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Merkel's party punished by voters in Hamburg state election

Reuters - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 01:07
Voters handed German Chancellor Angela Merkel's conservatives their worst-ever result in Hamburg on Sunday, punishing them for flirting with the far-right in an eastern state and descending into a messy leadership battle.

New $300 Kitchen Playset For Children Includes Amazon's Alexa

Slashdot - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 00:17
"Kids can play with Alexa in their very own $300 pretend kitchen and grocery store," CNET reports, "with the Amazon voice assistant dishing out cooking advice, shopping help and plenty of goofy toddler humor." The Alexa 2-in-1 Kitchen and Market, from toymaker KidKraft, is making its debut at this weekend's New York Toy Fair... It uses a mix of RFID sensors and Bluetooth to tell Alexa which pretend food items kids are buying and cooking... Alexa speaks only when a sensor on the play set is activated. Put a toy hot dog into the pot on the stove, and Alexa knows you're cooking hot dogs. Kids hear the splash sound effect, and Alexa alerts when the hot dogs are done cooking and to hurry up and get the buns. "If they get cold, they will be chili dogs," she says... The accessories that come with the kitchen and market, which include fake food, cookware and a credit card, are fitted with RFID chips, and sensors can tell which items are at the register, stovetop or cutting board. The play set then relays that info to the smart speaker via Bluetooth. So, if a kid places lettuce on the market scanner, it could prompt Alexa to say, "Lettuce! Are we making a salad?" And if a kid says, "Yes," Alexa will say, "Great! I love salad. Maybe get some avocado, too." Engadget reports that once you install an Echo dot, "it will play games with your children and instruct them on how to make the best fake hot dog ever." And there's inevitably a game where Alexa tells your kids what to do: There's plenty of freeform play to be had, but to take advantage of Alexa's real capabilities a kid has to make use of the included "recipe cards." They're not real recipes with ingredients and instructions. Instead it's just a picture of the food the child wants to make, and they insert the card into a special reader on the counter to start the process of preparing it with Alexa's help. Alexa will instruct the child on whether to grab a pot or a pan, if it needs to be filled with water, and whether any ingredients need to be cut on the tiny chopping board. If the requested food isn't in the pantry, never fear: There's a store on the other side... Unsurprisingly, the KidKraft 2-in-1 Alexa Kitchen and Market will be an Amazon exclusive when it launches some time this year. And the price? A hefty $300. Tom's Guide calls the playset "clever --and also really creepy." "On one hand, it's a screen-free, interactive experience... But there are a few concerns that a toy of this budding breed creates. I can't help but question the social implications of making Alexa a child's on-demand playmate."

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Google Detects Edge Users Visiting Its Sites, Urges Them to Switch to Chrome

Slashdot - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 23:04
In Microsoft's Chromium-based Edge browser, Chrome's extensions "work as good as they work on Chrome browsers," argues the MS Power User blog. But guess what happens when you use Edge to visit Chrome's "Web Store" for downloading extensions? According to Google, internet users should use Google Chrome instead of Microsoft Edge if they want to use browser extensions securely. On visiting the Chrome web store on Microsoft Edge, you'll be displayed a banner with a yellow background color saying "Google recommends switching to Chrome to use extensions securely" at the top of the page. A later article points out that Opera visitors don't receive that same warning -- and that's just the beginning: While Google doesn't show anything on Opera or Chrome, when you access, Drive and Docs on Edge, the websites show a pop-up asking you to switch to Chrome... Google went as far as saying Chrome helps you hide ads and protect from malware... [W]e can't really blame them for doing it. Google and Microsoft have a history of fighting over their own software. Microsoft has pushed users towards Edge on Windows 10 in the past and in a way Google seems to be returning the favour

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Activision Fights 'Call of Duty' Leaks With Subpoenas to Reddit

Slashdot - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 22:16
Gizmodo shares the saga of a now-deleted video claiming to show Call of Duty's new "battle royale" mode: The YouTube video, initially posted by a user who goes by TheGamingRevoYT, was slammed with a copyright claim and ripped from the platform. Meanwhile, other gamers noticed that Reddit posts and Twitter threads even mentioning the upcoming release were being taken down for "copyright infringement." Last week, when one Redditor found a leak of what appeared to be the cover art for the new game, that got hit with a copyright claim too — and some other legal action. According to court documents obtained by TorrentFreak, Activision has spent the last week actively subpoenaing Reddit to uncover the identity of the Reddit user who leaked the initial artwork... It's worth noting, as TorrentFreak points out, that there wasn't technically any "infringing content" posted to the thread itself — just an external link to a site that hosted the image in question.

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Earthquake in Turkey-Iran border region kills nine, injures more than 100

Reuters - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 20:55
Nine people were killed and buildings collapsed across southeastern Turkey on Sunday when a magnitude 5.7 earthquake struck near the border with Iran, injuring more than a hundred in villages and towns in both countries, government officials said.

Oracle's Allies Against Google Include Scott McNealy and America's Justice Department

Slashdot - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 20:45
America's Justice Department "has filed a brief in support of Oracle in its Supreme Court battle against Google over whether Java should have copyright protection," reports ZDNet: The Justice Department filed its amicus brief to the Supreme Court this week, joining a mighty list of briefs from major tech companies and industry luminaries — including Scott McNealy, co-founder of Sun, which Oracle bought in 2010, acquiring Sun-built Java in the process. While Microsoft, IBM and others have backed Google's arguments in the decade-long battle, McNealy, like the Justice Department, is opposing Google. McNealy called Google's description of how it uses Java packages a "woeful mischaracterization of the artful design of the Java packages" and "an insult to the hard-working developers at Sun who made Java such a success...." Joe Tucci, former CEO of now Dell-owned enterprise storage giant EMC, threw in his two cents against Google. "Accepting Google's invitation to upend that system by eliminating copyright protection for creative and original computer software code would not make the system better — it would instead have sweeping and harmful effects throughout the software industry," Tucci's brief reads. Oracle is also questioning the motives of Google's allies, reports The Verge: After filing a Supreme Court statement last week, Oracle VP Ken Glueck posted a statement over the weekend assailing the motives of Microsoft, IBM, and the CCIA industry group, all of which have publicly supported Google. Glueck's post comes shortly after two groups — an interdisciplinary panel of academics and the American Conservative Union Foundation — submitted legal briefs supporting Oracle. Both groups argued that Google should be liable for copying code from the Java language for the Android operating system. The ACUF argued that protecting Oracle's code "is fundamental to a well-ordered system of private property rights and indeed the rule of law itself...." Earlier this year, Google garnered around two dozen briefs supporting its position. But Oracle claims that in reality, "Google appears to be virtually alone — at least among the technology community." Glueck says Google's most prominent backers had ulterior motives or "parochial agendas"; either they were working closely with Google, or they had their own designs on Java... Even if you accept Oracle's arguments wholeheartedly, there's a long list of other Google backers from the tech community. Advocacy groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Center for Democracy and Technology signed on to amicus briefs last month, as did several prominent tech pioneers, including Linux creator Linus Torvalds and Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak. The CCIA brief was signed by the Internet Association, a trade group representing many of the biggest companies in Silicon Valley. Patreon, Reddit, Etsy, the Mozilla Corporation, and other midsized tech companies also backed a brief raising "fundamental concerns" about Oracle's assertions.

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Democratic rivals try to slow Sanders after big Nevada win

Reuters - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 20:34
Democratic presidential hopefuls fanned out across the United States on Sunday to try blunt Bernie Sanders' momentum after a dominant victory in Nevada solidified his front-runner status ahead of 15 key nominating contests in the next 10 days.

Despite attacks, Sanders' Medicare for All boosts early-state triumphs

Reuters - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 20:34
In the days leading up to Saturday's Democratic presidential caucuses in Nevada, Bernie Sanders withstood one attack after another over his Medicare for All plan – both from his rivals and the state's powerful hotel and casino workers' union.

Austria stops train from Italy due to suspected coronavirus infections

Reuters - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 20:31
Austria has denied entry to a train from Italy on suspicion that two travellers might be infected with the coronavirus, the interior ministry said on Sunday.

France watching Italian situation closely - Health Minister

Reuters - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 19:41
French Health Minister Olivier Veran said on Sunday that there were no new cases of coronavirus in France and that he was watching the situation in Italy closely.

No global digital tax by end-2020 would mean chaos - France

Reuters - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 19:40
Failure to reach a global deal on where and how much to tax digital giants such as Google , Amazon or Facebook would result in many digital tax regimes emerging all over the world, France's Finance Minister said on Sunday.

Would Star Trek's Transporters Kill and Replace You?

Slashdot - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 19:35
schwit1 quotes Syfy Wire: There is, admittedly, some ambiguity about precisely how Trek's transporters work. The events of some episodes subtly contradict events in others. The closest thing to an official word we have is the Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual, which states that when a person enters a transporter, they are scanned by molecular imaging scanners that convert a person into a subatomically deconstructed matter stream. That's all a fancy-pants way of saying it takes you apart, atom by atom, and converts your matter into energy. That energy can then be beamed to its destination, where it's reconstructed. According to Trek lore, we're meant to believe this is a continuous process. Despite being deconstructed and rebuilt on the other end, you never stop being "you...." [Alternately] the fact that you are scanned, deconstructed, and rebuilt almost immediately thereafter only creates the illusion of continuity. In reality, you are killed and then something exactly like you is born, elsewhere. If the person constructed on the other end is identical to you, down to the atomic level, is there any measurable difference from it being actually you? Those are questions we can't begin to answer. What seems clear — whatever the technical manual says — is you die when you enter a transporter, however briefly. The article also cites estimates that it would take three gigajoules of energy (about one bolt of lightning) to disassemble somebody's atoms, and 10 to the 28th power kilobytes to then hold all that information -- and 2.6 tredecillion bits of data to transmit it. "The estimated time to transmit, using the standard 30 GHz microwave band used by communications satellites, would take 350,000 times longer than the age of the universe."

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Categories: Technology

Merkel's party, far-right AfD punished in German state vote

Reuters - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 19:33
Voters handed Angela Merkel's conservatives their worst ever result in Hamburg on Sunday, punishing them for flirting with the far-right in an eastern state and descending into a messy leadership battle.

G20 finance heads eye impact of coronavirus outbreak on growth, see modest pickup

Reuters - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 18:40
Finance chiefs of the world's top 20 economies vowed to monitor the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on global growth and act if needed, as they said loose monetary policy and easing trade tensions would prompt a pick-up in 2020 and 2021.

Safari Will Stop Trusting Certs Older Than 13 Months

Slashdot - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 18:34
"Safari will, later this year, no longer accept new HTTPS certificates that expire more than 13 months from their creation date..." writes the Register. Long-time Slashdot reader nimbius shares their report: The policy was unveiled by the iGiant at a Certification Authority Browser Forum (CA/Browser) meeting on Wednesday. Specifically, according to those present at the confab, from September 1, any new website cert valid for more than 398 days will not be trusted by the Safari browser and instead rejected. Older certs, issued prior to the deadline, are unaffected by this rule. By implementing the policy in Safari, Apple will, by extension, enforce it on all iOS and macOS devices. This will put pressure on website admins and developers to make sure their certs meet Apple's requirements — or risk breaking pages on a billion-plus devices and computers... The aim of the move is to improve website security by making sure devs use certs with the latest cryptographic standards, and to reduce the number of old, neglected certificates that could potentially be stolen and re-used for phishing and drive-by malware attacks... We note Let's Encrypt issues free HTTPS certificates that expire after 90 days, and provides tools to automate renewals.

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Categories: Technology

Stranded South Koreans returning home from Israel after virus scare

Reuters - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 18:01
Some 180 South Koreans were returning home on Sunday after being stranded in Israel when flights between the countries were stopped by Israel due to concerns over the coronavirus outbreak, the Israel Airports Authority said.

Italy battles 'explosion' of coronavirus cases as third patient dies

Reuters - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 18:00
Italy raced on Sunday to contain the biggest outbreak of coronavirus in Europe, sealing off the worst affected towns and banning public events in much of the north as a third patient died of the illness.

Coronavirus clampdown spreads fear and doubt in northern Italy

Reuters - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 17:46
Some people fled, some stocked up on essentials, others simply called for calm after authorities imposed stringent measures on swathes of northern Italy to try to halt an outbreak of coronavirus.

Simon Dobbin's wife reveals heartache after Southend United hooligans who attacked him are freed

This Is Total Essex - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 17:40
Simon Dobbin is permanently brain damaged after the attack
Categories: Local News

Flat-Earth Daredevil Mad Mike Hughes Dies in Homemade Rocket Launch

Slashdot - Sun, 23/02/2020 - 17:34
"He was working on a TV show, Homemade Astronauts, when his craft crashed in the California desert," reports NBC. Four different Slashdot readers shared the news. NBC News reports: Daredevil "Mad" Mike Hughes died Saturday when a homemade rocket he was attached to launched but quickly dove to earth in the California desert. The stunt was apparently part of a forthcoming television show, "Homemade Astronauts," that was scheduled to debut later this year on Discovery Inc.'s Science Channel. Discovery confirmed the 64-year-old's death in a statement. "It was always his dream to do this launch, and Science Channel was there to chronicle his journey," the company said... In 2018, he successfully launched himself about 1,875 feet into the sky above the Mojave desert via a garage-made rocket. His landing that year was softened when he deployed a parachute. In social media video of Saturday's accident, a parachute-like swath of fabric can be seen flying away from the rocket shortly after blast-off.

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Categories: Technology


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