Windows 10's May update won’t work on PCs with USB storage or SD cards

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Microsoft notified its users that the May Windows 10 update won’t install on PCs using USB storage or SD cards. The company says it’s blocking the installation on those PCs because “inappropriate drive reassignment” might occur and could impact both external devices and internal hard drives. As a workaround, users will need to remove any USB thumb drives, USB-based external hard drives or SD cards and restart the update.

According to ZDNet, only users updating from Windows 10 v1803 (released April 2018) or Windows 10 v1809 (released October 2018) will run into this issue. Users running older versions of Windows 10 should be able to install the May update without any problems, regardless of USB devices and SD cards. Microsoft says it will resolve the glitch before future updates.

This news comes shortly after Microsoft quietly killed Windows 10’s long-promised Sets feature, and even if you successfully install the update, there’s a chance Microsoft could automatically remove it. On the bright side, at least you’ll be able to set an installation time.

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Amazon Prime shipping could shrink to just one-day

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One of the perks of Amazon’s Prime membership is free two-day shipping on Prime-eligible purchases. That, however, might change. In a call to investors following Amazon’s first quarterly earnings report today, CFO Brian Olsavsky said that the company is working on changing the two-day default to just one.

Amazon already offers one-day Prime shipping on select orders, but two-day shipping is still the default. Olsavsky says that could change. “We’re currently working on evolving our Prime shipping program, which has historically been a two-day program, to a one-day shipping program,” he said. “We’ll be building most of this capacity through the year in 2019.”

One of the ways Amazon hopes to do to this is by updating its infrastructure, building out fulfillment centers, and spending about $800 million to facilitate this change. Yahoo Finance reported that Amazon has shifted thousands of employees in an effort to increase fulfillment.

The one-day shipping goal won’t just be through Amazon’s delivery service, but also through partners like UPS, FedEX and the US Postal Service.

It’s unclear if this will be a reality come this holiday season, but Olsavsky says that it is making “steady progress” towards this goal.

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New York AG is investigating Facebook over email contact scraping

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The New York attorney general’s office will investigate Facebook’s “unauthorized collection of 1.5M of their users’ email contact databases.” Earlier this month, it emerged the company had been scraping the contact lists of some users who joined the service after 2016.

Facebook said the data collection was “unintentional,” and it was linked to a discontinued verification method in which it asked new users for their email password (it’s a bad idea to share that with anyone, to be clear). The social network reportedly used the information to refine its ad targeting processes and friend connections, though it didn’t tell users it was collecting their contact lists. It has since ended the data collection practice and said it will delete the contacts.

The investigation will explore how the data collection happened, according to the New York Times, as well as whether the practice impacted more Facebook users beyond those who shared their email passwords.

“It is time Facebook is held accountable for how it handles consumers’ personal information,” Attorney General Letitia James said in a release. “Facebook has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of respect for consumers’ information while at the same time profiting from mining that data. Facebook’s announcement that it harvested 1.5 million users’ email address books, potentially gaining access to contact information for hundreds of millions of individual consumers without their knowledge, is the latest demonstration that Facebook does not take seriously its role in protecting our personal information.”

Facebook has had to contend with several privacy mishaps lately, including an incident last fall in which a breach exposed the accounts of around 30 million users. In March, it admitted its employees had access to hundreds of millions of Facebook users’ passwords, which were stored in plain text. It said last week millions of Instagram passwords had been stored in a similar way.

The attorney general’s investigation is the latest in a long line of recent legal problems for Facebook. Just today, Canada’s privacy commissioner announced plans to take the company to federal court, claiming it had broken laws over its part in the Cambridge Analytica scandal. Facebook is also expecting to pay up to $5 billion to settle a Federal Trade Commission fine.

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Google makes it easier for employees to report harassment

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Google is making it easier for employees to file harassment and discrimination complaints by setting up a dedicated site for them to do so. Melonie Parker, the company’s chief diversity officer, wrote in a letter to employees that Google has firmed up some of the commitments it made in November following an outcry from employees.

She said the new site will provide employees with a simpler, clearer way for them to raise concerns. It’s setting up a similar site for its vendors and temporary workforce, which should be ready in June.

Following a four-month trial period, the company is expanding its Support Person Program, which allows employees to bring a trusted coworker with them to discrimination and harassment investigations. It’s also rolling out a program to provide employees with better care both during and after an investigation. In addition, Google has published its workplace policies — including on harassment, discrimination, conduct and retaliation — and shared an Investigations Practice Guide, which details what Googlers can expect while their concerns are addressed.

Google has also just internally published its annual report on misconduct investigations. This year’s report includes an expanded section about sexual harassment investigations. Parker noted that she’ll have regular meetings with Google executives and Alphabet’s board of directors regarding harassment and misconduct.

Many Google employees have objected to how the company addresses sexual misconduct and harassment, with around 20,000 walking off the job in protest in November in what was known as the Google Walkout. Soon after, CEO Sundar Pichai announced Google would end forced arbitration for sexual harassment and assault, allowing accusors to take their cases to court. Earlier this week, Google Walkout organizers accused the company of retaliation against them over the protest.

When asked for comment on the latest policy changes, Google Walkout directed Engadget to a previous statement, in which leaders demanded more from the company. It said then that Google “must address issues of systemic racism and discrimination, including pay equity and rates of promotion, and not just sexual harassment alone. These forms of marginalization function together to police access to power and resources.”

Update 4/25/2019 4:45 PM: Added the response from Google Walkout.

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AI-analyzed tweets could help Europe track floods

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The European Commission’s Joint Research Center is working on a tool that could use tweets and artificial intelligence to collect real-time data on floods. In a paper released on Arvix.org, EU scientists explain how their Social Media for Flood Risk (SMFR) prototype could help emergency responders better understand what’s happening on the ground in flooded areas and determine what trouble spots might need immediate attention.

The tool works in collaboration with Europe’s Flood Awareness System (EFAS). When EFAS identifies areas with heightened flood risks, it triggers SMFR to begin collecting flood-related tweets from users in those areas. Gathering reliable information from Twitter is no easy task, especially considering that EFAS covers an area with more than 27 languages. That’s where the team put AI to work. To start, the researchers trained SMFR to spot flood-related keywords in English, German, Spanish and French. In a test during floods in Calabria, Italy, last fall, the tool successfully gathered 14,347 tweets over three days, sorted them by relevance and provided geo-location data.

The Joint Research Center hopes EFAS might use the tweets alongside other flood data it collects, like satellite imagery. As the paper explains, we know social media can provide timely data during natural disasters, but less attention has been paid to how to integrate social media in a seamless, reliable way with other tools for disaster forecasting and monitoring. The Joint Research Center is not alone. Both Google and Facebook have committed to using AI to gather flood data. Together, all of these tools could give first responders a better picture of what they’re heading into.

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