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  1. The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Has Lasers, Plays Xbox Games, And is Just Massive - Samsung today unveiled two Galaxy Note 20 models -- the Note 20 (which starts at $999) and Note 20 Ultra (which starts at $1,299) -- arriving later this month on August 21. Both Note 20 smartphones come with an S Pen, but there are some major differences. Notably, the screen and the cameras are a little bit different. From a report: The smaller Note 20 has a 6.7-inch display with flat edges and the larger Note 20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch 120Hz screen with curved sides. Curved glass has long been a signature design on Samsung phones and it looks like the company is at least considering a change. But the one thing I'm most excited for is the Note 20 Ultra's 108-megapixel camera. This is the same image sensor on the S20 Ultra with one important change: a laser sensor that enables faster autofocusing. In other words: Samsung says it has fixed the S20 Ultra's autofocusing issues on the Note 20 Ultra. I'll test that out soon enough to verify the claim, but for now, here's everything else you need to know about the Note 20 phones. Expand to a TV with DeX: In addition to plugging your Note 20 into a laptop or monitor to turn it into a desktop-like computer experience with DeX mode, Note 20 users can wirelessly connect to a TV with Miracast support. Samsung says all of its 2019 and newer smart TVs support the wireless DeX mode. Smarter Windows integration: Samsung's growing partnership with Microsoft is yielding even tighter synergy between its devices and Windows 10. Samsung says Windows 10 will let you run multiple Note 20 apps simultaneously later this year and has better drag-and-drop support between devices. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: If you're a gamer, you'll be able to stream over 100 Xbox games directly to the Note 20 phones with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This feature doesn't go live until September 15. Ultra-wideband: Like the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, the Note 20 phones have an ultra-wideband chip inside. Samsung says UWB will allow people to share files to another UWB-supported device by pointing them at each other. UWB can also be used to unlock smart locks (for homes or cars).

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  2. White House Unveils Partnership To Boost Quantum Science Education - The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said on Wednesday the Trump administration is launching a national education partnership to expand access to K-12 quantum information science (QIS) education with major companies and research institutions. From a report: The public-private initiative with the National Science Foundation includes Amazon's Amazon Web Services, Boeing, Alphabet's Google, IBM Corp, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, the University of Illinois and University of Chicago. The National Science Foundation is also awarding $1 million to QIS education. The initiative is designed in part to help introduce students to quantum information themes before college.

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  3. Facebook's Instagram Launches TikTok Copycat in Political Storm - Facebook's Instagram photo-sharing app is launching its clone of TikTok in more than 50 countries, a week after Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg defended the company's copycat strategies to U.S. lawmakers at an antitrust hearing. From a report: The product, called Reels, lets people edit 15-second clips of videos together alongside music, just like on TikTok. It will be embedded into Instagram in the U.S. and elsewhere, the company said Wednesday in blog post. Reels is the second major Instagram feature that follows an almost identical one popularized by a competitor. Instagram Stories, the tool for posting videos and photos that disappear, was inspired by Snap. Reels isn't Facebook's first attempt at challenging TikTok. Facebook's Lasso, a separate application with similar features that was tested in limited markets, was shut down last month after it failed to win over an audience. Reels may have better luck: it's launching just as TikTok's existence in the U.S. is being challenged by President Donald Trump.

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  4. FBI Issues Warning Over Windows 7 End-of-Life - The Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a private industry notification (PIN) on Monday to partners in the US private sector about the dangers of continuing to use Windows 7 after the operating system reached its official end-of-life (EOL) earlier this year. From a report: "The FBI has observed cyber criminals targeting computer network infrastructure after an operating system achieves end of life status," the agency said. "Continuing to use Windows 7 within an enterprise may provide cyber criminals access in to computer systems. As time passes, Windows 7 becomes more vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of security updates and new vulnerabilities discovered. "With fewer customers able to maintain a patched Windows 7 system after its end of life, cyber criminals will continue to view Windows 7 as a soft target," the FBI warned. The Bureau is now asking companies to look into upgrading their workstations to newer versions of the Windows operating system.

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  5. Anthony Levandowski Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison, As New $4 Billion Lawsuit Against Uber Is Filed - An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer and serial entrepreneur who was at the center of a lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, has been sentenced to 18 months on one count of stealing trade secrets. Judge Alsup said that home confinement would "[give] a green light to every future brilliant engineer to steal trade secrets. Prison time is the answer to that." During court proceedings today, Levandowski also agreed to pay $756,499.22 in restitution to Google and a fine of $95,000. "Today marks the end of three and a half long years and the beginning of another long road ahead. I'm thankful to my family and friends for their continued love and support during this difficult time," Levandowski said in a statement provided by his attorneys after the sentencing. The sentencing is the latest in a series of legal blows that have seen Levandowski vilified as a thieving tech bro, unceremoniously ejected from Uber, and forced into bankruptcy by a $179 million award against him. And yet, Levandowski is not skulking away. Even as he faced years in prison, the maverick engineer was plotting a comeback that could see him netting upwards of $4 billion from Uber. TechCrunch has learned that Levandowski recently filed a lawsuit making explosive claims against Waymo and Uber that, if proven, could turn his fortunes around with a multi-billion dollar payout. Whether this is a last-ditch effort by a desperate man whose career has been upended by his own poor choices or a viable claim against a double-dealing tech titan, will be up to the courts to decide. This new lawsuit, filed as part of Levandowski's bankruptcy proceedings, mostly focuses on Uber's agreement to indemnify Levandowski against legal action when it bought his self-trucking company, Otto Trucking. It also includes new allegations concerning the settlement that Waymo and Uber reached over trade secret theft claims.

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  6. Hacker Leaks Passwords For 900+ Enterprise VPN Servers - A hacker has published today a list of plaintext usernames and passwords, along with IP addresses for more than 900 Pulse Secure VPN enterprise servers. ZDNet reports: According to a review, the list includes: IP addresses of Pulse Secure VPN servers, Pulse Secure VPN server firmware version, SSH keys for each server, a list of all local users and their password hashes, admin account details, last VPN logins (including usernames and cleartext passwords), and VPN session cookies. Bank Security, a threat intelligence analyst specialized in financial crime [...] noted that all the Pulse Secure VPN servers included in the list were running a firmware version vulnerable to the CVE-2019-11510 vulnerability. Bank Security believes that the hacker who compiled this list scanned the entire internet IPv4 address space for Pulse Secure VPN servers, used an exploit for the CVE-2019-11510 vulnerability to gain access to systems, dump server details (including usernames and passwords), and then collected all the information in one central repository. Making matters worse, the list has been shared on a hacker forum that is frequented by multiple ransomware gangs. For example, the REvil (Sodinokibi), NetWalker, Lockbit, Avaddonm, Makop, and Exorcist ransomware gangs have threads on the same forum, and use it to recruit members (developers) and affiliates (customers). Many of these gangs perform intrusions into corporate networks by leveraging network edge devices like Pulse Secure VPN servers, and then deploy their ransomware payload and demand huge ransom demands. As Bank Security told ZDNet, companies have to patch their Pulse Secure VPNs and change passwords with the utmost urgency.

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  7. Riot Games Addresses Burnout and Crunch By Giving Employees a Week Off - Riot Games, the developer of League of Legends and Valorant, will be giving employees the week of August 10th off to "disconnect, recharge, and reboot," the studio announced in a blog post published Tuesday. The Verge reports: Riot has recently expanded beyond its global smash hit League of Legends, including releasing auto battler Teamfight Tactics, Hearthstone-like card game Legends of Runeterra (which are both set in the League of Legends universe), and Valorant, a brand-new tactical shooter that takes cues from Counter Strike: Global Offensive and Overwatch. But in an industry known for overwork and enforced overtime, referred to as "crunch," to ship and maintain games, Riot is giving employees a break to help with their health. "As game developers, we're all hyper aware of the effects of crunch and project-based deadlines," Riot said in its blog. "We owe it to ourselves and to you to prioritize our health as a team (well, many teams) so we can bring you new experiences long into the future." Riot also said it would be "shifting some patches and release timelines a bit" to accommodate the break and that "a few teams are also staggering their time off to make sure everything is running smoothly."

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  8. Hackers Could Use IoT Botnets To Manipulate Energy Markets - An anonymous reader quotes a report from Wired: At the Black Hat security conference on Wednesday, [researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology] will present their findings, which suggest that high-wattage IoT botnets -- made up of power-guzzling devices like air conditioners, car chargers, and smart thermostats -- could be deployed strategically to increase demand at certain times in any of the nine private energy markets around the US. A savvy attacker, they say, would be able to stealthily force price fluctuations in the service of profit, chaos, or both. The researchers used real, publicly available data from the New York and California markets between May 2018 and May 2019 to study fluctuations in both the "day-ahead market" that forecasts demand and the "real-time market," in which buyers and sellers correct for forecasting errors and unpredictable events like natural disasters. By modeling how much power various hypothetical high-wattage IoT botnets could draw, and crunching the market data, the researchers devised two types of potential attacks that would alter energy pricing. They also figured out how far hackers would be able to push their attacks without the malicious activity raising red flags. "Our basic assumption is that we have access to a high-wattage IoT botnet," says Tohid Shekari, a PhD candidate at the Georgia Institute of Technology who contributed to the research, along with fellow PhD candidate Celine Irvine and professor Raheem Beyah. "In our scenarios, attacker one is a market player; he's basically trying to maximize his own profit. Attacker two is a nation-state actor who can cause financial damage to market players as part of a trade war or cold war. The basic part of either attack is to look at price-load sensitivity. If we change demand by 1 percent, how much is the price going to change as a result of that? You want to optimize the attack to maximize the gain or damage." An attacker could use their botnet's power to increase demand, for instance, when other entities are betting it will be low. Or they could bet that demand will go up at a certain time with certainty that they can make that happen. "The researchers caution that, based on their analysis, much smaller demand fluctuations than you might expect could affect pricing, and that it would take as few as 50,000 infected devices to pull off an impactful attack," the report adds. "Consumers whose devices are unwittingly conscripted into a high-wattage botnet would also be unlikely to notice anything amiss; attackers could intentionally turn on devices to pull power late at night or while people are likely to be out of the house. [...] The researchers calculated that market manipulation campaigns would cause, at most, a 7 percent increase in consumers' home electric bills, likely low enough to go unnoticed." The researchers say market manipulators could take home as much as $245 million a year, and cause as much as $350 million per year in economic damage.

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  9. Honda Recalls 608,000 Vehicles For Faulty Software - Honda is recalling 608,000 vans and SUVs because of faulty software that can, among other things, cause the backup camera to fail and the driver display to malfunction or reboot. The recalls will begin on September 23rd. The Verge reports: Certain 2018-2020 Odysseys, 2019-2020 Passports, and 2019-2021 Pilots were outfitted with "[i]ncorrect instrument panel control module software" that can cause the display to not show critical information like speed, engine oil pressure, and gear selector position until the car is turned off and on again. The displays can also randomly reboot, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The malfunctioning software can also prevent the backup camera feed from showing up. Honda will notify owners, but they'll have to get the software reprogrammed by a dealer. No easy over-the-air software fix here. Another recall involves 500,000 of those same vehicles -- the 2019-2021 Pilots and the 2019-2020 Passports again, but only 2019-2020 Odysseys. These vehicles also have a problem with their "[i]ncorrect central network software programming" that can cause "several errors to occur that can delay or prevent the rearview camera image from displaying." The issue can also mess with the in-car audio. Owners of these cars will have the option of either downloading an over-the-air fix or visiting a dealer. Honda also announced two other recalls on Tuesday for some of these vehicles. Some 2019-2020 Odysseys were outfitted with faulty backup cameras that have developed distorted images over time, while 2018-2020 Odysseys may have a problem with the sliding door latching.

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  10. Virtual House Hunting Gets a Pandemic Boost - Padraig Belton from the BBC writes about how house hunters are using virtual-reality headsets to tour homes in the age of coronavirus. From the report: It's not for everyone as, at the moment, house hunters have to use their own headsets. But Giles Milner, marketing director at estate agent Chestertons, says he will sometimes send buyers headsets for new-build properties, if a development has multiple near-identical apartments with some still being built. "Developers are often selling off-plan, and it's hard to sell a product just on a 2D floor plan," he says. "So developers these days have virtual tours budgeted in from the start." Once you have a headset, it's a fairly simple process to find a virtual property on the estate agent's website, using a hand controller to work a virtual keyboard. It's still a fairly limited option, at the moment just 8% of Zoopla's listings have an option for a virtual tour. But Zoopla says there was a surge of activity during the first month of lockdown, when virtual reality (VR) viewings of new-build properties tripled. [...] Virtual reality offers greater detail than the traditional photos on a website. It also saves time for estate agents and is safer for everyone: "The last thing you want is for your staff members to get struck down with Covid-19," Mr Shipside says. Growing adoption of VR viewing also makes life easier for clients moving internationally, when travel back and forth is hard. Buyers from mainland China looking at homes in Singapore have to observe the country's strict fortnight quarantine on nearly all arrivals. So it makes sense to treat buying a house "just like online shopping," says Christopher Wang, founder of Imme VR, a Singaporean virtual-reality property company. A coming use of all this technology is letting prospective sellers find their property's value without estate agents visiting. Another will be letting possible buyers see a property as if it had their furniture already installed in the home. Having this record of your property's contents and their condition is especially beneficial if you ever have to submit an insurance claim -- for something stolen, or fire or flood damage. Another use will be in getting quotes from builders. Instead of contractors measuring and taking photos, going away and coming back with bids, a digital twin could instead let more contractors bid on the work -- giving power to the homeowner.

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