Posted Feb. 22, 2017 at 6:24 a.m.

Tech wrap: Online Oscar-nominated flicks; hacked phone record case; cathedral goes thermal; cabbies vs. Uber

Published: 2017-02-22 06:24:22
Updated: 2017-02-22 06:24:22

Bulldog Bulletin

In today's Bulldog wrapup of technology news:

  • Online options for Oscar-nominated flicks expand Tuesday
  • AP, other media ask judge to order release of iPhone records
  • Historic Manhattan cathedral activates eco-friendly power
  • Italy cabbies clash with riot police during strike over Uber

The details:

  • Online options for Oscar-nominated flicks expand Tuesday

​More movies and cheaper options arrive online Tuesday for movie fans still needing to catch up on Oscar-nominated flicks.

Of the 62 full-length movies and shorts nominated for any category , 45 are available in some form online. That includes animated and live action shorts released Tuesday by the cable channel Shorts HD.

One more title, the best picture nominee "Fences," comes out online Friday, leaving just 16 that you can see only in theaters.

Watching all 46 online will cost at least $173, assuming you already have subscriptions to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime or HBO Now. Focusing on just best picture and the four acting categories will still cost you nearly $70, not including the monthly subscriptions.

It's the cost of improving your chances of winning the Oscar pool. The good news is that prices have fallen for a few titles since last week.

  • AP, other media ask judge to order release of iPhone records

The Associated Press and two other news organizations asked a judge Monday to force the federal government to reveal how much it paid for a tool to unlock an iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, California, shooters.

The news organizations said in a court filing there was "no adequate justification" for the FBI to continue to withhold information on the cost of the tool or the identity of the vendor that sold it. They said their requests were narrowly tailored and, contrary to the arguments of the FBI and Justice Department, did not seek information that would jeopardize national security or be exploited by America's enemies.

"While it is undisputed that the vendor developed the iPhone access tool, the government has identified no rational reason why knowing the vendor's identity is linked in any way to the substance of the tool, much less how such knowledge would reveal any information about the tool's application," lawyers for the news organizations wrote in the filing to the U.S. District Court in Washington.

The AP, Vice Media LLC and Gannett, the parent company of USA Today, sued the FBI in September. The news organizations sought to learn more about the mysterious transaction that cut short a legal dispute in which the government won a court order to force Apple Inc. to unlock the work phone of Syed Rizwan Farook, who along with his wife killed 14 people in the December 2015 San Bernardino attack.

The FBI had maintained for weeks that only Apple could access the information on its phone, which was protected by encryption, but announced in March that it had ultimately broken or bypassed the company's digital locks with the help of an unidentified third party. The government has refused to say how it acquired the tool or how much it paid, though FBI Director James Comey dropped a hint in April when he said the cost was more than he would make for the duration of his job— roughly seven years.

The Justice Department last month provided some heavily redacted records from the transaction, but withheld critical details that the AP was seeking. The government argued that the information it withheld, if released, could be seized upon by "hostile entities" that could develop their own "countermeasures" and interfere with the FBI's intelligence gathering. It also said that disclosure "would result in severe damage to the FBI's efforts to detect and apprehend violators of the United States' national security and criminal laws through these very activities and methods."

  • Historic Manhattan cathedral activates eco-friendly power

The historic St. Patrick's Cathedral in Manhattan has activated a geothermal plant — part of a series of environmentally friendly upgrades.

The Archdiocese of New York said Tuesday that the geothermal plant is comprised of 10 wells — up to 2,200 feet deep — drilled along the north and south sides of the cathedral.

The system is designed to harness clean, renewable power to regulate the temperature of the cathedral and adjoining buildings.

The archdiocese and cathedral said they want to "lead by example" in choosing the cost-effective, eco-friendly power option.

The cathedral's rector, Monsignor Robert T. Ritchie, says the church's mission includes "responsible stewardship of our natural resources."

  • Italy cabbies clash with riot police during strike over Uber

Thousands of Italian taxi drivers protesting legislation they say will favor Uber clashed with riot police Tuesday, intensifying a weeklong cab strike that has crippled transportation in Rome, Milan and Turin.

The cabbies marched through Rome and protested in front of parliament, at the headquarters of the ruling Democratic Party and finally at the infrastructure ministry, where officials were meeting with union representatives to try to work out a settlement.

The six-day strike has stranded tourists at Italy's main airports and train stations, complicated daily commutes and raised alarms about Wednesday's start of Milan Fashion Week, when cabs are in high demand to shuttle fashionistas from show to show.

The drivers say the legislation would ease Uber's "irregular" inroads into Italy's rigidly regulated taxi industry, where drivers pay huge fees for the right to drive a cab. Supporters say Italian consumers want and need greater choice in ride-sharing options.

Rome Mayor Virginia Raggi lent her support to the cabbies by visiting the protest Tuesday and saying that her 5-Star Movement had already proposed amendments to change the legislation.

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