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Comcast to FCC: We already face enough competition, so let us buy TWC

“Perhaps you should switch to another cable company… oh, that’s right, we’re the only one in town.”

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler has made it clear he thinks there isn’t enough broadband competition in America, but Comcast is trying to convince the FCC that it faces enough competition right now. Yet already the largest pay-TV and broadband company in the US, Comcast is seeking permission to buy Time Warner Cable.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable don’t compete for customers in any city or town, despite being the nation’s two largest cable companies, which helps explain why US residents have so few viable options for cable and high-speed Internet service. But in response to merger-related questions from the FCC, a Comcast filing points to a broad range of competitors and says it’s easy to switch to a different provider (though a horde of angry customers might disagree).

Comcast said it faces competition from municipal broadband networks, though the telecom industry has pushed state governments to pass laws that restrict municipal broadband growth. Wheeler has said he will try to preempt those state laws, saying they prevent competition.

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Via:: Ars Technica

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Weight loss firm demands $1 million from website hosting negative reviews

A Florida company selling an obesity product is suing a consumer website for hosting negative reviews of its dietary product. Roca Labs wants the US courts to award it in “excess” of $1 million in addition to blocking pissedconsumer.com from continuing the practice.

The lawyer for the New York-based online review site told Ars on Monday that the lawsuit [PDF] was “bunk,” that its demands amount to a prior restraint of speech, and that the site itself is protected from defamation charges under the Communications Decency Act because it hosts the online review forum for others to use.

“Essentially, what they are saying, is my client is defaming them by allowing these negative reviews to be published. And that my client is engaged in tortuous interference with their relationships with their customers, and that my client is practicing unfair and trade-deceptive practices,” said attorney Marc Randazza in a telephone interview.

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Via:: Ars Technica

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MakerBot’s Bre Pettis Launches Bold Machines, A Workshop For 3D-Printed Stuff

After a slightly surprising move away from a managerial role at MakerBot, former CEO Bre Pettis has finally announced what he’s working on: Bold Machines, an “Innovation Workshop” for MakerBot parent company Stratasys. Designed to be a creative skunkworks for the 3D printing company, Bold Machines will design cool 3D prints, work with artists and inventors, and even make movies. Read More

Via:: CunchGear

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Home Depot’s former security architect had history of techno-sabotage

“We sell hammers” was the justification Home Depot managers gave for cheaping out on security to IT employees.

When Home Depot suffered a breach of transaction data that exposed as many as 52 million credit card transactions earlier this year, the company reportedly suffered from lax computer and network security measures for years. Apparently, the company wasn’t helped much by its selection of a security architect either. Ricky Joe Mitchell was hired by Home Depot in 2012, and in March of 2013, he was promoted to the position of Senior Architect for IT Security at Home Depot, in charge of the entire company’s security architecture. In May of 2014, Mitchell was convicted of sabotaging the network of his former employer.

When Mitchell learned he was going to be fired in June of 2012 from the oil and gas company EnerVest Operating, he “remotely accessed EnerVest’s computer systems and reset the company’s network servers to factory settings, essentially eliminating access to all the company’s data and applications for its eastern United States operations,” a Department of Justice spokesperson wrote in a release on his conviction. “Before his access to EnerVest’s offices could be terminated, Mitchell entered the office after business hours, disconnected critical pieces of…network equipment, and disabled the equipment’s cooling system.” As a result of his actions, the company permanently lost some of its data, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars repairing equipment and recovering historical data. It took a month to bring the company’s office back online, costing the company as much as $1 million in lost business.

And that wasn’t the first time he used technology for revenge. Mitchell’s previous legal troubles resulting from malicious use of his technical skills dates back to when he was a high school junior. In 1996 at the age of 17, Mitchell—who then went by the handle “RickDogg” in online forums—planted viruses in his high school’s computer system. He was suspended for three days from Capital High School for planting 108 computer viruses “to disk space …assigned to another student on the Capital High School computer system,” according to a school district memo obtained by the Charleston Gazette. He then posted threats to students who he blamed for reporting him. Mitchell was expelled from the school and sued to be re-instated. The case eventually went to the West Virginia Supreme Court.

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Via:: Ars Technica

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Eyes-on: Oculus’ Crescent Bay prototype is a new high-water mark

Oh, sorry, I didn’t see you there. I was standing on an alien world, staring at a wrinkly grey being…

Regular readers are probably tired of hearing us say that the latest hardware demonstration from Oculus is a new high-water mark in virtual reality that finally does away with a lot of the problems holding the technology back. To those readers, I apologize in advance: the new Crescent Bay prototype Oculus announced and showed off at its first-ever developer conference in Hollywood this weekend is a new high-water mark in virtual reality that finally does away with a lot of the problems holding the technology back.

I tried on the new device for two 10-minute demo sessions at the conference, each time going through the same set of 10 pre-made demo experiences. As soon as I put it on (or rather had it put on me; we were barely allowed to touch the fragile prototypes for fear of breaking them), I noticed a significant jump in comfort from previous Rift development kits and prototypes. Those old devices have all been akin to ski goggles, with thick elastic bands in the rear pressing the display box tightly around the eyes. It was a design decision that put a lot of pressure on some sensitive facial areas, and it left this user a sweaty, red-faced mess after every use.

The Crescent Bay prototype does away with this issue. Instead of an elastic band, there’s now a rigid plastic support that goes over the ears and dips down to join at a thick, triangular rear support, which tucks around the nape of the neck and back of the skull. (The single threaded wire connecting the Rift to the computer now slides down the right side of this plastic support, which is much more comfortable than the over-the-middle-of-the-skull solution on previous dev kits.) This plastic band slides in and out of the main unit quite easily to adjust for differently sized heads, while a small velcro strip comes over the top of the skull for additional support.

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Via:: Ars Technica

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Up Close With The Biggest Joystick In The World (That We Know Of)

The Italian creator of the Udoo Raspberry Pi board, Michelangelo Guarise, was at the Maker Faire in New York this weekend with a special treat: something that appears to be one of the biggest working joysticks in the world. Built by the Udoo team, the massive stick and two Frisbee buttons allowed children of all ages to play emulated games on a little LCD screen connected to Guarise’s… Read More

Via:: TechCrunch

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The FCC Hasn’t Decided How It Will Enforce Net Neutrality

This morning the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) indicated in a blog post that it is “reviewing” a number of legal methods concerning how to enforce new net neutrality rules. The implication is plain: No choice has been made. The FCC claims that it is “looking ahead” to more round tables that could help shed light on which method is best. The agency noted… Read More

Via:: TechCrunch

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Red light camera firm took cops out for meals, then they recommended firm

According to a new report in the Sacramento Bee, Sacramento County sheriff’s deputies and California Highway Patrol officers accepted “at least 250 meals worth $3,800 over a five-year period” paid for by the embattled red light camera (RLC) vendor Redflex.

Then, those law enforcement agencies recommended that the Northern California county renew Redflex’s contract for the county’s RLC system late last year. Five out of the eight members of the law enforcement evaluation team received those free meals, the newspaper reported.

Once informed of the meals, the Sheriff’s Office top brass was not happy.

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Via:: Ars Technica

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New $15M Global XPrize Focuses On Bringing Basic Literacy to 250M Children Globally

XPRIZE, a nonprofit that runs competitions to stimulate technologists toward building products that improve humankind, is dipping its toes into basic education. They’re launching a $15 million educational tech challenge that is looking for a free, open-source and scalable software solution that will enable children to teach themselves basic reading, writing and arithmetic. There are… Read More

Via:: TechCrunch

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The Samsung Galaxy Alpha is coming to US as an AT&T exclusive

An atypically metallic Samsung phone, the Galaxy Alpha, will be headed to US shores in just a few days. The Alpha is due out September 26, but the bad news is that it will be an AT&T exclusive. It’s priced at $199.99 on a two-year contract or $612.99 with no contract.

The Alpha is noteworthy for being the first Samsung phone we’ve seen in a long time that uses a metal casing. While the back is still plastic, the frame around the device isn’t. Samsung has started to experiment with metal more often of late, hoping to ditch the “cheap” feeling that many people get from their smartphones. Besides the Galaxy Alpha, the Note 4 also has a metal frame.

The spec sheet is also out of character for Samsung, which usually makes big phones with a top-tier spec sheet. For the Galaxy Alpha, though, it seems like the company read up on iPhone 6 rumors and built a phone to those specs—the Alpha only has a 4.7-inch 1280×720 AMOLED display.

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Via:: Ars Technica

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