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Twitter Will Hand Over Data On the User Who Sent a Seizure-Inducing Tweet To a Journalist
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 12:54 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's controversial-things department:
Last week, an unidentified Twitter user tweeted a seizure-inducing animation at Newsweek and Vanity Fair writer Kurt Eichenwald, who has epilepsy. Now, Eichenwald has taken the first step toward identifying the user. In response to a civil suit filed by Eichenwald this week in Dallas district court, Twitter has agreed to hand over all relevant subscriber data for the user in question. The attack came in apparent retaliation for Eichenwald's aggressive coverage of President-elect Trump. From a report on the Verge: While Eichenwald has yet to file criminal charges, the civil suit was sufficient for an ex parte order from the district judge. Twitter subsequently agreed to expedited relief, declining to challenge the order or demand further evidence from Eichenwald. The next step is likely to be a lawsuit against wireless carriers or service providers implicated by Twitter's records, who will have records linking IP addresses and other metadata to the attacker's legal name.

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Egypt Has Blocked Encrypted Messaging App Signal
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 11:34 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's blocking-encryption department:
An anonymous reader writes: Egypt has blocked its residents from accessing encrypted messaging app Signal, according to the application's developer. Mada Masr, an Egypt-based media organization, reported yesterday that several users took to Twitter over the weekend to report that they could no longer send or receive messages while on Egyptian IP addresses. Open Whisper Systems, the team behind the app, told a user asking about a situation that everything was working just as intended on their end. Now that the company has confirmed that the country is blocking access to Edward Snowden's preferred messaging app, it has begun working on a way to circumvent the ban. They intend to deploy their solution over the next few weeks.

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Aircraft Entertainment Systems Hacks Are Back
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 11:34 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Reader msm1267 writes: Researchers at IOActive today disclosed vulnerabilities in Panasonic Avionics In-Flight Entertainment Systems that were reported to the manufacturer close to two years ago. The flaws could be abused to manipulate in-flight data shown to passengers, or access personal information and credit card data swiped at the seat for premium entertainment or Internet access. Given that the firmware is customizable and used by dozens airlines in hundreds of aircraft models, the researchers said it's almost impossible to determine whether the vulnerabilities no longer exist across the board. IOActive said that segmentation between aircraft control and information services that oversee avionics and operational control of a plane should isolate these vulnerabilities to passenger entertainment domains. Whether an attacker could cross those domains and affect critical avionics systems would depend on specific devices and configurations, IOActive said, given that a physical path could exist that connects those systems through satellite communications terminals that provide in-flight updates to critical systems. The concern is that whether in some configurations, IFEs would share access to these devices and provide the physical path an attacker would need to reach critical systems. As for the vulnerabilities in passenger systems, IOActive said there is a lack of authentication and encryption between an on-board server and clients at passenger seats. This could allow an attacker on board to send commands to the IFE system to manipulate what's displayed to passengers, or read payment card data swiped at seats.

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Apple In Talks With India To Manufacture Locally
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 10:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's cc-trump department:
Apple is in talks with India's government to explore making products locally, the Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday, as the U.S. firm aims to make deeper inroads in the world's second-largest mobile phone market by users. From a report: India Prime Minister Narendra Modi is trying to boost technology manufacturing in the country through his 'Make in India' initiative. His government in June exempted foreign retailers for three years from a requirement to locally source 30 percent of goods sold in their stores. The Journal said Apple, in a letter to the federal government in November, outlined manufacturing plans and asked for financial incentives.

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Uber Admits To Self-driving Car 'Problem' in Bike Lanes As Safety Concerns Mount
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 10:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's safety-concerns department:
Uber has admitted that there is a "problem" with the way autonomous vehicles cross bike lanes, raising serious questions about the safety of cyclists days after the company announced it would openly defy California regulators over self-driving vehicles. From a report on The Guardian: An Uber spokeswoman said on Monday that engineers were working to fix a flaw in the programming that advocates feared could have deadly consequences for cyclists. Uber began piloting its self-driving vehicles in its home town of San Francisco last week, despite state officials' declaration that the ride-share company needed special permits to test its technology. On day one, numerous autonomous vehicles -- which have a driver in the front seat who can take control -- were caught running red lights and committing a range of traffic violations. Despite threats of legal action from the department of motor vehicles (DMV) and California's attorney general, Kamala Harris, Uber refused to back down on Friday, claiming its rejection of government authority was "an important issue of principle."

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At Apple, Mac Is Getting Far Less Attention - How It Handled the New MacBook Pro Is a Living Proof
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's inside-story department:
Apple CEO Tim Cook may have assured employees that the company is committed to Mac computers, but people working in the Mac team say the company now pays far less attention to the computer lineup, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who has been right just about every time with Apple scoops. From his report: Interviews with people familiar with Apple's inner workings reveal that the Mac is getting far less attention than it once did. They say the Mac team has lost clout with the famed industrial design group led by Jony Ive and the company's software team. They also describe a lack of clear direction from senior management, departures of key people working on Mac hardware and technical challenges that have delayed the roll-out of new computers. While the Mac generates about 10 percent of Apple sales, the company can't afford to alienate professional designers and other business customers. After all, they helped fuel Apple's revival in the late 1990s. In a stinging critique, Peter Kirn, founder of a website for music and video creators, wrote: "This is a company with no real vision for what its most creative users actually do with their most advanced machines." If more Mac users switch, the Apple ecosystem will become less sticky -- opening the door to people abandoning higher-value products like the iPhone and iPad. The report also sheds light on battery issues in the new MacBook Pro lineup that many have complained about. From the report: In the run-up to the MacBook Pro's planned debut this year, the new battery failed a key test, according to a person familiar with the situation. Rather than delay the launch and risk missing the crucial holiday shopping season, Apple decided to revert to an older design. The change required roping in engineers from other teams to finish the job, meaning work on other Macs languished, the person said. The new laptop didn't represent a game-changing leap in battery performance, and a software bug misrepresented hours of power remaining. Apple has since removed the meter from the top right-hand corner of the screen.

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Nintendo Switch Uses Nvidia Tegra X1 SoC, Clock Speeds Outed
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 08:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tearing-things-apart department:
The Nintendo Switch -- the hybrid portable games console/tablet due for release in March 2017 -- will be powered by Nvidia's older Tegra X1 SoC and not its upcoming Tegra X2 "Parker" SoC as initially rumored. From a report on ArsTechnica: The use of Tegra X1, which also powers the Nvidia Shield Android TV, means the graphics hardware inside the Switch is based on Nvidia's older second-generation Maxwell architecture, rather than the latest Pascal architecture. While the two architectures share a very similar design, the Switch will miss out on some of the smaller performance improvements made in Pascal. When docked, the Switch's GPU runs at a 768MHz, already lower than the 1GHz of the Shield Android TV. When used as a portable, the Switch downclocks the GPU to 307.2MHz -- just 40 percent of the clock speed when docked. Given the Switch is highly likely to use a 720p screen rather than 1080p -- this is currently assumed to be a 6.2-inch IPS LCD with 10-point multi-touch support -- there is some overhead to run games at 1080p when docked. However, it's questionable how many developers will go to the effort of creating games that make use of the extra horsepower when docked, rather than simply opting to program for the slower overall GPU clock speed. While GPU performance is variable, the rest of the Switch's specs remain static. Its four ARM A57 CPU cores are purported to run at 1020MHz regardless of whether the console is docked or undocked, while the memory controller can run at either 1600MHz or 1331MHz in either mode.

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Google Responds On Skewed Holocaust Search Results
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fixing-things department:
Google says it is "thinking deeply" about ways to improve search, after criticism over how some results -- including ones discussing the Holocaust -- were ranked. From a report on BBC: Searching for "did the Holocaust happen?" returned a top result that claimed it did not, as Guardian journalist Carole Cadwalladr reported. Now, the ranking has changed for US users. The page -- from white supremacist site Stormfront -- remains top in the UK. "This is a really challenging problem, and something we're thinking deeply about in terms of how we can do a better job," said a Google spokesman. "Search is a reflection of the content that exists on the web. The fact that hate sites may appear in search results in no way means that Google endorses these views."

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Tim Cook Assures Employees That It Is Committed To Mac and 'Great Desktops' Are Coming
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's relax-guys department:
Apple CEO Tim Cook has assured the employees that the company is committed to the computer lineups and that a desktop computer is certainly on the way. From a report on TechCrunch: "Some folks in the media have raised the question about whether we're committed to desktops," Cook wrote. "If there's any doubt about that with our teams, let me be very clear: we have great desktops in our roadmap. Nobody should worry about that." Cook cites the far better performance of desktop computers, including screen sizes, memory, storage and more variety in I/O (ha) as a reason that they are "really important, and in some cases critical, to people." So no matter how you feel about the state of the Mac at the moment, you have new machines to look forward to. No mention of whether that meant iMac or Mac Pro or both, but at the very least it's encouraging to those of us who couldn't live without a desktop computer.

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EU Accuses Facebook Of Giving Misleading Information During WhatsApp Takeover
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 07:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's steering-clear department:
The European Commission has charged Facebook with providing misleading information during its takeover of the online messaging service WhatsApp, opening the company to a possible fine of 1 percent of its turnover. From a report on Reuters: The statement of objections sent to Facebook will not have an impact on the approval of the $22 billion merger in 2014, the Commission said in a statement on Tuesday. Facebook becomes the latest Silicon Valley target of EU antitrust chief Margrethe Vestager, who has demanded Apple pay back $14 billion in taxes to Ireland and hit Google with two market abuse investigations. The issue regards a WhatsApp privacy policy change in August when it said it would share some users' phone numbers with parent company Facebook, triggering investigations by a number of EU data protection authorities. The Commission said Facebook had indicated in its notification of the planned acquisition that it would be unable reliably to match the two companies' user accounts. "In today's Statement of Objections, the Commission takes the preliminary view that, contrary to Facebook's statements and reply during the merger review, the technical possibility of automatically matching Facebook users' IDs with WhatsApp users' IDs already existed in 2014," it said.

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Uber Lost $800 Million In Third Quarter
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 06:00 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pennies-on-the-dollar department:
According to a report from The Information (Warning: paywalled), Uber has lost more than $800 million in the third quarter. CNBC reports: The results, The Information reported, put Uber on pace to record an 25 percent steeper operating loss than last year, of at least $2.8 billion in 2016, before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization. Despite steep results from one of the world's most valuable start-ups, these results would have been worse if not for a one-time windfall thanks to the sale of Uber's China business to Didi Chuxing, The Information reported. On the bright side, Uber's revenue is skyrocketing, and its rate of losses slowed from the prior quarter, The Information said. Still, the report comes as Uber's multi-billion dollar valuation has come under scrutiny from those who say its business model depends on subsidies and faces looming battles over regulation.

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Pregnancy Alters Woman's Brains 'For At Least Two Years'
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 03:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's baby-brain department:
EzInKy writes: The BBC and others are reporting the results of a study that women's brains do in fact change during pregnancy. BBC reports: "Pregnancy reduces grey matter in specific parts of a woman's brain, helping her bond with her baby and prepare for the demands of motherhood. Scans of 25 first-time mums showed these structural brain changes lasted for at least two years after giving birth. European researchers said the scale of brain changes during pregnancy were akin to those seen during adolescence. But they found no evidence of women's memory deteriorating. This study, from researchers at the Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona and Leiden University and published in Nature Neuroscience, looked at the brain scans of women before they became pregnant, soon after they gave birth, and two years later, to see how the brain changed. And they compared these women's brains with those of 19 first-time fathers, 17 men without children and 20 women who had never given birth. The researchers found 'substantial' reductions in the volume of grey matter in the brains of first-time mothers. The grey matter changes occurred in areas of the brain involved in social interactions used for attributing thoughts and feelings to other people -- known as 'theory-of-mind' tasks. The researchers thought this would give new mothers an advantage in various ways - help them recognize the needs of their child, be more aware of potential social threats and become more attached to their baby." Thanks Mom! As for first-time fathers, the researchers found no changes in their grey matter.

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Filmmaker Installed Security Software On a Decoy Phone To Spy On Smartphone Thieves
Posted by News Fetcher on December 20 '16 at 12:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's very-particular-set-of-skills department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Verge: Dutch film student Anthony van der Meer had the unfortunate pleasure of having his phone stolen while having lunch in Amsterdam. Unsatisfied with the response from the Amsterdam police, who register an average of 300 stolen phones per week, Meer decided to find out what kind of person steals a phone. He downloaded DIY security software on a decoy Android phone, intentionally got the phone stolen, and was able to spy on his thief for weeks. He recorded the ups and downs of his covert investigation and turned it into a 22-minute documentary called Find My Phone. Meer preloaded the decoy device with an anti-theft application called Cerberus, which allows the owner of the device to access any file on the phone remotely, as well as discretely activate the phone's camera and microphone. Meer and his friends were able to navigate the technicalities of surveilling the thief with relative ease. They even snapped a close-up of the guy's face. The hard part, it turns out, was getting the preloaded phone stolen in the first place. It took Meer four days to get his device pilfered in a city with high rates of theft because concerned citizens kept coming to his rescue.

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Scientists Blast Antimatter Atoms With a Laser For The First Time
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '16 at 08:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's there's-a-first-for-everything department:
For the first time, researchers from Indiana University were able to blast antimatter atoms with a laser to measure the light emitted from the anti-atoms. The researchers hope to answer one of the big mysteries of our universe: Why, in the early universe, did antimatter lose out to regular old matter? NPR reports: "The first time I heard about antimatter was on Star Trek, when I was a kid," says Jeffrey Hangst, a physicist at Aarhus University in Denmark. "I was intrigued by what it was and then kind of shocked to learn that it was a real thing in physics." He founded a research group called ALPHA at CERN, Europe's premier particle physics laboratory near Geneva, that is devoted to studying antimatter. That's a tricky thing to do because antimatter isn't like the regular matter you see around you every day. At the subatomic level, antimatter is pretty much the complete opposite -- instead of having a negative charge, for example, its electrons have a positive charge. And whenever antimatter comes into contact with regular matter, they both disappear in a flash of light. In the journal Nature, his team reports that they've now used the special laser to probe this antimatter. So far, what they see is that their anti-hydrogen atoms respond to the laser in the same way that regular hydrogen does. That's what the various theories out there would predict -- still, Hangst says, it's important to check. "We're kind of really overjoyed to finally be able to say we have done this," he says. "For us, it's a really big deal." From the journal Nature: "Researchers at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory outside Geneva, trained an ultraviolet laser on antihydrogen, the antimatter counterpart of hydrogen. They measured the frequency of light needed to jolt a positron -- an antielectron -- from its lowest energy level to the next level up, and found no discrepancy with the corresponding energy transition in ordinary hydrogen."

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Solar Is Top Source of New Capacity On the US Grid In 2016
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '16 at 06:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's exceeding-expectations department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The U.S. electric grid continued to transform in 2016. No new coal plants were added, and solar became the top new source of generating capacity. Combined with wind, a small bit of hydro, and the first nuclear plant added to the grid in decades, sources that generate power without carbon emissions accounted for two-thirds of the new capacity added in 2016. These numbers come from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which asked utilities about what sources they expected to have online at the end of the year. These numbers typically show a burst of activity in December, as projects are raced to completion to take advantage of the tax benefits of reaching operational status in the current year. Overall, the EIA recorded 26 GW of new capacity added to the grid in 2016. This includes a small amount (0.3GW) of new hydropower and a smattering of projects collected under "other" that produce a similar magnitude. Notably absent from the list is coal. Also absent is distributed solar, meaning panels installed on homes and other small-scale projects. Distributed solar accounted for about 2GW of new capacity in 2015, and the EIA notes that the incentives for these projects haven't changed considerably in 2016. Even without that 2GW, solar comes out on top, with 9.5GW of new additions this year. At 8GW, natural gas comes in second place on the EIA's list, followed by wind at 6.8GW. Thanks to the opening of a new reactor at Watts Bar in Tennessee, nuclear also joins the list for the first time in years, adding 1.1GW of capacity. Combined, wind, nuclear, hydro, and solar account for 68 percent of the new additions, making 2016 a low-carbon year for the U.S. grid. Assuming distributed solar this year is similar to its 2015 levels, the percentage of new non-fossil generation goes up above 70.

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Mark Zuckerberg Demos Jarvis, His Own Home AI Assistant
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '16 at 06:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's home-automation department:
harrymcc writes: As Mark Zuckerberg's personal challenge for 2016, he built Jarvis -- a service similar to Alexa or Google Assistant, but built to do exactly the things he wants to do in his home, and controllable by both voice and Messenger bot. Now that it's mostly complete, he demoed it for Fast Company's Daniel Terdiman. Terdiman writes: "In his January post announcing the Jarvis project, Zuckerberg wrote that he'd set out to build a system allowing him to control everything in the house, including music, lights, and temperature, with his voice. He also wanted Jarvis to let his friends in the house just by looking at their faces when they arrive and to alert him to anything important going on in Max's room. And he hoped to design the system to 'visualize data in VR to help me build better services and lead my organizations [at Facebook] more efficiently.' Now, in December, he has achieved all of that, save for the bit about VR. And it works. However, when he showed off the system to me in person, I learned that it sometimes needs a little coddling. Zuckerberg began by demoing the Messenger bot he'd built as a front end for the system. Using his iPhone, he typed simple commands to turn the lights off and on, and sure enough, they went off and then on. On the other hand, he also built the system to respond to voice commands, via a custom iOS app he'd created, and there, the results were decidedly more inconsistent. He had to tell the system four times to turn the lights off before it got dark."

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Alphabet's Waymo Reveals Its Self-Driving Chrysler Pacifica Minivans
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '16 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's soccer-mom department:
Artem Tashkinov writes: Waymo, what used to be a Google division and now is a new division in Alphabet, has revealed its first production ready fully autonomous car based on Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid. The new vehicle for six passengers will retain all its human driving features such as a steering wheel and foot pedals. A limited production -- a fleet of 100 cars -- is expected to hit the road in 2017.

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Electoral College Elects Donald Trump As President
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '16 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-down-one-to-go department:
mi writes: The drama is over, Donald J. Trump passed the 270 electoral votes necessary to become President. A few electors dissented, resulting in their prompt dismissal and replacement per their state's laws. Ironically, more dissenters turned on Clinton than on Trump... The sky may not be falling yet, but the Earth is already in peril.

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South Carolina Bill Wants To Put Porn Blocks On New Computers
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '16 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's porn-blocker department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: People buying new computers and devices in South Carolina would be blocked from accessing porn under a newly proposed law. A bill, pre-filed earlier this month by state lawmaker Bill Chumley, is called the Human Trafficking Prevention Act, and would require computer makers and sellers to install filters that would prevent users from accessing porn and other sexual material. The aim is to prevent access to sites that facilitate prostitution and trafficking, Chumley told a local newspaper this weekend, which the state has struggled to curtail in recent years. "If we could have manufacturers install filters that would be shipped to South Carolina, then anything that children have access on for pornography would be blocked," Chumley reportedly said. "We felt like that would be another way to fight human trafficking."

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Google Releases Tool To Find Common Crypto Bugs
Posted by News Fetcher on December 19 '16 at 04:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-out-come-out-wherever-you-are department:
Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: Google has released a new set of tests it uses to probe cryptographic libraries for vulnerabilities to known attacks. The tests can be used against most kinds of crypto algorithms and the company already has found 40 new weaknesses in existing algorithms. The tests are called Project Wycheproof, and Google's engineers designed them to help developers implement crypto libraries without having to become experts. Cryptographic libraries can be quite difficult to implement and making errors can lead to serious security problems. Attackers often will look for weak crypto implementations as a means of circumventing strong encryption in a target app. Among the issues that Google's engineers found with the Project Wycheproof tests is one in ECDH that allows an attacker to recover the private key in some circumstances. The bug is the result of some libraries not checking the elliptic curve points that they get from outside sources. "In cryptography, subtle mistakes can have catastrophic consequences, and mistakes in open source cryptographic software libraries repeat too often and remain undiscovered for too long. Good implementation guidelines, however, are hard to come by: understanding how to implement cryptography securely requires digesting decades' worth of academic literature. We recognize that software engineers fix and prevent bugs with unit testing, and we found that many cryptographic issues can be resolved by the same means," Daniel Bleichenbacher and Thai Duong, security engineers at Google, said in a post announcing the tool release. "Encodings of public keys typically contain the curve for the public key point. If such an encoding is used in the key exchange then it is important to check that the public and secret key used to compute the shared ECDH secret are using the same curve. Some libraries fail to do this check," Google's documentation says.

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