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Sweden Tests World's First Electric Road For Trucks

Sat, 25/06/2016 - 7:00am
Kristine Lofgren writes: Electric vehicles are cool, but for industrial vehicles it can be a challenge to get very far on just electric power. That's why Sweden is testing out an electric road where e-vehicles can jump on, get juiced while they travel, and get back on the road. The country just opened a two kilometer test stretch in Sandviken on the E16 where electric vehicles can connect to an overhead system that is very similar to light rail. It's another exciting step towards a fossil fuel-free Sweden. Trucks can use the electric power while riding on the special electric road system -- on regular roads they operate as hybrid vehicles. The testing is scheduled to take place until 2018, which should give the country enough time to see how the technology functions in the real world. Sweden's energy and sustainable growth agencies will fund the project in addition to the transport administration.

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Categories: Science

New Apps Let Women Obtain Birth Control Without Visiting a Doctor

Sat, 25/06/2016 - 3:30am
HughPickens.com writes: With nearly 40 percent of all pregnancies in the United States unintended, birth control is a critical public health issue. For short-term methods, visiting the doctor for a prescription can be time-consuming and sometimes costly and for some, like teenagers, it can be intimidating or embarrassing. Now Pam Belluck reports at the NYT that a growing assortment of new apps and websites now make it possible to get prescription contraceptives without going to the doctor as public health experts hope the new apps will encourage more women to start, or restart, using contraception and help reduce the country's stubbornly high rate of unintended pregnancies, as well as the rate of abortions. At least six digital ventures, by private companies and nonprofits, including Planned Parenthood, now provide prescriptions written by clinicians after women answer questions about their health online or by video. All prescribe birth control pills, and some prescribe patches, rings and morning-after pills and some ship contraceptives directly to women's doors. "At first I didn't believe it," said Susan Hashem, who wanted to restart birth control pills without missing work for a doctor's appointment. Hashem used an app called Lemonaid and paid $15 for a doctor to review her medical information and send a pill prescription to a local pharmacy. "I thought it was just a setup to get money," Hashem said. But after she answered the health questions one evening, "a doctor actually contacted me after office hours," and the next morning, she picked up three months' worth of pills.

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Categories: Science

Robot Pizza Company 'Zume' Wants To Be 'Amazon of Food'

Sat, 25/06/2016 - 1:25am
kheldan writes: Do you want robots making your pizza? Alex Garden, co-founder and executive chairman of Mountain View startup Zume, is betting you will. Garden, the former president of Zynga Studios, was previously a general manager of Microsoft's Xbox Live. Garden launched Zume in stealth mode last June, when he began quietly recruiting engineers under a pseudonym and building his patented trucks in an unmarked Mountain View garage. In September, he brought on Julia Collins, a 37-year-old restaurant veteran. She became chief executive officer and a co-founder. Collins was previously the vice president and CEO of Harlem Jazz Enterprises, the holding company for Minton's, a historic Harlem eatery. The company consists of an army of robot sauce-spreaders and trucks packed full of ovens. "In the back of Mountain View's newest pizzeria, Marta works tirelessly, spreading marinara sauce on uncooked pies. She doesn't complain, takes no breaks, and has never needed a sick day. She works for free." The pie then "travels on a conveyer belt to human employees who add cheese and toppings." From there, "The decorated pies are then scooped off the belt by a 5-foot tall grey automation, Bruno, who places each in a 850-degree oven. For now, the pizzas are fully cooked and delivered to customers in branded Fiats painted with slogans, including: 'You want a piece of this?' and 'Not part of the sharing economy.'" Garden says, "We are going to be the Amazon of food. [...] Just imagine Domino's without the labor component. You can start to see how incredibly profitable that can be."

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Categories: Science

Scientists Force Computer To Binge On TV Shows and Predict What Humans Will Do

Sat, 25/06/2016 - 12:45am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from GeekWire: Researchers have taught a computer to do a better-than-expected job of predicting what characters on TV shows will do, just by forcing the machine to study 600 hours' worth of YouTube videos. The researchers developed predictive-vision software that uses machine learning to anticipate what actions should follow a given set of video frames. They grabbed thousands of videos showing humans greeting each other, and fed those videos into the algorithm. To test how much the machine was learning about human behavior, the researchers presented the computer with single frames that showed meet-ups between characters on TV sitcoms it had never seen, including "The Big Bang Theory," "Desperate Housewives" and "The Office." Then they asked whether the characters would be hugging, kissing, shaking hands or exchanging high-fives one second afterward. The computer's success rate was 43 percent. That doesn't match a human's predictive ability (72 percent), but it's way better than random (25 percent) as well as the researchers' benchmark predictive-vision programs (30 to 36 percent). The point of the research is to create robots that do a better job of anticipating what humans will do. MIT's Carl Vondrick and his colleagues are due to present the results of their experiment next week at the International Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition in Las Vegas. "[The research] could help a robot move more fluidly through your living space," Vondrick told The Associated Press. "The robot won't want to start pouring milk if it thinks you're about to pull the glass away." You can watch their YouTube video to learn more about the experiment.

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Categories: Science

NASCAR Team Pays Ransomware Fee To Recover Files Worth $2 Million

Sat, 25/06/2016 - 12:05am
An anonymous reader writes: "NASCAR team Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing (CSLFR) revealed today it faced a ransomware infection this past April when it almost lost access to crucial files worth nearly $2 million, containing car parts lists and custom high-profile simulations that would have taken 1,500 man-hours to replicate," reports Softpedia. "The infection took place on the computer belonging to CSLFR's crew chief. Winston's staff detected the infection when encrypted files from Winston's computer began syncing to their joint Dropbox account." It was later discovered that he was infected with the TeslaCrypt ransomware. Because the team had no backups of the crucial data, they eventually paid the ransom (around $500). This happened before TeslaCrypt's authors decided to shut down their operations and release free decryption keys.

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Categories: Science

You Could Be Paid To Post Snapchat Selfies With Products, Patent Filing Suggests

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 11:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: According to Snapchat's latest patent filings, the company could begin paying users to post photos and videos. Los Angeles Times reports: "The filings reveal that Snapchat automatically could analyze annotations on an image, including text and digital stickers, to prompt users to place their image in a collective gallery. In other words, people who type some variation of 'Clippers!!!' on top of their photo during a Clippers basketball game would have access to a library of images related to the game. Especially intriguing, the company could use computer vision technology to identify objects in an image -- say, a Coke bottle -- to encourage a user to share the shot in a Coca-Cola-sponsored story. Contributors could walk away with cash through a flat fee or some other deal based on views or sales generated by the story. The idea in the patent filing also would give advertisers an official way to compensate people for creative posts, compared with the usual strategy of paying top users to turn their personal accounts into an ad. Other types of automatically generated galleries mentioned in the patent application include stories based on a time stamp, temperature or movement. People could definite their own categories too. Curation of the galleries could be optional, with object recognition and text analysis as potential ways to filter inappropriate submissions. Users who get into audio timeline could get paid too, the patent filing states."

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Categories: Science

Oculus Ditches DRM Hurdle, Allows HTC Vive Games On Rift Again

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 10:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: After changing its DRM to exclude ReVive last month, Oculus has changed its mind again and is now allowing HTC Vive games to play on the Oculus Rift. "We continually revise our entitlement and anti-piracy systems, and in the June update we've removed the check for Rift hardware from the entitlement check. We won't use hardware checks as part of DRM on PC in the future," Oculus VR said. "We believe protecting developer content is critical to the long-term success of the VR industry, and we'll continue taking steps in the future to ensure that VR developers can keep investing in ground-breaking new VR content." VentureBeat reports: "ReVive developers have acted quickly following the removal of the check. An update to the software has been posted on GitHub to bring it back in line, meaning you'll now be able to access the games that were previously available without jumping through extra hoops. Perhaps even more games might work going forward. CrossVR, one of the system's developers, took to Reddit to thank Oculus for the decision. 'I'm delighted to see this change and I hope it can generate a lot of goodwill for Oculus.' CrossVR said."

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Categories: Science

Surface 3 Stocks Dwindling As Microsoft Plans System's Demise

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 10:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft's Surface 3 may be coming to an end. Brad Sams at Thurrott.com reports that many versions of the Surface 3 are listed as being out of stock in Microsoft's online store, with no expected availability. He notes that the only version in stock online is the version with 2GB RAM/64GB storage/LTE. There's more availability in-store, but stock appears to be limited overall. What this generally means is that manufacturing is slowing down or going to stop entirely. In a statement, Microsoft said: "Since launching Surface 3 over a year ago, we have seen strong demand and satisfaction amongst our customers. Inventory is now limited and by the end of December 2016, we will no longer manufacture Surface 3 devices." It's possible a Surface 3 successor is right around the corner, although Ars Technica notes "there hasn't even been the merest hint of a rumor about such a device." The Surface 3 is being powered by a Cherry Trail Atom processor, which hasn't seen a major upgrade or replacement since they were released in the first quarter of 2015. "Without new processors, there's little reason to update the Surface 3 line," writes Ars. Microsoft could equip the Surface 3 successor with a Core M processor, but the implications of that decision would likely cause the device's price to shoot up or cause the device's quality to significantly decrease. Microsoft may simply abandon the segment entirely and focus strictly on the Surface Pro line.

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Categories: Science

Valve Faces Lawsuit Over Video Game Gambling

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 9:20pm
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Bloomberg: Valve's Counterstrike: Global Offensive game is being sued for its role in the multibillion-dollar gambling economy that has fueled the game's popularity. Michael John McLeod filed a lawsuit Thursday in the U.S. District Court in Connecticut alleging that Valve violated gambling laws and engaged in racketeering with a handful of off-shore gambling companies. McLeod, who has been gambling on CS:GO since 2014, is asking for class-action status for the suit. The suit was first reported by Polygon and doesn't give a specific request for damages, nor does it say how much money he lost by betting on the site. According to Bloomberg: "Valve provided for money, technical support, and advice to such websites as CSGO Lounge and Diamonds, which take bets, and OPSkins, which runs a market where virtual goods are traded and can be redeemed for cash." Valve has yet to respond to the suit.

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Categories: Science

Apple Won't Collect Your Data For Its AI Services Unless You Let It

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 8:40pm
Apple doesn't like collecting your data. This is one of iPhone maker's biggest selling points. But this approach has arguably acted as a major roadblock for Apple in its AI and bots efforts. With iOS 10, the latest version of company's mobile operating system, Apple announced that it will begin collecting a range of new information as it seeks to make Siri and iPhone as well as other apps and services better at predicting the information its owner might want at a given time. Apple announced that it will be collecting data employing something called differential privacy. The company wasn't very clear at the event, which caused confusion among many as to what data Apple is exactly collecting. But now it is offering more explanation. Recode reports:As for what data is being collected, Apple says that differential privacy will initially be limited to four specific use cases: New words that users add to their local dictionaries, emojis typed by the user (so that Apple can suggest emoji replacements), deep links used inside apps (provided they are marked for public indexing) and lookup hints within notes. Apple will also continue to do a lot of its predictive work on the device, something it started with the proactive features in iOS 9. This work doesn't tap the cloud for analysis, nor is the data shared using differential privacy.Additionally, Recode adds that Apple hasn't yet begun collecting data, and it will ask for a user's consent before doing so. The company adds that it is not using a users' cloud-stored photos to power its image recognition feature.

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Categories: Science

Netflix to Soon Let Users Download Videos, Says Report

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 8:00pm
Karl Bode, writing for DSLReport:Netflix will soon let users download and store videos locally, according to Penthera (a Pittsburgh-based firm that focuses on delivery of HD media to mobile devices by storing content on the recipient device) COO Dan Taitz and a report over at Light Reading. Taitz told the outlet that it shouldn't be long before the feature arrives. Netflix has been working harder to help consumers manage broadband caps, and being able to download a video on Wi-Fi for later viewing would go a long way in helping users (especially on wireless networks) that consistently find themselves hamstrung by their monthly usage allotments. "We know from our sources within the industry that Netflix is going to launch this product," Taitz tells the outlet. "My expectation is that by the end of the year Netflix will be launching download-to-go as an option for their customers."Bold move, if it does happen.

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Categories: Science

Piracy Phishing Scam Targets US ISPs and Subscribers

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 7:20pm
According to a report on TorrentFreak, an elaborate piracy phishing operating is tageting US ISPs and subscribers. Scammers are reportedly masquerading as anti-piracy company IP-Echelon and rightholders such as Lionsgate to send fake DMCA notices and settlement demands to ISPs. From the report:TorrentFreak was alerted to a takedown notice Lionsgate purportedly sent to a Cox subscriber, for allegedly downloading a pirated copy of the movie Allegiant. Under threat of a lawsuit, the subscriber was asked to pay a $150 settlement fee. This request is unique as neither Lionsgate nor its tracking company IP-Echelon is known to engage in this practice. When we contacted IP-Echelon about Lionsgate's supposed settlement offer, we heard to our surprise that these emails are part of a large phishing scam, which has at least one large ISPs fooled. "The notices are fake and not sent by us. It's a phishing scam," IP-Echelon informed TorrentFreak. For a phishing scam the fake DMCA notice does its job well. At first sight the email appears to be legit, and for Cox Communications it was real enough to forward it to their customers.U.S. law enforcement has been notified and is currently investigating the matter.

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Categories: Science

Russia Lawmakers Pass Spying Law That Requires Encryption Backdoors, Call Surveillance

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 6:40pm
A bill that was proposed recently in the Russian Duma to make cryptographic backdoors mandatory in all messaging apps, has passed. Patrick Howell O'Neill, reports for DailyDot:A massive surveillance bill is now on its way to becoming law in Russia. The "anti-terrorism" legislation includes a vast data-eavesdropping and -retention program so that telecom and internet companies have to record and store all customer communications for six months, potentially at a multitrillion-dollar cost. Additionally, all internet firms have to provide mandatory backdoor access into encrypted communications for the FSB, the Russian intelligence agency and successor to the KGB. The bill, with support from the ruling United Russia party, passed Friday in the Duma, Russia's lower legislative house, with 277 votes for, 148 against, and one abstaining. It now moves to Russia's Federal Council and the Kremlin, where it's expected to pass into law.

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Categories: Science

Net Neutrality Advocates To FCC: Put the Kibosh On Internet Freebies

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 6:00pm
An anonymous reader cites a CNET report:Net neutrality advocates demand action. Representatives from Fight the Future, the Center for Media Justice and Free Press on Friday hand-delivered a 6-foot tall package containing 100,000 letters of complaint to the Federal Communications Commission. They ask the agency to take action against AT&T, Comcast, T-Mobile and Verizon for violating the agency's Open Internet order by offering so-called zero-rating service plans. While the practice offers some benefits to customers, critics say it violates the agency's Net neutrality principles, which requires all services on the internet be treated the same. They claim it puts smaller competitors at a disadvantage and highlights the fact that data caps are unnecessary. Carriers say they are simply experimenting with new business models that will make their service more affordable for consumers.

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Categories: Science

In the Aftermath Of Brexit, Brits Google About Irish Passport, Meaning Of EU, and Why it All Happened

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 5:20pm
As the world makes peace with the news that the United Kingdom has voted to leave the European Union, people in the UK are increasingly trying to figure out what this means. Google noted on Twitter late Thursday that "What is the EU?" was the second top UK question on the EU since the news broke, with "Why did Britain leave the EU?" being the first. The questions also speak volume about the awareness of the issue among them. Understandably, some people also resorted to the search engine to look for Irish passports. "Getting an Irish passport" keywords saw a 100% surge.

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Categories: Science

FBI Is Classifying Its Tor Browser Exploit Because 'National Security'

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 4:40pm
Joseph Cox, reporting for Motherboard:Defense teams across the US have been trying to get access to a piece of malware the FBI used to hack visitors of a child pornography site. None have been successful at obtaining all of the malware's code, and the government appears to have no intention of handing it over. Now, the FBI is classifying the Tor Browser exploit for reasons of national security, despite the exploit already being used in normal criminal investigations well over a year ago. Experts say it indicates a lack of organization or technical capabilities within the FBI. "The FBI has derivatively classified portions of the tool, the exploits used in connection with the tool, and some of the operational aspects of the tool in accordance with the FBI's National Security Information Classification Guide," government attorneys wrote in a filing earlier this month. It came in response to the defense of Gerald Andrew Darby, who is charged with child pornography offenses.

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Categories: Science

Chrome Bug Makes It Easy To Download Movies From Netflix and Amazon Prime

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 4:00pm
A vulnerability found in Chrome by researchers allows people to save copies of movies and TV shows from streaming websites such as Netflix and Amazon Prime. From a Gizmodo report:The vulnerability, first reported by Wired (Editor's note: Wired blocks adblockers), takes advantage of the Widevine EME/CDM technology that Chrome uses to stream encrypted video from content providers. Researchers David Livshits from the Cyber Security Research Center at Ben-Gurion University and Alexandra Mikityuk of Telekom Innovation Laboratories discovered a way to hijack streaming video from the decryption module in the Chrome browser after content has been sent from services like Netflix or Amazon Prime. The researchers created a proof-of-concept (which is currently the only evidence of the exploit) to show how easily they could illegally download streaming video once CDM technology has decrypted it.Google was notified of the bug last month but is yet to patch it.

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Categories: Science

$4 Android Smartphone From India To Begin Shipping Next Week

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 3:20pm
Earlier this year, an Indian smartphone company called Ringing Bells unveiled the Freedom 251, an entry-level Android smartphone that was priced at Rs. 251 (roughly $3.7 USD). It didn't take long for the company to stir controversy -- soon after media got the device, they learned that Ringing Bells had disguised Adcom Ikon 4s (retail price: $60) as the Freedom 251 smartphone for marketing and media reviewing purposes. The company at the time noted that it was just a sample device. Furthermore, it was clear that components in the sample device alone would cost more than Rs. 2,000 ($30). Ringing Bells, standing by its earlier commitment, has now announced that it will begin shipping the Freedom 251 handset starting next week. The Freedom 251 unit which will ship to consumers reportedly features dual-SIM capability, 1GB of RAM, a 1.3GHz SoC from an unnamed chipset maker, 8GB of internal storage, an 8-megapixel rear camera, 3.2-megapixel front-facing shooter and a 1,800mAh battery. How did the company manage to get the price of the handset this cheap? In a separate interview with Times of India, the company noted that it has partnered with a number of software firms to pre-install their apps on the phone.

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Categories: Science

'Godless' Apps, Some Found In Google Play, Root 90% Of Android Phones

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 2:40pm
Dan Goodin, reporting for ArsTechnica:Researchers have detected a family of malicious apps, some that were available in Google Play, that contain malicious code capable of secretly rooting an estimated 90 percent of all Android phones. In a recently published blog post, antivirus provider Trend Micro said that Godless, as the malware family has been dubbed, contains a collection of rooting exploits that works against virtually any device running Android 5.1 or earlier. That accounts for an estimated 90 percent of all Android devices. Members of the family have been found in a variety of app stores, including Google Play, and have been installed on more than 850,000 devices worldwide. Godless has struck hardest at users in India, Indonesia, and Thailand, but so far less than 2 percent of those infected are in the US. Once an app with the malicious code is installed, it has the ability to pull from a vast repository of exploits to root the particular device it's running on. In that respect, the app functions something like the many available exploit kits that cause hacked websites to identify specific vulnerabilities in individual visitors' browsers and serve drive-by exploits.Affected apps that have been spotted in Google Play, Android's marquee app store, are largely flashlight, Wi-Fi apps, as well as copies of popular games.

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Categories: Science

Malware Can Use Fan Noise To Steal Data From Air-Gapped Systems

Fri, 24/06/2016 - 2:00pm
Reader Orome1 writes: For the last few years, researchers from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev have been testing up new ways to exfiltrate data from air-gapped computers: via mobile phones, using radio frequencies ("AirHopper"); using heat ("BitWhisper"), using rogue software ("GSMem") that modulates and transmits electromagnetic signals at cellular frequencies. The latest version of the data-exfiltration attack against air-gapped computers involves the machine's fans. Dubbed "Fansmitter," the attack can come handy when the computer does not have speakers, and so attackers can't use acoustic channels to get the info.An anonymous reader adds:Malicious applications use the noise emanated by a computer fan's speed to relay information to a nearby recording device and steal data from air-gapped, isolated systems. The attack relies on selecting a fan speed to represent binary "1" and another for binary "0". A specially crafted malware can alter the CPU, GPU or chassis fan speed between these two frequencies and provide a method to relay data from infected systems. Attackers can then place microphones or smartphones to record the sound coming from the infected machine and steal the data. The attack works for distances of one to four meters, and operates in the 100-600 Hz frequency that can be picked up by the human year. Choosing smaller fan speeds or fan speeds that are closer together can make the attack harder to pick up by a human, but also makes it susceptible to background noise.

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Categories: Science