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Geek

Can SpaceX's Starlink Broadband System Deliver Less Than 100ms Latency?

Slashdot - Sat, 06/13/2020 - 03:00
Proudrooster writes: Can SpaceX's Starlink deliver less than 100ms latency? That is the $16 billion dollar question as the FCC looks to pump more money into rural broadband (PDF). Will rural America ever get broadboand? What will America get for giving billions of dollars to incumbent providers? Is this all just FUD or a publicity stunt by the FCC to stop states from building out their own networks? Will American's continue to pay the highest prices on earth for broadband? Will broadband and Internet access ever be considered a human right. So many questions, so few answers. Stay tuned. "FCC Chairman Ajit Pai backed off a plan that would have completely prevented SpaceX and other LEO companies from applying for rural-broadband funding as low-latency providers," reports Ars Technica. "But the FCC's full order was released today and suggests that SpaceX will have a tough time convincing the commission that its service will deliver latencies below the FCC standard of 100ms." The FCC has "serious doubts that any low-Earth orbit networks will be able to meet the short-form application requirements for bidding in the low-latency tier" and that companies like SpaceX thus face a high chance of being rejected when they apply for funding as low-latency providers: "Service providers that intend to use low-Earth orbit satellites claim that the latency of their technology is "dictated by the laws of physics" due to the altitude of the satellite's orbit. We remain skeptical that the altitude of a satellite's orbit is the sole determinant of a satellite applicant's ability to meet the Commission's low-latency performance requirements. As commenters have explained, the latency experienced by customers of a specific technology is not merely a matter of the physics of one link in the transmission. Propagation delay in a satellite network does not alone account for latency in other parts of the network such as processing, routing, and transporting traffic to its destination. Short-form applicants seeking to bid as a low-latency provider using low-Earth orbit satellite networks will face a substantial challenge demonstrating to Commission staff that their networks can deliver real-world performance to consumers below the Commission's 100ms low-latency threshold." As Proudrooster mentioned, if SpaceX is rejected from the low-latency category, it "will be at a disadvantage in a reverse auction that will distribute $16 billion -- $1.6 billion yearly, over ten years -- from the Rural Digital Opportunity Fund (RDOF)," the report says. "The FCC will prioritize low-latency networks when awarding funding, so SpaceX and other LEO providers could come up short against terrestrial networks. Even DSL providers would have an advantage over LEO networks in funding battles if the satellite companies are placed in the FCC's high-latency category."

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Many Police Departments Have Software That Can Identify People In Crowds

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 23:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News: As protesters demand an end to police brutality and the coronavirus pandemic sweeps the nation, police departments around the country are using software that can track and identify people in crowds from surveillance footage -- often with little to no public oversight or knowledge. Dozens of cities around the country are using BriefCam, which sells software that allows police to comb through surveillance footage to monitor protests and enforce social distancing, and almost all of these cities have hosted protests against police brutality in the weeks since George Floyd was killed in police custody, BuzzFeed News has found. Some of the cities using BriefCam's technology -- such as New Orleans and St. Paul -- have been the site of extreme police violence, with officers using rubber bullets, tear gas, and batons on protesters. Authorities in Chicago; Boston; Detroit; Denver; Doral, Florida; Hartford, Connecticut; and Santa Fe County, New Mexico have also used it. Founded in 2007 by Hebrew University researchers and now owned by camera company Canon, the Israel-based company sells a system called "Protect & Insights" that lets police and private companies filter hours of closed circuit television and home surveillance and create excerpts of a few relevant moments. Protect & Insights has built-in facial recognition and license plate reader searches, and lets police create "Watch Lists" of faces and license plates. The company also said its tool could filter out "men, women, children, clothing, bags, vehicles, animals, size, color, speed, path, direction, dwell time, and more." [...] There are currently no federal guidelines restricting the use of video analytics, license plate reader, and facial recognition software offered by companies like BriefCam. Neema Singh Guliani a senior legislative counsel with the ACLU said that city governments often acquire these technologies without public oversight or debate.

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Young US Men Having a Lot Less Sex In the 21st Century, Study Shows

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 22:02
Sexual activity among young American men has declined sharply since 2000, with nearly a third reporting no sex with a partner in the prior year, according to a survey study published on Friday that suggests social media and electronic gaming might be filling the void. Reuters reports: The survey found that from 2000 to 2018, nearly one in three U.S. men aged 18 to 24 reported no sexual activity in the past year. Lack of sexual activity, or sexual inactivity, was also on the rise among men and women aged 25 to 34 years during the survey period, the report in the journal JAMA Network Open found. Possible reasons for the decline in sexual frequency may also include stress of juggling work and intimate relationships, as well as the prevalence of other forms of solo entertainment. "There are now many more choices of things to do in the late evening than there once were and fewer opportunities to initiate sexual activity if both partners are engrossed in social media, electronic gaming, or binge watching," Jean Twenge, from the department of psychology in San Diego State University said in an editorial accompanying the report.

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Amazon, Pushing Fashion, Opened Photo Studio As a 'Warehouse' Exemption

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 21:25
The New York Times reports that Amazon was playing fast and loose with the rules by opening up a fashion photo studio, claiming it could open under state rules that allowed warehouses and fulfillment operations to operate as essential businesses. From the report: A few days after The Times asked the state about the open studio, Amazon closed it. A manager told employees that someone in state government had given the company a heads-up that it may need to comply with an unspecified new policy. The studio remains closed. Photo studios, even those related to e-commerce, were not considered essential and should not be open for business in New York City, said Jack Sterne, a spokesman for the state. Local governments can fine businesses up to $10,000 for violating the state's executive order. An Amazon spokeswoman, Rachael Lighty, said that health and safety were "our top concern." She said the company continued "to work closely with local health authorities and the city and state of New York to ensure that all of our businesses are operating under state regulations and health guidelines." But when pressed, she did not provide more details on whom specifically Amazon had consulted about whether it could open. Reopening the studio shows how Amazon has pressed ahead during the pandemic, looking to right its operations quickly after the virus initially caught it on its heels. The push to take advantage of its warehousing operations, when physical retailers were closed, was particularly evident in areas where it has long struggled, like high-end fashion. Sales across the clothing industry fell when the pandemic arrived in the United States, but the open studio gave Amazon access to new products and let it demonstrate its abilities as the demand for fashion returned.

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Categories: Geek

WarnerMedia Is Getting Rid of the HBO Go App

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 20:45
The Verge reports that WarnerMedia is getting rid of the HBO Go app in an attempt to reduce some of the confusion about which app is for which purpose. From the report: HBO Max is AT&T's new streaming service that lets you access the entire HBO library plus additional content like Cartoon Network shows and the Studio Ghibli movies. You can subscribe to HBO Max directly for a $14.99 monthly fee, but it's also offered for free from many cable providers if you subscribe to HBO, and it's free as part of some AT&T wireless, internet, or TV plans. A key thing to know is that HBO Max is really an expanded and rebranded version of HBO Now, the company's previous streaming-only service. On most platforms, like Apple TV, the HBO Now app was directly updated to become HBO Max. Before HBO Max existed, cable subscribers could stream HBO shows using an app called HBO Go. WarnerMedia will be getting rid of that app (or "sunsetting" it, in WarnerMedia's language) from "primary platforms" as of July 31st. If you previously relied on HBO Go, many cable providers will already let you log in to HBO Max. You can see that full list here. That "primary platforms" language is important, because WarnerMedia still hasn't struck deals to bring HBO Max to Roku or Amazon streaming devices. On those platforms, WarnerMedia is not upgrading the HBO Now app to become HBO Max. Instead, it's rebranding to simply be "HBO," where it will still cost $14.99, even though you'll only be able to watch HBO content on it and not the expanded HBO Max catalog. This branding switch will be happening over the coming months, according to WarnerMedia.

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Categories: Geek

Spies Can Eavesdrop By Watching a Light Bulb's Vibrations

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 20:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: Researchers from Israeli's Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Weizmann Institute of Science today revealed a new technique for long-distance eavesdropping they call "lamphone." They say it allows anyone with a laptop and less than a thousand dollars of equipment -- just a telescope and a $400 electro-optical sensor -- to listen in on any sounds in a room that's hundreds of feet away in real-time, simply by observing the minuscule vibrations those sounds create on the glass surface of a light bulb inside. By measuring the tiny changes in light output from the bulb that those vibrations cause, the researchers show that a spy can pick up sound clearly enough to discern the contents of conversations or even recognize a piece of music. In their experiments, the researchers placed a series of telescopes around 80 feet away from a target office's light bulb, and put each telescope's eyepiece in front of a Thorlabs PDA100A2 electro-optical sensor. They then used an analog-to-digital converter to convert the electrical signals from that sensor to digital information. While they played music and speech recordings in the faraway room, they fed the information picked up by their set-up to a laptop, which analyzed the readings. The researchers found that the tiny vibrations of the light bulb in response to sound -- movements that they measured at as little as a few hundred microns -- registered as a measurable changes in the light their sensor picked up through each telescope. After processing the signal through software to filter out noise, they were able to reconstruct recordings of the sounds inside the room with remarkable fidelity: They showed, for instance, that they could reproduce an audible snippet of a speech from President Donald Trump well enough for it to be transcribed by Google's Cloud Speech API. They also generated a recording of the Beatles' "Let It Be" clear enough that the name-that-tune app Shazam could instantly recognize it. There are some limitations. "In their tests, the researchers used a hanging bulb, and it's not clear if a bulb mounted in a fixed lamp or a ceiling fixture would vibrate enough to derive the same sort of audio signal," the report adds. "The voice and music recordings they used in their demonstrations were also louder than the average human conversation, with speakers turned to their maximum volume." With that said, the teams says that "they also used a relatively cheap electro-optical sensor and analog-to-digital converter, and could have upgraded to a more expensive one to pick up quieter conversations," reports Wired. "LED bulbs also offer a signal-to-noise ratio that's about 6.3 times that of an incandescent bulb and 70 times a fluorescent one."

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Apple Removes Two Podcast Apps From China Store After Censorship Demands

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 19:20
Apple has removed two podcast apps from its Chinese app store, following government pressure to censor content. The Guardian reports: Pocket Casts and Castro were both pulled from distribution in China after the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) demanded that the apps stop allowing content that breached the country's restrictive speech laws. "We believe podcasting is and should remain an open medium, free of government censorship," Pocket Casts said. "As such we won't be censoring podcast content at their request. "We understand this means that it's unlikely that our iOS app will be available in China, but feel it's a necessary step to take for any company that values the open distribution model that makes podcasting special." Pocket Casts said it was contacted by the CAC through Apple "around two days before the app was removed from the store." Castro Podcasts said it was not given a specific reason for its removal, but that it thought it may have been to do with the promotion of Hong Kong's protests in its "discover" section.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Windows 10's Latest Updates Are Causing Havoc On Printers

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 18:40
Windows 10 received its monthly host of security patches earlier this week, and the latest cumulative updates are causing serious problems with printers -- particularly Ricoh devices, but also other models. TechRadar reports: The so-called 'Patch Tuesday' fixes released earlier in the week which are causing chaos are KB4557957 and KB4560960, which are for the May 2020 Update and the November 2019 Update. (Note that in one case, KB4561608, for the October 2018 Update, is also mentioned). As one Ricoh owner observed on Reddit: "Has anyone had issues today with printing and the latest Windows update [KB4560960]? We're seeing problems with Ricoh printers that were previously stable. Changing the print driver seems to help but that's going to be a pain if I have to roll it out to too many clients." Other folks with Ricoh printers have chimed in on that thread with similar issues in terms of breaking printer functionality completely, or elements of it, such as causing wireless printing to fail. Further reports of printer failures include Brother and Canon devices, as well as some Kyocera, HP, Toshiba and Panasonic models. A network technician for a mainly Ricoh dealership also contributed to that Reddit thread, and noted: "After an abundance of service calls these last 2 days, I can confidently say PCL5 [driver] does not work at all, regardless of driver age. Installing the newest version of the PCL6 universal driver *does* seem to work. Not a realistic approach to servicing hundreds of clients, but at least new clients setup before the new patch should be okay." Another solution is to simply uninstall the cumulative update. Thankfully, Microsoft is already working on a fix.

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Categories: Geek

Facebook testing Face ID and Touch ID lock for Messenger app on iOS

9to5Mac - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 18:07

Facebook Messenger users will soon be able to lock their messages on iOS. The company is implementing the option to require Face ID and Touch authentication in order to access the user’s inbox with a future update.

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The post Facebook testing Face ID and Touch ID lock for Messenger app on iOS appeared first on 9to5Mac.

Categories: Geek

Hacker Bypasses GE's Ridiculous Refrigerator DRM

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 18:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Earlier this year, we brought you the sordid tale of the GE refrigerator that won't dispense filtered water unless consumers pay extra for "official" filters from the company. This sort of digital rights management and artificial, software-enforced monopoly is a scourge on consumer rights. Now, finally, a fed up customer has found a way to bypass GE's refrigerator DRM, and has posted instructions online. The anonymous person registered a website called gefiltergate.com, and explained that by swapping the RFID tag from an official GE refrigerator to a third-party filter they bought on Amazon, they can get the refrigerator to continue filtering water as normal. For reference, third-party filters cost as little as $13; GE filters cost $55. I'm gonna go ahead and call this a "hack," because they're bypassing an artificial software lock to circumvent DRM, which is, at least in spirit, a hack, and a cool one at that. The hack was also done by Jack Busch over at GroovyPost last month. To make your fridge use "unauthorized" filters, you need to take the old filter out, flip it over, and carefully remove the RFID chip. This chip tells the fridge that it's a "real" filter. This chip is glued down, and the person on gefiltergate suggested that rather than try to pry it up, you can simply cut around it with a Dremel or a saw. They then taped the RFID chip to the circuit board that checks whether a filter is authorized. This then allows them to use third-party filters, no problem. As Busch explains in his blog post, the refrigerator will say "not filtering," but it will dispense water that goes through the new filter, so it does indeed work.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Apple renames Buchanan Street store as Glasgow calls for racial justice

9to5Mac - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 17:31

Apple today changed the name of one of its Scottish retail stores from Apple Buchanan Street to Apple Glasgow. The quiet change comes at a moment when the world is reflecting on issues of deep-rooted inequality, and Apple has recommitted to challenging systemic barriers to opportunity and dignity.

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Categories: Geek

Scientists Have Discovered Vast Unidentified Structures Deep Inside the Earth

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 17:23
Scientists combed through nearly 30 years of earthquake data to probe huge and mysterious objects near the Earth's core. From a report: Scientists have discovered a vast structure made of dense material occupying the boundary between Earth's liquid outer core and the lower mantle, a zone some 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) beneath our feet. The researchers used a machine learning algorithm that was originally developed to analyze distant galaxies to probe the mysterious phenomenon occurring deep within our own planet, according to a paper published on Thursday in Science. One of these enormous anomalies, located deep under the Marquesas Islands, had never been detected before, while another structure beneath Hawaii was found to be much larger than previously estimated. Scientists led by Doyeon Kim, a seismologist and postdoctoral fellow at the University of Maryland, fed seismograms captured from hundreds of earthquakes that occurred between 1990 to 2018 into an algorithm called Sequencer. While seismological studies tend to focus on relatively small datasets of regional earthquake activity, Sequencer allowed Kim and his colleagues to analyze 7,000 measurements of earthquakes -- each with a magnitude of at least 6.5 -- that shook the subterranean world under the Pacific Ocean within the past three decades. "This study is very special because, for the first time, we get to systematically look at such a large dataset that actually covers more or less the entire Pacific basin," Kim said in a call. Though scientists have previously mapped out structures deep inside Earth, this study presents a rare opportunity to "bring everything in together and try to explain it in a global context," he noted.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Review: Flo by Moen monitors your whole home’s plumbing with automatic shutoff and iPhone control

9to5Mac - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 17:10

Smart home devices can improve our lives in a variety of ways but most of them don’t have the ability to protect our abodes from thousands of dollars of damage. While a smart water shutoff device isn’t something you hear near as much about as smart lights, locks, cameras, etc. it’s an addition that can offer some serious peace of mind with automatic leak protection and the ability to control your home’s water main from your iPhone. And another benefit is being able to track how much water you use, even down to the fixture type. Read on for our full review of the Flo by Moen Smart Water Shutoff and Smart Water Detector.

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Categories: Geek

‘Originate’ app lets you create AR parallax drawings with your iPhone and iPad

9to5Mac - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 16:57

There are several professional art tools available for iPhone and iPad, but sometimes you may just want an app to create something fun. With Originate, which is from the same developer of the Cosmicast app, you can create drawings in parallax and interact with them in AR.

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The post ‘Originate’ app lets you create AR parallax drawings with your iPhone and iPad appeared first on 9to5Mac.

Categories: Geek

Apple Arcade: Could a $4B purchase with Mortal Kombat and Batman Arkham upgrade the service?

9to5Mac - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 16:44

News broke this afternoon that AT&T-owned Warner Bros. is looking to sell its gaming division. Could this be a perfect opportunity for Apple to make its young gaming service more compelling with big titles like Mortal Kombat and Batman Arkham?

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The post Apple Arcade: Could a $4B purchase with Mortal Kombat and Batman Arkham upgrade the service? appeared first on 9to5Mac.

Categories: Geek

Pool Owners Take Up AI To Prevent Drownings

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 16:44
Homeowners and pool operators are turning to artificial intelligence for an extra layer of safety to prevent drownings in backyard and public pools. From a report: The detection systems, which use submerged cameras and a form of AI known as computer vision, analyze live videos of swimmers and send alerts if they spot a person who appears to be drowning. Jenny Naggatz, 33, of Gulf Breeze, Fla., installed an AI device from technology company Coral Detection Systems in her family's pool to safeguard her two children, both of whom are under 4. Coral Detection's triangle-shaped device sits in the corner of a pool with an attached camera hanging a few inches below the water surface. "It has definitely given me more peace of mind," Ms. Naggatz said. "I'm just as careful around the water as I would be without it, but it's just another layer of protection." The safety of young children around swimming pools remains a cause for concern, according to a U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission report released last week. On average, 379 children under 15 drowned each year in pools, spas or hot tubs from 2015 through 2017, the most recent statistics available, and hit a peak of 395 in 2017, the commission said. Noting that most child drownings occur at home during the summer months, the commission urged caution given that Covid-19 measures had confined more families to their homes and delayed the opening of public pools. AI drowning-detection products are not intended to replace adult supervision or lifeguards, but rather to serve as an extra safeguard.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Categories: Geek

Daily Deals: $5 Apple Watch bands, $9 Echo Dot speaker, $200 HomePod, and much more

iDownloadBlog - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 16:17

Welcome to our Daily Deals column, where we round up the best tech deals from around the web. Here you’ll find discounts on everything from Apple products to accessories, video games and much more. But you better hurry, these prices won’t be around forever!
Categories: Geek

Stalkerware Detection Rates Are Improving Across Antivirus Products

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 16:03
Detections rates for stalkerware applications on Android and Windows devices are slowly improving, according to the findings of a seven-month research project carried out by independent antivirus testing lab AV-Comparatives and the Electronic Frontier Foundation. From a report: The study, published earlier this week, took place in two phases, with the first in November 2019, and the second in May 2020. Researchers looked at how 10 Android mobile antivirus apps and 10 Windows antivirus products detected some of today's most prevalent stalkerware strains. The stalkerware strains, 20 on Android and 10 on Windows, were chosen by AV-Comparatives together with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), based on their popularity in the US. The study discovered that many antivirus companies have improved their detection rates between the November 2019 scan and May 2020.

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Categories: Geek

FCC Republican Voices Doubts About Trump's Executive Order

Slashdot - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 15:23
Republican Federal Communications Commissioner Mike O'Rielly said he's unsure whether his agency has the authority to carry out President Trump's executive order targeting tech firms' legal protections. From a report: Trump's order seeks to have the FCC craft regulations limiting the scope of legal immunity that online platforms have under federal law. All three commission Republicans would need to support such regulations for them to pass, as the FCC's two Democrats are certain to oppose them. In an interview Wednesday for C-SPAN's "The Communicators," O'Rielly told Axios he sympathizes with the president's claims that conservatives have been unfairly stifled online, but "what we do about that is a different story. I have deep reservations they provided any intentional authority for this matter, but I want to listen to people," O'Rielly said, later adding, "I do not believe it is the right of the agency to read into the statute authority that is not there."

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‘Fontcase’ open source app makes custom iPhone and iPad fonts easy and safe

9to5Mac - Fri, 06/12/2020 - 14:56

Official support for custom fonts came to iPhone and iPad with iOS 13/iPadOS 13, however, it’s a complex situation with one of the best (main) options requiring a paid Adobe Creative Cloud subscription. Today, Fontcase has launched as a great free open source app to bring custom fonts to your iPhone and iPad.

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