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Industry & Technology

Uber wins key ruling in its fight against treating drivers as employees

Ars Technica - 17 min 4 sec ago

Enlarge (credit: MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

A federal appeals court handed Uber a significant win Tuesday in its battle to avoid having its drivers declared to be legal employees. Uber has asked the courts to throw out the lawsuit, because Uber's driver agreement requires this kind of dispute to be handled in private arbitration instead—an endorsement that the 9th Circuit Appeals Court has now accepted.

Uber says that its drivers are legally independent contractors, not employees. That's significant because federal law strictly regulates the relationship between employers and employees. Employees are guaranteed to earn federal minimum wage and are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. Uber employees, in contrast, are paid by the ride and might earn much less than minimum wage if they drive at a slow time of day.

California law also gives employees the right to be reimbursed for expenses they incur on the job, which would be significant for Uber drivers who otherwise are responsible for gas, maintenance, insurance, and other expenses of operating an Uber vehicle.

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Apple stole Qualcomm chip secrets and gave them to Intel, Qualcomm claims

Ars Technica - 48 min ago

Enlarge / The iPhone XS and XS Max. (credit: Apple)

Qualcomm has accused Apple of stealing modem-chip designs and giving them to Intel in order to help Intel make cellular chips that could be used in iPhones at lower prices than those charged by Qualcomm.

"Apple has engaged in a years-long campaign of false promises, stealth, and subterfuge designed to steal Qualcomm's confidential information and trade secrets for the purpose of improving the performance and accelerating time to market of lower-quality modem chipsets, including those developed by Intel Corporation, competitor of Qualcomm, to render such chipsets useable in Apple iPhones and other devices, with the ultimate goal of diverting Qualcomm's Apple-based business to Intel," Qualcomm wrote in a proposed amended complaint.

Apple started switching from Intel to Qualcomm modem chips in iPhones and other devices in 2011 when it launched the Verizon version of the iPhone 4, Qualcomm said. But Apple began switching back to Intel chips in some iPhone models in 2016, apparently to get lower prices despite the Intel chips' lower performance. Qualcomm alleges that the switch to Intel in 2016 and Intel chip improvements since then were aided by Apple's illegal actions.

Read 25 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Dealmaster: Get Red Dead Redemption 2 bundled with a PS4 Pro at no extra cost

Ars Technica - 55 min 59 sec ago

Enlarge (credit: TechBargains)

Greetings, Arsians! Courtesy of our friends at TechBargains, we have another round of deals to share. Today's list is headlined by a new bundle that pairs Red Dead Redemption 2 with Sony's PlayStation 4 Pro console for the latter's usual $400 retail price.

Now, PS4 Pro bundles are nothing new, and there will inevitably be chances to score the console and game for less than $400 after Rockstar's latest is out. But stock of the PS4 Pro has been somewhat sporadic on its own, so if you're interested in the 4K-ready console and plan to buy Red Dead Redemption 2 anyway, it's a decent savings off the bat.

As for whether the PS4 Pro is worth it in the first place, that'll depend on how much stock you put in 4K gaming. The standard PS4 can play in HDR, and generally speaking there's little reason to pay more if you're using a 1080p TV or 1440p monitor. Still, even if it's not a generational leap, the Pro does make many games look and run smoother on higher-end screens.

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Telltale plans to finish The Walking Dead despite mass layoffs

Ars Technica - 1 hour 39 min ago

Enlarge (credit: Telltale)

After Friday's surprise announcement that more than 90 percent of Telltale's staff had been let go, the company now says it is talking to "potential partners" that could help complete the current, final season of The Walking Dead.

Part two of the planned four-part episodic adventure game series launched today, and the season was previously set to conclude on December 18. But Telltale confirmed in a tweeted statement last night that it is "actively working on a solution that will allow episodes 3 and 4 to be completed and released in some form." To that end, the company says that "multiple potential partners have stepped forward to express interest in helping to see The Final Season through to completion."

While 25 of Telltale's 275 employees are being retained by the company for now, Netflix indicated in a statement that skeleton staff will be finishing up work on Minecraft: Story Mode, which is "moving forward as planned." Negotiations between Netflix and Telltale for a potential Stranger Things episodic game are now out the window, though, and Netflix says it will be "evaluating other options for bringing the Stranger Things universe to life in an interactive medium."

Read 12 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Microsoft flings features at Teams to close the Slack gap

The Register - 1 hour 49 min ago
StaffHub takes one for the Teams

Microsoft rarely misses an opportunity to extoll the virtues of its collaboration platform, Teams, and this month’s Ignite is no exception.…

Lucky dog gets 3D-printed skull plate after tumor removal - CNET - News - 1 hour 50 min ago
Patches the dachshund could be blazing a trail for medical uses of 3D printing for humans.

3D-printed gun maker Cody Wilson resigns from Defense Distributed - CNET - News - 1 hour 51 min ago
Wilson was arrested in Taiwan and is now facing sexual assault charges in the US.

Meet the Science Fair star who almost failed math class - CNET - News - 1 hour 52 min ago
Robbie Barrat, a brilliant teen featured in the new documentary about young high-achievers, is a great reminder that kids learn in all kinds of ways.

Amazon Echo Plus is the smart home hub of the future - CNET - Reviews - 2 hours 21 sec ago
Small changes could make a big difference for Amazon's smart home-focused speaker.

Fantastic Beasts 2: Release date, trailers, cast, plot and rumors - CNET - News - 2 hours 1 min ago
Do you believe in magic? In the pre-Harry Potter sequel, fans will get to know young Dumbledore.

Solo: A Star Wars Story now on Blu-ray, Digital HD: Every way to watch - CNET - News - 2 hours 8 min ago
Han Solo's origin movie is ready for home viewing.

Wikimedia Endowment gets new $1 million backing from Amazon - CNET - News - 2 hours 13 min ago
The donation is part of Amazon's and CEO Jeff Bezos' growing work in philanthropy.

Microsoft and Shell team up to build AI into gas stations - CNET - News - 2 hours 16 min ago
Shell is experimenting with cameras that can tell if you're smoking at a gas station.

How to thwart rogue employees: Tune in this month to our live insider threat webcast

The Register - 2 hours 19 min ago
Experts brief Reg readers on how to keep bad actors at bay

Broadcast On 26 September 2018 at 10am PDT, 11am MT, 6pm UK, we'll have a studio full of experts lined up to talk about insider threats and how even the best organisations can suffer from occasional bouts of "bad employee syndrome".…

After-market car tech firm sold 363,000 emissions-cheating devices, DOJ says

Ars Technica - 2 hours 19 min ago

Enlarge / An OBD-2 port is illuminated during an emissions test. (credit: Getty Images)

On Monday, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) announced a settlement with an after-market car technology company called Derive Systems. Derive was accused of selling 363,000 devices that could defeat the emissions control systems of any car. The settlement called for Derive to spend around $6 million correcting its sold and unsold software to prevent further emissions tampering, as well as pay a fine of $300,000.

Derive's products rely on the OBD (On Board Diagnostics) II port that's found in most cars. Ars wrote about the company last year, noting that it is able to not only read diagnostics through the OBD II port, but to write via OBD II as well. This allows the company to re-map engine performance according to a customer's needs or wishes. If you own a fleet of delivery vehicles and you need to maximize efficiency (and minimize fuel cost) at the expense of, say, towing power, Derive's system would allow you to do that.

Unfortunately, it seems the company's software also allowed customers to re-map their engines in the opposite direction, favoring performance over emissions controls, which is verboten by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Clean Air Act.

Read 6 remaining paragraphs | Comments

2019 Chevy Blazer will start right around $30,000 - Roadshow - News - 2 hours 19 min ago
You'll have to wait a bit longer for full-lineup pricing and packaging.

Trump administration recommends better data privacy controls - CNET - News - 2 hours 20 min ago
The proposal will likely shape how federal lawmakers draft any future legislation on privacy.

Inside AT&T's mission to help a city escape gun violence - CNET - News - 2 hours 20 min ago
The company's dialing up a unique community outreach program in Chicago.

Buy 6 Espressotoria coffee-pod packs for less than $54, get the $99 machine free - CNET - News - 2 hours 27 min ago
Your total outlay: $53.34 plus tax. Plus: a $5 learn-to-read app is free for a limited time!

Fortnite season 6 is coming Thursday: Here's what we know so far - CNET - News - 2 hours 31 min ago
An official release date, some Twitter teasers and early patch notes give us plenty of things to ponder.

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