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Gmail's 'Smart Compose' Feature Will Write Emails For You
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 03:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-saver department:
Google announced a new feature called Smart Compose at its annual developer conference today. "Smart Compose will suggest complete sentences within the body of an email as you are writing," reports The Verge. "It will operate in the background, and if you see a phrase pop up that you like, just hit tab to select it, and the text will auto-populate." From the report: Smart Compose also recognizes context. For example, if it's Friday, it might suggest closing out your message with "Have a great weekend!" Google says the Smart Compose feature will start to appear for consumers over the next few weeks and will be integrated for G Suite customers within the next few months.

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Equifax's Data Breach By the Numbers: 146 Million Social Security Numbers, 99 Million Addresses, and More
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 01:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's take-a-deep-breath department:
Several months after the data breach was first reported, Equifax has published the details on the personal records and sensitive information stolen in the cybersecurity incident. The good news: the number of individuals affected by the network intrusion hasn't increased from the 146.6 million Equifax previously announced, but extra types of records accessed by the hackers have turned up in Mandiant's ongoing audit of the security breach," reports The Register. From the report: Late last week, the company gave the numbers in letters to the various U.S. congressional committees investigating the network infiltration, and on Monday, it submitted a letter to the SEC, corporate America's financial watchdog. As well as the -- take a breath -- 146.6 million names, 146.6 million dates of birth, 145.5 million social security numbers, 99 million address information and 209,000 payment cards (number and expiry date) exposed, the company said there were also 38,000 American drivers' licenses and 3,200 passport details lifted, too. The further details emerged after Mandiant's investigators helped "standardize certain data elements for further analysis to determine the consumers whose personally identifiable information was stolen." The extra data elements, the company said, didn't involve any individuals not already known to be part of the super-hack, so no additional consumer notifications are required.

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Google Details New Android P Features, Including iPhone X-Like Gesture Controls
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 01:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A public beta for Android P, as it's still known, is out today for those who want to try the software for themselves. The usual caveats with installing unfinished software still apply. Notably, however, Google has made the beta available on devices beyond the company's own Pixel smartphones. Google says those who own the Essential Phone, Nokia 7 Plus, Sony Xperia XZ2, Xiaomi Mi Mix 2S, Vivo X21, Oppo R15 Pro, and the OnePlus 6 (when it comes out) can access the early build alongside those with a Pixel or Pixel 2 phone. Google is crediting its Project Treble updating initiative for making this expansion possible.

< article continued at Slashdot's new-and-improved department >

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iOS 11.4 Disables Lightning Connector After 7 Days, Limiting Law Enforcement Access
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 12:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lock-and-loaded department:
hyperclocker shares a report from Mac Rumors: The iOS 11.4 update, currently being beta tested, includes a USB Restricted Mode that introduces a week-long expiration date on access to the Lightning port on your iOS devices if your phone hasn't been unlocked, which has implications for law enforcement tools like the GrayKey box. USB Restricted Mode was outlined this morning by Elcomsoft after testing confirmed that the feature has indeed been enabled. In Elcomsoft's experience, after an iPhone or iPad has been updated to iOS 11.4, if it hasn't been unlocked or connected to a paired computer in the last 7 days using a passcode, the Lightning port is useless for data access and limited to charging. "At this point, it is still unclear whether the USB port is blocked if the device has not been unlocked with a passcode for 7 consecutive days; if the device has not been unlocked at all (password or biometrics); or if the device has not been unlocked or connected to a trusted USB device or computer," reports Elcomsoft. "In our test, we were able to confirm the USB lock after the device has been left idle for 7 days. During this period, we have not tried to unlock the device with Touch ID or connect it to a paired USB device. What we do know, however, is that after the 7 days the Lightning port is only good for charging."

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Ubuntu Considering an HTML5-Based OS Installer
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader writes: Ubuntu's Self-Appointed Benevolent Dictator for Life, Mark Shuttleworth, is considering backing a new Ubuntu installer that would be using HTML5 via the Electron Framework. This theoretical installer would re-use the company's existing HTML5 code for managing MAAS installations, integrate with Electron, and also better support their Snap packaging format, according to his proposal. What could possibly go wrong with an HTML5/Electron operating system installer? Mark also announced that Ubuntu 18.10 is codenamed the Cosmic Cuttlefish.

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Mozilla To Amazon: Show Us How You're Protecting Kids' Data
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's genuine-question department:
Amazon's product page for its new Echo Dot Kids Edition doesn't mention the words "privacy" or "data." Mozilla thinks it should. From a report: The e-commerce company last month introduced the new, child-friendly Echo device, powered by an Alexa voice assistant that was modified for kids ages 5 to 12. The $80 gadget becomes available Wednesday, along with new kid-friendly services called FreeTime on Alexa and FreeTime Unlimited on Alexa. Just ahead of those launches, Mozilla, the nonprofit behind the Firefox web browser and a growing political force in tech, on Monday said it spoke with Amazon directly about about the new device. It asked Amazon to update the Echo Dot Kids Edition product page with specific information on how it uses children's data collected through the smart speaker. That way, parents shopping for the gadget could easily read Amazon's privacy information without having to dig around for it, Mozilla argued. Mozilla has already posted a petition on its website calling for these changes, but Ashley Boyd, Mozilla's vice president of advocacy, said in a statement Monday night that Mozilla is "heartened" that Amazon listened to its concerns. She added that Mozilla is pausing that petition while it continues to talk with Amazon.

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Social Media Copies Gambling Methods 'To Create Psychological Cravings'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Social media platforms are using the same techniques as gambling firms to create psychological dependencies and ingrain their products in the lives of their users, experts warn. From a report: These methods are so effective they can activate similar mechanisms as cocaine in the brain, create psychological cravings and even invoke "phantom calls and notifications" where users sense the buzz of a smartphone, even when it isn't really there. "Facebook, Twitter and other companies use methods similar to the gambling industry to keep users on their sites," said Natasha Schull, the author of Addiction by Design, which reported how slot machines and other systems are designed to lock users into a cycle of addiction. "In the online economy, revenue is a function of continuous consumer attention -- which is measured in clicks and time spent."

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White House To Host Tech Giants For AI Meeting
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's next-on-the-agenda department:
The White House will hold a meeting Thursday with major tech corporations to discuss artificial intelligence, according to media reports. Axios: America finds itself in a race with other countries, most notably China, to advance AI technologies. What they're saying: "In order to maintain America's leadership on AI, the administration should continue to invest in research and development, and advance programs that equip the workforce with skills of the future," said Dean Garfield, the president of the Information Technology Industry Council, in a statement. The guest list includes companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google and Nvidia, per the Washington Post, which first reported the meeting.

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Microsoft Adds Support For JavaScript Functions in Excel
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: At the Build 2018 developer conference that's taking place these days in Seattle, USA, Microsoft announced support for custom JavaScript functions in Excel. What this means is that Excel users will be able to use JavaScript code to create a custom Excel formula that will appear in Excel's default formula database. Users will then be able to insert and call these formulas from within Excel spreadsheets, but have a JavaScript interpreter compute the spreadsheet data instead of Excel's native engine. "Office developers have been wanting to write JavaScript custom functions for many reasons," Microsoft says, "such as: (1) Calculate math operations, like whether a number is prime. (2) Bring information from the web, like a bank account balance. (3) Stream live data, like a stock price."

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Uber Shows Its Flying Car Prototype
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-coming department:
Uber has unveiled its "flying car" concept aircraft at its second annual Uber Elevate Summit, which showcases prototypes for its fleet of airborne taxis. From a report: The flying cars, which the company hopes to introduce to riders in two to five years, will conduct vertical takeoffs and landings from skyports, air stations on rooftops or the ground. Ultimately, company officials say these skyports will be equipped to handle 200 takeoffs and landings an hour, or one every 24 seconds. At first, the flying cars will be piloted, but the company aims for the aircraft to fly autonomously. The prototypes look more like drones than helicopters, with four rotors on wings. Company officials say that will make them safer than choppers, which operate on one rotor. They'll fly 1,000 to 2,000 feet above ground and will be quieter than a helicopter, producing half the noise of a truck driving past a house.

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The New York Stock Exchange Teases Plan To Launch Cryptocurrency Trading
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-coming department:
Wall Street's interest in integrating cryptocurrencies with their business seems to be on the rise. From a report: Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) -- the parent company of the world's largest stock exchange desk, the New York Stock Exchange (NYSE) -- is working on a Bitcoin exchange for large investors, The New York Times reports. ICE is also reportedly planning to set up swap contracts with other financial institutions, which will allow customers to own Bitcoin without an immediate trade with the backing and security of the exchange. The move follows an earlier interest in cryptocurrency trading by Nasdaq and Goldman Sachs.

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Microsoft Hopes Money Will Entice More Developers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's bigger-picture department:
At Build conference, Microsoft announced that starting later this year, all consumer apps (except games) sold in the Microsoft Store will ship a whopping 95 percent of the revenue earned from app and in-app purchases to the developer. From a report: That is, if the customer purchases the app via a deep or direct link. If the customer gets your app via a Microsoft-assisted method, like getting featured on the Microsoft Store, then devs will get 85 percent of the revenue, which is still a pretty good amount.

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Nintendo Switch Online Service Will Launch With 20 NES Games, Cloud Saves, More
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's in-the-works department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Polygon: Nintendo's online service for the Switch will include access to a selection of classic video games from the NES era as part of the subscription service. Today, Nintendo announced some of the games that will be included as part of the Nintendo Switch Online classic games selection. The 10 NES titles confirmed for the service, which Nintendo refers to as "Nintendo Entertainment System -- Nintendo Switch Online" in a press release, are: Soccer, Tennis, Donkey Kong, Mario Bros., Super Mario Bros., Balloon Fight, Ice Climber, Dr. Mario, The Legend of Zelda, and Super Mario Bros. 3. Nintendo promises 20 NES games will be available when Nintendo Switch Online goes live in September, meaning 10 classic NES games are still to be announced. New games for the service will be added regularly, Nintendo says.

Those NES games will include some sort of online play as part of Nintendo Switch Online. That includes online competitive or cooperative multiplayer, or simply taking turns controlling the game. "Friends can even watch each other play single-player games online, and 'pass the controller' at any time," Nintendo said in a release. "Every classic NES game will support voice chat via the Nintendo Switch Online smartphone app. It will also be possible to play these games offline." Some other details of the service, as reported by Nintendo Life, include the option for cloud save data backups and a four tiered pricing plan. In the U.S., the pricing is as follows: one month is $3.99; three months is $7.99; twelve months is $19.99; twelve month family membership is $34.99 (with up to eight Nintendo accounts on different systems that will be able to use the service).

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Are Two Spaces After a Period Better Than One?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 08 '18 at 03:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's controversial-findings department:
Researchers at Skidmore College conducted an eye-tracking experiment with 60 Skidmore students and found that two spaces at the end of a period slightly improved the processing of text during reading. Ars Technica reports the findings: Previous cognitive science research has been divided on the issue. Some research has suggested closer spacing of the beginning of a new sentence may allow a reader to capture more characters in their parafoveal vision -- the area of the retina just outside the area of focus, or fovea -- and thus start processing the information sooner (though experimental evidence of that was not very strong). Other prior research has inferred that an extra space prevents lateral interference in processing text, making it easier for the reader to identify the word in focus. But no prior research found by [study authors] Johnson, Bui, and Schmitt actually measured reader performance with each typographic scheme.

< article continued at Slashdot's controversial-findings department >

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Orbits of Jupiter and Venus Affect Earth's Climate, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '18 at 11:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's empirically-supported department:
According to a new study published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, gravitational tugs from the planets Jupiter and Venus gradually affect Earth's climate and life forms. The phenomenon occurs every 405,000 years and has been going on for at least 215 million years. USA Today reports: Jupiter and Venus are such strong influences because of their size and proximity. Venus is the nearest planet to us -- at its farthest, only about 162 million miles -- and roughly similar in mass. Jupiter is much farther away, but is the Solar System's largest planet. The study says that every 405,000 years, due to wobbles in our orbit caused by the gravitational pulls of the two planets, seasonal differences here on Earth become more intense. Summers are hotter and winters colder; dry times drier, wet times wetter. At the height of the cycle, more rain falls in the tropics, allowing lakes there to fill up. This compares to the other end of the cycle, when seasonal rains in the tropics "are less and lakes have much less of a tendency to become as full," [study lead author Dennis] Kent said. The results showed that the 405,000-year cycle is the most regular astronomical pattern linked to the Earth's annual turn around the sun, he said. Right now, we are in the middle of the cycle, as the most recent peak was around 200,000 years ago.

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Edge Computing: Explained
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '18 at 08:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fancy-lingo department:
An anonymous reader shares a report from The Verge, written by Paul Miller: In the beginning, there was One Big Computer. Then, in the Unix era, we learned how to connect to that computer using dumb (not a pejorative) terminals. Next we had personal computers, which was the first time regular people really owned the hardware that did the work. Right now, in 2018, we're firmly in the cloud computing era. Many of us still own personal computers, but we mostly use them to access centralized services like Dropbox, Gmail, Office 365, and Slack. Additionally, devices like Amazon Echo, Google Chromecast, and the Apple TV are powered by content and intelligence that's in the cloud -- as opposed to the DVD box set of Little House on the Prairie or CD-ROM copy of Encarta you might've enjoyed in the personal computing era. As centralized as this all sounds, the truly amazing thing about cloud computing is that a seriously large percentage of all companies in the world now rely on the infrastructure, hosting, machine learning, and compute power of a very select few cloud providers: Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and IBM. The advent of edge computing as a buzzword you should perhaps pay attention to is the realization by these companies that there isn't much growth left in the cloud space. Almost everything that can be centralized has been centralized. Most of the new opportunities for the "cloud" lie at the "edge." The word edge in this context means literal geographic distribution. Edge computing is computing that's done at or near the source of the data, instead of relying on the cloud at one of a dozen data centers to do all the work. It doesn't mean the cloud will disappear. It means the cloud is coming to you. Miller goes on to "examine what people mean practically when they extoll edge computing," focusing on latency, privacy and security, and bandwidth.

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Apple's iMac Turns 20 Years Old
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '18 at 07:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's happy-birthday department:
Twenty years ago on May 6, 1998, Steve Jobs unveiled the iMac for the first time. Current CEO Tim Cook shared footage from the event on Twitter Sunday. It shows Jobs describing the $1,299 iMac as an impossibly futuristic device. CNNMoney reports: "The whole thing is translucent, you can see into it. It's so cool," Jobs gushes. He points to a handle that allows the computer's owner to easily lift the device, which is about the size of a modern microwave oven. He takes a jab at the competition: "The back of this thing looks better than the front of the other guy's, by the way." In January 1999, less than a year after the iMac's debut, Apple more than tripled its quarterly profit.

The San Francisco Chronicle declared Apple was "cashing in on insatiable demand for its new space-age iMac computer." For the next decade, Jobs kept the new "i" products coming. Today, the iMac is in its seventh generation and is virtually unrecognizable from its ancestor. An Apple spokesperson notes an "iMac today consumes up to 96% less energy in sleep mode than the first generation." Some of the original iMac's tech specs include: PowerPC G3 processor clocked at 233MHz, 15-inch display with 1,024x768 resolution, two USB ports and Ethernet with a built-in software modem, 4GB hard drive, 32MB of RAM (expandable to 128MB), 24x CD-ROM drive, built-in stereo speakers with SRS sound, Apple-designed USB keyboard and mouse, and Mac OS 8.1.

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Google Will Ban Bail-Bond Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '18 at 07:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-the-line department:
First Google banned ads from payday lenders in 2016, now it will no longer allow ads from bail-bond companies. Ars Technica reports: In a blog post, the company suggested that such ads constitute a "deceptive or harmful product," citing a 2016 study concluding that minority and low-income communities are typically most affected by such services. "For-profit bail-bond providers make most of their revenue from communities of color and low-income neighborhoods when they are at their most vulnerable, including through opaque financing offers that can keep people in debt for months or years," Google wrote. Also in 2016, another study found that "there are 646,000 people locked up in more than 3,000 local jails throughout the U.S.," simply for their inability to pay a bond, which is what drives many people to the services of a bondsman. The change will take effect in July 2018.

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Connected Cars Don't Necessarily Disconnect Previous Owners When Resold
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '18 at 05:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's always-connected department:
A modern car should be treated like a personal computer. Before you sell it, you should make sure all connections are severed and personal information is wiped before handing the keys to the buyer. The Drive reports of a former Volkswagen owner who recently discovered that her connection to her car lingered even after her old car was sold to a new owner. In what may seem like a public service announcement, The Drive writes: "It's up to you to wipe out your data and connections, not the dealer or manufacturer." From the report: Ashley Sehatti sold her 2015 Jetta back to her local VW dealer back in December. Like most car owners, she figured that was the end of it. So she was baffled when she continued to get monthly reports about her car's health. After receiving April's report, she attempted to log into her account for Car-Net, Volkswagen's connected car service. Much to Sehatti's surprise, she found that not only was her account still active, she still had access to her old car. She could see its current mileage, the status of its locks and lights, and, most disturbingly, its current location on a map. Sehatti was not aware that she, not Volkswagen or her dealer, was responsible for disabling access to Car-Net when she sold the car. Its new owner likely didn't sign up for the Car-Net service, which meant that Sehatti's access remained available, even though she didn't even want it. "Our Car-Net Terms of Service explicitly outlines that as a subscriber, the customer has the responsibility to terminate the contract when selling their vehicle," writes Catharina Mette, the head of technology communications for Volkswagen Group's North Americas region. "This is a practice common in the industry." The takeaway here is to read the Terms of Service because most car owners don't do so in any great detail.

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MIT Invented a Tool That Allows Driverless Cars To Navigate Rural Roads Without a Map
Posted by News Fetcher on May 07 '18 at 05:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's off-the-radar department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: A student at MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) is developing new technology, called MapLite, that eliminates the need for maps in self-driving car technology altogether. This could more easily enable a fleet-sharing model that connects carless rural residents and would facilitate intercity trips that run through rural areas. In a paper posted online on May 7 by CSAIL and project partner Toyota, 30-year-old PhD candidate Teddy Ort -- along with co-authors Liam Paull and Daniela Rus -- detail how using LIDAR (a radar-like sensor that uses lasers instead of radio waves to measure distances) and GPS together can enable self-driving cars to navigate on rural roads without having a detailed map to guide them. The team was able to drive down a number of unpaved roads in rural Massachusetts and reliably scan the road for curves and obstacles up to 100 feet ahead, according to the paper.

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