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No Drones in US Gov, Google Buys FitBit, Edge in Linux, James Dean is Back

  • Episode 632
  • November 13, 2019

Here are the stories we're following for the week of Wednesday November 13, 2019


The US Interior Department is grounding its entire drone fleet for fear it could be used against them.

The US Interior Department is grounding its entire drone fleet for fear it could be used against them.

Oversees federal land and resource management, says it’s grounding its entire aerial drone fleet of more than 800 UAVs out of concern for Chinese spying and drone-aided cyberattacks.

Every drone in use by the Interior Department is either manufactured in China or uses some Chinese-made parts. Interior Secretary David Bernhardt made the order two weeks ago, and the drones will remain grounded until the department completes a review of the security risks they may pose.

Many of the drones are currently used by the department to help with combating forest fires, monitoring dams and floods, inspecting land for property and environmental damage due to erosion, and monitoring endangered species. Some of the concern is centered on whether the drones could be used to transmit data, including photography and video, of sensitive US infrastructure that may be the subject of future cyber attack.

The move is the US government’s latest escalation in its push to punish Chinese companies for years of alleged trade secret theft, despite the US purchasing billions of dollars in products and equipment from Chinese firms every year.

US lawmakers last month introduced a bill that would prevent federal agencies from purchasing drones from China, something that could greatly impact Chinese drone giant DJI’s business. Federal agencies have warned against using DJI products in the past, but the company has never faced an outright ban.

A spokesperson for DJI said, “As the leader in commercial drone technology, we have worked with the Department of Interior to create a safe and secure drone solution that meets their rigorous requirements, which was developed over the course of 15 months with DOI officials, independent cybersecurity professionals, and experts at NASA. We will continue to support the Department of Interior and provide assistance as it reviews its drone fleet so the agency can quickly resume the use of drones to help federal workers conduct vital operations.”

Source: www.theverge.com

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Google is buying Fitbit – and promises that they will not exploit all that health data to serve ads.

Google is buying Fitbit – and promises that they will not exploit all that health data to serve ads.

Google will pay $2.1bn to acquire Fitbit, the second largest company in the wearables market, inserting itself into a world increasingly dominated by Apple – and continuing the mass consolidation of consumer technology by the Big Three corporations; Amazon being the third party.

Offering $7.35 a share, Google was prepared to pay a 70 percent premium to take control of the company, although the overall valuation is not even twice Fitbit’s annual revenue, serving to illustrate the company’s recent struggles.

It is Google’s fifth largest acquisition, more than it paid for YouTube or Waze back in the day, and illustrates two things: first, that Google is increasingly focused on hardware following its Nest and Motorola acquisitions; and second, that wherever Apple or Amazon go, Google follows.

Google’s efforts to repeat its approach to the mobile phone market with WearOS took a hit last year when Huawei ditched it in favor of its own home-grown operating system. Google clearly decided it needed to control some hardware in the market and so guarantee a foothold - and a $2bn acquisition of Fitbit was the answer.

The biggest concern about the acquisition, given Google’s business model, is what the web giant will now do with the vast amounts of personal data it will now acquire.

Senior VP of devices and services Rick Osterloh addressed this point, saying, When you use our products, you’re trusting Google with your information. We understand this is a big responsibility and we work hard to protect your information, put you in control and give you transparency about your data."

He goes on to clarify, “Similar to our other products, with wearables, we will be transparent about the data we collect and why. We will never sell personal information to anyone. Fitbit health and wellness data will not be used for Google ads. And we will give Fitbit users the choice to review, move, or delete their data.”

Fitbit customers have been complaining for years about the declining quality of its products and software, so Google’s inevitable migration to its system will probably result in a better user experience over time.

Looking at the bigger picture, however, the acquisition of Fitbit will only add to arguments by governments and regulators that the Big Three - Google, Apple and Amazon - have too much power and are reducing competition across a whole range of markets.

Source: www.theregister.co.uk

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


Microsoft Edge is coming to Linux.

Microsoft Edge is coming to Linux.

News that a Linux port of the Chromium-based Edge browser is on the way isn’t too much of surprise given that Microsoft developers have teased the possibility several times before.

They’ve previously gone on record as saying that Edge for Linux is “something we’d like to do” and something that would happen “eventually”. They even launched a survey to scope out feedback on the idea from existing Linux users.

But now Edge for Linux is official, and Microsoft says it will be out next year.

When Microsoft announced it was rebuilding its Edge browser on top of Chromium the likelihood of a native Linux port increased substantially due to the cross-platform nature of the codebase.

After all, an assortment of Chromium-based web browsers already support Linux, including Google Chrome, Vivaldi, Opera, Yandex and SRWare Iron.

For its part though, Microsoft seems to be understanding how open source works. Edge has become an active contributing member to the Chromium open source project, which means work done for Edge can, in turn, benefit other browsers, including ones you might actually want to use.

Source: www.omgubuntu.co.uk

Sent to us by: Roy W. Nash


The late James Dean is getting digitally restored for an upcoming movie — and many on the internet, including Chris Evans, aren’t happy.

The late James Dean is getting digitally restored for an upcoming movie — and many on the internet, including Chris Evans, aren’t happy.

Magic City Films has announced that, thanks to movie magic technology, it has cast Dean in its upcoming drama “Finding Jack.”

But he died in a car crash in 1955 when he was just 24 years old.

Dean only appeared in three feature films before his death, and has been cast posthumously as a secondary character in the coming Vietnam War drama.

Fans of the actor weren’t exactly excited about the news on social media.

Zelda Williams, actor and daughter of the late Robin Williams, tweeted. “Publicity stunt or not, this is puppeteering the dead for their ‘clout’ alone and it sets such an awful precedent for the future of performance.”

The recently launched production house Magic City Films obtained the rights to use Dean’s image from his family.

Co-director Anton Ernst says, "We feel very honored that his family supports us and will take every precaution to ensure that his legacy as one of the most epic film stars to date is kept firmly intact."

While Finding Jack will be live action, Dean’s performance will be constructed via "full body" CGI using actual footage and photos. Another actor will voice him.

Source: variety.com

Sent to us by: Bekah Ferguson


SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket deployed 60 Starlink satellites into earth’s orbit Monday.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket deployed 60 Starlink satellites into earth’s orbit Monday.

Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson


Google is attempting to combat the growing Play Store malware issue and has formed the “App Defense Alliance” which brings technology from ESET, Lookout and Zimperium to the Play Store - you’ll notice now if you install an app, it gets scanned first.

Google is attempting to combat the growing Play Store malware issue and has formed the “App Defense Alliance” which brings technology from ESET, Lookout and Zimperium to the Play Store - you’ll notice now if you install an app, it gets scanned first.

Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson


NASA scientists opened an untouched rock and soil sample from the Moon returned to Earth on Apollo 17, marking the first time in more than 40 years a pristine sample from the Apollo era has been opened.

NASA scientists opened an untouched rock and soil sample from the Moon returned to Earth on Apollo 17, marking the first time in more than 40 years a pristine sample from the Apollo era has been opened.

Sent to us by: Robbie Ferguson


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