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Uber Commits $5 Million To Sexual Assault, Domestic Violence Prevention
Posted by News Fetcher on November 07 '17 at 03:22 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's preventative-causes department:
Uber announced on Sunday that it's taking new steps toward preventing sexual assault and domestic violence, starting with a $5 million donation to its partners -- Raliance, National Network to End Domestic Violence, No More, Women of Color Network, Casa de Esperanza, A Call to Men, and The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs -- along with an employee training program and in-app messaging to educate riders and drivers. Gizmodo reports: "As a result of this ongoing collaboration we have begun to make important changes internally and will commit to use Uber's scope and visibility to help drive awareness, education, and prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence to millions globally," said Uber's announcement. Uber wrote on its blog that its technology "enhances safety for riders and drivers in ways that weren't possible before such as GPS tracking, the ability to share a trip with family and friends, and 24/7 support through the app." But the company has failed to adopt measures like more rigorous driver background checks, despite urging by lawmakers. The ride-sharing service left Austin altogether last year (along with Lyft) because it refused to fingerprint its drivers. Uber has argued that mandated fingerprinting is too burdensome. Advocates for fingerprinting argue that it helps ensure rider safety.

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Florida Attempts the Largest Hydraulic Restoration Project In the World To Save the Everglades
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 11:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's undraining-the-swamp department:
New submitter ar2286 shares a report from Motherboard: Florida is defined by its water -- the water flowing around it, through it, increasingly over it. But throughout the twentieth century, its major arteries of fresh water, which flowed from the Kissimmee River south of Orlando to Lake Okeechobee and down to the swampy Everglades, were permanently rerouted by the federal government and landowners to stop flooding, and make room for agriculture and housing in the southern part of the state. Now the state is working with the Army Corps of Engineers -- the government agency partly responsible for rerouting and draining water to begin with -- and the South Florida Water Management District to attempt the largest hydraulic restoration project in the world. And while some say the effort has turned Florida into a battleground, pitting sugar farmers against legislators and environmentalists, others are hoping this will finally right certain man-made wrongs and restore some balance to the state. If the government is able to fully fund the plan, and should dozens of contractors and state forces successfully carry it out, it could permanently change Florida. And set a precedent for inevitable restoration projects around the world, which are becoming increasingly crucial as climate change manifests in stronger storms and sea level rise. The state is embarking on such a massive restoration project because the aging levees and control gates surrounding Lake Okeechobee are at risk of failing during large storms and/or heavy rainfall. "The more rainwater that increases in Lake Okeechobee, the more pressure is on the lake, and that pressure can continue to build up and build up and build up and one day the levee can go," said Tammy Jackson-Moore, a Belle Glade resident who co-founded Guardians of the Glades, a nonprofit focused on community advocacy. "And we're talking about wiping out entire communities here." The rerouting has allowed for bursts of economic growth, but it does have its consequences. "The Everglades, the largest swath of subtropical wilderness in the country, is now half of its size circa 1920, and the ecosystem has deteriorated, losing wildlife and native flora," reports Motherboard. "Without a natural place to flow, stagnant water pushes toxic algae blooms into the rivers, and turns pristine ocean into sludgy waste."

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Sleep Deprivation Disrupts Brain-Cell Communication, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 08:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's whole-new-world department:
A new study published in the journal Nature Medicine found that sleep deprivation causes the bursts of electrical activity that brain cells use to communicate to become slower and weaker. "The finding could help explain why a lack of sleep impairs a range of mental functions, says Dr. Itzhak Fried, an author of the study and a professor of neurosurgery at the University of California, Los Angeles," reports NPR. From the report: The finding comes from an unusual study of patients being evaluated for surgery to correct severe epilepsy. As part of the evaluation, doctors place wires in the brain to find out where a patient's seizures are starting. That allows Fried and a team of scientists to monitor hundreds of individual brain cells, often for days. And because patients with epilepsy are frequently kept awake in order to provoke a seizure, the scientists had an ideal way to study the effects of sleep deprivation. In the study, all the patients agreed to categorize images of faces, places and animals. Each image caused cells in areas of the brain involved in perception to produce distinctive patterns of electrical activity. Then, four of the patients stayed up all night before looking at more images. And in these patients, "the neurons are responding slower," Fried says. "The responses are diminished, and they are smeared over longer periods of time." These changes impair the cells' ability to communicate, Fried says. And that leads to mental lapses that can affect not only perception but memory.

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Microsoft Releases Standards For Highly Secure Windows 10 Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 07:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's highly-secure department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via BleepingComputer: Yesterday, Microsoft released new standards that consumers should follow in order to have a highly secure Windows 10 device. These standards include the type of hardware that should be included with Windows 10 systems and the minimum firmware features. The hardware standards are broken up into 6 categories, which are minimum specs for processor generation, processor architecture, virtualization, trusted platform modules (TPM), platform boot verification, and RAM. Similarly, firmware features should support at least UEFI 2.4 or later, Secure Boot, Secure MOR 2 or later, and support the Windows UEFI Firmware Capsule Update specification.

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US Court Grants ISPs and Search Engine Blockade of Sci-Hub
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 06:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's decline-of-the-arts-and-sciences department:
Sci-Hub, a scientific research piracy site home to thousands of research papers, has suffered another blow in a U.S. federal court. According to TorrentFreak, "The American Chemical Society has won a default judgment of $4.8 million for alleged copyright infringement against the site. In addition, the publisher was granted an unprecedented injunction which requires search engines and ISPs to block the platform." This comes after a $15 million fine was imposed on Sci-Hub by a New York federal judge earlier this year. From the report: Just before the weekend, U.S. District Judge Leonie Brinkema issued a final decision which is a clear win for ACS. The publisher was awarded the maximum statutory damages of $4.8 million for 32 infringing works, as well as a permanent injunction. The injunction is not limited to domain name registrars and hosting companies, but expands to search engines, ISPs and hosting companies too, who can be ordered to stop linking to or offering services to Sci-Hub. The injunction means that Internet providers, such as Comcast, can be requested to block users from accessing Sci-Hub. That's a big deal since pirate site blockades are not common in the United States. The same is true for search engine blocking of copyright-infringing sites.

"Ordered that any person or entity in active concert or participation with Defendant Sci-Hub and with notice of the injunction, including any Internet search engines, web hosting and Internet service providers, domain name registrars, and domain name registries, cease facilitating access to any or all domain names and websites through which Sci-Hub engages in unlawful access to, use, reproduction, and distribution of ACS's trademarks or copyrighted works," the injunction reads.

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iPhone X Has the 'Most Innovative and High Performance' Smartphone Display Ever Tested
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 06:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fine-tuned department:
The display in the iPhone X is produced by Samsung and improved by Apple, says screen technology analysis firm DisplayMate. The company has released a display shoot-out for the iPhone X, praising Apple's technology in areas like the higher resolution OLED screen, automatic color management, viewing angle performance, and more. Mac Rumors reports: According to DisplayMate, the iPhone X has the "most innovative and high performance" smartphone display it has ever tested. DisplayMate also congratulated Samsung Display for "developing and manufacturing the outstanding OLED display hardware in the iPhone X." iPhone X matched or set new smartphone display records in the following categories: highest absolute color accuracy, highest full screen brightness for OLED smartphones, highest full screen contrast rating in ambient light, and highest contrast ratio. It also had the lowest screen reflectance and smallest brightness variation with a viewing angle. The iPhone X's 5.8-inch OLED display includes a taller height to width aspect ratio of 19.5:9, 22 percent larger than the 16:9 aspect ratio on previous iPhone models (and most other smartphones). Because of this DisplayMate noted that the iPhone X also has a new 2.5K higher resolution with 2436x1125 pixels and 458 pixels per inch. The iPhone X's display resolution provides "significantly higher image sharpness" than can be analyzed by a person with normal 20/20 vision at a 12-inch viewing distance. DisplayMate said this means that it's now "absolutely pointless" to increase the display resolution and pixels per inch of the iPhone any further, since there would be "no visual benefit" for users.

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Should Private Companies Be Allowed To Hit Back At Hackers?
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 04:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's revenge-hacking department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The former director of the NSA and the U.S. military's cybersecurity branch doesn't believe private companies should be allowed to hit back at hackers. "If it starts a war, you can't have companies starting a war. That's an inherently governmental responsibility, and plus the chances of a company getting it wrong are fairly high," Alexander said during a meeting with a small group of reporters on Monday. During a keynote he gave at a cybersecurity conference in Manhattan, Alexander hit back at defenders of the extremely common, although rarely discussed or acknowledged, practice of revenge hacking, or hack back. During his talk, Alexander said that no company, especially those attacked by nation state hackers, should ever be allowed to try to retaliate on its own. Using the example of Sony, which was famously hacked by North Korea in late 2014, Alexander said that if Sony had gone after the hackers, it might have prompted them to throw artillery into South Korea once they saw someone attacking them back. "We can give Sony six guys from my old place there," he said, presumably referring to the NSA, "and they'd beat up North Korea like red-headed stepchild -- no pun intended." But that's not a good idea because it could escalate a conflict, and "that's an inherently governmental responsibility. So if Sony can't defend it, the government has to." Instead, Keith argued that the U.S. government should be able to not only hit back at hackers -- as it already does -- but should also have more powers and responsibilities when it comes to stopping hackers before they even get in. Private companies should share more data with the U.S. government to prevent breaches, ha said.

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Twitter Exploit Let Two Pranksters Post 30,000-Character Tweet
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 03:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's blown-away department:
sqorbit writes: Two German twitter users were able to post a 30,000-character tweet, blowing way past the 280-character limit it is testing for select users. The accounts were banned for a brief period of time but are now back online after they apologized. The original 30,396-character tweet has been archived and can be viewed here. The two pranksters exploited "a rule Twitter made in 2016 that links would no longer count in the 140-character limit," reports The Daily Dot. "Yes, this is just one big web address with a URL code hidden deep in the large block of text."

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Apple Wins $120 Million From Samsung In Slide-To-Unlock Patent Battle
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 03:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's slide-to-unlock department:
Apple has finally claimed victory over Samsung to the count of $120 million. "The Supreme Court said today that it wouldn't hear an appeal of the patent infringement case, first decided in 2014, which has been bouncing through appeals courts in the years since," reports The Verge. From the report: The case revolved around Apple's famous slide-to-unlock patent and, among others, its less-famous quick links patent, which covered software that automatically turned information like a phone number into a tappable link. Samsung was found to have infringed both patents. The ruling was overturned almost two years later, and then reinstated once again less than a year after that. From there, Samsung appealed to the Supreme Court, which is where the case met its end today. Naturally, Samsung isn't pleased with the outcome. "Our argument was supported by many who believed that the Court should hear the case to reinstate fair standards that promote innovation and prevent abuse of the patent system," a Samsung representative said in a statement. The company also said the ruling would let Apple "unjustly profit" from an invalid patent.

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Paradise Papers Leak Reveals Apple's Secret Tax Bolthole
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 02:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's offshore-accounts department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: The world's most profitable firm has a secretive new structure that would enable it to continue avoiding billions in taxes, the Paradise Papers show. They reveal how Apple sidestepped a 2013 crackdown on its controversial Irish tax practices by actively shopping around for a tax haven. It then moved the firm holding most of its untaxed offshore cash, now $252 billion, to the Channel Island of Jersey. Apple said the new structure had not lowered its taxes. It said it remained the world's largest taxpayer, paying about $35 billion in corporation tax over the past three years, that it had followed the law and its changes "did not reduce our tax payments in any country."

Leaked emails also make it clear that Apple wanted to keep the move secret. One email sent between senior partners at Appleby says: "For those of you who are not aware, Apple [officials] are extremely sensitive concerning publicity. They also expect the work that is being done for them only to be discussed amongst personnel who need to know." Apple chose Jersey, a UK Crown dependency that makes its own tax laws and which has a 0% corporate tax rate for foreign companies. Paradise Papers documents show Apple's two key Irish subsidiaries, Apple Operations International (AOI), believed to hold most of Apple's massive $252 billion overseas cash hoard, and Apple Sales International (ASI), were managed from Appleby's office in Jersey from the start of 2015 until early 2016. This would have enabled Apple to continue avoiding billions in tax around the world. The report notes that Apple paid just $1.65 billion in taxes to foreign governments, despite making $44.7 billion outside the U.S. That's a tax rate of 3.7%, which is less than a sixth of the average rate of corporation tax in the world.

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Popular Firefox Bookmark Syncing Add-On Starts Losing... Bookmarks
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 02:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's call-IT department:
A popular Firefox browser add-on that saves and syncs bookmarks has started to lose those bookmarks instead, users are complaining. From a report: According to user reports -- and your reporter's own experience -- the problems arose when Xmarks updated the add-on to version 4.5.0.4, the first version to work on the new WebExtensions API, Firefox's new add-on technology. Since then, Firefox users have reported a wide range of problems, but among which the biggest was the fact that Xmarks was not syncing bookmarks as it should. The problems did not manifest the same way for all users. Some users said the add-on stopped syncing new bookmarks altogether, some reported corrupted links, others said they lost all bookmarks, while other reported that only a small portion of new bookmark URLs was being added to their Xmarks account.

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'Something Is Wrong On the Internet'
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 02:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
"Someone or something or some combination of people and things is using YouTube to systematically frighten, traumatize, and abuse children, automatically and at scale, and it forces me to question my own beliefs about the internet, at every level," writes James Bridle. From the article: To begin: Kid's YouTube is definitely and markedly weird. I've been aware of its weirdness for some time. Last year, there were a number of articles posted about the Surprise Egg craze. Surprise Eggs videos depict, often at excruciating length, the process of unwrapping Kinder and other egg toys. That's it, but kids are captivated by them. There are thousands and thousands of these videos and thousands and thousands, if not millions, of children watching them. [...] What I find somewhat disturbing about the proliferation of even (relatively) normal kids videos is the impossibility of determining the degree of automation which is at work here; how to parse out the gap between human and machine. The New York Times, last week: Parents and children have flocked to Google-owned YouTube Kids since it was introduced in early 2015. The app's more than 11 million weekly viewers are drawn in by its seemingly infinite supply of clips, including those from popular shows by Disney and Nickelodeon, and the knowledge that the app is supposed to contain only child-friendly content that has been automatically filtered from the main YouTube site. But the app contains dark corners, too, as videos that are disturbing for children slip past its filters, either by mistake or because bad actors have found ways to fool the YouTube Kids algorithms. In recent months, parents like Ms. Burns have complained that their children have been shown videos with well-known characters in violent or lewd situations and other clips with disturbing imagery, sometimes set to nursery rhymes.

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Comcast's Xfinity Internet Service Is Down Across the US [Update]
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 02:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's outage-reports department:
Readers share a report: Comcast's internet service, Xfinity, appears to be suffering an outage across the country. DownDetector.com shows it being down around the United States, including in large cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston. So far, online reports don't suggest that TV service or home phones are affected. On Twitter, Comcast confirmed the outage. Adding, "Some customers are having issues with their XFINITY Internet service. We apologize & appreciate your patience while we work to fix." The company tweeted moments ago, "Our teams continue to monitor an external network issue. We apologize for the inconvenience -- will provide updates as we learn more." In another tweet, Comcast said the issue is nationwide. Update: At 20:39 GMT on Monday, Comcast said it had resolved the issue.

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Comcast's Xfinity Internet Service Is Down Across the US
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 12:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's outage-reports department:
Readers share a report: Comcast's internet service, Xfinity, appears to be suffering an outage across the country. DownDetector.com shows it being down around the United States, including in large cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Boston. So far, online reports don't suggest that TV service or home phones are affected. On Twitter, Comcast confirmed the outage. Adding, "Some customers are having issues with their XFINITY Internet service. We apologize & appreciate your patience while we work to fix." The company tweeted moments ago, "Our teams continue to monitor an external network issue. We apologize for the inconvenience -- will provide updates as we learn more." In another tweet, Comcast said the issue is nationwide.

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China is Finally Going After Click Farms and Fake Online Sales
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 12:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's fair-competition department:
China enacted sweeping changes to a business competition law to address fraud in the e-commerce industry, which is plagued by malfeasance ranging from fake positive reviews to merchants goosing sales numbers. From a report: The National People's Congress adopted revisions Saturday to the Anti-Unfair Competition Law intended to address online retailers, the official Xinhua News Agency reported. The changes take effect Jan. 1 but were announced days before Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s Nov. 11 Singles' Day bargain extravaganza, which dwarfs Black Friday in the U.S. in terms of revenue. The Chinese law initially took effect in 1993 as a way to protect consumers and businesses from unfair market practices. At that time, none of China's biggest online companies -- including Alibaba, Tencent Holdings Ltd., Baidu Inc. and JD.com Inc. -- even existed. As e-commerce developed and prospered, attendant problems grew with it. These latest revisions stipulate that operators shouldn't deceive consumers by faking sales or employing "click farms" to rack up positive product reviews -- increasingly common practices that have drawn the ire of buyers. And the rules encompass the entire breadth of internet commerce, from online goods and movie ticketing to food delivery.

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One in Four UK Workers Maliciously Leaks Business Data Via Email, Study Says
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 11:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
From a report: New research into insider threats reveals that 24 percent of UK employees have deliberately shared confidential business information outside their company. The study from privacy and risk management specialist Egress Software Technologies also shows that almost half (46 percent) of respondents say they have received a panicked email recall request, which is not surprising given more than a third (37 percent) say they don't always check emails before sending them. The survey of 2,000 UK workers who regularly use email as part of their jobs shows the biggest human factor in sending emails in error is listed as 'rushing' (68 percent). However alcohol also plays a part in eight percent of all wrongly sent emails -- where are these people working!? Autofill technology, meanwhile, caused almost half (42 percent) to select the wrong recipient in the list.

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Most Amazon Prime Subscribers Say They Don't Want To Buy the Amazon Key That Lets Delivery People Into Their Homes
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 11:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's no-thanks department:
A reader shares a report: Next week, Amazon will start delivering packages straight into Americans' homes, using a smart lock and camera device called Amazon Key. But will anyone bother paying for what seems like an invasive service? Most wouldn't. About 58 percent of people who have Amazon Prime definitely would not buy Amazon Key, according to a SurveyMonkey poll done on behalf of Recode. That's only slightly less than the 61 percent of all U.S. adults who wouldn't buy the product, suggesting it's broadly unattractive, regardless of whether people are Amazon customers. Among Prime subscribers, only 5 percent said they would definitely buy Amazon Key. Of all U.S. shoppers, even less -- 4 percent -- said they would. Nearly 60 percent of the respondents have Prime subscriptions.

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Amazon Discounts Other Sellers' Products as Retail Competition Stiffens
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 11:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's assuming-more-control department:
Amazon is slashing prices of products from third-party sellers on its website, moving beyond its more typical method of discounts on items it sells directly. From a report: The "discount provided by Amazon" applies to products including board games and technological gadgets offered by other merchants as the holiday season approaches. The retailer has been trying to compete aggressively on some items to win sales and draw customers away from low-priced rivals like Wal-Mart Stores. The move allows Amazon to sell the products at lower prices while still giving full price to the sellers. "When Amazon provides a discount, customers get the products they want at a price they'll love, and small businesses receive increased sales at their listed asking price," an Amazon spokeswoman said in an emailed statement, noting that businesses can opt out at any time.

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Qualcomm Set To Reject $130bn Bid From Broadcom
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 11:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-twist department:
Tim Bradshaw, reporting for Financial Times: Chipmaker Broadcom officially unveiled a $130bn offer, including net debt, for Qualcomm on Monday, in what could be the largest tech deal in history. Under Broadcom's proposal, Qualcomm shareholders would receive $70 per share -- $60 in cash and $10 in shares of its rival. It would value Qualcomm's equity at roughly $103bn. Qualcomm is set to reject Broadcom's takeover offer (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; an alternative source wasn't immediately available), as the US chipmaker views its rival's $130bn proposal as too low and fraught with regulatory risks, people familiar with the matter said. The offer represents a 28 per cent premium over Qualcomm's share price on November 2, after it first emerged that Broadcom was preparing an offer. Broadcom also said that its offer stands whether or not Qualcomm completes its $38bn acquisition of NXP, which has yet to close.

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Afghanistan Clarifies It Will Not Block WhatsApp, Telegram
Posted by News Fetcher on November 06 '17 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
The Afghan government will not block the instant messaging services WhatsApp and Telegram, a spokesman told news agency Reuters on Monday, following days of controversy after reports the services would be suspended. From a report: "Government of Afghanistan isn't going to ban any social media platforms. WhatsApp and Telegram to continue operating in Afghanistan," Javid Faisal, deputy spokesman to government Chief Executive Abdullah Abdullah wrote on Twitter. The row over instant messaging services began after a letter from Afghanistan's telecoms regulator to Internet service providers telling them to block the services "without delay" was circulated on social media platforms last week.

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