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Blackberry

Senate Staffers Will No Longer Be Issued BlackBerry Devices (cnet.com) 15

An anonymous reader writes: Senate staffers will no longer be issued BlackBerry devices. According to Politico, a note sent to staffers on Wednesday said the Senate had no choice after BlackBerry decided to discontinue devices running its own BlackBerry 10 software. "Once we have exhausted our current in-house stock, new device procurements will be limited, while supplies last, to warranty exchanges only," reads the Sergeant at Arms note. The 600 BlackBerry smartphones currently in the Senate's possession will be supported for the "foreseeable future." The news comes after a report that President Obama has ditched his BlackBerry handset in favor of a "hardened" version of the Samsung Galaxy S4 that is supported by the Defense Information Systems Agency. It also follows a report that the Canadian smartphone maker lost $670 million in the first quarter of its 2017 financial year. During BlackBerry's first quarter, the company sold roughly 500,000 devices at an average price of $290 each. They will apparently need to sell about three million phones at an average of $300 each to break even.
Cloud

Microsoft Will Be Largest Infrastructure As A Service Vendor By 2019, Says Morgan Stanley Survey (geekwire.com) 51

An anonymous reader writes from a report via GeekWire: According to Morgan Stanley's 2016 CIO Survey of 100 CIOs (75 CIOs based in the U.S., and 25 based in Europe), Microsoft's Azure will overtake Amazon Web Services (AWS) by 2019 to become the largest Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) and Platform as a Service (PaaS). The survey finds that roughly 31 percent of the CIOs will be using Azure for IaaS, compared to roughly 30 percent using AWS. Today, roughly 21 percent are using AWS and 12 percent are using Azure. According to the survey, Azure is already leading AWS in PaaS, used by about 18 percent of the respondents, versus AWS's 16 percent. Azure's lead will grow slightly by 2019, growing 9.8 percent versus 6.4 percent. Nearly 30 percent of all applications will be migrated to the public cloud by the end of 2017, up from 14 percent today, the survey said. On-premises apps will decline to 58 percent, from 71 percent today. Predictably, hardware vendors, including conventional and flash storage makers, will continue to suffer as their market is eaten by the cloud. Hardware spending growth is down this year to 3.2 percent, from 3.4 percent last year. Microsoft recently announced it will be entering the legal marijuana industry. It will partner with Los Angeles-based startup Kind on a system for tracking the legal growing and sale of marijuana, with Microsoft powering the software through its Azure cloud computing service.
Windows

Microsoft Prepares One Final, Full-Screen Get Windows 10 Nag (zdnet.com) 112

An anonymous reader shares a ZDNet report:Those persistent Get Windows 10 pop-ups are going away soon, after Microsoft's free upgrade offer for Windows 10 expires on July 29. During those final days and hours, anyone still running Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 should brace for one last round of upgrade prods from Redmond, including a full-screen message, as the GWX program moves into its final phase. The details are in a new Knowledge Base article, "Windows 8.1 and Windows 7 SP1 end of free upgrade offer notification," which includes a screenshot of the message as well as some helpful hints on how to avoid seeing it more than once. Two noteworthy additions are visible in the lower left corner of that screen. Instead of merely dismissing the reminder, you can ask to be notified up to three more times or specify that you've made your mind up and you don't want any more notifications.
Oracle

Oracle Ordered To Pay $3B Damages To HP (bbc.com) 40

Oracle has been ordered to pay HP $3 billion in damages by a California jury over HP's claim that Oracle reneged on a deal to support HP computer servers running on Itanium chips from Intel. Oracle said it will appeal. BBC reports:The court battle over the contract was settled in 2012 but the damages HPE was due have only now been agreed. HP was split into two in 2015 with HPE taking over the running of its servers and services business. In court, HPE argued that although the 2012 legal judgement meant Oracle had resumed making software for the powerful chips, its business had suffered harm. It argued that Oracle took the decision in 2011 to stop supporting Itanium in a bid to get customers to move to hardware made by Sun -- a hardware firm owned by Oracle. Oracle said that its decision in 2011 was driven by a realisation that Itanium was coming to the end of its life. It also argued that the contract it signed never obliged it to keep producing software in perpetuity. Intel stopped making Itanium chips in late 2012 and many companies that used servers built around them have now moved to more powerful processors.
Mozilla

Mozilla Releases First Build of Servo, Its Next-Generation Browser Engine (venturebeat.com) 114

An anonymous reader writes: As promised, Mozilla has released the first Nightly build of Servo, its new browser engine. This is the first tech demo of Servo, which Jack Moffitt, Servo project lead at Mozilla, described to us a few months ago as "a next-generation browser engine focused on performance and robustness." Packages for macOS and Linux are available to download from here: Servo Developer Preview Downloads. Mozilla promises that Windows and Android packages will be available "soon." And because this is Mozilla, you can check out all the code yourself over on GitHub.
Software

Slashdot Asks: What's Your Preferred Note-Taking App? 239

Earlier this week, popular note-taking app Evernote announced major changes to its service. The company announced that free users on the app will now only be able to sync across two devices. The company also raised the prices of its paid tiers by 40%. This move, as you can imagine, has resulted in Evernote facing a backlash from many of its users. To give some perspective, Evernote paid plans ($36/ $70 a year) now costs as much as Office 365's $70 Personal yearly plan. With Office 365, obviously, you get more stuff -- including access to Microsoft productivity suite, and 1TB OneDrive storage. Microsoft was quick to release a free tool for Evernote users should they want to move their data to its note-taking service OneNote. OneNote is free to use and offers 15GB free storage to all users. Google's Keep is another good option with 15GB of free storage. Which note-taking app do you use? Anyone who still prefers taking notes on a notebook with a pen?
Businesses

Data Can Help Fix America's Overcrowded Jails, Says White House (cnet.com) 196

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNET: The White House launched a program called the Data-Driven Justice (DDJ) initiative to help reduce the population of jails. It will allow states to better divert low-level offenders with mental illness out of the criminal justice system and keep low-risk defendants out of jail while they await trial. The DDJ program could help alleviate the cost and congestion facing many of America's local jails, which costs local governments nearly $22 billion a year for minor offenses and low-level non-violent misdemeanors. Every year, 11 million people move through America's local jails. In local jails, 64 percent of people suffer from mental illness, 68 percent have a substance abuse and 44 percent suffer from chronic health problems, according to the White House. Seven states and 60 communities committed to DDJ. The plan is to use data collected on individuals who are often in touch with the police, emergency departments and other services and link them to health, behavioral health and social services within the community. Law enforcement and first responders will also be trained in how to deal with people experiencing mental health issues to better direct them to the proper services. The administration is developing a toolkit that will guide jurisdictions toward the best practices, policies and programs that have been successful in DDJ communities. DDJ will also put in place pre-trial assessment tools to determine whether the individual can safely return to society while awaiting trial without having to post bond. Amazon Web Services is onboard with the project, planning to bring together data scientists, technologists, researchers and private sector collaborators in a Technology and Research Consortium to identify technology solutions and support DDJ communities. A mapping software company, Esri, has pledged half a million dollars worth of software and solutions to the DDJ communities as well. Meanwhile, AWS is providing the cloud-infrastructure, which should help share data between criminal justice and health care practitioners among DDJ communities.
Government

Guccifer 2.0 Calls DNC Hack His "Personal Project," Mocks Security Firms (computerworld.com) 108

An anonymous reader writes: The notorious hacker most recently in the news for releasing Clinton Foundation documents has said on Thursday in a blog post that the stolen confidential files from the DNC was his "personal project." Guccifer 2.0, as he identifies himself as, added that security firms and the DNC may be trying to blame the attack on Russia, but "they can prove nothing! All I hear is blah-blah-blah, unfounded theories, and somebody's estimates," he wrote. He claims to be Romanian and says he acted alone, pouring water on the theory that he may be a "smokescreen" to divert attention away from the real culprits, that may have been expert hacking teams based in Russia. "I'd like to reveal a secret to all those cool IT-specialists: All the hackers in the world use almost the same tools," he said. "You can buy them or simply find them on the web." He broke into the network using a little-known vulnerability found in the DNC's software, he added. "The DNC used Windows on their server, so it made my work much easier," he said. "I installed my trojan-like virus on their PCs. I just modified the platform that I bought on the hacking forums for about $1.5k." Guccifer 2.0 also disputed the idea that the DNC breach was an intelligence gathering operation for Russia, saying it was hacktivism.
Space

CBS/Paramount Sets Phasers To Kill On Star Trek Fan-Fiction With New Guidelines (audioholics.com) 236

Audiofan writes from a forum post on Audioholics: The Star Trek fan-fiction controversy that resulted in legal battles between CBS/Paramount and Axanar Productions concluded last week. However, CBS/Paramount have finally put forth its long-awaited guidelines intended to clarify acceptable fan-fiction so that it won't get the creative Star Trek fan sued for copyright infringement. But in doing so, it may have launched Star Trek fan-fiction's torpedo casket into space with a solemn salute. To be or not to be is the question which we ask about the future of Star Trek fan film. Some of the new guidelines for avoiding objections when making your own Star Trek movies and posting them to YouTube include: The fan production must be less than 15 minutes for a single self-contained story, or no more than 2 segments, episodes or parts, not to exceed 30 minutes total, with no additional seasons, episodes, parts, sequels or remakes. Part of the non-commercial requirements include: CBS and Paramount Pictures do not object to limited fundraising for the creation of a fan production, whether 1 or 2 segments and consistent with these guidelines, so long as the total amount does not exceed $50,000, including all platform fees, and when the $50,000 goal is reached, all fundraising must cease. The fan production cannot be distributed in a physical format such as DVD or Blu-ray. If the fan production uses commercially-available Star Trek uniforms, accessories, toys and props, these items must be official merchandise and not bootleg items or imitations of such commercially available products.
Businesses

US Regulators Investigating Tesla Over Use of 'Autopilot' Mode Linked To Fatal Crash (cnbc.com) 343

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said on Thursday it is opening a preliminary investigation into 25,000 Tesla Motors Model S cars after a fatal crash involving a vehicle using the "Autopilot" mode. The agency said the crash came in a 2015 Model S operating with automated driving systems engaged, and "calls for an examination of the design and performance of any driving aids in use at the time of the crash." It is the first step before the agency could seek to order a recall if it believed the vehicles were unsafe. Tesla said Thursday the death was "the first known fatality in just over 130 million miles where Autopilot was activated," while a fatality happens once every 60 million miles worldwide. The electric automaker said it "informed NHTSA about the incident immediately after it occurred." The May crash occurred when a tractor trailer drove across a divided highway, where a Tesla in autopilot mode was driving. The Model S passed under the tractor trailer, and the bottom of the trailer hit the Tesla vehicle's windshield. Tesla quietly settled a lawsuit with a Model X owner who claims his car's doors would open and close unpredictably, smashing into his wife and other cars, and that the Model X's Auto-Pilot feature poses a danger in the rain.
Communications

Netherlands Gets First Nationwide 'Internet of Things' (phys.org) 65

An anonymous reader writes: The Netherlands has become the first country in the world to implement a nationwide long-range (LoRa) network for the Internet of Things, says Dutch telecoms group KPN on Thursday. "As from today the KPN LoRa network is available throughout The Netherlands," KPN said in a statement. Phys.Org reports: "The rollout of a low data rate (LoRa) mobile communications network is critical to connect objects as many may not be able to link up with home or work Wi-Fi networks to gain Internet access. The LoRa network is complementary to KPN's networks for the 2G, 3G and 4G phones. KPN has already reached deals to connect some 1.5 million objects, a number which should steadily grow now that the LoRa network is available across the country. Tests are being carried out at the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam -- one of Europe's busiest air hubs -- for baggage handling. Meanwhile in the Utrecht rail station an experiment is under way to allow LoRa to monitor rail switches."
Android

Dell Stops Selling Android Tablets (pcworld.com) 76

Dell is discontinuing its Venue line of Android tablets. Furthermore, the company says it will also stop issuing software updates to its existing Android tablets. The move comes as Dell wants to shift its focus on Windows 2-in-1 devices. As for the other reason, the American company adds that Android market is "oversaturated" and is experiencing "declining demand from consumers." Other Android devices from the company were discontinued some time ago. The company will honor after sales support for people who have purchased Venue Android tablets until the warranty and service contracts expire.
Intel

BMW, Intel, Mobileye Partner On Self-Driving Cars, 'Turning Point For Automotive Industry': Reports (bloomberg.com) 59

BMW, Intel, and Mobileye NV are working to develop autonomous-car technology, reports Bloomberg, citing multiple sources. Senior executives from each company will hold an event on Friday to discuss the driverless-vehicle initiative, the report adds. From the article:Jerusalem-based Mobileye has been an early leader in providing cameras, software and other components that allow vehicles to see the world around them. BMW has been a client of Mobileye, along with General Motors Co. and Tesla Motors Inc. As automakers and their suppliers race to create systems to replace human drivers, most companies are betting on some form of artificial intelligence, which requires powerful processing.Reuters, citing one source, reports the same thing. The announcement will be a "turning point for the automotive industry," Amnon Shashua, the chairman and co-founder of Mobileye.
Microsoft

Microsoft Kills Windows 10's Messaging Everywhere Texts, To Bolster Skype (pcworld.com) 121

Reader tripleevenfall writes: The ability to respond to text messages received on your phone with the same app on your PC. It's a dream that's been a reality for Mac users since 2014, and Windows 10 Mobile users were supposed to get the feature, called Messaging Everywhere, with the Anniversary Update rolling out August 2.
But that's not happening anymore. Instead, Microsoft thinks it has a better idea: add Messaging Everywhere to an upcoming version of Skype for Windows 10 PCs.
Microsoft commentator Brad Sams writes, "Skype barely works; let's add new features. Texting from your phone is cool, let's remove it. 0.0% people want this."
Windows

Windows 10 Anniversary Update To Roll Out On August 2 156

Windows 10's first major update -- dubbed Anniversary Update -- will be released to users on August 2, according to a blog post published by Microsoft (Archive link). The company presumably posted the blog post ahead of the original publication plans, and as a result, quickly pulled the story. Windows 10 Anniversary Update will bring with it a number of major changes including extensions to Edge, and improvements to Cortana and Hello biometric feature. It will also mark the end of the one-year free Windows 10 update offer for Windows 7 and Windows 8.x users.
Security

Google Found Disastrous Symantec and Norton Vulnerabilities That Are 'As Bad As It Gets' (fortune.com) 113

Google's Project Zero team has discovered a heap of critical vulnerabilities in Symantec and Norton security products. The flaws, the team says, allow hackers to completely compromise people's machines by simply sending them malicious self-replicating code through unopened emails or un-clicked links. According to a Fortune report, the vulnerabilities affect millions of people who run the company's endpoint security and antivirus software -- all 17 enterprise products (Symantec brand) and eight consumer and small business products (Norton brand). Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica:The flaws reside in the engine the products use to reverse the compression tools malware developers use to conceal their malicious payloads. The unpackers work by parsing code contained in files before they're allowed to be downloaded or executed. Because Symantec runs the unpackers directly in the operating system kernel, errors can allow attackers to gain complete control over the vulnerable machine. Tavis Ormandy, a researcher with Google's Project Zero, said a better design would be for unpackers to run in a security "sandbox," which isolates untrusted code from sensitive parts of an operating system.
AI

The Moral Dilemma of Driverless Cars: Save The Driver or Save The Crowd? 361

HughPickens.com writes: What should a driverless car with one rider do if it is faced with the choice of swerving off the road into a tree or hitting a crowd of 10 pedestrians? The answer depends on whether you are the rider in the car or someone else is, writes Peter Dizikes at MIT News. According to recent research most people prefer autonomous vehicles to minimize casualties in situations of extreme danger -- except for the vehicles they would be riding in. "Most people want to live in in a world where cars will minimize casualties," says Iyad Rahwan. "But everybody wants their own car to protect them at all costs." The result is what the researchers call a "social dilemma," in which people could end up making conditions less safe for everyone by acting in their own self-interest. "If everybody does that, then we would end up in a tragedy whereby the cars will not minimize casualties," says Rahwan. Researchers conducted six surveys, using the online Mechanical Turk public-opinion tool, between June 2015 and November 2015. The results consistently showed that people will take a utilitarian approach to the ethics of autonomous vehicles, one emphasizing the sheer number of lives that could be saved. For instance, 76 percent of respondents believe it is more moral for an autonomous vehicle, should such a circumstance arise, to sacrifice one passenger rather than 10 pedestrians. But the surveys also revealed a lack of enthusiasm for buying or using a driverless car programmed to avoid pedestrians at the expense of its own passengers. "This is a challenge that should be on the mind of carmakers and regulators alike," the researchers write. "For the time being, there seems to be no easy way to design algorithms that would reconcile moral values and personal self-interest."
Windows

Microsoft To Make Saying No To Windows 10 Update Easier (zdnet.com) 212

Less than a week after a California-based woman won $10,000 lawsuit against Microsoft over Windows 10 upgrades, the Redmond-based company has announced it will make it easier for users to say no to Windows 10 updates. The company plans to change the Windows 10 update prompt to make it clearer and easier for Windows 7 and Windows 8.x users to schedule or reject upgrading to Windows 10. ZDNet reports:Microsoft officials said late on June 27 that the new update experience -- with clearer "upgrade now, schedule a time, or decline the free offer" -- will start rolling out this week. Microsoft also will revert to making clicking on the Red X at the corner of the Windows 10 update box dismiss the update, rather than initiate it, as it has done for the past several weeks. Microsoft officials said they are making the change "in response to customer feedback."
AI

AI Downs 'Top Gun' Pilot In Dogfights (dailymail.co.uk) 441

schwit1 writes from a report via Daily Mail: [Daily Mail reports:] "The Artificial intelligence (AI) developed by a University of Cincinnati doctoral graduate was recently assessed by retired USAF Colonel Gene Lee -- who holds extensive aerial combat experience as an instructor and Air Battle Manager with considerable fighter aircraft expertise. He took on the software in a simulator. Lee was not able to score a kill after repeated attempts. He was shot out of the air every time during protracted engagements, and according to Lee, is 'the most aggressive, responsive, dynamic and credible AI I've seen to date.'" And why is the US still throwing money at the F35, unless it can be flown without pilots. The AI, dubbed ALPHA, features a genetic fuzzy tree decision-making system, which is a subtype of fuzzy logic algorithms. The system breaks larger tasks into smaller tasks, which include high-level tactics, firing, evasion, and defensiveness. It can calculate the best maneuvers in various, changing environments over 250 times faster than its human opponent can blink. Lee says, "I was surprised at how aware and reactive it was. It seemed to be aware of my intentions and reacting instantly to my changes in flight and my missile deployment. It knew how to defeat the shot I was taking. It moved instantly between defensive and offensive actions as needed."
Government

Tour de France To Use Thermal Cameras To Spot Cheats (npr.org) 158

An anonymous reader writes: At this year's Tour de France, thermal cameras and various other tools will be used to detect "mechanical doping." The image tests can be done anywhere and their locations will not be publicized, according to officials. NPR reports: "As far back as at least 2010, accusations have flown that elite cyclists were turning in superhuman performances with the help of motors that are hidden inside their bike's seat tube. Commercial versions of such devices can provide a steady power stream of around 200 watts -- the lower range of a pro cyclist's average output in a stage race. They can also be set to assist riders automatically if their pedaling cadence falls below a certain threshold. Tour de France officials explain how the detection system will work: 'Developed by the CEA (the French Atomic Energy Commission), the method consists of using a thermal imaging camera capable of detecting mechanical anomalies on the riders' bikes. The checks can be made in the race and on the side of the roads.'"

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