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Report Reveals 8 AT&T Buildings Across the US, Hidden in Plain Sight, That Are Central To One of NSA's Most Controversial Internet Surveillance Programs
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '18 at 09:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's hidden-in-plain-sight department:
News outlet The Intercept on Monday published a report that reveals eight AT&T-owned locations: two in California, one in Washington, another in Washington, D.C., one in New York, one in Texas, one in Illinois, and one in Georgia, that serve as backbone or "peering" facilities that the NSA has secretly been using for eavesdropping purposes. Spokespeople of AT&T, which refers to the aforementioned peering sites as "Service Node Routing Complexes", and NSA, could neither confirm or deny the report's findings. From the report: The NSA considers AT&T to be one of its most trusted partners and has lauded the company's "extreme willingness to help." It is a collaboration that dates back decades. Little known, however, is that its scope is not restricted to AT&T's customers. According to the NSA's documents, it values AT&T not only because it "has access to information that transits the nation," but also because it maintains unique relationships with other phone and internet providers. The NSA exploits these relationships for surveillance purposes, commandeering AT&T's massive infrastructure and using it as a platform to covertly tap into communications processed by other companies. [...] While network operators would usually prefer to send data through their own networks, often a more direct and cost-efficient path is provided by other providers' infrastructure. If one network in a specific area of the country is overloaded with data traffic, another operator with capacity to spare can sell or exchange bandwidth, reducing the strain on the congested region. This exchange of traffic is called "peering" and is an essential feature of the internet. Because of AT&T's position as one of the U.S.'s leading telecommunications companies, it has a large network that is frequently used by other providers to transport their customers' data. Companies that "peer" with AT&T include the American telecommunications giants Sprint, Cogent Communications, and Level 3, as well as foreign companies such as Sweden's Telia, India's Tata Communications, Italy's Telecom Italia, and Germany's Deutsche Telekom.

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Silicon Valley Execs Will Meet on Wednesday To Discuss Privacy
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '18 at 09:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Privacy and government affairs officers from a number of the largest tech companies plan to convene in San Francisco on Wednesday to discuss how to tackle growing questions and concerns about consumer privacy online. The Information Technology Industry Council, a Washington trade group that represents major tech companies, organized an all-day meeting to jump-start the conversations. Members include Facebook, Google, Apple, Salesforce, IBM, Microsoft, Intel, Qualcomm, Samsung, Dropbox, and others. ITI expects the meeting to be attended by companies across the industry's sectors, including hardware, software and device makers -- but declined to say which companies would be there.

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Tencent Joins the Linux Foundation as a Platinum Member
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '18 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
Chinese tech giant Tencent has joined the Linux Foundation as a platinum member. From a report: Tencent is one of a few companies to offer the highest level of support to the Linux Foundation. Other tech companies in this stable include IBM, Microsoft, and Intel, as well as fellow Chinese titan Huawei. As part of the deal, Tencent will take a chair on the Foundation's board of directors. It has also promised to offer "further support and resources" to the Foundation's efforts. So far, this has taken the form of Tencent donating several pieces of its software. Already, it's bequeathed TSeer, its service discovery tool, as well as TARS, which is the company's microservices platform. Valued at nearly $500 billion, Tencent is a behemoth of a company. It holds a massive sway over the Chinese tech market, and is spreading its cash (and influence) overseas with strategic investments in companies like Epic Games and Riot Games.

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Intel Is in an Increasingly Bad Position in Part Because It Has Been Captive To Its Integrated Model
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '18 at 08:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shortsightedness department:
Once one of the Valley's most important companies, Intel is increasingly finding itself in a bad position, in part because of its major bet on integration model. Ben Thompson, writing for Stratechery: When Krzanich was appointed CEO in 2013 it was already clear that arguably the most important company in Silicon Valley's history was in trouble: PCs, long Intel's chief money-maker, were in decline, leaving the company ever more reliant on the sale of high-end chips to data centers; Intel had effectively zero presence in mobile, the industry's other major growth area. [...] [Analyst] Ben Bajarin wrote last week in Intel's Moment of Truth. As Bajarin notes, 7nm for TSMC (or Samsung or Global Foundries) isn't necessarily better than Intel's 10nm; chip-labeling isn't what it used to be. The problem is that Intel's 10nm process isn't close to shipping at volume, and the competition's 7nm processes are. Intel is behind, and its insistence on integration bears a large part of the blame. The first major miss [for Intel] was mobile: instead of simply manufacturing ARM chips for the iPhone the company presumed it could win by leveraging its manufacturing to create a more-efficient x86 chip; it was a decision that evinced too much knowledge of Intel's margins and not nearly enough reflection on the importance of the integration between DOS/Windows and x86. Intel took the same mistaken approach to non general-purpose processors, particularly graphics: the company's Larrabee architecture was a graphics chip based on -- you guessed it -- x86; it was predicated on leveraging Intel's integration, instead of actually meeting a market need. Once the project predictably failed Intel limped along with graphics that were barely passable for general purpose displays, and worthless for all of the new use cases that were emerging. The latest crisis, though, is in design: AMD is genuinely innovating with its Ryzen processors (manufactured by both GlobalFoundries and TSMC), while Intel is still selling varations on Skylake, a three year-old design.

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Smart Lights, Speakers, Thermostats, Cameras and Other IoT Devices Are Being Increasingly Used as a Means For Harassment, Monitoring, and Revenge
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '18 at 06:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's other-side-of-the-coin department:
Smart home devices are supposed to bring convenience to people's lives, but increasingly, their unintended consequences are surfacing, and are being exploited to harass others, an investigation by The New York Times has found. [Editor's note: the link maybe paywalled; syndicated source.] From the report: In more than 30 interviews with The New York Times, domestic abuse victims, their lawyers, shelter workers and emergency responders described how the technology was becoming an alarming new tool. Abusers -- using apps on their smartphones, which are connected to the internet-enabled devices -- would remotely control everyday objects in the home, sometimes to watch and listen, other times to scare or show power. Even after a partner had left the home, the devices often stayed and continued to be used to intimidate and confuse. For victims and emergency responders, the experiences were often aggravated by a lack of knowledge about how smart technology works, how much power the other person had over the devices, how to legally deal with the behavior and how to make it stop. "People have started to raise their hands in trainings and ask what to do about this," Erica Olsen, director of the Safety Net Project at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, said of sessions she holds about technology and abuse. She said she was wary of discussing the misuse of emerging technologies because "we don't want to introduce the idea to the world, but now that it's become so prevalent, the cat's out of the bag."

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Apple Refutes Hacker's Claim He Could Break iPhone Passcode Limit
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '18 at 04:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's he-says-she-says department:
A security researcher claimed he had figured out a way to bypass the passcode lock limit on an iPhone or iPad, ZDNet reported. But it turned out the passcodes he tested weren't always counted. From a report: "The recent report about a passcode bypass on iPhone was in error, and a result of incorrect testing," Apple said Saturday in an emailed statement. Since the 2014 release of iOS 8, all iPhones and iPads have come with device encryption protected by a four- or six-digit passcode. If the wrong passcode is entered too many times, the device gets wiped, explained ZDNet's Zack Whittaker. But Hacker House co-founder Matthew Hickey figured out a way "to bypass the 10-time limit and enter as many codes as he wants -- even on iOS 11.3," Whittaker wrote.

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MoviePass is Going To Start Charging More For Popular Movies Next Month
Posted by News Fetcher on June 25 '18 at 01:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
As if seeing a popular movie with MoviePass -- where you can't reserve tickets in advance -- wasn't stressful enough, it's about to get more expensive, too. From a report: The movie-ticket subscription service, which charges $9.95 per month to see a movie a day in the US, will start surge pricing on popular movies next month, Business Insider reported. MoviePass will charge subscribers $2 or more to see titles that the app decides are very popular with its members beginning in July, Mitch Lowe, MoviePass's CEO, told the publication. He was vague on the details. "At certain times for certain films -- on opening weekend -- there could be an additional charge for films," Lowe said, calling the forthcoming policy "high-demand" pricing. But if you've paid for a year's subscription to MoviePass upfront, don't worry: Lowe said these subscribers would not be subjected to the new pricing policy. MoviePass will begin rolling out two other previously announced features, like the option to upgrade to premium movie formats such 3D and IMAX, or bring a friend to the movies, by August, Lowe added.

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Microsoft Quietly Cuts Off Windows 7 Support For Older Intel Computers
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 10:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-life department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: If your PC doesn't run Streaming Single Instructions Multiple Data (SIMD) Extensions 2, you apparently won't be getting any more Win7 patches. At least, that's what I infer from some clandestine Knowledge Base documentation changes made in the past few days. Even though Microsoft says it's supporting Win7 until January 14, 2020, if you have an older machine -- including any Pentium III -- you've been blocked, and there's nothing you can do about it.

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India Eyeing a New Monster 100GW Solar-Capacity Goal
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 06:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
AmiMoJo writes: In a confirmed report India's energy minister suggested that the country is considering issuing a tender for 100 gigawatts of solar energy, which may be tied to solar panel-manufacturing buildout. In 2015, India set a goal to reach 100GW of solar capacity as part of its larger aim of 175GW of renewable energy in general by 2022. This latest 100GW tender would be for a 2030 or 2035 target. The existing goal is ambitious, so a stretch goal further into the future is even more so. The country's current total solar capacity is just 24.4GW, (for context, as of this month the US has about 55.9GW of installed solar capacity total) but it's growing quickly. Utility-scale solar capacity grew by 72 percent in the previous year.

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Changes in WebAssembly Could Render Meltdown and Spectre Browser Patches Useless
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 05:20 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Catalin Cimpanu, reporting for BleepingComputer: Upcoming additions to the WebAssembly standard may render useless some of the mitigations put up at the browser level against Meltdown and Spectre attacks, according to John Bergbom, a security researcher at Forcepoint. WebAssembly (WA or Wasm) is a new technology that shipped last year and is currently supported within all major browsers, such as Chrome, Edge, Firefox, and Safari. The technology is a compact binary language that a browser will convert into machine code and run it directly on the CPU. Browser makers created WebAssembly to improve the speed of delivery and performance of JavaScript code, but as a side effect, they also created a way for developers to port code from other high-level languages (such as C, C++, and others) into Wasm, and then run it inside a browser. All in all, the WebAssembly standard is viewed as a success in the web dev community, and there've been praises for it all around.

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WHO Gaming Disorder Listing a 'Moral Panic', Say Experts
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 04:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's opposing-views department:
The decision to class gaming addiction as a mental health disorder was "premature" and based on a "moral panic," experts have said. From a report: The World Health Organization included "gaming disorder" in the latest version of its disease classification manual. But biological psychology lecturer Dr Peter Etchells said the move risked "pathologising" a behaviour that was harmless for most people. The WHO said it had reviewed available evidence before including it. It added that the views reflected a "consensus of experts from different disciplines and geographical regions" and defined addiction as a pattern of persistent gaming behaviour so severe it "takes precedence over other life interests." Speaking at the Science Media Centre in London, experts said that while the decision was well intentioned, there was a lack of good quality scientific evidence about how to properly diagnose video game addiction.

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Think Your Body Is Infested With Insects? You're Not Alone.
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 02:40 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Erika Engelhaupt, National Geographic: A few years ago, a man began telling his family members a horrifying tale: There are bugs living inside him. [...] He shows the classic signs of what scientists call delusory parasitosis, or Ekbom syndrome, an unwavering but incorrect belief that the patient's body has been infested with something. For years, entomologists have insisted that these delusions aren't as rare as psychiatrists and the public may think. And now, a study by the Mayo Clinic suggests they're right. The first population-based study of the condition's prevalence suggests that about 27 out of a hundred thousand Americans a year have delusions of an infestation. That would mean around 89,000 people in the U.S. right now are plagued by the condition. For many sufferers of such delusions, the infestation takes the form of insects or mites, usually tiny and often described as biting or crawling on the skin. Others report feeling worms or leeches or some kind of unknown parasite. Many of the afflicted turn up, eventually, in an entomologist's office. And as the entomologists tell them, only two kinds of arthropods actually infest humans: lice and a mite that causes scabies. Both are easy to identify and cause characteristic symptoms. Bedbugs or fleas might infest a house, but they don't actually live on or inside the human body; they just feed on us and leave. Likewise, there are mites that live on our skin, especially the face, but they're a normal part of everyone's body, much like the bacteria living in our guts.

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Japanese Writing After Murakami
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 01:20 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's After-Murakami department:
Roland Kelts, writing for The Times Literary Supplement: At fifty-one, Hideo Furukawa is among the generation of Japanese writers I'll call "A. M.," for "After Murakami." Haruki Murakami is Japan's most internationally renowned living author. His work has been translated into over fifty languages, his books sell in the millions, and there is annual speculation about his winning the Nobel Prize. Over four decades, he has become one of the most famous living Japanese people on the planet. It's impossible to overestimate the depth of his influence on contemporary Japanese literature and culture, but it is possible to characterize it. The American poet Louise Gluck once said that younger writers couldn't appreciate the shadow cast over her generation by T. S. Eliot. Murakami in Japan is something like that. Yet unlike Eliot in English-speaking nations, Murakami in Japan has been a liberator, casting rays of light instead of a pall, breathing gusts of fresh air into Japan's literary landscape. Now on the verge of seventy, he generates little of Harold Bloom's "anxiety of influence" among his younger peers. For them he has opened three key doors: to licentious play with the Japanese language; to the binary worlds of life in today's Japanese culture, a hybrid of East and West; and to a mode of personal behaviour -- cool, disciplined, solitary -- in stark contrast to the cliques and clubs of Japan's past literati. Japan's current literary and cultural scene takes in "light novels," brisk narratives that lean heavily on sentimentality and romance and often feature visuals drawn from manga-style aesthetics, and dystopian post-apocalyptic stories of intimate violence, such as Natsuo Kirino's suspense thrillers, Out and Grotesque. Post-Fukushima narratives in film and fiction explore a Japan whose tightly managed surfaces disfigure the animal spirits of its citizens; and many of the strongest voices and characters in this recent trend have been female.

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Google is Adding Anti-Tampering DRM To Android Apps in the Play Store
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 01:20 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-moves department:
Google has introduced a small change to Play Store apps that could significantly protect several Android users. From a report: Earlier this week, Google quietly rolled out a feature that adds a string of metadata to all APK files (that's the file type for Android apps) when they are signed by the developer. You can't install an application that hasn't been signed during its final build, so that means that all apps built using the latest APK Signature Scheme will have a nice little chunk of DRM built into them. And eventually, your phone will run a version of Android that won't be able to install apps without it.

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DC Comics Returns To Supermarket Shelves With New, Giant-Sized Comics
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 12:00 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
DC Comics announced earlier this week that it has partnered with Walmart to revive its DC Giant range as a 100-page anthology format comic book. Four new series revolving around Batman, Superman, the Justice League, and the Teen Titans will launch solely in the retail stores starting July 1. From a report: Starting next month, each of the new monthly series will collect stories from the past two decades of DC Comics publishing -- including stories released as recently as this year -- revolving around each book's titular characters, as well as a few side stories featuring guest characters like Harley Quinn, the Terrifics, or even the recently introduced Sideways from the Dark Matter publishing initiative. But on top of that, each series will also include new ongoing stories from top DC creatives like Tom King, Andy Kubert, and the recently-arrived Brian Michael Bendis -- setting the Giant line apart from Marvel and Archie's digest series, which exclusively feature reprinted stories.

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Warner Bros Is Cracking Down On Harry Potter Festivals
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 10:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's somethings-never-change department:
Warner Bros is cracking down on local Harry Potter fan festivals around the country, saying it's necessary to halt unauthorized commercial activity. From a report: Fans, however, liken the move to Dementors sucking the joy out of homegrown fun, while festival directors say they'll transfigure the events into generic celebrations of magic. "It's almost as if Warner Bros. has been taken over by Voldemort, trying to use dark magic to destroy the light of a little town," said Sarah Jo Tucker, a 21-year-old junior at Chestnut Hill College, which hosts a Quidditch tournament that coincides with the annual suburban Philadelphia festival. Philip Dawson, Chestnut Hill's business district director, said Warner Bros. reached out to his group in May, letting them know new guidelines prohibit festivals' use of any names, places or objects from the series. That ruled out everything from meet-and-greet with Dumbledore and Harry to Defense Against the Dark Arts classes. Related story, from 18 years ago: Harry Potter Sites vs. Warner Brothers.

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The Rise of the Video-Game Gambler
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 09:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Among the more insidious gifts that video games have bestowed on modern culture is the loot box. The New Yorker: A loot box is like an in-game lottery ticket: for a small fee, involving real money, a player can purchase an assortment of items that promise to enhance the game experience. Loot boxes are an appealing source of income for game developers, and they've been integral to the rise of smartphone "freemium" games, which are free to download but can't be fully enjoyed unless the player pays for in-app boosts. For pretty much everyone else, loot boxes are a scourge. Players hate that they have to pay extra just to be competitive. Parents hate discovering, too late, that several hundred dollars in Clash Royale arena packs have been charged to their credit card. And, increasingly, government regulators are thinking that loot boxes look too much like gambling -- gambling aimed at kids, no less. Belgium and the Netherlands have banned in-game loot boxes as a form of gambling, and Minnesota recently introduced a bill that would ban the sale of games containing loot boxes to people under the age of eighteen. The concern isn't merely prudish. In a finding that will surprise virtually no one, psychologists in New Zealand have discovered that loot boxes do indeed bear troubling similarities to gambling. The researchers, led by Aaron Drummond, of Massey University, looked at twenty-two console games released between 2016 and 2017, from Overwatch and FIFA 18 to Madden N.F.L. 18 and Star Wars Battlefront II. They noted how closely the loot-box system of each game aligned with five standard psychological criteria for gambling, including whether the loot box must be bought with real money, whether it has tangible value in the game or can be cashed out, and whether its contents are randomly determined.

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'Snapdragon 1000' Chip May Be Designed For PCs From the Ground Up
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 09:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Qualcomm's Snapdragon 850 processor may be intended for PCs, but it's still a half step -- it's really a higher-clocked version of the same processor you'd find in your phone. The company may be more adventurous the next time, though. From a report: WinFuture says it has obtained details surrounding SDM1000 (possibly Snapdragon 1000), a previously hinted-at CPU that would be designed from the start for PCs. It would have a relatively huge design compared to most ARM designs (20mm x 15mm) and would consume a laptop-like 12W of power across the entire system-on-a-chip. It would compete directly with Intel's low-power Core processors where the existing 835 isn't really in the ballpark. A reference design found in import databases might give a clue as to what you could expect: it'd have up to 16GB of RAM and two 128GB storage modules.

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Some Science Journals That Claim To Peer Review Papers Do Not Do So
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 08:00 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
A rising number of journals that claim to review submissions do not bother to do so. Not coincidentally, this seems to be leading some academics to inflate their publication lists with papers that might not pass such scrutiny. The Economist: Experts debate how many journals falsely claim to engage in peer review. Cabells, an analytics firm in Texas, has compiled a blacklist of those which it believes are guilty. According to Kathleen Berryman, who is in charge of this list, the firm employs 65 criteria to determine whether a journal should go on it -- though she is reluctant to go into details. Cabells' list now totals around 8,700 journals, up from a bit over 4,000 a year ago. Another list, which grew to around 12,000 journals, was compiled until recently by Jeffrey Beall, a librarian at the University of Colorado. Using Mr Beall's list, Bo-Christer Bjork, an information scientist at the Hanken School of Economics, in Helsinki, estimates that the number of articles published in questionable journals has ballooned from about 53,000 a year in 2010 to more than 400,000 today. He estimates that 6% of academic papers by researchers in America appear in such journals.

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8 Months After a Surge of Complaints, Apple Announces a Repair Program For Its Flawed MacBooks and MacBook Pros
Posted by News Fetcher on June 24 '18 at 06:40 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department:
Casey Johnston, writing for The Outline: At long last, Apple admitted to its customers that its MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboard designs are so flawed and prone to sticking or dead keys, as originally reported by The Outline in October, and that it will cover the cost of repairs beyond the products' normal warranty. The admission comes after the company has been hit with no fewer than three class action lawsuits concerning the computers and their ultra-thin butterfly-switch keyboards. While the repair and replacement program covers costs and notes that Apple will repair both single keys as well as whole keyboards when necessary, it doesn't note whether the replacements will be a different, improved design that will prevent the problem from happening again (and again, and again).

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