Your Next Samsung Phone May Not Come With a Charger in the Box

Days after it was rumored that Apple might not ship a charger with its next iPhone, Samsung is copying that, too. According to a new report from South Korea, future Samsung phones may not ship with a charger. From a report: Samsung ships hundreds of millions of smartphones every single year. Dropping the charger from even half of its lineup is going to result in major cost reductions for the company. It may also enable the company to price its affordable devices even more aggressively. According to the report, Samsung is discussing plans to exclude the charger from the box components for some smartphones. If it decides to go ahead with this, we might see the first Samsung phones to ship without a charger starting next year.

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Get your first look at the Samsung Galaxy Note 20

Samsung might have recently set the Galaxy Note 20 reveal for August 5, but somebody already has a prototype unit. YouTuber Jimmy Is Promo has posted a hands-on video and a few images of the Galaxy Note 20 Ultra, the bigger of the two upcoming units.

Like previous leaks indicated, the Note 20 is even bigger than last year’s model. Jimmy is Promo did an excellent job, and by taking some Note 10+ comparison shots, we can clearly see the Note 20 Ultra is taller and wider than the Note 10+, which was already one of the biggest smartphones on the market.

The Galaxy Note series is usually very close to the Galaxy S series released earlier in the year, and it looks like that’s the case this year, too. Like the S20, the Note 20 goes with a curved front display and a hole punch front camera, with the one design change being taller corners. The rear camera block gets new styling with circles around each camera, making the lenses appear bigger than they really are. The camera layout looks identical to the Galaxy S20 Ultra, so expect the three big cameras to be a main camera, wide-angle lens, and a telephoto, followed by a tiny depth camera tucked away under the flash.

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Source: Tech – Ars Technica

Apple’s UK Stores Paid $7.7M in Tax Despite $1.7B in Sales

The UK retail arm of Apple paid just $7.7m in taxes last year despite raking in almost $1.7bn in sales, according to the company’s latest accounts. From a report: Revenue at Apple Retail UK, which operates 38 of the company’s stores in the UK, rose by more than 15% in the 12 months to 28 September. But after costs and expenses of around $1.7bn, the firm reported before-tax profits of just $47m, slashing its tax bill significantly. In a statement describing itself as “the largest taxpayer in the world,” Apple said that it always paid the taxes that it owed.

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Google Play apps with 500,000 downloads subscribe users to costly services

Google Play apps with 500,000 downloads subscribe users to costly services

Enlarge (credit: portal gda / Flickr)

Hackers and Google Play have been caught up in a tense dance over the past decade. The hackers sneak malware into the Google-owned Android app repository. Google throws it out and develops defenses to prevent it from happening again. Then the hackers find a new opening and do it all over again. This two-step has played out again, this time with a malware family known as the Joker, which has been infiltrating Play since at least 2017.

The Joker is malicious code that lurks inside seemingly legitimate apps. It often waits hours or days after the app is installed to run in an attempt to evade Google’s automated malware detection. On Thursday, researchers with security firm Check Point said the Joker has struck again, this time lurking in 11 seemingly legitimate apps downloaded from Play about 500,000 times. Once activated, the malware allowed the apps to surreptitiously subscribe users to pricey premium services.

The new variant found a new trick to go undetected—it hid its malicious payload inside what’s known as the manifest, a file Google requires every app to include in its root directory. Google’s intent is for the XML file to provide more transparency by making permissions, icons, and other information about the app easy to find.

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Biz & IT – Ars Technica

Musk Says Tesla Is ‘Very Close’ To Developing Fully Autonomous Vehicles

Tesla’s Elon Musk said the carmaker is on the verge of developing technology to render its vehicles fully capable of driving themselves, repeating a claim he’s made for years but been unable to achieve. From a report: The chief executive officer has long offered exuberant takes on the capabilities of Tesla cars, even going so far as to start charging customers thousands of dollars for a “Full Self Driving” feature in 2016. Years later, Tesla still requires users of its Autopilot system to be fully attentive and ready to take over the task of driving at any time. Tesla’s mixed messages have drawn controversy and regulatory scrutiny. In 2018, the company blamed a driver who died after crashing a Model X while using Autopilot for not paying attention to the road. Documents made public last year showed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had issued multiple subpoenas for information about crashes involving Tesla vehicles, suggesting the agency may have been preparing a formal investigation of Autopilot.

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Microsoft’s New KDP Tech Blocks Malware By Making Parts of the Windows Kernel Read-Only

Microsoft today published technical details about a new security feature that will soon be part of Windows 10. From a report: Named Kernel Data Protection (KDP), Microsoft says this feature will block malware or malicious threat actors from modifying (corrupting) the operating system’s memory. According to Microsoft, KDP works by giving developers access to programmatic APIs that will allow them to designate parts of the Windows kernel as read-only sections. “For example, we’ve seen attackers use signed but vulnerable drivers to attack policy data structures and install a malicious, unsigned driver,” Microsoft’s Base Kernel Team said today. “KDP mitigates such attacks by ensuring that policy data structures cannot be tampered with.” Microsoft says this new technology was developed with security in mind but that it also has other applications, such as anti-cheat and digital rights management (DRM) software.

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UK Universities Comply With China’s Internet Restrictions

UK universities are testing a new online teaching link for students in China — which will require course materials to comply with Chinese restrictions on the internet. From a report: It enables students in China to keep studying UK degrees online, despite China’s limits on internet access. But it means students can only reach material on an “allowed” list. Universities UK said it was “not aware of any instances when course content has been altered.” And the universities’ body rejected that this was accepting “censorship.” A spokeswoman said the project would allow students in China to have better access to UK courses “while complying with local regulations.” But in a separate essay published by the Higher Education Policy Institute, Professor Kerry Brown of King’s College London cautioned of the risk of universities adopting “self-censorship” when engaging with China. MPs on the foreign affairs select committee have previously warned against universities avoiding “topics sensitive to China,” such as pro-democracy protests or the treatment of Uighur Muslims. Chinese students have become an important source of revenue for UK universities, representing almost a quarter of all overseas students – and Queen’s University Belfast is chartering a plane to bring students from China this autumn.

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Smartwatch Hack Could Trick Patients To ‘Take Pills’ With Spoofed Alerts

Security researchers say a smartwatch, popular with the elderly and dementia patients, could have been tricked into letting an attacker easily take control of the device. From a report: These watches are designed to help patients to easily call their carers and for carers to track the location of their patients. They come with their own cellular connection, so that they work anywhere. But researchers at U.K.-based security firm Pen Test Partners found that they could trick the smartwatch into sending fake “take pills” reminders to patients as often as they want, they said. “A dementia sufferer is unlikely to remember that they had already taken their medication,” wrote Vangelis Stykas in a blog post. “An overdose could easily result.” The vulnerabilities were found in the back-end cloud system, known as SETracker, which powers the smartwatch.

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New Study Detects Ringing of the Global Atmosphere

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A ringing bell vibrates simultaneously at a low-pitched fundamental tone and at many higher-pitched overtones, producing a pleasant musical sound. A recent study, just published in the Journal of the Atmospheric Sciences by scientists at Kyoto University and the University of Hawai’i at Mnoa, shows that the Earth’s entire atmosphere vibrates in an analogous manner, in a striking confirmation of theories developed by physicists over the last two centuries. In the case of the atmosphere, the “music” comes not as a sound we could hear, but in the form of large-scale waves of atmospheric pressure spanning the globe and traveling around the equator, some moving east-to-west and others west-to-east. Each of these waves is a resonant vibration of the global atmosphere, analogous to one of the resonant pitches of a bell.

Now in a new study by Takatoshi Sakazaki, an assistant professor at the Kyoto University Graduate School of Science, and Kevin Hamilton, an Emeritus Professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences and the International Pacific Research Center at the University of Hawaii at Mnoa, the authors present a detailed analysis of observed atmospheric pressure over the globe every hour for 38 years. The results clearly revealed the presence of dozens of the predicted wave modes. The study focused particularly on waves with periods between 2 hours and 33 hours which travel horizontally through the atmosphere, moving around the globe at great speeds (exceeding 700 miles per hour). This sets up a characteristic “chequerboard” pattern of high and low pressure associated with these waves as they propagate. “For these rapidly moving wave modes, our observed frequencies and global patterns match those theoretically predicted very well,” stated lead author Sakazaki. “It is exciting to see the vision of Laplace and other pioneering physicists so completely validated after two centuries.”

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Spreading Rock Dust On Fields Could Remove Vast Amounts of CO2 From Air

Spreading rock dust on farmland could suck billions of tons of carbon dioxide from the air every year, according to the first detailed global analysis of the technique. The Guardian reports: The chemical reactions that degrade the rock particles lock the greenhouse gas into carbonates within months, and some scientists say this approach may be the best near-term way of removing CO2 from the atmosphere. The rock dust approach, called enhanced rock weathering (ERW), has several advantages, the researchers say. First, many farmers already add limestone dust to soils to reduce acidification, and adding other rock dust improves fertility and crop yields, meaning application could be routine and desirable.

Basalt is the best rock for capturing CO2, and many mines already produce dust as a byproduct, so stockpiles already exist. The researchers also found that the world’s biggest polluters, China, the U.S. and India, have the greatest potential for ERW, as they have large areas of cropland and relatively warm weather, which speeds up the chemical reactions. The analysis, published in the journal Nature, estimates that treating about half of farmland could capture 2 billion tons of CO2 each year, equivalent to the combined emissions of Germany and Japan. The cost depends on local labor rates and varies from $80 per ton in India to $160 in the U.S., and is in line with the $100-150 carbon price forecast by the World Bank for 2050, the date by which emissions must reach net zero to avoid catastrophic climate breakdown.

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