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WATCH: Boston Dynamics' 'robot dog' taught to open doors

Robots are already changing the world around us – and in some people’s minds, getting ready to take over the world – but at least one of them has good manners.

>> Watch the video here

Boston Dynamics, the company behind Atlas (an upright bipedal robot that looks like it’s wearing a space suit), Spot (a 4-legged robot that sprints like a cheetah) and Handle (a wheeled robot that can spin, squat and jump), has introduced their newest creation – SpotMini, a robot the company has taught to open doors.

>> Read more trending news 

The newest video is only 45 seconds long, but it shows one discouraged SpotMini that gets stuck at a door. Thankfully, another SpotMini arrives – and this one is built with an arm that can grab the handle and pull the door open, allowing the first robot through before following behind.

Boston Dynamics designs robots with real-world applications that range from searching damaged buildings to chasing criminals.

Lyft responds to claims of employees snooping on riders

Former Lyft employees say the company spied on riders, and now the ride-sharing service is investigating the claim. 

According to a report from The Information, a current or former employee made an anonymous post online claiming  to have seen employees look up rider data on friends, exes, porn stars, actors and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.

>> Read more trending news 

Tech Crunch reported that it spoke with a source who once worked with Lyft. The unnamed source said staff can see feedback, rider history and pickup and dropoff coordinates.

“Maintaining the trust of passengers and drivers is fundamental to Lyft,” the company said in a statement. “The specific allegations in this post would be a violation of Lyft’s policies and a cause for termination, and have not been raised with our Legal or Executive teams. We are conducting an investigation into the matter. 

“Access to data is restricted to certain teams that need it to do their jobs. For those teams, each query is logged and attributed to a specific individual. We require employees to be trained in our data privacy practices and responsible use policy, which categorically prohibit accessing and using customer data for reasons other than those required by their specific role at the company. Employees are required to sign confidentiality and responsible use agreements that bar them from accessing, using, or disclosing customer data outside the confines of their job responsibilities.”

A timeline for Lyft’s investigation was not provided, according to CNN.

Related video: Tips for Safely Using Ride-Hailing Services

This man bit into an iPhone battery and it exploded in his face

If you needed a reason not to bite your iPhone battery, here it is.

>> On AJC.com: How to tell if Apple is slowing down your iPhone — and how to fix it

According to Taiwan News, a man entered an electronics store in China hoping to purchase a replacement battery for his iPhone.

>> Read more trending news 

In an attempt to test its authenticity, the customer reportedly bit into the battery and as he removed it from his mouth, the product ruptured, exploding in his face.

Luckily, no one was injured.

>> Apple admits to throttling iPhone CPU speed as battery ages

CCTV posted footage of the bizarre incident to Miaopai.com, and the video eventually made its way to YouTube.

The episode came soon after outrage over Apple’s admittance to slowing down older iPhone models with aging batteries led to big discounts on replacement batteries around the globe, including in China.

>> Apple faces multiple lawsuits over iPhone battery speed

“However,” Taiwan News reported, “Chinese electronics stores are notoriously replete with fake goods, thus the man was in his own – but obviously wrong – way trying to test its authenticity.”

Lesson of the story: Don’t bite into your iPhone battery

Weiss Ratings grades cryptocurrencies: Ethereum gets a B, Bitcoin a C+

Unveiling its cryptocurrency grades, Weiss Ratings said Wednesday that Ethereum rates a B, or “good,” while Bitcoin gets just a C+, for fair. No virtual money earned an A, or “excellent.”

>> What is bitcoin? What you need to know about cryptocurrency

Meanwhile, Weiss Ratings founder Martin Weiss said his staff was up all night fending off denial of service attacks. The Palm Beach Gardens, Florida, company responded to the cyberattacks by expanding its server capacity.

>> On MyPalmBeachPost.com: Amid Bitcoin craze, Weiss Ratings to launch cryptocurrency ratings

“Commentary on social media expressed considerable fear we were about to release negative ratings on their preferred currencies,” Weiss said. “So this may be an attempt to thwart our release today.” 

In addition to swarming its servers, Weiss said, cryptocurrency partisans also spread phony ratings of their preferred alt-coins.

The new Weiss Cryptocurrency Ratings evaluate alt-coins on price risk, reward potential, blockchain technology, adoption, security and other factors. Some of the grades: 

• Bitcoin (C+) gets high marks for security and widespread adoption but low grades for network bottlenecks and steep transaction costs. 

• Ethereum (B), the second most popular cryptocurrency, “benefits from more readily upgradable technology and better speed, despite some bottlenecks,” Weiss said. 

• Novacoin (D) and SaluS (D) get subpar grades driven by a lack of technological innovation and meager adoption. 

>> Read more trending news 

• Steem gets a B-, thanks to “a relatively good balance of moderate strength in nearly all the key factors considered along with a social network feature,” Weiss says.

While Weiss doled out no As, he doesn’t consider himself a hater of virtual money

“Despite extreme price volatility, cryptocurrencies have a bright future and the potential to deliver unusually large profits to investors,” Weiss said. “However, the market is hectic and confusing for investors. They need the clarity that only robust, impartial ratings can provide.” 

Amazon announces final 20 cities in the running for second headquarters

Officials with technology giant Amazon on Thursday announced that the company has narrowed down its list of possible sites for its second headquarters to 20 metropolitan areas.

>> Read more trending news

The company said it got nearly 240 proposals from across the U.S. Canada and Mexico.

“All the proposals showed tremendous enthusiasm and creativity,” Holly Sullivan, with Amazon Public Policy. “Through this process we learned about many new communities across North America that we will consider as locations for future infrastructure investment and job creation.”

What is bitcoin? What you need to know about cryptocurrency

If you own bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies, it might be a bad day for you.

The price of bitcoin plunged by 15 percent Tuesday morning, dropping below $12,000 for the first time since Dec. 4. Other cryptocurrencies have also seen price declines, with Ethereum falling by 20 percent and Ripple falling by 33 percent. The plunging prices are a stark difference to the success bitcoin saw last month — hitting a record of nearly $20,000 on Dec. 16.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: Currency of the future? Some argue it’s bitcoin

As the digital currency bitcoin surges in popularity, curious investors and entrepreneurs alike are watching closely to see what happens with the fluctuating prices. Don’t understand the basics of bitcoin? Here’s what you need to know:

What is bitcoin?

Bitcoin is a cryptocurrency, or a digital token, that can be sent electronically and directly from peer to peer. There is no physical backing and it is a decentralized currency — meaning it is not controlled by any government or banking entity. Bitcoin is the first cryptocurrency ever created, and remains the most popular one to date.

“I tell people it’s a digital currency and it’s a program,” said Jad Mubaslat, Wright State University graduate student and founder of BitQuick.co, a bitcoin trading platform. “For the first time in history, it allows anyone anywhere in the world to send any amount of money instantly. Most importantly, it’s without a third party … like a bank or a government. Now, you can truly send your money without somebody telling you what you can or cannot do.”

>> On MyDaytonDailyNews.com: I bought bitcoin. Here’s what I learned

The record of all bitcoin exchanges and transactions are on what is called the blockchain, which is a network of decentralized computers.

How was bitcoin created?

Bitcoin was created by a programmer going by the name Satoshi Nakamoto in 2008. He communicated only through email and social messaging, and no one truly knows Nakamoto’s identity. He released the software globally in 2009, and now anyone can use and download it.

How do you buy bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies?

In the U.S., several websites have popped up where you can buy and sell bitcoin online. One of the most popular websites is Coinbase and others include Mubaslat’s BitQuick.coCoindesk.com and bitcoin.com. Investors can also meet with other bitcoin users in person and trade bitcoin via their virtual wallets on their phones. After meeting another bitcoin user through websites like Craigslist or LocalBitcoin.com, a user simply scans a QR code with another person’s wallet to transfer bitcoin.

Some people prefer to buy bitcoin in person or through a bitcoin ATM because the bitcoin transfer over faster than when they buy it online — it can take up to seven days, and sometimes longer, for bitcoin to show up in a virtual wallet after purchasing it online.

Why do some criminals use cryptocurrency for illegal transactions?

Some criminals use bitcoin because users can open a wallet to send and receive bitcoin without giving a name or identity. There is no bank or central authority, like a government, to control this information. Bitcoin also became a popular method for making ransom payments when a computer system is taken over by ransomware.

>> On DaytonDailyNews.com: How criminals use bitcoin illegally

However, bitcoin is not completely anonymous and transactions can be traced by police through bitcoin trading websites. Other untraceable cryptocurrencies, like Monero, are becoming popular for dark web uses including drug trafficking and human trafficking.

How is the worth of bitcoin decided?

The price — and ultimate worth — of bitcoin fluctuates, and experts are calling the cryptocurrency extremely volatile. The price is determined by open-market bidding on Bitcoin exchanges. The worth of bitcoin could be compared to the way that gold prices fluctuate — in the sense that gold has value because people believe it does.

What exactly is bitcoin mining?

Mining is the process that creates new bitcoins in the blockchain, or network of computers. The bitcoin miners race to process new transactions, and the fastest computers get a chunk of new bitcoin. A miner wins the race about every 10 minutes, which will happen until there are 21 million bitcoins in the world. No new bitcoins will be created after the blockchain has 21 million, which is expected to happen in 2140.

Anyone can set their computer up to mine bitcoin, but programmers with specialized hardware are usually the only ones to win bitcoin now.

Are there any other cryptocurrencies as popular as bitcoin?

Other cryptocurrencies also exist, but bitcoin is the most popular one right now. Other popular cryptocurrency includes Ethereum, Bitcoin Cash, Ripple, Litecoin and Monero. Digital cryptocurrencies are being created for all types of uses like the legal marijuana industry and adult entertainment and sex worker industries.

>> Read more trending news 

What are the legal uses of bitcoin?

Most transactions on the bitcoin network aren’t illegal — it’s typically people buying and selling bitcoin to each other. People in countries with high inflation or unstable governments are putting their money into bitcoin to avoid losing their savings. It’s also used to transfer large sums of money internationally. It is quicker to transfer bitcoin than it is to go through a bank transfer, which can take weeks.

Some businesses also accept bitcoin, including Overstock.com, Wikipedia, backpage.com and Square. For a short time, a franchise of Firehouse Subs in Cincinnati accepted bitcoin. The restaurant, in Clifton, shut down a few years ago. “Firehouse Subs didn’t do very many transactions in bitcoin, but it has generated buzz around the shop,” the Cincinnati Business Courier wrote.

Apple to replace iPhone batteries for $29 sooner rather than later

If you’re tired of your iPhone battery not performing and you’re running an iPhone6 or later, you’re in luck. 

Apple is replacing the batteries now, instead of waiting for the original end of the month start date.

>> Read more trending news 

But, the tech giant warns that supplies may be limited, CNN reported.

Recently it was discovered that Apple was slowing down, or throttling, older phones to make sure they didn’t shut down unexpectedly. 

The code was pushed out in an iOS update last year, CNN reported

Apple says that the code was for older lithium-ion batteries, but a new battery should make phones return to normal speed.

Customers believed that the throttling was started so people would upgrade to newer models.

The company, in a letter to customers posted to Apple.com, said that the slowdown wasn’t an attempt to make people buy new technology. 

The batteries, which usually cost $79, originally were able to be replaced with the $50 discount at the end of January, but the company started the program early. It is expected to run until the end of the year, USA Today reported.

Apple is also working on iOS updates with iOS 11.2.5 in beta testing, Forbes reported.

To get the battery replaced, visit an Apple Store, an Apple certified retailer or send the phone to Apple support, CNN reported.

Apple faces multiple lawsuits over iPhone battery speed

Soon after news emerged that Apple admitted to slowing down iPhone performance as the devices’ batteries age, multiple lawsuits have been filed against the company.

CNBC reported that Stefan Bogdanovich and Dakota Speas filed a class-action lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Central District of California against Apple, claiming the company never asked for consent from them to alter the performance of their phones.

>> Read more trending news 

The lawsuit says Apple breached the implied contracts with Bogdanovich and Speas “by purposefully slowing down older iPhone models when new models come out and by failing to properly disclose that at the time that the parties entered into an agreement,” according to WCBS.

The complaint also says that the two are entitled to compensation because the slowdown of their devices cause them to suffer “economic damages and other harm.”

Related: Apple admits to throttling iPhone CPU speed as battery ages

“Our goal is to deliver the best experience for customers, which includes overall performance and prolonging the life of their devices. Lithium-ion batteries become less capable of supplying peak current demands when in cold conditions, have a low battery charge or as they age over time, which can result in the device unexpectedly shutting down to protect its electronic components,” Apple said in a statement to The Verge about performance of the devices.

“Last year we released a feature for iPhone 6, iPhone 6s and iPhone SE to smooth out the instantaneous peaks only when needed to prevent the device from unexpectedly shutting down during these conditions. We’ve now extended that feature to iPhone 7 with iOS 11.2, and plan to add support for other products in the future,” Apple said in the statement.

Bogdanovich and Speas are trying to get the case certified to cover all U.S. owners of iPhones older than the iPhone 8, according to CNBC. Their suit is not the only one against Apple since the company released its statement about iPhone battery speed. WCBS reported that a second class-action lawsuit was filed in Illinois on Thursday night.

The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the suit was filed in Chicago by two people in Illinois as well as by Ohio, North Carolina and Indiana residents with iPhone models 5 through 7.

The suit says Apple “needlessly subjects consumers to purchasing newer and more expensive iPhones when a replacement battery could have allowed consumers to continue to use their older iPhones.”

Unspecified damages are being sought in the suit.

5 things to know about the FCC’s net neutrality repeal

The Federal Communications Commission voted 3-2 along party lines last week to repeal several rules surrounding net neutrality, a set of principles meant to stop broadband corporations from exercising control over what people see and do on the internet. Here are five things to know about what net neutrality is and what the repeal can mean for you.

>> Read more trending news

1. What is net neutrality?

Net neutrality as it’s known today dates back to 2005. In essence, it’s the principle that all internet traffic should be treated equally in terms of user access and allowing a free and open experience for both users and content providers. Under the former protections, broadband companies such as Comcast Corp., Verizon Communications Inc. and AT&T Inc. were not allowed to block, throttle or provide preferred treatment to particular sites and services for a fee.

>> Related: Net neutrality vote: FCC OKs repeal of Obama-era rules

In 2015, former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler, under President Barack Obama, moved to make broadband providers officially designated as telecommunications companies, which allowed the commission to regulate and put legally protected rules into place regarding the internet under Title II of the Communications Act.

2. What has changed following the vote?

The FCC’s vote has done two things: taken away broadband companies’ status as telecommunications companies and eliminated the anti-throttling rules. FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, a former Verizon lawyer, said the rules were heavy-handed and the repeal returns net neutrality back to a “soft-touch” approach, which he said will allow the industry more freedom for innovation in the market and increase investments in the industry in the long term.

3. How will this affect consumers?

Opponents have said the repeal will lead to an ability for internet service providers to create “fast lanes” for certain sites and services who pay for the privilege. It can also allow those companies to pressure content providers like Netflix to pay more to have their content served to users at the same speed as everything else, which could, in turn, force those providers to raise consumer prices to offset the cost.

>> Related: State attorneys general ask FCC to delay net neutrality vote

Several companies, including Comcast, have said they will maintain their current stance on net neutrality and have vowed not to change their operations based on the decision but have left the door open to change their minds in the future. The FCC chairman said reducing regulations should lead to more innovations.

4. When will changes take effect?

Changes to the way ISPs provide access to consumers won’t come immediately but could happen gradually. However, several groups -- including the media reform advocacy group Free Press and Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson -- have said they intend to sue the FCC to block the change. Lawsuits aren’t expected to appear in the court until after the change has been noted in the Federal Register in the coming weeks, but House Subcommittee on Communications and the Internet Chairwoman Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., said she plans on introducing net neutrality legislation next week.

5. Who wins and who loses with this repeal?

The move is a win for broadband companies who have wanted the repeal to take effect ever since the formal 2015 rules were enacted. The companies have had fears the rules would allow the FCC to set prices for services or force them to share infrastructure with competitors. But the repeal passed last week erases that and allows companies the ability to change fees and practices as they wish.

>> Related: New York AG investigating fraudulent net neutrality comments to FCC

Consumers may see price hikes for services they already use, like Hulu and Sling TV, over time due to the repeal. Opponents also argue the rule change can allow ISPs to influence or limit what opinions you can express or hear based on how they block or slow down certain sites and create monopolies.

RIP AIM: AOL retires its pioneering Instant Messenger app

It’s the end of an era. As of Friday, web company AOL’s groundbreaking Instant Messenger program is no more.

>> Read more trending news

Oath, the entity formed by AOL combined with Yahoo, announced in October that it would retire AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) on Dec. 15.

As of Friday, users were no longer be able to sign into AIM. Officials with Oath said in October that data associated with the app will be deleted and warned that users would have to save their images, files and chat history before Dec. 15, if they hoped to keep it.

People who have email addresses under the aim.com domain name will still be able to access email as usual, according to Oath.

AIM was the first chat application of its kind when it launched in 1997.

“AIM tapped into new digital technologies and ignited a cultural shift, but the way in which we communicate with each other has profoundly changed,” said Michael Albers, vice president of communications products at Oath. “As a result we’ve made the decision that we will be discontinuing AIM effective December 15, 2017.”

Company officials said in an FAQ about the change that no replacement app is in the works.

“Thank you to all of our AIM users,” Albers said. “We are more excited than ever to continue building the next generation of iconic brands and life-changing products for users around the world.”

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