|(The stuff up here is Network Mirror's)||
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Electrek: Chernobyl, the world's most famous and hazardous nuclear meltdown, is being considered for the world's largest solar power plant. Even though nearly 1,600 square miles of land around Chernobyl has radiation levels too high for human health, Ukraine's ecology minister has said in a recent interview that two U.S. investment firms and four Canadian energy companies have expressed interest in Chernobyl's solar potential. Electrek reports: "According to PVTech, the Ukrainian government is pushing for a 6 month construction cycle. Deploying this amount of solar power within such a time frame would involve significant resources being deployed. The proposed 1GW solar plant, if built today, would be the world's largest. There are several plans for 1GW solar plants in development (Egypt, India, UAE, China, etc) -- but none of them have been completed yet. One financial benefit of the site is that transmission lines for Chernobyl's 4GW nuclear reactor are still in place. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has stated they would be interested in participating in the project, 'so long as there are viable investment proposals and all other environmental matters and risks can be addressed to the bank's satisfaction.'"
Class of Large But Very Dim Galaxies Discovered - Sat Jul 30 07:08:01 2016
schwit1 writes from a report via Nature: Astronomers have now detected and measured a new class of large but very dim galaxy that previously was not expected to exist. Nature reports: "'[Ultradiffuse]' galaxies came to attention only last year, after Pieter van Dokkum of Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut, and Roberto Abraham of the University of Toronto in Canada built an array of sensitive telephoto lenses named Dragonfly. The astronomers and their colleagues observed the Coma galaxy cluster 101 megaparsecs (330 million light years) away and detected 47 faint smudges. 'They can't be real,' van Dokkum recalls thinking when he first saw the galaxies on his laptop computer. But their distribution in space matched that of the cluster's other galaxies, indicating that they were true members. Since then, hundreds more of these galaxies have turned up in the Coma cluster and elsewhere. Ultradiffuse galaxies are large like the Milky Way -- which is much bigger than most -- but they glow as dimly as mere dwarf galaxies. It's as though a city as big as London emitted as little light as Kalamazoo, Michigan." More significantly, they have now found that these dim galaxies can be as big and as massive as the biggest bright galaxies, suggesting that there are a lot more stars and mass hidden out there and unseen than anyone had previously predicted.
A Look Inside Tesla's $5 Billion Gigafactory - Sat Jul 30 03:38:02 2016
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: A joint effort between Tesla and Panasonic, the Gigafactory is a $5 billion project that will create the world's premier battery manufacturing facility. The Gigafactory will not only be physically larger than any other cell-packing plant on the planet, it'll produce more batteries than the entire industry did back in 2013. That's a lot of batteries, enough to meet Tesla's 500,000-per-year manufacturing goals -- and potentially even more. When completed, the factory will cover five million square feet of the desert floor just outside of Reno, Nevada. Right now, the uncompleted but already-operational factory sits on 800,000 square feet. Over the next four years the building will grow and grow again, swelling to its full size while production dials up simultaneously. The roof will be covered in solar panels, with the goal of producing enough electricity to power the entire thing. Tesla is already assembling Powerwall units here, but the first Model 3 battery packs are expected to roll off the line by the middle of next year. From there, Tesla will have to scale quickly to meet the company's Model 3 production goals for 2018. And, once the company does, the cost savings will begin. The "Tesla Gigafactory Tour" video can also be viewed on YouTube via Roadshow.
Malvertising Campaign Infected Thousands of Users Per Day For More Than a Year - Sat Jul 30 01:51:53 2016
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: Since the summer of 2015, users that surfed 113 major, legitimate websites were subjected to one of the most advanced malvertising campaigns ever discovered, with signs that this might have actually been happening since 2013. Infecting a whopping 22 advertising platforms, the criminal gang behind this campaign used complicated traffic filtering systems to select users ripe for infection, usually with banking trojans. The campaign constantly pulled between 1 and 5 million users per day, infecting thousands, and netting the crooks millions each month. The malicious ads, according to this list, were shown on sites like The New York Times, Le Figaro, The Verge, PCMag, IBTimes, Ars Technica, Daily Mail, Telegraaf, La Gazetta dello Sport, CBS Sports, Top Gear, Urban Dictionary, Playboy, Answers.com, Sky.com, and more.
Snowden Questions WikiLeaks' Methods of Releasing Leaks - Sat Jul 30 01:10:39 2016
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: Former U.S. National Security Agency contractor, Edward Snowden, has censured WikiLeaks' release of information without proper curation. On Thursday, Snowden, who has embarrassed the U.S. government with revelations of widespread NSA surveillance, said that WikiLeaks was mistaken in not at least modestly curating the information it releases. "Democratizing information has never been more vital, and @Wikileaks has helped. But their hostility to even modest curation is a mistake," Snowden said in a tweet. WikiLeaks shot back at Snowden that "opportunism won't earn you a pardon from Clinton [and] curation is not censorship of ruling party cash flows." The whistleblowing site appeared to defend itself earlier on Thursday while referring to its "accuracy policy." In a Twitter message it said that it does "not tamper with the evidentiary value of important historical archives." WikiLeaks released nearly 20,000 previously unseen DNC emails last week, which suggest that committee officials had favored Clinton over her rival Senator Bernie Sanders. The most recent leak consists of 29 voicemails from DNC officials.
Clinton Campaign Breached By Hackers - Sat Jul 30 00:39:12 2016
An anonymous reader writes: Hillary Clinton's campaign network was breached by hackers targeting several large Democratic organizations, Reuters reports. Clinton's campaign spokesperson Nick Merrill confirmed the hack in a statement. 'An analytics data program maintained by the DNC, and used by our campaign and a number of other entities, was accessed as part of the DNC hack. Our campaign computer system has been under review by outside security experts. To date, they have found no evidence that our internal systems have been compromised,' he said.
The hack follows on the heels of breaches at the Democratic National Committee and at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee earlier this year. More than 19,000 emails from DNC officials were published on WikiLeaks just prior to the Democratic National Convention, casting a shadow over the proceedings. Some security experts and U.S. officials have attributed the breaches to Russian operatives, although the origin of the email leak is less certain.
Court Ruling Shows The Internet Does Have Borders After All - Sat Jul 30 00:07:36 2016
itwbennett writes: Microsoft's recent victory in court, when it was ruled that the physical location of the company's servers in Ireland were out of reach of the U.S. government, was described on Slashdot as being "perceived as a major victory for privacy." But J. Trevor Hughes, president and CEO of the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) has a different view of the implications of the ruling that speaks to John Perry Barlow's vision of an independent cyberspace: "By recognizing the jurisdictional boundaries of Ireland, it is possible that the Second Circuit Court created an incentive for other jurisdictions to require data to be held within their national boundaries. We have seen similar laws emerge in Russia -- they fall under a policy trend towards 'data localization' that has many cloud service and global organizations deeply concerned. Which leads to a tough question: what happens if every country tries to assert jurisdictional control over the web? Might we end up with a fractured web, a 'splinternet,' of lessening utility?"
SwiftKey Bug Leaked Email Addresses, Phone Numbers To Strangers - Fri Jul 29 23:25:15 2016
An anonymous reader writes: After many users reported receiving predictions meant for other users, such as email addresses and phone numbers, SwiftKey has suspended part of its service. The service responsible for the bug was SwiftKey's cloud sync service. The Verge reports that one user, an English speaker, was getting someone else's German suggestions, while someone received NSFW porn search suggestions. The Telegraph also reports, "One SwiftKey user, who works in the legal profession and ask to remain anonymous, found out their details had been compromised when a stranger emailed them to say that a brand new phone had suggested their email address when logging into an account online. 'A few days ago, I received an email from a complete stranger asking if I had recently purchased and returned a particular model of mobile phone, adding that not one but two of my email addresses (one personal and one work address) were saved on the phone she had just bought as brand-new,' said the user." SwiftKey released an official statement today about the issue but said that it "did not pose a security issue."
Instagram Will Soon Allow Users To Filter Comments - Fri Jul 29 22:50:45 2016
Instagram has had enough of questionable, offensive comments. The company announced Friday that it will soon give users the ability to make the choice about what's acceptable and what's not, reports BBC. From an article: The first will let people hide certain words, phrases or emoji icons from their feed. The second will go further in allowing users to block comments entirely, on a post by post basis. Verified accounts will be able use these new tools first before they are rolled out to everyone, Newsbeat has learned. Accounts which get lots of comments will get access in the next couple of weeks.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos Becomes World's Third Richest Person - Fri Jul 29 22:06:48 2016
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Strong earnings from Amazon and a boost to the company's stock have made its founder, Jeff Bezos, the world's third richest person, according to Forbes. Mr Bezos owns 18% of Amazon's shares, which rose 2% in trading on Thursday. Forbes estimated his fortune to be $65.3 billion (49.5 billion British Pound). Amazon's revenue beat analysts' expectations, climbing 31% from last year to $30.4 billion in the second quarter. Profit for the e-commerce giant was $857 million, compared with $92 million in 2015. According to Forbes estimates, Mr Bezos's fortune is only surpassed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates, worth $78 billion (59 billion British Pound), and the $73.1 billion (55 billion British Pound) fortune of Zara founder Amancio Ortega. Amazon had developed a reputation for announcing little or no profit each quarter, but appeared to hit a turning point last year and has seen improving earnings since. Amazon shares have spiked 50% since February. BBC's report includes some bullet points about Bezos. He was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 1964. He studied at Princeton University and worked on Wall Street. In 1994, he launched Amazon as an online book retailer. A lifelong Star Trek fan, Bezos launched Blue Origin spaceflight and aerospace firm in 2000, and more than a decade later, he purchased The Washington Post newspaper in 2013.
US Military Using $600K 'Drone Buggies' To Patrol Camps In Africa - Fri Jul 29 21:23:04 2016
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: The U.S. military is using an unmanned robotic vehicle to patrol around its camps in the Horn of Africa. The remote controlled vehicle is the result of a 30-year plan after military chiefs approved the concept of a robotic security system in 1985. Now the Mobile Detection Assessment and Response System, known as MDARS, are carrying out patrols in the east African country of Djibouti, under the control of the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa. The area is known as home to a number of hostile militant groups including the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabaab. An operator sits in a remote location away from the vehicle watching the terrain via a camera link which is fixed to the chassis. U.S. military software engineer Joshua Kordanai said in a video presentation that the vehicle drives itself, freeing the remote operator to monitor video. "The vehicle has an intruder detection payload, consisting of radar, a night vision camera, a PTZ [pan-tilt-zoom] camera and two-way audio, so the system will be able to detect motion," he added. One report prices the cost of an earlier version of the military 'drone buggy' at $600,000 each.
Judge Rules Political Robocalls Are Protected By First Amendment - Fri Jul 29 20:40:53 2016
Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: A federal judge has ruled that robocalls made on behalf of political candidates are protected by the First Amendment and cannot be outlawed. The decision came in a case in Arkansas, where political robocalls had been illegal for more than 30 years. On Wednesday, U.S. District Court Judge Leon Holmes ruled that banning political robocalls amounts to an infringement of free speech protections and also constitutes prior restraint of speech. Political campaigns have been using robocalls for decades, and some states have sought to ban them, arguing that they are intrusive and violate recipients' privacy. In the Arkansas case, the state attorney general put forward both of these arguments, and also argued that the calls can tie up phone lines, making them unusable in an emergency. Holmes said in his decision that there was no evidence that political robocalls prevent emergency communications, and also said that the Arkansas statute should have banned all robocalls, not just commercial and political ones. "The statute at issue here imposes a content-based restriction on speech; it is not one of the rare cases that survives strict scrutiny. The state has failed to prove that the statute at issue advances a compelling state interest and is narrowly tailored to serve that interest," Holmes wrote.
Amazon Reaches New High Of 268,900 Employees -- Skyrocketing 47% In Just One Year - Fri Jul 29 20:09:56 2016
Amazon remains one of the biggest attractors of talent worldwide. During its quarterly earnings, the company said it hired 23,700 employees in the second quarter -- making the total employee headcount at the company 268,900. GeekWire reports: Amazon's headcount has grown by a staggering amount over the last few years. Its employment numbers increased close to 10 percent in the last three months and 47 percent over a year ago, when its employee count stood at a paltry-by-comparison 183,100 people. That's an increase of 85,800 employees in one year -- more than the entire city of Bellingham, Wash.Related: The New York Times report on work challenges at Amazon.
Australia Has Moved 1.5 Metres, So It's Updating Its Location For Self-Driving Cars - Fri Jul 29 19:28:01 2016
An anonymous reader shares a CNET report: Australia is changing from "down under" to "down under and across a bit". The country is shifting its longitude and latitude to fix a discrepancy with global satellite navigation systems. Government body Geoscience Australia is updating the Geocentric Datum of Australia, the country's national coordinate system, to bring it in line with international data. The reason Australia is slightly out of whack with global systems is that the country moves about 7 centimetres (2.75 inches) per year due to the shifting of tectonic plates. Since 1994, when the data was last recorded, that's added up to a misalignment of about a metre and a half. While that might not seem like much, various new technology requires location data to be pinpoint accurate. Self-driving cars, for example, must have infinitesimally precise location data to avoid accidents. Drones used for package delivery and driverless farming vehicles also require spot-on information.ABC has more details.
Slashdot Asks: Free Upgrade To Windows 10 Ends Today: What's Your Thought On This? - Fri Jul 29 18:42:59 2016
Exactly one year ago, Microsoft released Windows 10 to the general public. The latest version of company's desktop operating system brought with it Cortana, and Windows Hello among other features. While users have lauded Windows 10 for performance improvements, the Redmond-based company's aggressive upgrade tactics have spoiled the experience for many. Whether it was installing Windows 10 on computers without users' consent, or eating up tons of bandwidth for users who couldn't afford it, or whether it was deceptive dialog boxes, Microsoft definitely deserves a lot of blame -- and rightfully, a bunch of lawsuits. But many of these things, hopefully, will end today -- July 29, 2016 (or to be exact, Saturday morning 5:59am EDT / 2:59am PDT) Today is officially the last day when eligible Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers could be upgraded to Windows 10 for free of charge. After this, an upgrade to Windows 10 will set you back by at least $119.
We asked you a couple of weeks ago whether or not would you recommend someone to update their computer to Windows 10, and the vast majority of you insisted against it. What's your thought on this now? Those who opt out of updating to Windows 10 will also miss the Anniversary Update -- and its features -- which Microsoft plans to release on August 2 for free of charge.
WhatsApp Isn't Fully Deleting Its 'Deleted' Chats - Fri Jul 29 18:11:04 2016
Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp retains and stores chat logs even after those messages have been deleted, according to iOS researcher Jonathan Zdziarski. The Verge reports: Examining disk images taken from the most recent version of the app, Zdziarski found that the software retains and stores a forensic trace of the chat logs even after the chats have been deleted, creating a potential treasure trove of information for anyone with physical access to the device. The same data could also be recoverable through any remote backup systems in place. In most cases, the data is marked as deleted by the app itself -- but because it has not been overwritten, it is still recoverable through forensic tools. Zdziarski attributed the problem to the SQLite library used in coding the app, which does not overwrite by default. WhatsApp was applauded by many privacy advocates for switching to default end-to-end encryption through the Signal protocol, a process that completed this April. But that system only protects data in transit, preventing carriers and other intermediaries from spying on conversations as they travel across the network.
AMD Extends Polaris GPU Line-up With Mainstream Radeon RX 470 and Radeon RX 460 - Fri Jul 29 17:28:01 2016
Some more graphics cards news via our long time reader MojoKid: AMD is officially announcing its newest mainstream members of the Polaris graphics family today, known as the Radeon RX 470 and Radeon RX 460. AMD is touting the RX 470 as a perfect companion for 1080p resolution gaming, offering 60+ FPS performance (with anti-aliasing enabled) in popular game titles. The RX 460, on the other hand, is based on Polaris 11 architecture, which has a more budget-minded performance profile. If all you're looking for is an efficient, yet capable eSports gaming card, then AMD claims the RX 460 still has you covered. Peak compute performance for the RX 470 drops in at 4.9 TFLOPs (compared to 5.8 TFLOPs for the Radeon RX 480). The RX 460 has less than half the stream processors and less than half the compute units of the RX 470 and as a result, the peak compute performance stands at 2.2 TFLOPs. Pricing for the Radeon RX 470 and Radeon RX 460 is set at $149 and $99 MSRP, respectively.
Ask Slashdot: Best Browser Extensions -- 2016 Edition? - Fri Jul 29 16:43:40 2016
Reader LichtSpektren writes: Almost eleven years ago, Slashdot featured an Ask titled "Favorite Firefox Extensions?". I thought it might be worthwhile to ask the question again (Editor's note: we couldn't agree more!), but expand the query to all web browsers now that there's more choices available.
Right now my main browser is Firefox, which I use with uBlock Origin, Disconnect, HTTPS Everywhere, Privacy Badger, NoScript, Self-Destructing Cookies, Decentraleyes, Privacy Settings, and Clean Links. (N.B. the first four of these are also available in Chromium-based browsers.) I use Chrome as a secondary browser, with the first four of the aforementioned extensions, plus also Clear Cache and occasionally Flashcontrol.
This one has nothing to do with security or privacy, but Reedy on Chromium is a really nice tool for speed reading.
What do you use?Let's get this going.
British Spy Agency GCHQ Used URL Shortener To Honeypot Arab Spring Activists - Fri Jul 29 16:12:34 2016
The British spy agency GCHQ used a custom URL shortener and Twitter sockpuppets to influence and infiltrate activists during the Iran revolution of 2009 and the Arab Spring of 2011, reports Motherboard, citing leaked documents by Edward Snowden. From the article: The GCHQ's special unit, known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group or JTRIG, was first revealed in 2014, when leaked top secret documents showed it tried to infiltrate and manipulate -- using "dirty trick" tactics such as honeypots -- online communities including those of Anonymous hacktivists, among others. The group's tactics against hacktivists have been previously reported, but its influence campaign in the Middle East has never been reported before. I was able to uncover it because I was myself targeted in the past, and was aware of a key detail, a URL shortening service, that was actually redacted in Snowden documents published in 2014. A now-defunct free URL shortening service -- lurl.me -- was set up by GCHQ that enabled social media signals intelligence. Lurl.me was used on Twitter and other social media platforms for the dissemination of pro-revolution messages in the Middle East.
Facebook Offering Refunds For Kids' In-App Purchases - Fri Jul 29 15:29:36 2016
Parents who found themselves with hefty bills after their kids made in-app purchases -- mainly via the now-defunct Facebook Credits -- can now request a refund from Facebook. PCMag reports: The news comes as part of a settlement for a class-action lawsuit brought against the social network in February 2012, and covers those who made any kind of purchase through their Facebook accounts between February 2008 and March 2015. Facebook maintained that it did nothing wrong, as those purchasing digital currency received what they paid for. But California's Family Code stipulates that minors can void contracts they make at any point when they're under 18 years of age. In other words, the legislation is designed to prevent other entities from preying on minors who don't otherwise understand the ramifications of their actions -- like tapping repeatedly on an in-app item to acquire it.
Movie Studios 'Take Down' Popular KAT Mirror - Fri Jul 29 14:47:13 2016
Following the shut down of KickassTorrents website -- after its alleged owner was arrested, Hollywood studios are playing the game of rat and mouse with pirates to put an absolute end to KickassTorrents. An anonymous reader writes: One of the most popular KAT mirrors has had its domain name taken down following pressure from the major Hollywood studios. The Armenian .AM registry was quick to disable the KAT.am domain, after it received a stark warning from the Motion Picture Association, representing Hollywood's major studios. This notice requires you to immediately (within 24 hours) take effective measures to end and prevent further copyright infringement. All opportunities provided by the website to download, stream or otherwise obtain access to the entertainment content should be disabled permanently," MPA's email reads.As TorrentFreak reports, the takedown of kat.am domain isn't the end of the website. The publication spoke to the operator of the website, and learned that they were "making continuous" attempts to bring the website back -- utilizing the channels available. Kat.am is down already, but kickass.cd and kickass.mx mirros have since cropped up. Slashdot understands that Kickass torrent community is now back in action again, on a whole new domain.
FBI Probes Hacking of Democratic Congressional Group - Fri Jul 29 14:04:20 2016
From a Reuters report: The FBI is investigating a cyber attack against another U.S. Democratic Party group, which may be related to an earlier hack against the Democratic National Committee , four people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The previously unreported incident at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, and its potential ties to Russian hackers are likely to heighten accusations, so far unproven, that Moscow is trying to meddle in the U.S. presidential election campaign to help Republican nominee Donald Trump. The Kremlin denied involvement in the DCCC cyber-attack. Hacking of the party's emails caused discord among Democrats at the party's convention in Philadelphia to nominate Hillary Clinton as its presidential candidate. The newly disclosed breach at the DCCC may have been intended to gather information about donors, rather than to steal money, the sources said on Thursday.
Ask Slashdot: How Transparent Should Companies Be When Operational Technology Failures Happen? - Fri Jul 29 13:10:09 2016
New submitter supernova87a writes: Last week, Southwest Airlines had an epic crash of IT systems across their entire business when "a router failure caused the airlines' systems to crash [...] and all backups failed, causing flight delays and cancellations nationwide and costing the company probably $10 million in lost bookings alone." Huge numbers of passengers, crew, and airplanes were stranded as not only reservations systems, but scheduling, dispatch, and other critical operational systems had to be rebooted over the course of 12 hours. Passenger delays, which directly attributable to this incident, continued to trickle down all the way from Wednesday to Sunday as the airline recovered. Aside from the technical issues of what happened, what should a public-facing company's obligation be to discuss what happened in full detail? Would publicly talking about the sequence of events before and after failure help restore faith in their operations? Perhaps not aiming for Google's level of admirable disclosure (as in this 18-minute cloud computing outage where a full post-mortem was given), should companies aim to discuss more openly what happened and how they recovered from system failures?
The Mojave Desert: Home of the New Machine Movement - Fri Jul 29 10:03:01 2016
pacopico writes: Most people think of the Mojave Desert as a wasteland located somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. For decades, though, Mojave has served as something of an engineering playground for people in the automotive and aerospace industries. Bloomberg has produced a documentary that looks at what's taking place with these engineers in 2016. There's a dude trying to make a flying car, Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic, a group called Hackrod using artificial intelligence software to make a car chassis, and the hacker George Hotz taking his self-driving car along the Las Vegas strip for the first time. One of the cooler parts of the show has a team of students from UCSD sending up a rocket with a 3D printed engine -- the first time any university team had pulled something like this off. Overall, it's a cool look at the strange desert rat tinkerers.
Study: Astronauts Who Reach Deep Space 'Far More Likely To Die From Heart Disease' - Fri Jul 29 07:03:01 2016
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Astronauts who venture into deep space appear to be much more likely to die from heart disease, according to a new study. In another sign that leaving planet Earth is fraught with danger and a potential blow to hopes of establishing a colony on Mars, researchers discovered deep space radiation appears to damage the body's cardiovascular system. They reported that three out of the seven dead Apollo astronauts died as a result of a cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke. Although the numbers are small, that rate of 43 percent is four to five times higher than found among astronauts who flew in low Earth orbit or who did not actually go into space, according to a paper in the journal Scientific Reports. In an attempt to test whether the higher numbers of cardiovascular deaths were simply a statistical blip or a genuine sign of the effect of traveling into deep space, the scientists exposed mice to the same type of radiation that the astronauts would have experienced. After six months, which is the equivalent of 20 human years, the mice showed damage to arteries that is known to lead to the development of cardiovascular disease in humans.
Dark Patterns Across the Web Are Designed To Trick You - Fri Jul 29 03:33:06 2016
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: Harry Brignell has posted a 30-minute video documenting dark patterns, deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces (not exclusive to the internet) that trick users into setting up recurring payments, purchasing items added to a shopping cart, or spamming all contacts through pre-checked forms on Facebook games for example. Basically, they're tactics used by online services to get users to do things they wouldn't normally do. Yael Grauer has written an in-depth report on Ars Technica about dark patterns, where he discusses Brignull's work with UX designers and business executives: "Klein [Principal at Users Known and author of UX for Lean Startups] believes many of the worst dark patterns are pushed by businesses, not by designers. 'It's often pro-business at the expense of the users, and the designers often see themselves as the defender or advocate of the user,' she explained. And although Brignull has never been explicitly asked to design dark patterns himself, he said he has been in situations where using them would be an easy solution -- like when a client or boss says they really need a large list of people who have opted in to marketing e-mails. 'The first and easiest trick to have an opt-in is to have a pre-ticked checkbox, but then you can just get rid of that entirely and hide it in the terms of conditions and say that by registering you're going to be opted in to our e-mails,' Brignull said. 'Then you have a 100-percent sign-up rate and you've exceeded your goals. I kind of understand why people do it. If you're only thinking about the numbers and you're just trying to juice the stats, then it's not surprising in the slightest.' 'There's this logical positivist mindset that the only things that have value are those things that can be measured and can empirically be shown to be true, and while that has its merits it also takes us down a pretty dark place,' said digital product designer Cennydd Bowles, who is researching ethical design. 'We start to look at ethics as pure utilitarianism, whatever benefits the most people. Yikes, it has problems.'" Brignull's website has a number of examples of deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces.
Apple's Rigid Negotiating Tactics Cost Us 'Skinny Bundles' For Apple TV, Says Report - Fri Jul 29 01:36:52 2016
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the reason we don't have actual TV channels on the Apple TV is because the company tried to strong-arm networks -- and failed. Apple's Senior Vice President Eddy Cue is said to have taken the wrong approach. In one meeting, he reportedly told TV executives that "time is on my side." Cue is also accused of bluffing executives by claiming other networks -- specifically Disney and Fox -- were already signed up. The company also refused to show off the Apple TV interface, or "sketch it on the back of a napkin," as one media executive requested. Cue also tried to strike hard bargains, says WSJ. He reportedly asked that Disney put off the royalties Apple would have to pay for several years. Those 'skinny bundles' we heard so much about were what Apple was planning to build its TV experience around, too. In 2015, a bundle consisting of Fox, ESPN and Disney content was conceptualized (and priced at $30), but no agreements were ever signed. In an effort to create more original programming, Apple is scheduled to release its 'Planet of the Apps' TV show about app developers next year.
UK Judge Calls For An Online Court Without Lawyers To Cut Costs - Fri Jul 29 01:04:40 2016
mi writes from a report via The Times: A senior judge has called for the establishment of an online court (Warning: source may be paywalled) that does not have lawyers and can deal with claims of up to 25,000 British Pound (around $32,850). The proposal is the centerpiece of a package of reforms to the civil justice system, drawn up by Lord Justice Briggs, a Court of Appeal judge. Just how exactly will this court ensure no one is, in fact, a trained professional on the internet, where no one knows who you really are, is not explained. We discussed the idea last year. Apparently, it is still alive. The judge's report says this computer court would provide "effective access to justice without having to incur the disproportionate cost of using layers." The Law Gazette reported earlier in June that Briggs has mused about a three-stage process -- triage, conciliation and final judgement -- in which there might be some lawyer involvement.
North Korea Is Blackmailing Top South Korean Online Retailer For $2.66 Million - Fri Jul 29 00:18:01 2016
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Softpedia: South Korea says that North Korea is behind a data breach that occurred last May, where hackers stole details about 10 million user accounts from Interpark.com, one of the country's biggest shopping portals. The hackers later tried to extort Interpark management by requesting for 3 billion won ($2.66 million / 2.39 million euros), otherwise they were going to release the data on the internet. [The hackers wanted the money transferred to their accounts as Bitcoin.] Authorities say they tracked the source of the hack to an IP in North Korea, previously used in other attacks on South Korean infrastructure. "Besides the evidence related to the IP addresses and the techniques used in the attacks, investigators also said that the emails Interpark management received, written in the Korean language, contained words and vocabulary expressions that are only used in the North," reports Softpedia.
Microsoft To Lay Off Another 2,850 People In the Next 12 Months - Thu Jul 28 23:31:57 2016
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Business Insider: Microsoft is planning to lay off 2,850 more employees in the next 12 months or so, according to Microsoft's full 10-K report it filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Part of the document reads: "In addition to the elimination of 1,850 positions that were announced in May 2016, approximately 2,850 roles globally will be reduced during the year as an extension of the earlier plan, and these actions are expected to be completed by the end of fiscal year 2017." Business Insider reports: "The first 1,850 layoffs mentioned here were mainly from Microsoft's struggling smartphone business, including 1,350 employees in Finland working at what was once Nokia world headquarters. These layoffs also included people in Microsoft's salesforce, which was recently reorganized and saw the departure of COO Kevin Turner. In total, Microsoft laid off 7,400 employees in its last fiscal year, which ended on June 30th, 2016. The new layoffs are a continuation of the same plan, and include the sales group as well as others. About 900 people affected by the new layoffs were already informed during the sales reorganization, according to a person familiar with Microsoft's plans."
Samsung Beat Apple In Smartphone Shipments, Profit Surges To 2-Year High - Thu Jul 28 22:59:31 2016
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier reports speculated this to be true, but now it's official: Samsung has beat Apple in smartphone shipments to lift the company to its most profitable quarter in over two years. The Hindu reports: "Riding on the strong sales of its Galaxy S7 and Galaxy S7 Edge smartphones, Samsung Electronics on Thursday declared 8.14 trillion won ($7billion) year on-year operating profit -- 18 percent in the second quarter results. Touted as bad news for Apple that saw a 15 percent decline in iPhone sales in its second quarter results announced this week, Samsung saw substantial earnings improvement led by sales of its flagship products such as Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. A streamlined mid-to low-end smartphone lineup also contributed to improved profitability for the company. According to Samsung, it shipped about 90 million handsets in the April-June period with smartphones making up more than 80 per cent of the total, the Korea Herald reported. Samsung's second-quarter smartphone shipments are estimated at about 72 million units, almost doubling Apple's iPhone shipments of 40.4 million units during the same period."
The End of Gmane? - Thu Jul 28 22:12:04 2016
If any of you use mailing list archive Gmane, you would want to start looking at its alternative. Gmane developer Lars Ingebrigtsen announced Thursday that he is thinking about ending the decade-old email-to-news gateway. But first, for those unaware about Gmane, here's is what it does: It allows users to access electronic mailing lists as if they were Usenet newsgroups, and also through a variety of web interfaces. Gmane is an archive; it never expires messages (unless explicitly requested by users). Gmane also supports importing list postings made prior to a list's inclusion on the service.Ingebrigtsen said Gmane machines are under numerous DDoS attacks -- coupled with some other issues -- that have made him wonder whether it is worth the time and effort to keep Gmane ticking. He writes: I'm thinking about ending Gmane, at least as a web site. Perhaps continue running the SMTP-to-NNTP bridge? Perhaps not? I don't want to make 20-30K mailing lists start having bouncing addresses, but I could just funnel all incoming mail to /dev/null, I guess... The nice thing about a mailing list archive (with NNTP and HTTP interfaces) is that it enables software maintainers to say (whenever somebody suggests using Spiffy Collaboration Tool of the Month instead of yucky mailing lists) is "well, just read the stuff on Gmane, then". I feel like I'm letting down a generation here.As Gmane's future remains uncertain, Ingebrigtsen recommends people to have a look at Mail Archive.
Gary Johnson: I'd Consider Pardoning Snowden, Chelsea Manning - Thu Jul 28 21:29:04 2016
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Vocativ: [Vocativ reports:] "The U.S.'s most popular third-party presidential candidate says he would 'consider' pardoning the highest profile convicts of computer-related crimes in the country, including Chelsea Manning, Ross Ulbricht, and Jeremy Hammond. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a former governor of New Mexico, also reiterated his possible willingness to pardon Edward Snowden, the former National Security Agency analyst who gave a cache of agency documents to journalists in 2013." "Having actually served as a governor and administered the power to grant pardons and clemency, Gary Johnson is very conscious and respectful of the need for processes for using that authority," Joe Hunter, Johnson's communications director, told Vocativ in a statement. "However, he has made it clear on numerous occasions that he would 'look seriously at' pardoning Edward Snowden, based on public information that Snowden's actions did not cause actual harm to any U.S. intelligence personnel. Likewise, he has said he would look favorably on pardoning Ross Ulbricht, consistent with his broader and long-standing commitment to pardon nonviolent drug offenders, whistleblowers, and others imprisoned under unjust and ill-advised laws," Hunter said. When Vocativ asked specifically about Chelsea Manning, Jeremy Hammond, Barrett Brown, and Matthew Keys, Hunter responded: "The same goes for the other individuals you have mentioned -- and hundreds, if not thousands, like them. Gov. Johnson finds it to be an outrage that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the developed world, and announced in 2012 that, as President, he would promptly commence the process of pardoning nonviolent offenders who have done no real harm to others." The Green Party candidate Jill Stein has also shared her thoughts on pardoning Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Not only would she pardon Snowden, but she said she would appoint him to her cabinet.
WikiLeaks Releases Hacked Voicemails From DNC Officials - Thu Jul 28 20:58:01 2016
An anonymous reader writes: Late Wednesday afternoon as the Democratic National Convention was in full swing, Julian Assange and WikiLeaks decided to follow through with an earlier statement by publishing hacked voicemails of top democratic officials. There are 29 leaked recordings, which are identified by phone number and total about 14 minutes combined. Many of the voicemails are messages of callers leaving their numbers in hopes of being called back. Others are from voters upset that the DNC was giving too much support to Sanders. The Hill reports that "One caller with an Arizona area code called to blast the DNC for putting Sanders surrogate Cornel West on the platform drafting committee. 'I'm furious for what you are doing for Bernie Sanders,' another caller says in a message. 'He's getting way too much influence. What I see is the Democratic Party bending over backwards for Bernie,' adds the caller, who threatens to leave the party if the DNC doesn't stop 'coddling' the Vermont senator."
Google Launches Docs and Sheets Add-ons For Android - Thu Jul 28 20:12:25 2016
An anonymous reader writes: Google today announced the launch of new add-ons for the Android versions of Google Docs and Google Sheets. Those services have offered integrations with third-party tools on the web, and now a similar capability is coming to Google's mobile operating system. There's now a dedicated section for add-ons for Docs and Sheets in the Google Play Store, Google Apps product manager Saurabh Gupta wrote in a blog post. Nine add-ons are available for Android as of today: AppSheet, DocuSign, EasyBib, Google Classroom, PandaDoc, ProsperWorks CRM, Scanbot, Teacher Aide, and Zoho CRM. The DocuSign add-on, for example, lets you sign or send a file in Google Docs or Sheets through DocuSign. Generally these services are meant for a work context, but it's possible that developers will build more consumer-oriented add-ons, too.
Microsoft Faces Two New Lawsuits Over Aggressive Windows 10 Upgrade Tactics - Thu Jul 28 19:31:07 2016
Microsoft is facing two more lawsuits over its Windows 10 upgrade tactics. The first lawsuit comes from U.S. District Court in Florida, where the company has been accused of violating "laws governing unsolicited electronic advertisements" The suit, PCWorld reports, says Microsoft's tactics are against the FTC's rules on deceptive and unfair practices. The second lawsuit was filed last month in Haifa, Israel alleging that Microsoft installed Windows 10 on users' computer without their consent. It's similar to another recent lawsuit that was filed against Microsoft in which the Redmond company had to pay a sum of $10,000. The company, however, believes that these new lawsuits won't succeed. In a statement to The Seattle Times, the company said:We believe the plaintiffs' claims are without merit and we are confident we'll be successful in court.
Stiglitz Calls Apple's Profit Reporting In Ireland 'a Fraud' - Thu Jul 28 18:48:01 2016
Jeanna Smialek, and Alex Webb, reporting for Bloomberg: Nobel economist Joseph Stiglitz said U.S. tax law that allows Apple to hold a large amount of cash abroad is "obviously deficient" and called the company's attribution of significant earnings to a comparatively small overseas unit a "fraud." "Our current tax system encourages companies to keep their money abroad, opens up a vast loophole through what is called the transfer-pricing system that allows them not only to keep their money abroad but, effectively, to escape taxation," Stiglitz, who advises Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign, said. Stiglitz was speaking in response to a question about whether policy makers like Clinton and Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, could develop a plan to encourage companies like Apple to bring their accumulated foreign earnings back to the U.S. About $215 billion of Apple's total $232 billion in cash is held outside of the country, third-quarter earnings results showed this week.
Microsoft To Disable Policies In Windows 10 Pro With Anniversary Update - Thu Jul 28 18:11:31 2016
Reader BobSwi writes: More changes in the Windows Anniversary update, due August 2nd, are being discovered. After yesterday's news about Cortana not able to be turned off in the Windows Anniversary update, certain registry entries and group policies have been found to be updated with a note stating that they only apply to Enterprise and Education editions. Win 10 Pro users will no longer be able to turn off policies such as the Microsoft Consumer Experience, Show Windows Tips, Do not display the lock screen, and Disable all apps from the Windows Store.
Tumblr To Introduce Ads Across All Blogs - Thu Jul 28 17:29:47 2016
Reader evelynlewis445 writes: Tumblr this week quietly announced plans to roll out a new advertising program across its site which will see it implementing ads across users' blogs. The company did not provide specific details on how the program will operate, but it appears to be an expansion of its earlier Creators program, which connects brands with Tumblr users directly, instead of having advertisers work with third-party influencer networks.The ads will begin appearing on the platform starting today. Tumblr remains one of the most popular blogging platforms, attracting over 550 million monthly users to its blogs. The company says that bloggers will have the ability to opt out of the program should they wish not to participate.
AT&T Violated Rule Requiring Low Prices For Schools, FCC Says - Thu Jul 28 16:47:03 2016
Jon Brodkin, reporting for Ars Technica: AT&T overcharged two Florida school districts for phone service and should have to pay about $170,000 to the U.S. government to settle the allegations, the Federal Communications Commission said yesterday. AT&T disputes the charges and will contest the decision. The FCC issued a Notice of Apparently Liability (NAL) to AT&T, an initial step toward enforcing the proposed punishment. The alleged overcharges relate to the FCC's E-Rate program, which funds telecommunications for schools and libraries and is paid for by Americans through surcharges on phone bills. The FCC said AT&T should have to repay $63,760 it improperly received from the FCC in subsidies for phone service provided to Orange and Dixie Counties and pay an additional fine of $106,425. AT&T prices charged to the districts were almost 400 percent higher than they should have been, according to the FCC. AT&T violated the FCC's "lowest corresponding price rule" designed to ensure that schools and libraries "get the best rates available by prohibiting E-Rate service providers from charging them more than the lowest price paid by other similarly situated customers for similar telecommunications services," the FCC said. Instead of charging the lowest available price, "AT&T charged the school districts prices for telephone service that were magnitudes higher than many other customers in Florida," the FCC said. Between 2012 and 2015, the school districts paid "some of the highest prices in the state... for basic telephone services."
Getty Sued For $1 Billion For Selling Publicly Donated Photos - Thu Jul 28 16:04:48 2016
An anonymous reader writes: Online stock media library Getty Images is facing a $1 billion lawsuit from an American photographer for illegally selling copyright for thousands of photos. The Seattle-based company has been sued by documentary photographer Carol Highsmith for 'gross misuse', after it sold more than 18,000 of her photos despite having already donated them for public use. Highsmith's photos which were sold via Getty Images had been available for free via the Library of Congress. Getty has now been accused of selling unauthorized licenses of the images, not crediting the author, and for also sending threatening warnings and fines to those who had used the pictures without paying for the falsely imposed copyright.ArsTechnica has more details.
Using VPN in UAE Could Cost You $545,000 - Thu Jul 28 15:32:39 2016
An anonymous reader writes: The President of the United Arab Emirates has issued a series of new federal laws relating to IT crimes, including a regulation that forbids anyone in the UAE from making use of virtual private networks to secure their web traffic from prying eyes. The new law states that anyone who uses a VPN or proxy server can be imprisoned and fined between $136,000-$545,000 if they are found to use VPNs fraudulently. Previously, the law was restricted to prosecuting people who used VPNs as part of an internet crime, but UK-based VPN and privacy advocate Private Internet Access says that the law has now changed to enable police in the UAE to go after anyone who uses VPNs to access blocked services, which is considered to be fraudulent use of an IP address.
Oracle To Buy Cloud-Software Provider NetSuite For $9.3 Billion - Thu Jul 28 15:01:47 2016
Oracle announced Thursday that it has agreed to buy NetSuite for $9.3 billion, in a move to bolster its cloud-computing offerings as it races to catch up to rivals. Both companies provide applications for running a business called enterprise-resource-planning software. Bloomberg reports: Oracle, which sells software to big corporations, has been trying to shift more sales to cloud-based products increasingly demanded by its customers. New cloud services made up about 8 percent of the company's total sales during its fiscal fourth-quarter. Buying NetSuite -- whose products include customer relationship management software -- will help Oracle compete against the likes of Salesforce.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. "Oracle and NetSuite cloud applications are complementary, and will coexist in the marketplace forever," said Oracle co-Chief Executive Officer Mark Hurd in a statement Thursday. "We intend to invest heavily in both products -- engineering and distribution."
The Most Popular Product Of All Time - Thu Jul 28 14:25:55 2016
Apple announced Wednesday that it has sold more than one billion iPhones. To understand the magnitude of the milestone, Asymco's Horace Dediu has compiled a list of the best-selling products across several categories. From his post (link shared via email by reader JoshTops):Car model: VW Beetle 21.5 million; car brand: Toyota Corolla 43 million; music album: Thriller 70 million; vehicle: Honda Super Cub 87 million; book title: Lord of the Rings 150 million; toy: Rubik's Cube 350 million; game console: Playstation 382 million; book series: Harry Potter Series 450 million; mobile phone: iPhone 1 billion.
The iPhone is not only the best-selling mobile phone but also the best selling music player, the best-selling camera, the best-selling video screen and the best-selling computer of all time. It is, quite simply, the best-selling product of all time. It is that because it is so much more than a product. It is an enabler for change. It unleashed forces which we are barely able to perceive, let alone control. It changed the world because it changed us. And it did all that in less than nine years.
The Most Popular Product Of All Time - Thu Jul 28 14:04:24 2016
Apple announced on Wednesday that it sold its one-billionth iPhone last week. To understand the magnitude of the milestone, Asymco's Horace Dediu has compiled a list of the best-selling products across several categories. From his post (link shared via email by reader JoshTops):Car model: VW Beetle 21.5 million; car brand: Toyota Corolla 43 million; music album: Thriller 70 million; vehicle: Honda Super Cub 87 million; book title: Lord of the Rings 150 million; toy: Rubik's Cube 350 million; game console: Playstation 382 million; book series: Harry Potter Series 450 million; mobile phone: iPhone 1 billion.
The iPhone is not only the best-selling mobile phone but also the best selling music player, the best-selling camera, the best-selling video screen and the best-selling computer of all time. It is, quite simply, the best-selling product of all time. It is that because it is so much more than a product. It is an enabler for change. It unleashed forces which we are barely able to perceive, let alone control. It changed the world because it changed us. And it did all that in less than nine years.
E-Cigarettes Emit Toxic Vapors, Says Study - Thu Jul 28 13:10:37 2016
An anonymous reader quotes a report from UPI: All electronic cigarettes emit harmful chemicals, and levels of those toxic compounds are affected by factors such as temperature, type and age of the device, a new study finds. In laboratory tests, scientists found that the heat-related breakdown of propylene glycol and glycerin -- two solvents found in most e-cigarette liquids -- causes emissions of toxic chemicals such as acrolein, acetaldehyde and formaldehyde. All three are either respiratory irritants or carcinogens, the investigators said. The researchers also found that levels of harmful chemicals in e-cigarette vapor increase between the first few puffs and later puffs as the device gets hotter, and with each use of the device.The new study was published July 27 in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. "Advocates of e-cigarettes say emissions are much lower than from conventional cigarettes, so you're better off using e-cigarettes," study corresponding author Hugo Destaillats said in a Berkeley news release. "I would say, that may be true for certain users -- for example, long-time smokers that cannot quit -- but the problem is, it doesn't mean that they're healthier. Regular cigarettes are super unhealthy. E-cigarettes are just unhealthy," he explained. The FDA will start regulating e-cigarettes like tobacco on August 8, 2016.
ULA Interns Launch Record-Breaking 50-Foot Rocket - Thu Jul 28 10:11:01 2016
schwit1 writes: A team of United Launch Alliance (ULA) interns, working in their spare time, have successfully launched the largest model rocket every built. Space.com reports: "On Sunday (July 24), ULA launched the 50-foot-tall (15.24 meters) Future Heavy rocket out of Fort Carson Army Post, breaking the record for 'the largest sport rocket launched anywhere in the world,' according to a statement from ULA. The Future Heavy is also notable because it was built entirely by company interns and their mentors. 'We like [our interns] to have a very realistic experience,' ULA President and CEO Tory Bruno told Space.com at the Space Symposium meeting in Colorado Springs, Colorado, last April." Calling it a "model rocket" really isn't fair. The thing is big, and really ranks up there with many of the suborbital rockets NASA used to routinely fly out of Wallops Island. [The fact that] ULA has provided support for this effort again suggests that the leadership of Bruno is reshaping the company into a much more innovative and competitive company.
Tech Takes Its K-12 CS Education and Immigration Crisis To the DNC - Thu Jul 28 07:10:57 2016
theodp writes: In early 2013, Code.org and FWD.us coincidentally emerged after Microsoft suggested tech's agenda could be furthered by creating a crisis linking U.S. kids' lack of computer science savvy to tech's need for tech worker visas. Three years later, CNET's Marguerite Reardon reports that tech took its K-12 computer science and immigration crisis to the Democratic National Convention on Wednesday, where representatives from Microsoft, Facebook, and Amazon called for the federal government to invest in more STEM education and reform immigration policies -- recurring themes the industry hopes to influence in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election. "We believe in the importance of high-skilled immigration coupled with investments in education," said Microsoft President Brad Smith, repeating the Microsoft National Talent Strategy. The mini-tech conference also received some coverage in the New Republic, where David Dayen argues that the DNC is one big corporate bride.
Tor Project Confirms Sexual Misconduct By Developer Jacob Appelbaum - Thu Jul 28 03:31:54 2016
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The Tor Project, a nonprofit known for its online anonymity software, says it has verified claims that former employee Jacob Appelbaum engaged in "sexually aggressive behavior" with people inside and outside of its organization. "We have confirmed that the events did take place as reported," Shari Steele, Tor's executive director, tells The Verge. In a blog post today, Steele says that Tor began an investigation into Appelbaum's behavior after several people came forward with allegations of misconduct in late May. In a statement made in June, he said the allegations were "entirely false." He resigned from the Tor Project in May. "I want to thank all the people who broke the silence around Jacob's behavior," Steele writes. "It is because of you that this issue has now been addressed. I am grateful you spoke up, and I acknowledge and appreciate your courage." Steele says that Tor is now implementing a new anti-harassment policy, as well as a process for submitting complaints and having them reviewed. The changes will be put in place this week. Tor also announced last month that it would replace its entire board of directors.