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Federal Judge Rules Against Trump Administration on 3-D Gun Blueprint Case
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
A federal judge on Monday issued a preliminary injunction continuing a prohibition on the Trump administration proposal to make available blueprints for so-called ghost guns, untraceable weapons that can be manufactured on a 3-D printer, California Atty. Gen. Xavier Becerra said. From a report: California was one of 20 states led by Washington that won the decision from U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik in Seattle. The injunction extends a ruling last month that barred the Trump administration from taking steps that would allow the firm Defense Distributed to disseminate 3-D gun blueprints. "When the Trump Administration inexplicably gave the green light to distribute on the internet blueprints of 3D-printed, untraceable ghost guns, it needlessly endangered our children, our loved ones and our men and women in law enforcement," Becerra said in a statement. "The Trump Administration's actions were dangerous and incompetent."

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Raspberry Pi's PoE HAT Ships For $20, Tosses in a Free Fan
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's gizmo-updates department:
Raspberry Pi is offering a Power-over-Ethernet HAT board for the RPi 3 Model B+ for $20 that ships with a small fan. Per blog LinuxGizmo, the "802.3af-compliant 'Raspberry Pi PoE HAT' allows delivery of up to 15W over the RPi 3 B+'s USB-based GbE port without reducing the port's up to 300Mbps bandwidth." From the report: The Raspberry Pi PoE HAT features a fully isolated switched-mode power supply with 37-57V DC, Class 2 input and 5V/2.5A DC output. The HAT connects to both the 40-pin header and a new PoE-specific 4-pin header introduced with the B+ located near the USB ports. To enable PoE, you need power sourcing equipment, which is either "provided by your network switch or with power injectors on an Ethernet cable," writes the foundation in a blog post.

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Ubuntu and CentOS Are Undoing a GNOME Security Feature
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 10:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department:
An anonymous reader writes: Current versions of Ubuntu and CentOS are disabling a security feature that was added to the GNOME desktop environment last year. The feature's name is Bubblewrap, which is a sandbox environment that the GNOME Project added to secure GNOME's thumbnail parsers in July 2017, with the release of GNOME 3.26. In recent years, security researchers have proven that thumbnail parses can be an attack vector [1, 2, 3]. Ubuntu Security Tech Lead Alex Murray said the Ubuntu team chose to disable Bubblewrap inside Ubuntu because they did not have the time to perform a security audit. Murray blamed the many CPU bugs (Spectre, Meltdown, etc.), which kept the team busy and prevented them to audit the feature.

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Smart Tags Add Touch Controls To Ordinary Objects
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 10:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's technical-workarounds department:
The idea of an inexpensive tag capable of transforming any object into a smart device is not necessarily new. But most cheap smart tags that lack batteries or complicated electronics can only perform simple functions, such as passively storing and sharing identifying information about an object. A new technology promises to change that. From a report: By comparison, new LiveTag technology allows for interactive controls or keypads that can stick onto objects, walls, or even clothing, and let people remotely operate music players or receive hydration reminders based on the amount of liquid remaining in a water bottle. "These tags can sense the status of everyday objects and humans, and also sense human interactions with plain everyday objects," says Xinyu Zhang, assistant professor in electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, San Diego. Zhang and his colleagues at the University of Wisconsin -- Madison developed the LiveTag technology after brainstorming about ways to easily incorporate ordinary objects into the Internet of Things without adding costly hardware and batteries. Their LiveTag designs and early prototypes are detailed in a paper [PDF] posted on the University of Wisconsin website. The basic LiveTag technology seems deceptively simple: copper foil printed onto lightweight paper-like materials without any batteries or discrete electronic components. The key is in the geometric copper foil patterns that are designed to absorb Wi-Fi signals of specific frequencies, even as the overall tag generally reflects 2.4/5 GHz signals from nearby Wi-Fi device transmitters.

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Scientists Warn the UN of Capitalism's Imminent Demise
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 09:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Capitalism as we know it is over. So suggests a new report commissioned by a group of scientists appointed by the UN Secretary-General. From a report: The main reason? We're transitioning rapidly to a radically different global economy, due to our increasingly unsustainable exploitation of the planet's environmental resources. Climate change and species extinctions are accelerating even as societies are experiencing rising inequality, unemployment, slow economic growth, rising debt levels, and impotent governments. Contrary to the way policymakers usually think about these problems, the new report says that these are not really separate crises at all. Rather, these crises are part of the same fundamental transition to a new era characterized by inefficient fossil fuel production and the escalating costs of climate change. Conventional capitalist economic thinking can no longer explain, predict, or solve the workings of the global economy in this new age, the paper says [PDF].

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'Irresponsible' Google Refused Fortnite's Request To Delay Vulnerability Disclosure To Score Cheap PR Points, Says Epic's Chief
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 09:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's man-yells-at-cloud department:
The leader of the firm behind the hit game Fortnite has accused Google of being "irresponsible" in the way it revealed a flaw affecting the Android version of the title. BBC, with additional input from Slashdot staff: On Friday, Google made public that hackers could hijack the game's installation software to load malware. The installer is needed because Epic Games has bypassed Google's app store to avoid giving it a cut of sales. Epic's chief executive said Google should have delayed sharing the news. "Android is an open platform. We released software for it. When Google identified a security flaw, we worked around the clock (literally) to fix it and release an update. The only irresponsible thing here is Google's rapid public release of technical details," he said. "We asked Google to hold the disclosure until the update was more widely installed," tweeted Tim Sweeney. "They refused, creating an unnecessary risk for Android users in order to score cheap PR points."

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Does Google Actually Make Us Dumber?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 08:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's an-exploration department:
Another spate of high-profile and provocative psychology studies have failed to replicate, dealing blows to the theories that fiction makes readers empathetic, for example, or that the internet makes us dumber. From a report: At a time when psychology researchers are increasingly concerned about the rigor of their field, five laboratories set out to repeat 21 influential studies. Experiments in just 13 of those papers -- or 62% -- held up, according to an analysis published Monday. The eight papers that did not fully replicate -- seven in Science, one in Nature -- have been cited hundreds of times in scientific literature and many were widely covered by the media. Failing to replicate isn't definitive proof that a finding is false, particularly in cases where other studies support the same general idea. And some scientists told BuzzFeed News they do not agree with how the replications were done. Still, the new findings are part of an overwhelming, and troubling, trend. The so-called reproducibility crisis has hit research in many fields of science, from artificial intelligence to cancer. Shoddy psychology research has received the most attention, with a 2015 report replicating just 36% of 97 studies. It makes sense that scientists want to publish data that is surprising or counterintuitive. "That's not a bad thing in science, because that's how science breaks boundaries," said Brian Nosek, a University of Virginia psychologist and executive director of the Center for Open Science, which led the replication project. But too few scientists, he said, recognize the inherent uncertainty of their splashy results. "It's okay if some of those turn out to be wrong," he said.

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Tech Industry Pursues a Federal Privacy Law, on Its Own Terms
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 08:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's finding-a-middle-ground department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: In recent months, Facebook, Google, IBM, Microsoft and others have aggressively lobbied officials in the Trump administration and elsewhere to start outlining a federal privacy law, according to administration officials and the companies. The law would have a dual purpose, they said: It would overrule the California law and instead put into place a kinder set of rules that would give the companies wide leeway over how personal digital information was handled. "We are committed to being part of the process and a constructive part of the process," said Dean Garfield, president of a leading tech industry lobbying group, the Information Technology Industry Council, which is working on proposals for the federal law. "The best way is to work toward developing our own blueprint." The efforts could set up a big fight with consumer and privacy groups, especially as companies like Facebook face scrutiny for mishandling users' personal data. Many of the internet companies depend on the collection and analysis of such data to help them target the online ads that generate the bulk of their revenue.

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Microsoft Announces Xbox All Access
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's subscription-model,-ftw department:
Microsoft today confirmed the rumors: Xbox All Access is a new subscription offering that ties a console to Xbox Live Gold and Xbox Game Pass for two years. From a report: "For no upfront cost and one low monthly price for 24 months, Xbox All Access gets you a new Xbox One S or Xbox One X, access to more than 100 great games through Xbox Game Pass, and online multiplayer with Xbox Live Gold," Microsoft's Bogdan Bilan explains. "That's more than 100 all-you-can-play games -- including highly-anticipated new Xbox One exclusives the day they're released, plus more games added all the time on the fastest, most reliable gaming network and an Xbox One console." As previously reported, Xbox All Access is available only in the United States and will cost $22 or $35 per month, depending on whether you choose an Xbox One S or Xbox One X console.

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Apple To Launch Three New iPhone Models Next Month, Report Says
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's show-me-the-money department:
Next month, Apple plans to introduce three new phones in September -- an updated iPhone X, a bigger phone and a successor to the iPhone 8 with the iPhone X design, Bloomberg reports. The updated iPhone X could be considered as an "S upgrade" with a better system-on-a-chip and better cameras. The phone itself could look exactly the same as the iPhone X you can buy today. From the report: There'll be a new high-end iPhone, internally dubbed D33, with a display that measures about 6.5-inch diagonally, according to the people familiar with the matter. That would make it the largest iPhone by far and one of the biggest mainstream phones on the market. It will continue to have a glass back with stainless steel edges and dual cameras on the back. The big difference on the software side will be the ability to view content side-by-side in apps like Mail and Calendar. It will be Apple's second phone with a crisper organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, screen. [...] Apple also plans an upgrade to the current iPhone X with a 5.8-inch OLED screen, which is internally dubbed D32, the people said. The main changes to the new OLED iPhones will be to processing speed and the camera, according to the people familiar with the devices. [...] Perhaps the most significant phone will be a new, cheaper device destined to replace the iPhone 8. Codenamed N84, it will look like the iPhone X, but include a larger near 6.1-inch screen, come in multiple colors, and sport aluminum edges instead of the iPhone X's stainless steel casing. It will also have a cheaper LCD screen instead of an OLED panel to keep costs down. The cheaper version's aluminum edges won't necessarily be the same color as the colored glass back, simplifying production, one person familiar with the matter said.

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Magic Leap is a Tragic Heap, Says Oculus Cofounder
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 04:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's didn't-like-it department:
Palmer Luckey, the co-founder of Oculus, has something to say about the competing Magic Leap gear. He writes: The title of this review was carefully chosen, not glibly. I want what is best for VR and all other technologies on the Reality-Virtuality Continuum, Magic Leap included. Unfortunately, their current offering is a tragedy in the classical sense, even more so when you consider how their massive funding and carefully crafted hype sucked all the air out of the room in the AR space. It is less of a functional developer kit and more of a flashy hype vehicle that almost nobody can actually use in a meaningful way, and many of their design decisions seem to be driven by that reality. It does not deliver on almost any of the promises that allowed them to monopolize funding in the AR investment community.

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Why Don't We Care About The Rotten Tomatoes Scores Of TV Shows?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 27 '18 at 12:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's an-exploration department:
Why do we never utter sentences like "'Cobra Kai' has been certified 100% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes?" or "'Stranger Things'" was rated 8.9 out of 10 on IMDb"? It's not because the reviews of TV shows aren't aggregated by these websites -- they are. Contrary to what you might think of IMDb, given that its name is Internet Movie Database, TV shows also occupy an essential, if relatively smaller, place than movies there. And the same thing goes for Rotten Tomatoes. An exploration: So if the lack of availability of TV rating sites isn't the issue, why is it that we hardly use critical or audience scores as a way to measure the quality of a TV show to our peers? Here are a few of my theories: There Are Too Many Good Shows Out There It's an odd dilemma to have, but it's true that when it comes to TV shows, there are so many high-quality programs for us to consume. People have been talking about Peak TV for a few years now, and a quick scroll through Rotten Tomatoes' website would seem to confirm that we've been offered an embarrassment of riches. [...] The Price Of Admission Is Higher For Movies Another reason why viewers might care less about a TV show's critical scores than a film's might be the high price of moviegoing. Tickets in metropolitan areas in the US can be extremely expensive, costing up to $25.49 if you're going for an IMAX screening in New York City unless you're subscribed to a service like Moviepass or AMC's new subscription program. Networks And Platforms Market Emmys More Than Critical Scores Compared to critical scores on review websites, networks and platforms seem to place more stock on the Emmys when it comes to the marketing of TV shows. Despite the fact that the Emmy, arguably the best TV award, might not offer shows as big of a ratings boost as it did decades ago, the awards still play a crucial part in helping create social buzz around television shows, especially for shows with smaller audiences.

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India's Biometric Database Is Creating A Perfect Surveillance State -- And U.S. Tech Companies Are On Board
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '18 at 08:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's aggressive-expansion department:
Big U.S. technology companies are involved in the construction of one of the most intrusive citizen surveillance programs in history, HuffingtonPost notes in a new report. From the story: For the past nine years, India has been building the world's biggest biometric database by collecting the fingerprints, iris scans and photos of nearly 1.3 billion people. For U.S. tech companies like Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook, the project, called Aadhaar (which means "proof" or "basis" in Hindi), could be a gold mine. The CEO of Microsoft has repeatedly praised the project, and local media have carried frequent reports on consultations between the Indian government and senior executives from companies like Apple and Google (in addition to South Korean-based Samsung) on how to make tech products Aadhaar-enabled. But when reporters of HuffPost and HuffPost India asked these companies in the past weeks to confirm they were integrating Aadhaar into their products, only one company -- Google -- gave a definitive response. That's because Aadhaar has become deeply controversial, and the subject of a major Supreme Court of India case that will decide the future of the program as early as this month. Launched nine years ago as a simple and revolutionary way to streamline access to welfare programs for India's poor, the database has become Indians' gateway to nearly any type of service -- from food stamps to a passport or a cell phone connection. Practical errors in the system have caused millions of poor Indians to lose out on aid. And the exponential growth of the project has sparked concerns among security researchers and academics that India is the first step toward setting up a surveillance society to rival China.

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Linux 4.19 Preparing Better CPU Security Mitigations, New EROFS File-System
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '18 at 05:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department:
An anonymous reader writes: Linus Torvalds released on Sunday Linux 4.19-rc1 that he describes as a "fairly frustrating merge window" following the new features landing over the past two weeks. What does this "pretty big release" offer? Phoronix's Linux 4.19 feature overview sheds light on more Spectre CPU mitigations for x86/POWER/s390, the new EROFS read-only Android file-system, a Raspberry Pi voltage driver, ThinkPad calculator key support, an in-kernel GPS subsystem, the Google GASKET driver framework, virtual kernel mode-setting, Qualcomm Adreno 600 series support, and many other improvements.

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Six To Eight Hours of Sleep Best For the Heart, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '18 at 04:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's unravelling-mysteries department:
Research shows sleep deprivation or excessive hours in bed increase risk of coronary artery disease or stroke. From a report: Six to eight hours of sleep a night is most beneficial for the heart, while more or less than that could increase the risk of coronary artery disease or a stroke, researchers have suggested. The study, presented at the European Society of Cardiology Congress in Munich, indicates sleep deprivation and excessive hours in bed should be avoided for optimum heart health. The study's author, Dr Epameinondas Fountas of the Onassis cardiac surgery centre in Athens, said: "Our findings suggest that too much or too little sleep may be bad for the heart. More research is needed to clarify exactly why, but we do know that sleep influences biological processes like glucose metabolism, blood pressure, and inflammations -- all of which have an impact on cardiovascular disease." Data from more than a million adults from 11 studies was analysed as part of the research. Compared with adults who got six to eight hours of sleep a night, "short sleepers" had an 11% greater risk, while "long sleepers" had 33% increased risk over the next nine years.

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Sea Level Rise Already Causing Billions in Home Value To Disappear
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '18 at 02:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's impact-analysis department:
Sea level rise may seem like a far-off threat, but a growing number of new studies, including one out this week, shows that real estate markets have already started responding to increased flooding risks by reducing prices of vulnerable homes. From a report: According to a new report by the nonprofit First Street Foundation, housing values in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut dropped $6.7 billion from 2005 to 2017 due to flooding related to sea level rise. Combined with their prior analysis of 5 southeastern coastal states with $7.4 billion in lost home value, the total loss in 8 states since 2005 has been $14.1 billion. A recent slew of studies show how the housing market is responding to the increasing risk of coastal flooding -- with billions in value disappearing as investors wake up to the systemic risk.

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It's Not Technology That's Disrupting Our Jobs
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '18 at 01:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The history of labor shows that technology does not usually drive social change, argues Louis Hyman, director of the Institute for Workplace Studies at the ILR School at Cornell. On the contrary, social change is typically driven by decisions we make about how to organize our world. Only later does technology swoop in, accelerating and consolidating those changes. From a report: This insight is crucial for anyone concerned about the insecurity and other shortcomings of the gig economy. For it reminds us that far from being an unavoidable consequence of technological progress, the nature of work always remains a matter of social choice. It is not a result of an algorithm; it is a collection of decisions by corporations and policymakers. Consider the Industrial Revolution. Well before it took place, in the 19th century, another revolution in work occurred in the 18th century, which historians call the "industrious revolution." Before this revolution, people worked where they lived, perhaps at a farm or a shop. The manufacturing of textiles, for example, relied on networks of independent farmers who spun fibers and wove cloth. They worked on their own; they were not employees. In the industrious revolution, however, manufacturers gathered workers under one roof, where the labor could be divided and supervised. For the first time on a large scale, home life and work life were separated. People no longer controlled how they worked, and they received a wage instead of sharing directly in the profits of their efforts. This was a necessary precondition for the Industrial Revolution. While factory technology would consolidate this development, the creation of factory technology was possible only because people's relationship to work had already changed. A power loom would have served no purpose for networks of farmers making cloth at home. The same goes for today's digital revolution.

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Mass Shooting Reported at Madden Video Game Tournament in Florida
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '18 at 12:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's breaking-news department:
Multiple people on live streams and social media reported a mass shooting at a Madden NFL 19 tournament in Jacksonville, Florida, this morning. The Jacksonville County Sheriff's Office confirmed that law enforcement was en route to the scene but had no further information early this afternoon. From a report: In the video, two competitors are playing when someone starts screaming off camera. As the first of nine shots break out, they abandon their stations and others are heard fleeing. Then a man is heard crying out, "What did he shoot me with?" Three more shots are fired and screaming can be heard. This weekend at Jacksonville Landing downtown was the first of four qualifier events for the Madden Classic series sponsored by EA Sports. CNN: "Multiple fatalities at the scene, many transported. #TheLandingMassShooting," according to Jacksonville Sheriff's twitter page, which urged people to "stay far away from the area" as the area is not safe at this time. "One suspect is dead at the scene, unknown at this time if we have a second suspect. Searches are being conducted," according to another tweet from the sheriff's office In a statement issued moments ago, EA Sports Madden NFL said, "This is a horrible situation, and our deepest sympathies go out to all involved." Top competitor Drini Gjoka, who was at the event and reported the terrifying scene, said, "The tourney just got shot up. Im leavinng and never coming back. I am literally so lucky. The bullet hit my thumb. I will never take anything for granted ever again. Life can be cut short in a second. Update: LA Times reports that the shooter was a gamer who was competing in the tournament and lost, according to Steven "Steveyj" Javaruski, one of the competitors.

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Smartphones From 11 OEMs, Including Google, Samsung, HTC, Lenovo and Sony, Vulnerable To Attacks Via Hidden AT Commands
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
An anonymous reader writes: In massive and groundbreaking research, a team of eleven scientists from the University of Florida, Stony Brook University, and Samsung Research America, have looked into what types of AT commands, or the Hayes command set, are currently supported on modern Android devices. The research team analyzed over 2,000 Android firmware images from eleven Android OEMs such as ASUS, Google, HTC, Huawei, Lenovo, LG, LineageOS, Motorola, Samsung, Sony, and ZTE. They say they discovered that these devices support over 3,500 different types of AT commands, some of which grant access to very dangerous functions. These AT commands are all exposed via the phone's USB interface, meaning an attacker would have to either gain access to a user's device, or hide a malicious component inside USB docks, chargers, or charging stations. Once an attacker is connected via the USB to a target's phone, s/he can use one of the phone's secret AT commands to rewrite device firmware, bypass Android security mechanisms, exfiltrate sensitive device information, perform screen unlocks, or even inject touch events solely through the use of AT commands.

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Google Home Outships Amazon Echo for Second Quarter in Row
Posted by News Fetcher on August 26 '18 at 10:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's no-longer-a-dominant department:
According to the research firm Canalys, Google shipped 5.4 million Google Home speakers in the quarter, compared to 4.1 million for Echo. It's the second quarter in a row that Echo took a backseat to Google. From a report: Things have changed dramatically from the year ago figures. Then, Amazon had an 82% market share of the connected speaker market, to Google's 17%. For the second quarter of this year, Google leads with 32% share and a 449 percent growth, to 24.5% for Amazon. What's behind the turnaround? Voicebot.ai, a newsletter that tracks the connected speaker market, chalks it up to Google having more languages available in international markets for the Google Home speaker than Amazon does for Echo, so Google is available in more countries. And growth is coming from global. Only 16% of the new volume growth came from the U.S. in Q2 2018, says Canalys.

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