By BeauHD from Slashdot's safety-first department
The recent interview Elon Musk conducted with Joe Rogan, where Musk took one puff from a marijuana cigarette after a lengthy conversation around AI, social media and space, is prompting a NASA safety probe at SpaceX. The Washington Post reports that NASA was not amused with Musk's antics and has "ordered a safety review of SpaceX and Boeing as a response to the colorful chief executive's shenanigans," reports TechCrunch. From the report: In an interview, NASA associate administrator for human exploration, William Gerstenmaier, told the Post that the review will begin next year and would examine the "safety culture" of both Boeing and SpaceX. Rather than focus on the safety of the actual rockets, the Post said that the review would look at the hours employees work, drug policies, leadership and management styles, and the responsiveness of both companies to safety concerns from employees. The review is going to be led by the Office of Safety and Mission Assurance within NASA, which has conducted similar probes before, according to the Post report.
According to the NASA official, the process could be "pretty invasive," with the potential for hundreds of interviews with employees at every level and across all locations where the companies operate. At stake is the potential $6.8 billion in contracts the two companies received in 2014 to revive crewed missions to space. SpaceX grabbed $2.6 billion from NASA for the program, while the remainder went to Boeing. In a statement given to the Post, SpaceX said, "We couldn't be more proud of all that we have already accomplished together with NASA, and we look forward to returning human spaceflight capabilities to the United States."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's surprise-surprise department
A new study from Finnish research firm Rewheel has found that U.S. wireless consumers pay some of the highest prices for mobile data in the developed world. The mobile data market in the U.S. has the fifth most expensive price per gigabyte smartphone plans among developed nations, and was the most expensive for mobile data overall. Motherboard reports: While the report notes that mobile data prices have dropped 11 percent during the last six months in the States, U.S. mobile data pricing remained significantly higher than 41 countries in the European Union and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development. Normally, having four major wireless carriers helps boost competition, in turn lowering prices. But the Rewheel report was quick to note that the often stunted level of competition seen in U.S. wireless is more akin to countries where there's just three major players. Meanwhile, a monopoly over business data connectivity generally keeps consumer mobile prices high. According to the FCC's own data, 73 percent of the special access market (which feeds everything from ATMs to cellular towers) is controlled by one ISP. This varies depending on the market, but it's usually AT&T, Verizon, or CenturyLink. These high prices to connect to cellular towers then impact pricing for the end user and smaller competitors, those same competitors and consumer groups have long argued. Another area where prices were high: mobile hotspots. The report found that Verizon charges users $710 per month for its 100 gigabyte mobile hotspot plan. That same plan costs between $11 and $23 per month in several European countries.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-only-a-matter-of-time department
According to industry-watchers, Ford is looking to profit off the data it can collect from its 100 million customers. In addition to the data collected from its infotainment systems and mobile apps, "Ford's CEO recently suggested that the data collected by the company's financial services arm also represents a valuable, low-overhead asset," reports Threatpost. From the report: "We have 100 million people in vehicles today that are sitting in Ford blue-oval vehicles," said Ford CEO Jim Hackett during a Freakonomics Radio podcast. "The issue in the vehicle, see, is: We already know and have data on our customers. By the way, we protect this securely; they trust us. We know what people make. How do we know that? It's because they borrow money from us. And when you ask somebody what they make, we know where they work, you know. We know if they're married. We know how long they've lived in their house because these are all on the credit applications. We've never ever been challenged on how we use that. And that's the leverage we got here with the data."
The comments, which were amplified by several auto-industry sources and the Detroit Free Press, sparked alarm in the Twitterverse. Against the backdrop of privacy disasters at Facebook and other stalwarts of the internet economy, the fear for many is that Ford sees selling access to consumers based on their lifestyle as a way forward. Is Ford considering selling consumer data as a revenue stream? Hackett stopped short of saying that -- and indeed, the data could instead simply be useful to the company internally, as a way to increase the value (and profit) of its other businesses.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's awkward-dynamic department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: Amid reports that first daughter and White House senior advisor Ivanka Trump exchanged hundreds of official government business emails using a personal email account, top Democrats on Capitol Hill "want to know if Ivanka complied with the law" and in the next Congress plan to continue their investigation of the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat who's in line to become the next chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next year, promises any potential investigation into Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's emails won't be like the "spectacle" Republicans led in the Clinton email probe.
The Oversight committee has jurisdiction over records and transparency laws, and Cummings helped write an update to the Presidential and Federal Records Acts that was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014. That measure mandates that every federal employee, including the President, forward any message about official business sent using a private account to the employee's official email account within 20 days. "We launched a bipartisan investigation last year into White House officials' use of private email accounts for official business, but the White House never gave us the information we requested," Cummings, D-Md., noted. "We need those documents to ensure that Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and other officials are complying with federal records laws and there is a complete record of the activities of this Administration. My goal is to prevent this from happening again -- not to turn this into a spectacle the way Republicans went after Hillary Clinton. My main priority as Chairman will be to focus on the issues that impact Americans in their everyday lives."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department
As you travel this holiday season, bouncing from airport to airplane to hotel, you'll likely find yourself facing a familiar quandary: Do I really trust this random public Wi-Fi network? As recently as a couple of years ago, the answer was almost certainly a resounding no. But in the year of our lord 2018? Friend, go for it. Wired: This advice comes with plenty of qualifiers. If you're planning to commit crimes online at the Holiday Inn Express, or to visit websites that you'd rather people not know you frequented, you need to take precautionary steps that we'll get to in a minute. Likewise, if you're a high-value target of a sophisticated nation state, stay off of public Wi-Fi at all costs. But for the rest of us? You're probably OK. That's not because hotel and airport Wi-Fi networks have necessarily gotten that much more secure. The web itself has.
"A lot of the former risks, the reasons we used to warn people, those things are gone now," says Chet Wisniewski, principle researcher at security firm Sophos. "It used to be because almost nothing on the internet was encrypted. You could sit there and sniff everything. Or someone could set up a rogue access point and pretend to be Hilton, and then you would connect to them instead of the hotel." In those Wild West days, in other words, signing onto a shared Wi-Fi network exposed you to myriad attacks, from hackers tracking your every move online, to so-called man-in-the-middle efforts that tricked you into entering your passwords, credit card information, or more on phony websites. A cheap, easy to use device called a Wi-Fi Pineapple makes those attacks simple to pull off. All of that's still technically possible. But a critical internet evolution has made those efforts much less effective: the advent of HTTPS.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's fascinating-tales department
Reader pacopico writes: Humans have been spotting UFO-like objects for hundreds of years. But, in the late 1920s, an obscure engineer/artist named Alexander Weygers actually designed a flying saucer and later patented the craft. Bloomberg Businessweek spent two years reporting on the strange tale of Weygers, uncovering a Da Vinci type figure who lived on the outskirts of Silicon Valley in a house he built from recycled materials. Weygers was an engineer, sculptor, photographer, wood carver, tax evader and generally weird dude who lived off the land for decades. He became convinced the military stole his flying saucer design and built the vehicles, and there's some evidence he might be right. Weygers was largely forgotten until an art collector became obsessed with his story and found out everything there was to know about the guy. Overall, he's a symbol of a different, purer time in Silicon Valley.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-updates department
You and 800 million other people now can use hardware authentication keys -- and no password at all -- to log on to Microsoft accounts used for Outlook, Office 365, OneDrive, Skype and Xbox Live. From a report: Microsoft is using a technology called FIDO2, which employs hardware keys for the no-password logon, the company said Tuesday. New versions of Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system and Edge web browser support the technology. The hardware authentication keys plug into laptop USB ports or, for phones, use Bluetooth or NFC wireless communications to help prove who you are. Initially, they worked in combination with a password for dual-factor authentication, but FIDO2 and a related browser technology called WebAuthn expands beyond that to let the company ditch the password altogether.
Microsoft's no-password logon offers three options: the hardware key combined with Windows Hello face recognition technology or fingerprint ID; the hardware key combined with a PIN code; or a phone running the Microsoft Authenticator app. It works with Outlook.com, Office 365, Skype, OneDrive, Cortana, Microsoft Edge, Xbox Live on the PC, Mixer, the Microsoft Store, Bing and the MSN portal site.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
The dome where crew members practiced red-planet missions will now be converted to a simulated moon base. Excerpt from a report: For the last five years, a small Mars colony thrived in Hawaii, many miles away from civilization. The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, was carried out in a small white dome nestled along the slope of a massive volcano called Mauna Loa. The habitat usually housed six people at a time, for as long as eight months. They prepared freeze-dried meals, took 30-second showers to conserve water, and wore space suits every time they left the dome. To replicate the communication gap between Earth and Mars, they waited 20 minutes for their emails to reach their family members, and another 20 to hear back. Sometimes, as they drifted off to sleep, with nothing but silence in their ears, they really believed they were on Mars.
In February of this year, something went wrong. The latest and sixth mission was just four days in when one of the crew members was carried out on a stretcher and taken to a hospital, an Atlantic investigation revealed in June. There had been a power outage in the habitat, and some troubleshooting ended with one of the residents sustaining an electric shock. The rest of the crew was evacuated, too. There was some discussion of returning -- the injured person was treated and released in the same day -- but another crew member felt the conditions weren't safe enough and decided to withdraw. The Mars simulation couldn't continue with a crew as small as three, and the entire program was put on hold. [...]Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Samsung is planning a major upgrade for its 10th anniversary flagship phones next year, including next-generation 5G network speeds, bigger screens and more cameras, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. From the report: Samsung, the world's largest smartphone maker by volume, is preparing three versions of its next flagship Galaxy S10 smartphone, with displays that range in size from 5.8 inches to 6.4 inches, the people said, versus two variants in previous years. Those three phones are set to debut in February next year, they added. In addition, the South Korean technology giant is developing a fourth variant of the Galaxy S10 that will be 5G-enabled and is internally code-named "Beyond X," [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source] some of these people said.
The 5G phone, slated for a spring release in the U.S. and South Korea, would sport an even larger screen, measuring 6.7 inches diagonally, and pack in a whopping six cameras -- two in the front and four in the back, these people said, which promise richer photos and better spatial perception.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's perspective-is-everything department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Mercury News: Nine out of every 10 Silicon Valley jobs pays less now than when Netflix first launched in 1997, despite one of the nation's strongest economic booms and a historically low unemployment rate that outpaces the national average. While tech workers have thrived, employees in the middle of Silicon Valley's income ladder have been hit hardest as their inflation-adjusted wages declined between 12 and 14 percent over the past 20 years, according to a study from UC Santa Cruz's Everett Program for Technology and Social Change and the labor think tank Working Partnership USA, which examined the economic impact of technology companies.
Technology workers saw a median wage increase of 32 percent over the past 20 years, the study found. But Silicon Valley workers in virtually all other areas lost ground during that time. Across all jobs, wages for even the highest-paid 10 percent increased just under 1 percent, the study found. Meanwhile, the region's economy has been booming. Since 2001, the amount of money generated per Silicon Valley resident -- the area's per person GDP -- has grown 74 percent, the study found. That's more than five times faster than the equivalent national growth. Also, a smaller percentage of wealth is going to workers. "In 2001, about 64 percent of the money generated in Silicon Valley went to workers," reports Mercury News. "By 2016, that was down to 60 percent. The drop translated to $9.6 billion -- about $8,480 in potential pay and benefits per worker -- that instead went to investors and owners, according to the study."Read Replies (0)