EFF Sues FBI For Records About Paid Best Buy Geek Squad Informants

See the original posting on Slashdot

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is suing the FBI for records “about the extent to which it directs and trains Best Buy employees to conduct warrantless searches of people’s devices.” The lawsuit stems around an incident in 2011 where a gynecology doctor took his computer for repairs at Best Buy’s Geek Squad. The repair technician was a paid FBI informant that found child pornography on the doctor’s computer, ultimately resulting in the doctor being charged with possessing child pornography. From the EFF’s report: A federal prosecution of a doctor in California revealed that the FBI has been working for several years to cultivate informants in Best Buy’s national repair facility in Brooks, Kentucky, including reportedly paying eight Geek Squad employees as informants. According to court records in the prosecution of the doctor, Mark Rettenmaier, the scheme would work as follows: Customers with computer problems would take their devices to the Geek Squad for repair. Once Geek Squad employees had the devices, they would surreptitiously search the unallocated storage space on the devices for evidence of suspected child porn images and then report any hits to the FBI for criminal prosecution. Court records show that some Geek Squad employees received $500 or $1,000 payments from the FBI. At no point did the FBI get warrants based on probable cause before Geek Squad informants conducted these searches. Nor are these cases the result of Best Buy employees happening across potential illegal content on a device and alerting authorities. Rather, the FBI was apparently directing Geek Squad workers to conduct fishing expeditions on people’s devices to find evidence of criminal activity. Prosecutors would later argue, as they did in Rettenmaier’s case, that because private Geek Squad personnel conducted the searches, there was no Fourth Amendment violation. The judge in Rettenmaier’s case appeared to agree with prosecutors, ruling earlier this month that because the doctor consented both orally and in writing to the Geek Squad’s search of his device, their search did not amount to a Fourth Amendment violation. The court, however, threw out other evidence against Rettenmaier after ruling that FBI agents misstated key facts in the application for a warrant to search his home and smartphone. We disagree with the court’s ruling that Rettenmaier consented to a de-facto government search of his devices when he sought Best Buy’s help to repair his computer. But the court’s ruling demonstrates that law enforcement agents are potentially exploiting legal ambiguity about when private searches become government action that appears intentionally designed to try to avoid the Fourth Amendment.

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Amazon Is Refunding Up To $70 Million In-App Purchases Made By Kids

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The Federal Trade Commission announced that refunds are now available for parents whose children made in-app purchases without their knowledge. Amazon dropped its appeal of last year’s ruling by a federal judge who sided with the Federal Trade Commission in the agency’s lawsuit again Amazon. According to a TechCrunch report, “the FTC’s original complaint said that Amazon should be liable for millions of dollars it charged customers, because of the way its Appstore software was designed — that is, it allowed kids to spend unlimited amounts of money in games and other apps without requiring parental consent.” CNNMoney reports: According to the FTC, more than $70 million in charges may be eligible for refunds on in-app purchases made between November 2011 and May 2016. In 2014, Apple and Google refunded customers whose children made purchases in their mobile app stores, and the companies were forced to be more explicit about in-app purchases. Both firms no longer call apps “free” when they are free to download but have upgrades you can buy. Amazon sent eligible consumers an email to receive a refund. If you didn’t get one and think you should be eligible, you can click here, or go to the Message Center to find out more information.

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Tim Cook reportedly urged Trump not to withdraw US from Paris climate deal

See the original posting on The Verge

President Donald Trump has yet to make a formal announcement on whether the US will remain part of the world’s largest climate commitment, but Apple CEO Tim Cook today joined the growing list of executives calling Trump to ask him not to back out. According to Bloomberg, Cook placed a call to the White House yesterday to try and convince the president that the 2015 Paris Agreement, which aims to lower greenhouse gases and mitigate the risks of climate change, was in the best interest of the country’s economic sector. News of Trump privately coming to the decision to withdraw the US from the agreement was first reported by Axios early this morning.

Cook’s plea aligns with that of more than 25 major companies’ executives who have all…

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Build Your Own DevExtreme

See the original posting on DZone Python

I want to tell you about a set of JavaScript UI widgets available on GitHub that my team and I work on daily. Specifically, my goal is to help you:

First, some background. DevExtreme is a UI component suite for front-end development and it’s been around for years as a commercial product. Recently, we moved the library to GitHub and it’s now available to use for free (if you’ve got a non-commercial project).

Hollywood Is Fighting Billionaire Sean Parker’s Plan To Let You Rent Movies Still in Theaters For $50

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Billionaire Sean Parker’s plans to bring movies to your home as soon as they release in theatres has hit new roadblocks. After receiving praises for “Screening Room” from directors and producers Steven Spielberg, Ron Howard, J.J. Abrams, and Peter Jackson, as well as Hollywood studios, the buzz for the startup has started to wane. From a report: Though Parker and cofounder Prem Akkaraju have promoted the company in the last two years at CinemaCon, it’s gotten little traction due to a naivete of the industry, competitors, and studios’ and theater chains’ decade-long discussion about how to move forward on Premium VOD (PVOD) (alternative source), Business Insider has learned. “Everything you’ve heard in the press about studios and theaters wanting to explore a PVOD window, nothing about that revolves around Screening Room,” a source close to the talks told Business Insider. Screening Room’s main pitch to studios and exhibitors has been that it can bring added revenue to all sides of the equation. Out of the proposed $50 rental fee, 20% would go to the movie’s distributor, and a participating theater chain would get up to $20 of the fee, plus each customer receives two tickets to see that rented title at their local theater. Screening Room would take 10% of each fee. Sources told Business Insider that all of the bells and whistles Screening Room is selling don’t matter until the studios and theaters can agree on a Premium VOD (or PVOD) window. Industry players don’t want movies to be available on PVOD simultaneously with theatrical release dates because the first two weeks of a theatrical run are still when studios and exhibitors get a majority of a movie’s income. Also read: Sean Parker Is Going To Great Lengths To Ensure ‘Screening Room’ Is Piracy Free, Patents Reveal.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Mary Meeker’s 2017 Internet Trends Report

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Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner Mary Meeker delivered her annual rapid-fire internet trends report at Code Conference. Here’s the summary: 1. Global smartphone growth is slowing: Smartphone shipments grew 3 percent year over year last year, versus 10 percent the year before. 2. Voice is beginning to replace typing in online queries. Twenty percent of mobile queries were made via voice in 2016, while accuracy is now about 95 percent. 3. In 10 years, Netflix went from 0 to more than 30 percent of home entertainment revenue in the U.S. This is happening while TV viewership continues to decline. 4. Entrepreneurs are often fans of gaming, Meeker said, quoting Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman and Mark Zuckerberg. Global interactive gaming is becoming mainstream, with 2.6 billion gamers in 2017 versus 100 million in 1995. 5. China remains a fascinating market, with huge growth in mobile services and payments and services like on-demand bike sharing. 6. While internet growth is slowing globally, that’s not the case in India, the fastest growing large economy. The number of internet users in India grew more than 28 percent in 2016. 7. In the U.S. in 2016, 60 percent of the most highly valued tech companies were founded by first- or second-generation Americans and are responsible for 1.5 million employees. Those companies include tech titans Apple, Alphabet, Amazon and Facebook. 8. Healthcare: Wearables are gaining adoption with about 25 percent of Americans owning one, up 12 percent from 2016.

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Ethiopia Turns Off Internet Nationwide as Students Sit Exams

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Ethiopia shut down the internet yesterday ahead of a scheduled national examination that is underway in the country today. Social media users noted that the internet service was interrupted from around 7 pm on Tuesday — reportedly to prevent exam leaks. About 1.2 million students are taking the grade 10 national exams, with another 288,000 preparing for the grade 12 university entrance exams that will take place next week. From a report: Outbound traffic from Ethiopia was shutdown around 4pm UK time on Tuesday, according to Google’s transparency report, which registered Ethiopian visits to the company’s sites plummeting over the evening. By Wednesday afternoon, access still had not been restored. Last year, activists leaked the papers for the country’s 12th grade national exams, calling for the postponement of the papers due to a school shutdown in the regional state of Oromia. Now, the government appears to have taken the move to shut down internet access as a preventative measure.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Elon Musk Joins CEOs Calling For US To Stay in Paris Climate Deal

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Billionaire Elon Musk said on Wednesday he would leave President Trump’s Business Advisory Council if the White House withdraws from an international agreement aimed at curbing climate change. From a report: The appeals from chief executives such as Tesla’s Musk, Tim Cook of Apple and Dow Chemical’s Andrew Liveris come as Trump’s advisers also present him with closing arguments on the potential risks and rewards of remaining a party to the global pact. Trump also got an earful from foreign leaders and Pope Francis urging him to stay in the agreement during his first international trip as president. Cook placed a call to the White House on Tuesday to urge the president to keep the U.S. in the agreement, according to a person familiar with the move. Liveris was the driving force behind a letter from 30 major company executives backing the deal. And Musk tweeted Wednesday that he has “done all I can to advise directly to” Trump. If the U.S. leaves Paris, Musk said he would drop participation in White House advisory councils. […] Twenty-five companies, including Intel, Microsoft and PG&E, have signed on to a letter set to run as a full-page advertisement in the New York Times and Wall Street Journal on Thursday arguing in favor of climate pact.

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HDMI Out on the Gameboy Advance

See the original posting on Hackaday

The Gameboy line of handheld systems from Nintendo have been wildly popular, but lack one major thing – a video output. This can be troublesome if you’d like to view the games on a bigger screen, for more comfortable gaming sessions or detail work like producing chiptunes. One option is to use the Gameboy Player for the Gamecube, however that system’s age means you’re out of luck if you want a crisp, clear picture on a modern digital display. Wouldn’t it be great if you could get HDMI output from a Gameboy Advance Instead?

When it comes to working with …read more

Pokémon fans are not thrilled poor little Magikarp can die

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The Pokémon Company International’s new mobile game, Magikarp Jump, is about raising the series’s most unloved fish into the best jumper it can be. Magikarp swims around its own little pond and gleefully gobbles snacks. It trains by bashing its face into punching bags. It gets itself into trouble. It dies.

Yes, Magikarp can die, and much like the demise of their very first goldfish, players have mourned the death of their Magikarp with surprise, confusion, and a little anger.

The Pokémon series has always been low-key about showing death on-screen. There are tragic stories scattered throughout the game’s lore. Cubone is a grieving creature that wears its dead mother’s skull. There’s a ghost-filled tower in Lavender Town where trainers…

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Epic! raises $8 million to keep kids reading in a digital age

See the original posting on TechCrunch

 The makers of Epic!, one of many apps jockeying to become a “Netflix for books,” have raised $8 million in a round led by Reach Capital, the education-specialized venture firm. Epic! at its core is an on-demand digital library that includes about 25,000 different books and videos appropriate for kids in elementary school, or between the ages of about five and twelve. Read More

Huawei Launching Two New Clamshell Laptops: The MateBook X and the MateBook D

See the original posting on Anandtech

On the back of the launch of the MateBook last year, Huawei is launching a new generation using the latest hardware and diversifying the brand.  As an upgrade from a single model last year, Huawei is expanding the MateBook like into three products. The MateBook X is a 13-inch ultraportable clamshell with a focus on style, thin bezels, and packing enough hardware underneath to go deep into the market. The MateBook E is the second generation 2-in-1, following on from the MateBook launched in 2016, with improvements all round, such as an adjustable hinge, a spill-proof keyboard, and bundled accessories. The third element is the MateBook D, a 15.6-inch clamshell aimed squarely at the student and business markets, featuring dual storage options and a discrete NVIDIA GPU but also going with the narrow bezel design similar to the MateBook X.

Primarily seen as a smartphone company for most of us, last year we saw the launch of the MateBook: a 12-inch 2-in-1 device with Huawei’s design ID in a thin and light form factor, but crucially a mark into the PC space. At the time, it was exciting to see a new entrant, especially one with the potential clout of Huawei: if you sell 106m+ smartphones a year, then putting some resources into a mobile PC should be something really interesting to watch. The 2016 MateBook was a good start – the visual aspect of the unit fit in neatly with the market, although there were a few hiccups for a first-generation product, such as the limited stand options, the tendency for the magnetic cover to put the device to sleep when in tablet mode, and the fact that the peak configurations were over $2000. Feedback was sought, about how Huawei should improve the products and how it should tackle this market better, and here are the results. This news covers the two laptops: the MateBook X and the MateBook D.

MateBook X: The Premium Clamshell

A common feature for technology journalists in this space, especially when discussing products with Chinese companies, is how the discussion usually comes to Apple’s success in the laptop market. They are in awe of the design, the utility, and the avid fanboyism that follows their products. As a result, some of the Chinese companies aim to compete in the same space – having a small slice of a large pie is still a large amount, even if it is a carrot cake. So when a user spots the MateBook X, thoughts instantly turn to if it is a Macbook Air/Macbook clone. Not quite, but it arguably looks like a premium competitor for users who want the Macbook form factor but in a Windows/PC environment.

The start of it is the aluminium clamshell, tapering to an almost point, with both the screen and the keyboard designed to try and take as much space as possible. One of the things Huawei wanted to emulate here is the thin bezel strategy, similar to the Dell XPS range, and coming in at 88% screen-to-body ratio is rather nice. There’s still a camera at the top, negating one of the issues with the XPS where the camera is pointing at your chin. The display is a 2160×1440 IPS panel (manufacturer not specified), with a 3:2 aspect ratio, wide viewing angles, and rated up to 1000:1 and 350 nits. Huawei also adds in 100% sRGB for good measure.

Huawei Matebook X
Size 13-inch
Display 2160 x 1440 IPS
178-degree viewing angles
100% sRGB
1000:1 Contrast Ratio
350 nits
CPUs Intel Core i5-7200U
Intel Core i7-7500U
(likely in cTDP Down mode)
GPU Intel HD Graphics 620
DRAM 4 GB LPDDR3 8 GB LPDDR3
Storage 256 GB PCIe 512 GB PCIe
Dimensions 286 x 211 x 12.5 mm
1.05 kg (2.31 lbs)
Connectivity 802.11ac with 2×2 MIMO (Intel AC 8165?)
with BT4.1
Battery 41.4 Wh (5449 mAh at 7.6 V)
Additional Features Two USB 3.0 Type-C Ports
3.5mm audio jack
Dolby Atmos Sound System
MateDock 2 Included
1MP Front Camera
Colors Space Gray
Prestige Gold
Rose Gold
Pricing Core i5 + 8 GB LPDDR3 + 256GB SSD: 1399 Euro
Core i5 + 8 GB LPDDR3 + 512GB SSD: 1599 Euro
Core i7 + 8 GB LPDDR3 + 512GB SSD: 1699 Euro

The heart of the MateBook X is Intel’s latest Kaby-Lake based 7th Generation CPUs, and Huawei likes to point out that while their competitors fit in the Kaby Lake-Y based processors (running at 4.5W), here Huawei is using the U based processors: the i7-7500U and i5-7200U. Technically these CPUs come out of the factory as 15W parts, but OEMs can configure the base clock in cTDP down mode for 7.5W/9.5W, which is what we suspect Huawei is doing here (awaiting confirmation). Using a U processors means getting HD 620 graphics, rather than HD 615, which should make the unit better for light graphical work. Nonetheless, users might be able to feel a base performance uplift compared to the 4.5W parts.

Storage comes via an integrated PCIe SSD, and depending on the configuration will either be 256GB or 512GB. We were unable to prize the details on who the supplier is for these drives, but we might get some hands-on time later to go through the system specifications on a demo unit. Memory is, unfortunately, a downside on the X: Huawei has decided to use LPDDR3 rather than DDR4, which means that the top spec unit hits 8GB (4GB also offered, we assume 2x2GB for dual channel) rather than 16GB which would make this device high up on a prosumer list. The debate about LPDDR3 and DDR4 at this level of device gets interesting – if one is in better supply than the other, power consumption (arguably DDR4 is much better, even though LPDDR3 has ‘low power’ in the name), power profiling, etc. It’s a discussion that I need to have with Huawei’s design teams, really – at 16GB it becomes an easy replacement for my Zenbook.

Going around the device, Huawei has supplied two USB Type-C ports, one of which can be used as a charging port&n

Supreme Court to Lexmark: when you sell something, the buyer then owns it

See the original posting on Boing Boing

Lexmark has spent nearly 20 years fighting the war on carbon, trying to stop you from refilling your laser printer cartridges. In 2003, they attempted to use the DMCA and DRM to argue that it was an act of piracy (the courts didn’t buy it) and then in 2015, they went all the way to the Supreme Court with the idea that you were violating their patent license terms if you treated the cartridges you purchased as though you owned them.
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Hotels Now See Online Travel Sites as Rivals

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Major hotel chains are engaging in an online turf war with the very travel sites that have helped drive their businesses. From a report: Marriott, Hilton and InterContinental are using extensive marketing campaigns to claw back business from Expedia, Priceline and other travel-booking sites, which steer customers to hotel properties but also take commissions of up to 30% for each reservation. The chains are starting to treat these sites less as valuable business partners and more as gatekeepers standing between them and their customers. Many large hotel brands are offering lower nightly rates and other perks to loyalty members who book directly through their sites instead of online travel agencies. […] The new battle is the latest episode in a two-decade “frenemy”-style relationship between online travel agencies and the hotel industry. Sites such as Expedia and Priceline were crucial for hotels during down periods such as after 9/11, but they have gradually eaten into the share of overall bookings ever since. Also read: Why Bargain Travel Sites May No Longer Be Bargains.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

How Facebook Praises and Pressures a Country’s Leader To Get Exactly What It Wants

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The Irish Independent has published correspondence between Facebook chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg and Irish prime minister Enda Kenny, obtained through a freedom of information law request. Facebook’s European headquarters are in Dublin, Ireland. The document reveals that Sheryl Sandberg lobbied Irish Prime Minister to influence Ireland’s choice of official who would regulate them. From a report: The documents provides a rare window into how one of the world’s most powerful technology companies conducts its business. In one email, after a meeting between Sandberg and Kenny at the annual World Economic Forum conference in Davos in early 2014, the Facebook executive praises the Irish politician’s position on a set of sweeping, new, Europe-wide data privacy laws. “You and your staff really internalized our concerns,” she writes. “And were able to present them in a reasonable way, which has had a positive impact.” After that compliment, Sandberg turns to the matter of global tax law reform at the OECD, which Kenny was also involved in. Here, she raises the prospect of Facebook shifting its investment strategy in Europe. After noting that the tax discussions would be “very complicated,” Sandberg wrote: “We hope to be helpful to you identifying the implications with different options for future investment and growth in Europe.” That suggestion came as Facebook was in the process of expanding its Dublin office and headcount.

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US Supreme Court Protects Consumers’ Right To Refill Ink Cartridges In Precedent-Setting Lexmark vs Impression Case

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The U.S. Supreme Court said on Tuesday companies give up their patent rights when they sell an item, in a ruling that puts new limits on businesses’ ability to prevent their products from being resold at a discount. The ruling is a defeat for Lexmark International, which was trying to stop refurbished versions of its printer cartridges from undercutting its U.S. sales. It’s also a blow to companies like HP and Canon that sell their printers for a relatively low cost with the idea that they will recoup money on sales of replacement cartridges. From a report: Lexmark originally set its sights on Impression Products, a small company that specializes in remanufacturing print cartridges for resale at prices much lower than what a customer would pay for a “genuine” Lexmark product. These cartridges often have no noticeable difference in performance compared to genuine ink or toner cartridges — the only real difference is that customers can save a lot of money by going the remanufactured route. This secondary market for cartridges not only has implications for regular Joes looking to save a buck, but also businesses that are always looking to cut costs.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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