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Former FBI Director Admitted He Was the Source Of At Least One Leak To the Press
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '17 at 11:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's conveying-the-message department:
Shortly after his dismissal as head of the FBI, James Comey authorized "a close friend" to leak the contents of his memos to the press in order to prompt a special counsel investigation, he said today. From a report: Former FBI Director James Comey testified that he asked a friend, a law professor at Columbia University, to leak details of his dinner with the President to The New York Times, including the claim that the President asked Comey to drop the investigation into former national security advisor Michael Flynn's contacts with Russian officials. Comey kept meticulous memos of all of his interactions with Trump, and he gave that memo to a friend to pass it along to the Times in order to spark a special investigation. "You considered this not a document of the government, but your own personal document that you could share with the media as you want to?" Senator Roy Blunt asked Comey. "Correct," Comey replied. "I understood this to be my recollection recorded of my conversation with the President. As a private citizen, I felt free to share that. I thought it very important to get it out." Edward Snowden tweeted, "It seems the [former] FBI Director agrees: sometimes the only moral decision is to break the rules."

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Lowe's To Lay Off About 125 Workers, Move Jobs To India
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '17 at 09:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's cutting-costs department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Home improvement retailer Lowe's says it's laying off approximately 125 information technology workers, the third round of job cuts this year. Chief Information Officer Paul Ramsay said in a memo that the affected workers were notified Wednesday. He said the Mooresville, North Carolina-based company has spent the last several years planning a strategic IT workforce team to respond better in what he called "this highly competitive 24/7 retail environment." Some of the jobs will be relocated to Bangalore, India.

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Amazon Lent $1 Billion To Merchants To Boost Sales On Its Marketplace
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '17 at 09:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's other-game department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Amazon.com Inc has stepped up lending to third-party sellers on its site who are looking to grow their business, a company executive said in an interview on Wednesday. The e-commerce giant has doled out more than $1 billion in small loans to sellers in the past 12 months, compared with more than $1.5 billion it lent from 2011 through 2015, said Peeyush Nahar, vice president for Amazon Marketplace. Sellers have used the money to expand their inventory or discount items on Amazon, he said. Boosting sales for third-party merchants is lucrative for Amazon, which takes a cut of transactions on its site. It also has made a business out of handling more leg work for sellers, too. They pay Amazon to fulfill their orders and boost their placement in search results, without which sellers might struggle to grab shoppers' attention. More than 20,000 small businesses have received a loan from Amazon and more than half of those have taken a second loan from the company, it said.

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What the Hell Is Happening To Cryptocurrency Valuations?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '17 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's figuring-things-out department:
The investment category of cryptocurrencies hit a new milestone this week, one that would have been unfathomable just a couple of years ago: $100 billion in combined market capitalization. The break above the 12-digit threshold is largely attributable to bitcoin, which is by far the largest digital currency in the still-nascent category, and which has been on a tear lately. From a TechCrunch article: There is one rational explanation that, if true, would totally justify this rapid increase in price across some of the major cryptocurrencies. And that is, maybe these currencies are actually worth these high prices, and maybe even worth many times more than that at which they are currently trading. But the problem is we have no way to figure out their value. Cryptocurrencies aren't public companies with earnings and expenses and EPS. For example, we can look at Apple's financials and determine its book value -- what the company's assets would be worth if hypothetically liquidated today. Of course, stocks trade at a premium to this, because people are enthusiastic that Apple will continue to perform well and this book value will continue to rise. But we can't do this with cryptocurrencies. We could guess -- and compare it to things like the total money or gold supply in the U.S. For example, if you're someone who thinks of cryptocurrencies as a store of value, the total estimated value of all gold in the world is more than $8 trillion dollars... meaning if bitcoin would ever replace or supplant gold, its current value is pennies on the dollar.

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With Essential, 'Already a Unicorn', Andy Rubin Wants To Disrupt the Apple-Samsung 'Duopoly'
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '17 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fighting-for-the-pie department:
Bloomberg reported on Wednesday that Essential, Andy Rubin's new startup, has added $300 million to its war chest as it looks to break into the highly competitive field of consumer electronics. The financing round valued Essential at $900 million to $1 billion, according to an analysis by Equidate, which runs a market for private company stock. In an interview, Rubin, who created Android, shared how the company plans to move forward: "I think when there's this duopoly with these two guys owning 40 percent of the market, this complacency sets in," Rubin said. "And that's the perfect time to start a company with this. Some people are complacent and it needs to be disrupted."

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US Pays Farmers Billions To Save The Soil. But It's Blowing Away
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '17 at 07:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's their-issues department:
An anonymous reader shares an NPR report: Soil has been blowing away from the Great Plains ever since farmers first plowed up the prairie. It reached crisis levels during the Dust Bowl of the 1930s, when windblown soil turned day into night. In recent years, dust storms have returned, driven mainly by drought. But Shook -- and others -- say farmers are making the problem worse by taking land where grass used to grow and plowing it up, exposing vulnerable soil. This is where federal policy enters the picture. Most of that grassland was there in the first place because of a taxpayer-funded program. The U.S. Department of Agriculture rents land from farmers across the country and pays them to grow grass, trees and wildflowers in order to protect the soil and also provide habitat for wildlife. It's called the Conservation Reserve Program, or CRP. Ten years ago, there was more land in the CRP than in the entire state of New York. In North Dakota, CRP land covered 5,000 square miles. But CRP agreements only last 10 years, and when farming got more profitable about a decade ago, farmers in North Dakota pulled more than half of that land out of the CRP to grow crops like corn and soybeans. Across the country, farmers decided not to re-enroll 15.8 million acres of farmland in the CRP when those contracts expired between 2007 and 2014.

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'I'm Not Sure I Understand' -- How Apple's Siri Lost Her Mojo
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '17 at 07:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-Apple-lost-its-own-plot department:
Apple has struggled to make Siri as smart as Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa because of disagreements among its staff and its decisions to limit how long it stores user data, former Apple employees told The Wall Street Journal. The company unveiled a new version of Siri during its WWDC keynote address on Monday but failed to show the world how it's much better than competing products from Google and Amazon (alternative source). There are a few areas where blame can be placed. The Journal said Apple keeps data for only six months while Google and Amazon continue to hold on to it, learning more and more about specific users as they continue to use the personal assistants. From a report: Some former executives, close observers and even devoted customers say Apple's innovative power appears to be waning, stymied by a lack of urgency and difficulty bringing ideas to fruition. In nearly six years under Chief Executive Tim Cook, Apple's stock has soared but the company has not delivered a breakthrough product on par with the string of hits under late founder Steve Jobs, which included the iPod, iPhone and iPad. "Siri is a textbook of leading on something in tech and then losing an edge despite having all the money and the talent and sitting in Silicon Valley," said Holger Mueller, a principal analyst Constellation Research, a technology research and advisory firm.

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Facebook Wants To Spy On People Using Their Phone's Camera and Analyze Facial Emotions
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '17 at 05:41 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's off-putting department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Sun: The social network applied for a patent to capture pictures of a user through their smartphone. The creepy designs, which date back to 2015, were discovered by software company CBI Insight, which has been analyzing Mark Zuckerberg's "emotion technology." Patent documents contain illustrations showing a person holding a smartphone with a camera taking a picture from which "emotion characteristics" like smiling or frowning are detected. If the person appears to like what they're seeing, Facebook could place more of the same type of content in front of them. Patents don't always make it through to the end product, so it's not clear whether Facebook will bring out this new feature. Researchers at CBI Insights warned that the plans could put a lot of people off using the service. Facebook appears to have tested out similar technology to work out which emoji to send to people using a selfie.

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SpaceX Will Launch Secretive X-37B Spaceplane's Next Mission
Posted by News Fetcher on June 08 '17 at 03:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's top-secret department:
schwit1 quotes a report from Los Angeles Times: SpaceX will launch the Air Force's X-37B experimental spaceplane later this year, in the military's latest vote of confidence in the Elon Musk-led space company. This will be the first time SpaceX has launched the uncrewed robotic vehicle. United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp., has launched the spaceplane's previous four missions atop one of its Atlas V rockets. The Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office, which is responsible for the X-37B's experimental operations, said it was "very excited" for the fifth flight, which will test how special electronics and heat pipes will fare during a long-duration space mission. The Air Force has two of the spaceplanes, which look like miniature versions of the space shuttle and are known officially as X-37B Orbital Test Vehicles. The first X-37B was launched in 2010.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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