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    - Foxconn Will Produce Ventilators at its Controversial Wisconsin Plant
    Foxconn's Wisconsin plant, the controversial recipient of billions of dollars in tax subsidies and the focus of several investigations, will produce ventilators with medical device firm Medtronic. From a report: The partnership was announced by Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak in an interview with CNBC, who said that Foxconn will be manufacturing ventilators based on its PB-560 design in the next four to six weeks. Foxconn's Wisconsin plant was first announced way back in 2017 as a $10 billion LCD factory. It was labeled the "eighth wonder of the world" by President Trump, but Foxconn's plans for the site appear to have changed repeatedly over the years. At various points, Foxconn has said that it would build a smaller LCD factory, no factory at all, or that it would produce other items like a robot coffee kiosk. Now, it appears the factory will, in part at least, produce ventilators, after its planned opening next month.

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    - Fleeceware Apps Discovered on the iOS App Store
    More than 3.5 million iOS users have installed "fleeceware" apps on their devices, UK security firm Sophos warned in a report published earlier this week. From a report: The term fleeceware is a new addition to the cyber-security jargon and describes apps engaging in a new form of online fraud. Coined last year by Sophos researchers, the term refers to mobile apps that abuse legal loopholes in the app trial mechanism on Android -- and now iOS. Both the Google and Apple app stores allow app makers to create trial periods for commercial/paid/subscription apps. Users can install these apps and sign-up for a trial by giving the app permission to incur a charge on the user's Play Store or App Store account. Once the trial period ends, the user is charged automatically on their card and allowed to use the app.

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    - New Emoji Are Being Delayed Because of the Coronavirus Pandemic
    One unexpected effect of the coronavirus pandemic has to do with the colorful little pictograms we use on our phones and computers to express, well, pretty much everything: emoji. From a report: According to the Unicode Consortium, a non-profit which takes care of the Unicode Standard -- a widely-used standard for character encoding on computers and phones -- the release of Unicode 14.0 has been postponed by six months. "Under the current circumstances we've heard that our contributors have a lot on their plates at the moment and decided it was in the best interests of our volunteers and the organizations that depend on the standard to push out our release date," Mark Davis, President of the Unicode Consortium, said in a statement. Unicode 14.0 was supposed to be released in March 2021, but that has been moved six months into the future, to September 2021. Since it takes a while for developers to incorporate new emoji into phones -- typically eight months or so, according to the Consortium -- this means we won't get any new emoji until well into 2022.

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    - Apple is Developing 'Clips' Feature For Using Apps Without Requiring Full Downloads
    Apple is working on a new way to offer specific parts of third-party apps across the system without needing to have them installed, 9to5Mac has learned based on an early build of iOS 14. From a report: The feature would allow users to experience parts of an app's functionality by scanning a QR Code. If you open a link or scan a QR code today from an app that you haven't installed on your iPhone or iPad, it will open that link in Safari. Apps can provide universal links, which open the app instead of Safari when the app is installed. But that could change in the near future with a new API internally referred to as "Clips" found on iOS 14 code. As 9to5Mac has analyzed this new API, we can say that it allows developers to offer interactive and dynamic content from their apps even if you haven't installed them. The Clips API is directly related to the QR Code reader in the build we have access to, so the user can scan a code linked to an app and then interact with it directly from a card that will appear on the screen.

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    - Cloudflare Dumps reCAPTCHA as Google Intends To Charge For Its Use
    Internet web infrastructure company Cloudflare announced plans to drop support for Google's reCAPTCHA service and move to a new bot detection provider named hCaptcha. From a report: Cloudflare co-founder and CEO Matthew Prince said the move was motivated by Google's future plans to charge for the use of the reCAPTCHA service, which would have "added millions of dollars in annual costs" for his company, costs that Cloudflare would have undoubtedly had to unload on its customers. "That is entirely within their right," Prince said yesterday. "Cloudflare, given our volume, no doubt imposed significant costs on the reCAPTCHA service, even for Google." "If the value of the image classification training did not exceed those costs, it makes perfect sense for Google to ask for payment for the service they provide," he added.

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    - Chinese Cybercriminals Target High-Value Linux Servers With Weak Defenses: BlackBerry
    Linux malware is real and Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups have been infiltrating critical servers with these tools for at least eight years, according to a new report from BlackBerry. From a report: In "Decade of the RATs: Cross-Platform APT Espionage Attacks Targeting Linux, Windows and Android," security researchers found that these groups have attacked companies around the world and across all industries with goals ranging from simple cybercrime to full-blown economic espionage. The RATs report describes how five APT groups are working with the Chinese government and the remote access trojans (RATs) the cybercriminals are using to get and maintain access to Linux servers. According to the report, the groups appeared to be using WINNTI-style tooling to take aim at Linux servers and remain relatively undetected for almost a decade. These groups are targeting Red Hat Enterprise, CentOS, and Ubuntu Linux environments for espionage and intellectual property theft. The APT groups examined include the original WINNTI GROUP, PASSCV, BRONZE UNION, CASPER (LEAD), and a newly identified group BlackBerry researchers are tracking as WLNXSPLINTER. The BlackBerry researchers think all five groups are working together, given the distinct similarities in their preferred tools, tactics, and procedures.

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    - Don't Expect Any Windows 10X Devices This Calendar Year, Says Microsoft
    Microsoft is setting internal expectations that it won't deliver any Windows 10X devices in calendar 2020, ZDNet reports. From a report: This isn't really surprising, given what's going on externally with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. But for enthusiasts who were looking forward to dual-screen Surface Neo devices this holiday season, the reality is taking root. My contacts say that Chief Product Officer Panos Panay informed some of his team internally today, April 8, that Microsoft wouldn't be delivering its own Surface Neo dual-screen 10X devices this calendar year. In addition, Microsoft also won't be enabling third-party dual-screen Windows devices to ship with 10X in calendar 2020, I hear.

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    - Verizon Now Handling an Average of 800 Million Wireless Calls a Day
    Phone calls have made a comeback in the pandemic. While the nation's biggest telecommunications providers prepared for a huge shift toward more internet use from home, what they didn't expect was an even greater surge in plain old voice calls, a medium that had been going out of fashion for years. From a report: Verizon said it was now handling an average of 800 million wireless calls a day during the week, more than double the number made on Mother's Day, historically one of the busiest call days of the year. Verizon added that the length of voice calls was up 33 percent from an average day before the outbreak. AT&T said that the number of cellular calls had risen 35 percent and that Wi-Fi-based calls had nearly doubled from averages in normal times. In contrast, internet traffic is up around 20 percent to 25 percent from typical daily patterns, AT&T and Verizon said. The rise is stunning given how voice calls have long been on the decline. Some 90 million households in the United States have ceased using landline phones since 2000, according to USTelecom. Wireless calls replaced much of that calling activity, but the volume of minutes spent on phone calls hasn't changed much over the past decade as people turned to texting and to apps like FaceTime and WhatsApp, according to wireless carriers and analysts.

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    - Here's How Those Hot Jigsaw Puzzles Are Made
    The rush to get hold of a jigsaw puzzle -- and even stockpiling by regular enthusiasts -- has transformed this quiet hobby and put companies under pressure as demand surges past Christmas levels. From a report: Ravensburger, a German puzzle maker with global sales of about $600 million, has been trying to meet the sudden blizzard of orders even as social-distancing measures have limited the number of puzzles it is able to produce at its factory in the south of Germany. The company can't easily ramp up production, because each new puzzle takes weeks to create. Each puzzle piece must be uniquely shaped, to avoid one accidentally fitting into the wrong place. That means 1,000 different shapes for a 1,000-piece puzzle, each drawn by hand by workers. Before a puzzle is cut for the first time, each piece is sketched on a sheet of paper draped over the finished image. Pieces of metal are then shaped to form an elaborate cookie cutter made just for that jigsaw puzzle; it takes about four weeks to build one. The cutter can be used only a limited number of times before its edges are dulled. It can be resharpened once and must then be discarded. At busy times of the year, the company will go through several cutters a day. But before any pieces are cut, the company chooses the right image for a puzzle.

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    - Nearly Half of Global Coal Plants Will Be Unprofitable This Year, Report Says
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: China and other countries could be planning to build more coal plants to stimulate their economies in the wake of the novel coronavirus pandemic but nearly half of global coal plants will run at a loss this year, research showed on Wednesday. China has over 1,000 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power, accounting for about 60% of the country's total installed generation capacity and around 100 GW under construction. London-based environmental think tank Carbon Tracker analyzed the profitability of 95% of coal plants in operation or planned around the world. It looked at 6,696 operational plants and 1,046 in the pipeline and found that 46% will be unprofitable this year, up from 41% in 2019, based on estimated revenues from wholesale power markets, ancillary and balancing services and capital markets, as well as running costs, carbon pricing and pollution policies. That will rise to 52% by 2030 as renewables and cheaper gas outcompete coal, the think tank said. Nearly 60% of China's existing coal plant fleet is running at an underlying loss, it said. China has 99.7 GW of coal under construction and another 106.1 GW in various stages of the planning process but 61% of that would enter the market with negative cashflow, it added. Governments and investors building new coal may never recoup their investment because coal plants typically take 15 to 20 years to cover their costs, the report said.

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    - Soil Gets Its Smell From Bacteria Trying To Attract Invertebrates
    "Soil gets its characteristic earthy smell from certain chemicals produced primarily by soil-dwelling bacteria called Streptomyces," reports New Scientist. But as for why these bacteria produce these odors, researchers at the Swedish University of Agriculture Science in Alnarp discovered that the smell seems to attract invertebrates that help the bacteria disperse their spores. From the report: Paul Becher at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences in Alnarp and his colleagues set up field traps in woodland containing colonies of Streptomyces. They thought that the smell may act as a signal to other organisms that they are poisonous, because some bacteria like Streptomyces can be toxic. Instead, the smell -- which comes from gases released by Streptomyces, including geosmin and 2-methylisoborneol (2-MIB) -- seems to attract invertebrates that help the bacteria disperse their spores. Becher and his team found that springtails -- tiny cousins of insects -- that feed on Streptomyces were drawn to the traps containing the bacterial colonies, but weren't drawn to control traps that didn't contain Streptomyces. By comparison, insects and arachnids weren't attracted to the traps containing Streptomyces. The findings have been reported in the journal Nature Microbiology.

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    - NASA Contemplates Turning a Moon Crater Into a Giant, Powerful Telescope
    NASA has selected a lunar-crater radio telescope idea to receive funding through its NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC) program, the agency announced on Tuesday. The Phase I award goes to projects in very early stages of development. CNET reports: Saptarshi Bandyopadhyay, a robotics technologist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is the mind behind the moon dream. Making it happen would require sending robots to the far side of the moon and using the machines to deploy a wire mesh over a crater. Bandyopadhyay's proposal lists the benefits of locating a telescope on the far side of the moon, including that "the moon acts as a physical shield that isolates the lunar-surface telescope from radio interferences/noises from Earth-based sources, ionosphere, Earth-orbiting satellites, and sun's radio-noise during the lunar night." The moon telescope project is one of 23 concepts that received part of a $7 million investment through NIAC. The Phase I award consists of $125,000 to fund a nine-month study of the idea. Other concepts include investigating solar sails, lunar landing pads and a robotic explorer for Saturn's moon Enceladus. NASA pointed out that these projects will mostly require a decade or more of technology development, and that they are not official NASA missions.

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    - University Libraries Offer Online 'Lending' of Scanned In-Copyright Books
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The coronavirus crisis has forced the closure of libraries around the world, depriving the public of access to millions of printed books. Books old enough to be in the public domain may be available for free download online. Many recent books are available to borrow in e-book form. But there are many other books -- especially those published in the mid-to-late 20th century -- that are hard to access without going to a physical library. A consortium of university libraries called HathiTrust recently announced a solution to this problem, called the Emergency Temporary Access Service. It allows participating HathiTrust member libraries to offer their patrons digital scans of books that they can "check out" and read online. HathiTrust has a history of pushing the boundaries of copyright. It was the defendant in a landmark 2014 ruling that established the legality of library book scanning. At the time, HathiTrust was only allowing people with print disabilities to access the full text of scanned books. Now HathiTrust is expanding access to more people -- though still with significant limits. The program is only available to patrons of member libraries like the Cornell library. Libraries can only "lend" as many copies of the book as it has physical copies on its shelves. Loans last for an hour and are automatically renewed if a patron is still viewing a book at the hour's end. If you want to read a book that's currently in use by another patron, you have to wait until they're finished. The service differs from the Internet Archive's National Emergency Library in that it limits the "lending" of copies to how many physical copies there are available on its shelves. "During the pandemic, the Internet Archive isn't limiting the number of people who can 'borrow' a book simultaneously," reports Ars. "Cornell University legal scholar James Grimmelmann tells Ars that the limits on the HathiTrust program will put the group in a stronger position if it is ever challenged in court," the report adds. "The same fair use doctrine that allows HathiTrust to scan books in the first place might also justify what the organization is doing now -- though that's far from certain."

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    - Windows 10 Is Getting Linux Files Integration In File Explorer
    Microsoft is planning to fully integrate Linux file access into the built-in File Explorer. The Verge reports: A new Linux icon will be available in the left-hand navigation pane in File Explorer, providing access to the root file system for any distros that are installed in Windows 10. The icon that will appear in File Explorer is the famous Tux, the penguin mascot for the Linux kernel. Microsoft is testing the Linux File Explorer integration in a new build of Windows 10 that's available for testers today. Previously, Windows 10 users would have to manually navigate to a UNC path to get access to Linux files from the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). If you have WSL enabled, then the Tux will appear in File Explorer, and Microsoft is now seeking feedback on the integration before it's finalized as part of a future Windows 10 update. The software maker will ship this update to all Windows 10 users later this year.

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    - Nintendo's Animal Crossing Becomes New Hong Kong Protest Ground
    Nintendo's Animal Crossing has become a place for Hong Kong protesters to congregate without flouting social distancing rules. Bloomberg reports: Animal Crossing is a simulation game where players live on an idyllic tropical island and befriend anthropomorphic animals. Players can customize their islands with in-game illustrating tools and visit each other's islands online. Pro-democracy content created for the game has gone viral on social media, including Twitter. In a tweet last week, one of Hong Kong's most well-known democracy campaigners, Joshua Wong, said he was playing the game and that the movement had shifted online. In one video posted to Twitter, a group of players use bug-catching nets to hit pictures of the city's leader Carrie Lam on a beach in the game. A nearby poster states "Free Hong Kong. Revolution Now."

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