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Industry & Technology

iPhone gains ground, but Android's still top dog - CNET - News - January 11, 2017 - 11:47pm
Google's mobile software continues to eat iPhone's lunch in the US, Europe and China, but Apple is catching up in key markets, according to a Kantar Worldpanel ComTech report.

LA Community College paid $28,000 to free itself from ransomware

Ars Technica - January 11, 2017 - 11:42pm

Enlarge (credit: Christiaan Colen)

The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) paid a $28,000 ransom in bitcoins to free up the Los Angeles Valley College campus’ network, e-mail, and voicemail systems, which were targeted during a winter break when the campus was closed.

According to a Wednesday statement from an LACCD spokesman, district officials concluded that it was worth it to pay the ransom—in part, because the district has an insurance policy that covers such incidents.

“It was the assessment of our outside cybersecurity experts that making a payment would offer an extremely high probability of restoring access to the affected systems, while failure to pay would virtually guarantee that data would be lost,” LACCD Chancellor Francisco C. Rodriguez said in the statement. “After payment was made, a ‘key’ was delivered to open access to our computer systems. The process to ‘unlock’ hundreds of thousands of files will be a lengthy one, but so far, the key has worked in every attempt that has been made.”

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The Next Transportation Secretary Seems Pretty Down With Self-Driving Cars

Wired - January 11, 2017 - 11:33pm
Elaine Chao's confirmation hearing offered subtle assurances that autonomous advocates would have an ally at the top. The post The Next Transportation Secretary Seems Pretty Down With Self-Driving Cars appeared first on WIRED.

FBI takes gag out of Cloudflare's mouth after three-year legal battle

The Register - January 11, 2017 - 11:30pm
Upstart has been dying to talk about how it didn't rat out its customers in 2013

Cloudflare successfully fended off an FBI demand for people's private information, we can report this week now that a gagging order has been ripped away.…

Samsung head named a suspect in Korean political scandal - CNET - News - January 11, 2017 - 11:20pm
A special prosecutor has accused Jay Y. Lee, the de facto head of Samsung Electronics' parent company, of bribery in exchange for political favors.

Apple's weird-looking AirPods are already winning - CNET - News - January 11, 2017 - 10:40pm
Between Beats and AirPods, Apple is looking at a sweep in online sales, says one report.

Silicon Valley shoots for the stars in the new space race - CNET - News - January 11, 2017 - 10:37pm
From CNET Magazine: Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have set their sights on spaceflight. Their efforts just might put us on Mars.

Fury over India flag doormats for sale on Amazon

BBC Technology News - January 11, 2017 - 10:35pm
India's foreign minister threatens to rescind visas for Amazon staff over the "insulting" doormats.

Donald Trump Is Still Campaigning—Against the Press

Wired - January 11, 2017 - 10:21pm
In a wide-ranging press conference—his first since July—president-elect Trump's contempt for the media was the consistent thread. The post Donald Trump Is Still Campaigning---Against the Press appeared first on WIRED.

Tom Wheeler accuses AT&T and Verizon of violating net neutrality

Ars Technica - January 11, 2017 - 10:17pm

Enlarge / AT&T Sponsored Data charges companies for the right to offer Internet content without counting against mobile data caps. (credit: AT&T)

With just over a week left as chairman of the Federal Communications Commission, Tom Wheeler today accused AT&T and Verizon Wireless of violating net neutrality rules with paid data cap exemptions. But with the FCC about to switch to Republican control after next week's inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump, AT&T and Verizon can likely keep doing what they're doing without any chance of punishment.

Wheeler described his views in a letter to US senators who had expressed concern about the data cap exemptions, or "zero-rating." FCC Wireless Telecommunications Bureau staff today also issued a report concluding that AT&T and Verizon zero-rating programs are unfair to competitors. Both Wheeler's letter and the staff report can be read in full here.

The main issue is that AT&T and Verizon allow their own video services (DirecTV and Go90, respectively) to stream on their mobile networks without counting against customers' data caps, while charging other video providers for the same data cap exemptions. The FCC also examined T-Mobile USA's zero-rating program but found that it poses no competitive harms because T-Mobile offers data cap exemptions to third parties free of charge. T-Mobile also "provides little streaming video programming of its own," giving it less incentive to disadvantage video companies that need to use the T-Mobile network, the FCC said.

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Dieselgate: VW pleads guilty, will cough up $4.3bn, throws 6 staff under its cheatware bus

The Register - January 11, 2017 - 10:13pm
Techies charged by Uncle Sam

In one of the toughest smackdowns in recent US corporate history, Volkswagen has pleaded guilty to Dieselgate fraud charges, and will cop a massive fine.…

Trump tweets up a storm after accusations emerge - CNET - News - January 11, 2017 - 10:12pm
Commentary: One of the biggest trending topics on Twitter concerns the president-elect. So much so that he invokes Russia and Nazi Germany in response.

Hackers trigger yet another power outage in Ukraine

Ars Technica - January 11, 2017 - 10:07pm

Enlarge (credit: YellowForester)

For the second time in as many years, security researchers have determined that hackers have caused a power outage in Ukraine that left customers without electricity in late December, typically one of the coldest months in that country.

The researchers' conclusion, reported by news outlets including Dark Reading, Motherboard, and the BBC, signals yet another troubling escalation in the hacking arena. A December 2015 attack that caused 225,000 Ukrainians to lose electricity was the first known instance of someone using malware to generate a real-world power outage. Ukrainian officials have pinned the attack on the Russian government, a claim that's consistent with some evidence collected by private security firms.

Now, researchers say a second power outage that struck Ukraine in mid-December was also the result of a computer intrusion and bears many of the same technical hallmarks as the first one. It was part of a series of malicious hacks that have recently targeted key Ukrainian infrastructure, including the country's rail system server, several government ministries, and a national pension fund. The attacks started on December 6 and lasted through December 20. The December 17 power outage was the result of an attack at the Pivnichna substation outside Kiev that began shortly before midnight. It lasted for about an hour.

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Google-parent Alphabet's drone project may not soar after all - CNET - News - January 11, 2017 - 10:04pm
The Titan drone project is cut after setbacks, according to reports.

All ears? This jewelry gives you extra body parts - CNET - News - January 11, 2017 - 9:59pm
Crazy-looking jewelry by Berlin-based artist Nadja Buttendorf will make you do a double take.

2017 Detroit Auto Show wrap-up - Roadshow - News - January 11, 2017 - 9:56pm
A rundown of the biggest reveals in the Motor City.

SpaceX details its plans for landing three Falcon Heavy boosters at once

Ars Technica - January 11, 2017 - 9:49pm

Enlarge / A recent satellite view of SpaceX's Landing Zone 1 shows the single, large landing pad. (credit: Apple Maps)

As part of the process to gain federal approval for the simultaneous landing of its Falcon Heavy rocket boosters in Florida, SpaceX has prepared an environmental assessment of the construction of two additional landing pads alongside its existing site. The report considers noise and other effects from landing up to three first stages at the same time. After undergoing a preliminary review by the US Air Force, the document has been released for public comment.

First reported by, the document offers some interesting details about the proposed launch and landing of SpaceX's heavy lift rocket, which the company hopes to fly for the first time in the spring or early summer of 2017. After previously demonstrating the ability to land a single Falcon 9 booster, SpaceX also hopes to land the three first-stage boosters that will power the Falcon Heavy for potential re-use.

The company states this reusability as its rationale for the new construction—reducing the cost of access to space. "This purpose continues to support SpaceX’s overall missions for NASA and the USAF," the document states. "The action continues to fulfill the U.S. expectation that space transportation costs are reduced in order to make continued exploration, development, and use of space more affordable."

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This is President Obama's most retweeted tweet ever - CNET - News - January 11, 2017 - 9:45pm
The outgoing US president caps his Twitter career with a line from his farewell address, and people like it.

The Samsung ad that's been viewed (and likely loved) 35 million times - CNET - News - January 11, 2017 - 9:42pm
Commentary: Samsung's Indian arm releases an ad on YouTube that has the web weeping.

FAA ends Galaxy Note 7 notification, 96 percent of devices returned

Ars Technica - January 11, 2017 - 9:31pm

Enlarge / One of the early United Airlines warnings about the Note 7. (credit: Donald Sadoway)

If you've flown anywhere in the last few months, you've probably heard an announcement saying something like "Samsung Galaxy Note 7s are defective. You aren't allowed to turn them on or charge them on the plane, and they can't be in your carry-on luggage." After a defective Galaxy Note 7 exploded on a Southwest flight, the Federal Aviation Administration banned the device, and this warning has been made before every flight since.

Now It's looking like the end of the line for the Galaxy Note 7 fiasco. Samsung recently announced that 96 percent of Galaxy Note 7s have been returned, and in response, the FAA has decided to remove the requirement for airlines to make a Note 7 pre-boarding announcement.

The 96 percent return rate is thanks to the actions of Samsung and carriers, which, in addition to sending out plenty of notifications, have recently started remotely disabling Galaxy Note 7 units. If customers were stubborn about returning a defective device, they probably became a lot more interested in getting a replacement after their Note 7 became a useless brick.

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