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Vacuum Company Dyson To Build 'Radically Different' Electric Car
Posted by News Fetcher on September 27 '17 at 05:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's radically-different department:
British inventor Sir James Dyson has announced plans to build an electric car that will be "radically different" from current models and go on sale in 2020. The Guardian reports: The billionaire who revolutionized the vacuum cleaner said 400 engineers in Wiltshire had been working since 2015 on the 2.5 billion British pound project. No prototype has yet been built, but Dyson said the car's electric motor was ready, while two different battery types were under development that he claimed were already more efficient than in existing electric cars. Dyson said consumers would have to "wait and see" what the car would look like: "We don't have an existing chassis [...] We're starting from scratch. What we're doing is quite radical." However, he said the design was "all about the technology" and warned that it would be an expensive vehicle to purchase. While he did not name a price, he said: "Maybe the better figure is how much of a deposit they would be prepared to put down."

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Russia Threatens To Shut Down Facebook Over Local Data Storage Laws
Posted by News Fetcher on September 27 '17 at 05:23 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's war-of-words department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Facebook Inc. will be shut down in Russia next year if it fails to comply with requirements to store user data locally, according to the head of Russia's state communications watchdog. "The law is mandatory for everyone," Alexander Zharov told reporters Tuesday. Roskomnadzor will be forcing foreign internet companies to comply or shut down in the country. President Vladimir Putin signed a law in 2014 that requires global internet firms to store personal data of Russian clients on local servers. Companies ranging from Alphabet Inc.'s Google to Alibaba Group Holding Ltd complied, while others like Twitter Inc. demanded extra time to evaluate the economic feasibility of doing so.

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Mozilla's 'Firefox Quantum' Browser Challenges Chrome In Speed
Posted by News Fetcher on September 27 '17 at 04:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pound-for-pound department:
The next version of Firefox, aptly named Firefox Quantum, is getting a big speed boost. "The idea, of course, is that the upcoming version 57 is a quantum leap over predecessors -- or, in the words of Mozilla CEO Chris Beard, a 'big bang,'" reports CNET. While Mozilla stopped short of declaring victory over Chrome, Nick Nguyen, vice president of Firefox product, said Firefox Quantum's page-load speed "is often perceivably faster" while using 30 percent less memory. From the report: The new Firefox revamp includes lots of under-the-covers improvements, like Quantum Flow, which stamps out dozens of performance bugs, and Quantum CSS, aka Stylo, which speeds up website formatting. More obvious from the outside is a new interface called Photon that wipes out Firefox's rounded tabs and adds a "page action" menu into the address bar. It also builds in the Pocket bookmarking service Mozilla acquired and uses it to recommend sites you might be interested in. A screenshot tool generates a website link so you can easily share what you see by email or Twitter. Mozilla even simplified the Firefox logo, a fox wrapping itself around the globe. More improvements are in the pipeline for later Firefox versions, too, including Quantum Render, which should speed up Firefox's ability to paint web pages onto your screen.

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Twitter Tests Doubling Character Limit For Tweets To 280
Posted by News Fetcher on September 27 '17 at 01:23 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's short-novels department:
Twitter announced today that it has started testing 280-character tweets for select users. The new limit doubles the current 140-character limit, and is said to help users be more expressive. The Verge reports: "Our research shows us that the character limit is a major cause of frustration for people tweeting in English," the company said in a blog post. "When people don't have to cram their thoughts into 140 characters and actually have some to spare, we see more people Tweeting -- which is awesome!"

About 9 percent of all tweets today are exactly 140 characters, Twitter says. It's tough to do that on accident, suggesting that users frequently have to edit their initial thoughts to get them under the limit. (It's certainly true for me.) Now Twitter hopes to ease that burden by doubling the character limit in what it calls "languages impacted by cramming," which includes every language except for Japanese, Chinese, and Korean. The report goes on to note that the "140-character limit was originally established to reflect the length of SMS messages, which was how tweets were distributed prior to the development of mobile apps. SMS messages are limited to 160 characters; Twitter reserved the remaining 20 for the username," reports The Verge.

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Equifax CEO Steps Down Amid Hacking Scandal
Posted by News Fetcher on September 27 '17 at 12:03 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's watch-your-step department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Richard Smith, CEO and chairman of Equifax, abruptly retired Tuesday following a data breach at the credit-reporting service that affected the personal information of 143 million people. Smith, who was 57 as of the company's proxy statement in March, became CEO and chairman in 2005 after 22 years at General Electric in senior roles in various divisions. He is to appear at a hearing of the Senate Banking Committee on Oct. 4 and is the only person scheduled to testify. He is also scheduled to testify next week at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Smith's salary for 2016 was $1.45 million and his bonus was $3.045 million. In a regulatory filing on Tuesday, the company said Smith will not get a bonus for this year and any other decisions regarding how his departure has been characterized or how much the company owes him will be deferred until the board completes an independent review of the breach and the response to it. In a separate report, CNBC notes that Smith could walk away with at least $18.4 million in pension benefits. The company is looking for a new CEO, naming its Asia-Pacific head to take on the interim CEO role.

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NSA Targeted 106,000 Foreigners In Spy Program Up For Renewal
Posted by News Fetcher on September 26 '17 at 05:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tools-of-the-job department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: The U.S. National Security Agency conducted targeted surveillance over the past year against 106,000 foreigners suspected of being involved in terrorism and other crimes, using powers granted in a controversial section of law that's set to expire at the end of this year. The number of foreigners targeted under Section 702 of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act rose from 94,000 in fiscal year 2015, according to U.S. intelligence officials, who asked not to be identified discussing the information. The program lets agencies collect the content of emails and other communications from suspected foreign criminals operating outside the U.S., but it has become a flash point with some lawmakers for potential infringement of Americans' constitutional rights. Congress has to decide by year-end whether to renew the NSA's power under Section 702, a program that came to light when former government contractor Edward Snowden revealed classified government documents in 2013. While the intelligence officials cautioned that changes would limit its effectiveness, lawmakers including Senate Intelligence Committee member Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, have indicated they'll seek adjustments to ensure against abuses.

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Red Cross Asks For 50 Ham Radio Operators To Fly To Puerto Rico
Posted by News Fetcher on September 26 '17 at 02:40 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's relief-efforts department:
Bruce Perens writes: The red cross has asked for 50 ham radio operators to fly to Puerto Rico and be deployed there for up to three weeks. This is unprecedented in the 75-year cooperation between Red Cross and ARRL, the national organization of ham radio operators for the U.S. The operators will relay health-and-welfare messages and provide communications links where those are missing and are essential to rescue and recovery. With much infrastructure destroyed, short-wave radio is a critical means of communicating from Puerto Rico to the Mainland at this time.

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Star Trek: Discovery Nearly Cracks Pirate Bay's Top 10 In Less Than 24 Hours
Posted by News Fetcher on September 26 '17 at 12:03 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department:
Yesterday was the season premiere of the first new Star Trek TV series in 12 years. While the first episode aired on the CBS broadcast network Sunday night, the second episode -- and all the rest to come -- was made available exclusively on the CBS All Access streaming service for $6 a month. Naturally, this upset Trekkies and led many of them to find alternative methods to watch the show. EW reports that Star Trek: Discovery "is on the verge of cracking Pirate Bay's Top 10 most illegally downloaded shows in less than 24 hours." From the report: The Discovery pilot is currently at No. 11 on the list (apparently at No. 15 just a few hours ago), the pilot is up there with the likes of HBO's Game of Thrones, Adult Swim's Rick and Morty and, for some reason, TNT's The Last Ship. The show's second episode is at No. 17, which is a tad surprising as that was the one that wasn't free. Ever since the distribution plan was first announced fans have resisted with some vehemence the idea of paying for "yet another streaming service just to watch a single show" (there's more than one show on All Access, CBS is quick to point out, and then a debate over the relative merits of NCIS and MacGyver repeats ensues).

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If Data Is the New Oil, Are Tech Companies Robbing Us Blind?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 08:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's blind-as-a-bat department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Data is the new oil, or so the saying goes. So why are we giving it away for nothing more than ostensibly free email, better movie recommendations, and more accurate search results? It's an important question to ask in a world where the accumulation and scraping of data is worth billions of dollars -- and even a money-losing company with enough data about its users can be worth well into the eight-figure region. The essential bargain that's driven by today's tech giants is the purest form of cognitive capitalism: users feed in their brains -- whether this means solving a CAPTCHA to train AI systems or clicking links on Google to help it learn which websites are more important than others. In exchange for this, we get access to ostensibly "free" services, while simultaneously helping to train new technologies which may one day put large numbers of us out of business.

In an age in which concepts like universal basic income are increasingly widely discussed, one of the most intriguing solutions is one first put forward by virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier. In his book Who Owns the Future?, Lanier suggests that users should receive a micropayment every time their data is used to earn a company money. For example, consider the user who signs up to an online dating service. Here, the user provides data that the dating company uses to match them with a potential data. This matching process is, itself, based on algorithms honed by the data coming from previous users. The data resulting from the new user will further perfect the algorithms for later users of the service. In the case that your data somehow matches someone else successfully in a relationship, Lanier says you would be entitled to a micropayment.

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Russia Reportedly Bought Thousands of Facebook Ads Sought To Stress Racial Divisions
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 06:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ulterior-motives department:
According to The Washington Post, Russia government actors bought Facebook advertisements during the 2016 election cycle that sought to exploit and divide based on hot-button racial issues. Some of the ads promoted civil rights groups such as Black Lives Matter, while others criticized them in an effort to sow division. The Hill reports: Facebook is handing over some 3,000 ads to congressional investigators as part of probes into the Kremlin's alleged effort to influence the outcome of last year's presidential election. Other ads allegedly highlighted Hillary Clinton's support among Muslim women and promoted anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant messages. Facebook didn't comment on the story, but did refer to a statement earlier this month from its chief privacy officer, Alex Stamos: "Rather, the ads and accounts appeared to focus on amplifying divisive social and political messages across the idealogical spectrum -- touching on topics from LGBT matters to race issues to immigration to gun rights."

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Dubai Starts Tests in Bid To Become First City With Flying Taxis
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 06:43 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's to-the-future department:
Dubai staged a test flight on Monday for what it said would soon be the world's first drone taxi service under an ambitious plan by the United Arab Emirates city to lead the Arab world in innovation. From a report: The flying taxi developed by German drone firm Volocopter resembles a small, two-seater helicopter cabin topped by a wide hoop studded with 18 propellers. It was unmanned for its maiden test run in a ceremony arranged for Dubai Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed. Meant to fly without remote control guidance and with a maximum flight duration of 30 minutes, it comes with plenty of fail-safes in case of trouble: back-up batteries, rotors and, for a worst case scenario, a couple of parachutes.

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Intel Launches 16 and 18-Core Core i9 Desktop Chips To Take On AMD Threadripper
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 05:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-the-merrier department:
MojoKid writes: Intel has officially launched its Skylake-X processor offering in response to AMD's Ryzen Threadripper series of desktop CPUs. The new Core i9-7980XE and Core i9-7960X are 18 and 16-core configurations respectively, with 2.6GHz and 2.8GHz base clocks and 4.4GHz max boost clocks. Both chips support Intel HyperThreading, with 36 threads of processing for the 7980XE and 32 for the 7960X, while both also have 44 lanes of PCI Express connectivity and support for DDR4-2666MHz memory. Both chips also utilize Intel's X299 chipset platform and are LGA 2066 socket compatible. The Core i9-7980XE has 24.75MB of shared L3 cache, 1MB of L2 cache per core, and a TDP of 165W. The Core i9-7960X's details are essentially same, though two processor cores and the cache associated with them have been lopped off. The Core i9-7960X has a couple of advantages, however, in that its base clock is 200MHz higher than the flagship Core i9-7980XE and it has higher all-core frequency boost to 3.6GHz, while the 7908XE tops out at 3.4GHz on all cores. The new chips are multi-threaded beasts in the benchmarks, posting the highest scores seen to date in heavily threaded workloads. They also offer strong single-threaded performance that outpaces AMD's Ryzen processors. Power consumption is surprisingly good as well and only marginally higher than the 10-core Core i9-7900X. However, at $1999 for the Core i9-7980XE and $1699 for the Core i9-7960X, as usual with Intel high-end chips, they're certainly not cheap.

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Instagram Now Has 800 Million Monthly, 500 Million Daily Active Users
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 05:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's steady-as-she-goes department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Instagram said Monday that it's added another 100 million monthly users. That brings the photo-sharing app to 800 million monthly active users, up from 700 million in April, according to Carolyn Everson, vice president of global marketing solutions at Facebook, who spoke at an Advertising Week event in New York City. Five hundred million of those are daily active users, the company said. That means that Instagram is still ahead of rival Snap in terms of users, based on Snap's last report. Snap said in August that it had 173 million daily active users. Time spent watching video on Instagram is up more than 80 percent year over year, the company also said on Monday, and four times as many videos are being produced every day on Instagram compared with a year ago.

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Tesla Model 3 Owners Share More Info On Model
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 04:03 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's early-adoption department:
Owners at the Model 3 Owners Club compiled a list of over 80 different features of the Model 3 they're curious about, including questions about how the car operates (does the card unlock all the doors, where does the UI show you that your turn signals are active), physical aspects of the car (what does the tow hitch attachment look like, how much stuff can you fit in the front and rear cargo areas), and subjective details (how aggressive is the energy regeneration, does that wood trim cause glare). Ars Technica reports: So far, we've learned a few interesting facts. For instance, the windshield wipers are turned on and off by a stalk like just about every other car on the market, but changing the speed (slow/fast/intermittent) is handled by a menu on the touchscreen. The stalk also does double duty turning on the headlights, and there are no rain sensors for the wipers. The touchscreen UI really is the only way to interact with every other function, according to owners, even the rear air vents are controlled from up front (although there are USB ports in the back). Rear seat passengers also won't get seat heaters from what we gather -- unless Tesla plans to activate them in a later software update -- and the steering wheel is not heated either. The two buttons on the steering wheel do not appear to be user-configurable. Instead, the left button primarily deals with audio functions (scroll up and down for volume, left and right to change track) while the other one is for adjusting the mirrors and steering wheel position while in those menus in the UI. Additionally it appears that as of now, there's no way to tab through a different part of the UI without taking your hands off the steering wheel.

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Is Project Management Killing Good Products, Teams and Software?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 02:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's root-cause department:
New submitter mikeatTB writes: "For software development, no significant developer activity is predictable or repetitive; if it were, the developers would have automated it already," writes Steven A. Lowe, Principal Consultant Developer at ThoughtWorks, via TechBeacon. "In addition, learning is essentially a nonlinear process; it involves trying things that don't work in order to discover what does work. You might see linear progress for a while, but you don't know what you don't know, so there will be apparent setbacks. It is from these setbacks that one learns the truth about the system -- what is really needed to make it work, to make it usable, and to make a difference for the users and the business. In other words, the dirty little secret of software development is that projects don't really exist. And they're killing our products, teams, and software." Lowe continues: "Projects, with respect to software development, are imaginary boxes drawn around scope and time in an attempt to 'manage' things. This tendency is understandable, given the long fascination with so-called scientific management (a.k.a. Taylorism, a.k.a. Theory X), but these imaginary boxes do not reduce underlying complexity. On the contrary, they add unnecessary complexity and friction and invite a counterproductive temptation to focus on the box instead of the problem or product. This misplaced emphasis leads to some harmful delusions: Conformance to schedule is the same thing as success; Estimation accuracy is possible and desirable enough to measure and optimize for; The plan is perfect and guarantees success; The cost of forming and dissolving teams is zero; The cost of functional silo hand-offs is zero; The bigger and more comprehensive the plan, the better; Predictability and efficiency are paramount."

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Waymo Clarifies It Actually Wants $1.8 Billion From Uber
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 02:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
Last week, a lawyer for Uber said Waymo was seeking about $2.6 billion from the company for the alleged theft of one of several trade secrets in a lawsuit over self-driving cars. Over the weekend, Waymo filed a document with the court noting that the correct figure was actually $1.859 billion. TechCrunch reports: It's not clear why this seemingly important detail was left uncorrected for nearly a week. The filing also includes some additional clarification around the way in which the damages figure was calculated. Though Waymo is arguing that nine trade secrets were put in jeopardy by Anthony Levandowski, it is seeking a maximum of $1.8 billion in damages. That figure is the value that Waymo is attributing to a single trade secret -- trade secret 25. The other eight secrets are being individually valued at less than $1.8 billion. Consequently, Waymo is capping the damages at the value of its most valuable compromised trade secret. Waymo's attorneys note that the $1.8 billion figure was calculated based on an estimate of "Uber's unjust enrichment from Uber's trade secret misappropriation." Waymo continues that the damages are based on Uber's own profitability forecasts of deploying autonomous vehicles into its ridesharing business.

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China Blocks WhatsApp
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 01:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's only-a-matter-of-time department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: China has blocked WhatsApp, security experts confirmed today to The New York Times (Warning: source may be paywalled). Over the past few months, WhatsApp has experienced brief disruptions to service, with users unable to send video chats or photos. Now, even text messages are completely blocked, according to Nadim Kobeissi, an applied cryptographer at Symbolic Software, a Paris-based research firm that also monitors digital censorship in China. Kobeissi found that China may have recently upgraded its firewall to detect and block the NoiseSocket protocol that WhatsApp uses to send texts, in addition to already blocking the HTTPS/TLS that WhatsApp uses to send photos and videos. He said, "I think it took time for the Chinese firewall to adapt to this new protocol so that it could also target text messages." His company noticed the app disruptions beginning last Wednesday.

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Deloitte Hit By Cyber-attack Revealing Clients' Secret Emails
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 01:23 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Accounting firm Deloitte confirmed on Monday it had suffered a cyberattack. From a report: One of the world's "big four" accountancy firms has been targeted by a sophisticated hack that compromised the confidential emails and plans of some of its blue-chip clients, the Guardian can reveal (the company has since confirmed the breach). Deloitte, which is registered in London and has its global headquarters in New York, was the victim of a cybersecurity attack that went unnoticed for months. One of the largest private firms in the US, which reported a record $37bn revenue last year, Deloitte provides auditing, tax consultancy and high-end cybersecurity advice to some of the world's biggest banks, multinational companies, media enterprises, pharmaceutical firms and government agencies. The Guardian understands Deloitte clients across all of these sectors had material in the company email system that was breached. The companies include household names as well as US government departments

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DDoS Attacks Will Now Be 'Something You Only Read About In The History Books', Says Cloudflare CEO
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 01:23 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's big-promises department:
Louise Matsakis, writing for Motherboard: Cloudflare, a major internet security firm, is on a mission to render distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks useless. The company announced Monday that every customer -- including those who only use its free services -- will receive a new feature called Unmetered Mitigation, which protects against every DDoS attack, regardless of its size. Cloudflare believes the move is set to level the internet security playing field: Now every website will be able to fight back against DDoS attacks for free. "The standard practice in the industry for some time has been to charge more if you come under attack," Matthew Prince, the CEO of Cloudflare, told me on a phone call last week. Firms often "fire you as a customer if you're not sort of paying enough and you get a large attack," he explained. "That's kind of gross."

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Apple Releases macOS High Sierra; Ex-NSA Hacker Publishes Zero-Day
Posted by News Fetcher on September 25 '17 at 12:03 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's here-we-are department:
Apple today released the newest version of its operating system for Macs, macOS High Sierra, to the public. macOS High Sierra is a free download, and offers a range of new features and improvements including the new Apple File System, and support for High Efficiency Video Encoding (HEVC) for better compression without loss of quality, and HEIF for smaller photo sizes. Zack Whittaker, reporting for ZDNet: Patrick Wardle, a former NSA hacker who now serves as chief security researcher at -- Synack, posted a video of the hack -- a password exfiltration exploit -- in action. Passwords are stored in the Mac's Keychain, which typically requires a master login password to access the vault. But Wardle has shown that the vulnerability allows an attacker to grab and steal every password in plain-text using an unsigned app downloaded from the internet, without needing that password.

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