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Google

Google Play Rolls Out Family Sharing (usatoday.com) 35

Google on Wednesday announced a new Google Play feature dubbed Family Library that allows up to 6 people to share apps, movies, books purchases. It will roll out to people in the next 48 hours in 12 countries (Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, the U.K., and the United States) and requires people to sign up and add family members (you can add your friends as family member). The announcement is mostly in line with a CNET report from earlier this month. USA Today reports: The feature will allow users to share apps, games, movies, TV shows or books from Google Play on Android devices. Movies, TV shows and books can be shared on iOS platforms and the Web. After a user signs up for the Family Library, the person adds up to five family members and decides on the credit card that will be used for the families purchases. Eunice Kim, head of families for Google Play said a unique feature of Google Play compared to other family sharing initiatives is that family members can also choose to pay with their personal credit card or with gift cards. The same user who organized the family can control who below the age of 18 needs permission to purchase content.The feature is strikingly similar to an option in Apple's App Store that does the same thing.
Nintendo

Pokemon Go Doubles Nintendo's Stock Price (reuters.com) 108

An anonymous reader quotes a report form Reuters: Shares of Japan's Nintendo Co soared another 14 percent on Tuesday, more than doubling the firm's market capitalization to 4.5 trillion yen ($42.5 billion) in just seven sessions since the mobile game Pokemon GO was launched in the United States. The phenomenal success of Pokemon GO -- now available in 35 countries, the majority in Europe, and most recently in Canada -- has triggered massive buying in Nintendo shares, surprising even some seasoned market players. Nintendo shares ended Tuesday up 14.4 percent at 31,770 yen, bringing its gains to more than 100 percent since the launch of the game on July 6. Turnover in Nintendo shares hit 703.6 billion yen, surpassing the record for trading turnover in individual shares it set on Friday, of 476 billion yen. Trading in Nintendo shares roughly accounted for a quarter of the entire trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board. The success of Pokemon GO, unforeseen even by its creators, has boosted hopes that Nintendo could capitalize on a line-up of popular characters ranging from Zelda to Super Mario to strengthen its new foray into augmented reality. Pokemon GO is now the biggest mobile game of all time in the United States.
XBox (Games)

Microsoft's New Xbox One S Will Go On Sale On August 2 -- Will You Buy One? (betanews.com) 108

Microsoft announced on Monday that its new Xbox One S console will go on sale on August 2. To recall, the Xbox One S is 40 percent smaller than the original Xbox One (also the power supply packed in the console itself), and has the processing muscle to stream video in 4K Ultra HD with HDR. BetaNews reports: August 2 is the big date which also sees the release of Windows 10 Anniversary Update. The Xbox One S also features up to 2TB of storage. In all, three versions of the console are available. It's the 2TB model that's grabbing the headlines and the attention of keen gamers, and this model will launch in "limited numbers" priced at $399. The console will launch in Australia, Canada, UK and United States among several other regions. For anyone looking for a slightly cheaper option, the 1TB model will cost $349, while $299 will get you a 500GB version. If you want to add to the single Xbox Wireless Controller included as standard, this will set you back a further $59.99.Are you planning to purchase one of these?
NASA

New Dwarf Planet Discovered In Outer Solar System (seeker.com) 119

astroengine quotes a report from Seeker: Astronomers have found another Pluto-like dwarf planet located about 20 times farther away from the sun than Neptune. The small planet, dubbed 2015 RR245, is estimated to be about 435 miles in diameter and flying in an elliptical, 700-year orbit around the sun. At closest approach, RR245 will be about 3.1 billion miles from the sun, a milestone it is expected to next reach in 2096. At its most distant point, the icy world is located about 7.5 billion miles away. It was found by a joint team of astronomers using the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope (CFHT) on Maunakea, Hawaii, in images taken in September 2015 and analyzed in February. The discovery was announced on Monday in the Minor Planet Electronic Circular.
Bitcoin

Bitcoin 'Miners' Face Fight For Survival As New Supply Halves (reuters.com) 164

SpzToid quotes a report from Reuters: On Saturday, the reward for [bitcoin] miners will be slashed in half. Written into bitcoin's code when it was invented in 2008 was a rule dictating that the prize would be halved every four years, in a step designed to keep a lid on bitcoin inflation. From around 1700 GMT on Saturday, instead of 25 bitcoins up for grabs globally every 10 minutes, worth around $16,000 at the current rate BTC=BTSP, there will be just 12.5. That means only the mining companies with the leanest operations will survive the ensuing profit hit. "The most important thing is to be the most efficient miner," said Streng, the 26-year-old co-founder of German firm Genesis Mining, which has "mining farms" in Canada, the United States and eastern Europe, as well as in Iceland. "When the others drop out, that means that they leave the market and give you a bigger share of the pie."
Facebook

IRS Is Suing Facebook Over Asset Transfers In Ireland (fortune.com) 97

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has sued Facebook on Wednesday to force it to comply with summonses related to a 2010 asset transfer. Fortune reports: "According to documents the IRS filed in San Francisco federal court, the agency suspects Facebook and its accounting firm, Ernst and Young, understated the value of intangible assets transferred to Ireland by billions of dollars. The IRS says it is seeking an order to enforce six summonses that asked Facebook to appear at the agency's offices in San Jose, Calif., and to produce papers and others records. According to IRS agent Nina Stone, Facebook failed to show up at the appointed date of June 17, and nor did it provide the documents. The dispute arose as a result of an ongoing audit of Facebook by IRS that stretches back to 2010. In that year, the company chose to designate Facebook Ireland as the rights-holder for its worldwide business outside of the U.S. and Canada, and also to transfer intellectual property assets such as its platform and 'marketing intangibles.' The crux of the disagreement between Facebook and the IRS turns on the arcane question of whether the assets in question could be transferred in their entirety or if, as the agency argues, they are 'interdependent.' [The agent's declaration can be found here.] Such arrangements are common among U.S. tech companies, and seek to reduce tax payments by scoring revenue in low tax jurisdictions like Ireland, while having higher tax countries (especially the U.S.) reduce profits by paying to license intellectual property from overseas subsidiaries."
Verizon

Verizon To Hike Prices On Plans But Offer More Data (cnet.com) 145

Roger Cheng, reporting for CNET: Big changes are afoot at Verizon. The nation's largest wireless carrier is set to unveil changes to its plans that will make them more expensive, but will also include more data, according to someone familiar with the changes. The low-end "S" plan will go up by $5 to $35 a month, but will include 2 gigabytes of data, twice as much as before. The "M" plan will go up by $5 to $50 a month, while its data will rise from 3GB to 4GB. The "L" plan will go up by $10 to $70 a month, while data increases from 6GB to 8GB. The "XL" plan will go up by $10 to $90 a month, but you'll get 16GB, up from 12GB before. Lastly, the "XXL" plan will cost $10 more at $110 a month, but you will get 24GB instead of 18GB. The changes are part of a broader overhaul of its plans, which will also include a rollover data program called "Carryover Data," a new way to avoid overage fees, and better access to Canada and Mexico. The move reflects a heightened competitive environment, one in which smaller rivals T-Mobile and Sprint have begun winning away customers through aggressive offers. Many of these changes mimic offers already available at the other carriers.
Canada

Canadian Man Invented a Wheel That Can Make Cars Move Sideways (nationalpost.com) 132

An anonymous reader writes: Canadian man William Liddiard invented a wheel that allows vehicles to move sideways. "True all-way drive for anything with wheels," Liddiard says in an online writeup for his successful prototype of "omni-directional" wheels. They consist of a specialized roller-equipped rim that can move horizontally and a tire that is rounded like a donut. "This is a world first bolt-on application for anything with wheels," wrote Liddiard. "Now you can drive in all directions, and turn on the spot, when needed." His demo video titled "you've never seen a car do this...," has received more than 1.1 million views since it was uploaded on May 10th. The wheels are a "proof of concept" prototype right now, but Liddiard says the design would allow them to be made as durable and safe as standard automotive wheels. Omni-directional wheels are nothing new, though they are typically only used in wheelchairs, robotics and other small-scale applications. Honda Motor Co. debuted an omni-directional wheel at the 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, but it wasn't for a full-sized car -- it was for a Segway-style mobility device. "My wheel can hold ten times more than the other [wheels], while maintaining speed," Liddiard told Postmedia in an interview earlier this year. He's currently trying to sell his invention to a major tire or automotive company.
Security

Crypto Ransomware Attacks Have Jumped 500% In The Last Year (onthewire.io) 36

Kaspersky Lab is reporting that the last year saw a 500% increase in the number of users who encountered crypto ransomware. Trailrunner7 shares an article from On The Wire: Data compiled by Kaspersky researchers from the company's cloud network shows that from April 2015 to March 2016, the volume of crypto ransomware encountered by users leapt from 131,111 to 718,536. That's a massive increase, especially considering the fact that ransomware is a somewhat mature threat. It didn't just burst onto the scene a couple of years ago. Kaspersky's researchers said the spike in crypto ransomware can be attributed to a small group of variants. "Looking at the malware groups that were active in the period covered by this report, it appears that a rather short list of suspects is responsible for most of the trouble caused by crypto-ransomware..."

It's difficult to overstate how much of an effect the emergence of ransomware has had on consumers, enterprises, and the security industry itself. The FBI has been warning users about crypto ransomware for some time now, and has consistently advised victims not to pay any ransoms. Security researchers have been publishing decryption tools for specific ransomware variants and law enforcement agencies have had some success in taking down ransomware gangs.

Enterprise targets now account for 13% of ransomware attacks, with attackers typically charging tens of thousands of dollars, the article reports, and "Recent attacks on networks at the University of Calgary and Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center have demonstrated the brutal effectiveness of this strategy."
Blackberry

BlackBerry Remains Committed To Smartphone Business, Despite $670M Net Loss In Last Three Months (baytoday.ca) 78

AchilleTalon writes: BlackBerry CEO John Chen refuses to give up on the company's hardware business despite lackluster sales of its first Android-powered smartphone, the Priv. The Canadian smartphone maker reported a $670 million net loss in the first quarter of its 2017 financial year, but said its recovery plan for the year remains on track. Chen, who has stated the company's No. 1 goal is to make its smartphone device business profitable this fiscal year, said he expects the company's new mobility solutions segment to break even or record a slight profit during the third quarter, which ends Nov. 30, 2016. During BlackBerry's first quarter -- second full quarter to include Priv sales -- the company sold roughly 500,000 devices at an average price of $290 each, he said, which is about 100,000 smartphones fewer than the previous quarter and about 200,000 fewer than two quarters earlier. Previously, the company said it needs to sell about three million phones at an average of $300 each to break even, though Chen indicated that may change as the software licensing business starts to contribute to revenue.
Earth

India Launches Record 20 Satellites In Space Using A Single Rocket (indiatimes.com) 110

William Robinson writes from a report via Times of India: The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) used its workhorse PSLV-C34 to inject 20 satellites which includes 17 satellites from various countries like US, Canada, Germany and Indonesia, into orbit in a single mission and set a new record on Wednesday. In the final stages of the mission, ISRO also demonstrated the vehicle's capability to place satellites in different orbits. In the demonstration, the vehicle reignited twice after its fourth and final stage and moved further a few kilometers into another orbit. Also included are a couple of satellites from academic institutions, Sathyabamasat from Sathyabhama University, Chennai and Swayam from College of Engineering, Pune. From the report: "The 320 ton Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV-C34) took off on its 36th flight at 9:26 a.m. from the Satish Dhawan Space Center with 20 satellites including its primary payload Cartosat-2 series, which provides remote sensing services, and earth observation and imaging satellites from U.S., Canada, Germany and Indonesia. It was also the 14th flight of PSLV in 'XL' configuration with the use of solid strap-on motors. ISRO scientists said, the vehicle had been pre-programmed for today's launch to perform tiny maneuvering to place the 20 satellites into polar sun-synchronous orbits with different inclinations and velocities. It ensured that the satellites were placed with enough distance to prevent collision."
Canada

Why Drones Could Save Door-To-Door Mail Delivery (vice.com) 156

An anonymous reader writes: Online shopping aside, people don't have as many physical items to mail as they used to, which is largely the reason why Canada Post announced it would be phasing out door-to-door mail delivery. Motherboard reports: "The corporation is exploring future use of drone technology to make deliveries, according to a report from the Canadian Press. At this point, Canada Post is engaging in a 'proper exercise,' a spokesperson told the Canadian Press, adding that the project is in its earliest, experimental stages. According to Graham Scott, the deputy editor of Canadian Business, even if mail-delivering drones remain a theoretical concept for now, it's inevitable they'll be considered as a way to drive costs down. There are many good reasons why mail delivery drones may never get off the ground. For one thing, current technology limits them to delivering one item of post at a time, which is tremendously impractical. But, as we've seen with the rolling out of community mailboxes -- a program that was put on hold earlier this year when the review was launched -- the invisible hand of the market is always looking to drive costs down. So don't count out flying robot deliveries for good. From a manager's perspective at least, drones have their advantages. They don't suffer from dog bites, and they (ideally) don't deviate from their routes. 'Drones don't twist their ankle, they don't get tired, and they don't form a union.' said Scott." In 2013, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos revealed during a CBS 60 Minutes interview that the company is working on a service called "Prime Air" to deliver packages by autonomous octocopter drones within 30 minutes of hitting the "buy" button. The Guardian reported last year that Amazon has been testing its drone delivery service at a secret site in Canada, following repeated warnings by the e-commerce giant that it would go outside the U.S. to bypass what it sees as the U.S. federal government's lethargic approach to the new technology.
Canada

Political Party's Videoconference System Hacked, Allowed Spying On Demand 32

The political party heading the Quebec parliament "had its internal videoconference system hacked in what seems to be a default password hack," writes Slashdot reader courteaudotbiz , citing reports in a Canadian newspaper. "Quebec Liberals got a lesson in how not to use the internet," joked one Quebec news station, writing that the security flaw "allowed anyone to gain access to strategy meetings and watch any of the party's live video conferences; and at least one person did... According to the source it was as easy as using a commonly used password, that is often the default code that never gets changed."

While the default password has since been changed, it represents the second high-profile Canadian password screw-up, since last week in Winnipeg, "Two 14-year-old high school students managed to hack into a Bank of Montreal ATM at a super market during their lunch break using an operator's manual they found online... They notified a nearby BMO branch manager, who was nice enough to write the pair notes for being absent from school as they showed security personnel how they did it."
Bitcoin

Ransomware Thieves Cost Canada University C$20,000 In Bitcoin (itworldcanada.com) 87

dkatana writes: The University of Calgary paid C$20,000 ransom this week after an attack on May 28 targeted computers used by staff and faculty members, crippling multiple systems and encrypting data files and email accounts. After determining that they were unable to recover the data the ransom was paid to "protect the quality and nature of the information we generate at the university," said an official in a press release.

The fact that higher education institutions are now being targeted by ransomware is raising serious questions about their ability to protect their data and critical information systems.

IT World Canada has more details, noting that the university has reported the incident to the police, and that Trend Micro "has seen a 20% uptick in malicious requests to command and control infrastructure from infected machines over the last three months" -- several thousand requests a day.
Piracy

Canada Federal Court Restrains Sale Of 'Pirate' Boxes (torrentfreak.com) 90

An anonymous reader writes:The Federal Court in Canada has handed down an interlocutory injunction against distributors of Android-based set-top boxes configured for piracy. The devices, which are loaded with software including Kodi (with pirate addons) and Showbox, are now banned from sale pending a full trial.Judge Daniele Tremblay-Lamer wrote in her order: "The devices marketed, sold and programmed by the Defendants enable consumers to obtain unauthorized access to content for which the Plaintiffs own the copyright. [...] They deliberately encourage consumers and potential clients to circumvent authorized ways of accessing content -- say, by a cable subscription or by streaming content from the Plaintiffs' websites -- both in the manner in which they promote their business, and by offering tutorials in how to add and use applications which rely on illegally obtained content."
NASA

NASA Satellite Finds 39 Unreported Sources of Toxic Air Pollution (phys.org) 39

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Using a new satellite-based method, scientists at NASA, Environment and Climate Change Canada, and two universities have located 39 unreported and major human-made sources of toxic sulfur dioxide emissions. A known health hazard and contributor to acid rain, sulfur dioxide (SO2) is one of six air pollutants regulated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. The 39 unreported emission sources, found in the analysis of satellite data from 2005 to 2014, are clusters of coal-burning power plants, smelters, oil and gas operations found notably in the Middle East, but also in Mexico and parts of Russia. In addition, reported emissions from known sources in these regions were -- in some cases -- two to three times lower than satellite-based estimates. Altogether, the unreported and underreported sources account for about 12 percent of all human-made emissions of sulfur dioxide -- a discrepancy that can have a large impact on regional air quality, said Chris McLinden, an atmospheric scientist and lead author of the study. The co-author of the study, Nickolay Krotkov, says quantifying the sulfur dioxide bull's-eyes is a two-step process that would not have been possible without an improvement in the computer processing that transforms raw satellite observations from the Dutch-Finnish Ozone Monitoring Instrument aboard NASA's Aura spacecraft into precise estimates of sulfur dioxide concentrations, and the ability to detect smaller concentrations using a new computer program that precisely detects sulfur dioxide that had been dispersed and diluted by winds.
Canada

Telus To Shutter CDMA Service On January 31, 2017 (mobilesyrup.com) 42

An anonymous reader writes: With most Canadian mobile devices on some form of HSPA+ or LTE network, you don't hear mention of CDMA that often anymore. And for good reason; carriers like Telus, which still maintain their CDMA network for legacy customers, plan to mothball the tech over the next few years. We now have a definitive date when Telus customers will no longer be able to use their old CDMA device. Over the weekend, the company sent text messages stating, "CDMA service ends January 31, 2017. Move to our 4G network with great offers."
Power

Canada's Energy Superpower Status Threatened As World Shifts Off Fossil Fuel (www.cbc.ca) 327

Robson Fletcher, reporting for CBC News: Canada's status as an "energy superpower" is under threat because the global dominance of fossil fuels could wane faster than previously believed, according to a draft report from a federal government think-tank obtained by CBC News. "It is increasingly plausible to foresee a future in which cheap renewable electricity becomes the world's primary power source and fossil fuels are relegated to a minority status," reads the conclusion of the 32-page document, produced by Policy Horizons Canada. "It's absolutely not pie in the sky," said Michal Moore from the University of Calgary's School of Public Policy. "These folks are being realistic -- they may not be popular, but they're being realistic." Marty Reed, CEO of Evok Innovations -- a Vancouver-based cleantech fund created through a $100-million partnership with Cenovus and Suncor -- had a similar take after reading the draft report.
Facebook

Facebook Begins Tracking Non-Users Around the Internet (theverge.com) 124

Amar Toor, reporting for The Verge: Facebook will now display ads to web users who are not members of its social network, the company announced Thursday, in a bid to significantly expand its online ad network. As The Wall Street Journal reports, Facebook will use cookies, "like" buttons, and other plug-ins embedded on third-party sites to track members and non-members alike (Editor's note: link swapped with a non-paywall source). The company says it will be able to better target non-Facebook users and serve relevant ads to them, though its practices have come under criticism from regulators in Europe over privacy concerns. Facebook began displaying a banner notification at the top of its News Feed for users in Europe today, alerting them to its use of cookies as mandated under an EU directive.Mark Wilson of BetaNews adds that Facebook has outlined these changes in its cookies policy page. As part of which, the company is now allowing Facebook users to opt-out of the ad scheme by making changes to their Facebook settings. For users that don't have a Facebook account, they can opt-out through Digital Advertising Alliance in the United States and Canada, and the European Interactive Digital Adverting Alliance in Europe.
Advertising

Smartphone Surveillance Tech Used To Target Anti-Abortion Ads At Pregnant Women (rewire.news) 260

VoiceOfDoom writes: Rewire reports: "Last year, an enterprising advertising executive based in Boston, Massachusetts, had an idea: Instead of using his sophisticated mobile surveillance techniques to figure out which consumers might be interested in buying shoes, cars, or any of the other products typically advertised online, what if he used the same technology to figure out which women were potentially contemplating abortion, and send them ads on behalf of anti-choice organizations?"

Regardless of one's personal stance on the pro-choice/anti-abortion debate, the unfettered use of tracking and ad-targeting technology which makes this kind of application possible is surely a cause for concern. In Europe, Canada and many other parts of the world, the use of a person's data in this way would be illegal thanks to strict privacy laws. Is it time for the U.S. to consider a similar approach to protect its citizens?
Google has been reportedly tracking users on around 80 percent of all 'Top 1 Million' domains. Facebook is doing something similar. A recent report shows that Facebook uses smartphone microphones to identify the things users are listening to or watching based on the music and TV shows its able to identify. Facebook says the feature must be turned on, and that "it's only active when you're writing a status update."

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