John P. Mello Jr.

About the Author John P. Mello Jr.


Tablets

Main Surface Pro Improvements Are Beneath the Surface

Microsoft on Tuesday announced a refresh of its Surface Pro tablet-laptop computer. Although Microsoft said the fifth generation of the unit has been redesigned from the inside out with more than 800 new custom parts, the Surface Pro looks similar to its predecessor. “If you were looking for a major redesign of Surface, this isn’t it,” said Ross Rubin, principal analyst at Reticle Research.

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Social Networking

Leaked Docs Spotlight Complexity of Moderating Facebook Content

The public got a rare view into how Facebook tries to keep offensive and dangerous content offline in a report published Sunday. Leaked confidential documents exposed the secret rules by which Facebook polices postings on issues such as violence, hate speech, terrorism, pornography, racism and self-harm, as well as such subjects as sports fixing and cannibalism.

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Tech Law

Data Watchdog Cautions Google and UK Health Partner

A British data watchdog has raised questions about whether it was appropriate for a healthcare trust to share data on 1.6 million patients with DeepMind Health, an AI company owned by Google. The trust shared the data in connection with the test phase of Streams, an app designed to diagnose acute kidney injuries. However, the sharing reportedly was performed without an appropriate legal basis.

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Home Tech

Amazon Adds Show to Echo’s Tell

Echo isn’t just for sound anymore. Amazon on Tuesday announced Echo Show, a new version of its popular smart speaker that comes with a 7-inch color touchscreen, 5-inch front-facing camera and dual 2-inch Dolby speakers. With its screen, it can show YouTube videos, access home security cameras, display photos and scroll lyrics as you listen to songs from streaming services.

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chips

Flaw in Intel Chips Could Open Door to Botnet Armies

A 7-year-old flaw in Intel chips could enable hijackers to gain total control of business computers and use them for malicious purposes. The Intel AMT vulnerability is the first of its kind, according to Embedi, which released technical details about it last week. Attackers could exploit the flaw to get full control over business computers, even those turned off but plugged into an outlet.

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Community

Study Finds Gender Bias in Open Source Community

Gender bias affects contributions to the open source community, according to a paper published Monday. Female programmers’ suggestions for code changes in open source projects — called “pull requests” — were accepted more often than those of their male counterparts when gender was unspecified. However, that changed when the gender of a pull request’s author could be identified.

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Internet

Internet Giants Ramp Up Fake News Defenses

Three major Internet brands this week announced initiatives to combat “fake news” online.
Google revealed that it had tweaked its search processes to help bring high-quality content to the top of search result pages. Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales announced a new online publication that aims to fight fake news by pairing professional journalists with legions of volunteer community contributors.

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Boardroom

Uber Boss Practices Brinksmanship With Apple

Uber CEO Travis Kalanick has a reputation of playing fast and loose with rules, but it appears that a maneuver his company performed on iPhones took his ride-hailing outfit to the brink of ruin a couple of years ago. When Apple discovered Uber was planting code on iPhones that persisted on the devices even after the ride-hailing app was removed, Apple CEO Tim Cook gave Kalanick a warning.

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Tech Buzz

Apple May Be Getting Its Innovation Groove Back

Apple reportedly has begun testing a premium iPhone with a revamped display and body, which could be one of three new models the company is expected to launch this fall. The other two likely will be upgrades to the two existing iPhones. The new design will incorporate curved glass and stainless steel. It will increase the surface area of the display without increasing the size of the phone.

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Cybersecurity

Microsoft’s Timely Response to Shadow Brokers Threat Raises Questions

Just as the Shadow Brokers hacker group started crowing about a dump of never-seen-before flaws in Windows, Microsoft announced it already had fixed most of the exploits. “Today, Microsoft triaged a large release of exploits made publicly available by Shadow Brokers,” said Microsoft Principal Security Group Manager Phillip Misner. “Most of the exploits are already patched.”

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Cybersecurity

Spam Czar Nabbed in Spain May Have Link to Election Tampering

An alleged spam kingpin with possible ties to election meddling in the U.S. was arrested in Spain last week under a U.S. international warrant. Pyotr Levashov had been vacationing in Barcelona with his family. Levashov was arrested for interfering with the 2016 U.S. presidential elections, the Russian news outlet RT reported, but the DoJ said the arrest was not connected to national security.

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Hacking

Hackers Blast Emergency Sirens in Dallas

Screaming sirens serenaded Dallas residents in the early morning hours Saturday after a cyberattack set off the city’s emergency warning system. All of the city’s 156 sirens reportedly were set off more than a dozen times. Officials have not yet identified the perpetrator of the attack, but it likely was someone outside the Dallas area, said Office of Emergency Management Director Rocky Vaz.

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Software

Samsung’s Tizen OS Riddled With Security Holes

There are more than three dozen previously unknown flaws that pose a potential threat to consumers using some Samsung TVs, watches and phones, a security researcher has reported. Hackers could exploit the vulnerabilities found in Samsung’s Tizen operating system to gain remote access and control of a variety of the company’s products, according to Amihai Neiderman, head of research at Equus Software.

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Deals

Imagination’s Picture Bleak After Apple Cuts It Loose

Imagination on Monday announced that Apple would no longer use its intellectual property, and the company’s stock sank faster than a bottomless boat on the news. Apple planned to discontinue its use of the company’s IP in new products in 15 months to two years, ending the companies’ license and royalty agreement, Imagination said. Those royalties account for about half the company’s revenue.

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