebook spokesman confirmed the authenticity of the five-paragraph memo to The Verge. It appears to have been posted on Facebook for Work, the enterprise version of Facebook that the company recently made available to other companies. Thiel's endorsement of Trump has put those CEOs in a difficult position. On one hand he is a close adviser; on the other, his support for an erratic, racist demagogue has outraged many of their employees and partners. Like Y Combinator's Sam Altman before him, Zuckerberg defended the company's ties to Thiel by saying that the company has a moral obligation to consider a variety of viewpoints, no matter how abhorrent. "We care deeply about diversity," Zuckerberg wrote. "That's easy to do when it means standing up for ideas you agree with. It's a lot harder when it means standing up for the rights of people with different viewpoints to say what they care about. That's even more important." Of course, as the designer Jason Putorti wrote on Medium this week, Thiel already has an outsized capacity to stand up for ideas he agrees with: he spent $1.25 million to promote them. Zuckerberg's memo reads as if he is defending Thiel's right to post on Facebook. In fact, the question is whether someone who promotes opposition to gender and racial equality should be allowed to serve as a steward for a company whose stated mission is to connect the world.

DNA Testing For Jobs May Be On Its Way, Warns Gartner ( 227

Reader dcblogs writes: It is illegal today to use DNA testing for employment, but as science advances its understanding of genes that correlate to certain desirable traits -- such as leadership and intelligence -- business may want this information. People seeking leadership roles in business, or even those in search of funding for a start-up, may volunteer their DNA test results to demonstrate that they have the right aptitude, leadership capabilities and intelligence for the job. This may sound farfetched, but it's possible based on the direction of the science, according to Gartner analysts David Furlonger and Stephen Smith, who presented their research Wednesday at the firm's Symposium IT/xpo in Orlando. This research is called 'maverick' in Gartner parlance, meaning it has a somewhat low probability and is still years out, but its potential is nonetheless worrisome to the authors. It isn't as radical as it seems. Job selection on the basis of certain desirable genetic characteristics is already common in the military and sports. Even without testing, businesses, governments and others may use this understanding about how some characteristics are genetically determined to develop new interview methodologies and testing to help identify candidates predisposed to the traits they desire.

Why Your Devices Are Probably Eroding Your Productivity ( 98

University of California, San Francisco neuroscientist Adam Gazzaley and California State University, Dominguez Hills professor emeritus Larry Rosen explain in their book "The Distracted Mind: Ancient Brains in a High Tech World" why people have trouble multitasking, and specifically why one's productivity output is lowered when keeping up with emails, for example. Lesley McClurg writes via KQED Science: When you engage in one task at a time, the prefrontal cortex works in harmony with other parts of the brain, but when you toss in another task it forces the left and right sides of the brain to work independently. The process of splitting our attention usually leads to mistakes. In other words, each time our eyes glance away from our computer monitor to sneak a peak at a text message, the brain takes in new information, which reduces our primary focus. We think the mind can juggle two or three activities successfully at once, but Gazzaley says we woefully overestimate our ability to multitask. In regard to answering emails, McClurg writes: Gazzaley stresses that our tendency to respond immediately to emails and texts hinders high-level thinking. If you're working on a project and you stop to answer an email, the research shows, it will take you nearly a half-hour to get back on task. "When a focused stream of thought is interrupted it needs to be reset," explains Gazzaley. "You can't just press a button and switch back to it. You have to re-engage those thought processes, and recreate all the elements of what you were engaged in. That takes time, and frequently one interruption leads to another." In other words, repetitively switching tasks lowers performance and productivity because your brain can only fully and efficiently focus on one thing at a time. Plus, mounting evidence shows that multitasking could impair the brain's cognitive abilities. Stanford researchers studied the minds of people who regularly engage in several digital communication streams at once. They found that high-tech jugglers struggle to pay attention, recall information, or complete one task at a time. And the habit of multitasking could lower your score on an IQ test, according to researchers at the University of London. The saving grace is that we don't need to ditch technology as "there's a time and place for multitasking," according to Gazzaley. "If you're in the midst of a mundane task that just has to get done, it's probably not detrimental to have your phone nearby or a bunch of tabs open. The distractions may reduce boredom and help you stay engaged. But if you're finishing a business plan, or a high-level writing project, then it's a good idea to set yourself up to stay focused."

'Cultlike' Devotion: Apple Once Refused To Join Open Compute Project, So Their Entire Networking Team Quit ( 234

mattydread23 writes: Great story about the Open Compute Project from Business Insider's Julie Bort here, including this fun tidbit: "'OCP has a cultlike following,' one person with knowledge of the situation told Business Insider. 'The whole industry, internet companies, vendors, and enterprises are monitoring OCP.' OCP aims to do for computer hardware what the Linux operating system did for software: make it 'open source' so anyone can take the designs for free and modify them, with contract manufacturers standing by to build them. In its six years, OCP has grown into a global entity, with board members from Facebook, Goldman Sachs, Intel, and Microsoft. In fact, there's a well-known story among OCP insiders that demonstrates this cultlike phenom. It involves Apple's networking team. This team was responsible for building a network at Apple that was so reliable, it never goes down. Not rarely -- never. Building a 100% reliable network to meet Apple's exacting standards was no easy task. So, instead of going it alone under Apple's secrecy, the Apple networking team wanted to participate in the revolution, contributing and receiving help. But when the Apple team asked to join OCP, Apple said 'no.' 'The whole team quit the same week,' this person told us."
The Almighty Buck

Samsung Hit With Class Action Lawsuit Over Exploding Galaxy Note 7 ( 42

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 troubles are continuing -- the company was just hit with a class action lawsuit in New Jersey focused on recovering cell phone contract fees for customers who were left with an unusable phone for several weeks. The suit has three initial plaintiffs, who say that they were left without a phone for the several weeks between when Samsung and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission originally issued a recall and told consumers to "power down" their devices (September 9), and when the company began offering replacement devices (September 21). It also notes that Samsung didn't make enough replacement devices immediately available -- which is probably a good thing considering that the company ultimately had to recall those as well. "Samsung informed consumers they would have to wait several days, and even weeks in many cases, before receiving a replacement smartphone," the suit alleges. "During this time, and as a result of Defendant failing to provide consumers with an adequate replacement, consumers continued to incur monthly device and plan charges from their cellular carriers for phones they could not safely use." The total recall and destruction of Galaxy Note 7 phones is unprecedented for a modern smartphone, so there isn't much to look at in order to project whether the case will succeed. "Samsung has agreed to recall and reimburse the cost of the device, but their customers have had to continue to pay on their data and voice plans during the time they had to make their device inoperative until they received their replacement device," Richard McCune, one of the lawyers representing the class, told me. "That is the loss that the case is focused on."
Desktops (Apple)

Report: Apple To Unveil New Macs At An October 27th Event In Cupertino ( 142

According to Recode's sources, Apple's updated Macs will be unveiled at an event in Cupertino on October 27th. Recode reports: The move had been long expected, given that the company released MacOS Sierra last month but had yet to introduce any new computer models sporting the software. It also comes just in time for Apple to have the new products on sale for the full holiday season. Apple has gone a long time without making significant changes to any of its Mac models, with most experts encouraging customers to hold off all but essential new purchases until the lineup was updated. Tops among the rumors have been reports that Apple will introduce a new MacBook Pro sporting a row of customizable touchscreen keys. The Mac event is expected to take place at or near Apple's Cupertino campus rather than in San Francisco, where the company held many recent events, including the iPhone 7 announcement.
The Almighty Buck

Plaintiffs From Seven States Sue Comcast For Misleading, Hidden Fees ( 80

An anonymous reader quotes a report from DSLReports: Back in 2013 Comcast began charging customers what it called the "Broadcast TV Fee." The fee, which began at $1.25 per month, has jumped to $6.50 (depending on your market) in just three years. As consumers began to complain about yet another glorified rate hike, the company in 2014 issued a statement proclaiming it was simply being "transparent," and passing on the cost of soaring programmer retransmission fees on to consumers. There's several problems with Comcast's explanation. One, however pricey broadcaster retransmission fees have become (and keep in mind Comcast is a broadcaster), programming costs are simply the cost of doing business for a cable company, and should be included in the overall price. Comcast doesn't include this fee in the overall price because sticking it below the line let's the company falsely advertise a lower rate. Inspired by the banking sector, this misleading practice has now become commonplace in the broadband and cable industry. Whether it's CenturyLink's $2 per month "Internet Cost Recovery Fee" or Fairpoint's $3 per month "Broadband Cost Recovery Fee," these fees are utterly nonsensical, and inarguably false advertising. And while the FCC can't be bothered to take aim at such misleading business practices, Federal class action lawsuit filed this week in California is trying to hold Comcast accountable for the practice. Plaintiffs from seven states -- including New Jersey, Illinois, California, Washington, Colorado, Florida and Ohio -- have sued Comcast alleging consumer fraud, unfair competition, unjust enrichment and breach of contract. What's more, the fee has consistently skyrocketed, notes the lawsuit. Comcast initially charged $1.50 when the fee first appeared back in 2013, but now charges upwards of $6.50 more per month in many markets -- a 333% increase in just three years.

Clinton Campaign Considered Bill Gates, Tim Cook For Vice President ( 171

WikiLeaks has been releasing thousands of emails over the past couple of weeks belonging to Hillary Clinton's campaign chair John Podesta. One of the more interesting tidbits revealed from the email dump was the list of potential running mates considered by Clinton's campaign. The Verge reports: Clinton's vice presidential candidates, while not altogether surprising, include some vaguely interesting choices like Bill and Melinda Gates, Apple CEO Tim Cook, and General Motors CEO Mary Barra. In the mail, Podesta says he has organized the list into "rough food groups," one of which includes all the people mentioned above. Xerox CEO Ursula Burns and Starbucks CEO Howard Shultz are also in this "food group," along with Michael Bloomberg. With just under 40 names on the list, it's not immediately obvious how close any of these people came to actually being asked to take on the role (Tim Kaine is on the list).

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