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Industry & Technology

Ajit Pai killed rules that could have helped Florida recover from hurricane

Ars Technica - October 18, 2018 - 10:19pm

Enlarge / FCC Chairman Ajit Pai speaking at a press conference on October 1, 2018 in Washington, DC. (credit: Getty Images | Mark Wilson )

The Federal Communications Commission chairman slammed wireless carriers on Tuesday for failing to quickly restore phone service in Florida after Hurricane Michael, calling the delay "completely unacceptable."

But FCC Chairman Ajit Pai's statement ignored his agency's deregulatory blitz that left consumers without protections designed to ensure restoration of service after disasters, according to longtime telecom attorney and consumer advocate Harold Feld.

The Obama-era FCC wrote new regulations to protect consumers after Verizon tried to avoid rebuilding wireline phone infrastructure in Fire Island, New York, after Hurricane Sandy hit the area in October 2012. But Pai repealed those rules, claiming that they prevented carriers from upgrading old copper networks to fiber. Pai's repeal order makes zero mentions of Fire Island and makes reference to Verizon's response to Hurricane Sandy only once, in a footnote.

Read 26 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Twitter publishes dump of accounts tied to Russian, Iranian influence campaigns

Ars Technica - October 18, 2018 - 10:00pm

Enlarge / This image was the profile banner of one of the accounts allegedly run by the Internet Research Agency, the organization that ran social media "influence campaigns" in Russia, Germany, Ukraine, and the US dating back to 2009. (credit: A Russian Troll)

Twitter has released a data store of posts from 3,841 accounts that have been identified as being connected to the Internet Research Agency (IRA), the Russian "troll factory" that used Twitter and Facebook to conduct an "influence campaign" aimed at causing political turmoil during the 2016 US presidential election as well as undermining the political process in other countries, including Germany and Ukraine. The company has also released another set of data connected to 770 accounts believed to be connected to an Iranian influence campaign.

Totaling over 360 gigabytes—including more than 10 million tweets and associated metadata and over 2 million images, animated GIFs, videos, and Periscope streams—the data store provides a picture of how state-sponsored agencies have used the Twitter platform. Some of the content dates as far back as 2009.

In a post announcing the release, Twitter Legal, Policy, and Trust & Safety lead Vijaya Gadde and Twitter's head of Site Integrity Yoel Roth wrote that Twitter was providing the data "with the goal of encouraging open research and investigation of [state-sponsored influence and information campaigns] from researchers and academics around the world."

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

All through the house, not a creature was stirring... especially Samsung smartwatches: Batteries empty at 3AM

The Register - October 18, 2018 - 9:49pm
Firmware update fingered for draining power as folks sleep

Samsung Gear smartwatch owners are complaining the batteries in their strap-on gizmos are mysteriously and rapidly draining overnight – and it's only just started happening.…

Why figuring out what’s behind a big gender paradox won’t be easy

Ars Technica - October 18, 2018 - 9:25pm

Enlarge / Pink vs. blue—innocent gender self-expression or material wealth creating more entrenched gender stereotypes? (credit: lambda's / flickr)

In Sweden, girls are just as likely to go to school and university as boys are. Women make up a greater proportion of the country’s professional and technical workers than any other country in the world. And their representation in the country’s politics is among the world’s best. But when it comes to personality tests, Swedish men and women are worlds apart.

Malaysia sits toward the opposite end of the scale: despite ranking among the world’s lowest for political empowerment of women and lagging when it comes to women’s health and survival, men and women end up looking similar in those same personality tests. What gives?

Paradoxical

This fascinating finding—dubbed the gender-equality paradox—isn't new, but two recent papers report fresh details. In a paper published in Science today, Armin Falk and Johannes Hermle report that gender differences in preferences like risk-taking, patience, and trust were more exaggerated in wealthier and more gender-equal countries. And in a recent paper in the International Journal of Psychology, Erik Mac Giolla and Petri Kajonius provide more detail on the original paradox.

Read 17 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Researchers find way to track 'untraceable' 3D-printed guns - CNET

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 9:15pm
The 3D-printer leaves a hardware fingerprint.

Talk about a curveball: Microsoft director of sports marketing fired, charged with fraud over 'fake' invoices

The Register - October 18, 2018 - 9:05pm
He tells investigators: 'I was hacked!'

Microsoft's former director of sports marketing has been indicted on five counts of wire fraud, based on allegations that he created fake invoices to defraud the software giant and sold its property as his own.…

Vertu emerges from bankruptcy with the $4K Aster P phone - CNET

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 9:04pm
Apparently the "P" is for "Pricey."

'Real-life' Pokemon monsters look wildly freaky - CNET

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 8:51pm
Move over, Homer Simpson. These realistic 3D renderings of Pokemon characters make them look alive.

iPhone XR phone case: Just $2 buys you see-through protection - CNET

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 8:46pm
This slim gel bumper-case offers protection without obscuring your XR's cool color.

Comcast offering 1 gigabit per second service to its entire territory - CNET

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 8:46pm
If you're feeling the need for speed.

US Senate committee invites Hyundai, Kia to talk about engine fire reports - Roadshow

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 8:43pm
The Senate Commerce Committee plans to meet Nov. 14 to discuss this matter.

Equifax exec's inside trade shame: Software boss sentenced for mega-hack stock profit

The Register - October 18, 2018 - 8:41pm
Thrown in the small house rather than the big house

An Equifax executive – who knew the biz had been hacked before it was made public and banked over $75,000 in stock trades using this inside knowledge – has avoided jail.…

iPhone XR: This is what to expect from the camera - CNET

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 8:38pm
It's only got one lens, while the iPhone XS has two. But what else is different?

New iPad Pro 2018: All the rumors on specs, price, Apple Pencil and Oct. 30 debut - CNET

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 8:24pm
Will the new iPad Pro show up at Apple's upcoming event?

Orkney Islands routes are front-runners for first commercial electric flights

Ars Technica - October 18, 2018 - 8:17pm

Enlarge / A Britten Norman Islander plane, similar to the kind used in the Orkney Islands to shuttle people short distances. (credit: Britten Norman)

Up in the remote northeast of Scotland, residents of the Orkney Islands use small island-hopping aircraft to commute around the archipelago. The longest flight in the area is 15 minutes, traveling 33 miles from the city of Kirkwall to the island of North Ronaldsay. The shortest flight takes an average of 80 seconds to travel 1.7 miles between the islands of Westray and Papa Westray. That flight holds the Guinness World Record as the shortest commercial flight route in the world.

Now, Scottish airline Loganair and aircraft modifier Cranfield Aerospace Solutions are working together in the hopes of turning the Orkney Islands' 10 inter-island routes all-electric, perhaps even establishing the world's first all-electric commercial flight routes.

Electric planes are still something of a pipe-dream for environmentalists and technologists. Jet fuel is extremely energy-dense compared to batteries, and flight requires a lot of energy at little additional weight. Electric flight startups are either developing hybrid battery/jet-fuel planes or banking on the continuous improvement of batteries to make their visions viable years down the road. While the most optimistic see the advent of lithium-air batteries and engine efficiency improvement as a path to commercial electric flight, others have focused on decarbonizing jet-fuel synthesis.

Read 5 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Volkswagen will pay Germans to ditch their older, dirtier diesels - Roadshow

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 7:55pm
Trade-in incentives apply whether buyers replace them with new or near-new cars.

FirstBuild Precision Bakeware tells you when your cheesecake is ready - CNET

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 7:51pm
The first batch of the $100 pan has already sold out.

New study argues against some of the oldest evidence for life

Ars Technica - October 18, 2018 - 7:41pm

Enlarge / The triangular shapes had been described as possible relics of 3.7 billion-year-old microbial life. The rock has been flipped upside down since then, but the red arrow highlights that one of these triangles is not like the others. (credit: Abigail Allwood)

Few things in science seem to be as controversial as claims to the oldest evidence of life on Earth. As researchers strive to push life's origins back further into the history of the early Earth, the evidence they have is never completely unambiguous. (If you were over three billion years old, you wouldn’t look so great, either.) Other scientists inevitably question any new evidence, and arguments ensue.

Microbes in Greenland?

Two years ago, a group working in the ancient rocks of Greenland stumbled on some tantalizing cone-shaped distortions of rock layers. Based on several lines of evidence, the researchers concluded that they had found stromatolites, which are layered mounds built by communities of microbes in shallow water. Modern stromatolites are mainly known from Australia's Shark Bay, but they were much more common when microbes ruled the Earth so are therefore one of the most obvious relics of life in the rock record. The Greenland find would push the age of the oldest-known stromatolite from about 3.45 billion years to 3.7 billion years.

But other researchers wanted to see these Greenland rocks for themselves. And in a newly published study led by Abigail Allwood, she and her team explain why they aren't buying it.

Read 7 remaining paragraphs | Comments

You now have a slightly better chance of buying a Ford GT - Roadshow

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 7:37pm
Ford will build 350 more GT supercars than planned -- but not until 2020.

Time capsule from 1993 reveals cassette tape, big hair, condoms - CNET

cNET.com - News - October 18, 2018 - 7:25pm
The condoms expired in 1997.

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