Tech News

Google's Epic Response: Android 12 Will Make It Easier To Install App Stores

technology - Posted On:2020-09-28 13:45:00 Source: slashdot

Google today announced it will make it easier to install and use third-party app stores with the release of Android 12 next year. From a report: Google also reiterated its existing Payments Policy for in-app purchases of digital goods: Android developers who want to distribute apps and games on Google Play, must use Play's billing system. Google is offering a 1-year grace period for developers who aren't complying with this policy: The deadline is September 30, 2021. Today's announcements today are a direct response to Epic's war with Apple and Google over the 30% cut they take of every purchase on the iOS App Store and the Google Play store, respectively. On August 13, Epic updated Fornite for Android and iOS to use its own billing service, resulting in Apple and Google deleting Fortnite from their app stores. Epic then turned around and sued both tech giants. The lawsuits could define how all developers, from individuals to massive corporations, distribute apps on the world's duopoly of mobile operating systems. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The Race To Redesign Sugar

science - Posted On:2020-09-28 13:15:00 Source: slashdot

Forget artificial sweeteners. Researchers are now developing new forms of real sugar, to deliver sweetness with fewer calories. But tricking our biology is no easy feat. From a report: Until the late eighteenth century, when sugar production started to become mechanized, most people consumed very little of what nutritionists call "free" or "added" sugars -- sweeteners other than, say, the lactose naturally present in milk and the fructose naturally present in fruit. In 1800, an average American would have lived and died never having encountered a single manufactured candy, let alone the array of sugar-sweetened yogurts, snacks, sauces, dressings, cereals, and drinks that now line supermarket shelves. Today, that average American ingests more than nineteen teaspoons of added sugar every day. Not only does most of that never come into contact with our taste buds; our sweet receptors are also less effective than those for other tastes. Our tongues can detect bitterness at concentrations as low as a few parts per million, but, for a glass of water to taste sweet, we have to add nearly a teaspoon of sugar. DouxMatok's method of restructuring sugar crystals was invented by Baniel's father, Avraham, an industrial chemist. He patented the technique five years ago, when he was ninety-six; today, at the age of a hundred and one, he has finally retired. At one point during my visit, Eran sifted through a pile of his father's memorabilia -- black-and-white photographs, identification cards, university certificates -- to find illustrations for a forthcoming presentation about the company. Many of the photographs were new to Eran, and, as he tried to place them, the outline of his father's life emerged: a six-year-old Polish boy sent to boarding school in what was then the British Palestine Mandate; a student at the University of Montpellier; a promising young scientist, strikingly handsome, exempted from serving in the British Army's Palestine Regiment so that he could make bombs in the basement of a paint factory near Haifa. [...] Estella Belfer, a pastry chef who is a judge on the TV show "Bake-Off Israel," hopes to use Incredo exclusively one day, but, recently, she told me about some of the challenges of cooking with it. "To make chocolate, it's easy. I just substitute the sugar with a smaller amount. In shortbread cookies, it is an improvement -- it makes them crispier," she said. "But in the cupcakes and the sponge cakes -- this is where there is an art to using Incredo sugar." Sugar is responsible for much of the tender, springy texture of a good cake; Incredo sugar behaves exactly the same way, but there's a lot less of it, which creates a problem. Belfer told me that she has successfully blended other ingredients, including soluble fibre and plant proteins, to restore the missing bulk and fluffiness -- "but it's not easy." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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IRS may put cryptocurrency question at the top of 1040 to catch cheaters

Policy - Posted On:2020-09-28 13:00:00 Source: arstechnica

The Internal Revenue Service is considering adding a question to Form 1040—America's primary income tax form—asking tax filers if they dealt in virtual currency in 2020. It would be the agency's latest attempt to crack down on underreporting of cryptocurrency profits.

If an American buys bitcoin, ether, or another cryptocurrency and then sells it later at a profit, she or he will typically owe capital gains tax on the difference. But blockchains do not have the tax reporting infrastructure that has become standard for conventional financial institutions. So the IRS doesn't have an easy way to figure out who has received a cryptocurrency windfall. In the early years of the bitcoin boom, many taxpayers failed to report large bitcoin-related profits.

In recent years, the IRS has increased pressure on cryptocurrency traders to comply with tax laws. A 2014 bulletin laid out the basic rules for paying taxes on virtual currency price gains. In 2016, the IRS sought transaction data about thousands of users of Coinbase, a popular US-based cryptocurrency exchange. Coinbase complied with the request in 2018 after some legal wrangling.

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Logistics giant CMA CGM goes offline to block malware attack

Security - Posted On:2020-09-28 12:45:01 Source: bleepingcomputer

CMA CGM S.A., a French maritime transport and logistics giant, today disclosed a malware attack affecting some servers on the edge of its network. [...]

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The Audi e-tron Sportback is a stylish sophomore electric car

Cars - Posted On:2020-09-28 12:30:00 Source: arstechnica

December 2018 marked the arrival of the Audi e-tron, the first in a massive onslaught of post-dieselgate electric vehicles from Volkswagen Group. With brands across VW Group still working on new bespoke EV platforms and architectures, the e-tron was a bit of a stopgap, intended to reach the market quickly to show that upper management was now serious about electrification. Now it has company in the form of the new Audi e-tron Sportback.

Audi says that the e-tron Sportback is for its customers who care about the planet but also about aesthetics—basically you buy this car if the thought of an A7's carbon footprint is unbearable. To my eyes, the design team should consider its work a success. The e-tron Sportback is a more attractive vehicle than either the e-tron SUV or the closely related (but internal combustion engine-powered) Q8. In fact, if you ignore everything below the top of the wheel arches, it's a stunner, particularly the flare of the bodywork around the rear wheel and then that little ducktail spoiler.

Overall, the roofline of the e-tron Sportback is about half an inch (12.7mm) lower than the e-tron, and in US-spec with reflective side-view mirrors it has a drag coefficient of 0.28 (a reduction of 0.02).

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Audi adds a dash of Sportback style to its newest e-tron electric car

Cars - Posted On:2020-09-28 12:15:00 Source: arstechnica

December 2018 marked the arrival of the Audi e-tron, the first in a massive onslaught of post-dieselgate electric vehicles from Volkswagen Group. With brands across VW Group still working on new bespoke EV platforms and architectures, the e-tron was a bit of a stopgap, intended to reach the market quickly to show that upper management was now serious about electrification. Now it has company in the form of the new Audi e-tron Sportback.

Audi says that the e-tron Sportback is for its customers who care about the planet but also about aesthetics—basically you buy this car if the thought of an A7's carbon footprint is unbearable. To my eyes, the design team should consider its work a success. The e-tron Sportback is a more attractive vehicle than either the e-tron SUV or the closely related (but internal combustion engine-powered) Q8. In fact, if you ignore everything below the top of the wheel arches, it's a stunner, particularly the flare of the bodywork around the rear wheel and then that little ducktail spoiler.

Overall, the roofline of the e-tron Sportback is about half an inch (12.7mm) lower than the e-tron, and in US-spec with reflective side-view mirrors it has a drag coefficient of 0.28 (a reduction of 0.02).

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Gateway is Back, And It's Selling AMD-Powered Budget Laptops at Walmart

technology - Posted On:2020-09-28 12:15:00 Source: slashdot

Gateway, the major PC brand of the 1990s with the iconic cow-spotted logo, is back -- well, kind of. Acer now owns the company and has decided to start selling Gateway-branded laptops again, exclusively at Walmart. From a report: As is often the case with Walmart-exclusive laptops, the main attraction is the price. On the most affordable end is the Gateway Ultra Thin series, which starts with a $179 11.6-inch laptop with an AMD A4, and spans up to a $499 15.6-inch model with a Core i5. There's also a $199 11.6-inch touchscreen 2-in-1 available, powered by an Intel Celeron processor. The names aren't very interesting, but they do come in a variety of fun colors, including purple, blue, green, and rose gold, as well as black. On the higher end is the Gateway Creators series, two 15.6-inch laptops meant for media editing and gaming. No funky colors on these -- they only come in black -- but they do seem to have some decent specs. You can choose the $799 rig with a Ryzen 5 4600H and an Nvidia GTX 1650 GPU or a $999 model with a Core i5 and an RTX 2060. That puts them a step above the Ultra Thin series in price, but they're still fairly inexpensive as creator-focused machines go. I would guess that(TM)s at least partially because they don't seem to have a lot of storage -- only 256GB each. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Too Many Staff Have Privileged Work Accounts For No Good Reason, Reckon IT Bods

it - Posted On:2020-09-28 11:30:00 Source: slashdot

Around 40 per cent of staff in British and American corporations have access to sensitive data that they don't need to complete their jobs, according to recent research. From a report: In a survey commissioned by IT security firm Forcepoint of just under 900 IT professionals, 40 per cent of commercial sector respondents and 36 per cent working in the public sector said they had privileged access to sensitive data through work. Worryingly, of that number, about a third again (38 per cent public sector and 36 per cent private) said they had access privileges despite not needing them. Overall, out of more than 1,000 respondents, just 14 per cent from the private sector thought their org was fully aware of who had the keys to their employers' digital kingdoms. Carried out by the US Ponemon Institute, a research agency, the survey also found that about 23 per cent of IT pros across the board reckoned that privileged access to data and systems was handed out willy-nilly, or, as Forcepoint put it in a statement, "for no apparent reason." Access management is a critical topic for IT security bods, especially as COVID-19-induced remote working introduces challenges for the monitoring of data access and intra-org flows. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Adobe beefs up developer tools to make it easer to build apps on Experience Cloud

Cloud - Posted On:2020-09-28 11:15:01 Source: techcrunch

Adobe has had a developer program for years called Adobe.io, but today at the Adobe Developers Live virtual conference, the company announced some new tools with a fresh emphasis on helping developers build custom apps on the Adobe Experience Cloud. Jason Woosley, VP of developer experience and commerce at Adobe says that the pandemic has […]

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Some Google Search Rivals Lose Footing on Android System

search - Posted On:2020-09-28 10:59:56 Source: slashdot

A system Google set up to promote competition on Android has left some smaller search engines having trouble gaining traction, fueling rivals' complaints about the tech giant's compliance with a European Union antitrust decision ahead of potential U.S. charges. From a report: Since March, Alphabet-owned Google has been showing people in Europe who set up new mobile devices running the company's Android operating system what it calls a "choice screen," a list of rival search engines that they can select as the device's default. The system is part of Google's compliance with a 2018 decision that found the company used Android's dominance to strong-arm phone makers into pre-installing its search engine. But some small search engines that are relatively popular in Europe failed to win spots in large European countries in the latest round of auctions to appear on the choice screen, according to people familiar with the results. The results, which cover the fourth quarter of the year, are set to be announced on Monday. DuckDuckGo, maker of a U.S.-based search engine that doesn't collect data about its users, lost the auction in all but four small European countries, the people said. Berlin-based Ecosia, which donates most of its profit to planting trees, also didn't win a slot in any large European country, the people added. The major winners of the auctions -- which offer three spots in each of 31 countries to outside search engines -- include Microsoft's Bing, as well as a handful of other small search engines, the people said. Google doesn't participate in the auctions but is offered automatically as a choice in every country along with the auction winners. The elimination of some smaller search engines gives fodder to Google rivals who have complained that the company has crafted its compliance with the EU's antitrust decisions in ways that don't fundamentally change the competitive landscape. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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REvil ransomware deposits $1 million in hacker recruitment drive

Security - Posted On:2020-09-28 10:44:57 Source: bleepingcomputer

The REvil Ransomware (Sodinokibi) operation has deposited $1 million in bitcoins on a Russian-speaking hacker forum to prove to potential affiliates that they mean business. [...]

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UHS hospitals hit by reported country-wide Ryuk ransomware attack

Security - Posted On:2020-09-28 10:44:57 Source: bleepingcomputer

Universal Health Services (UHS), a Fortune 500 hospital and healthcare services provider, has reportedly shut down systems at healthcare facilities around the US after a cyber-attack that hit its network during early Sunday morning. [...]

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Thick clouds scrub SpaceX launch of 12th operational Starlink mission [Updated]

Science - Posted On:2020-09-28 10:44:56 Source: arstechnica

10:25am CT Update: Monday morning's launch attempt of the Starlink-12 mission was scrubbed in the last moments of the countdown due to thick clouds over the launch site at Kennedy Space Center. SpaceX does not have a back-up launch window for this mission because there are two launches scheduled over the next two days.

Having fixed an issue with its retraction arm at Launch Complex-37, United Launch Alliance has an opportunity to launch the NROL-44 mission on its Delta IV Heavy rocket at 12:02am ET on Tuesday (04:02 UTC). And SpaceX has the launch of a GPS III satellite planned from its other Florida launch pad on Tuesday night, at 9:55pm ET (01:55 UTC Wednesday).

Original post: SpaceX returns to its launch pad at Kennedy Space Center on Monday for its twelfth launch of operational Starlink satellites. The mission is scheduled to lift off from Launch Complex-39A at 10:22am ET (14:22 UTC). Weather conditions are 70-percent favorable for liftoff.

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FarmVille—yes, the original—is finally meeting its demise

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2020-09-28 10:44:56 Source: arstechnica

You may have thought it was already dead, but today the developer of FarmVille, arguably the first Facebook game to become a true sensation, announced that the game is finally meeting its end.

"Following an incredible 11 years since its initial launch back in 2009, we are officially announcing the closure of the original FarmVille game on Facebook," Zynga said this morning. Players will be able to keep making in-app purchases through November 17; after that point, payments and refunds will be suspended but users will still be able to play through December 31, at which point FarmVille shuts the barn doors for good.

The timing isn't exactly Zynga's choosing: a decade ago, games of that ilk were usually built using Adobe Flash. Flash has for several years notoriously been a complete security disaster, and Adobe said back in 2017 it would finally kill off Flash at the end of 2020. That time is now upon us.

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In Internet Dead Zones, Rural Schools Struggle With Distanced Learning

technology - Posted On:2020-09-28 10:14:57 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader shares a report: The past seven months have been a big strain on families like Mandi Boren's. The Borens are cattle ranchers on a remote slice of land near Idaho's Owyhee Mountains. They have four kids -- ranging from a first grader to a sophomore in high school. When the lockdown first hit, Boren first thought it might be a good thing. Home schooling temporarily could be more efficient, plus there'd be more family time and help with the chores. "I thought, I'll be able to get my kids' schooling done in a few hours and then they'll be to work with dad, and no problem it will be great," Boren says, chuckling. "Well, it didn't turn out so great." That's because all four kids -- in addition to Boren, who telecommutes -- were suddenly plugged into the family's satellite Internet, which is spotty on a good day. You can forget trying to use Zoom or Google Classroom. "I soon found out that our Internet speeds were so slow, we had to spread it out all week long actually," Boren says. "We were doing schooling on Saturdays and Sundays as well." Her kids started back to school in person, at least for now. Across the country as American schools struggle with whether to reopen or stay virtual, many rural districts are worried their students will fall even further behind than their city peers. This pandemic has shone a glaring light on a lot of inequalities. The federal government estimates that more than a third of rural America has little or no Internet. In numerous recent interviews, educators have told NPR they're concerned the rural-urban divide will only worsen if kids can't get online to learn. This past spring, when the lockdowns began, many rural districts amid the crisis had to resort to delivering paper copies of school work to students who didn't have Internet or cell phone service at home. "I don't know why anybody would rationally think 'we can just hand you a packet, and here you're going to go teach yourself,' that's basically what was going on," says Dr. Leslie Molina, principal at McDermitt Combined Schools in northern Nevada. She says all 105 of her students qualify for free or reduced lunch. Most live on the Fort McDermitt Reservation and about 75% have no Internet access at home. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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iOS and iPadOS 14 review: iPhone transformation, iPad iteration

Features - Posted On:2020-09-28 09:29:57 Source: arstechnica

For a couple of years now, we’ve heard that Apple kept putting off a big home screen overhaul for iOS as it struggled with improving its development process to reduce the number of bugs that ship with its big annual releases like iOS 12 or iOS 13.

After those delays, iOS 14 finally brings that home screen renovation to fruition. Apple has introduced home screen widgets in a variety of sizes, given users new ways to manage their apps, and introduced a non-home screen place to put installed apps.

If your first reaction to those features is that they sound a lot like Android, you’re not wrong—but as usual, Apple has implemented them in its own way. So which is better for users—the recently released Android 11, or iOS 14, which hit devices only a week later?

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Skydio partners with EagleView for autonomous residential roof inspections via drone

Enterprise - Posted On:2020-09-28 09:14:57 Source: techcrunch

Skydio only just recently announced its expansion into the enterprise and commercial market with hardware and software tools for its autonomous drone technology, and now it’s taking the lid off a brand new big partnership with one commercial partner. Skydio will work with EagleView to deploy automated residential roof inspection using Skydio drones, with service […]

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Xbox Series X hands-on: The big back-compat dive begins

Features - Posted On:2020-09-28 09:14:57 Source: arstechnica

What good is a next-gen console without any "new" video games to play on it?

That question loomed as I unpacked an Xbox Series X console at my home office last week, nearly two months before its $499 retail launch on November 10. Such early access to a state-of-the-art gaming machine surely comes with some concession, and in my case, that was a severe asterisk on its compatible content. Unlike other console-preview opportunities I've had in my career, this one didn't come with a single new or freshly updated game in the box.

The funny thing is, this is exactly what I'd asked for.

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Tiger Lake is coming in Dell XPS 13, XPS 13 DE, and XPS 13 2-in-1

Tech - Posted On:2020-09-28 09:14:57 Source: arstechnica

The latest update to Dell's XPS 13 product line will be available beginning Wednesday, September 30, and will feature 11th-generation Intel CPUs, aka Tiger Lake. We know a lot of AMD fans are going to be disappointed at no Team Red option—honestly, we're a little disappointed, too; we've been extremely impressed with this year's AMD Renoir laptop CPUs.

However disappointed AMD fans might be, Tiger Lake represents a pretty massive upgrade from last year's Ice Lake and Comet Lake lineup, as we saw directly when we had the chance to test a prototype Tiger Lake laptop earlier this month. The four core/eight thread i7-1185G7 we expect in the highest-end XPS 13 models might not be a match for an eight core/sixteen thread Ryzen 7 4800U—but it hangs pretty even with an eight core/eight thread Ryzen 7 4700U, even on massively multithreaded workloads.

Meanwhile, not every workload is massively multi-threaded—and the Tiger Lake i7 we tested demonstrated extremely fast single-threaded performance. More importantly, its Xe integrated graphics were far and away the highest performing iGPU we've ever seen—they aren't ready to take the place of a gamer's Nvidia RTX series discrete GPU, but we suspect they sounded a death knell for Nvidia's cheaper MX series of discrete laptop GPUs.

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Judge grants TikTok a reprieve, ban will not go into effect tonight [Updated]

Policy - Posted On:2020-09-28 08:14:57 Source: arstechnica

Update, 9:00pm: In the 8:00 hour, Judge Carl Nichols of the US District Court for DC granted TikTok's request for a preliminary injunction on the ban, meaning the app will not be removed from app stores tonight.

The judge did not address the parts of the ban slated to go into effect on November 12, which would render TikTok effectively useless inside the United States.

The majority of Nichols' order is currently sealed; both sides have until 11:00 Monday morning to tell the court if they think it can be unsealed.

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