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Apple Imagines iMac Built Into Curved Sheet of Glass

Apple applied for a patent for an ambitious design for a new all-in-one computer which integrates both its keyboard and screen into a single curved sheet of glass. The Verge reports: The patent application, which was first spotted by Patently Apple, and which was filed in May last year, describes how the iMac-like computer's "input area" and "display area" could be built into a single continuous surface, while a support structure behind the display could then contain the computer's processing unit, as well as providing space for all the machine's ports. It's a pretty striking design for a couple of reasons. For one thing, the amount of curved glass involved is far more than Apple has ever used in one of its products before. It's also interesting to see that the company is thinking about taking the iMac's all-in-one design even further, by integrating not just the computer and display together, but also a keyboard and touchpad as well (although the application also describes how the keyboard could be detached during use). The patent also describes how one could dock a MacBook into the device and output the screen to the iMac's display, while its keyboard would pass through a hole in the middle of the machine to let you use it as normal. Additionally, "the application suggests that its single sheet of glass could fold down its middle to allow you to pack it away when not in use," reports The Verge.

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Bitcoin Gold Hit By 51 Percent Attacks, $72,000 In Cryptocurrency Double-Spent

Malicious cryptocurrency miners took control of Bitcoin Gold's blockchain recently to double-spend $72,000 worth of BTG. The Next Web reports: Bad actors assumed a majority of the network's processing power (hash rate) to re-organize the blockchain twice between Thursday and Friday last week: the first netted attackers 1,900 BTG ($19,000), and the second roughly 5,267 BTG ($53,000). Cryptocurrency developer James Lovejoy estimates the miners spent just $1,200 to perform each of the attacks, based on prices from hash rate marketplace NiceHash. This marks the second and third times Bitcoin Gold has suffered such incidents in two years. Any entity that controls more than 51 percent of a blockchain's hash rate can decide what version of the blockchain is accepted (or rejected) by the network. These scenarios also allow for "double-spending," attacks that initiate a transaction with intent to quickly reverse it by "re-organizing" the blockchain, so that they can spend their original cryptocurrency again. What results is a third party accepting the original transaction and the network returns the cryptocurrency spent to the attacker, essentially allowing their funds to be used twice -- hence the name "double-spending." With Bitcoin, a transaction is generally deemed legitimate once found six blocks deep in the blockchain. These particular 51-percent attackers performed re-organizations up to 16 blocks deep, seemingly in a bid to trick exchanges like Binance into paying out BTG destined to be double-spent.

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GM To Invest $2.2 Billion In First All-Electric Vehicle Plant, Create 2,200 Jobs

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: General Motors confirmed Monday it will invest $2.2 billion to convert an aging Detroit assembly plant into the manufacturing heart of its "all-electric future." The Detroit-Hamtramck Assembly Plant was one of five North American factories GM said it would close in November 2018 but the automaker reversed course as part of an aggressive plan to launch more than 20 battery-electric vehicles, or BEVs, by 2023. The first to roll out of what is known locally as the "Poletown Plant" will be an all-electric pickup that will reportedly be the subject of an upcoming Super Bowl ad. It is widely expected to bring back the name, "Hummer," used for a brand GM abandoned in 2010 after emerging from bankruptcy. The plant will be capable of using an extremely flexible vehicle "architecture," said GM President Lloyd Reuss, industry-speak for its underlying platform. It will allow the automaker to produce multiple products "for multiple brands, with multiple variants, with multiple customers (offering) different ranges of performance at different price points to meet customers wherever they are." After a news conference at the plant, Reuss told NBC News there will be multiple pickup truck models. The Poletown plant also will have the capacity to produce SUVs and crossovers, he said. What is expected to be called the Hummer pickup will go into production in late 2021. It will be followed in early 2022 by a version of the Cruise Origin, the fully driverless ride-sharing vehicle announced last week by Cruise, GM's autonomous vehicle subsidiary. The $2.2 billion that GM will spend on the plant "is part of a broader investment of $3 billion authorized as part of the contract it negotiated last autumn with the United Auto Workers Union," adds NBC News. That includes a number of other projects, including a plan to set up a factory in Lordstown, Ohio to build batteries.

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'I Tried Listening To Podcasts at 3x and Broke My Brain'

'Podfasters' listen to their favorite pods at 1.5x, even 2x speed. But how fast is too fast? From a report: Bumping the speed up to 1.5x was initially jarring. People were talking so quickly that I had to stop what I was doing and focus on the audio to keep it from falling into background chatter. After about 20 minutes of this intentional listening, however, it felt like my brain had adjusted. What at first felt rushed and slightly wrong, now felt natural. Once I found that I could go back to doing the things I normally do when I listen to podcasts -- brush my teeth, do the dishes, fold the laundry -- I bumped up the speed another notch to the 2x barrier. Like the previous jump in speed, the first 15 to 20 minutes required an additional level of focus to get my brain to match the cadence of the conversation. But once I was there I felt like I didn't have to strain to understand what was being said -- my brain just "learned" how to listen to this accelerated pace. In our discussion of breaking 2x, Uri Hasson, director of Princeton's Hasson Lab, brought up one population that handles sped-up speech much better than the rest of us: the visually impaired. A 2018 University of Washington study attempted to quantify human listening rates by measuring the intelligibility of audio from a text-to-speech generator played at increasingly faster speeds. Researchers found that the average sighted person could comprehend around 300 words per minute, or about double the average talking speed of an American English speaker. Visually impaired subjects, however, vastly outperformed sighted subjects at speeds past 2x, demonstrating comprehension at rates even approaching 3x. The researchers hypothesized that this difference between sighted and visually impaired listening rates was attributed to one group being more familiar with synthesized text-to-speech voices. At 2x, the experience of listening to audio began to change: Though I could understand the words, they seemed to have less emotional resonance. At these high speeds, my brain seemed to shift away from assessing people's feelings towards baseline comprehension. At the end of each sentence, I'd feel a little twinge of joy, not because of anything happening in the podcast, but just because I had understood the words. Hasson points out that single word comprehension is really only one dimension of comprehension. Our brains do not work like computers. We can recognize words very quickly, but to integrate them into a sentence, a sentence into a paragraph, and a paragraph into a larger narrative takes time. Feeling competent in my base-level comprehension at 2x, I crossed the threshold into 3x. It took every ounce of concentration to just register what was being said. After 20 minutes, my brain couldn't settle into the rhythm of the conversation. I sat there for an hour, with my eyes closed, hoping that my brain would eventually "click" like it did before, but it refused.

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Met Police To Deploy Facial Recognition Cameras

The Metropolitan Police has announced it will use live facial recognition cameras operationally for the first time on London streets. From a report: The cameras will be in use for five to six hours at a time, with bespoke lists of suspects wanted for serious and violent crimes drawn up each time. Police say the cameras identified 70% of suspects but an independent review found much lower accuracy. Privacy campaigners said it was a "serious threat to civil liberties." Following earlier pilots in London and deployments by South Wales Police, the cameras are due to be put into action within a month. Police say they will warn local communities and consult with them in advance.

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Motorola on the Razr's Folding Screen: 'Bumps and Lumps Are Normal'

Last week, Motorola's Razr handset went on sale for $1499. Alongside the pre-order launch, Motorola has posted a series of videos on its YouTube channel that are somewhere between brief ads and how-tos for the folding phone. And as you might have guessed from the headline, "Caring for razr" caught The Verge's eye. From the report: In it, Motorola runs through the basics of what you need to know if you have a phone with a plastic folding screen. We thought we knew most of them already based on our experience with the Galaxy Fold, but Motorola's video has one more thing to think about: "Screen is made to bend; bumps and lumps are normal." With the Galaxy Fold, "bumps and lumps" ended up being the first harbingers of a catastrophic screen failure on our review unit. Apparently that's not going to be the case with the Razr. There are lots of ways to build a hinge for a folding plastic screen, and Motorola apparently opted for a design that allows for a little more flex than the original Fold design did. It's also able to close completely flat. Because of that plastic material, the screen is likely to have some kind of crease -- though we weren't really able to see much of one in our original hands-on. We'll obviously need to review the phone in full before we can say ourselves whether the screen has a notable crease, bumps, or lumps.

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Hackers Acting in Turkey's Interests Believed To Be Behind Recent Cyberattacks

Sweeping cyberattacks targeting governments and other organizations in Europe and the Middle East are believed to be the work of hackers acting in the interests of the Turkish government, Reuters reported Monday, citing three senior Western security officials said. From the report: The hackers have attacked at least 30 organizations, including government ministries, embassies and security services as well as companies and other groups, according to a Reuters review of public internet records. Victims have included Cypriot and Greek government email services and the Iraqi government's national security advisor, the records show. The attacks involve intercepting internet traffic to victim websites, potentially enabling hackers to obtain illicit access to the networks of government bodies and other organizations. According to two British officials and one U.S. official, the activity bears the hallmarks of a state-backed cyber espionage operation conducted to advance Turkish interests. The officials said that conclusion was based on three elements: the identities and locations of the victims, which included governments of countries that are geopolitically significant to Turkey; similarities to previous attacks that they say used infrastructure registered from Turkey; and information contained in confidential intelligence assessments that they declined to detail.

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Google Drive Is Down for Some Users

Google Drive and its suite of services -- including Google Doc and Sheet -- are facing issue, many users said Monday. DownDetector, a popular third-party service, reports it has received over 23,000 outage complaints in the last few minutes. Google has acknowledged the issue.

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Microsoft Says it Will Release Black Desktop Bug Fix To All Windows 7 Users For Free

Mark Wycislik-Wilson, writing for BetaNews: Some Windows 7 users who installed the KB4534310 update found that their desktops turned black. With the operating system having now reached end of life, the company said that it would only make a fix available to organizations paying for Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU). But Microsoft has changed its mind. It now says that it will make a patch available for all Windows 7 users, addressing the bug introduced by the last ever freely available Windows 7 update. As we reported the other day, Microsoft had already suggested some workarounds for the black desktop problem. The company had said that it was working on a fix that would be released next month: "We are working on a resolution and estimate a solution will be available in mid-February for organizations who have purchased Windows 7 Extended Security Updates (ESU)."

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Google Will Shut Down App Maker on January 19, 2021

Google will shut down its low-code development platform, App Maker, early next year. From a report: Google today announced it is killing off yet another service: App Maker, G Suite's low-code environment for building custom business apps. Google App Maker will be "turned down" gradually this year and officially shut down on January 19, 2021. Google cited "low usage" as an explanation for the move. If your business was using App Maker or considering moving to App Maker, you'll need to find another tool. Indeed, Google is making today's announcement not even two weeks after acquiring no-code app development platform AppSheet. Google first launched App Maker as part of an Early Adopter Program in November 2016. At the time, we described it as a service that "lets users drag and drop widgets around on a user interface that complies with Google's Material design principles" to create apps that can be "customized further with scripts, as well as HTML, CSS, JavaScript, and JQuery content." Once apps are live, usage can be monitored through Google Analytics. App Maker hit general availability for all G Suite Business, Enterprise, and Education customers in June 2018. A year and a half later, and it's already headed to the grave.

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Mozilla Has Banned Nearly 200 Malicious Firefox Add-ons Over the Last Two Weeks

Over the past two weeks, Mozilla's add-on review team has banned 197 Firefox add-ons that were caught executing malicious code, stealing user data, or using obfuscation to hide their source code. From a report: The add-ons have been banned and removed from the Mozilla Add-on (AMO) portal to prevent new installs, but they've also been disabled in the browsers of the users who already installed them. The bulk of the ban was levied on 129 add-ons developed by 2Ring, a provider of B2B software. The ban was enforced because the add-ons were downloading and executing code from a remote server. According to Mozilla's rules, add-ons must self-contain all their code, and not download code dynamically from remote locations. Mozilla has recently begun strictly enforcing this rule across its entire add-on ecosystem. A similar ban for downloading and executing remote code in users' Firefox browsers was also levied against six add-ons developed by Tamo Junto Caixa, and three add-ons that were deemed fake premium products (their names were not shared).

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Seamless, Grubhub Deliver Confusion With Mistaken Restaurant Listings

An anonymous reader shares a report: Pim Techamuanvivit was managing her Michelin-starred Thai restaurant in San Francisco, Kin Khao, around 8:30 p.m. on Saturday when she got an unexpected call. A customer was wondering when food from his order on the online food delivery company Seamless was coming, as he had been waiting 45 minutes. "I think you must be confused, because I don't do delivery," Techamuanvivit told him. Techamuanvivit said the man then asked, "So what are you doing on Seamless?" The restaurateur soon discovered that her restaurant had a page on both Seamless and Grubhub. Both brands are owned by Grubhub, a Chicago online food delivery company that merged with New York's Seamless in 2013. The delivery sites listed her restaurant and its address with a menu that she does not serve, including pad Thai and, of all things in a restaurant that specializes in lesser-known Thai regional cuisine, Vietnamese pho. "It's outrageous. They can't get away with this. They can't totally fake a restaurant that doesn't do delivery and go pick up food from, I don't know, some rat-infested warehouse somewhere and deliver to my guests," said Techamuanvivit, who added that she intends to sue Seamless. Grubhub said that the company partners with more than 140,000 restaurants in over 2,700 U.S. cities, and that most orders are from restaurants with which it has an explicit partnership. The company recently started adding other restaurants to its sites without such a partnership, when it finds restaurants that are in high demand, it said. In those cases, someone from the company orders the food ahead or at the restaurant, and a driver is sent to pick it up, it added.

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Leaked Documents Expose the Secretive Market for Your Web Browsing Data

An antivirus program used by hundreds of millions of people around the world is selling highly sensitive web browsing data to many of the world's biggest companies, a joint investigation by Motherboard and PCMag has found. From the report: Our report relies on leaked user data, contracts, and other company documents that show the sale of this data is both highly sensitive and is in many cases supposed to remain confidential between the company selling the data and the clients purchasing it. The documents, from a subsidiary of the antivirus giant Avast called Jumpshot, shine new light on the secretive sale and supply chain of peoples' internet browsing histories. They show that the Avast antivirus program installed on a person's computer collects data, and that Jumpshot repackages it into various different products that are then sold to many of the largest companies in the world. Some past, present, and potential clients include Google, Yelp, Microsoft, McKinsey, Pepsi, Sephora, Home Depot, Conde Nast, Intuit, and many others. Some clients paid millions of dollars for products that include a so-called "All Clicks Feed," which can track user behavior, clicks, and movement across websites in highly precise detail.

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More Americans Went To the Library Than To the Movies Last Year

The US film industry may have generated revenues somewhere in the region of $40 billion last year, but it seems Hollywood still has plenty of work to do if it wants to compete with that most hallowed of American institutions: the public library. From a report: According to a recent Gallup poll (the first such survey since 2001), visiting the local library remains by far the most common cultural activity Americans engage in. As reported earlier today by Justin McCarthy: "Visiting the library remains the most common cultural activity Americans engage in, by far. The average 10.5 trips to the library U.S. adults report taking in 2019 exceeds their participation in eight other common leisure activities. Americans attend live music or theatrical events and visit national or historic parks roughly four times a year on average and visit museums and gambling casinos 2.5 times annually. Trips to amusement or theme parks (1.5) and zoos (.9) are the least common activities among this list."

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Linux 5.5 Released

jrepin writes: Linus Torvalds has announced Linux 5.5 release, codenamed as Kleptomaniac Octopus.The latest version of the open source operating system kernel brings RAID1 with 3- and 4- copies to btrfs filesystem, ext4 gets direct I/O via iomap together with fscrypt supporting smaller block sizes, and you can now use SMB as root filesystem. AMD OverDrive overclocking is now supported on Navi GPUS, wake-on-voice on newer Google Chromebooks is now supported. Added was a Logitech keyboard driver. KUnit is a new unit testing framework for the kernel. There are many more new features which you can read about on Kernel Newbies changelog page. For downloads visit The Linux Kernel Archives.

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