Apple To Delay Privacy Change Threatening Facebook, Mobile Ad Market

Apple said on Thursday that it will delay until early next year changes to its privacy policy that could reduce ad sales by Facebook and other companies targeting users on iPhones and iPads. From a report: The delay could benefit Facebook, which last week said the changes to the iOS 14 operating system would render one of its mobile advertising tools “so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it.” Apple announced new privacy rules in June that were slated to take effect with the launch of its iOS 14 operating system this fall. Among them is a new requirement that advertisers who employ an Apple-provided tracking identifier, or other tools that have a similar function, must now show a pop-up notification asking for tracking permission. Facebook said last week it would quit using the tool that requires a prompt in its own apps but did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Thursday. Apple said Thursday that developers will still have the option to use the prompt when iOS 14 arrives.

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It’s Not Just Cars That Make Pollution. It’s the Roads They Drive On, Too

An anonymous reader shares a report: The smell of summer in Los Angeles, or any major city, is often tinged with asphalt. A freshly paved road or a new tar roof doesn’t just wrinkle your nose, however: A new study suggests fresh asphalt is a significant, yet overlooked, source of air pollution. In fact, the material’s contribution to one kind of particulate air pollution could rival or even exceed that of cars and trucks. “It’s a super cool paper,” says Allen Robinson, an environmental engineer at Carnegie Mellon University who was not involved with the research. “Asphalt could be a big, important contributor” to air pollution, he says. Air quality has improved over the past several decades in California and many other parts of the United States, largely because of cleaner exhaust from vehicles and power plants. Despite that, air pollution still contributes to many health problems — ranging from asthma to heart attacks. And many sources of air pollution continue to be a problem, from livestock emissions to volatile organic compounds from paints, cleaning products, and personal care products (especially those that contain fragrances, such as shampoo).

Yet, when scientists looked at all the known sources of air pollution in Los Angeles and the surrounding areas, they didn’t add up. Some sources had not yet been identified. “Asphalt was something that jumped out to us,” says Drew Gentner, an environmental engineer at Yale University who led the new study. The material, made from crude oil or similar substances, contains the kinds of semivolatile organic compounds that lead to some types of air pollution. There’s also a lot of it. Gentner and colleagues gathered two types of fresh road asphalt and heated them in a laboratory furnace. They also tested new asphalt shingles and liquid asphalts used for roofing. They reasoned that new material should release more chemicals than older material, and they wanted to see how the emission rate changes as the fresh asphalt ages.

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Big Tech is Suing the Patent Office

Apple, Google, Cisco and Intel this week sued the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, challenging the agency’s recent rule that it can refuse to adjudicate patent claims while litigation about them is pending in court. From a report: The companies say the rule hurts innovation and their legal rights, letting invalid patents stay on the books while lawsuits slowly wend their way through court. The rule, which was introduced by the USPTO in March and became final in May, deals with the agency’s obligations around inter partes review (IPR) — a sort of expert-court process for assessing whether patent claims are valid. USPTO says deferring to an ongoing court case is more efficient than setting up a parallel review internally. District courts are costly and have less expertise in patent law, Cisco general counsel Mark Chandler told Axios. Cisco owns 16,000 U.S. patents, but the agency is undermining its ability to invalidate unworthy ones, he said.

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These Students Figured Out Their Tests Were Graded by AI — and the Easy Way To Cheat

Monica Chin, reporting for The Verge: On Monday, Dana Simmons came downstairs to find her 12-year-old son, Lazare, in tears. He’d completed the first assignment for his seventh-grade history class on Edgenuity, an online platform for virtual learning. He’d received a 50 out of 100. That wasn’t on a practice test — it was his real grade. “He was like, I’m gonna have to get a 100 on all the rest of this to make up for this,” said Simmons in a phone interview with The Verge. “He was totally dejected.” At first, Simmons tried to console her son. “I was like well, you know, some teachers grade really harshly at the beginning,” said Simmons, who is a history professor herself. Then, Lazare clarified that he’d received his grade less than a second after submitting his answers. A teacher couldn’t have read his response in that time, Simmons knew — her son was being graded by an algorithm. Simmons watched Lazare complete more assignments. She looked at the correct answers, which Edgenuity revealed at the end. She surmised that Edgenuity’s AI was scanning for specific keywords that it expected to see in students’ answers. And she decided to game it.

Now, for every short-answer question, Lazare writes two long sentences followed by a disjointed list of keywords — anything that seems relevant to the question. “The questions are things like… ‘What was the advantage of Constantinople’s location for the power of the Byzantine empire,'” Simmons says. “So you go through, okay, what are the possible keywords that are associated with this? Wealth, caravan, ship, India, China, Middle East, he just threw all of those words in.” “I wanted to game it because I felt like it was an easy way to get a good grade,” Lazare told The Verge. He usually digs the keywords out of the article or video the question is based on. Apparently, that “word salad” is enough to get a perfect grade on any short-answer question in an Edgenuity test. Edgenuity didn’t respond to repeated requests for comment.

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9th Circuit Rules Apple Owes Retail Workers for Time Spent in Security Screenings

The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Wednesday said Apple must pay over 12,000 retail workers in California for the time spent waiting for compulsory bag searches at the end of their shifts. From the report: A unanimous three-judge panel reversed a judge who had tossed the case and ordered him to enter summary judgment for the plaintiffs, after the California Supreme Court in response to certified questions in the case said in February that time spent undergoing security checks is compensable under state law.

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European ISPs Report Mysterious Wave of DDoS Attacks

More than a dozen internet service providers (ISPs) across Europe have reported DDoS attacks that targeted their DNS infrastructure. From a report: The list of ISPs that suffered attacks over the past week includes Belgium’s EDP, France’s Bouygues Telecom, FDN, K-net, SFR, and the Netherlands’ Caiway, Delta, FreedomNet, Online.nl, Signet, and Tweak.nl. Attacks lasted no longer than a day and were all eventually mitigated, but ISP services were down while the DDoS was active. NBIP, a non-profit founded by Dutch ISPs to collectively fight DDoS attacks and government wiretapping attempts, provided ZDNet with additional insights into the past week’s incidents. “Multiple attacks were aimed towards routers and DNS infrastructure of Benelux based ISPs,” a spokesperson said. “Most of [the attacks] were DNS amplification and LDAP-type of attacks.” “Some of the attacks took longer than 4 hours and hit close to 300Gbit/s in volume,” NBIB said. The DDoS attacks against European ISPs all took place starting with August 28, a day after ZDNet exposed a criminal gang engaging in DDoS extortion against financial institutions across the world, with victims like MoneyGram, YesBank India, Worldpay, PayPal, Braintree, and Venmo.

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Trump ban on Chinese drone parts risks worsening wildfires

Photo taken on Aug. 28, 2020 shows the wreckage at the site where a wildfire swept through in Vacaville of Solano County in northern California.

Enlarge / Photo taken on Aug. 28, 2020 shows the wreckage at the site where a wildfire swept through in Vacaville of Solano County in northern California. (credit: Xinhua News Agency | Getty Images)

The US interior department’s decision not to buy more drones with Chinese parts has made it more difficult to fight wildfires, according to an internal departmental memo, which lays bare one cost of the Trump administration’s crackdown on Chinese technology.

The memo, which was written by the department’s Office of Aviation Services earlier this year, found that by the end of the year, the department will have carried out only a quarter of the controlled burning it might otherwise have done had it gone ahead with planned drone purchases.

The US is experiencing one of its worst years for wildfire outbreaks thanks to hot weather and a lack of firefighters. And while none of those appear to have happened on federal land, government insiders warn the de facto ban on buying drones with Chinese components risks making the situation worse.

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Source: Tech – Ars Technica

Qualcomm is bringing 5G to everyone with cheap 5G Snapdragon chips

The Snapdragon 4 series is near the bottom of Qualcomm's lineup and is used in most cheap devices.

Enlarge / The Snapdragon 4 series is near the bottom of Qualcomm’s lineup and is used in most cheap devices. (credit: Qualcomm)

Qualcomm’s push for 5G will soon hit some of the cheapest phones on the market. Today, the company announced 5G is coming to the Snapdragon 4-series in “early 2021.”

Qualcomm says the goal of these chips is to enable “5G for everyone,” and the chips will show up in phones ranging from $125 to $250. The 4 series is where Qualcomm’s mass-market sales really happen, and the company says it will be able to reach 3.5 billion smartphone users with these new chips. The only cheaper chips in Qualcomm’s lineup are the 2 series, but those phones make up the bargain-basement $100-and-below market and are actually pretty rare.

“5G” here most likely means sub-6GHz 5G, which is cheaper to implement than the faster mmWave 5G. mmWave requires several additional antennas in the phone due to its poor signal penetration. Your hand will block the signal, so the solution to that is multiple antennas that work around your hand position. Sub-6GHz 5G has much better signal characteristics and has a shot of a wide rollout. mmWave is responsible for any of the 5G speed test records you see—and all the advertisement talk of “revolutionary” connectivity—but carriers in the US have said mmWave will be limited to cities because it requires so many towers.

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Source: Tech – Ars Technica

SpaceX Launches 12th Starlink Mission, Says Users Getting 100Mbps Downloads

On Thursday morning a Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Center, carrying SpaceX’s 12th batch of Starlink Internet satellites. The mission went nominally, with the first stage making a safe landing several minutes after the launch, and the full stack of satellites deploying shortly thereafter. From a report: Prior to launch, webcast commentator Kate Tice, a senior program reliability engineer at SpaceX, offered several details about development of the space-based Starlink Internet service. “We are well into our first phase of testing of our private beta program, with plans to roll out a public beta later this year,” Tice said. For several months, SpaceX has been collecting names and addresses for people interested in participating in the public beta here. Tice also revealed the first official public information about internal tests, saying that SpaceX employees have been using Starlink terminals, collecting latency statistics, and performing standard speed tests of the system. “Initial results have been good,” she said. These tests reveal “super-low latency,” and download speeds greater than 100 megabits per second. This, she noted, would provide enough bandwidth to play the fastest online games and stream multiple HD movies at once.

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Apple Invests in World’s Largest Onshore Wind Turbines That Will Power a Danish Data Center

Apple is investing in the construction of two of the world’s largest onshore wind turbines, advancing its efforts to become entirely carbon neutral by 2030. From a report: The power produced by the turbines, located in Denmark, will support Apple’s data center in Viborg, the company said in a blog post Thursday. the Viborg center backs Apple’s key products, including the App Store, Apple Music, iMessage and Siri. Apple said in July that it extended its goal to become entirely carbon neutral by 2030 to its manufacturing and supply chain. Apple on Thursday said that Varta, a German-based supplier, committed to running its Apple production with 100% renewable power. So far, 72 manufacturing partners have committed to completely renewable energy for Apple production, it added.

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