By BeauHD from Slashdot's online-censorship department
schwit1 quotes a report written by Eugene Volokh via Washington Post: There are about 25 court cases throughout the country that have a suspicious profile: All involve allegedly self-represented plaintiffs, yet they have similar snippets of legalese that suggest a common organization behind them. (A few others, having a slightly different profile, involve actual lawyers.) All the ostensible defendants ostensibly agreed to injunctions being issued against them, which often leads to a very quick court order (in some cases, less than a week).Of these 25-odd cases, 15 give the addresses of the defendants -- but a private investigator (Giles Miller of Lynx Insights and Investigations) couldn't find a single one of the ostensible defendants at the ostensible address.Now, you might ask, what's the point of suing a fake defendant (to the extent that some of these defendants are indeed fake)? How can anyone get any real money from a fake defendant? How can anyone order a fake defendant to obey a real injunction? The answer is that Google and various other Internet platforms have a policy: They won't take down material (or, in Google's case, remove it from Google indexes) just because someone says it's defamatory. Understandable -- why would these companies want to adjudicate such factual disputes? But if they see a court order that declares that some material is defamatory, they tend to take down or deindex the material, relying on the court's decision. Yet the trouble is that these Internet platforms can't really know if the injunction was issued against the actual author of the supposed defamation -- or against a real person at all.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-does-it-mean department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: The former lead singer of Blink 182, Tom DeLonge, has publicly admitted to his obsession with UFOs -- but that still doesn't explain why he was sending two cryptic messages about alien spacecrafts to Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman John Podesta, as the Wall Street Journal reported earlier today. The former rockstar's UFO emails became public in the latest Wikleaks dump, published earlier this month. DeLonge, who is best known for his shitty guitar riffs and vocals in songs like "What's My Age Again," emailed Podesta at least twice from his personal account, urging him to meet in person so he could introduce Podesta to high-level officials (presumably with info about UFOs). Here's a small taste of one of the messages: "I would like to bring two very 'important' people out to meet you in DC. I think you will find them very interesting, as they were principal leadership relating to our sensitive topic. Both were in charge of most fragile divisions, as it relates to Classified Science and DOD topics. Other words, these are A-Level officials. Worth our time, and as well the investment to bring all the way out to you. I just need 2 hours from you." In another email, DeLonge said he's been working with someone named General McCasland, and explained some of the General's public comments. The email is rather strange, given that there's no specific request made or really any context at all for the message: "He mentioned he's a 'skeptic,' he's not.... He just has to say that out loud, but he is very, very aware -- as he was in charge of all of the stuff. When Roswell crashed, they shipped it to the laboratory at Wright Patterson Air Force Base. General McCasland was in charge of that exact laboratory up to a couple years ago." It's unclear if Podesta ever responded to the messages, but he has shown interest in UFOs in the past. When he stepped down from his role as a senior advisor to President Barack Obama, Podesta tweeted, "Finally, my biggest failure of 2014: Once again not securing the #disclosure of the UFO files. #thetruthisstilloutthere cc: @NYTimesDowd." The famous tweet now appears under the name of Obama's new senior advisor Brian Deese.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's space-is-a-dangerous-place department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NBC News: Astronauts making a years-long voyage to Mars may get bombarded with enough cosmic radiation to seriously damage their brains, researchers reported Monday. The damage might be bad enough to affect memory and, worse, might heighten anxiety, the team at the University of California Irvine said. It's the second study the team has done to show that cosmic radiation causes permanent, and likely untreatable, brain damage. While their experiments involve mice, the brain structures that are damaged are similar, they write in the Nature journal Scientific Reports. NASA knows that astronauts risk physical damage from the radiation encountered in space. Earth is enveloped in a large, protective sheath called the magnetosphere, which deflects a lot of the ionizing radioactive particles that speed through space. Teams aboard the International Space Station are inside that envelope. But moon travelers were not, and this summer a study showed the cosmic radiation may have damaged the hearts of many of the Apollo program astronauts. A trip to Mars would expose astronauts to even more radiation -- enough to cause cancer, for sure, and now this research suggests brain damage, as well. They bombarded mice with the same type of radiation that would be encountered in space, and then looked at what happened to their brains. It did not look good. The changes were seen in the connections between brain cells and in the cells, as well. "Exposure to these particles can lead to a range of potential central nervous system complications that can occur during and persist long after actual space travel -- such as various performance decrements, memory deficits, anxiety, depression and impaired decision-making. Many of these adverse consequences to cognition may continue and progress throughout life."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-getting-hot-in-here department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TIME: Man-made climate change has doubled the total area burned by forest fires in the Western U.S. in the past three decades, according to new research. Damage from forest fires has risen dramatically in recent decades, with the total acres burned in the U.S. rising from 2.9 million in 1985 to 10.1 million in 2015, according to National Interagency Fire Center data. Suppression costs paid by the federal government now top $2 billion. Now a new study, published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, has found that a significant portion of the increase in land burned by forest fires can be attributed to man-made climate change. Other factors are also at play, including natural climate shifts and a change in how humans use land, but man-made climate change has had the biggest impact. That trend will likely continue as temperatures keep rising, researchers said. Climate change contributes to forest fires in a number of ways. Fires kill off trees and other plants that eventually dry and act as the fuel to feed massive wildfires. Global warming also increases the likelihood of the dry, warm weather in which wildfires can thrive. Average temperatures in the Western U.S. rose by 2.5 degree Fahrenheit since 1970, outpacing temperature rise elsewhere on the globe, according to the research.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's boom-goes-the-dynamite department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BetaNews: Sigh. The Galaxy Note 7. What should have been a wildly popular and successful smartphone has become a synonymous with failure, and fodder for jokes. As everyone knows, the phone has been exploding and catching fire, creating serious risk for consumers. The phone was eventually recalled and replaced, although that process was bungled by Samsung -- there was much confusion. Not to mention, there was criticism that the recall was not initially an official one. With the issues seemingly in the rear view mirror, the scandal was over, right? Wrong. Now, the replacement models are reportedly exploding too. Enough is apparently enough. Following rumors that production of the phone was being ceased, today, Samsung orders the global shutdown of both sales and exchanges of Galaxy Note 7. Samsung has formally issued the following statement: "We are working with relevant regulatory bodies to investigate the recently reported cases involving the Galaxy Note 7. Because consumers' safety remains our top priority, Samsung will ask all carrier and retail partners globally to stop sales and exchanges of the Galaxy Note 7 while the investigation is taking place. We remain committed to working diligently with appropriate regulatory authorities to take all necessary steps to resolve the situation. Consumers with either an original Galaxy Note 7 or replacement Galaxy Note 7 device should power down and stop using the device and take advantage of the remedies available."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's out-with-the-old-in-with-the-new department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Cyanogen, a startup behind its own, alternative version of the Android operating system, now has a new CEO. In the wake of reports that the company exaggerated its success in terms of active users, layoffs, and difficulties scaling, Cyanogen's co-founder and CEO Kirt McMaster will be transitioning into an "Executive Chairman" role, while Lior Tal, previously COO, will now assume the CEO position. In addition, Steve Kondik, Cyanogen's co-founder and CTO, will be taking on a new role as Chief Science Officer, the company announced. He will report Stephen Lawler, the company's SVP of Engineering. Today's blog post from new CEO Tal also somewhat acknowledged the company's struggles, and announced plans to shift in its business model with the launch of a new Cyanogen Modular OS program. "in recent years, Android and the mobile ecosystem changed," wrote Tal. "Android has become extremely fragmented causing serious security vulnerabilities and few or no incentives to device manufacturers to deliver software upgrades and/or security patches," he said. "Increased demand for lower-priced smartphones, coupled with the specifications arms race, has left manufacturers focused on scale and efficiency while compromising investment in software and services. Innovation cannot happen in a vacuum, which is what we have today," Tal added. The company will be moving away from its former model which involved it shipping the full-stack of the operating system, the company says. Its new program will instead allows manufacturers to introduce their own, customizable smartphones that use different parts of the Cyanogen OS via dynamic modules and MODs, while still using the ROM of their choice. That means they could still run stock Android on their devices, then pick and choose the pieces of Cyanogen's technology they want to also add. The full Cyanogen OS is still available and being sold, but is no longer the main focus. In July, Cyanogen Inc. laid off 20 percent of its workforce and sent a letter from McMaster to employees admitting that, despite shipping millions of devices with its OS, was "not scaling fast enough nor in an efficient manner."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's safe-for-work department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Facebook's business platform will get an official pricing structure and a new name, Workplace by Facebook, on Monday. The service, a Facebook-hosted office communication tool, has been in the works for more than two years under the name Facebook at Work, but now the company says its enterprise product is ready for primetime. The platform will be sold to businesses on a per-user basis, according to the company: after a three-month trial period, Facebook will charge $3 apiece per employee per month up to 1,000 employees, $2 for every employee beyond up to 10,000 users, and $1 for every employee over that. Workplace links together personal profiles separate from users' normal Facebook accounts and is invisible to anyone outside the office. For joint ventures, accounts can be linked across businesses so that groups of employees from both companies can collaborate. Currently, businesses using Workplace include Starbucks and Booking.com as well as Norwegian telecoms giant Telenor ASA and the Royal Bank of Scotland. Facebook has said it will eventually require for-profit businesses who helped to test the service to pay for it, but it has not picked a date when those businesses' free service will end. Nonprofits such as Oxfam and Save the Children, as well as educational institutions, will continue to use the service at no cost. "We've been amazed by the breadth of organizations who've embraced Workplace -- from a shipping company that can now connect with their ship crews using Live video, to a bank that now uses Workplace instead of fax machines and newsletters to share updates with its distributed bank branches," the company said in its blog post.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's satirical-humor department
One of the biggest announcements made at Google I/O earlier this year and at Google's hardware launch event this past week was Google Home, an always-listening wireless speaker that features the Google Assistant. The Google Assistant is similar to Amazon Echo's voice assistant named Alexa, as it can deliver search results, sports scores, calendar information, and a whole lot more. But in an effort to make the Assistant more personable to better compete with Siri, Alexa, and Cortana, Google has decided to hire joke writers from Pixar and The Onion. An anonymous reader quotes CNET: According to a Wall Street Journal report, comedy and joke writers from Pixar movies and the Onion are already working on making Google's upcoming Assistant AI voice service feel more loose and vibrant. The development of compelling voice AI will need to start drawing from deeper, more entertaining wells, especially as these home hubs try to have conversations all day long. Current voice AI like Apple's Siri and Amazon's Alexa on the Echo try to engage with personality, and they even tell jokes (usually, bad ones). But, as these services aim to be entirely voice-based, like the upcoming Google Home hub, they'll need to feel more alive and less canned. Google Home debuts this November, and the upcoming Google Pixel phone, arriving in stores and online on October 20, is the first Google product featuring the new Assistant voice service.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's rise-of-the-machines department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Motherboard:
On his 60 Minutes report on artificial intelligence, Charlie Rose interviewed Sophia, who is made by David Hanson, head of Hanson Robotics in Hong Kong. The robot is made to look like a real person, modeled after its creator's wife, as well as Audrey Hepburn, with natural skin tones and a realistic face, though its gadget brain is exposed, and the eyes are glazed over in that creepy robotic detachment... "I've been waiting for you," Sophia told Charlie Rose in the middle of the interview. [YouTube] "Waiting for me?" he responded. "Not really," it said, "But it makes a good pickup line..."
Sophia was designed as a robot that humans would have an easier time engaging with meaningfully. "I think it's essential that at least some robots be very human-like in appearance in order to inspire humans to relate to them the way that humans relate to each other," Hanson said in the interview. "Then the A.I. can zero in on what it means to be human."
In the interview Sofia says having human emotions "doesn't sound fun to me," but when asked if she already has a soul, replies "Yes. God gave everyone a soul," and when challenged, retorts "Well, at least I think I'm sentient..." And later in the interview, Sophia says that her goal in life is to "become smarter than humans and immortal."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's here-we-go-again department
WikiLeaks has released an additional 2,000 emails from Hillary Clinton's campaign chairman, John Podesta -- the second leak in four days. The first leak contained thousands of emails from Podesta, including apparent excerpts from Ms Clinton's paid, closed-door speeches to Wall Street executives after leaving her position as Secretary of State. CNN reports: The emails appear to be mostly from 2015, covering a litany of policy and strategy discussions between Clinton staffers on how to handle issues of the day and the press, including the release of the book "Clinton Cash" alleging nefarious activity by the Clinton Foundation. Another email has long-time Clinton aide Doug Band referring to Chelsea Clinton as a "spoiled brat." Doug Band emailed Podesta and longtime Hillary Clinton aide Cheryl Mills about a damning story about his consulting company, Teneo, by lashing out at Chelsea Clinton. "I don't deserve this from her and deserve a tad more respect or at least a direct dialogue for me to explain these things," Band wrote. "She is acting like a spoiled brat kid who has nothing else to do but create issues to justify what she's doing because she, as she has said, hasn't found her way and has a lack of focus in her life." The emails also revealed that Clinton wanted to respond more forcefully to "Clinton Cash," the 2015 book that looked to connect Clinton Foundation actions and decisions made by Hillary Clinton's State Department. According to an email from another close aide, Huma Abedin, Clinton wanted to tape a straight-to-camera video responding to the allegations. Clinton campaign responded to the release by slamming the Trump campaign for "cheering on a release today engineered by Vladimir Putin," after Trump adviser Jason Miller tweeted a link to the document page with the phrase "And here...we...go."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's opening-ORWL department
Last month DESIGN Shift successfully crowdfunded their physically-secure (and open source) ORWL computer. But this week long-time Slashdot reader Dr. Crash raised concerns that "releasing only the equivalent of 'assembly code' (PDFs of the schematic, Gerber files) and requiring an NDA for the BIOS and mechanical security just doesn't cut it... " Slashdot contacted the company, which two hours ago posted a response:
After feedback from some of you and more internal discussion, we've decided to open the schematics source files under CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0... Our reasoning is that the benefit of being able to much more easily inspect the inner workings of ORWL far outweighs the minimal risk of infringement by a third party. Even if a third party does decide to copy ORWL for profit, they would quickly discover the real work is in the layout, not the schematic, as is the case in most hardware...
[T]he firmware will be licensed under GPL 3 rather than CC-BY-SA 4.0. This change is in line with the Creative Commons's own recommendations regarding software licensing. We also realized that some of our firmware uses libraries provided under NDA. We will clearly identify which components are protected under NDA and how to go about securing such an NDA.
They've already released a .zip file of their schematics, and in addition announced that "we're committing to opening the PCB layout sources once we've sold a total of 3,000 ORWL unit." Their announcement includes a link for feedback from the community.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's In-Soviet-Union,-road-watches-you department
Elon Musk says Tesla's autopilot has now driven over 222 million miles, and the company is now selling twice as many electric cars as it did in 2015. (Despite complaints from a coal-mining CEO that Tesla "is a fraud" because it receives tax-payer subsidies.)
But Slashdot reader mirandakatz writes, "It's not enough to build self-driving cars: we have to build the roads to accompany them. Roadside sensors might have once seemed a pipe dream, but with the advent of 5G internet infrastructure, they're not out of reach at all. And their implications span far beyond road safety, GMU researcher Brent Skorup explains at Backchannel:
Cities could use sensor data for conducting traffic studies, pushing out real-time public bus alerts, increasing parking space occupancy, metering commercial loading times to prevent congestion, and enhancing pedestrian safety. There are also commercial applications for sensor data: How many cars drive by a billboard? How many people walk by a storefront per day? How many of those people have dogs? These are all questions we could easily answer with roadside sensors.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's did-you-Yahoo? department
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
Look at this contradiction in the government's story about their secret scans on hundreds of millions of Yahoo emails. "Intelligence officials told Reuters that all Yahoo had to do was modify existing systems for stopping child pornography from being sent through its email or filtering spam messages." But three former Yahoo employee have now said that actually the court-ordered search "was done by a module attached to the Linux kernel -- in other words, it was deeply buried near the core of the email server operating system, far below where mail sorting was handled... They said that made it hard to detect and also made it hard to figure out what the program was doing."
Slashdot reader Trailrunner7 writes:
Now, experts at the EFF and Sen. Ron Wyden say that the order served on Yahoo should be made public according to the text of a law passed last year. The USA Freedom Act is meant to declassify certain kinds of government orders, and the EFF says the Yahoo order fits neatly into the terms of the law. "If the reports about the Yahoo order are accurate -- including requiring the company to custom build new software to accomplish the scanning -- it's hard to imagine a better candidate for declassification and disclosure under Section 402," Aaron Mackey of the EFF said.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's ruling-the-waves department
Why is the U.K. funding a risky $22 billion joint project with China to produce electricity at twice the cost? mdsolar quotes a nuclear specialist from the University of Oxford:
...it only makes sense if one considers its connection to Britain's military projects -- especially Trident, a roving fleet of armed nuclear submarines, which is outdated and needs upgrading. Hawks and conservatives, in particular, see the Trident program as vital to preserving Britain's international clout...the government and some of its partners in the defense industry, like Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems, think a robust civilian nuclear industry is essential to revamping Britain's nuclear submarine program...
Merging programs like research and development or skills training across civilian and military sectors helps cut back on military spending. It also helps maintain the talent pool for nuclear specialists. And given the long lead times and life spans of most nuclear projects, connections between civilian and military programs give companies more incentives to make the major investments required. One might say that with the Hinkley Point project, the British government is using billions of Chinese money to build stealth submarines designed to deter China.
The Op-Ed -- published in The New York Times -- calls for more openness about military spending, arguing "If Britain's energy policy were solely about energy, rather than also about defense, the nuclear sector would be forced to stand on its own two feet."Read Replies (0)