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Ambitious Augmented Reality Startup Doppler Labs Shuts Down
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's here-and-now department:
Wired reports that Doppler Labs, the company behind Here One smart earbuds, has announced that it's shutting down all operations today. The Verge reports: Founded in 2013, Doppler Labs debuted the prototype of its Here Active Listening System two years later in 2015. The battery-powered earbuds, according to Doppler Labs founder and CEO Noah Kraft, were built to enhance sound in the world around you. By using the accompanying app, users could, in theory, apply any manner of EQ settings that did everything from reduce overwhelming bass frequencies at a concert to dim the midrange chatter of co-workers while in an office. Kraft's vision for Doppler's future was an compelling idea -- "we want to put a computer, speaker, and mic in everyone's ear" -- but the Here Active Listening System was met with mixed reviews. In 2016, the company announced a new version of the earbuds, now called Here One. Dubbed "augmented reality earbuds," these earbuds allowed for streaming audio via Bluetooth, combined with the sound-enhancement tools seen in the Here Active Listening System. It seemed to offer the best of both worlds: a way to not only blend music or content playing in-ear with ambient noise, but the ability to adjust that ambient noise as well. Unfortunately, in bringing Here One to market the company was met with a raft of problems. According to Wired, a manufacturer change pushed production delivery from the fall 2016 to February 2017. There was also bad news on the battery front. The company hoped to offer 4.5 hours of battery life using augmented hearing and three hours of music streaming, but the unit's Bluetooth chip wound up diminishing those expectations.

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CIA Releases 321GB of Bin Laden's Digital Library
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's web-cache-crap department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Today, the Central Intelligence Agency posted a cache of files obtained from Osama Bin Laden's personal computer and other devices recovered from his compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan by Navy SEALs during the raid in which he was killed on May 2, 2011. The 470,000 files, 321 gigabytes in all, include documents, images, videos, and audio recordings, including Al Qaeda propaganda and planning documents, home videos of Bin Laden's son Hazma, and "drafts" of propaganda videos. There is also a lot of digital junk among the files.

The CIA site presents a raft of warnings about the content of the downloads: "The material in this file collection may contain content that is offensive and/or emotionally disturbing. This material may not be suitable for all ages. Please view it with discretion. Prior to accessing this file collection, please understand that this material was seized from a terrorist organization. While the files underwent interagency review, there is no absolute guarantee that all malware has been removed."

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Government Won't Pursue Talking Car Mandate
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 02:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
An anonymous reader shares an AP report: The Trump administration has quietly set aside plans to require new cars to be able to wirelessly talk to each other, auto industry officials said, jeopardizing one of the most promising technologies for preventing traffic deaths. The Obama administration proposed last December that all new cars and light trucks come equipped with technology known as vehicle-to-vehicle communications, or V2V. It would enable vehicles to transmit their location, speed, direction and other information 10 times per second. That lets cars detect, for example, when another vehicle is about to run a red light or coming around a blind turn in time to prevent a crash. The administration has decided not to pursue a final V2V mandate, said two auto industry officials who have spoken with White House and Transportation Department officials and two others whose organizations have spoken to the administration.

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CBS Sues Man For Copyright Over Screenshots of 59-year-old TV Show
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 02:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's back-at-you department:
CBS has sued a photographer for copyright infringement for publishing a still image from a 59-year-old television show. From a report: The lawsuit against New York photojournalist Jon Tannen, filed on Friday, is essentially a retaliatory strike. Tannen sued CBS Interactive in February, claiming that the online division of CBS had used two of his photographs without permission. Now, CBS has sued Tannen back, claiming that he "hypocritically" used CBS' intellectual property "while simultaneously bringing suit against Plaintiff's sister company, CBS Interactive Inc., claiming it had violated his own copyright." "Without any license or authorization from Plaintiff, Defendant has copied and published via social media platforms images copied from the Dooley Surrenders episode of GUNSMOKE," write CBS lawyers. CBS is asking for $150,000 in damages for willful infringement.

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A Japanese Company Is Giving Nonsmokers Longer Vacations
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 01:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-moves department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Marketing firm Piala introduced the new policy in September after nonsmokers complained that they were working more than their colleagues who smoked. The company's offices are reportedly on the 29th floor, meaning that popping out for a smoke break meant a solid 15 minutes away from work. Multiply that by several smoke breaks a day, and the hours start to add up, which began to tick off nonsmoking coworkers. A spokesman for the company told The Telegraph that one of those nonsmokers slipped a note in the company's suggestion box and the CEO agreed. Now nonsmokers are entitled to more vacation time, which the company hopes will encourage smokers to quit their filthy habit.

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LastPass Reveals the Threats Posed By Passwords in the Workplace
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 01:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
A reader shares a BetaNews report: A new report by LastPass -- The Password Expose -- reveals the threats posed, and the opportunities presented, by employee passwords. The report starts by pointing out that while nearly everyone (91 percent) knows that it is dangerous to reuse passwords -- with 81 percent of data breaches attributable to "weak, reused, or stolen passwords," more than half (61 percent) do reuse passwords. But the real purpose of the report is to "reveal the true gap between what IT thinks, and what's really happening." Jumping straight into the number, the report says that even in a 250-employee company, there are an average of 53,250 passwords in use -- a near-impossible number to keep track of and to know the strength of. LastPass found that people have nearly 200 passwords to remember, so it's little wonder that password reuse is an issue.

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Facebook, Twitter and Google Berated by Senators on Russia
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 11:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
From a BBC report: Russian operatives, likely working from St Petersburg, provoked angry Americans to take to the streets, a US Senate committee heard on Wednesday. The May 2016 protest, arranged by a group named Heart of Texas, was one example of Kremlin-backed efforts to destabilise the American electoral process. Lawyers for three technology companies -- Facebook, Twitter and Google -- were told they were grossly underestimating the scale of the problem. "You just don't get it," said California Senator Dianne Feinstein. "What we're talking about is a cataclysmic change. What we're talking about is the beginning of cyber-warfare." She added: "We are not going to go away, gentlemen. This is a very big deal." [...] Several senators suggested that more hearings and consultation would be needed, expressing their frustration that the companies were not being represented by higher-ranking executives. "I'm disappointed that you're here, and not your CEOs," said independent senator Angus King. From a FastCompany report: Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) had one specific and simple question for Facebook's Colin Stretch. He wanted to know about 30,000 fake accounts Facebook discovered earlier this year that were trying to influence the French election. At the time, Facebook bragged that it was able to discover these accounts and swiftly took them down. Warner wanted to know if Facebook, after discovering these accounts, cross-checked to see if these same accounts also tried to tamper with the U.S. election. "Your leadership bragged about how proactively you were in the French election process," said Warner, "Did you check those accounts [with the U.S. election]?" Stretch couldn't give a straight answer. "The system that ran to take down those accounts -- which were fake accounts of all type and any purpose -- is now active worldwide," he said. Warner wasn't amused. "Just answer my question," he said. "Have you reviewed the accounts you took down in France that were Russian-related to see if they played any role in the American election?" Once again, Facebook couldn't answer.

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Google Shuts Off Airline Booking Tool in Search
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 11:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department:
Google is pulling a software tool that let small companies access search information on airfares, a potential blow to online travel newcomers. From a report: Google's tool was opened in 2011 after its $700 million acquisition of ITA Software, an online airfare broker. In approving the deal, a federal judge required that Google keep an ITA flight search and pricing software, called QPX, accessible to third parties for at least five years. In 2014, Google created a cheaper version of the QPX software, called QPX Express, meant to target smaller companies and startups. Google shut that service down due to "low interest," according to a company spokeswoman. Google said it is keeping intact a version of the original software tool for corporate customers. Google used ITA's tool to create Google Flights, which aggregates airline prices directly inside its powerful search engine.

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Student Charged By FBI For Hacking His Grades More Than 90 times
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 10:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: In college, you can use your time to study. Or then again, you could perhaps rely on the Hand of God. And when I say "Hand of God," what I really mean is "keylogger." Think of it like the "Nimble Fingers of God." "Hand of God" (that makes sense) and "pineapple" (???) are two of the nicknames allegedly used to refer to keyloggers used by a former University of Iowa wrestler and student who was arrested last week on federal computer-hacking charges in a high-tech cheating scheme. According to the New York Times, Trevor Graves, 22, is accused in an FBI affidavit of working with an unnamed accomplice to secretly plug keyloggers into university computers in classrooms and in labs. The FBI says keyloggers allowed Graves to record whatever his professors typed, including credentials to log into university grading and email systems. Court documents allege that Graves intercepted exams and test questions in advance and repeatedly changed grades on tests, quizzes and homework assignments. This went on for 21 months -- between March 2015 and December 2016. The scheme was discovered when a professor noticed that a number of Graves' grades had been changed without her authorization. She reported it to campus IT security officials.

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Fewer Than 1 in 100,000 New Surface Devices Go Wrong, Microsoft Says
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 10:32 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's standing-by-things department:
A reader shares a ZDNet report: Microsoft has shaken off claims that its Surface range is unreliable and said that fewer than 1 in 100,000 of new Surface devices have gone wrong. The ratings service Consumer Reports raised a question mark over the reliability of the Surface line as a whole earlier this year. At the time, Consumer Reports surveyed 90,000 subscribers and found that 25 percent of Microsoft laptops and tablets will give owners problems by the end of the second year of ownership. Ryan Gavin, Microsoft's general manager for Surface, challenged the finding and said that the Surface devices are getting more reliable with each new generation. "One of the things you're seeing is the reliability of our products over time, with every generation getting better and better and better." Reliability issues among newer devices, such as the Surface Laptop and Studio, had been reported for only a fraction of devices, he said. "We're talking about incidents per device of less than 0.001%."

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Rise of the Machines Must Be Monitored, Say Global Finance Regulators
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 09:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's need-of-the-hour department:
A reader shares a report: Replacing bank and insurance workers with machines risks creating a dependency on outside technology companies beyond the reach of regulators, the global Financial Stability Board (FSB) said on Wednesday. The FSB, which coordinates financial regulation across the Group of 20 Economies (G20), said in its first report on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning that the risks they pose need monitoring. AI and machine learning refer to technology that is replacing traditional methods to assess the creditworthiness of customers, to crunch data, price insurance contracts and spot profitable trades across markets. There are no international regulatory standards for AI and machine learning, but the FSB left open whether new rules are needed.

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Android Oreo Bug Sends Thousands of Phones Into Infinite Boot Loops
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 09:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's bug-found department:
An anonymous reader writes: A bug in the new "Adaptive Icons" feature introduced in Android Oreo has sent thousands of phones into infinite boot loops, forcing some users to reset their devices to factory settings, causing users to lose data along the way. The bug was discovered by Jcbsera, the developer of the Swipe for Facebook Android app (energy-efficient Facebook wrapper app), and does not affect Android Oreo (8.0) in its default state. The bug occurs only with apps that use adaptive icons -- a new feature introduced in Android Oreo that allows icons to change shape and size based on the device they're viewed on, or the type of launcher the user is using on his Android device. For example, adaptive icons will appear in square, rounded, or circle containers depending on the theme or launcher the user is using. The style of adaptive icons is defined a local XML file. The bug first manifested itself when the developer of the Swipe for Facebook Android app accidentally renamed the foreground image of his adaptive icon with the same name as this XML file (ic_launcher_main.png and ic_launcher_main.xml). This naming scheme sends Android Oreo in an infinite loop that regularly crashes the device. At one point, Android detects something is wrong and prompts the user to reset the device to factory settings. Users don't have to open an app, and the crashes still happen just by having an app with malformed adaptive icons artifacts on your phone. Google said it will fix the issue in Android Oreo 8.1.

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'We Can't Compete': Universities Are Losing Their Best AI Scientists
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 07:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's brain-drain department:
The Guardian shares the story of a PhD student at Imperial College London who abruptly stopped coming to the facility, even as he had one-year of studies left. From the story: Eventually, the professor called him. He had left for a six-figure salary at Apple. "He was offered such a huge amount of money that he simply stopped everything and left," said Maja Pantic, professor of affective and behavioural computing at Imperial. "It's five times the salary I can offer. It's unbelievable. We cannot compete." It is not an isolated case, the report says. Adding: Across the country, talented computer scientists are being lured from academia by private sector offers that are hard to turn down. According to a Guardian survey of Britain's top ranking research universities, tech firms are hiring AI experts at a prodigious rate, fuelling a brain drain that has already hit research and teaching. One university executive warned of a "missing generation" of academics who would normally teach students and be the creative force behind research projects. The impact of the brain drain may reach far beyond academia. Pantic said the majority of top AI researchers moved to a handful of companies, meaning their skills and experience were not shared through society. "That's a problem because only a diffusion of innovation, rather than its concentration into just a few companies, can mitigate the dramatic disruptions and negative effects that AI may bring about."

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Estonia Is Enhancing the Security of Its Digital Identities
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 07:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's time-for-an-upgrade department:
Estonia is upgrading the security of ID cards and digital IDs used by citizens, residents and e-residents. A new certificates update has been developed based on advanced elliptic-curve cryptography, which is more secure and faster than the SSL certificates previously used. From a report: This certificate update will protect users from a potential security vulnerability that the Estonian government announced last month had been identified by a group of security researchers. It has now been confirmed that the vulnerability is contained in software that had previously been installed on the embedded chip used in ID cards around the world, including those issued by Estonia between 16 October 2014 and 25 October 2017. Although the problem is international, minimising the risk and developing a solution has been a top priority for Estonia since the government was informed. However, there has still been no reported incidents of any Estonian digital ID or ID card being misused in the way described by the researchers. Considerable resources and expertise would be required for this so the risk for most people affected has always been low.

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Perl is the Most Hated Programming Language, Developers Say
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 06:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's consensus-speaks department:
Thomas Claburn, writing for The Register: Developers really dislike Perl, and projects associated with Microsoft, at least among those who volunteer their views through Stack Overflow. The community coding site offers programmers a way to document their technical affinities on their developer story profile pages. Included therein is an input box for tech they'd prefer to avoid. For developers who have chosen to provide testaments of loathing, Perl tops the list of disliked programming languages, followed by Delphi and VBA. The yardstick here consists of the ratio of "likes" and "dislikes" listed in developer story profiles; to merit chart position, the topic or tag in question had to show up in at least 2,000 stories. Further down the down the list of unloved programming language comes PHP, Objective-C, CoffeeScript, and Ruby. In a blog post seen by The Register ahead of its publication today, Stack Overflow data scientist David Robinson said usually there's a relationship between how fast a particular tag is growing and how often it's disliked. "Almost everything disliked by more than 3 per cent of Stories mentioning it is shrinking in Stack Overflow traffic (except for the quite polarizing VBA, which is steady or slightly growing)," said Robinson. "And the least-disliked tags -- R, Rust, TypeScript and Kotlin -- are all among the fast-growing tags (TypeScript and Kotlin growing so quickly they had to be truncated in the plot)."

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Russia's Anti-VPN Law Goes Into Effect
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 05:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's heads-up department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: A Russian law that bans the use or provision of virtual private networks (VPNs) will come into effect Wednesday. The legislation will require ISPs to block websites that offer VPNs and similar proxy services that are used by millions of Russians to circumvent state-imposed internet censorship. It was signed by President Vladimir Putin on July 29 and was justified as a necessary measure to prevent the spread of extremism online. Its real impact, however, will be to make it much harder for ordinary Russians to access websites ISPs are instructed to block connections to by Russian regulator Roskomnadzor, aka the Federal Service for Supervision of Communications, Information Technology and Mass Media. The law is just one part of a concerted effort by the Russian government to restrict access to information online. While Russia does not appear to be going the same route as China -- which has a country wide, constantly maintained censorship apparatus, known as the Great Firewall of China -- it is clearly following its lead. At the same time as Putin signed the VPN legislation, he signed another that will come into effect in January. That law, like a similar one passed by the Chinese government earlier this year, will require operators of messaging services to verify their users' identities through phone numbers. And it will require operators to introduce systems to cut off any users that are deemed by the Russian government to be spreading illegal content.

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NVIDIA-Powered Neural Network Produces Freakishly Natural Fake Human Photos
Posted by News Fetcher on November 01 '17 at 02:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's machine-rendered department:
MojoKid writes: NVIDIA released a paper recently detailing a new machine learning methodology for generating unique and realistic looking faces using a generative adversarial network (GAN). The result is the ability to artificially render photorealistic human faces of "unprecedented quality." NVIDIA achieves this by using an algorithm that pairs two neural networks -- a generator and a discriminator -- that compete against each other. The generator starts from a low resolution image and builds upon it, while the discriminator assesses the results, sort of like a constant critic, pointing out where things have gone wrong. The GAN is not a new technology, but where NVIDIA differentiates is through the progressive training method it developed. NVIDIA took a database of photographs of famous people and used that to train its system. By working together, the neural networks were able to produce fake images that are nearly indistinguishable from real human photographs, and a little creepy too.

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Entrepreneurial Space Age Began In 2009, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on October 31 '17 at 11:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sky's-the-limit department:
"In July 2009, SpaceX launched its first commercial payload -- a 50kg Earth observation satellite for Malaysia -- which flew into space aboard a privately developed rocket," reports Ars Technica. "According to a new space investment report that will be published Tuesday by the Space Angels, an angel fund and a venture capital fund focused on space, which marked a key inflection point between the "governmental" space age and the "entrepreneurial" space age." From the report: "With that launch, SpaceX significantly lowered the barriers to entry in the space industry," the fund's chief executive, Chad Anderson, writes in the new report. "By vertically integrating, the company was able to drastically reduce the cost to get to orbit. But what deserves at least as much credit is their decision to publish their pricing, which fundamentally changed the way we do business in space. This transparency enabled would-be space entrepreneurs to develop a business plan and raise equity financing based on those cost assumptions." From 2009 through September 2017, the report finds that $12 billion in equity investments have been made in space, with annual amounts increasing significantly in 2015 and beyond to more than $2 billion per year. At $10 billion, launch services, landers, and satellites have accounted for the bulk of this investment since 2009. Aside from the SpaceX launch that year, other data supports the year 2009 as the beginning of an entrepreneurial space age in which the private sector began making investments to return profits from space-based activities. About 250 space ventures have received non-government equity funding, the report states, and, of those, 88 percent have been funded since 2009.

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MIT Researchers Trained AI To Write Horror Stories Based On 140,000 Reddit Posts
Posted by News Fetcher on October 31 '17 at 07:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's machines-with-brains department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: Shelley is an AI program that generates the beginnings of horror stories, and it's trained by original horror fiction posted to Reddit. Designed by researchers from MIT Media Lab, Shelley launched on Twitter on Oct. 21. Shelley, named after Frankenstein author Mary Shelley, is interactive. After the program tweets a few opening lines, it asks people on Twitter to continue the story, and if the story is popular, it responds to those responses. Using information from 140,000 stories from Reddit's r/nosleep, Shelley produces story beginnings that range in creepiness, and in quality. There's some classic "scary stuff," like a narrator who thinks she's alone and then sees eyes in the dark, but also premises one can only imagine are Reddit-user-inspired, like family porn.

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We May Not Have Enough Minerals To Even Meet Electric Car Demand
Posted by News Fetcher on October 31 '17 at 05:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's supply-and-demand department:
Citing two reports from Reuters and Bloomberg, Jalopnik reports on the scarcity of metals necessary for electric cars. From the report: [W]hile demand for nickel keeps increasing, half the world's nickel supply is too low in quality to use for car batteries. All of which is going to have seismic effect on the world's suppliers. In short: There will be winners and losers, and the winners will be the ones with the highest-grade stuff -- not unlike, I suppose, the illicit drugs market. "Some of the biggest producers of the higher-grade ores, including BHP Norilsk Nickel, Vale and Sumitomo Corp, are moving quickly to take advantage and seal long-term supply deals with battery producers," reports Reuters. "Among those losing out would be lower-grade nickel mines like Cerro Matoso in Columbia, owned by South32 Ltd and Glencore's Koniambo in New Caledonia, as well as Anglo American's mines in Brazil producing ferronickel."

What of cobalt? Bloomberg sent a writer and photographer to Cobalt, Ontario, about 300 miles north of Toronto, to find out. The town, which began life as a silver town, also is believed to have some cobalt, though no one's really found much yet. The search for a new source of cobalt isn't taking place in just Cobalt, Ontario, of course, as mining companies worldwide try to capitalize on the our electric car future. But the search is ramping up as the world's biggest source of cobalt -- the Democratic Republic of Congo, where about half of all cobalt comes from -- is increasingly unstable, making car manufacturers nervous and cobalt all the more valuable.

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