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State Dept. IT Staff Told To Keep Quiet About Clinton's Server - Wed May 25 22:30:38 2016

dcblogs writes this report from Computerworld: Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's decision to use a private email server ran afoul of the government's IT security and record retention requirements, according to a report by the department's inspector general released today. This use of a private email server did not go unnoticed within the Department of State's IT department. Two IT staff members who raised concerns about Clinton's use of a private server were told not to speak of it. Clinton was secretary of state from 2009 to 2013 and during that period she used a private email server in her New York home. This report by the Department of State's Inspector General about Clinton's use of a private server makes clear that rules and regulations were not followed. It says that Clinton would not have received approval for this server had she sought it. According to the current CIO, the report said, "Secretary Clinton had an obligation to discuss using her personal email account to conduct official business with their offices, who in turn would have attempted to provide her with approved and secured means that met her business needs." However, the report notes, according to these officials, The Bureau of Diplomatic Security and IRM (Bureau of Information Resource Management) "did not -- and would not -- approve her exclusive reliance on a personal email account to conduct Department business, because of the restrictions in the FAM [Foreign Affairs Manual] and the security risks in doing so."



US Military Uses 8-Inch Floppy Disks To Coordinate Nuclear Force Operations - Wed May 25 21:46:57 2016

An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNBC: A new report reveals the U.S. Defense Department is still using 8-inch floppy disks in a computer system that coordinates the operational functions of the nation's nuclear forces. The Defense Department's 1970s-era IBM Series/1 Computer and long-outdated floppy disks handle functions related to intercontinental ballistic missiles, nuclear bombers and tanker support aircraft, according to the new Governmental Accountability Office report. The report shows how outdated IT systems are being used to handle important functions related to the nation's taxpayers, federal prisoners and military veterans, as well as to the America's nuclear umbrella. "Federal legacy IT systems are becoming increasingly obsolete: Many use outdated software languages and hardware parts that are unsupported," the report found. "Agencies reported using several systems that have components that are, in some cases, at least 50 years old." From the report: "GAO pointed out that aging systems include the Treasury Department's 'individual master file,' which is the authoritative data source for individual taxpayers. It's used to assess taxes and generates refunds. That file 'is written in assembly language code -- a low-level computer code that is difficult to write and maintain -- and operates on an IBM mainframe,' the report said." The report also mentioned that several other departments, such as the departments of Treasury, Commerce, Health and Human Services and the Veterans' Administration, "reported using 1980s and 1990s Microsoft operating systems that stopped being supported by the vendor more than a decade ago."



Google Built an Escape Room, Making People Use Its Apps To Get Out - Wed May 25 21:02:45 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Google France has built an escape room created by We Are Social, called "Premiere Piece," that will open in the heart of Paris. Adweek writes: "The campaign builds on the escape room trend, in which you and a bunch of friends pay to get locked in a room for an hour or two, left to solve puzzles and work in collaboration to find a way out. In 40 minutes, you must solve puzzles with help from apps like Search, Maps, Translate, Photos, Art and Culture and Cardboard, all of which are integrated into the gameplay. In Premiere Piece, visitors must help save a crew of digital artists locked in a workshop, so they can present their painstaking work at an art center in Paris. By working together, participants must unlock an object that completes their masterpiece." Google France was in the news recently for being raided by investigators for unpaid taxes.



Former McDonald's USA CEO: $35K Robots Cheaper Than Hiring at $15 Per Hour - Wed May 25 20:20:18 2016

An anonymous reader shares an article on Fox Business: As fast-food workers across the country vie for $15 per hour wages, many business owners have already begun to take humans out of the picture. "I was at the National Restaurant Show yesterday and if you look at the robotic devices that are coming into the restaurant industry -- it's cheaper to buy a $35,000 robotic arm than it is to hire an employee who's inefficient making $15 an hour (warning: autoplaying video) bagging French fries -- it's nonsense and it's very destructive and it's inflationary and it's going to cause a job loss across this country like you're not going to believe," said former McDonald's USA CEO Ed Rensi during an interview on the FOX Business Network's Mornings with Maria. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 1.3 million people earned the current minimum wage of $7.25 per hour with about 1.7 million having wages below the federal minimum in 2014. These three million workers combined made up 3.9 percent of all hourly paid workers.



Google To Bring Official Android Support To the Raspberry Pi 3 - Wed May 25 19:38:09 2016

An anonymous reader shares an Ars Technica report: The Raspberry Pi 3 is not hurting for operating system choices. The tiny ARM computer is supported by several Linux distributions and even has a version of Windows 10 IoT core available. Now, it looks like the Pi is about to get official support for one of the most popular operating systems out there: Android. In Google's Android Open Source Project (AOSP) repository, a new device tree recently popped up for the Raspberry Pi 3. The AOSP device tree contains mostly Nexus devices with the occasional "generic" entry or developer board tossed into the mix. It's rare to see a non-Google device in AOSP, so it seems Google has taken quite a shine to the tiny computer. With officially supported source code, it should be much easier for hackers to get Android up and running on the Pi 3. And once that's done, you should be able to sideload more than 1.5 million apps onto the Pi to make the device do whatever you want.



Google Steps Up Pressure on Partners Tardy in Updating Android - Wed May 25 19:16:28 2016

Google is actively tracking the time its partner OEMs take to release a new version of Android onto their devices. According to a Bloomberg report, the company is drawing up rankings that could shame some phone makers into better behavior. From the report: Google shared this list with Android partners earlier this year. It has discussed making it public to highlight proactive manufacturers and shame tardy vendors through omission from the list, two of the people said. [...] Google is making progress persuading phone makers and carriers to install security updates quicker "for the good of users," Android chief Hiroshi Lockheimer said. The same expedited process may then be used to send operating system updates to phones, he explained. The most challenging discussions are with carriers, which can be slow to approve updates because they test them thoroughly to avoid network disruption. The report adds that several OEMs are also stepping up their game to better comply with Google's new wishes. Motorola, for instance, is working on offering quarterly updates to its three years old devices.

For users with non-Nexus devices, it's really frustrating to wait for months, and in some cases, years, before their devices from Samsung, Xiaomi, Huawei, HTC and other manufacturers get upgraded to a newer version of Android. Another challenge for Google is to push its partners to actively release updates to affordable and mid-range smartphones. Many OEMs mostly worry about serving those users who have the flagship and high-end models.



Microsoft Backtracks On 'Nasty Trick' Upgrade To Windows 10 - Wed May 25 18:41:23 2016

Reader Raging Bool writes: Days after angering many users with its so-called "nasty trick", Microsoft has reversed its crazy decision to infuriate users by upgrading them to Windows 10 automatically. Users were angry that clicking the cross to dismiss the box meant that they had agreed to the upgrade. Based on "customer feedback", Microsoft said it would add another notification that provided customers with "an additional opportunity for cancelling the upgrade". Microsoft told the BBC it had modified the pop-up as a result of criticism: "We've added another notification that confirms the time of the scheduled upgrade and provides the customer an additional opportunity for cancelling or rescheduling the upgrade. If the customer wishes to continue with their upgrade at the designated time, they can click 'OK' or close the notifications with no further action needed."



Genius' Web Annotations Undermined Web Security - Wed May 25 17:56:48 2016

New reader BradyDale shares an article on the Verge: Until early May, when The Verge confidentially disclosed the results of my independent security tests, the "web annotator" service provided by the tech startup Genius had been routinely undermining a web browser security mechanism. The web annotator is a tool which essentially republishes web pages in order to let Genius users leave comments on specific passages. In the process of republishing, those annotated pages would be stripped of an optional security feature called the Content Security Policy, which was sometimes provided by the original version of the page. This meant that anyone who viewed a page with annotations enabled was potentially vulnerable to security exploits that would have been blocked by the original site. Though no specific victims have been identified, the potential scope of this bug was broad: it was applied to all Genius users, undermined any site with a Content Security Policy, and re-enabled all blocked JavaScript code. Vijith Assar dives deep into how Genius did this :The primary way Genius annotations are accessed on the web is by adding "genius.it" in front of any URL as a prefix. The genius.it server reads the original content behind the scenes, adds the annotations, and delivers the hybrid content. The Genius version of the page includes a few extra scripts and highlighted passages, but until recently it also eliminated the original page's Content Security Policy. The Content Security Policy is an optional set of instructions encoded in the header of the HTTP connection which tells browsers exactly which sites and servers should be considered safe -- any code which isn't from one of those sites can then be ignored.



Tech Billionaire Peter Thiel Secretly Bankrolled Hulk Hogan's Lawsuit Against Gawker: Reports - Wed May 25 17:24:35 2016

If you're a powerful Silicon Valley billionaire, and there's a media house which actively points out flaws in your investments, can you do something about it? If you're Peter Thiel, you certainly can. The New York Times and Forbes magazine have independently reported that Thiel has been funding a steady stream of lawsuits -- including three different ones filed by Hulk Hogan -- to destroy Gawker Media. Gawker reports: Gawker and Valleywag, Gawker Media's defunct tech gossip vertical, have often written critically of Thiel, a self-identified libertarian (and, it turns out, a California delegate for Donald Trump) and his investments, covering the failure of his hedge fund Clarium Capital, his right-wing politics, and his personal life. In just the last month, Gawker Media's tech site Gizmodo published a series of stories on Facebook's use of "news curators" to manipulate the site's "trending" module, sparking a congressional investigation into the social network's practices.Jay Rosen, media critic and a professor of journalism at New York University, said: Trying to kill a publication you don't like by funding lawsuits against them isn't very libertarian, is it?



Smaller Xbox One Coming This Year, More Powerful Xbox One In 2017, Says Report - Wed May 25 16:37:35 2016

Keza MacDonald and Jason Schreier, reporting for game blog Kotaku: Microsoft is preparing at least two new Xbox models for release in the next two years, sources tell Kotaku. Later this year we'll see a cheaper, smaller Xbox One, and next year Microsoft will release a more powerful version of their premiere console. The 2017 Xbox, which is codenamed Scorpio, will have a more powerful GPU. We hear that it will also be technically capable of supporting the Oculus Rift and that Microsoft is pursuing a partnership with Oculus. As for 2016, sources have told us there's at least a more compact version coming by year's end. One source believed it will include a larger 2TB hard drive, double the capacity of the most spacious current model. We're expecting Microsoft to announce the more compact machine at E3 next month.



Foxconn Cuts 60,000 Jobs, Replaces With Robots - Wed May 25 15:55:13 2016

An anonymous reader writes: In a bid to accelerate growth and reduce labor costs, Apple supplier Foxconn cut 60,000 jobs at a single factory, work that is now being completed by robots. As many as 600 companies in the Chinese manufacturing hub of Kunshan may have similar plans to automate their workforce, according to a government survey. Foxconn spokesperson Xu Yulian said, "The Foxconn factory has reduced its employee strength from 110,000 to 50,000, thanks to the introduction of robots. It has tasted success in reduction of labor costs." He added, "More companies are likely to follow suit."

These changes are spurred in part by a desire to reduce labor costs, but have also been made in response to an explosion at a Kunshan factory in 2014 that killed 146 people. The explosion was attributed to unsafe working conditions in the Taiwanese-owned metal polishing factory, which were recognized and documented. After the explosion, the local government pledged 2 billion yuan per year in subsidies to support companies that install industrial robots on their production lines.




Facebook Could Be Eavesdropping On Your Phone Calls - Wed May 25 15:33:41 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook is not just looking at user's personal information, interests, and online habits but also to your private conversations, revealed a new report. According to NBC report, this may be the case as Kelli Burns, a professor at University of South Florida states, "I don't think that people realize how much Facebook is tracking every move we're making online. Anything that you're doing on your phone, Facebook is watching." the professor said. Now how do you prove that? Professor Kelli tested out her theory by enabling the microphone feature, and talked about her desire to go on a safari, informing about the mode of transport she would take. "I'm really interested in going on an African safari. I think it'd be wonderful to ride in one of those jeeps," she said aloud, phone in hand. The results were shocking, as less than 60 seconds later, the first post on her Facebook feed was about a safari story out of nowhere, which was then revealed that the story had been posted three hours earlier. And, after mentioning a jeep, a car ad also appeared on her page. On a support page, Facebook explains how this feature works: "No, we don't record your conversations. If you choose to turn on this feature, we'll only use your microphone to identify the things you're listening to or watching based on the music and TV matches we're able to identify. If this feature is turned on, it's only active when you're writing a status update." I wonder how many people are actually aware of this.



Facebook Could Be Eavesdropping On Your Phone Calls - Wed May 25 15:21:28 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook is not just looking at user's personal information, interests, and online habits but also to your private conversations, revealed a new report. According to NBC report, this maybe the case as Kelli Burns a professor at University of South Florida states, "I don't think that people realize how much Facebook is tracking every move we're making online. Anything that you're doing on your phone, Facebook is watching." the professor said. Now how do you prove that? Professor Kelli tested out her theory by enabling the microphone feature, and talked about her desire to go on a safari, informing about the mode of transport she would take. "I'm really interested in going on an African safari. I think it'd be wonderful to ride in one of those jeeps," she said aloud, phone in hand. The results were shocking, as less than 60 seconds later, the first post on her Facebook feed was about a safari story out of nowhere, which was then revealed that the story had been posted three hours earlier. And, after mentioning a jeep, a car ad also appeared on her page. On a support page, Facebook explains how this feature works: "No, we don't record your conversations. If you choose to turn on this feature, we'll only use your microphone to identify the things you're listening to or watching based on the music and TV matches we're able to identify. If this feature is turned on, it's only active when you're writing a status update." I wonder how many people are actually aware of this.



Microsoft Is Laying Off 1,850 to Streamline Its Smartphone Business - Wed May 25 14:37:26 2016

Microsoft is making more changes to its smartphone business. The company, which sold its feature phone business last week, on Wednesday announced that it is scaling back hardware -- laying off 1,850 staff and take a charge of $950 million including $200 million in severance payments in a memo to all employees. The company insists that "great new devices" are in the works. From Myerson's memo: Last week we announced the sale of our feature phone business. Today I want to share that we are taking the additional step of streamlining our smartphone hardware business, and we anticipate this will impact up to 1,850 jobs worldwide, up to 1,350 of which are in Finland. These changes are incredibly difficult because of the impact on good people who have contributed greatly to Microsoft. Speaking on behalf of Satya and the entire Senior Leadership Team, we are committed to help each individual impacted with our support, resources, and respect. For context, Windows 10 recently crossed 300 million monthly active devices, our Surface and Xbox customer satisfaction is at record levels, and HoloLens enthusiasts are developing incredible new experiences. Yet our phone success has been limited to companies valuing our commitment to security, manageability, and Continuum, and with consumers who value the same. Thus, we need to be more focused in our phone hardware efforts.



Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Fitbit For 'Highly Inaccurate' Heart Rate Trackers - Wed May 25 13:02:27 2016

An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: A class action lawsuit against Fitbit may have grown teeth following the release of a new study that claims the company's popular heart rate trackers are "highly inaccurate." Researchers at the California State Polytechnic University, Pomona tested the heart rates of 43 healthy adults with Fitbit's PurePulse heart rate monitors, using the company's Surge watches and Charge HR bands on each wrist. Subjects were then hooked up to a BioHarness device that produced an electrocardiogram (ECG), to record the heart's rhythm against the data being produced by Fitbit's devices. Comparative results from rest and exercise -- including jump rope, treadmills, outdoor jogging and stair climbing -- showed that the Fitbit devices miscalculated heart rates by up to 20 beats per minute on average during more intensive workouts. The study was commissioned by the Lieff Cabraser, the law firm behind the class action suit that is taking aim at three Fitbit models that use the PurePulse heart monitor, including the Fitbit Blaze, Fitbit Charge HR and Fitbit Surge. "What the plaintiffs' attorneys call a 'study' is biased, baseless, and nothing more than an attempt to extract a payout from Fitbit. It lacks scientific rigor and is the product of flawed methodology," Fitbit said in a statement posted by Gizmodo.



Billionaire Technologist Accuses NASA Asteroid Mission of Bad Statistics - Wed May 25 10:02:44 2016

Taco Cowboy quotes a report from Science Magazine: Nathan Myhrvold, ex-CTO of Microsoft, is accusing NASA of providing bad statistics on asteroid size. Mr. Myhrvold alleged that scientists using a prominent NASA space telescope have made fundamental mistakes in their assessment of the size of more than 157,000 asteroids they have observed. In a paper posted to the arXiv.org e-print repository on 22 May, Myhrvold takes aim at the Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer (WISE), a space telescope launched in 2009, and a follow-on mission, NEOWISE, which together are responsible for the discovery of more asteroids than any other observatory. Yet Myhrvold says that the WISE and NEOWISE teams' papers are riddled with statistical missteps. "None of their results can be replicated," he tells ScienceInsider. "I found one irregularity after another" Myhrvold says the NASA teams have made mistakes, such as ignoring the margin of error introduced when extrapolating from a small sample size to an entire population. They also neglected to include Kirchhoff's law of thermal radiation in their thermal models of the asteroids. Based on his own models, Myhrvold says that errors in the asteroid diameters based on WISE data should be 30%. In some cases, the size errors rise to as large as 300%. "Asteroids are more variable than we thought they were," he says. He has submitted the paper to the journal Icarus for review. However, the WISE and NEOWISE teams are standing by their results, and say that Myhrvold's criticism should be dismissed. "For every mistake I found in his paper, if I got a bounty, I would be rich," says Ned Wright, the principal investigator for WISE at the University of California, Los Angeles. Wright says that WISE's data match very well with two other infrared telescopes, AKARI and IRAS. To find out how accurately those infrared data determine the size of an asteroid, scientists have to calibrate them with radar observations, other observations made when asteroids pass in front of distant stars, and observations made by spacecraft up close. When they do that, Wright says, WISE's size errors end up at roughly 15%. Wright says his team doesn't have Myhrvold's computer codes, "so we don't know why he's screwing up." But Wright archly noted that Myhrvold once worked at Microsoft, so "is responsible in part for a lot of bad software."



HPE To Spin Out Its Huge Services Business, Merge It With CSC - Wed May 25 07:02:59 2016

itwbennett writes from a report via CIO: Hewlett-Packard Enterprise announced Tuesday that it will spin off its enterprise services business and merge it with IT services company Computer Sciences Corp. (CSC) to create a company with $26 billion in annual revenue. The services business "accounts for roughly 100,000 employees, or two-thirds of the Silicon Valley giant's workforce," according to the Wall Street Journal. In a statement, HPE CEO Meg Whitman said customers would benefit from a "stronger, more versatile services business, better able to innovate and adapt to an ever-changing technology landscape." Layoffs were not a topic of discussion in Tuesday's announcement, but HPE did say last year they would cut 33,000 jobs by 2018, in addition to the 55,000 job cuts it had already announced. The company also split into two last year, betting that the smaller parts will be nimbler and more able to reverse four years of declining sales.



TSA Replaces Security Chief As Tension Grows At Airports - Wed May 25 03:42:38 2016

HughPickens.com writes: Ron Nixon reports at the NYT that facing a backlash over long security lines and management problems, TSA administrator Peter V. Neffenger has shaken up his leadership team, replacing the agency's top security official Kelly Hoggan (Warning: source may be paywalled) and adding a new group of administrators at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Beginning late that year, Hoggan received $90,000 in bonuses over a 13-month period, even though a leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security showed that auditors were able to get fake weapons and explosives past security screeners 95 percent of the time in 70 covert tests. Hoggan's bonus was paid out in $10,000 increments, an arrangement that members of Congress have said was intended to disguise the payments. During a hearing of the House Oversight Committee two weeks ago, lawmakers grilled Mr. Neffenger about the bonus, which was issued before he joined the agency in July. Last week and over the weekend, hundreds of passengers, including 450 on American Airlines alone, missed flights because of waits of two or three hours in security lines, according to local news reports. Many of the passengers had to spend the night in the terminal sleeping on cots. The TSA has sent 58 additional security officers and four more bomb-sniffing dog teams to O'Hare. Several current and former TSA employees said the moves to replace Hoggan and add the new officials in Chicago, where passengers have endured hours long waits at security checkpoints, were insufficient. "The timing of this decision is too late to make a real difference for the summer," says Andrew Rhoades, an assistant federal security director at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport who testified his supervisor accused him of "going native" after attending a meeting at a local mosque and that TSA's alleged practice of "directed reassignments," or unwanted job transfers were intended to punish employees who speak their minds. "Neffenger is only doing this because the media and Congress are making him look bad."


Toyota Forms 'Strategic Partnership' With Uber - Wed May 25 01:55:20 2016

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Toyota and Uber are forming a "strategic partnership" which will include an investment by the Japanese automaker in the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company. Under the agreement, Uber drivers can lease their vehicles from Toyota and cover their payments through earnings generated as Uber drivers. Toyota says it will invest an undisclosed sum in Uber, which is already the most valuable technology startup in the world. A partnership between Toyota and Uber could help the ride-sharing company solve a lingering question surrounding its self-driving ambitions, namely where its going to get a fleet of cars to equip with its autonomous technology. Toyota, which is the world's largest car manufacturer, is taking self-driving technology very seriously. It recently established the Toyota Research Institute to develop AI technologies in two main areas: autonomous cars and robot helpers for around the home. Last month, Google, Ford, Volvo, Lyft and Uber joined a coalition to help spur the development of self-driving cars, ultimately to make them arrive to the market faster. Meanwhile, Apple made an investment in Uber's Chinese rival Didi.



Apple To Open Up Siri To Developers, Release An Amazon Echo Competitor - Wed May 25 01:12:16 2016

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: According to a new report from The Information, Apple is finally ready to let Siri grow up. Specifically, the publication relays that Apple will finally offer official Siri APIs to developers, thus paving the way for third-party integrations, the kind that Amazon Echo users can't seem to get enough of. Things like ordering an Uber or pizza are currently impossible, because Siri is locked down by Apple. What's more, Apple is also reportedly working on a standalone device meant to compete with the Amazon Echo and Google's recently unveiled Google Home. If that's true, it's huge news -- Apple has been lacking any kind of smart home hub until now, but a Siri-powered device would be a serious play to get Apple into our homes. Google is the latest tech giant to announce a virtual home assistant. It unveiled Google Home, a small round gadget with microphones and speakers that listen and respond to your questions and commands.



E Ink Creates Full-Color Electronic Paper Display - Wed May 25 00:30:13 2016

SkinnyGuy writes: The reflective display company finally figured out how to make those ultra tiny balls produce 32,000 colors in one super-low-powered display. It's a breakthrough for E Ink, display advertising and, maybe someday, e-readers and digital photo frames. The new prototype display, which can be manufactured in an array of sizes, features a 20-inch, 2500 x 1600 resolution and is equally as power-efficient as the monochromatic display. E Ink Holding's Head of Global marketing Giovanni Mancini said it can be powered with solar cells used in bus stop signage, for example. Some of the limitations center around the resolution and refresh rate. As of right now, the resolution is only 150 pixels per inch (ppi), which is about half the resolution of a typical 6-inch, monochromatic E ink display. It also takes about two seconds to fully resolve images, which is pretty slow when compared to today's e-readers. The company is currently only focused on using the new color display for commercial signage.



Pastejacking Attack Appends Malicious Terminal Commands To Your Clipboard - Tue May 24 23:46:57 2016

An anonymous reader writes: "It has been possible for a long time for developers to use CSS to append malicious content to the clipboard without a user noticing and thus fool them into executing unwanted terminal commands," writes Softpedia. "This type of attack is known as clipboard hijacking, and in most scenarios, is useless, except when the user copies something inside their terminal." Security researcher Dylan Ayrey published a new version of this attack last week, which uses only JavaScript as the attack medium, giving the attack more versatility and making it now easier to carry out. The attack is called Pastejacking and it uses Javascript to theoretically allow attackers to add their malicious code to the entire page to run commands behind a user's back when they paste anything inside the console. "The attack can be deadly if combined with tech support or phishing emails," writes Softpedia. "Users might think they're copying innocent text into their console, but in fact, they're running the crook's exploit for them."



Elderly Use More Secure Passwords Than Millennials, Says Report - Tue May 24 23:05:29 2016

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Quartz: A report released May 24 by Gigya surveyed 4,000 adults in the U.S. and U.K. and found that 18- to 34-year-olds are more likely to use bad passwords and report their online accounts being compromised. The majority of respondents ages 51 to 69 say they completely steer away from easily cracked passwords like "password," "1234," or birthdays, while two-thirds of those in the 18-to-34 age bracket were caught using those kind of terms. Quartz writes, "The diligence of the older group could help explain why 82% of respondents in this age range did not report having had any of their online accounts compromised in the past year. In contrast, 35% of respondents between 18 and 34 said at least one of their accounts was hacked within the last 12 months, twice the rate of those aged 51 to 69."



Microsoft Awards Grants To Deliver Affordable Internet Access - Tue May 24 22:23:02 2016

An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Microsoft said Tuesday it had awarded grants to 12 businesses as part of the company's Affordable Access Initiative, part of the software giant's effort to encourage low-cost Internet around the world. Grant recipients include businesses from Argentina, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda, the UK and the US. In addition to financial support, each company will have access to Microsoft resources, software and services to help them develop their technology. "With more than half of the world's population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving," Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development, said in a press release. "By using technology that's available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come." Google and Facebook are also working on bringing affordable Internet access around the world. Google has plans to broadcast Internet from hot air balloons via Project Loon, while Facebook plans to beam Internet down to earth from drones.



Google France Being Raided For Unpaid Taxes - Tue May 24 21:38:00 2016

jones_supa writes: Investigators in France have raided Google's Paris headquarters amid a probe over the company's tax payments, Reuters reports. The French Finance Ministry is investigating $1.8 billion in back taxes. According to a report in French daily Le Parisien, at least 100 investigators are part of the raid at Google's offices. A source close to the finance ministry said that the raid at Google's offices has been ongoing on Tuesday since 03:00 GMT. In February, a source at the French Finance Ministry told Reuters that the government was seeking the $1.8 billion from Google. At the time, official spokespeople for Google France and the Finance Ministry refused to comment on the situation. Google could face up to a $11.14 million fine if it is found guilty, or a fine of half of the value of the laundered amount involved. In April, the EU revealed plans to force multinationals such as Google, Amazon and Facebook to disclose exactly where and how much tax they pay across the continent. A new clause was added since the Panama Papers leak requiring the companies to report how much money they make in so-called "tax havens."



Google Now Handles At Least 2 Trillion Searches Per Year - Tue May 24 20:54:51 2016

Danny Sullivan, reporting for Search Engine Land: How many searches per year happen on Google? After nearly four years, the company has finally released an updated figure today of "trillions" per year. How many trillions, exactly, Google wouldn't say. Consider two trillion the starting point. Google did confirm to Search Engine Land that because it said it handles "trillions" of searches per year worldwide, the figure could be safely assumed to be two trillion or above. Is it more than two trillion? Google could be doing five trillion searches per year. Or 10 trillion. Or 100 trillion. Or presumably up to 999 trillion, because if it were 1,000 trillion, you'd expect Google would announce that it does a quadrillion searches per year.



American Scientists Working On Creating Chimeras: Half-Human, Half-Animal Embryos - Tue May 24 20:22:16 2016

Researchers at the University of California, Davis are working on creating half-human, half-animal hybrid embryos dubbed chimeras to better understand diseases and its progression. But not everybody is thrilled about it. IBTimes reports: One of the aims of the experiment using chimeras is to create farm animals with human organs. The body parts could then be harvested and transplanted into very sick people. However, a number of bioethicists and scientists frown on the creation of interspecies embryos which they believe crosses the line. New York Medical College Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy Stuart Newman calls the use of chimeras as entering unsettling ground which damages "our sense of humanity." They are not alone in voicing their opinion against the idea. Huffington Post adds: The project is so controversial that the National Institutes of Health has refused to fund it. The researchers are relying on private donors. Critics of these experiments say they are too risky because there is no way of knowing where the human stem cells will go. Will they just become a pancreas? Or could they become a brain? And if they become a brain, will the pigs who house them have human consciousness?



No, Apple Won't Become a Wireless Carrier - Tue May 24 19:49:26 2016

Don Reisinger, reporting for Fortune: Apple won't be competing with its carrier partners anytime soon. Speaking at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam during an interview on Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook squashed rumors that his company is planning to eventually get into the cellular market to compete with the likes of AT&T and Verizon. "Our expertise doesn't extend to the network," Cook said. "We've worked with AT&T in the U.S., O2 in the U.K., as well as T-Mobile and Orange, and we expanded as we learned more. But generally, the things Apple likes to do, are things we can do globally. We don't have the network skill. We'll do some things along the way with e-SIMs along the way, but in general, I like the things carriers do."



Beware Of Keystroke Loggers Disguised As USB Phone Chargers, FBI Warns - Tue May 24 19:27:10 2016

An anonymous reader cites an article on Ars Technica: FBI officials are warning private industry partners to be on the lookout for highly stealthy keystroke loggers that surreptitiously sniff passwords and other input typed into wireless keyboards. The FBI's Private Industry Notification (PDF) comes more than 15 months after whitehat hacker Samy Kamkar released a KeySweeper, a proof-of-concept attack platform that covertly logged and decrypted keystrokes from many Microsoft-branded wireless keyboards and transmitted the data over cellular networks. To lower the chances that the sniffing device might be discovered by a target, Kamkar designed it to look almost identical to USB phone chargers that are nearly ubiquitous in homes and offices."If placed strategically in an office or other location where individuals might use wireless devices, a malicious cyber actor could potentially harvest personally identifiable information, intellectual property, trade secrets, passwords, or other sensitive information," FBI officials wrote in last month's advisory. "Since the data is intercepted prior to reaching the CPU, security managers may not have insight into how sensitive information is being stolen."



Too Fat For Facebook: Photo Banned For Depicting Body In 'Undesirable Manner' - Tue May 24 18:33:07 2016

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Guardian: Facebook has apologized for banning a photo of a plus-sized model and telling the feminist group that posted the image that it depicts "body parts in an undesirable manner". Cherchez la Femme, an Australian group that hosts popular culture talkshows with "an unapologetically feminist angle", said Facebook rejected an advert featuring Tess Holliday, a plus-sized model wearing a bikini, telling the group it violated the company's "ad guidelines". After the group appealed against the rejection, Facebook's ad team initially defended the decision, writing that the photo failed to comply with the social networking site's "health and fitness policy". "Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable," Facebook wrote. "Ads like these are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves. Instead, we recommend using an image of a relevant activity, such as running or riding a bike." In a statement on Monday, Facebook apologized for its original stance and said it had determined that the photo does comply with its guidelines.Facebook said that its team scans millions of ad images every week, and sometimes understandably misses out on a few.



China's Huawei Sues Samsung Claiming Mobile Patent Infringement - Tue May 24 18:01:00 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Huawei said on Wednesday it has filed lawsuits against Samsung claiming infringement of smartphone patents, in the first such case by the Chinese firm against the world's biggest mobile maker. Huawei has filed lawsuits in the United States and China seeking compensation for what it said was unlicensed use of fourth-generation (4G) cellular communications technology, operating systems and user interface software in Samsung phones. The lawsuit marks a reversal of roles in China where firms have often been on the receiving end of patent infringement disputes. In smartphones, makers have grown rapidly in recent years but different intellectual property laws outside of China have slowed overseas expansion. "We hope Samsung will ... stop infringing our patents and get the necessary license from Huawei, and work together with Huawei to jointly drive the industry forward," Ding Jianxing, president of Huawei's Intellectual Property Rights Department, said.



Windows 10 Upgrade Activates By Clicking Red X Close Button In Prompt Message - Tue May 24 17:08:27 2016

Reader Raging Bool writes: In a move guaranteed to annoy many people, Microsoft has "jumped the shark" on encouraging users to upgrade to Windows 10. Microsoft has faced criticism for changing the pop-up box encouraging Windows users to upgrade to Windows 10. Clicking the red cross on the right hand corner of the pop-up box now activates the upgrade instead of closing the box. And this has caused confusion as typically clicking a red cross closes a pop-up notification. The upgrade could still be cancelled, when the scheduled time for it to begin appeared, Microsoft said The change occurred because the update is now labelled "recommended" and many people have their PCs configured to accept recommended updates for security reasons. This means dismissing the box does not dismiss the update.Brad Chacos, senior editor at the PC World wrote about this incident over the weekend, and described it as a "nasty trick".



Pebble Unveils Pebble 2, Pebble Time 2, and Pebble Core Smartwatches - Tue May 24 16:25:12 2016

Pebble on Tuesday unveiled its latest line of wearable devices. The company announced the Pebble 2 -- a sleeker successor to the company's four-year-old Pebble watch -- and the Pebble Time 2, which comes with a large colour display and steel frame. Both the devices are up on Kickstarter, and scheduled to be shipped later this year. The company also announced the Pebble Core, a square-shaped timepiece which supports 3G, GPS, and Bluetooth connections and lets users stream music using Spotify and make emergency calls without the need of a smartphone. The Pebble 2 and the Pebble Time 2 come equipped with heart-rate sensors, a feature that was missing from the earlier Pebble smartwatches. The Pebble Core runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, and also has a 4GB storage which users can use when they don't have a flash drive in handy. The Pebble 2 is priced at $99, whereas the Pebble Time 2 will cost you $169. The Pebble Core is priced at $69. Pebble's new devices will be up on Kickstarter for 36 days, should you feel the urge to support the company. However, it is worth noting that in within hours, Pebble has received more money than it had asked for.



AT&T Begins Capping Broadband Users - Tue May 24 15:30:58 2016

Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports (edited for clarity): Just a reminder to AT&T customers: the company's usage caps on U-Verse broadband connections is now in effect. When AT&T originally announced broadband caps on fixed-line connections back in 2011, it capped DSL customers at 150 GB per month and U-Verse customers at 250 GB per month. But while the DSL customer cap was enforced (by and large because AT&T wants these users to migrate to wireless anyway), AT&T didn't enforce caps for its U-Verse customers. Until now, anyway. Back in March AT&T announced it would begin enforcing usage caps on all connections starting May 23. As of today, U-Verse customers face different caps depending on their speed tier. AT&T says customers on U-Verse tiers with speeds between 768 Kbps and 6 Mbps will now face a 300 GB cap; customers on U-Verse tiers of speeds between 12 Mbps and 75Mbps will see a 600 GB cap, and customers on speeds between 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps will see a cap of 1 terabyte. Users who exceed these caps in any given month will automatically have to pay for 50 GB of additional data for $10 each.



Apple, Microsoft and Google Hold 23% Of All US Corporate Cash Outside the Finance Sector - Tue May 24 14:59:36 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Apple, Microsoft, and Google are the top three cash-rich U.S. companies across all sectors of business, not including banks and other financial institutions -- holding a combined $391 billion in cash as of the end of 2015, or more than 23 percent of the entire $1.68 trillion held by the nation's non-financial corporations. Apple leads the pack with $215.7 billion in cash, followed by Microsoft at $102.6 billion, and Google at $73.1 billion. The numbers are documented in a new report from Moody's Investors Service that shows an unprecedented concentration of cash in the tech sector. For the first time, the top five companies on the Moody's cash ranking are tech companies, with Cisco and Oracle following Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Technology companies overall held $777 billion in cash, or 46 percent of the total cash across all non-financial industries.



Apple To Launch Thinner, Lighter MacBook Pro Models With OLED Touch Bar, Touch ID In Fall - Tue May 24 14:17:36 2016

Apple plans to refresh its MacBook Pro line later this year. The makeover will see both 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models replace their function keys atop laptop keyboards with an OLED touch bar, according to a report. Both the models will also have Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and will support Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port, multiple outlets are reporting citing ever-so-reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The refreshed MacBook Pro model will be thinner and lighter as well. There's no word on if -- and when -- the MacBook Air lineup will receive a refresh.



Scientists Discover Why Your Dirty Laundry Stinks - Tue May 24 13:03:03 2016

HughPickens.com writes: Discovery News reports that dirty laundry smells bad because of certain chemicals called volatile organic compounds, which can't always be washed out on an eco-friendly 20C cycle. Researchers identified six volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on dirty t-shirts and socks. "The need to conserve the environment by reducing the wash temperature and the use of biodegradable washing products have grown in importance in the new millennium, making this type of research more high profile," says Professor John Dean. The researchers gave 6 men and two women a new pair of socks. They asked the volunteers to wash their feet with tap water and dry them before wearing the socks for at least 10 hours in a specified type of shoe. They then put each sock into a separate sample bag and stored them in the dark overnight. The researchers graded each sock and t-shirt on a scale of 0 (no malodor) to 10 (malodorous) by smelling them. To determine the chemicals present, samples were taken from each one. Items were then washed on a cold cycle using unscented detergent, and resampled before they were dried, at which point researchers took one final series of specimens. Following a method called static headspace-multi-capillary column-gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry (SHS-MCC-GC-IMS), six main VOCs were identified as the main culprits behind smelly clothing. Each one left its own scented signature. Butyric acid, for example, produced a rancid butter-like odor, while 2-heptanone created a banana-like fruity smell. "The work is fascinating as it links an everyday event -- the washing of clothes -- with cutting-edge research," says Dean. "In this particular research project we applied a new and innovative analytical technique for the detection of volatile compounds found in laundry items. We hope this provides a way of analyzing the effectiveness of different washing techniques."



Burning All Fossil Fuels Would Scorch Earth, Says Study - Tue May 24 10:13:15 2016

mspohr quotes a report from Phys.Org: A new study published in the Journal Nature Climate Change shows our precarious climate condition: "Using up all known fossil fuel reserves would render Earth even more unlivable than scientists had previously projected, researchers said on Monday. Average temperatures would climb by up to 9.5 degrees Celsius (17 degrees Fahrenheit) -- five times the cap on global warming set at climate talks in Paris in December, they reported. In the Arctic region -- already heating at more than double the global average -- the thermometer would rise an unimaginable 15 C to 20 C." This would make most of Earth uninhabitable to humans (although the dinosaurs seemed to do fine with it 65 million years ago). The report also stated that if fossil fuel trends go unchanged, ten times the 540 billion tons of carbon emitted since the start of industrialization would be reached near the end of the 22nd century. For comparison, "older models had projected that depleting fossil fuel reserves entirely would heat the planet by 4.3 C to 8.4 C. The new study revises this to between 6.4 C and 9.5 C," writes Phys.Org.



Facebook Is Tweaking Trending Topics To Counter Charges of Bias - Tue May 24 07:00:45 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Facebook has said once again in an open letter to Sen. John Thune, chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee, that its Trending Topics section is free of any political bias or manipulation. But in response to Gizmodo's report that Facebook employees were suppressing conservative news stories, Facebook is revamping how editors find trending stories. "We could not fully exclude the possibility of isolated improper actions or unintentional bias in the implementation of our guidelines or policies," Facebook general Counsel Colin Stretch wrote. Of course, Facebook is going to train the human editors who work on their trending section; they're also going to abandon several automated tools it used to find and categorize trending news in the past. Recode provides some examples, writing, "[Facebook] will no longer use its "1K list," a group of 1,000 websites it used to help verify headlines." Facebook will also get rid of several top publications, including the New York Times and CNN.



Hacker Phineas Fisher is Trying To Start a 'Hack Back' Political Movement - Tue May 24 03:31:36 2016

An anonymous reader writes: The hacker who breached Hacking Team and FinFisher is trying to get more people to "hack back" and fight "the system." For some, thanks to his targeted attacks and sophisticated political views, Phineas Fisher is quickly becoming the most influential hacktivist of the last few years. In response to his most recent hack where he released a 39-minute how-to video showing how to strip data from targeted websites, specifically a website of the Catalan police union, Phineas Fisher told Motherboard, "Everything doesn't have to be big. I wanted to strike a small blow at the system, teach a bit of hacking with the video, and inspire people to take action." Biella Coleman, professor at McGill University in Montreal, believes Phineas Fisher has a good chance of inspiring a new generation of hacktivists and "setting the stage for other hackers to follow in his footsteps." She says he has been better at choosing targets and justifying his actions with more rounded and sophisticated political and ethical views than Anonymous and LulzSec-inspired hackers. Phineas Fisher told Motherboard, "I don't want to be the lone hacker fighting the system. I want to inspire others to take similar action, and try to provide the information so they can learn how."



Facebook Acquires VR Audio Company, Launches 'Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation' - Tue May 24 01:56:34 2016

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Facebook is looking to improve its virtual-reality audio experience with the acquisition of Two Big Ears. Facebook is rereleasing Two Big Ears' "Spatial Workstation" software as the Facebook 360 Spatial Workstation, reports VentureBeat. The software is designed to "make VR audio succeed across all devices and platforms," and Two Big Ears developers will be merged with Facebook's Oculus team of employees. The acquisition of Two Big Ears is being made by Facebook and not Oculus -- the program is branded as a Facebook product, focused on 360-degree video and VR. The Spatial Workstation was first released last fall and was a platform for mixing audio that sounded realistically three-dimensional. Two Big Ears will provide "support in accordance with your current agreement" for the next 12 months to those who purchased a paid license to the old workstation. The company says it "will continue to be platform and device agnostic," not being locked into the Rift or Gear VR. Facebook did not disclose the sum of the acquisition. Two Big Ears was previously partnered with YouTube to help bring 360-degree live streaming and spatial audio to the site.



Researchers Set World Record Wireless Data Transmission Rate of 6 GB/Sec Over 37 KM - Tue May 24 01:14:28 2016

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Science Daily: Transmitting the contents of a conventional DVD in under ten seconds by radio transmission is incredibly fast -- and a new world record in wireless data transmission. With a data rate of 6 Gigabit per second over a distance of 37 kilometers, a collaborative project with the participation of researchers from the University of Stuttgart and the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAF exceeded the state of the art by a factor of 10. The extremely high data rates of 6 Gbit/s was achieved by the group through efficient transmitters and receivers at a radio frequency of 71-76 GHz in the so-called E band, regulated for terrestrial and satellite broadcasting. The circuits are based on two innovative transistor technologies developed and manufactured by the project partner Fraunhofer IAF. In the transmitter the broadband signals are amplified to a comparatively high transmission power of up to 1 W with the help of power amplifiers on the basis of the novel compound semiconductor gallium-nitride. A highly directive parabolic antenna emits the signals. Built into the receiver are low-noise amplifiers on the basis of high-speed transistors using indium-gallium-arsenide-semiconductor layers with very high electron mobility. They ensure the detection of the weak signals at high distance. The transmission of high quantities of data by radio over large distances serves a high number of important application areas: the next generation of satellite communication requires an ever-increasing data offload from earth observation satellites down to earth. Supplying the rural area and remote regions with fast Internet is possible as shown in the trial. Earlier this year, engineers at the University of Illinois were able to set a record for fiber-optic data transmission, transmitting 57Gbps of error-free data at room temperature.



Apple Sued Over iPhones Making Calls, Sending Email - Tue May 24 00:33:01 2016

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: A company that seemingly does nothing but license patents or, if necessary, sue other companies to get royalties, has taken aim at Apple. But here's the kicker: the lawsuit alleges that Apple's last several iPhones and iPads violate a slew of patents related to seemingly standard features, including the ability to place calls as well as sending and receiving emails. A total of six patent infringement claims were brought against Apple by Corydoras Technologies on May 20, according to Apple-tracking site Patently Apple, which obtained a copy of the lawsuit. According to Patently Apple, the counts against Apple cover every iPhone dating back to the iPhone 4 and every iPad dating back to the iPad 2. In addition to taking issue with Apple's devices placing calls, the lawsuits also allege that the tech giant violates patents Corydoras holds related to video calling, which is similar to Apple's FaceTime, as well as displaying a person's geographic location through a feature like Find My iPhone and the ability to block unwanted calls. Last year, Apple was ordered to pay $533 million to Smartflash LLC for allegedly violating three patents related to copy protection.



FBI Wants Biometric Database Hidden From Privacy Act - Mon May 23 23:35:25 2016

Trailrunner7 quotes a report from onthewire.io: The FBI is working to keep information contained in a key biometric database private and unavailable, even to people whose information is contained in the records. The database is known as the Next Generation Identification System (NGIS), and it is an amalgamation of biometric records accumulated from people who have been through one of a number of biometric collection processes. That could include convicted criminals, anyone who has submitted records to employers, and many other people. The NGIS also has information from agencies outside of the FBI, including foreign law enforcement agencies and governments. Because of the nature of the records, the FBI is asking the federal government to exempt the database from the Privacy Act, making the records inaccessible through information requests. From the report: "The bureau says in a proposal to exempt the database from disclosure that the NGIS should be exempt from the Privacy Act for a number of reasons, including the possibility that providing access 'could compromise sensitive law enforcement information, disclose information which would constitute an unwarranted invasion of another's personal privacy; reveal a sensitive investigative technique; could provide information that would allow a subject to avoid detection or apprehension; or constitute a potential danger to the health or safety of law enforcement personnel, confidential sources, and witnesses.'" RT released a similar report on the matter.



Americans Used Nearly 10 Trillion Megabytes of Mobile Data Last Year - Mon May 23 22:53:29 2016

An anonymous reader writes: A report from CTIA released Monday found that consumers have nearly doubled their consumption of mobile data last year. It found that last month, consumers chugged down 804 billion megabytes of data, which adds up to a total of 9.65 billion gigabytes. The numbers are especially significant when compared to previous years. "From December 2013 to December 2014, U.S. data consumption grew by about 26 percent. But over the following year, it grew by 137 percent," writes Washington Post. YouTube and Netflix account for over half of North American internet traffic at peak hours, according to the networking equipment firm Sandvine. That figure spikes to 70 percent when streaming audio is part of the mix. The wireless industry as a result raked in nearly $200 billion last year alone, which is a 70 percent jump compared to a decade ago. The numbers are likely to rise as more and more devices become connected to the internet. With news of films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar coming to Netflix this September, we're likely to see mobile data use increase even more this year.



September: Netflix Will 'Become Exclusive US Pay TV Home of Films From Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilm and Pixar' - Mon May 23 22:09:56 2016

An anonymous reader writes: The licensing deal between Netflix and Disney for the rights to all new films that hit movie theaters in 2016 is nothing new. What is new is when exactly the deal will come into effect. "From September onwards, Netflix will become the exclusive U.S. pay TV home of the latest films from Disney, Marvel, Lucasfilms and Pixar," said Netflix content chief Ted Sarandos in a blog post. This will only apply to new theatrical releases because separate licensing deals are in place for other Disney content. The exclusive partnership with Disney does also extend into original programming. Netflix's partnership with Disney is part of a bigger plan to host more unique content that rival services do not offer.



Google's 'Science Journal' App Turns Your Android Device Into A Laboratory - Mon May 23 21:28:01 2016

An anonymous reader writes about Google's latest 'Science Journal' app that was released at the end of Google I/O last week: Google has launched its 'Science Journal' app that can essentially turn your Android device into a tricorder of sorts. The app uses the sensors in your smartphone to gather, graph and visualize data. For example, you can use Google's Science Journal app to measure sound in a particular area over a particular period of time, or the movement of the device's internal accelerometers. The app is fairly basic to start, but Google is working to expand its functionality. It's even partnering with San Francisco's Exploratorium to develop external kits that can be used with the app -- which includes various microcontrollers and other sensors. As part of its Google Field Trip Days initiative, which allows students from underserved communities to attend a local museum for no cost and includes transportation and lunch, Google sent out 120,000 kits to local science museums. They also sent out 350,000 different pairs of safety glasses to schools, makerspaces, and Maker Faires worldwide, to ultimately help young students work on even bigger projects. You can download the app from the Play Store and start experimenting here.



Amazon Stops Giving Refunds When an Item's Price Drops After You Purchase It - Mon May 23 20:45:50 2016

Amazon has for years issued refunds to users when the price of an item drops after they've purchased it. But lately the e-commerce giant hasn't been doing that on a number of products, except for televisions, according to price-tracking companies. Recode reports: The move may have something to do with the rise of startups that track prices for Amazon customers and automatically request refunds when appropriate. One of them, a Santa Monica-based startup called Earny that is backed by the startup incubator Science, first pointed out the change. Earny scours a customer's email inbox for digital receipts, and then continuously checks the price on a retailer's website to see if it drops.



Pac-Man 256 Coming To PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and PC With Multiplayer - Mon May 23 20:04:22 2016

Pac-Man is coming to gaming consoles. Publisher Bandai Namco announced on Monday that Pac-Mac 256 will be launching on Xbox One, PlayStation 4, and PC on June 21. The VentureBeat reports: The console version of Pac-Man 256 will include a four-player local co-op game where you and your friends will have to collaborate to eat as many pellets as possible while collectively avoiding ghosts. This means that you can have up to four people sitting together on a couch and playing the game simultaneously. Each person controls a Pac-Man, and you will work together to avoid the ghosts. Because it is "local" co-op, this isn't an online mode, and you should instead think of it as something to do at a party... if you're cool like me and play video games at parties.



Windows Phone Market Share Sinks Below 1 Percent - Mon May 23 19:23:00 2016

Tom Warren, reporting for The Verge: Worldwide smartphone sales increased by nearly 4 percent in the recent quarter, but Microsoft's Windows Phone OS failed to capitalize on the growth and dropped below 1 percent market share. Gartner's latest smartphone sales report provides the latest proof of the obvious: Windows Phone is dead. Gartner estimates that nearly 2.4 million Windows Phones were sold in the latest quarter, around 0.7 percent market share overall. That's a decrease from the 2.5 percent market share of Windows Phone back in Q1 2015.



Sorry, There's Nothing Magical About Breakfast - Mon May 23 18:41:10 2016

Is breakfast the most important meal of the day? Plenty of people certainly believe that, but according to a new report, that notion is based on "misinterpreted research and biased studies." The New York Times has run a piece authored by Aaron E. Carroll, a professor of pediatrics at Indiana University School of Medicine, who looked into numerous studies -- and found flaws in them -- to conclude that breakfast isn't as important after all. (Could be paywalled; alternate source) He writes: The [reports] improperly used causal language to describe their results. They misleadingly cited others' results. And they also improperly used causal language in citing others' results. People believe, and want you to believe, that skipping breakfast is bad. Carroll also points out a conflict in many of such studies: most of them have been funded by the food industry. He concludes: The bottom line is that the evidence for the importance of breakfast is something of a mess. If you're hungry, eat it. But don't feel bad if you'd rather skip it, and don't listen to those who lecture you. Breakfast has no mystical powers.



Google Plans To Bring Password-Free Logins To Android Apps By Year-End - Mon May 23 17:57:25 2016

An anonymous reader shares a report on TechCrunch: Google's plan to eliminate passwords in favor of systems that take into account a combination of signals -- like your typing patterns, your walking patterns, your current location, and more -- will be available to Android developers by year-end, assuming all goes well in testing this year. In an under-the-radar announcement Friday afternoon at the Google I/O developer conference, the head of Google's research unit ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) Daniel Kaufman offered a brief update regarding the status of Project Abacus, the name for a system that opts for biometrics over two-factor authentication. With Project Abacus, users would unlock devices or sign into applications based on a cumulative "Trust Score." This score would be calculated using a variety of factors, including your typing patterns, current location, speed and voice patterns, facial recognition, and other things.The Trust API will be available to developers, who can then implement that into their apps. The company says that developers will have the option to adjust the threshold required for a trust score.



Robot Ranchers Monitor Animals On Giant Australian Farms - Mon May 23 17:24:16 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Sheep and cattle farms in the Australian outback are vast as well as remote. For example, the country's most isolated cattle station, Suplejack Downs in the Northern Territory, extends across 4000 square kilometres and takes 13 hours to reach by car from the nearest major town, Alice Springs. But robots are coming to the rescue. A two-year trial, which starts next month, will train a 'farmbot' to herd livestock, keep an eye on their health, and check they have enough pasture to graze on. Sick and injured animals will be identified using thermal and vision sensors that detect changes in body temperature and walking gait, says Salah Sukkarieh of the University of Sydney, who will carry out the trial on several farms in central New South Wales. The robot, which has not yet been named, is a more sophisticated version of an earlier model, Shrimp, which was designed to herd groups of 20 to 150 dairy cows.



Xiaomi Revenues Were Flat in 2015 - Mon May 23 16:42:06 2016

Scott Cendrowski, reporting for Fortune: Xiaomi, the Chinese smartphone maker and second highest-valued startup in the world at $45 billion, barely grew sales at all last year. Revenue for 2015 reached 78 billion yuan ($12.5 billion), a 5% rise from 2014's 74.3 billion yuan. Taking into account the falling value of the Chinese currency, the yuan, sales rose 3% in U.S. dollar terms. Xiaomi has been mum about the 2015 sales total since founder Lei Jun gave a revenue target of 100 billion yuan ($16 billion at the time) at a government meeting in March last year. Flat sales growth represents a dramatic change of fortune for Xiaomi, which until recently appeared to be enjoying the momentum befitting China's hottest startup. It was coming off sales growth of 135% in 2014, and in early 2015 founder Lei Jun said at a press conference that Xiaomi's new smartphone was even better than Apple's iPhone. However the phone, the Mi Note, amassed early user complaints about hot temperatures and didn't become the mega-seller the company might have hoped.CNBC's Jay Yarrow said "The Apple-killer is dying." For the uninitiated, Xiaomi rose to fame in 2013-14 when the company took the world by storm with its cheap-priced handsets, TVs, speakers, power banks, and cameras. These devices offered top-of-the-line specifications for their respective echelon. The company has been called out before for allegedly copying Apple's iOS design in its MIUI Android-based operating system. In the past two years, Xiaomi has expanded its business to several Asian regions, and intends to sell a number of gadgets in the United States and Europe among other regions starting later this year. The company has also expanded its product portfolio, making weighing scale, rice cooker, suitcase and a range of other items.



Tesla Co-Founder Says Hydrogen Fuel Cells Are a 'Scam' - Mon May 23 15:58:01 2016

Marc Tarpenning, co-founder of Tesla, believes hydrogen fuel cells are a "scam". Tarpenning, who is not with Tesla anymore appeared on Internet History Podcast last week to outline a number of issues with hydrogen fuel cells. He said (via Electrek blog): If your goal is to reduce energy consumption, petrol or whatever resource, you want to use it as efficiently as possible. You don't want to pick something that consumes a lot for whatever reason, and hydrogen is uniquely bad. There's a saying in the auto industry that hydrogen is the future of transportation and always will be. It's a scam as far as I can tell because the energy equation is terrible. People will say that hydrogen is the most abundant element in the universe, but it's abundant out there in the universe not here. We live on a planet where hydrogen is super reactive -- it's bound up into everything. It's bound up into water, wood and everything else. They only way that you get hydrogen requires you to pour energy into it to break it from the chemical bonds. Electrolysis is the most common method. You put electricity in water and it separates it, but you are pouring energy in order to make hydrogen, and then you have to compress it and that takes energy, and then you have to transport it to wherever you actually need it, which is really difficult because hydrogen is much harder to work with than gasoline or even natural gas -- and natural gas is not that easy. And then you ultimately have to place it into a car where you'll have a very high-pressure vessel which offers its own safety issues -- and that's only to convert it back again to electricity to make the car go because hydrogen fuel cell cars are really electric cars. They just have an extraordinary bad battery.Here's the podcast.



How Copyright Law Is Being Misused To Remove Material From the Internet - Mon May 23 15:15:48 2016

London-based resident Annabelle Narey posted a negative review of a building firm on Mumsnet. She noted in her review that her ceiling fell down in an upstairs bedroom. The Guardian reports about what happened to her in the aftermath of posting that review. Building firm BuildTeam sent a letter to Mumsnet, which the site passed on to Narey. According to Narey, BuildTeam found Narey's comment defamatory and untrue, and asked for the removal of the comment from the website. The original comment saw several other users also post similar grievances, though many of these users pulled their comments in response to the legal threats from BuildTeam. Narey wanted to keep hers up. Then things got even weirder, reports the Guardian. Narey says BuiltTeam staff visited her apartment, and instead of offering any apology, asked her to remove the comment. Mumsnet received a warning from Google: a takedown request under DMCA, alleging copyright infringement. This led Google to de-list the entire thread. From the report: No copyright infringement had occurred at all. At some point after Narey posted her comments on Mumsnet, someone had copied the entire text of one of her posts and pasted it, verbatim, to a spammy blog titled "Home Improvement Tips and Tricks". The post, headlined "Buildteam interior designers" was backdated to September 14 2015, three months before Narey had written it. BuildTeam says it has no idea why Narey's review was reposted, but that it had nothing to do with it.The Guardian deep dives into what is wrong with the copyright system, the issues Google faces in dealing with them, and the consequences many users are facing because of this.



Spotify's New Family Plan Is Cheaper, $14.99 For Up To 6 people - Mon May 23 14:23:01 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Spotify on Monday announced some changes to its family plan subscriptions, allowing them to use Spotify Premium for $14.99 per month and get six different Spotify accounts and profiles. This is the exact same deal as the one you can get on Apple Music today. Spotify is just making sure you're not going to move your entire family over to Apple Music for pricing reasons. The company introduced family plans back in 2014. At the time, it was one of the first subscription services with family plans. You could get 50 percent off extra Spotify accounts. So it would cost you $14.99 for two accounts, $19.99 for three accounts, $19.99 for four accounts, etc. For big families with at least three accounts, the new Spotify family plan is cheaper. For singles and couples, it's the same price.



Avoiding BlackBerry's Fate: How Apple Could End Up In a Similar Position - Mon May 23 13:40:49 2016

It's almost unbelievable today that BlackBerry ruled the smartphone market once. The Canadian company's handset, however, started to lose relevance when Apple launched the iPhone in 2007. At the time, BlackBerry said that nobody would purchase an iPhone, as there's a battery trade-off. Wittingly or not, Apple could end up in a similar position to BlackBerry, argues Marco Arment. Arment -- who is best known for his Apple commentary, Overcast and Instapaper apps, and co-founding Tumblr -- says that Apple's strong stand on privacy is keeping it from being the frontrunner in the advanced AI, a category which has seen large investments from Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon in the recent years. He adds that privacy cannot be an excuse, as Apple could utilize public data like the web, mapping databases, and business directories. He writes: Today, Amazon, Facebook, and Google are placing large bets on advanced AI, ubiquitous assistants, and voice interfaces, hoping that these will become the next thing that our devices are for. If they're right -- and that's a big "if" -- I'm worried for Apple. Today, Apple's being led properly day-to-day and doing very well overall. But if the landscape shifts to prioritise those big-data AI services, Apple will find itself in a similar position as BlackBerry did almost a decade ago: what they're able to do, despite being very good at it, won't be enough anymore, and they won't be able to catch up. Where Apple suffers is big-data services and AI, such as search, relevance, classification, and complex natural-language queries. Apple can do rudimentary versions of all of those, but their competitors -- again, especially Google -- are far ahead of them, and the gap is only widening. And Apple is showing worryingly few signs of meaningful improvement or investment in these areas. Apple's apparent inaction shows that they're content with their services' quality, management, performance, advancement, and talent acquisition and retention. One company that is missing from Mr. Arment's column is Microsoft. The Cortana-maker has also placed large bets on AI. According to job postings on its portal, it appears, for instance, that Microsoft is also working on Google Home-like service.



Nevada Startup Stores Energy With Trains - Mon May 23 11:35:12 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Nevada's Bureau of Land Management has granted a land lease to a $55 million project by Advanced Rail Energy Storage, which "proposes to use excess off-peak energy to push a heavily-loaded train up a grade," according to Fortune. "Then, when the grid needs that energy back, the cars will be rolled back down the slope...that return trip will generate energy and put it back on the grid."

The company claims its solution is about 50% cheaper than other storage technologies, according to Fortune, and boasts an 80% efficency in energy reclamation, "similar to or slightly above typical hydro-storage efficiency." Citing Tesla's factory, the magazine callsthe project "further evidence for Nevadaâ(TM)s emergence as a leading region for innovative transportation and energy projects."




Space Updates From Three Countries - Mon May 23 07:43:01 2016

The Indian Space Research Organisation continues developing a reusable launch vehicle, which could cut the costs of satellite launches by 90%. William Robinson quotes the Business Times: India will use a mini-rocket with a booster to fly a winged reusable launch vehicle into lower earth orbit on May 23... If everything goes well, it will reach about 70 kilometers from earth, and will plunge into the Bay of Bengal...to demonstrate hypersonic and aero-thermodynamics of the winged re-entry vehicle with autonomous mission management
Meanwhile, Thelasko shares this reminder from BlastingNews that the U.S. Air Force's mysterious X-37B celebrated the one-year anniversary of its launch: Today, the maneuverable craft operates in a 220-mile orbit, a higher altitude it briefly held last fall and roughly the same perch occupied twice by the previous X-37B mission, according to satellite-tracking hobbyist Ted Molczan. This X-37B carries at least two payloads, revealed by the military before the ship took off â" an experimental electric propulsion thruster to be tested in orbit and a pallet to expose sample materials to the space environment.
And MarkWhittington writes that "The latest Chinese space station, the Tiangong 2, is slated to be launched later in 2016 and will be visited by Chinese astronauts in a Shenzhou spacecraft. But, according to Spaceflight Insider, the Chinese are already looking ahead to their permanent low Earth orbit space facility, the Tiangong 3, slated to begin construction in 2018."



Code Quality Predicted Using Biometrics - Mon May 23 03:43:01 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Swiss researchers are unveiling "a not at all sinister-sounding system capable of predicting the quality of code produced by developers based on their biometric data," according to Motherboard. "By looking at the programmer as they program, rather than the code after the programmer is done writing it, the system described by the Zurich researchers finds code quality issues as the code is being produced... By using heart rate information, for example, they were able to quantify the difficulty a given programmer had in producing a piece of software. This information could then be used to identify likely sections of bad code..."

In a paper to be presented at an Austin engineering conference this week, the researchers write that "Delaying software quality concerns, such as defects or poor understandability of the code, increases the cost of fixing them," calling their system an improvement over code reviews, even automated ones. "Biometrics helped to automatically detect 50 percent of the bugs found in code reviews and outperformed traditional metrics in predicting all quality concerns found in code reviews."

On the other hand, Motherboard likened the stress level for programmers to "a coding interview that never ends where you also happen to be naked. "



Microsoft Urged to Open Source Classic Visual Basic - Mon May 23 01:33:02 2016

"On the 25th anniversary of classic Visual Basic, return it to its programmers..." reads the plea at UserVoice.com from Sue Gee -- drawing 85 upvotes. "The new Microsoft claims to back open source, why not in this case? There is no need for Microsoft to do any more work on the code base - simply open source it and allow the community to keep it alive."

In an essay at i-programmer.info, Gee shares a video of young Bill Gates building an app with Visual Basic in 1991, and complains that in the 25 years since Microsoft has open sourced .NET Core and the .NET Compiler Platform Roslyn, "but it has explicitly refused to open source VB6." She notes that Friday Visual Basic's program manager announced a "Visual Basic Silver Anniversary Celebratiathon," promising he's reaching out to the VB team members from the last 25 years for a behind-the-scenes retrospective, and adding "this is a party, so feel free to be interactive."

"What the post glosses over is that this history was blighted by the fork in the road that was .NET and that many Visual Basic fans are highly unsatisfied that the programming environment they cherished is lost to them..." writes Gee. "Vote for the proposal not because you want to use VB6 or that you think it is worth having -- Vote for it because a company like Microsoft should not take a language away from its users."



How the Pentagon Punished NSA Whistleblowers - Sun May 22 23:37:12 2016

10 years before Edward Snowden's leak, an earlier whistle-blower on NSA spying "was fired, arrested at dawn by gun-wielding FBI agents, stripped of his security clearance, charged with crimes that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life, and all but ruined financially and professionally," according to a new article in The Guardian. "The only job he could find afterwards was working in an Apple store in suburban Washington, where he remains today... The supreme irony? In their zeal to punish Drake, these Pentagon officials unwittingly taught Snowden how to evade their clutches when the 29-year-old NSA contract employee blew the whistle himself."

But today The Guardian reveals a new story about John Crane, a senior official at the Department of Defense "who fought to provide fair treatment for whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake -- until Crane himself was forced out of his job and became a whistleblower as well..." Crane told me how senior Defense Department officials repeatedly broke the law to persecute whistleblower Thomas Drake. First, he alleged, they revealed Drake's identity to the Justice Department; then they withheld (and perhaps destroyed) evidence after Drake was indicted; finally, they lied about all this to a federal judge...

Crane's failed battle to protect earlier whistleblowers should now make it very clear that Snowden had good reasons to go public with his revelations... if [Crane's] allegations are confirmed in court, they could put current and former senior Pentagon officials in jail. (Official investigations are quietly under way.)

Meanwhile, George Maschke writes: In a presentation to a group of Texas law students, a polygraph examiner for the U.S. Department of Defense revealed that in the aftermath of Edward Snowden's revelations, the number of polygraphs conducted annually by the department tripled (to over 120,000). Morris also conceded that mental countermeasures to the polygraph are a "tough thing."



Rovio's Desperate Push For 'Angry Birds' Movie - Sun May 22 22:44:13 2016

An anonymous reader writes:Last year Rovio "cut 213 jobs, affecting all departments except those working on the film and its related projects," remembers VentureBeat, describing their effort to make a movie about three outcast birds on an island of happier birds who all meet in an anger management class. But "Since Rovio funded the entire film, the directors didn't have to answer to an executive committee or a board of trustees..." reports VentureBeat, quoting director Clay Kaytis as saying "We had to make ourselves happy... We were making the films for [ourselves] instead of for a larger entity that expects something in return."

After working for four years from a script by Jon Vitti (a writer for both The Simpsons and The Office), and funding a marketing onslaught that lasted nine months, Rovio finally saw their Angry Birds movie open in this weekend's #1 spot, according to the New York Times. "Most of the 'Angry Birds' financial risk fell to Rovio, the Finnish video game company, which paid $173 million to make and market the movie. As such, Rovio will receive the bulk of any profit."

In China, McDonald's released special Angry Birds burgers with red or green buns...which at least one patron complained made the buns look moldy.



Hundreds of Drupal Sites Targeted With Fake Ransomware - Sun May 22 21:36:10 2016

An anonymous reader writes: A group of hackers have created a ransomware strain that specifically targets Drupal sites. Infection occurs thanks to an automated bot which scans Drupal sites and then uses an SQL injection (CVE-2014-3704) to change the site admin's password. The bot also dumps any emails it finds on the server, and then overwrites the site's main page to show a typical ransomware note. Over 400 sites have been infected until now, but nobody has paid the ransom yet.

This case yet again proves why "Web ransomware" will never work because even the worst Web hosting service provides automatic backups from where they could retrieve a clean version of their site.




Netflix and Amazon Could Face Content Quotas In Europe - Sun May 22 20:43:01 2016

jader3rd quotes an articles from The Daily Mail about a new EU proposal to be published next week: Netflix and Amazon could be forced to make French, German and even Estonian films and TV shows by the EU. The US companies could also be hit with taxes to raise funds to support the work of film-makers in Europe. The proposal is thought to be driven by the French, who are particularly fearful of their cinema and TV programmes being eclipsed by English language productions... One draft says the aims is to create 'a more level playing field in the promotion of European works by obliging on-demand services to reserve at least 20 percent share for European works in their catalogues and to ensure adequate prominence of such works'.
French may become the world's most-spoken language by 2050 (due to its popularity among the fast-growing population of Africa). But even so, should U.S.-based companies be facing "regional quotas" for the content they're offering?



Ask Slashdot: Have You Migrated To Node.js? - Sun May 22 19:36:47 2016

A developer maintaining his company's "half-assed LAMP / WordPress stack pipeline for web and web application development" is considering something more scalable that could eventually be migrated into the cloud. Qbertino asks Slashdot: Have you moved from LAMP (PHP) to Node.js for custom product development and if so, what's your advice? What downsides of JS on the server and in Node.js have a real-world effect? Is callback hell really a thing? And what is the state of free and open-source Node products...? Is there any trend inside the Node.js camp on building a platform and CMS product that competes with the PHP camp whilst maintaining a sane architecture, or is it all just a ball of hype with a huge mess of its own growing in the background, Rails-style?
Condensing Qbertino's original submission: he wants to be able to quickly deliver "pretty, working, and half-way reliable products that make us money" -- and to build a durable pipeline. So leave your educated opinions in the comments. What did you experience moving to Node.js?


Segway Inventor To Build Powerful Wheelchair With Toyota - Sun May 22 18:33:40 2016

Toyota is working with Segway PT inventor Dean Kamen on advanced wheelchairs for the aged and disabled. Slashdot reader necro81 writes: Most people don't know that the two-wheeled balancing technology was first developed by Kamen's company in the early 2000s for the iBot -- an advanced wheelchair that could climb stairs and curbs, had four-wheel drive, and could balance on its rear wheels... it was also a commercial flop: the iBot was discontinued in 2009 after selling hundreds of units (many still in operation a decade later). Today, however, Toyota announced a partnership with Dean Kamen to upgrade the iBot and bring it back to market.
I wonder if they'll be used in more than just the obvious ways. 15 years after the introduction of the first Segways, Steve Wozniak is participating in the Segway polo world championships (which are named the "Woz Cup" in his honor). And the Australian army once even had a fleet of Segways which they dressed up like enemy soldiers to practice field maneuvers.



Attackers Steal $12.7M In Massive ATM Heist - Sun May 22 17:38:01 2016

Within two hours $12.7 million in cash was stolen from 1,400 ATMs located at convenience stores all across Japan, investigators announced Sunday. An anonymous reader quotes a Japanese newspaper: Police suspect that the cash was withdrawn at ATMs using counterfeit credit cards containing account information leaked from a South African bank. Japanese police will work with South African authorities through the International Criminal Police Organization to look into the major theft, including how credit card information was leaked, the sources said.
Over the two hours attackers withdrew the equivalent of $907 in 14,000 different transactions.



Student Exposes Bad Police Encryption, Gets Suspended Sentence - Sun May 22 16:31:52 2016

An anonymous reader shares a story about Dejan Ornig, a security analyst in Slovenia who warned the Slovenian police department about vulnerabilities in their supposedly secure communication system TETRA in 2013. (Here's Google's English translation of the article, and the Slovenian original.) He discovered that the system, which was supposed to provide encrypted communication, was incorrectly configured. As a result lots of communication could be intercepted with a $25 piece of equipment and some software. To make matters worse, the system is not used just by the police, but also by the military, military police, IRS, Department of Corrections and a few other governmental institutions which rely on secure communications.

After waiting for more than two years for a reaction, from police or Ministry of Interior and getting in touch with security researchers at the prestigious institute Jozef Stefan, he eventually decided to go public with his story... The police and Ministry of interior then launched an internal investigation, which then confirmed Ornig's findings and revealed internal communications problems between the departments... Ornig has been subject to a house search by the police, during which his computers and equipment that he used to listen in on the system were seized. Police also found a "counterfeit police badge" during the investigation. All along Ornig was offering his help with securing the system.

On May 11th Ornig received a prison sentence of 15 months suspended for duration of three years, provided that he doesn't repeat any of the offenses for which he was found guilty (illegal access of the communications system). He can appeal this judgment.




Researchers Generate Electricity Using Seawater and Sunlight - Sun May 22 15:39:04 2016

Slashdot reader sosume writes: Scientists at Osaka University have created a new method to use sunlight to turn seawater into hydrogen peroxide which can then be used in fuel cells to generate electricity. It's the first photocatalytic method of H2O2 production that achieves a high enough efficiency so that the H2O2 can be used in a fuel cell.
It's easier and safer to transport liquid H2O2, according to the article, and while its total efficiency is much lower than conventional solar cells, the researchers hope to get better results by using better materials.


Ransomware Adds DDoS Attacks To Annoy More People - Sun May 22 14:36:43 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Ransomware developers have found another method of monetizing their operations by adding a DDoS component to their malicious payloads. So instead of just encrypting your files and locking your screen, new ransomware versions seen this week also started adding a DDoS bot that quietly blasts spoofed network traffic at various IPs on the Internet.
Softpedia points out that "Renting out DDoS botnets on the Dark Web is a very lucrative business, even if prices have gone down in recent years."



Google-Backed Solar Plant Catches on Fire - Sun May 22 13:34:27 2016

An anonymous reader writes:"The world's largest solar plant just torched itself," read the headline at Gizmodo, reporting on a fire Thursday at the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System. Built on 4,000 acres of public land in the Mojave Desert, the $2.2 billion plant "has nearly 350,000 computer controlled mirrors -- each roughly the size of a garage door," according to the Associated Press, which reports that misaligned mirrors focused the sunlight on electrical cables, causing them to burst into flames, according to the local fire department. The facility was temporarily shut down, and the fire damaged one of the facility's three towers, according to the Associated Press, while another tower is closed for maintenance, "leaving the sprawling facility on the California-Nevada border operating at only a third of its capacity."
The New York Times reported that by 2011 Google had invested $168 in the facility.



Node.js Now Runs COBOL and FORTRAN - Sun May 22 11:38:45 2016

Last summer a developer created a plugin which made it possible to run snippets of COBOL code embedded in JavaScript using the Node.js interpreter. Now Slashdot reader techfilz writes: Romanian developer Bizau Ionica has engineered a software bridge called node.cobol which can execute Node.js scripts from within COBOL programs.
The link shows COBOL code executing a Node.js script that launches a Web server and creates ASCII art from a JPEG image -- in this case, Admiral Grace Hopper, who helped create COBOL in 1959. And Ars Technica points out the same developer has also built a Node.js bridge for FORTRAN.



Japanese Startup Wants To Rain Down Man-Made Meteor For Tokyo Olympics - Sun May 22 07:34:34 2016

A startup called Star-ALE wants to create a man-made meteor shower over the city of Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics opening ceremonies. The pyrotechnics show, Star-ALE says, will be visible from an area 200km across Japan, and the pyrotechnics will actually shower from space. Starting next year, Star-ALE will begin sending a fleet of microsatellites carrying 500 to 1000 specially-developed pellets that ignite and intensely glow as they re-enter the earth's atmosphere. ScienceAlert reports: But wonderment comes at a cost, and in this case, that cost isn't cheap. Each combustible pellet comes in at about $8,100 to produce, and that's not including the costs involved in actually launching the Sky Canvas satellite. The company has tested its source particles in the lab, using a vacuum chamber and hot gases to simulate the conditions the pellets would encounter upon re-entering Earth's atmosphere. In its testing, the particles burn with an apparent magnitude of -1, which should ensure they're clearly visible in the night sky, even in the polluted skyline of a metropolis like Tokyo.



How Militarized Cops Are Zapping Rights With Stingray - Sun May 22 03:34:02 2016

"Police nationwide are secretly exploiting intrusive technologies with the feds' complicity," argues a new article on Alternet -- calling out Stingray, which mimics a cellphone tower to identify every cellphone nearby. "It gathers information not only about a specific suspect, but any bystanders in the area as well... Some Stingrays are capable of collecting not only cell phone ID numbers but also numbers those phones have dialed and even phone conversations." The ACLU says requests for more information have been meeting heavy resistance from police departments since 2011, with many departments citing nondisclosure agreements with Stingray's manufacturer and with the FBI, and "often, the police get a judge's sign-off for surveillance without even bothering to mention that they will be using a Stingray...claiming that they simply can't violate those FBI nondisclosure agreements.

"More often than not, police use Stingrays without bothering to get a warrant, instead seeking a court order on a more permissive legal standard. This is part of the charm of a new technology for the authorities: nothing is settled on how to use it." Stingray is more than a 1960s TV series with puppets. Several state judges estimate there have been hundreds of instances where police have used the Stingray tool without a warrant or telling a judge.

Slashdot reader Presto Vivace writes:
This is why it matters who wins the mayor and city council races. Localities do not have to accept this technology.



Abrams Says Paramount Will Drop Star Trek/Axenar Lawsuit - Sun May 22 01:36:45 2016

An anonymous reader writes:At a fan event Friday for the upcoming Star Trek movie, producer J. J. Abrams said Paramount Pictures' lawsuit against Axanar Productions was "going away." Director Justin Lin had been outraged by the lawsuit against the crowdfunded fan Star Trek film, and when he'd started discussing the situation with Abrams, the two "realized this was not an appropriate way to deal with the fans. The fans should be celebrating this thing. Fans of Star Trek are part of this world. So he went to the studio and pushed them to stop this lawsuit and now, within the next few weeks, it will be announced this is going away, and that fans would be able to continue working on their project."
In a statement, Axanar said they still "want to make sure we go through all the proper steps to make sure all matters are settled with CBS and Paramount..." adding "There is still a lot of work to do, but receiving this kind of public support helps immensely."



Fake Facebook Event Draws Police, Spawns New Meme - Sat May 21 23:39:49 2016

An anonymous reader writes: A fake event announcement on Facebook has now launched "a long string of viral jokes featuring fake concert events for music acts at oddly appropriate venues," according to CNET -- for example, a Radiohead concert at Radio Shack or a Sunday Brunch with Insane Clown Posse. It began with a fake announcement touting an upcoming concert with Limp Bizkit on April 20 at a Sunoco gas station. "The event got so much viral attention and local and national news coverage that the Dayton Police Department had to issue a statement to the local press and on its Twitter page on April 19 that there would be no Limp Bizkit concert..." CNET reports.

"That still didn't stop a crowd of 100 Limp Bizkit fans from going to the Sunoco and chanting 'Fred! Fred! Fred!' in front of the station. The station had to close up for the night and police were called to the scene to disperse the crowd. Since then, other Facebook users decided to try their luck at tricking the more gullible people on the Internet into going to concerts that don't exist."
In an unrelated development, 12 Facebook employees and their guests were stuck in an elevator at Facebook's California headquarters for more than two hours on Friday, until being rescued by local firefighters using the Jaws of Life.



The World's Largest Cruise Ship and Its Supersized Pollution Problem - Sat May 21 22:37:12 2016

An anonymous reader cites a report on the Guardian: When the gargantuan Harmony of the Seas slips out of Southampton docks on Sunday afternoon on its first commercial voyage, the 16-deck-high floating city will switch off its auxiliary engines, fire up its three giant diesels and head to the open sea. But while the 6,780 passengers and 2,100 crew on the largest cruise ship in the world wave goodbye to England, many people left behind in Southampton say they will be glad to see it go. They complain that air pollution from such nautical behemoths is getting worse every year as cruising becomes the fastest growing sector of the mass tourism industry and as ships get bigger and bigger. According to its owners, Royal Caribbean, each of the Harmony's three four-storey high 16-cylinder Wartsila engines will, at full power, burn 1,377 US gallons of fuel an hour, or about 96,000 gallons a day of some of the most polluting diesel fuel in the world.



Did A German Nuclear Plant Intentionally Leak Radioactive Waste? - Sat May 21 21:33:01 2016

mdsolar shares this report from a Berlin news site: A former engineer at one of Germanyâ(TM)s nuclear reactors has made an astonishing claim: that the plant intentionally pumped radioactive waste into the atmosphere in 1986. Speaking to the Westfalischer Anzeiger, 83-year-old retired engineer Hermann Schollmeyer apparently decided it was time to come clean, three decades after the incident he describes.

The official story had always been that radioactive waste was unintentionally leaked into the air at the THTR reactor in Hamm in May 1986, the western German newspaper reports. But Schollmeyer now claims that the plant used the cover of the Chernobyl -- which had released a cloud of radioactive waste over western Europe -- to pump their own waste into the atmosphere, believing no one would notice.

"It was done intentionally," Schollmeyer said. "We had problems at the plant and I was present at a few of the meetings."




Linux Advocate Suggests Using More Closed-Source Software - Sat May 21 20:38:01 2016

An anonymous reader writes: Open Source advocate Jack Wallen is a writer for Linux.com and Tech Republic. He predicts that both Windows and OS X will be Open Source within 5 years, writing that "neither Microsoft nor Apple make serious money from operating systems any longer" (with both companies giving away major OS upgrades), but argues that smaller software companies still see close-sourced code as a profit center. So yesterday Wallen wrote a surprising column urging Linux fans to begin considering closed-source software.

"That doesn't mean, in any way, you are giving up on the idea of freedom. What it means is that the best tool for the job is the one you should be using...be that open, closed, or somewhere in between. Should you close your mind to close sourced tools, you could miss out on some seriously amazing applications. On top of that (and this is something I've harped on for decades), the more you use closed source applications on open source environments, the more will be made available."

I'd be curious to hear how many Slashdot readers agree with Mr. Wallen...



'Eat, Sleep, Code, Repeat' Approach Is Such Bullshit - Sat May 21 19:33:16 2016

At its I/O developer conference, Google had the message "Eat. Sleep. Code. Repeat." spread everywhere -- walls, t-shirts you name it. Dan Kim, a programmer at Basecamp, has shared an interesting view on the same. He says while he gets the "coding is awesome and we want to do it all the time!" enthusiasm from the company, but he doubts if that's the approach a programmer should take, adding that the company is wittingly or not promoting an "unhealthy perspective that programming is an all or nothing endeavor -- that to excel at it, you have to go all in." He writes: Whether it's racing cars, loving art, reading, hiking, spending time in nature, playing with their dog, running, gardening, or just hanging out with their family, these top-notch programmers love life outside of code. That's because they know that a truly balanced lifestyle -- one that gives your brain and your soul some space to breath non-programming airâS -- actually makes you a better programmer. Life outside of code helps nurture important qualities: inspiration, creative thinking, patience, flexibility, empathy, and many more. All of these skills make you a better programmer, and you can't fully realize them by just coding.



Civil Liberties Expert Argues Snowden Was Wrong - Sat May 21 18:41:13 2016

An anonymous reader writes that in 2014, Geoffrey Stone was given access to America's national security apparatus as a member of the President's Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies. Last week Stone, a staunch civil liberties supporter, moderated a live discussion with Edward Snowden from Russia, and this week he actually praised the NSA in a follow-up interview: "The more I worked with the NSA, the more respect I had for them as far as staying within the bounds of what they were authorized to do. And they were careful and had a high degree of integrity... I came to the view that [the programs] were well intentioned, that they were designed in fact to collect information for the purpose of ferreting out potential terrorist plots both in the U.S. and around the world and that was their design and purpose...

"I don't doubt that Snowden was courageous and did what he did for what he thought were good reasons. But I think he was unduly arrogant, didn't understand the limitations of his own knowledge and basically decided to usurp the authority of a democracy."

Meanwhile, a new documentary about Julian Assange opened at the Cannes film festival this week, revisiting how Wikileaks warned Apple that iTunes could be used as a backdoor for spies to infiltrate computers and phones.



TV Journalists Try Buying AK-47 On Dark Web, Fail - Sat May 21 17:35:50 2016

An anonymous reader writes: "It was supposed to be a great story about terrorism, uncertainty and the evils of the DarkNet," writes Deep Dot Web, describing an investigative report titled "Fear of Terror -- How Endangered is Germany?" After interviewing security experts, federal investigators, and a survivor of the Paris terrorist attack, a TV news crew in Germany attempted to buy an AK-47 on the dark web -- only to be scammed out of $800. "If he had done a little research he could have known that most weapon dealers on the DarkNet are actually scams," the article points out, adding that German customs officers say they would have intercepted any AK-47 had a delivery been attempted.
Motherboard reported in November that the high number of scams -- some of which are undercover agents -- prompted several dark web markets to stop offering guns altogether, though they suggest the German news crew was trying to recreate the purchases of "disabled" weapons which were then converted back into their original form.



Motorola's Legendary RAZR Flip Phone Is Making a Comeback - Sat May 21 16:39:18 2016

An anonymous reader shares an Engadget article: The year was 2004, and Motorola had just announced what was then an insanely thin flip phone, the RAZR V3. It was -- and still is -- a head-turner, and eventually over 130 million units were sold in total. Such were the glorious days of Motorola. Twelve years later, the now Lenovo-owned brand appears to be prepping a relaunch of this legendary model, according to its teaser video of a nostalgic walkthrough at a high school.The teaser is available on YouTube. Nice of Motorola to try doing something different from most of its rivals. However, a flip phone -- with a tiny display and those buttons (assumption) -- may not have much of practical case in 2016.



New Clues About Why Mt. Gox Failed - Sat May 21 15:36:05 2016

An anonymous reader writes: The Daily Beast is investigating internal emails, contracts, and new information provided by a former accounting employee at Mt. Gox for clues about how and why the world's largest bitcoin exchange failed in 2014. They conclude that CEO Mark Karpeles "bought a company already missing tens of thousands of bitcoins" in 2011, leading to an email exchange a few months later where the previous owner suggested ways to make up the $800,000 shortfall. Unfortunately, Karpeles "had signed a non-disclosure agreement that left him unable to discuss the loss," and after a second larger hack, he moved the majority of bitcoins offline into "cold storage," leaving only enough online to complete transactions.

According to the article, former Mt. Gox employees "claim rogue U.S. government agents seized $5 million of Mt. Gox funds in summer 2013 in retaliation for Karpeles's refusal to cooperate with them. This seizure supposedly cut into the firm's operating reserves, which may have been the beginning of the end, at least according to the former Mt. Gox accountant."

While $450 million eventually disappeared, Thursday ZDNet reported that a class-action lawsuit brought against the bitcoin exchange by investors "has been dismissed."



Terrorists No Longer Welcome On OneDrive, Outlook, Xbox Live - Sat May 21 14:33:02 2016

Microsoft has updated its anti-terrorism policies. In a blog post, the Redmond, Washington-based company said that it would remove "terrorist content" from a fleet of its services including OneDrive, Outlook and Xbox Live, reports BetaNews. For its search engine Bing, however, Microsoft says that it would only remove links when it is required by local law, citing free expression for all. The company adds that it would fund research for a tool that could help it better scan such content and flag image, audio and video. From company's blog post: There is no universally accepted definition of terrorist content. For purposes of our services, we will consider terrorist content to be material posted by or in support of organizations included on the Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List that depicts graphic violence, encourages violent action, endorses a terrorist organization or its acts, or encourages people to join such groups. The UN Sanctions List includes a list of groups that the UN Security Council considers to be terrorist organizations.



Ask Slashdot: Can You Have A Smart Home That's Not 'In The Cloud'? - Sat May 21 13:39:43 2016

With the announcement of Google Home on Wednesday, one anonymous Slashdot reader asks a timely question about cloud-based "remote control" services that feed information on your activities into someone else's advertising system: In principle, this should not be the case, but it is in practice. So how hard is it, really, to do 'home automation' without sending all your data to Google, Samsung, or whoever -- just keep it to yourself and share only what you want to share?

How hard would it be, for instance, to hack a Nest thermostat so it talks to a home server rather than Google? Or is there something already out there that would do the same thing as a Nest but without 'the cloud' as part of the requirement? Yes, a standard programmable thermostat does 90% of what a Nest does, but there are certain things that it won't do like respond to your comings and goings at odd hours, or be remotely switchable to a different mode (VPN to your own server from your phone and deal with it locally, perhaps?) Fundamentally, is there a way to get the convenience and not expose my entire life and home to unknown actors who by definition (read the terms of service) do not have my best interest in mind?

Yesterday one tech company asked its readers, "What company do you trust most to always be listening inside your home?" The winner was "nobody", with 63% of the votes -- followed by Google with 16%, and Apple with 13%. (Microsoft scored just 3%, while Amazon scored 2%.) So share your alternatives in the comments. What's the best way to set up home automation without sending data into the cloud?


Scientists Say Nuclear Fuel Pools Pose Safety, Health Risks - Sat May 21 09:38:01 2016

mdsolar quotes a report from NBC News: Ninety-six aboveground, aquamarine pools around the country that hold the nuclear industry's spent reactor fuel may not be as safe as U.S. regulators and the nuclear industry have publicly asserted, a study released May 20 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine warned. Citing a little-noticed study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the academies said that if an accident or an act of terrorism at a densely-filled pool caused a leak that drains the water away from the rods, a cataclysmic release of long-lasting radiation could force the extended evacuation of nearly 3.5 million people from territory larger than the state of New Jersey. It could also cause thousands of cancer deaths from excess radiation exposure, and as much as $700 billion dollars in costs to the national economy. The report is the second and final study of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which was pummeled from a tsunami on March 11, 2011. The authors suggest the U.S. examine the benefits of withdrawing the spent fuel rods from the pools and storing them instead in dry casks aboveground in an effort to avoid possible catastrophes. The idea is nothing new, but it's been opposed by the industry because it could cost as much as $4 billion. The latest report contradicts parts of a study by Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff released two years after the Fukushima incident. The NRC staff in its 2014 study said a major earthquake could be expected to strike an area where spent fuel is stored in a pool once in 10 million years or less, and even then, "spent fuel pools are likely to withstand severe earthquakes without leaking."



DARPA Extreme DDOS Project Transforming Network Attack Mitigation - Sat May 21 06:27:04 2016

coondoggie quotes a report from Networkworld: Researchers with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) have quickly moved to alter the way the military, public and private enterprises protect their networks from high-and low-speed distributed denial-of-service attacks with a program called Extreme DDoS Defense (XD3). The agency has since September awarded seven XD3 multi-million contracts to Georgia Tech, George Mason University, Invincea Labs, Raytheon BBN, Vencore Labs (two contracts) and this week to the University of Pennsylvania to radically alter DDOS defenses. One more contract is expected under the program. [DARPA says the XD3 program looks to develop technologies that: Thwart DDos attacks by dispersing cyber assets (physically and/or logically) to complicate adversarial targeting, disguise the characteristics and behaviors of those assets to confuse or deceive the adversary, blunt the effects of attacks that succeed in penetrating other defensive measures by using adaptive mitigation techniques on endpoints such as mission-critical servers.]



Microsoft Finds Legal Path To Launch Minecraft In China - Sat May 21 02:33:55 2016

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Minecraft's PC and smartphone versions are finally coming to China. On Friday, Microsoft and Mojang announced the beginning of a "five-year exclusive partnership" with Chinese software publisher NetEase, Inc to roll the game out onto Chinese computer and smartphone marketplaces. Microsoft was able to publish the game on Xbox One consoles late last year, but those consoles have yet to penetrate the Chinese market to the extent that PCs and smartphones have, and the fact that even Microsoft had to license the game to someone else as opposed to launching it from its own Shanghai campus is a stern reminder of what roadblocks stand in the way of Western software developers. "The most challenging aspect of doing business in China by far is dealing with the government," former PopCap executive James Gwertzman said at the 2010 Game Developers Conference. Game publishers must acquire a combined six permits to launch a game in China, and most of those permits cannot be acquired by foreign-operated companies. Microsoft is presumably in the exact same regulatory boat, and its choice of partner is telling; NetEase already has a major Western-gaming reputation thanks to its partnership with megawatt game makers Blizzard. Gwertzman guessed that Minecraft will probably avoid such undue attention with its upcoming launch. "Minecraft is on the good side as it encourages teamwork and learning," he said. "I see Minecraft as the perfect example of a game that will receive public support [in China]." Meanwhile, American technology companies like Apple and Microsoft are undergoing security reviews in the communist country.