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AI lifeline to help devs craft smartmobe apps that suck a whole lot less... battery capacity

Remember the days when you didn't have to charge your phone several times a day?


Artificial intelligence can help developers design mobile phone apps that drain less battery, according to new research.

The system, dubbed DiffProff, will be presented this week at the USENIX Symposium on Operating Systems Design and Implementation conference in California, was developed by Charlie Hu and Abhilash Jindal, who have a startup devoted to better battery testing via software.

DiffProf rests on the assumption that apps that carry out the same function perform similar tasks in slightly different ways. For example, messaging apps like Whatsapp, Google Hangouts, or Skype, keep old conversations and bring up a keyboard so replies can be typed and sent. Despite this, Whatsapp is about three times more energy efficient than Skype.

"What if a feature of an app needs to consume 70 percent of the phone's battery? Is there room for improvement, or should that feature be left the way it is?" said Hu, who is also a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Purdue University.

The research paper describing DiffProf is pretty technical. Essentially, it describes a method that uses “differential energy profiling” to create energy profiles for different apps. First, the researchers carry out a series of automated tests on apps by performing identical tasks on each app to work out energy efficiency.

Next, the profile also considers the app’s “call tree” also known as a call graph. These describe the different computer programs that are executed in order to perform a broader given task.

A volt out of the blue: Phone batteries reveal what you typed and read

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Apps that have the same function, like playing music or sending emails, should have similar call trees. Slight variances in the code, however, lead to different energy profiles. DiffProf uses an algorithm to compare the call trees and highlights what programs are causing an app to drain more energy.

Developers running the tool receive a list of Java packages, that describe the different software features, which appear in the both apps being compared. They can then work out which programs in the less energy efficient app suck up more juice and if it can be altered or deleted altogether. The tool is only useful if the source code for similar apps have significant overlap.

The researchers used an Android device to test eight different app groups that perform various tasks such as streaming music, scanning for viruses or sending emails. They found that Soundcloud saps more energy than Spotify or Pandora.

Google Hangouts was less energy efficient than Facebook’s Messenger or Whatsapp. DiffProf even managed to spot bugs wasting energy in Kaspersky antivirus mobile app and Pandora. Both bugs were confirmed and the Pandora one was fixed afterwards. ®

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Excuse me, what just happened? Resilience is tough when your failure is due to a 'sequence of events that was almost impossible to foresee'

There was no big bang – and it could happen to you

Feature When designing systems that our businesses will rely on, we do so with resilience in mind.

Twenty-five years ago, technologies like RAID and server mirroring were novel and, in some ways, non-trivial to implement; today this is no longer the case and it is a reflex action to procure multiple servers, LAN switches, firewalls, and the like to build resilient systems.

This does not, of course, guarantee us 100 per cent uptime. The law of Mr Murphy applies from time to time: if your primary firewall suffers a hardware failure, there is a tiny, but non-zero, chance that the secondary will also collapse before you finish replacing the primary.

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FTC approves $61.7m settlement with Amazon for pocketing driver tips

Delivery drives to get refund

The US Federal Trade Commission on Friday announced the approval a consent order against Amazon that requires the company to pay $61.7m to resolve charges that for two and a half years it took tips intended for Amazon Flex drivers and concealed the diversion of funds.

The deal was proposed in February but required sign-off from the US trade watchdog. It arises from FTC charges that Amazon misrepresented both to Amazon Flex drivers and to the public what the company would pay for delivery work.

The tech giant launched its Flex service in 2015, promising drivers – which it classified as independent contractors and referred to as "delivery partners" – that it would pay $18-25 per hour for the delivery of goods from Amazon.com, Prime Now (household goods), Amazon Fresh (groceries), and Amazon Restaurant (takeout).

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Amazon exec's husband jailed for two years for insider trading. Yes, with Amazon stock

Couple now definitely past their Prime

The husband of an Amazon financial executive was sentenced on Thursday to 26 months behind bars for insider trading of the web giant's stock.

Viky Bohra, 37, of Bothell, Washington, reaped a profit of $1,428,264 between January 2016 and October 2018 by buying and selling Amazon stock using eleven trading accounts managed by himself and his family.

Bohra was able to pocket these big gains because he got copies of Amazon's confidential financial figures from his wife, Laksha Bohra, who worked as a senior manager in the mega corp's tax department. Laksha had access to Amazon’s earnings before the numbers were publicly disclosed and reported to the Securities and Exchange Commission. Her husband "obtained" this secret information, despite her being repeatedly warned to not leak the confidential data, and used it to favorably trade in Amazon stock and options.

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Cloudflare network outage disrupts Discord, Shopify

And its CAPTCHA alternative challenged by security researcher

Following in the rickety footsteps of Fastly, bedeviled by a bug earlier this week, network services biz Cloudflare briefly stumbled on Friday as an elevated error rate interfered with connectivity for customers in Chicago and Los Angeles.

"Cloudflare is aware of, and investigating an issue which potentially impacts multiple customers," the company said on its status page on June 11, 2021, at 1617 UTC. "Further detail will be provided as more information becomes available."

Sixteen minutes later, the biz said it had identified the problem and was working on a fix.

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Women techs fume, offer crowdsourced fixes as Michelle Obama's online keynote crashes

'Unforeseen server conditions' blamed

Attendees at this week's Women In Technology Online Festival were trying to watch keynote speaker Michelle Obama when the stream crashed within seconds of starting, leaving many unable to see the former US First Lady at all.

When conference screens began flashing up 502 gateway errors and network error messages during Wednesday's feature conversation, chat functions filled up with attendees' advice to events organiser Ascend Global Media on how to correct issues that affected the livestream.

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Ireland warned it could face 'rolling blackouts' if it doesn't address data centres' demand for electricity

Utilities watchdog launches consultation that may affect green island's mega bit barns

Ireland could be facing frequent power cuts following a warning from the country's Commission for Regulation of Utilities (CRU) that data centres are having a "major impact on the Irish electricity system."

Publishing a consultation paper earlier this week [PDF], the regulator said that the integrity of Ireland's power grid was under threat as data centres continue to hoover up vast amounts of 'leccy.

In a stark warning, the CRU said: "When this is also considered in the context of wider system security… it is clear that measures must be implemented in order to encourage data centres to address some of these risks."

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Pakistan's Punjab province tells citizens to get jabbed or have their SIM card blocked

Well, that's one way to do it

The government of Pakistan's Punjab region has a new weapon up its sleeve in the fight against vaccine hesitancy: blocking the mobile service of anyone who refuses to get jabbed.

As reported by local newspapers , and confirmed by the Punjab health authority, those who swerve the COVID-19 vaccine may find their mobile SIM "blocked" in response.

The move has come at a crucial juncture for Punjab's vaccine rollout, with shots now available to those over the age of 18.

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New York State Senate first to pass landmark right-to-repair bill – but don't go popping the champagne just yet

... lower house, the State Assembly, is not likely to pass the bill

The New York State Senate has approved landmark right-to-repair legislation which forces original equipment manufacturers to provide schematics, parts, and tools to independent repair providers and consumers.

S4104, which advances the Digital Fair Repair act, was passed with overwhelming bipartisan support. At a virtual session, 51 senators approved the motion, with just 12 voting against.

Some distance remains before the bill ultimately becomes law. It must win the approval of lawmakers from the lower house, the New York State Assembly, which is currently considering its own version of the bill (A7006).

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UK tells UN that nation-states should retaliate against cyber badness with no warning

Even nuclear missile attacks came with a 4-minute heads-up

Comment Britain has told the UN that international cyber law should allow zero-notice digital punishment directed at countries that attack others' infrastructure.

A statement made by UK diplomats to the UN's Group of Governmental Experts on Advancing Responsible State Behaviour in the Context of International Security (UN GGE) called for international law to permit retaliation for cyber attacks with no notice.

"The UK does not consider that States taking countermeasures are legally obliged to give prior notice (including by calling on the State responsible for the internationally wrongful act to comply with international law) in all circumstances," said the British submission to the UN GGE, made in advance of the G7 heads of government meeting in Cornwall this week.

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Dealing with the pandemic by drinking and swearing? Boffins say you're not alone

While social media gets a portion of the blame for COVID-19's initial spread

The impact of lockdowns during a global pandemic appears to be making itself known in a variety of ways – subtle and otherwise – including increased drinking and swearing. Or, as we like to call it, "the weekend".

There's no denying that the pandemic has been tough, and the IT industry was far from immune. We've seen numerous events cancelled, supply chain issues and the joys of looking terrible on camera – and those were all in the first three months.

How did we react? Well, we drank. And swore.

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UK competition bods to keep tabs on Google, ensure 'Privacy Sandbox' doesn't distort competition

CMA claims to have taken 'oversight role' over removal of third-party cookies

The UK's competition regulator intends to keep a weather eye on Google as it works to address concerns around its proposals to remove third-party cookies from its Chrome web browser.

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it will take up a role in the design and development of Google's "Privacy Sandbox" proposals to ensure they do not distort competition.

While the commitments aim to address concerns raised in Blighty, they are likely to have implications for Google that stretch across the globe.

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