By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department
Following Nintendo's recent lawsuits against ROM sites LoveROMs and LoveRetro, a major ROM repository called EmuParadise announced it will preemptively cease providing downloadable versions of copyrighted classic games. While no lawsuits have been filed yet, the site's founder, MasJ, writes in an announcement post: "It's not worth it for us to risk potentially disastrous consequences. I cannot in good conscience risk the futures of our team members who have contributed to the site through the years. We run EmuParadise for the love of retro games and for you to be able to revisit those good times. Unfortunately, it's not possible right now to do so in a way that makes everyone happy and keeps us out of trouble." Ars Technica reports: EmuParadise will continue to operate as a repository for legal downloads of classic console emulators, as well as a database of information on thousands of classic games. "But you won't be able to get your games from here for now," as MasJ writes. Since founding EmuParadise in 2000, MasJ says EmuParadise has faced threatening letters, server shutdowns, and numerous DMCA takedown requests for individual games. Through it all, he says he was encouraged by "thousands of emails from people telling us how happy they've been to rediscover and even share their childhood with the next generations in their families."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's willing-to-try-new-things department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: The Democratic nominee for governor of Colorado, U.S. Representative Jared Polis, wants to add blockchain to the list of items voters consider this year. Polis currently represents Colorado's 2nd district in the House, and he won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination last month. He's held his seat in the House for about a decade and has been a fairly solid progressive. On Wednesday, Polis added a set of limited proposals regarding blockchain to his gubernatorial platform that at least give us an idea of what it means for a politician to campaign on blockchain. Polis told us he would like to resolve some of the "ambiguity" in federal rules, encourage fintech company investment, remove some licensing requirements for token securities, and exempt cryptocurrencies from state money transition laws. He says these companies are "trying to fit what they're doing into an obsolete, outdated, and often obsolete federal law."
Polis also wants to explore how blockchain could be used for voting security. Polis isn't ready to necessarily endorse moving all voting to the blockchain system. He likes paper ballots and told us, "this would be more how the information is generated and stored from those paper ballots rather than doing so in a centralized database it would be done across a distributed ledger." The congressman also thinks that blockchain could be used to streamline the process for storing public records and making them available to the public. "We're talking more about everything from Colorado contracts, expenditures, titles, a lot of the data-intensive aspects of state government can be more secure and more accessible through distributed ledgers," he said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's blast-from-the-past department
swm writes: The Baltimore police department is still using an antiquated (1996) case-management system based on Lotus notes. A recent technology assessment found "millions of records and roughly 150 databases built into the system, each designed to address different unit and personnel needs," reports Baltimore Sun. The report found that the "siloed nature of the Lotus Notes databases made it difficult for officers to match, verify or search for information. [...] Various systems may also contain 'conflicting information' about the same case, or may not reflect the most complete information."
"At the same time, detectives continue compiling and using paper case folders," the report stated. "Depending on the unit and the detective, the appropriate Lotus Notes database and/or hard copy case folder system may or may not be up-to-date, and the systems may or may not match." The consultant who is paid to maintain the system says that it is "working wonderfully for the police." Despite these concerns that the assessment addressed, Baltimore's spending panel agreed to pay $176,800 to the consultant to help maintain the outdated system. The police department's chief spokesperson said in a statement Thursday that the agency will be moving away from Lotus Notes in the future. "However, until such time, we must manage and maintain the product that we currently use which is Lotus Notes," he said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's leaving-no-stones-unturned department
Facebook bought TBH last October and eventually shut it down, but an internal note, obtained by BuzzFeed News, shows that the company learned a way to target high schoolers through the viral polling app. From a report: When Facebook purchased TBH last October it got more than just a viral polling app that amassed 2.5 million daily users, mostly teens, a few months after launch. The social network also acquired a carefully honed growth strategy targeted toward high school kids. An internal document from Facebook, obtained by BuzzFeed News, shows TBH's leadership explaining a well-tested method the startup used to attract teens at individual high schools to download its app. The note provides a window into Facebook's growth-at-any-costs mentality and the company's efforts to keep a key demographic engaged as its popularity among teens declines and it simultaneously runs out of people in the connected world to bring to its platform. In the confidential memo, TBH's founders told their new colleagues of "a psychological trick" that they employed to acquire teenage users en masse -- a combination of scraping Instagram for high schoolers' accounts, playing to youthful curiosity, and taking advantage of class dismissal hours.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's dead-in-the-water department
The merger that once seemed all but inevitable has fallen apart. According to The Wall Street Journal, Tribune Media has terminated its merger agreement with rival TV station-owner Sinclair Broadcast Group (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). The company is also suing Sinclair for failing to make sufficient efforts to get their $3.9 billion deal approved by regulators. From the report: The suit, filed in Delaware Chancery Court, alleges that Sinclair breached the merger agreement by engaging in "unnecessarily aggressive and protracted negotiations" with regulators over their requirement that Sinclair divest stations in certain markets to obtain approval, Tribune said in a statement. The deal structures Sinclair proposed, which Tribune said were done to allow it to maintain control over stations, created risks for the deal in violation of the merger agreement. Tribune is seeking financial damages.
The collapse of the deal and lawsuit mark a stunning turn of events for a deal that when it was announced in April of 2016 seemed certain to receive regulatory approval. "Our merger cannot be completed within an acceptable time frame, if ever, Tribune Media Chief Executive Peter Kern said in a statement. "This uncertainty and delay would be detrimental to our company and our shareholders. Accordingly, we have exercised our right to terminate the merger agreement, and, by way of our lawsuit, intend to hold Sinclair accountable." The merger hit the rocks last month when FCC commissioners voted to send the proposed sale to a judge. "FCC chairman Ajit Pai raised 'serious concerns' about Sinclair's selloff of 21 stations it had proposed in order to remain under station ownership limits post-merger," Engadget reported last month. "Had Sinclair declined to sell off some stations, its 173 broadcast stations in 81 markets, combined with Tribune's 42 stations in 33 markets would reach 72 percent of U.S. TV households."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's patient-safety department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Life-saving pacemakers manufactured by Medtronic don't rely on encryption to safeguard firmware updates, a failing that makes it possible for hackers to remotely install malicious wares that threaten patients' lives, security researchers said Thursday. At the Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas, researchers Billy Rios and Jonathan Butts said they first alerted medical device maker Medtronic to the hacking vulnerabilities in January 2017. So far, they said, the proof-of-concept attacks they developed still work. The duo on Thursday demonstrated one hack that compromised a CareLink 2090 programmer, a device doctors use to control pacemakers after they're implanted in patients. Because updates for the programmer aren't delivered over an encrypted HTTPS connection and firmware isn't digitally signed, the researchers were able to force it to run malicious firmware that would be hard for most doctors to detect. From there, the researchers said, the compromised machine could cause implanted pacemakers to make life-threatening changes in therapies, such as increasing the number of shocks delivered to patients. Rios and Butts were also able to use a $200 HackRF software-defined radio to hack a Medtronic-made insulin pump and make it withhold a scheduled dose of insulin. Medtronic has released a page that lists all the security advisories they have issued on the pacemakers and insulin pumps.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's varying-opinions department
Even with all of its problems, AI is a step up from the notoriously biased recruiting process, a report argues. From the report: Artificial intelligence promises to make hiring an unbiased utopia. There's certainly plenty of room for improvement. Employee referrals, a process that tends to leave underrepresented groups out, still make up a bulk of companies' hires. Recruiters and hiring managers also bring their own biases to the process, studies have found, often choosing people with the "right-sounding" names and educational background. Across the pipeline, companies lack racial and gender diversity, with the ranks of underrepresented people thinning at the highest levels of the corporate ladder. "Identifying high-potential candidates is very subjective," said Alan Todd, CEO of CorpU, a technology platform for leadership development. "People pick who they like based on unconscious biases." AI advocates argue the technology can eliminate some of these biases. Instead of relying on people's feelings to make hiring decisions, companies such as Entelo and Stella.ai use machine learning to detect the skills needed for certain jobs. The AI then matches candidates who have those skills with open positions. The companies claim not only to find better candidates, but also to pinpoint those who may have previously gone unrecognized in the traditional process.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's never-gonna-give-you-up department
Blockchain euphoria is giving way to blockchain fatigue: Despite the hype, only 1% of executives in a survey reported deploying the technology at their firms. And while corporate management remains bullish about distributed ledgers, mentions of "blockchain" are on the decline during earnings conference calls. But IBM, which has roots going back more than 100 years, still thinks the technology that underpins bitcoin has untapped potential. From a report: Blockchain is a kind of tamper-proof database for keeping track of just about anything. IBM has around 1,600 employees working on such projects, and is leading other technology companies in terms of headcount and investment, according to Marie Wieck, general manager for IBM Blockchain. The Armonk, New York-based company thinks promising uses include supply chains and finance. And while the public's love affair with blockchain is showing signs of dissipating, Wieck still thinks the technology could be as transformative for businesses processes as the internet has been for personal ones.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's up,-up,-and-away department
A solar-powered aircraft from the European aerospace giant Airbus has completed a maiden flight lasting 25 days, 23 hours, and 57 minutes. In doing so, the production model unmanned solar-powered aircraft set the record for the longest flight ever made by any aircraft. From a report: Originally built by British defence company Qinetiq and now owned by Airbus, the Zephyr aircraft is designed to soar through the stratosphere for months at a time by drawing on the power of the sun. It is similar to Facebook's now defunct Aquila aircraft in this sense, and is hoped to one day provide satellite-like services with the flexibility of an unmanned drone. The latest version of the Zephyr weighs just 75 kg (165 lb), but is able to carry up to five times its own weight. Flying above weather and other air traffic at 70,000 ft (21,300 m), the aircraft can be controlled from the ground and has the potential to carry all kinds of payloads, be they to collect high-resolution imagery, provide voice communications or, as was the idea with Aquila, beam internet service to underserved areas. [...] It took off from Arizona on the 11th of July and has only now come down to Earth, a total of 25 days, 23 hours and 57 minutes later. This was the first outing for the production model Zephyr S, and the team is already setting its sights on its next voyage.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-discussions department
Facing criticism from fellow scientists, the researcher behind the world's largest effort to edit human embryos with CRISPR is vowing to continue his efforts to develop what he calls "IVF gene therapy." MIT Technology Review: Shoukhrat Mitalipov, of Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, drew global headlines last August when he reported successfully repairing a genetic mutation in dozens of human embryos, which were later destroyed as part of the experiment. The laboratory findings on early-stage embryos, he said, had brought the eventual birth of the first genetically modified humans "much closer" to reality. The breakthrough drew wide attention, including from critics who quickly pounced, calling it biologically implausible and potentially the result of careless errors and artifacts. Today, those critics are getting an unusual hearing in the journal Nature, which is publishing two critiques of the Oregon research as well as a lengthy reply from Mitalipov and 31 of his coworkers in South Korea, China, and the Salk Institute in La Jolla, California. The scientific sparring centers on CRISPR's well-known tendency to introduce unseen damage into a cell's DNA. [...] Mitalipov remains intent on proving that CRISPR can work safely on embryos. In an interview, Mitalipov said he believes it will take five to 10 years before the process is ready to attempt in an IVF center. The revolutionary medical technology being pursued is a way to adjust an embryo's DNA to remove disease risks. It is sometimes called germline gene editing because any DNA fixes a baby is born with would then be passed down to future generations through that person's germ cells, the egg or sperm. For its initial research, the Oregon team recruited women around Portland and paid them $5,000 each to undergo an egg retrieval. With those eggs the team created more than 160 embryos for CRISPR experiments. Mitalipov said his Oregon center continues to obtain eggs in an ongoing effort to confirm his results and extend them in new directions.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
Security flaws have been found in major city infrastructure such as flood defences, radiation detection and traffic monitoring systems.
A team of researchers found 17 vulnerabilities, eight of which it described as "critical." From a report: The researchers warned of so-called "panic attacks," where an attacker could manipulate emergency systems to create chaos in communities. The specific flaws uncovered by the team have been patched. "If someone, supervillain or not, were to abuse vulnerabilities like the ones we documented in smart city systems, the effects could range from inconvenient to catastrophic," wrote Daniel Crowley, from IBM's cyber research division, X-Force Red. "While no evidence exists that such attacks have taken place, we have found vulnerable systems in major cities in the US, Europe and elsewhere." The team plans to explain the vulnerabilities at Black Hat -- a cyber-security conference -- on Thursday.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday laid out details for President Donald Trump's proposed new branch of the U.S. military responsible for protecting national security in outer space. From a report: In a speech at the Pentagon, Pence said the new Space Force would be established by 2020. "As President Trump has said, in his words, it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space -- we must have American dominance in space. And so we will," Pence said. "Space is, in his words, a war-fighting domain just like land and air and sea." He added, "History proves that peace only comes through strength, and in the realm of outer space, the United States Space Force will be that strength in the years ahead." The Space Force would ultimately become the sixth branch of the U.S. Armed Forces and would be equal to the other five, Pence said. The Department of Defense has prepared a report laying out the phases of creating the new branch, which will ultimately have to be reviewed and approved by Congress.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's fwiw department
The Galaxy Note 9 touts a slightly larger 6.4-inch end-to-end screen, a 4,000mAh battery that promises "all-day" use, and a minimum 128GB of storage -- there's also a 512GB version that, with 512GB microSD cards, can give you a full terabyte of space. It runs Android 8.1 Oreo -- not Android Pie, which Google and Essential rolled out to some of their devices earlier this month. Engadget: Samsung is also bringing over welcome improvements from the Galaxy S9 family, including stereo speakers and the variable aperture f/1.5-2.4 primary camera (there's a second camera on the back, of course). This year, though, the most conspicuous change revolves around the S Pen. This is Samsung's first S Pen to incorporate Bluetooth, and that lets you do a whole lot more than doodle on the screen. You can use it as a remote control for selfies and presentations, and Samsung is providing a toolkit to let app developers use the pen for their own purposes. And no, you don't need to load it with batteries or plug it into a charger -- it'll top up just by staying in your phone. The base model of the Note 9, featuring 128GB of storage and 6GB of RAM, is priced at $999. The other variant will set you back by $1,250. Preorders begin on August 10th, and the phone will be available on August 24th at all major carriers or direct (and unlocked) from Samsung. CNET writes about the camera sensors on the new handset: The Galaxy Note 9 keeps the same hardware setup as the Galaxy S9 Plus. That is, dual 12-megapixel cameras on the back, one of them that automatically changes aperture when it detects the need for a low-light shot. (Samsung calls this dual aperture, and it's also on both S9 phones.) There's also an 8-megapixel front-facing camera for your selfies. What's different is AI software that analyzes the scene and quickly detects if you're shooting a flower, food, a dog, a person. There are 20 options the Note 9's been trained on, including snowflakes, cityscapes, fire, you get it. Then, the camera optimizes white balance, saturation and contrast to make photos pop.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's cooool department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Amazon gets trashed on the international stage pretty often for its inhumane work conditions in its warehouses. However, it seems the Indian arm of the company is trying to do better, at least according to the latest announcement from Country Head Amit Agarwal. According to Business Standard, in an email to senior staff members this week, Agarwal has reportedly asked employees to leave themselves enough time to spend at home, and maintain a healthy "work-life harmony." He's told employees to stop taking calls and emails after hours, and specifically that, "No business decision should be made between 6 pm and 8 am." It's still unclear whether this decision comes from Agarwal or from the company's global leadership. Likely the latter, considering there's been no such chatter for US employees. It'll also be interesting to see how long this plan will hold, given the sheer size of the e-commerce portal. In the email, Agarwal also said that responding to emails while on vacation is "not cool."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's internet-shake-up department
According to a new study from market research firm SimilarWeb, Facebook may cede its runner-up position to YouTube in the next two to three months. Currently, the top five most-visited websites in the U.S. are Google, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo and Amazon, in that order. However, Facebook's monthly page visits are declining rapidly, from 8.5 billion to 4.7 billion in the last two years, which could shake up that order. CNBC reports: YouTube, which is owned by Google parent Alphabet, has seen increased traffic, the study said. The app has also experienced in increase in viewership. Yahoo is also poised to lose its position in the ranking. Amazon has already surpassed Yahoo during big spending months, including December 2017 and July 2018, when the e-commerce giant held its annual Prime Day. The study projects that Amazon will take over Yahoo's ranking in the next two to three months. However, none of the bottom four of the top five comes close to Google. Although it has seen some decline in website traffic thanks to app use and voice search, it saw approximately 15 billion visits in July 2018, the study said. The others were all below 5 billion, according to the report.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's black-hole-sun department
In T-minus three days, NASA will launch a car-sized spacecraft to investigate our Sun's scorching hot atmosphere. "The vehicle is the Parker Solar Probe, and it's set to launch at 3:33AM ET on Saturday, August 11th, from Cape Canaveral, Florida. "It'll be riding on a Delta IV Heavy rocket made by the United Launch Alliance, which will send the probe zooming toward the inner Solar System," reports The Verge. "Just six weeks after launch, Parker will do a flyby of Venus to alter its route slightly, and then six weeks later, the vehicle will be in the corona. Over the course of seven years, Parker will do 24 orbits around the star, as well as six more Venus flybys so that it can get even closer to the Sun's surface over time." From the report: NASA has long wanted to send a vehicle to the Sun's atmosphere, but such a mission has been considered impossible until the last few decades. This region of space, known as the corona, is filled with tiny, energetic particles that can reach above 3 million degrees Fahrenheit. Any vehicle that ventures near this region must have sophisticated protection to keep from melting. But thanks to advancements in carbon manufacturing and other key areas of engineering, NASA has been able to create a vehicle with a state-of-the-art heat shield and other crucial cooling systems. The result: the spacecraft will stay at room temperature in some of the hottest places in the Solar System.
The Sun's corona is actually 300 times hotter than the surface of the Sun, and no one understands why. The region gets so hot that chunks of the corona actually accelerate and break away from the immense pull of the Sun at supersonic speeds. These so-called solar winds shoot highly energized particles out in all directions, which then slam into surrounding planets. Parker is tasked with investigating the mechanics of the breakaway effect and why the atmosphere is so much hotter than its source.Read Replies (0)