United Kingdom

Energy Firm Slapped With $65,000 Fine For Making 1.5 Million Nuisance Calls (theregister.co.uk) 7

A UK firm offering people energy-saving solutions has been fined after making almost 1.5 million unsolicited calls without checking if the numbers were registered on the UK's opt-out database. From a report: Southampton-based Home Logic used a dialler system to screen the telephone numbers that it planned to call against the Telephone Preference Service register, which allows people to opt out of receiving marketing calls. This system was unavailable for at least 90 days out of the 220 between April 2015 and March 2016 due to technical issues -- but that didn't stop Home Logic from continuing to make phone calls. Some 1,475,969 were made in that time. And, as a result, Blighty's data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner's Office received 133 complaints about the firm from people who had registered with the TPS and did not expect to be picking up the phone to marketeers. It ruled that the biz had breached the Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations and duly fined it 50,000 pound ($64,500).
Science

Scientists Create Smart Labels To Tell You When To Throw Away Expired Food and Makeup (sciencemag.org) 15

At the 254th National Meeting and Exposition of the American Chemical Society, researchers are presenting a low-cost, portable, paper-based sensor that can let you know when to toss food and cosmetics. The sensor can detect antioxidants in tea and wine, and be used to explore remote locations, such as the Amazon rainforest, in search of natural sources of antioxidants. "I've always been interested in developing technologies that are accessible to both industry and the general population," Silvana Andreescu, Ph.D., says. "My lab has built a versatile sensing platform that incorporates all the needed reagents for detection in a piece of paper. At the same time, it is adaptable to different targets, including food contaminants, antioxidants and free radicals that indicate spoilage." Phys.Org reports: What sets Andreescu's sensors apart from others, she says, are the nanostructures they use to catch and bind to compounds they're looking for. "Most people working on similar sensors use solutions that migrate on channels," Andreescu says. "We use stable, inorganic particles that are redox active. When they interact with the substances we want to detect, they change color, and the intensity of the change tells us how concentrated the analyte is." Additionally, because all of the reagents needed to operate the device are incorporated in the paper, users don't need to add anything other than the sample being tested. The American Chemical Society has published a video detailing the sensor. Their paper has been published in the journal Analyst.
AI

Leading Chinese Bitcoin Miner Wants To Cash In On AI (qz.com) 7

hackingbear writes: Bitmain, the most influential company in the bitcoin economy by the sheer amount of processing power, or hash rate, that it controls, plans to unleash its bitcoin mining ASIC technology to AI applications. The company designed a new deep learning processor Sophon, named after a alien-made, proton-sized supercomputer in China's seminal science-fiction novel, The Three-Body Problem . The idea is to etch in silicon in some of the most common deep learning algorithms, thus greatly boosting efficiency. Users will be able to apply their own datasets and build their own models on these ASICs, allowing the resulting neural networks to generate results and learn from those results at a far quicker pace. The company hopes that thousands of Bitmain Sophon units soon could be training neural networks in vast data centers around the world.
XBox (Games)

Microsoft Outlines the Upgrade Procedures For Xbox One X (arstechnica.com) 22

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The easiest way to get all your games to the new system, as outlined by Microsoft Vice President Mike Ybarra, will be to just put them on an external USB hard drive and then plug that drive into the new console. "All your games are ready to play" immediately after this external hard drive move, he said, and user-specific settings can also be copied via external hard drive in the same way. If you don't have an external drive handy, "we're going to let you copy games and apps off your home network instead of having to manually move them or redownload them off the Internet," Ybarra said. It's unclear right now if Microsoft will mirror the PS4 Pro and allow this kind of system-to-system transfer using an Ethernet cable plugged directly into both consoles. For those who want to see as many pixels as possible as quickly as possible when they get their Xbox One X, Ybarra says you'll be able to download 4K updates for supported games before the Xbox One X is even available, then use those updates immediately after the system transfer. Microsoft also released a list of 118 current and upcoming games that will be optimized for the Xbox One X via updates, a big increase from the few dozens announced back at E3.
Android

Android O Is Now Officially Android Oreo (theverge.com) 61

Android O is now officially going by the name of Android Oreo. The operating system is available today via Google's Android Open Source Project. OTA rollout is expected to arrive first to Pixel and Nexus devices, with builds currently in carrier testing. The Verge reports: The use of an existing brand makes sense for Google here -- there aren't a ton of good "O" dessert foods out there, and Oreos are pretty much as universally beloved as a cookie can be. There's also precedent for the partnership, as Google had previously teamed up with Nestle and Hershey's to call Android 4.4 KitKat.
Education

Does the World Need Polymaths? (bbc.com) 96

Two hundred years ago, it was still possible for one person to be a leader in several different fields of inquiry. Today that is no longer the case. So is there a role in today's world for the polymath -- someone who knows a lot about a lot of things? From a report: Bobby Seagull's fist-pumping and natty dressing, and Eric Monkman's furrowed brow, flashing teeth, contorted facial expressions and vocal delivery -- like a fog horn with a hangover -- made these two young men the stars of the last University Challenge competition. [...] They're still recognised in the street. "People often ask me, do you intimidate people with your knowledge," says Monkman. "But the opposite is the case. I have wide knowledge but no deep expertise. I am intimidated by experts." Seagull, like Monkman, feels an intense pressure to specialise. They regard themselves as Jacks-of-all-Trades, without being master of one. "When I was young what I really wanted to do was know a lot about a lot," says Monkman. "Now I feel that if I want to make a novel contribution to society I need to know a great deal about one tiny thing." The belief that researchers need to specialise goes back at least two centuries. From the beginning of the 19th Century, research has primarily been the preserve of universities. Ever since, says Stefan Collini, Professor of Intellectual History and English Literature at Cambridge University, researchers have labels attached to them. "They're professor of this or that, and you get a much more self-conscious sense of the institutional divides between domains of knowledge."
Privacy

Meeting and Hotel Booking Provider's Data Found in Public Amazon S3 Bucket (threatpost.com) 30

Leaks of personal and business information from unsecured Amazon S3 buckets are piling up. From a report: The latest belongs to Groupize, a Boston-area business that sells tools to manage small group meetings as well as a booking engine that handles hotel room-block reservations. Researchers at Kromtech Security found a publicly accessible bucket containing business and personal data, including contracts and agreements between hotels, customers and Groupize, Kromtech said. The data included some credit card payment authorization forms that contained full payment card information including expiration data and CVV code. The researchers said the database stored in S3 contained numerous folders, below; one called "documents" held close to 3,000 scanned contracts and agreements, while another called all_leads had more than 3,100 spreadsheets containing critical Groupize business data including earnings. There were 37 other folders in the bucket containing tens of thousands of files, most of them storing much more benign data.
The Internet

Cord-Cutting Still Doesn't Beat the Cable Bundle (wired.com) 293

I'd like to cut the cord, writes Brian Barrett for Wired, then, the very instant I allow myself to picture what life looks like after that figurative snip, my reverie comes crashing down. From an article: Cutting the cord is absolutely right for some people. Lots of people, maybe. But it's not that cheap, and it's not that easy, and there's not much hope of improvement on either front any time soon. Not to turn this into a math experiment, but let's consider cost. Assuming you're looking for a cord replacement, not abandoning live television altogether, you're going to need a service that bundles together a handful of channels and blips them to your house over the internet. The cheapest way you can accomplish this is to pay Sling TV $20 per month, for which you get 29 channels. That sounds not so bad, and certainly less than your cable bill. But! Sling Orange limits you to a single stream. If you're in a household with others, you'll probably want Sling Blue, which offers multiple streams and 43 channels for $25 per month. But! Sling Orange and Sling Blue have different channel lineups (ESPN is on Orange, not Blue, while Orange lacks FX, Bravo and any locals). For full coverage, you can subscribe to both for $40. But! Have kids? You'll want the Kids Extra package for another $5 per month. Love ESPNU? Grab that $5 per month sports package. HBO? $15 per month, please. Presto, you're up to $65 per month. But! Don't forget the extra $5 for a cloud-based DVR. Plus the high-speed internet service that you need to keep your stream from buffering, which, by the way, it'll do anyway. That's not to pick on Sling TV, specifically. But paying $70 to quit cable feels like smoking a pack of Parliaments to quit Marlboro Lights. You run into similar situations across the board, whether it's a higher base rate, or a limited premium selection, or the absence of local programming altogether. It turns out, oddly enough, that things cost money, whether you access those things through traditional cable packages or through a modem provided to you by a traditional cable operator.
Transportation

Driverless Cars Need a Lot More Than Software, Ford CTO Says (axios.com) 97

In an interview, Ken Washington, Ford's Chief Technical Officer, shared company's views on how autonomy will change car design. From an article: The biggest influence will be how the cars are bought, sold and used: "You would design those vehicles differently depending on what business model (is being used). We're working through that business model question right now," he said. The biggest misconceptions about autonomous capabilities is that it's only about software: "People are imagining that the act of doing software for autonomy is all you need to do and then you can just bolt it to the car," he said. "I don't think it's possible to describe what an autonomous vehicle is going to look like," he added.
Google

Supreme Court Asked To Nullify the Google Trademark (arstechnica.com) 125

Is the term "google" too generic and therefore unworthy of its trademark protection? That's the question before the US Supreme Court. From a report: What's before the Supreme Court is a trademark lawsuit that Google already defeated in a lower court. The lawsuit claims that Google should no longer be trademarked because the word "google" is synonymous to the public with the term "search the Internet." "There is no single word other than google that conveys the action of searching the Internet using any search engine," according to the petition to the Supreme Court. It's perhaps one of the most consequential trademark case before the justices since they ruled in June that offensive trademarks must be allowed. The Google trademark dispute dates to 2012 when a man named Chris Gillespie registered 763 domain names that combined "google" with other words and phrase, including "googledonaldtrump.com."
Intel

Intel Launches 8th Generation Core CPUs (anandtech.com) 70

Reader joshtops writes: Today Intel is launching its new 8th Generation family of processors, starting with four CPUs for the 15W mobile family. There are two elements that make the launch of these 8th Gen processors different. First is that the 8th Gen is at a high enough level, running basically the same microarchitecture as the 7th Gen. But the key element is that, at the same price and power where a user would get a dual core i5-U or i7-U in their laptop, Intel will now be bumping those product lines up to quad-cores with hyperthreading. This gives a 100% gain in cores and 100% gain in threads. Obviously nothing is for free, so despite Intel stating that they've made minor tweaks to the microarchitecture and manufacturing to get better performing silicon, the base frequencies are down slightly. Turbo modes are still high, ensuring a similar user experience in most computing tasks. Memory support is similar -- DDR4 and LPDDR3 are supported, but not LPDDR4 -- although DDR4 moves up to DDR4-2400 from DDR4-2133. Another change from 7th Gen to 8th Gen will be in the graphics. Intel is upgrading the nomenclature of the integrated graphics from HD 620 to UHD 620, indicating that the silicon is suited for 4K playback and processing.
Security

UK.gov To Treat Online Abuse as Seriously as Hate Crime in Real Life (theregister.co.uk) 227

The UK's Crown Prosecution Service has pledged to tackle online abuse with the same seriousness as it does hate crimes committed in the flesh. From a report: Following public concern about the increasing amount of racist, anti-religious, homophobic and transphobic attacks on social media, the CPS has today published a new set of policy documents on hate crime. This includes revised legal guidance for prosecutors on how they should make decisions on criminal charges and handle cases in court. The rules officially put online abuse on the same level as offline hate crimes -- defined as an action motivated by hostility or prejudice -- like shouting abuse at someone face-to-face. They commit the CPS to prosecuting complaints about online material "with the same robust and proactive approach used with online offending." Prosecutors are told to consider the effect on the wider community and whether to identify both the originators and the "amplifiers or disseminators."
Space

How the Voyager Golden Record Was Made (newyorker.com) 104

Fascinating article on The New Yorker about how the Voyager Golden Record was made: The Voyagers' scientific mission will end when their plutonium-238 thermoelectric power generators fail, around the year 2030. After that, the two craft will drift endlessly among the stars of our galaxy -- unless someone or something encounters them someday. With this prospect in mind, each was fitted with a copy of what has come to be called the Golden Record. Etched in copper, plated with gold, and sealed in aluminum cases, the records are expected to remain intelligible for more than a billion years, making them the longest-lasting objects ever crafted by human hands. We don't know enough about extraterrestrial life, if it even exists, to state with any confidence whether the records will ever be found. They were a gift, proffered without hope of return. I became friends with Carl Sagan, the astronomer who oversaw the creation of the Golden Record, in 1972. He'd sometimes stop by my place in New York, a high-ceilinged West Side apartment perched up amid Norway maples like a tree house, and we'd listen to records. Lots of great music was being released in those days, and there was something fascinating about LP technology itself. A diamond danced along the undulations of a groove, vibrating an attached crystal, which generated a flow of electricity that was amplified and sent to the speakers. At no point in this process was it possible to say with assurance just how much information the record contained or how accurately a given stereo had translated it. The open-endedness of the medium seemed akin to the process of scientific exploration: there was always more to learn.
Apple

Apple Looks For Exceptional Engineer With a Secret Job Posting (9to5mac.com) 56

An anonymous reader writes: A hidden Apple website that hosts a job description and invitation to apply for an important position has recently been discovered. The posting describes a role that should be filled by a "talented engineer" who will develop a critical infrastructure component for the company's ecosystem. Discovered late yesterday by ZDNet's Zach Whittaker, the secret posting was found at us-west-1.blobstore.apple.com (now pulled). The posting stated how critical the role is, the scale of the work, key qualifications, and a description of the type of employee Apple is looking for. In the "How Critical?" section Apple says that the engineer will be working on developing infrastructure that will deal with millions of drives, tens of thousands of servers, and Exabytes of data.
Businesses

The Windows App Store is Full of Pirate Streaming Apps (torrentfreak.com) 87

Ernesto Van der Sar, reporting for TorrentFreak: When we were browsing through the "top free" apps in the Windows Store, our attention was drawn to several applications that promoted "free movies" including various Hollywood blockbusters such as "Wonder Woman," "Spider-Man: Homecoming," and "The Mummy." Initially, we assumed that a pirate app may have slipped past Microsoft's screening process. However, the 'problem' doesn't appear to be isolated. There are dozens of similar apps in the official store that promise potential users free movies, most with rave reviews. Most of the applications work on multiple platforms including PC, mobile, and the Xbox. They are pretty easy to use and rely on the familiar grid-based streaming interface most sites and services use. Pick a movie or TV-show, click the play button, and off you go. The sheer number of piracy apps in the Windows Store, using names such as "Free Movies HD," "Free Movies Online 2020," and "FreeFlix HQ," came as a surprise to us. In particular, because the developers make no attempt to hide their activities, quite the opposite.

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