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By Dan Levine WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday closely questioned Google's claim that Oracle does not enjoy copyright protection over certain parts of the Java programming language. The issue, under review by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, is being closely watched by software developers in Silicon Valley. Google's Android operating system is the world's best-selling smartphone platform. The Java programming language was created by Sun Microsystems, which Oracle acquired in 2010.
By Mia Shanley and Olof Swahnberg STOCKHOLM (Reuters) - Fingerprint Cards is aiming to sell its identity technology to most of the world's biggest smartphone makers, which are likely to follow Apple in offering touch recognition for mobiles from next year. Apple's September launch of the iPhone 5S was the first smartphone with a fingerprint identity touch sensor, provided by AuthenTec, part of Apple.
By Danilo Masoni and Stefano Bernabei MILAN/ROME (Reuters) - An activist shareholder campaign to reform Telecom Italia won traction on Wednesday as influential proxy adviser ISS recommended institutional investors back a proposal to remove the company board at a meeting on December 20. The potentially disruptive vote comes as Italy's biggest phone company by market share tries to revive years of sluggish growth and share underperformance while at the same time cutting its 28 billion euros of debt. Businessman Marco Fossati, Telecom Italia's No.2 investor through his 5 percent stake, and small shareholders group ASATI have proposed to oust the Italian phone company's board, which they say caters more to the interests of core shareholders such as Spain's Telefonica than to other investors. Holding company Telco, which owns 22.4 percent of Telecom Italia, is controlled by Telefonica together with Italian financial companies Assicurazioni Generali, Intesa Sanpaolo and Mediobanca.
Google Inc has quietly acquired more than a half-dozen companies for a new robotics groups led by Andy Rubin, formerly in charge of Google's popular mobile software, according to a report in the New York Times on Wednesday. A Google spokeswoman declined to comment. Google Chief Executive Larry Page wrote on his official Google+ profile page on Wednesday that it was still "early days" for the robotics project, but that he was looking forward to seeing the progress. Rubin was formerly in charge of Google's Android mobile operating system, which is now used on roughly 80 percent of the world's smartphones.
BRUSSELS (Reuters) - European Union antitrust regulators have approved Microsoft's $7.3 billion acquisition of Nokia's mobile device business without conditions, the European Commission said on Wednesday. "The Commission concluded that the transaction would not raise any competition concerns," the European Commission said in a statement, adding that it was unlikely "to lead to competitors being shut out from the market". (Reporting By John O'Donnell; editing by Robin Emmott)
A vote on a bill that would force Internet giants like Google and Facebook to keep Brazilians' information inside the country will be delayed until next year over disagreements about its content, a senior lawmaker told Reuters on Wednesday. The bill would give President Dilma Rousseff powers to order Internet companies to store users' data in local servers, a move seen as response to allegations that the United States spied on her communications and that of thousands of regular Brazilians. The delay is a temporary relief for Google and Facebook, which oppose a requirement they say would increase costs and erect unnecessary barriers in one of the world's largest Internet markets. The postponement of the vote stems from disagreements among government allies in Congress over the requirement and a "neutrality" clause that bars telecom companies from charging different rates for Internet speed.
On Tuesday night's episode of "Jeopardy!," the smartest man on television, Alex Trebek, officially announced something many of us already knew to be true: "GIF" is meant to be pronounced with a soft "G." Here's the question, which was the episode's "Final Jeopardy!" clue: All of the contestants got the question right. No, I don't care that it sounds like the peanut butter.
Almost 2 million people visited the federal health insurance marketplace on Monday and Tuesday, nearly doubling the site's traffic, an administration official told reporters today. "Healthcare.gov remains stable," says Julie Bataille, communications director for Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), the health department agency in charge of the site. The error rate, the percentage of time that a user is prevented from advancing to the next page, is down to .6 percent according to the administration's measurements, and response times are down to 630 milliseconds. The administration has declined to release enrollment figures, but Reuters reported that more people signed up on Sunday and Monday than during the entire month of October.
By Diane Bartz WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The growing online usage of ads designed to blend in with the rest of a website's content, a practice known as "native advertising," may be illegal in some instances, the Federal Trade Commission warned on Wednesday. The FTC said that a survey of online publishers found that 73 percent allowed native advertising, the digital descendent of the newspaper "advertorial" and television's infomercials. "Marketers have ... moved past the banner ad into advertising that is more seamlessly, and inconspicuously, integrated into digital content," FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez said in a speech that opened a conference on "Blurred Lines: Advertising or Content." "While native advertising may certainly bring some benefits to consumers, it has to be done lawfully," she said. "By presenting ads that resemble editorial content, an advertiser risks implying, deceptively, that the information comes from a non-biased source." The website Buzzfeed.com is often cited as an effective user of native advertising.
It’s no news that both iOS and Android portable devices have eclipsed Nintendo’s 3DS and DS platforms over the past couple of years. But it’s a bit of a surprise that now even Amazon’s Kindle devices are moving ahead of Nintendo’s systems when U.S. gamers are polled about their favorite portable gaming system. The new IDC-App Annie report on the gaming ecosystem represents another grim setback for Nintendo. There are now three different smartphone/tablet ecosystems that American consumers view more favorably as gaming platforms than Nintendo’s offerings. Interestingly, IDC polled American iPad gamers about what their other gaming platforms are, and it’s in this area that Amazon is doing damage to Nintendo. 18% of iPad gamers also play games on Kindle devices,
Prepare for a world of Microsoft-made Windows Phone 8 devices. Hot on the heels of yesterday's Department of Justice decision, Reuters is reporting that the European Commission has granted final approval of Microsoft's acquisition of Nokia. The $7.35 billion deal, which is now all guaranteed, will see Nokia's mobile assets folded into the Microsoft camp, effectively giving Microsoft an end-to-end smartphone vertical for its Windows Phone 8 line, as well as a treasure trove of related patents.
New York artist David Datuna debuted a Google Glass-powered interactive piece yesterday at Art Basel, one of the world's biggest modern art shows. "Viewpoint of Billions" is a giant 85" by 114" American flag covered with thousands of eyeglass lenses, but that's only the first layer.
Production on Fast & Furious 7 had been temporarily halted in the wake of star Paul Walker's death this past weekend, but now the film has been put on hold indefinitely. The Hollywood Reporter first broke the news that Universal Studios had decided to stop production on the film altogether while it decided how best to proceed, a change in course from the studio's previous statements.
New Federal Communications Commission chairman Tom Wheeler may have started his term off on a pro-consumer note, but his latest remarks could throw a wrench into that initial image. While taking questions at Ohio State University, Wheeler delivered a pair of seemingly opposing answers: he declared his support for net neutrality, but then endorsed a marketplace that seemingly doesn't follow those very rules. Rather than explicitly suggesting that Netflix could pay an internet provider to give its customers better service — which would violate tenets of net neutrality by discriminating against certain companies or services — his remarks could be interpreted as simply suggesting that it build out a better content delivery infrastructure of its own.
Jeremie Miller almost brought on a golden age of instant messaging. The company also plans on providing its SDK for free, including user interface mockups developers can use to get started designing apps.
A day early and a dollar -- well, just a day early, actually. We missed last week, seeing as how we were all busy shoveling turkey in our respective mouths, so we're coming back with a day to spare. Join Brian, Dana and Terrence as we burn through the tryptophan haze for another exciting week of tech news.
More than 2 million passwords for sites including Facebook, Yahoo, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google have been stolen and posted online, BCC reports. Security firm Trustwave has discovered the trove of login credentials, email credentials and passwords, it announced on Tuesday. “Facebook takes people’s information security extremely seriously and we work hard to protect it," a Facebook spokesperson told The Huffington Post.
Fans of the cancelled neo-noir drama Veronica Mars can now mark their calendars. After running a successful Kickstarter campaign earlier this year that hit $5.7 million, series creator Rob Thomas confirmed with Entertainment Weekly today that the film followup will land in theaters on March 14th, 2014.
Simultaneously, the official Beats Music site has just launched, letting users claim their username now in advance of the service's launch. There's still no other details about what exactly will make Beats Music unique over other offers like Spotify, Rdio, and the Beats-owned Mog, but all along Reznor and co-founder Jimmy Iovine have said that Beats will offer a much better discovery and recommendation algorithm than its competitors. Last year, Reznor said that Beats Music "uses mathematics to offer suggestions to the listener... [but also] would present choices based partly on suggestions made by connoisseurs, making it a platform in which the machine and the human would collide more intimately." After a few delays (Project Daisy was first planned to launch in early 2013), it won't be long before we finally find out what might make Beats Music stand out in the already-crowded subscription music world.
Let’s be clear: I think that Windows 8 is in many ways a good operating system. But it is also a very polarizing one among longtime Windows users and that’s something Microsoft will ignore at its own peril. First, let’s go through Windows 8′s obvious virtues — it runs much more smoothly than earlier versions of Windows, it starts up more quickly and is generally a more stable platform than Windows 7. However, for a sizable chunk of PC users these plusses are outweighed by the giant minus of the big changes Microsoft made to the traditional Windows user interface. Take two of my friends who recently made the upgrade to Windows 8.1 from Windows 7. Upon installing the software,
The European Union has cleared Microsoft’s deal to purchase Nokia’s Devices and Services unit. Microsoft quickly applauded the move. As a Microsoft spokesperson told The Verge: "We look forward to the date when our partners at Nokia will become members of the Microsoft family, and are pleased that the European Commission has cleared the deal without conditions." The European approval comes just days after the US Department of Justice also gave Microsoft’s deal the go ahead, and paves the way for the merger to complete early next year. Former Nokia CEO Stephen Elop is now expected to rejoin Microsoft to “lead an expanded Devices team" that encompasses Surface, Windows Phone devices, and the Xbox games consoles.
Rumors had been circling that Zack Snyder's follow-up to Man of Steel wouldn't just feature a new Batman but another classic DC character as well. Now it's official: Deadline reports that Gal Gadot will play Wonder Woman in Batman vs. Superman. Perhaps best known for her role in the recent Fast & Furious films, she will join Henry Cavill as Superman, and the hotly contested Ben Affleck as Batman.
Imagine if your phone, computer, car and home could recognize you and unlock when you're nearby. How would they know it was you and not someone else? They would recognize your heartbeat. That's the premise behind the Nymi, an upcoming security device from Toronto-based Bionym Inc. The Nymi is a wristband that reads a wearer's electrocardiogram, or EKG, a measurement of the heart's electrical activity. The wristband then transmits an ID based on the EKG to the wearer's devices. MORE: Hack-Proof Pacemakers: Code Based on Heartbeat Could Thwart Disruption IF you've been lucky enough to never see an EKG reading in real life, you've probably seen one in a movie or TV show, usually as a heartbeat wave on a hospital monitor while a character lies injured or dying. EKGs are based on a number of factors, including temporary measurements such as heart rate and stress, but they also include permanent factors, such as a heart's size, position in the chest and electrical signals. All of these characteristics contribute to the EKG wave's unique shape. The first time you put on the Nymi wristband, it performs an enrollment process. The Nymi takes a reading of its wearer's EKG, and then puts the results through an algorithm designed to strip away temporary data and quantify the unique, persistent data. The Nymi then turns the persistent data into a theoretically unique string of numbers, called a HeartID, which the wristband transmits via a Bluetooth 4.0 Low Energy radio signal. Each time a user puts the Nymi back on, the wristband performs a check to match the EKG with what it has on file. After that, the Nymi merely monitors whether it is still in contact with the original wearer — it doesn't provide any data about the wearer's heart or other medical functions. If the Nymi is removed, it will cease its Bluetooth transmissions and won't resume until it verifies that the correct user is wearing it. MORE: 7 Ways to Lock Down Your Online Privacy Devices running Nymi-associated apps can read the device's signal and react appropriately. For example, a smartphone with a Nymi app could unlock its screen when in range of the wristband's Bluetooth signal. Cars, homes and other electronic devices with the app could also be configured to unlock when in range of the Nymi device. The Nymi is scheduled to hit shelves in June 2014. By early December 2013, more than 6,000 people had applied for Nymi's software development kit (SDK). Karl Martin, CEO of Bionym Inc., imagines further uses for the Nymi. A "smart" home could adjust heat and lights as a Nymi-wearing person moves from room to room, and even configure presets for individuals. Retail stores could create custom shopping experiences for Nymi-wearing consumers. Security based on a biometric — a measurement of a unique aspect of a person's body — isn't new, but it has been used more frequently in recent years. For example, the iPhone 5s features a fingerprint reader that lets users unlock phones without needing to enter a password. Similarly, many Android phones have a Face Unlock feature. (Neither feature is foolproof, and both require passwords as backups.) One drawback of using biometric measurements for security purposes is that these biological traits can't be changed — if a password is compromised, you can create a new one, but you can't change your fingerprints if someone gets access to them. MORE: iPhone Fingerprint Reader Already Hacked Trustworthy security is critical to a device like the Nymi, and not just because it unlocks doors and opens password-protected devices. A person's EKG is as distinctive as a fingerprint, and more medically sensitive. The Nymi wristband uses hardware encryption (far more secure and energy-efficient than software encryption) to store its owner's HeartID. When the wristband broadcasts its Bluetooth signal, it encrypts that message using cutting-edge elliptic-curve public-key cryptography. These layers of protection serve to keep the HeartID and any other personal data secure. Even if someone were able to capture the Nymi's Bluetooth signal, he or she would not be able to decrypt it and get to the information stored within. The Nymi wristband also includes a unique digital "signature" in its Bluetooth signals. Any application that unlocks using a HeartID will also need to verify the signature. " transmissions have to go through the sensor ," Martin said. "There is no way to brute-force it." A "brute-force attack" cracks a password by methodically trying every possible combination of characters. No security is perfect, of course. For example, if someone were to steal a Nymi wearer's phone, the thief could unlock the phone by bringing it close to the person's body. "There's always a situation where you might be forced to do something," Martin said. "It's the age-old problem that the best way to crack a password is with a baseball bat. We don't necessarily solve that ." When the Nymi is launched, Bionym won't be able to see its users' HeartIDs, further protecting their security, Martin said. The company will have only customer names and payment information on file, as well as the product ID of each Nymi wristband. "We're looking, in the future, to have a cloud service to enable new applications," Martin said, "but none of data would be shuttled off into the cloud without knowing. That's a basic principle of this company." Email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her @JillScharr and Google+ . Follow us @TomsGuide , on Facebook and on Google+ . How Secure is the New iPhone's Fingerprint Security? PC-Based Home Security: Do It Yourself 13 Security and Privacy Tips for the Truly Paranoid Copyright 2013 Toms Guides , a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
A secretive online black market was robbed over the weekend, costing its users possibly as much as $100 million in Bitcoins — and some say the thieves were the marketplace owners themselves. After the FBI shut down the largest online black market, Silk Road, in October, a number of other black market sites filled the vacuum. One was a narcotics bazaar called Sheep Marketplace. Like Silk Road and most of its ilk, Sheep Marketplace was only accessible via Tor, the anonymizing software designed to protect users' Internet anonymity. Furthermore, all transactions were in Bitcoin, a decentralized online currency that is difficult to trace. MORE: Security and Privacy Apps and Plugins On Sunday (Dec. 1), Sheep Marketplace abruptly closed down, claiming one of its vendors by the name of EBOOK101 had exploited a security vulnerability to steal $6 million in Bitcoins. Most, if not all, of that money belonged to the site's numerous users, who used it to buy and sell their dubious wares. "This vendor found bug in system and stole 5,400 BTC —your money, our provisions, all was stolen," reads the message posted on the now-shuttered site's homepage. "We were trying to resolve this problem, but we were not successful." Despite the message's promise that "all of current BTC will be distributed to users, who have filled correct BTC emergency address," it doesn't appear that any Sheep Marketplace users have received refunds. That's all of the theft that can be confirmed. But the story doesn't end there. Some believe that the thieves were Sheep Marketplace's administrators themselves, and that the whole marketplace was an elaborate scam. A website called sheepmarketscam.com, set up before Sheep Marketplace's closing, lists what it claims to be evidence suggesting that the theft was an inside job. Sheep Marketplace users weren't able to withdraw Bitcoins for up to a week before the site's shutdown, according to several Reddit users. Deposits, however, were still possible. The admins blamed the problem on a technical glitch and said it would be fixed within a few days. They then said the problem was fixed, though on Reddit, former Sheep Marketplace users say that was never the case. By the time of the site's shutdown on Dec. 1, withdrawals still hadn't been enabled. Sheepmarketscam.com alleges that many of Sheep Marketplace's higher-ranking administrators and vendors had drastically slashed prices, allegedly to encourage as many people as possible to deposit money. And a public but anonymous record on a website called Blockchain.info, which tracks Bitcoin transactions, shows a transfer of 39,918 Bitcoins into a wallet associated with Sheep Marketplace at some point over the weekend. At the current Bitcoin exchange rate, that's more than $43 million — far more than the originally reported 5,400 BTC, or $5 million. MORE: Browser Plugin Secretly Mines Bitcoins at Your Expense Finally, a pair of Reddit users say they've been chasing a series of Bitcoin transactions that they claim originate with the Sheep Marketplace theft. The amount involved is more than 96,000 BTC, almost $100 million, and has been moved from wallet to wallet several times over the past several hours. Meanwhile, other anonymous online markets on the so-called "dark web" are also affected by Sheep Marketplace's closing. A site called Black Market Reloaded blocked new members, saying on its forums that Tor-based anonymous websites aren't designed to handle large volumes of users, and then announced a shutdownshut down as well, saying the site needed to close for maintenance. "Sheep went down and BMR can't stand," wrote a Black Market Reloaded admin called Backopy in a forum post dated Dec. 1. In the post, Backopy says that people will be given the opportunity to withdraw their funds before the closing. "Don't worry, we don't rip anyone and will be back stronger than ever," wrote another administrator called LeContog in the same thread. Email email@example.com or follow her @JillScharr and Google+. Follow us @TomsGuide, on Facebook and on Google+. 10 Reasons Coin Card Could Be a Security Nightmare 7 Ways to Lock Down Your Online Privacy 13 Security and Privacy Tips for the Truly Paranoid Copyright 2013 Toms Guides , a TechMediaNetwork company. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
Why Is Tesla Part of Google's Electric Fleet? Wed, 04 Dec 2013 12:52:23 -0500 In this exclusive Fresh Dialogues interview, Google's Rick Needham describes the company's fleet of electric vehicles and how it has enabled millions of miles of electric driving (almost 2M and counting). As well as the "usual suspects" like Chevy Volt, Nissan Leaf, and Ford Focus Electric, Google's electric "Gfleet" includes several Tesla Model Ss, a favorite due to its range of up to 265 miles. Some commentators say it's part of an ambitious plan by Google involving electric vehicles, driverless cars, Google maps and car sharing services like Uber.
Apple’s $200 million purchase of Topsy prompted speculation earlier this week on what the iPhone maker may do with the analytics firm. PeerIndex founder Azeem Azhar in an article on LinkedIn proposes Topsy as a way for Apple to reduce users’ reliance on Google Search on its devices. Instead, Apple would serve custom search results provided in part by Topsy technology. Topsy is a “search engine, at its heart,” Azhar writes. “And Apple doesn’t have a search engine. Instead, iOS relies on its frenemy Google.” Even though Google Search is no longer the only search option on iOS devices, many users still prefer it over Bing or Yahoo when looking for stuff online. A report in February claimed that the search
Though most of us cast stones at large-scale corporate password thefts, we ought to be checking our own glass houses, according to a security company called Trustwave. It just revealed that a single attack from a Dutch-based server has resulted in 2 million passwords pilfered from individual users for sites like Facebook and Google. The ne'er-do-well did it using a botnet and hacker program called "Pony," which likely directed the stolen info through a gateway or so-called reverse proxy.
WTF: Woman Takes Selfie With Suicidal Man on Brooklyn Bridge in Background Wed, 04 Dec 2013 12:48:17 -0500 Yesterday, a crowd gathered in view of the Brooklyn Bridge when an apparently suicidal man was being coaxed by police into stepping away from the edge. A New York Post photog was on the scene when he caught a woman whipping out her iPhone and getting her selfie on, with the cops and the distraught man in the background (click through for a pic of the selfie enthusiast).
United Nations forces launched surveillance drones for the first time this week in an effort to track potential violence on the Democratic Republic of Congo's war-torn easternmost borders. According to Reuters, the Selex ES-manufactured Falco UAVs will be deployed from the city of Goma, the largest city in eastern Congo, from which Selex staff will watch for armed groups crossing into the country from nearby Rwanda and Uganda.
PHOENIX (AP) — An Arizona judge is refusing to require jurors in the next phase of the Jodi Arias trial to reveal their Twitter usernames so their accounts can be monitored for communications about the case.
By Andrew Osborn and Peter Griffiths LONDON (Reuters) - Britain will clear Chinese telecoms equipment firm Huawei to run a UK-based cyber security center if it agrees to tighter rules to allay spying and hacking fears, a person familiar with the matter said on Wednesday. Huawei supplies software and equipment which channels phone calls and data around Britain and has found itself at the center of a debate, particularly in the United States, over whether it is a risk for governments to allow foreign suppliers access to their networks. Last year, the U.S. House Intelligence Committee urged U.S. telecoms companies not to do business with Huawei because it said potential Chinese state influence on the firm posed a security threat. Australia's government upheld a ban in October on Huawei bidding for work on its National Broadband Network, citing security agency advice.
You don’t have to pay nearly as much as you’re likely paying now for cell phone service. Increasingly, cheaper cell phone plans are available through what are called “mobile virtual network operators,” or MVNOs. These MVNOs rent space from the major networks instead of building their own. MVNOs are increasingly popular; there are now more than 120 MVNOs with a combined 30 million customers. An example of just one company that is making real headway: Consumer Cellular, an MVNO that uses AT&T’s network, has increased its customer base from 400,000 to 1.3 million over the past four years. MVNOs can save users a lot of money. One person interviewed by The Wall Street Journal said that switching to Republic Wireless,
While Oxford Dictionary's Word of the Year choices often appear to be intentionally buzzy — be it "podcast," the verb "GIF," or this year's selection of "selfie" — Merriam-Webster has turned to statistics to determine its Word of the Year, removing an editorial hand from the selection. That process makes 2013's Word of the Year a fairly fitting winner: science. "Science" may seem like an odd candidate, but Webster's editor-at-large, Peter Sokolowski, suggests in a statement that it was relevant to this year's news, "A wide variety of discussions centered on science this year, from climate change to educational policy."
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