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Businesses

DMCA Notices Remove 8,268 Projects On Github In 2015 (torrentfreak.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: Github's transparency report for 2015 shows that the site received many DMCA notices that removed more than 8,200 projects. "In 2015, we received significantly more takedown notices, and took down significantly more content, than we did in 2014," Github reports. For comparison, the company received only 258 DMCA notices in 2014, 17 of which responded with a counter-notice or retraction. In 2015, they received 505 takedown notices, 62 of which were the subject of counters or withdrawals. TorrentFreak reports: "Copyright holders are not limited to reporting one URL or location per DMCA notice. In fact, each notice filed can target tens, hundreds, or even thousands of allegedly infringing locations." September was a particularly active month as it took down nearly 5,834 projects. "Usually, the DMCA reports we receive are from people or organizations reporting a single potentially infringing repository. However, every now and then we receive a single notice asking us to take down many repositories," Github explains. They are called 'Mass Removals' when more than 100 repositories are asked to be removed. "In all, fewer than twenty individual notice senders requested removal of over 90% of the content GitHub took down in 2015."
Google

Google's 'FASTER' 9000km, 60Tbps Transpacific Fiber Optics Cable Completed (9to5google.com) 11

An anonymous reader writes from a report via 9to5Google: Google and an association of telecom providers have announced that the FASTER broadband cable system that links Japan and the United States is now complete. The system is the fastest of its kind and stretches nearly 9,000 km across the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, starting in Oregon and ending in two landing spots in Japan. The association consists of Google, China Mobile International, China Telecom Global, Global Transit, KDDI, Singtel, and supplier NEC Corporation. The estimated construction cost of the project was $300 million in 2014. At 60 terabits per second, FASTER will help "support the expected four-fold increase in broadband traffic demand between Asia and North America." The system uses a six-fiber pair cable and the latest 100Gbps digital coherent optical transmission technology. The service is scheduled to start on June 30, 2016, and will help increase the connectivity between Google's data centers scattered around the globe.
Businesses

FCC Says TV Airwaves Being Sold For Wireless Use Are Worth $86.4 Billion (reuters.com) 22

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Federal Communications Commission said on Wednesday the price of 126 MHz of television airwaves taken from broadcasters to be sold for wireless use in an ongoing auction is $86.4 billion. The FCC disclosed the price in a statement after completing the first part of an auction to repurpose low-frequency wireless spectrum relinquished by television broadcasters. The so-called "broadcast incentive" spectrum auction is one of the commission's most complex and ambitious to date. In this round, called a reverse auction, broadcasters competed to give up spectrum to the FCC for the lowest price. In the next stage, the forward auction, wireless and other companies will bid to buy the airwaves for the highest price. If wireless companies are unwilling to pay $86.4 billion, the FCC may have to hold another round of bidding by broadcasters and sell less spectrum than had been expected, analysts said. The Wall Street Journal points out that $86.4 billion is more than the market cap of T-Mobile and Spring combined. It's roughly double the amount raised in the last FCC auction, where ATT spent $18.2 billion and Verizon spent $10.4 billion. It's highly likely we'll see multiple rounds stretching into 2017 that will eventually match the supply with the demand.
The Courts

Tesla Admits Defeat, Quietly Settles Model X Lawsuit Over Usability Problems (bgr.com) 27

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: We can talk about how innovative Tesla is for days on end. Indeed, there's no disputing the fact that the company, in injecting a bit of Silicon Valley ingenuity into the tried and true auto design process, has completely turned the auto industry on its head. At the same time, Tesla helped kickstart the EV revolution, even causing traditional automakers like Porsche and BMW to start taking electric cars more seriously. But in Tesla's zeal to move extraordinarily quickly, problems have inevitably begun to creep in. Specifically, quality control issues still seem to be plaguing the Model X. According to a recent report, avowed Tesla fan named Barrett Lyon recently returned his Model X and filed a lawsuit against Tesla arguing that the Model X was "rushed" and released before it was ready for sale. Now comes word that Tesla has since quietly settled the lawsuit. "In Lyon's lawsuit," Fortune writes, "he claimed the cars doors opened and closed unpredictably, smashing into his wife and other cars, and that the Model X's Auto-Pilot feature posed a danger in the rain. He also shared a video that shows the car's self-parking feature failing to operate successfully." Tesla's response: "We are committed to providing an outstanding customer experience throughout ownership. As a principle, we are always willing to buy back a car in the rare event that a customer isn't completely happy. Today, the majority of Model X owners are loving their cars."
Network

UK Has Fastest Mobile Internet While US Lags Behind, Says Report (theverge.com) 65

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Content delivery network Akamai says the UK has the best average mobile connection speeds in the world. The State of the Internet report claims that British mobile users were able to get average speeds of 27.9 Mbps when connecting to Akamai's HTTP/S platform in Q1 2016, beating most countries in Europe by an average of more than 10 Mbps, and the United States' average speed by more than 20 Mbps. For comparison, the U.S. had an average connection speed of 5.1 Mbps, which was lower than Turkey, Kenya, and Paraguay, and on par with Thailand. Many European countries more than doubled the average U.S. speed, including Slovakia with 13.3 Mbps, France with 11.5 Mbps, and Germany with 15.7 Mbps. Algeria was only 2.9 Mbps slower than the United States' average with 2.2 Mbps, and they had the lowest average speed of countries included in the report. Akamai says its data shows that regular internet connections have continued to increase in speed, jumping 12 percent from Q4 2015 to 6.3 Mbps in Q1 2016, which is a year-on-year boost of 23 percent. Peak connection speed also rose to 34.7 Mbps, a 6.8 percent increase from the last quarter, and a 14 percent increase year-on-year. In addition, mobile data traffic is rising from just over 3,500 petabytes per month in Q1 2015 to more than 5,500 petabytes per month in the same period this year.
The Internet

ACLU Lawsuit Challenges Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (thestack.com) 47

An anonymous reader writes: The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a lawsuit with the U.S. Department of Justice contending that the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act's criminal prohibitions have created a barrier for those wishing to conduct research and anti-discrimination testing online. The ACLU have pursued the matter on behalf of a group of academic researchers, computer scientists and journalists seeking to remove that barrier to allow for third-party testing and research into potential online discrimination. In a public statement the ACLU contend: "The CFAA violates the First Amendment because it limits everyone, including academics and journalists, from gathering the publicly available information necessary to understand and speak about online discrimination."
Advertising

Google's My Activity Reveals How Much It Knows About You (theguardian.com) 55

An anonymous reader writes: Google has released a new section to Google's account settings, called My Activity, which lets users review everything that Google has tracked about their online behavior -- search, YouTube, Chrome, Android, and every other Google service. Best of all, users can edit or delete their tracked behaviors. In addition, the My Activity tools come with new ad preferences. Google is now offering to use its behavioral information to tailer ads shown across the wider non-Google internet and Google's search pages, which until now was purely done through the use of cookies. The difference between Google and other companies that offer ads like Facebook is that Google is making this interest-based advertising extension optional, or opt-in, not opt-out. There are two separate behavioral advertising settings for users to switch on or off: signed in ads and signed out ads. Signed in ads are those on Google services, and signed out ads are those served by Google on third-party sites. However, if you're conscious about your privacy, you'll probably want to stay opted out.
Facebook

Facebook Wins Belgian Court Appeal Over Storing Non-User Data (bloomberg.com) 17

Stephanie Bodoni, and Aoife White reporting for Bloomberg Technology (condensed):Facebook won an appeal against a Belgian privacy ruling that prompted the social network to prevent people without an account from accessing its site within the country. The Brussels Court of Appeal said the nation's data protection authority couldn't prevent Facebook from storing data from non-users in a fight over measures the technology giant says help it combat hacking attacks. "Belgian courts don't have international jurisdiction over Facebook Ireland, where the data concerning Europe is processed," the Brussels court of appeal said in a ruling Wednesday, referring to the company's European headquarters. The court also said there was no urgency to rule on the case since Belgian court proceedings only started in mid-2015 over behavior that started in 2012. Facebook is appealing a ruling that ordered it to stop storing data from people who don't have an account with the social network, or face a 250,000 euro ($277,800) daily fine. Willem Debeuckelaere, president of the Belgian data protection commission, said last year that Facebook's "disrespectful" treatment of users' personal data, without their knowledge, "needs tackling." Facebook said it can now start showing its pages to Belgians who aren't signed up to its service.
Wireless Networking

Wi-Fi Gets Multi-Gigabit, Multi-User Boost With Upgrades To 802.11ac (arstechnica.com) 53

The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced its certification program for IEEE 802.11ac Wave 2, a technology that has been around on the market for more than a year. Wave 2 can deliver up to 6.8Gbps and lets an access point interact with more than one device at a time. Wave 2 features MIMO (or MU-MIMO) which improves the MIMO technology that lets Wi-FI transmit over more than one stream through the air. Wave 2 standard utilizes channels up to 160MHz wide (up from 80MHz channels available with Wave 1). It also creates more spatial streams and uses spectrum more efficiently, the industry group said on Wednesday. Ars Technica adds:On top of MU-MIMO, wider channels, and more streams, the Wi-Fi Alliance says Wave 2 features now being certified bring "support for a greater number of available channels in 5GHz," a change that "makes more efficient use of available spectrum and reduces interference and congestion by minimizing the number of networks operating on overlapping channels." You may have already noticed routers supporting some of these features, since the specification details have been available for a few years. In fact, routers with MU-MIMO started appearing in July 2014, and you can find routers that use 160MHz channels. The certification program takes a while to catch up with real-world implementations, but it ensures compatibility between devices and may spur faster adoption by vendors. End-user devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops must also be updated to take advantage of new features such as MU-MIMO.
Facebook

Facebook Tweaks Its Newsfeed To Better Showcase Posts From Friends Instead Of Publishers (betanews.com) 31

Facebook announced on Wednesday that it is making some changes to its algorithm that powers the News Feed to better showcase posts from friends and family members over posts from publishers. Mark Wilson, writing for BetaNews:The problem we currently face, Facebook says, is that there is "far too much information for any one person to consume." This is where algorithms come into play, meddling with timelines and newsfeeds in ways that never please everyone. The latest change promises that content from "the friends you care about" will appear "higher up in your News Feed."The move comes as Facebook struggles to get people to interact and post more on its social network.

This is yet another blow to publishers that rely heavily on social media exposure. In recent years, Facebook has not only downranked stories that have misleading and unclear headlines but also cut the traffic it was once sending publishers' way. It is worth pointing out that these events have happened in the lights of Facebook launching its own publishing network called Instant Articles on the social media and encouraging publishers to directly publish on its platform instead of their respective websites.
Microsoft

Microsoft Kills Windows 10's Messaging Everywhere Texts, To Bolster Skype (pcworld.com) 88

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."
Security

Android Malware Pretends To Be WhatsApp, Uber and Google Play (fireeye.com) 49

Reader itwbennett writes: Security vendor FireEye said on Tuesday that malware that can spoof the user interfaces of Uber, WhatsApp and Google Play has been spreading through a phishing campaign over SMS. Once downloaded, the malware, which has struck Android users in Denmark, Italy and Germany, will create fake user interfaces on the phone as an 'overlay 's top of real apps. These interfaces ask for credit card information and then send the entered data to the hacker.
AI

Satya Nadella Explores How Humans and AI Can Work Together To Solve Society's Greatest Challenges (geekwire.com) 111

In an op-ed for Slate, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has shared his views on AI, and how humans could work together with this nascent technology to do great things. Nadella feels that humans and machines can work together to address society's greatest challenges, including diseases and poverty. But he admits that this will require "a bold and ambition approach that goes beyond anything that can be achieved through incremental improvements to current technology," he wrote. You can read the long essay here. GeekWire has summarized the principles and goals postulated by Nadella. From the article:AI must be designed to assist humanity.
AI must be transparent.
AI must maximize efficiencies without destroying the dignity of people.
AI must be designed for intelligent privacy.
AI needs algorithmic accountability so humans can undo unintended harm.
AI must guard against bias.
It's critical for humans to have empathy.
It's critical for humans to have education.
The need for human creativity won't change.
A human has to be ultimately accountable for the outcome of a computer-generated diagnosis or decision.

Windows

Windows 10 Anniversary Update To Roll Out On August 2 139

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) 96

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.
Businesses

Clinton Tech Plan Reads Like Silicon Valley Wish List (usatoday.com) 324

theodp writes from a report via USA Today: "If there was any lingering doubt as to tech's favored presidential candidate," writes USA Today's Jon Swartz, "Hillary Clinton put an end to that Tuesday with a tech plan that reads like a Silicon Valley wish list. It calls for connecting every U.S. household to high-speed internet by 2020, reducing regulatory barriers and supporting Net neutrality rules, [which ban internet providers from blocking or slowing content.] It proposes investments in computer science and engineering education ("engage the private sector and nonprofits to train up to 50,000 computer science teachers in the next decade"), expansion of 5G mobile data, making inexpensive Wi-Fi available at more airports and train stations, and attaching a green card to the diplomas of foreign-born students earning STEM degrees." dcblogs shares with us a report from Computerworld that specifically discusses Clinton's support of green cards for foreign students who earn STEM degrees: As president, Hillary Clinton will support automatic green cards, or permanent residency, for foreign students who earn advanced STEM degrees. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, wants the U.S. to "staple" green cards on the diplomas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) masters and PhD graduates "from accredited institutions." Clinton outlined her plan in a broader tech policy agenda released today. Clinton's "staple" idea isn't new. It's what Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate in 2012, supported. It has had bipartisan support in Congress. But the staple idea is controversial. Critics will say this provision will be hard to control, will foster age discrimination, and put pressure on IT wages.
Data Storage

Study: 78% of Resold Drives Still Contain Readable Personal or Business Data (consumerist.com) 199

itwbennett writes: Blancco Technology Group, which specializes in data erasure, bought 200 secondhand PC storage drives (PDF) from eBay and Craigslist to see if they could recover any of the old data saved inside. Their findings: 78 percent of the drives contained residual data that could be recovered, 67 percent still held personal files, such as photos with location indicators, resumes and financial data, and 11 percent of the drives also contained company data, such as emails, spreadsheets and customer information. Only 10 percent had all the data securely wiped, Blancco said. The Consumerist points out that Blancco makes their money from promising secure data erasure, so the company has a "strong and vested interest in these results." As for why so many of the drives contain unwanted information, the report says it has to do with the difference between "deleting" data and "erasing" data. Your files aren't actually deleted when you drag them to the Trash or Recycle Bin, or by using the delete key -- shocking, I know. You can format a drive to erase the data, but you have to be careful of the format commands being used. A quick format, which was used on 40% of the drives in the sample, still leaves some residual data on the drive for someone to possibly access. A full format, which was used on 14% of the drives, will do a better job in removing unwanted files, but it too may still miss some crucial information. The solution Blancco recommends: buy a tool to perform complete data erasure.
Google

Google Is Testing Its Own Internet Speed Test In Search Results (thenextweb.com) 42

An anonymous reader writes: Everyone appears to have a speed test of their own nowadays. Netflix launched fast.com more than a month ago; SourceForge released their new HTML5 speed test soon after. Google appears to want a piece of the action as they are trying out a way for people to check their internet speed by simply typing "check internet speed" into search. The tests are performed by Google's Measurement Lab tools, and were first spotted by Pete Meyers, who posted a screenshot of the feature and discovered a Google Support webpage detailing how it works. The feature has not been widely released yet, but it's possible we'll see it made more widely available soon.
AI

The Moral Dilemma of Driverless Cars: Save The Driver or Save The Crowd? 334

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."
Businesses

Volkswagen Agrees To Record $14.7B Settlement Over Emissions Cheating (cnn.com) 136

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: Volkswagen's deliberate cheating on emissions tests will cost it a record $14.7 billion. And that's just the start of its problems. The settlement is only a preliminary step in the case; the automaker still faces possible criminal charges, as well as civil penalties for Clean Air Act violations. The Department of Justice is investigating possible criminal charges against both the company and individuals, said Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Up to $10 billion of the funds will be paid out to owners of the 487,000 affected diesel cars in the U.S., sold under the VW or luxury Audi brands. How much an owner gets will depend on whether an owner chooses to fix their car or just have VW buy it back -- they have until May 2018 to decide. Repurchasing the cars will cost VW between $12,500 to $44,000 per car. The $14.7 billion settlement estimate assumes that all the cars are repurchased. Owners who elect to get their vehicles fixed will also get a cash payment of between $5,100 and $10,000 to compensate them for the lost value of the cars, as well as for Volkswagen's deceptive promise of "clean diesel." Most of the buyers paid extra for a car with a diesel engine. In addition to the customer payments, Volkswagen will pay $2.7 billion for environmental cleanup and $2 billion to promote zero-emission vehicles. The clean up money will be used by individual states to cut other diesel emissions by replacing older, government-owned trucks, buses and other diesel engines now in use. Volkswagen is betting big on electric vehicles after this emissions scandal. It plans to deliver 30 electric plug-in models by 2025.

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