By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department
jader3rd shares a report from The Seattle Times: After more than two decades battling internet hoaxes, retouched photos, and other fake news, David Mikkelson, co-founder of Snopes, faces a much larger and more existential adversary. Since 2017, Mikkelson has been locked in a nasty legal dispute with former business associates over control of Snopes, the pioneering fact-checking website that Mikkelson launched with a former wife in 1994 and which he now runs with his current wife from their house in Tacoma. The dispute, which is playing out in the California courts, has generated claims and counterclaims of financial mismanagement, conspiracy and embezzlement. Mikkelson stands accused of, among other things, using company funds for 'lavish' vacations, while he in turn levels accusations of fraud. It has also been so costly that, by Mikkelson's account, Snopes and its parent company, Bardav, might have gone under without help from GoFundMe campaigns, and Snopes hasn't been able to operate at full capacity, even as demand for internet fact-checking grows by the week.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's almost-ready-for-primetime department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today launched the fourth Android Q beta with final Android Q APIs and the official SDK. If you're a developer, this is your fourth Android Q preview, and you can start testing your apps against this release by downloading it from developer.android.com/preview. The preview includes system images for the Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, and the official Android Emulator. If you're already enrolled in the beta program, you'll automatically get the update to Beta 4. Like Beta 3, Google is also bringing Android Q Beta 4 to third-party phones "over the coming weeks." The Beta 4 doesn't bring many new features -- it's more about finalizing what was already added, such as the additional privacy and security features, multitasking bubbles, and system-wide dark mode.
Google is however "opening publishing on Google Play to apps that are compiled against, or optionally targeting, API 29," the report adds. "You can thus now push updates to users through Google Play to test your app's compatibility, including on devices running Android Q Beta 4."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
A Florida election software company targeted by Russians in 2016 inadvertently opened a potential pathway for hackers to tamper with voter records in North Carolina on the eve of the presidential election, POLITICO reported on Wednesday, citing a document and a person with knowledge. From the report: VR Systems, based in Tallahassee but with customers in eight states, used what's known as remote-access software to connect for several hours to a central computer in Durham County, N.C., to troubleshoot problems with the company's voter list management tool, the person said. The software distributes voter lists to so-called electronic poll books, which poll workers use to check in voters and verify their eligibility to cast a ballot.
The company did not respond to POLITICO's requests for comment about its practices. But election security experts widely condemn remote connections to election-related computer systems -- not only because they can open a door for intruders but because they can also give attackers access to an entire network, depending on how they're configured. In Durham County's case, the computer in question communicated with North Carolina's State Board of Elections to download the county's voter list before elections, which could have potentially opened a gateway to the state system as well.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's quality-content department
"Chernobyl," HBO's gritty and horrifying retelling of the worst nuclear disaster in human history, has jumped to the No. 1 spot on IMDb's all-time TV rankings just days after the limited series concluded. From a report: As of Tuesday, "Chernobyl" had a 9.7-star (out of 10) average rating from about 140,000 users on the Amazon-owned IMDb site. The five-episode limited series finished its run on HBO Sunday, June 3. For now, that puts the critically acclaimed "Chernobyl" ahead of AMC's "Breaking Bad" (9.5), BBC's "Planet Earth II" (9.5), HBO's "Band of Brothers" (9.5), the original "Planet Earth" (9.4), HBO's "Game of Thrones" (9.3) and HBO's "The Wire" (9.3), according to IMDb's ranking of TV shows. (Fandango's Rotten Tomatoes currently doesn't provide an Audience Score for "Chernobyl.")
Variety TV critic Caroline Framke, in her review of the show, wrote, "Rather than bursting into shocking twists, writer Craig Mazin and director Johan Renck build a steadily creeping unease, allowing the scale of the atrocity to sink in with terrible, fitting gravity." "Chernobyl" dramatizes the story of the April 26, 1986, massive explosion of the nuclear power plant in Ukraise that released radioactive material across Belarus, Russia and Ukraine and as far as Scandinavia and western Europe.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's they-are-coming department
Amazon's drone ambitions took another step forward on Wednesday as the tech giant revealed its latest delivery drone design. From a report: At Amazon's re:MARS Conference, Amazon executive Jeff Wilke showed off a fully-electric drone that can fly up to 15 miles and deliver packages under five pounds in less than 30 minutes. The new drone will start making deliveries to customers "within months," Wilke said, but did not provide further details. The new hexagonal design looks quite different than the experimental drones that made Amazon Prime Air's first aerial drop-offs in England in 2016 and in California in 2017. "Our newest drone design includes advances in efficiency, stability and, most importantly, in safety," Wilke wrote in a blog post. "It is also unique, and it advances the state of the art. How so? First, it's a hybrid design. It can do vertical takeoffs and landings -- like a helicopter. And it's efficient and aerodynamic -- like an airplane. It also easily transitions between these two modes -- from vertical-mode to airplane mode, and back to vertical mode." Amazon added that these drones are going to use "stereo vision in parallel with sophisticated AI algorithms" to detect people and animals from above. "A customer's yard may have clotheslines, telephone wires, or electrical wires. Wire detection is one of the hardest challenges for low-altitude flights. Through the use of computer-vision techniques we've invented, our drones can recognize and avoid wires as they descend into, and ascend out of, a customer's yard," the company added in a statement.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's cautious-approach department
YouTube said on Wednesday that it plans to remove thousands of videos and channels that advocate for neo-Nazism, white supremacy and other bigoted ideologies in an attempt to clean up extremism and hate speech on its popular service. From a report: The new policy will ban "videos alleging that a group is superior in order to justify discrimination, segregation or exclusion," the company said in a blog post. The prohibition will also cover videos denying that violent incidents, like the mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut, took place. YouTube did not name any specific channels or videos that would be banned. "It's our responsibility to protect that, and prevent our platform from being used to incite hatred, harassment, discrimination and violence," the company said in the blog post. The decision by YouTube, which is owned by Google, is the latest action by a Silicon Valley company to stem the spread of hate speech and disinformation on its site. A month ago, Facebook evicted seven of its most controversial users, including Alex Jones, the conspiracy theorist and founder of InfoWars. Twitter banned Mr. Jones last year.
The companies have come under intense criticism for their delayed reaction to the spread of hateful and false content. At the same time, President Trump and others argue that the giant tech platforms censor right-wing opinions, and the new policies put in place by the companies have inflamed those debates. The tension was evident on Tuesday, when YouTube said that a prominent right-wing creator who used racial language and homophobic slurs to harass a journalist in videos on YouTube did not violate its policies. The decision set off a firestorm online, including accusations that YouTube was giving a free pass to some of its popular creators.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-tension department
The European Union's embassy in Moscow was hacked and had information stolen from its network, according to a leaked internal document seen by BuzzFeed News. From the report: An ongoing "sophisticated cyber espionage event" was discovered in April, just weeks before the European Parliament elections -- but the European External Action Service (EEAS), the EU's foreign and security policy agency, did not disclose the incident publicly. Russian entities are believed to be behind the hack, a source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told BuzzFeed News.
The EEAS confirmed an incident had taken place and, asked whether the EU's foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini knew about the incident, said that EEAS hierarchy had been informed. "We have observed potential signs of compromised systems connected to our unclassified network in our Moscow Delegation. Measures have been taken and the investigation is in progress -- at this stage we cannot comment further," a spokesperson said. According to the leaked document, the initial attack took place in February 2017 but it was only detected in April this year. An analysis of the hack found activity affecting at least two computers and concluded that information had been stolen. However, officials have no idea how much and exactly what kind of information was taken during the attack.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-browser-updates department
An anonymous reader writes: Google this week released Chrome 75 for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. The release includes hint for low latency canvas contexts, files supported in the Web Share API, numeric separators, and more developer features. [...] Next, files are now supported by the Web Share API. For years, Google has been working to bring native sharing capabilities to the web. The Web Share API allows web apps to invoke the same share dialog box as a native app. The implementation brings a new method and a new shareData property. Numeric literals now allow underscores (_, U+005F) as separators to make them more readable. Underscores can only appear between digits, and consecutive underscores are not allowed. There is also a reader mode that is not enabled by default. From a report: The big feature included with Chrome 75 is the addition of a hidden Reader Mode, similar to the one included with Firefox. This new Reader Mode is not active by default and must be turned on using one of Google Chrome's experimental flags -- which until recently has only been available in the Chrome Canary distribution. To enable and test Chrome's new Reader Mode, users must visit the chrome://flags/#enable-reader-mode section, and enable the Reader Mode option, as in the screenshot below. Chrome for Android includes these two features: 1. Generate strong and unique passwords with Chrome's built-in password manager. 2. Quickly look up your passwords by tapping any password field and using the new keyboard option.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what's-yours-is-mine department
McGruber shares a report from American City Business Journals: A retired Georgia Tech professor is suing ride-sharing giant Uber, claiming he invented the technology that "is absolutely core to the way in which Uber operates its business." In a complaint filed May 31 in federal court, Stephen Dickerson charges that Uber is infringing on a patent he won in 2004 for a "communications and computing based urban transit system." "The core of Uber's business and technical platforms for its rideshare, bikeshare, and scooter sharing services practice the transportation system of Professor Dickerson's invention; without that system, Uber literally cannot operate. Throughout its existence, Uber has egregiously infringed [Dickerson's] patent without paying any compensation for such use," Dickerson's lawsuit alleges. Last July, Dickerson sued Lyft in federal court in New York, making the same allegations he is making against Uber. In a court filing, Lyft denies it infringed on Dickerson's technology. The lawsuit is continuing. To clarify, Dickerson's company, RideApp, filed the suit because it "developed in 1999 the idea of bringing cell phones, the global positioning system and digital payments together to get people around congested Atlanta," reports the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
The patent was apparently owned by Georgia Tech, but the college failed to act on it and reassigned the patent back to him in 2018.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's importance-of-correct-measurements department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A group of researchers from the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) has clarified a 2018 mystery in the field of extragalactic astrophysics: The supposed existence of a galaxy without dark matter. Galaxies with no dark matter are impossible to understand in the framework of the current theory of galaxy formation, because the role of dark matter is fundamental in causing the collapse of the gas to form stars. In 2018, a study published in Nature announced the discovery of a galaxy that apparently lacked dark matter. Now, according to an article published in the Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society (MNRAS) a group of researchers at the Instituto de Astrofisica de Canarias (IAC) has solved this mystery via a very complete set of observations of KKS2000]04 (NGC1052-DF2).
The researchers, perplexed because all the parameters that depended on the distance of the galaxy were anomalous, revised the available distance indicators. Using five independent methods to estimate the distance of the object, they found that all of them coincided in one conclusion: The galaxy is much nearer than the value presented in the previous research. The original article published in Nature stated that the galaxy is at a distance of some 64 million light years from the Earth. However, this new research has revealed that the real distance is much less, around 42 million light years. Thanks to these new results, the parameters of the galaxy inferred from its distance have become "normal," and fit the observed trends traced by galaxies with similar characteristics.Read Replies (0)