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Life On Mars: Elon Musk Reveals Details of His Colonisation Vision
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '17 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's race-to-future department:
Elon Musk has put his Mars-colonization vision to paper, and you can read it for free. SpaceX's billionaire founder and CEO published the plan, which he unveiled at a conference in Mexico in September 2016, in the journal New Space. From a report: The paper outlines early designs of the gigantic spacecraft, designed to carry 100 passengers, that he hopes to construct. "The thrust level is enormous," the paper states. "We are talking about a lift-off thrust of 13,000 tons, so it will be quite tectonic when it takes off." Creating a fully self-sustained civilisation of around one million people -- the ultimate goal -- would take 40-100 years according to the plans. Before full colonisation takes place, though, Musk needs to entice the first pioneers to pave the way.

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Facebook Exposes Employee Data To Terrorists
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '17 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Guardian is reporting that Facebook accidentally exposed the personal information of the moderators that remove terrorist content to the groups that posted that very content. From the article it looks like 6 of them actually had their profiles viewed. From the article, "The security lapse affected more than 1,000 workers across 22 departments at Facebook who used the company's moderation software to review and remove inappropriate content from the platform, including sexual material, hate speech and terrorist propaganda." What are Facebook's responsibilities here?

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Amazon Says It Won't Replace Whole Foods Cashiers With Computers... Yet
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '17 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-forward department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Amazon said it has no current plans to automate the jobs of cashiers in Whole Foods stores after it finishes acquiring the grocery chain. It also isn't planning any layoffs, according to a spokesperson. There is some speculation, however, that Amazon may change its plans and use new technology inside of Whole Foods locations. Commenting on Amazon's announcement from earlier today, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said, "Only one company on earth can buy grocery chain, be rumored to buy enterprise software company & in both cases be lauded for strategic vision."

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The Size of iPhone's Top Apps Has Increased by 1,000% in Four Years
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '17 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's changing-dynamics department:
Research firm Sensor Tower shares an analysis: As the minimum storage capacity of iPhone continues to increase -- it sits at 32 GB today on the iPhone 7, double the the iPhone 5S's 16 GB circa 2013 -- it's not surprising that the size of apps themselves is getting larger. In fact, Apple raised the app size cap from 2 GB to 4 GB in early 2015. What's surprising is how much faster they're increasing in size compared to device storage itself. According to Sensor Tower's analysis of App Intelligence, the total space required by the top 10 most installed U.S. iPhone apps has grown from 164 MB in May 2013 to about 1.8 GB last month, an 11x or approximately 1,000 percent increase in just four years. [...] Of the top 10 most popular U.S. iPhone apps, the minimum growth we saw in app size since May 2013 was 6x for both Spotify and Facebook's Messenger. As the chart above shows, other apps, especially Snapchat, have grown considerably more. In fact, Snapchat is more than 50 times larger than it was four years ago, clocking in at 203 MB versus just 4 MB at the start of the period we looked at. It's not the largest app among the top 10, however. That distinction goes to Facebook, which, at 388 MB, is 12 times larger than it was in May 2013 when it occupied 32 MB. It grew by about 100 MB in one update during September of last year.

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Bat-Signal Shines In LA In Honour of Batman Star Adam West
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '17 at 08:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's RIP department:
From a BBC report: LA's skyline has been lit up with the Bat-Signal to honour Batman star Adam West, who died last week. Mayor Eric Garcetti and LA Police chief Charlie Beck were expected to be at the public event at City Hall, which started about 21:00 local time (05:00 BST). The signal originated in the DC Comics strip as a sign that the caped crusader was needed to save the day. Animated comedy Family Guy will also honour West this weekend.

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Putin Claims Russia Proposed a Cyber War Treaty In 2015 But the Obama Admin Ignored Them
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '17 at 08:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader writes: Russian president Vladimir Putin (who denies any Russian part in the hacking) claims the Obama administration ignored a proposal in 2015 that might have avoided all of this. His administration suggested working out a cyber treaty with the US but was ignored by Obama officials, Putin told film director Oliver Stone in Showtime's four-part series broadcast this week. "A year and a half ago, in fall 2015, we made proposal to our American partners that we work through these issues and conclude a treaty on the rules of behavior in this sphere," he said in Stone's documentary The Putin Interviews. "The American side was silent, they didn't reply to us."

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Mathematical Biology Is Our Secret Weapon In the Fight Against Disease
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '17 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stating-the-obvious department:
An anonymous reader shares excerpts from a Scientific American article: In recent years, increasingly detailed experimental procedures have lead to a huge influx in the biological data available to scientists. This data is being used to generate hypotheses about the complexity of previously abstruse biological systems. In order to test these hypotheses, they must be written down in the form of a model which can be interrogated to determine whether it correctly mimics the biological observations. Mathematics is the natural language in which to do this. In addition, the advent of, and subsequent increase in, computational ability over the last 60 years has enabled us to suggest and then interrogate complex mathematical models of biological systems. The realisation that biological systems can be treated mathematically, coupled with the computational ability to build and investigate detailed biological models, has led to the dramatic increase in the popularity of mathematical biology. Maths has become a vital weapon in the scientific armoury we have to tackle some of the most pressing questions in medical, biological and ecological science in the 21st century. By describing biological systems mathematically and then using the resulting models, we can gain insights that are impossible to access though experiments and verbal reasoning alone. Mathematical biology is incredibly important if we want to change biology from a descriptive into a predictive science -- giving us power, for example, to avert pandemics or to alter the effects of debilitating diseases.

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EU Poised To Fine Google More Than $1 Billion in Antitrust Case
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '17 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's judgement-day department:
Google is braced for a fine of potentially more than 1bn euro ($1.18 billion) as Brussels prepares to make the first of three antitrust decisions on the search group's practices, the first sanction by a leading competition regulator on the way it operates. From a report: The penalty, expected to be announced in the coming weeks, could exceed the record 1.1 billion euro bill slapped on Intel, in 2009 for anti-competitive behavior in the computer-chip market, the two people told The Times. The European Commission's antitrust body declined to comment to MarketWatch on the FT report, but referred to the latest steps taken in the case against Google. In July last year, the commission reiterated its conclusion that the search giant had "abused its dominant position by systematically favoring its comparison shopping service in its search result pages." Google and its parent company Alphabet were then given 10 weeks to respond to the findings. Reuters reported last month that Google had attempted to settle the dispute with the EU three times in the last six years, but the sides had failed to reach a compromise.

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Amazon To Buy Whole Foods Market For $13.7 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '17 at 06:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's big-fish,-small-fish department:
Amazon said Friday it would buy Whole Foods Market for $13.7 billion as the giant internet retailer makes a deeper push into the grocery space. From a report: Amazon has dabbled in brick-and-mortar operations, experimenting with a bookstore that opened in New York last month and plans to open "no-checkout" convenience stores. But the Whole Foods acquisition represents a dramatic departure from its early business model founded on online retailing and related technology. Grocery retail is a notoriously thin-profit-margin business. And Whole Foods -- often derided as "Whole Paycheck" -- has struggled in recent years to keep up with emerging competitors that are expanding nationwide with cheaper items. Traditional grocery stores have also widened their organic food selections in hopes of retaining customers who are increasingly looking to eat healthily.

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Amazon Granted a Patent That Prevents In-Store Shoppers From Online Price Checking
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '17 at 06:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's you-shall-not-pass department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Amazon's long been a go-to for people to online price compare while shopping at brick-and-mortars. Now, a new patent granted to the company could prevent people from doing just that inside Amazon's own stores. The patent, titled "Physical Store Online Shopping Control," details a mechanism where a retailer can intercept network requests like URLs and search terms that happen on its in-store Wi-Fi, then act upon them in various ways. The document details in great length how a retailer like Amazon would use this information to its benefit. If, for example, the retailer sees you're trying to access a competitor's website to price check an item, it could compare the requested content to what's offered in-store and then send price comparison information or a coupon to your browser instead. Or it could suggest a complementary item, or even block content outright. Amazon's patent also lets the retailer know your physical whereabouts, saying, "the location may be triangulated utilizing information received from a multitude of wireless access points." The retailer can then use this information to try and upsell you on items in your immediate area or direct a sales representative to your location.

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The Quirky Habits of Certified Science Geniuses
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '17 at 02:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's secret-sauce department:
dryriver shares a report from the BBC: Celebrated inventor and physicist Nikola Tesla swore by toe exercises -- every night, he'd repeatedly "squish" his toes, 100 times for each foot, according to the author Marc J Seifer. While it's not entirely clear exactly what that exercise involved, Tesla claimed it helped to stimulate his brain cells. The most prolific mathematician of the 20th Century, Paul Erdos, preferred a different kind of stimulant: amphetamine, which he used to fuel 20-hour number benders. When a friend bet him $500 that he couldn't stop for a month, he won but complained "You've set mathematics back a month." Newton, meanwhile, bragged about the benefits of celibacy. When he died in 1727, he had transformed our understanding of the natural world forever and left behind 10 million words of notes; he was also, by all accounts, still a virgin (Tesla was also celibate, though he later claimed he fell in love with a pigeon). It's common knowledge that sleep is good for your brain -- and Einstein took this advice more seriously than most. He reportedly slept for at least 10 hours per day -- nearly one and a half times as much as the average American today (6.8 hours). But can you really slumber your way to a sharper mind? Many of the world's most brilliant scientific minds were also fantastically weird. From Pythagoras' outright ban on beans to Benjamin Franklin's naked "air baths," the path to greatness is paved with some truly peculiar habits.

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New Evidence That All Stars Are Born In Pairs
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '17 at 11:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's takes-two-to-tango department:
InfiniteZero shares a report from Phys.Org: Did our sun have a twin when it was born 4.5 billion years ago? Almost certainly yes -- though not an identical twin. And so did every other sun-like star in the universe, according to a new analysis by a theoretical physicist from UC Berkeley and a radio astronomer from the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory at Harvard University. The new assertion is based on a radio survey of a giant molecular cloud filled with recently formed stars in the constellation Perseus, and a mathematical model that can explain the Perseus observations only if all sunlike stars are born with a companion. "We ran a series of statistical models to see if we could account for the relative populations of young single stars and binaries of all separations in the Perseus molecular cloud, and the only model that could reproduce the data was one in which all stars form initially as wide (more than 500 astronomical units) binaries," said co-author Steven Stahler, a UC Berkeley research astronomer. "These systems then either shrink or break apart within a million years." The study has been published in April on the arXiv server.

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Trump Orders Government To Stop Work On Y2K Bug, 17 Years Later
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '17 at 08:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's waste-of-time department:
The federal government will finally stop preparing for the Y2K bug, seventeen years after it came and went. Yes, you read that right. Bloomberg reports: The Trump administration announced Thursday that it would eliminate dozens of paperwork requirements for federal agencies, including an obscure rule that requires them to continue providing updates on their preparedness for a bug that afflicted some computers at the turn of the century. As another example, the Pentagon will be freed from a requirement that it file a report every time a small business vendor is paid, a task that consumed some 1,200 man-hours every year. Seven of the more than 50 paperwork requirements the White House eliminated on Thursday dealt with the Y2K bug, according to a memo OMB released. Officials at the agency estimate the changes could save tens of thousands of man-hours across the federal government. The agency didn't provide an estimate of how much time is currently spent on Y2K paperwork, but Linda Springer, an OMB senior adviser, acknowledged that it isn't a lot since those requirements are already often ignored in practice.

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Arctic Climate Change Study Canceled Due to Climate Change
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '17 at 07:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's walking-on-thin-ice department:
A Canadian expedition to study climate change in the Arctic has been canceled due to climate change. Specifically, the icebreaker CCGS Amundsen had to be cancelled "due to complications associated with the southward motion of hazardous Arctic sea ice," reports University of Manitoba. From the report: This regrettably postpones the much-anticipated Hudson Bay System Study (BaySys) involving 40 scientists from five universities across Canada. Timing was key for this $17 million, four-year, University of Manitoba-led project. The need to deal with extreme ice conditions in the south meant the ship would arrive too late on site to meet research objectives. This year the Expedition Logistics and Science Teams accelerated the mobilization of the 2017 Arctic Expedition to permit departure of the Amundsen six days ahead of schedule. This would allow CCG to carry out critical marine safety and security operations in the unusually severe ice conditions in the Strait of Belle Isle and along the northeast coast of Newfoundland before beginning the Science Mission. Unfortunately, the conditions required much more extended support than anticipated. Fleet management issues and inadequate alternative ships forced the cancellation of the science program due to significant safety concerns. This decision to cancel the BaySys 2017 program was not made lightly. Although the cancellation was due to circumstances beyond control of the Expedition Team, every effort was made to develop a viable option to allow this valuable work to proceed.

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Six Companies Awarded $258 Million From US Government To Build Exascale Supercomputers
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-gen-computing department:
The U.S. Department of Energy will be investing $258 million to help six leading technology firms -- AMD, Cray Inc., Hewlett Packard Enterprise, IBM, Intel, and Nvidia -- research and build exascale supercomputers. Digital Trends reports: The funding will be allocated to them over the course of a three-year period, with each company providing 40 percent of the overall project cost, contributing to an overall investment of $430 million in the project. "Continued U.S. leadership in high performance computing is essential to our security, prosperity, and economic competitiveness as a nation," U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry said. "These awards will enable leading U.S. technology firms to marshal their formidable skills, expertise, and resources in the global race for the next stage in supercomputing -- exascale-capable systems." The funding will finance research and development in three key areas; hardware technology, software technology, and application development. There are hopes that one of the companies involved in the initiative will be able to deliver an exascale-capable supercomputer by 2021.

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CIA Created 'CherryBlossom' Toolkit For Hacking Hundreds of Routers Models
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's targets-of-interest department:
An anonymous reader writes: After a two-week hiatus, WikiLeaks dumped new files as part of the Vault 7 series -- documents about a CIA tool named CherryBlossom, a multi-purpose framework developed for hacking hundreds of home router models. The tool is by far one of the most sophisticated CIA malware frameworks in the CIA's possession. The purpose of CherryBlossom is to allow operatives to interact and control SOHO routers on the victim's network. The tool can sniff, log, and redirect the user's Internet traffic, open a VPN to the victim's local network, execute actions based on predefined rules, alert operators when the victim becomes active, and more. A 24-page document included with the CherryBlossom docs lists over 200 router models from 21 vendors that the CIA could hack. The biggest names on this list are Apple, D-Link, Belkin, Aironet (Cisco), Linksys, and Motorola.

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Spotify Continues To Grow Faster Than Apple Music Thanks To Free Tier
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '17 at 04:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's easy-listening department:
Joe Rossignol reports via Mac Rumors: Spotify today announced it now has over 140 million subscribers worldwide, including users that only listen to the free ad-supported tier. Spotify last said it had over 100 million subscribers in June 2016, so it has gained around 40 million listeners in one year to remain the world's largest streaming music service. Spotify didn't update its number of paying subscribers, which stood at over 50 million worldwide as of March 2017. By comparison, Apple at its Worldwide Developers Conference last week announced that Apple Music now has 27 million paying subscribers, just weeks before the streaming music service turns two years old. Apple Music doesn't have a free tier, and Apple doesn't regularly disclose how many users are using the free trial.

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eBay Urges Customers To Oppose Washington Internet Tax
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '17 at 04:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nickel-and-dime department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from KNKX: If you live in Washington state, you might have gotten the email from eBay. It begins: "The Washington State Legislature is threatening to impose new Internet sales tax burdens on you." It goes on to urge the recipient to send a form letter to Washington lawmakers opposing "harmful tax laws." So what's this about? EBay's Brian Bieron said the company is alerting its customers to a proposal to require out-of-state retailers to collect sales tax from Washington residents. "It's the right of all of our users to know when new tax policies would impact their ability to sell online or shop online, we think that they want to know and they want to get involved," Bieron said. The fact eBay is emailing its customer base now indicates the company is concerned the internet tax bill will be part of a final budget deal in Olympia. Washington House Democrats and Senate Republicans are currently trying to hash out a compromise budget that fully fund schools. That agreement will likely include some additional sources of tax revenue. Of all the choices on the table, capturing sales tax from more online sales might prove the most palatable to tax-averse Republicans. House Democrats estimate the proposal could bring in an estimated $341 million over the next two years.

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GTA V Flooded With Negative Reviews On Steam After OpenIV Modding Tool Shuts Down
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '17 at 04:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department:
OpenIV, a popular modding tool used by tons of GTA V fans, is shutting down. After nearly 10 years of operation, the creators claim they have received a cease and desist from Take-Two Interactive -- the publisher of Grand Theft Auto. The news has shocked the PC Grand Theft Auto community, who use OpenIV to add thousands of mods into GTA V. Many upset modders have retaliated by flooding GTA V with negative reviews on Steam. Kotaku reports: According to a post on the official OpenIV website, the alleged cease and desist came on June 5th 2017. The supposed problem, OpenIV's creators say, is that the program allows "third parties to defeat security features of its software and modify that software in violation Take-Two's rights." After discussing their options, the team behind the tool says they decided it was not worth their time to fight back. "Yes, we can go to court and yet again prove that modding is fair use and our actions are legal," creator GooD-NTS wrote. "Yes, we could. But we decided not to. Going to court will take at least few months of our time and huge amount of efforts, and, at best, we'll get absolutely nothing. Spending time just to restore status quo is really unproductive, and all the money in the world can't compensate the loss of time. So, we decided to agree with their claims and we're stopping distribution of OpenIV."

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Dubai Airport Will Use Biometric Scanning By 2020 To Replace Entry With Passport
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '17 at 03:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's digital-age department:
dryriver quotes a report from Gulf News: For visitors or residents coming in to Dubai, a new face-recognition software in the offing at the Dubai International Airport will enable them to walk straight to the baggage claim area after deplaning without having to stop at passport control. British start-up ObjectTech announced that they will work with the Dubai government to install biometric tunnels that scan people's faces as they walk to baggage reclaim. The "biometric border" walkway takes a 3D scan of people's faces as they enter the airport and checks it against a digital passport using face-recognition software. If this project is completed, passengers arriving at Dubai airport will be able to step off their flight and walk straight to baggage reclaim via biometric verification tunnels -- allowing them to be registered into the country using a pre-approved and entirely digitized passport.

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