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Updated: 36 min 34 sec ago

Nearly 160,000 Nintendo Accounts Compromised In Massive Hack

Sat, 2020-04-25 00:00
Nintendo has confirmed that about 160,000 Nintendo Network ID accounts have been compromised since the beginning of April. Digital Trends reports: The Japan-based video game company says login ID and password information of these profiles were obtained "illegally by some means other than our service" and in response, it's freezing the ability to log into a Nintendo account through Nintendo Network ID (NNID). Nintendo began looking into a potential breach after several players reported suspicious logins and fraudulent transactions for digital items like Fortnite VBucks through linked PayPal accounts earlier this month. Nintendo's investigation revealed intruders may have accessed personal data such as nicknames, dates of birth, country of residence, and email addresses. Plus, for users who used the same password for an NNID and Nintendo account, it's warning that their "balance and registered credit card/PayPal may be illegally used at My Nintendo Store or Nintendo eShop." In addition to halting Nintendo Network ID (NNID) logins, Nintendo is reaching out to affected customers via email and resetting their passwords. It's also recommending enabling two-factor authentication to everyone. Despite this, Nintendo is asking users who have discovered fraudulent transactions in their accounts to contact the company so it can cancel the purchases and possibly for initiating refunds.

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Amazon Asks Workers Staying At Home To Return Or Seek Leave

Fri, 2020-04-24 23:20
Amazon is asking warehouse employees who have stayed away from work during the pandemic to return for scheduled shifts beginning May 1, or request a leave of absence. Bloomberg reports: The move sets up a critical choice for employees at a company that has become a lifeline for Americans locked down to contain outbreaks of Covid-19. After the coronavirus began spreading through the U.S., Amazon offered unpaid time off without penalty for workers uncomfortable with coming in, along with $2-an-hour hazard pay for those who report for duty. The offers run through April. In a blog post published Friday, Amazon said it would extend the raise through May 16 but made no mention of unlimited unpaid time off. Amazon said it was "providing flexibility with leave of absence options, including expanding the policy to cover Covid-19 circumstances, such as high-risk individuals or school closures."

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Apple and Google Pledge To Shut Down Coronavirus Tracker When Pandemic Ends

Fri, 2020-04-24 22:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: On Friday, Apple and Google revised their ambitious automatic contact-tracing proposal, just two weeks after the system was first announced. An Apple representative said the changes were the result of feedback both companies had received about the specifications and how they might be improved. The companies also released a "Frequently Asked Questions" page, which rehashes much of the information already made public. On a call accompanying the announcement, representatives from each company pledged for the first time to disable the service after the outbreak had been sufficiently contained. Such a decision would have to be made on a region-by-region basis, and it's unclear how public health authorities would reach such a determination. However, the engineers stated definitively that the APIs were not intended to be maintained indefinitely. Under the new encryption specification, daily tracing keys will now be randomly generated rather than mathematically derived from a user's private key. Crucially, the daily tracing key is shared with the central database if a user decides to report their positive diagnosis. As part of the change, the daily key is now referred to as the "temporary tracing key," and the long-term tracing key included in the original specification is no longer present. The new encryption specification also establishes specific protections around the metadata associated with the system's Bluetooth transmissions. Along with the random codes, devices will also broadcast their base power level (used in calculating proximity) and which version of the tool they are running. The companies are also changing the language they use to describe the project. The protocols were initially announced as a contact-tracing system, it is now referred to as an "exposure notification" system. The companies say the name change reflects that the new system should be "in service of broader contact tracing efforts by public health authorities."

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AT&T's Randall Stephenson To Retire As CEO

Fri, 2020-04-24 22:00
AT&T Chief Executive Randall Stephenson said he will retire at the end of June (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), handing leadership of one of the world's largest media and telecommunications companies to longtime deputy John Stankey. The Wall Street Journal reports: Mr. Stephenson, who turned 60 this week, has spent most of his 13 years as chairman and CEO piecing together a modern media business by scooping up DirecTV and then Time Warner, remaking the staid telephone company he inherited. He had been preparing to retire at some point in 2020 until an activist investor surfaced late last year challenging his strategy, according to people familiar with the matter. "John will be an outstanding CEO for this company, and I couldn't be more confident or pleased in passing him the baton," Mr. Stephenson said of his successor in a video to AT&T's staff. Mr. Stankey, like the man he is succeeding, earned his stripes in the telephone business but has been a leading proponent AT&T's hard turn toward entertainment. "The entire industry is in transformation right now and that transformation extends beyond just the business model," Mr. Stankey said in a recent interview. "It's how markets and how corporations operate." Mr. Stephenson said he will remain chairman until January, when the Dallas-based company is expected to elect an independent chairman. The change was announced at AT&T's annual meeting Friday, which was held online because of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this morning, President Trump commented on the move. He tweeted: "Great News! Randall Stephenson, the CEO of heavily indebted AT&T, which owns and presides over Fake News @CNN, is leaving, or was forced out. Anyone who lets a garbage 'network' do and say the things that CNN does, should leave ASAP. Hopefully replacement will be much better!" Ars Technica notes that AT&T's mobile business revenue in Q1 2020 was $42.8 billion, "down from $44.8 billion in last year's first quarter." It adds: "AT&T's WarnerMedia division, a result of Stephenson's Time Warner acquisition, reported a 12.2-percent year-over-year revenue decline and expects tough times ahead as the pandemic forced the cancellation of big sporting events and TV and film production." The company also just yesterday announced that it lost another 897,000 premium TV subscribers in Q1 2020. It looks like the new CEO will have his work cut out for him.

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WD Sets the Record Straight: Lists All Drives That Use Slower SMR Tech

Fri, 2020-04-24 21:20
News emerged last week that WD, Seagate and Toshiba are all shipping hard drives using Shingled Magnetic Recording (SMR), a slower form of HDD technology that can result in reduced performance in some types of workloads, but without disclosing that critical bit of information in marketing materials or specification sheets. The backlash has been swift, and now WD is striking a conciliatory tone with its customers in an update to its blog. The company also divulged that it is also shipping SMR technology in some of its WD Blue and WD Black hard drives for desktop PCs and laptops. Tom's Hardware reports: The new disclosure comes on the heels of WD's blog post yesterday that outlined its stance on using SMR drives. The company contends that SMR technology is adequate for the applications the drives are designed for, but that is certainly an open matter of debate with many users claiming the drives cause problems in RAID arrays. The issues purportedly stem from the slow random write speeds, which do cause a measurable reduction in performance, and background activities that are purportedly responsible for the drives dropping from RAID arrays. In either case, The WD blog advised users they should step up to more expensive models designed for heavier workloads if they have more demanding needs. Today the company updated its blog with a more conciliatory tone, and also disclosed all of its drive models that are shipping with SMR tech. In addition to the WD Red NAS drives that the company previously admitted used SMR tech, WD is also shipping the tech into its 2.5"and 3.5" WD Blue and 2.5" WD Black lineups. Both models are designed for desktop PCs and laptops, with the former coming as a value drive while the latter is designed for high-performance users. WD acknowledged the recent brouhaha surrounding the fact it was shipping drives without disclosing they use the slower recording technology, stating: "The past week has been eventful, to say the least. As a team, it was important that we listened carefully and understood your feedback about our WD Red NAS drives, specifically how we communicated which recording technologies are used. Your concerns were heard loud and clear..." Importantly, the blog states, "...Thank you for letting us know how we can do better. We will update our marketing materials, as well as provide more information about SMR technology, including benchmarks and ideal use cases." WD also said that they will share further data in the future, including benchmarks that might prove otherwise.

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Amazon's Top Watchdog In Congress Says Its Witness 'May Have Lied'

Fri, 2020-04-24 20:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Amazon's witness at a hearing last year "may have lied to Congress" about how the company uses data from its third-party sellers to come up with its private-label products, House Antitrust Subcommittee Chairman David Cicilline said Thursday. The assertion comes after a Wall Street Journal investigation found Amazon employees had used non-aggregated or easily identifiable data from sellers on its platform to inform its proprietary product strategy, according to interviews with more than 20 former employees and documents reviewed by the Journal. "At best, Amazon's witness appears to have misrepresented key aspects of Amazon's business practices while omitting important details in response to pointed questioning," Cicilline said in a statement on the report. "At worst, the witness Amazon sent to speak on its behalf may have lied to Congress." Cicilline is leading an investigation into Amazon and its tech peers that will culminate in a report about the health of competition in digital markets. In a January interview with CNBC, Cicilline said it was evident the digital marketplace was "not functioning properly" and said he planned to create bipartisan regulatory proposals to address the issues after releasing the report. The report was initially expected by early April but has been delayed due to the pandemic. The chairman of the full Judiciary Committee, Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., said that if true, the Journal's report "raises deep concerns about Amazon's apparent lack of candor before the Committee regarding an issue that is central to our investigation." "Amazon has had opportunities to correct the record on its business practices. It is deeply concerning that, beginning with the hearing last year, they may have misled Congress rather than be fully forthcoming on this matter, notwithstanding our repeated requests in this regard," Nadler said, adding that the committee would "seek clarification from Amazon in short order."

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Telegram Hits 400M Monthly Active Users

Fri, 2020-04-24 19:19
Instant messaging service Telegram has amassed 400 million monthly active users, it said today, up from 300 million active users the seven-year-old service disclosed to the SEC last October. From a report: The service -- founded by Pavel Durov, who also created Russian social networking site VK -- said it adds about 1.5 million users each day and is the most downloaded social media app in over 20 nations. Telegram is working on bringing a secure video call feature to its users this year in response to the growing popularity of Zoom and Houseparty, it said. The company, headquartered in Dubai, however, did not talk about the future of its Gram cryptocurrency wallet and TON Blockchain that it had revealed in 2018 but put on hold early this year. "As the gap in popularity between Telegram and its older competitors narrows, we find more and more validity in that original assumption," the firm said in a blog post.

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Ubuntu Linux 20.04 LTS 'Focal Fossa', Featuring Linux 5.4 Kernel and WireGuard VPN, Now Available For Download

Fri, 2020-04-24 18:25
Canonical has released the newest version of its Ubuntu Linux distribution, Ubuntu 20.04. This long-term-support (LTS) version is more than just the latest version of one of the most popular Linux distributions; it's a major update for desktop, server, and cloud users. From a news story: Called "Focal Fossa," it is an LTS version, meaning "Long Term Support." Just how long is that support? An impressive five years! Ubuntu 20.04 will feature many new visual cues and tweaks too thanks to a refreshed theme. "Ubuntu has become the platform of choice for Linux workstations. Canonical certifies multiple Dell, HP, and Lenovo workstations, and supports enterprise developer desktops. Machine learning and AI tools from a range of vendors are available immediately for Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, along with 6,000 applications in the Snapcraft Linux App Store including Slack, Skype, Plex, Spotify, the entire JetBrains portfolio and Visual Studio Code. WireGuard is a new, simplified VPN with modern cryptography defaults. WireGuard is included in Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and will be backported to Ubuntu 18.04 LTS to support widespread enterprise adoption," says Canonical.

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Times New Arial Mutates Familiar Fonts Into Something Wholly New

Fri, 2020-04-24 17:54
A project out of design studio Libermann Kiepe Reddemann (LKR) in Hamburg, Germany, in conjunction with designer Elias Hanzer, Times New Arial is a variable font that combines two of the most instantly recognizable fonts of the last two decades. From a report: Variable fonts are children of the internet. They're single font files that can dynamically adjust their height, width, slant, or other attributes without the need for a larger font file size, which makes them great for responsive web design. "The possibility to use custom fonts in the world wide web is rather new and has only been possible since the introduction of CSS2 in 1998," LKR explains. "Until then it was only possible to use fonts for the web that were installed on the user's computer, the so-called system fonts." Those system fonts were Times New Roman -- the serif option -- and Arial -- the grotesque or sans-serif one. That's why, according to LKR, that pair of fonts "nowadays embody default and nostalgic web design." In an interview with It's Nice That, LKR's David Liebermann says, "We wanted to combine this conventional aesthetic with new technical possibility in order to revive and refine them, so in turn, we could experiment with them in our projects."

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Trump Muses About Light as Remedy, but Also Disinfectant, Which Is Dangerous

Fri, 2020-04-24 17:10
President Trump has long pinned his hopes on the powers of sunlight to defeat the Covid-19 virus. He returned to that theme at the White House coronavirus briefing on Thursday, bringing in a science administrator to back up his assertions and eagerly theorizing about treatments involving the use of household disinfectant that would be dangerous if put inside the body, as well as the power of sunlight and ultraviolet light. From a report: After the administrator, William N. Bryan, the head of science at the Department of Homeland Security, told the briefing that the agency had tested how sunlight and disinfectants -- including bleach and alcohol -- can kill the coronavirus on surfaces in as little as 30 seconds, an excited Mr. Trump returned to the lectern. "Supposing we hit the body with a tremendous -- whether it's ultraviolet or just very powerful light," Mr. Trump said. "And I think you said that hasn't been checked, but we're going to test it?" he added, turning to Mr. Bryan, who had returned to his seat. "And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, either through the skin or some other way." Apparently reassured that the tests he was proposing would take place, Mr. Trump then theorized about the possible medical benefits of disinfectants in the fight against the virus. "And then I see the disinfectant where it knocks it out in a minute -- one minute -- and is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning?" he asked. "Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that." Experts have long warned that ultraviolet lamps can harm humans if used improperly -- when the exposure is outside the body, much less inside. The link between ultraviolet light and skin cancer is well established. Bleach and other disinfectants may kill microbes but they also can kill humans if swallowed or if fumes are too powerful. That is why bottles of bleach and other disinfectants carry sharp warnings of ingestion dangers.

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Researchers Cut Chloroquine Study Short Over Safety Concerns, Citing a 'Primary Outcome' of Death

Fri, 2020-04-24 16:32
Citing a "primary outcome" of death, researchers cut short a study testing anti-malaria drug chloroquine as a potential treatment for Covid-19 after some patients developed irregular heart rates and nearly two dozen of them died after taking doses of the drug daily. From a report: Scientists say the findings, published Friday in the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association, should prompt some degree of skepticism from the public toward enthusiastic claims about and perhaps "serve to curb the exuberant use" of the drug, which has been touted by President Donald Trump as a potential "game-changer" in the fight against the coronavirus. Chloroquine gained widespread international attention following two small studies, including one with 36 Covid-19 patients published March 17 in France, found that most patients taking the drug cleared the coronavirus from their system a lot faster than the control group. The JAMA report said those trials didn't meet the publishing society's standards.

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Drugmaker Tripled the Price of a Pill as it Pursued Coronavirus Use

Fri, 2020-04-24 15:48
This month, Jaguar Health more than tripled the price of its lone FDA-approved drug, right after asking the federal government to expand the use of its drug to coronavirus patients. AmiMoJo shares a report: Jaguar Health drastically raised the price of a drug during the height of the pandemic, but executives argued the move was needed to stave off the company's collapse. Going into this year, the list price of a 60-pill bottle of Mytesi -- an antidiarrheal medication specifically for people with HIV/AIDS who are on antiretroviral drugs -- was $668.52. On April 9, Jaguar Health raised the price to $2,206.52, according to pricing data from Elsevier's Gold Standard Drug Database. On March 21, Jaguar Health asked the FDA to authorize emergency use of Mytesi for COVID-19 patients who were experiencing any diarrhea or "diarrhea associated with certain antiviral treatments" including remdesivir, among others.

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Microsoft Word Now Flags Double Spaces as Errors, Ending the Great Space Debate

Fri, 2020-04-24 15:12
Microsoft has settled the great space debate, and sided with everyone who believes one space after a period is correct, not two. From a report: The software giant has started to update Microsoft Word to highlight two spaces after a period (a full stop for you Brits) as an error, and to offer a correction to one space. Microsoft recently started testing this change with the desktop version of Word, offering suggestions through the Editor capabilities of the app. If you're still (strangely) on the two-spacer side, you will be able to ignore the suggestion. The Editor feature in Word allows users to ignore the suggestion once, make the change to one space, or turn off the writing-style suggestion. We understand Microsoft has been testing the feature change recently and it will roll out to everyone using the desktop version of Word soon. Feedback to the change has been overwhelmingly positive. "As the crux of the great spacing debate, we know this is a stylistic choice that may not be the preference for all writers, which is why we continue to test with users and enable these suggestions to be easily accepted, ignored, or flat out dismissed in Editor," says Kirk Gregersen, partner director of program management at Microsoft, in a statement to The Verge.

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Medical Staffing Companies Cut Doctors' Pay While Spending Millions On Political Ads

Fri, 2020-04-24 14:00
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via ProPublica: Private equity-backed medical staffing companies that have cut doctors' pay are continuing to spend millions on political ads, according to Federal Communications Commission disclosures. The ads amount to $2.2 million since Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared a public health emergency on Jan. 31. About $1.2 million has been spent since President Donald Trump's national emergency declaration on March 13, the disclosures show. The companies behind the ads, TeamHealth and Envision Healthcare, are among the staffing firms that have cut pay and benefits for emergency room doctors and other medical workers. The companies say the cuts are needed to cope with falling income because non-coronavirus patients are avoiding hospitals. Executives at TeamHealth and Envision also took pay cuts. But Envision and TeamHealth have continued to pour money into a joint political ad campaign. Their TV and radio spots are aimed at pressuring lawmakers working to address "surprise billing," where patients get stuck with huge medical costs from out-of-network providers they had no say in choosing. The ads oppose capping out-of-network costs based on median prices in the area. The spending totals don't include digital ads, which aren't reported to the FCC.

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