By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Indonesia has announced plans to build a new capital city as its current capital, Jakarta, struggles with pollution, traffic gridlock -- and the fact that the city is sinking. From a report: After a Cabinet meeting on Monday, planning minister Bambang Brodjonegoro said President Joko Widodo has decided to move the capital out of Indonesia's main island, Java. It's not clear exactly when this will happen, or where the new capital would be located. The idea has been out there for decades, though previous leaders have been unable to accomplish the ambitious plan. Earlier this month, Widodo secured another term in office, according to independent polling organizations. His challenger also declared victory, and official results have not yet been announced.
"The idea to move the capital city appeared long ago. ... But it has never been decided or discussed in a planned and mature manner," Widodo said before the meeting, according to The Associated Press. Jakarta faces massive challenges. As the BBC has reported, it's the fastest-sinking city in the world, with almost half of its area below sea level.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
A "cyber event" interrupted grid operations in parts of the western United States last month, according to a cryptic report posted by the Department of Energy. From a report: The March 5 incident lasted from 9 a.m. until nearly 7 p.m. but didn't lead to a power outage, based on a brief summary of the electric disturbance report filed by the victim utility. If remote hackers interfered with grid networks in California, Utah and Wyoming, as the DOE filing suggests, the event would be unprecedented. A cyberattack is not known to have ever disrupted the flow of electricity anywhere in the United States, though Russian hackers briefly cut off power to parts of Ukraine in 2015 and again in 2016. DOE uses a broad definition of "cyber event," describing it as any disruption to an electrical system or grid communication network "caused by unauthorized access" to hardware, software or data. That leaves open the possibility that a utility employee or trespasser, rather than a remote hacker, triggered the March 5 event.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department
Hackers have broken into an internet infrastructure firm that provides services to dozens of the world's largest and most valuable companies, including Oracle, Volkswagen, Airbus, and many more as part of an extortion attempt, Motherboard reported Tuesday. From the report: The attackers have also threatened to release data from all of those companies, according to a website seemingly set up by the hackers to distribute the stolen material. Citycomp, the impacted Germany-based firm, provides servers, storage, and other computer equipment to large companies, according to the company's website. Michael Bartsch, executive director of Deutor Cyber Security Solutions, a firm Citycomp said was authorized to speak about the case, confirmed the breach to Motherboard in an email Tuesday. "Citycomp has been hacked and blackmailed and the attack is ongoing," Bartsch wrote. "We have to be careful as the whole case is under police investigation and the attacker is trying all tricks."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's meanwhile-on-wikipedia department
Wikipedia editors are battling to tell the story of Brexit as it happens. And on such a hotly-debated page, every edit is controversial and suspicions run wild. From a report: Editors are parrying death threats, doxxing attempts and accusations of bias, as the crowdsourced epic has become the centre of a relentless tug-of-war over who gets to write the history of the UK as it happens. Originally posted in January 2014, what began life as "Proposed referendum on United Kingdom membership of the European Union" has bloated into a 11,757-word behemoth. But the article's vast size is the least of its problems. In private, and on discussion pages, editors tell tales of turf wars, sock puppet accounts, and anonymous figures hellbent on stuffing the article with information that supports their point of view.
"I was heavily involved with the Brexit page, but gave up more than a year ago because the level of bias on it proved impossible to address and the aggravation of trying to deal with that was not worthwhile," says EddieHugh, a Wikipedia editor who has made 186 edits on the Brexit page -- making them one of its most prolific contributors. Since leaving the page behind, EddieHugh now specialises in editing entries about obscure mid-century jazz musicians. For the dedicated cabal of Wikipedians who are still editing the page, the battle against bias is never-ending. [...] One sentence Snoogans added to the page's opening paragraphs is particularly divisive. Early on the article refers to a "broad consensus" among economists that Brexit will damage the UK economy. Soon after he added the sentence, other editors tried to remove the edit, arguing that economists aren't reliable enough to be included in Wikipedia articles. Wikipedia's rules don't contain specific guidelines about economists, but recommend that "academic and peer-reviewed publications, scholarly monographs and textbooks" should be used as sources where possible.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department
Anki, the San Francisco startup behind AI-imbued robotics toys like Overdrive, Cozmo, and Vector, today shuttered its doors after raising close to $200 million in venture capital from Index Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, J.P. Morgan, Andreessen Horowitz, and other investors. From a report: According to Recode , it'll lay off its entire workforce of just over 200 employees, each of whom will receive a week of severance. A failed round of financing was reportedly to blame. CEO Boris Softman told employees last week that a deal failed to materialize "at the last minute," as did acquisition interest from companies such as Microsoft, Amazon, and Comcast. Anki claimed to have sold 6.5 million devices total, and 1.5 million robots last August alone. (Cozmo was the top-selling toy on Amazon in 2017 with a community of more than 15,000 developers.) And in fall 2018, the company revealed that revenue was close to $100 million in 2017, a figure it expected to beat the subsequent year.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's whatever-it-takes department
From a report on The Atlantic: In 2014, a few hackers realized that the security flaw in certain Medtronic pumps could be exploited for a DIY revolution. Type 1 diabetes is a disease where the pancreas is unable to produce insulin to control blood sugar. For years, Boss (the anecdote in the story who purchased used insulin pumps from some dealer on Craiglist) had counted, down to the gram, the carbohydrates in every meal and told his pump how much insulin to dispense. [...] By 2014, the hardware components of a DIY artificial pancreas -- a small insulin pump that attaches via thin disposable tubing to the body and a continuous sensor for glucose, or sugar, that slips just under the skin -- were available, but it was impossible to connect the two. That's where the security flaw came in. The hackers realized they could use it to override old Medtronic pumps with their own algorithm that automatically calculates insulin doses based on real-time glucose data. It closed the feedback loop.
They shared this code online as OpenAPS, and "looping," as it's called, began to catch on. Instead of micromanaging their blood sugar, people with diabetes could offload that work to an algorithm. In addition to OpenAPS, another system called Loop is now available. Dozens, then hundreds, and now thousands of people are experimenting with DIY artificial-pancreas systems -- none of which the Food and Drug Administration has officially approved. And they've had to track down discontinued Medtronic pumps. It can sometimes take months to find one. Obviously, you can't just call up Medtronic to order a discontinued pump with a security flaw. "It's eBay, Craigslist, Facebook. It's like this underground market for these pumps," says Aaron Kowalski, a DIY looper and also CEO of JDRF, a nonprofit that funds type 1 diabetes research. This is not exactly how a market for lifesaving medical devices is supposed to work. And yet, this is the only way it can work -- for now.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's privacy-woes department
The addresses and demographic details of more than 80 million US households were exposed on an unsecured database stored on the cloud, independent security researchers have found. From a report: The details listed included names, ages and genders as well as income levels and marital status. The researchers, led by Noam Rotem and Ran Locar, were unable to identify the owner of the database, which until Monday was online and required no password to access. Some of the information was coded, like gender, marital status and income level. Names, ages and addresses were not coded. The data didn't include payment information or Social Security numbers. The 80 million households affected make up well over half of the households in the US, according to Statista. "I wouldn't like my data to be exposed like this," Rotem said in an interview with CNET. "It should not be there." Rotem and his team verified the accuracy of some data in the cache but didn't download the data in order to minimize the invasion of privacy of those listed, he said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Walmart already sells more TVs than anyone. Now it wants to make the shows you watch on them, too. From a report: The retailer plans to bankroll at least a half-dozen original programs over the next year, and will unveil the first few to advertisers in New York this week, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing people familiar with the plans said. Walmart has talked with several Hollywood studios about rebooting family-friendly projects from years ago, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the plans aren't public yet. Walmart's slate is supposed to lure more viewers to Vudu, a company-owned streaming service that already offers free programs with commercials, along with online rentals and sales of movies and shows. [...] With streaming starting to supplant DVDs, Walmart acquired Vudu in 2010 to gain a foothold in the burgeoning market for online entertainment. But the service has been an also-ran, while Netflix, Google, Apple and Amazon built global audiences in the tens of millions. [...] Unlike Netflix and Amazon, Walmart isn't going to sell its customers a subscription. It sees an opportunity to generate cash by using shows on Vudu to advertise products. The Bentonville, Arkansas-based retailer has been pitching advertising agencies in recent weeks, eager to line up deals in time for its presentation this week.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Apple has issued a rare public statement following a report by the New York Times on Saturday that alleged Apple was cracking down on apps that its Screen Time feature emulates. From a report: The Times story says that over the past year, Apple has removed or restricted at least 11 of the 17 apps that offer Screen Time-like features. Screen Time is a feature on iOS 12 and later that allows a user to see how much time they spend on their iPhone, what apps they use the most, and the ability for the user or parents of the users to set limitations on the apps. While it's true that Apple has removed some of the apps from the App Store since the company introduced its Screen Time software, the company's senior vice president of worldwide marketing, Phil Schiller, said the Times did not publish the full reason Apple gave them as to why some of the competing apps were pulled.
From Apple's response: Over the last year, we became aware that several of these parental control apps were using a highly invasive technology called Mobile Device Management, or MDM. MDM gives a third party control and access over a device and its most sensitive information including user location, app use, email accounts, camera permissions, and browsing history. We started exploring this use of MDM by non-enterprise developers back in early 2017 and updated our guidelines based on that work in mid-2017.
MDM does have legitimate uses. Businesses will sometimes install MDM on enterprise devices to keep better control over proprietary data and hardware. But it is incredibly risky -- and a clear violation of App Store policies -- for a private, consumer-focused app business to install MDM control over a customer's device. Beyond the control that the app itself can exert over the user's device, research has shown that MDM profiles could be used by hackers to gain access for malicious purposes.Read Replies (0)