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Amazon Plans To Make 50% of Shipments Net Zero Carbon by 2030
Posted by News Fetcher on February 19 '19 at 05:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
Amazon says it hopes to make 50 percent of all shipments to customers with net zero carbon in the next 11 years as part of an initiative it's calling Shipment Zero. From a report: It also announced that it'll share a report detailing its companywide carbon footprint -- along with "related goals and programs" -- later this year, and that it'll continue to use customer feedback to "enable" and "encourage" its supply chain partners to reduce their environmental impact. The initiative builds on the Seattle retailer's ongoing work to minimize its contributions to greenhouse gases, Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations at Amazon, explained in a blog post.

Amazon currently has over 200 scientists, engineers, and product designers dedicated to "inventing new ways" to "leverage [its] scale" for the "good of customers and the planet," he said, and has engaged in an "extensive" project over the past two years to develop a model that provides internal teams with data to help them identify ways to reduce carbon use.

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Emoji Are Showing Up in Court Cases Exponentially, and Courts Aren't Prepared
Posted by News Fetcher on February 19 '19 at 03:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's times,-they-are-changin' department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Bay Area prosecutors were trying to prove that a man arrested during a prostitution sting was guilty of pimping charges, and among the evidence was a series of Instagram DMs (direct messages) he'd allegedly sent to a woman. One read: "Teamwork make the dream work" with high heels and money bag emoji placed at the end. Prosecutors said the message implied a working relationship between the two of them. The defendant said it could mean he was trying to strike up a romantic relationship. Who was right?

Emoji are showing up as evidence in court more frequently with each passing year. Between 2004 and 2019, there was an exponential rise in emoji and emoticon references in US court opinions, with over 30 percent of all cases appearing in 2018, according to Santa Clara University law professor Eric Goldman, who has been tracking all of the references to "emoji" and "emoticon" that show up in US court opinions. So far, the emoji and emoticons have rarely been important enough to sway the direction of a case, but as they become more common, the ambiguity in how emoji are displayed and what we interpret emoji to mean could become a larger issue for courts to contend with.

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Chinese and Iranian Hackers Renew Their Attacks on US Companies
Posted by News Fetcher on February 19 '19 at 12:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-tension department:
Businesses and government agencies in the United States have been targeted in aggressive attacks by Iranian and Chinese hackers who security experts believe have been energized by President Trump's withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal last year and his trade conflicts with China. From a report: Recent Iranian attacks on American banks, businesses and government agencies have been more extensive than previously reported. Dozens of corporations and multiple United States agencies have been hit, according to seven people briefed on the episodes who were not authorized to discuss them publicly. The attacks, attributed to Iran by analysts at the National Security Agency and the private security firm FireEye, prompted an emergency order by the Department of Homeland Security during the government shutdown last month.

The Iranian attacks coincide with a renewed Chinese offensive geared toward stealing trade and military secrets from American military contractors and technology companies, according to nine intelligence officials, private security researchers and lawyers familiar with the attacks who discussed them on the condition of anonymity because of confidentiality agreements. A summary of an intelligence briefing read to The New York Times said that Boeing, General Electric Aviation and T-Mobile were among the recent targets of Chinese industrial-espionage efforts. The companies all declined to discuss the threats, and it is not clear if any of the hacks were successful.

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Windows 7 Users: You Need SHA-2 Support or No Windows Updates After July 2019
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 08:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's fyi department:
Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 users need to have SHA-2 code-signing installed by July 16, 2019, in order to continue to get Windows updates after that date. Microsoft issued that warning on February 15 via a Support article. From a report: Windows operating system updates are dual-signed using both the SHA-1 and SHA-2 hash algorithms to prove authenticity. Bug going foward, due to "weaknesses" in SHA-1, Microsoft officials have said previously that Windows updates will be using the more secure SHA-2 algorithm exclusively. Customers running Windows 7 SP1, Windows Server 2008 R2 SP1 and Windows Server 2008 SP2 must have SHA-2 code-signing support installed by July 2019, Microsoft officials have said.

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Stop Saying, 'We Take Your Privacy and Security Seriously'
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 05:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Security reporter Zack Whittaker writes: In my years covering cybersecurity, there's one variation of the same lie that floats above the rest. "We take your privacy and security seriously." You might have heard the phrase here and there. It's a common trope used by companies in the wake of a data breach -- either in a "mea culpa" email to their customers or a statement on their website to tell you that they care about your data, even though in the next sentence they all too often admit to misusing or losing it. The truth is, most companies don't care about the privacy or security of your data. They care about having to explain to their customers that their data was stolen.

I've never understood exactly what it means when a company says it values my privacy. If that were the case, data hungry companies like Google and Facebook, which sell data about you to advertisers, wouldn't even exist. I was curious how often this go-to one liner was used. I scraped every reported notification to the California attorney general, a requirement under state law in the event of a breach or security lapse, stitched them together, and converted it into machine-readable text. About one-third of all 285 data breach notifications had some variation of the line. It doesn't show that companies care about your data. It shows that they don't know what to do next.

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Apple Plans To Launch an 'All-New' 16-inch MacBook Pro and 32-inch 6K Monitor This Year, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 03:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Apple is planning an "all-new" MacBook Pro design for this year, well-connected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said. From a report: The lineup is reportedly led by a model with a screen of between 16 and 16.5 inches, which would make it the biggest screen in a Mac notebook since the 17-inch models stopped being sold in 2012. Kuo says the lineup may also include a 13-inch model with support for 32GB of RAM; right now only the 15-inch MacBook Pro can be configured with that amount of memory.

[...] More interestingly, Kuo has the first credible details of the external monitor that will mark Apple's return to the pro display market. It's said to be a 31.6-inch 6K display with a "Mini LED-like backlight design." Apple discontinued its last monitor, the Thunderbolt Display, back in 2016; right now the best option for owners of more modern Macs is the Apple-sanctioned but imperfect 27-inch LG UltraFine 5K.

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Deep Learning May Need a New Programming Language That's More Flexible Than Python, Facebook's Chief AI Scientist Says
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's in-pursuit-of-a-better-language department:
Deep learning may need a new programming language that's more flexible and easier to work with than Python, Facebook AI Research director Yann LeCun said today. From an interview: It's not yet clear if such a language is necessary, but the possibility runs against very entrenched desires from researchers and engineers, he said. LeCun has worked with neural networks since the 1980s. "There are several projects at Google, Facebook, and other places to kind of design such a compiled language that can be efficient for deep learning, but it's not clear at all that the community will follow, because people just want to use Python," LeCun said in a phone call with VentureBeat. "The question now is, is that a valid approach?" Further reading: Facebook joins Amazon and Google in AI chip race.

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Netflix Cancels The Punisher and Jessica Jones, Ending its Marvel Shows
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Netflix is officially no longer producing Marvel's live-action shows. The streaming service has canceled both The Punisher and Jessica Jones, according to Deadline, with the latter's third season set to debut as the last batch of Marvel live-action episodes on Netflix. "We are grateful to Marvel for five years of our fruitful partnership and thank the passionate fans who have followed these series from the beginning," a Netflix representative told Deadline. Netflix didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

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How Badly is Google Books Search Broken, and Why?
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a blog post: It appears that when you use a year constraint on book search, the search index has dramatically constricted to the point of being, essentially, broken. Here's an example. While writing something, I became interested in the etymology of the phrase 'set in stone.' Online essays seem to generally give the phrase an absurd antiquity -- they talk about Hammurabi and Moses, as if it had been translated from language to language for decades. I thought that it must be more recent -- possibly dating from printers working with lithography in the 19th century.

So I put it into Google Ngrams. As it often is, the results were quite surprising; about 8,700 total uses in about 8,000 different books before 2002, the majority of which are after 1985. Hammurabi is out, but lithography doesn't look like a likely origin for widespread popularity either. That's much more modern that I would have thought -- this was not a pat phrase until the 1990s. That's interesting, so I turned to Google Books to find the results. Of those 8,000 books published before 2002, how many show up in the Google Books search result with a date filter before 2002? Just five. Two books that have "set in stone" in their titles (and thus wouldn't need a working full-text index), one book from 2001, and two volumes of the Congressional record. 99.95% of the books that should be returned in this search -- many of which, in my experience, were generally returned four years ago or so -- have vanished. Further reading: How Google Book Search Got Lost; Whatever Happened To Google Books?; and Google's New Book Search Deals in Ideas, Not Keywords.

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Return To Sender: High Court To Hear Undeliverable Mail Case
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's David-vs.-Goliath department:
New submitter bluekloud shares a report: Mitch Hungerpiller thought he had a first-class solution for mail that gets returned as undeliverable, a common problem for businesses that send lots of letters. But the process he helped develop and built his small Alabama technology company around has resulted in a more than decade-long fight with the U.S. Postal Service, which says his solution shouldn't have been patentable. The David vs. Goliath dispute has now arrived at the Supreme Court. On Tuesday, the justices will hear Hungerpiller's case, which involves parsing the meaning of a 2011 patent law.

"All I want is a fair shake," said Hungerpiller, who lives in Birmingham and is a father of three. Hungerpiller, 56, started thinking seriously about returned mail in 1999 when he was doing computer consulting work. While visiting clients he kept seeing huge trays of returned mail. He read that every year, billions pieces of mail are returned as undeliverable, costing companies and the Postal Service time and money. So he decided to try to solve the problem. He developed a system that uses barcodes, scanning equipment and computer databases to process returned mail almost entirely automatically. His clients, from financial services companies to marketing companies, generally direct their returned mail to Hungerpiller's company, Return Mail Inc., for processing. Clients can get information about whether the mail was actually correctly addressed and whether thereâ(TM)s a more current address.

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Huawei's Efforts To Steal Apple Trade Secrets Include Employee Bonus Program and Other Dubious Tactics: Report
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 09:52 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
In a report published Monday, The Information [paywalled] has detailed tactics used by China's Huawei to steal Apple's trade secrets. These tactics include Huawei engineers appealing to Apple's third-party manufacturers and suppliers with promises of big orders, but instead using the opportunity to pry on processes specific to iPhone-maker's component production. From a report: According to today's report, a Huawei engineer in charge of the company's smartwatch project tracked down a supplier that makes the heart rate sensor for the Apple Watch. The Huawei engineer arranged a meeting, suggesting he was offering the supplier a lucrative manufacturing contract, but during the meeting his main intent was questioning the supplier about the Apple Watch. The Huawei engineer attended the supplier meeting with four Huawei researchers in tow. The Huawei team spent the next hour and a half pressing the supplier for details about the Apple Watch, the executive said. "They were trying their luck, but we wouldn't tell them anything," the executive said. After that, Huawei went silent.

This event reportedly reflects "a pattern of dubious tactics" performed by Huawei to obtain technology from rivals, particularly Apple's China-based suppliers. According to a Huawei spokesperson the company has not been in the wrong: "In conducting research and development, Huawei employees must search and use publicly available information and respect third-party intellectual property per our business-conduct guidelines." According to the U.S. Justice Department, Huawei is said to have a formal program that rewards employees for stealing information, including bonuses that increase based on the confidential value of the information gathered.

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The Weird Rise of Cyber Funerals
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
Thanks to recent changes to privacy legislation in Europe and South Korea aimed at protecting the living, we now have more power than ever over our personal information -- even from beyond the grave. While this may have felt like a gimmick in the past, cyber funerals -- where our personal data is removed from the web posthumously -- are slowly becoming a viable option. From a report: Digital undertaking is the act of erasing and tidying up your public data after you die. It's a relatively new idea, but one that's already taking off in South Korea, according to the Korean Employment Information Service. Think of it as a ghoulish version of the European Union's right to be forgotten legislation. For most digital undertakers, the tricky task is to contact the social media companies, search engines or even media companies who publish personal information, and request for it to be deleted when their client dies. If that doesn't work, then companies -- be they in South Korea, the USA or UK -- can bury search engine results by flooding Google with new, conflicting data about the deceased. Santa Cruise, a company based in Seoul, was one of the first in South Korea to take on the task of digital undertaking. Founded in 2008, it was originally an agency for entertainment figures but now specializes in removing personal data from the internet for clients both dead and alive. The company's scope includes digital undertaking and even "reputation management" for those who have been victims of revenge porn.

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Australia's Major Political Parties Targeted by 'Sophisticated State Actor', Prime Minister Says
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-tension department:
Australia's major political parties have been targeted by a "sophisticated state actor", according to Scott Morrison (Prime Minister of Australia), as part of a breach of the Parliament House computer network. From a report: The head of the Australian Cyber Security Centre, Alastair MacGibbon, says agencies were unsure what material had been taken in the incident because the rapid remediation efforts had removed some of the forensic evidence. The prime minister confirmed the state-sponsored intrusion in a statement to parliament on Monday, but said there was no evidence of electoral interference and measures had been put in place to "ensure the integrity of our electoral system."

Morrison said he had instructed the Australian Cyber Security Centre "to be ready to provide any political party or electoral body in Australia with immediate support, including making their technical experts available." He said the federal and state electoral commissions and cybersecurity agencies in the states had been briefed and the cybersecurity centre in Canberra had also worked with global anti-virus companies "so the world can detect this malicious activity."

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Major Games Publishers Are Feeling The Impact Of Peaking Attention
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 07:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's getting-to-the-bottom-of-things department:
Some analysis from research firm MIDiA: Earlier this month Electronic Arts (EA) reported disappointing quarterly results, now Activision has laid off nearly 800 staff, mostly in marketing and sales. As MIDiA has reported multiple times before, engagement has declined throughout the sector, suggesting that the attention economy has peaked. Consumers simply do not have any more free time to allocate to new attention seeking digital entertainment propositions, which means they have to start prioritizing between them.

This downward trend in engagement has persisted for a while now, and the latest quarterly results from some major games publishers confirm that a revenue slowdown will ultimately follow consumer behaviour. Arguably sooner than most of the games industry would have thought. Publishers will be quick to blame declining engagement and revenues on Fortnite. While the title indeed intensified the manifestation of the peak attention economy dynamics among gamers, the coming slowdown is part of a much bigger challenge -- how to capture attention in an increasingly attention-scarce landscape.

Top publishers are facing several headwinds at the same time. Fortnite is only one of them, and arguably one of the less harmful ones to the long-term outlook of the games industry: Fortnite's model utilises the attention economy dynamics: It's a high-grade gaming experience and it's free to play, which means there is little barrier for consumers to allocate attention to, compare to its paid counterparts. While it has undoubtedly cannibalised some revenue and engagement from other major publishers, Fortnite engagement still contributes to the bottom line of the global games industry. More gamers engage with games videos and events than Fortnite: Not only is engagement declining across mobile, PC and console gaming, at the same time, video is winning the race against gaming in capturing attention on multipurpose devices such as PC.

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Goldman Sachs Asks: 'Is Curing Patients a Sustainable Business Model?'
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 04:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's wow department:
Goldman Sachs analysts attempted to address a touchy subject for biotech companies, especially those involved in the pioneering "gene therapy" treatment: cures could be bad for business in the long run. "Is curing patients a sustainable business model?" analysts ask in an April 10 report entitled "The Genome Revolution." From a report: "The potential to deliver 'one shot cures' is one of the most attractive aspects of gene therapy, genetically-engineered cell therapy and gene editing. However, such treatments offer a very different outlook with regard to recurring revenue versus chronic therapies," analyst Salveen Richter wrote in the note to clients Tuesday. "While this proposition carries tremendous value for patients and society, it could represent a challenge for genome medicine developers looking for sustained cash flow."

Richter cited Gilead Sciences' treatments for hepatitis C, which achieved cure rates of more than 90 percent. The company's U.S. sales for these hepatitis C treatments peaked at $12.5 billion in 2015, but have been falling ever since. Goldman estimates the U.S. sales for these treatments will be less than $4 billion this year, according to a table in the report. "GILD is a case in point, where the success of its hepatitis C franchise has gradually exhausted the available pool of treatable patients," the analyst wrote.

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YouTube To Blame For Rise in Flat Earth Believers, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on February 18 '19 at 01:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
According to research, almost everyone who believes in flat Earth theory got started on YouTube. From a report: Asheley Landrum is an assistant professor of science communication at Texas Tech University. Her focus: how cultural values affect our understanding of science. Most recently she's been looking at the rise of flat Earth theory. Incredibly, more people than ever believe in a flat Earth. Google searches for "flat earth" have grown massively over the past five years and flat Earth conventions have begun popping up all over the globe. That's where Landrum focused her research. Landrum interviewed 30 people who attended one flat Earth convention and found that all but one became flat Earthers after watching videos on YouTube.

She presented her research at an event run by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. While Landrum didn't explicitly blame YouTube for the rise in flat Earth believers, she does believe that Google could be doing more to stop the spread of scientifically incorrect ideas. "There's a lot of helpful information on YouTube but also a lot of misinformation," she said, as reported by The Guardian. "Their algorithms make it easy to end up going down the rabbit hole, by presenting information to people who are going to be more susceptible to it."

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'No, You Can't Ignore Email. It's Rude.'
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '19 at 08:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's email-etiquette department:
Yes, we're all overwhelmed with email. One recent survey suggested that the average American's inbox has 199 unread messages. But volume isn't an excuse for not replying. Ignoring email is an act of incivility, reads an opinion piece. From the story: "I'm too busy to answer your email" really means "Your email is not a priority for me right now." That's a popular justification for neglecting your inbox: It's full of other people's priorities. But there's a growing body of evidence that if you care about being good at your job, your inbox should be a priority. When researchers compiled a huge database of the digital habits of teams at Microsoft, they found that the clearest warning sign of an ineffective manager was being slow to answer emails. Responding in a timely manner shows that you are conscientious -- organized, dependable and hardworking. And that matters. In a comprehensive analysis of people in hundreds of occupations, conscientiousness was the single best personality predictor of job performance. (It turns out that people who are rude online tend to be rude offline, too.)

I'm not saying you have to answer every email. Your brain is not just sitting there waiting to be picked. If senders aren't considerate enough to do their homework and ask a question you're qualified to answer, you don't owe them anything back. How do you know if an email you've received -- or even more important, one you're considering writing -- doesn't deserve a response? After all, sending an inappropriate email can be as rude as ignoring a polite one. [...] Whatever boundaries you choose, don't abandon your inbox altogether. Not answering emails today is like refusing to take phone calls in the 1990s or ignoring letters in the 1950s. Email is not household clutter and you're not Marie Kondo. Ping!

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'Digital Gangster' Facebook Intentionally and Knowingly Violated UK Privacy and Competition Rules, British Lawmakers Say
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '19 at 05:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's but-what-do-you-really-feel? department:
British lawmakers on Sunday accused Facebook of having "intentionally and knowingly violated both data privacy and anti-competition laws" in the country, and they called for investigations into the social media giant's business practices. From a report: The sharp rebuke came in a 108-page report written by members of Parliament, who in 2017 began a wide-ranging study of Facebook and the spread of malicious content online. They concluded that the United Kingdom should adopt new regulations so lawmakers can hold Facebook and its tech peers in Silicon Valley accountable for digital misdeeds. "Companies like Facebook should not be allowed to behave like 'digital gangsters' in the online world," U.K. lawmakers said in their report, "considering themselves to be ahead of and beyond the law."

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Researcher Scans All IP Addresses of Austria, Finds a Ton of Things That Shouldn't Be Online
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '19 at 04:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Christian Haschek scanned the entire Austrian IP space and found IP cameras, printers, and industrial control systems and a range of other devices that should not be online.

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Google Fixing Chrome API To Prevent Incognito Mode Detection
Posted by News Fetcher on February 17 '19 at 04:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's patch-incoming department:
AmiMoJo writes: When browsing the web with Google Chrome, some sites are using a method to determine if a visitor is in a regular browsing session or in incognito mode. As this can be considered a breach of privacy, Google will be changing how a particular API works so that web sites can no longer utilize this technique.

Chrome supports the FileSystem API, which allows sites to create a virtual file system that lives within the sandbox of the browser. This allows sites that utilize large assets, such as online games, to download these assets to a virtual file system so that they do not have to download them each time they are needed. Currently the FileSystem API is not available in incognito sessions, because it leaves files behind and could be considered a privacy risk. Currently the API doesn't work in incognito mode, offering sites a way to check for it. In a Chrome Gerrit post started this week and updated earlier this morning, Google has stated that they are changing the FileSystem API so that it can be used in incognito mode, without the risks to privacy.

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