More efficient new LEDs now available, over 200lm/W

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in hardware on (#1B4TB)
story imageCree's newly announced XP-G3 model of LED delivers 31% more lumens (lm) and 8% higher lm/W than its predecessor. Offering over 205 lm/W at 350mA, this marks the first time commercially-available LEDs have exceed the efficiency of low-pressure sodium lamps, commonly found in municipal streetlights. OrangeTeK has already announced they are designing a new model of streetlight with XP-G3 LEDs. In practice, however, it's likely that most users of XP-G3 LEDs will run them at higher power with reduced efficiency, rather than install five times as many LEDs, due to price. Any efficiency improvements are good news, however, as numerous cities have already installed LED streetlights, and many more have plans in the works. This seems to be motivated by the whiter appearance of LEDs compared to sodium lights, which is ironically the major source of opposition from the public, who complain about LED streetlights keeping them up at night, among other concerns.

Philips had previously demonstrated 200lm/W LEDs, and claimed they'd be available to consumers by 2015, but a search of current products only reveals far less-efficient models. The XP-G3 is available for order right now. Cree has previously demonstrated LEDs in the lab that deliver up to 303 lm/W, which is half-way to the maximum theoretical efficiency of this technology. Estimates are that as much as one quarter of the world's electrical consumption is used for lighting. Most consumers could see significant savings just by switching to florescent or LED lights in the first place. About 50 percent of lights sold in the US are halogen incandescents, which are only one quarter as efficient as LEDs, have far shorter operational lifetimes, and cost about one quarter as much.

Ransomware that knows where you live

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in security on (#1A2NN)
A widely distributed scam email that quotes people's actual postal addresses, links to a dangerous form of ransomware called Maktub. The phishing emails told recipients they owed hundreds to businesses and that they could print an invoice by clicking on a link - but that leads to malware. "It's incredibly fast and by the time the warning message had appeared on the screen it had already encrypted everything of value on the hard drive - it happens in seconds. This is the desktop version of a smash and grab - they want a quick payoff."

Maktub doesn't just demand a ransom, it increases the fee - which is to be paid in bitcoins - as time elapses. During the first three days, the fee stands at 1.4 bitcoins, or approximately $580. This rises to 1.9 bitcoins, or $790, after the third day.

It's still not clear how scammers were able to gather people's addresses and link them to names and emails. The data could have come from a number of leaked or stolen databases. For some individuals without backups, paying the ransom might be the only way to retrieve their data. "However, every person that does that makes the business more valuable for the criminal and the world worse for everyone."

https://packetstormsecurity.com/news/view/26517/The-Ransomware-That-Knows-Where-You-Live.html

Big phones work for everyone, except you

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in mobile on (#19R2T)
When the 4.7-inch iPhone 6 came out in 2014, I refused to believe smaller size phones were truly dead. I didn’t want to believe they’d done it, but the signs were clear. Other iPhone owners told me there would be an adjustment period. I would have an easier time using and holding onto a live fish, the way it flops around in my hand. The time I spend using my phone hasn’t changed, but now my hands go numb and wrist and fingers ache holding it.

In bounding after large screens, phone makers seemed to ignore the usability issues that accompany them. Small studies have shown before that 4.3 inches is about as big as a phone can get before people start struggling to use it. The time to operate the phone slows down significantly because one-hand use is awkward—and that's for average men's hands. Assuming a normal distribution, a phone bigger than 4.3 inches is too big. People were especially annoyed about their inability to use the phone safely with one hand. Women’s clothes also haven’t caught up to the big-phone trend. It’s weird, isn’t it, how bad of a design choice this seems to be, from a company whose driving force is good design?

That brings us to the economic explanation, and my own personal conspiracy theory: There are powerful interests that want us to drop our phones so they can fix them and sell us new ones. If you took the earlier versions of the iPhone in, it wasn't uncommon to get a free replacement phone for one with a cracked screen. Fast forward a few years, and Apple now charges $99 to replace the screen on an iPhone 6S, even if the owner bought the AppleCare warranty.

http://motherboard.vice.com/read/a-big-phone-works-for-everyone-but-you

Cincinnati Bell to shutdown telegraph service, dating from 1800s

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in internet on (#18BA1)
If you thought your Internet service was slow, consider being a customer of Cincinnati Bell’s 75 baud Telegraph Grade service, on offer to subscribers since the 1800s for low-speed stock quotes, telegrams, and office-to-home communications. But don’t consider it too long, because the service is about to be discontinued.

Remarkably, Cincinnati Bell still needs the permission of regulators to drop the Civil War era telegraph service and reminded regulators the change will have no impact on the “public convenience and necessity” because there have been no customers for the service for a long time. Cincinnati Bell’s request would have gone unnoticed if it wasn’t for the long legacy of the telegraph era. Western Union dispatched its last telegram on Jan. 27, 2006, after 155 years of continuous service, and largely kept quiet about it.

Those nostalgic for telegrams might be interested to know another company has risen where Western Union left off. iTelegram promises to bring back the experience of a messenger at your front door, but it’s a costly trip down Memory Lane. A Priority Telegram costs $28.95 + $0.75 per word and is delivered usually within 24 hours, and includes proof of delivery. Or you could send an e-mail for approximately nothing.

http://stopthecap.com/2016/03/22/cincinnati-bell-plans-shutdown-telegraph-grade-service-offer-since-1800s/

Finger Phone now a reality

by
Anonymous Coward
in mobile on (#180CD)
Now you can stick your finger in your ear to make a phone call, not just pretend to talk to someone thanks to an invention by Samsung. The device from Samsung spin-off Innomdle Lab fits any standard wristwatch and connects to Google Android smartphones. When a phone call arrives, the wearer can accept it with a button on the band, and audio is translated into vibrations which travel up the skin. By pushing their index finger on to the front of the ear, or tragus, the user can hear the conversation even though no one around them hears a thing.

AU Government paying IBM $484 Million to fix MyGov

by
Anonymous Coward
in code on (#17DYF)
In the latest in the MyGov government portal catastrophe, the Australian government is following in the footsteps of the UK an US governments by throwing 484 million dollars at IBM to somehow fix the problems with the ailing portal for which tens of thousands of Australians have complained about. The key problems reported by users have to do with system availability, stability and lack of clear usability for key activities. It has been preventing users from being paid their due government payments for months, some users have reported. Will IBM be able to do what contractors such as Accenture and HP have failed to do in other countries? Can the MyGov be fixed at all, or will it need to be replaced? How does the recent joint venture between ATO, DHS and the new DTO agency affect IBM joining the party? Will agile save the day or bury this problem deeper? Australian citizens desperate to see positive benefit for the millions spent to integrate Medicare and Centrelink to form one agency which promised to reduce costs and deliver more are hanging on to the edge of their seats waiting to see what happens next in the MyGov saga.

Obama popularises phone fetishizing

by
Anonymous Coward
in legal on (#173F7)
Obama thinks that having a secure mobile device amounts to having a phone fetish. In another bizare move by the soon-to-be-ex president of the USA, the commandeer in chief has been quoted as being strongly against strongly encrypted mobile devices to the point where full near unbreakable, in the current computing environment, secure devices is basically people just worshipping their phone. How will we catch pedophiles? Why do we allow terrorists to get away with protecting their secrets? The US goverment must be able to access anyone's files (papers in the constitution) at any time and those who stand in the way must be wrong. How dare people walk around with a bank vault for their data that can not be easily copied.

Amazon Quietly Removes Encryption Support from its devices in Fire OS 5

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in security on (#16AP6)
Amazon has deprecated full disk encryption in Fire OS 5:
The tech giant has recently deprecated support for device encryption on the latest version of Fire OS, Amazon’s custom Android operating system, which powers its tablets and phones. In the past, privacy-minded users could protect data stored inside their devices, such as their emails, by scrambling it with a password, which made it unreadable in case the device got lost or stolen. With this change, users who had encryption on in their Fire devices are left with two bad choices: either decline to install the update, leaving their devices with outdated software, or give up and keep their data unencrypted.

High speed internet is destroying neighborhoods

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in internet on (#15YCE)
The epicenter of internet construction nightmares for homeowners is on Lambs Lane in Southeast Austin, where last October a flash flood allegedly caused by Google’s construction crews blocking nearby storm drains brought two feet of water into the home of Arnulfo and Dolores Cruz, causing $100,000 in damages. Hundreds of other complaints cite yard and property damage, trespassing, and construction vehicles blocking access to driveways.

Residents cannot get compensation until they find out which of a litany of contractors and subcontractors working in the area dumped giant piles of dirt on their front lawns, dug open holes or trenches and left them uncovered, or used their yards to store construction equipment and supplies without permission. With Google, AT&T, and Time Warner Cable all upgrading infrastructure, it is difficult to determine who is responsible for what. That makes assigning responsibility for damages very difficult. In some neighborhoods, electric and water lines were severed by construction crews as well. Some residents have even resorted to calling police when crews trespass repeatedly on private property without the courtesy of prior notification or identification.

http://stopthecap.com/2016/03/01/google-fibers-contractors-create-headaches-austin-residents/

Brazil detains Facebook VP after he failed to give up user data

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in legal on (#15P7Q)
Continued legal issues for companies using strong encryption in their products:
Apple isn't the only company in hot water over encryption. Facebook's VP of Latin America, Diego Dzodan, was detained by police this morning in Brazil after the company failed to comply with a court order to hand over Whatsapp user data, CNN reports. The big problem: Whatsapp (which Facebook owns) fully encrypts messages between users, and it has no records of messages sent. Even if it were to get access to a specific device, the encryption is likely too difficult for the company to crack.
Regardless of whether you are a small outfit like Lavabit or an enormous company like Apple, the government has you in their sites if you stand up for user's privacy.
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