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Businesses

Apple Not Allowed To Open Stores In India (reuters.com) 197

ffkom writes: Reuters reports: "India has said Apple Inc must meet a rule obliging foreign retailers to sell at least 30 percent locally-sourced goods if it wishes to open stores in the country, a senior government official told Reuters. A change in legislation last year exempted foreign retailers selling high-tech goods from the rule, which states 30 percent of the value of goods sold in the store should be made in India. However, Apple's products were not considered to be in this category, said the official, who has direct knowledge of the matter." Now just imagine what Apple stores in the U.S. would look like if 30% of their offerings had to be made in the US... "They did ask for a waiver but didn't provide any material on record to justify it. The decision was taken only after a thorough examination of their application," the source said. Apple planned to open at least three stores in India by the end of 2017. Separate sources said Apple talked with the Indian government about a relaxation of the rule before it filed an application to open stores in the country in January. In a report from The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled), one of India's government officials said, "We are sticking to the old policy. We want local sourcing for job creation. You can't have a situation where people view India only as a market. Let them start doing some manufacturing here." Currently, Apple sells its products "through a network of Indian-owned distribution companies and retailers."
Patents

Patent Troll VirnetX Wants To Ban FaceTime and iMessage, Increase Damages Award By $190M (9to5mac.com) 82

An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this year, patent troll VirnetX won a court battle with Apple to the tune of $625 million. Now, the company wants to increase the damages award by $190 million. Law360 reports: "At a post-trial hearing Wednesday, Texas technology company VirnetX argued that although an injunction blocking Apple's popular video chatting and messaging features, along with a virtual private network on demand feature, may seem like a harsh remedy, it is necessary because of the irreparable harm Apple's infringement caused the company. VirnetX also asked the court to increase the jury's damages award by at least $190 million, arguing that Apple has been the 'poster child' for unreasonable litigation tactics." VirnetX also wants the court to block FaceTime and iMessage entirely. "Meanwhile, Apple argued that in light of U.S. Patent and Trademark Office decisions rejecting the four patents-in-suit, an injunction would be inappropriate, as would any ongoing royalty based on FaceTime, iMessage and virtual private network on demand features. The tech giant also sought a mistrial based on a purportedly inappropriate argument to the jury and argued that the company is entitled to a judgment of non infringement, despite the jury verdict, based on VirnetX's allegedly insufficient evidence," reports Law360.
China

Lenovo: Motorola Acquisition 'Did Not Meet Expectations' (theverge.com) 61

Lenovo acquired Motorola from Google in 2014. Since then, the Chinese technology conglomerate has been trying to merge Motorola's offering into its large portfolio. But things aren't going as planned. Lenovo on Thursday announced that the "integration efforts did not meet expectations". The company, however, insists that it has drawn many lessons from the experience since the close of the Motorola acquisition, and it is making changes to them quickly.

It's not the best time in the market if you're an Android smartphone maker. There's an increasingly growing competition especially from companies such as Xiaomi, Meizu, Micromax, Yu and others that are making premium smartphones with a razor-thin margin. Any unique feature a smartphone maker introduces is seen replicated in others' offerings within weeks.
Robotics

Adidas To Sell Robot-Made Shoes In Germany (dw.com) 153

Adidas, the German sportswear and equipment maker, has announced that it will start marketing the first series of sports shoes manufactured by robots in Germany from 2017. Deutsche Welle reports: The announcement came as Adidas unveiled its prototype "Speedfactory", a state-of-the-art, 4,600 square-meter facility meant to automate shoe production, which is largely done manually in Asian factories at the moment. The company has struggled with steadily rising wages across the continent, where it employs around a million people. Still, Adidas insisted that the aim was not to immediately replace their workers, saying the goal was not "full automatization".
AI

Xiaomi Unveils Budget-Friendly Mi Drone, $460 For 4K Or $380 For 1080p (theverge.com) 54

An anonymous reader writes: Chinese consumer electronics company Xiaomi has officially journeyed into the drones product category. The Xiaomi Mi Drone is a quadcopter with a three-axis gimbal, 4K camera, and a remote control that uses your Mi smartphone as a viewfinder. The 4K version retails for about $460 while the 1080p model retails for about $380. When compared to drones from DJI or Yuneec, the Mi Drone seriously undercuts them as they typically retail for more than $1,000. Some other features of the Mi Drone center around modularity and serviceability -- the camera module and rotors are detachable. The 5,100 mAh battery that Xiaomi claims can last 27 minutes of continuous flight time on a single charge is also replaceable. It uses GPS and GLONASS for positioning. It even features a visual positioning system on the rear that allows itself to remain stable when flying at low altitudes in environments where a satellite signal cannot be reached. Some of the autonomous flight modes include: takeoff, landing, return to home, waypoint navigation and orbit, with the ability to create a geofence to limit its movement. The 1080p Mi Drone "will be crowdfunded on the Mi Hope app starting May 26, 2016," while the 4K Mi Drone "will be available for testing via an open beta program at the end of July." With such an affordable price tag relative to the competition, the Xiaomi Mi Drone may help increase revenues for the company whose sales barely grew last year.
Network

Tor To Use Distributed RNG To Generate Truly Random Numbers (softpedia.com) 123

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Softpedia: Tor developers have been working on the next iteration of the Tor network and its underbelly, the Onion routing protocol, in order to create a stronger, harder-to-crack anonymous communications system. To advance the project, the developer team schedules brainstorming and planning meetings at regular intervals. The most recent of these meetings took place last week, in Montreal, Canada. In this session, the team tested the next generation of the Tor network working on top of a revamped Onion protocol that uses a new algorithm for generating random numbers, never before seen on the Internet. The Tor Project says it created something it calls "a distributed RNG" (random number generator) that uses two or more computers to create random numbers and then blends their outputs together into a new random number. The end result is something that's almost impossible to crack without knowing which computers from a network contributed to the final random number, and which entropy each one used. Last week, two University of Texas academics have made a breakthrough in random number generation. The work is theoretical, but could lead to a number of advances in cryptography, scientific polling, and the study of various complex environments such as the climate.
AI

Researchers Teaching Robots To Feel and React To Pain (ieee.org) 62

An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Leibniz University of Hannover in Germany are developing what they call an "artificial robot nervous system" that would allow robots to "feel" pain and react accordingly so they can avoid potential damages to their components. According to IEEE, the system uses a "nervous robot-tissue model that is inspired by the human skin structure" to measure different pain levels and move the robot in a way that prevents damaging interactions. [The model transmits pain information in repetitive spikes if the force exceeds a certain threshold, and the pain controller reacts after classifying the information into light, moderate, or severe pain.] Johannes Kuehn, one of the researchers, argues that in addition to avoiding potential damages to their components, robots will be protecting humans as well, since a growing number of them will be operating in close proximity to human workers. Kuehn, who worked on the project with Professor Sami Haddadin, reasoned that if our biological mechanisms to sense and respond to pain are so effective, why not devise a bio-inspired robot controller that mimics those mechanisms?
Open Source

CentOS Linux 6.8 Released (softpedia.com) 87

An anonymous reader writes: CentOS team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of CentOS Linux 6.8 and install media for i386 and x86_64 Architectures. Release Notes for 6.8 are available here. Softpedia writes: "CentOS Linux 6.8 arrives today with major changes, among which we can mention the latest Linux 2.6.32 kernel release from upstream with support for storing up to 300TB of data on XFS filesystems. The VPN endpoint solution implemented in the NetworkManager network connection manager utility is now provided on the libreswan library instead of the Openswan IPsec implementation used in previous release of the OS, and it looks like the SSLv2 protocol has been disabled by default for the SSSD (System Security Services Daemon), which also comes with support for smart cards now." In addition, the new release comes with updated applications, including the LibreOffice 4.3.7 office suite and Squid 3.4 caching and forwarding web proxy, many of which are supporting the Transport Layer Security (TLS) 1.2 protocol, including Git, YUM, Postfix, OpenLDAP, stunnel, and vsftpd. The dmidecode open-source tool now supports SMBIOS 3.0.0, you can now pull kickstart files from HTTPS (Secure HTTP) sources, the NTDp (Network Time Protocol daemon) package has an alternative solution as chrony, SSLv3 has been disabled by default, and there's improved support for Hyper-V.
The Military

US Military Uses 8-Inch Floppy Disks To Coordinate Nuclear Force Operations (cnbc.com) 259

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNBC: A new report reveals the U.S. Defense Department is still using 8-inch floppy disks in a computer system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation's nuclear forces. The Defense Department's 1970s-era IBM Series/1 Computer and long-outdated floppy disks handle functions related to intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers and tanker support aircraft, according to the new Governmental Accountability Office report. The report shows how outdated IT systems are being used to handle important functions related to the nation's taxpayers, federal prisoners and military veterans, as well as to the America's nuclear umbrella. "Federal legacy IT systems are becoming increasingly obsolete: Many use outdated software languages and hardware parts that are unsupported," the report found. "Agencies reported using several systems that have components that are, in some cases, at least 50 years old." From the report: "GAO pointed out that aging systems include the Treasury Department's 'individual master file,' which is the authoritative data source for individual taxpayers. It's used to assess taxes and generates refunds. That file 'is written in assembly language code -- a low-level computer code that is difficult to write and maintain -- and operates on an IBM mainframe,' the report said." The report also mentioned that several other departments, such as the departments of Treasury, Commerce, Health and Human Services and the Veterans' Administration, "reported using 1980s and 1990s Microsoft operating systems that stopped being supported by the vendor more than a decade ago."
Robotics

Former McDonald's USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour (foxbusiness.com) 964

An anonymous reader shares an article on Fox Business: As fast-food workers across the country vie for $15 per hour wages, many business owners have already begun to take humans out of the picture. "I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry -- it's cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who's inefficient making $15 an hour (warning: autoplaying video) bagging French fries -- it's nonsense and it's very destructive and it's inflationary and it's going to cause a job loss across this country like you're not going to believe," said former McDonald's USA CEO Ed Rensi during an interview on the FOX Business Network's Mornings with Maria. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.3 million people earned the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour with about 1.7 million having wages below the federal minimum in 2014. These three million workers combined made up 3.9 percent of all hourly paid workers.
Robotics

Foxconn Cuts 60,000 Jobs, Replaces With Robots (thestack.com) 409

An anonymous reader writes: In a bid to accelerate growth and reduce labor costs, Apple supplier Foxconn cut 60,000 jobs at a single factory, work that is now being completed by robots. As many as 600 companies in the Chinese manufacturing hub of Kunshan may have similar plans to automate their workforce, according to a government survey. Foxconn spokesperson Xu Yulian said, "The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labor costs." He added, "More companies are likely to follow suit."

These changes are spurred in part by a desire to reduce labor costs, but have also been made in response to an explosion at a Kunshan factory in 2014 that killed 146 people. The explosion was attributed to unsafe working conditions in the Taiwanese-owned metal polishing factory, which were recognized and documented. After the explosion, the local government pledged 2 billion yuan per year in subsidies to support companies that install industrial robots on their production lines.

Microsoft

Microsoft Is Laying Off 1,850 to Streamline Its Smartphone Business (theverge.com) 107

Microsoft is making more changes to its smartphone business. The company, which sold its feature phone business last week, on Wednesday announced that it is scaling back hardware -- laying off 1,850 staff and take a charge of $950 million including $200 million in severance payments in a memo to all employees. The company insists that "great new devices" are in the works. From Myerson's memo: Last week we announced the sale of our feature phone business. Today I want to share that we are taking the additional step of streamlining our smartphone hardware business, and we anticipate this will impact up to 1,850 jobs worldwide, up to 1,350 of which are in Finland. These changes are incredibly difficult because of the impact on good people who have contributed greatly to Microsoft. Speaking on behalf of Satya and the entire Senior Leadership Team, we are committed to help each individual impacted with our support, resources, and respect. For context, Windows 10 recently crossed 300 million monthly active devices, our Surface and Xbox customer satisfaction is at record levels, and HoloLens enthusiasts are developing incredible new experiences. Yet our phone success has been limited to companies valuing our commitment to security, manageability, and Continuum, and with consumers who value the same. Thus, we need to be more focused in our phone hardware efforts.
The Almighty Buck

Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Fitbit For 'Highly Inaccurate' Heart Rate Trackers (nbcnews.com) 137

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: A class action lawsuit against Fitbit may have grown teeth following the release of a new study that claims the company's popular heart rate trackers are "highly inaccurate." Researchers at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona tested the heart rates of 43 healthy adults with Fitbit's PurePulse heart rate monitors, using the company's Surge watches and Charge HR bands on each wrist. Subjects were then hooked up to a BioHarness device that produced an electrocardiogram (ECG), to record the heart's rhythm against the data being produced by Fitbit's devices. Comparative results from rest and exercise -- including jump rope, treadmills, outdoor jogging and stair climbing -- showed that the Fitbit devices miscalculated heart rates by up to 20 beats per minute on average during more intensive workouts. The study was commissioned by the Lieff Cabraser, the law firm behind the class action suit that is taking aim at three Fitbit models that use the PurePulse heart monitor, including the Fitbit Blaze, Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge. "What the plaintiffs' attorneys call a 'study' is biased, baseless, and nothing more than an attempt to extract a payout from Fitbit. It lacks scientific rigor and is the product of flawed methodology," Fitbit said in a statement posted by Gizmodo.
HP

HPE To Spin Out Its Huge Services Business, Merge It With CSC (cio.com) 146

itwbennett writes from a report via CIO: Hewlett-Packard Enterprise announced Tuesday that it will spin off its enterprise services business and merge it with IT services company Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) to create a company with $26 billion in annual revenue. The services business "accounts for roughly 100,000 employees, or two-thirds of the Silicon Valley giant's workforce," according to the Wall Street Journal. In a statement, HPE CEO Meg Whitman said customers would benefit from a "stronger, more versatile services business, better able to innovate and adapt to an ever-changing technology landscape." Layoffs were not a topic of discussion in Tuesday's announcement, but HPE did say last year they would cut 33,000 jobs by 2018, in addition to the 55,000 job cuts it had already announced. The company also split into two last year, betting that the smaller parts will be nimbler and more able to reverse four years of declining sales.
Graphics

E Ink Creates Full-Color Electronic Paper Display (mashable.com) 92

SkinnyGuy writes: The reflective display company finally figured out how to make those ultra tiny balls produce 32,000 colors in one super-low-powered display. It's a breakthrough for E Ink, display advertising and, maybe someday, e-readers and digital photo frames. The new prototype display, which can be manufactured in an array of sizes, features a 20-inch, 2500 x 1600 resolution and is equally as power-efficient as the monochromatic display. E Ink Holding's Head of Global marketing Giovanni Mancini said it can be powered with solar cells used in bus stop signage, for example. Some of the limitations center around the resolution and refresh rate. As of right now, the resolution is only 150 pixels per inch (ppi), which is about half the resolution of a typical 6-inch, monochromatic E ink display. It also takes about two seconds to fully resolve images, which is pretty slow when compared to today's e-readers. The company is currently only focused on using the new color display for commercial signage.
Hardware

Pebble Unveils Pebble 2, Pebble Time 2, and Pebble Core Smartwatches (kickstarter.com) 63

Pebble on Tuesday unveiled its latest line of wearable devices. The company announced the Pebble 2 -- a sleeker successor to the company's four-year-old Pebble watch -- and the Pebble Time 2, which comes with a large colour display and steel frame. Both the devices are up on Kickstarter, and scheduled to be shipped later this year. The company also announced the Pebble Core, a square-shaped timepiece which supports 3G, GPS, and Bluetooth connections and lets users stream music using Spotify and make emergency calls without the need of a smartphone. The Pebble 2 and the Pebble Time 2 come equipped with heart-rate sensors, a feature that was missing from the earlier Pebble smartwatches. The Pebble Core runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, and also has a 4GB storage which users can use when they don't have a flash drive in handy. The Pebble 2 is priced at $99, whereas the Pebble Time 2 will cost you $169. The Pebble Core is priced at $69. Pebble's new devices will be up on Kickstarter for 36 days, should you feel the urge to support the company. However, it is worth noting that in within hours, Pebble has received more money than it had asked for.
Apple

Apple To Launch Thinner, Lighter MacBook Pro Models With OLED Touch Bar, Touch ID In Fall (9to5mac.com) 236

Apple plans to refresh its MacBook Pro line later this year. The makeover will see both 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models replace their function keys atop laptop keyboards with an OLED touch bar, according to a report. Both the models will also have Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and will support Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port, multiple outlets are reporting citing ever-so-reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The refreshed MacBook Pro model will be thinner and lighter as well. There's no word on if -- and when -- the MacBook Air lineup will receive a refresh.
Iphone

Apple Sued Over iPhones Making Calls, Sending Email (fortune.com) 134

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: A company that seemingly does nothing but license patents or, if necessary, sue other companies to get royalties, has taken aim at Apple. But here's the kicker: the lawsuit alleges that Apple's last several iPhones and iPads violate a slew of patents related to seemingly standard features, including the ability to place calls as well as sending and receiving emails. A total of six patent infringement claims were brought against Apple by Corydoras Technologies on May 20, according to Apple-tracking site Patently Apple, which obtained a copy of the lawsuit. According to Patently Apple, the counts against Apple cover every iPhone dating back to the iPhone 4 and every iPad dating back to the iPad 2. In addition to taking issue with Apple's devices placing calls, the lawsuits also allege that the tech giant violates patents Corydoras holds related to video calling, which is similar to Apple's FaceTime, as well as displaying a person's geographic location through a feature like Find My iPhone and the ability to block unwanted calls. Last year, Apple was ordered to pay $533 million to Smartflash LLC for allegedly violating three patents related to copy protection.
Android

Google's 'Science Journal' App Turns Your Android Device Into A Laboratory (pcmag.com) 29

An anonymous reader writes about Google's latest 'Science Journal' app that was released at the end of Google I/O last week: Google has launched its 'Science Journal' app that can essentially turn your Android device into a tricorder of sorts. The app uses the sensors in your smartphone to gather, graph and visualize data. For example, you can use Google's Science Journal app to measure sound in a particular area over a particular period of time, or the movement of the device's internal accelerometers. The app is fairly basic to start, but Google is working to expand its functionality. It's even partnering with San Francisco's Exploratorium to develop external kits that can be used with the app -- which includes various microcontrollers and other sensors. As part of its Google Field Trip Days initiative, which allows students from underserved communities to attend a local museum for no cost and includes transportation and lunch, Google sent out 120,000 kits to local science museums. They also sent out 350,000 different pairs of safety glasses to schools, makerspaces, and Maker Faires worldwide, to ultimately help young students work on even bigger projects. You can download the app from the Play Store and start experimenting here.
Microsoft

Windows Phone Market Share Sinks Below 1 Percent (theverge.com) 288

Tom Warren, reporting for The Verge: Worldwide smartphone sales increased by nearly 4 percent in the recent quarter, but Microsoft's Windows Phone OS failed to capitalize on the growth and dropped below 1 percent market share. Gartner's latest smartphone sales report provides the latest proof of the obvious: Windows Phone is dead. Gartner estimates that nearly 2.4 million Windows Phones were sold in the latest quarter, around 0.7 percent market share overall. That's a decrease from the 2.5 percent market share of Windows Phone back in Q1 2015.

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