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Australia

Tesla Completes World's Largest Battery Project In Half the Time Promised (engadget.com) 73

Rei writes: Tesla announced the completion of the world's largest battery -- a 100 MW/129 MWh wind-power backup system for 30,000 homes in South Australia. Three times more powerful than any other battery on Earth, the $50 million project had garnered press due to Elon Musk's Twitter boast that it would be completed within 100 days of the contract signing or it would be free. In the end, Tesla took it up a notch: the battery was finished 55 days from the date of contract signing and 99 days from the date of Musk's boast itself.
The Almighty Buck

Amazon's Jeff Bezos Surpasses $100 Billion Net Worth (bloomberg.com) 31

Amid optimism for Amazon's Black Friday sales, Jeff Bezos' net worth jumped above $100 billion on Friday. The Amazon CEO's fortune reportedly surged $2.4 billion to $100.3 billion, after the retailer's shares grew more than 2 percent on Black Friday. Bloomberg reports: Online purchases for the day are up 18.4 percent over last year, according to data from Adobe Analytics, and investors are betting the company will take an outsized share of online spending over the gifting season. The $100 billion milestone makes Bezos, 53, the first billionaire to build a 12-figure net worth since 1999, when Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates hit the mark. Bezos's fortune rose $32.6 billion this year through Thursday, the largest increase of anyone on the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, a daily ranking of the world's 500 richest people. Amazon have climbed 5 percent this week alone.
Security

Data Breach Hits Australia's Department of Social Services Credit Card System (theguardian.com) 25

Paul Karp, reporting for The Guardian: The Department of Social Services has written to 8,500 current and former employees warning them their personal data held by a contractor has been breached. In letters sent in early November the department alerted the employees to "a data compromise relating to staff profiles within the department's credit card management system prior to 2016." Compromised data includes credit card information, employees' names, user names, work phone numbers, work emails, system passwords, Australian government services number, public service classification and organisation unit. The department failed to warn staff how long the data was exposed for but a DSS spokesman told Guardian Australia that the contractor, Business Information Services, had advised that the data was open from June 2016 until October 2017. The data related to the period 2004 to 2015.
Businesses

Black Friday Panic at Macy's: People Report Credit Card System Outage (fastcompany.com) 105

An anonymous reader shares a report: Macy's might have celebrated an increase in share price on Black Friday, but it seems like the retailer will end the day with a lot of lost sales. Many of its customers recently took to Twitter to complain that its credit card machines are down, and that they can only pay with cash.
Businesses

Mobile Homes Are So Expensive Now, Hurricane Victims Can't Afford Them (bloomberg.com) 198

An anonymous reader shares a report: Hurricane victims emerging from ravaged trailer parks are discovering that the U.S. mobile-home market has left them behind. In Florida and Texas, dealerships are swarmed by buyers looking to rebuild their lives after hurricanes Harvey and Irma, but many leave disappointed. The industry, led by Warren Buffett's Clayton Homes, is peddling such pricey interior-designer touches as breakfast bars and his-and-her bathroom sinks. These extras, plus manufacturers' increased costs for labor and materials, have pushed average prices for new double-wides up more than 20 percent in five years, putting them out of reach for many of the newly homeless.
Movies

A Third of Americans Still Buy and Rent Videos (qz.com) 107

An anonymous reader writes: One-third of Americans still buy and rent videos, in addition to using streaming services like Netflix and YouTube, NPD Group found in its annual Entertainment Trends in America report. The research firm surveyed more than 7,000 members of its US online panel about their entertainment consumption during August 2017. Family films are still popular buys because kids will watch them over and over again. Spotty broadband service in rural America makes buying and renting more reliable than streaming for some. And some people just like to own and collect movies. Overall, 54% of people surveyed said they still buy or rent video.
Education

More Young People Are Becoming Farmers (axios.com) 101

An anonymous reader shares a report: "For only the second time in the last century, the number of farmers under 35 years old is increasing, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture's latest Census of Agriculture," the WashPost's Caitlin Downey reports in a front-pager with the lovely headline, "A growing movement." 69% of the surveyed young farmers had college degrees -- significantly higher than the general population.
Businesses

Thank You, Phish Fans, For Caring About Net Neutrality (theoutline.com) 66

If you venture over to Battle For the Net, which encourages internet users to call Congress to advocate for the preservation of net neutrality rules, you'll find something peculiar: Several of the top sites that direct calls are Phish-related. (Phish is an American rock band.) From a report: As someone on Twitter pointed out, the traffic from phish.net -- which describes itself as "a non-commercial project run by Phish fans and for Phish fans" -- appears to be coming from a pop-up message that greets visitors to the site. The same pop-up, which directs to www.battleforthenet.com, appears when you visit the site's forums and setlist pages. So, it appears that Phish fans, while in the midst of discussing their favorite extended noodling sessions, are leading the charge to save us from our impending telecom-dominated hellscape. Thanks, guys!" Phish.net sees over 400,000 unique visitors each month, according to web analytics firm SimilarWeb. In July, the website served over one million unique visitors.
Youtube

Brands Pull YouTube Ads Over Images of Children (reuters.com) 108

An anonymous reader shares a report: Lidl, Cadbury maker Mondelez, Mars and other companies have pulled advertising from YouTube after the Times newspaper found the video sharing site was showing clips of scantily clad children alongside the ads of major brands. Comments from hundreds of pedophiles were posted alongside the videos, which appeared to have been uploaded by the children themselves, according to a Times investigation. One clip of a pre-teenage girl in a nightie drew 6.5 million views. The paper said YouTube, a unit of Alphabet subsidiary Google, had allowed sexualized imagery of children to be easily searchable and not lived up to promises to better monitor and police its services to protect children. In response, a YouTube spokesman said: "There shouldn't be any ads running on this content and we are working urgently to fix this."
Businesses

Belgium Denounces Loot Boxes as Gambling; Hawaiian Legislator Calls Them 'Predatory' (arstechnica.co.uk) 189

Peter Bright, writing for ArsTechnica: Belgium's Gaming Commission has ruled that loot boxes -- in-game purchases where what you receive is randomized and only known once you open the box -- are gambling. The country's minister of justice, Koen Geens, has said that he wants to see them banned Europe-wide, reports PC Gamer. Amid outcry over the use of loot boxes in Overwatch and Star Wars Battlefront 2, the Belgian Gaming Commission decided last week to look into the issue, with Commission Director Peter Naessens specifically saying that the combination of paying money and receiving something "dependent on chance" prompted the investigation. Rather swiftly, it seems, the Commission has made its decision. In October, the US' Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) rejected calls to classify loot boxes as gambling. It told Kotaku that since players receive some reward from opening the loot box -- even if it's useless or unwanted -- that it's not gambling. As such, loot box games will receive neither ESRB's "Real Gambling" nor "Simulated Gambling" labels, the former of which automatically gives a game an "Adults Only" rating. Many retailers refuse to sell A-O games, so giving every title that uses loot boxes such a rating would likely be harmful to their sales. The question of whether loot boxes are gambling may see some new scrutiny in the US. Hawaiian Democratic State Representative Chris Lee has described loot boxes as predatory behavior.
Businesses

New Uber CEO Knew of Hack for Months (wsj.com) 27

Greg Bensinger and Robert McMillan, reporting for the WSJ: While the massive data breach at Uber didn't happen under the watch of its new chief executive, more than two months elapsed before he notified affected customers and drivers of the incident (Editor's note: the link may be paywalled), people familiar with the matter said. CEO Dara Khosrowshahi learned of the breach, which Uber said happened in October 2016 and affected some 57 million accounts, about two weeks after he officially took the helm on Sept. 5, one of the people said. Mr. Khosrowshahi said he immediately ordered an investigation, which he wanted to complete before making the matter public. About three weeks ago, though, Uber disclosed the investigation and the broad outlines of the breach to SoftBank, which is considering a multibillion-dollar investment in the ride-hailing company, according to other people familiar with the matter. Uber officials, including its chief security officer, knew at the time of the breach that personal information had been accessed. Uber only informed customers and drivers on Tuesday.
Communications

Broadband Firms in UK Must Ditch 'Misleading' Speed Ads (bbc.com) 67

An anonymous reader shares a report: Broadband firms will no longer be able to advertise their fast net services based on the speeds just a few customers get, from May next year. Currently ISPs are allowed to use headline speeds that only 10% of customers will actually receive. In future, adverts must be based on what is available to at least half of customers at peak times. It follows research that suggested broadband advertising can be misleading for consumers. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) looked into consumers' understanding of broadband speed claims and found that many were confused by headline speeds that they would never actually get in their own homes. The concerns were passed on to the Committees of Advertising Practice (Cap) which consulted with ISPs, consumer groups and Ofcom to find a better way to advertise fast net services. Most argued that the fairest and clearest way would be to use the average speeds achieved at peak time by 50% of customers.
The Internet

Ajit Pai and the FCC Want It To Be Legal for Comcast To Block BitTorrent (theverge.com) 512

Nilay Patel, reporting for The Verge: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai released his proposal to kill net neutrality this week, and while there's a lot to be unhappy with, it's hard not to be taken with the brazenness of his argument. Pai thinks it was a mistake for the FCC to try and stop Comcast from blocking BitTorrent in 2008, thinks all of the regulatory actions the FCC took after that to give itself the authority to prevent blocking were wrong, and wants to go back to the legal framework that allowed Comcast to block BitTorrent.
Canada

Justin Trudeau Is 'Very Concerned' With FCC's Plan to Roll Back Net Neutrality (vice.com) 242

Justin Ling, reporting for Motherboard: Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says President Donald Trump's plan to roll back net neutrality protections for the internet "does not make sense" and that he'll be looking into what he can do to defend net neutrality for the whole internet. "I am very concerned about the attacks on net neutrality," Trudeau said in Toronto, in response to a question from Motherboard about Trump's plans. "Net neutrality is something that is essential for small businesses, for consumers, and it is essential to keep the freedom associated with the internet alive." Motherboard asked specifically what Trudeau planned to do in response to the plan put forward on Tuesday by the Federal Communications Commission, which could pave the way for tiered internet service and pay-for-play premium access to internet consumers. "We need to continue to defend net neutrality," Trudeau added. "And I will."
Businesses

Singapore To Use Driverless Buses 'From 2022' (bbc.com) 41

Singapore plans to introduce driverless buses on its public roads by 2022. From a report: The government says they will be piloted in three new neighbourhoods which will have less-crowded roads designed to accommodate the buses. The buses will be used to help residents travel in their communities, and to nearby train and bus stations. Densely-populated Singapore hopes driverless technology will help the country manage its land constraints and manpower shortages. "The autonomous vehicles will greatly enhance the accessibility and connectivity of our public transport system, particularly for the elderly, families with young children and the less mobile," the Transport Minister Khaw Boon Wan said. The autonomous buses are expected to complement existing manned bus services, and will initially operate during off-peak hours. Additionally, the government plans to let commuters hail on-demand shuttles using their mobile phones.
Businesses

Workers at Amazon's Main Italian Site To Hold First Strike on Black Friday (reuters.com) 104

An anonymous reader shares a report: Workers at Amazon's main distribution hub in Italy are planning their first ever strike for Friday, trade unions said, threatening to disrupt one of the busiest shopping days of the year. Like the rest of Europe, Italians in recent years have embraced the U.S. tradition of Black Friday, a day of heavy discounting by retailers on the day after Thanksgiving. Unions said in a statement more than 500 Amazon workers at the Piacenza site in northern Italy had agreed to strike following a failure to negotiate bonuses with the company. Workers have also decided not to do any overtime until Dec. 31, covering the peak season for the online retailer which hires temporary workers during this period.
The Internet

'We Are Disappointed': Tech Companies Speak Up Against the FCC's Plan To Kill Net Neutrality (businessinsider.com) 178

An anonymous reader shares a report from Business Insider: The FCC is planning to kill net neutrality -- and some tech companies are starting to speak out. Pro-net neutrality activists, who argue the principle creates a level playing-field online, are up in arms about the plan. And some tech companies are now speaking out in support of net neutrality as well, from Facebook to Netflix. Business Insider reached out to some of the biggest tech firms in America today to ask for their reaction to the FCC's plan. Their initial responses are below, and we will continue to update this post as more come in.
Privacy

Uber Is Under Investigation By Multiple States Over a 2016 Data Breach (recode.net) 25

Yesterday, it was reported that Uber concealed a massive cyberattack that exposed 57 million people's data. Recode reports that at least five states -- Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, New York and Connecticut -- would investigate the matter. From the report: Meanwhile, Uber must contend with the possible threat of a new probe at the Federal Trade Commission. The agency, which acts as the U.S. government's top privacy and security watchdog, penalized Uber for its privacy and security practices just this August. But it may not have known that Uber had suffered a major security breach in 2016, even as they investigated the company at the same time for other, unrelated security missteps. For now, the agency merely said it's "closely evaluating the serious issues raised." And some affected customers are similarly taking action. On Wednesday -- hours after the breach became public -- an Uber user filed a lawsuit accusing the company of negligence and deceptive business practices. The plaintiff, Alejandro Flores, is seeking to represent a class of affected riders and drivers alike.

For one thing, 48 states maintain some version of a law that requires companies that suffer a data breach to communicate what happened to consumers. In most cases, companies must disclose a security incident if hackers steal very sensitive customer data -- such as driver's license numbers, which happened with Uber in late 2016. To that end, the attorneys general in Illinois, Connecticut and New York have said they are probing the breach at Uber -- perhaps with an eye on whether the company skirted state laws. The top prosecutors in other major states, like Pennsylvania and Florida, did not immediately respond to emails on Wednesday seeking comment. California's AG declined to comment.

Network

FCC Ignored Your Net Neutrality Comment, Unless You Made a 'Serious' Legal Argument (theverge.com) 276

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The FCC received a record-breaking 22 million comments chiming in on the net neutrality debate, but from the sound of it, it's ignoring the vast majority of them. In a call with reporters yesterday discussing its plan to end net neutrality, a senior FCC official said that 7.5 million of those comments were the exact same letter, which was submitted using 45,000 fake email addresses. But even ignoring the potential spam, the commission said it didn't really care about the public's opinion on net neutrality unless it was phrased in unique legal terms. The vast majority of the 22 million comments were form letters, the official said, and unless those letters introduced new facts into the record or made serious legal arguments, they didn't have much bearing on the decision. The commission didn't care about comments that were only stating opinion. The FCC has been clear all year that it's focused on "quality" over "quantity" when it comes to comments on net neutrality. In fairness to the commission, this isn't an open vote. It's a deliberative process that weighs a lot of different factors to create policy that balances the interests of many stakeholders. But it still feels brazen hearing the commission staff repeatedly discount Americans' preference for consumer protections, simply because they aren't phrased in legal terms.
The Internet

Net Neutrality Advocates Plan Protests For December 7 at Verizon Stores (techcrunch.com) 148

Jordan Crook, writing for TechCrunch: During yesterday's announcement of the upcoming vote, the FCC neglected to mention the historic 22 million comments on the issue, the majority of which were opposed to its rollback. In response, protests are being held on December 7 at Verizon retail stores across the country. The protests were organized by Demand Progress, Fight For The Future, and FreePress Action Fund. Here's what the protest organizers have to say on their event page: "Ajit Pai is clearly still working for Verizon, not the public. But he still has to answer to Congress. So we're calling on our lawmakers to do their job overseeing the FCC and speak out against Ajit Pai's plan to gut Title II net neutrality protections and give Verizon and other giant ISPs everything on their holiday wishlist.

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