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Astronomers Prove To Einstein That Stars Can Warp Light
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '17 at 12:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's believe-it-or-not department:
Astronomers have observed for the first time ever a distant star warp the light of another star, "making it seem as though the object changed its position in the sky," reports The Verge. The discovery is especially noteworthy as Albert Einstein didn't think such an observation would be possible. From the report: These events require stars that are very far apart to line up perfectly. That's why Einstein once wrote that "there is no hope of observing this phenomenon directly." Our telescope technology has become far more sophisticated than in Einstein's day -- which is what allowed us to observe something he thought we'd never see. In 2014, a group of astronomers using NASA's Hubble Space Telescope spotted a rare type of microlensing, when a dense white dwarf star passed in front of another star thousands of light-years away. The stars weren't exactly aligned, but they were close enough that the white dwarf made it seem like the background star performed a small loop in the sky. "It looks like the white dwarf pushed it out of the way," Terry Oswalt, an astronomer at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University who was not involved in this discovery but wrote a perspective piece in Science, tells The Verge. "That's not what happened, of course. It just looks like that." The astronomers also used the apparent movement of the background star to measure the mass of the passing white dwarf, a novel technique detailed in a paper published today in Science. And they say this isn't the last time they'll make measurements like this either. Now that they've figured out how to spot these kinds of lensing events, they're hoping to find even more with new ground- and space-based telescopes that are coming online soon.

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US Spy Chief Reverses Course, Will Not Say How Many Americans Caught in NSA Surveillance
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 08:20 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's reversing-course department:
Zack Whittaker, writing for ZDNet: US Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats has refused to say how many Americans have been caught up in the government's surveillance programs, reversing a confirmation pledge he made earlier this year. Coats said at a hearing before the Senate Intelligence Committee on the reauthorization of a key foreign surveillance law that it is "infeasible" to provide an estimate of how many Americans' communications have been collected by the National Security Agency. It's a key question that has been raised by senior lawmakers on several occasions of both the Obama and Trump administrations.

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Electric Vehicles Have Another Record Year, Reaching 2 Million Cars In 2016
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 07:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's steady-as-we-go department:
An anonymous reader shares a report from the International Energy Agency: The number of electric cars on the roads around the world rose to 2 million in 2016, following a year of strong growth in 2015, according to the latest edition of the International Energy Agency's Global EV Outlook. China remained the largest market in 2016, accounting for more than 40% of the electric cars sold in the world. With more than 200 million electric two-wheelers and more than 300,000 electric buses, China is by far the global leader in the electrification of transport. China, the US and Europe made up the three main markets, totaling over 90% of all EVs sold around the world. Electric car deployment in some markets is swift. In Norway, electric cars had a 29% market share last year, the highest globally, followed by the Netherlands with 6.4%, and Sweden with 3.4%. The electric car market is set to transition from early deployment to mass market adoption over the next decade or so. Between 9 and 20 million electric car could be deployed by 2020, and between 40 and 70 million by 2025, according to estimates based on recent statement from carmakers.

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Airbnb Announces Its Plan To House 100,000 People In Need
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 05:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lend-a-helping-hand department:
New submitter mirandakatz writes: Airbnb has just unveiled its Open Homes Platform, a home-sharing site for hosts motivated by goodwill instead of profits -- and for guests motivated by need rather than wanderlust. Specifically, Airbnb is going to begin by connecting refugees with hosts in Canada, France, Greece, and the United States. Ultimately, refugees will be just one group that the site aims to help: Site visitors can also nominate other groups of people for temporary placements, and the platform will expand to include them eventually. At Backchannel, Jessi Hempel dives into the home-sharing platform's latest effort, and places it in the context of the company's broader business strategy.

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Verizon Expected To Cut Up To 1,000 Yahoo, AOL Jobs After Acquisition
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 05:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's expect-the-unexpected department:
Verizon's acquisition and merger of AOL and Yahoo will result in many job cuts. According to Recode, up to 1,000 AOL and Yahoo jobs are expected to take place across the two companies as the merger is completed. From the report: This action is not unexpected, given that both companies have a lot of redundancies, including in human resources, finance, marketing and general administration. The merger between the two companies -- after Verizon bought both in succession to add tech and content to its mobile services -- is expected to be completed in the next week. The shareholder meeting to approve the deal takes place tomorrow. Plans to combine both companies have been in the works for a while, as the pair attempt to make a cohesive unit out of two entities that have multiple assets and also multiple problems. It will be headed by AOL CEO Tim Armstrong, who will become the CEO of Oath, the new name for the Verizon subsidiary.

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Apple To Force Users To 2FA On iOS 11, macOS High Sierra
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's takes-two-to-tango department:
Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: With the upcoming releases of iOS 11 and macOS High Sierra later this year, Apple is planning to force many users to adopt two-factor authentication for their accounts. The company this week sent an email to customers who have the existing two-step verification enabled for their Apple IDs, informing them that once they install the public betas of the new operating systems they will be migrated to two-factor authentication automatically. Two-step verification is an older method of account security that Apple rolled out before full two-factor authentication was available. Apple is phasing that out and will be upgrading people with eligible devices automatically. "Once updated, you'll get the same extra layer of security you enjoy with two-step verification today, but with an even better user experience. Verification codes will be displayed on your trusted devices automatically whenever you sign in, and you will no longer need to keep a printed recovery key to make sure you can reset a forgotten password," the email from Apple says.

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The Public Is Growing Tired of Trump's Tweets, Says Voter Survey
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 04:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's enough-already department:
President Donald Trump is the tweeting president. His @realDonaldTrump handle has 31.8 million followers and "35K" tweets. While the president claims to use Twitter to "get the honest and unfiltered message out," many Americans aren't so fond of his favored form of communication. According to a new voter poll (PDF), the public is growing tired of Trump's tweets. Ars Technica reports: A Morning Consult, Politico survey published Wednesday found that 69 percent of voters who took the online survey said they thought Trump tweets too much. That's up from 56 percent from December, months before Trump took office. The survey said that 82 percent of Democrats polled thought Trump tweets too much, up from 75 percent in December. Republicans came in at 53 percent saying the president used Twitter too often, an 11-percent increase from December. Overall, 57 percent of voters who took the survey said Trump's tweets are hurting his presidency. Another 53 percent said his Twitter use undermines U.S. standing in the world. The poll found that 51 percent of all voters said Trump's tweets imperiled national security. What do you think of Trump's tweets? Do you think they are getting old, or do you find them particularly useful?

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Russian Malware Communicates Using Britney Spears's Instagram Account
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 03:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's watering-hold-campaign department:
JustAnotherOldGuy writes: A key weakness in malicious software is the "Command and Control" (C&C) system -- a central server that the malware-infected systems contact to receive updates and instructions, and to send stolen data. Anti-malware researchers like to reverse engineer malicious code, discover the C&C server's address, and then shut it down. Turla is an "advanced persistent threat" hacking group based in Russia with a long history of attacking states in ways that advance Russian state interests. A new analysis by Eset shows that Turla is solving its C&C problems by using Britney Spears' Instagram account as a cut-out for its C&C servers. Turla moves the C&C server around, then hides the current address of the server in encrypted comments left on Britney Spears's image posts. The compromised systems check in with Spears' Instagram whenever they need to know where the C&C server is currently residing.

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TSA May Recommend Stowing Laptops In Cargo For US Domestic Flights
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 03:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's safety-first department:
Matt.Battey writes: According to WJZ in Baltimore, the TSA may force passengers to check laptops on domestic U.S. flights. Based on the common fear, uncertainty and doubt that supports the TSA's security theater, the terror attacks in Great Britain could result in laptop bans in the U.S. TSA officer Camille Morris is quoted as saying, "A AA battery is fine. A AAA. A 9-volt battery is a huge power charge. The size of the battery that can take down a plane when attached to an explosive." Backed up by comments from Ben Yelin of the University of Maryland Center for Health and Homeland Security, his statement confirms the problem: "Airplanes have been the common threat that we've seen over the past several years." Personally, I'm just glad we have the TSA to recommend we "arrive two hours before a domestic flight, and three hours before an international trip."

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Facebook Unveils New Tools To Help Elected Officials Reach Constituents
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 01:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's elected-officials-only department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Facebook this year has launched a number of features that make it easier for people to reach their government representatives on its social network, including "Town Hall," and related integrations with News Feed, as well as ways to share reps' contact info in your own posts. Today, the company is expanding on these initiatives with those designed for elected officials themselves. The new tools will help officials connect with their constituents, as well as better understand which issues their constituents care about most. Specifically, the social network is rolling out three new features: constituent badges, constituent insights, and district targeting. Constituent badges are a new, opt-in feature that allow Facebook users to identify themselves as a person living in the district the elected official represents. A second feature called Constituent Insights is designed to help elected officials learn which local news stories and content is popular in their district, so they can share their thoughts on those matters. The third new feature -- District Targeting -- is arguably the most notable. This effectively gives elected officials the means of gathering feedback from their constituents through Facebook directly, using either posts or polls that are targeted only towards those who actually live in their particular district. That means the official can post to Facebook to ask for feedback from constituents about an issue, and these posts will only be viewable by those who live in their district.

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What Are Some Documentaries and TV Shows That You Recommend To Others?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 01:42 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's enjoy-joshtops department:
Reader joshtops writes: Wow thanks for the overwhelming response on my previous post. I'm taking notes and intend to give all of the suggested books a go in the near future. If I may, and I hope the editors approve of this, could you also list some of your favorite TV shows and documentaries? Also, is there any show or documentary you think that changed or influenced your life, or at least your perception on any particular subject?

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Apple Announces Support For WebRTC in Safari 11
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 12:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department:
Youenn Fablet, software engineer at Apple, writes: Today we are thrilled to announce WebKit support for WebRTC, available on Safari on macOS High Sierra, iOS 11, and Safari Technology Preview 32. [...] Currently, Safari supports legacy WebRTC APIs. Web developers can check whether their websites conform to the latest specifications by toggling the STP Experimental Features menu item "Remove Legacy WebRTC API". Legacy WebRTC APIs will be disabled by default on future releases. Websites that need to accommodate older implementations of the WebRTC and Media Capture specifications can take advantage of polyfill libraries like adapter.js. Peer5, a startup that offers serverless CDN for massively-scaled video streaming, writes in a blogpost: This is HUGE news for the computing industry. Since its introduction in 2011, WebRTC has become an incredibly important part of everyone's favorite platforms and applications. It is at the core of a few services that you might have heard of, including Google Hangouts, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and Slack. WebRTC is also supported natively by most major web browsers, including Chrome, Firefox and Opera. But there were 2 big holdouts -- Microsoft's Edge browser and Apple's Safari. This meant that people using those browsers couldn't access WebRTC-based services without installing some type of plug-in. Well, those days are over given the WWDC news and Microsoft's announcement back in January regarding WebRTC support in Edge. Developers can now create compelling browser-based applications that incorporate real-time audio and video (and maybe even a peer-to-peer component) and know that 99% of the world's Web surfers will be able to use their services without having to install any plug-ins or additional software. This newfound ubiquity for WebRTC might even make a developer question whether he has to build a native iOS or Android app to deliver his service to end-users.

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Americans From Both Political Parties Overwhelmingly Support Net Neutrality, Poll Shows
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 12:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's agreement-on-something department:
Mozilla conducted a survey in which it found that a majority of Americans do not trust the government to protect Internet access. From an article, shared by a reader: A recent public opinion poll carried out by Mozilla and Ipsos revealed overwhelming support across party lines for net neutrality, with over three quarters of Americans (76%) supporting net neutrality. Eighty-one percent of Democrats and 73% of Republicans are in favor of it. Another key finding: Most Americans do not trust the U.S. government to protect access to the Internet. Seventy percent of Americans place no or little trust in the Trump administration or Congress (78%) to do so. Mozilla and Ipsos carried out the poll in late May, on the heels of the FCC's vote to begin dismantling Obama-era net neutrality rules. We polled approximately 1,000 American adults across the U.S., a sample that included 354 Democrats, 344 Republicans, and 224 Independents.

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Oldest Fossils of Homo Sapiens Found in Morocco, Altering History of Our Species
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tracing-the-past-for-a-better-future department:
Carl Zimmer, writing for The New York Times: Fossils discovered in Morocco are the oldest known remains of Homo sapiens, scientists reported on Wednesday. Dating back roughly 300,000 years, the bones indicate that mankind evolved earlier than had been known, experts say, and open a new window on our origins. The fossils also show that early Homo sapiens had faces much like our own, although their brains differed in fundamental ways (alternative source). Until now, the oldest fossils of our species, found in Ethiopia, dated back just 195,000 years. The new fossils suggest our species evolved across Africa. "We did not evolve from a single cradle of mankind somewhere in East Africa," said Phillipp Gunz, a paleoanthropologist at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Liepzig, Germany. Today, the closest living relatives to Homo sapiens are chimpanzees and bonobos, with whom we share a common ancestor that lived over six million years ago. After the lineages split, our ancient relatives evolved into many different species, known as hominins. For millions of years, hominins remained very ape-like. They were short, had small brains, and could fashion only crude stone tools. Original research paper here.

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Ask Slashdot: What Are Some Books You Wish You Had Read Earlier?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's let's-get-this-rolling department:
Reader joshtops writes: Hey, community. Could you folks please name some books that you wish you had read earlier -- especially because these books presumbably had an impact on your life. The books could be from any genre or year.

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Apple's 'Planet of the Apps' Reality Show Is 'Bland, Tepid, Barely Competent Knock-off of 'Shark Tank'
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's wrong-foot-first department:
On Tuesday, Apple made its debut into the world of original television programming with "Planet of the Apps," a reality show that brings app developers in a competition to try to get mentoring and assistance from hosts Jessica Alba, will.i.am, Gwyneth Paltrow and entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk. Contestants describe their proposals as they ride an escalator down onto a stage where the judges sit, and then fire questions at the app developer. The problem? Critics aren't pleased. An anonymous reader shares a Variety report: Apple's first offering, "Planet of the Apps," feels like something that was developed at a cocktail party, and not given much more rigorous thought or attention after the pitcher of mojitos was drained. It's not terrible, but essentially, it's a bland, tepid, barely competent knock-off of " Shark Tank." Apple made its name on game-changing innovations, but this show is decidedly not one of them. The program's one slick innovation is the escalator pitch. You read that right; I didn't mistype "elevator pitch." The show begins with an overly brief set-up segment, which doesn't spend much time explaining the rules of the show, and which also assumes that a viewer will know who host Zane Lowe is, though a reasonably large chunk of the audience won't. Soon enough, app developers step into a pitch room with a very long escalator in the middle of it. As the four judges listen (often with looks of glacial boredom on their faces), the aspiring creators have one minute of escalator time to tout the product they want funding for. After the app makers get to the bottom of the conveyance, the judges (or "advisors") vote yea or nay. As long as one judge has given the developers a green light, they can continue making their pitch.

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Edward Snowden On Trump Administration's Recent Arrest of an Alleged Journalistic Source
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 09:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's alarming department:
Snowden writes: Winner is accused of serving as a journalistic source for a leading American news outlet about a matter of critical public importance. For this act, she has been charged with violating the Espionage Act -- a World War I era law meant for spies -- which explicitly forbids the jury from hearing why the defendant acted, and bars them from deciding whether the outcome was to the public's benefit. This often-condemned law provides no space to distinguish the extraordinary disclosure of inappropriately classified information in the public interest -- whistleblowing -- from the malicious disclosure of secrets to foreign governments by those motivated by a specific intent to harm to their countrymen. The prosecution of any journalistic source without due consideration by the jury as to the harm or benefit of the journalistic activity is a fundamental threat to the free press. As long as a law like this remains on the books in a country that values fair trials, it must be resisted. No matter one's opinions on the propriety of the charges against her, we should all agree Winner should be released on bail pending trial. Even if you take all the government allegations as true, it's clear she is neither a threat to public safety nor a flight risk. To hold a citizen incommunicado and indefinitely while awaiting trial for the alleged crime of serving as a journalistic source should outrage us all.

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Facebook Is Planning To Move WhatsApp Off IBM's Public Cloud
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 08:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's assuming-control department:
Jordan Novet, reporting for CNBC: Facebook's WhatsApp messaging service, which is used by 1.2 billion people across the globe, is planning to move off of IBM's cloud and into Facebook's own data centers, according to a person familiar with the matter. The WhatsApp move, which could begin later this year, would result in IBM losing one of its top five public cloud customers, the source said. IBM's public cloud business lags behind Amazon Web Services (AWS), which is on top with 33 percent of the market in April, as well as Microsoft's Azure cloud, according to Synergy Research.

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Apple Makes iPhone Screen Fixes Easier as States Mull Repair Laws
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 08:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's opening-up department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Apple customers will soon have more choices as the company looks to reduce long wait times for iPhone repairs at its retail stores. By the end of 2017, Apple will to put its proprietary machines for mending cracked iPhone glass in about 400 authorized third-party repair centers in 25 countries, company executives told Reuters. Among the first recipients is Minneapolis-based Best Buy, which has long sold and serviced Apple products. The electronics retailer already has one of the screen-repair machines at a Miami-area store and one coming soon to an outlet in Sunnyvale, California. Fixing cracked screens may seem like small potatoes, but it's a multi-billion-dollar global business. The move is also a major shift for Apple. The company had previously restricted use of its so-called Horizon Machine to its nearly 500 retail stores and mail-in repair centers; and it has guarded its design closely. The change also comes as eight U.S. states have launched "right to repair" bills aimed at prying open the tightly controlled repair networks of Apple and other high-tech manufacturers.

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Wikimedia Executives Receive Six-figure Golden Handshakes
Posted by News Fetcher on June 07 '17 at 07:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department:
Andreas Kolbe writes: The Wikimedia Foundation's (WMF) recently released Form 990 shows that the organisation has developed a practice of handing outgoing managers six-figure severance payments, The Register reports. The foundation, which relies entirely on unpaid volunteers to generate the content of its websites, has taken around $300 million dollars over the past five years through fundraising banners placed on Wikipedia. The WMF says it is "committed to communicating with our volunteers, donors, and stakeholders in an open, accountable, and timely manner", but has long been criticised for providing little transparency on the salaries of its executives, limiting itself to the legally required Form 990 disclosures that only become public two years after the event.

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