Technology

Boring Company breaks through to the end of its first test tunnel

We're about a month away from the planned opening of The Boring Company's Test Tunnel in LA, and it appears progress is moving along. Elon Musk tweeted this brief video of a digging machine breaking through. Although he wasn't specific about the loca…

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Verizon to introduce next-generation RCS texting in 2019

RCS support has been slow to roll out, but another major US carrier will soon jump on board. Verizon announced at an event that the company would support the messaging system in "early 2019," joining Sprint, US Cellular and the limited support curren…

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Microsoft briefly tested ads in the Windows 10 mail app

It's bad enough when your email inbox gets inundated with subscriptions and promotions you forgot you ever signed up for, but now Microsoft is thinking about injecting advertisements right into your inbox. According to Windows news site Aggiornamenti…

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Verily shelves its glucose-monitoring contact lens project

In 2014, Verily, Alphabet's life sciences subsidiary, teamed up with Alcon to develop a contact lens that could measure glucose levels in tears. The idea being that diabetics would have an easier, less invasive way of keeping track of their glucose l…

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NASA’s daring asteroid mission unfurls its sampling arm for the first time

This image, taken Wednesday, shows the OSIRIS-REx Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism sampling head extended from the spacecraft at the end of the robotic arm.

Enlarge / This image, taken Wednesday, shows the OSIRIS-REx Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism sampling head extended from the spacecraft at the end of the robotic arm. (credit: NASA)

NASA officials confirmed Friday that a test of a key component of the space agency’s mission to sample an asteroid was completed successfully. On Wednesday, for the first time in more than two years, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft unfurled its robotic arm and put it through a series of maneuvers to ensure its space-worthiness after being packed away for launch and a long flight to the asteroid Bennu.

The asteroid sampling mission launched in September 2016, and the spacecraft has since been traveling through space to catch up to an asteroid known as Bennu, which has a diameter of about 500 meters. The spacecraft will officially “arrive” at Bennu in about two weeks, on December 3, so mission scientists wanted to make sure the robotic arm was functional after being stowed for so long.

This arm and its sampler head, known as the Touch-and-Go Sample Acquisition Mechanism or TAGSAM, is critical to the mission’s goal of retrieving at least 60 grams of material from the surface of Bennu and returning this sample to Earth by 2023. The collection device will act something like a reverse vacuum cleaner.

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Microsoft’s new experimental app is all about imitating emojis

Microsoft has released a new app that aims to demonstrate how its Windows Machine Learning APIs can be used to build apps and "make machine learning fun and approachable." Emoji8 is a UWP app that uses machine learning to determine how well you can i…

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Report: Cheaper, disc-free Xbox One option coming next year

Psht, who needs 'em?

Psht, who needs ’em? (credit: Squirmelia)

Microsoft is planning to release a disc-free version of the Xbox One as early as next spring, according to an unsourced report from author Brad Sams of Thurrott.com (who has been reliable with early Xbox-related information in the past).

The report suggests the disc-free version of the system would not replace the existing Xbox One hardware, and it would instead represent “the lowest possible price for the Xbox One S console.” Sams says that price could come in at $199 “or lower,” a significant reduction from the system’s current $299 starting price (but not as compelling compared to $199 deals for the Xbox One and PS4 planned for Black Friday this year). Buyers will also be able to add a subscription to the Xbox Games Pass program for as little as $1, according to Sams.

For players who already have games on disc, Sams says Microsoft will offer a “disc to digital” program in association with participating publishers. Players will be able to take their discs into participating retailers (including Microsoft Stores) and trade them in for a “digital entitlement” that can be applied to their Xbox Live account.

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Database leak exposes millions of two-factor codes and reset links sent by SMS

2FA via SMS happens worldwide, all.

Enlarge / 2FA via SMS happens worldwide, all. (credit: Raimond Spekking)

Millions of SMS text messages—many containing one-time passcodes, password reset links, and plaintext passwords—were exposed in an Internet-accessible database that could be read or monitored by anyone who knew where to look, TechCrunch has reported.

The discovery comes after years of rebukes from security practitioners that text messages are a woefully unsuitable medium for transmitting two-factor authentication (2FA) data. Despite those rebukes, SMS-based 2FA continues to be offered by banks such as Bank of America, cellular carriers such as T-Mobile, and a host of other businesses.

The leaky database belonged to Voxox, a service that claims to process billions of calls and text messages monthly. TechCrunch said that Berlin-based researcher Sébastien Kaul used the Shodan search engine for publicly available devices and databases to find the messages. The database stored texts that were sent through a gateway Voxox provided to businesses that wanted an automated way to send data for password resets and other types of account management by SMS. The database provided a portal that showed two-factor codes and resent links being sent in near real-time, making it potentially possible for attackers who accessed the server to obtain data that would help them hijack other people’s accounts.

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News Tom's Hardware 2018-11-16 16:08:03

Microsoft is using what it knows about its users–it doesn’t seem to be scanning emails–to show ads …

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The mid-range Google Pixel appears in pictures—complete with headphone jack

Rozetked

Rumors of a cheaper mid-range smartphone from Google have been circulating for some time, but now it’s looking like the first pictures of this mythical device have popped up online. The Russian site Rozetked—which leaked the Pixel 3 XL earlier this year—has pictures of a device codenamed “Sargo,” which looks like a cheaper version of the Pixel 3.

The phone resembles a smaller Pixel 3, but there appear to be a lot of changes to bring the price down. The body is now plastic instead of glass. The 5.5-inch OLED display has been swapped out for an LCD with a 2220×1080 resolution. Instead of the top-of-the-line Snapdragon 835, this device reportedly has a more modest Snapdragon 670. The baseline 64GB of storage has been downgraded to 32GB. It also looks like the bottom front-facing speaker has been cut, replaced by a bottom-firing speaker. It’s unknown if the earpiece still functions as a second speaker for stereo sound.

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More companies are chipping their workers like pets

The trend of blundering into the void of adopting new tech, damn the consequences, full speed ahead, continues this week. The Telegraph tells us about "a number of UK legal and financial firms" are in talks with a chip company to implant their employ…

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Senate bill takes aim at illegal robocalls

Three senators have proposed new legislation aimed at deterring robocall scams. The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Protection, or TRACED, Act would give the FCC broader authority to penalize those that violate telemarketing restrictions, give the…

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RIP William Goldman, creator of beloved film, The Princess Bride

Screenwriter William Goldman attends a special screening of <em>Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid</em> at Tribeca Film Festival in April 2009.

Enlarge / Screenwriter William Goldman attends a special screening of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid at Tribeca Film Festival in April 2009. (credit: Joe Kohen/WireImages/Getty Images)

Legendary Hollywood screenwriter William Goldman has died at the age of 87 from colon cancer and pneumonia, The New York Times reports. Goldman won two screenwriting Oscars, for Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) and All the President’s Men (1976). But by far his most beloved (and most widely quoted) film across multiple generations is 1987’s postmodern fairytale, The Princess Bride.

The man once called “the world’s greatest and most famous living screenwriter” by the Guardian actually started out as a novelist, but his early novels got mixed reviews. Discouraged, Goldman agreed to adapt Daniel Keyes’ bestselling 1966 novel Flowers for Algernon into a screenplay. He was fired from the project, and even Goldman himself declared it was a “terrible” screenplay. But he learned from the experience and went on to sell his first original screenplay, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, for a record (at the time) $400,000.

The rest is Hollywood history. His other screenwriting credits include The Stepford Wives (the 1974 original, not the mediocre 2004 remake), A Bridge Too Far (1977), Chaplin (1992), and Misery (1990). Two of his screenplays are adaptations of his own novels: Marathon Man (1976) and The Princess Bride. Goldman was especially fond of the latter novel, first published in 1973. It was 15 years before Director Rob Reiner managed to bring the story to the silver screen after having long been a fan of the book.

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Scoot will add locks to its scooters to combat theft and vandalism

In August, San Francisco's Municipal Transportation Agency awarded two companies, Scoot and Skip, permits to operate their scooters in the city. The scooter pilot program has now been running for a month and Scoot says it has learned a few things dur…

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Verizon app puts four extra numbers on one phone

Multi-SIM phones are all fine and dandy, but they have their limits: you rarely get more than two lines, and they may be overkill if you just want a new set of digits rather than a wholly separate connection. Verizon (Engadget's parent company) thin…

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Microsoft may release a disc-free Xbox One in 2019

Microsoft is no doubt pouring much of its energy into the next-gen Xbox, but it might give the current generation one last hurrah. Thurrott sources understand that it's planning new Xbox One configurations in 2019, including one without a disc drive…

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Researchers want to power pacemakers with cotton­-based biofuel cell

Researchers at the Georgia Tech and Korea University believe they have found a way to power implantable medical devices like pacemakers with a new fuel cell made from cotton fiber. The glucose-powered biofuel cell could provide twice as much power as…

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Death by push notification

Attention is the main prize of the internet. Everyone is fighting for it, and the phone is the prime battleground. The most potent of weapons in this war is the incessant, whining notification trying to pull your attention away from whatever you are…

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Most Americans believe algorithms will always be biased

If you're convinced that many algorithms are biased, you're not the only one. Pew has conducted a survey indicating that 58 percent of American adults believe algorithms and other programming will always contain some kind of human bias. That figure…

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AI can create synthetic fingerprints that fool biometric scanners

Researchers from New York University have found a way to produce fake fingerprints using artificial intelligence that could fool biometric scanners (or the human eye) into thinking they're the real deal. The DeepMasterPrints, as the researchers are c…

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