TIME Gadgets

Verizon’s New Gadget Makes Dumb Cars Smart

Verizon Hum
Verizon Verizon Hum

Great news if you own a 1999 Ford Taurus

If you desperately want a connected car but can’t afford to shell out for the latest model, Verizon has a solution that can turn your dumb car into a smart one.

Verizon on Wednesday released the Hum, a gadget and service than can turn older cars into Internet-connected vehicles. The Hum offers vehicle tracking, repair notifications and Bluetooth-to-smartphone connectivity, among other features.

Here’s more on how Hum works from Verizon:

Subscribers simply install hum through an onboard diagnostic (OBD) reader that is plugged into the vehicle’s OBD port, and a Bluetooth-enabled device that is clipped to the visor. The monthly subscription also includes a smartphone app allowing subscribers to monitor their vehicle health, contact help, and manage maintenance needs, even when they are not behind the wheel.

The Hum will cost $14.99 a month for the service on a two-year subscription plan, plus taxes and fees. It’s available to Verizon and non-Verizon customers alike.

TIME Military

Meet the Military’s New Humvee

William Kapinski/Oshkosh

Oshkosh beat out three competitors with this new design

After the Army tested Humvee prototypes from Lockheed Martin Corp., AM General LLC, and Oshkosh Corp. back in January, it offered the latter a $6.75 billion contract on Tuesday to build military vehicles, the Wall Street Journal reports.

Over the next 25 years, Oshkosh will produce up to 55,000 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) to replace a good portion of the military’s aging Humvees and larger trucks. The Army plans to purchase 49,909 for itself and 5,500 for the Marines.

Oshkosh has been in the business of building military vehicles for a long time, but has recently faced rough times as the Pentagon decreased its spending. This long-term contract gives the company some much needed stability. Its stock declined by about 20% this year, but after it locked in this deal on Tuesday shares rose by 12%, reaching $43 apiece in after-hours trade. This upsurge erased over half of its 20% drop.

The new design is lighter than the previous one produced by AM General, making it easier to transport by air. They will also provide superior protection against mines and roadside bombs, with greater range and durability to transport troops and gear.

Oshkosh chief executive Charles Szews told the Journal that its role in the defense business “supports the whole infrastructure for the company,” making this “a historic win.”

TIME Retail

Disney Is Planning a Mega Event to Unveil the New Star Wars Toys

May the Force Friday be with you

To ensure the marketing force is strong with the much-awaited Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Disney is holding what it calls the world’s first-ever “global live toy unboxing event” on Sept. 4.

The livestreamed event will last over 18 hours, during which time Disney will display a new suite of Star Wars toys in an event dubbed “Force Friday.” It will start off in Sydney on Sept. 3 at 7:45 a.m. local time before rolling through other cities, each the site of the unboxing of a new Star Wars toy by popular toy unboxers, gamers and hardcore fans.

The entire launch schedule can be viewed on Disney’s website.

“Star Wars toys have always played an important role in how our fans interact with the Saga,” Lucasfilm President Kathleen Kennedy said in a company statement. “They’ve inspired multiple generations to relive the experience of the movies and to create new adventures all their own. These spectacular Star Wars: The Force Awakens products will continue that tradition.”

Star Wars: The Force Awakens is expected to be one of the biggest movies of all time, with analysts and industry experts estimating the film could earn as much as $3 billion from the global box office, which would top Avatar as the highest-grossing movie ever. Merchandise sales from toys and apparel linked to the film could also reach $3 billion annually.

The movie will be released in U.S. theaters on Dec. 18.

TIME Security

What to Know About the Ashley Madison Hack

LONDON, ENGLAND - AUGUST 19:  The Ashley Madison website is displayed on August 19, 2015 in London, England. Hackers who stole customer information from the cheating site AshleyMadison.com dumped 9.7 gigabytes of data to the dark web on Tuesday fulfilling a threat to release sensitive information including account details, log-ins and credit card details, if Avid Life Media, the owner of the website didn't take Ashley Madison.com offline permanently.  (Photo by Carl Court/Getty Images)
Carl Court—2015 Getty Images The Ashley Madison website is displayed on August 19, 2015 in London, England.

The company is now offering a big bounty for any info

Avid Life Media, the parent company of hacked extramarital affairs website Ashley Madison, has placed a bounty on its attackers’ heads. After hackers leaked troves of data about Ashley Madison’s users, Avid Life wants to figure out whodunnit. And it’s prepared to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for information about the guilty party.

Here’s what you need to know about the Ashley Madison hack and the bounty:

What did hackers take from Ashley Madison and why?

The Ashley Madison hackers have posted personal information like e-mail addresses and account details from 32 million of the site’s members. The group has claimed two motivations: First, they’ve criticized Ashley Madison’s core mission of arranging affairs between married individuals. Second, they’ve attacked Ashley Madison’s business practices, in particular its requirement that users pay $19 for the privilege of deleting all their data from the site (but, as it turns out, not all data was scrubbed).

How money much is Avid Life Media offering for tips?

Ah, cutting to the chase. The sum is $500,000 for information leading to the capture of the perpetrator (or perpetrators). But Avid is a Canadian company, paying out the prize in Canadian dollars. In American greenbacks, that’s about $377,000.

When did the company announce the reward?

Toronto Police Services Superintendent Bryce Evans announced the bounty during a Monday press conference, saying: “Today I can confirm that Avid Life Media is offering a $500,000 reward to anyone providing information that leads to the identification, arrest, and prosecution of the person or persons responsible for the leak of the Ashley Madison database.”

So what do we know about the hackers so far?

We know the person or group calls itself “Impact Team,” which is new to the cybercriminal scene as far as anyone can tell, at least under that monicker. If anyone involved in the investigation has any clue about Impact Team’s true identity, then that information has yet to be publicly disclosed.

Any other leads?

Back in July when the company received its first threats, Avid Life Media CEO Noel Biderman said his team was closing in on the culprit, who he said he believed to be somebody who did contract work with the company.

“We’re on the doorstep of [confirming] who we believe is the culprit, and unfortunately that may have triggered this mass publication,” Biderman had told investigative cybersecurity reporter Brian Krebs. “I’ve got their profile right in front of me, all their work credentials. It was definitely a person here that was not an employee but certainly had touched our technical services.”

But Biderman seems to have dropped that narrative — we haven’t heard much in the way of that assertion since.

Has anyone else proposed any theories?

Oh yes. Earlier this week, antivirus software pioneer John McAfee, who has a reputation as a renegade in the security community, laid out his own conclusions, the result of his analysis of the dumped data and Impact Team manifestos. He believes the data was stolen by a former female employee.

Not everyone is convinced by McAfee’s analysis, though. A writer at Gizmodo, for instance, found it to be “subjective,” “offensive,” and “obscenely sexist.” You can read McAfee’s reasoning here.

Ouch. So that’s really all we have to go off of?

There’s another lead I haven’t mentioned. Dan Goodin over at Ars Technica has a good rundown. Basically, we know a few details about the server that was used to host the leaked file containing the emails of Biderman, the company’s CEO. It’s operated by a Dutch Internet service provider called Ecatel Ltd. As Goodin explains, for those with a technical bent:

The box seeding the torrent was located at 94.102.63.121. Police and private investigators working feverishly to identify the people who hacked Ashley Madison and published user profiles, transactions, credit-card data, and a wide range of other sensitive data will almost certainly try to perform a forensic analysis of the physical server. They undoubtedly will want to know how the server was accessed. If the hackers didn’t use Tor or a similar anonymity service, the investigators may be able to collect clues from the IP address used to log in to the box.

You may remember, that’s one of the same ways the FBI concluded that North Korea was behind the Sony hack.

Is there any hope of finding these hackers?

Maybe, but no one can say for sure. Lots of cybercriminals get away with plenty of bad stuff, especially if they’re located far outside the reaches of Western law enforcement. But other bounty programs have seen success, like Microsoft’s [fortune-stock symbol=MSFT”] takedown of the infamous Rustock spam email botnet. That came with a $250,000 prize.

Who should we contact when we’ve cracked the case?

This slide from the Toronto police’s presentation should answer that:

Ashley Madison police contact

 

TIME Smartphones

Everybody Hates When You Use Your Phone at Dinner

TIME.com stock photos Social Apps iPhone
Elizabeth Renstrom for TIME

In-depth new research shows you should know better

It’s official: using your cell phone during a family dinner is frowned upon by pretty much everybody.

A new survey by Pew Research Center found that 88% of respondents believe it’s “generally” not OK to use a cell phone during dinner. An even larger percentage, 94%, say cell phone use is inappropriate during meetings, while 95% say they shouldn’t be used at theaters and 96% say they shouldn’t be used during religious services.

Overall, 82% of respondents say that using a phone in social settings hurts conversations, at least occasionally. However, that fact isn’t stopping people from whipping out their devices. 89% of respondents said they had used their phone during their most recent social gathering, most often to read a text or email, take a photo or send a text.

Pew surveyed 3,000 adults for the study.

There are some contexts in which people think phone use is appropriate. 77% of those surveyed said using a phone while walking down the street is “generally OK.” 75% said phone use is fine on public transportation, and 74% said using a phone is OK while waiting in line.

Men are generally more likely to approve the use of cell phones in social settings than women. Smartphone owners are also more likely to deem the practice appropriate than non-smartphone owners. And unsurprisingly, younger adults have less qualms about using phones in social contexts than older adults do. But even among adults aged 18 to 29, only 16% say it’s OK to use your phone at family dinner. So stop doing that.

TIME Military

The Air Force’s $25 Billion Bomber Blunder

Northrop Grumman An artist's rendering of what the Long Range Strike Bomber might look like.

Are these the same people picking targets?

No one knows what the Air Force’s top-secret new bomber will look like. But the service keeps saying it knows how much it’s going to cost. That’s what makes the Air Force’s $25 billion price tag error so disconcerting.

The problem began last year, when the service told Congress the yet-to-be-built Long-Range Strike Bomber would cost $33.1 billion between 2015 and 2025. It recently updated the estimate (from 2016 to 2026) to $58.4 billion—a hike of $25.3 billion, or 76%.

That works out to a swing of $169 for each of the roughly 150 million Americans who file federal tax returns. But, the Air Force acknowledged last week, the latest cost estimate to develop and buy the aircraft over the coming decade is pegged at $41.7 billion. Apparently, the fledgling stealth bomber can elude fiscal reckoning as well as enemy radar.

The pair of multi-billion-dollar snafus—$9 billion too low last year, $17 billion too high this year—is head-spinning. It leads to a simple question: is anyone minding the store?

Calculating the cost and timetable of new weapons is always difficult. Military hardware is constantly pushing the boundaries of what is possible (the new bomber, for example, will be “a long-range, air-refuelable, highly survivable aircraft with significant nuclear and conventional stand-off and direct-attack weapons payload,” according to the Air Force). The military hierarchy has strong institutional incentives to lowball costs and tighten schedules despite the state-of-the-art systems under development that challenge both. Lower costs and quicker production make it more likely that a weapon will be bought.

That helps explain why a weapon’s final cost, at the end of a production run, usually bear little resemblance to initial projections (and the inevitable delays drive up costs, which reduce the numbers of aircraft, tanks or ships to be bought, which drives up costs, and so on).

But none of that explains why the Air Force flubbed its numbers for the new bomber. Sure, early cost projections (drafted by an alliance of a military service that wants to buy what’s being built, and by contractors who want to sell it), are squishy.

But the Long-Range Strike Bomber was supposed to be different. Ever since 2011, the Pentagon has been saying the new warplane will cost $550 million a jet (although that estimate uses 2010 dollars, requires buying up to 100 of the new planes, and doesn’t include an estimated $20 billion more in research and development efforts that will be required to build it). In other words, it will cost a lot more than $550 million apiece, and taxpayers will invariably foot the higher bill.

The Long-Range Strike Bomber (it’ll eventually get a nifty name, like the B-3 Stealthstratofortress soon enough) isn’t a run-of-the-mill program. After all, it’s one of the service’s top programs, something the Air Force says is a vital replacement for the aging B-52 and B-2 bomber leg of the nuclear triad, which also includes land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine-launched missiles. A team of Boeing and Lockheed Martin is competing against Northrop Grumman to build it. The service announced last June it expected to select a contractor by this past spring, but that announcement has slipped until fall.

Rebuilding the nation’s nuclear triad is serious business. The cost estimates, contained in annual reports to Congress on how much the nation is modernizing its atomic forces, should have been double-checked, coordinated, scrubbed and double-checked again to ensure their accuracy.

While they’re only estimates—and need to mesh only with other estimates—their integrity is key to building support for a program that some believe isn’t worth the cost.

So what happened?

“It occurred in part because of human error,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James said Monday. “And in part because of process error, meaning a couple of our people got the figures wrong and the process of coordination was not fully carried out in this case.”

Those who erred have been “counseled,” James said. “The key thing is there has been no change in those cost figures.”

In other words, that recent $41.7 billion estimate is rock solid, at least for now. As they say of the nuclear weapons the new bomber is being designed to carry: close enough.

MONEY Autos

1 in 5 Drivers Don’t Care About Fancy New Car Tech

Infotainment Apathetic Drivers Automakers
Cunningham, Harold—Getty Images A Mercedes-Benz in-vehicle infotainment screen is seen during the 85th International Motor Show on March 3, 2015 in Geneva, Switzerland.

The most common reason cited for abandoning a tech feature? "Did not find it useful."

Today’s new cars come with all sorts of high-tech systems “infotainment”, parking assistance and heads-up displays, but a recent report from J.D. Power says a significant portion of consumers don’t use them.

On Tuesday, the marketing research firm released its Driver Interactive Vehicle Experience Report, detailing the habits of drivers in the first 90 days of new car ownership. The study found at least 20% of drivers never used 16 of the 33 features in question. Vehicle concierge, mobile routers, automatic parking, heads-up displays, and built-in apps led the list of superfluous automotive tech bogging down the driving experience. Considering the effort automakers put into these technologies, that’s significant money left on the table, especially since unused features may be outdated if and when they arrive at their second owner.

According to Kristin Kolodge, a J.D. Power executive director of driver interaction & HMI research, many drivers would rather use their phones and tech they already know. The most common reason cited for abandoning a tech feature? “Did not find it useful.”

Since many of these consumers told J.D. Power the technology “came as part of a package on my current vehicle and I did not want it,” it’s not just the carmakers that are losing out—a fifth of consumers are paying for these things they just don’t use. It’s costing everybody millions.

TIME Ashley Madison

‘John Doe’ Files a Potential Class Action Lawsuit Against Ashley Madison

Homepage of Ashley Madison website displayed on iPad, in photo illustration taken in Ottawa
Chris Wattie—Reuters The homepage of the Ashley Madison website.

The anonymous user is accusing the website of inflicting emotional distress

Another potential class action lawsuit has been filed against Ashley Madison’s parent company Avid Life Media.

This time the plaintiff is an anonymous California resident and Ashley Madison user who goes by the name “John Doe.”

Doe is filing on behalf of all U.S. residents who signed up for the website, alleging that Ashley Madison did not take “necessary and reasonable precautions” regarding security. Among the plaintiff’s accusations, the class action complaint lists negligence and inflicting emotional distress.

The document refers to “the recent rise of massive security breaches on the Internet,” arguing that Avid Life Media should have been aware of the risk and taken precautions to prevent a security breach, especially considering the “particularly sensitive” information users trusted the site to protect.

Ashley Madison supposedly offered a $19 “scrub” option that promised to delete users profiles so they would be untraceable. The suit alleges that Avid Life Media simply collected the money and neglected to scrub the profiles. Doe also accuses the company of not informing users of the breach in a timely manner and neglecting to inform them of its extent.

The lawsuit follows a recent hack of the Ashley Madison website by a group called the Impact Team, which downloaded “highly sensitive personal, financial, and identifying information of the website’s some 37 million users,” the lawsuit said.

The hacker group said it would make the information public if the website was not shut down in August.

MONEY Travel

Dreamliner Gets ‘Nose Job’ After Hail Damage

American Airlines Dreamliner Nose Job.
Huh, Nam Y.—AP American Airlines' first Boeing 787 Dreamliner prepares to depart O'Hare International Airport for Dallas-Fort Worth, Thursday, May 7, 2015, in Chicago.

American Airlines' cheeky Twitter announced the successful operation.

Last month, a Chinese hailstorm pushed in the nose on a $224.6 million Boeing 787 Dreamliner that had only been in service for three months.

The incident didn’t result in any injuries, but the plane’s nose cone area and cockpit had to be replaced in Beijing as well as a slew of lights and flight surfaces that were damaged by the violent storm.

Yesterday, American Airlines tweeted a picture of the mended nose with the text “Oh hail, I’m not afraid to say it: I’ve had a little work done,” which delighted the public, garnering 329 retweets.

The 787 Dreamliner is Boeing’s most efficient plane in its fleet, made in part by advanced materials like carbon fiber in the fuselage—which was not damaged by the hail. American Airlines currently has nine Dreamliners in its fleet and has moved them into long-range routes servicing Buenos Aires, Tokyo, Shanghai and Beijing.

TIME the big picture

How Intel’s Future Goes Way Beyond the PC

Intel Reports Quarterly Earnings
Justin Sullivan—Getty Images The Intel logo is displayed outside of the Intel headquarters on January 16, 2014 in Santa Clara, California.

The company is looking to diversify as the personal computer market shrinks

I spent most of last week alongside thousands of engineers at Intel’s annual Developer Forum, also known as IDF. The company used the San Francisco event to teach techies about its next-generation processors and other new technologies as it strives to move away from just making chips for personal computers and towards a more diverse set of industries.

Intel’s newest Core processors, codenamed Skylake, will be the most powerful and scaleable Intel has ever made. While the details remain under wraps for now, look for more information in early September when the annual IFA trade show begins in Berlin.

Meanwhile, Intel CEO Brian Krzanich’s IDF15 keynote focused on three areas:

  1. Beyond the Keyboard and Mouse Computing of the past relied on hardware devices like the keyboard and mouse. Intel believes computer interaction in the future will involve more of our voice, gestures, touch, sight control and beyond. Intel is designing its processors to take full advantage of these sense-based ways to communicate with and manipulate any device.
  2. Everything Will Be Smarter This is the Internet of Things — the idea that billions more devices will be connected to the Internet very soon. Intel’s designers use this concept as their mantra when creating any new processor. The company is working with partners and developers across industries to create connected devices for use in retail, transportation, medicine, defense and more.
  3. Computing As An Extension of Us Intel is increasingly focused on wearables, including fitness trackers, smartwatches, security bracelets and even fashion accessories. Some of Intel’s newest chips are designed for use in all types of wearables and other similar devices.

But in an interesting twist, Krzanich didn’t use his keynote to talk at length about Intel’s top-of-the-line processors. Instead, he focused primarily on Intel’s new products aimed at the burgeoning Internet of Things market. While Intel is best known for its PC chips, it also has a new processor called Quark that can power all types of non-PC gadgets. While the Quark CPU can be bought as a standalone chip, its real value comes when it’s at the center of a system-on-a-chip package called Edison. According to Intel, Edison features:

• A high-performance, dual-core CPU and single-core microcontroller
• Integrated Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0 support, 1GB DDR and 4 GB Flash memory
• 40 multiplexed GPIO interfaces with expansion board options

That’s all techie speak for a complete computing solution that can be packed into more complex non-PC devices, like robots, drones, and Internet of Things inventions. Indeed, Edison has become a big hit with the DIY “Maker Movement” crowd, as it lets inventors quickly prototype, test and tweak their creations. Intel’s move to support the Internet of Things and broader Maker Movement is critical to the company’s future. Demand for PCs is down, and while the company will continue making powerful processors for them as well as high-end servers, Intel needs to diversify to stay relevant and competitive.

To further bolster the company’s ties to DIYers, the company is teaming up with Shark Tank producer Mark Burnett to create a new show set to debut in 2016 called America’s Greatest Makers. Similar to Shark Tank, the show will feature makers and inventors putting their tech head to head for a $1 million prize.

Intel clearly wants people to see it as more than a PC company, and this year’s IDF reinforced the idea that Intel wants to play a bigger role in the next generation of maker innovations and connected devices. From what I saw at this year’s Developer Forum, Intel seems well on its way to a more diverse future.

Tim Bajarin is recognized as one of the leading industry consultants, analysts and futurists, covering the field of personal computers and consumer technology. Mr. Bajarin is the President of Creative Strategies, Inc and has been with the company since 1981 where he has served as a consultant providing analysis to most of the leading hardware and software vendors in the industry.

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