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China Launches Second Space Lab
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 10:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's it's-on department:
Reader hackingbear writes: China's next space laboratory, Tiangong-2 launched from the country's Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center today at 10:04 a.m. EDT (1404 GMT) on a Long March 2F carrier rocket. Like its predecessor Tiangong-1, Tiangong-2 is an orbiting space lab -- but this latest model has made several improvements in the series. Among the advances: astronauts can remain on the station up to 30 days; New systems allow in orbit refueling of propellant; and 14 new experiments in a wide range of sciences including composite material fabrication, advanced-plant cultivation, gamma ray burst polarization, fluid physics, space-to-earth quantum communications. The space lab is also equipped with a cold atom space clock, that has an estimated precision of 10 to the power of minus 16 seconds, or a one-second error every 30 million years, enhancing accuracy of time-keeping in space by one to two orders of magnitudes. This exactitude will help measure previously undetectable fluctuations for experiments conducted in zero-gravity.The Tiangong 2, while is an experimental space station, is still operational. The astronauts that would come on board next month are to spend a full month up there -- a longer period of time than possible on Tiangong 1.

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Microsoft Reproduces Google's Battery Life Test To Show Edge Beats Chrome
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 10:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's ego-boost department:
Earlier this year, Microsoft said that its Edge browser was more power efficient than Google's Chrome, a claim that Google refuted with its own findings. But the debate isn't over. An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is at it again -- touting Edge as the most battery-efficient browser on Windows 10. The company has rerun its battery tests from the previous quarter using the latest versions of the major browsers, open-sourced its lab test on GitHub, and published the full methodology. But this time, Microsoft says it also replicated one of Google's tests to show that Edge lasts longer than Chrome, Firefox, and Opera.

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Pandora Has Announced Its $5 Subscription Service
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 10:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's making-changes department:
Peter Kafka, writing for Recode: Earlier this week, Pandora signed two of the three big music labels to deals that will let it launch new streaming music services. Now it is launching one of them: Pandora Plus, an "ad-free radio experience with dramatically increased functionality," which will sell for $5 a month. Most Pandora users won't be able to listen to the service today: A Pandora rep says the service is going live to about 1 percent of its user base today and won't fully roll out to all of its users for another month or so. In the meantime, Pandora is still negotiating with Warner Music Group, the remaining big music label that hasn't signed a deal with the streaming service. Sources say the two sides have an agreement in principle, but were still papering the deal late last night -- apparently Pandora didn't want to wait before it announced the new service. Pandora also wants to launch a $10-a-month service, but that one may not launch for months. The new $5 service replaces Pandora's existing $5 ad-free service and has two new features: The ability to skip as many songs as you want and the option to download a limited number of songs for offline listening.

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Alibaba Engineers Fired for Mooncake Hacking
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 08:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's over-the-moon department:
On the eve of Mid-Autumn Festival, some people will go to great lengths to get mooncakes, the traditional gift for family, friends and colleagues. At Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., four engineers tried to rig the distribution system of the e-commerce giant's mooncake selloff -- and were fired for their effort (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source), reports WSJ. From the report: Alibaba confirmed it fired the four this week, after they hacked into the internal website that allows employees to purchase the company's signature mooncakes, with an orange fluffy Alibaba mascot inside. The Hangzhou-based company allocates one free box to each employee for the holiday, and sells extras on the site at cost -- 59 yuan (about $9) for a box of four.

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Android Wear Hopefuls Call Timeout On Smartwatches
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 07:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's it's-time department:
Things are not looking good for Google's Android Wear. Three of the top Android Wear smartwatches maker have confirmed that they won't be releasing a smartwatch in the waning months of the year. From a CNET report:While LG launched a watch in the first half, it'll have been more than a year since Huawei and Motorola offered an update on their wearables. That marks a reversal from last year, when all three companies launched Android Wear smartwatches at the early September IFA trade show in Berlin in what was supposed to be a resurgence of the platform. At this year's show, Chinese maker Asus was the only major tech company to return with a new Android Wear watch. The poor showing underscores the general lack of enthusiasm for smartwatches, which the industry has touted as the next hot trend in tech. Consumers, however, continue to question the usefulness of these gadgets. Even Apple, which leads the market for smartwatches, saw its shipments fall 55 percent from a year ago in the second quarter, according to IDC. "Smartwatches still have yet to make a significant impression on consumers as a must-have device," said Ramon Llamas, an analyst at IDC. Time stands still for some in the smartwatch market.

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Mobileye Says Tesla Was Dropped Because of Safety Concerns
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 07:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's reality-check department:
An anonymous reader writes: On Wednesday, Mobileye revealed that it ended its relationship with Tesla because "it was pushing the envelope in terms of safety." Mobileye's CTO and co-founder Amnon Shashua told Reuters that the electric vehicle maker was using his company's machine vision sensor system in applications for which it had not been designed. "No matter how you spin it, (Autopilot) is not designed for that. It is a driver assistance system and not a driverless system," Shashua said. In a statement to Reuters, Tesla said that it has "continuously educated customers on the use of the features, reminding them that they're responsible to keep their hands on the wheel and remain alert and present when using Autopilot" and that the system has never been described as autonomous or self-driving. (This statement appears to be at odds with statements made by Musk at shareholder meetings.) It is also emerging that the crash which cost Joshua Brown his life in May of this year was unlikely to have been the first such fatal crash involving Tesla's Autopilot. In January of this year in China, a Tesla ploughed into the back of a stationary truck at speed, killing the driver.

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Apple Explores the Idea Of Killing Headphone Jack On the MacBook Pro
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 06:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's kill-everything department:
Less than two weeks after Apple unveiled its headphone jack-less iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, the company is already exploring the idea of doing the same on its flagship computing lineup. An anonymous reader shares a report on The Next Web: Apple might be going all-in with the wireless revolution as the company is now allegedly considering killing the headphone jack on the MacBook Pro. Users are reporting that as of recently Apple has been asking them to fill in a survey about the way they use their MacBook Pro and one of the questions pertains particularly to the headphone jack. Shared by Blake A. via Twitter, the question reads "Do you ever use the headphone port on your MacBook Pro with Retina display?", suggesting Apple is exploring going jackless with its laptops in the future. Given the Cupertino company just ditched the audio jack on the iPhone 7, the change is likely to eventually come to other Apple products too -- the real question is when.

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FBI Director James Comey: Cover Up Your Webcam
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 06:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sticky-note department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Hill: The head of the FBI on Wednesday defended putting a piece of tape over his personal laptop's webcam, claiming the security step was a common sense one that most should take. "There's some sensible things you should be doing, and that's one of them," Director James Comey said during a conference at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. "You go into any government office and we all have the little camera things that sit on top of the screen," he added. "They all have a little lid that closes down on them. "You do that so that people who don't have authority don't look at you. I think that's a good thing." Comey was pilloried online earlier this year, after he revealed that he puts a piece of tap over his laptop camera to keep away prying eyes. The precaution is a common one among security advocates, given the relative ease of hacking laptop cameras. But many found it ironic for Comey, who this year launched a high profile battle against Apple to gain access to data locked inside of the iPhone used by one of the San Bernardino, Calif., terrorists. Many viewed that fight as a referendum on digital privacy.

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None of Your Pixelated or Blurred Information Will Stay Safe On The Internet
Posted by News Fetcher on September 15 '16 at 03:32 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's prescription-glasses department:
The University of Texas at Austin and Cornell University are saying blurred or pixelated images are not as safe as they may seem. As machine learning technology improves, the methods used to hide sensitive information become less secure. Quartz reports: Using simple deep learning tools, the three-person team was able to identify obfuscated faces and numbers with alarming accuracy. On an industry standard dataset where humans had 0.19% chance of identifying a face, the algorithm had 71% accuracy (or 83% if allowed to guess five times). The algorithm doesn't produce a deblurred image -- it simply identifies what it sees in the obscured photo, based on information it already knows. The approach works with blurred and pixelated images, as well as P3, a type of JPEG encryption pitched as a secure way to hide information. The attack uses Torch (an open-source deep learning library), Torch templates for neural networks, and standard open-source data. To build the attacks that identified faces in YouTube videos, researchers took publicly-available pictures and blurred the faces with YouTube's video tool. They then fed the algorithm both sets of images, so it could learn how to correlate blur patterns to the unobscured faces. When given different images of the same people, the algorithm could determine their identity with 57% accuracy, or 85% percent when given five chances. The report mentions Max Planck Institute's work on identifying people in blurred Facebook photos. The difference between the two research is that UT and Cornell's research is much more simple, and "shows how weak these privacy methods really are."

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Samsung Stops Airing Galaxy Note 7 Commercials, Preps Early Launch of Galaxy S8
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 11:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's damage-control department:
An anonymous reader writes: Given the bad press surrounding Samsung in regard to the faulty Galaxy Note 7 batteries, the company appears to have stopped airing Galaxy Note 7 commercials on TV. You know it's bad when they have reportedly stopped airing commercials in their home country, South Korea. One of the reasons behind the move is because sales of the Galaxy Note 7 have been suspended for over a week now, and will not be resuming until there is enough inventory to replace all Galaxy Note 7 units that have already been shipped. Some analysts believe sales might not be resumed until next month. Samsung will be using the ad space to market their other products like TVs and refrigerators. In addition, the company may be looking to launch the successor to the Galaxy S7 ahead of schedule. Kim Sang-pyo, an analyst for KB Investment and Securities said in a report: "If Samsung's flagship smartphone launch is delayed to the end of the first quarter of next year, the profitability of the mobile business division could be worsened next year," states the analyst. SamMobile also recently revealed the new model numbers for the Galaxy S8: the SM-G950 and the SM-G955. One model will feature a smaller screen, the other larger -- similar to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge, though both phones might have a curved display this time around.

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The Sixth Mass Extinction Will Hit The Biggest Animals The Hardest, Says Stanford Study
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 08:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-goes-around-comes-around department:
The sixth mass extinction will be an event triggered by people and will hit the biggest animals the hardest. "There is no past event that looks biologically like what's happening today," says lead study author Jonathan Payne of Stanford University. "Processes like warming and ocean acidification are not the dominant cause of threat in the modern ocean." Gizmodo reports: A paleontologist by training, Payne and his research group started compiling data on modern marine organisms several years back, in order to study how body size and ecological traits have changed over evolutionary time. Payne, who has studied the End Permian extinction event that wiped out more than 95 percent of all marine species 250 million years ago, soon realized that his dataset -- which included living and extinct members of nearly 2,500 marine genera -- could serve another purpose. By comparing the extinction threat faced by modern marine genera (as indicated by their official conservation status) with their ancestral counterparts, Payne and his colleagues discovered that modern extinction threat is more strongly associated with body size. Larger animals face a greater risk of disappearing than smaller animals. Today, the dominant driver of marine extinction is people, and people aren't terribly selective about which environments they pluck animals from. We go for the biggest game, fishing down the food web and removing top predators. Within species, too, we tend to hunt the largest individuals, which is why North Atlantic cod and Chesapeake oysters were historically much larger. "In a sense, we're driving evolution [toward smaller individuals]," Payne said. What's worth noting is that the Stanford researchers only looked at organisms whose extinction risk has been assessed by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which creates a bias towards big, charismatic groups like fish, sea turtles, marine mammals, etc. The marine genera that were analyzed only had fossil counterparts, too. Gizmodo also notes that the study "excluded corals, which are currently in the midst of a catastrophic, global die-off."

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A Teenage Hacker Figured Out How To Get Free Data On His Phone
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 05:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unlimited-data department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Jacob Ajit is 17 and he just hacked his way to getting free phone data, presumably so that he can do whatever it is that teens do online these days without alerting his parents with overage fees. According to a Medium post Ajit posted on Wednesday, he made his discovery while playing around with a prepaid T-Mobile phone with no service. The phone was still able to connect to the network, although it would only take him to a T-Mobile portal asking him to renew the prepaid phone plan. For some reason, though, Ajit wrote that his internet speed test app still worked, albeit through a T-Mobile server. Ajit figured out that he was able to access media sent from any folder labelled "/speedtest," possibly because T-Mobile whitelists media files from speed tests regardless of the host. He tested his theory by setting up a "/speedtest" folder on his own site and filled it with media, including a Taylor Swift music video, which he was able to access. Ajit writes that he then created a proxy server that allows users to access any site with this method. All a T-Mobile user has to do is go to this page and input any URL they want to visit. "Just like that, I now had access to data throughout the T-Mobile network without maintaining any sort of formal payments or contract," Ajit wrote on Medium. "Just my phone's radios talking to the network's radios, free of any artificial shackles."

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Hacker George Hotz Unveils $999 Self-Driving Add-On
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 05:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's off-the-shelf-electronics department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PC Magazine: Hacker George Hotz is gearing up to launch his automotive AI start-up's first official product. In December, the 26-year-old -- known for infiltrating Apple's iPhone and Sony's PlayStation 3J -- moved on to bigger things: turning a 2016 Acura ILX into an autonomous vehicle. According to Bloomberg, Hotz outfitted the car with a laser-based radar (lidar) system, a camera, a 21.5-inch screen, a "tangle of electronics," and a joystick attached to a wooden board. Nine months later, the famed hacker this week unveiled the Comma One. As described by TechCrunch, the $999 add-on comes with a $24 monthly subscription fee for software that can pilot a car for miles without a driver touching the wheel, brake, or gas. But unlike systems currently under development by Google, Tesla, and nearly every major vehicle manufacturer, Comma.ai's "shippable" Comma One does not require users to buy a new car. "It's fully functional. It's about on par with Tesla Autopilot," Hotz said during this week's TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco.

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EU Commission Proposes Mandatory Piracy Filters For Online Services
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 04:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's intentionally-vague department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: During his State of the Union address today, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker announced several plans (PDF) to modernize copyright law in Europe. One of the suggestions that has a lot of people worried is Article 13, which requires online services to police pirated content. This means that online services, which deal with large volumes of user-uploaded content, must use fingerprinting and filtering mechanisms to block copyright infringing files. While the Commission stresses that small content platforms won't be subject to the requirement, the proposal doesn't define what "small" means. It also fails to define what "appropriate" or "effective" content recognition systems are, creating a fair bit of uncertainty. Commenting on the proposal, Digital rights group EDRi says that it will put many European companies at risk while endangering users' right to free speech. "The text that was launched today includes a proposal to potentially filter all uploads to the Internet in Europe. The draft text would destroy users' rights and legal certainty for European hosting companies," EDRi notes. The Commission, however, notes that the changes are needed to reinforce the negotiating position of copyright holders, so they can sign licensing agreements with services that provide access to user uploaded content.

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Bank of America Analysts Say There's A 50% Chance We Live In The Matrix
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 04:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pseudoscience department:
Bank of America analysts have suggested that there is a 20 to 50 percent chance that the world around us is a "Matrix-style virtual reality." The report stated, "It is conceivable that with advancements in artificial intelligence, virtual reality, and computing power, members of future civilizations could have decided to run a simulation of their ancestors." The idea is certainly nothing new, as many influential visionaries have come to similar theories. What some may find most unusual about the report is who issued it. According to Business Insider, Merrill Lynch, Bank of America's wealth management company, sent out a briefing to investors outlining their Matrix theory. In response, Slashdot reader marmot7 writes: Personally, I'd like to see all that brain power go toward a better and more stable banking system, not toward the promoting the nihilistic and self-indulgent idea that this might be the Matrix. Don't worry that banks behave in ways that create instability, it's not real. Just relax and enjoy the ones and zeroes. I have no doubt there are good, well meaning people there. I just don't really need my bank weighing in on the mystery of reality any more than I need them to come up with a unified theory of physics at long last. Well, unless it's in their spare time then by all means.

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It's Not Just Wells Fargo - How Sales Targets Can Encourage Wrongdoing
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 03:01 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's false-progress department:
The revelation of Wells Fargo employees opening more than two million unauthorized customers accounts to hit the sales target might have come as a shock to many, but they are just the tip of a very old problem the industry has been facing. Bloomberg has an article today in which documents several similar incidents when employees went a little inventive to keep their jobs afloat. Marc Hodak, an adjunct professor of business ethics at NYU's Stern School of Business and managing director of Hodak Value Advisors says, "Companies tend to forget that an incentive to perform is identical to an incentive to cheat." In the early '90s, Sears "switched the compensation system in its auto centers from an hourly wage to a system that had more upside potential based on commissions and sales quotas." In the wake of this program, Sears customers were reported to keep running to the store for cheap brake jobs. The Bausch & Lomb scandal was also similar, with the employees were found manipulating earnings to reach financial goals using a trick called "channel stuffing" (in which someone ships goods and then book them as sales without having actually sold them. There are several similar examples in the story. From the artic;e:"Every large organization in the world has got these land mines of perverse incentives," said Hodak. "It's just a matter of degree to which of these things are allowed to run amok" because of those three factors. Barry Schwartz, an emeritus professor of psychology at Swarthmore College, goes farther: "Incentives poison people's will to do the right thing. It's the worst way to get people to do the things you want to do."

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Colin Powell's Private Email Account Has Been Hacked
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 03:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's password-protected department:
According to The New York Times, Former Secretary of State Colin Powell has been hacked and a password-protected archive of his personal emails has been published by DC Leaks. The Verge reports: DC Leaks is the same site that first published emails stolen from the Democratic National Committee, which many took as an explicit effort to influence the U.S. election process. Many experts in the U.S. intelligence apparatus have attributed that attack to the Russian government, although no public attribution has been made. Thus far, there's no evidence tying Powell's hack to Russia, and similar hacks have been carried out by mischievous teens without government affiliation. The immediate result of the hack has been political fallout for Powell himself. Last night, BuzzFeed News reported on an email in which Powell called Republican nominee Donald Trump a "national disgrace," and another in which he said the candidate was "in the process of destroying himself."

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NYC Threatens To Sue Verizon Over FiOS Shortfalls
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 03:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's handshake-deal department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: New York City officials yesterday notified Verizon that the company is in default of an agreement to bring fiber connections to all households in the city and could file a lawsuit against the company. The road to a potential lawsuit has been a long one. In June 2015, New York released an audit that found Verizon failed to meet a commitment to extend FiOS to every household in the five boroughs by June 2014. City officials and Verizon have been trying to resolve the matter since then with no success, as Verizon says that it hasn't actually broken the agreement. The default letter (full text) sent yesterday by the city Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications (DoITT) says Verizon has failed to pass all residential buildings in the city with fiber. As of October 2015, there were at least 38,551 addresses where Verizon hadn't fulfilled installation service requests that were more than a year old, the letter said. "Moreover, Verizon improperly reduced, from $50 million to $15 million, the performance bond required [by] the Agreement on the basis of Verizon's incorrect representations that Verizon had met the prescribed deployment schedule, when in fact it had not," the letter said. City officials demanded that Verizon restore the bond and wants a response within 30 days. The default letter also accuses Verizon of failing to make records related to its provision of cable service available to the city during its audit. "Officials say they could sue Verizon unless the carrier shows clear plans for stepping up installations," and that the notice is the first step in that process, The Wall Street Journal reported. The citywide fiber agreement lets NYC seek monetary damages from Verizon if it fails to deliver on the fiber promises.

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Google Is Offering $200K To Hack Android Phones Using Email and A Phone Number
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 01:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's squashed-bugs department:
Google is feeling so confident about the security of their latest Android 7.0 Nougat operating system that they're offering $200,000 to anyone who can remotely execute code on a Nexus 6P or 5X running Android 7.0. The Next Web reports: Today, Google is launching the Project Zero Security Contest and awarding over $300,000 in prizes to anyone who can hack Nexus 6P and 5X knowing only the devices' phone number and email address. To be eligible to win, contestants are required to dig up vulnerabilities that can be exploited remotely -- by sending a text message or an email, for instance. All winning participants will be invited to describe the bugs they've discovered in a short technical report that will appear on the Project Zero Blog. The winner will scoop $200,000, while the runner-up will receive $100,000. There's also another $50,000 in the prize pool for any additional winning entries.

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Google-Funded Free Wi-Fi Kiosks Are Scrapping Web Browsing Because Too Many People Were Using it For Porn
Posted by News Fetcher on September 14 '16 at 01:32 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's wi-fi-nazi department:
This is why New Yorkers can't have nice things. LinkNYC, the initiative to install super-fast wifi hubs in New York City, is suspending web browsing on all its tablets after 8 months due to "inappropriate behavior," the company says, according to a report on BusinessInsider. From the article:Google parent company Alphabet funds LinkNYC through its spinoff Sidewalk Labs. "... Some users have been monopolizing the Link tablets and using them inappropriately, preventing others from being able to use them while frustrating the residents and businesses around them," the company writes in a statement. DNAInfo previously reported that people were using the hubs to watch porn.

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