By msmash from Slashdot's internet-freedom department
Roughly two-thirds of the world's internet users live under regimes of government censorship, according to a report from Freedom House, a pro-democracy think tank. The report adds that internet freedom declined worldwide for a sixth consecutive year in 2016 with the governments increasingly crack down on social media services and messaging apps. From a report on NPR: "In a new development, the most routinely targeted tools this year were instant messaging and calling platforms, with restrictions often imposed during times of protests or due to national security concerns," the report says. WhatsApp emerged as the most-blocked app, facing restrictions in 12 of the 65 studied countries. The report's scope covers the experiences of some 88 percent of the world's Internet users. And of all 65 countries reviewed, Internet freedom in 34 -- more than half -- has been on a decline over the past year. Particular downturns were marked in Uganda, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Ecuador and Libya. Facebook users were arrested in 27 countries, more than any other app or platform. And such arrests are spreading. Since June of last year, police in 38 countries have arrested people for what they said on social media -- surpassing even the 21 countries, where people were arrested for what they published on more traditional platforms like blogs and news sites. "Some supposed offenses were quite petty, illustrating both the sensitivity of some regimes and the broad discretion given to police and prosecutors under applicable laws," the report says.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's door-to-door-services department
Amazon today said it has expanded its Home Services business to 20 new cities across the country. Home Services is an under-the-radar offering from Amazon that lets customers hire professionals for things like plumbing, furniture assembly, car repair, home cleaning, and more. From a report on ArsTechnica:Home Services launched in 2015 and is now available in cities including Boulder, Colorado; New Haven, Connecticut; Indianapolis, Indiana; Trenton, New Jersey; and San Antonio, Texas (among other places). The expansion comes as Amazon seeks applicants for a new position called Home Assistant. The Seattle Times reported a couple of listings in the Seattle area for those jobs, which call for applicants with hospitality or service experience. Home Assistants would be "helping Amazon customers keep their home" by "tidying up around the home, laundry, and helping put groceries and essentials like toilet paper and paper towels away."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's facebook-fake-news-problem department
Facebook has been concerned about fake news stories that circulate on its social platform and how often such incidents occur. The company has had high-level internal debates over the matter since May, discussing different options to curb movements of hoax and false stories. Gizmodo reports Monday that Facebook executives conducted a wide-ranging review of products and policies earlier this year with "the goal of eliminating any appearance of political bias." The company even had a major update for the News Feed planned which could have supposedly filtered fake stories, but the update never saw the light of the day because it was afraid to use it. From the report:One source said high-ranking officials were briefed on a planned News Feed update that would have identified fake or hoax news stories, but disproportionately impacted right-wing news sites by downgrading or removing that content from people's feeds. According to the source, the update was shelved and never released to the public. It's unclear if the update had other deficiencies that caused it to be scrubbed. "They absolutely have the tools to shut down fake news," said the source, who asked to remain anonymous citing fear of retribution from the company. The source added, "there was a lot of fear about upsetting conservatives after Trending Topics," and that "a lot of product decisions got caught up in that." In an emailed statement, Facebook did not answer Gizmodo's direct questions about whether the company built a News Feed update that was capable of identifying fake or hoax news stories, nor whether such an update would disproportionately impact right-wing or conservative-leaning sites. Instead, Facebook said it "did not build and withhold any News Feed changes based on their potential impact on any one political party."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's more-VR-awesomeness department
Valve is planning to introduce beta versions of its SteamVR platform for Mac OSX and Linux users within a few months, RoadToVr reports citing an executive. From the report:One thing's for sure, if you're a PC user wanting to indulge in a spot of immersive entertainment right now, the choice of operating systems on which you can do so are mostly limited to just one. Windows dominates the VR PC landscape right now and that looks set to continue for a while longer. However, Valve will soon move to encourage a diminishing of that monopoly, as it plans to bring SteamVR -- the company's Steam-integrated VR platform -- to both Linux and Mac OSX platforms within the next few months. The initiative was revealed by Valve's Joe Ludwig during a talk at this year's developer-focused Steam Dev Days event in Seattle last month. During the talk, Ludwig outlined the company's view that VR should be as open to innovation as possible, touting the benefits for the long term evolution of virtual reality and how Valve, with OpenVR, are trying to keep what Ludwig calls platform "gatekeepers" from (as they see it) stifling progression in the VR space. Additionally, Ludwig stated that it's been listening to developer and user feedback during SteamVR's first year in consumer hands, and says that they've heard clearly that a version of SteamVR is wanted on other operating systems.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-Microsoft department
Microsoft will finally bring Visual Studio, a "true mobile-first, cloud-first development tool for .NET and C#," to Mac later this month, the company has said. From a report on TechCrunch:The IDE is very similar to the one found on Windows. In fact, that is presumably the point. By making it easy for OS X users to switch back and forth between platforms, Microsoft is able to ensure coders can quickly become desktop agnostic or, barring that, give Windows a try again. From the release: "At its heart, Visual Studio for Mac is a macOS counterpart of the Windows version of Visual Studio. If you enjoy the Visual Studio development experience, but need or want to use macOS, you should feel right at home. Its UX is inspired by Visual Studio, yet designed to look and feel like a native citizen of macOS. And like Visual Studio for Windows, it's complemented by Visual Studio Code for times when you don't need a full IDE, but want a lightweight yet rich standalone source editor.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's calming-carbon department
An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press:
Worldwide emissions of heat-trapping carbon dioxide have flattened out in the past three years, a new study showed Monday, raising hopes that the world is nearing a turning point in the fight against climate change. However, the authors of the study cautioned it's unclear whether the slowdown in CO2 emissions, mainly caused by declining coal use in China, is a permanent trend or a temporary blip...
The study, published in the journal Earth System Science Data, says global CO2 emissions from fossil fuels and industry is projected to grow by just 0.2 percent this year. That would mean emissions have leveled off at about 36 billion metric tons in the past three years even though the world economy has expanded, suggesting the historical bonds between economic gains and emissions growth may have been severed. "This could be the turning point we have hoped for," said David Ray, a professor of carbon management at the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved with the study. "To tackle climate change those bonds must be broken and here we have the first signs that they are at least starting to loosen."
Last week a study suggested earth's plant life is absorbing a greater percentage of global CO2 emissions -- although reductions in China could also be significant. According to the article, almost 30% of the world's carbon emissions come from China.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's magical-map-making department
After Saturday's story about the code samples in the new movie Arrival, an anonymous reader reminded us of this classic essay at Nmap.org:
For reasons unknown, Hollywood has decided that Nmap is the tool to show whenever hacking scenes are needed... While Nmap had been used in some previous obscure movies, it was The Matrix Reloaded which really turned Nmap into a movie star!
Nmap.org has a tradition -- the first person to notify them when new Nmap appears in a new movie wins a signed copy of Nmap Network Scanning "or a T-shirt of your choice from the Zero Day Clothing Nmap Store." (The site adds that "movie script writers, artists, and digital asset managers are also welcome to email Fyodor for advice.") And Nmap.org just added another film, Oliver Stone's new movie about Edward Snowden.
In one early scene, Snowden is given a network security challenge at a CIA training class which is expected to take 5 to 8 hours. But with the help Nmap and a custom Nmap NSE script named ptest.nse, Snowden stuns the professor by completing everything in 38 minutes!
According to the site, even the movie's trailer features Nmap. Anybody else have their own favorite stories about code in the movies?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's car-karma department
Friday EE Times shared the story of a Tesla crash that occurred during a test drive. "The salesperson suggested that my friend not brake, letting the system do the work. It didn't..." One Oregon news site even argues autopiloted Tesla's may actually have a higher crash rate.
But there's also been stories about Teslas that have saved lives -- like the grateful driver whose Model S slammed on the brakes to prevent a collision with a pedestrian, and another man whose Tesla drove him 20 miles to a hospital after he'd suddenly experienced a pulmonary embolism. (Slate wrote a story about the incident titled "Code is My Co-Pilot".) Now an anonymous Slashdot reader asks:
How many successes has the autopilot had in saving life and reducing damage to property? What is the ratio of these successes to the very public failures?
I'd be curious to hear what Slashdot readers think. If you add it all up, are self-driving cars keeping us safer -- or just making us drive more recklessly?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's adult-password-finder department
"Almost every account password was cracked, thanks to the company's poor security practices," reports ZDNet -- even for "deleted" accounts. An anonymous reader quotes their article:
The hack includes 339 million accounts from AdultFriendFinder.com, which the company describes as the "world's largest sex and swinger community [and] also includes over 15 million "deleted" accounts that weren't purged from the databases. On top of that, 62 million accounts from Cams.com, and 7 million from Penthouse.com were stolen, as well as a few million from other smaller properties owned by the company. The data accounts for two decades' worth of data from the company's largest sites, according to breach notification LeakedSource, which obtained the data... The three largest site's SQL databases included usernames, email addresses, and the date of the last visit, and passwords, which were either stored in plaintext or scrambled with the SHA-1 hash function, which by modern standards isn't cryptographically as secure as newer algorithms.
The attack apparently coincides with the discovery of "a local file inclusion flaw on the AdultFriendFinder site, which if successfully exploited could allow an attacker to remotely run malicious code on the web server. " Ironically, Friend Finder Networks doesn't even own Penthouse.com anymore. They sold the site to a new owner last February.Read Replies (0)