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Apple To Teach Teachers To Teach Coding For Free

theodp writes: From the Home Office in Cupertino: "Apple today announced a new set of tools to help educators teach coding to students from grade school to college. In addition to significant enhancements to the Develop in Swift and Everyone Can Code curricula, Apple is also starting a new professional learning course for Develop in Swift, available to educators at no cost. The course is designed to supplement the need for computer science educators in the US, and helps instructors of all skill levels build foundational knowledge to teach app development with Swift. In addition, with many institutions operating remotely, Apple is adding resources for educators and parents to help ensure they have the tools they need to help students learn and grow from anywhere. [...] To support parents with kids learning to code at home, Apple is adding a new guide to its set of remote learning resources. 'A Quick Start to Code' is now available and features 10 coding challenges designed for learners ages 10 and up, on iPad or Mac. [...] In 2016, Apple launched Everyone Can Code, a comprehensive program and curriculum to help students of all abilities, from kindergarten to college, learn coding to solve problems and prepare them for the workforce. Develop in Swift was released in 2019, and today more than 9,000 K-12 and higher education institutions worldwide are using the Everyone Can Code and Develop in Swift curricula from Apple." Back in 2018, Apple CEO Tim Cook claimed that most students shunned programming before Apple introduced Swift "because coding languages were 'too geeky.'" As Apple introduced Swift in 2016, Cook called for requiring all children to start coding in 4th grade (9-10 years old), which Cook reiterated to President Trump in a 2017 White House meeting with tech titans.

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US Secret Service Creates New Cyber Fraud Task Force

The U.S. Secret Service announced the creation of the Cyber Fraud Task Force (CFTF) after the merger of its Financial Crimes Task Forces (FCTFs) and Electronic Crimes Task Forces (ECTFs) into a single unified network. Bleeping Computer reports: CFTF's main goal is to investigate and defend American individuals and businesses from a wide range of cyber-enabled financial crimes, from business email compromise (BEC) scams and ransomware attacks to data breaches and the illegal sale of stolen personal information and credit cards on the Internet and the dark web. Consolidating the two task forces into CFTF will allow the Secret Service to boost its agents' ability to prevent, detect, and mitigate financially-motivated cybercrime by improving coordination, sharing of resources and expertise, and best practices dissemination. "The creation of the new Cyber Fraud Task Force (CFTF), will offer a specialized cadre of agents and analysts, trained in the latest analytical techniques and equipped with the most cutting-edge technologies," said Michael D'Ambrosio, U.S. Secret Service Assistant Director. At the moment, the Secret Service has already operationalized CFTFs in 42 domestic offices and in 2 international locations (London and Rome). The Department of Homeland Security federal law enforcement agency also plans to increase the number of CFTF locations through its network of more than 160 offices across the U.S. and around the globe.

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'Broken Heart Syndrome' Has Increased During COVID-19 Pandemic, Small Study Suggests

Rick Schumann writes: Researchers at a Cleveland clinic performed a study with 1,914 patients into a phenomenon called "Broken Heart Syndrome," where someone can be experiencing heart attack-like symptoms, but it's not a heart attack or anything related to blocked blood flow to the heart. Turns out that it seems likely that the aggregate stresses of the pandemic (so-called "social distancing," lack of contact with fellow humans, enforced isolation, and so on) appear to create emotional stresses that manifest with physical symptoms that mimic a heart attack. "The pandemic has created a parallel environment which is not healthy," said Dr. Ankur Kalra, the cardiologist who led the study. "Emotional distancing is not healthy. The economic impact is not healthy. We've seen that as an increase in non-coronavirus deaths, and our study says that stress cardiomyopathy has gone up because of the stress that the pandemic has created." The study didn't examine whether or not there could be a medical link between this phenomenon and the coronavirus, but all the participants in the study were tested for infection and were found to be free of the virus. The study has been published in the journal JAMA Network Open.

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Police Surveilled Protests With Help From Twitter-Affiliated Startup Dataminr

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Intercept: Leveraging close ties to Twitter, controversial artificial intelligence startup Dataminr helped law enforcement digitally monitor the protests that swept the country following the killing of George Floyd, tipping off police to social media posts with the latest whereabouts and actions of demonstrators, according to documents reviewed by The Intercept and a source with direct knowledge of the matter. The monitoring seems at odds with claims from both Twitter and Dataminr that neither company would engage in or facilitate domestic surveillance following a string of 2016 controversies. Twitter, up until recently a longtime investor in Dataminr alongside the CIA, provides the company with full access to a content stream known as the "firehose" -- a rare privilege among tech firms and one that lets Dataminr, recently valued at over $1.8 billion, scan every public tweet as soon as its author hits send. Both companies denied that the protest monitoring meets the definition of surveillance. Dataminr's Black Lives Matter protest surveillance included persistent monitoring of social media to tip off police to the locations and activities of protests, developments within specific rallies, as well as instances of alleged "looting" and other property damage. According to the source with direct knowledge of Dataminr's protest monitoring, the company and Twitter's past claims that they don't condone or enable surveillance are "bullshit," relying on a deliberately narrowed definition. "It's true Dataminr doesn't specifically track protesters and activists individually, but at the request of the police they are tracking protests, and therefore protesters," this source explained. According to internal materials reviewed by The Intercept, Dataminr meticulously tracked not only ongoing protests, but kept comprehensive records of upcoming anti-police violence rallies in cities across the country to help its staff organize their monitoring efforts, including events' expected time and starting location within those cities. A protest schedule seen by The Intercept shows Dataminr was explicitly surveilling dozens of protests big and small, from Detroit and Brooklyn to York, Pennsylvania, and Hampton Roads, Virginia. Company documents also show the firm instructed members of its staff to look for instances of "lethal force used against protesters by police or vice-versa," "property damage," "widespread arson or looting against government or commercial infrastructure," "new instances of officer-involved shootings or death with potential interpretation of racial bias," and occasions when a "violent protests spreads to new major American city." Staff were also specifically monitoring social media for posts about "Officers involved in Floyd's death" -- all of which would be forwarded to Dataminr's governmental customers through a service named "First Alert." [...] First Alert also scans other popular platforms like Snapchat and Facebook, the latter being particularly useful for protest organizers trying to rapidly mobilize their communities. On at least one occasion, according to MPD records, Dataminr was able to point police to a protest's Facebook event page before it had begun.

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Canadian Genetic Non-Discrimination Act Upheld

Long-time Slashdot reader kartis writes: Canada's Supreme Court upheld the Genetic Non-Discrimination Act (GINA) which prohibits under criminal penalty, employers or insurers from demanding or using genetic information. This was a result of a private member's bill in Parliament, which meant it passed without the government's support, and in fact both the Federal government and Quebec government (which had gotten it declared unconstitutional as outside federal powers) argued that it extended criminal powers into a provincial jurisdiction. Well, the Supreme Court has surprisingly upheld it in a 5-4 decision, which means great things for Canadians' privacy, and also suggests a wider ability for federal privacy legislation than many jurists had thought.

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Tyson Bets On Robots To Tackle Meat Industry's Worker Shortage

At Tyson's 26,000-square-foot, multi-million dollar Manufacturing Automation Center near its headquarters in Springdale, Arkansas, the company will apply the latest advances in machine learning to meat manufacturing, with the goal of eventually eliminating jobs that can be physically demanding, highly repetitive and at times dangerous. Bloomberg reports: Advances in technology are making it possible to make strides in automation. For example, machine vision is now accurate and speedy enough to apply to meat production, which is highly labor intensive compared with other food manufacturing. Also, a lot of washing and sanitizing occurs in a meat-packing plant, which has traditionally been difficult on robots, but now the machines are built to withstand that. At Tyson's new facility, a series of laboratories showcase different types of robots. Mechanical arms in glass cases use smart cameras to sort colorful objects or stack items. In another room, a larger machine called a palletizer performs stacking tasks. There's also a training space. Many of the types of robots that a meatpacking plant would need are not on the market currently, so the company needs to innovate and collaborate with partners to create them, said Doug Foreman, a director in engineering at Tyson. But the technology is ready. The processing capabilities of cameras are "so advanced even from a few years ago," Foreman said. "Processing-speed-wise, it's there now for us."

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Apple Supplier Foxconn To Invest $1 Billion In India

Foxconn plans to invest up to $1 billion to expand a factory in southern India where the Taiwanese contract manufacturer assembles Apple iPhones. Fox Business reports: The move, the scale of which has not previously been reported, is part of a quiet and gradual production shift by Apple away from China as it navigates disruptions from a trade war between Beijing and Washington and the coronavirus crisis. "There's a strong request from Apple to its clients to move part of the iPhone production out of China," one of the sources with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. Foxconn's planned investment in the Sriperumbur plant, where Apple's iPhone XR is made some 50 km west of Chennai, will take place over the course of three years. Some of Apple's other iPhones models, made by Foxconn in China, will be made at the plant. Taipei-headquartered Foxconn will add some 6,000 jobs at the Sriperumbur plant in Tamil Nadu state under the plan. It also operates a separate plant in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, where it makes smartphones for China's Xiaomi Corp, among others. "With India's labour cheaper compared with China, and the gradual expansion of its supplier base here, Apple will be able to use the country as an export hub," Neil Shah of Hong Kong-based tech researcher Counterpoint said.

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The Uncertain Future of Ham Radio

Julianne Pepitone from IEEE Spectrum writes about the uncertain future of ham radio. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt: Will the amateur airwaves fall silent? Since the dawn of radio, amateur operators -- hams -- have transmitted on tenaciously guarded slices of spectrum. Electronic engineering has benefited tremendously from their activity, from the level of the individual engineer to the entire field. But the rise of the Internet in the 1990s, with its ability to easily connect billions of people, captured the attention of many potential hams. Now, with time taking its toll on the ranks of operators, new technologies offer opportunities to revitalize amateur radio, even if in a form that previous generations might not recognize. The number of U.S. amateur licenses has held at an anemic 1 percent annual growth for the past few years, with about 7,000 new licensees added every year for a total of 755,430 in 2018. The U.S. Federal Communications Commission doesn't track demographic data of operators, but anecdotally, white men in their 60s and 70s make up much of the population. As these baby boomers age out, the fear is that there are too few young people to sustain the hobby. This question of how to attract younger operators also reveals deep divides in the ham community about the future of amateur radio. Like any large population, ham enthusiasts are no monolith; their opinions and outlooks on the decades to come vary widely. And emerging digital technologies are exacerbating these divides: Some hams see them as the future of amateur radio, while others grouse that they are eviscerating some of the best things about it. No matter where they land on these battle lines, however, everyone understands one fact. The world is changing; the amount of spectrum is not. And it will be hard to argue that spectrum reserved for amateur use and experimentation should not be sold off to commercial users if hardly any amateurs are taking advantage of it. One of the key debates in ham radio is its main function in the future: Is it a social hobby? A utility to deliver data traffic? And who gets to decide? "Those questions have no definitive or immediate answers, but they cut to the core of the future of ham radio," writes Pepitone. "Loring Kutchins, president of the Amateur Radio Safety Foundation, Inc. (ARSFi) -- which funds and guides the 'global radio email' system Winlink -- says the divide between hobbyists and utilitarians seems to come down to age." "Younger people who have come along tend to see amateur radio as a service, as it's defined by FCC rules, which outline the purpose of amateur radio -- especially as it relates to emergency operations," Kutchins (W3QA) told Spectrum last year. Kutchins, 68, expanded on the theme in a recent interview: "The people of my era will be gone -- the people who got into it when it was magic to tune into Radio Moscow. But Grandpa's ham radio set isn't that big a deal compared to today's technology. That doesn't have to be sad. That's normal." "Ham radio is really a social hobby, or it has been a very social hobby -- the rag-chewing has historically been the big part of it," says Martin F. Jue (K5FLU), founder of radio accessories maker MFJ Enterprises, in Starkville, Miss. "Here in Mississippi, you get to 5 or 6 o' clock and you have a big network going on and on -- some of them are half-drunk chattin' with you. It's a social group, and they won't even talk to you unless you're in the group."

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Charter's Hidden 'Broadcast TV' Fee Now Adds $197 a Year To Cable Bills

Charter is raising the "Broadcast TV" fee it imposes on cable plans from $13.50 to $16.45 a month starting in August. "Charter has raised the fee repeatedly -- it stood at $9.95 in early 2019 before a series of price increases," reports Ars Technica. "It $16.45 a month, the fee will cost customers an additional $197.40 per year." From the report: Charter says the Broadcast TV fee covers the amount it pays broadcast television stations (e.g. affiliates of CBS, NBC, ABC, and Fox) for the right to carry their channels. But for consumers, it is essentially a hidden fee because Charter's advertised TV prices don't include it. Charter imposes a smaller Broadcast TV fee on its streaming TV plans, but is raising that charge from $6 to $8.95 a month, Stop the Cap wrote. Charter is also raising the base price of its TV service. "Spectrum's most popular TV Select package is expected to increase $1.50/month to $73.99/month," Stop the Cap wrote. "Customers on a promotional pricing plan will not see this rate increase until their promotional pricing expires." The Broadcast TV fee change will apparently apply even to customers who are on promotional deals that lock in a price for a set amount of time. Charter told us that promotional prices apply to the "package price," which "will not change until the end of their promotional period." But Charter said that the "Broadcast TV Service Charge is separate from the TV package price," so it can go up regardless of whether a customer is still on a promotional deal. For comparison, Comcast's Broadcast TV fee is $14.95 a month.

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Android 10 Had the Fastest Adoption Rate of Any Version of Android Yet

Google announced that Android is seeing the fastest adoption rates of any version of Android. The Verge reports: According to Google, Android 10 was installed on 100 million devices five months after its launch in September 2019 " 28 percent faster than it took the company to reach a similar milestone for Android Pie. Google credits the faster adoption rate to improvements the company has been making over the years, like Android Oreo's Project Treble and Android 10's Project Mainline, which makes it easier for hardware companies to create new updates. But while those numbers are impressive, Google's post is notably missing some crucial information, like what percentage of Android devices are running Android 10 -- a number that's sure to be lower than Google would like. In fact, Google has effectively stopped publishing the breakdown percentage of which Android devices are running which version of Android entirely, following a similar announcement last August that looked back at Android 9 Pie adoption rates. (At the time, Android Pie had been installed on 22.6 percent of Android devices ahead of the release of Android 10.)

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Facebook Considers Political-Ad Blackout Ahead of US Election

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Facebook is considering imposing a ban on political ads on its social network in the days leading up to the U.S. election in November, according to people familiar with the company's thinking. The potential ban is still only being discussed and hasn't yet been finalized, said the people, who asked not to be named talking about internal policies. A halt on ads could serve as a defense against misleading election-related content spreading widely right as people prepare to vote. Still, there are also concerns that an ad blackout could hurt "get out the vote" campaigns, or limit a candidate's ability to respond widely to breaking news or new information. Facebook doesn't fact-check ads from politicians or their campaigns, a point of contention for many lawmakers and advocates, who say the policy means ads on the platform could be used to spread lies and misinformation. The social-media giant has been criticized in recent weeks by civil rights groups that say it doesn't do enough to remove efforts to limit voter participation, and a recent audit of the company found Facebook failed to enforce its own voter suppression policies when it comes to posts from U.S. President Donald Trump. Hundreds of advertisers are currently boycotting Facebook's advertising products as part of a protest against its policies.

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Google Bans Stalkerware Ads

Google announced plans this week to ban ads that promote stalkerware, spyware, and other forms of surveillance technology that can be used to track other persons without their specific consent. From a report: The change was announced this week as part of an upcoming update to Google Ads policies, set to enter into effect next month, on August 11, 2020. Examples of products and services that advertisers won't be able to promote via Google Ads anymore include: 1. Spyware and technology used for intimate partner surveillance including but not limited to spyware/malware that can be used to monitor texts, phone calls, or browsing history; 2. GPS trackers specifically marketed to spy or track someone without their consent; 3. Promotion of surveillance equipment (cameras, audio recorders, dash cams, nanny cams) marketed with the express purpose of spying.

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Amazon Delays Next Video Game Half a Year After Latest One Flops

Following scathing reviews of a computer game it released in May, Amazon.com is delaying its next big-budget game by at least six months. From a report: The decision represents another setback for the technology giant's ambitions to break into the gaming industry. The next game, New World, was supposed to debut in late August but is now scheduled for spring 2021, Rich Lawrence, director of Amazon's game studio, wrote in a blog post Friday. The company wants extra time to implement changes suggested by players who have been testing the game, he wrote. Delays are fairly common in the video game industry, but this was an important opportunity for Amazon to redeem itself after a recent flop. Amazon is trying to make a name for itself as a maker of big-budget video games that can compete with those from the likes of Activision Blizzard and Electronic Arts. But Amazon's Crucible, a free-to-play PC game introduced in May, was panned by critics, prompting Amazon to take the highly unusual step of pulling the game from wide circulation.

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Signal's New PIN Feature Worries Cybersecurity Experts

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, writing for Vice: Ever since NSA leaker Edward Snowden said "use Signal, use Tor," the end-to-end encrypted chat app has been a favorite of people who care about privacy and need a chat and calling app that is hard to spy on. One of the reasons security experts recommended Signal is because the app's developers collected -- and thus retained -- almost no information about its users. This means that, if subpoenaed by law enforcement, Signal would have essentially nothing to turn over. Signal demonstrated this in 2016, when it was subpoenaed by a court in Virginia. But a newly added feature that allows users to recover certain data, such as contacts, profile information, settings, and blocked users, has led some high-profile security experts to criticize the app's developers and threaten to stop using it. Signal will store that data on servers the company owns, protected by a PIN that the app has initially been asking users to add, and then forced them to. The purpose of using a PIN is, in the near future, to allow Signal users to be identified by a username, as opposed to their phone number, as Signal founder Moxie Marlinspike explained on Twitter (as we've written before, this is a laudable goal; tying Signal to a phone number has its own privacy and security implications). But this also means that unlike in the past, Signal now retains certain user data, something that many cybersecurity and cryptography experts see as too dangerous. Matthew Green, a cryptographer and computer science professor at Johns Hopkins University, said that this was "the wrong decision," and that forcing users to create a PIN and use this feature would force him to stop using the app.

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Apple Advises Against MacBook Camera Covers Due To Display Cracking

Apple, in a new support document, is warning users against closing their MacBook lids with a cover over the camera. From a report: Placing a cover, sticker or tape over a laptop camera is a practice adopted by some privacy- and security-conscious individuals to protect against webcam hijacking. Now, however, Apple is explicitly advising against the tactic. In a support document published earlier in July, Apple urges users not to close their MacBook Pro or MacBook Air lids if there's a camera cover installed on it. "If you close your Mac notebook with a camera cover installed, you might damage your display because the clearance between the display and keyboard is designed to very tight tolerances," Apple notes. The support document also outlines some of the privacy and security functions of the camera, including the green indicator light that lets users know when the camera is active and the camera permission settings introduced in macOS Mojave.

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