Cellphones

Apple's Swift 4.0 Includes A Compatibility Mode For 'The Majority' Of Swift 3.x Code (infoworld.com) 40

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: Swift 4.0 is now available. It's a major upgrade to Apple's Swift, the three-year old successor to the Objective-C language used for MacOS and iOS application development. The Swift 4 upgrade enhances the Swift Package Manager and provides new compatibility modes for developers. Apple said Swift 4 also makes Swift more stable and improves its standard library. Swift 4 is largely source-compatible with Swift 3 and ships as part of Apple's Xcode 9 IDE...

Swift 4's new compatibility modes could save you from having to modify code to be able to use the new version of the compiler. Two modes are supported, including the Swift 3.2 mode, which accepts most source files built with Swift 3.x compilers, and the Swift 4.0 mode, which includes Swift 4 and API changes. Apple said that some source migration will be needed for many projects, but the number of source changes are "quite modest" compared to many previous major changes between Swift releases.

Apple calls Swift 4.0 "a major language release" that also includes new language changes and updates that came through the Swift Evolution process.
Open Source

Facebook Relents, Switches React, Flow, Immuable.js and Jest To MIT License (theregister.co.uk) 31

An anonymous reader quotes the Register: Faced with growing dissatisfaction about licensing requirements for some of its open-source projects, Facebook said it will move React, Jest, Flow, and Immutable.js under the MIT license next week. "We're relicensing these projects because React is the foundation of a broad ecosystem of open source software for the web, and we don't want to hold back forward progress for nontechnical reasons," said Facebook engineering director Adam Wolff in a blog post on Friday. Wolff said while Facebook continues to believe its BSD + Patents license has benefits, "we acknowledge that we failed to decisively convince this community"... Wolff said the updated licensing scheme will arrive next week with the launch of React 16, a rewrite of the library designed for more efficient operation at scale.
Facebook was facing strong criticism from the Apache Software Foundation and last week Wordpress.com had announced plans to move away from React.

"Wolff said Facebook considered a license change for its other open-source projects, but wasn't ready to commit to anything," the Register adds. "Some projects, he said, will keep the BSD + Patents license."
IBM

IBM Open Sources 'WebSphere Liberty' For Java Microservices and Cloud-Native Apps (techrepublic.com) 10

An anonymous reader quotes TechRepublic: On Wednesday, IBM revealed the Open Liberty project, open sourcing its WebSphere Liberty code on GitHub to support Java microservices and cloud-native apps. The company created Liberty five years ago to help developers more quickly and easily create applications using agile and DevOps principles, according to an IBM developerWorks blog post from Ian Robinson, WebSphere Foundation chief architect at IBM... Developers can also choose to move to the commercial versions of WebSphere Liberty at any time, he noted, which include technical support and more specialized features... "We hope Open Liberty will help more developers turn their ideas into full-fledged, enterprise ready apps," Robinson wrote. "We also hope it will broaden the WebSphere family to include more ideas and innovations to benefit the broader Java community of developers at organizations big and small."
IBM argues that Open Liberty, along with the OpenJ9 VM they open sourced last week, "provides the full Java stack from IBM with a fully open licensing model."

Interestingly, Slashdot ran a story asking "IBM WebSphere SE To Be Opened?" -- back in 2000.
Iphone

Hackers Using iCloud's Find My iPhone Feature To Remotely Lock Macs, Demand Ransom Payments (macrumors.com) 52

AmiMoJo shares a report from Mac Rumors: Over the last day or two, several Mac users appear to have been locked out of their machines after hackers signed into their iCloud accounts and initiated a remote lock using Find My iPhone. With access to an iCloud user's username and password, Find My iPhone on iCloud.com can be used to "lock" a Mac with a passcode even with two-factor authentication turned on, and that's what's going on here. Affected users who have had their iCloud accounts hacked are receiving messages demanding money for the passcode to unlock a locked Mac device. The usernames and passwords of the iCloud accounts affected by this "hack" were likely found through various site data breaches and have not been acquired through a breach of Apple's servers. Impacted users likely used the same email addresses, account names, and passwords for multiple accounts, allowing people with malicious intent to figure out their iCloud details.
Power

Court Rules That Imported Solar Panels Are Bad For US Manufacturing (theverge.com) 222

The International Trade Commission has ruled that American companies are being hurt by cheap solar panels from overseas, providing an opportunity for President Donald Trump to tax imports from countries like China. The Verge reports: Today's unanimous decision ruled that the companies SolarWorld Americans and Suniva were struggling financially not because of their own poor management, but because they couldn't compete with cheap panels from countries like China, Mexico, and South Korea. Suniva is now suggesting import duties of 40 cents a watt for solar cells, and a floor price of 78 cents a watt for panels. (Right now, the average floor price, worldwide, for panels is about 32 cents.) The Solar Energy Industries Association warned that implementing these suggestions could end up doubling the price of solar, thus destroying demand and causing Americans to lose their jobs.
Google

Google Experiment Tests Top 5 Browsers, Finds Safari Riddled With Security Bugs (bleepingcomputer.com) 98

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Bleeping Computer: The Project Zero team at Google has created a new tool for testing browser DOM engines and has unleashed it on today's top five browsers, finding most bugs in Apple's Safari. Results showed that Safari had by far the worst DOM engine, with 17 new bugs discovered after Fratric's test. Second was Edge with 6, then IE and Firefox with 4, and last was Chrome with only 2 new issues. The tests were carried out with a new fuzzing tool created by Google engineers named Domato, also open-sourced on GitHub. This is the third fuzzing tool Google creates and releases into open-source after OSS-Fuzz and syzkaller. Researchers focused on testing DOM engines for vulnerabilities because they expect them to be the next target for browser exploitation after Flash reaches end-of-life in 2020.
Communications

Verizon Backtracks Slightly In Plan To Kick Customers Off Network (arstechnica.com) 46

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Verizon Wireless is giving a reprieve to some rural customers who are scheduled to be booted off their service plans, but only in cases when customers have no other options for cellular service. Verizon recently notified 8,500 customers in 13 states that they will be disconnected on October 17 because they used roaming data on another network. But these customers weren't doing anything wrong -- they are being served by rural networks that were set up for the purpose of extending Verizon's reach into rural areas. Today, Verizon said it is extending the deadline to switch providers to December 1. The company is also letting some customers stay on the network -- although they must switch to a new service plan. "If there is no alternative provider in your area, you can switch to the S (2GB), M (4GB), 5GB single-line, or L (8GB) Verizon plan, but you must do so by December 1," Verizon said in a statement released today. These plans range from $35 to $70 a month, plus $20 "line fees" for each line. The 8,500 customers who received disconnection letters have a total of 19,000 lines. Verizon sells unlimited plans in most of the country but said only those limited options would be available to these customers. Verizon also reiterated its promise that first responders will be able to keep their Verizon service even though some public safety officials received disconnection notices. "We have become aware of a very small number of affected customers who may be using their personal phones in their roles as first responders and another small group who may not have another option for wireless service," Verizon said. "After listening to these folks, we are committed to resolving these issues in the best interest of the customers and their communities. We're committed to ensuring first responders in these areas keep their Verizon service."
Businesses

Nestle Makes Billions Bottling Water It Pays Nearly Nothing For (bloomberg.com) 363

Nestle, the world's largest food and beverage company, has been bottling water since 1843 and has grown into the largest seller of bottled water. But a detailed report on Bloomberg uncovers the company's operation in Michigan, revealing that Nestle has come to dominate in the industry in part by going into economically depressed areas with lax water laws. It makes billions selling a product for which it pays close to nothing. Find the Bloomberg Businessweek article here (it might be paywalled, here's an alternative source).
Businesses

Anatomy of a Moral Panic: Reports About Amazon Suggesting 'Bomb-Making Items' Were Highly Misleading (idlewords.com) 76

Maciej Ceglowski, a Polish-American web developer, has demolished a news story from earlier this week in which a British outlet Channel 4 suggested that Amazon's algorithm-driven suggestions were helping people find items that are required to make bombs. Multiple credible news outlets picked the story, including The New York Times, Reuters, BBC, and CNBC. We ran an excerpt from the New York Times' article, which included a newsworthy response from Amazon that it was reviewing its website, on Slashdot. In reality what was happening was, Ceglowski wrote, the items Amazon suggested would help high school chemistry students with their experiments. From his blog: The 'common chemical compound' in Channel 4's report is potassium nitrate, an ingredient used in curing meat. If you go to Amazon's page to order a half-kilo bag of the stuff, you'll see the suggested items include sulfur and charcoal, the other two ingredients of gunpowder. [...] The Channel 4 piece goes on to reveal that people searching for 'another widely available chemical' are being offered the ingredients for thermite, a mixture of metal powders that when ignited "creates a hazardous reaction used in incendiary bombs and for cutting through steel." In this case, the 'widely available chemical' is magnesium ribbon. If you search for this ribbon on Amazon, the site will offer to sell you iron oxide (rust) and aluminum powder, which you can mix together to create a spectacular bit of fireworks called the thermite reaction. The thermite reaction is performed in every high school chemistry classroom, as a fun reward for students who have had to suffer through a baffling unit on redox reactions. [...] When I contacted the author of one of these pieces to express my concerns, they explained that the piece had been written on short deadline that morning, and they were already working on an unrelated article. The author cited coverage in other mainstream outlets (including the New York Times) as justification for republishing and not correcting the assertions made in the original Channel 4 report. The real story in this mess is not the threat that algorithms pose to Amazon shoppers, but the threat that algorithms pose to journalism. By forcing reporters to optimize every story for clicks, not giving them time to check or contextualize their reporting, and requiring them to race to publish follow-on articles on every topic, the clickbait economics of online media encourage carelessness and drama. This is particularly true for technical topics outside the reporter's area of expertise. And reporters have no choice but to chase clicks.
Red Hat Software

Red Hat Pledges Patent Protection For 99 Percent of FOSS-ware (theregister.co.uk) 64

Red Hat says it has amassed over 2,000 patents and won't enforce them if the technologies they describe are used in properly-licensed open-source software. From a report: The company has made more or less the same offer since 2002, when it first made a "Patent Promise" in order to "discourage patent aggression in free and open source software." Back then the company didn't own many patents and claimed its non-enforcement promise covered 35 per cent of open-source software. The Promise was revised in order to reflect the company's growing patent trove and to spruce up the language it uses to make it more relevant. The revised promise "applies to all software meeting the free software or open source definitions of the Free Software Foundation (FSF) or the Open Source Initiative (OSI)." [...] It's not a blank cheque. Hardware isn't covered and Red Hat is at pains to point out that "Our Promise is not an assurance that Red Hat's patents are enforceable or that practicing Red Hat's patented inventions does not infringe others' patents or other intellectual property." But the company says 99 percent of FOSS software should be covered by the Promise.
Businesses

Apple's Latest Products Get Rare Mixed-Bag Reviews, Muted Reception (bloomberg.com) 203

Mark Gurman, writing for Bloomberg: Despite the strength of its brand, Apple occasionally releases a product to mediocre reviews -- remember the original Apple TV or Apple Watch? But reviewers have rarely been as grumpy as this month, when Apple unveiled its collection of new gadgets for the holidays. "I can't think of a single compelling reason to upgrade [to iPhone 8, or iPhone 8 Plus] from an iPhone 7 [which was launched last year]," wrote Nilay Patel of The Verge. Another potential sign of trouble: the iPhone 8 models didn't sell out during pre-orders, another rare occurrence for Apple phones. [...] Reviewing the new Apple Watch Series 3 model, The Wall Street Journal's Joanna Stern wrote "On the AT&T-connected models, the cellular connection dropped, calls were often choppy and Siri sometimes failed to connect. On the one that ran on T-Mobile, I experienced several dropped connections." The Verge's Lauren Goode noticed a serious connection issue as well, saying the device "would appear to pick up a single bar of some random Wi-Fi signal, and hang on that, rather than switching to LTE." [...] Reviewing the Apple TV 4K, The Verge's Patel noted the device's high price, a lack of 4K support in major apps including YouTube, and a lack of support for the Dolby Atmos audio standard. Reuters reported on Friday: Hundreds of people usually gather at Apple's Sydney city store with queues winding down the town's main street, George Street, when there is a new product release. But there were fewer than 30 people lining up before the store opened on Friday, according to a Reuters witness. While the number of people queuing up outside Apple stores have dropped over the years with many opting for online purchases, the weak turnout for the latest iPhone has partly been due to poor reviews. Over at Financial Times, Tim Bradshaw reports: "I think demand is down from last year, for no other reason than you have another flagship phone," said Neil Cybart, an Apple analyst at Above Avalon. "A portion of the iPhone launch demand is not materialising quite yet." That could leave this weekend's initial sales lower than at any point since the iPhone 6 first launched in 2014, Mr Cybart added. Apple's decision to increase prices for the iPhone 8 compared with last year's model and a less aggressive launch push by mobile carriers could also affect demand.
Communications

T-Mobile, Sprint Close To Agreeing Deal Terms (reuters.com) 81

From a report: T-Mobile US is close to agreeing tentative terms on a deal to merge with peer Sprint Corp, people familiar with the matter said on Friday, a major breakthrough in efforts to merge the third and fourth largest U.S. wireless carriers. The development follows more than four months of on-and-off talks this year between T-Mobile and Sprint, and comes as the U.S. telecommunications sector seeks ways to tackle investments in 5G technology that will greatly enhance wireless data transfer speeds.
Businesses

London Has Decided To Ban Uber (recode.net) 213

Johana Bhuiyan, writing for Recode: Transport for London, the taxi regulating service in London, announced today that it would not be renewing Uber's license to operate because of concerns over the company's "lack of corporate responsibility" in relation to public safety issues. The ride-hail company, which launched in London in 2012, is appealing the TfL's decision and will be allowed to continue to operate until a court makes a decision on that appeal. That process could take months. London is a significant market for Uber: The company says there are 40,000 drivers and 3.5 million riders on its platform in London. And like New York City, it is one of the most regulated markets where Uber operates. Unlike most markets across the U.S., Uber drivers in London and New York City are required to participate in government administered background checks.
The Almighty Buck

Why You Shouldn't Imitate Bill Gates If You Want To Be Rich (bbc.com) 282

dryriver writes: BBC Capital has an article that debunks the idea of "simply doing what highly successful people have done to get rich," because many of those "outliers" got rich under special circumstances that are not possible to replicate. An excerpt: "Even if you could imitate everything Gates did, you would not be able to replicate his initial good fortune. For example, Gates's upper-class background and private education enabled him to gain extra programming experience when less than 0.01% of his generation then had access to computers. His mother's social connection with IBM's chairman enabled him to gain a contract from the then-leading PC company that was crucial for establishing his software empire. This is important because most customers who used IBM computers were forced to learn how to use Microsoft's software that came along with it. This created an inertia in Microsoft's favor. The next software these customers chose was more likely to be Microsoft's, not because their software was necessarily the best, but because most people were too busy to learn how to use anything else. Microsoft's success and marketshare may differ from the rest by several orders of magnitude but the difference was really enabled by Gate's early fortune, reinforced by a strong success-breeds-success dynamic."
Space

Most Powerful Cosmic Rays Come From Galaxies Far, Far Away (space.com) 93

A new study finds the highest-energy cosmic rays to bombard Earth come from galaxies far, far away. Space.com reports: The sun emits relatively low-energy cosmic rays. However, for more than 50 years, scientists have also detected ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, ones far beyond the capability of any particle accelerator on Earth to generate. One way to discover the origins of ultra-high-energy cosmic rays is to study their directions of travel. However, ultra-high-energy cosmic rays only rarely strike Earth's atmosphere, with one hitting any given area about the size of a soccer field about once per century, the researchers said. In order to detect ultra-high-energy cosmic rays, scientists look for the spray of electrons, photons and other particles that result when ultra-high-energy cosmic rays hit the top of Earth's atmosphere. Each of these showers contains more than 10 billion particles, which fly downward in a disk shaped like a giant plate miles wide, according to the statement. Scientists examined the sprays from ultra-high-energy cosmic rays using the largest cosmic-ray observatory yet: the Pierre Auger Observatory built in the western plains of Argentina in 2001. It consists of an array of 1,600 particle detectors deployed in a hexagonal grid over 1,160 square miles (3,000 square kilometers), an area comparable in size to Rhode Island. A connected set of telescopes is also used to see the dim fluorescent light the particles in the sprays emit at night.

The researchers analyzed data collected between 2004 and 2016. During these 12 years, the scientists detected more than 30,000 ultra-high-energy cosmic rays. If ultra-high-energy cosmic rays came from the Milky Way, one might perhaps expect them to come from all across the sky, or perhaps mostly from the direction of the supermassive black hole at the galaxy's center. However, the researchers saw that ultra-high-energy cosmic rays mostly came from a broad area of sky about 90 degrees away from the direction of the Milky Way's core.

The Almighty Buck

Tesla Discontinues Its Most Affordable Model S (engadget.com) 94

Tesla will be discontinuing its cheapest Model S option, the Model S 75, this Sunday. What that means is that the all-wheel-drive version -- the 75D -- will take its place as the low-end Model S sedan, currently listed at a starting price of $74,500. Engadget reports: The move to discontinue the Model S 75 was first announced by Tesla in July after it dropped the price by $5,000 a few months earlier. The removal of the model from Tesla's offerings follows its discontinuation of the Model S 60 and 60D vehicles in April, which at the time were the least expensive Model S options available. As well as streamlining its EV line and making all Model S options all-wheel-drive, knocking off the low-end Model S vehicles is also likely being done to carve out a bigger separation between the Model 3 and Model S lines. Custom orders for the Model S 75 will be taken until Sunday, September 24th and the pre-configured versions will be available for purchase until inventory runs out.
EU

EU Paid For Report That Said Piracy Isn't Harmful -- And Tried To Hide Findings (thenextweb.com) 156

According to Julia Reda's blog, the only Pirate in the EU Parliament, the European Commission in 2014 paid the Dutch consulting firm Ecorys 360,000 euros (about $428,000) to research the effect piracy had on sales of copyrighted content. The final report was finished in May 2015, but was never published because the report concluded that piracy isn't harmful. The Next Web reports: The 300-page report seems to suggest that there's no evidence that supports the idea that piracy has a negative effect on sales of copyrighted content (with some exceptions for recently released blockbusters). The report states: "In general, the results do not show robust statistical evidence of displacement of sales by online copyright infringements. That does not necessarily mean that piracy has no effect but only that the statistical analysis does not prove with sufficient reliability that there is an effect. An exception is the displacement of recent top films. The results show a displacement rate of 40 per cent which means that for every ten recent top films watched illegally, four fewer films are consumed legally."

On her blog, Julia Reda says that a report like this is fundamental to discussions about copyright policies -- where the general assumption is usually that piracy has a negative effect on rightsholders' revenues. She also criticizes the Commissions reluctance to publish the report and says it probably wouldn't have released it for several more years if it wasn't for the access to documents request she filed in July.
As for why the Commission hadn't published the report earlier, Reda says: "all available evidence suggests that the Commission actively chose to ignore the study except for the part that suited their agenda: In an academic article published in 2016, two European Commission officials reported a link between lost sales for blockbusters and illegal downloads of those films. They failed to disclose, however, that the study this was based on also looked at music, ebooks and games, where it found no such connection. On the contrary, in the case of video games, the study found the opposite link, indicating a positive influence of illegal game downloads on legal sales. That demonstrates that the study wasn't forgotten by the Commission altogether..."
Encryption

Distrustful US Allies Force Spy Agency To Back Down In Encryption Fight (reuters.com) 102

schwit1 shares a report from Reuters: An international group of cryptography experts has forced the U.S. National Security Agency to back down over two data encryption techniques it wanted set as global industry standards, reflecting deep mistrust among close U.S. allies. In interviews and emails seen by Reuters, academic and industry experts from countries including Germany, Japan and Israel worried that the U.S. electronic spy agency was pushing the new techniques not because they were good encryption tools, but because it knew how to break them. The NSA has now agreed to drop all but the most powerful versions of the techniques -- those least likely to be vulnerable to hacks -- to address the concerns.
Firefox

Firefox For iOS Gets Tracking Protection, Firefox Focus For Android Gets Tabs 28

An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Mozilla today released Firefox 9.0 for iOS and updated Firefox Focus for Android. The iOS browser is getting tracking protection, improved sync, and iOS 11 compatibility. The Android privacy browser is getting tabs. You can download the former from Apple's App Store and the latter from Google Play. This is the first time Firefox has offered tracking protection on iOS, and Nick Nguyen, vice president of product at Mozilla, notes that it's finally possible "thanks to changes by Apple to enable the option for 3rd party browsers." This essentially means iPhone and iPad users with Firefox and iOS 11 will have automatic ad and content blocking in Private Browsing mode, and the option to turn it on in regular browsing. This is the same feature that's available in Firefox for Android, Windows, Mac, and Linux, as well as the same ad blocking technology used in Firefox Focus for Android and iOS.
The Almighty Buck

Bitcoin Futures-Based ETF Likely To Be Approved in the US (thestreet.com) 59

The race is on: who will be the first to launch a Bitcoin exchange-traded fund in the United States? From a report, shared by a reader: In Europe, there is already a Bitcoin exchange traded note (ETN) available to investors. In the U.S., it is widely anticipated a Bitcoin ETF will be be approved by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) very soon. In Europe, ETNs are designed to track the movement of Bitcoin against the U.S. dollar. The ETNs are Bitcoin Tracker One, which is traded in Swedish krona and Bitcoin Tracker EURO, which is traded in euro. Both ETNs are issued by XBT Provider AB and traded on Nasdaq OMX (Stockholm). Dave Nadig, CEO of ETF.com and previously the director of ETFs at FactSet Research Systemsm believes we can expect to see Bitcoin Futures-based ETF launched in the U.S. by the end of this year. "Yes, you can already trade a derivative in Europe, an exchange traded note which tracks Bitcoin," Nadig adds. "Then the race in the U.S. is the race to see what gets approval first. Will it be a Bitcoin future or a straight up Bitcoin holding ETF? My bet is that we will see Bitcoin futures approved fairly quickly."

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