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AI

Microsoft Forms New AI Research Group Led By Harry Shum (techcrunch.com) 43

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: A day after announcing a new artificial intelligence partnership with IBM, Google, Facebook and Amazon, Microsoft is upping the ante within its own walls. The tech giant announced that it is creating a new AI business unit, the Microsoft AI and Research Group, which will be led by Microsoft Research EVP Harry Shum. Shum will oversee 5,000 computer scientists, engineers and others who will all be "focused on the company's AI product efforts," the company said in an announcement. The unit will be working on all aspects of AI and how it will be applied at the company, covering agents, apps, services and infrastructure. Shum has been involved in some of Microsoft's biggest product efforts at the ground level of research, including the development of its Bing search engine, as well as in its efforts in computer vision and graphics: that is a mark of where Microsoft is placing its own priority for AI in the years to come. Important to note that Microsoft Research unit will no longer be its on discrete unit -- it will be combined with this new AI effort. Research had 1,000 people in it also working on areas like quantum computing, and that will now be rolled into the bigger research and development efforts being announced today. Products that will fall under the new unit will include Information Platform, Cortana and Bing, and Ambient Computing and Robotics teams led by David Ku, Derrick Connell and Vijay Mital, respectively. The Microsoft AI and Research Group will encompass AI product engineering, basic and applied research labs, and New Experiences and Technologies (NExT), Microsoft said.
Music

Spotify in Talks To Acquire SoundCloud (variety.com) 20

Janko Roettgers, writing for Variety: Spotify is in advanced talks to acquire rival music service SoundCloud, according to a report by the Financial Times. An announcement of the acquisition could be made soon, according to the Times. The acquisition would come just months after SoundCloud launched its own paid streaming service. A Spotify spokesperson declined to comment on the report when contacted by Variety; SoundCloud didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. Spotify is the market leader in the growing paid streaming business, disclosing earlier this month that it now has more than 40 million paying subscribers. Its biggest competitor is Apple Music with 17 million paying subscribers.
HP

HP To Issue 'Optional Firmware Update' Allowing 3rd-Party Ink (arstechnica.com) 79

Soon after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) issued a letter to HP, calling for them to apologize to customers for releasing firmware that prevents the use of non-HP ink cartridges and refilled HP cartridges, the company has responded with a temporary solution. HP "will issue an optional firmware update that will remove the dynamic security feature" for certain OfficeJet printers. Ars Technica reports: HP made its announcement in a blog post titled "Dedicated to the best printing experience." "We updated a cartridge authentication procedure in select models of HP office inkjet printers to ensure the best consumer experience and protect them from counterfeit and third-party ink cartridges that do not contain an original HP security chip and that infringe on our IP," the company said. The recent firmware update for HP OfficeJet Pro, and OfficeJet Pro X printers "included a dynamic security feature that prevented some untested third-party cartridges that use cloned security chips from working, even if they had previously functioned," HP said. For customers who don't wish to be protected from the ability to buy less expensive ink cartridges, HP said it "will issue an optional firmware update that will remove the dynamic security feature. We expect the update to be ready within two weeks and will provide details here." This customer-friendly move may just be a one-time thing. HP said it will continue to use security features that "protect our IP including authentication methods that may prevent some third-party supplies from working." Without the optional firmware update, printers will only be able to use third-party ink cartridges that have an "original HP security chip," the company said.
Cloud

Adobe To Run Some Of Its Creative Cloud Services On Azure (zdnet.com) 17

Adobe will offer its Adobe Creative Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Document Cloud hosted on Microsoft's Azure, the company said today, as part of a deal with Microsoft. ZDNet adds: Some of Adobe's subscription services for creative professionals currently are hosted on Amazon's AWS. It's not clear from Microsoft's announcement of its new Adobe deal whether Adobe's Creative Cloud, Marketing Cloud, and Document Cloud will run on any other cloud backbones, with Azure as a secondary option or choice. I've asked Microsoft, and heard back from a spokesperson that today's deal is not exclusive, but that's all I know at this point. Work is underway to move these services to the Azure cloud, a spokesperson confirmed, with more information on this coming in the next few months.
Yahoo!

Yahoo Sued For Gross Negligence Over Huge Hacking (reuters.com) 56

Yahoo apparently took two years to investigate and tell people that its service had been breached, and that over 500 million users were affected. Amid the announcement, a user is suing Yahoo, accusing the company of gross negligence. From a Reuters report: The lawsuit was filed in the federal court in San Jose, California, one day after Yahoo disclosed the hacking, unprecedented in size, by what it believed was a "state-sponsored actor." Ronald Schwartz, a New York resident, sued on behalf of all Yahoo users in the United States whose personal information was compromised. The lawsuit seeks class-action status and unspecified damages. A Yahoo spokeswoman said the Sunnyvale, California-based company does not discuss pending litigation. The attack could complicate Chief Executive Marissa Mayer's effort to shore up the website's flagging fortunes, two months after she agreed to a $4.8 billion sale of Yahoo's Internet business to Verizon Communications. Yahoo on Thursday said user information including names, email addresses, phone numbers, birth dates and encrypted passwords had been compromised in late 2014.
Security

Yahoo Confirms Massive Data Breach, 500 Million Users Impacted [Updated] (recode.net) 169

Update: 09/22 18:47 GMT by M :Yahoo has confirmed the data breach, adding that about 500 million users are impacted. Yahoo said "a copy of certain user account information was stolen from the company's network in late 2014 by what it believes is a state-sponsored actor." As Business Insider reports, this could be the largest data breach of all time. In a blog post, the company said:Yahoo is notifying potentially affected users and has taken steps to secure their accounts. These steps include invalidating unencrypted security questions and answers so that they cannot be used to access an account and asking potentially affected users to change their passwords. Yahoo is also recommending that users who haven't changed their passwords since 2014 do so. The Intercept reporter Sam Biddle commented, "It took Yahoo two years to announce that info on half a billion user accounts was stolen." Amid its talks with Verizon for a possible acquisition -- which did happen -- Yahoo knew about the attack, but didn't inform Verizon about it, Business Insider reports. Original story, from earlier today, follows.

Last month, it was reported that a hacker was selling account details of at least 200 million Yahoo users. The company's service had apparently been hacked, putting several hundred million users accounts at risk. Since then Yahoo has remained tight-lipped on the matter, but that could change very soon. Kara Swisher of Recode is reporting that Yahoo is poised to confirm that massive data breach of its service. From the report: While sources were unspecific about the extent of the incursion, since there is the likelihood of government investigations and legal action related to the breach, they noted that it is widespread and serious. Earlier this summer, Yahoo said it was investigating a data breach in which hackers claimed to have access to 200 million user accounts and was selling them online. "It's as bad as that," said one source. "Worse, really." The announcement, which is expected to come this week, also possible larger implications on the $4.8 billion sale of Yahoo's core business -- which is at the core of this hack -- to Verizon. The scale of the liability could be large and bring untold headaches to the new owners. Shareholders are likely to worry that it could lead to an adjustment in the price of the transaction.
Google

Google Backs Off On Previously Announced Allo Privacy Feature (theverge.com) 86

When Google first unveiled its Allo messaging app, the company said it would not keep a log of chats you have with people when in incognito mode. The company released Allo for iOS and Android users last night, and it seems it is reneging on some of those promises. The Verge reports:The version of Allo rolling out today will store all non-incognito messages by default -- a clear change from Google's earlier statements that the app would only store messages transiently and in non-identifiable form. The records will now persist until the user actively deletes them, giving Google default access to a full history of conversations in the app. Users can also avoid the logging by using Alo's Incognito Mode, which is still fully end-to-end encrypted and unchanged from the initial announcement. Like Hangouts and Gmail, Allo messages will still be encrypted between the device and Google servers, and stored on servers using encryption that leaves the messages accessible to Google's algorithms. According to Google, the change was made to improve the Allo assistant's smart reply feature, which generates suggested responses to a given conversation. Like most machine learning systems, the smart replies work better with more data. As the Allo team tested those replies, they decided the performance boost from permanently stored messages was worth giving up privacy benefits of transient storage.
Communications

Cable Lobby Tries To Make You Forget That It Represents Cable Companies (arstechnica.com) 33

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The U.S. cable industry's biggest lobby group has dropped the word "cable" from its name in a rebrand focusing on its members' role as providers of both Internet and TV services. The National Cable and Telecommunications Association (NCTA) will henceforth be called NCTA-The Internet and Television Association. NCTA will be maintained in the name as a nod to the group's past, even though the initials no longer stand for any particular words. "Just as our industry is witnessing an exciting transformation driven by technology and connectivity, NCTA's brand must reflect the vibrancy and diversity of our members," NCTA CEO Michael Powell (a former Federal Communications Commission chairman) said in today's announcement. The group's "mission to drive the industry forward remains the same," he said. This isn't the NCTA's first name change. The group began as the National Community Television Council in 1951 and then became the National Community Television Association in 1952, according to the Museum of Broadcast Communications. Despite dropping the word "cable," the NCTA's name change announcement makes reference to how cable companies are dominating the broadband market. Powell noted that the NCTA "represent[s] an industry that is America's largest and fastest home Internet provider." As it goes forward, the NCTA won't be the only telecom lobby group initialism that no longer stands for anything. The CTIA -- previously known as the Cellular Telecommunications Industry Association and then the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association -- is now just "CTIA-The Wireless Association."
Oracle

Larry Ellison Says 'Amazon's Lead is Over' As Oracle Unveils New Cloud Infrastructure (venturebeat.com) 156

Oracle has unveiled its second generation of cloud infrastructure for third-party developers to run their applications in Oracle data centers. What is interesting about the announcement is that Oracle co-founder and chief technology officer Larry Ellison claiming that "Amazon's lead is over. Amazon's going to have serious competition going forward." From a VentureBeat report: One particular instance, or virtual-machine (VM) type, that Oracle is making available in this second-generation offering -- the Dense IO Shape -- offers 28.8TB, 512GB, and 36 cores, at a price of $5.40 per hour. This product offers more than 10 times the input-output capacity of Amazon Web Services (AWS), specifically the i2.8xlarge instance, said Ellison. Currently, AWS leads the cloud infrastructure market, with Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and IBM trailing behind. Oracle's public cloud was not included in the most recent version of Gartner's highly regarded cloud infrastructure as a service (IaaS) Magic Quadrant, which was released last month. "Oracle also does not have enough market share to qualify for inclusion," the authors of the report wrote.
Businesses

GoDaddy Proposes New DNS Configuration Standard (programmableweb.com) 81

GoDaddy has announced "an open set of APIs for DNS providers and web service providers," called Domain Connect. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "Once enabled, customers can quickly configure their domain to point to the web service of their choice with push button simplicity," according to the announcement, "streamlining and simplifying the process of connecting websites and domain names registered on different platforms." GoDaddy's submitted it for consideration as an IETF standard, where they have the support of Microsoft and Squarespace, as well as the other two largest registries, eNome and Name.com. But in the meantime, they told ProgrammableWeb, the specificaion is "out there in the public, open for feedback and adjustment."

"GoDaddy is seeking to take all the friction out of the process," the site reports, "by offering service providers like Squarepace, Wix, Google, Microsoft, Wordpress and others a registrar-agnostic API that they can use to programmatically configure all the necessary DNS entries... in lieu of making end users laboriously crawl through a bunch of forms and then praying that they've done it all correctly." Different access levels will be available based on the service being provided, and for GoDaddy's implementation of the API their senior VP of Domains Engineering "said that the program will not be open to public developers and that any service providers wanting access will have to be approved by his team at GoDaddy."

Education

Code.org Disses Wolfram Language, Touts Apple's Swift Playgrounds (edsurge.com) 241

America is changing the way it teaches computer science. "There are now 31 states that allow CS to count towards high school graduation," according to an announcement this week by the White House, while a new Advance Placement course "will be offered in more than 2,000 U.S. classrooms this fall...the largest course launch in the history of the AP exam." But what's the best way to teach coding? theodp reports: Tech-backed Code.org, one of the leaders of the new CSforAll Consortium that was announced at the White House on Wednesday, took to its blog Thursday to say "Thanks, Tim [Cook], for supporting the effort to give every student the opportunity to learn computer science," giving a shout out to Apple for providing "resources for teachers who want to put Swift Playgrounds in their classrooms. (A day earlier, the White House said Apple developed Swift Playgrounds "in support of the President's call to action" for CS for All).

Curiously, Code.org CEO Hadi Partovi argued Friday that "the Wolfram Language has serious shortcomings for broad educational use" in an EdSurge op-ed that was called a "response to a recent blog post by Stephen Wolfram" on Wolfram's ambitious plan to teach computational thinking in schools. Partovi's complaints? "It requires login for all but the simplest use cases, but doesn't provide any privacy safeguards for young children (required in the U.S. through legislation such as COPPA). Also, a serious user would need to pay for usage, making implementation inaccessible in most schools. Lastly, it's a bit difficult to use by students who struggle with English reading or writing, such as English language learners or early elementary school students."

The submission ultimately asks how should computer science be taught to teenagers. "Would you be inclined to embrace Wolfram's approach, Apple's Swift Playgrounds, Microsoft TEALS' Java-centric AP CS curriculum, or something else (e.g., R, Tableau, Excel+VBA)?"
Android

Run Android 6.0 Marshmallow on Your PC With Android-x86 6.0 (softpedia.com) 90

This week saw the first stable release of Android-x86 6.0 (marshmallow-x86) -- and a new version of Remix OS for PC, a PC-optimized version of Android. Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes Softpedia: Android-x86 6.0 has been in the works since early this year, and it received a total of two RC (Release Candidate) builds during its entire development cycle, one in June and another in August. After joining the Remix OS team, Chih-Wei Huang now has all the reasons to update and improve its Android-x86 system for the latest Android releases. Therefore, as you might have guessed already, Android-x86 6.0 is the first stable version of the project to be based on Google's Linux kernel-based Android 6.0 Marshmallow mobile operating system, and includes the most recent AOSP (Android Open Source Project) security updates too.

Under the hood, Android-x86 6.0 is using the long-term supported Linux 4.4.20 kernel with an updated graphics stack based on Mesa 12.0.2 3D Graphics Library, and offers support for Samsung's F2FS file system for SSD drives, better Wi-Fi support after resume and suspend, and initial HDMI audio support.

Earth

GM Commits To 100% Renewable Energy By 2050 (cleantechnica.com) 114

We've seen a number of entities announce plans to operate with 100% renewable energy over the years. Costa Rica, for example, has gone 76 straight days using 100% renewable electricity. General Motors is the latest company to release a roadmap to achieving 100% renewable energy. The catch? It won't be until 2050. CleanTechnica reports: American multinational General Motors, or GM, has committed to generating or sourcing 100% of the electricity for its operations across 59 countries from 100% renewable energy by 2050. GM made the announcement on Wednesday, revealing that it planned to generate or source all its electrical power needs for its 350 operations in 59 countries with 100% renewable energy such as wind, solar, and landfill gas, by 2050. In turn, the company has joined the 100% renewable energy campaign RE100, lending its considerable global business weight to an already important and successful campaign. "Establishing a 100% renewable energy goal helps us better serve society by reducing environmental impact," said Mary Barra, GM Chairman and CEO. "This pursuit of renewable energy benefits our customers and communities through cleaner air while strengthening our business through lower and more stable energy costs."
EU

10 Years in Prison For Online Pirates a Step Closer in the UK (torrentfreak.com) 136

The UK Government's Digital Economy Bill has moved a step closer to becoming law after its second reading in Parliament. With unanimous support, the current two-year maximum custodial sentence for online piracy is almost certain to increase to a decade, TorrentFreak reports. From the article: Due to UK copyright law allowing for custodial sentences of 'just' two years for online offenses, anti-piracy groups such as the Federation Against Copyright Theft have chosen to pursue their own private prosecutions. These have largely taken place under legislation designed for those who have committed fraud, rather than the more appropriate offense of copyright infringement. Physical pirates (CDs, DVDs) can be jailed for up to 10 years under current legislation. During the past few years, there have been lobbying efforts for this punishment to apply both on and offline. That resulted in a UK Government announcement last year indicating that it would move to increase the maximum prison sentence for online copyright infringement to ten years. They also urge Google to do something about growing incidents of piracy.
Transportation

Uber Starts Self Driving Car Pickups In Pittsburgh (techcrunch.com) 192

The reports were true. Uber on Wednesday announced it a select group of Pittsburgh users will get a surprise the next time they book a cab: the option to ride in a self-driving car. TechCrunch reports: The announcement comes a year-and-a-half after Uber hired dozens of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University's robotics center to develop the technology. Uber gave a few members of the press a sneak peek Tuesday when a fleet of 14 Ford Fusions equipped with radar, cameras and other sensing equipment pulled up to Uber's Advanced Technologies Campus (ATC) northeast of downtown Pittsburgh. During my 45-minute ride across the city, it became clear that this is not a bid at launching the first fully formed autonomous cars. Instead, this is a research exercise. Uber wants to learn and refine how self driving cars act in the real world. That includes how the cars react to passengers -- and how passengers react to them. "How do drivers in cars next to us react to us? How do passengers who get into the backseat who are experiencing our hardware and software fully experience it for the first time, and what does that really mean?" said Raffi Krikorian, director of Uber ATC.When a couple of drivers were asked about Uber's push to get cabs drive themselves, they weren't pleased.
The Almighty Buck

Pokemon Go's Paying Population Drops By 79% -- Still Most Profitable Mobile App In The US (metro.co.uk) 91

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Metro: The world's obsession with Pokemon Go was clearly never going to last, but the incredible thing about its success is that although the paying population of the game is now down by 79% from its mid-July peak it's still easily the most profitable mobile app in the U.S.. According to analysts at Slice Intelligence, at its peak Pokemon Go inspired twice as many people as normal to spend money on mobile games, but that's now returned to normal. But Pokemon Go still accounts for 28% of all money spent on mobile games in America, bringing in six times more than nearest rival Candy Crush Saga. The obvious problem for Pokemon Go is that there's not really much gameplay to keep you coming back, and as winter approaches wandering around the countryside is going to lose some of its appeal somewhat. But there's a huge range of new features that could be added to the app, and just this week has seen the introduction of the buddy feature that lets you walk around and team-up with a particular Pokemon. There's also the delayed release of the Pokemon Go Plus Bluetooth device and the recent announcement of the Apple Watch app.
Facebook

Facebook Is Collaborating With The Israeli Government To Determine What Should Be Censored (go.com) 232

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: The Israeli government and Facebook agreed to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on the social media network, a senior Israeli Cabinet minister said Monday. The announcement came after two government ministers met top Facebook officials to discuss the matter. The Facebook delegation is in Israel as the government pushes ahead with legislative steps meant to force social networks to rein in content that Israel says incites violence. Israel has argued that a wave of violence with the Palestinians over the past year has been fueled by incitement, much of it spread on social media sites. It has repeatedly said that Facebook should do more to monitor and control the content, raising a host of legal and ethical issues over whether the company is responsible for material posted by its users. Both Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, two key figures in Israel's battle against the alleged online provocations, participated in Monday's meeting. Erdan's office said they agreed with Facebook representatives to create teams that would figure out how best to monitor and remove inflammatory content, but did not elaborate further. Erdan and Shaked have proposed legislation that seeks to force social networks to remove content that Israel considers to be incitement. An opposition lawmaker has also proposed a bill seeking to force social networks to self-monitor or face a fine. Facebook said in a statement "online extremism can only be tackled with a strong partnership between policymakers, civil society, academia and companies, and this is true in Israel and around the world." The company did also say that its community standards "make it clear there is non place for terrorists or content that promotes terrorism on Facebook." ABC News reports that "over the past four months Israel submitted 158 requests to Facebook to remove inciting content and another 13 requests to YouTube," according to Shaked. "She said Facebook granted some 95 percent of the requests and YouTube granted 80 percent." All of this adds to the censorship controversy that is currently surrounding Facebook. Last week, Norway's largest newspaper accused Mark Zuckerberg of abusing power after his company decided to censor a historic photograph of the Vietnamese "Napalm Girl," claiming it violated the company's ban on "child nudity."
Open Source

Linux Kernel 3.14 Series Has Reached End of Life (softpedia.com) 99

Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes an article on Softpedia: it looks like the Linux kernel maintainers decided that there's no need to maintain the Linux kernel 3.14 LTS series anymore, so earlier today, September 11, 2016, they decided to release that last maintenance update, version 3.14.79, and mark the series as EOL (End of Life). Famous Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman was the one to make the big announcement, and he's urging users who want to still run a long-term supported kernel version to move to the Linux 4.4 LTS series, which is currently the most advanced LTS branch, or use the latest stable release, Linux kernel 4.7.3...

Linux kernel 3.14.79 is a very small update that changes a total of 12 files, with 45 insertions and 17 deletions, thus fixing a bug in the EXT4 file system, a networking issue related to the Reliable Datagram Sockets (RDS) protocol, and updating a few HID, s390, SCSI, networking drivers.

Debian

LinuxScreenshots.org Closes. All Screenshot Tours Released For Downloading (linuxscreenshots.org) 46

A new announcement on their web site reads: LinuxScreenshots.org is closed. An archive of all screenshot tours from this site has been made freely available to the community, which consists of 2300 releases from 580 distributions. You may download this archive for fun, or to start your own Linux screenshots website. Please help seed torrents. I contacted the site's owner, who confirmed the news, saying their goal is to let the community take control of the screenshots. The archives are available on Dropbox and BitTorrent.
Education

University of California's Outsourcing Is Wrong, Says US Lawmaker (computerworld.com) 338

Earlier this week, University of California hired India-based IT company HCL to outsource some of its work offshore. As part of the announcement, it announced that it was laying off 17 percent of UCSF's total IT staff. The U.S. lawmaker, Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and the IEEE-USA find the outsourcing job "wrong." dcblogs writes: A decision by the University of California to lay off IT employees and send their jobs overseas is under fire from U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif) and the IEEE-USA. "How are they [the university] going to tell students to go into STEM fields when they are doing as much as they can to do a number on the engineers in their employment?" said U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif). Peter Eckstein, the president of the IEEE-USA, said what the university is doing "is just one more sad example of corporations, a major university system in this case, importing non-Americans to eliminate American IT jobs." The university recently informed about 80 IT workers at its San Francisco campus, including contract employees and vendor contractors, that it hired India-based HCL, under a $50 million contract, to manage infrastructure and networking-related services. The affected employees will leave their jobs in February, after they train their contractor replacements.

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