By BeauHD from Slashdot's hit-em-where-it-hurts department
Massachusetts Democratic Senator Ed Markey and South Dakota Republican Senator John Thune have introduced a bill on Friday that aims to ramp up the penalties on illegal robocalls and stop scammers from sending them. Gizmodo reports: The Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACED) Act, raises the penalty for robocalls from $1,500 per call to up to $10,000 per call, and allows the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to take action on illegal robocalls up to three years after the calls are placed, instead of a year. The Act also aims to push the FCC to work along with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Department of Justice, Department of Homeland Security, Federal Trade Commission (FTC), and other agencies to provide information to Congress about advancements in hindering robocall and prosecuting scammers. Perhaps most importantly for us highly annoyed Americans, the bill would also force phone service providers to use call authentication that filters out illegitimate calls before they go through to consumers.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's budget-friendly department
The first alleged images of the rumored "budget" Pixel 3 have been leaked. The Pixel 3 Lite, as it is being called, looks very similar to the Pixel 3, although it features a plastic build construction, slower processor, and a headphone jack. 9to5Google reports: Just like the standard Pixel 3, there's a display that's roughly 5.56-inches in size, but this time it's an IPS LCD panel at 2220x1080 rather than an OLED panel. Obviously, there's also no notch to be seen on this alleged Pixel 3 Lite. There's a single front-facing camera as well as one speaker above that display, relatively thick bezels on the top and bottom, and a speaker along the bottom of the device as well.
Perhaps most interesting when it comes to the hardware, though, is that there's a headphone jack on the top of the phone. That's certainly unexpected since the Pixel 2 dropped the jack and Google hasn't looked back since. Tests from Rozetked reveal some of the specifications running this device as well. That includes a Snapdragon 670 chipset, 4GB of RAM, and 32GB of storage. Previous reports have pointed to a Snapdragon 710. Battery capacity on this device is also reported at 2915 mAh and there's a USB-C port along the bottom. It is rumored to include the same 12MP and 8MP cameras found in the standard Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, which will be a huge selling point for the affordable phone market. The price is expected to be around $400-500.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-one-bites-the-dust department
Diane Greene, whose pursuit of Pentagon contracts for artificial intelligence technology sparked a worker uprising at Google, is stepping down as chief executive of the company's cloud computing business (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). "Ms. Greene said she would stay on as chief executive until January. She will be replaced by Thomas Kurian, who oversaw product development at Oracle until his resignation in October. Ms. Greene will remain a board director at Google's parent company, Alphabet," reports The New York Times. From the report: The change in leadership caps a turbulent three years for Ms. Greene, who was brought on to expand Google's cloud computing business. Google Cloud has struggled to make major inroads in persuading corporate customers to use its computing infrastructure over alternatives like Amazon's A.W.S. and Microsoft's Azure. In a blog post published by the company, Ms. Greene said she had initially told friends and family that she was planning to run Google Cloud for only two years but stayed for three. Ms. Greene, a widely respected technologist and entrepreneur, said that after leaving Google Cloud, she planned to help female founders of companies by investing in and mentoring them. Ms. Greene joined Google in 2015 when it acquired Bebop, a start-up she had founded, for $380 million. Ms. Greene defended Google's pursuit of a Defense Department contract for the Maven program, which uses AI to interpret video images and could be used to improve the targeting of drone strikes. In March, she said it was a small contract worth "only" $9 million and that the technology would be used for nonlethal purposes.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: U.S. President Donald Trump signed today a bill into law, approving the creation of the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). The bill, known as the CISA Act, reorganizes and rebrands the National Protection and Programs Directorate (NPPD), a program inside the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), as CISA, a standalone federal agency in charge of overseeing civilian and federal cybersecurity programs. The NPPD, which was first established in 2007, has already been handling almost all of the DHS' cyber-related issues and projects.
As part of the DHS, the NPPD was the government entity in charge of physical and cyber-security of federal networks and critical infrastructure, and oversaw the Federal Protective Service (FPS), the Office of Biometric Identity Management (OBIM), the Office of Cyber and Infrastructure Analysis (OCIA), the Office of Cybersecurity & Communications (OC&C), and the Office of Infrastructure Protection (OIP). As CISA, the agency's prerogatives will remain the same, and nothing is expected to change in day-to-day operations, but as a federal agency, CISA will now benefit from an increased budget and more authority in imposing its directives. "Elevating the cybersecurity mission within the Department of Homeland Security, streamlining our operations, and giving NPPD a name that reflects what it actually does will help better secure the nation's critical infrastructure and cyber platforms," said NPPD Under Secretary Christopher Krebs. "The changes will also improve the Department's ability to engage with industry and government stakeholders and recruit top cybersecurity talent."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's unprecedented-reach department
Thu-Huong Ha, writing for Quartz: Amazon's power in books extends way beyond its ability to sell them super cheap and super fast. This year, a little over 40% of the print books sold in the US moved through the site, according to estimates from Bookstat, which tracks US online book retail. (NPD, which tracks 85% of US trade print sales, declined to provide data broken out by retailer.) In the US, Amazon dominates ebook sales and hosts hundreds of thousands of self-published ebooks on its platforms, many exclusively. It looms over the audiobook scene, in retail as well as production, and is one of the biggest marketplaces for used books in the US. Amazon also makes its own books -- more than 1,500 last year.
All that power comes with great data, which Amazon's publishing arm is well positioned to exploit in the interest of making books tailored exactly to what people want -- down to which page characters should meet on or how many lines of dialogue they should exchange. Though Amazon declined to comment specifically on whether it uses data to shape or determine the content of its own books, the company acknowledged that authors are recruited for their past sales (as is common in traditional publishing). "Amazon Publishing titles are thoughtfully acquired by our team -- made up of publishing-industry veterans and long-time Amazonians -- with many factors taken into consideration," says Amazon Publishing publisher Mikyla Bruder, "including the acquiring editor's enthusiasm, the strength of the story, quality of the writing, editorial fit for our list, and author backlist/comparable titles' sales track."
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By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Mark Wilson writes: Ads in your inbox. Sounds like something you'd expect from the likes of Google or Yahoo, but Microsoft appears to be about to get in on the act as well. And we're not talking about online ads in your Outlook.com account -- we're talking about ads in the Mail app that's included with Windows 10. A new report says that Microsoft is currently testing ads with Windows Insiders, so it could be just a matter of time before they spread wider. In a support page, spotted first by news outlet Thurrott, Microsoft says, "Consistent with consumer email apps and services like Outlook.com, Gmail, and Yahoo Mail, advertising allows us to provide, support, and improve some of our products. We're always experimenting with new features and experiences. Currently, we have a pilot running in Brazil, Canada, Australia, and India to get user feedback on ads in Mail." Update: ZDNet reports that Calendar app for Windows 10 is getting the same treatment.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's bloatware-in-apps department
Earlier this week, Google announced it is bringing business messaging to Maps, the latest in a myriad of features it has introduced to its mapping platform in recent months. A business that wants to participate will need to use Google's "My Business" verification system and its associated app to send and receive messages. While that could prove useful to a number of businesses and customers, it has raised a concern as well. From a report: But that leads me to my third feeling: what the heck is going on with Google Maps? It is becoming overburdened with so many features and design changes that it's becoming harder and harder to just get directions in it. There's Group Planning, there's a social-esque "follow" button for local businesses, you can share your ETA, there's a redesigned "Explore" section, and there's almost no way to get the damn thing to show you a cross street near your destination without three full minutes of desperate pinching and zooming and re-zooming. It's becoming bloated, is what I'm saying. It's Google's equivalent of Big Blue, as Facebook nicknames its flagship app that does a thousand things across countless strange nooks and crannies. It's as though Google wants to kill off Yelp once and for all, but can't let anybody notice how hard it's trying to do that so it just slow rolls those things into Google Maps instead.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
A database which contained millions of text messages used to authenticate users signing into websites was left exposed to the internet without a password. From the report: The exposed server belongs to Voxox (formerly Telcentris), a San Diego, Calif.-based communications company. The server wasn't protected with a password, allowing anyone who knew where to look to peek in and snoop on a near-real-time stream of text messages. For Sebastien Kaul, a Berlin-based security researcher, it didn't take long to find. Although Kaul found the exposed server on Shodan, a search engine for publicly available devices and databases, it was also attached to to one of Voxox's own subdomains. Worse, the database -- running on Amazon's Elasticsearch -- was configured with a Kibana front-end, making the data within easily readable, browsable and searchable for names, cell numbers and the contents of the text messages themselves.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Despite vast increases in the time and money spent on research, progress is barely keeping pace with the past. What went wrong? An anonymous reader shares a report: Today, there are more scientists, more funding for science, and more scientific papers published than ever before. On the surface, this is encouraging. But for all this increase in effort, are we getting a proportional increase in our scientific understanding? Or are we investing vastly more merely to sustain (or even see a decline in) the rate of scientific progress? It's surprisingly difficult to measure scientific progress in meaningful ways. Part of the trouble is that it's hard to accurately evaluate how important any given scientific discovery is.
[...] With that in mind, we ran a survey asking scientists to compare Nobel prizewinning discoveries in their fields. We then used those rankings to determine how scientists think the quality of Nobel prizewinning discoveries has changed over the decades. As a sample survey question, we might ask a physicist which was a more important contribution to scientific understanding: the discovery of the neutron (the particle that makes up roughly half the ordinary matter in the universe) or the discovery of the cosmic microwave background radiation (the afterglow of the Big Bang). Think of the survey as a round-robin tournament, competitively matching discoveries against one another, with expert scientists judging which is better.
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By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
schwit1 writes: PlayStation users in Chicago on Wednesday began paying a 9 percent tax on streaming content as the gaming company starts complying with a city levy. The Sony-owned company joins other streaming services including Spotify, Netflix and Hulu in complying with the charge, which took effect three years ago. The city's amusement tax, which used to apply mostly to concert and sporting event tickets, was extended to include streaming services in 2015. That includes charges paid for playing games, according to Chicago's Finance Department. Some tech companies have fought the additional 9 percent charge. Apple filed a lawsuit against the city in August alleging the tax on its music streaming services was illegal and discriminatory. That suit is pending in Cook County Circuit Court. Meanwhile, Apple is not collecting the tax. In 2015, a group of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Spotify, XBox Live and Hulu users sued Chicago in Cook County, alleging the tax violates federal law. The judge ruled in the city's favor in May, and the streaming service users appealed the decision. The case is pending in state Appellate Court.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's inside-the-mind-of-bezos department
Days before Amazon announced the cities it had picked for its HQ2, CEO Jeff Bezos had to address a separate but related concern among employees: Where is all this headed? At an all-hands meeting last Thursday in Seattle, an employee asked Bezos about Amazon's future. Specifically, the questioner wanted to know what lessons Bezos has learned from the recent bankruptcies of Sears and other big retailers. From a report: "Amazon is not too big to fail," Bezos said, in a recording of the meeting that CNBC has heard. "In fact, I predict one day Amazon will fail. Amazon will go bankrupt. If you look at large companies, their lifespans tend to be 30-plus years, not a hundred-plus years." The key to prolonging that demise, Bezos continued, is for the company to "obsess over customers" and to avoid looking inward, worrying about itself. "If we start to focus on ourselves, instead of focusing on our customers, that will be the beginning of the end," he said. "We have to try and delay that day for as long as possible." Bezos' comments come at a time of unprecedented success at Amazon, with its core retail business continuing to grow while the company is winning the massive cloud-computing market and gaining rapid adoption of its Alexa voice assistant in the home.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's observations-and-views department
Justin Kosslyn, who leads product management at Jigsaw, a unit within Alphabet that builds technology to address global security challenges, writes: The Internet's lack of friction made it great, but now our devotion to minimizing friction is perhaps the internet's weakest link for security. Friction -- delays and hurdles to speed and growth -- can be a win-win-win for users, companies, and security. It is time to abandon our groupthink bias against friction as a design principle. Highways have speed limits and drugs require prescriptions -- rules that limit how fast you can drive a vehicle or access a controlled substance -- yet digital information moves limitlessly. The same design philosophy that accelerated the flow of correspondence, news, and commerce also accelerates the flow of phishing, ransomware, and disinformation.
In the old days, it took time and work to steal secrets, blackmail people, and meddle across borders. Then came the internet. From the beginning, it was designed as a frictionless communication platform across countries, companies, and computers. Reducing friction is generally considered a good thing: it saves time and effort, and in many genuine ways makes our world smaller. There are also often financial incentives: more engagement, more ads, more dollars. But the internet's lack of friction has been a boon to the dark side, too. Now, in a matter of hours a "bad actor" can steal corporate secrets or use ransomware to blackmail thousands of people. Governments can influence foreign populations remotely and at relatively low cost. Whether the threat is malware, phishing, or disinformation, they all exploit high-velocity networks of computers and people.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-is-better-than-one department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) paved the way for improved GPS and location accuracy today, approving an order that will allow U.S. phones to access a European satellite system. The order allows non-federal consumer devices to access the European Union's version of GPS, which is also known as Galileo. The system is available globally, and it officially went live in 2016. By opening up access, devices that can retrieve a signal from both Galileo and the U.S. GPS system will see improved timing estimates and location reliability. The iPhone 8 was the first Apple product to support it. Other phone models from Huawei and Samsung support the system, too. "Since the debut of the first consumer handheld GPS device in 1989, consumers and industry in the United States have relied on the U.S. GPS to support satellite-based positioning, navigation, and timing services that are integral to everyday applications ranging from driving directions to precision farming," the FCC said in a release. Now, the U.S. system will be able to commingle with the European one, making the way for better reliability, range, and accuracy.Read Replies (0)