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Broadcom Close To Buying Symantec's Enterprise Business

Thu, 2019-08-08 13:00
phalse phace writes: Broadcom's on-again, off-again talks to buy Symantec are on again, but this time Broadcom is just interested in Symantec's Enterprise Business. According to the Wall Street Journal: "Broadcom is nearing a deal to buy Symantec's enterprise business after its attempted purchase of the entire cybersecurity firm fell apart. A deal for the Symantec business could be announced as early as Thursday, when Symantec reports its results, according to people familiar with the matter. The deal could value the Symantec division at around $10 billion, one of the people said. Broadcom had previously been in late-stage discussions to buy all of Symantec before the talks collapsed last month. Since then, the two sides have restarted discussions, with Broadcom zeroing in on the Symantec business that serves businesses and accounts for roughly half its $5 billion in annual revenue. The consumer segment accounts for the rest. The deal would be big for Symantec. Its entire market value is about $12.6 billion -- it has more than $2 billion of net debt -- compared with about $107.6 billion for Broadcom."

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AMD Launches Rome Second Generation EPYC CPUs

Thu, 2019-08-08 10:00
"Today, AMD launched its Rome Second Generation EPYC CPUs, the AMD EPYC 7001 & 7002 series," writes Slashdot reader SolarAxix. "Was the hype real? According to Anandtech's review of the top-of-the-line EPYC 7742 with 64 cores and 128 threads (for a total of 128 cores and 256 threads), it seems to be the case." From the report: ...So has AMD done the unthinkable? Beaten Intel by such a large margin that there is no contest? For now, based on our preliminary testing, that is the case. The launch of AMD's second generation EPYC processors is nothing short of historic, beating the competition by a large margin in almost every metric: performance, performance per watt and performance per dollar. "

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Scientists Develop 'Artificial Tongue' To Detect Fake Whiskies

Thu, 2019-08-08 07:00
Scientists have developed an "artificial tongue" that can differentiate a young whisky from an 18-year-old single malt. "The team, based in Scotland, say their device can be used to tell apart a host of single malts -- a move they say might help in the fight against counterfeit products," reports The Guardian. From the report: Writing in the journal Nanoscale, the team describe how their artificial tongue is based on a glass wafer featuring three separate arrays, each composed of 2 million tiny "artificial taste buds" -- squares about 500 times smaller than a human taste bud, with sides just 100nm long. There are six different types of these squares in the device, three types made from gold and three from aluminum. While one type of gold and one of aluminum are essentially bare, the surface of the other types are coated in different chemical substances. Each of the three arrays contain one type of gold and one type of aluminum square. When light is shone on an array, it interacts with the electrons at the surface of the squares, resulting in dips in the reflected light which can be measured. These dips appear at slightly different wavelengths depending on which type of square the light interacts with. Crucially, these dips shift depending on the liquid surrounding the arrays. The upshot is that each liquid gives rise to its own "fingerprint" of measurements. That means the device can be used to tell apart different liquids -- and even identify them if they have been recorded before -- without revealing their makeup, rather like our own tongues do.

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Skype, Slack, Other Electron-Based Apps Can Be Easily Backdoored

Thu, 2019-08-08 03:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Electron development platform is a key part of many applications, thanks to its cross-platform capabilities. Based on JavaScript and Node.js, Electron has been used to create client applications for Internet communications tools (including Skype, WhatsApp, and Slack) and even Microsoft's Visual Studio Code development tool. But Electron can also pose a significant security risk because of how easily Electron-based applications can be modified without triggering warnings. At the BSides LV security conference on Tuesday, Pavel Tsakalidis demonstrated a tool he created called BEEMKA, a Python-based tool that allows someone to unpack Electron ASAR archive files and inject new code into Electron's JavaScript libraries and built-in Chrome browser extensions. The vulnerability is not part of the applications themselves but of the underlying Electron framework -- and that vulnerability allows malicious activities to be hidden within processes that appear to be benign. Tsakalidis said that he had contacted Electron about the vulnerability but that he had gotten no response -- and the vulnerability remains. While making these changes required administrator access on Linux and MacOS, it only requires local access on Windows. Those modifications can create new event-based "features" that can access the file system, activate a Web cam, and exfiltrate information from systems using the functionality of trusted applications -- including user credentials and sensitive data. In his demonstration, Tsakalidis showed a backdoored version of Microsoft Visual Studio Code that sent the contents of every code tab opened to a remote website. The problem lies in the fact that Electron ASAR files themselves are not encrypted or signed, allowing them to be modified without changing the signature of the affected applications. A request from developers to be able to encrypt ASAR files was closed by the Electron team without action.

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Even Fixing Wisconsin's Foxconn Deal Won't Fix It, Says State-Requested Report

Thu, 2019-08-08 02:02
The Wisconsin Department of Administration is requesting a reassessment of the costs and benefits of the LCD factory Foxconn is building in the state. Since Wisconsin offered Foxconn a record-breaking subsidy in 2017 to build the facility, the Taipei-based company has significantly scaled back its plans and delayed the project. The Verge reports: The report, which was conducted by Tim Bartik of the Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, finds that the smaller facility raises the already unusually high cost per job even further. If the subsidy levels in the current contract are kept, each Foxconn job would cost taxpayers about $290,000, Bartik found, compared to $172,000 if Foxconn built the original $10 billion, 13,000-job facility. For comparison, Bartik estimated the subsidies Virginia offered Amazon for its second headquarters amounted to between $10,000 and $13,000 per job. "The most important conclusion of this analysis is that it is difficult to come up with plausible assumptions under which a revised Foxconn incentive contract, which offers similar credit rates to the original contract, has benefits exceeding costs," Bartik wrote. "The incentives are so costly per job that it is hard to see how likely benefits will offset these costs." While Bartik produced the memo in response to a request from the Wisconsin Department of Administration, he notes that it was produced independently and that its conclusions do not necessarily reflect the views of the department or the Upjohn Institute. He doesn't know whether Gov. Tony Evers has been briefed on his report, but he says he shared it with Mark Hogan, the head of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, who objected to its conclusions. Hogan, who served under Evers' predecessor Scott Walker, said in a statement that the current contract protects Wisconsin taxpayers. "This study makes assumptions that could not occur under the existing 'performance-based' contract between WEDC and Foxconn. The plain fact is the company would not be able to retain any incentives if, by the year 2023, it had only created either the 1,500 or 1,800 jobs the study is based on," Hogan wrote in a statement. Bartik says he doesn't find a persuasive defense in the idea that the project has a reasonable cost per job if it goes into default, all clawbacks are promptly paid, and Foxconn still keeps 1,500 jobs in the state.

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Google Pixel 4 Will Have 90Hz 'Smooth Display and DSLR Camera Attachment

Thu, 2019-08-08 01:45
According to 9to5Google, Google's upcoming Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL smartphones will feature 90Hz refresh rates, 6GB of RAM, and a DSLR attachment, among other features not reported until now. From the report: First, the basics: There will be a Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, and they will both more or less have the same features. They are phones. As we've already seen, they will have glass on the front and back, and a large camera bump. The have a sizable top bezel on the front housing the Soli radar chip, the speaker, a single front shooter, and the suite of sensors for face unlock. Other familiar aesthetic flourishes like a colored lock button and the usual 'G' logo on the back are also in tow. Things get a little interesting with the display specs. Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will have 5.7-inch and 6.3-inch OLED displays, respectively -- the smaller is Full HD+, while the larger is Quad HD+. We can confirm now, though, that both will be 90 Hz displays, a feature Google is planning to call "Smooth Display." We also have word on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL camera specs. There are two sensors on the rear, one of which is a 12MP shooter with phase-detect auto-focus. Also, confirming details that we unearthed in the Google Camera app, the other rear sensor on the Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL is a 16MP telephoto lens. Another interesting tidbit on the camera side: We're told Google is developing a DSLR-like attachment for the Pixel 4 that may become an available accessory. In other Pixel 4 specs, the smaller 5.7-inch Google Pixel 4 will have a 2,800 mAh battery, while the larger model will have a 3,700 mAh battery. That means, compared to last year, the smaller Pixel will have a slightly smaller battery (down from 2,915 mAh), while the larger Pixel will have a notably beefier one (up from 3,430 mAh). Both devices will pack the Snapdragon 855, get an appreciated bump to 6GB of RAM, and will be available in both 64GB and 128GB variants in the United States. Finally, we can confirm that both Pixel 4 models will have stereo speakers, the Titan M security module that was introduced with the Pixel 3, and of course, the latest version of Android with 3 years of software support. We're also told to expect that, like previous years, Google will show off some new Assistant features that will be exclusive to Pixel 4.

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Samsung's DeX On Note 10 Brings Phone Apps To Your PC

Thu, 2019-08-08 01:25
Earlier today at Samsung's Galaxy Note 10 launch event, Samsung announced several new features coming to DeX, an application that transforms your Samsung phone into a "desktop like" interface. The expanded version of DeX on the Note 10 now works with your computer, allowing you to transfer files (including photos), reply to messages and run mobile apps on your Mac or Windows PC. Engadget reports: The Note 10 also touts a Link to Windows option in the phone's Quick Panel that connects to a Windows 10 PC, sharing your phone's notifications on your PC screen with no specialized apps required. This concept also isn't completely new, but it's still helpful if you'd rather not check your phone for a must-see message or app alert. More Microsoft integrations are coming. You'll get to make and receive calls right from your PC (it's not clear if this is just for Samsung phones or for all Android devices). Samsung's Gallery app, meanwhile, will tie into OneDrive to upload photos to cloud storage. If the company has its way, your phone and computer will feel like extensions of each other.

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Battery-Powered Ships Next Up In Battle To Tackle Emissions

Thu, 2019-08-08 00:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Four Japanese companies have teamed up to build the world's first zero-emission tanker by mid-2021 that will be powered by large-capacity batteries and will operate in Tokyo Bay, according to a statement on Tuesday. The new company e5 Lab is a venture between Asahi Tanker, Exeno Yamamizu, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines and Mitsubishi. The global maritime industry is facing an onslaught of legislation to improve its environmental performance. From next year, a majority of vessels will have to burn fuel containing less sulfur. A challenge requiring even more innovation, though, is a goal to halve shipping's carbon emissions by 2050. While fully-electric ships have struggled to penetrate major markets, momentum is gathering. Rolls-Royce said last year that it had started offering battery-powered ship engines, while Norway's Kongsberg Gruppen ASA is developing an electric container vessel. Still, there are challenges in making the technology applicable to ships navigating thousands of miles across oceans because of the need to recharge batteries. Industries from auto to aviation are also looking to go electric. Komatsu, the world's second-biggest construction equipment, has developed its first-battery powered electric diggers. Electric-plane company Eviation Aircraft, which has signed up its first customer, predicts that in a few years it may not be able to keep up with orders.

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Twitter Fesses Up To More Adtech Leaks

Thu, 2019-08-08 00:03
Twitter has disclosed more bugs related to how it uses personal data for ad targeting that means it may have shared users data with advertising partners even when a user had expressly told it not to. TechCrunch reports: Back in May the social network disclosed a bug that in certain conditions resulted in an account's location data being shared with a Twitter ad partner, during real-time bidding (RTB) auctions. In a blog post on its Help Center about the latest "issues" Twitter says it "recently" found, it admits to finding two problems with users' ad settings choices that mean they "may not have worked as intended." It claims both problems were fixed on August 5. Though it does not specify when it realized it was processing user data without their consent. The first bug relates to tracking ad conversions. This meant that if a Twitter user clicked or viewed an ad for a mobile application on the platform and subsequently interacted with the mobile app Twitter says it "may have shared certain data (e.g., country code; if you engaged with the ad and when; information about the ad, etc)" with its ad measurement and advertising partners -- regardless of whether the user had agreed their personal data could be shared in this way. It suggests this leak of data has been happening since May 2018 -- which is also the day when Europe's updated privacy framework, GDPR, came into force. Twitter specifies that it does not share users' names, Twitter handles, email or phone number with ad partners. However it does share a user's mobile device identifier, which GDPR treats as personal data as it acts as a unique identifier. The second issue Twitter discloses in the blog post also relates to tracking users' wider web browsing to serve them targeted ads. Here Twitter admits that, since September 2018, it may have served targeted ads that used inferences made about the user's interests based on tracking their wider use of the Internet -- even when the user had not given permission to be tracked.

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Feds Told Tesla To Stop Making 'Misleading Statements' On Model 3 Safety

Wed, 2019-08-07 23:20
Last October, Tesla said that its Model 3 had the "lowest probability of injury of any vehicle ever tested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)." Two days later, the agency responded without naming Tesla by saying that its "5-star rating is the highest safety rating a vehicle can achieve," but that it "does not distinguish safety performance beyond that rating, thus there is no 'safest' vehicle among those vehicles achieving 5-star ratings." Now, according to Ars Technica, citing documents obtained by the website Plainsite, we have learned that the NHTSA told Tesla to stop making "misleading statements" about the Model 3's safety, as the company's use of NHTSA's 5-star ratings and associated data "is inconsistent with the NHTSA's guidelines." From the report: The NHTSA conducts a number of different crash tests for each vehicle and then issues a series of ratings ranging from one to five stars for different aspects of vehicle safety. There's no disputing that the Model 3 performed well on these tests, achieving five stars -- the agency's highest rating -- across the board. The NHTSA would have liked Tesla to stop there. Instead, Tesla dug into the NHTSA's data and spotted an opportunity to further toot its own horn. As part of its evaluation process, the NHTSA calculates a number called a vehicle safety score, which the agency has characterized as "relative risk of injury." The agency then awards each vehicle a star rating based on VSS ranges. Tesla noticed that the Model 3 had a better VSS score than any other vehicle on the market. That, in Tesla's view, means that a Model 3 driver is less likely to be injured in a crash than a driver of any other vehicle. But the NHTSA argues that this is statistical malpractice because it doesn't take into account vehicle weight. In a vehicle-to-vehicle crash, the occupant of the heavier vehicle is less likely to be injured. The NHTSA's tests, which involve crashing a car into fixed objects, don't necessarily account for this difference. Tesla says it stands by the statements it made last October.

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A Boeing Code Leak Exposes Security Flaws Deep In a 787's Guts

Wed, 2019-08-07 22:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: Late one night last September, security researcher Ruben Santamarta sat in his home office in Madrid and partook in some creative googling, searching for technical documents related to his years-long obsession: the cybersecurity of airplanes. He was surprised to discover a fully unprotected server on Boeing's network, seemingly full of code designed to run on the company's giant 737 and 787 passenger jets, left publicly accessible and open to anyone who found it. So he downloaded everything he could see. Now, nearly a year later, Santamarta claims that leaked code has led him to something unprecedented: security flaws in one of the 787 Dreamliner's components, deep in the plane's multi-tiered network. He suggests that for a hacker, exploiting those bugs could represent one step in a multistage attack that starts in the plane's in-flight entertainment system and extends to highly protected, safety-critical systems like flight controls and sensors. At the Black Hat security conference today in Las Vegas, Santamarta, a researcher for security firm IOActive, plans to present his findings, including the details of multiple serious security flaws in the code for a component of the 787 known as a Crew Information Service/Maintenance System. The CIS/MS is responsible for applications like maintenance systems and the so-called electronic flight bag, a collection of navigation documents and manuals used by pilots. Santamarta says he found a slew of memory corruption vulnerabilities in that CIS/MS, and he claims that a hacker could use those flaws as a foothold inside a restricted part of a plane's network. An attacker could potentially pivot, Santamarta says, from the in-flight entertainment system to the CIS/MS to send commands to far more sensitive components that control the plane's safety-critical systems, including its engine, brakes, and sensors. Boeing maintains that other security barriers in the 787's network architecture would make that progression impossible. Boeing said in a statement that it had investigated IOActive's claims and concluded that they don't represent any real threat of a cyberattack. "IOActive's scenarios cannot affect any critical or essential airplane system and do not describe a way for remote attackers to access important 787 systems like the avionics system," the company's statement reads. "IOActive reviewed only one part of the 787 network using rudimentary tools, and had no access to the larger system or working environments. IOActive chose to ignore our verified results and limitations in its research, and instead made provocative statements as if they had access to and analyzed the working system. While we appreciate responsible engagement from independent cybersecurity researchers, we're disappointed in IOActive's irresponsible presentation." Boeing says the company put an actual Boeing 787 in "flight mode" to test and try to exploit the vulnerabilities. They found that they couldn't carry out a successful attack.

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iOS 13 Privacy Feature Will Force Total Overhaul For Facebook Apps

Wed, 2019-08-07 22:05
Privacy has been a renewed focus with Apple's next operating system update. One new feature in iOS 13 that seems centered on user privacy could have sweeping consequences for messaging and online call apps. From a report: In iOS 13, Apple will not allow apps to run voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) in the background when the programs are not actively in use. Many apps that offer VoIP services currently run in the background, and they will need to be rewritten to adjust to Apple's upcoming rules. The change is slated to roll out when iOS 13 is released in September. However, app developers will get a grace period, and they have until April 2020 to comply. VoIP services ostensibly stay running in the background so they can connect calls quickly, but they also let those apps collect information about what users are doing on their devices. Restricting the programs that can simply be open at any time on its mobile hardware fits the narrative Apple is crafting about being a trusted place for customer privacy in an increasingly untrustworthy industry.

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With Warshipping, Hackers Ship Their Exploits Directly To Their Target's Mail Room

Wed, 2019-08-07 21:25
Why break into a company's network when you can just walk right in-- literally? From a report: Gone could be the days of having to find a zero-day vulnerability in a target's website, or having to scramble for breached usernames and passwords to break through a company's login pages. And certainly there will be no need to park outside a building and brute-force the Wi-Fi network password. Just drop your exploit in the mail and let your friendly postal worker deliver it to your target's door. This newly named technique -- dubbed "warshipping" -- is not a new concept. Just think of the traditional Trojan horse rolling into the city of Troy, or when hackers drove up to TJX stores and stole customer data by breaking into the store's Wi-Fi network. But security researchers at IBM's X-Force Red say it's a novel and effective way for an attacker to gain an initial foothold on a target's network. "It uses disposable, low cost and low power computers to remotely perform close-proximity attacks, regardless of the cyber criminal's location," wrote Charles Henderson, who heads up the IBM offensive operations unit.

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Samsung Unveils Galaxy Note10, Note10+, and Note10+ 5G

Wed, 2019-08-07 20:41
At an event today, Samsung announced not one, but two versions of its flagship Galaxy Note 10 smartphone: the regular Note 10 and the jumbo Note 10+. The Note10's and Note10+'s frames are made from scratch-resistant aluminum that's IP68 rated to withstand 1.5 meters of water for 30 minutes, and their protective glass shielding -- Corning's Gorilla Glass 6, an upgrade from the Note9's Gorilla Glass 5 -- can withstand up to 15 consecutive drops from 1 meter onto rough surfaces. The shared specs of the Note 10 and Note 10+ are: Processor: Snapdragon 855; Display: Dynamic AMOLED with tone mapping; Wide-angle camera: 16 megapixels, f/2.2; Main camera: 12 megapixels, f/1.5 and f/2.4 dual aperture, OIS; Telephoto camera: 12 megapixels, f/2.1, 45-degree; Selfie camera: 10 megapixels, f/2.2; Radios: LTE Cat 2.0, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.0; In-screen fingerprint sensor. The Note 10+ features a 6.8-inch display with 3040 x 1440 pixels resolution. It comes with 12GB RAM, 256GB or 512GB UFS 3.0 storage (with support for microSD expansion), and 4,300mAh battery. The Note 10 features a 6.3-inch display of 2280 x 1080 pixels resolutions. It has 8GB RAM, and 256GB UFS 3.0 of storage (no microSD expansion), and 3,500mAh battery. The Note 10 starts at $949 and comes in just one configuration: 8GB of RAM and 256GB of storage. The Note 10+ starts at $1,099 with 12GB RAM / 256GB storage and you can spend $100 more to get 512GB of storage. Both are available for preorder today and will ship on August 23. The Note 10+ also comes with a 5G variant.

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North Korea Took $2 Billion in Cyberattacks To Fund Weapons Program

Wed, 2019-08-07 20:05
An anonymous reader shares a report: North Korea has generated an estimated $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction programs using "widespread and increasingly sophisticated" cyberattacks to steal from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, according to a confidential U.N. report seen by Reuters on Monday. Pyongyang also "continued to enhance its nuclear and missile programmes although it did not conduct a nuclear test or ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) launch," said the report to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee by independent experts monitoring compliance over the past six months. The experts said North Korea "used cyberspace to launch increasingly sophisticated attacks to steal funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges to generate income." They also used cyberspace to launder the stolen money, the report said.

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Chernobyl and Why Some TV Shows Should Be Unbingeable

Wed, 2019-08-07 19:25
An anonymous reader shares a column [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled]: Few television shows in recent years have been as compelling, yet as difficult to watch, as Chernobyl. The story of the hours and days following the 1986 nuclear reactor meltdown, and the many awful ways that radiation can kill, was expertly told. But it was the antithesis of one of the prevailing objectives of today's TV producers: to make a programme viewers love so much that they binge it all in one go. Chernobyl's horrors were so richly realised that it was unbingeable. Even though I was watching the show on Sky's streaming service, Now TV, I found that watching in nightly instalments rather than rushing through it served only to heighten my appreciation of it. The internet has been built on instant gratification, but Chernobyl got me wondering whether we occasionally need something to hold us back. [...] A new approach to scheduling could crank up anticipation for the next instalment or build the loyalty that comes with habit. Chernobyl had a brilliant podcast commentary that delineated the boundary between fact and fiction; I wished I had listened to it between episodes rather than at the end of the series. There are billions of smartphones in the world today. While Silicon Valley is obsessing over what comes next -- whether that is augmented reality headsets or smart speakers -- the versatility and ubiquity of the smartphone still provide plenty of room to experiment. From instant streaming to next-day deliveries, technology has broken the idea that good things come to those who wait. But with a little imagination, making something unbingeable could be a feature, not a bug.

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Disney Announces $12.99 Bundle For Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+

Wed, 2019-08-07 18:45
Disney will offer a bundle package of its three streaming services -- Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+ -- for $12.99 a month starting on November 12th, the company has announced. From a report: The company previously hinted at a bundle for all three services, but CEO Bob Iger made it official during the company's investors call Tuesday. At $12.99, the bundle is cheaper than -- or on par with -- competitive streaming services, including Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. It's also significantly cheaper than HBO Max's rumored streaming price of $16-$17 a month. Hulu is currently available for $5.99 a month (with ads), and ESPN+ costs $4.99 a month. ESPN+ is the Disney-owned sports streaming platform, which carries "hundreds of MLB, NHL and MLS games, Grand Slam tennis, Top Rank boxing, PGA Tour golf, college sports, international rugby, cricket, the full library of ESPN Films including 30 for 30, and more."

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MoviePass Worked Out Great

Wed, 2019-08-07 18:03
Matt Levine, writing for Bloomberg: Is there a Harvard Business School case study of MoviePass yet? I feel like there are a lot of lessons to be learned from the MoviePass story, but maybe that's wrong. Maybe all of the lessons are just "if you do the opposite of normal business things, it will work, but only for a while." Maybe business school students should actively avoid learning that lesson. Anyway Jason Guerrasio has a big story on the rise and fall of MoviePass at Business Insider today. The basics of the story -- MoviePass was a business that charged people $9.95 a month to see unlimited movies in theaters, and then paid the theaters full price for the tickets, losing money on each transaction and eventually falling into a huge and comical financial hole -- were familiar to me, and probably to you, and it's not like we didn't already know it was weird. But I learned a lot from this article about how weird it was. For instance, under founder Stacy Spikes, MoviePass charged $50 a month for its service, but couldn't get enough subscribers to break even. Then it was acquired by Helios & Matheson Analytics, whose chief executive officer, Ted Farnsworth, came up with the idea of charging much less: "Why Farnsworth settled on $10 is unclear. Several people told me he wanted a price that would grab headlines. ... But in July 2017, the MoviePass board agreed to the deal. And on August 15, the price drop went into effect. Thanks to word-of-mouth buzz and press attention, within two days subscriptions jumped from about 20,000 to 100,000. MoviePass had transformed from a scrappy startup trying to keep the lights on to a disrupter in the making." What an amazing sentence. It went from being "a scrappy startup trying to keep the lights on" (bad) to a buzzy "disrupter in the making" (good) by giving up on trying to keep the lights on. The trick is not to make enough money to cover your costs; it's to stop trying. Losing a lot of money is better than losing a little money; it has more panache, attracts more attention, certainly gives you that attractive hockey-stick user growth. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure twenty pounds ought and six, result misery. Annual income twenty pounds, annual expenditure three hundred million pounds, result unicorn.

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A Quarter of Humanity Faces Looming Water Crises

Wed, 2019-08-07 17:25
Countries that are home to one-fourth of Earth's population face an increasingly urgent risk: The prospect of running out of water. From a report: From India to Iran to Botswana, 17 countries around the world are currently under extremely high water stress, meaning they are using almost all the water they have, according to new World Resources Institute data published Tuesday. Many are arid countries to begin with; some are squandering what water they have. Several are relying too heavily on groundwater, which instead they should be replenishing and saving for times of drought. In those countries are several big, thirsty cities that have faced acute shortages recently, including Sao Paulo, Brazil; Chennai, India; and Cape Town, which in 2018 narrowly beat what it called Day Zero -- the day when all its dams would be dry. Climate change heightens the risk. As rainfall becomes more erratic, the water supply becomes less reliable. At the same time, as the days grow hotter, more water evaporates from reservoirs just as demand for water increases. Water-stressed places are sometimes cursed by two extremes. Sao Paulo was ravaged by floods a year after its taps nearly ran dry. Chennai suffered fatal floods four years ago, and now its reservoirs are almost empty

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Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony To Require Loot Box Odds Disclosure

Wed, 2019-08-07 16:45
All three major console manufacturers -- Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony -- have agreed to require games with paid loot boxes to include the chances of winning randomized in-game items from them, the Entertainment Software Association announced Wednesday. From a report: Michael Warnecke, the ESA's chief counsel of tech policy, made the announcement during a workshop on loot boxes hosted by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission. "I'm pleased to announce this morning that Microsoft, Nintendo, and Sony have indicated to ESA a commitment to new platform policies with respect to the use of paid loot boxes in games that are developed for their platforms," Warnecke said. "Specifically, this would apply to new games and game updates that add loot box features, and it would require the disclosure of the relative rarity or probabilities of obtaining randomized virtual items in games that are available on their platforms." Warnecke said that in addition to the major console manufacturers, "many of the leading video game publishers" who are members of the ESA, the trade body that represents the gaming industry, will "implement a similar approach."

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