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SpaceX Aces First Launch of Crew Dragon, Built to Carry Humans, and Falcon 9 Touchdown
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '19 at 07:11 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's reusable-rockets department:
"SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, its first spacecraft designed to carry humans, took flight for the first time Saturday," reports CNN. Slashdot reader Applehu Akbar calls it "a perfect launch," noting the test flight is hauling a sensor-loaded dummy named "Ripley" -- plus a 400-pound cargo of essentials for the International Space Station. Crew Dragon will dock on Sunday, CNN reports, then return to earth five days later. "SpaceX's capsule is now en route to the International Space Station, which flies about 254 miles above Earth at tremendous speeds: about 10 times faster than a bullet."

The successful launch puts SpaceX one step closer to a historic landmark: Crew Dragon could be the first commercially built spacecraft to carry NASA astronauts to orbit. And Crew Dragon -- along with a capsule called Starliner built by Boeing -- could end the United States' decade-long reliance on Russia for human spaceflight...

This marks the first and only demo mission that Crew Dragon will fly without humans on board. If all goes well, the capsule design will undergo a few more reviews and safety checks, and it could be ready to fly two NASA astronauts to the space station in July, based on the space agency's current timeline.

Space.com reports that the reusable rocket also landed safely back on earth about 10 minutes after the liftoff, "acing a touchdown on the SpaceX drone ship Of Course I Still Love You, which was stationed off the Florida coast."

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Facebook Sues China-Based Companies For Selling Fake Accounts
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '19 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Facebook and its Instagram unit sued four companies and three people based in China for promoting the sale of fake accounts, likes and followers that the social network giant says can be used for nefarious purposes. The Chinese companies advertised and created the fake accounts over the last two years and marketed them for sale on six websites, selling them in bulk quantities, according to a complaint filed Friday in San Francisco federal court. "Fake and inauthentic accounts can be used for spam and phishing campaigns, misinformation campaigns, marketing scams, advertising fraud, and other fraud schemes which are profitable at scale," Facebook and Instagram alleged. They said fake accounts were also created on Amazon, Apple, Google, LinkedIn and Twitter. The companies named as defendants -- 9 Xiu Shenzhen, 9 Xiu Feishu, 9 Xiufei and Home Network -- are based in Longyan and Shenzhen. They are affiliated manufacturers of electronics and hardware, as well as providers of software and online advertising services, according to the complaint.

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Wireless Skin Sensors For Newborns Will Let Parents Cuddle Fragile Babies
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '19 at 03:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's biometrical-devices department:
the_newsbeagle writes: In newborn intensive care units (NICUs) today, tiny fragile babies lie in incubators, wired to a variety of monitors that track their vital signs. This mess of wires makes it complicated for nurses to pick up the babies for routine tasks like diaper changes, and makes it hard for new parents to pick up their infants for cuddling. Skin-to-skin contact between parents and infants has been proven not only to help with bonding, but also to have a host of medical benefits for the infants, so the wires that tether babies to their beds are a real problem. At Northwestern University, an electrical engineer who works on flexible, stretchable electronics teamed up with a pediatric dermatologist to invent a solution. They devised a system of stick-on wireless biosensors (with a gentle adhesive that's safe even for thin preemie skin) that actually provide more information than today's standard setup. The system "is composed of two sensors, one that sticks to the chest to record electrocardiograms (providing heart rate), another that sticks to the foot to record photoplethysmograms (measuring blood oxygenation) and skin temperature," reports IEEE Spectrum. "The foot sensor required the engineering team to create software that could compensate for movement artifacts in the data. Time-syncing these two sensors also provides a continuous measurement of blood pressure; the system knows when the heart pumps out a pulse of blood and when it arrives at the foot, and that time measurement correlates well with blood pressure." "The sensors use near-field communication (NFC) to connect to a module that can be attached to the baby's bed, and which both receives the data and sends wireless power to the sensors," the report adds. "That module transmits the data via bluetooth to a mobile phone or tablet."

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Periodic Table Turns 150 Years Old
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's trip-down-memory-lane department:
The Economist tells the story of how French chemist Antoine-Laurent de Lavoisier came to publish the first putatively comprehensive list of chemical elements -- substances incapable of being broken down by chemical reactions into other substances -- known today as the periodic table. It was Lavoisier and his wife Marie-Anne who pioneered the technique of measuring quantitatively what went into and came out of a chemical reaction, as a way of getting to the heart of what such a reaction really is. "Where the story of the periodic table of the elements really starts is debatable," reports The Economist, "but Lavoisier's laboratory is as good a place as any to begin..." Here's an excerpt from the report: Lavoisier's list of elements, published in 1789, five years before his execution, had 33 entries. Of those, 23 -- a fifth of the total now recognized -- have stood the test of time. Some, like gold, iron and sulphur, had been known since ancient days. Others, like manganese, molybdenum and tungsten, were recent discoveries. What the list did not have was a structure. It was, avant la lettre, a stamp collection. But the album was missing.

Creating that album, filling it and understanding why it is the way it is took a century and a half. It is now, though, a familiar feature of every high-school science laboratory. Its rows and columns of rectangles, each containing a one- or two-letter abbreviation of the name of an element, together with its sequential atomic number, represent an order and underlying structure to the universe that would have astonished Lavoisier. It is little exaggeration to say that almost everything in modern science is connected, usually at only one or two removes, to the periodic table.

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Russia Limits Operations of Foreign Communications Satellite Operators
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's approval-required department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: This week, the Russian government has published a document outlining new rules that limit foreign communications satellite operators inside the country. The Russian government will require all foreign communications satellite companies to pass all incoming traffic through a ground gateway station. This means satellite operators won't be able to beam communications directly to customers without going through a ground station first. The Russian government cited an espionage threat of allowing foreign satellite companies to transmit data directly within the country's border, but critics of the Kremlin regime say the new requirement will enable Russian government agencies to intercept any incoming traffic. The new rules, set to enter into effect in six months, will also force all foreign communications satellite companies to obtain a permit from Russian authorities even before operating in the country. The Russian Defense Ministry, the Federal Security Service (FSB), and Federal Protective Service (FSO) will be in charge of reviewing applicants.

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Qbot Malware Resurfaces In New Attack Against Businesses
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 07:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's back-from-the-dead department:
itwbennett writes: Security researchers at Varonis have uncovered a new attack using a new version of the venerable Qbot malware that "creates scheduled tasks and adds entries to the system registry to achieve persistence," writes Lucian Constantin, reporting on the attack for CSO. "The malware then starts recording all keystrokes typed by users, steals credentials and authentication cookies saved inside browsers, and injects malicious code into other processes to search for and steal financial-related text strings." The researchers "found logs showing 2,726 unique victim IP addresses," writes Constantin, but because "computers inside an organization typically access the internet through a shared IP address, the researchers believe the number of individually infected systems to be much larger." The malware first appeared in 2009 and was found to be uploading 2GB of stolen confidential information to its FTP servers each week by April 2010 from private and public sector computers, including 1,100 on the NHS network in the UK. A modified version of the malware resurfaced in April 2016 that was believed to have infected more than 54,000 PCs in thousands of organizations around the world. As Varonis now reports, Qbot is making yet another comeback.

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Facebook, Twitter, and Google Still Aren't Doing Enough About Disinformation, EU Says
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-good-enough department:
Facebook, Twitter, and Google still aren't doing enough to battle disinformation on their platforms, European Union officials said in a statement released this week. "As part of a plan to fight disinformation on social media, the companies signed on to a voluntary proposal to crack down on the problem last year, which included making plans to increase transparency and fight fake accounts," reports The Verge. "The European Commission is now publicizing monthly progress reports on the topic, and has released the first, covering January." From the report: In the statement, the officials criticized the companies' responses, saying "we need to see more progress." "Platforms have not provided enough details showing that new policies and tools are being deployed in a timely manner and with sufficient resources across all EU Member States," the statement said. "The reports provide too little information on the actual results of the measures already taken."

Facebook, Twitter, and Google were each singled out for not providing enough information in their reports to officials, who said in today's statement that they remain "concerned by the situation." The statement pressed the platforms to move faster ahead of European Parliament elections in May. In an accompanying op-ed in The Guardian this week, EU commissioners said, "if we do not see sufficient long-term progress, we reserve the right to reconsider our policy options -- including possible regulation."

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Google's Sidewalk Labs Thinks a Reinvented Awning Will Fix Toronto's Winter
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
One of the prototypes Alphabet's Sidewalk Labs is working on for its planned neighborhood on Toronto's waterfront is a hexagonal paving system. "The slabs are porous and heated, which may keep snow and ice at bay without salting," reports Engadget. "They're easy to replace, and include LED lights that can, for instance, help direct traffic flow during construction or mark street closures." From the report: Sidewalk will also demonstrate what it's calling a Building Raincoat, an awning it says will help protect sidewalks from wind, rain, sun and snow to make outdoor space usable throughout the year. It attaches to the sides of buildings and is fixed to ground anchors. It's made from a durable, lightweight and transparent plastic called ETFE (Ethylene Tetrafluoroethylene).

In addition, Sidewalk will have a number of art installations at the public event, which "use lighting, projection mapping, mud and other techniques to reflect on relationships between humans and animals in public space, and the broader connection of ecology and urbanism." Some of the works will be projected onto the awning. Along with the prototypes, Sidewalk will discuss some of its broader ideas about how to make its neighborhood livable and accessible, in part through affordable housing and its transit system.

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Tim Cook To Investors: Apple is Working on Future Products That Will 'Blow You Away'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 04:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
Speaking to investors on Friday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said he has "never been more optimistic" about where the company is today and where it's heading. He said the company is "planting seeds" and "rolling the dice" on future products that will just "blow you away." A story adds: Cook went on to say that Apple's eventual goal is to be able reduce the price of the 2018 Retina MacBook Air, which currently starts at $1,200. In reference to the Apple Watch and the AirPods, Cook said there's a "long, great roadmap" of "fantastic" products on the horizon. [...] On the topic of services, Cook said Apple is well on its way towards meeting the goal it set in 2016, which was to double its $25 billion revenue by 2020.

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Comcast Set Mobile Pins To '0000,' Helping Attackers Steal Phone Numbers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's number-porting-attacks department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A bad security decision by Comcast on the company's mobile phone service made it easier for attackers to port victims' cell phone numbers to different carriers. Comcast in 2017 launched Xfinity Mobile, a cellular service that uses the Verizon Wireless network and Comcast Wi-Fi hotspots. Comcast has signed up 1.2 million mobile subscribers but took a shortcut in the system that lets users switch from Comcast to other carriers. To port a phone line from Comcast to another wireless carrier, a customer needs to know his or her Comcast mobile account number. Carriers generally use PINs to verify that a customer seeking to port a number actually owns the number. But Comcast reportedly set the PIN to 0000 for all its customers, and there was apparently no way for customers to change it. That means that an attacker who acquired a victim's Comcast account number could easily port the victim's phone number to another carrier. Comcast told Ars that "less than 30" customers were affected by the problem, that it has implemented a fix, and that the company will eventually roll out a real PIN-based system to further protect customers. But Comcast declined to describe the recent fix in any way, saying that information could help attackers. Comcast also did not say when its new PIN-based system will be ready. Here's what Comcast had to say about the changes it's made and will make: "We have also implemented a solution that provides additional safeguards around our porting process, and we're working aggressively towards a PIN-based solution. We are reaching out to impacted customers to apologize and work with them to address the issue. We take this very seriously, and our fraud detection and prevention methods, policies and procedures are continually being reviewed, tested and refined."

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Microsoft Builds a Chat Bot To Match Patients To Clinical Trials
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mix-and-match department:
Microsoft has built a "Clinical Trials Bot" that does just as the name implies: suggests links to trials that best match the patients' needs. The bot "lets patients and doctors search for studies related to a disease and then answer a succession of text questions," reports Bloomberg. "Drugmakers can also use it to find test subjects." From the report: Microsoft won't release the bot as its own product. Instead, the software giant is talking to pharmaceutical companies that it hopes will use the bot to find trial participants, while pitching it to other partners that could turn the technology into a tool for patients, said Hadas Bitran, group manager of Microsoft Healthcare Israel. Bitran declined to name possible partners because no deals have been agreed yet. The project is part of a larger Microsoft health-care bot initiative that's helped partners build automatic chat programs for things like triaging patients and answering questions about insurance benefits. The clinical trials bot was accepted as part of the U.S. White House Presidential Innovation Fellows program and Bitran showed it on Thursday at a closed door event at the White House. She will demonstrate the tech publicly on Friday during a session at the U.S. Census Bureau.

< article continued at Slashdot's mix-and-match department >

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Canada Allows US Extradition of Huawei CFO To Proceed
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's slow-moving-justice-system department:
The Canadian government has allowed for the extradition proceedings against the CFO of Huawei to proceed. "Today, department of Justice Canada officials issued an authority to proceed, formally commencing an extradition process in the case of Ms. Meng Wanzhou," the government said in a statement. Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada in December at the request of American authorities, who allege that she violated U.S. sanctions against Iran. From the report: China, whose relations with Canada have deteriorated badly over the affair, denounced the decision and repeated previous demands for Meng's release. Legal experts had predicted Ottawa would give the go-ahead for extradition proceedings, given the close judicial relationship between Canada and the United States. It could be years though before Meng is ever sent to the United States, since Canada's slow-moving justice system allows many decisions to be appealed. Meng's lawyers said they were disappointed and described the U.S. charges as politically motivated.

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Amazon To Launch New Grocery-Store Business Separate From Whole Foods
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 01:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's currently-in-the-works department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Wall Street Journal: Amazon is planning to open dozens of grocery stores in several major U.S. cities (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source), according to people familiar with the matter, as the retail giant looks to broaden its reach in the food business. The company plans to open its first grocery store in Los Angeles as early as the end of the year, one person said. Amazon has already signed leases for at least two other grocery locations with openings planned for early next year, this person said. The new stores would be distinct from the company's upscale Whole Foods Market brand, though it is unclear whether the new grocery chain would carry the Amazon name. Amazon is also exploring an acquisition strategy to widen the new supermarket brand by purchasing regional grocery chains with about a dozen stores under operation, one person said. The new stores aren't intended to compete directly with Whole Foods, these people said. The new chain would offer a wider variety of products than what is on the shelves at the more upscale Whole Foods stores. The company is reportedly in talks to open grocery stores in shopping centers in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Philadelphia.

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Facebook Admits 18% of Research Spyware Users Were Teens -- Not Less Than 5% It Claimed Earlier This Year
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's morally-bankrupt department:
Josh Constine, writing for TechCrunch: Facebook has changed its story after initially trying to downplay how it targeted teens with its Research program that a TechCrunch investigation revealed was paying them gift cards to monitor all their mobile app usage and browser traffic. "Less than 5 percent of the people who chose to participate in this market research program were teens," a Facebook spokesperson told TechCrunch and many other news outlets in a damage control effort 7 hours after we published our report on January 29th. At the time, Facebook claimed that it had removed its Research app from iOS. The next morning we learned that wasn't true, as Apple had already forcibly blocked the Facebook Research app for violating its Enterprise Certificate program that supposed to reserved for companies distributing internal apps to employees.

It turns out that wasn't the only time Facebook deceived the public in its response regarding the Research VPN scandal. TechCrunch has obtained Facebook's unpublished February 21st response to questions about the Research program in a letter from Senator Mark Warner. [...] In the response from Facebook's VP of US public policy Kevin Martin, the company admits that "At the time we ended the Facebook Research App on Apple's iOS platform, less than 5 percent of the people sharing data with us through this program were teens. Analysis shows that number is about 18 percent when you look at the complete lifetime of the program, and also add people who had become inactive and uninstalled the app."

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Microsoft Excel Can Now Turn Pictures of Tables Into Actual, Editable Tables
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-features department:
Microsoft has rolled out a new feature to Excel's Android app that makes it easy to capture data. From a report: Excel now lets you take pictures of a document/paper in real life, crop the picture, and turn that into an actual, editable data on Excel. After capturing the data, you can edit the data to make sure Excel's image recognition is 100% accurate, and make any changes if some of the scanned data were incorrect. The company says it will roll out this feature to Excel for iOS app soon.

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Ridley Scott's 'Alien' Will Finally be Released in 4K HDR For Its 40th Anniversary
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 12:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's fiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiinaly department:
The long wait is over for sci-fi and horror film buffs: the 1979 classic "Alien" will be released in 4K and HDR for the film's 40th anniversary. The remaster will be available on an UltraHD Blu-ray disc. From a report: 20th Century Fox and partners embarked on an effort to remaster the film in 4K last year, under supervision by Pam Dery and Director Ridley Scott. "Alien" was originally shot on 35mm film, and the remaster was made using the original negative. Remastering older films for the UltraHD era has sometimes proven challenging for studios. In many cases, original film masters have degraded, and 4K on a 65-inch TV is adept at revealing graininess and other flaws that result from aged or damaged film.

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Know-It-All Robot Shuts Down Dubious Family Texts
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-idea department:
Biting your tongue at yet another questionable article shared in your message group? Add artificial-intelligence fact-checker Meiyu, she will jump in with 'False.' From a report: The artificial-intelligence bot will interject in real time when she detects posts about the news, pointing out factual errors and alternative interpretations. The technology, created by Taiwanese developers, is a step ahead of most fact-checking apps, including versions offered in Brazil and Indonesia, which don't jump into conversations. Other popular fact-checkers, such as Snopes in the U.S., are public databases that users consult for reviews of news items. Meiyu quickly became hot in Taiwan, which had just gone through divisive local elections and is rife with rumors of China's interference in social media. The bot now has more than 110,000 users on the Japanese messaging app Line, which covers about 90% of the mobile-messaging market in Taiwan.

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Australia's Hottest Summer Beats Previous Record by 'Large Margin'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 11:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's growing-concern department:
As Australia welcomes the first day of autumn with a sigh of relief, the summer statistics have arrived from the Bureau of Meteorology confirming suspicions that the country just sweated through it's hottest-ever summer. From a report: The national mean temperature for summer smashed the 1961-1990 average by a whopping 2.14C, almost a full degree above the previous hottest summer on record (2012-2013), which was 1.28 degrees above the old average. The mean maximum temperature also beat the 2012-2013 mean maximum by a similar margin (2.61 degrees above average compared to 1.64 degrees above). "It was exceptionally warm across most of the country," the weather bureau's summary states, with NSW, Victoria, Western Australia and the Northern Territory all recording their hottest-ever summer as severe and lengthy heatwaves spread across much of the country in December and January.

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China Bans 23 Million From Buying Travel Tickets as Part of 'Social Credit' System
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's my-way-or-highway department:
China blocked 23 million "discredited" travelers from buying plane or train tickets last year as part of the country's controversial "social credit" system aimed at improving the behavior of citizens. From a report: According to the National Public Credit Information Centre's 2018 report, 17.5 million people were banned from buying flights and 5.5 million barred from purchasing high-speed train tickets because of social credit offences. The report released last week said: "Once discredited, limited everywhere." The social credit system aims to incentivize "trustworthy" behavior through penalties as well as rewards. According to a government document about the system dating from 2014, the aim is to "allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step." Social credit offenses range from not paying individual taxes or fines to spreading false information and taking drugs.

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Ebay Weighs Selling Off Businesses After Pressure From Activist Investors
Posted by News Fetcher on March 01 '19 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Ebay may be paving the way to auction off some of its businesses. The e-commerce company said Friday that it is initiating a strategic review of its assets, including ticket sales site StubHub and the Classifieds Group, after facing pressure from activist investors to spin off or sell these properties. From a report: Ebay is also adding two directors to its board, including Jesse Cohn of Elliott Management, a hedge fund that disclosed a 4% stake in the company in January and began agitating for change.
Devin Wenig, Ebay's president and CEO, said in a statement Friday that these moves are the result of "two months" of dialogue between the company and investors. "The bottom line is that we all share common ground: We see tremendous opportunity ahead and want to see Ebay's full potential realized over the long-term," Wenig said. Last month, eBay announced a restructuring that would bring various regional marketplace units under one global leadership team.

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