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Security Researcher and Alleged Spam Operator To Square Off In Court In Ugly Lawsuit
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 08:34 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sit-back-and-enjoy-the-show department:
An anonymous reader writes: River City Media, the company accused of running a huge spam operation, has filed a lawsuit against the security researcher and the journalist who exposed their activities. In a ludicrous lawsuit complaint, the company claims the security researcher didn't just stumble upon its unprotected Rsync server, but "perpetrated a coordinated, months-long cyberattack," during which it skirted firewall rules to access its server, used a VPN to disguise his identity, deleted critical files, and published his findings to make a name for himself as an elite security researcher. The company claims the researcher accessed Dropbox and HipChat logs, and even its PayPal account, from where it used funds to purchase various domains. The only evidence the company has is that the person who purchased the domains used a ProtonMail email, just like the researcher, who also uses a ProtonMail email. Remind you, this is the same security researcher, Chris Vickery, who discovered a Reuters database of supposed terrorism suspects, national voter databases for various U.S. states and Mexico, and various other companies.

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Computer Scientists Have Created the Most Accurate Digital Model of a Human Face
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 05:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: If you've used the smartphone application Snapchat, you may have turned a photo of yourself into a disco bear or melded your face with someone else's. Now, a group of researchers has created the most advanced technique yet for building 3D facial models on the computer. The system could improve personalized avatars in video games, facial recognition for security, and -- of course -- Snapchat filters. The team also trained its program to turn casual 2D snapshots into accurate 3D models. The method could be used to view what a criminal suspect caught on camera would look like from a different angle, or 20 years older. One could also flesh out and animate historical figures from portraits. The "large scale facial model," or LSFM, may soon have medical applications, too. If someone has lost a nose, the technology could help plastic surgeons determine how a new one should look, given the rest of the face.

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Mario Kart 8 Deluxe Sets Record As Fastest-Selling Game In the Franchise
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 05:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's here-we-go department:
Mario Kart 8 Deluxe is the fastest-selling Mario Kart title ever, selling nearly half a million copies stateside when it went on sale last Friday. Polygon reports: Nintendo announced that the game beat out Mario Kart Wii as the series' fastest seller, with a little more than 459,000 copies sold in the U.S. on launch day alone. (The Switch has moved 2.7 million units worldwide since launch, for context.) Mario Kart Wii, which went on to be the best-selling entry of the Mario Kart series -- and second-biggest Mario game ever -- moved just under 434,000 copies at launch in 2008. Nearly half of those with a Switch already have Mario Kart 8 Deluxe, two months after the console's launch. That's a remarkable attach rate, even considering The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild on Switch has sold more copies than consoles shipped.

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Intel Patches Remote Execution Hole That's Been Hidden In Its Chips Since 2008
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 04:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's keep-an-eye-out department:
Chris Williams reports via The Register: Intel processor chipsets have, for roughly the past nine years, harbored a security flaw that can be exploited to remotely control and infect vulnerable systems with virtually undetectable spyware and other malicious code. Specifically, the bug is in Intel's Active Management Technology (AMT), Standard Manageability (ISM) and Small Business Technology (SBT) firmware versions 6 to 11.6. According to Chipzilla, the security hole allows "an unprivileged attacker to gain control of the manageability features provided by these products." That means hackers exploiting the flaw can silently snoop on a vulnerable machine's users, make changes to files and read them, install rootkits and other malware, and so on. This is possible across the network, or with local access. These management features have been available in various Intel chipsets for years, starting with the Nehalem Core i7 in 2008, all the way up to Kaby Lake Core parts in 2017. According to Intel today, this critical security vulnerability, labeled CVE-2017-5689, was found and reported in March by Maksim Malyutin at Embedi. To get the patch to close the hole, you'll have to pester your machine's manufacturer for a firmware update, or try the mitigations here. These updates are hoped to arrive within the next few weeks.

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Apple Has a Record $250 Billion In Cash, 90% of It Is Banked Overseas
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 04:33 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's world-record department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phone Arena: On Tuesday, Apple is expected to report its fiscal second quarter earnings. In that report, the tech titan will reportedly announce that it is holding $250 billion in cash. If you think that this is a lot of money, you're absolutely right. According to Marketwatch.com, this is more than the foreign currency reserves held by the U.K. and Canada combined. Looking at it another way, at current valuations Apple could purchase all of the outstanding shares of Walmart and Procter & Gamble and still have money left over. It has taken Apple only 4 and half years to double its cash hoard. During the fiscal first quarter of 2017, Apple was adding $3.6 million to its cash position every hour. It finished the quarter ending in December with $246.09 billion in cash. 90% of the money is banked overseas, which means that Apple would be one of the companies to benefit the most from President Trump's plan to offer a one time tax break on repatriated funds.

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India Aims To Make Every Car Electric By 2030 In Bid To Tackle Pollution
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 03:13 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's long-term-goals department:
India's energy minister has unveiled plans for every car sold in the country to be powered by electricity by the year 2030. "The move is intended to lower the cost of importing fuel and lower costs for running vehicles," reports The Independent. From the report: âoeWe are going to introduce electric vehicles in a very big way," coal and mines minister Piyush Goyal said at the Confederation of Indian Industry Annual Session 2017 in New Delhi. "We are going to make electric vehicles self-sufficient... The idea is that by 2030, not a single petrol or diesel car should be sold in the country." Mr Goyal said the electric car industry would need between two and three years of government assistance, but added that he expected the production of the vehicles to be "driven by demand and not subsidy" after that. "The cost of electric vehicles will start to pay for itself for consumers," he said according to the International Business Times. "We would love to see the electric vehicle industry run on its own," he added. An investigation by Greenpeace this year found that as many as 2.3 million deaths occur every year due to air pollution in the country. The report, entitled "Airpocalypse," claimed air pollution had become a "public health and economic crisis" for Indians. It said the number of deaths caused by air pollution was only "a fraction less" than the number of deaths from tobacco use, adding that 3 percent of the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was lost to the levels of toxic smog.

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Taser Will Use Police Body Camera Videos 'To Anticipate Criminal Activity'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 03:13 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's predictive-reporting department:
Presto Vivace quotes a report from The Intercept: With an estimated one-third of departments using body cameras, police officers have been generating millions of hours of video footage. Taser stores terabytes of such video on Evidence.com, in private servers to which police agencies must continuously subscribe for a monthly fee. Data from these recordings is rarely analyzed for investigative purposes, though, and Taser -- which recently rebranded itself as a technology company and renamed itself "Axon" -- is hoping to change that. Taser has started to get into the business of making sense of its enormous archive of video footage by building an in-house "AI team." In February, the company acquired two computer vision startups, Dextro and Fossil Group Inc. Taser says the companies will allow agencies to automatically redact faces to protect privacy, extract important information, and detect emotions and objects -- all without human intervention. This will free officers from the grunt work of manually writing reports and tagging videos, a Taser spokesperson wrote in an email. "Our prediction for the next few years is that the process of doing paperwork by hand will begin to disappear from the world of law enforcement, along with many other tedious manual tasks." Analytics will also allow departments to observe historical patterns in behavior for officer training, the spokesperson added. "Police departments are now sitting on a vast trove of body-worn footage that gives them insight for the first time into which interactions with the public have been positive versus negative, and how individuals' actions led to it." But looking to the past is just the beginning: Taser is betting that its artificial intelligence tools might be useful not just to determine what happened, but to anticipate what might happen in the future.

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Modern 'Hackintoshes' Show That Apple Should Probably Just Build a Mac Tower
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 01:53 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's go-big-or-go-home department:
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report written by Andrew Cunningham via Ars Technica: Apple is working on new desktop Macs, including a ground-up redesign of the tiny-but-controversial 2013 Mac Pro. We're also due for some new iMacs, which Apple says will include some features that will make less-demanding pro users happy. But we don't know when they're coming, and the Mac Pro in particular is going to take at least a year to get here. Apple's reassurances are nice, but it's a small comfort to anyone who wants high-end processing power in a Mac right now. Apple hasn't put out a new desktop since it refreshed the iMacs in October of 2015, and the older, slower components in these computers keeps Apple out of new high-end fields like VR. This is a problem for people who prefer or need macOS, since Apple's operating system is only really designed to work on Apple's hardware. But for the truly adventurous and desperate, there's another place to turn: fake Macs built with standard PC components, popularly known as "Hackintoshes." They've been around for a long time, but the state of Apple's desktop lineup is making them feel newly relevant these days. So we spoke with people who currently rely on Hackintoshes to see how the computers are being used -- and what they'd like to see from Apple.

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China is Recruiting 20,000 People To Write Its Own Wikipedia
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 01:53 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's a-great-wall-of-culture department:
The Chinese government is recruiting 20,000 people to create an online encyclopedia that will be the country's own, China-centric version of Wikipedia, or as one official put it, like "a Great Wall of culture." From a report: Known as the "Chinese Encyclopedia," the country's national encyclopedia will go online for the first time in 2018, and the government has employed tens of thousands of scholars from universities and research institutes who will contribute articles in more than 100 disciplines. The end result will be a knowledge base with more than 300,000 entries, each of which will be about 1,000 words long. "The Chinese Encyclopaedia is not a book, but a Great Wall of culture," Yang Muzhi, the editor-in-chief of the project and the chairman of the Book and Periodicals Distribution Association of China, said. He added that China was under pressure from the international community to produce an encyclopedia that will "guide and lead the public and society."

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US Adults Will Spend More Than Half the Day Consuming Media, Study Says
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 12:33 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's projections department:
An anonymous reader shares a report from marketing research firm eMarketer: Thanks to multitasking, US adults' average daily time spent with major media will slightly exceed 12 hours this year, according to eMarketer's latest report. But while our reports early in the decade told a story of robust gains -- with increases in digital usage more than compensating for declines in time spent with nondigital media -- growth has been petering out. Of course, media multitasking is what has made so much usage possible. That is how the figure for time spent can add up to 12 hours a day.

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Facebook Lets Advertisers Target Insecure Teens, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 12:33 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Leaked documents from Facebook's team in Australia allegedly show the social giant's ability to help advertisers target teens who feel "worthless." The documents, first revealed by The Australian, say Facebook can spot when teens "need a confidence boost." The documents reportedly get even more specific, saying Facebook's algorithm can pinpoint when teens feel "useless," "stressed," "failure," "silly," "stupid," "worthless" and "defeated." Using Facebook's tools as well as image recognition, advertisers would be able to find teens in some of their lowest moments -- and then target ads to them. The leaked documents also detailed how advertisers could use Facebook's algorithms to find teens who were interested in "working out and losing weight" and promote health products, according to The Australian. Facebook's team in Australia was reportedly looking to capitalize on 6.4 million teens who use the social network in their region.

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US Appeals Court Won't Rehear 'Net Neutrality' Challenge
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 11:14 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
A federal appeals court on Monday declined to rehear a challenge to the Obama administration's landmark "net neutrality" rules requiring internet providers to guarantee equal access to all websites. From a report: The decision by the full appeals court in Washington not to reconsider a three-judge panel's decision that upheld the ruling comes days after Federal Communications Commission Chairman Ajit Pai proposed to undo the 2015 net neutrality that reclassified internet providers like public utilities. The 2015 order bars internet providers from blocking, throttling or giving "fast lanes" to some websites. Pai has proposed reversing the reclassification and scrapping internet conduct standards, and has asked for comment on whether the FCC can or should retain any of the rules barring blocking, throttling or "fast lanes." Judge Sri Srinivasan said in a written opinion reviewing the decision "would be particularly unwarranted at this point in light of the uncertainty surrounding the fate of the FCC's order."

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Slashdot Asks: Do You Still Use RSS?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 11:14 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's changing-habits department:
Real Site Syndication, or RSS has been around for over a decade but it never really managed to lure regular web users (though maybe it wasn't built to serve everyone). So much so that even Google cited declining usage of Google Reader, at one time the most popular RSS reader service, as one of the two reasons for shutting down the service. With an increasingly number of people looking at Facebook and Twitter for news, we thought it would be a good time to ask the following question: Do you use any RSS reader app? If yes, do you think it is still a good way to keep track of the "new stuff" that your favorite sites publish?

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UEFI Secure Boot Booted From Debian 9 'Stretch'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 09:54 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-forward department:
Debian's release team has decided to postpone its implementation of Secure Boot. From a report: In a release update from last week, release team member Jonathan Wiltshire wrote that "At a recent team meeting, we decided that support for Secure Boot in the forthcoming Debian 9 'stretch' would no longer be a blocker to release. The likely, although not certain outcome is that stretch will not have Secure Boot support." "We appreciate that this will be a disappointment to many users and developers," he continued, "However, we need to balance that with the limited time available for the volunteer teams working on this feature, and the risk of bugs being introduced through rushed development." The decision not to offer Secure Boot support at release leaves Debian behind Red Hat and Suse, making it the only one of Linux's three main branches not to support the heir-to-BIOS and the many security enhancements it offers.

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Trump is Launching a New Tech Group To 'Transform and Modernize' the US Govt
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 09:54 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's modernizing-things department:
President Donald Trump announced on Monday he has signed an executive order creating a new technology council to "transfer and modernize" the U.S. government's IT systems. From a report: The gathering is part of a new effort, called the American Technology Council, commissioned by Trump in an executive order signed this morning. The effort seeks to bring leading government officials together with Silicon Valley's top minds in order to "transform and modernize" the aging federal bureaucracy "and how it uses and delivers information." Trump isn't the first sitting U.S. president to look to Silicon Valley in an attempt to bring government into the digital age. His predecessor, former President Barack Obama, similarly launched efforts like the U.S. Digital Service, which the administration billed at the time as a "startup at the White House" that sought to pair tech experts with federal agencies that needed help. Over 20 technology chief executives will attend meetings at the White House in early June to talk about improving government information technology, the report adds.

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'There's No Good Way To Kill a Bad Idea'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 08:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's trouble-in-our-stars department:
The world is filled with bad, baseless, factually inaccurate ideas that refuse to die. From an article: Philosopher Russell Blackford, a lecturer at the University of Newcastle in Australia, tweeted about this phenomenon earlier this month: "The momentum behind bad ideas can be enormous -- they can plunge on, gathering force, long after receiving devastating criticism." If you've ever found yourself unable to halt someone else's idiotic plans once they were already in motion, you're not alone. Whether you're a politician trying to make congress see sense or simply a manager trying to halt an atrocious team-building plan, there's simply no foolproof way to kill a terrible idea. Blackford blames the momentum behind bad ideas on cascade effects. Yes, individuals are prone to making poor decisions for emotional or biased reasons (known as "cognitive heuristics") and this irrationality is part of the problem. But there's also a broader sociological issue, in that others' opinions carry a huge amount of weight in influencing our views. A cultural consensus -- even without proper evidence -- can form pretty quickly. If one person convinces a second, says Blackford, then a third person will be far more likely to agree with the majority view. This effect exponentially increases with each person who agrees with the others. "We soon have a sociological effect whereby everyone knows that, say, a certain movie is very good or very bad, even though everyone might have 'known' the exact opposite if only a few early voices had been different," says Blackford.

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Power of Modern Programming Languages is That They Are Expressive, Readable, Concise, Precise, and Executable
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 08:35 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's evolution department:
An anonymous reader shares a Scientific American article: Programming has changed. In first generation languages like FORTRAN and C, the burden was on programmers to translate high-level concepts into code. With modern programming languages -- I'll use Python as an example -- we use functions, objects, modules, and libraries to extend the language, and that doesn't just make programs better, it changes what programming is. Programming used to be about translation: expressing ideas in natural language, working with them in math notation, then writing flowcharts and pseudocode, and finally writing a program. Translation was necessary because each language offers different capabilities. Natural language is expressive and readable, pseudocode is more precise, math notation is concise, and code is executable. But the price of translation is that we are limited to the subset of ideas we can express effectively in each language. Some ideas that are easy to express computationally are awkward to write in math notation, and the symbolic manipulations we do in math are impossible in most programming languages. The power of modern programming languages is that they are expressive, readable, concise, precise, and executable. That means we can eliminate middleman languages and use one language to explore, learn, teach, and think.

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Trump Has Grand Plan For Mission To Mars But Nasa Advises: Cool Your Jets
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 07:14 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's reality-check department:
Donald Trump would like to see Americans walk on Mars during his presidency. Nasa would love to get there that quickly, too. The reality of space travel is slightly more complicated, however. From a report: On Monday, during a call with astronaut Peggy Whitson, who was aboard the International Space Station, Trump pressed her for a timeline on a crewed mission to Mars, one of Nasa's longest standing and most daunting goals. "Tell me, Mars," he asked her from the Oval Office, "what do you see a timing for actually sending humans to Mars? Is there a schedule and when would you see that happening?" Whitson answered by pointing out that Trump, by signing a Nasa funding bill last month, had already approved a timeline for a mission in the 2030s. She added that Nasa was building a new heavy-launch rocket, which would need testing. "Unfortunately space flight takes a lot of time and money," she said. "But it is so worthwhile doing." Trump replied: "Well, we want to try and do it during my first term or, at worst, during my second term, so we'll have to speed that up a little bit, OK?" It was not clear whether the president meant the remark as a quip or something more serious.

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SpaceX Successfully Launches Its First Spy Satellite
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 07:14 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's going-forward department:
SpaceX successfully launched NROL-76, a classified U.S. intelligence mission, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center Monday. Sunday's launch attempt was scrubbed due to a sensor issue. From a report: Not much is known about the National Reconnaissance Office's NROL-76 satellite, a classified payload, which will liftoff into low Earth orbit from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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DRM Will Be Gone By 2025, Predicts Cory Doctorow
Posted by News Fetcher on May 01 '17 at 03:13 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's freeing-software's-foundations department:
An anonymous reader writes:
It's been two years since Cory Doctorow joined the EFF's campaign to eliminate DRM within 8 years -- and he still believes it'll happen. "Farmers and the Digital Right To Repair Coalition have done brilliantly and have a message which is extremely resonant with the political right as well as the political left." And now even the entertainment industry seems to oppose extending the DMCA to tractors. "The entertainment industry feels very proprietary towards laws that protect DRM. They really feel that they lobbied for and bought these laws in order to protect the business model they envisioned. For these latecomer upstarts to turn up and stretch and distort these laws out of proportion has really exposed one of the natural cracks in copyright altogether."

Doctorow also says that "If there's anything good that might come of Brexit, it's that the UK will renegotiate and reevaluate its relationship to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development and other directives. The UK enjoys a really interesting market position if it wants to be the only nation in the region that makes, exports, and supports DRM-breaking tools."

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