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Preview: Seattle Post-Intelligencer: High-Tech Technology News From the Associated Press


German intel agency: Russia is trying to destabilize Germany

Thu, 8 Dec 2016 12:50:25 UT

"There is growing evidence of attempts to influence the federal election next year," said the BfV's head, Hans-Georg Maassen, citing "increasingly aggressive cyberespionage" against political entities in Germany. Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said last month: Believe me, we're expecting cyberattacks during election campaigns, every election campaign in Russia. Media outlets controlled by the Russian government and pro-Russian blogs in Germany regularly report on crimes committed by migrants in Germany, linking the incidents to Chancellor Angela Merkel's decision to allow hundreds of thousands of refugees into the country last year.

Black employees file discrimination suit against CNN, Turner

Wed, 7 Dec 2016 22:18:53 UT

NEW YORK (AP) — Current and former black employees of Time Warner, owner of Turner networks including CNN, TNT and TBS, have filed a class-action racial discrimination suit against the company.

Softbank tycoon who met with Trump is Japan's deal maker

Wed, 7 Dec 2016 19:43:55 UT

TOKYO (AP) — Japanese billionaire Masayoshi Son, who met with President-elect Donald Trump and then announced plans to create 50,000 jobs and invest $50 billion in U.S. startups, has been one of Japan's most aggressive overseas investors for over two decades. Softbank became Japan's largest distributor of computer software and leading publisher of computer-related magazines and books, going public in 1994. The Tokyo-based company is now one of Japan's biggest telecoms providers, with more than 63,590 employees, a solar power business, humanoid robots for home use, ride-booking services and financial technology. In July, Softbank bought Britain's ARM Holdings for 24.3 billion pounds ($32 billion), in a deal the British government hailed as a vote of confidence despite its decision to leave the European Union. In 1995, back when Softbank was still a software distributor and publisher of computer and hi-tech magazines, it bought Comdex and other computer-related show businesses from The Interface Group.

Innovation or monopoly? Panel looks at ATT-Time Warner deal

Wed, 7 Dec 2016 19:04:00 UT

"Together, AT&T and Time Warner will disrupt the entrenched pay-TV models, giving customers more options, creating more competition for cable TV providers and accelerating deployment of 5G wireless broadband," Stephenson testified. In hours of questioning before the Senate Judiciary antitrust subcommittee, the skepticism of some senators seemed to deepen over what would be one of the largest media mergers ever. Critics of the merger range from industry analysts and public-interest groups to President-elect Donald Trump, who promised on the campaign trail that he'd kill the deal "because it's too much concentration of power in the hands of too few." Mark Cuban, the billionaire sports and media mogul who owns the NBA's Dallas Mavericks, played evangelist for the deal in a fast-moving world of media and entertainment content. Because of Time Warner's shows and movies — including "Game of Thrones" and the "Harry Potter" films — and AT&T's ability to gather information about its tens of millions of customers, AT&T thinks it could do a better job tailoring ads and video to user preferences. [...] many consumers already consider ads that know everything about them creepy or invasive, and digital-rights groups complain that any preferential deal AT&T could offer with, say, HBO, would hurt competition.

Millions leap at party invite by Mexican rural family

Wed, 7 Dec 2016 18:27:44 UT

A local event photographer posted the video describing a down-home 15th birthday party complete with food, horse races and local bands to his Facebook page, which is usually dedicated to announcing weddings, baptisms and other events in a rural corner of the northern state of San Luis Potosi. Maybe it was daughter Rubi Ibarra's rhinestone tiara and faux leopard-skin dress, or father Crescencio Ibarra's cowboy hat, and his halting description of a 10,000-peso ($500) prize for the "chiva," a horse race that would cap the party. Internet jokesters published photos of troops of turkeys, backhoes stirring giant caldrons of soup, and massive crowds "heading for Rubi's party." The internet memes were punctuated by frequent images of goats, because Crescencio Ibarra used the term "chiva" —the Spanish word for goat, which is also local slang for a two-horse competition— to refer to the race to be held at the party.

6 ways to keep phone charges low during international travel

Wed, 7 Dec 2016 16:58:26 UT

6 ways to keep phone charges low during international travel With the exception of Verizon , carriers typically block your phone from other carriers' plans until you've paid off the hardware, typically after two years. Just visit a kiosk at the airport when you arrive, or stop by a cellphone or convenience store in town. [...] it'll get you email and basic messaging, and it's much cheaper than the $205 Verizon would charge for 100 megabytes without an international plan. Use your hotel's Wi-Fi as much as possible; your Instagram pictures can wait, especially if your friends are asleep anyway. Otherwise, the phone waited until I got back to the hotel's Wi-Fi. On most version of Android, turn on "Restrict background data" to blocks apps from using cellular data while running in the background. To let certain apps override that, you need "Data saver" on the latest version of Android, Nougat, which isn't yet available on most phones. Get and set up apps for museums and other places you're visiting before you leave home or the hotel. The offline mode isn't meant for walking directions, though what I got for driving was often close enough (The exception was Venice, where cars are banned). [...] there's no offline transit support, but I got transit directions by enabling cellular briefly and used offline mode to get to my stops. Netflix recently updated its app to offer similar downloads for offline viewing.

Car company offering red light-reading vehicles in Las Vegas

Wed, 7 Dec 2016 08:17:42 UT

LAS VEGAS (AP) — On the theory that a driver who knows when a red light will turn green is more relaxed and aware, vehicle manufacturer Audi is unveiling this week in Las Vegas a technology that enables vehicles to "read" traffic signals ahead and tell the motorist how long the wait will be. Malhotra said Audi hopes to expand the system soon to other big U.S. cities, including places like Los Angeles, which have patchwork traffic management systems run by varying jurisdictions in a sprawling urban landscape. The Las Vegas-area program, dubbed the Freeway and Arterial System of Transportation, or FAST, collects data and synchronizes 1,300 traffic signals in a region home to more than 2 million people and host to more than 40 million tourists a year. The car company official called the debut of the commercial service "a small step forward in V2I," but a key demonstration of the kind of technology that will enable vehicle-to-vehicle communication and driverless cars. The university Transportation Research Institute program is backed by several federal traffic safety, research, trucking and transit agencies, and pilot programs are slated for Wyoming, New York and Tampa, Florida.

Trump: Japanese mogul pledges $50 billion US investment

Wed, 7 Dec 2016 04:00:44 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — After meeting with Donald Trump on Tuesday, Japanese tech billionaire Masayoshi Son said he will invest $50 billion in new startups in the United States, committing to creating 50,000 new jobs over an unspecified time period. The announcement is the latest instance in which Trump appears to be conducting economic policy via ad-hoc deal-making — sometimes taking credit whether he deserves it or not. The claim was a stretch; Ford had no plans to move the plant and had already agreed to keep producing one specific model there, although it did back away from a plan to shift production of the Lincoln MKC, a small SUV, from Louisville to Cuautitlan, Mexico. Because he said he would do a lot of deregulation, I said, 'This is great, the U.S. will become great again'. Trump plans to meet with leading tech executives next week, a group that will include venture capitalist Peter Thiel — one of Trump's few supporters in Silicon Valley — and Cisco Systems CEO Chuck Robbins. The carrier's attempt to join with rival T-Mobile failed in 2014 after regulators objected to combining two of the four largest mobile telecom companies in the United States.

Drake tops iTunes' year-end music lists

Wed, 7 Dec 2016 03:35:59 UT

Rihanna, who collaborated with Drake on her smash "Work," held the No. 2 spot on the top album's list with "Anti," while Adele's "25," Frank Ocean's "Blonde," which also debuted on Apple, and Justin Bieber's "Purpose" rounded out the top five. In an interview, Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services at Apple, said that 60 percent of those using Apple Music had not purchased any music from iTunes, and noted the growth in its exclusives with artist, from Frank Ocean to Chance the Rapper. Cue said one of the biggest lessons learned is Apple Music was making it easier for consumers to use, from access to its playlists to its radio stations on Beats 1.

High court sides with Samsung in patent dispute with Apple

Wed, 7 Dec 2016 00:51:41 UT

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court unanimously sided with smartphone maker Samsung on Tuesday in its high-profile patent dispute with Apple over design of the iPhone. Apple accused Samsung of duplicating a handful of distinctive iPhone features for which Apple holds patents: the flat screen, the rounded rectangular shape of the phone and the layout of icons on the screen. Companies including Google, Facebook and eBay sided with Samsung, arguing that the verdict was an excessive windfall for copying a few features of the iPhone. On the other side, sportswear manufacturer Adidas and jewelry maker Tiffany & Co. said allowing Apple to recover all the profits Samsung earned would discourage "design pirates" and protect companies that invest in creative designs.

Apple pays $450,000 for alleged hazardous waste violations

Wed, 7 Dec 2016 00:38:35 UT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Apple is paying $450,000 to settle allegations that the iPhone maker operated and closed two hazardous-waste processing plants without submitting the proper paperwork to California environmental regulators. Apple described its conduct as "an oversight in paperwork" that didn't affect its health and safety standards, which the company says are even more stringent than the law requires.

Q&A: A look at Trump's call to cancel new Air Force One

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 22:56:48 UT

The New York businessman, who flies on his own Boeing plane, later told reporters the cost to the government was "ridiculous," though he appeared to be citing more than just the bare acquisition costs. The Government Accountability Office, the government's auditing arm, in March of this year estimated total program costs at more than $3.2 billion, much of it for research and development, through the 2020 federal budget year. The distinctive blue-and-white plane with the U.S. flag on its tail and the presidential seal on its belly is basically a flying office for the president, complete with sophisticated communications, military and other capabilities. Safety of the president is paramount, and the government started the process to replace the aging aircraft with younger versions that incorporate updated capabilities and technological advances. A medical suite can function as an operating room in an emergency, and a doctor is always on board. The plane has quarters for those who regularly accompany the president on trips, including White House staff, Secret Service agents, traveling journalists and other guests. Presidents have flown on Boeing aircraft for more than seven decades and the Chicago-based company is the only American maker of these types of planes. White House press secretary Josh Earnest said Obama didn't scrap the project entirely, but ordered the military to restart it to bring the cost projections under control.

Scientists develop robotic hand for people with quadriplegia

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 19:39:18 UT

BERLIN (AP) — Scientists have developed a mind-controlled robotic hand that allows people with certain types of spinal injuries to perform everyday tasks such as using a fork or drinking from a cup. By wearing a cap that measures electric brain activity and eye movement the users were able to send signals to a tablet computer that controlled the glove-like device attached to their hand. According to Surjo R. Soekadar, a neuroscientist at the University Hospital Tuebingen in Germany and lead author of the study, participants represented typical people with high spinal cord injuries, meaning they were able to move their shoulders but not their fingers.

Survey: Parents binge on media, say they're good role models

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 18:36:45 UT

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Parents spend more than nine hours a day with TVs, computers and other screen devices while also giving themselves high marks as role models for their children's media use, according to a survey released Tuesday. The study also found they were enthusiastic about technology's role in their kids' lives but wary of the risks it may hold, including loss of sleep and online oversharing. The range of activities includes TV or other video viewing; video gaming; social networking or website browsing, and any other task on a computer, smartphone or tablet. Personal media usage by educational level ranges from about nine hours for parents with a high school degree or less to about six hours for those with a bachelor's degree or higher. The top concerns among all parents about potential adverse media effects included the fear that children may become technology addicts (56 percent of parents); that their physical activity will be affected (50 percent) and their face-to-face communication and sleep habits will be hurt (both 34 percent). When it comes to kids' online activities, parents worry about how much time is spent (43 percent), how much personal information is shared (38 percent) and whether youngsters are being exposed to pornography or violent images or videos (both 36 percent).

Google hits renewable energy goal in quest to pare pollution

Tue, 6 Dec 2016 18:27:02 UT

Google instead believes it is now in a position to offset every megawatt hour of electricity supplied by a power plant running on fossil fuels with renewable energy that the Mountain View, California, company has purchased through a variety of contracts. Nearly 20 other technology companies also have pledged to secure enough renewable energy to power their worldwide operations, said Gary Cook, senior energy campaigner for the environmental group Greenpeace. Apple is also trying to convert more of the overseas suppliers that manufacture the iPhone and other devices to renewable energy sources, but that goal is expected take years to reach. Cook said the symbolic message sent by Google's achievement is important to environmental experts who believe electricity generated with coal and natural gas is causing damage that is contributing to extreme swings in the climate.