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Iowa asked researchers to break into a courthouse, then it arrested them

The incident occurred in September. The Coalfire employees found a door to the Dallas Courthouse open. They closed the door to see if it would lock and then attempted to open it, setting off an alarm. Following protocol, they waited for police to arrive, and showed them their paperwork. The first deputies to respond told the employees they were "good to go." But moments later, a local sheriff showed up and arrested them.

The Coalfire employees spent the night in jail, and as if that weren't bad enough, they were charged with felony accusations of burglary in the third-degree and possession of burglary tools. Their bail was set to $100,000. Coalfire expected the issue to be resolved quickly and the charges dropped, as the company had a contract with the state and had completed penetrations tests (also known as pen tests) at other Iowa courthouses. Instead, the charges were simply reduced to criminal trespass. The charges still stand more than two months later.

"The ongoing situation in Iowa is completely ridiculous," Coalfire CEO Tom McAndrew said in a statement. "... Our mission is to help our clients secure their environments and protect the people that work for them, their customers, and the confidential information they maintain. In this case, we were helping to protect the residents of Iowa."

Security experts fear that this could have ramifications beyond the state. Pen testing is a common practice, and security firms assume they will be protected by contracts with their clients. As the Coalfire-Iowa incident shows, that might not always be the case. Some fear this will discourage security researchers from testing state and municipal systems, as well as election and voting facilities that may be vulnerable in the 2020 election. At the very least, this is proof that we need a better way to handle cybersecurity vulnerabilities and a reminder of how clueless governments can be.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/12/iowa-coalfire-security-researchers-arrested/

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Facebook is fixing a bug that turned on phone cameras

Some users said that when they viewed a video in full screen and then shrank it back, the app layout would shift slightly to the right. In the space on the left, you could see the phone's camera had been activated. CNET says it was able to replicate the issue.

Facebook says the bug was introduced when it fixed another issue -- the Facebook iOS app incorrectly launching in landscape mode -- in version 244. "We have seen no evidence of photos or video being uploaded due to this bug," a spokesperson told Engadget.

Needless to say, this doesn't help Facebook's image. The company has doubled down on its messages about privacy and security, and a bug like this could undermine the company's efforts to improve its reputation.

Facebook's full statement is below:

"We recently discovered that version 244 of the Facebook iOS app would incorrectly launch in landscape mode. In fixing that issue last week in v246 (launched on November 8th) we inadvertently introduced a bug that caused the app to partially navigate to the camera screen adjacent to News Feed when users tapped on photos. We have seen no evidence of photos or videos being uploaded due to this bug. We're submitting the fix for this to Apple today."

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/12/facebook-bug-ios-app-camera/

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Microsoft workers say it’s making progress on diversity

Microsoft didn't break down the Inclusion Index by demographic, so it's unclear which groups are included in that unhappy 12 percent. Are they minorities who feel overlooked, majorities that disagree with the initiative, or a combination of groups? However, it did pledge to use the findings to "better understand" those who are upset and determine whether or not its campaign is having the "intended impacts."

This latest report also showed signs of general progress, including a newly expanded equal pay section that covers Microsoft's presence in the five largest markets outside the US (Canada, China, Germany, India and the UK). The wider data suggests the gender pay gap is virtually non-existent, with women typically making $0.999 for every $1 men make.

Representation also improved, although not by much. Women now make up 29.2 percent of Microsoft's core workforce (not including divisions like LinkedIn or game studios), up from 28.1 percent in 2018. In the US, the black community has climbed from 4.0 to 4.4 percent, while 33.3 percent are Asian versus 32.2 percent a year earlier. There were also very slight increases in Hispanic and multiracial workers.

You can expect Microsoft to keep this up in the near future. The company portrayed diversity as a practical benefit, not just a feel-good initiative -- it cited a study showing that people process exclusion the way they do physical pain, impeding their productivity and social interaction. A more representative workforce theoretically helps staff reach their potential on top of leading to products that truly reflect society.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/12/microsoft-diversity-report-2019/

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This ‘O-29’ hum is the sound of Ford’s new hybrid SUVs

Both vehicles are already reaching dealers, although a plug-in hybrid Escape won't arrive until 2020.

The company doesn't have much choice when the EU and other governments will require sounds in the name of pedestrian safety. At the same time, it's evident that Ford is using this as a marketing opportunity. The creation of a unique sound could make Ford vehicles recognizable by sound alone, which could be vital as Ford expands into pure electric cars and can't count on a burbling engine to reel in buyers.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/12/ford-explorer-escape-hybrid-alert-sounds/

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Elon Musk: Berlin ‘gigafactory’ will build Teslas starting with the Model Y

After launching manufacturing facilities in the US and China, Tesla's next location is apparently in Europe. Reuters and CNBC report that while speaking at an awards ceremony in Germany, Elon Musk announced the company's 'Gigafactory 4' will be located in the Berlin area. Musk later tweeted out "Giga Berlin," and said that the location "Will build batteries, powertrains vehicles, starting with Model Y."

This follows its current facilities in Nevada, Buffalo and its newest addition in Shanghai, China. Apparently this one will also include an engineering and design center. Tesla bought a German engineering firm in 2016 to help build the Model 3, and it appears those efforts will grow as it launches production of the Model Y, and, presumably, the electric "cybertruck" that's supposed to be revealed next week.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/12/tesla-gigafactory-4-berlin/

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Federal judge rules suspicionless device searches at the border are illegal

Casper also rejected the government's claim that suspicionless searches would cause minimal harm, noting that agents could both look at past searches and were more likely to search people if there had already been a search before.

The ACLU and EFF filed the lawsuit on behalf of 11 travelers (all but one of which are US citizens) who accused border agents of searching their phones and laptops without probable cause or warrants. In some cases, officials were examining highly sensitive data, such as attorney-client communications, business dealings and the contents of a work phone from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

It's not certain how Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Enforcement or the Department of Homeland Security will respond to the defeat in court. If this ruling holds, though, it'll force a dramatic change in border search policies. Agents searched roughly 33,000 devices in 2018, or four times as many as they did in 2015. The numbers could drop precipitously in the future if at least some of those searches are considered unconstitutional. This won't completely prevent abuse (officers might only need a thin pretext), but it could decrease the number of "just because" searches that do little more than compromise privacy.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/12/federal-judge-rules-suspicionless-device-searches-at-the-border/

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Apple may reveal its 16-inch MacBook Pro tomorrow

There's no mention of a corresponding update to the 13-inch model, although that's not surprising. Apple only just updated the smaller laptop in July -- it's a bit soon for a refresh, let alone a major one. And while Intel does have 10th-generation laptop chips, they're U- and Y-series chips meant largely for ultraportables rather than in-between systems like the higher-end 13-inch MacBook Pro.

This wouldn't be the last Mac update of the year, though. A tipster claimed that Apple would ship the redesigned Mac Pro in December, just barely squeaking into Apple's promised fall release window. There's no more news to share on that front, although there's certainly a historical precedent for this when the iMac Pro shipped in mid-December 2017. One thing's for sure: Calvin Harris got a significant head start.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/12/apple-16-inch-macbook-pro-imminent/

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Disney+ cuts off ‘Simpsons’ jokes with widescreen episodes

We've asked Disney for comment, although sources talking to Engadget said the company will listen to feedback.

It wouldn't be surprising if Disney had a change of heart. The 4:3 versions are clearly available for streaming given that Disney owns FXX. There's not much stopping the company from simply posting those editions instead of or alongside the widescreen variants. For now, though, you'll have to make do with watching Mr. Plow, the nuclear plant strike or Talkin' Softball with some conspicuous black bars.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/12/disney-plus-widescreen-simpsons-problems/

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Intel unveils its first chips built for AI in the cloud

Intel is no stranger to AI-oriented chips, but now it's turning its attention to those chips that might be thousands of miles away. The tech firm has introduced two new Nervana Neural Network Processors, the NNP-T1000 (below) and NNP-I1000 (above), that are Intel's first ASICs designed explicitly for AI in the cloud. The NNT-T chip is meant for training AIs in a 'balanced' design that can scale from small computer clusters through to supercomputers, while the NNP-I model handles "intense" inference tasks.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/12/intel-nervana-chips-for-ai-in-cloud/

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Traeger WiFi grills monitor your wood pellet supply with an $80 sensor

Traeger's pellet sensor is easy to install. Once you've drained the hopper, you only need to remove a rubber plug and two screws. From there, you connect the sensor to a plug, tuck in the wires and mount the accessory in place. Your grill should automatically detect the sensor, which will display the pellet level as a percentage in both the on-grill menu and the Trager app. The info is sent to your mobile device alongside temperature and other grill details. And when you're running low on pellets, the sensor will send an alert to let you know its time for a refill.

The pellet sensor only works with the 2019 Pro Series and Ironwood grills that have Traeger's D2 WiFire system onboard. More specifically, that's the Pro 575, Pro 780, Ironwood 650 and Ironwood 885. If you have an older Pro Series grill or the 2018 Timberline, this won't work with those models.

Article source: https://www.engadget.com/2019/11/12/traeger-pellet-sensor-grill-smoker-accessory/

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