By msmash from Slashdot's perfect-match department
Google is expanding its support of Wikimedia, the parent company of Wikipedia, as the search giant chases the next billion users. From a report: At World Economic Forum this week, Google committed to offer Wikipedia an additional $3.1 million, along with providing several of its machine learning tools to the editors of Wikipedia at no cost, the companies said. Google.org, thanks in part to contributions from employees, will be giving $1.1 million to the Wikimedia Foundation and $2 million to the Wikimedia Endowment, an independent fund that supports Wikipedia and other long-term Wikimedia projects.
As part of the announcement, the companies said they will be expanding Project Tiger, a joint initiative they launched in 2017 to increase the number of articles in underrepresented languages in India. They intend to provide editors with resources and insights to create new Wikipedia articles across 10 languages in India, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, and the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The initiative is being rebranded as GLOW, which is supposed to stand for Growing Local Language Content on Wikipedia.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Richard Stallman recently visited Mandya, a small town about 60 miles from Bengaluru, India, to give a talk. On the sidelines, Indian news outlet FactorDaily caught up with Stallman for an interview. In the wide-ranging interview, Stallman talked about companies that spy on users, popular Android apps, media streaming and transportation apps, smart devices, DRM, software backdoors, subscription software, and Apple and censorship. An excerpt from the interview: If you are carrying a mobile phone, it is always tracking your movements and it could have been modified to listen to the conversations around you. I call this product Stalin's dream. What would Stalin have wanted to hand out to every inhabitant of the former Soviet Union? Something to track that person's movements and listen to the person's conservations. Fortunately, Stalin could not do it because the technology didn't exist. Unfortunately for us, now it does exist and most people have been pressured or lured into carrying around such a Stalin's dream device, but not me.
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By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
A new strain of ransomware has been observed targeting Bitcoin mining rigs. ZDNet reports: At the time of writing, most of the infections have been reported in China, the country where most of the world's cryptocurrency mining farms are located. Named hAnt, this new ransomware strain was first seen in August of last year, but a new wave of infections has been reported hitting mining farms earlier this month. Most of the infected mining rigs are Antminer S9 and T9 devices, used for Bitcoin mining, but there have also been reports of hAnt infecting Antminer L3 rigs, used for mining Litecoin. In rare instances, Avalon Miner equipment (used for Bitcoin), were also reported as infected, but in much smaller numbers.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's who-asked-for-this department
Phone maker Meizu has announced a new phone called "Zero," which doesn't have a headphone jack, or a charging port, or a physical SIM card slot, or any buttons, or a speaker grill. From a report: It doesn't even come with a SIM card slot and buttons you'd usually see on a phone -- the only elements that disturb the surface of its all-display, 7.8mm-thick ceramic unibody are its 12MP and 20MP rear cameras and two pinholes. One is a microphone, while the other is for hard resets. To make up for the lack of ports, Meizu Zero will support Bluetooth 5.0 and a wireless USB connectivity that will reportedly be able to transfer files as fast as the USB 3.0 standard can.
Zero's 5.99-inch QHD OLED screen will act as some sort of a giant speaker and earpiece replacement. It does have a big enough bezel for a 20MP front camera, but its fingerprint reader is completely on-screen. The device, which is powered by a Snapdragon 845 processor, relies on 18W wireless charging due to the lack of a charger port. And it may not have the usual physical buttons, but it does have pressure-sensing ones with haptic feedback on its borders.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
What does the future of getting a job in the tech industry look like? According to the CEO of IBM, Ginni Rometty, it's important that tech companies focus on hiring people with valuable skills, not just people with college degrees. From a report: Rometty made the comments yesterday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. The CEO said that technology's fast-moving pace here in the 21st century makes it harder for people to find jobs and has led to disillusionment with the future. "With the new technologies that are out there, I think there is a huge inclusion problem, meaning there's a large part of society that does not feel this is going to be good for their future," Rometty said. "Forget about whether it is or it isn't or what we believe. Therefore they feel very disenfranchised."
[...] "So when it comes to education and skills, I think the government can't solve it alone," Rometty said. "I think businesses have to believe I'll hire for skills, not just their degrees or their diplomas. Because otherwise we'll never bridge this gap." "All of us are full of companies with university degrees, PhDs, you've got to make room for everyone in society in these jobs," Rometty said as other business leaders on the panel nodded their heads. She added, "We have a very serious duty about this. Because these technologies are changing faster with times than their skills are going to change. So it is causing this skill crisis. [...] We have to have a new paradigm. You would have to have new pathways that don't all include college education and you would have to have respect for that job -- not blue collar or white collar, I call it new collar."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's welcome-to-the-club department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Hollywood Reporter: Netflix has joined the membership ranks of the Motion Picture Association of America alongside the six major Hollywood studios, the top lobbying group said Tuesday, The unprecedented move -- coming on the same day that the streamer landed its first Oscar nomination for best picture -- was endorsed by Disney, Fox, Paramount, Sony, Universal and Warner Bros. It is the first time in history that a non-studio has been granted entry. It also is a defining moment for MPAA chairman-CEO Charles Rivkin 18 months into his tenure. The Netflix-MPAA union coincides with the streamer becoming a card-carrying member of the Oscar race after securing an unprecedented 15 nominations on Tuesday morning. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and Sarandos are intent on upping the company's profile as a legitimate force in the movie business, and joining the MPAA will further that goal. Additionally, once Fox is merged with Disney, the MPAA will have one less member, meaning a loss of as much as $10 million to $12 million in annual dues. Sources say the MPAA is courting other new members as well (Amazon could be a candidate). Prior to joining the MPAA, Netflix "departed from the Internet Association -- a major industry trade group representing tech companies including Google, Amazon, and Facebook," Engadget notes. "Netflix had been a member of the internet association since 2013."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's case-closed department
The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear a case regarding whether Yelp is culpable for removing defamatory reviews from its site, resolving a case that could have affected web platforms' legal protections. Today's list of Supreme Court orders denies a complaint brought by Dawn Hassell, an attorney who requested that Yelp take down false, negative reviews about her practice. This means that a California Supreme Court decision will stand, and Yelp isn't liable for the reviews. The Verge reports: Hassell v. Bird was filed in 2016 as a complaint against one of Hassell's former clients, not Yelp. However, Yelp protested a court order to remove the reviews, arguing that it was protected by Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act. (Yelp has said it independently removes reviews it finds to be defamatory since they violate its terms of service.) Lower courts disagreed, but in mid-2018, the California Supreme Court ruled in Yelp's favor. Then, the firm of Charles Harder -- a member of President Donald Trump's legal team who's known for high-profile defamation lawsuits -- petitioned the Supreme Court to hear a complaint against Yelp.
Yelp praised the California Supreme Court's decision last year, calling it a win for "those of us who value sharing one another's opinions and experiences" on the internet. It commended today's decision as well. "We are happy to see the Supreme Court has ended Hassell's efforts to sidestep the law to compel Yelp to remove online reviews. This takes away a tool that could have been easily abused by litigants to obtain easy removal of entirely truthful consumer opinions," a spokesperson told The Verge.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
Researchers at Ulsan National Institute of Science and Technology (UNIST) and Georgia Tech have developed a new system that absorbs carbon dioxide and produces electricity and useable hydrogen fuel. New Atlas reports: The new device, which the team calls a Hybrid Na-CO2 System, is basically a big liquid battery. A sodium metal anode is placed in an organic electrolyte, while the cathode is contained in an aqueous solution. The two liquids are separated by a sodium Super Ionic Conductor (NASICON) membrane. When CO2 is injected into the aqueous electrolyte, it reacts with the cathode, turning the solution more acidic, which in turn generates electricity and creates hydrogen. In tests, the team reported a CO2 conversion efficiency of 50 percent, and the system was stable enough to run for over 1,000 hours without causing any damage to the electrodes. Unlike other designs, it doesn't release any CO2 as a gas during normal operation -- instead, the remaining half of the CO2 was recovered from the electrolyte as plain old baking soda. The research was published in the journal iScience.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Slow-moving, hulking ships crisscross miles of ocean in a lawn mower pattern, wielding an array of 12 to 48 air guns blasting pressurized air repeatedly into the depths of the ocean. The sound waves hit the sea floor, penetrating miles into it, and bounce back to the surface, where they are picked up by hydrophones. The acoustic patterns form a three-dimensional map of where oil and gas most likely lie. The seismic air guns probably produce the loudest noise that humans use regularly underwater, and it is about to become far louder in the Atlantic. As part of the Trump administration's plans to allow offshore drilling for gas and oil exploration, five companies have been given permits to carry out seismic mapping with the air guns all along the Eastern Seaboard, from Central Florida to the Northeast, for the first time in three decades. The surveys haven't started yet in the Atlantic, but now that the ban on offshore drilling has been lifted, companies can be granted access to explore regions along the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific. And air guns are now the most common method companies use to map the ocean floor.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's commercial-breaks department
According to new research from marketing technology firm Audience Project, the majority (57%) of UK customers would stop watching Netflix if commercials were introduced, and even lowering subscriptions would cause a significant drop off of 42%. Here are some of the other key findings: - In the UK, Netflix takes the lion's share of the streaming audience at 70%, followed by BBC iPlayer (61%). Interestingly, YouTube, ITV Player and All4, all of which host ads, saw a decline. - TV is still the preferred streaming device in the UK used by 42% of respondents. - Streaming is on the rise particularly amongst the young, with almost as many 15-25 year olds streaming/downloading (63%) as watching traditional TV (65%) "This is proof, if it were needed, that Netflix is right to focus on growing through its investment in content rather than considering hosting advertising any time soon," Netimperative reports. Martyn Bentley, Commercial Director UK at Audience Project, comments: "Our findings highlight the growing importance of targeting and relevance in advertising. As consumers have increasing choice over whether or not they see ads, both broadcasters and advertisers alike need to work hard to ensure that campaigns enhance experience, rather than detract -- plus it suggests that greater inroads need to be made with Connected TV as a means to help tailor advertising at a granular level."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department
"Google engineers have proposed changes to the open-source Chromium browser that will break content-blocking extensions, including various ad blockers," reports The Register. "The drafted changes will also limit the capabilities available to extension developers, ostensibly for the sake of speed and safety. Chromium forms the central core of Google Chrome, and, soon, Microsoft Edge." From the report: In a note posted Tuesday to the Chromium bug tracker, Raymond Hill, the developer behind uBlock Origin and uMatrix, said the changes contemplated by the Manifest v3 proposal will ruin his ad and content blocking extensions, and take control of content away from users. Manifest v3 refers to the specification for browser extension manifest files, which enumerate the resources and capabilities available to browser extensions. Google's stated rationale for making the proposed changes is to improve security, privacy and performance, and supposedly to enhance user control.
But one way Google would like to achieve these goals involves replacing the webRequest API with a new one, declarativeNetRequest. The webRequest API allows extensions to intercept network requests, so they can be blocked, modified, or redirected. This can cause delays in web page loading because Chrome has to wait for the extension. In the future, webRequest will only be able to read network requests, not modify them. The declarativeNetRequest allows Chrome (rather than the extension itself) to decide how to handle network requests, thereby removing a possible source of bottlenecks and a potentially useful mechanism for changing browser behavior. The report notes that Adblock Plus "should still be available" since "Google and other internet advertising networks apparently pay Adblock Plus to whitelist their online adverts."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's policy-making department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Apple security expert Jon Callas, who helped build protection for billions of computers and smartphones against criminal hackers and government surveillance, is now taking on government and corporate spying in the policy realm. Jon Callas is an elder statesman in the world of computer security and cryptography. He's been a vanguard in developing security for mobile communications and email as chief technology officer and co-founder of PGP Corporation -- which created Pretty Good Privacy, the first widely available commercial encryption software -- and serving the same roles at Silent Circle and Blackphone, touted as the world's most secure Android phone.
As a security architect and analyst for Apple computers -- he served three stints with the tech giant in 1995-1997, 2009-2011, and 2016-2018 -- he has played an integral role in helping to develop and assess security for the Mac and iOS operating systems and various components before their release to the public. His last stretch there as manager of a Red Team (red teams hack systems to expose and fix their vulnerabilities) began just after the FBI tried to force the tech giant to undermine security it had spent years developing for its phones to break into an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. But after realizing there's a limit to the privacy and surveillance issues technology companies can address, Callas decided to tackle the issues from the policy side, accepting a two-year position as senior technology fellow for the American Civil Liberties Union. Callas spoke to Motherboard about government backdoors, the need for tech expertise in policymaking, and what he considers the biggest challenge for the security industry.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-fully-supported department
Everyone has a smartphone these days, therefore everyone should have access to at least one mobile payment service -- Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. Personally, I've only used Apple Pay a handful of times because the vast majority of stores I visit don't support it. For me, the biggest problem with mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Google Pay isn't the potential security concerns or inconveniences (having to pull my phone out of my pocket or requiring the merchant to pull out an NFC reader while in a drive-thru) -- it's the lack of compatibility. I want to be able to leave my wallet at home and do all of my shopping with my phone, which is not possible due to the lack of support at most retailers. With that said, the support is improving. Today, Apple announced that Apple Pay is now available at 74 of the top 100 U.S. retailers. Quartz reports: Today (Jan. 22), Apple announced that it has also signed up Taco Bell and Target -- two years ago, Target said it had no plans to adopt Apple Pay -- meaning that 74 of the top 100 U.S. retailers by revenue now accept Apple's digital payment. The company added pharmacy chain CVS, along with 7-Eleven, late last year. They joined other major US retailers that include Best Buy, Starbucks, McDonald's, Walgreens, Costco, and Kohl's. (Some of the biggest holdouts: Walmart and Home Depot.) Do you use mobile payment services? Which service(s) do you use and why?Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mark-your-calendar department
In a blog post, Google clarified the timeline of the transition from classic Hangouts to Chat and Meet for its paying G Suite customers. "For them, the Hangouts retirement party will start in October of this year," reports TechCrunch. From the report: For consumers, the situation remains unclear, but Google says there will be free versions of Chat and Meet that will become available "following the transition of G Suite customers." As of now, there is no timeline, so for all we know, Hangouts will remain up and running into 2020. As for G Suite users, Google says it will start bringing more features from classic Hangouts to Chat between April and September. Those include integration with Gmail, the ability to talk to external users, improved video calling and making calls with Google Voice.Read Replies (0)