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AMD and Nvidia Silicon Manufacturing Secrets Allegedly Stolen, Sold To China
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '17 at 03:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's chamber-of-secrets department:
According to a report on DigiTimes, a former TSMC engineer has been accused of stealing the secrets of their 28nm
manufacturing process and taking them across the Taiwan Straits to Chinese rival, HLMC. "The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) produce the chips for the great and the good of the PC hardware market, specifically Nvidia and latterly AMD," reports PCGamesN. From the report: The report claims the former engineer, known only as Hsu, has been accused of taking details and materials relating to TSMC's 28nm manufacturing process and handing them over to Shanghai Huali Microelectronics (HLMC) after being offered a job there. The engineer was arrested before he even had a chance to start his new job on mainland China. This isn't the first reported instance of potentially shady dealings involving HLMC. DigiTimes previously reported that the Chinese foundry had headhunted a team of up to 50 research and development engineers from Taiwan's first semiconductor company, United Microelectronics (UMC), to help them get their 28nm production process up to speed. DigiTimes also alleges that some Chinese memory manufacturers have been doing the same thing, headhunting Taiwanese talent to get their own fabs off the ground, and that Micron are taking legal action against some of their Taiwan partners for allegedly nicking their tech and handing it over to China-based RAM companies.

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The World Video Game Hall of Fame 2017 Inductees
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 11:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's winners-and-losers department:
Dave Knott writes: The 2017 World Video Game Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. The Hall Of Fame "recognizes individual electronic games of all types -- arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile -- that have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general." The 2017 inductees are: Donkey Kong, Halo: Combat Evolved, Pokemon Red and Green, and Street Fighter II. These four titles join the inaugural 2015 class, which included Pong, Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Doom and World of Warcraft, and the 2016 class which included Grand Theft Auto 3, The Legend of Zelda, The Oregon Trail, The Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog and Space Invaders.

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California Seeks To Tax Rocket Launches, Which Are Already Taxed
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 08:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's double-whammy department:
The state of California is looking into taxing its thriving rocket industry. The Franchise Tax Board has issued a proposed regulation for public comment that would require companies that launch spacecraft to pay a tax based upon "mileage" traveled by that spacecraft from California. Ars Technica reports: The proposal says that California-based companies that launch spacecraft will have to pay a tax based upon "mileage" traveled by that spacecraft from California. (No, we're not exactly sure what this means, either). The proposed regulations were first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, and Thomas Lo Grossman, a tax attorney at the Franchise Tax Board, told the newspaper that the rules are designed to mirror the ways taxes are levied on terrestrial transportation and logistics firms operating in California, like trucking or train companies. The tax board is seeking public input from now until June 16, when it is expected to vote on the proposed tax. The federal government already has its own taxes for commercial space companies, and until now no other state has proposed taxing commercial spaceflight. In fact most other states, including places like Florida, Texas, and Georgia, offer launch providers tax incentives to move business into their areas.

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Dormant Diseases Frozen In the Ice Are Waking Up
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's straight-out-of-a-science-fiction-movie department:
boley1 writes: Like a plot from a Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) movie, evil is waking up as permafrost melts due to weather or natural, man-made, local, and/or global climate change. (Take your pick of any or all -- doesn't matter -- the plot and result is roughly the same.) According the the BBC, a 12-year-old boy died and at least twenty people were hospitalized after being infected by a disease (anthrax) that lay buried in the ice for 75 years. "The theory is that, over 75 years ago, a reindeer infected with anthrax died and its frozen carcass became trapped under a layer of frozen soil, known as permafrost," reports BBC. "There it stayed until a heatwave in the summer of 2016, when the permafrost thawed." In this case, bringing back the disease was accidental, but the story goes on to give examples of scientists (no indication of whether they are mad or not) purposefully seeing what ancient bacteria and virus they can resurrect from the ice. How many more diseases are lurking in the ice? Will The Andromeda Strain be released by meddling scientists or global warming?

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Intel Announces Xeon Scalable Processor Family
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's family-comes-first department:
MojoKid writes: Intel unveiled information regarding a new Xeon processor family today, some of which will be based on the company's Skylake-SP architecture. Intel will have four levels of Xeon processors that scale with respect to feature support and core counts. Intel is calling it the Xeon Scalable Family with Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum processors. Today, Xeon model names follow a fairly easy-to-understand format. Take for example the Xeon E5-4640 v4. "E5" in this case means that it is in the middle of Intel's current stack in terms of features and capabilities, where the "4" signifies use in a 4-socket system. Finally, the "v4" represents the architecture. With this change, a model like the one above would become Intel Xeon Gold 4640, as an example. Regardless, the chips will include support for AVX-512 instructions, QuickAssist and Volume Management Device (VMD) technologies that will take advantage of NVMe solid-state drives. The platform will also support complementary processing engines and IO technologies like Intel FPGAs, Xeon Phi accelerators and Silicon Photonics connectivity. Intel notes the processors will be arriving to market this summer.

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Google Was Warned About This Week's Mass Phishing Email Attack Six Years Ago
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 04:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-back-to-haunt department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: For almost six years, Google knew about the exact technique that someone used to trick around one million people into giving away access to their Google accounts to hackers on Wednesday. Even more worrisome: other hackers might have known about this technique as well. On October 4, 2011, a researcher speculated in a mailing list that hackers could trick users into giving them access to their accounts by simply posing as a trustworthy app. This attack, the researcher argued in the message, hinges on creating a malicious application and registering it on the OAuth service under a name like "Google," exploiting the trust that users have in the OAuth authorization process. OAuth is a standard that allows users to grant websites or applications access to their online email and social networking accounts, or parts of their accounts, without giving up their passwords. "Imagine someone registers a client application with an OAuth service, let's call it Foobar, and he names his client app 'Google, Inc.'. The Foobar authorization server will engage the user with 'Google, Inc. is requesting permission to do the following,'" Andre DeMarre wrote in the message sent to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the independent organization responsible for many of the internet's operating standards. "The resource owner might reason, 'I see that I'm legitimately on the https://www.foobar.com/ site, and Foobar is telling me that Google wants permission. I trust Foobar and Google, so I'll click Allow,'" DeMarre concluded. As it turns out, DeMarre claims he warned Google directly about this vulnerability in 2012, and suggested that Google address it by checking to see ensure the name of any given app matched the URL of the company behind it. In a Hacker News post, DeMarre said he reported this attack vector back then, and got a "modest bounty" for it.

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Majority of US Households Now Cellphone-Only, Government Says
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 04:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-a-first-for-everything department:
The National Center for Health Statistics has released a report that says, for the first time in history, U.S. households with landlines are now in the minority. Network World reports: The second 6 months of 2016 was the first time that a majority of American homes had only wireless telephones. Preliminary results from the July-December 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that 50.8% of American homes did not have a landline telephone but did have at least one wireless telephone (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) -- an increase of 2.5 percentage points since the second 6 months of 2015. Young adults (25-34) and those who rent are most likely to live wireless-only, as 70 percent of that demographic lives with a landline.

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Cord-Cutting Spikes Fivefold In Cable TV's Worst Quarter Ever
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's day-of-reckoning department:
schwit1 quotes a report from Fast Company: Cable's day of reckoning has come. With all the major cable and satellite companies having reported their quarterly numbers, analyst firm MoffettNathanson put together a new cord-cutting report, and things are bad. Pay-TV providers lost an estimated 762,000 pay-TV subscribers over the first three months of this year -- five times more than they lost during the same period last year. To make matters worse, Q1 has historically been a strong season for pay TV.

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Google Releases DIY Open Source Raspberry Pi Voice Kit Hardware
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dirt-cheap department:
BrianFagioli writes: Google has decided to take artificial intelligence to the maker community with a new initiative called AIY. This initiative will introduce open source AI projects to the public that makers can leverage in a simple way. Today, Google announces the first-ever AIY project. Called "Voice Kit," it is designed to work with a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B to create a voice-based virtual assistant. Billy Rutledge, Director of AIY Projects for Google, explains, "The first open source reference project is the Voice Kit: instructions to build a Voice User Interface (VUI) that can use cloud services (like the new Google Assistant SDK or Cloud Speech API) or run completely on-device. This project extends the functionality of the most popular single board computer used for digital making -- the Raspberry Pi. The included Voice Hardware Accessory on Top (HAT) contains hardware for audio capture and playback: easy-to-use connectors for the dual mic daughter board and speaker, GPIO pins to connect low-voltage components like micro-servos and sensors, and an optional barrel connector for dedicated power supply. It was designed and tested with the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B."

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Billboards Target Lawmakers Who Voted To Let ISPs Sell User Information
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fight-for-the-future department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: When Congress voted in March to block FCC privacy rules and let internet service providers sell users' personal data, it was a coup for the telecom industry. Now, the nonprofit, pro-privacy group Fight for the Future is publicizing just how much the industry paid in an attempt to sway those votes. The group unveiled four billboards, targeting Reps. Marsha Blackburn and John Rutherford, as well as Sens. Jeff Flake and Dean Heller. All four billboards, which were paid for through donations, were placed in the lawmakers' districts. "Congress voting to gut Internet privacy was one of the most blatant displays of corruption in recent history," Fight for the Future co-founder Tiffiniy Cheng said in a statement on the project. The billboards accuse the lawmakers of betraying their constituents, and encourage passersby to call their offices.

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How Not to Make a Movie About Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 02:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's watching-tech-fiction-on-TV department:
'The Circle' (a techno-thriller movie starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson) is a dated, far-fetched parable about an imaginary villain -- and far less scary than its television counterpart, says Alyssa Bereznak, a staff writer at The Ringer. An anonymous reader shares the article, removing the excerpts that could spoil the plot: Hollywood is keen on illustrating the awesome power of modern-day tech companies and the elite class of entrepreneurs who run them. But lately the most effective way to do that is not to focus on what's possible, but to illustrate the real-life personalities that control the near future of tech. Stylistically, a show like HBO's Silicon Valley couldn't be further from a production like The Circle, and yet it succeeds in threading together a host of issues in tech culture, including major corporations' monopoly-like power to squash competitors, manipulate the unwitting tech press, and bypass the interests of their employees and users for the sake of better stock prices. Now at the beginning of its fourth season, the show is lauded for its highly researched, accurate depictions of the Bay Area's power players -- so much so that it has spurred at least one Business Insider post dedicated to identifying each character's real-life inspiration. (The show has even featured a handful of cameos from the industry's power brokers, including Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel and Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt.) Even if it does take place in a comedy created by the man who gave us Beavis and Butt-Head, the show's researched interpretation of real life is a much more compelling way to display the tech world's flaws, rather than simply relying on imagined scaremongering.

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Cloudflare Helps Serve Up Hate Online: Report
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 02:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's getting-to-the-bottom-of-things department:
An anonymous reader writes: f you've been wondering how hate has proliferated online, especially since the 2016 election, ProPublica has some answers. According to ProPublica, Cloudflare -- a major San Francisco-based internet company -- enables extremist web sites to stay in business by providing them with internet data delivery services. Cloudflare reportedly also keeps to a policy of turning over contact information of anyone who complains to operators of the offending sites, thus exposing the complainants to personal harassment.

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Known Flaws in Mobile Data Backbone Allow Hackers To Trick 2FA
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 12:42 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's everything-is-broken department:
A known security hole in the networking protocol used by cellphone providers around the world played a key role in a recent string of attacks that drained bank customer accounts, according to a report published Wednesday. From the article: For years, researchers, hackers, and even some politicians have warned about stark vulnerabilities in a mobile data network called SS7. These flaws allow attackers to listen to calls, intercept text messages, and pinpoint a device's location armed with just the target's phone number. Taking advantage of these issues has typically been reserved for governments or surveillance contractors. But on Wednesday, German newspaper The Suddeutsche Zeitung reported that financially-motivated hackers had used those flaws to help drain bank accounts. This is much bigger than a series of bank accounts though: it cements the fact that the SS7 network poses a threat to all of us, the general public. And it shows that companies and services across the world urgently need to move away from SMS-based authentication to protect customer accounts.

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Managers Should Start Texting Job Candidates, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 12:42 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's changing-habits department:
From a report: A new survey by Yello, a talent recruiting software company, has found that there are some aspects of the hiring process that companies could stand to improve. The report, taken from a survey of 1,461 young adults between the ages of 18 and 30 who were either currently employed or had accepted full-time or internship offers, found that mobile phones are one of the most useful tools for the interviewing and hiring process. Text messages, for example, may be the unsung hero of the communication loop. Yello's survey data indicates respondents would welcome getting a text from a business, particularly because they're so used to responding quickly to text messages. The report shows that 86% of those surveyed felt positively when text messages were used during the interview period, an increase from 79% in 2016. More candidates are happy to do video interviews in lieu of traveling to meet hiring managers in person.

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No More FTP At Debian
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 11:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's out-of-fashion department:
New submitter Gary Perkins writes: It looks like anonymous FTP is officially on its way out. While many public repositories have deprecated it in favor of HTTP, I was rather surprised to see Debian completely drop it on their public site. In a blog post, the team cited the FTP's lack of support for caching or acceleration, and declining usage as some of the reasons for their decision.

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User Expresses Privacy Concerns After Software Update Replaces Default Phone App
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 11:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what'-happening department:
An anonymous reader writes: Since I am not living in my home country, I frequently use two different SIM cards and prefer having a phone with dual-sim support. This limits your choice significantly when buying a new device and last time I bought one, I opted for the Wileyfox Swift. It was cheap, had most features I desired and shipped with CyanogenMod (Android) -- which, I thought, might indicate that Wileyfox delivers a slim, privacy-aware system. Yesterday, I was delighted to see that Wileyfox provides an update to a new version of Android (7.1.1) and I didn't hesitate long to install the upgrade. Concerns that the hardware might not hold-up to the new system showed to be unfounded and everything seemed to work just fine. But when I realised that the dialler now labelled itself as 'truecaller' -- something I had never heard of, shoot, I didn't even know the dialler is an app -- it gave rise to a bad suspicion: Is some of my phone's core functionality now provided by a 3rd-party app? Indeed. Does it respect my privacy? No. Can I uninstall it again? No. Was I ever asked to comply with their terms and conditions? Of course not. On top of this, Truecaller doesn't seem to have a clean background. Here's how an Indian daily (Truecaller seems to be popular in emerging regions) described the app: Truecaller is a popular app that shows you contact details of unknown numbers calling you. It crowdsources contact details from all its users' address books. So even if you've never used the service, your name and number could be on Truecaller's database, thanks to someone else who's saved your contact details and allowed the app to access them.

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'This Isn't AI'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 11:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department:
The Amazon Echo, a 'smart' speaker developed by Amazon.com, gets many things right. You can ask it to for weather updates, check news, and to play music, and Alexa, the AI powering the device, won't disappoint. But how smart is Alexa? Programmer Terence Eden put it to a simple test to find out. From a blog post: I can now query my solar panels via my Alexa Amazon Dot Echo. I flatter myself as a reasonably competent techie and programmer, but fuck me AWS Lambdas and Alexa skills are a right pile of shite! I wanted something simple. When I say "Solar Panels", call this API, then say this phrase. That's the kind of thing which should take 5 minutes in something like IFTTT . Instead, it took around two hours of following out-of-date official tutorials, and whinging on Twitter, before I got my basic service up and running. [...] It's not so bad, but it does reveal Amazon's contempt for developers. Several of the steps contained errors, it involves multiple logins, random clicks, and a bunch of copy & pasting. Dull and complex. A frustrating and ultimately unsatisfying experience. I ended up using StackOverflow to correct errors in my code because the documentation was so woefully lacking. I kinda thought that Amazon would hear "solar panels" and work out the rest of the query using fancy neural network magic. Nothing could be further from the truth. The developer has to manually code every single possible permutation of the phrase that they expect to hear. This isn't AI. Voice interfaces are the command line. But you don't get tab-to-complete. Amazon allows you to test your code by typing rather than speaking. I spent a frustrating 10 minutes trying to work out why my example code didn't work. Want to know why? I was typing "favourite" rather than the American spelling. Big Data my shiny metal arse.

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How Good is Antivirus Software at Protecting Itself?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 10:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's a-look-at-the-gatekeepers department:
An anonymous reader writes: Earlier this week, AV-TEST evaluated 19 security suites and found that only three of them seemed to be well protected from savvy potential hackers. First, some context about the tests: The first test measured how well each program uses address space layout randomization (ASLR) and data execution prevention (DEP). Briefly, ASLR randomizes a computer's memory allocation, making it harder for an attacker to target a particular process in a program; DEP is a Windows protocol that designates some memory as non-executable space (other operating systems do this under different names), making it harder (or impossible) for unauthorized programs to run in that space. The second test measured whether the AV programs digitally signed their software-update files. Signing is a way of determining a file's origin and authenticity; unsigned files could be more easily substituted with malicious ones. The final test was the simplest, and determined whether an AV manufacturers delivered its software updates via the encrypted HTTPS web protocol. Lack of encryption makes it easy for an attacker to stage a man-in-the-middle attack by intercepting the data transmission, altering the data and then sending the data back on its way. Of the 19 programs tested, only three succeeded on all counts: Bitdefender Internet Security 2017, ESET Internet Security 10 and Kaspersky Internet Security 17.0. It's difficult to rank the rest of the programs, as each one succeeded and failed to varying degrees.

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SpaceX Plans To Send the First of Its 4,425 Super-Fast Internet Satellites Into Space in 2019
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 10:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-forward department:
Elon Musk's SpaceX has laid out a plan to create a network of internet-providing satellites around Earth. The company hopes to start launching satellites into space in 2019, and will continue to send them in phases until 2024, when the network is expected to reach capacity. From a report:On Wednesday, Patricia Cooper, SpaceX's vice president of satellite government affairs, said later this year, the company will start testing the satellites themselves, launch one prototype before the end of the year and another during the "early months" of 2018. Following that, SpaceX will begin its satellite launch campaign in 2019. "The remaining satellites in the constellation will be launched in phases through 2024," Cooper said before the Senate's Committee on Commerce, Science and Technology. [...] SpaceX argues that the U.S. lags behind other developed nations in broadband speed and price competitiveness, while many rural areas are not serviced by traditional internet providers. The company's satellites will provide a "mesh network" in space that will be able to deliver high broadband speeds without the need for cables.

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NASA Runs Competition To Help Make Old Fortran Code Faster
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 08:43 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's outsourcing-the-job department:
NASA is seeking help from coders to speed up the software it uses to design experimental aircraft. From a report on BBC: It is running a competition that will share $55,000 between the top two people who can make its FUN3D software run up to 10,000 times faster. The FUN3D code is used to model how air flows around simulated aircraft in a supercomputer. The software was developed in the 1980s and is written in an older computer programming language called Fortran. "This is the ultimate 'geek' dream assignment," said Doug Rohn, head of NASA's transformative aeronautics concepts program that makes heavy use of the FUN3D code. In a statement, Mr Rohn said the software is used on the agency's Pleiades supercomputer to test early designs of futuristic aircraft. The software suite tests them using computational fluid dynamics, which make heavy use of complicated mathematical formulae and data structures to see how well the designs work.

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