By msmash from Slashdot's big-expose department
Over the weekend, The New York Times published an expose on an obscure American company called Devumi that sells Twitter followers and bots that automatically retweet celebrities, executives, social media "influencers" and anyone else who will pay. From the report: Devumi sells Twitter followers and retweets to celebrities, businesses and anyone who wants to appear more popular or exert influence online. Drawing on an estimated stock of at least 3.5 million automated accounts, each sold many times over, the company has provided customers with more than 200 million Twitter followers, a New York Times investigation found. The accounts that most resemble real people reveal a kind of large-scale social identity theft. At least 55,000 of the accounts use the names, profile pictures, hometowns and other personal details of real Twitter users, including minors, according to a Times data analysis. [...] The actor John Leguizamo has Devumi followers. So do Michael Dell, the computer billionaire, and Ray Lewis, the football commentator and former Ravens linebacker. Kathy Ireland, the onetime swimsuit model who today presides over a half-billion-dollar licensing empire, has hundreds of thousands of fake Devumi followers, as does Akbar Gbajabiamila, the host of the show "American Ninja Warrior." Even a Twitter board member, Martha Lane Fox, has some. Hours after the report was published, New York attorney general, Eric T. Schneiderman, opened an investigation into Devumi. "Impersonation and deception are illegal under New York law," Mr. Schneiderman said. "We're opening an investigation into Devumi and its apparent sale of bots using stolen identities."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's a-day-late-and-a-dime-short department
In June last year, Apple announced the HomePod, its first smart-speaker which will battle Amazon's sleeper hit Echo speakers and Google's Home speakers. Apple being late to enter a product category is nothing new, but the HomePod has a few other strange things about it. Apple said it won't begin shipping the HomePod until December that year, in a departure of its own tradition. Then the device's shipment was delayed till "early 2018" -- February 9 is the current shipping date. Bloomberg has reported about the difficulties Apple engineers faced over the years to come up with the HomePod. At any rate, Business Insider now has more information about the device, and is reporting the things that Apple's first smart-speaker won't be able to do. From the report (condensed): 1. HomePod can't pair with Android phones. 2. HomePod doesn't recognize different people's voices. 3. HomePod can't check your calendar. 4. HomePod doesn't work well with other streaming services besides Apple Music. (Spotify, Tindal, and Pandora users won't be able to use Siri.) 5. HomePod can't hook up to another device using an auxiliary cord. 6. HomePod can't make calls on its own. (In order to make a call using HomePod, you have to dial the person's number on your iPhone, then manually select that the call play through HomePod.) 7. The HomePod version of Siri isn't prepared to answer random questions like Alexa and Google Assistant.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's we-want-the-airwaves department
Long-time Slashdot reader ljw1004 writes:
I want to assemble my OneDrive-hosted mp4s into a "TV channel" for my kids -- so at 7am while I sleep in, they know they can turn the TV on, it will show Mr Rogers then Sesame Street then grandparents' story-time, then two hand-picked cartoons, and nothing for the rest of the day. How would you do this? With Chromecast and write a JS Chrome plugin to drive it? Write an app for FireTV? Is there any existing OSS software for either the scheduling side (done by parents) or the TV-receiver side? How would you lock down the TV beyond just hiding the remote?
"There are good worthwhile things for them to see," adds the original submission, "but they're too young to be given the autonomy to pick them, and I can do better than Nickeloden or CBBC or Amazon Freetime Unlimited."
Slashdot reader Rick Schumann suggested putting the video files on an external hard drive (or burning them to a DVD), while apraetor points out many TVs now play files from flash drives -- and also suggests a private Roku channel. But what's the best way to build a private TV channel for kids?
Leave your best answers in the comments.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hearings-on-rehearings department
Long-time Slashdot reader UncleJosh writes:
At the end of last October, the 10th Circuit issued an opinion overturning the lower court's summary judgement in favor of IBM on one of SCO's claims, sending it back to the lower court for trial. Shortly thereafter, IBM filed for a re-hearing en banc. On January 2nd, the 10th circuit essentially denied IBM's request, issuing a slightly revised opinion with the same conclusions and result.
The charge being reheard accuses IBM of "stealing and improperly using [SCO's] source code to strengthen its own operating system, thereby committing the tort of unfair competition by means of misappropriation" -- though that charged is based on an implied duty that SCO says IBM incurred by entering into a development relationship with SCO. "SCO believes that IBM merely pretended to go along with the arrangement in order to gain access to Santa Cruz's coveted source code."
The court's 46-page document adds that "We are now almost fifteen years into this litigation."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's when-Johnny-comes-marching department
Coisiche shared this story from the Guardian:
Sensitive information about the location and staffing of military bases and spy outposts around the world has been revealed by a fitness tracking company. The details were released by Strava in a data visualisation map that shows all the activity tracked by users of its app, which allows people to record their exercise and share it with others. The map, released in November 2017, shows every single activity ever uploaded to Strava -- more than 3 trillion individual GPS data points, according to the company. The app can be used on various devices including smartphones and fitness trackers like Fitbit to see popular running routes in major cities, or spot individuals in more remote areas who have unusual exercise patterns.
However, over the weekend military analysts noticed that the map is also detailed enough that it potentially gives away extremely sensitive information about a subset of Strava users: military personnel on active service... In locations like Afghanistan, Djibouti and Syria, the users of Strava seem to be almost exclusively foreign military personnel, meaning that bases stand out brightly. In Helmand province, Afghanistan, for instance, the locations of forward operating bases can be clearly seen, glowing white against the black map.
One analyst analyst predicted that after this discovery, "A lot of people are going to have to sit through lectures come Monday morning."
Another military analyst told the Guardian "U.S bases are clearly identifiable" -- though he added that the map "looks very pretty."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's creating-events department
"Posing as American activists, Russian government-linked trolls created 129 Facebook events between 2015 and 2017," writes CNN. An anonymous reader quotes their report:
On multiple occasions, the events prompted real Americans to take to the streets. In a written statement Facebook gave to the Senate Intelligence Committee released on Thursday, the social media network said that the events created by one Kremlin-linked troll group were seen by more than 300,000 Facebook users. About 62,500 users marked that they would attend the event, and an additional 25,800 expressed an interest in attending.
Facebook told Congress it does "not have data about the realization of these events," but CNN has previously found evidence that the Russian group successfully convinced Americans to attend the demonstrations. The events were organized on a range of divisive issues and were designed to pit Americans against each other.
"The company also told Congress it had removed Kaspersky Lab from a list of free anti-virus offerings it provides users."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's big-bugs department
Malwarebytes had a bad day Saturday, pushing out an update "that gobbled up memory and CPU resources and turned off web protection," reports CSO.
The company's forums lit up with complaints that the software was hogging 90 percent or more of memory and CPU resources. One thread about RAM usage currently is 37-pages long. Aware of the problem, Malwarebytes tweeted that "all hands" were on deck to resolve the issue. Unfortunately, even though a new update package was pushed out in about an hour, it did not fix the problem. Even after rebooting their computers, some users reported that their systems locked up as soon as the Malwarebytes Service process started as it ate large amounts of RAM.
"Two bad updates later, Malwarebytes released a fix," CSO reports, noting the company's blog post with steps to resolve the issue.
Long-time Slashdot reader marquis111 shares a link to an apology from Malwarebytes CEO Marcin Kleczynski, who says that he'll be "personally available" to discuss the problem on both the forums and at his personal email address.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's music-rules department
An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg:
Songwriters will get a larger cut of revenue from streaming services after a court handed technology companies a big defeat. The Copyright Royalty Board ruled that songwriters will get at least a 15.1 percent share of streaming revenues over the next five years, from a previous 10.5 percent. That's the largest rate increase in CRB history, according to a statement from the National Music Publishers' Association. The decision is a major victory for songwriters, who have long complained they are insufficiently uncompensated by on-demand music services like Spotify and YouTube.
"The ratio of what labels are paid by the services versus what publishers are paid has significantly improved," argues the NMPA, "resulting in the most favorable balance in the history of the industry.
"While an effective ratio of 3.82 to 1 is still not a fair split that we might achieve in a free market, it is the best songwriters have ever had under the compulsory license... The decision represents two years of advocacy regarding how unfairly songwriters are treated under current law and how crucial their contributions are to streaming services."
Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress has introduced a bipartisan "Music Modernization Act" to overhaul the rate court, and to create a new governing agency to issue blanket licenses to streaming services and then collect and distribute the resulting roylaties.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's putting-the-I-in-ion department
An anonymous reader quotes Quartz:
Consciousness permeates reality. Rather than being just a unique feature of human subjective experience, it's the foundation of the universe, present in every particle and all physical matter. This sounds like easily-dismissible bunkum, but as traditional attempts to explain consciousness continue to fail, the "panpsychist" view is increasingly being taken seriously by credible philosophers, neuroscientists, and physicists, including figures such as neuroscientist Christof Koch and physicist Roger Penrose...
"Physical science tells us a lot less about the nature of matter than we tend to assume," says Philip Goff, a philosophy professor at Central European University in Budapest, Hungary. "Arthur Eddington" -- the English scientist who experimentally confirmed Einstein's theory of general relativity in the early 20th century -- "argued there's a gap in our picture of the universe. We know what matter does but not what it is. We can put consciousness into this gap"...
An alternative panpsychist perspective holds that, rather than individual particles holding consciousness and coming together, the universe as a whole is conscious. This, says Goff, isn't the same as believing the universe is a unified divine being; it's more like seeing it as a "cosmic mess." Nevertheless, it does reflect a perspective that the world is a top-down creation, where every individual thing is derived from the universe, rather than a bottom-up version where objects are built from the smallest particles. Goff believes quantum entanglement -- the finding that certain particles behave as a single unified system even when they're separated by such immense distances there can't be a causal signal between them -- suggests the universe functions as a fundamental whole rather than a collection of discrete parts. Such theories sound incredible, and perhaps they are. But then again, so is every other possible theory that explains consciousness.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's courts-of-last-resort department
An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian:
WikiLeaks founder, Julian Assange, has asked a UK court to drop the arrest warrant that prevents him from leaving the Ecuadorian embassy in London, where he has been living for five and a half years. Assange, 46, skipped bail to enter the embassy in 2012 in order to avoid extradition to Sweden over allegations of sexual assault and rape, which he denies... Mark Summers QC told senior district judge Emma Arbuthnot at Westminster magistrates court on Friday that now that the Swedish case had been dropped the warrant had "lost its purpose and its function". He said because Swedish extradition proceedings against Assange had come to an end, so had the life of the arrest warrant... Arbuthnot said she would give her judgment about the arrest warrant on 6 February.
Judge Arbuthnot said she'd rule only on the legal issue, though the court had also received evidence about medical problems which included "a terrible bad tooth, frozen shoulder and depression."
Representing the Crown Prosecution Service, Aaron Watkins it would be absurd for defendants to be "rewarded with effective immunity" simply for having evaded proceedings for long enough.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's collectives-bargaining department
An anonymous reader quotes CNBC:
No drones or driverless vehicles for delivering packages -- that's one of the major demands from the Teamsters labor union in the big contract negotiation it's undertaking with UPS this week. The union wants to ban UPS from using such new-fangled technology, which the logistics company has been reportedly testing... The current agreement affects 260,000 full and part-time UPS employees and expires in July. "UPS is focused on a contract that provides the flexibility needed to remain highly competitive, given the challenge of an increasingly crowded logistics segment," the company told CNBC.
The Drive notes the smaller carbon footprint of drone deliveries, while adding that "one completely understands and empathizes with the aversion truck drivers have toward this stark, autonomous future.
"If it feels like their jobs are being endangered by the incredible exponential growth in technology, it's because they are."Read Replies (0)