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Posts tagged ‘News’

27
Dec

Backpage execs hit with new pimping and money laundering charges


California Attorney General Kamala Harris has renewed the case against the co-founders of online classifieds site Backpage.com. Earlier this month, a judge in Sacramento County threw out pimping and sex trafficking charges against three of the site’s executives, citing Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act, which protects online service providers from illegal activity committed by users of their site. On Friday, however, Harris announced her office is pursuing 13 new charges of pimping and conspiracy to commit pimping as well as 26 counts of money laundering against the site’s execs.

Harris’ office now claims to have new evidence that co-founders Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey, and James Larkin created a network of “multiple corporate entities” to circumvent financial institutions that were wary of Backpage.com’s “overtly sexual material.” Harris’ office also claims the three executives built other websites to help drive “prostitution-related revenue” on Backpage itself.

“By creating an online brothel — a hotbed of illicit and exploitative activity — Carl Ferrer, Michael Lacey, and James Larkin preyed on vulnerable victims, including children, and profited from their exploitation,” Harris said in a statement.

As Santa Clara University School of Law professor Eric Goldman told the San Jose Mercury News, the money laundering charges could threaten the entire tech sector because “virtually every online service gets money from illegal activity.” Google, for example, paid out a $500 million settlement in 2011 after the Department of Justice accused the company of accepting ads for illegal and counterfeit drugs. While that case didn’t involve money laundering charges specifically, it is a good example of how shady ad practices aren’t far from actual illegal activity.

On the other hand, the new money laundering charges may not hold any water. In 2013, Attorney General Harris and 47 other state attorneys general acknowledged that the Communications Decency Act left them powerless to prosecute companies like Backpage.com. And, according to Goldman, it is odd that the new charges were only laid out after the years-long case concluded earlier this month. “[Harris] cannot avoid First Amendment protections, federal law or her obligations to follow the law,” the defendants’ lawyer Jim Grant told the AP, “although her new complaint is a transparent effort to do exactly that.”

Ferrer, Lacey, and Larkin are due back in Sacramento County Superior Court on January 11th, while Attorney General Harris will resign her post to take her new position as US Senator for California later that month.

Source: Associated Press, San Jose Mercury News

27
Dec

LG made a floating speaker that looks plainer than others


They may seem futuristic, but levitating Bluetooth speakers have been around for years, and look as outlandish as they sound. But LG is the first major electronics brand to throw a product in the ring, and is doing so with its classy-looking, albeit blandly named, “Levitating Portable Speaker,” which the company says it will be unveiling at CES in January.

The plain, white somewhat egg-shaped speaker unit hovers over its round base, which LG calls the Levitation Station. The latter houses electromagnets that create the floating effect, and a subwoofer for deep bass. In addition to looking cool, the speaker also promises 360-degree sound and 10-hour battery life. It’s rated IPX7 for water resistance so you can listen to it outdoors, even if the heavens rain on your parade. When it runs out of juice, the floating unit automatically descends to the base station to recharge.

Although LG’s Levitating Portable Speaker is not the first to market, its battery life and nondescript looks set it apart from its rivals. LG has not yet shared pricing information, but most other such devices cost in the range of $150 to $200, so the new speaker should cost about the higher end of that. We’ll likely find out more next month when LG shows off what this gadget can do.

Source: LG

27
Dec

Wileyfox commits to bringing Nougat to its entire portfolio of phones


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Wileyfox will deliver platform and security updates to its entire portfolio.

Cyanogen’s announcement that it was shutting down its services and OS caught everyone by surprise, particularly those that partnered with the company to offer Cyanogen OS on their phones. British startup Wileyfox has five phones that run the now-defunct OS — Swift 2, Swift 2 Plus, Spark, Spark+, and Spark X — and the company has announced that it will bring the Nougat update to all of its handsets.

From the Reddit thread:

We are not commenting on behalf of Cyanogen. Our OS Strategy and Software plan moving forward will be complete soon. We have agreed a smooth transition where we will continue deliver constant and consistent software and OS updates. Our plan is to bring our entire Wileyfox portfolio onto Android N, the latest version of Google Android’s OS, in a timely manner – while still continuing to protect the range with Google software security updates.

We will share our full and final plan in due time. Our statement for now is we are confident Wileyfox’s software will continue to evolve and stay pure to Android, enhanced to maximise our consumers’ user experience.

Wileyfox is just one of several companies that launched phones powered by Cyanogen OS. The other notable vendor is Lenovo, which teamed up with Cyanogen for the ZUK Z1. India’s Yu Televentures also has several devices running Cyanogen OS, and it is likely these manufacturers will also reveal their transition plans shortly.

We’ll let you know once Wileyfox shares additional details regarding software updates.

27
Dec

Tesla’s next-generation Superchargers should be much faster


Tesla’s Superchargers are certainly faster than most public EV stations, but they’re still far slower than you might hope for. When it can take about 40 minutes to get an 80 percent charge, you can’t exactly grab and go like you would at a gas pump. Relief is in sight, however: Elon Musk has teased third-generation Superchargers that could supply much, much more power than the maximum 150kW per car you see today. Even the 350kW floated as a guess by Electrek’s Fred Lambert is like a “children’s toy,” according to Musk.

Musk isn’t diving into specifics, to no one’s surprise, so it’s not clear just how quickly the new system would charge, when it arrives or whether it will be compatible with existing Tesla cars. As our Autoblog compatriots point out, though, Geneva is planning to deploy buses that use 600kW “flash-charging” to keep running without significantly interrupting their schedules. Even a longer recharge at the end of the line should take 4-5 minutes. If Tesla can approach that level of power delivery, it could speed up charging to the point where you can visit a Supercharger when you’re pressed for time (say, on the way to work).

Any dramatic improvement would go a long way toward making EVs more acceptable to a public used to refilling their cars almost on impulse, instead of planning their trips around it. However, it could also make financial sense for Musk and company. The shorter your charging stop, the sooner you free up a given space for the next driver. Whatever Tesla spends to upgrade stations could be offset by taking more customers (many of whom will be paying) and reducing the need for additional stations to keep up with demand. Also, Musk notes that both these “V3” stations and Powerwall 2 will be key to a wide rollout of solar-powered Superchargers that are kinder to both Tesla’s energy costs and the environment.

@FredericLambert There are some installed already, but full rollout really needs Supercharger V3 and Powerpack V2, plus SolarCity. Pieces now in place.

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2016

@FredericLambert A mere 350 kW … what are you referring to, a children’s toy?

— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 24, 2016

Via: Autoblog

Source: Elon Musk (Twitter 1), (2)

27
Dec

B&H Photo Offering 15-Inch Touch Bar MacBook Pro With $200 Discount and Copy of Parallels 12


Just after the Christmas shopping period, B&H Photo is offering impressive deals on the new 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar. B&H is offering $200 off with a free copy of Parallels 12, which is worth $79.95.

2.6 GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar – $2,199, down from $2,399 ($200 off)
2.7 GHz 15-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar – $2,599, down from $2,799 ($200 off)

B&H is also offering non-Touch Bar 13-inch MacBook Pros for $100 to $150 off. Those who purchase those models will also receive a free copy of Parallels 12.

MacRumors is an affiliate partner with B&H Photo Video and may sometimes get paid if you click one of the above links and purchase a product or service.

Related Roundup: MacBook Pro
Buyer’s Guide: MacBook Pro (Buy Now)
Discuss this article in our forums

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27
Dec

Dark matter scientist Vera Rubin dies at 88


It’s a sad time for the astrophysics world. Vera Rubin, who was instrumental to confirming the existence of dark matter, has died of dementia at the age of 88. While the concept of dark matter had been proposed by Fritz Zwicky back in 1933, it was Rubin and her colleague Kent Ford who provided firm evidence in the 1960s and 1970s. They noticed that the stars at the outside of spiral galaxies spin just as quickly as those on the outside — according to the understanding of gravity at the time, these enormous star formations should tear themselves apart. The only viable explanation was an invisible mass, roughly 10 times larger than what we can see, that was holding everything together.

While we still don’t know what dark matter is, the work of Rubin and Ford has held up to this day. Current scientific modelling has determined that over 90 percent of the universe is made of dark matter, which helps explain things like the rate of cosmic expansion.

Rubin in particular was both a poster child and advocate for women in science. She was the only female astronomy major to graduate from Vassar College in 1948, and was the first woman to conduct observations at Caltech’s Palomar Observatory. Rubin was the first woman to win the Royal Astronomical Society’s Gold Medal in well over a century. She also encouraged girls to study science, and for institutions to either lift bans on women (Princeton’s astronomy program didn’t allow women until 1975) or include them more often in decision-making. The scientist was one of the few women elected to the National Academy of Sciences.

In addition to these legacies, Rubin leaves behind a family steeped in science. All four of her children landed careers in research, and her late daughter Judith Young helped discover the proportional distribution of light and gas in galaxies. Science was clearly a cornerstone of her life, and you’ll likely see the results of that commitment for decades to come.

Don’t shoot for the stars, we already know what’s there. Shoot for the space in between because that’s where the real mystery lies.

— Vera Rubin (@rubin_vera) February 4, 2016

Via: NPR

Source: Carnegie Institution

27
Dec

Samsung’s Gear VR browser gets improved WebVR content support


One of the best reasons to (still) consider a Galaxy S7 smartphone is the Gear VR headset support, and with Google’s Daydream a looming rival, Samsung wants to keep things that way. As such, Samsung recently updated its Internet for Gear VR browser used inside the virtual reality headset. The biggest change is support for WebVR 1.0, the first iteration of the experimental VR internet browser standard developed by Google and Mozilla. The feature makes it easier to view 3D images and streaming VR content on the device.

The company says with the 4.20 update (actually released last month), the browser now “allows users to surf the web and enjoy videos and photos on a large, virtual screen, just as if [they] were at the theater,” according to the blog post. It also supports 180 degree streaming video on the web, making it easier to view 3D VR videos from YouTube, for instance.

You can also set a 360 degree background image from one supplied by a cloud graphics company called OTOY. That, along with the “Skybox” feature (which lets websites set their own 360 background images), adds a stronger VR element to web browsing.

Samsung integrated its file browser in the Gear VR, making it easier to find and open movies and other content, aided by voice control and the on-screen keyboard, which now supports 11 languages. Intriguingly, Samsung also introduced Bluetooth capability to the browser, including support for the Gear S3 smartwatch. It didn’t specify what you could do with it, but hopefully it’ll give you a bit more control over content or games than just using the touchpad, on-screen keyboard or optional gamepad.

Source: Samsung

27
Dec

Fake news starts an Israel-Pakistan Twitter dispute


There’s no question that fake online news can have dire consequences, but it’s now clear that this is true even on an international scale. After a false story claimed that Israel was threatening to nuke Pakistan if it sent troops into Syria, Pakistan Defense Minister Khawaja M. Asif warned Israel that his country could retaliate with nuclear weapons if necessary. He later backtracked by saying that Pakistan was peaceful and had nukes solely as a “deterrence to protect our freedom,” but only after Israel’s Ministry of Defense noted that the offending statement (attributed to former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon) didn’t exist.

Much of the onus for the gaffe is on Asif. You’d think that a major political figure would be extra-skeptical of news sources, and would think twice before sending tweets hinting at the use of weapons that could kill millions of people. However, this illustrates the importance of fighting fake news, whether it’s by downplaying its presence, blocking it or starving it of ad money. Just because you’re in a position of power doesn’t mean you can’t be tricked by a plausible-looking fantasy piece — reducing or fact-checking fake news can prevent these political incidents from happening in the future.

@KhawajaMAsif The statement attributed to fmr Def Min Yaalon re Pakistan was never said

— Ministry of Defense (@Israel_MOD) December 24, 2016

Via: Boston Globe, CNN

Source: Israel MOD (Twitter), Khawaja M. Asif (Twitter), AWDNews (fake)

27
Dec

The best thermometer for kids and adults


By Caroline Weinberg

This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best homewares. When readers choose to buy The Sweethome’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.

After doing more than 10 hours of research, interviewing three experts, and spending an extraordinary amount of time sitting with a thermometer under our tongues, we found the two best thermometers for at-home use. If you’re looking for an oral/rectal/axillary thermometer, our top pick is the Vicks Comfort Flex Digital. If you’re looking for an ear or forehead thermometer, we recommend the dual-function iProven forehead and ear DMT-489.

How we picked and tested

A handful of the thermometers we tested to find the best. Photo: Michael Hession

Digital thermometers have made difficult-to-read mercury thermometers obsolete. They come in several formats—the key is to find a user-friendly thermometer that offers accurate and consistent readings with the least amount of discomfort.

Oral temperature taking is probably the most common for at-home use and is still the standard in many doctor’s offices. These stick thermometers are simple and offer reliable measurements and fast results, but you do need to keep your mouth closed around the device. This is tough for most toddlers and preschoolers, so they are recommended for anyone age 5 and up. Oral thermometers today usually pull triple duty as axillary (armpit) and rectal thermometers as well. We opted to focus on these multipurpose thermometers rather than ones that offer only one option—where you decide to put it is up to you. In addition to oral thermometers, you can now get affordable ear and forehead models for use at home, and we considered all of these models in our research. For more on thermometer varieties, see our full guide.

Our requirements for a thermometer were simple: something fast, accurate, and easy to read that doesn’t require putting on glasses. Once we knew which categories we wanted to look at, we chose thermometers based on customer ratings and best-selling items on Amazon, and those suggested by major product-review sites like Consumer Reports, Thoroughly Reviewed, and Parenting.com. Then we narrowed things down by considering the features like backlit displays, or color-coded systems that flash to indicate whether a temperature is normal, a low-grade fever, or a high-grade fever. We also looked for devices that were easy to clean, rather than ones that require disposable protective caps or sleeves.

Our writer tested each thermometer five times on herself (a healthy adult with no fever) and compared those at-home results with readings from a Welch Allyn Spot Vital Signs LXi (PDF), the thermometer used in urgent-care clinics in New York City. In addition, we called in a senior tester to judge how easy thermometers were to use.

We looked at how close the measurements we got at home were to the professional thermometer and how long it took to give final measurement. Although the ear and forehead thermometers all gave results in less than three seconds, operating time for oral thermometers ranged from 8 seconds to an excruciating high of 60 seconds. A minute may not seem like a long period of time, but it is when you’re sitting around with a stick of plastic under your tongue.

To find out how a forehead thermometer worked in the outside world, we tested one on a healthy person sitting in the sun. The reading came back as 103.8 ºF—a lesson in both thermometer use and the need to sit in the shade. You can follow all of the instructions (wipe off sweat, wait after exercise), but the environment around you is still going to influence your skin temperature. In the end though, almost all of the thermometers tested gave readings consistent with the professional-grade thermometer. The real deciding factor here is the features.

Our pick (oral/rectal/axillary)

For the oral/rectal/axillary thermometer, we recommend the Vicks Comfort Flex Digital, which stands out in speed and style. The average measurement time of 8 seconds was the fastest tested—beating our runner-up by 3 seconds and the slowest thermometer tested by more than 50 seconds. The backlit, large display was by far the easiest to read and interpret. Plus, it was the only model we tested that comes with a useful, color-coded fever indicator.

Half of the thermometers we tested had small numbers in a display window roughly 0.75 by 0.2 inch. The Vicks featured numbers twice the size of the next largest display and was the only thermometer with a backlight feature—a must have for anyone who shuns the light when sick or anyone taking a child’s temperature in the dark.

The Vicks was also the only thermometer with a useful fever indicator. The Vicks thermometer color codes your temperature results, turning green for a normal temperature, yellow to indicate a slightly elevated temperature above 99 ºF, and red to alert you to a fever greater than 101 ºF.

Our pick (forehead and ear)

Our top pick for the forehead and ear is the iProven DMT-489 thermometer. Other excellent choices for exclusive forehead or ear thermometer designs exist, which we highlight in our full guide, but the dual-function capability of the iProven makes it the standout choice. Even if you don’t plan on using both functions, it’s nice to have the option. The iProven switches easily between the two functions and features a clear, backlit, color-coded display. Although we were skeptical about the forehead reading’s accuracy, when taken in a room-temperature environment the readings given were consistently within 0.2 ºF of the ear temperature reading and within 0.4 ºF of the professional-grade measurement.

Smart thermometers and a silent forehead thermometer

Read our full guide for our recommended picks for an intuitive smart ear thermometer, a smart oral thermometer with a big flaw, and a totally silent forehead thermometer.

This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.

Note from The Sweethome: When readers choose to buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn affiliate commissions that support our work.

26
Dec

GoNNER for NVIDIA Shield Android TV review: A beautiful game with infinite challenges


The NVIDIA Shield Android TV box is getting a boost of firepower with the release of GoNNER.

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Call me old-fashioned, but there’s nothing more that I love than a well-made 2D platformer. Throw in frantic gunplay, procedurally drawn levels, and roguelike elements and you’ve got GoNNER, the latest noteworthy addition for the NVIDIA Shield Android TV box. Developed by Art in Heart and published by Raw Fury Games, it’s an incredibly stylish action-platformer that’s reminiscent of games like DownWell and Super Meat Boy, and is well worth it’s discounted $6.69 price tag.

The first thing that strikes you when you load the game up for the first time is the cartoon-creepy graphics and outstanding music and sound design. The developers really nailed the overall art style, with cleverly designed enemies and procedurally generated levels that feel as if they’re literally being hand-drawn around your character as you progress. It’s a game that you need to experience for yourself, as descriptions do no justice.

You play as a character named Ikk who — with some help from the specter of Death itself — is on a mission to cheer up his best friend Sally, a beached whale, by exploring a sprawling, ever-evolving underground hellscape in search of a present. That’s the backstory, though it never factors into the actual gameplay much outside of visiting Death when you die, and occasionally visiting Sally for some health.

The developers really nailed the overall art style, with cleverly designed enemies and procedurally generated levels that feel as if they’re literally being hand-drawn around.

One thing to prepare yourself for — this is a game where you’re going to die… a lot. Early and often. GoNNER offers no tutorials or exposition, so you’re thrown right into the game and expected to just figure things out as you go. Since every playthrough is slightly different than the last, the emphasis is placed on the player to improve their skills rather than simply memorizing level layouts.

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Ikk requires three items before heading into battle — a head, a weapon, and a power-up. These are all collectible items, discovered at random points throughout the game, and each offers different abilities and advantages for your character. Heads will affect the way your character moves and also your health. Power-ups offer special abilities, such as weapon reloads or a brief blast of rapid fire, that you can use infinitely with a short cooldown period after each use. These new items are often found in secret areas scattered throughout the game and unlocked via mysterious parameters.

The trick to mastering GoNNER is unlocking as many heads, powerups, and guns as possible, then experimenting to find the combination that works best with your gameplay style. It’s all about making calculated compromises. Your first head, for example, seems like a good option with its ample hitpoints — that is until you discover that it’s prone to pop off whenever you get hit, requiring you to carefully recollect it without getting hit again or else it’s game over. When you eventually unlock a sturdier head with less health, you have an important choice to make.

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There’s no denying that GoNNER can be tough and unrelenting at times, and this alone might turn some gamers off. But there’s a stark difference between a game that’s difficult and a game that’s hard to play. While the learning curve here is steep to start, the controls are spot on and nothing ever feels inherently unfair — once you understand how the game mechanics work. The game heavily rewards you for linking kills together into combos, which are indicated with skulls in the top-right corner. Link five in a row and you unlock a purple artifact, which can be spent on upgrades before boss battles or, more importantly, exchanged to negate a game over screen.

There’s no denying that GoNNER can be tough and unrelenting at times, and this alone might turn some gamers off.

The one downside to GoNNER is its length; there are only four bosses in the game. By the time you’ve invested a few hours and have a solid handle on things, you’re well on your way to finishing the game. It should take a capable gamer around six hours of trial and error gameplay to beat, which isn’t too bad considering the game’s price. Whether or not you decide to return to the game after beating it sort of depends on whether not you’re a glutton for punishment.

Overall I had an absolute blast playing GoNNER. It’s a beautiful game that provides a new challenge every time you play. If you’re in need of more great gaming content for your NVIDIA Shield Android TV, you definitely need to check this game out.

GoNNER is available for the NVIDIA Shield Android TV via the Google Play Store, and can also be found on Steam for PC and Mac.

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