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Consumer Daily Reports

Trusted reliable news sources from around the web. We offer special news reports, topic news videos, and related content stories. Truly a birds eye view on news.

Consumer News: Microsoft advises some users not to install latest Windows 10 update

PhotoMicrosoft has advised some users not to install the latest Windows 10 KB4520062 cumulative update because of its potential to break the Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) service. 

Update KB4520062, the second cumulative update for Windows 10 to be released in October, includes relatively minor fixes, including a fix for a power consumption issue in standby mode, a fix to prevent blank tiles from appearing in the Start menu when upgrading to version 1809, and a fix to stop a black screen from appearing after the first sign-in following an update installation. 

However, the optional update also contains a security issue. 

"After installing this update, the Microsoft Defender Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) service might stop running and might fail to send reporting data,” the company said in an advisory. “You might also receive a 0xc0000409 error in Event Viewer in MsSense.exe."

Microsoft added that it is currently "working on a resolution” for the issue. The company estimated that a solution will be available in mid-November. 

For now, Microsoft is recommending that businesses and organizations that rely on Windows Defender ATP for protection not install the update. 

"At this time, we suggest that devices in an affected environment do not install this update,” Microsoft said. 

Affected platforms include those running either Windows 10 version 1809 or Windows Server 2019 along with Microsoft Defender ATP.

Read more ...

Consumer News: Samsung acknowledges fingerprint reader flaw affecting Galaxy devices

PhotoSamsung has provided more details on a security flaw affecting some Galaxy devices.

Earlier this week, users reported an issue with the fingerprint reader on Samsung’s Galaxy S10 and Galaxy Note 10 devices. The flaw could potentially let anyone unlock a phone with their own fingerprint. 

Samsung explained on Friday that the bug was caused by an issue with the silicone cases that protect the devices’ screens. The issue made the phone act as if a valid fingerprint had been registered.  

“This issue involved ultrasonic fingerprint sensors unlocking devices after recognizing 3-dimensional patterns appearing on certain silicone screen protecting cases as users’ fingerprints,” Samsung said in a statement. 

A fix is on the way

The company said it plans to release a software patch next week that will fix the issue. In the meantime, users are urged to refrain from using front screen protective covers in order to ensure “optimum fingerprint scanning.” 

“To prevent any further issues, we advise that Galaxy Note10/10+ and S10/S10+/S10 5G users who use such covers to remove the cover, delete all previous fingerprints and newly register their fingerprints,” Samsung said. 

After the update is released and installed, Samsung says users should plan to scan their fingerprint “in its entirety, so that all portions of your fingerprint, including the center and corners have been fully scanned.”

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Consumer News: Uber and Lyft CEOs catch government flack for being no-shows at congressional hearing

PhotoOne would think that if the U.S. Congress asks someone to appear at a hearing, they would, right?

It looks like the CEOs at Uber and Lyft don’t feel that way. The two transportation network company (TNC) executives made good on their threat to skip a congressional hearing on Thursday -- one in which the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure wanted to hear their answers on crucial labor, regulatory, and safety questions.

Despite the CEOs’ no-show, the committee used the extra mic time to make its concerns known.

“How these new technologies are integrated into our existing systems, and what rules TNCs must follow, must be carefully crafted to ensure that these services are a truly good option,” said Peter DeFazio (D-OR), the Chair of the committee. 

“Lawmakers at the Federal, State, and local level need to think far beyond just whether this new service gets people from point A to point B. What this new business model means for public safety, jobs, emissions, transit service, and other factors must also be at the center of any policy decisions to allow these companies access to our infrastructure.”

Getting control of the industry

With Uber and Lyft holding a 98 percent share of the TNC market, Congress feels that it has to get ahead of the situation before it spirals out of its control.

“Congress cannot avoid its responsibility to engage to investigate its role in overseeing this industry,” said Chair Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC) in her opening statement.

Norton’s end-goal is decidedly pro-consumer; he wants Uber and Lyft to understand that having an “app that connects passengers and drivers through technology and hope for the best,” won’t cut it. “[We want to] ensure that the TNC mobility option actually delivers public service safety and equitability and operates in the interest of the public.”

What are Uber and Lyft afraid of?

In anticipation of the Uber and Lyft leaders showing up, the committee sent them a letter detailing the questions they would be asked. Those questions may have been the tipping point that scared the executives away.

Here are some of the questions the committee wanted answered:

The takeaway

The bottom line is pretty simple -- both Uber and Lyft are going to have to be more transparent about how they’re structured and how they’re protecting the public. 

If the companies’ brass were watching the hearing live from their offices, they couldn’t escape DeFazio’s opening statement capper.

“This hearing should put TNCs on notice that for their long-term survival, and for any hope of ever partnering with agencies who utilize Federal funds, they are going to have to clean up their acts.”

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Consumer News: Regular drinkers are at a greater risk than binge drinkers for heart issues

PhotoA new study conducted by the European Society of Cardiology revealed that those who drink small amounts of alcohol on a regular basis could be at a greater risk of a common heart condition than those who binge drink. 

The study found that regular drinkers are more likely to develop atrial fibrillation, a heart arrhythmia that increases the risk for heart failure, stroke, and blood clots. 

“Recommendations about alcohol consumption have focused on reducing the absolute amount rather than the frequency,” said researcher Dr. Jong-II Choi. “Our study suggests that drinking less often may also be important to protect against atrial fibrillation.” 

How alcohol plays a role

The researchers had over nine million people participate in the study, none of whom had atrial fibrillation at the onset. Starting in 2009 and ending in 2017, the participants received wellness exams administered by physicians and then reported on their alcohol consumption, giving the researchers ample time to evaluate their health status and determine what role alcohol played in their overall well-being. 

Those who drank regularly, which the researchers established was once per day, were found to be 22 percent more likely to develop atrial fibrillation to non-drinkers. Moderate drinkers, who drank roughly once per week, increased their risk by less than eight percent. 

The researchers noted that each additional gram of alcohol consumed over the course of the week was found to increase the risk of atrial fibrillation by two percent. 

Focusing on prevention

Dr. Choi explained that alcohol can disrupt the body’s normal sleeping patterns, which is also associated with an increased risk of atrial fibrillation. Health troubles can be exacerbated if those with atrial fibrillation continue to drink through their heart issues. 

Moving forward, the researchers want to emphasize the importance of prevention, as doing everything possible to get on top of potential health concerns, especially a condition like atrial fibrillation, can be life saving. 

“Atrial fibrillation is a disease with multiple dreadful complications and significantly impaired quality of life,” Dr. Choi said. “Preventing atrial fibrillation itself, rather than its complications, should be our first priority. Alcohol consumption is probably the most easily modifiable risk factor. To prevent new onset atrial fibrillation, both the frequency and the weekly amount of alcohol consumption should be reduced.” 

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Consumer News: Foreclosure activity hits 14-year low

PhotoForeclosure activity -- default notices, scheduled auctions, and bank repossessions -- fell to a 14-year low in the third quarter of the year, suggesting significant stability in the housing market.

ATTOM Data Solutions, which tracks housing data, reports that foreclosure activity was down 6 percent from the previous quarter and was 19 percent lower than the third quarter of 2018. It hit the lowest level since the second quarter of 2005.

More stringent standards to qualify for a mortgage plus very low unemployment rates have combined to almost make foreclosure a rarity.

"Foreclosure activity continues to decline across the country, which is a good sign that the housing market and the broader economy remain strong – and that the lending excesses that helped bring down the economy during the Great Recession remain a memory," said Todd Teta, chief product officer at ATTOM Data Solutions. 

No reason for complacency

But Teta says the latest report should not lead to complacency, noting that foreclosure activity can vary widely from state to state, city to city, and neighborhood to neighborhood.

"Overall, the foreclosure numbers reflect a market in which buyers can afford their homes and lenders remain careful in loaning to home buyers who have little chance of repaying," he said.

Foreclosures are highly disruptive to the housing market. When one house goes into foreclosure, the other houses in the neighborhood usually lose value. When several houses in a neighborhood go into default -- which happened frequently after the housing market crash -- it can be devastating and create situations where highly leveraged homeowners owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth.

Troubling exceptions

While the national trend shows far fewer foreclosures, there are troubling exceptions. Fourteen states actually saw foreclosure activity rise in the third quarter. It was up 33 percent in Montana, 32 percent in Georgia, 16 percent in Washington, and 15 percent in Louisiana.

The highest rates of foreclosure occurred in Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, and Florida.

Foreclosure happens when a homeowner defaults on a mortgage. The legal process can be lengthy from the time a foreclosure notice is filed to the time the lender auctions the property.

In addition to defaulting on a mortgage, a homeowner may also lose a home to foreclosure by failing to pay property taxes.

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Consumer News: Regular exposure to blue light from device screens could make you age more rapidly

PhotoFor many consumers, it’s not uncommon to spend the majority of the day staring into your computer or phone screen. While that time in front of screens can be unavoidable, a new study conducted by researchers from Oregon State University found that it could also be damaging. 

The study revealed that the blue light that emanates from nearly every electronic device can actually speed up the aging process for consumers, regardless of whether or not the light shines directly into their eyes. 

“Human lifespan has increased dramatically over the past century as we’ve found ways to treat diseases, and at the same time we have been spending more and more time with artificial light,” said researcher Ellen Chow. “As science looks for ways to help people be healthier as they live longer, designing a healthier spectrum of light might be a possibility, not just in terms of sleeping better but in terms of overall health.” 

Monitoring blue light exposure

The researchers conducted their experiment on fruit flies, exposing them to a variety of different light patterns to best determine how blue light would affect their overall health. 

To mimic what most humans experience on a daily basis, the experimental group of flies were kept in front of blue light for half of the day and then kept in complete darkness for the other half of the day. The other groups of flies were either exposed to specific light sources that had been filtered to remove blue light or were in total darkness for the duration of the study. 

Blue light proved to be detrimental to the fruit flies, as the ones that were exposed to it for 12 hours per day died much earlier than the flies in either of the other two groups. 

While these findings alone were surprising to the researchers, they also found that direct eye exposure to blue light wasn’t necessary to feel the effects, as some of the flies involved in the study had a genetic mutation that prevented their eyes from developing. When exposed to the blue light, these flies experienced brain damage and other motor issues. 

After seeing how drastic the effects of blue light can be on fruit flies, the researchers suggest that consumers avoid it when possible. They suggest taking preventative measures, such as adjusting the settings on their devices or getting glasses with lenses that can filter out blue light. 

“In the future, there may be phones that auto-adjust their display based on the length of usage the phone perceives,” said researcher Trevor Nash. “That kind of phone might be difficult to make, but it would probably have a big impact on health.”

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