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Microsoft Isn't Renaming Xbox Live and Has 'No Plans' To Discontinue Xbox Live Gold

Thu, 06/08/2020 - 04:03
Last month, Microsoft removed the option to purchase 12 months of Xbox Live Gold from the Microsoft Store, leading many to believe the company could be planning to phase out the service altogether with the launch of the Xbox Series X. When asked about the plans by The Verge, Microsoft said: "We have no plans to discontinue Xbox Live Gold at this time. It is an important part of gaming on Xbox today, and will continue to be in the future." The Verge's report also notes the company isn't planning to rename Xbox Live: Rumors of an Xbox Live rename appeared this week, after Microsoft announced changes to its services agreement. The software giant started referring to Xbox Live as the "Xbox online service," prompting some to assume Xbox Live was going away. "The update to 'Xbox online service' in the Microsoft Services Agreement refers to the underlying Xbox service that includes features like cross-saves and friend requests," says a Microsoft spokesperson in a statement to The Verge. "This language update is intended to distinguish that underlying service, and the paid Xbox Live Gold subscription. There are no changes being made to the experience of the service or Xbox Live Gold." While it's clear Xbox Live Gold isn't going away, Microsoft's statement doesn't mean the service won't be made free at some point in the future. Microsoft still requires Xbox One owners, and potentially Xbox Series X owners, to purchase an Xbox Live Gold subscription to play multiplayer games online. Windows 10 players of Xbox Live-enabled games do not require the same subscription, however. This split gets especially tricky for games like Halo Infinite, which Microsoft has promised will have a free-to-play multiplayer mode. If Microsoft does continue Xbox Live Gold as a paid service on Xbox consoles, then PC players will get totally free access to Halo Infinite and Xbox players will not.

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Ryzen 4000 Notebooks Delayed By At Least Two Months Due To Shortage of Processors

Thu, 06/08/2020 - 03:25
New submitter spth writes: Demand for notebooks with AMD Ryzen processors is far higher than supply. Following a reddit post by a Schenker (German computer manufacturer) employee about Ryzen 4800H shortages, Heinz Heise (Heinz Heise is the publisher of some leading German computer magazines, such as c't and iX) journalists investigated and found that the shortage apparently affects all Ryzen 4000 mobile APUs, and according to AMD is an industry-wide phenomena. Apparently, a large part of TSMC production capacity is needed for production of the APUs of future PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X consoles, and cannot be used to compensate for increased Ryzen 4000 demand.

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Japan Is Running Diagnostic Tests On Its First Real Gundam

Thu, 06/08/2020 - 02:45
New submitter nightflameauto writes: Japan has a working prototype of a real Gundam that is currently undergoing testing at the Gundam Factory. No, that's not the plot of some silly sci-fi movie, it's actually happening. There's a somewhat sensationally-titled video available of the 18-meter (60-foot) robot assembly running some small movement tests where it twists its torso and lifts a leg, then places it back down. Small steps, but the initial plan is to have this beast debut this October in free-standing/walking form. Welcome to 2020. We may have calamity upon calamity, but at least we've got a Gundam.

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US Reaches $1 Billion Deal For Doses of Potential Johnson & Johnson Vaccine

Thu, 06/08/2020 - 02:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: The Trump administration on Wednesday announced a deal worth approximately $1 billion for the manufacturing of 100 million doses of a potential coronavirus vaccine from Johnson & Johnson that the federal government would then own. The move is the latest in a series of agreements the Trump administration has made with several companies making potential coronavirus vaccines. The goal, through the Operation Warp Speed program, is to make bets on a wide array of vaccine candidates with the hope that at least one and maybe more will end up proving safe and effective through clinical trials. The companies will begin manufacturing the doses even before the results are in to accelerate the process. Johnson & Johnson said its goal is to have 1 billion doses made available throughout 2021, if the vaccine proves to be safe and effective.

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Here's Exactly How Inefficient Wireless Charging Is

Thu, 06/08/2020 - 01:25
News outlet OneZero crunched the numbers on just how inefficient wireless charging is -- and the results are pretty revealing. From the report: On paper, wireless charging sounds appealing. Just drop a phone down on a charger and it will start charging. There's no wear and tear on charging ports, and chargers can even be built into furniture. Not all of the energy that comes out of a wall outlet, however, ends up in a phone's battery. Some of it gets lost in the process as heat. While this is true of all forms of charging to a certain extent, wireless chargers lose a lot of energy compared to cables. They get even less efficient when the coils in the phone aren't aligned properly with the coils in the charging pad, a surprisingly common problem. [...] To get a sense of how much extra power is lost when using wireless charging versus wired charging in the real world, I tested a Pixel 4 using multiple wireless chargers, as well as the standard charging cable that comes with the phone. I used a high-precision power meter that sits between the charging block and the power outlet to measure power consumption. In my tests, I found that wireless charging used, on average, around 47% more power than a cable. Charging the phone from completely dead to 100% using a cable took an average of 14.26 watt-hours (Wh). Using a wireless charger took, on average, 21.01 Wh. That comes out to slightly more than 47% more energy for the convenience of not plugging in a cable. In other words, the phone had to work harder, generate more heat, and suck up more energy when wirelessly charging to fill the same size battery. [...] The first test with the Yootech pad -- before I figured out how to align the coils properly -- took a whopping 25.62 Wh to charge, or 80% more energy than an average cable charge. Hearing about the hypothetical inefficiencies online was one thing, but here I could see how I'd nearly doubled the amount of power it took to charge my phone by setting it down slightly wrong instead of just plugging in a cable.

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LastPass Will Warn You If Your Passwords Show Up On the Dark Web

Thu, 06/08/2020 - 00:45
LastPass is updating its Security Dashboard with a feature that provides an overview of all your accounts, highlighting any passwords that could pose a security risk. The password manager is also introducing dark web monitoring, although it will require you to be a paid LastPass subscriber. Engadget reports: If you already use LastPass and the Security Dashboard sounds familiar, it's because it builds on the Security Challenge functionality LastPass developer LogMeIn added in 2010. As before, grading is a major aspect of the interface. When you first navigate to the Security Dashboard, you'll see a score of all your logins, followed by a breakdown of passwords that are either old, inactive, weak or reused. You can click or tap on a problematic password to change it, and LastPass will automatically take you to the webpage where you can update your login information. LogMeIn hasn't changed how the app calculates the overall score it gives to each user. But one significant improvement the Security Dashboard brings over the Security Challenge is that you don't need to manually run it each time you want to see the security of your online accounts. The score and steps you can take to improve your online security are there each time you visit that part of the software's interface. With today's update, LogMeIn is also introducing dark web monitoring. When you enable the feature, LastPass will proactively check your online accounts against Enzoic's compromised credentials database. If it detects an issue, it will notify you through both email and the app. Dark web monitoring is available to LastPass Premium, Family and Business subscribers. The dashboard, by contrast, is available to all LastPass users.

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Chrome for Android May Soon Send Notifications Reminding You To Use Chrome

Thu, 06/08/2020 - 00:05
An anonymous reader shares a report: For years now, Google Chrome has been an absolute dominant force in the world of web browsers, but since the relaunch of Microsoft Edge based on Google's Chromium, that position has been challenged. Now, Google is preparing to drive more Android owners back to using Chrome through targeted notifications. Over the admittedly brief history of the Internet, there have been a number of fierce competitions, commonly called "browser wars," between companies, in an effort to get more people to use their particular web browser. Mozilla and Netscape waged war against Internet Explorer, and Chrome fought and won against Firefox. Most recently, Microsoft Edge and Samsung Internet have begun to wage war against Chrome on desktop and Android respectively. Now, we've found that Google is preparing to try and win back some of those who have left Chrome for other browsers, starting on Android. Based on our reading of a series of code changes, we believe Google Chrome for Android will send you a notification if you haven't used Chrome in a while.

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Microsoft Integrates Android Apps Into Windows 10 With New 'Your Phone' Update

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 23:25
Microsoft is now allowing Windows 10 users to run Android apps side by side with Windows applications on a PC. The Verge reports: It's part of a new feature in Your Phone, and it builds upon the mirroring that Microsoft's Your Phone app already provides. You can now access a list of Android apps in Microsoft's Your Phone app and launch these mobile apps accordingly. These will run in a separate window outside of the Your Phone app, mirrored from your phone. This new Android app support also allows Windows 10 users to multitask with other Windows apps with alt+tab support, and you'll even be able to pin these Android apps to the Windows 10 taskbar or Start menu. The ability to launch apps directly from Your Phone means you no longer have to search around on a mirrored experience of your phone, you can simply pin your favorite Android apps to the taskbar and run them as if they're regular Windows apps. Microsoft warns that not all Android apps will work seamlessly with this new Your Phone feature. Currently, only Samsung handsets work with the feature, but more devices should be supported "later this year."

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New York Unveils Landmark Antitrust Bill That Makes It Easier To Sue Tech Giants

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 22:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: New York state is introducing a bill that would make it easier to sue big tech companies for alleged abuses of their monopoly powers. Bill S8700A, [The Twenty-First Century Anti-Trust Act] now being discussed by New York's senate consumer protection committee, would update New York's antiquated antitrust laws for the 21st century, said the bill's sponsor, Senator Mike Gianaris. "Their power has grown to dangerous levels and we need to start reining them in," he said. New York's antitrust laws currently require two players to collaborate in a conspiracy to conduct anticompetitive behavior such as price setting. In other cases companies may underprice products to the point where they are even incurring a loss just to drive others out of the market -- anticompetitive behavior that New York's laws would currently struggle to prosecute. "Our laws on antitrust in New York are a century old and they were built for a completely different economy," said Gianaris. "Much of the problem today in the 21st century is unilateral action by some of these behemoth tech companies and this bill would allow, for the first time, New York to engage in antitrust enforcement for unilateral action." The bill will probably be discussed when New York's senate returns to work in August but is unlikely to pass before next year. It has the support of New York's attorney general, Letitia James. "The bill would make criminal offenses by individuals punishable by up to 15 years in prison," adds Engadget, "That's up from four years under the existing law. It's also more time than the current federal maximum sentence of 10 years." "Corporations could be fined up to $100 million, up from the current maximum New York state penalty of $1 million. The proposed changes would also allow class action lawsuits, which could lead to an increase in private antitrust litigation."

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Twitter Hack Zoom Court Hearing Interrupted by Loud Music and Porn

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 22:02
From a report: A judge was forced to suspend the virtual bond hearing of the 17-year-old accused of being the "mastermind" behind the recent massive Twitter hack, after several people got into the Zoom meeting posing as CNN and BBC staffers and played loud music and even a porn video. Multiple reporters who attended the hearing via Zoom on Wednesday confirmed the incident. According to independent security journalist Brian Krebs, the problem was that the judge and his clerks did not set up the meeting in a way that would mute attendees and prevent them from taking over the screen (these are features that can be easily set when one creates a Zoom meeting). "Judges holding hearings over Zoom need to get a clue," Krebs wrote on Twitter.

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Facebook Must Better Police Online Hate, State Attorneys General Say

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 21:24
Twenty state attorneys general on Wednesday called on Facebook to better prevent messages of hate, bias and disinformation from spreading, and said the company needed to provide more help to users facing online abuse. From a report: In a letter [PDF] to the social media giant, the officials said they regularly encountered people facing online intimidation and harassment on Facebook. They outlined seven steps the company should take, including allowing third-party audits of hate content and offering real-time assistance to users. "We hope to work with you to ensure that fewer individuals suffer online harassment and discrimination, and that it is quickly and effectively addressed when they do," said the letter, which was addressed to Facebook's chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, and its chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg. The officials who signed the letter, all of them Democrats, represent states including New York, New Jersey, Illinois and California, as well as the District of Columbia. The letter adds to the rising pressure facing Mr. Zuckerberg and his company to stop disinformation and harassment on Facebook. Civil rights leaders, advertisers and some of the company's own employees have criticized Facebook for failing to curtail the spread of noxious content. Extremists and conspiracists have turned to social media -- most often Facebook, Twitter and YouTube -- to circulate falsehoods about the coronavirus pandemic, the coming presidential election and Black Lives Matter protests. Facebook and other social media companies have made some changes to dismantle misinformation and hate on their services. Last month, Twitter announced that it would remove thousands of accounts associated with the fringe conspiracy movement QAnon, saying their messages could lead to harm and violated Twitter policy. In June, Facebook took down a network of accounts tied to boogaloo, an antigovernment movement in the United States that encourages violence. That same month, YouTube banned six channels for violating its policies, including those of two prominent white supremacists, David Duke and Richard Spencer. But according to the attorneys general, Facebook in particular has not done enough. The officials pointed to Facebook's recent Civil Rights Audit -- which found that advertisers could still run ads that painted a religious group as a threat to the "American way of life" -- as evidence that the social network had fallen short. "Facebook has a hate speech, discrimination, disinformation problem," Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal, of New Jersey, who led the letter, said in an interview. "The way I view it, as an attorney general, is that it directly affects public safety in my state, that the groups that are allowed to find community online, on Facebook, allow hate to be normalized."

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Canon Hit by Maze Ransomware Attack, 10TB Data Allegedly Stolen

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 20:46
Canon has suffered a ransomware attack that impacts numerous services, including Canon's email, Microsoft Teams, USA website, and other internal applications. From a report: BleepingComputer has been tracking a suspicious outage on Canon's image.canon cloud photo and video storage service resulting in the loss of data for users of their free 10GB storage feature. The image.canon site suffered an outage on July 30th, 2020, and over six days, the site would show status updates until it went back in service yesterday, August 4th. However, the final status update was strange as it mentions that while data was lost, "there was no leak of image data." This led BleepingComputer to believe there was more to the story and that they suffered a cyberattack. [...] Today, a source contacted BleepingComputer and shared an image of a company-wide notification titled "Message from IT Service Center" that was sent at approximately 6 AM this morning from Canon's IT department.

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Instagram Displayed Negative Related Hashtags For Biden, But Hid Them For Trump

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 20:05
An anonymous reader shares a report: For at least the last two months, a key Instagram feature, which algorithmically pushes users toward supposedly related content, has been treating hashtags associated with President Donald Trump and presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in very different ways. Searches for Biden also return a variety of pro-Trump messages, while searches for Trump-related topics only returned the specific hashtags, like #MAGA or #Trump -- which means searches for Biden-related hashtags also return counter-messaging, while those for Trump do not. Earlier this week, a search on Instagram for #JoeBiden would have surfaced nearly 390,000 posts tagged with the former vice president's name along with related hashtags selected by the platform's algorithm. Users searching Instagram for #JoeBiden might also see results for #joebiden2020, as well as pro-Trump hashtags like #trump2020landslide and #democratsdestroyamerica. A similar search for #DonaldTrump on the platform, however, provided a totally different experience. Besides showing 7 million posts tagged with the president's name, Instagram did not present any related hashtags that would have pushed users toward different content or promoted alternative viewpoints. The difference between these two results, which an Instagram spokesperson told BuzzFeed News was a "bug," prevented hashtags including #Trump and #MAGA from being associated with potentially negative content. Meanwhile, Instagram hashtags associated with the Democratic presidential candidate -- #JoeBiden and #Biden, for example -- were presented alongside content that included overtly pro-Trump content and attacks on the former vice president.

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Twitter Says Android Security Bug Gave Access To Direct Messages

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 19:28
Twitter says a security bug may have exposed the private direct messages of its Android app users, but said that there was no evidence that the vulnerability was ever exploited. From a report: The bug could have allowed a malicious Android app running on the same device to siphon off a user's direct messages stored in the Twitter app by bypassing Android's in-built data permissions. But, Twitter said that the bug only worked on Android 8 (Oreo) and Android 9 (Pie), and has since been fixed. A Twitter spokesperson told TechCrunch that the bug was reported by a security researcher "a few weeks ago" through HackerOne, which Twitter uses for its bug bounty program. "Since then, we have been working to keep accounts secure," said the spokesperson. "Now that the issue has been fixed, we're letting people know." Twitter said it waited to let its users know in order to prevent someone from learning about the issue and taking advantage of it before it was fixed.

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Apple and Google's COVID-19 Tracking System Will Make Its Full US Debut in New Virginia App

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 18:55
This week, Virginia plans to release a COVID-19 exposure notification app based on the specifications published by Apple and Google in April. From a report: The app, called COVIDWISE, is the first fully deployed implementation of Apple and Google's system in the US and was beta tested by the state department of health. The specification is designed to preserve patient privacy, particularly around their location and whether they have tested positive for COVID-19. "No location data or personal information is ever collected, stored or transmitted to VDH as part of the app," a health department official told Virginia Public Media, which first reported the news. "You can delete the app or turn off exposure notifications at any time." If someone tests positive for the coronavirus, the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) will give them a PIN number that they can choose to use to report that result within the app. Then, other users of the app should get a notification if their phones were near the sick person at some point in the past 14 days. However, those notifications will only go out to phones when the exposure met a threshold for a strength and duration of the Bluetooth signal that can be estimated as a user being within six feet of the other user for 15 minutes (based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's definition of "close contact").

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The Galaxy Note 20 Ultra Has Lasers, Plays Xbox Games, And is Just Massive

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 18:04
Samsung today unveiled two Galaxy Note 20 models -- the Note 20 (which starts at $999) and Note 20 Ultra (which starts at $1,299) -- arriving later this month on August 21. Both Note 20 smartphones come with an S Pen, but there are some major differences. Notably, the screen and the cameras are a little bit different. From a report: The smaller Note 20 has a 6.7-inch display with flat edges and the larger Note 20 Ultra has a 6.9-inch 120Hz screen with curved sides. Curved glass has long been a signature design on Samsung phones and it looks like the company is at least considering a change. But the one thing I'm most excited for is the Note 20 Ultra's 108-megapixel camera. This is the same image sensor on the S20 Ultra with one important change: a laser sensor that enables faster autofocusing. In other words: Samsung says it has fixed the S20 Ultra's autofocusing issues on the Note 20 Ultra. I'll test that out soon enough to verify the claim, but for now, here's everything else you need to know about the Note 20 phones. Expand to a TV with DeX: In addition to plugging your Note 20 into a laptop or monitor to turn it into a desktop-like computer experience with DeX mode, Note 20 users can wirelessly connect to a TV with Miracast support. Samsung says all of its 2019 and newer smart TVs support the wireless DeX mode. Smarter Windows integration: Samsung's growing partnership with Microsoft is yielding even tighter synergy between its devices and Windows 10. Samsung says Windows 10 will let you run multiple Note 20 apps simultaneously later this year and has better drag-and-drop support between devices. Xbox Game Pass Ultimate: If you're a gamer, you'll be able to stream over 100 Xbox games directly to the Note 20 phones with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate. This feature doesn't go live until September 15. Ultra-wideband: Like the iPhone 11 and 11 Pro, the Note 20 phones have an ultra-wideband chip inside. Samsung says UWB will allow people to share files to another UWB-supported device by pointing them at each other. UWB can also be used to unlock smart locks (for homes or cars).

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White House Unveils Partnership To Boost Quantum Science Education

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 17:26
The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy said on Wednesday the Trump administration is launching a national education partnership to expand access to K-12 quantum information science (QIS) education with major companies and research institutions. From a report: The public-private initiative with the National Science Foundation includes Amazon's Amazon Web Services, Boeing, Alphabet's Google, IBM Corp, Lockheed Martin, Microsoft, the University of Illinois and University of Chicago. The National Science Foundation is also awarding $1 million to QIS education. The initiative is designed in part to help introduce students to quantum information themes before college.

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Facebook's Instagram Launches TikTok Copycat in Political Storm

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 16:49
Facebook's Instagram photo-sharing app is launching its clone of TikTok in more than 50 countries, a week after Chief Executive Officer Mark Zuckerberg defended the company's copycat strategies to U.S. lawmakers at an antitrust hearing. From a report: The product, called Reels, lets people edit 15-second clips of videos together alongside music, just like on TikTok. It will be embedded into Instagram in the U.S. and elsewhere, the company said Wednesday in blog post. Reels is the second major Instagram feature that follows an almost identical one popularized by a competitor. Instagram Stories, the tool for posting videos and photos that disappear, was inspired by Snap. Reels isn't Facebook's first attempt at challenging TikTok. Facebook's Lasso, a separate application with similar features that was tested in limited markets, was shut down last month after it failed to win over an audience. Reels may have better luck: it's launching just as TikTok's existence in the U.S. is being challenged by President Donald Trump.

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FBI Issues Warning Over Windows 7 End-of-Life

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 16:01
The Federal Bureau of Investigation sent a private industry notification (PIN) on Monday to partners in the US private sector about the dangers of continuing to use Windows 7 after the operating system reached its official end-of-life (EOL) earlier this year. From a report: "The FBI has observed cyber criminals targeting computer network infrastructure after an operating system achieves end of life status," the agency said. "Continuing to use Windows 7 within an enterprise may provide cyber criminals access in to computer systems. As time passes, Windows 7 becomes more vulnerable to exploitation due to lack of security updates and new vulnerabilities discovered. "With fewer customers able to maintain a patched Windows 7 system after its end of life, cyber criminals will continue to view Windows 7 as a soft target," the FBI warned. The Bureau is now asking companies to look into upgrading their workstations to newer versions of the Windows operating system.

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Anthony Levandowski Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison, As New $4 Billion Lawsuit Against Uber Is Filed

Wed, 05/08/2020 - 15:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Anthony Levandowski, the former Google engineer and serial entrepreneur who was at the center of a lawsuit between Uber and Waymo, has been sentenced to 18 months on one count of stealing trade secrets. Judge Alsup said that home confinement would "[give] a green light to every future brilliant engineer to steal trade secrets. Prison time is the answer to that." During court proceedings today, Levandowski also agreed to pay $756,499.22 in restitution to Google and a fine of $95,000. "Today marks the end of three and a half long years and the beginning of another long road ahead. I'm thankful to my family and friends for their continued love and support during this difficult time," Levandowski said in a statement provided by his attorneys after the sentencing. The sentencing is the latest in a series of legal blows that have seen Levandowski vilified as a thieving tech bro, unceremoniously ejected from Uber, and forced into bankruptcy by a $179 million award against him. And yet, Levandowski is not skulking away. Even as he faced years in prison, the maverick engineer was plotting a comeback that could see him netting upwards of $4 billion from Uber. TechCrunch has learned that Levandowski recently filed a lawsuit making explosive claims against Waymo and Uber that, if proven, could turn his fortunes around with a multi-billion dollar payout. Whether this is a last-ditch effort by a desperate man whose career has been upended by his own poor choices or a viable claim against a double-dealing tech titan, will be up to the courts to decide. This new lawsuit, filed as part of Levandowski's bankruptcy proceedings, mostly focuses on Uber's agreement to indemnify Levandowski against legal action when it bought his self-trucking company, Otto Trucking. It also includes new allegations concerning the settlement that Waymo and Uber reached over trade secret theft claims.

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