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Car Rental Company Hertz Sues Accenture Over $32M Website Project - Car rental giant Hertz is suing consultancy firm Accenture over a website redesign. From a report: The US corporation hired monster management consultancy firm Accenture in August 2016 to completely revamp its online presence. The new site was due to go live in December 2017. But a failure to get on top of things led to a delay to January 2018, and then a second delay to April 2018 which was then also missed, we're told. As Hertz endured the delays, it found itself immersed in a nightmare: a product and design that apparently didn't do half of what was specified and still wasn't finished. "By that point, Hertz no longer had any confidence that Accenture was capable of completing the project, and Hertz terminated Accenture," the car rental company complained in a lawsuit lodged against Accenture in New York this month. Hertz is suing for the $32m it paid Accenture in fees to get to that aborted stage, and it wants more millions to cover the cost of fixing the mess. "Accenture never delivered a functional website or mobile app," Hertz claimed. Accenture told El Reg on Tuesday this week it believes Hertz's lawsuit is "without merit."

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(2019-04-24T16:07:00+00:00)

Chalking Tires To Enforce Parking Rules is Unconstitutional, Court Finds - Reader schwit1 writes: Marking your tires with chalk is trespassing, not law enforcement, the federal appeals panel said in a Michigan case. U.S. Circuit Judge Bernice Bouie Donald wrote that when drivers pull into parking spaces, "the city commences its search on vehicles that are parked legally, without probable cause or even so much as 'individualized suspicion of wrongdoing' -- the touchstone of the reasonableness standard." Moreover, overstaying your welcome at a parking space doesn't cause "injury or ongoing harm to the community," she wrote, meaning the city is wrong to argue that parking enforcement is part of its "community caretaking" responsibility, potentially justifying a search without a warrant. In fact, she wrote, "there has been a trespass in this case because the City made intentional physical contact with Taylor's vehicle." Further reading: A court ruling 'chalking' illegal could make way for more privacy-invasive tech.

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(2019-04-24T15:21:00+00:00)

Microsoft Blocks Windows 10 May 2019 Update on PCs That Use USB Storage or SD Cards - Microsoft has published a support document today warning Windows 10 users that the impending May 2019 Update may not install on their systems if they use external USB storage devices or SD cards. From a report: The OS maker cited problems with "inappropriate drive reassignment" as the main reason for blocking the May 2019 Update. "Inappropriate drive reassignment can occur on eligible computers that have an external USB device or SD memory card attached during the installation of the May 2019 update," the company said. "For this reason, these computers are currently blocked from receiving the May 2019 Update."

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(2019-04-24T14:40:00+00:00)

iFixit's Galaxy Fold Teardown Reveals Its Biggest Design Flaw - An anonymous reader shares a report: Following up on its post speculating on the possible causes of the various screen breakages we've seen on review units, iFixit's teardown analysis seems to reveal a fundamental design tradeoff Samsung had to make -- one that may have doomed the phone. It seems as though Samsung focused quite a bit on ensuring the mechanics of the hinge would be a sturdy and dependable mechanism for folding and unfolding a screen. Yet for whatever reason, the Galaxy Fold does not have enough protection against the ingress of debris. And because that screen is so incredibly delicate (as any OLED is if it's not protected by something like Gorilla Glass), that was a significant risk. We still can't know the full reasoning behind Samsung's decision to delay the launch of the phone, but this debris/bulge problem feels much more fundamental than the fact that the protective layer on the top looks like a screen protector that should be peeled off (but, again, should not be as that breaks the screen as well). The bulk of the rest of the reviewers who had broken screens tried to remove that layer -- a natural inclination since the review unit packaging didn't have any warning on it.

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(2019-04-24T14:00:00+00:00)

Chrome 74 Arrives With Less Motion Sickness, New JavaScript Features - An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today launched Chrome 74 for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. The release includes support for a reduced motion media query, private class fields, feature policy improvements, and more developer features. You can update to the latest version now using Chrome's built-in updater or download it directly from google.com/chrome. Motion sickness in the browser is a real thing. Android provides an accessibility option to reduce motion whenever possible, as shown above in the âoeremove animationsâ setting. Chrome is now taking that a step further so websites can limit motion sickness when viewing parallax scrolling, zooming, and other motion effects. Chrome 74 introduces prefers-reduced-motion (part of Media Queries Level 5) that allows websites to honor when an operating system is set to limit motion effects. This might not seem like a big deal today, but it could be very useful if websites start abusing motion effects. Check out the full changelog for more information on this release.

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(2019-04-24T13:00:00+00:00)

Tesla Plans To Launch a Robotaxi Network In 2020 - Iwastheone shares a report from TechCrunch: Tesla expects to launch the first robotaxis as part of broader vision for an autonomous ride-sharing network in 2020, CEO Elon Musk said during the company's Autonomy Day. "I feel very confident predicting that there will be autonomous robotaxis from Tesla next year -- not in all jurisdictions because we won't have regulatory approval everywhere" Musk said without detailing what regulations he was referring to. He added that he is confident the company will have regulatory approval somewhere next year. Tesla will enable owners to add their properly equipped vehicles to its own ride-sharing app, which will have a similar business model to Uber or Airbnb. Tesla will take 25 percent to 30 percent of the revenue from those rides, Musk said. In places where there aren't enough people to share their cars, Tesla would provide a dedicated fleet of robotaxis. Musk also said at the event that all new Tesla vehicles are now produced with its custom full self-driving computer chip. The remaining step for Tesla's full self-driving mode to work is the software, "which Musk says will be 'feature complete' and at a reliability level that we could consider that no one needs to pay attention, by the middle of next year," reports TechCrunch.

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(2019-04-24T10:00:00+00:00)

Scientists Develop Self-Propelling Phoenix Aircraft That Inhales Air - dryriver writes: The BBC reports on a 50ft long and only 120kg heavy blimp-like UAV aircraft that is designed to fly at 70,000 feet, is entirely solar powered, uses variable-buoyancy for propulsion, and can essentially stay airborne in a self-powered way until it experiences mechanical or electrical failure. The Phoenix varies its buoyancy continuously using a helium-filled fuselage that also has an interior air sack that works a bit like a lung. It can inhale air and compress it on demand, making the aircraft temporarily heavier than air, and expel the inhaled air through a nozzle at the back of the aircraft, making the aircraft lighter than air again, creating some extra forward propulsion in the process. The Phoenix -- which is a simple, cheap-to-build aircraft that its designers describe as "almost a disposable aircraft" -- could one day act as a satellite replacement flying at 70,000 feet. It may also be used for surveillance purposes or to release micro-satellites into earth orbit. The Phoenix has already completed short test-flights of 120m inside the hangar it was built in. This YouTube video shows just how gently the Phoenix rises into the air, hovers in place, and lands again. Unlike drones that need to land, refuel and then take to the skies again, the Phoenix may stay in the air for very long periods of time, landing only for periodic maintenance of its electrical and mechanical components.

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(2019-04-24T07:00:00+00:00)

Melting Permafrost In Arctic Will Have $70 Trillion Climate Impact, Study Says - An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The release of methane and carbon dioxide from thawing permafrost will accelerate global warming and add up to $70 trillion to the world's climate bill, according to the most advanced study yet of the economic consequences of a melting Arctic. If countries fail to improve on their Paris agreement commitments, this feedback mechanism, combined with a loss of heat-deflecting white ice, will cause a near 5% amplification of global warming and its associated costs, says the paper, which was published on Tuesday in Nature Communications. The authors say their study is the first to calculate the economic impact of permafrost melt and reduced albedo -- a measure of how much light that hits a surface is reflected without being absorbed -- based on the most advanced computer models of what is likely to happen in the Arctic as temperatures rise. It shows how destabilized natural systems will worsen the problem caused by man-made emissions, making it more difficult and expensive to solve. They assessed known stocks of frozen organic matter in the ground up to 3 meters deep at multiple points across the Arctic. These were run through the world's most advanced simulation software in the US and at the UK Met Office to predict how much gas will be released at different levels of warming. Even with supercomputers, the number crunching took weeks because the vast geography and complex climate interactions of the Arctic throw up multiple variables. The researchers then applied previous economic impact models to assess the likely costs. Permafrost melt is the main concern because of all the carbon trapped in the frozen ground. "On the current trajectory of at least 3C of warming by the end of the century, melting permafrost is expected to discharge up to 280 gigatons of carbon dioxide and 3 gigatons of methane, which has a climate effect that is 10 to 20 times stronger than CO2," the report says. "This would increase the global climate-driven impacts by by $70 trillion between now and 2300. This is 10 times higher than the projected benefits from a melting Arctic, such as easier navigation for ships and access to minerals, says the paper."

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(2019-04-24T03:30:00+00:00)

ICANN Proposes Allowing Unlimited Fee Increases For .Org Domain Names - GeorgeK writes: ICANN is proposing allowing unlimited fee increases for .org domain names, which currently are allowed to increase a maximum of 10% annually. That 10% annual cap on fee increases came about after the huge public outcry that ensued in 2006 when a comparable proposal to eliminate price caps was made, and successfully opposed by the public. It seems that ICANN did not learn from history. Nat Cohen explains why the new proposal to eliminate price caps is a bad idea. Similar proposals exist for the .info, .biz, and .asia top-level domains, and are all open for public comment now (.org public comment period ends April 29, 2019). If these unlimited fee increases are permitted, it is likely that Verisign will seek to further increase their fees for .com and .net. I encourage readers who wish to oppose these unlimited fee increases to submit comments today.

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(2019-04-24T02:03:00+00:00)

Malicious Lifestyle Apps Found On Google Play, 30 Million Installs Recorded - A total of 50 malicious apps have managed to bypass Google's security checks and land on the Google Play store, leading to millions of installs on Android devices. ZDNet reports: Now, the cybersecurity team from Avast have found a further 50 apps relating to lifestyle services which masquerade as legitimate software but are actually adware, and these malicious apps have been downloaded a total of 30 million times. On Tuesday, Avast published a report on the discovery, in which the apps are linked to each other through third-party libraries that "bypass the background service restrictions present in newer Android versions." "Although the bypassing itself is not explicitly forbidden on the Play Store, Avast detects it as Android:Agent-SEB [PUP], because apps using these libraries waste the user's battery and make the device slower," the researchers say. "The applications use the libraries to continuously display more and more ads to the user, going against Play Store rules." Each app displays full-blown ads to users, and in some cases, will also attempt to lure viewers to install additional adware-laden applications. The malicious apps include Pro Piczoo, Photo Blur Studio, Mov-tracker, Magic Cut Out, and Pro Photo Eraser. Installation rates range from one million to one thousand.

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(2019-04-24T01:25:00+00:00)

'Technology Needs To Be Regulated': Apple CEO Tim Cook Says No Oversight Has Led To Great Damage To Society - In an interview at the TIME 100 Summit in New York, Apple CEO Tim Cook said more government regulation on the tech industry is needed in order to protect privacy. "We all have to be intellectually honest, and we have to admit that what we're doing isn't working," said Cook. "Technology needs to be regulated. There are now too many examples where the no rails have resulted in a great damage to society." Time Magazine reports: In the interview, Cook suggested that U.S. regulators could look to Europe's passage of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. "GDPR isn't ideal," said Cook. "But GDPR is a step in the right direction." In light of recent data breaches and foreign election influence through social media, Cook's view is that the tech industry has no other responsible option but to accept more government oversight, a position he outlined in a recent TIME Ideas piece. "I'm hopeful," Cook said at the Summit. "We are advocating strongly for regulation -- I do not see another path." Cook also explained Apple's stance on transparency and money in politics. "We focus on policies, not politics," Cook said. "Apple doesn't have a PAC...I refuse to have one because it shouldn't exist." [...] "I try not to get wrapped up in a pretzel about who we upset," Cook said. "At the end of the day we'll be judged more on 'did we stand up for what we believed in,' not necessarily, 'do they agree with it.'"

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(2019-04-24T00:45:00+00:00)

Record Number of Consumers Waiting To Upgrade Their Cellphones - An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Wireless customers are hanging on to their old phones longer than ever. That's the message from Verizon, which said its upgrade rate fell to a record low last quarter -- a harbinger of tough times ahead for the iPhone and other devices. Faced with $1,000 price tags on moderately improved phones, consumers may be waiting to hear more about new 5G networks before committing to new models. The faster, more advanced services won't roll out in earnest until 2020. "Incremental changes from one model the the next, hasn't been that great, and it hasn't been enough of an incentive," Verizon Chief Financial Officer Matt Ellis said in an interview Tuesday after the company reported fewer-than-expected new customers for the first quarter. He expects replacement rates to be down for the year.

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(2019-04-24T00:03:00+00:00)

California's Politicians Rush To Gut Internet Privacy Law With Pro-Tech Giant Amendments - The right for Californians to control the private data that tech companies hold on them may be undermined today at a critical committee hearing in Sacramento. The Register reports: The Privacy And Consumer Protection Committee will hold a special hearing on Tuesday afternoon to discuss and vote on nine proposed amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) -- which was passed last year in the U.S. state but has yet to come into force. Right now, the legislation is undergoing tweaks at the committee stage. Privacy advocates are warning that most of the proposals before the privacy committee are influenced by the very industry that the law was supposed to constrain: big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon. In most cases, the amendments seek to add carefully worded exemptions to the law that would benefit business at the cost of consumer rights. But most upsetting to privacy folk is the withdrawal of an amendment by Assembly member Buffy Wicks (D-15th District) that incorporated changes that would enhance consumer data privacy rights. Wicks' proposal would have given consumers more of a say of what is done with their personal data and more power to sue companies that break the rules. But the Assembly member pulled the measure the day before the hearing because it was not going to get the necessary votes. If a measure is voted down it cannot be reintroduced in that legislative session.

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(2019-04-23T23:20:00+00:00)

Engineers Develop Colorful Printed Patch That Hides People From AI - A group of engineers from the University of KU Leuven in Belgium have come up with a solution to make users invisible to one specific algorithm. "In a paper shared last week on the preprint server arXiv, these students show how simple printed patterns can fool an AI system that's designed to recognize people in images," reports The Verge. From the report: If you print off one of the students' specially designed patches and hang it around your neck, from an AI's point of view, you may as well have slipped under an invisibility cloak. As the researchers write: "We believe that, if we combine this technique with a sophisticated clothing simulation, we can design a T-shirt print that can make a person virtually invisible for automatic surveillance cameras." In the case of this recent research -- which we spotted via Google researcher David Ha -- some caveats do apply. Most importantly, the adversarial patch developed by the students can only fool one specific algorithm named YOLOv2. It doesn't work against even off-the-shelf computer vision systems developed by Google or other tech companies, and, of course, it doesn't work if a person is looking at the image.

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(2019-04-23T22:40:00+00:00)

US Farmers Are Being Bled By the Tractor Monopoly - An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: As tractors become as complex as Teslas, agricultural equipment manufacturers and their authorized dealerships are using technology as an excuse to force farmers to use the authorized service center -- and only the authorized service center -- for repairs. That's costing farmers -- and independent repair shops -- dearly. John Nauerth III, a farmer in remote Jackson, under pressure to plant, waited a costly "two or three hours" for an authorized dealer to show up at his farm to plug in a computer and diagnose the problem. Worse, the dealer didn't have the repair part -- and independent repair shops, excluded from the repair monopoly, didn't either. "Right now, you're at the mercy of the dealers," Nauerth said. "Good thing is we figured out a way to get it running with a two-by-six piece of plywood." It's not cheap. In Nebraska, an independent mechanic can replace a John Deere Co tractor transmission. But if the farmer wants to drive it out of the mechanic's garage, a Deere technician must be hired for $230, plus $130 per hour, to show up to plug a computer into the tractor to authorize the part, according to Motherboard. Making matters more difficult, equipment manufacturers and dealers have been consolidating for years, reducing the number of techs and increasing the distance they must travel. Gary Wertish, president of the Minnesota Farmers Union, which supports Minnesota's Fair Repair bill, cited this problem as especially costly. "It can be 50 miles to the nearest dealership," he explained in a phone interview. "If independent repair businesses could do the work, that'd solve a lot of problems, especially in the spring and fall." The report highlights the Minnesota Fair Repair bill that will be debated in the state's House of Representatives in the coming weeks. The Fair Repair legislation is one of many currently in consideration across twenty U.S. states. It "requires that manufacturers of equipment with embedded electronics -- everything from a tractor to an iPhone -- must make available repair manuals, parts and tools to independent repair businesses that it makes available to dealerships and other authorized repair businesses," reports Bloomberg. "It must also provide the means to reset software locks disabled during diagnosis and repair."

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(2019-04-23T22:03:00+00:00)