‘Pokémon Go’ starts tracking steps using HealthKit and Google Fit

‘Pokémon Go’ starts tracking steps using HealthKit and Google Fit


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Pokémon Go players can finally unlock rewards without keeping the app open or using the game’s Plus tracking dongle. The Adventure Sync option ties into Google Fit or Apple Health tracking to dole out bonuses based on all the movement players do throughout the day. That should mean earning more Buddy Candy and hatching Eggs, all without even opening the app. Players will still get a push notification for rewards, which should also help Niantic keep more casual fans engaged.

A support page for the game explains how to make sure your account is linked, as the feature started rolling out today, arriving first for players at higher levels. Currently, anyone level 35 and above should be good to go, and once the rollout is complete it will be available for all players once they’re past level 5 in the game.

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AT&T, Dish point fingers after HBO blackout

AT&T, Dish point fingers after HBO blackout

It’s been less than six months since HBO (and the rest of what is now called WarnerMedia) joined AT&T, and now we have our first bonafide carriage dispute. Both AT&T and Dish blamed the other for HBO and Cinemax going dark on the Dish Network and Sling TV services, in the first such tiff of HBO’s 40-year history.

Dish cited the DOJ’s case against AT&T/DirecTV purchasing Time Warner, which is now pending an appeal, and claimed that it welcomes “baseball-style arbitration” to resolve the dispute. On AT&T’s side, it said in a statement given to Reuters that “The Department of Justice collaborated closely with Dish in its unsuccessful lawsuit to block our merger” and claimed that collaboration continues with a “tactical decision” by Dish to drop HBO.

WarnerMedia claims it offered to extend the previous contract while negotiating but that Dish declined. Whatever the truth is, this squabble between media giants won’t get the channel turned back on for paying customers until the sides figure something out, and with that case still working its way back to court in December, it could be a while.

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US charges Chinese, Taiwan firms for stealing secrets from Micron

US charges Chinese, Taiwan firms for stealing secrets from Micron


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Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced that the Department of Justice has filed charges against a Taiwanese company, a Chinese PRC-backed company, and three Taiwanese nationals of economic espionage against Idaho-based semiconductor manufacturer Micron over the production of F32nm DRAM. Sessions also announced the creation of the China Initiative, led by Assistant Attorney General John Demers, to identify Chinese trade theft and allocate the necessary resources to go after these cases.

The charges allege that Stephen Chen, who was president of Micron Memory Taiwan (MMT; formerly Rexchip which Micron acquired in 2013), took trade secrets when he became senior vice president of United Microelectronics Corporation (UMC) in 2015 and then conspired with Chinese-backed Fujian Jinhua Integrated Circuit (Jinhua) in January of 2016. Chen then went on to become president of Jinhua in February of 2017. Chen also hired former MMT employees J.T. Ho and Kenny Wang to allegedly bring trade secrets over from Micron. Wang’s acts were most bold, as he allegedly misappropriated 900 Micron files and stole F32nm DRAM trade secrets from US servers and stored it on his Google Drive account.

“Discoveries that took years of work and millions of dollars in investment here in the United States can be stolen by computer hackers or carried out the door by an employee in a matter of minutes,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a news release. “But under President Donald Trump, the United States is standing up to the deliberate, systematic, and calculated threats posed, in particular, by the communist regime in China, which is notorious around the world for intellectual property theft.”

The Commerce Department has added Jinhua to an Entity List to prevent it from buying goods and services in the US to limit profitability from stolen tech. And the Department of Justice is filing a civil action to seek an injunction to prevent both Jinhua and UMC from transferring stolen technology to US. If brought to trial, defendants could face 15 years in prison and $5 million in fines. And the companies could face forfeiture and fines worth more than $20 billion. The trade secrets stolen from Micron are worth up to $8.75 billion, according to Sessions.

On October 30th the Department of Justice announced that it had charged ten Chinese nationals of stealing turbofan technology from General Electric. And Sessions states that not only is China going after defense and intelligence agencies, but research labs and universities. Even then, Sessions stresses that he does hope for a future where China and the US can collaborate fairly.

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Apple reportedly expands the list of ‘vintage’ products it will repair

Apple reportedly expands the list of ‘vintage’ products it will repair


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Apple is expanding its program to repair some of its vintage products that are still in circulation, according to 9to5Mac. Under the program, Apple will extend service of the iPhone 5. It also offer repairs for the 11- and 13-inch models of the MacBook air released in mid-2012 and the 21.7- and 27-inch iMacs from mid-2011. Apple will extend the program to cover the iPhone 4s and 15-inch MacBook Pro from mid-2012 on November 30th. The 13-inch MacBook Pros with Retina display from late 2012 and early 2013, 13- and 15-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display from mid-2012 and Mac Pro from mid-2012 will be covered on December 30th.

MacRumors reports that the repair program will only be available for a limited time. The pilot will apply to iMacs until January 1st, 2019. The mid 2012 MacBook Air will be eligible until August 31st, 2020. The iPhone 5 (CDMA) will continue to be serviced through October 31st, 2020. The iPhone 4s and 15-inch MacBook Pro from mid-2012 can be repaired through November 30th, 2020. Support for the iPhone 5 (GSM), MacBook Pros with Retina displays, and mid-2012 Mac Pro will extend through December 30, 2020.

Most of those products were on the verge of lapsing into vintage status, if they haven’t already. Apple defines as any device discontinued more than five years ago as vintage and more than seven years ago as obsolete. Once Apple hits a device with one of those classifications, the company typically discontinues all hardware service for it. The Repair Vintage Apple Products Pilot, which Apple initially launched earlier this year for its mid-2011 iMac models, extends service to devices that fall under the vintage tag.

Even with the program, Apple isn’t guaranteeing that it’ll fix your busted devices — the company will only repair vintage products when the necessary parts are available. But it at least gives you a shot to squeeze a few more years out of your iPhone or Mac, and it sure beats trying to do it yourself. The program will apply at all Apple stores and authorized service providers.

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Microsoft’s Mixer game streaming service adds new ways to interact

Microsoft’s Mixer game streaming service adds new ways to interact


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Microsoft’s game streaming service and Twitch competitor, Mixer, is entering its second season, and with it comes a slew of new features to help fans engage and allow streamers to make more money. The first addition is Skills, which will let viewers send animated stickers and GIFs, launch effects like fireworks and laser shows or keep digital beach balls bouncing. Skills can be bought, and using it will help streamers financially. But for users that don’t want to drop cash, they can use Sparks (new, earnable tokens) instead. Sparks can be earned by watching streams, and those Sparks can then purchase Skills.

Later in the season, Mixer will introduce Embers, a new digital currency that can buy high-value Skills. There’s also a more robust “progression” system incoming in 2019, which will help gauge fan commitment to a streamer beyond just financial contributions. It will reward a viewer’s entire engagement within a community.

Mixer Season 2

It’s a little odd to refer to service updates as seasonal, but Microsoft went with the wording to show that it’s not just a one-day update — more changes would come in the following weeks. Other updates include automatic bitrate switching to people with variable internet connections, more support for streaming software, and users will be able to report issues with greater ease.

Last month, Twitch announced a slew of features at its convention, TwitchCon. At the moment, Twitch is still the most dominant force in game-streaming, with Mixer and YouTube Gaming following behind. Facebook too is trying to break into the game streaming and esports space, but its efforts have been less successful.

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Apple will stop reporting how many iPhones, iPads and Macs it sells

Apple will stop reporting how many iPhones, iPads and Macs it sells

For Apple watchers, being able to look at how many devices Apple has sold in a given quarter can be a valuable way to gauge the company’s health, and those numbers can be helpful when trying to figure out if one of Apple’s strategies is panning out. Those days are sadly over. At the end of his prepared remarks during the company’s Q4 earnings call, CFO Luca Maestri said Apple would stop reporting sales of its devices — iPhones, iPads, Macs and all — as of the December quarter. In other words, Apple is done talking about how much hardware it sells completely, and it seems like this change is going to stick.

“As we have stated many times, our objective is to make great products and services that enrich people’s lives, and to provide an unparalleled customer experience, so that our users are highly satisfied, loyal, and engaged,” Maestri said “As demonstrated by our financial performance in recent years, the number of units sold in any 90-day period is not necessarily representative of the underlying strength of our business.”

Maestri went on to note that these limited views of Apple’s overall business are “less relevant today than it was in the past,” because strong financial results follow as the company continues to “enrich people’s lives” and “provide an unparalleled customer experience.” That’s, uh, great and all Luca, but with that, the world’s most valuable company just became even more inscrutable.

While no one at Apple has shed any more light on why the company made this decision, it’s not hard to imagine why this tech titan stands to benefit from less clarity. Just look at its most recent earnings report: iPhone sales basically grow at all compared to this time last year, and the company’s stock price took a big hit in after-hours trading as a result. The thing is, Apple made more money off of that same number of devices, so Maestri isn’t wrong that unit sales don’t always directly correlate to the company’s health. Fine.

This is a developing story, please refresh for updates.

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LG is bringing a rollable OLED TV to CES 2019

LG is bringing a rollable OLED TV to CES 2019

CES is still a couple of months away, but we’re already hearing whispers of what to expect at the show in January. As usual, LG will be one of the manufacturers presenting a flood of new technology, and among them you should expect to see a rollable OLED TV. Engadget has seen internal documents highlighting intended topics for the presentation, and it appears that the prototypes we’ve seen in past years from LG Display are ready to take center stage, perhaps with an eye for launching it next year as a real product.

LG Display Rollable OLED TV

Also listed in the documents are plans to show a foldable phone, as first revealed by Evan Blass. What form it will take is unclear, but with Samsung already talking about its foldable mobile plans, the competition will be on.

As one would expect, everything LG will show — from washing machines to robots, as we’ve seen in past years — will be a part of its ThinQ AI plans. So even if your living room doesn’t need a television that disappears into its stand with the press of a button, there should be something for you.

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A Cryptocurrency Millionaire Wants to Build a Utopia in Nevada

A Cryptocurrency Millionaire Wants to Build a Utopia in Nevada

STOREY COUNTY, Nev. — An enormous plot of land in the Nevada desert — bigger than nearby Reno — has been the subject of local intrigue since a company with no history, Blockchains L.L.C., bought it for $170 million in cash this year.

The man who owns the company, a lawyer and cryptocurrency millionaire named Jeffrey Berns, put on a helmet and climbed into a Polaris off-road vehicle last week to give a tour of the sprawling property and dispel a bit of the mystery.

He imagines a sort of experimental community spread over about a hundred square miles, where houses, schools, commercial districts and production studios will be built. The centerpiece of this giant project will be the blockchain, a new kind of database that was introduced by Bitcoin.

After his driver stopped the Polaris on a high desert plateau, surrounded by blooming rabbit brush and a grazing herd of wild horses, Mr. Berns, who is 56, pointed to the highlights of his dream community.

“You see that first range of mountains,” he said, pointing south. “Those mountains are the border of our South Valley. That’s where we’re going to build the high-tech park,” a research campus that would cover hundreds of acres. There are also plans for a college and an e-gaming arena.

Image
It takes imagination to see what Mr. Berns sees: a futuristic community growing out of the desert near Reno.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

As strange — even fantastical — as all this might sound, Mr. Berns’s ambitions fit right into the idiosyncratic world of cryptocurrencies and blockchains.

The blockchain began as a digital ledger on which all Bitcoin transactions are recorded. Some aficionados have grander plans. They think it could be a new way of taking power back from the institutions they believe are calling all the shots.

Just as Bitcoin made it possible to transfer money without using a bank, blockchain believers like Mr. Berns think the technology will make it possible for ordinary people to control their own data — the lifeblood of the digital economy — without relying on big companies or governments.

There is a fuzzy line between these utopian visions and get-rich-quick schemes. Several cryptocurrency projects have been shut down by regulators; apparent hucksters have been arrested; and a plan to transform Puerto Rico with cryptocurrencies has been criticized as nothing more than a bid to take advantage of the island’s status as a tax haven.

Mr. Berns was drawn to Nevada by its tax benefits, including the lack of income taxes. And the breadth of his ambitions certainly raises the risk of a boondoggle.

Image

So far, there isn’t much to see of the community envisioned here, other than an office building and digs by surveyors.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

But he is different from his crypto-brethren in one big way: He is spending his own money. So far, he said, he has spent $300 million on the land, offices, planning and a staff of 70 people. And buying 67,000 largely undeveloped acres is a bit of old-fashioned, real estate risk-taking.

Still, Mr. Berns said his ambition was not to be a real estate magnate or even to get rich — or richer. He is promising to give away all decision-making power for the project and 90 percent of any dividends it generates to a corporate structure that will be held by residents, employees and future investors. That structure, which he calls a “distributed collaborative entity,” is supposed to operate on a blockchain where everyone’s ownership rights and voting powers will be recorded in a digital wallet.

Mr. Berns acknowledged that all this is way beyond what blockchains have actually accomplished. But that hasn’t discouraged him.

“I don’t know why,” he said over the roar of the Polaris engine. “I just — something inside me tells me this is the answer, that if we can get enough people to trust the blockchain, we can begin to change all the systems we operate by.”

Mr. Berns has managed to win over local officials who are eager for economic development. Nevada’s governor, Brian Sandoval, read a proclamation that named the Blockchains property “Innovation Park” at an event last month where Mr. Berns sat on a panel with the governor and Elon Musk, the chief executive of Tesla.

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The Truckee River runs through Painted Rock in Storey County, Nev. Blockchains has preliminary county support for a new town along the river, with thousands of homes.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

Tesla’s Gigafactory in Nevada, which has been described as the largest building in the world, is surrounded by Blockchains’ land. Companies like Google, Apple and Switch also have properties in the industrial park that is surrounded by Mr. Berns’s holdings.

This week, he announced a memorandum of understanding with one of the state’s main power companies, NV Energy, to team up on projects that will run energy transactions through a blockchain.

The Nevada county where this is all located, Storey County, has only about 4,000 residents and was best known, until recently, for its history of silver mining and its modern brothels, including one owned by a county commissioner.

That same county commissioner, Lance Gilman, bought the land surrounding the brothel and turned it into the industrial park where Tesla and Google are now located.

Blockchains has already received preliminary county support for a new town along the Truckee River, with thousands of homes, a school and a drone delivery system, and is working closely with the county on a broader master plan.

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Employees inside the Blockchains office. Mr. Berns has hired a staff of 70 people to work on his dream community.CreditJason Henry for The New York Times

But for now, Blockchains is empty land and a repurposed office building. Mr. Berns said the company won’t begin construction on the broader property until late 2019, at the earliest, after putting together the master plan and getting it approved by the county.

The office manager from Mr. Berns’s old law office in Los Angeles, Joanna Rodriguez, moved with her four children and husband to Nevada.

“He has these crazy ideas — but I know that every time he sets his mind to something he will get there,” said Ms. Rodriguez, 29, who has worked with Mr. Berns for eight years and is now the manager of the Blockchains office in Nevada. “That’s why I decided to move.”

Mr. Berns spent most of his professional life on class-action lawsuits, many of them against financial companies. He learned about Bitcoin in 2012 but was won over by another cryptocurrency, Ethereum, which makes it possible to store more than just transaction data on a blockchain.

Mr. Berns bought Ether, the digital token associated with Ethereum, in a big sale in 2015. Thanks to an astronomical increase in the price of Ether and some well-timed selling last year before it crashed, he became wealthy enough to fund his dream project.

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A rendering of what this blockchain-based community might become.CreditDesign by Ehrlich Yanai Rhee Chaney Architects and Tom Wiscombe Architecture

Ethereum is what he believes makes his community more than just a giant real estate project. To understand why requires more than a bit of imagination. And faith. Every resident and employee will have what amounts to an Ethereum address, which they will use to vote on local measures and store their personal data.

Mr. Berns believes Ethereum will give people a way to control their identity and online data without any governments or companies involved.

That is a widely shared view in the blockchain community, but there are significant questions about whether any of it can work in the real world. Most blockchain companies have failed to gain any traction, and Ethereum and Bitcoin networks have struggled to handle even moderate amounts of traffic.

Mr. Berns believes that one of the big problems has been security. People have been terrible at holding the private keys that are necessary to get access to a Bitcoin or Ethereum wallet.

He wants to address that with a custom-built system where people’s private keys are stored on multiple digital devices, kept in vaults, so that no one device can gain access to the keys. He has already purchased vaults that are burrowed into mountains in Sweden and Switzerland, and he plans to build additional vaults in the mountains in Nevada.

The other thing holding back Ethereum, Mr. Berns believes, has been a lack of real-world laboratories. His Nevada land, he hopes, will change that.

“This will either be the biggest thing ever, or the most spectacular crash and burn in the history of mankind,” Mr. Berns said. “I don’t know which one. I believe it’s the former, but either way it’s going to be one hell of a ride.”

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Amazon opens its second ‘4-star’ store in Colorado

Amazon opens its second ‘4-star’ store in Colorado


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Amazon isn’t wasting too much time in expanding its 4-star brick-and-mortar concept, as it opened a second location in Lone Tree, near Denver, Colorado on Thursday. It follows the first store, which launched in Manhattan in September, and the company will soon open another in Berkeley, California.

The store sells products that Amazon users have rated four stars or higher, ranging from electronics and kitchen goods to homeware and toys. Prime members can claim discounts on some items. The range also includes best-selling products from Amazon, along with trending new items.

The 4-star stores are still in their early stages, though it makes sense that Amazon would want to open up more in time for the holiday season. The company’s physical retail footprint is expanding. It also has around 20 bookstores and six cashier-less Amazon Go stores, along with some pop-up kiosks, AmazonFresh Pickup locations and, of course, its 460 Whole Foods grocery stores.

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Unique immunity genes in one widespread coral species: Study may help explain how corals deal with stress under future climate change scenarios

Unique immunity genes in one widespread coral species: Study may help explain how corals deal with stress under future climate change scenarios

A new study led by researchers at the University of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science found that a common coral species might have evolved unique immune strategies to cope with environmental change.

Roughly 30 percent of the cauliflower coral’s (Pocillopora damicornis) genome was unique compared to several other reef-building corals. In this 30%, many of these genes were related to immune function. This diversity of genes related to immune function, the researchers say, may be important for the long-term survival of coral reefs as climate change and ocean acidification continue to alter the environment to which corals are adapted.

“This coral is traditionally thought of as a weed, and yet it may be one of the last corals to survive environmental changes such as climate change,” said senior author of the study Nikki Traylor-Knowles, an assistant professor of marine biology and ecology at the UM Rosenstiel School.

To conduct the research, the scientists extracted and sequenced the genomic DNA from two healthy fragments and two bleached fragments of P. damicornis, which is one of the most abundant and widespread reef-building corals in the world. Their genome was then compared to publicly available genomes for several other coral species and several other cnidarian species.

“The study shows that this is an important coral with a very complex and unique immune system, which may explain why it is able to survive in so many different locations,” said the paper’s lead author Ross Cunning, who conducted the research as a postdoctoral scientist at the UM Rosenstiel School and is now a researcher at Shedd Aquarium.

These results suggest that the evolution of an innate immune system has been a defining feature of the success of hard corals like P. damicornis, and may help facilitate their continued success under climate change scenarios.

The immune system of corals, like humans, is vital to protect its overall health and deal with changes in its surroundings. If an animal has a stronger immune system then it will be better equipped to deal with environmental changes. These new findings suggest that some corals have many more and diverse immunity genes than would be expected, which is the hallmark of a very robust immune system.

“This study helps us better understand how corals deal with stress,” said Traylor-Knowles. “Its complex immune system indicates that it may have the tools to deal with environmental change much more easily than other corals.”

The study, titled “Comparative analysis of the Pocillopora damicornis genome highlights role of immune system in coral evolution,” was published in the October 31, 2018 issue of the journal Scientific Reports. The paper’s coauthors include: Nikki Traylor-Knowles, Andrew Baker, and Phil Gillette of the UM Rosenstiel School; UM alumnus Ross Cunning of Shedd Aquarium; and UM alumna Rachael Bay of the University of California Davis.

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Apple’s more expensive iPhones are making them a lot more money

Apple’s more expensive iPhones are making them a lot more money

We spent time with Apple’s new hardware not long ago, but the company is keeping the party going with another new release: its Q4 2018 earnings. Right off the bat, we’re looking at total revenues of $62.9 billion — that’s up from the $52.6 billion the company reported last year, and comfortably above the consensus estimate of $61.57 billion thrown around by Wall Street analysts. As usual, Apple was also quick to point out its sales strengths overseas, noting that a full 61 percent of its overall revenue came from international markets.

So, yes, this is another big quarter on the books for Apple, and iPhones again accounted for the lion’s share of the company’s total intake. That’s not because it’s selling vastly more of them than usual, though.

Wall Street types expected to see iPhone growth in the single digits, but in fact, the change in iPhone sales between this quarter and Q4 2017 was basically negligible — Apple reported a whopping zero percent growth. Keep in mind that this fiscal quarter only includes the first week the new iPhone XS and XS Max were on sale. The less expensive XR, meanwhile, isn’t included in this release at all since it launched later.

With that in mind, it’s really no surprise Apple hasn’t sold dramatically more iPhones than usual. And while we’re on the subject of things that aren’t surprises, how about this: despite flat iPhone growth, Apple continues to make more money off of the same number of devices. iPhone revenue was up 29 percent despite only selling about 200,000 more iPhones than usual. For those keeping track, that means the average selling price (or ASP) of an iPhone is now $793 — that’s a huge jump over the $618 average Apple reported last year.

As usual, the really exciting numbers will be released next quarter, after the holidays subside and we’re left taking stock of everything that happened. Are people flocking to embrace Apple’s premium phones? Or will the XR’s more mainstream appeal win out? Apple doesn’t ever break down iPhone sales by model, but we’ll be able to make some educated guesses based on the iPhone’s average selling price in three months.

Meanwhile, Apple sold fewer iPads in this quarter compared to this time last year: think 9.69 million, down from 10.3 million. That doesn’t sound great (because it isn’t, really), but this number doesn’t really mean much given the context of the past few days. With the upcoming launch of its new (and impressive) iPad Pros, Apple is going into the holiday quarter with what might just be its strongest tablet line-up ever. The bigger question is whether people will actually buy these things: the hardware on offer is substantially better than previous generations, but there’s no avoiding the fact that the new Pros are pricey. (Almost prohibitively so, depending on who you ask.)

This is a developing story, please refresh for updates.

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apple, business, earnings, gear, imac, ipad, iphone, q42018

Chris is Engadget’s senior mobile editor and moonlights as a professional moment ruiner. His early years were spent taking apart Sega consoles and writing awful fan fiction. That passion for electronics and words would eventually lead him to covering startups of all stripes at TechCrunch. The first phone he ever swooned over was the Nokia 7610, because man, those curves.


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Senator Wyden wants to jail execs who don’t protect consumer data

Senator Wyden wants to jail execs who don’t protect consumer data


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Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) released a draft the Consumer Data Protection Act, which would create new protections for consumer information and strict punishments for those found to be abusing user data. The proposed bill would send senior executives to jail for 10 to 20 years if they fail to follow the guidelines for data use.

Under the proposed legislation, the Federal Trade Commission would be given new authority to police corporations that have their hands on a significant amount of user data. That would put a much more critical eye on the tech industry, which has had its share of data-related scares in recent months, from the Cambridge Analytica scandal at Facebook to the recent breach of Google+.

The FTC would add 175 new members to its staff to carry out enforcement and would be given the ability to penalize a company up to four percent of its revenue for its first violation. Companies would also be required to submit regular reports to the FTC to disclose any privacy lapses that have occurred. Companies making more than $1 billion in revenue and handling information from more than one million people and smaller companies handling the data of more than 50 million people would be subject to the regular check-ins. Failure to comply would care a punishment of potential jail time for executives.

The legislation would also institute a Do Not Track list. When a consumer joins the list, companies would be barred from sharing their data with third parties or using it to serve up targeted advertisements. As a trade-off, companies would be given permission to charge customers on the Do Not Track list a fee to use their products and services to make up for lost ad revenue. Even if consumers don’t choose to join the list, they would be granted the ability to review information collected about them, see who it has been shared with or sold to and challenge any inaccuracies.

Wyden’s proposal would mark a major change in how companies handle consumer data and offer real consequences for those who fail. Turning it into law will likely present a major challenge. While consumer advocates and privacy-minded companies like DuckDuckGo have lent their support, companies with massive amounts of user data and equally big lobbying budgets are likely to push back against it.

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Flickr limits free plan to 1,000 photos or videos

Flickr limits free plan to 1,000 photos or videos


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Flickr is killing its 1TB of free storage in favor of a no-cost plan where you’re limited to 1,000 photos or videos, no matter the file size. The move comes amid a raft of changes at the photo hosting service, which SmugMug bought from Yahoo earlier this year.

If you’re on the free plan, you have until January 8th to download all but the 1,000 photos and videos you’d like to keep on your account or upgrade to a Pro subscription. If you’re over that 1,000 threshold after that date, you won’t be able to upload any more items. If you’re still over the limit by February 5th, Flickr will start deleting your files, starting with the oldest ones, until you’re down to 1,000.

Flickr says it’s making the switch because “‘free’ services are seldom actually free for users,” and you often end up paying with your time or your data — SmugMug says it doesn’t sell user data to advertisers. It claims it would rather be transparent with its members.

Pro users now have access to unlimited video and photo storage once again. The paid plan also includes in-depth stats, ad-free browsing, discounts on other services and 5K photo support. Starting early 2019, you’ll be able to upload videos up to ten minutes in length, up from the current three-minute limit. A Pro account will set you back $50/year, though if you upgrade before the end of November, you’ll get a 30 percent discount on your first 12 months.

Meanwhile, as of January, Flickr will no longer require you to log in using a Yahoo account. CEO Don MacAskill wrote in a blog post that Flickr has new measures in place to tackle spam too, and claimed that, once Flickr has fully migrated from Yahoo’s servers to Amazon Web Services, it will be faster than ever.

Engadget’s parent company, Verizon, now owns Yahoo. Engadget remains editorially independent.

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Bioluminescent substance discovered in Brazilian cave worm larva

Bioluminescent substance discovered in Brazilian cave worm larva

An insect larva found in the caves of Intervales State Park, an Atlantic Rainforest remnant in the municipality of Ribeirão Grande, São Paulo State, Brazil, was initially of no interest to the research group led by biochemist Vadim Viviani, a professor at the Federal University of São Carlos (UFSCar) in Sorocaba. The researchers are investigating bioluminescence, the capacity of living organisms to produce their own light.

Nevertheless, the larva of Neoditomyia, a genus of non-luminescent cave worms, proved to be a promising object of study. Although it does not emit light similar to that of other insects of the family Keroplatidae (fungus gnats) in the order Diptera (true flies), this insect produces luciferin, a molecule indispensable for the bioluminescent members of the family.

The discovery is the first of its kind in the Neotropics and has just been published in the journal Photochemical & Photobiological Sciences.

The other 15 species of Keroplatidae that produce luciferin are found in the Appalachian Mountains (USA, one species), New Zealand (eight), Australia (one) and Eurasia (five). All are bioluminescent.

“If what we found here produces luciferin without emitting light, it’s possible that the molecule has another biochemical function of which we’re unaware,” Viviani told.

The cave worm larva found in the Atlantic Rainforest biome does not emit light because its luciferin is only one of the components required to do so. Luciferin is a small molecule that emits light when oxidized (exposed to oxygen). For luciferin to be oxidized and emit light, however, an animal must also produce luciferase, an enzyme that catalyzes the bioluminescent reaction.

This keroplatid’s cousins in the northern hemisphere and Oceania produce both molecules and therefore emit light, as do fireflies, glow-worms, and other insects.

The molecular structures of luciferin and luciferase in dipterans and fireflies are completely different and do not react with each other to emit light. Only luciferin and luciferase produced by the same organism can react to emit light.

To determine whether the substance found in the cave worm larva was indeed luciferin, the researchers mixed it with purified luciferase from Orfelia fultonii, the keroplatid species from the Appalachians. To their surprise, the mixture emitted blue light similar to the light emitted by O. fultonii.

Enzymes similar to beetle luciferase have been found in non-luminescent species, but the occurrence of luciferin in terrestrial organisms has so far been limited to luminescent species. Hence, the novelty of this discovery.

In addition to Viviani, the co-authors of the study included postdoctoral researcher Danilo Trabuco do Amaral, and doctoral researcher Vanessa Rezende Bevilaqua, both affiliated with UFSCar and recipients of scholarships from São Paulo Research Foundation — FAPESP, as well as postdoctoral researcher Rafaela Falaschi, who is affiliated with the University of Ponta Grossa. The study was part of the Thematic Project “Arthropod bioluminescence,” which is funded by FAPESP.

Laboratory use

In addition to captivating people who find bioluminescent species at night, the light-emitting substances they produce are widely used for research in medicine, biotechnology, manufacturing, and pharmaceuticals. Genetic engineering to mark specific cells with bioluminescent substances allows them to be easily observed under a microscope, for example.

“Bioluminescent substances are used to mark cancer cells, test sperm viability, and detect pathogens and even heavy metals in water samples,” said Viviani, who chairs the International Society for Bioluminescence & Chemiluminescence (ISBC).

Once it has been fully characterized, the new luciferin may also be used in analytical applications, including as an indicator of specific cells. “We don’t yet know all its potential applications, but its chemical composition has peculiarities that could lead to many other uses,” Viviani said.

Biotechnology applications of the luciferin-luciferase combination that produces blue light, he recalls, differ from applications of the more energetic luciferin-luciferase reaction that produces yellow-green light in fireflies and glow-worms.

Recent evolution

The authors of the study also tested the larvae of two other dipterans to search for luciferin that interacted with luciferase from O. fultonii.

Arachnocampa luminosa, the New Zealand glow-worm, emits light to lure prey to its cave webs, but laboratory tests showed the bioluminescence of this species to be different because it did not emit light when brought into contact with the Appalachian species.

The same results were observed with Aedes aegypti, demonstrating that the mosquito that transmits dengue, chikungunya, Zika, and yellow fever does not have molecules similar to luciferin, or if it does, they do not interact with the tested luciferase.

Nevertheless, the study contributes to the search for bioluminescent substances in other species. The occurrence of luciferin in a non-luminescent larva may indicate that it has a different but equally important biological function in keroplatids. This finding suggests that bioluminescence is a trait that has evolved more recently in insects that already produced luciferin for other biological purposes.

The researchers do not rule out the possibility of applying knowledge of luciferin and luciferase in bioluminescent insects to the control of disease-bearing mosquitos because these molecules are ideal to mark cells and investigate intracellular processes.

“If dipteran luciferin and related compounds do indeed prove to play an important role in the physiology of the organism, we might be able to interfere with mosquito reproduction,” Viviani said.

The next stage of the project involves determining the chemical structure of the novel luciferin. Viviani plans to conduct it in collaboration with Cassius Stevani, a professor at the University of São Paulo’s Chemistry Institute (IQ-USP), and colleagues at other partner institutions.

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You can now post your Shazam finds to Instagram Stories

You can now post your Shazam finds to Instagram Stories


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Instagram’s obsession with music is expanding to Shazam: The song-identifying app now works with Instagram Stories. Starting today, you’ll be able to pull up Shazam, ID a song, and immediately post it to your Instagram Story.

To use the feature, you’ll just have to Shazam a song like you normally would. Once the app recognizes what you’re listening to, tap the share button. As long as your apps are up to date, Instagram should appear in the list of apps that you can share the song through. Once you choose Instagram, Shazam will share the song information and album art to your story. A button that says “More on Shazam” will accompany the post. When tapped, it will take you to the song page in the Shazam app.

The integration will first be available to iOS users — fitting, seeing as Apple just completed its $400 million acquisition of Shazam earlier this year. You’ll need to download the latest update to Shazam and to Instagram to share to your Story. The feature will be coming to Android in the near future, but no specific date has been given. Support for Shazam on Instagram comes hot on the heels of the Faebook-owned app adding SoundCloud integration and support for Spotfiy earlier this year.

Shazam on Instagram

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