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Southern California Sees Its Longest Streak of Bad Air In Decades
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

According to state monitoring data, Southern California violated federal smog standards for 87 consecutive days -- the longest stretch of bad air in at least 20 years. "The streak is the latest sign that Souther California's battle against smog is faltering after decades of dramatic improvement," reports San Francisco Chronicle. From the report: The ozone pollution spell began June 19 and continued through July and August, with every day exceeding the federal health standard of 70 parts per billion somewhere across Los Angeles, Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties. It didn't relent until Sept. 14, when air pollution dipped to "moderate" levels within federal limits for ozone, the lung-damaging gas in smog that triggers asthma and other respiratory illnesses. It's not unusual for Southern California summers to go weeks without a break in the smog, especially in inland communities that have long suffered the nation's worst ozone levels. But environmentalists and health experts say the persistence of dirty air this year is a troubling sign that demands action. Regulators blame the dip in air quality in recent years on hotter weather and stronger, more persistent inversion layers that trap smog near the ground.

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Amazon Is Making It Easier To Set Up New IoT Gadgets
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

At an event yesterday where the company unveiled a range of new Echo smart speakers and other Alexa-enabled devices, the company announced a new way to easily set up internet of things (IoT) devices. The Verge reports: Called Wi-Fi Simple Setup, the system will use Amazon's Wi-Fi Lockers to store your Wi-Fi credentials and share them with compatible smart home devices. Amazon is debuting this tech with TP-Link and Eero, with the idea that customers can reuse network credentials in order to set up new devices. This means devices will connect on their own instead of you having to manually set up each smart product. According to Amazon, it's as easy as plugging in a Wi-Fi Simple Setup-enabled device. The device will automatically look for the Wi-Fi Simple Setup Network and connect once it receives encrypted credentials. Amazon says the process should take no longer than 30 seconds. The ecommerce company also announced a "plug-and-play smart home kit called Alexa Connect Kit. "It starts with a module that has Bluetooth LE and Wi-Fi and a real-time OS that companies can put in their products in order to make them smart," reports The Verge.

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Romanian Ransomware Suspect Pleads Guilty To Hacking CCTVs In Washington DC
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

gosand writes: "A Romanian woman [named Eveline Cismaru] has admitted running a ransomware operation from infected Washington DC's CCTV systems just days before President Trump was sworn into office in the U.S. capital," The Register reports. The U.S. Department of Justice stated: "This case was of the highest priority due to its impact on the Secret Service's protective mission and its potential effect on the security plan for the 2017 Presidential Inauguration." She could face a max of 25 years if convicted. She and her cohort (who is still jailed in Romania) made the classic hacker mistake of using their personal Gmail accounts for the campaign, even accessing them from one of the compromised PCs. Cismaru hacked "into 123 of the 187 high-tech CCTV cameras dotted around the city," reports The Register. "The hijacked devices, used by DC's Metropolitan Police Department, then spammed up to 180,000 email addresses with ransomware-laden messages."

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FCC Angers Cities, Towns With $2 Billion Giveaway To Wireless Carriers
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Federal Communications Commission's plan for spurring 5G wireless deployment will prevent city and town governments from charging carriers about $2 billion worth of fees. The FCC proposal, to be voted on at its meeting on September 26, limits the amount that local governments may charge carriers for placing 5G equipment such as small cells on poles, traffic lights, and other government property in public rights-of-way. The proposal, which is supported by the FCC's Republican majority, would also force cities and towns to act on carrier applications within 60 or 90 days. The FCC says this will spur more deployment of small cells, which "have antennas often no larger than a small backpack." But the commission's proposal doesn't require carriers to build in areas where they wouldn't have done so anyway. The FCC plan proposes up-front application fees of $100 for each small cell and annual fees of up to $270 per small cell. The FCC says this is a "reasonable approximation of [localities'] costs for processing applications and for managing deployments in the rights-of-way." Cities that charge more than that would likely face litigation from carriers and would have to prove that the fees are a reasonable approximation of all costs and "non-discriminatory." But, according to Philadelphia, those proposed fees "are simply de minimis when measured against the costs that the City incurs to approve, support, and maintain the many small cell and distributed antenna system (DAS) installations in its public rights-of-way." Philadelphia said it "has already established a fee structure and online application process to apply for small cell deployment that has served the needs of its citizens without prohibiting or creating barriers to entry for infrastructure investment." The city has also negotiated license agreements for small cell installations with Verizon, AT&T, and other carriers. In addition to Philadelphia, the Rural County Represenatives of California (RCRC), a group representing 35 rural California counties, also objects to the FCC plan. They told the FCC that its "proposed recurring fee structure is an unreasonable overreach that will harm local policy innovation." "That is why many local governments have worked to negotiate fair agreements with wireless providers, which may exceed that number or provide additional benefits to the community," the RCRC wrote. "The FCC's decision to prohibit municipalities' ability to require 'in-kind' conditions on installation agreements is in direct conflict with the FCC's stated intent of this Order and further constrains local governments in deploying wireless services to historically underserved areas."

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iPhone XS Teardown Shows Few Changes Aside From the Battery
Posted on Thursday January 01, 1970

iFixit tore apart Apple's iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, revealing very similar insides to last year's iPhone X. Engadget reports the findings: One of the most interesting features is the battery on the XS. The iPhone XS sports a slightly downgraded battery from the iPhone X, a 10.13 Wh battery (2,659 mAh at 3.81 V) versus 10.35 Wh (2716 mAh at 3.81 V). But a new configuration might more than make up for it: Apple is using a brand-new L-shaped single-cell battery instead of two separate batteries. However, the XS Max still sports two batteries. Some other tweaks include a new, Apple-branded power management chip and a new antenna line on the bottom of the phone. The camera bump is also slightly taller, meaning your iPhone X case might not fit on your XS, if you plan on upgrading. The Verge also notes that "there's no evidence that the teardown team could find of any improved water or dust resistance, despite the improved IP68 ratings on the iPhone XS and XS Max."

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