By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department
Federal regulators have proposed loosening real-estate appraisal requirements to enable a majority of U.S. homes to be bought and sold without being evaluated by a licensed human appraiser [the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. That potentially opens the door for cheaper, faster, but largely untested property valuations based on computer algorithms. From a report:
The proposal was made earlier this month by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance. and the Federal Reserve. It would increase to $400,000, from $250,000, the value of homes that can be bought and sold without a tape-measure-toting appraiser visiting a property.
More than two-thirds of U.S. homes sell for $400,000 or less, according to U.S. Census data and the National Association of Realtors. If the regulators' proposal had been in force last year, about 214,000 additional home sales, or some $68 billion worth, could have been made without an appraisal, regulators said in their 69-page proposal.
Some worry, though, that dropping appraisal requirements would introduce new risks into the $10.7 trillion market for home loans. "We still would prefer a human being doing the appraisal," said Lima Ekram, a mortgage-backed securities analyst at Moody's Investors Service. One issue: Automated valuations done by computers are largely unregulated. The 2010 Dodd-Frank financial overhaul required regulators to propose quality control standards for so-called automated valuation models, but they have yet to do so.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-day-another-breach department
Independent security researcher Fabio Castro found data belonging to 32 million customers of SKY Brasil exposed online. "Using the advanced features of the Shodan search engine, he was able to discover multiple servers in Brazil running Elasticsearch that made information available without authentication," reports BleepingComputer. "A cluster of servers called 'digital-logs-prd' attracted the researcher's attention and with a simple command, he listed the indices available, one of them 429.1GB in size." From the report: The file included personally identifiable information of SKY Brasil customers, which featured full name, email address, service login password, client IP address, payment methods, phone number, and street address. SKY Brasil is a telecommunications company that also offers television services, being the second largest provider of pay-TV services in the country, according to statistics from March. In a conversation with BleepingComputer, Castro said that he reported his findings to the company who fixed the problem by restricting access with a password, an operation that takes just a few minutes. Because the server has been exposed for a long time, the protective measure may have come too late. Castro told us that it is very possible that criminals have already grabbed the data.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's in-the-moment department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: As global connectivity grows, allowing more data to be generated and collected, a growing portion of that data will be real-time information, according to IDC. By 2025, nearly 30 percent of the so-called "global datasphere" will be real-time information, IDC says in a new white paper, sponsored by Seagate. By comparison, real-time data represented 15 percent of the datasphere in 2017, according to the report. IDC defines the "global datasphere" as "the quantification of the amount of data created, captured, and replicated across the world." All told, of the 150 billion devices that will be connected across the globe in 2025, most will be creating real-time data, IDC says. The global datasphere is expected to grow from 23 Zettabytes (ZB) in 2017 to 175 ZB by 2025. One zettabyte is equivalent to a trillion gigabytes.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's secret-sauce department
Intel has filed a lawsuit last week against one of their former hardware engineers, alleging they tried to steal confidential chip blueprints to potentially pass on to Micron. "The lawsuit [...] is the latest twist in the tale of Intel and Micron's difficult partnership over 3D XPoint memory," reports The Register. From the report: The legal complaint, aimed at former employee Doyle Rivers, alleges that having "secretly" accepted a position at Chipzilla's former bedfellow, Micron, Rivers had a go at taking confidential trade and personnel data with him as he left. Intel alleged that a few days before leaving, "Rivers tried to access and copy a 'top secret' designated Intel file that Intel's electronic security system blocked from being copied."
Chipzilla said the document was related to what it was at pains to say is its "independent" work to productize the 3D XPoint tech into its Optane product line. In other words, blueprints secret to Intel. No one outside Intel, "including Micron" had been privy to such data, the complaint alleged. Intel's security system stopped the file from escaping, but according to the complaint, that did not stop Rivers from allegedly hoovering up a selection of personnel files into a USB device plugged into his computer. The chipmaker also claimed that Rivers "aggressively" recruited his former colleagues to join him on his grand adventure to pastures new. Intel demanded that Rivers return the USB drive, but he apparently "never responded" to them. Instead, "he handed the USB device over to his new employer." It was later discovered by a forensic investigator that it had been wiped. Intel is now demanding "a neutral forensic investigator" be allowed to take a look at Rivers' PC to see what was on there, and when exactly the USB stick was erased. There's a deadline of November 16 for Rivers to agree to this probing.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's going-going-gone department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: Far fewer [monarch butterflies] were heading south this year, and those that have arrived did so a month late, according to Xeres, a non-profit conservation group for invertebrates. One researcher said it was the fewest monarch butterflies in central California in 46 years. Surveyors at 97 sites found only 20,456 monarchs compared to 148,000 at the same sites last year, an 86% decline. It's possible more insects will make the journey late this year, says Xeres, but that now seems unlikely. The minimum population size before the species experiences "migration collapse" is unknown, but a 2017 modeling paper in Biological Conservation (pdf) found that 30,000 butterflies adult butterflies are probably the smallest viable population. Without this critical mass, there aren't enough insects in the western monarch population to continue one of the world's most remarkable lifecycles.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's iceman-droneth department
In 2010, Max Ray Butler received a 13-year prison sentence for "hacking" -- at the time, the longest one ever -- after stealing nearly 2 million credit cards and running up fraudulent charges over $86 million.
But eight years into his sentence, he's now being charged with commiting five more counts of wire fraud while still in prison, as well as possessing stolen credit card numbers and contraband in prison, plus two more related counts of conspiracy.
An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Times:
Previously known as Max Ray Butler and by his hacker alias, "Iceman," Max Ray Vision has been charged in a nine-count indictment filed by federal prosecutors that places him at the center of a scheme that allegedly involved using a smuggled cellphone, stolen banking data and a consumer-grade drone to make an airdrop into prison, The Daily Beast first reported Friday.... Prosecutors alleged in the indictment that Vision used a smuggled T-Mobile "My-Touch" cellphone while incarcerated at the Federal Correctional Center in Oakdale, Louisiana, to access the internet and obtain stolen debit card numbers.
"Using MoneyGram and Western Union websites, and their respective mobile applications," a grand jury charged in the indictment, "Butler wired funds from the bank accounts associated with the stolen debit card numbers to other inmates at Oakdale FCC," including five co-defendants also charged in the indictment. He later instructed his fellow inmates to transfer the funds obtained from the stolen debit cards to a former cellmate who had been released in May 2015, according to the indictment... Vision's former cellmate allegedly used the stolen funds to purchase an unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, that was then used in April 2016 to attempt to smuggle another cellphone and other unspecified contraband into prison, according to the indictment...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's s'mores-law department
Will Moore's law really come to an end by 2025? Maybe not...
An anonymous reader quotes IEEE Spectrum:
[R]esearchers at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia, believe a metal-based field emission air channel transistor (ACT) they have developed could maintain transistor doubling for another two decades. The ACT device eliminates the need for semiconductors. Instead, it uses two in-plane symmetric metal electrodes (source and drain) separated by an air gap of less than 35 nanometers, and a bottom metal gate to tune the field emission. The nanoscale air gap is less than the mean-free path of electrons in air, hence electrons can travel through air under room temperature without scattering...
Using metal and air in place of semiconductors for the main components of the transistor has a number of other advantages, says Shruti Nirantar, a Ph.D. candidate in RMIT's Functional Materials and Microsystems Research Group. Fabrication becomes essentially a single-step process of laying down the emitter and collector and defining the air gap. And though standard silicon fabrication processes are employed in producing ACTs, the number of processing steps are far fewer, given that doping, thermal processing, oxidation, and silicide formation are unnecessary. Consequently, production costs should be cut significantly. In addition, replacing silicon with metal means these ACT devices can be fabricated on any dielectric surface, provided the underlying substrate allows effective modulation of emission current from source to drain with a bottom-gate field. "Devices can be built on ultrathin glass, plastics, and elastomers," says Nirantar. "So they could be used in flexible and wearable technologies."
The article also suggests ACT devices could become important in space exploration, since electrons would be unaffected by extraterrestrial vacuums and radiation.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's chips-ahoy department
MojoKid writes: Intel has been uncharacteristically vocal about its most recent plans to enter the discrete GPU market. Over the last year or so, the company has disclosed a few morsels of information and made some high-profile hires, in its bid to build-up and flesh-out its latest discrete GPU plans. This week, Intel decided to have a sit down with HotHardware, offering the opportunity to chat with Ari Rauch, Vice President of the Core And Visual Computing Group at Intel, to discuss what makes this most recent endeavor different from the company's previous and now discontinued attempts in the discrete GPU space. As a follow up, HotHardware also enlisted readership questions to engage with Intel about its upcoming GPU plans, compiling responses in a Q&A format.
In short, this isn't Larabee 2.0, not by a long shot. Intel is gearing up for a traditional GPU architecture design, coupled with some of the company's own strategic IP that it can bring to the table, to help differentiate its products. Further, Rauch noted Intel "will bring discrete GPUs to both client and data center segments aiming at delivering the best quality and experiences across the board including gaming, content creation, and enterprise. These products will see first availability over a period of time, beginning in 2020."
When questioned on their current silicon fabrication hiccups and delays and how it might affect Intel's ability to execute in this highly competitive space, Rauch noted, "we feel very confident about our product roadmap across software, architecture, and manufacturing." Based on some of the responses to product positioning questions, it also appears Intel is gearing up to address all performance envelopes as well, from entry-level to midrange and high-end graphics cards.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's final-frontiers department
Would you pay $200,000 for a ride into space? I ask beause billionaire Richard Branson "really, really wants you to believe he's going to send people to space -- and soon," reports Gizmodo. "In a new interview with CNN, the Virgin Group founder now says he's "reasonably confident" his spaceflight company can beat out competitors like Blue Origin and SpaceX with crewed trips to space before Christmas."
An anonymous reader quotes CNN:
"We have a brilliant group of astronauts who literally believe 100% in the project, and give it their everything," he said. The first few trips to space will be flown by test pilots without anyone else on board. Branson says he will be the first passenger. Eventually, paying tourists will also make the trip....
The design and flight control systems of SpaceShipTwo were overhauled following a 2014 test flight crash that killed a co-pilot. Branson has said the accident made him question whether to continue pursuing his riskiest business venture. But the company said it received an outpouring of support, including from customers who had reserved $200,000 to $250,000 tickets to one day ride in SpaceShipTwo. Hundreds of people are still lined up for a shot. The flight will offer tourists a few minutes of weightlessness and views of Earth's curved horizon....
Branson is known to set deadlines that aren't met. Virgin Galactic has been developing SpaceShipTwo since 2004, and Branson initially said commercial rides would begin in 2007. Eleven years later, the firm is still working on getting its 600 customers into space. "Space is difficult. Rocket science is rocket science," Branson said. "I obviously would love to prove our critics wrong, and I'm reasonably confident that before Christmas, we will do so."
"We'll see," writes Gizmodo.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's night-before-geek-mas department
An anonymous reader writes:
Saturday the Perl Advent Calendar entered its 19th year by describing how the Wise Old Elf used a Calendar::List module from CPAN to update his Elven Perl Monger website with all the dates for 2019. ("It is a well known fact that all of Santa's Elves are enthusiastic Perl Developers in their free time, contributing regularly to many of the amazing Perl projects we've come to know and love...")
But meanwhile, the Perl 6 Advent Calendar was describing how Santa gets data into the North Pole's CRM by defining a grammar unit which can be parsed using a built-in method (to trim out children's signatures) -- only to be chastised by his IT elf for failing to document his solution using Perl 6's built in markup language.
And 24Ways.org is also presenting its 14th annual "advent calendar for web geeks," a nicely-formatted offering that promises "a daily dose of web design and development goodness to bring you all a little Christmas cheer."
Meanwhile, the Go language site Gopher Academy launched their 6th annual advent calendar, describing how to split data with content-defined chunking.
Jose Valim, creator of the Elixir programming language, has also announced the fourth annual "Advent of Code," an ongoing story that presents "a series of small programming puzzles for a variety of skill sets and skill levels in any programming language you like." (The folks behind the Nim programming language are even organizing their own leaderboard at Nim-lang.org.)
And even QEMU, a free and open-source emulator performing hardware virtualization, is getting into the act with a QEMU advent calendar offering "an amazing QEMU disk image" each day through December 24th.
Feel free to leave a comment with your own reactions -- or with the URL for your own favorite online geek advent calendars...Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's middleground department
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed Saturday to keep their trade war from escalating with a promise to temporarily halt the imposition of new tariffs [the link may be paywalled; alternative source], as the world's two largest economies negotiate a lasting agreement. China also agreed to further marketing opening, its foreign minister said. In a statement, White House said the U.S. had agreed not to increase tariffs on Chinese goods to 25% on Jan. 1. From a report: The truce between the U.S. and China emerged after a highly anticipated dinner Saturday between Trump and Xi on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Argentina. The leaders agreed to stop the introduction of new tariffs and intensify their trade talks, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters hours later in Buenos Aires. The White House called the meeting "highly successful," saying the U.S. will leave existing tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods at 10 percent and refrain from raising that rate to 25 percent as planned on Jan. 1. In exchange, the U.S. wants an immediate start to talks on Trump's biggest complaints about Chinese trade practices: intellectual property theft, non-tariff barriers and cyber theft. After 90 days, if there's no progress on structural reform, the U.S. will raise those tariffs to 25 percent, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement. China also agreed to boost its purchases of agricultural and industrial goods to reduce its trade imbalance with the U.S., she said.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's drunken-self-driving department
"When a pair of California Highway Patrol officers pulled alongside a car cruising down Highway 101 in Redwood City before dawn Friday, they reported a shocking sight: a man fast asleep behind the wheel," reports the San Francisco Chronicle:
The car was a Tesla, the man was a Los Altos planning commissioner, and the ensuing freeway stop turned into a complex, seven-minute operation in which the officers had to outsmart the vehicle's autopilot system because the driver was unresponsive, according to the CHP...
Officers observed Samek's gray Tesla Model S around 3:30 a.m. as it sped south at 70 mph on Highway 101 near Whipple Avenue, said Art Montiel, a CHP spokesman. When officers pulled up next to the car, they allegedly saw Samek asleep, but the car was moving straight, leading them to believe it was in autopilot mode. The officers slowed the car down after running a traffic break, with an officer behind Samek turning on emergency lights before driving across all lanes of the highway, in an S-shaped path, to slow traffic down behind the Tesla, Montiel said. He said another officer drove a patrol car directly in front of Samek before gradually slowing down, prompting the Tesla to slow down as well and eventually come to a stop in the middle of the highway, north of the Embarcadero exit in Palo Alto -- about 7 miles from where the stop was initiated.
Tesla declined to comment on the incident, but John Simpson, privacy/technology project director for Consumer Watchdog, calls this proof that Tesla has wrongly convinced drivers their cars' "autopilot" function really could perform fully autonomous driving...
"They've really unconscionably led people to believe, I think, that the car is far more capable of self-driving than actually is the case. That's a huge problem."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's big-hugging-mistakes department
Seeking compliance with Linux's new Code of Conduct, Intel software engineer Jarkko Sakkinen recently requested comments on a set of changes to kernel code comments which Neowin described as "replacing the F-word with 'hug'. "
80 comments quickly followed on the Linux Kernel Maintainer's List:
Several contributors responded to the alterations calling them insane. One wondered if Sakkinen was just trying to make a joke, and another called it censorship and said he'd refuse to apply any sort of patches like this to the code he's in charge of...
Some of the post-change comments read "Some Athlon laptops have really hugged PST tables", "If you don't see why, please stay the hug away from my code", and "Only Sun can take such nice parts and hug up the programming interface".
Eventually LWN.net publisher Jonathan Corbet deflated most of the controversy by pointing out that Linux's new Code of Conduct applies to future comments but clearly indicates that it does not apply explicitly to past comments.
And Jarkko Sakkinen acknowledged that he had missed that part of the discussion.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's weakest-links department
"[O]n Nov. 26 it was publicly revealed that a widely deployed open-source Node.js programming language module known as event-stream had been injected with malicious code that looked to steal cryptocurrency wallets," reports eWeek, adding "The event-stream library has over two million downloads."
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica:
The backdoor came to light [November 20th] with this report from Github user Ayrton Sparling. Officials with the NPM, the open source project manager that hosted event-stream, didn't issue an advisory until six days later.... "This compromise was not targeting module developers in general or really even developers," an NPM official told Ars in an email. "It targeted a select few developers at a company, Copay, that had a very specific development environment set up. Even then, the payload itself didn't run on those developers' computers; rather, it would be packaged into a consumer-facing app when the developers built a release. The goal was to steal Bitcoin from this application's end users...."
According to the Github discussion that exposed the backdoor, the longtime event-stream developer no longer had time to provide updates. So several months ago, he accepted the help of an unknown developer. The new developer took care to keep the backdoor from being discovered. Besides being gradually implemented in stages, it also narrowly targeted only the Copay wallet app. The malicious code was also hard to spot because the flatmap-stream module was encrypted. The attack is the latest to exploit weaknesses in a widely used supply chain to target downstream end users... The supply-chain attacks show one of the weaknesses of open source code. Because of its openness and the lack of funds of many of its hobbyist developers and users, open source code can be subject to malicious modifications that often escape notice.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's beyond-the-desktop department
"2019 just might be the Year of Linux -- the year in which Linux is fully recognized as the powerhouse it has become," writes Network World's "Unix dweeb."
The fact is that most people today are using Linux without ever knowing it -- whether on their phones, online when using Google, Facebook, Twitter, GPS devices, and maybe even in their cars, or when using cloud storage for personal or business use. While the presence of Linux on all of these systems may go largely unnoticed by consumers, the role that Linux plays in this market is a sign of how critical it has become. Most IoT and embedded devices -- those small, limited functionality devices that require good security and a small footprint and fill so many niches in our technology-driven lives -- run some variety of Linux, and this isn't likely to change. Instead, we'll just be seeing more devices and a continued reliance on open source to drive them.
According to the Cloud Industry Forum, for the first time, businesses are spending more on cloud than on internal infrastructure. The cloud is taking over the role that data centers used to play, and it's largely Linux that's making the transition so advantageous. Even on Microsoft's Azure, the most popular operating system is Linux. In its first Voice of the Enterprise survey, 451 Research predicted that 60 percent of nearly 1,000 IT leaders surveyed plan to run the majority of their IT off premises by 2019. That equates to a lot of IT efforts relying on Linux. Gartner states that 80 percent of internally developed software is now either cloud-enabled or cloud-native.
The article also cites Linux's use in AI, data lakes, and in the Sierra supercomputer that monitors America's nuclear stockpile, concluding that "In its domination of IoT, cloud technology, supercomputing and AI, Linux is heading into 2019 with a lot of momentum."
And there's even a long list of upcoming Linux conferences...Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's thus-broadcast-Zarathustra department
Japanese broadcaster NHK is launching the world's first 8K TV channel with a special edition of 2001: A Space Odyssey. NHK asked Warner Bros. to scan the original negatives at 8K specially for the channel.
8K offers 16 times the resolution of standard HD, 120 frames per second progressive scan, and 24 channels of sound. NHK is hoping to broadcast the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on the channel.
17 other channels also began broadcasting 4K programming today, according to Japan Times, even though, as Engadget points out, "almost no one has an 8K display, and most of the people who do need a special receiver and antenna just to pick up the signal... Also, HDMI 2.1 hasn't been implemented in any of these displays yet, so just getting the signal from box to TV requires plugging in four HDMI cables."
NHK's channel will broadcast for 12 hours a day, reports the BBC, adding that Samsung already sells an 8K TV for $15,000, and that LG has announced one too, while Engadget reports that Sharp sells one for $6,600.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's barristers-vs-bloatware department
Leonovo will add $7.3 million into a $1M fund settling a class action lawsuit over their undisclosed pre-installation of Superfish's targeting adware on 28 different laptop models in 2014.
Within one year the U.S. Department of Homeland Security had warned that the adware made laptops vulnerable to SSL spoofing, allowing the reading of encrypted web traffic and the redirecting of traffic from official websites to spoofs, while according to Bloomberg the original software itself also "could access customer Social Security numbers, financial data, and sensitive heath information, the court said." An anonymous reader quotes Softpedia:
According to a "SuperFish Vulnerability" advisory published by Lenovo on their support website following the discovery of the pre-installed software by consumers, the VisualDiscovery comparison search engine software was designed to work in the background, intercepting HTTP(S) traffic with the help of a self-signed root certificate that allowed it to decrypt and monitor all traffic, encrypted or not.... "VisualDiscovery was installed on nearly 800,000 Lenovo laptops sold in the United States between September 1, 2014 and February 28, 2015," also states the settlement agreement. "On January 18, 2015, in response to mounting complaints about the effects of VisualDiscovery, Lenovo instructed Superfish to turn it off at the server level...."
Out of the 800,000 who bought the laptops that came with VisualDiscovery pre-installed, the 500,000 ones who registered their devices with Lenovo or bought them from retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon will be contacted directly by the Chinese company and informed about the settlement agreement. The rest of the customers who cannot be reached straightaway will be targeted by Lenovo using multiple online advertising platforms, from Google to Twitter and Facebook.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's little-bang-theory department
Chris Reeve writes: Wired Magazine is reporting that astronomers have since 2014 witnessed up to 100 possible instances of quasars transforming into galaxies over very short timespans, but the article leaves no hint of the trouble this spells for the Big Bang cosmology. The article begins, "Stephanie Lamassa did a double take. She was staring at two images on her computer screen, both of the same object — except they looked nothing alike... The quasar seemed to have vanished, leaving just another galaxy. That had to be impossible, she thought. Although quasars turn off, transitioning into mere galaxies, the process should take 10,000 years or more. This quasar appeared to have shut down in less than 10 years — a cosmic eyeblink."
What the Wired article fails to mention is that the short timespans vindicate the quasar ejection model proposed by Edwin Hubble's assistant, Halton Arp, who insisted that these objects must be considerably closer than the extreme distances inferred by their redshifts:
"The conclusion was very, very strong just from looking at this picture that these objects had been ejected from the central galaxy, and that they were initially at high redshift, and the redshift decayed as time went on. And therefore, we were looking at a physics that was operating in the universe in which matter was born with low mass and very high redshift, and it matured and evolved into our present form, that we were seeing the birth and evolution of galaxies in the universe."
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