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How Scratch Is Feeding Hacker Values into Young Minds
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '17 at 11:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's new-horizons department:
Reader mirandakatz writes: It's the 10th anniversary of Scratch, the kids programming language that's become a popular tool for training the next generation of minds in computer science. But as Steven Levy writes at Backchannel, Scratch's real value is how it imparts lessons in sharing, logic, and hackerism: 'A product of the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is steeped in a complicated set of traditions -- everything from educational philosophy to open source activism and the pursuit of artificial life. The underpinnings of this tool subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, convey a set of values through its use... These values include reverence of logic, an unshakeable belief in the power of collaboration, and a celebration of the psychic and tangible rewards of being a maker.'

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Microsoft Tests a Secured Edge Browser For Business
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '17 at 10:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's sandbox-ftw department:
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is in the testing stage of a new feature in its Edge browser for Windows 10 that is malware-proof as it partitions the browser window from the rest of the computer. This will be a welcome addition for users who are worried about the legitimacy of sites they want to visit. The new feature, catchily dubbed Windows Defender Application Guard, is part of the recently launched Windows Insider Previews. In order to access it you'll need to be a member of Microsoft's business service Enterprise, and have your settings calibrated so you're in the testing group called Fast Ring. Application Guard works by creating a virtual PC that is entirely separate from all storage, other apps, and the Windows 10 Kernel, meaning that the browser should be completely impervious to malware.

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Global App Usage Still Rising, and Users in the US Spend 135 Minutes a Day in Them
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '17 at 10:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-we-live department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: There's a reason that everyone you look at it is looking at a smartphone. According to the folks whose job it is to track such things, people can't get enough of apps, and global usage of them continues to increase. In its latest usage report, App Annie takes a look at the average user's app usage for the first quarter of 2017 and reaches the conclusion that mobile apps have become vital to our day-to-day lives. Last year's report found that time spent in apps reached 1 trillion hours. The average smartphone user, in the United States and other countries analyzed, used over 30 apps per month. That's about a third of the number that are actually installed on phones in the U.S. People use about 10 apps every day, the data shows, with iPhone users using slightly more than Android users. Utilities and tools are the most commonly used apps on a monthly basis, thanks to pre-installed apps such as Safari on iOS and Google on Android.

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Leaked Document Reveals UK Plans For Wider Internet Surveillance
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '17 at 10:01 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's privacy-woes department:
The UK government is planning to push greater surveillance powers that would force internet providers to monitor communications in near-realtime and install backdoor equipment to break encryption, according to a leaked document. From a report on ZDNet: A draft of the proposed new surveillance powers, leaked on Thursday, is part of a "targeted consultation" into the Investigatory Powers Act, brought into law last year, which critics called the "most extreme surveillance law ever passed in a democracy." Provisions in proposals show that the government is asking for powers to compel internet providers to turn over the realtime communications of a person "in an intelligible form," including encrypted content, within one working day. To that end, internet providers will be forced to introduce a backdoor point on their networks to allow intelligence agencies to read anyone's communications.

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EU Leader Says English Is Losing Importance
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '17 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader writes: Jean-Claude Juncker, the European Commission president, opted to deliver a speech in French on Friday morning because he said "English is losing importance" in Europe. He gave the comments, which are unlikely to mend fences after a war of words between Brussels and London over Brexit negotiations, at the "State of the Union" conference in Florence's Palazzo Vecchio -- an annual event for European dignitaries. Juncker said he was opting for French because "slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe and France has elections this Sunday and I want the French people to understand what I am saying about the importance of the EU." He spoke in English.

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A New Instance of Android Malware is Discovered Every 10 Seconds, Say Researchers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '17 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's story-of-our-lives department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Security firm G Data says that a new piece of Android malware is discovered every 10 seconds. At this rate, the company is predicting that there will be 3,500,000 new malicious Android files by the end of the year. "The threat level for users with smartphones and tablets with an Android operating system remains high. In all, the G DATA security experts expect around 3.5 million new Android malware apps for 2017," they said. The firm said that the risk was heightened by the fact that only a small minority of users are on the latest version of Android.

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April Jobs Report: 211,000 Jobs Added, Unemployment At 4.4 Percent
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '17 at 07:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's where-we-are department:
An anonymous reader shares an NPR report: The U.S. economy added 211,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls in April, the Bureau of Labor Statistics says. Both the unemployment rate, at 4.4 percent, and the number of unemployed persons, at 7.1 million, saw only incremental changes in April. The new data follow disappointing results from March, when the Labor Department initially said less than 100,000 jobs were created. In April, some of the biggest job gains came in leisure and hospitality, health care and social assistance, financial activities, and mining, the agency says.

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Justice Department Opens Criminal Probe Into Uber
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '17 at 06:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's band-on-the-run department:
parallel_prankster quotes a report from Washington Post: The Department of Justice has launched a criminal investigation into Uber's use of a secret software that was used to evade authorities in places where its ride-sharing service was banned or restricted, according to a person familiar with the government's probe. The investigation is in its early stages, but deepens the crisis for the embattled company and its chief executive and founder Travis Kalanick, who has faced a barrage of negative press this year in the wake of high-profile sexual harassment complaints, a slew of high-level executive departures, and a consequential trade secrets lawsuit from Google's parent company. The federal criminal probe, first reported by Reuters, focuses on software developed by Uber called "Greyball." The program helped the company evade officials in cities where Uber was not yet approved. The software identified and blocked rides to transportation regulators who were posing as Uber customers to prove that the company was operating illegally.

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Digital Economy Act: Illegal Kodi Streams Could Now Land Users In Prison For 10 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '17 at 06:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's risky-business department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: The Digital Economy Act has passed into law, meaning people could now face ten-year prison sentences for illegally streaming copyrighted content. It covers a wide number of areas, including broadband speeds, access to online pornography and government data-sharing. However, amid the rising popularity of Kodi, an increase to the maximum prison term -- from two years to ten -- for people guilty of copyright infringement is particularly interesting. Anyone caught streaming TV shows, films and sports events illegally using websites, torrents and Kodi add-ons could technically face a decade behind bars. However, the new law will most likely target individuals and groups making a business out of selling illegal content, FACT CEO Kieron Sharp told the Mirror. The Independent also notes in a separate report that The Digital Economy Act could allow UK police to "remotely disable mobile phones, even before the user actually commits a crime." The Digital Economy Act "contains a section stating that officers will be able to place restrictions on handsets that they believe are being used by drug dealers," reports The Independent.

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AMD and Nvidia Silicon Manufacturing Secrets Allegedly Stolen, Sold To China
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '17 at 03:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's chamber-of-secrets department:
According to a report on DigiTimes, a former TSMC engineer has been accused of stealing the secrets of their 28nm
manufacturing process and taking them across the Taiwan Straits to Chinese rival, HLMC. "The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) produce the chips for the great and the good of the PC hardware market, specifically Nvidia and latterly AMD," reports PCGamesN. From the report: The report claims the former engineer, known only as Hsu, has been accused of taking details and materials relating to TSMC's 28nm manufacturing process and handing them over to Shanghai Huali Microelectronics (HLMC) after being offered a job there. The engineer was arrested before he even had a chance to start his new job on mainland China. This isn't the first reported instance of potentially shady dealings involving HLMC. DigiTimes previously reported that the Chinese foundry had headhunted a team of up to 50 research and development engineers from Taiwan's first semiconductor company, United Microelectronics (UMC), to help them get their 28nm production process up to speed. DigiTimes also alleges that some Chinese memory manufacturers have been doing the same thing, headhunting Taiwanese talent to get their own fabs off the ground, and that Micron are taking legal action against some of their Taiwan partners for allegedly nicking their tech and handing it over to China-based RAM companies.

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The World Video Game Hall of Fame 2017 Inductees
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 11:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's winners-and-losers department:
Dave Knott writes: The 2017 World Video Game Hall of Fame inductees have been announced. The Hall Of Fame "recognizes individual electronic games of all types -- arcade, console, computer, handheld, and mobile -- that have enjoyed popularity over a sustained period and have exerted influence on the video game industry or on popular culture and society in general." The 2017 inductees are: Donkey Kong, Halo: Combat Evolved, Pokemon Red and Green, and Street Fighter II. These four titles join the inaugural 2015 class, which included Pong, Pac-Man, Super Mario Bros., Tetris, Doom and World of Warcraft, and the 2016 class which included Grand Theft Auto 3, The Legend of Zelda, The Oregon Trail, The Sims, Sonic the Hedgehog and Space Invaders.

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California Seeks To Tax Rocket Launches, Which Are Already Taxed
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 08:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's double-whammy department:
The state of California is looking into taxing its thriving rocket industry. The Franchise Tax Board has issued a proposed regulation for public comment that would require companies that launch spacecraft to pay a tax based upon "mileage" traveled by that spacecraft from California. Ars Technica reports: The proposal says that California-based companies that launch spacecraft will have to pay a tax based upon "mileage" traveled by that spacecraft from California. (No, we're not exactly sure what this means, either). The proposed regulations were first reported by the San Francisco Chronicle, and Thomas Lo Grossman, a tax attorney at the Franchise Tax Board, told the newspaper that the rules are designed to mirror the ways taxes are levied on terrestrial transportation and logistics firms operating in California, like trucking or train companies. The tax board is seeking public input from now until June 16, when it is expected to vote on the proposed tax. The federal government already has its own taxes for commercial space companies, and until now no other state has proposed taxing commercial spaceflight. In fact most other states, including places like Florida, Texas, and Georgia, offer launch providers tax incentives to move business into their areas.

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Dormant Diseases Frozen In the Ice Are Waking Up
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's straight-out-of-a-science-fiction-movie department:
boley1 writes: Like a plot from a Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) movie, evil is waking up as permafrost melts due to weather or natural, man-made, local, and/or global climate change. (Take your pick of any or all -- doesn't matter -- the plot and result is roughly the same.) According the the BBC, a 12-year-old boy died and at least twenty people were hospitalized after being infected by a disease (anthrax) that lay buried in the ice for 75 years. "The theory is that, over 75 years ago, a reindeer infected with anthrax died and its frozen carcass became trapped under a layer of frozen soil, known as permafrost," reports BBC. "There it stayed until a heatwave in the summer of 2016, when the permafrost thawed." In this case, bringing back the disease was accidental, but the story goes on to give examples of scientists (no indication of whether they are mad or not) purposefully seeing what ancient bacteria and virus they can resurrect from the ice. How many more diseases are lurking in the ice? Will The Andromeda Strain be released by meddling scientists or global warming?

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Intel Announces Xeon Scalable Processor Family
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's family-comes-first department:
MojoKid writes: Intel unveiled information regarding a new Xeon processor family today, some of which will be based on the company's Skylake-SP architecture. Intel will have four levels of Xeon processors that scale with respect to feature support and core counts. Intel is calling it the Xeon Scalable Family with Bronze, Silver, Gold and Platinum processors. Today, Xeon model names follow a fairly easy-to-understand format. Take for example the Xeon E5-4640 v4. "E5" in this case means that it is in the middle of Intel's current stack in terms of features and capabilities, where the "4" signifies use in a 4-socket system. Finally, the "v4" represents the architecture. With this change, a model like the one above would become Intel Xeon Gold 4640, as an example. Regardless, the chips will include support for AVX-512 instructions, QuickAssist and Volume Management Device (VMD) technologies that will take advantage of NVMe solid-state drives. The platform will also support complementary processing engines and IO technologies like Intel FPGAs, Xeon Phi accelerators and Silicon Photonics connectivity. Intel notes the processors will be arriving to market this summer.

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Google Was Warned About This Week's Mass Phishing Email Attack Six Years Ago
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 04:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-back-to-haunt department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: For almost six years, Google knew about the exact technique that someone used to trick around one million people into giving away access to their Google accounts to hackers on Wednesday. Even more worrisome: other hackers might have known about this technique as well. On October 4, 2011, a researcher speculated in a mailing list that hackers could trick users into giving them access to their accounts by simply posing as a trustworthy app. This attack, the researcher argued in the message, hinges on creating a malicious application and registering it on the OAuth service under a name like "Google," exploiting the trust that users have in the OAuth authorization process. OAuth is a standard that allows users to grant websites or applications access to their online email and social networking accounts, or parts of their accounts, without giving up their passwords. "Imagine someone registers a client application with an OAuth service, let's call it Foobar, and he names his client app 'Google, Inc.'. The Foobar authorization server will engage the user with 'Google, Inc. is requesting permission to do the following,'" Andre DeMarre wrote in the message sent to the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the independent organization responsible for many of the internet's operating standards. "The resource owner might reason, 'I see that I'm legitimately on the https://www.foobar.com/ site, and Foobar is telling me that Google wants permission. I trust Foobar and Google, so I'll click Allow,'" DeMarre concluded. As it turns out, DeMarre claims he warned Google directly about this vulnerability in 2012, and suggested that Google address it by checking to see ensure the name of any given app matched the URL of the company behind it. In a Hacker News post, DeMarre said he reported this attack vector back then, and got a "modest bounty" for it.

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Majority of US Households Now Cellphone-Only, Government Says
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 04:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-a-first-for-everything department:
The National Center for Health Statistics has released a report that says, for the first time in history, U.S. households with landlines are now in the minority. Network World reports: The second 6 months of 2016 was the first time that a majority of American homes had only wireless telephones. Preliminary results from the July-December 2016 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS) indicate that 50.8% of American homes did not have a landline telephone but did have at least one wireless telephone (also known as cellular telephones, cell phones, or mobile phones) -- an increase of 2.5 percentage points since the second 6 months of 2015. Young adults (25-34) and those who rent are most likely to live wireless-only, as 70 percent of that demographic lives with a landline.

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Cord-Cutting Spikes Fivefold In Cable TV's Worst Quarter Ever
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's day-of-reckoning department:
schwit1 quotes a report from Fast Company: Cable's day of reckoning has come. With all the major cable and satellite companies having reported their quarterly numbers, analyst firm MoffettNathanson put together a new cord-cutting report, and things are bad. Pay-TV providers lost an estimated 762,000 pay-TV subscribers over the first three months of this year -- five times more than they lost during the same period last year. To make matters worse, Q1 has historically been a strong season for pay TV.

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Google Releases DIY Open Source Raspberry Pi Voice Kit Hardware
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dirt-cheap department:
BrianFagioli writes: Google has decided to take artificial intelligence to the maker community with a new initiative called AIY. This initiative will introduce open source AI projects to the public that makers can leverage in a simple way. Today, Google announces the first-ever AIY project. Called "Voice Kit," it is designed to work with a Raspberry Pi 3 Model B to create a voice-based virtual assistant. Billy Rutledge, Director of AIY Projects for Google, explains, "The first open source reference project is the Voice Kit: instructions to build a Voice User Interface (VUI) that can use cloud services (like the new Google Assistant SDK or Cloud Speech API) or run completely on-device. This project extends the functionality of the most popular single board computer used for digital making -- the Raspberry Pi. The included Voice Hardware Accessory on Top (HAT) contains hardware for audio capture and playback: easy-to-use connectors for the dual mic daughter board and speaker, GPIO pins to connect low-voltage components like micro-servos and sensors, and an optional barrel connector for dedicated power supply. It was designed and tested with the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B."

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Billboards Target Lawmakers Who Voted To Let ISPs Sell User Information
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fight-for-the-future department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: When Congress voted in March to block FCC privacy rules and let internet service providers sell users' personal data, it was a coup for the telecom industry. Now, the nonprofit, pro-privacy group Fight for the Future is publicizing just how much the industry paid in an attempt to sway those votes. The group unveiled four billboards, targeting Reps. Marsha Blackburn and John Rutherford, as well as Sens. Jeff Flake and Dean Heller. All four billboards, which were paid for through donations, were placed in the lawmakers' districts. "Congress voting to gut Internet privacy was one of the most blatant displays of corruption in recent history," Fight for the Future co-founder Tiffiniy Cheng said in a statement on the project. The billboards accuse the lawmakers of betraying their constituents, and encourage passersby to call their offices.

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How Not to Make a Movie About Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on May 04 '17 at 02:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's watching-tech-fiction-on-TV department:
'The Circle' (a techno-thriller movie starring Tom Hanks and Emma Watson) is a dated, far-fetched parable about an imaginary villain -- and far less scary than its television counterpart, says Alyssa Bereznak, a staff writer at The Ringer. An anonymous reader shares the article, removing the excerpts that could spoil the plot: Hollywood is keen on illustrating the awesome power of modern-day tech companies and the elite class of entrepreneurs who run them. But lately the most effective way to do that is not to focus on what's possible, but to illustrate the real-life personalities that control the near future of tech. Stylistically, a show like HBO's Silicon Valley couldn't be further from a production like The Circle, and yet it succeeds in threading together a host of issues in tech culture, including major corporations' monopoly-like power to squash competitors, manipulate the unwitting tech press, and bypass the interests of their employees and users for the sake of better stock prices. Now at the beginning of its fourth season, the show is lauded for its highly researched, accurate depictions of the Bay Area's power players -- so much so that it has spurred at least one Business Insider post dedicated to identifying each character's real-life inspiration. (The show has even featured a handful of cameos from the industry's power brokers, including Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel and Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt.) Even if it does take place in a comedy created by the man who gave us Beavis and Butt-Head, the show's researched interpretation of real life is a much more compelling way to display the tech world's flaws, rather than simply relying on imagined scaremongering.

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