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FTC Gives Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo 30 Days To Get Rid of Illegal Warranty-Void-if-Removed Stickers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '18 at 12:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's enough-is-enough department:
Matthew Gault, reporting for Motherboard: The Federal Trade Commission put six companies on notice in early April for illegally telling customers that getting third-party repairs voids the warranty on their electronics. You've seen the stickers before and read the messages buried in end user license agreements. Plastered on the back of my PlayStation 4 is a little sticker that says "warranty void if removed." That's illegal. Motherboard has obtained copies of the letters via a Freedom of Information Act request and has learned the names of the six companies that were warned. They are Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo, Hyundai, HTC, and computer hardware manufacturer ASUS. The letters were sent by Lois Greisman, the FTC's associate director of marketing practices, on April 9; the FTC has given each company 30 days to change its official warranty policies and says that it may take legal action against the companies.

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Facebook Reaches Its Natural Conclusion As A Dating App
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '18 at 11:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's of-course department:
Facebook will soon include a dating feature in its service, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced at the company's F8 developer conference in San Jose Tuesday. From a report: The service will throw Facebook into a sphere it's long been adjacent to but never entered. The social network already has online dating's critical ingredient, a robust graph of people's connection, and services like Tinder, Bumble, and Hinge have been built on top of it. Now, it's getting into the dating game itself. "There are 200 million people on Facebook who list themselves as single, so clearly there's something to do here," Zuckerberg said. "Today, we are announcing a new set of features coming soon, around dating." The feature will be opt-in, and will not match users with people they're already friends with.

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White House Considers Restricting Chinese Researchers Over Espionage Fears
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '18 at 11:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: It sounds like something out of a science fiction movie: In April, China is said to have tested an invisibility cloak that would allow ordinary fighter jets to suddenly vanish from radar screens. This advancement, which could prove to be a critical intelligence breakthrough, is one that American officials fear China may have gained in part from a Chinese researcher who roused suspicions while working on a similar technology at a Duke University laboratory in 2008. The researcher, who was investigated by the F.B.I. but never charged with a crime, ultimately returned to China, became a billionaire and opened a thriving research institute that worked on some projects related to those he studied at Duke. The Trump administration, concerned about China's growing technological prowess, is considering strict measures to block Chinese citizens from performing sensitive research at American universities and research institutes over fears they may be acquiring intellectual secrets, according to people familiar with the deliberations. The White House is discussing whether to limit the access of Chinese citizens to the United States, including restricting certain types of visas available to them and greatly expanding rules pertaining to Chinese researchers who work on projects with military or intelligence value at American companies and universities. The exact types of projects that would be subject to restrictions are unclear, but the measures could clamp down on collaboration in advanced materials, software and other technologies at the heart of Beijing's plan to dominate cutting-edge technologies like advanced microchips, artificial intelligence and electric cars, known as Made in China 2025.

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Fedora 28 Featuring GNOME 3.28 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '18 at 09:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-distro-releases department:
Following an official beta release, Fedora 28 has been released today. From a report: Fedora 28 has many new features, but one in particular will surely excite desktop/workstation users -- GNOME 3.28, which introduces Thunderbolt 3 support and improved laptop battery life. Fedora has long used GNOME as the default desktop environment, and best of all, it is mostly a stock affair -- no silly tweaks enabled by default. In other words, you get a very pure GNOME experience, making Fedora Workstation the preferred OS for many hardcore fans of the DE. "GNOME 3.28 adds the capability to favorite files, folders, and contacts for easier organization and access. Additionally, the new application Usage is included to help users more easily diagnose and resolve performance and capacity issues," says The Fedora Project.

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Facebook Unveils Privacy Tool 'Clear History'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '18 at 09:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Facebook is introducing a new privacy tool called "clear history," CEO Mark Zuckerberg said Tuesday with a personal Facebook post. From a report: The tool will allow you to see information about the apps and websites you've interacted with, and you'll be able to clear this information from your account. The news came less within hours of the kickoff keynote at on Facebook's F8 developer conference, which is being held in San Jose. The mostly-annual conference began as a time for Facebook to announce major initiatives, such as its technology to connect user's accounts with websites around the web, as well as revamped designs for user's profile pages. In a statement, Zuckerberg said, "In your web browser, you have a simple way to clear your cookies and history. The idea is a lot of sites need cookies to work, but you should still be able to flush your history whenever you want. We're building a version of this for Facebook too. It will be a simple control to clear your browsing history on Facebook -- what you've clicked on, websites you've visited, and so on."

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Iran Bans Use of Telegram Messaging App To Protect 'National Security'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '18 at 08:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
Iran has banned all use of the popular Telegram messaging app. The ban had been introduced to protect "national security," said a statement aired on state television. From a report: Iran had been considering the ban since January when protests over economic grievances erupted in more than 80 cities and later turned into demonstrations against the clerical and security elite of the Islamic Republic. Some hardline officials said protesters used Telegram to organize the rallies, which were ultimately contained by the Revolutionary Guards and their affiliated volunteer Basij militia. The app was temporarily blocked in January. "Considering various complaints against the Telegram social networking app by Iranian citizens, and based on the demand of security organizations to confront the illegal activities of Telegram, the judiciary has banned its usage in Iran," state TV reported. "All Internet providers in Iran must take steps to block Telegram's website and app as of April 30," the judiciary website Mizan quoted a court order as saying.

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UK Officials Will Summon Mark Zuckerberg To Testify if He Won't Do So Voluntarily
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '18 at 08:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's that's-enough-mark department:
UK officials said Tuesday they will summon Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify before Parliament the next time he's in British territory if he does not volunteer to do so. From a report: It would be the first governmental summons for Zuckerberg in the fallout of the Cambridge Analytica data leak and widespread concerns around user privacy. "It's worth noting that, while Mr. Zuckerberg does not normally come under the jurisdiction of the UK Parliament, he will do so the next time he enters the country," Damian Collins, a member of the UK Parliament, wrote in a letter published Tuesday. "There are over 40 million Facebook users in the UK and they deserve to hear accurate answers from the company he created and whether it is able to keep their users' data safe," Collins wrote.

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Starting Today, Google Chrome Will Show Warnings for Non-Logged SSL Certificates
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '18 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-stand department:
Starting today, Google Chrome will show a full-page warning whenever users are accessing an HTTPS website that's using an SSL certificate that has not been logged in a public Certificate Transparency (CT) log. From a report: By doing so, Chrome becomes the first browser to implement support for the Certificate Transparency Log Policy. Other browser makers have also agreed to support this mechanism in the future, albeit they have not provided more details. This new policy was first proposed by Google engineers in 2016, and was scheduled to enter into effect in October 2017, but was later delayed for 2018.

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Singapore Airport May Use Facial Recognition Systems To Find Late Passengers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '18 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Singapore's Changi airport, which is widely touted as one of the best airports in the world, is testing use of facial recognition systems to find late or lost passengers in the airport so they don't delay their flight for everyone else onboard. From a report: Changi Airport is looking at how it can use the latest technologies to solve many problems - from cutting taxiing times on the runway to quicker predictions of flight arrivals. It comes as the island state embarks on a 'smart nation' initiative to utilize technology to improve lives, create economic opportunity and build community ties. However the proposed use of cameras mounted on lampposts that are linked to facial recognition software has raised privacy concerns. Steve Lee, Changi Airport Group's chief information officer, told Reuters that the airport's experiments are not from a "big brother" perspective but solve real problems. "We have lots of reports of lost passengers...so one possible use case we can think of is, we need to detect and find people who are on the flight. Of course, with permission from the airlines," said Lee.

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YouTube Is Removing Some Nootropics Channels
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '18 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department:
According to Wikipedia, nootropics are drugs, supplements, and other substances that improve cognitive function, particularly executive functions, memory, creativity, or motivation, in healthy individuals. Many of them are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration, and some have reported addiction and harm, as well as uncomfortable side effects. These concerns may be behind YouTube's recent decision to delete at least three nootropics channels over the past three days. Motherboard reports: The nootropics YouTubers don't know why YouTube penalized them. YouTube's community guidelines prohibit harmful or dangerous content, including "hard drug use," which seems like the most likely reason. [Ryan Michael Ballow, a YouTuber whose channel "Cortex Labs Nootropics" was deleted] believes it's either "pharmaceutical industry influence" or some other elements within YouTube's leadership decided to target nootropics specifically. "It's all extremely fishy, and demonstrates a continued censorship trend with YouTube," he said in an email. [Jonathan Roseland, another YouTube that recently had their channel "Limitless Mindset" deleted] guessed his channel got flagged because he made videos about kratom, an opioid-like substance that has been linked to deaths and is coming under increased government regulation. Other kratom videos have apparently been removed. But Ballow said he's never posted a video about kratom, and a search for "kratom" on YouTube pulls up countless results, including reviews. Similarly, searching for nootropics, magnesium, aniracetam, oxiracetam, and Modafinil showed no shortage of videos, including reviews. It's hard to know why the channels were removed since YouTube declined to clarify specifics with the creators and did not respond to a request for comment. YouTube allows creators to appeal enforcement decisions, but Ballow's appeal was rejected. The rejection notice did not clearly state which guidelines were violated, but it pointed to another potential violation. YouTube "included a paragraph that states that if the sole purpose of your YouTube videos is to drive people off of the platform, said videos break the rules," Ballow said. He interpreted this to mean the fact that his videos directed viewers to other websites to buy products.

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The Smithsonian's New Tour Guide Is a Robot
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '18 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's welcome-to-the-future department:
Last week, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, revealed its new employee -- an interactive robot named Pepper. According to Softbank, the company that created the 4-foot-tall humanoid robot, Pepper will help guide museum visitors through the museum and provide insight on different exhibits. CNET reports: Pepper is programmed to answer commonly asked questions and tell stories. The robot can react and make gestures, and is equipped with an interactive touch screen. To entertain museum visitors, Pepper often dances and poses for selfies, which will undoubtably attract a crowd. In each of the different museum branches, the Pepper robots perform different docent duties. For example, at the National Museum of African Art, Pepper can translate phrases in the Kiswahili (Swahili) language. At the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Pepper robots guide visitors to the Rosa Parks VR experience. Pepper robots are also programmed to teach visiting students coding and software engineering in the Smithsonian's teen educational space ARTLAB+.

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Calcium-Based MRI Sensor Enables More Sensitive Brain Imaging
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '18 at 08:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MIT News: MIT neuroscientists have developed a new magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) sensor that allows them to monitor neural activity deep within the brain by tracking calcium ions. Because calcium ions are directly linked to neuronal firing -- unlike the changes in blood flow detected by other types of MRI, which provide an indirect signal -- this new type of sensing could allow researchers to link specific brain functions to their pattern of neuron activity, and to determine how distant brain regions communicate with each other during particular tasks. In tests in rats, the researchers showed that their calcium sensor can accurately detect changes in neural activity induced by chemical or electrical stimulation, deep within a part of the brain called the striatum.

The new sensor consists of two types of particles that cluster together in the presence of calcium. One is a naturally occurring calcium-binding protein called synaptotagmin, and the other is a magnetic iron oxide nanoparticle coated in a lipid that can also bind to synaptotagmin, but only when calcium is present. Calcium binding induces these particles to clump together, making them appear darker in an MRI image. High levels of calcium outside the neurons correlate with low neuron activity; when calcium concentrations drop, it means neurons in that area are firing electrical impulses. The current version of the sensor responds within a few seconds of the initial brain stimulation, but the researchers are working on speeding that up. They are also trying to modify the sensor so that it can spread throughout a larger region of the brain and pass through the blood-brain barrier, which would make it possible to deliver the particles without injecting them directly to the test site.

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Russia Launches Floating Nuclear Power Plant That's Head To the Arctic
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '18 at 07:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ready-or-not-here-I-come department:
Russia's state nuclear corporation Rosatom launched a massive floating nuclear power plant over the weekend. It's the first nuclear power plant of its kind and it's headed to an Arctic port, reports NPR. From the report: Called the Akademik Lomonosov, the floating power plant is being towed at a creeping pace out of St. Petersburg, where it was built over the last nine years. It will eventually be brought northward, to Murmansk -- where its two nuclear reactors will be loaded with nuclear fuel and started up this fall. From there, the power plant will be pulled to a mooring berth in the Arctic port of Pevek, in far northeast Russia. There, it will be wired into the infrastructure so it can replace an existing nuclear power installment on land. Russian officials say the mandate of the Akademik Lomonoso is to supply energy to remote industrial plants and port cities, and to offshore gas and oil platforms.

It will take more than a year for the power plant to reach its new home port. The original plan had called for fueling the floating plant before it began that journey, at the shipyard in central St. Petersburg -- but that was scuttled last summer, after concerns were raised both in Russia and in countries along the power plant's route through the Baltic Sea and north to the Arctic. "The nuclear power plant has two KLT-40S reactor units that can generate up to 70 MW of electric energy and 50 Gcal/hr of heat energy during its normal operation," Rosatom said. "This is enough to keep the activity of the town populated with 100,000 people."

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Amazon Web Services Starts Blocking Domain-Fronting
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '18 at 05:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-can-play-that-game department:
Earlier this month, Google announced it is discontinuing domain fronting, a practice that lets developers disguise their traffic to evade network blocks. Now, Amazon Web Services has announced a similar move to implement a new set of enhanced domain protections specifically designed to stop domain fronting. The Verge reports: In the post, Amazon characterized the change as an effort to stamp out malware. "Tools including malware can use this technique between completely unrelated domains to evade restrictions and blocks that can be imposed at the TLS/SSL layer," the post explained. "No customer ever wants to find that someone else is masquerading as their innocent, ordinary domain." Domain-fronting works by using major cloud providers as a kind of proxy, making a data request seem like it's heading to a major service like Google or Amazon only to be forwarded along to a third party once it reaches the broader internet. Unfortunately for circumvention tools, neither Amazon nor Google will let them pull that trick anymore. Amazon will still allow domain fronting within domains owned by the same customer (or more specifically, listed under the same SSL certificate), but customers can no longer use the technique to disguise where data is going, making it far less useful for blocked apps.

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AI Is Being Used To Predict Gambling Behavior
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '18 at 05:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's connecting-the-dots department:
"The gambling industry is increasingly using artificial intelligence to predict consumer habits and personalize promotions to keep gamblers hooked," reports The Guardian, citing industry insiders. "Current and former gambling industry employees have described how people's betting habits are scrutinized and modeled to manipulate their future behavior." From the report: Publicly, gambling executives boast of increasingly sophisticated advertising keeping people betting, while privately conceding that some are more susceptible to gambling addiction when bombarded with these type of bespoke ads and incentives. Gamblers' every click, page view and transaction is scientifically examined so that ads statistically more likely to work can be pushed through Google, Facebook and other platforms. Users unwittingly consent to the use of their data in ways they aren't aware of due to lengthy terms and conditions, enabling their information to legally be used in this way. Last August, the Guardian revealed the gambling industry uses third-party companies to harvest people's data, helping bookmakers and online casinos target people on low incomes and those who have stopped gambling. Despite condemnation from MPs, experts and campaigners, such practices remain an industry norm.

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New Audacious Research Project, In Codice Ratio, Bets on AI and OCR To Make Sense of Handwritten Texts in Vatican's Secret Archives
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '18 at 05:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
A new project untangles the handwritten texts in one of the world's largest historical collections. From a report: The Vatican Secret Archives is one of the grandest historical collections in the world. It's also one of the most useless. The grandeur is obvious. Located within the Vatican's walls, next door to the Apostolic Library and just north of the Sistine Chapel, the VSA houses 53 linear miles of shelving dating back more than 12 centuries. That said, the VSA isn't much use to modern scholars, because it's so inaccessible. Of those 53 miles, just a few millimeters' worth of pages have been scanned and made available online. Even fewer pages have been transcribed into computer text and made searchable. If you want to peruse anything else, you have to apply for special access, schlep all the way to Rome, and go through every page by hand. But a new project could change all that. Known as In Codice Ratio, it uses a combination of artificial intelligence and optical-character-recognition (OCR) software to scour these neglected texts and make their transcripts available for the very first time. If successful, the technology could also open up untold numbers of other documents at historical archives around the world.

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Volkswagen, Audi Cars Vulnerable To Remote Hacking
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '18 at 04:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's remote-control department:
An anonymous reader writes: "A Dutch cyber-security firm has discovered that in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) systems deployed with some car models from the Volkswagen Group are vulnerable to remote hacking," reports Bleeping Computer. The vulnerabilities have been successfully tested and verified on Volkswagen Golf GTE and Audi A3 Sportback e-tron models. Researchers say they were able to hack the cars via both WiFi (remote vector) and USB (local vector) connections. Researchers hinted they could have also went after the cars' braking and acceleration system, but stopped due to fear of breaking VW's intellectual property on those systems. "Under certain conditions attackers could listen in to conversations the driver is conducting via a car kit, turn the microphone on and off, as well as gaining access to the complete address book and the conversation history," Computest researchers said in their paper. "Furthermore, due to the vulnerability, there is the possibility of discovering through the navigation system precisely where the driver has been, and to follow the car live wherever it is at any given time," researchers added. VW deployed patches.

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Will the T-Mobile, Sprint Merger Be Bad For Consumers?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '18 at 03:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
On Sunday, T-Mobile and Sprint said that they have agreed to a $26.5 billion merger, creating a wireless giant to compete against industry leaders AT&T and Verizon. While a new website has been set up by the companies to help quell consumers' and regulators' fears by promising new jobs, improved broadband service, and increased competition, Motherboard's Karl Bode cites previous telecommunications mergers and Wall Street analysts to argue against the merger. From the report: The two companies attempted to merge in 2014 but had their efforts blocked by regulators who were justly worried about the deal's impact on overall competition. As Canadian wireless users can attest, the reduction of major wireless competitors from four to three only reduces the overall incentive for wireless carriers to engage in real price competition. That was the central point repeatedly made by regulators when they prohibited AT&T from gobbling up T-Mobile back in 2011. Even with four competitors, the industry frequently does its best to avoid genuine price competition, and industry watchers have noted that the overall volume of quality promotions for wireless consumers had been dropping so far in 2018. After regulators blocked the AT&T merger, T-Mobile wound up being a largely positive impact on the sector, forcing its competitors to adopt more consumer-friendly policies like eliminating long-term contracts and early termination fees. However, even with T-Mobile intact, price competition in the sector tends to be theatrical in nature.

< article continued at Slashdot's he-said-she-said department >

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Facebook Is Investigating a Claim That an Employee Used His Position To Stalk Women
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '18 at 03:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's god-mode department:
Facebook is investigating a claim that an employee potentially used access granted by their job to stalk women online, the social media giant confirmed in a statement to Motherboard on Monday. From the report: "Although we can't comment on any individual personnel matters, we are aware of the situation and investigating," a Facebook spokesperson wrote in an email. The claim came from Jackie Stokes, founder of Spyglass Security, in a tweet posted Monday. "I've been made aware that a security engineer currently employed at Facebook is likely using privileged access to stalk women online. I have Tinder logs. What should I do with this information?" Stokes' tweet read. In a follow-up tweet, Stokes wrote multiple senior Facebook employees had reached out over the claim. Stokes told Motherboard in a Twitter direct message that she provided the relevant details to Alex Stamos, Facebook's chief security officer.

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Chinese Government Admits Collection of Deleted WeChat Messages
Posted by News Fetcher on April 30 '18 at 01:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's questionable-data-collection-tactics department:
The South China Morning Post reported over the weekend that Chinese authorities have the capability of retrieving deleted messages from the WeChat app. The newspaper noted that an anti-corruption commission in Hefei province posted Saturday to social media that it has "retrieved a series of deleted WeChat conversations from a subject" as part of an investigation. TechCrunch reports: The post was deleted Sunday, but not before many had seen it and understood the ramifications. Tencent, which operates the WeChat service used by nearly a billion people (including myself), explained in a statement that "WeChat does not store any chat histories -- they are only stored on users' phones and computers." The technical details of this storage were not disclosed, but it seems clear from the commission's post that they are accessible in some way to interested authorities, as many have suspected for years. The app does, of course, comply with other government requirements, such as censoring certain topics.

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