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Tech News


Supreme Court skeptical of sex offender social media ban

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 19:00:06 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — With a nod to the importance of social media in American life, the Supreme Court signaled Monday it could strike down a North Carolina law that bars convicted sex offenders from Facebook, Twitter and other popular sites. The state's lawyer said the law deals with the virtual world in the same way that states keep sex offenders out of playgrounds and other places children visit. [...] several justices said the law was so broad that it could violate free-speech rights, even of people convicted of sex crimes. Justice Anthony Kennedy voiced his concerns with the law by reaching back to before the digital age to note that more communication takes place online than in the traditional "public square," where the court has been skeptical of limits on speech. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg was among those who wondered if a narrower law that specifically tried to prevent sex offenders from communicating with minors through social media might withstand court review. Louisiana is the only other state with a law similar to North Carolina's, although the Louisiana law applies only to people convicted of sex crimes with children, according to a legal brief the state filed with the Supreme Court.

AT&T-Time Warner deal may have easier path to approval

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 18:51:07 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — AT&T's $85 billion purchase of Time Warner may be getting an easier path to approval after the chief telecommunications regulator says it isn't likely to review the deal. Last week, magazine publisher and TV station owner Meredith announced plans buy Time Warner's lone TV station for $70 million.

Buffett's bite of Apple even bigger than thought

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 18:26:53 UT

(AP) — Billionaire Warren Buffett, famously leery of technology companies, has loaded up on Apple shares after noticing how inseparable iPhone users are from the gadget once they get one in their pocket. Buffett sees Apple as more of a consumer products maker than a tech company, which brought the iPhone maker right into his comfort zone. Buffett was struck by how many of his grandchildren's friends use iPhones and how many people visiting the Berkshire-owned Nebraska Furniture Mart, which has an electronics wing, wanted to replace one iPhone with another. Apple wasn't the only investment evolution for Buffett, who bought more than $9 billion of airline stocks after years of advising investors to steer clear of the industry, citing its significant capital requirements and poor returns. Buffett said it's true airlines had "a bad century" but he now believes that consolidation in the industry has created a healthier environment, pointing out that planes are flying at least 80 percent capacity at major carriers. Berkshire owns more than 90 companies, including BNSF railroad, Geico insurance, utility, clothing, furniture and jewelry firms.

Chatting robots and music: fun gadgets on show in Barcelona

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 17:39:24 UT

Here's a glimpse of some of the gadgets and apps displayed by start-up companies this week at the fair, the world's largest for wireless technology. Israeli startup Living Box offers a modular, unfoldable, solar-powered little greenhouse that you can use to harvest anything from tomatoes to tea and herbs. The hang, a metal percussion instrument shaped like a flying saucer, is beloved of street performers the world round and often associated with meditation practices like yoga. Musicians Ravid Goldschmidt and Alex Posada, the co-founders of the Spanish startup that makes the Oval, say they sought to start a "revolution of percussion" with this instrument. [...] on the market, the Oval is aimed at all kinds of consumers, with about 40 percent estimated to be amateur or professional musicians. The gadget, shaped like virtual reality glasses, recasts images of the world in a way that someone with vision problems can see more clearly. The glasses are still in a developmental stage and, although it's still too early to venture a market price for them, Samsung Senior Engineer Junghoon Cho hopes to compete with other more expensive visual aids out there. Besides correcting blurred images, the headset can eliminate blind spots and improve peripheral vision.

The Latest: Buffett says $143B Unilever talks soured quickly

Mon, 27 Feb 2017 13:09:39 UT

Buffett said Monday on CNBC that his Berkshire Hathaway and 3G Capital abandoned Kraft Heinz Foods' bid for Unilever because they were interested only in a mutually agreed upon tie-up, not a hostile takeover. Buffett says it initially appeared that Unilever might be open to negotiating a deal, but once a rough offer was delivered it became clear the owner of Lipton and Hellman's wasn't interested. Billionaire Warren Buffett says the border adjustment tax proposal Republicans are considering would effectively increase the price of imports. Buffett says if retailers like the Berkshire Hathaway-owned Nebraska Furniture Mart has to pay more taxes on imports, that will increase the price consumers pay. [...] Buffett says he thinks it's likely Republicans will drop the border-adjustment tax proposal because it would be difficult to pass such a dramatic change in tax policy quickly. Buffett says he generally agrees with what Trump says about entitlement programs and Social Security, and some industries do face too many regulations.

Samsung delays its new phone, and showcases tablets instead

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 21:29:49 UT

[...] Samsung is spotlighting new Android and Windows tablets after delaying the Galaxy S8 smartphone — an indirect casualty of the unprecedented September recall of the fire-prone Note 7 phone . Samsung said the new tablets will go through extensive safety checks put in place after dozens of Note 7 phone overheated and in some cases exploded. — The new Galaxy Tab S3, running Google's Android system, will have a glass back and metal frame, borrowing designs from Samsung's smartphones. The display will support high-dynamic range, a feature that promises brighter whites, darker blacks and a wider range of colors — at least for the handful of video titles produced with that capability. [...] Motorola has a new version of its mid-range Moto G phone, while Chinese smartphone maker TCL is unveiling a BlackBerry Android phone with a physical keyboard after BlackBerry gave up on making hardware itself. According to research firm IDC, worldwide iPhone shipments grew 5 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with the previous year. Switching to the iPhone means learning a new operating system and buying new apps, while Google couldn't produce enough of a promising Android contender, the Pixel, to meet demand. The new tablets will come with Samsung Flow so that you can make phone calls and answer texts using the tablet as a bridge to a phone sitting on the table or in your pocket.

Improved technology saves maple syrup producers time, energy

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 18:59:19 UT

Improved technology saves maple syrup producers time, energy (AP) — Maple syrup doesn't get that rich flavor and color in an instant. [...] an improved technology could keep maple sugarers from working late into the night boiling sap into syrup. Producing maple syrup is an old New England cottage industry based on tradition, so some maple sugarers are wondering if faster is actually better.

New LG phone influenced by Samsung's Note 7 troubles

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 14:41:40 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Samsung's fiasco with its fire-prone Note 7 phone has pushed its rival LG to take additional precautions with its next smartphone. LG also redesigned the phone's interior to separate the two main sources of heat — the main processor and the display driver — and turned other components into heat sinks to dissipate heat. Even though the company hasn't had the types of failures that Samsung experienced with the Note 7 batteries, Lee said wireless carriers are seeking greater safety assurances for all phones they sell. LG is matching major rivals in offering water and dust resistance, though in doing so, it eliminated a replaceable battery and the ability to swap in new modules , such as better audio.

Sharp vision: New glasses help the legally blind see

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 13:01:14 UT

The headsets from eSight transmit images from a forward-facing camera to small internal screens — one for each eye — in a way that beams the video into the wearer's peripheral vision. While eSight's headsets don't require the approval of health regulators — they fall into the same low-risk category as dental floss — there's not yet firm evidence of their benefits. The latest version of ESight's technology, built with investments of $32 million over the past decade, is a gadget that vaguely resembles the visor worn by the blind "Star Trek" character Geordi La Forge , played by LeVar Burton. Others, ranging from kids to senior citizens, have worn the gadgets to golf, watch football or just perform daily tasks such as reading nutrition labels. [...] they take still images, analyze them with image recognition software and then generate an automated voice that describes what the wearer is looking at — anything from a child to words written on a page. Samuel Markowitz, a University of Toronto professor of ophthalmology, says that eSight's glasses are the most versatile option for the legally blind currently available, as they can improve vision at near and far distances, plus everything in between. Markowitz is one of the researchers from five universities and the Center for Retina and Macular Disease that recently completed a clinical trial of eSight's second-generation glasses.

Supreme Court weighs law banning sex offenders from Facebook

Sun, 26 Feb 2017 00:47:05 UT

[...] the Supreme Court's task is deciding whether the law, meant to prevent communications between sex offenders and minors via social media, is so broad that it violates the Constitution's free-speech protections. The law addressed websites that might allow sex offenders to gather information about minors, the state court said. Groups including the libertarian Cato Institute and the American Civil Liberties Union argue the North Carolina law could ban sex offenders from online life that includes looking for jobs or reading the daily musings of President Donald Trump and is unconstitutional. Though the intent of North Carolina lawmakers may have been to block sexual predators from finding and grooming prey online, Goldberg said the law goes further and makes it a crime for someone on a sex-offender registry to say anything about any subject on social media. The law's supporters contend that it doesn't regulate what sex offenders say, just the time, place and manner of their speech, which most people understand through the legal maxim that you can't yell "fire" in a crowded movie theater. The law doesn't ban offenders from using the internet entirely, just social media sites like Facebook, said Louisiana Deputy Solicitor General Colin A. Clark, who wrote a brief supporting the law joined by attorneys general in 12 other states. States are trying "to come up with a practical solution to the practical problem of sex offenders being on social media and harvesting information about our children and then soliciting them online," he said.

Appealing to millennials, Las Vegas gets e-sports arena

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 18:09:13 UT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — The arena has all the features that a professional sports venue needs: stands, warm-up areas for teams, massive screens for spectators and a broadcast platform for commentators. "Las Vegas needs to consistently reinvent itself to remain relevant to the up-and-coming generation," said Seth Schorr, CEO of Fifth Street Gaming and a member of the board of directors of Millennial Esports, the company behind the arena. Las Vegas casinos have invested in numerous non-gaming amenities to attract the elusive millennials, from rooms with bunk beds for the young travelers who don't want to spend a minute apart to a lounge that features pool, foosball and air hockey. Vegas is betting on e-sports as its popularity has evolved from a niche genre of gaming to a lucrative sport thanks to new technologies, more reliable internet speeds and a generation of gamers that has grown up watching competitive matches on YouTube and other sites. The sport now draws tens of millions of spectators to online platforms and real-world venues, including New York City's Madison Square Garden, the Los Angeles' Staples Center and Las Vegas' MGM Grand Garden Arena, which earlier this month saw 16 of the world's best CS:

Major security flaw may affect Uber, Fitbit, OkCupid, among other websites

Sat, 25 Feb 2017 02:12:31 UT

Security firm Cloudflare disclosed late Thursday that a long-running bug in its security systems may have leaked information, including potentially personal information, from thousands of sites including Uber, Fitbit and OK Cupid.

The problem was first uncovered by Google security expert Tavis Ormandy, who let Cloudflare know about the issue on Feb. 18. But the service had been leaking information for months in a way that allowed search engines to pick it up, according to Cloudflare.

New Jersey OKs gas pipeline through protected Pinelands

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 21:32:26 UT

CHERRY HILL, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey environmental regulators on Friday approved a hotly contested plan to run a natural gas pipeline through a federally protected forest preserve amid raucous protests that included drums, tambourines and choruses of "This Land Is Your Land." The careful construction of this pipeline will address the energy demands of 142,000 customers in Cape May and Atlantic counties, protect and create jobs, and provide a meaningful opportunity to significantly reduce air emissions. "The use of natural gas and state-of-the-art emissions control technology, together, can turn the facility into a cleaner and more efficient generator of electricity for the people of south Jersey," RC Cape May Holdings, the plant's owners, said in a statement after the vote. After the plan was approved, they chanted, Shame on you! and See you in court! Pipeline supporters including construction workers, though greatly outnumbered, chanted USA! South Jersey Gas maintains that in addition to providing a cleaner fuel source to the power plant, the new pipeline would provide a second transmission vehicle for natural gas to customers in the two southern New Jersey counties.

India police arrest cheap mobile maker on fraud charges

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 08:13:44 UT

LUCKNOW, India (AP) — The director of an Indian company that claimed it was selling the world's cheapest smartphone was arrested Thursday on fraud charges, police said Friday. Police spokesman Rahul Srivastava said Friday that the arrest was made after the distribution company, Ayam Enterprises, filed a complaint that it had paid Goel 3 million rupees, but had received handsets worth only 1.3 million rupees.

Google-bred company accuses Uber of self-driving car theft

Fri, 24 Feb 2017 01:24:02 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — A self-driving car company founded by Google is colliding with ride-haling service Uber in a court battle revolving around allegations of betrayal, high-tech espionage and greed. The 28-page complaint accuses Anthony Levandowski, a former top manager for Google's self-driving car project, of stealing pivotal technology now propelling Uber's effort to assemble a fleet of autonomous vehicles for its ride-hailing service. The dispute highlights the high stakes in the race to build self-driving cars that promise not only to revolutionize the way people get around but also the automobile industry. The San Francisco company has tangled with authorities in California and around the world about how much of its drivers' histories should be covered in background checks and whether those drivers should be treated as contractors ineligible for employee benefits.