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Virgin Media Starts Turning Customer Routers Into Public Wi-Fi Hotspots
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '17 at 09:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's controversial-moves department:
UK ISP Virgin Media is expanding its public Wi-Fi network by co-opting customers' home routers as hotspots. Only the most recent router design (the SuperHub v3) will be recruited at first, and customers can opt-out from the program if they wish. Virgin says the change will have "no impact on customers" because affected homes will be allocated extra bandwidth. ArsTechnica offers more context: A little background: a couple of years ago, Virgin Media started trialling a public Wi-Fi service very similar to "BT Wi-Fi with FON," where residential BT customers have their routers turned into hotspots. For some reason the broad rollout of Virgin's service was delayed until now. There are some curious differences between BT and Virgin Media's approach, though. For starters, it seems only Virgin Media customers will have access to this nationwide Wi-Fi network; BT grants free access to BT customers, but non-customers can pay for access ($5 per hour). The owner of that subverted hotspot doesn't get any of the money, of course. Furthermore, while BT customers must share their ADSL or VDSL bandwidth with any public Wi-Fi users, Virgin Media promises that "your home network is completely separate from Virgin Media WiFi traffic, meaning the broadband connection you pay for is exclusively yours, and just as secure."

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Cloudflare Doesn't Want To Become the 'Piracy Police'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '17 at 07:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's not-my-job department:
Cloudflare is warning that far-reaching cooperation between copyright holders and internet services may put innovation in danger. From a report: As one of the leading CDN and DDoS protection services, Cloudflare is used by millions of websites across the globe. This includes thousands of "pirate" sites, including the likes of The Pirate Bay and ExtraTorrent, which rely on the U.S.-based company to keep server loads down. Copyright holders are not happy that CloudFlare services these sites. Last year, the RIAA and MPAA called the company out for aiding copyright infringers and helping pirate sites to obfuscate their actual location. [...] In a whitepaper, Cloudflare sees this trend as a worrying development. The company points out that the safe harbor provisions put in place by the DMCA and Europe's eCommerce Directive have been effective in fostering innovation for many years. Voluntary "anti-piracy" agreements may change this. [...] Cloudflare argues that increased monitoring and censorship are not proper solutions. Third-party Internet services shouldn't be pushed into the role of Internet police out of a fear of piracy. Instead, the company cautions against far-reaching voluntary agreements that may come at the expense of the public.

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Microsoft Says US Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Requests More Than Doubled
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '17 at 07:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's state-of-things department:
Microsoft Corp says it received at least a thousand surveillance requests from the U.S. government that sought user content for foreign intelligence purposes during the first half of 2016. From a report: The amount, shared in Microsoft's biannual transparency report, was more than double what the company said it received under the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) during the preceding six-month interval, and was the highest the company has listed since 2011, when it began tracking such government surveillance orders. The scope of spying authority granted to U.S. intelligence agencies under FISA has come under renewed scrutiny in recent weeks, sparked in part by evolving, unsubstantiated assertions from President Donald Trump and other Republicans that the Obama White House improperly spied on Trump and his associates.

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Apple May Invest Billions of Dollars In Toshiba's Memory Chip Business
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '17 at 06:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Toshiba shares recovered after Japan's national broadcaster reported that Apple is considering an investment of several billion dollars in its semiconductor unit, raising the prospect that the struggling electronics conglomerate will get a much-needed cash infusion. From a report: Toshiba has put its memory chips business up for sale to make up for a writedown of 716.6 billion yen ($6.56 billion) in its U.S. nuclear equipment operations. One option being considered is an investment accompanied by Toshiba holding shares, so that a majority of the semiconductor unit will be held by U.S. and Japanese interests, satisfying the respective governments, NHK said.

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Google Photos Can Now Stabilize All Your Shaky Phone Camera Videos
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '17 at 05:13 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's smooth-as-honey department:
In early August, Google announced a feature for the Google Photos mobile app that would automatically stabilize videos in your camera roll. That feature is now rolling out via Photos v2.13 on Android. The Verge reports: A lot of flagship smartphones offer optical image stabilization when shooting video, a hardware feature that helps keep footage smooth. Others, like Google's Pixel, use software to try and stabilize jerky movements. Putting stabilization inside the Google Photos app could enhance results further if you're already working with hardware OIS, or improve recordings significantly if your phone lacks any means of steadying things out of the box. The stabilized video is cropped in a bit, as you might expect, and the original clip remains in your Photos library; there's no overwriting. Here's a side-by-side demo someone else made of the app's latest trick.

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New Solar-Powered Device Can Pull Water Straight From the Desert Air
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '17 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's thin-air department:
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: You can't squeeze blood from a stone, but wringing water from the desert sky is now possible, thanks to a new spongelike device that uses sunlight to suck water vapor from air, even in low humidity. The device can produce nearly 3 liters of water per day, and researchers say future versions will be even better. That means homes in the driest parts of the world could soon have a solar-powered appliance capable of delivering all the water they need, offering relief to billions of people. To find an all-purpose solution, researchers led by Omar Yaghi, a chemist at the University of California, Berkeley, turned to a family of crystalline powders called metal organic frameworks, or MOFs. Yaghi developed the first MOFs -- porous crystals that form continuous 3D networks -- more than 20 years ago. The networks assemble in a Tinkertoy-like fashion from metal atoms that act as the hubs and sticklike organic compounds that link the hubs together. By choosing different metals and organics, chemists can dial in the properties of each MOF, controlling what gases bind to them, and how strongly they hold on. The system Wang and her students designed consists of a kilogram of dust-sized MOF crystals pressed into a thin sheet of porous copper metal. That sheet is placed between a solar absorber and a condenser plate and positioned inside a chamber. At night the chamber is opened, allowing ambient air to diffuse through the porous MOF and water molecules to stick to its interior surfaces, gathering in groups of eight to form tiny cubic droplets. In the morning, the chamber is closed, and sunlight entering through a window on top of the device then heats up the MOF, which liberates the water droplets and drives them -- as vapor -- toward the cooler condenser. The temperature difference, as well as the high humidity inside the chamber, causes the vapor to condense as liquid water, which drips into a collector. The findings were published in the journal Science.

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Drupal Developers Threaten To Quit Drupal Unless Larry Garfield Is Reinstated
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 11:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's letter-opener department:
An anonymous reader writes: Slashdot previously covered the story of Larry Garfield, a Drupal developer who was allegedly banned from the community for his BDSM/Gorean lifestyle, after he was outed by a colleague with a grudge. Now, dozens of core Drupal developers, committers, and funders have banded together in an open letter to Dries Buytaert, the CTO of Acquia, Drupal trademark owner, and Benevolent Dictator for Life (BDFL) of the Drupal project. Among other things, they demand that Larry Garfield be reinstated, threatening to abandon the project if their demands are not met. Here's an excerpt from the letter: "If you will not fight for us and restore our faith in the professionalism of the Drupal community, then a number of us will be permanently leaving the Drupal community, ceasing all contributions to the official, Drupal-branded branch of the codebase, and ceasing participation in all Drupal communities. This is not our first choice, but we cannot and will not participate in a community that encourages abusers to totally destroy people's careers for personal or ideological reasons."

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Apple Has a Secret Team Working On Non-Invasive Diabetes Sensors
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 07:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's top-secret department:
schwit1 quotes a report from CNBC: Apple has hired a small team of biomedical engineers to work at a nondescript office in Palo Alto, miles from corporate headquarters. They are part of a super secret initiative, initially envisioned by the late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs, to develop sensors that can non-invasively and continuously monitor blood sugar levels to better treat diabetes, according to three people familiar with the matter. Such a breakthrough would be a "holy grail" for life sciences. Many life sciences companies have tried and failed, as it's highly challenging to track glucose levels accurately without piercing the skin. The initiative is far enough along that Apple has been conducting feasibility trials at clinical sites across the Bay Area and has hired consultants to help it figure out the regulatory pathways, the people said. schwit1 adds: "From a business aspect, the most interesting part of this venture might be how Apple combines its penchant for secrecy with maneuvering through those regulatory pathways. It's one thing to introduce another new bit of consumer electronics kit. It's an entirely other thing to get a medical device past the FDA."

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AI Programs Exhibit Racial and Gender Biases, Research Reveals
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's learned-behavior department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: An artificial intelligence tool that has revolutionized the ability of computers to interpret everyday language has been shown to exhibit striking gender and racial biases. The findings raise the specter of existing social inequalities and prejudices being reinforced in new and unpredictable ways as an increasing number of decisions affecting our everyday lives are ceded to automatons. In the past few years, the ability of programs such as Google Translate to interpret language has improved dramatically. These gains have been thanks to new machine learning techniques and the availability of vast amounts of online text data, on which the algorithms can be trained. However, as machines are getting closer to acquiring human-like language abilities, they are also absorbing the deeply ingrained biases concealed within the patterns of language use, the latest research reveals. Joanna Bryson, a computer scientist at the University of Bath and a co-author, warned that AI has the potential to reinforce existing biases because, unlike humans, algorithms may be unequipped to consciously counteract learned biases. The research, published in the journal Science, focuses on a machine learning tool known as "word embedding," which is already transforming the way computers interpret speech and text.

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Used Tesla Model S Sedans Sell Faster Than Any Other High-End Used Vehicle
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's retained-value department:
According to a survey conducted by Autolist, "used Tesla Model S sedans sell faster than luxury-car competitors do, and faster than other top-selling used vehicles from Motor Co. and General Motors Co.," reports MarketWatch. From the report: Used Model S sedans had the briefest time on the market of all vehicles included in the survey, taking, on average, 87 days to sell. That was about 5% quicker than the average for vehicles in the model's peer group, which included the Audi A7, the Porsche Panamera, the BMW 6 Series, the Mercedes-Benz CLS and the Lexus LS 460. The listing prices of used Tesla Model S sedans were between 3% and 5% above their peer-group average for the past year, after controlling for price differences among the models, Autolist.com said. "We would expect top-performing vehicles in a peer group to have prices [about] 2% above our adjusted expectations for the segment. But 3% to 5% above, and maintaining that level of performance over the past year? That's surprising," Alex Klein, Autolist.com's vice president of data science, said in emailed comments.

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Roku-Enabled TVs Will Soon 'Listen' To Programs You're Watching To Suggest Streaming Content
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Orwellian-society department:
Roku-enabled TVs will be receiving a new OS update that will listen to what show or movie you're watching via your cable or satellite set-top or over-the-air antenna, in order to suggest internet-streaming content. "Compatible TVs will use automatic content recognition (ACR) technology to identify the content and then suggest additional viewing options available on via streaming services like Netflix, Hulu or Vudu," reports Variety. From the report: It may seem vaguely Big Brother-ish, but Roku is being careful about ensuring consumer privacy: Users will be required to enable the feature via an opt-in prompt. In addition, the "More Ways to Watch" feature can be turned off at any time (although Roku says viewing information collected prior to the feature being turned off will not be deleted). For now, the "More Ways to Watch" feature is available only in the U.S., and only for Roku-enabled television sets available from Best Buy's Insignia, Sharp, Hisense and TCL. It will be coming first to conventional HDTV models first, followed by support for 4K Roku TV models later this summer.

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Researchers Develop Master Fingerprints That Can Break Into Smartphones
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 03:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's where-there's-a-will-there's-a-way department:
Researchers at New York University and Michigan State University have recently found that the fingerprint sensor on your phone is not as safe as you think. "The team has developed a set of fake fingerprints that are digital composites of common features found in many people's fingerprints," reports Digital Trends. "Through computer simulations, they were able to achieve matches 65 percent of the time, though they estimate the scheme would be less successful in real life, on an actual phone." From the report: Nasir Memon, a computer science and engineering professor at New York University, explained the value of the study to The New York Times. Modern smartphones, tablets, and other computing devices that utilize biometric authentication typically only take a snapshots of sections of a user's finger, to compose a model of one fingerprint. But the chances of faking your way into someone else's phone are much higher if there are multiple fingerprints recorded on that device. "It's as if you have 30 passwords and the attacker only has to match one," Memon said. The professor, who was one of three authors on the study, theorized that if it were possible to create a glove with five different composite fingerprints, the attacker would likely be successful with about half of their attempts. For the record, Apple reported to the Times that the chance of a false match through the iPhone's TouchID system is 1 in 50,000 with only one fingerprint recorded.

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More Americans Now Work Full-Time From Home Than Walk and Bike To Office Jobs
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 03:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's times-they-are-a-changin' department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: In the United States, the past decade has been marked by booming cities, soaring rents, and a crush of young workers flocking to job-rich downtowns. Although these are heady days for pavement-pounding urbanists, a record 2.6% of American employees now go to their jobs without ever leaving their houses. That's more than walk and bike to work combined. These numbers come from a Quartz analysis of data from the U.S. census and the American Community Survey. The data show that telecommuting has grown faster than any other way of getting to work -- up 159% since 2000. By comparison, the number of Americans who bike to work has grown by 86% over the same period, while the number who drive or carpool has grown by only 12%. We've excluded both part-time and self-employed workers from these and all results. Though managers are the largest group of remote workers, as a percentage of a specific occupation computer programmers are the most over-represented. Nearly 8% of programmers now work from home, following a staggering increase of nearly 400% since 2000.

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Nintendo Discontinues the NES Classic Edition
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 02:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department:
A Nintendo representative has confirmed today that the company will be discontinuing the NES Classic Edition, "a plug-and-play console that became popular with collectors as soon as it launched last fall," reports Polygon. The last shipments of the consoles will hit stores this month. From the report: [Nintendo said in a statement to IGN:] "Throughout April, NOA territories will receive the last shipments of Nintendo Entertainment System: NES Classic Edition systems for this year. We encourage anyone interested in obtaining this system to check with retail outlets regarding availability. We understand that it has been difficult for many consumers to find a system, and for that we apologize. We have paid close attention to consumer feedback, and we greatly appreciate the incredible level of consumer interest and support for this product." "NES Classic Edition wasn't intended to be an ongoing, long-term product. However, due to high demand, we did add extra shipments to our original plans," it told IGN.

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New Processors Are Now Blocked From Receiving Updates On Old Windows
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 02:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unsupported-department-name department:
halfEvilTech writes: Last year, Microsoft announced they were planning on blocking OS updates on newer Intel CPU's, namely the 7th Generation Kaby Lake processors. Ars Technica reports: "Now, the answer appears to be 'this month.' Users of new processors running old versions of Windows are reporting that their updates are being blocked. The block means that systems using these processors are no longer receiving security updates." While Windows 7 has already ended mainstream support, the same can't be said for Windows 8.1 which is still on mainstream support until January of next year.

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Former Sysadmin Accused of Planting 'Time Bomb' In Company's Database
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 01:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tick-tock department:
An anonymous reader writes: Allegro MicroSystems LLC is suing a former IT employee for sabotaging its database using a "time bomb" that deleted crucial financial data in the first week of the new fiscal year. According to court documents, after resigning from his job, a former sysadmin kept one of two laptops. On January 31, Patel entered the grounds of the Allegro headquarters in Worcester, Massachusetts, just enough to be in range of the factory's Wi-Fi network. Allegro says that Patel used the second business-use laptop to connect to the company's network using the credentials of another employee. While connected to the factory's network on January 31, Allegro claims Patel, who was one of the two people in charge of Oracle programming, uploaded a "time bomb" to the company's Oracle finance module. The code was designed to execute a few months later, on April 1, 2016, the first week of the new fiscal year, and was meant to "copy certain headers or pointers to data into a separate database table and then to purge those headers from the finance module, thereby rendering the data in the module worthless." The company says that "defendant Patel knew that his sabotage of the finance module on the first week of the new fiscal year had the maximum potential to cause Allegro to suffer damages because it would prevent Allegro from completing the prior year's fiscal year-end accounting reconciliation and financial reports."

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Nearby Ocean Worlds Could Be Best Bet For Life Beyond Earth, Says NASA
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 01:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-finding department:
NASA has new evidence that the most likely places to find life beyond Earth are Jupiter's moon Europa or Saturn's moon Enceladus. In terms of potential habitability, Enceladus particularly has almost all of the key ingredients for life as we know it, researchers said. From a report: New observations of these active ocean worlds in our solar system have been captured by two NASA missions and were presented in two separate studies in an announcement at NASA HQ in Washington today. Using a mass spectrometer, the Cassini spacecraft detected an abundance of hydrogen molecules in water plumes rising from the "tiger stripe" fractures in Enceladus' icy surface. Saturn's sixth-largest moon is an ice-encased world with an ocean beneath. The researchers believe that the hydrogen originated from a hydrothermal reaction between the moon's ocean and its rocky core. If that is the case, the crucial chemical methane could be forming in the ocean as well.

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Tesla Will Reveal Its Electric Semi Truck in September
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 11:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
From a report: Elon Musk just let us know when we'll get a look at the electric semi truck that he's teased in the past: The Tesla transport vehicle will be revealed in September, the CEO said on Twitter on Thursday, noting that the team has "done an amazing job" and that the vehicle is "seriously next level." Plans at Tesla for an electric semi truck have been in the works for a while now: The vehicle was first mentioned back in July of 2016, when Musk revealed part 2 of his fabled "master plan" for his electric vehicle company. The Tesla Semi, as Musk called it, is designed to help reduce the cost of cargo transportation, and improve safety for drivers, according to the CEO at the time.

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New Research Says Starting University Classes at 11am or Later Would Improve Learning
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 11:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's science-of-learning department:
Using a sample of first- and second-year college students at the University of Nevada-Reno in the US and Britain's Open University, a group of researchers analyzed students' cognitive performance throughout the day and found that the best learning happened in classes that began later in the morning. From a report: Since every person's chronotype, or sleep pattern, is slightly different, there isn't one universal start time to benefit everyone -- but according to students' survey responses as well as theoretical data on circadian rhythms parsed by the researchers, starting classes at 11am or later benefits the greatest number of students. The study, published in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience this week, bolsters prior research indicating that teenagers learn better with late starts; it also extends the studied age group from high school students to college sophomores and freshmen.

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T-Mobile Spends $8 Billion as Big Winner of FCC Auction
Posted by News Fetcher on April 13 '17 at 11:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's land-grab department:
T-Mobile, Dish Network and cable giant Comcast emerged as the big winners in the government's wireless spectrum auction. From a report: The Federal Communications Commission announced the winners of its $19.8 billion spectrum auction Thursday. T-Mobile spent $8 billion in the auction and won the biggest number of licenses, according to the FCC. Dish Network was in second, committing $6.2 billion, and Comcast spent a total of $1.7 billion. Verizon, which had committed ahead of time to participating in the auction, did not bid, the FCC said. The broadcast incentive spectrum auction has been one of the agency's most complex and ambitious auctions to date. The auction, which began last year, was conducted over two major stages. A so-called backwards auction took place last year in which TV broadcasters agreed to give up wireless spectrum that the government later sold in a so-called forward auction to wireless providers.

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