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Crime

Foxconn Employee Faces 10-Year Prison Sentence For Stealing 5,700 iPhones Worth $1.5 Million (thenextweb.com) 38

A Taiwanese Foxconn manager faces a stiff prison sentence after he stole 5,700 iPhones from his employer, and went to sell them for $1.56 million. The Next Web reports: Foxconn is a tech manufacturing giant. It makes a lot of things, including laptops for HP, phones for Apple, games consoles for Sony, and its workers so depressed it has to install suicide nets. The Taiwanese manager at the center of this crime -- known only by his family name, Tsai -- worked in the testing department at Foxconn's factory in Shenzhen, mainland China. According to Taiwanese prosecutors, Tsai ordered eight of his subordinates to smuggle out thousands of iPhones which were used by the company for testing and quality assurance purposes. These were destined to be scrapped after use. The stolen iPhones (mostly iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s models) made their way to stores in Shenzhen, and went on to make Tsai and his accomplices nearly $1.56 million USD (Tw$50 million). Tsai has since been charged with breach of trust and, if found guilty, he faces a maximum 10-year jail term.
Portables (Apple)

Slashdot Asks: Which Windows Laptop Could Replace a MacBook Pro? 315

Last month, Apple unveiled new MacBook Pros, featuring an OLED Touch Bar, Touch ID, and all-new form factor that shaves off roughly 3mm in thickness. There are three base versions of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Intel Core i5 processors and 8GB of memory (upgradable to 16GB RAM and dual-core Intel Core i7 processors) for $1,499, $1,799 and $1,999. The base model 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with Core i7 processors and 16GB of memory for $2,399 and $2,799. Of course, adapters and AppleCare support are sold separately. The new laptops are great for Apple users -- but what about Windows users? Is there a Windows laptop that matches the new MacBook Pro in terms of build quality, reliability, and performance? Jack Schofield via The Guardian attempts to help Patrick, who is looking for a PC that matches Apple's new offerings as closely as possible. "I use my Mac for all the usual surfing, watching videos, listening to music and so on," Patrick writes. "I also use Adobe Photoshop pretty heavily and video-editing software more lightly." Schofield writes: The Dell XPS 13 and 15 are the most obvious alternatives to MacBooks. Unfortunately, they are at the top of this price range. You can still get an old-model XPS 13 (9350) for $950, but that has a Core i5-6200U with only 4GB of memory. The latest 9360 version has a 2.5GHz Core i5-7200U, 8GB of memory and a 128GB SSD for $1,050. If you go for a 512GB SSD at $1,150, you're only saving $420 on a new 2.0GHz MacBook Pro. HP's Spectre x360 range offers similar features to Dell's XPS range, except that all the x360 laptops have touch screens that you can rotate to enable "tent" (eg for movie viewing) or tablet operation. The cheapest model is the HP Spectre x360 13-4126na. This has a 13in screen, a Core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD for $1,050. You can upgrade to an HP Spectre x360 13-4129na with better screen resolution -- 2560 x 1440 instead of 1920 x 1080 -- plus a 2.5GHz Core i7-6500U and 512GB SSD for $1,270. Again, this is not much cheaper than a 2.0GHz MacBook Pro 13. You could also look at the Lenovo ThinkPad T560, which is a robust, professional 15.6in laptop that starts at $800. Do any Slashdotters have any comparable Windows laptops in mind that could replace a new MacBook Pro?
Power

More Lithium Battery Product Recalls Predicted (mercurynews.com) 99

While "the vast majority" of lithium-ion batteries will never malfunction, lithium itself "is highly combustible and batteries made with it are subject to 'thermal runaway'," which can be triggered by damage -- or by bad design. An anonymous reader quotes the San Jose Mercury News: Battery and electronics manufacturers take numerous steps to try to mitigate such dangers... But while the industry has tried to make lithium-ion batteries safer, 'the technology itself isn't foolproof,' said Ravi Manghani, director of energy storage research at GTM Research... And there's reason to think that the problem could get worse before it gets better. Consumer demand for devices that are ever more powerful and longer lasting has encouraged manufacturers to make batteries that can hold even more charge. To do that, they typically pack the battery cells closer and closer together...

Since June of this year, educational toy company Roylco recalled 1,400 light tables designed for kids... Razor, Swagway and some eight other manufacturers recalled a total of 500,000 hoverboards. And HP and Sony between them recalled more than 42,000 notebook computers. All for similar reasons -- lithium-ion batteries that either had caught fire or which have posed a fire hazard... Other notorious examples include the several different Tesla Model S's that have caught fire, typically after crashes compromised their battery packs, and Sony's wide-scale recall a decade ago of the batteries that powered its Vaio and other laptop computers.

In a related story, Samsung's recall of their Note 7 is now expected to cost $5.3 billion.
Google

OpenCAPI: Google and IBM Lead Tech Consortium To Speed Data Centre Performance (thestack.com) 11

An anonymous reader writes: IBM is leading a prestigious consortium of tech players in the open development of a new framework that, the company says, can speed data centre performance by a factor of 10. Participants in the OpenCAPI group include IBM, Google, Nvidia, Mellanox, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, Micron and Xilinx. Chris Johnson, a Principal Engineer at Google commented 'Google is committed to open standards and we are excited to contribute to the cross-industry use and development of OpenCAPI'. Google's collaboration with RackSpace on the Zaius server will include IBM's forthcoming POWER9 processor technology, which is built around OpenCAPI. Tom Eby, vice president of Micron's compute and networking business said:"While memory has always been an essential building block for computing, it is quickly becoming the critical technology to unlocking next-generation performance."
Cellphones

Samsung Will Credit You $100 If You Exchange Your Note 7 For Another Samsung Phone (mashable.com) 123

In an effort to presumably stop customers from jumping ship to the iPhone 7 or other non-Samsung device, Samsung is offering up to $100 in credit to every customer who exchanges their Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone. Mashable reports: The company said so in its updated Note 7 recall page which plainly states that the recall has now been expanded to "all Galaxy Note 7 devices," and asks consumers with a Note 7 to power it down and return it to the place of purchase. Bear in mind that the new offer, which goes live on Oct. 13 at 3 p.m. ET, is only for U.S. customers, as users in other parts of the world have different recall programs in place. Furthermore, if you've already exchanged your Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, you "will receive up to a $75 bill credit from select carrier or retail outlets in addition to the $25 you previously received." Even if you exchange your Note 7 for another brand or ask for a refund, you will still receive a $25 bill credit from select carriers and retailers -- again, less any incentive credits you've already received. "As a sign of our appreciation for your patience and loyalty, we are offering up to a $100 bill credit from select carrier or retail outlets if you exchange your Galaxy Note 7 for another Samsung smartphone, less any incentive credits already received," Samsung wrote.
Businesses

HP Plans To Cut Up To 4,000 Jobs Over Next 3 Years Amid PC Slump (bloomberg.com) 116

Yesterday, it was reported that the PC industry is on a two-year downslide as PC shipments have declined for eight consecution quarters. Today, HP announced it will cut between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs over the next three years due to the PC slump. Bloomberg reports: The company will eliminate positions across the board, Chief Executive Officer Dion Weisler said on Thursday. The comments came as HP held its analyst meeting in New York. The reductions could include 1,000 jobs being outsourced if the number of positions edges close to 4,000, Chief Financial Officer Cathie Lesjak said. Weisler is searching for additional ways to drive profitability after his PC company gained independence last year from Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which sells corporate tech gear. Earlier this year, Weisler said HP would need to accelerate a plan announced in 2015 to eliminate about 3,000 positions over three years. Instead, those reductions are to be completed this fiscal year. HP has about 50,000 employees now. HP said the newest job cuts will generate cost savings of about $200 million to $300 million annually starting in fiscal 2020. The Palo Alto, California-based computer maker expects to take $350 million to $500 million in charges in connection with the plan, and of that tool about $200 million will be labor costs, according to a regulatory filing.
Businesses

PC Industry Is Now On a Two-Year Downslide (theverge.com) 310

According to analyst firm Gartner, PC shipments have declined for eight consecutive quarters -- "the longest duration of decline in the history of the PC industry." The company found that worldwide PC shipments totaled 68.9 million units in the third quart of 2016, a 5.7 percent decline from the third quarter of 2015. The Verge reports: The firm cites poor back-to-school sales and lowered demand in emerging markets. But the larger issue, as it has been for quite some time, is more existential than that. "The PC is not a high priority device for the majority of consumers, so they do not feel the need to upgrade their PCs as often as they used to," writes Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa. "Some may never decide to upgrade to a PC again." The threat, of course, comes from smartphones, which have more aggressive upgrade cycles than PCs and have over time grown powerful enough to compete with desktop and laptop computers at performing less intensive tasks. Tablets too have become more capable, with Apple pushing its iPad Pro line as a viable laptop replacement. PC makers are feeling the pressure. HP, Dell, and Asus each had low single-digit growth, but Acer, Apple, and Lenovo all experienced declines, with Apple and Lenovo each suffering double-digit drops. Meanwhile, the rest of the PC market, which collectively ships more units per quarter than any of the big-name brands, is down more than 16 percent. Some good news is that 2-in-1 devices have experienced year-over-year growth. Kitigawa also notes: "While our PC shipment report does not include Chromebooks, our early indicator shows that Chromebooks exceeded PC shipment growth."
Cellphones

FCC Votes To Upgrade Emergency Smartphone Alerts (cnn.com) 103

After recent bombings, the Federal Communications Commission has voted to update the four-year-old emergency smartphone alerts system, which is used by officials to ping smartphones to alert people of severe weather, missing children, terror attacks or other danger. Some of the new changes allow the system to send texts with links to pictures, maps and phone numbers. CNNMoney reports: The agency also voted to allow longer messages -- 360 characters, up from 90 -- and to require wireless providers to support Spanish-language alerts. Wireless carriers will be allowed to support embedded links later this year. They'll be required to next year. The system's limits were on display last week when millions of New Yorkers received a text alert seeking information on Ahmad Khan Rahami, suspected in bombings in New York and New Jersey. "See media for pic," the alert said. Emergency alerts still won't include embedded photos, but commissioners said they're open to the idea. "Vague directives in text about where to find information about a suspect, just as we saw in New York, are not good enough," said Jessica Rosenworcel, an FCC commissioner. "As we move into the 5G future, we need to ensure that multimedia is available in all of our alert messages." Not everyone was so sure. Michael O'Rielly, another commissioner, said adding links and multimedia could jam cell networks during emergencies.
HP

HP To Issue 'Optional Firmware Update' Allowing 3rd-Party Ink (arstechnica.com) 81

Soon after the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) issued a letter to HP, calling for them to apologize to customers for releasing firmware that prevents the use of non-HP ink cartridges and refilled HP cartridges, the company has responded with a temporary solution. HP "will issue an optional firmware update that will remove the dynamic security feature" for certain OfficeJet printers. Ars Technica reports: HP made its announcement in a blog post titled "Dedicated to the best printing experience." "We updated a cartridge authentication procedure in select models of HP office inkjet printers to ensure the best consumer experience and protect them from counterfeit and third-party ink cartridges that do not contain an original HP security chip and that infringe on our IP," the company said. The recent firmware update for HP OfficeJet Pro, and OfficeJet Pro X printers "included a dynamic security feature that prevented some untested third-party cartridges that use cloned security chips from working, even if they had previously functioned," HP said. For customers who don't wish to be protected from the ability to buy less expensive ink cartridges, HP said it "will issue an optional firmware update that will remove the dynamic security feature. We expect the update to be ready within two weeks and will provide details here." This customer-friendly move may just be a one-time thing. HP said it will continue to use security features that "protect our IP including authentication methods that may prevent some third-party supplies from working." Without the optional firmware update, printers will only be able to use third-party ink cartridges that have an "original HP security chip," the company said.
Electronic Frontier Foundation

EFF Calls On HP To Disable Printer Ink Self-Destruct Sequence (arstechnica.com) 250

HP should apologize to customers and restore the ability of printers to use third-party ink cartridges, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) said in a letter to the company's CEO yesterday. From an ArsTechnica report:HP has been sabotaging OfficeJet Pro printers with firmware that prevents use of non-HP ink cartridges and even HP cartridges that have been refilled, forcing customers to buy more expensive ink directly from HP. The self-destruct mechanism informs customers that their ink cartridges are "damaged" and must be replaced. "The software update that prevented the use of third-party ink was reportedly distributed in March, but this anti-feature itself wasn't activated until September," EFF Special Advisor Cory Doctorow wrote in a letter to HP Inc. CEO Dion Weisler. "That means that HP knew, for at least six months, that some of its customers were buying your products because they believed they were compatible with any manufacturer's ink, while you had already planted a countdown timer in their property that would take this feature away. Your customers will have replaced their existing printers, or made purchasing recommendations to friends who trusted them on this basis. They are now left with a less useful printer -- and possibly a stockpile of useless third-party ink cartridges."
HP

HP Printers Have A Pre-Programmed Failure Date For Non-HP Ink Cartridges (myce.com) 387

An anonymous reader quotes some harsh allegations from Myce.com: Thousands of HP printers around the world started to show error messages on the same day, the 13th of September... HP printers with non-HP cartridges started to show the error message, "One or more cartridges appear to be damaged. Remove them and replace them with new cartridges"... When [Dutch online retailer 123ink] emailed their customers asking them if they wanted to check if their printer also had issues, they received replies from more than 1,000 customers confirming the issue...

Consumers who complained to HP were told the error was caused by using non-HP cartridges. A day later HP withdrew that statement and explained the issues were a side effect of a firmware update, [but] printers without any internet access started to reject non-HP cartridges. Therefore it's very unlikely that a firmware update caused the issues and the only other logical explanation is that HP programmed a date in its firmware on which non-HP cartridges would no longer be accepted.

"Printer worked fine for nine months," complains one of many angry users on HP's web site. "Then on 9/13 HP uploaded without my permission a firmware update that caused a message 'damaged cartridge' for all my cartridges and then it refused to print."
Education

Laurene Jobs Awards $10M To Pet Charter School Network of Zuckerberg, Gates 51

theodp writes: The XQ Institute -- a nonprofit backed by Laurene Powell Jobs (Steve's widow) -- announced the winners of its $100 million competition (Warning: may be paywalled) to rethink the American high school this week. Among the 10 lucky schools winning a $10M grant was Summit Elevate ("a new high school planning to open in Fall 2018"), part of the Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg-supported Summit Charter Schools network (HP CEO Meg Whitman is on Summit's Board). In announcing the grant, XQ praised Basecamp, Summit's personalized learning software platform that was developed by Facebook engineers, which Bill Gates has spent $1+ million on to get schools to adopt it (the NY Times characterized the Facebook-Summit partnership as "more of a ground-up effort to create a national demand for student-driven learning in schools"). U.S. education, it seems, is becoming The Game of Billionaires -- at last May's NewSchools Venture Summit, former U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan (now working for Jobs) was interviewed by former U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education and Gates Foundation Program Director Jim Shelton (now working for Zuckerberg and wife Priscilla Chan).
HP

HP To Buy Samsung's Printer Business For $1.05 Billion (usatoday.com) 111

HP has agreed to a deal with Samsung to acquire their printer business for $1.05 billion, a deal that will be the largest print acquisition in HP's history. USA Today reports: "The acquisition of Samsung's printer business allows us to deliver print innovation and create entirely new business opportunities with far better efficiency, security, and economics for customers," said HP president and CEO Dion Weisler in a statement. The Samsung deal would give HP access to 6,500 printing patents as well as 1,300 researchers and engineers "with advanced expertise in laser printer technology." While this deal is being negotiated, Samsung's mobile phone business has been navigating a recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones over issues with batteries catching fire and exploding. One of the most recent accidents reported involved a six-year-old boy in New York, who was using the device when it "suddenly burst into flames."
Businesses

HP Enterprise Reaches $8.8 Billion Deal With Micro Focus For Software Assets (reuters.com) 31

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Hewlett Packard Enterprise Co will spin off and merge its non-core software assets with Britain's Micro Focus International Plc in a deal worth $8.8 billion, the companies said on Wednesday. The move is part of HPE Chief Executive Meg Whitman's plans to shift HPE's strategy to a few key areas such as networking, storage and technology services since the company separated last year from computer and printer maker HP Inc. The deal with Micro Focus, a multinational software company based in Newbury, United Kingdom, was announced along with HPE's latest quarterly earnings. In the third quarter, HPE reported net revenue of $12.2 billion, down 6 percent from $13.1 billion a year earlier. In the deal, HPE is sending one of the British firms it acquired back to where it started. HPE acquired part of its software portfolio through the $10.3 billion purchase of Britain's Autonomy Corp Plc in 2011. HP's $11 billion purchase of Autonomy was supposed to form the central part of the U.S. group's move into software. Other HPE assets that will be merged include software for application delivery management, big data, enterprise security, information management and governance and IT Operations management businesses.
HP

HP Builds One Desktop PC Around a Speaker, Another Modular PC In Slices (arstechnica.com) 78

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: HP has announced today two new desktop PCs: HP Elite Slice and Pavilion Wave. The HP Elite Slice is a modular machine, with USB Type-C for power and I/O. The base unit contains all the core guts of the PC -- up to a 35W Core i7-6700T processor, up to 32GB of RAM, up to 512GB NVMe storage, gigabit Ethernet, 802.11ac Wi-Fi and several ports. The top cover of the main unit is modular, while the bottom of the unit contains a special connector that can allow for additional modules to be stacked. HP has an audio module that includes speakers and a microphone array, and an optical drive module. It should be available later this month, starting at $699. The Pavilion Wave on the other hand combines a PC and a speaker in a 10.3 inch tall triangular box. As for specs, it features a 35W processor, up to an i7 processor, up to 16GB RAM, with up to 1TB SSD or 2TB HDD. An AMD R9 M470 is optional. In addition to the speaker, the Wave features a microphone array for Cortana support.
HP

HP Hit With Age-Discrimination Suit Claiming Old Workers Purged (mercurynews.com) 194

Hewlett-Packard started laying off workers in 2012, before it separated into HP Inc. and HP Enterprise last year. The company has continued to cut thousands of jobs since. As a result of the "restructuring," an age discrimination lawsuit has been filed by four former employees of HP alleging they were ousted amid a purge of older workers. The Mercury News reports: "The goal 'was to make the company younger,' said the complain filed Aug. 18 in U.S. District Court in San Jose. 'In order to get younger, HP intentionally discriminated against its older employees by targeting them for termination [...] and then systematically replacing them with younger employees. HP has hired a disproportionately large number of new employees under the age of 40 to replace employees aged 40 and older who were terminated.' Arun Vatturi, a 15-year Palo Alto employee at HP who was a director in process improvement until he was laid off in January at age 52, and Sidney Staton, in sales at HP in Palo Alto for 16 months until his layoff in April 2015 at age 54, have joined in the lawsuit with a former employee from Washington, removed at age 62, and one from Texas, out at age 63. The group is seeking class-action status for the court action and claims HP broke state and federal laws against age discrimination." The lawsuit also alleges that written guidelines issued by HP's human resources department mandated that 75 percent of all hires outside of the company be fresh from school or "early career" applicants.
HP

NASA's Outsourced Computer People Are Even Worse Than You Might Expect (arstechnica.com) 252

Eric berger, writing for ArsTechnica: As part of a plan to help NASA "modernize" its desktop and laptop computers, the space agency signed a $2.5 billion services contract with HP Enterprise Services in 2011. According to HP (now HPE), part of the Agency Consolidated End-User Service (ACES) program the computing company would "modernize NASA's entire end-user infrastructure by delivering a full range of personal computing services and devices to more than 60,000 users." HPE also said the program would "allow (NASA) employees to more easily collaborate in a secure computing environment." The services contract, alas, hasn't gone quite as well as one might have hoped. This week Federal News Radio reported that HPE is doing such a poor job that NASA's chief information officer, Renee Wynn, could no longer accept the security risks associated with the contract. Wynn, therefore, did not sign off on the authority to operate (ATO) for systems and tools.A spokesperson for NASA said: "NASA continues to work with HPE to remediate vulnerabilities. As required by NASA policy, system owners must accomplish this remediation within a specified period of time. For those vulnerabilities that cannot be fully remediated within the established time frame, a Plan of Actions and Milestones (POAM) must be developed, approved, and tracked to closure."
Intel

Intel Demos Kaby Lake 7th Gen Core Series Running Overwatch At IDF (hothardware.com) 56

Reader MojoKid writes: Intel unveiled a number of new product innovations out at IDF last week, but the company also stuck to its core product march by teasing its next gen Core series processor. Kaby Lake is the follow-up product to current, 6th Generation Skylake-based Core processors. With Kaby Lake, Intel is adding native support for USB 3.1 Gen 2, along with a more powerful graphics architecture for improved 3D performance and 4K video processing. Kaby Lake will also bring with it native HDCP 2.2 support and hardware acceleration for HEVC Main10/10-bit and VP9 10-bit video decoding. To drive some of those points home, Intel showed off Overwatch running on a next-gen Dell XPS 13 built around a 7th Gen ULV Core i5 processor, in addition to a HP notebook smoothly playing back 4K HDR video. Kaby Lake 7th Generation Core-based products should start arriving to market in the fall.
Bug

FalseCONNECT Vulnerability Affects Software From Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, More (softpedia.com) 32

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: "Researcher Jerry Decime revealed details about a security vulnerability that allows an attacker to gain a Man-in-the-Middle position and intercept HTTPS traffic thanks to flaws in the implementation of proxy authentication procedures in various products," reports Softpedia. The flaw can be used to collect user credentials by tricking victims into re-authenticating, sending data to a third-party. Multiple software vendors deploy applications that can handle proxy connections. Until now, Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, and Opera have acknowledged their products are affected. Lenovo said this bug does not impact its software. Other software vendors that are still evaluating the FalseCONNECT bug and may be affected include multiple Linux distros, Cisco, Google, HP, IBM, Juniper, Mozilla, Nokia, OpenBSD, SAP, Sony, and others.
Businesses

HPE Acquires SGI For $275 Million (venturebeat.com) 100

An anonymous reader writes: Hewlett Packard Enterprise has announced today that it has acquired SGI for $275 million in cash and debt. VentureBeat provides some backstory on the company that makes servers, storage, and software for high-end computing: "SGI (originally known as Silicon Graphics) was cofounded in 1981 by Jim Clark, who later cofounded Netscape with Marc Andreessen. It filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2009 after being de-listed from the New York Stock Exchange. In 2009 it was acquired by Rackable Systems, which later adopted the SGI branding. SGI's former campus in Mountain View, California, is now the site of the Googleplex. SGI, which is now based in Milpitas, California, brought in $533 million in revenue in its 2016 fiscal year and has 1,100 employees, according to the statement. HPE thinks buying SGI will be neutral in terms of its financial impact in the year after the deal is closed, which should happen in the first quarter of HPE's 2017 fiscal year, and later a catalyst for growth." HP split into two separate companies last year, betting that the smaller parts will be nimbler and more able to reverse four years of declining sales.

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