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Updated: 16 min 15 sec ago

Smart Mattress With Lover Detection System Will Track Your Partner's Infidelities

4/18/2016 8:16pm
MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Do you worry that your significant other is having mid-day romps in your bedroom while you're stuck at work banging out TPS reports? There's an app for that, and a smart mattress with built-in sensors to detect when between-the-sheet activities are taking place, with or without your participation. It's part of what a mattress company in Spain is calling its "lover detection system." You can't make this stuff up. Or maybe you can. You might seriously question whether or not the so-called Smarttress from Durmet is a real thing or an attempt at a viral marketing stunt. By all accounts, it certainly looks real. There are two dozen ultrasonic sensors embedded in the springs of the mattress. These tell-all sensors detect the speed and intensity of motion, how long the mattress has been active, and the history of encounters. That data is used to create a 3D map in real time, which you can view on your mobile device with an app for either iOS or Android devices.

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Blackmail: Obama Under Pressure To Declassify Secret 9/11 Report

4/18/2016 7:32pm
An anonymous reader writes: Families of Sept. 11, 2001 terror attack victims are pressuring Obama to support legislation allowing them to sue the Saudi government. A recent "60 Minutes" investigation has stirred up some controversy by looking at possible links between Saudi officials and the 9/11 hijackers, which revealed that new information may be hiding in a classified section of a Congressional report. The Saudis said in a report in the New York Times that they might sell "up to $750 billion in treasury securities and other assets in the United States" if the bill passes. The bill in question is being considered by Congress and it would permit lawsuits against countries that "contribute material support or resources" for "acts of terrorism." Van Auken, who is among those convinced that the 9/11 hijackers were helped by Saudi agents, said, "It feels like blackmail. The government, the president is siding with Saudi Arabia over the 9/11 families. If someone you loved was murdered and the person was just able to go away Scott free, would you be okay with that? I don't think anybody would." Last week the royal embassy of Saudi Arabia said, "The 9/11 commission confirmed that there is no evidence that the government of Saudi Arabia supported or funded Al Qaeda."

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Amazon Splits Prime Video Service To Compete Directly With Netflix

4/18/2016 6:47pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Starting today, non-Prime members can subscribe to Amazon Prime Video for $8.99 per month. You can cancel any time, you don't have to subscribe to a year upfront. With an Amazon Prime Video subscription, you only get access to Amazon's video library -- no expedited shipping, no music library. When it comes to Amazon Prime, it still costs $99 per year. And yes, it still includes Prime Video. You can also choose to subscribe to Prime for $10.99 per month. You get access to expedited shipping, Prime video, Prime Music, and the Kindle Lending Library. The move is to help the service compete directly against Netflix, Hulu, and other video streaming services. TechCrunch reinforces Amazon's latest move as being in-line with the subscription launchpad they have going with Amazon Prime: "The company can try out new services and see if they work. From day one, these new services will have millions of subscribers. And Amazon certainly spends a lot of time tracking what its users do with these new services."

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GameStop Forms Publishing Program GameTrust To 'Revolutionize' the Process

4/18/2016 6:32pm
An anonymous reader writes: GameStop has announced today a publishing label called "GameTrust," which includes developers like Insomniac Games, Ready at Dawn, Tequila Works, and Frozenbyte. Mark Stanley, GameStop VP of Internal Development and Diversification, told GameSpot in a recent interview, "We do not involve ourselves in the creative process because at the end of the day, that is what our developer partners are passionate about," he explained. "By allowing developers to fully focus on their craft, GameTrust can focus on all other aspects of bringing a new IP to market, leveraging our deep expertise and retail channel leadership to support each developer and connect their games with a broader global audience." According to GameStop's program release, GameTrust will "revolutionize the game development and distribution process" by way of giving developers another option to bring their games to market, leveraging GameStop's leadership in the retail channel (including marketing and more) to help bring games to a larger audience. Everything "from casual to serious, console to PC, triple AAA titles to independent games" will be supported. They'll be available through all of GameStop's retail channels as well as Steam, Xbox Live, Playstation Network, the eShop, and others. The full interview with Mark Stanley can be found here. GameStop first revealed its foray into game publishing when Insomniac Games, developer of Ratchet and Clank Overdrive, unveiled its upcoming adventure game Song of the Deep.

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YouTube Introduces Live 360 Video Streaming and Spatial Audio

4/18/2016 6:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: YouTube's 360-degree videos are nothing new to the site as they were first introduced in March 2015. Today, YouTube has expanded on the feature by allowing select users to live stream 360-degree videos wherever an internet connection is present. Whether it's at a music festival or sporting event, viewers will be able to view 360-degree live video through their web browser, mobile device or VR headset. Google Executive Neal Mohan says, "Now anyone, with just their phone, can have that front row experience without having to be there." In addition, YouTube has also launched spatial audio for on-demand YouTube videos. "Just as watching a concert in 360 degrees can give you an unmatched immersive experience, spatial audio allows you to listen along as you do in real life, where depth, distance and intensity all play a role," according to the YouTube blog post. If you have an Android device, you can test out spatial audio from this playlist. YouTube's announcement comes one week after Facebook announced its plans to get more serious about 360-degree videos. They are opening up their Live Video feature to developers to allow developers to integrate live streaming into third-party apps.

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Netflix Has Twice As Many US Subscribers As Comcast

4/18/2016 5:22pm
An anonymous reader writes: You want to hear a staggering statistic? Netflix has more than twice as many U.S. subscribers as Comcast. Netflix USA writes, "According to [Comcast's] Q4 report, Comcast ended 2015 with 22,347,000 video subscribers. Netflix's own shareholder report listed their U.S. membership base at 44,740,000 strong. That's 100.2% more than Comcast -- a staggering statistic." It's impressive to see how quick the Netflix subscriber base has grown just in the past five years from around 20 million subscribers to nearly 45 million subscribers. What's also interesting to reflect on is the two different business models. Netflix USA writes, "Netflix makes its money off of a lot of subscribers paying about $10 a month each, while Comcast charges far fewer customers far more."

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Joking About Giving Money To ISIS Can Cost You Money

4/18/2016 4:40pm
Reader rudy_wayne writes: A person who was using Venmo, an app that allows people to send money to each other via their phones, sent $42 to repay a friend, and jokingly labelled it "ISIS Beer Fund". He immediately got an e-mail from Venmo questioning the purpose of the money. Although he tried to explain "The $42 was payment to a dear friend for two pitchers of Samuel Adams Boston Lager" he was informed "Due to OFAC regulations, we are not allowed to give the funds back to you or issue a refund." The Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control is a 54-year-old institution, quietly working to keep money out of the hands of America's enemies.From the report, "It turns out -- shockingly -- this isn't the first time someone's Venmo transaction was cut off at the knees with a reference to subjects that are a matter of national security. Venmo won't explicitly say what words will trigger blockage, Gawker pointed out in October.

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IT Employees At EmblemHealth Fight To Save Jobs

4/18/2016 4:01pm
Reader dcblogs writes: IT employees at EmblemHealth have united to stop the New York-based employer from outsourcing their jobs to offshore provider Cognizant. Employees say the insurer is on the verge of signing a contract with Cognizant, an IT services firm and one of the largest users of H-1B workers. They say the contract may be signed as early as this week. They fear what a contract with an IT services offshore firm may mean: Humiliation as part of the "knowledge transfer" process, loss of their jobs or a "rebadging" to Cognizant, which they see as little more than temporary employment. Many of the workers, about 200 they estimate, are older, with 15-plus-year tenures. This means a hard job search for them. The IT employees have decided not go quietly. "We're organizing," said one IT employee, who requested anonymity. "We're communicating with one another. They need the knowledge that we have. They can't transition [to Cognizant] without the information that we have. That puts us in a position of strength — they can't fire us for organizing; we're protected by the law," she said.

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Twitter Appoints Chief In China With Former Chinese Military Ties

4/18/2016 3:41pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Sinosphere blog at the NYT reports that Twitter has appointed Kathy Chen as Chief for the Greater China Region. Ms. Chen served as an engineer in the Chinese military in the 1980s. After that, she was involved in a joint venture that was partly owned by the country's powerful domestic security ministry. She posted on Friday a message of cooperation to China Central Television, the state-run broadcaster. The language resembled President Xi Jinping's call to the Chinese media to "tell the China story well." Twitter has been and remains blocked in China by the "Great Firewall".Quartz has more details.

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Netherlands Looks To Ban All Non-Electric Cars By 2025

4/18/2016 3:21pm
An anonymous reader writes: Politicians in the Netherlands have proposed a law which could put a ban on sales of diesel and petrol cars by 2025. A majority of the lower house in the Dutch parliament approved a motion where all fossil fuel powered cars -- including hybrids -- would be banned. Yahoo News further reports, 'While it's still unclear whether the proposal will pass and become law, the ambitious plan would involve car manufacturers getting on board to produce enough electric vehicles to meet demand. The latest electric cars have shorter charging times and longer ranges, benefits that emission-free car evangelists hope will help make them appeal to users of traditional petrol and diesel cars." More details on this here.

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Bill Gates Calls On the US Government To Invest More In Research and Development

4/18/2016 2:40pm
An anonymous reader cites an article on Fortune: On Monday, Bill Gates attempted a commendable feat: to get politicians to focus on something other than the current election cycle and its partisan bickering. In an op-ed published by Reuters, the billionaire co-founder of Microsoft called on the United States to spur technological innovation by increasing its investment in research and development. "Government funding for our world-class research institutions produces the new technologies that American entrepreneurs take to market," he wrote. But while other nations like South Korea and China have drastically upped their R and D spending, the United States' has "essentially flatlined." He said that the rest of the world's commitment to research and development is great, "but if the United States is going to maintain its leading role, it needs to up its game." His call for more government-sponsored R&D also comes as corporations pull back on their commitment to discovery and innovation. With more government investment, he said, U.S. scientists could completely eradicate polio and further decrease the number of deaths from malaria. More funding could also "develop the technologies that will power the world -- while also fighting climate change, promoting energy independence, and providing affordable energy for the 1.3 billion poor people who don't have it today."

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BlackBerry Comments on Canadian Police Eavesdropping Report

4/18/2016 2:00pm
Last week, a report, citing court documents, claimed that Canadian police have had BlackBerry's global decryption key since 2010. Today BlackBerry CEO John Chen officially commented on the report. In a blog post, Chen reiterated that his company remains committed to doing what is "right for the citizenry," without confirming if the Candian police have the "global encryption key." "I have stated before that we are indeed in a dark place when companies put their reputations above the greater good," Chen wrote, adding that the company's cooperation with the Canadian police resulted in shutting down a criminal organization. He adds: Regarding BlackBerry's assistance, I can reaffirm that we stood by our lawful access principles. Furthermore, at no point was BlackBerry's BES server involved. Our BES continues to be impenetrable -- also without the ability for backdoor access -- and is the most secure mobile platform for managing all mobile devices. That's why we are the gold standard in government and enterprise-grade security. For BlackBerry, there is a balance between doing what's right, such as helping to apprehend criminals, and preventing government abuse of invading citizen's privacy, including when we refused to give Pakistan access to our servers. (Update). We have been able to find this balance even as governments have pressured us to change our ethical grounds. Despite these pressures, our position has been unwavering and our actions are proof we commit to these principles. To recall, Chen criticized Apple last year when the iPhone maker refused to unlock a terrorist's iPhone. At the time, he said, Apple was "putting reputation above the greater good."

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How 'The Jungle Book' Made Its Animals Look So Real With Groundbreaking VFX

4/18/2016 1:20pm
An anonymous reader shares an article on Inverse that looks into how The Jungle Book movie was made. Following are some of the interesting tidbits from the story: Directed by Jon Favreau, this version of The Jungle Book, which borrows from both Disney's 1967 cartoon and the original Rudyard Kipling novel, sets a new standard for life-like CGI animals. Shot entirely on a soundstage in downtown Los Angeles, it is sort of a hybrid of Avatar and Who Framed Roger Rabbit, with one human performer surrounded by animated creatures -- the difference being that every effort was made to trick the audience into believing the animals were real. [...] For the most complicated scenes, the computational power required was astounding. "It would take 30-40 hours per frame, and since it's stereo [or 3D], it requires two frames to produce one frame of the movie -- at 2K, not even 4K," Oscar-winning visual effects director Rob Legato said. "So you can tell how much the computer has to figure out, exactly what it's doing, how it's bouncing, how much of the light is absorbed, because when it hits an object, some gets absorbed and some gets reflected." The math there is mind-boggling; it takes a full 24 frames to make up a single second of the movie, and most shots are between five and ten seconds. That required "literally thousands of computers," Legato said, and eventually, some creative solutions. "I think they started using the Google cloud, which has tens of thousands of computers, and sometimes it would take two or three days to render a shot, he said, exasperated at the mere thought of the process. As powerful as the computers were, they ultimately were just taking cues from the human innovators who spent years on the film. "In all this," Legato said, "there's no real computer that replaces the skill of the operator, of the person who is pushing the buttons."

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Google Books Can Proceed As Supreme Court Rejects Authors Guild Appeal

4/18/2016 12:41pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Supreme Court on Monday rejected a challenge to Google's online book library -- Google Books -- from authors who complained that the project makes it harder for them to market their work. The Authors Guild and other writers had claimed that Google's scanning of their books should be deemed as copyright infringement and not fair use. The Supreme Court let stand the lower court opinion that rejected the writers' claims. The decision today means Google Books won't have to close up shop or ask publishers for permission to scan.The ruling, Mary Rasenberger, executive director of the authors group, said, "misunderstood the importance of emerging online markets for books and book excerpts. It failed to comprehend the very real potential harm to authors resulting from its decision. The price of this short-term public benefit may well be the future vitality of American culture."

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Silicon Valley's Legendary 'Coach' Bill Campbell Has Died

4/18/2016 12:20pm
Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode: Bill Campbell, who garnered the name "The Coach" for the sage advice and counsel he gave numerous tech leaders from Apple's Steve Jobs to Google's Larry Page to Amazon's Jeff Bezos, has died. He was battling with cancer. News of his passing popped up on Facebook early this morning and many prominent tech players also confirmed the death to me, which came after a long battle with cancer. It is a big loss for Silicon Valley, given the impact a man who said he did not even know how to do HTML had by virtue of wisdom alone. But he was not without tech chops. Campbell ran companies like Intuit and worked in key jobs at Apple, Claris and Go, and also served on a plethora of boards, including Columbia University, Intuit and Apple. He has been a longtime adviser to Google execs including Page and Eric Schmidt -- and really just about every major tech executive you could think of at some point.VentureBeat interviewed Campbell in 2011, in which he shared coaching tips.

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Your Phone Number Is All a Hacker Needs To Read Texts, Listen To Calls and Track You

4/18/2016 11:40am
Samuel Gibbs, reporting for The Guardian: Hackers have again demonstrated that no matter how many security precautions someone takes, all a hacker needs to track their location and snoop on their phone calls and texts is their phone number. The hack, first demonstrated by German security researcher Karsten Nohl in 2014 at a hacker convention in Hamburg, has been shown to still be active by Nohl over a year later for CBS's 60 Minutes. The hack uses the network interchange service called Signalling System No. 7 (SS7), also known as C7 in the UK or CCSS7 in the US, which acts as a broker between mobile phone networks. When calls or text messages are made across networks SS7 handles details such as number translation, SMS transfer, billing and other back-end duties that connect one network or caller to another. By hacking into or otherwise gaining access to the SS7 system, an attacker can track a person's location based on mobile phone mast triangulation, read their sent and received text messages, and log, record and listen into their phone calls, simply by using their phone number as an identifier.Also from the report, "60 Minutes contacted the cellular phone trade association to ask about attacks on the SS7 network. They acknowledged there have been reports of security breaches abroad, but assured us that all U.S. cellphone networks were secure." Update: 04/18 16:51 GMT by M :Reader blottsie writes: U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Cali.) on Monday called for a full congressional investigation into the aforementioned widespread flaw in global phone networks.

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MIT Reveals AI Platform Which Detects 85 Percent of Cyberattacks

4/18/2016 10:40am
An anonymous reader writes: MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) says that while many 'analyst-driven solutions' rely on rules created by human experts and therefore may miss attacks which do not match established patterns, a new artificial intelligence platform changes the rules of the game. The platform, dubbed AI Squared (AI2), is able to detect 85 percent of attacks -- roughly three times better than current benchmarks -- and also reduces the number of false positives by a factor of five, according to MIT. The latter is important as when anomaly detection triggers false positives, this can lead to lessened trust in protective systems and also wastes the time of IT experts which need to investigate the matter. AI2 was tested using 3.6 billion log lines generated by over 20 million users in a period of three months. The AI trawled through this information and used machine learning to cluster data together to find suspicious activity. Anything which flagged up as unusual was then presented to a human operator and feedback was issued.Fast Co Design has an interesting take on this.

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Music Industry Sees First Big Gains in 20 Years Thanks to Streaming Services

4/18/2016 10:00am
Thanks to subscription-based music streaming services, the music industry is seeing a significant growth for the first time in nearly two decades. According to International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), an industry trade group, the global music sales rose 3.2 percent last year, also surpassing those from all physical music formats. The important tipping point in 2015 saw digital services account for 45 percent of recorded music revenue. According to the report, Spotify, Apple Music and other music streaming services brought in about $2.9 billion in revenue. The findings are in line with Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)'s estimates from last month. IFPI also noted that music on free streaming services such as YouTube has also grown quickly, creating a panic among record labels and artists alike. Billboard elaborates that aspect: In criticizing ad-supported services, the IFPI joined a growing list of trade bodies and music company executives to criticize YouTube for paying royalties that are relatively low when considering its popularity. The report argues YouTube distorts its negotiations with labels by hiding behind the DMCA "safe harbor" rules that limit the liability of online intermediaries from the infringing actions of their users. The result, the IFPI argues, is YouTube can use an "act first, negotiate later" that "fundamentally distort[s] the negotiation process."

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UK Hosting Provider 123-Reg Accidentally Deletes Customer Sites

4/18/2016 9:00am
Richard Chirgwin, writing for The Register: UK hosting and domains provider 123-Reg has been struck by a weekend issue that knocked an unspecified number of VPS customers offline. The company posted a status message saying that the unspecified issues arose on April 16. 123-reg customer, software company INNmaster, contacted The Register directing our attention to its post on the topic, claiming a rogue script had deleted customer sites (such as this one). Slashdot has independently received several tips for this incident. Here's a copy of the email that Richard Winslow, Director of 123-Reg sent to the affected customers.

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Sanders Campaign Accused of Trademark Bullying By Web Site

4/18/2016 5:30am
An anonymous reader writes: Buzzfeed is reporting that "An online merchant has accused the Bernie Sanders campaign of 'trademark bullying'. after a Bernie 2016, Inc. attorney sent him a cease and desist letter regarding t-shirts, mugs, and sweatshirts depicting the candidate with historic communist leaders..." The t-shirt's designer tells Buzzfeed "He didn't seem to be the type of candidate, the type of guy, who would do something like this... I would think Bernie, or one of his staff members will step in and put an end to it. It appears to be pretty silly." In January Ars Technica reported that lawyers for the Sanders campaign had demanded their logo be removed from pages on Wikipedia -- before later withdrawing that DMCA notice.

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