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Germany Launches World's First Autonomous Tram

An anonymous reader shares a report: The world's first autonomous tram was launched in unspectacular style in the city of Potsdam, west of Berlin, on Friday. The Guardian was the first English-language newspaper to be offered a ride on the vehicle developed by a team of 50 computer scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and physicists at the German engineering company Siemens. Fitted with multiple radar, lidar (light from a laser), and camera sensors, forming digital eyes that film the tram and its surroundings during every journey, the tram reacts to trackside signals and can respond to hazards faster than a human. Its makers say it is some way from being commercially viable but they do expect it to contribute to the wider field of driverless technology, and have called it an important milestone on the way to autonomous driving. Travelling in real traffic from the tram depot of Potsdam's transport company ViP, the articulated Combino model tram whirred its way through a high-rise housing settlement in the south-eastern district of Stern on Friday, contending with bikes, prams and cars which sometimes haphazardly crossed its path during the 3.7-mile (6km) route.

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Despite Outrage From Users, Microsoft Continues To Install Bloatware Applications Onto Every Windows 10 PC

Before Windows 10, a clean install of Windows only included the bare essentials a user would need to get started using their PC. With Windows 10, a clean install stays that way for about two minutes, because the second you hit the desktop, the Microsoft Store immediately starts trying to download third-party apps and games. Users have long complained about it, but it turns out Microsoft never put paid to it. Windows Central writes: And these apps keep trying to install themselves even after you cancel the downloads. There are six such apps, which is six too many. These apps are often random, but right now they include things like Candy Crush, Spotify, and Disney Magic Kingdoms. You should not see any of these apps on a fresh install of Windows 10, yet they are there every single time. There are policies you can set that disable these apps from automatically installing, but that's not the point. On a fresh, untouched, clean install of Windows 10, these apps will download themselves onto your PC. Even if you cancel the installation of these apps before they manage to complete the download, they will retry at a later date, without you even noticing. The only way I've found that gets rid of them permanently is to let them install initially, without canceling the download, and then uninstall the apps from the Start menu. If you cancel the initial download of the bloatware apps before they complete their first install, the Microsoft Store will just attempt to redownload them later and will keep doing so until that initial install is complete. This is not a good user experience, Microsoft.

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Microsoft To Unify Search Across Windows 10, Office 365 and Bing with Microsoft Search

Microsoft has a new 'North Star' for search: One, unified, smart search box that will span Windows, Office, Bing and more. From a report: For the past several years, Microsoft been working to unify and personalize its search experience across Office 365. But now the company is going a step further and bringing Windows 10 the same search experience. At Ignite last year, Microsoft said its holy grail for search was to enable people to search from wherever they were without interrupting their workflow. Bing for Business -- a way to turn Bing into an Intranet search service -- also debuted last year. At this year's Ignite, Microsoft is refining and expanding that search mission. Microsoft's plan is to put the search box "in a consistent, prominent place across Edge, Bing, Windows and Office apps, so that search is always one click away." The company also is "supercharging" the search box so that users can more easily find people, related content, commands for apps and more before they actually start typing in the search box, as it will be contextually aware and offer proactive search results and suggestions. Today, September 24, Microsoft is starting to roll out a preview of this Microsoft Search feature to Office.com, Bing.com (where it's no longer called Bing for Business, but, instead Microsoft Search in Bing) and the SharePoint Mobile app. Microsoft Search will be coming to Edge, Windows and other versions of Office in the coming months, going into 2019.

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Google Secretly Logs Users Into Chrome Whenever They Log Into a Google Site

Catalin Cimpanu, writing for ZDNet: Starting with Chrome 69, whenever a Chrome user would access a Google-owned site, the browser would take that user's Google identity and log the user into the Chrome in-browser account system -- also known as Sync. This system, Sync, allows users to log in with their Google accounts inside Chrome and optionally upload and synchronize local browser data (history, passwords, bookmarks, and other) to Google's servers. Sync has been present in Chrome for years, but until now, the system worked independently from the logged-in state of Google accounts. This allowed users to surf the web while logged into a Google account but not upload any Chrome browsing data to Google's servers, data that may be tied to their accounts. Now, with the revelations of this new auto-login mechanism, a large number of users are angry that this sneaky modification would allow Google to link that person's traffic to a specific browser and device with a higher degree of accuracy. That criticism proved to be wrong, as Google engineers have clarified on Twitter that this auto-login operation does not start the process of synchronizing local data to Google's servers, which will require a user click. Furthermore, they also revealed that the reason why this mechanism was added was for privacy reasons in the first place. Chrome engineers said the auto-login mechanism was added in the browser because of shared computers/browsers. Well-respected cryptographer Matthew Green was disappointed by the move. In a post, he wrote: [...] In the rest of this post, I'm going to talk about why this matters. From my perspective, this comes down to basically four points: 1. Nobody on the Chrome development team can provide a clear rationale for why this change was necessary, and the explanations they've given don't make any sense. 2. This change has enormous implications for user privacy and trust, and Google seems unable to grapple with this. 3. The change makes a hash out of Google's own privacy policies for Chrome. 4. Google needs to stop treating customer trust like it's a renewable resource, because they're screwing up badly.

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A New Report Outlines Apple's Reluctance For Mature Content On Its Streaming Service

A new report from The Wall Street Journal details the state of Apple's yet-to-be-unveiled streaming service. "It highlights some of the difficulties Apple has faced in striking the right tone for its content, particularly when it comes to 'gratuitous sex, profanity or violence,' and cites sources who expect the launch of the streaming service to be pushed further back," reports The Verge. From the report: The report opens with Apple CEO Tim Cook's reaction to Vital Signs, a show based on the life of Dr. Dre. Apple picked up the show back in 2016, but when Cook viewed it a year ago, he told Apple Music executive Jimmy Iovine that it was too violent, and that the company can't show it. Apple has some big plans for its original content ambitions. It brought in two seasoned Hollywood executives to oversee its video streaming project, and invested $1 billion to develop new a slate of new projects. Judging from those acquisitions, the company is swinging for the fences it's picked up a reboot of Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories, a space show from Battlestar Galactica's Ron Moore, a network drama starring Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston, a show based on Isaac Asimov's Foundation series, and more. The WSJ report notes that Apple's preference is for family-friendly projects that appeal to a broad audience, and that it's trying to avoid weighing into overly political or controversial territory with the content that it's producing -- only a handful of those shows "veer into 'TV-MA' territory." Apple's approach doesn't come as a huge surprise: it's been described as "conservative and picky." The company has long forbidden adult content from its App Store, rigorously removing Apps that even display NSFW content, like Vine or 500px. TV executives note in the report that where streaming services can simply weather a boycott or lose some subscribers, alienating audiences could prompt viewers to boycott Apple's hardware.

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Alcohol Causes One In 20 Deaths Worldwide, Says WHO

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Alcohol is responsible for more than 5% of all deaths worldwide, or around 3 million a year, new figures have revealed. The data, part of a report from the World Health Organization, shows that about 2.3 million of those deaths in 2016 were of men, and that almost 29% of all alcohol-caused deaths were down to injuries -- including traffic accidents and suicide. The report, which comes out every four years, reveals the continued impact of alcohol on public health around the world, and highlights that the young bear the brunt: 13.5% of deaths among people in their 20s are linked to booze, with alcohol responsible for 7.2% of premature deaths overall. It also stresses that harm from drinking is greater among poorer consumers than wealthier ones. While the proportion of deaths worldwide that have been linked to alcohol has fallen to 5.3% since 2012, when the figure was at 5.9%, experts say the findings make for sobering reading.

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Famed Mathematician Claims Proof of 160-Year-Old Riemann Hypothesis

Slashdot reader OneHundredAndTen writes: Sir Michael Atiyah claims to have proved the Riemann hypothesis. This is not some internet crank, but one the towering figures of mathematics in the second half of the 20th century. The thing is, he's almost 90 years old. According to New Scientist, Atiyah is set to present his "simple proof" of the Riemann hypothesis on Monday at the Heidelberg Laureate Forum in Germany. Atiyah has received two awards often referred to as the Nobel prizes of mathematics, the Fields medal and the Abel Prize; he also served as president of the London Mathematical Society, the Royal Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh. "[T]he hypothesis is intimately connected to the distribution of prime numbers, those indivisible by any whole number other than themselves and one," reports New Scientist. "If the hypothesis is proven to be correct, mathematicians would be armed with a map to the location of all such prime numbers, a breakthrough with far-reaching repercussions in the field."

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Meet the World's First Self-Driving Car From 1968

Qbertino writes: The German Web industry magazine T3N (think of it as the German TechCrunch) has an article about a test circuit and a test vehicle -- a modified Mercedes Benz limousine of the time -- that was set up by the German tire manufacturer Continental in order to test tires in a precisely reproducible set of tests. Hence the self-driving mechanism provided by a wire in the test track to send and receive signals from the car and to record data on the test runs on magnetic tape and other high-tech stuff from the time. Here's a short video, erm, film clip showing the setup in action -- driverless seat included. Today's artificial intelligence is nowhere to be seen of course, but the entire setup itself seems pretty impressive and sophisticated.

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How Qualcomm Tried and Failed To Steal Intel's Crown Jewel

An anonymous reader shares an article from Bloomberg: In early November, Qualcomm Chairman Paul Jacobs stood on a stage in the heart of Silicon Valley and vowed to break Intel's stranglehold on the world's most lucrative chip business. The mobile internet and cloud computing were booming and the data centers running this digital economy had an insatiable thirst for computer servers -- and especially the powerful, expensive server chips that Intel churns out by the million. Qualcomm had spent five years and hundreds of millions of dollars designing competing processors, trying to expand beyond its mobile business. Jacobs was leading a coming-out party featuring tech giants like Microsoft and HP, which had committed to try the new gear. "That's an industry that's been very slow moving, very complacent," Jacobs said on stage. "We're going to change that." Less than a year later, this once-promising business is in tatters, according to people familiar with the situation. Most of the key engineers are gone. Big customers are looking elsewhere or going back to Intel for the data center chips they need. Efforts to sell the operation -- including a proposed management buyout backed by SoftBank -- have failed, the people said. Jacobs, chief backer of the plan and the son of Qualcomm's founder, is out, too. The demise is a story of debt-fueled dealmaking and executive cost-cutting pledges in the face of restless investors seeking quick returns -- exactly the wrong environment for the painstaking and expensive task of building a new semiconductor business from scratch. It leaves Qualcomm more reliant on a smartphone market that's plateaued. And Intel's server chip boss is happy.

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Japan's Two Hopping Rovers Successfully Land On Asteroid Ryugu

sharkbiter shares a report from Space.com: The suspense is over: Two tiny hopping robots have successfully landed on an asteroid called Ryugu -- and they've even sent back some wild postcards from their new home. The tiny rovers are part of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency's Hayabusa2 asteroid sample-return mission. Engineers with the agency deployed the robots early Friday (Sept. 21), but JAXA waited until today (Sept. 22) to confirm the operation was successful and both rovers made the landing safely. In order to complete the deployment, the main spacecraft of the Hayabusa2 mission lowered itself carefully down toward the surface until it was just 180 feet (55 meters) up. After the rovers were on their way, the spacecraft raised itself back up to its typical altitude of about 12.5 miles above the asteroid's surface (20 kilometers). The agency still has two more deployments yet to accomplish before it can rest easy: Hayabusa2 is scheduled to deploy a larger rover called MASCOT in October and another tiny hopper next year. And of course, the main spacecraft has a host of other tasks to accomplish during its stay at Ryugu -- most notably, to collect a sample of the primitive world to bring home to Earth for laboratory analysis. JAXA tweeted on Saturday: "We are sorry we have kept you waiting! MINERVA-II1 consists of two rovers, 1a & 1b. Both rovers are confirmed to have landed on the surface of Ryugu. They are in good condition and have transmitted photos & data. We also confirmed they are moving on the surface."

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Researchers Create 'Spray-On' 2D Antennas

In a study published in Science Advances, researchers in Drexel's College of Engineering describe a method for spraying invisibly thin antennas, made from a type of two-dimensional, metallic material called MXene, that perform as well as those being used in mobile devices, wireless routers and portable transducers. Phys.Org reports: The researchers, from the College's Department of Materials Science and Engineering, report that the MXene titanium carbide can be dissolved in water to create an ink or paint. The exceptional conductivity of the material enables it to transmit and direct radio waves, even when it's applied in a very thin coating. Preserving transmission quality in a form this thin is significant because it would allow antennas to easily be embedded -- literally, sprayed on -- in a wide variety of objects and surfaces without adding additional weight or circuitry or requiring a certain level of rigidity. Initial testing of the sprayed antennas suggest that they can perform with the same range of quality as current antennas, which are made from familiar metals, like gold, silver, copper and aluminum, but are much thicker than MXene antennas. Making antennas smaller and lighter has long been a goal of materials scientists and electrical engineers, so this discovery is a sizable step forward both in terms of reducing their footprint as well as broadening their application.

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Judge Orders Cloudflare To Turn Over Identifying Data In Copyright Case

Cal Jeffrey reporting for TechSpot: Back in May, several studios started targeting movie-pirating sites and services. Dallas Buyers Club, Cobbler Nevada, Bodyguard Productions, and several other copyright owners filed a lawsuit against ShowBox, a movie-streaming app for mobile devices. The companies tried pressuring CDN and DDoS protection provider Cloudflare into releasing information on the operators of some of these platforms. However, Cloudflare told them if they wanted such information they would have to get it the right way -- through legal action. The plaintiffs did just that. A subpoena was issued in the case from a federal court in Hawaii. The documents were not made public, but TorrentFreak was able to obtain a portion of the subpoena from a source. The court order demands the details of the operators behind the Showboxbuzz website, Showbox.software, website Rawapk, Popcorn Time, and others. Cloudflare has not filed a motion to quash, so it appears likely that the company will hand over the requested data.

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Wendy's Faces Lawsuit For Unlawfully Collecting Employee Fingerprints

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A class-action lawsuit has been filed in Illinois against fast food restaurant chain Wendy's accusing the company of breaking state laws in regards to the way it stores and handles employee fingerprints. The complaint is centered around Wendy's practice of using biometric clocks that scan employees' fingerprints when they arrive at work, when they leave, and when they use the Point-Of-Sale and cash register systems. Plaintiffs, represented by former Wendy's employees Martinique Owens and Amelia Garcia, claim that Wendy's breaks state law -- the Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA) -- because the company does not make employees aware of how it handles their data. More specifically, the lawsuit claims that Wendy's does not inform employees in writing of the specific purpose and length of time for which their fingerprints were being collected, stored, and used, as required by the BIPA, and nor does it obtain a written release from employees with explicit consent to obtain and handle the fingerprints in the first place. Wendy's also doesn't provide a publicly available retention schedule and guidelines for permanently destroying employees' fingerprints after they leave the company, plaintiffs said. [The plaintiffs also claim that Wendy's sends this data to a third-party without their consent.]

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IAU Ad Hoc Committee Publishes Revised Set of Definitions For SETI Terms

RockDoctor writes: An ad hoc committee of the International Astronomical Union has been working for 5 months on revisions and clarifications to the definitions of various terms used in technical and popular discussions of SETI -- the Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence. They've published their draft report. The terms of reference -- to account for existing popular and technical uses of the terms -- should mean that no major changes in usage occur, but interesting points do emerge from the discussion paper. For example, in discussing the term "extraterrestrial," their proposed definition ("shorthand for life or technology not originating recently on Earth") includes cover for possibilities such as "panspermia" which may be popular in "popular science," but certainly are not popular in the technical discussions. They go on to discuss that "by this definition, life on another planet with a common origin to Earth life but which diverged billions of years ago would be extraterrestrial, but Earth life accidentally brought to Mars on a human-built lander would not." Waiting for the invasion of the pedants, clutching their feet in their hands.

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PlayStation Now Is Making Its Games Downloadable

PlayStation revealed in a blog post that PS Now subscribers will be able to download most PS4 and PS2 games currently in the PS Now Library and play them locally, offline. "Almost all PS4 games in the service, including Bloodborne, God of War 3 Remastered, NBA 2K16, and Until Dawn, will be available for download, in addition to the PS Now lineup of classic PS2 games remastered for PS4," the announcement reads. "This feature will be gradually rolled out to PS Now subscribers over the next couple of days, so if you don't see the feature on your PS Now today, make sure to check back again soon." Kotaku reports: While being connected to the internet isn't required to play PS Now games once they've been downloaded, the support page says your system will have to go online "every few days" in order to validate the PS Now subscription. In the past, PS Now had been exclusively for streaming games to your PS4. When it was announced in 2014, it was building off of Sony's 2012 acquisition of the Gaikai video game streaming service. While it offered a way for people to play older games on the newer console (since, unlike Xbox One, the PS4 isn't backwards compatible), it was hardly ideal due to problems with latency and its reliance on a consistently strong internet connection. Honestly, the only surprise here is that Sony didn't make this move sooner.

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