By BeauHD from Slashdot's end-of-the-road department
Microsoft is officially killing off its Microsoft Band and Microsoft Health Dashboard apps and services on May 31st. "The software giant already discontinued its wrist-worn Band fitness tracker more than two years ago, but the company has kept the Band apps running to support existing users," reports The Verge. "That will now change on May 31st, with the backend services ending and the apps being removed from the Microsoft Store, Google Play, and Apple's App Store." From the report: Existing Band users will be able to export their data before the end of May, and services powered by the cloud will cease to function in June. Band users should still be able to record daily steps, heart rate, and workouts, alongside activity data, sleep tracking, and alarm functionality. If a Band user resets a device then it will be "impossible to set up the device again" according to Microsoft.
Some Microsoft Band users will be eligible for a refund from the software giant, though. Microsoft is letting active users who have synced data from a Band to the Health Dashboard between December 1st 2018 and March 1st 2019 apply for a refund on their hardware. Surprisingly, Microsoft is offering $79.99 for Band 1 owners, and $175 for Band 2 devices. If your Microsoft Band is also covered under warranty, the same refund values will be available.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's quietly-buying-and-selling-your-data department
tedlistens writes: Vermont's newly enacted data broker law is the only law of its kind in the U.S. so far, and it's forced any company collecting data on its citizens to register with the state. Fast Company wrote about the limitations of the law and compiled a list of the companies, what they do, and tips for opting-out if possible.
The Vermont law only covers third-party data firms -- those trafficking in the data of people with whom they have no relationship -- as opposed to "first-party" data holders like Amazon, Facebook, or Google, which collect their own enormous piles of detailed personal data directly from users. It doesn't require data brokers to disclose who's in their databases, what data they collect, or who buys it. Nor does it require brokers to give consumers access to their own data or opt out of data collection. Brokers are, however required to provide some information about their opt-out systems under the law -- assuming they provide one. "The registry is an expansive, alphabet soup of companies, from lesser-known organizations that help landlords research potential tenants or deliver marketing leads to insurance companies, to the quiet giants of data," reports Fast Company. "Those include big names in people search, like Spokeo, ZoomInfo, White Pages, PeopleSmart, Intelius, and PeopleFinders; credit reporting, like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion; and advertising and marketing, like Acxiom, Oracle, LexisNexis, Innovis, and KBM. Some companies also specialize in 'risk mitigation,' which can include credit reporting but also background checks and other identity verification services." The report lists all the companies that have registered under Vermont's data broker law, with descriptions drawn from their websites or other sources where noted.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's trust-issues department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Using two-factor authentication, a security mechanism that requires a second step to login into an account other than the password, is widely considered an essential measure to protect yourself online. Yet, only a small percentage of people use this feature, mostly because it can be burdensome and it's rarely required by default, leaving users with the responsibility to turn it on. Now, Facebook may have given people yet another reason not to bother. Last week, Emojipedia founder Jeremy Burge warned in a viral Twitter thread that anyone could look him up on Facebook using his phone number, which he provided to the social network in order to enable two-factor authentication. What's worse, it looks like there's no way to completely remove your phone number that Facebook has collected. If you check your privacy settings, under "Who can look you up using the phone number you provided?" there are only three options: Everyone, Friends of friends, and Friends. "Everyone" is the default.
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By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
Netflix has addressed Steven Spielberg's concerns, after the legendary director indicated he'd throw his weight behind making Oscars harder to reach for Netflix films like "Roma". From a report: The streaming giant didn't name Spielberg directly in its tweet, but considering his views on Netflix films and the Academy Awards, it seems like the statement is associated with the director's thoughts about their participation as contenders in award season. "We love cinema," the official Netflix Twitter account wrote. They continue with a list of things they loved including: Access for people who can't always afford, or live in towns without, theaters; letting everyone, everywhere enjoy releases at the same time; and giving filmmakers more ways to share art. "These things are not mutually exclusive," they concluded in a tweet that could be considered a clap back at the filmmaker. IndieWire reported last week that Spielberg, who serves as the current governor of the Academy's directors branch, intends to argue in favor of changing the Oscars' rules to prevent streaming services from entering the campaign field at the Academy Board of Governors' next meeting. Because Netflix is a home-viewing platform, critics like Spielberg say that it's better-suited for the Emmys, which celebrate TV, a medium inherent to home-viewing.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Fish populations are declining as oceans warm, putting a key source of food and income at risk for millions of people around the world, according to research published last week. From a report: The study found that the amount of seafood that humans could sustainably harvest from a wide range of species shrank by 4.1 percent from 1930 to 2010, a casualty of human-caused climate change. "That 4 percent decline sounds small, but it's 1.4 million metric tons of fish from 1930 to 2010," said Chris Free, the lead author of the study, which appears in the journal Science. Scientists have warned that global warming will put pressure on the world's food supplies in coming decades. But the new findings -- which separate the effects of warming waters from other factors, like overfishing -- suggest that climate change is already having a serious impact on seafood.
[...] As the oceans have warmed, some regions have been particularly hard-hit. In the northeast Atlantic Ocean and the Sea of Japan, fish populations declined by as much as 35 percent over the period of the study. "The ecosystems in East Asia have seen some of the largest decline in fisheries productivity," Dr. Free said. "And that region is home to some of the largest growing human populations and populations that are highly dependent on seafood."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's strange-bug department
Over the weekend, a disturbed Android TV owner took to Twitter when he realized, through the Google Home app, he could access a massive list of random accounts, as well as photos they'd added to their Google Photos albums. From a report: If someone were to click on "linked accounts" while setting your Google Photos screensaver, the Google Home bug apparently showed a giant, scrolling list of users. From there, the bug allowed limited access to users' personal images in Google Photos, which could then be displayed as Ambient Mode screensavers. That is, someone could have theoretically displayed your photos as screensavers on their Android TV without you knowing it. The user who discovered this bug theorized that the list of accounts were other users with the same TV model, but that hasn't been confirmed yet. There's no answer yet on where this bug came from, but Google is working on a fix and has disabled Google Photos screensavers in the meantime.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Thousands of people could soon be receiving letters threatening to cut off vital housing benefits as they face being incorrectly targeted by a new automated fraud detector. From a report: The government-backed London Counter Fraud Hub, developed by BAE, has been hailed a success after being trialled in four boroughs - Camden, Ealing, Croydon and Islington. Using vast quantities of data from millions of households, it is designed to target potential fraud cases involving the single person council tax discount, subletting in local authority housing and business rate relief and rating.
Ealing, the lead council for the project, found the automated elements of the system targeting single person discount fraud was 80% effective -- which is seen as an acceptable benchmark. With just over one million claimants of council tax single person discount in London, the London Counter Fraud Hub estimates it will detect around 40,000 fraudulent cases in the first year. Critics say the 20% error rate is unacceptable as around 8,000 people will receive letters wrongly accusing them of fraud.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
An anonymous reader shares a report: The median rent for a one bedroom apartment in San Francisco has reached a new peak of $3,690, according to survey data from Zumper, a home and apartment rental app. That's also a rise of nearly 9 percent from the same time last year, the survey found. Not only are those figures high enough to make your bank account cringe, but they're also nearly 30 percent higher than New York City and more than double the prices in Miami. Seattle, home to Amazon and Microsoft, rang in at $1,970 and Washington, DC, hit $2,150.
Oh, and by the way, while San Francisco's prices rose, the median price of one bedroom apartments across the US dropped nearly half a percent during this same time. That means while San Francisco's prices climbed, the country's prices fell. "Though there may be a ton of cash flowing through the city and surrounding areas soon, many of these workers will not immediately invest in a home and may, instead, take their money to both travel and upgrade their rental situation," Zumper wrote in a blog post Thursday.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) today declared that the Web Authentication API (WebAuthn) is now an official web standard. From a report: First announced by the W3C and the FIDO Alliance in February 2016, WebAuthn is now an open standard for password-free logins on the web. It is supported by W3C contributors, including Airbnb, Alibaba, Apple, Google, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, Mozilla, PayPal, SoftBank, Tencent, and Yubico. The specification lets users log into online accounts using biometrics, mobile devices, and/or FIDO security keys. WebAuthn is supported by Android and Windows 10. On the browser side, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Microsoft Edge all added support last year. Apple has supported WebAuthn in preview versions of Safari since December.Read Replies (0)
Linux 5.0 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on March 04 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-milestones department
An anonymous reader writes: Linus Torvalds has released Linux 5.0 in kicking off the kernel's 28th year of development. Linux 5.0 features include AMD FreeSync support, open-source NVIDIA Turing GPU support, Intel Icelake graphics, Intel VT-d scalable mode, NXP PowerPC processors are now mitigated for Spectre Variant Two, and countless other additions. eWeek adds: Among the new features that have landed in Linux 5.0 is support for the Adiantum encryption system, developed by Google for low power devices. Google's Android mobile operating system and ChromeOS desktop operating system both rely on the Linux kernel. "Storage encryption protects your data if your phone falls into someone else's hands," Paul Crowley and Eric Biggers, Android Security and Privacy Team at Google wrote in a blog post. "Adiantum is an innovation in cryptography designed to make storage encryption more efficient for devices without cryptographic acceleration, to ensure that all devices can be encrypted. Memory management in Linux also gets a boost in the 5.0 kernel with a series of improvements designed to help prevent memory fragmentation, which can reduce performance.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's digging-Mars department
"The 'mole' aboard NASA's InSight Mars lander has encountered stiff resistance on its first subsurface sojourn beneath the surface of the Red Planet," reports Space.com:
In a major mission milestone, InSight's Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package (HP3) instrument burrowed underground for the first time on Feb. 28. After 400 hammer blows over the course of four hours, the instrument apparently got between 7 inches and 19.7 inches (18 to 50 centimeters) beneath the red dirt -- but obstacles slowed its progress, mission team members said...
The $850 million InSight lander -- whose name is short for Interior Exploration using Seismic Investigations, Geodesy and Heat Transport -- touched down on Nov. 26. The spacecraft aims to map the Red Planet's interior in unprecedented detail. It will do this primarily by characterizing "marsquakes" and other vibrations with a suite of supersensitive seismometers, which was built by a consortium led by the French space agency CNES; and measuring subsurface heat flow with HP3, which DLR provided.
"I'm digging Mars!" announced NASA's official Twitter feed for the InSight robotic lander, adding "My self-hammering mole has started burrowing in, and my team is poring over the data..."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I,-predict department
For 22 years technology writer Robert X. Cringely has been making predictions for the year to come -- but this year may be his last. So at age 66, he's promising his 2019 predictions will also "take a look out several years...because I sense the tech industry about to enter an unprecedented correction."
And last week he unveiled his first prediction -- that Apple under Tim Cook "emulates GE under Jack Welch.... Jack Welch took GE into financial services in 1981, transforming the company and increasing its market cap by 4000 percent over his 20 years. "
Tim Cook has already started in 2019 along the same path forged by GE's Jack Welch back in 1981. This strategic shift started to show just this week with Apple directly financing iPhone sales in China and announcing an Apple credit card with Goldman Sachs... Look for Apple to start financing lots of things in 2019. Remember your car dealer would rather lend you money than have you pay cash for that ride because financing is its own profit center. So iPhone prices will continue to rise, but iPhone payments will probably decline as Apple cuts out middle men and efficiently sucks-up that aspect of the phone supply chain. This is how Apple will arrest iPhone market share declines -- by assisting sales and making even more money in the process.
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