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Reddit No Longer Accepts Bitcoin
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '18 at 11:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-luck department:
Reddit, one of the most active hubs of Bitcoin enthusiasts, has dropped its support for the cryptocurrency. From a report: The widely read social media site will no longer accept Bitcoin as payment for its Reddit Gold program. A person claiming to be an administrator on the site told users who were grumbling about the shift that the decision was made, in part, due to Coinbase discontinuing its Merchant Tool product. "The upcoming Coinbase change, combined with some bugs around the Bitcoin payment option that were affecting purchases for certain users, led us to remove Bitcoin as a payment option," said user "emoney04."

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81% of Recent ICOs Were Scams, Research Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '18 at 11:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Four out of five initial coin offerings (ICOs) that have taken place in the last year have been classified as scams, according to a recent study by Satis Group, an ICO advisory firm. From a report: ICOs have been the rage of the cryptocurrency world because they allow companies to raise money for various ventures by issuing cryptocurrency tokens that users could buy and later trade on cryptocurrency exchanges. The concept is similar to an IPO, but instead of shares, companies issue tokens, and some companies promised to buy tokens back from users after a product became successful and the token's value increases. The study's results don't bode well for people who've invested in one or more and are expecting profits sometime in the near future. The Satis study organized ICOs in six categories, based on their current status. Only ICOs with a market cap of $50 million or higher have been included in the results, and the percentage of scammy ICOs would have probably bee higher if researchers looked at the smaller ICOs. According to researchers, 81% of ICO's were Scams, 6% were classified as Failed, 5% had Gone Dead, and 8% went on to trade on a exchange.

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Apple Launches iOS 11.3 With Raft of Privacy Features
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '18 at 10:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's doubling-down department:
Apple is launching a major privacy push, with software updates across all its devices to introduce new data privacy information immediately, with an updated website offering new privacy management tools to follow in May. From a report: Thursday's updates (macOS 10.13.4, iOS11.3 and tvOS 11.3) are prompted by the enormous new European data protection regulation GDPR, and have been in the works since at least January. But they come at a good time for the company, whose head Tim Cook has been merrily capitalising on the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, publicly rebuking Mark Zuckerberg over the social network's business model. For users of the company's devices, the biggest change will be the introduction of a unified data privacy iconography, which now shows up alongside detailed information about how Apple uses personal data for its various first-party services. "Apple believes privacy is a fundamental human right," the company will tell every user the first time they turn on their devices after the update, "so every Apple product is designed to minimise the collection and use of your data, use on-device processing whenever possible, and provide transparency and control over your information."

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ACLU Urges Cities To Build Public Broadband To Protect Net Neutrality
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '18 at 10:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
The ACLU is calling on cities across the country to build their own public municipal broadband networks to help preserve net neutrality after the Federal Communications Commission repealed the open internet rules. From a report: In a report released Thursday morning, the civil liberties group argued that in the absence of the FCC's rules cities could give residents an alternative to private service providers who will soon no longer be required to treat all web traffic equally. "Internet service has become as essential as utilities like water and electricity, and local governments should treat it that way," Jay Stanley, an ACLU policy analyst who authored the report, said in a statement. "If local leaders want to protect their constituents' rights and expand quality internet access, then community broadband is an excellent way to do that," Stanley added. The ACLU sent the report to more than 100 mayors across the country who had spoken out against the FCC's decision to scrap the rules.

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Amazon is Burying Sexy Books, Sending Erotic Novel Authors to the 'No-Rank Dungeon'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '18 at 09:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Samantha Cole, reporting for Motherboard: In the last few days, word has spread among independent erotica authors on social media that Amazon was quietly changing its policies for erotic novels. Five authors I spoke to, and several more on social media, have reported that their books were stripped of their best seller rankings -- essentially hiding them from casual browsing on the site, and separating them from more mainstream, safe-for-work titles. [...] Most people browsing Amazon books might not notice or care about the best seller rank -- a number that's based on how well the title is selling on Amazon.com -- but it's part of an algorithm that influences how the book appears in search, and whether it shows up in advertisements, including suggestions from one product to the next ("If you like this book, you might like this book"). For independent authors and booksellers, this ranking is hugely important for visibility.

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President Trump Slams Amazon For 'Causing Tremendous Loss To the United States'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '18 at 09:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
President Trump escalated his attack on Amazon on Thursday, saying that the e-commerce giant does not pay enough taxes, and strongly suggested that he may try to rein in the e-commerce business. From a report: The president took aim at Amazon's tax contributions, its use of the US Postal Service and practices that put "many thousands of retailers out of business!" The accusations aren't new. The tweet was likely prompted by an Axios story on Wednesday that claimed Trump was weighing "going after" Amazon over alleged antitrust activities or violations of competition laws. The Axios story appeared to contribute to a selloff of Amazon stock Wednesday, with Amazon shares dropping 4.4 percent, even though Trump's disdain for Amazon and its CEO, Jeff Bezos, was already well-known. Bezos owns The Washington Post, whose coverage has been less than glowing about the new president, which may be a factor in Trump's attacks. Trump's tweet, in full: I have stated my concerns with Amazon long before the Election. Unlike others, they pay little or no taxes to state & local governments, use our Postal System as their Delivery Boy (causing tremendous loss to the U.S.), and are putting many thousands of retailers out of business!

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Microsoft's Longtime Windows Boss Terry Myerson To Leave the Company Amid a Huge Executive Reorganization
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '18 at 07:43 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Terry Myerson, Microsoft's executive vice president of Windows and a long-time leader at Microsoft, is leaving the company, the company said today. The news comes as part of a big reshuffling of the company's executive leadership. From a report: "His strong contributions to Microsoft over 21 years from leading Exchange to leading Windows 10 leave a real legacy. I want to thank Terry for his leadership on my team and across Microsoft," wrote Nadella in an e-mail to employees announcing the changes. As part of the reorganization, Rajesh Jha, the executive VP of Microsoft Office products, will be expanding his responsibilities to encompass Myerson's role when he leaves in "the coming months." Jha will become the leader of a group called "Experiences & Devices," bringing Windows and Office under a single banner. "The purpose of this team is to instill a unifying product ethos across our end-user experiences and devices," writes Nadella. "Computing experiences are evolving to include multiple senses and are no longer bound to one device at a time but increasingly spanning many as we move from home to work and on the go."

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Update Drupal ASAP: Over a Million Sites Can Be Easily Hacked by Any Visitor
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '18 at 07:43 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's Drupalgeddon2 department:
Developers of popular open-source CMS Drupal are warning admins to immediately patch a flaw that an attacker can exploit just by visiting a vulnerable site. From a report: The bug affects all sites running on Drupal 8, Drupal 7, and Drupal 6. Drupal's project usage page indicates that about a million sites are running the affected versions. Admins are being urged to immediately update to Drupal 7.58 or Drupal 8.5.1. Drupal issued an alert for the patch last week warning admins to allocate time for patching because exploits might arrive "within hours or days" of its security release. So far, there haven't been any attacks using the flaw, according to Drupal. The bug, which is being called Drupalgeddon2, has been assigned the official identifier CVE-2018-7600. Drupal has given it a 'highly critical' rating with a risk score of 21 out of 25 under the NIST Common Misuse Scoring System. Further reading: Drupal Fixes Drupalgeddon2 Security Flaw That Allows Hackers to Take Over Sites (BleepingComputer). Commenting on security advisory that Drupal issued last week, BleepingComputer's Catalin Cimpanu said, "In the 9 years I've been around Drupal, I've never seen them publish such an apocalyptic security advisory."

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China, in Search of Water, is Building a Rain-Making Network Three Times the Size of Spain
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '18 at 06:20 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's audacious-projects department:
China is testing cutting-edge defence technology to develop a powerful yet relatively low-cost weather modification system to bring substantially more rain to the Tibetan plateau, Asia's biggest freshwater reserve. From a report: The system, which involves an enormous network of fuel-burning chambers installed high up on the Tibetan mountains, could increase rainfall in the region by up to 10 billion cubic metres a year -- about 7 per cent of China's total water consumption -- according to researchers involved in the project. Tens of thousands of chambers will be built at selected locations across the Tibetan plateau to produce rainfall over a total area of about 1.6 million square kilometres (620,000 square miles), or three times the size of Spain. It will be the world's biggest such project. The chambers burn solid fuel to produce silver iodide, a cloud-seeding agent with a crystalline structure much like ice. The chambers stand on steep mountain ridges facing the moist monsoon from south Asia. As wind hits the mountain, it produces an upward draft and sweeps the particles into the clouds to induce rain and snow.

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Facebook Will No Longer Allow Third-Party Data For Targeting Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '18 at 06:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's permanent-marker department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: In a surprise change, Facebook will give up one major data source that the company uses to help advertisers target relevant users on the platform. The company just announced that it will end a feature called Partner Categories, launched back in 2013 out of a partnership between Facebook and major data brokers. Third party data helps Facebook further atomize its user base into meaningful segments for advertisers.

Facebook confirmed to TechCrunch that the change is permanent, not a temporary precaution. In order to leverage the deep pool of data Facebook collects on users, the company mixes information that it obtains from users themselves (Pages a user liked, for instance) with information from advertisers (membership status in a loyalty program, for example) and with data obtained from third party providers. While Facebook feels comfortable with the integrity of its data sourcing within the first two categories, it feels less settled about dipping into these aggregate pools of third party data. The decision was issued in light of the company's recent privacy concerns over third-party data mishandling.

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Consumer Genetic Tests May Have a Lot of False Positives
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '18 at 02:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's false-alarm department:
A new study, published in the journal Genetics in Medicine, found that consumer genetic tests bring up a lot of false positives. "In this case, 40 percent of the results from the consumer tests were false positives," reports The Verge, noting that the findings "cover a very small sample size and don't show that consumer tests always have a 40 percent false positive rate." From the report: The research was done by scientists at Ambry Genetics, a medical laboratory in California. By looking through their own database, they found that 49 people had been referred to them because of some worrying results from their consumer genetic tests. Still, scientists at Ambry were able to confirm only 60 percent of the results when they compared the raw data from consumer tests with more thorough genetic tests done by themselves and other clinical laboratories. So, 40 percent of variants in a variety of genes reported in DTC raw data were false positives, meaning that they said a genetic variant was there when it wasn't. (Most of these turned out to be variants linked to cancer.) Additionally, the authors write, some variants classified as "increased risk" were not only classified as "benign" by clinical laboratories, but they were actually common variants.

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Galaxy Without Any Dark Matter Baffles Astronomers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '18 at 11:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department:
A distant galaxy that appears completely devoid of dark matter has baffled astronomers and deepened the mystery of the universe's most elusive substance. The Guardian reports: The absence of dark matter from a small patch of sky might appear to be a non-problem, given that astronomers have never directly observed dark matter anywhere. However, most current theories of the universe suggest that everywhere that ordinary matter is found, dark matter ought to be lurking too, making the newly observed galaxy an odd exception. Dark matter's existence is inferred from its gravitational influence on visible objects, which suggests it dominates over ordinary matter by a ratio of 5:1. Some of the clearest evidence comes from tracking stars in the outer regions of galaxies, which consistently appear to be orbiting faster than their escape velocity, the threshold speed at which they ought to break free of the gravitational binds holding them in place and slingshot into space. This suggests there is unseen, but substantial, mass holding stars in orbit. In the Milky Way there is about 30 times more dark matter than normal matter. The latest observations focused on an ultra-diffuse galaxy -- ghostly galaxies that are large but have hardly any stars -- called NGC 1052-DF2. The team tracked the motions of 10 bright star clusters and found that they were traveling way below the velocities expected. The velocities gave an upper estimate for the galactic mass of 400 times lower than expected. The researchers described their discovery in the journal Nature.

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VR Researchers Manipulate Human Visual System To Create An Infinite Corridor In a Fixed Space
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '18 at 07:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-gen-tech department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Road to VR: This video showcases a new redirected walking implementation project that creates an "unlimited" virtual corridor in a space just 5 x 7 meters in size. Redirected walking (RDW) is a technique which aims to maximize the physical space of a virtual reality play space by tricking your senses. Or, "strongly modifying spatial perception" so that your mind believes, for example, that you're body is traveling in a straight line where in reality, it's traversing a carefully calculated curved course to keep that play space small. At SIGGRAPH last week, a project developed in part by Unity Product Evangelist and Education Lead Yohei Yanase at the University of Tokyo was present, featuring a new "Visuo-Haptic" VR experience which claims to create the illusion via an infinite virtual corridor within an actual physical play space of just 5 x 7 meters in size.

"It works by strongly modifying spatial perception, all while avoiding the typical "reorientation" manipulation methods that most often cause VR motion sickness," states a press release, "And it's designed to let multiple people experience it simultaneously, without risk of bumping into each other. Modern techniques like this could represent the next phase in VR navigation, merging virtual with physical environments to extend the comfort of VR sessions and extensibility of virtual environments."

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New Deep-Learning Software Knows How To Make Desired Organic Molecules
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '18 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tools-of-the-trade department:
dryriver shares a report from Nature about a neural network-based, deep-learning software that is as good as trained chemists in figuring out what reagents and reactions may lead to the successful creation of a desired organic molecule: Chemists have a new lab assistant: artificial intelligence. Researchers have developed a "deep learning" computer program that produces blueprints for the sequences of reactions needed to create small organic molecules, such as drug compounds. The pathways that the tool suggests look just as good on paper as those devised by human chemists. The tool, described in Nature on March 28, is not the first software to wield artificial intelligence (AI) instead of human skill and intuition. Yet chemists hail the development as a milestone, saying that it could speed up the process of drug discovery and make organic chemistry more efficient. Chemists have conventionally scoured lists of reactions recorded by others, and drawn on their own intuition to work out a step-by-step pathway to make a particular compound. They usually work backwards, starting with the molecule they want to create and then analyzing which readily available reagents and sequences of reactions could be used to synthesize it -- a process known as retrosynthesis, which can take hours or even days of planning. The new AI tool, developed by Marwin Segler, an organic chemist and artificial-intelligence researcher at the University of Munster in Germany, and his colleagues, uses deep-learning neural networks to imbibe essentially all known single-step organic-chemistry reactions -- about 12.4 million of them. This enables it to predict the chemical reactions that can be used in any single step. The tool repeatedly applies these neural networks in planning a multi-step synthesis, deconstructing the desired molecule until it ends up with the available starting reagents.

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Verizon Plans To Launch a Palm Smartphone Later This Year
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '18 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-year-is-it department:
Verizon is planning on launch a Palm-branded smartphone later this year, an anonymous source told Android Police. The rumor backs up what a TCL executive said last August, when they confirmed that the company would launch a Palm phone this year. From the report: Sadly, we don't know anything about the phone itself at this time (well, we know it runs Android), but the fact that TCL is working with Verizon is telling. The carrier was a longtime Palm partner, selling most of the brand's webOS handsets all the way through the Pre 2. Verizon had intended to carry the ill-fated Pre 3, but the phone was cancelled by Palm's then-buyer HP before it could be released in the U.S. TCL acquired the rights to the Palm name back in 2015, and it's starting to get something of a reputation for reviving dead and dying brands: the Chinese firm manufactures BlackBerry handsets, which have received a surprising amount of attention in the mainstream press.

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Amazon Takes Fresh Stab At $16 Billion Housekeeping Industry
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '18 at 05:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-kid-in-town department:
PolygamousRanchKid shares a report from Bloomberg: Amazon is quietly hiring house cleaners in Seattle as direct employees. The online retailer is swapping the low cost of contract workers for the greater control of employing its own people. Doing so puts it on the hook for things like minimum wage, workers compensation and overtime pay. But it also lets Amazon determine how the workers are trained, which cleaning products they use and how they organize their schedules. Amazon's experiment signals it's concerned that saving money by using independent contractors can compromise the customer experience and make it just another online matchmaker. So it's conducting a trial to see if investing in its own housekeepers will differentiate its services by linking them more directly to the popular Amazon brand. The new housecleaning service, Amazon Home Assistants, offers home cleanings in Seattle that vary in price by the size of the home and frequency of visits. A weekly cleaning of a 1,500-square-foot home runs about $156.

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Boeing Hit By WannaCry Virus, Fears It Could Cripple Some Jet Production
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '18 at 05:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's raise-the-alarm department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Seattle Times: Boeing was hit Wednesday by the WannaCry computer virus, raising fears within the company that it could cripple some vital airplane production equipment. Mike VanderWel, chief engineer at Boeing Commercial Airplane production engineering, sent out an alarming memo calling for "All hands on deck." "It is metastasizing rapidly out of North Charleston and I just heard 777 (automated spar assembly tools) may have gone down," VanderWel wrote, adding that he's concerned the virus will hit equipment used in functional tests of airplanes ready to roll out and potentially "spread to airplane software." Indicating widespread alarm within the company at the potential impact, VanderWel said the attack required "a battery-like response," a reference to the 787 in-flight battery fires in 2013 that grounded the world's fleet of Dreamliners and led to an extraordinary three-month-long engineering effort to find a fix.

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Apple Trains Chicago Teachers To Put Coding In More Classrooms
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '18 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-programs department:
Apple has unveiled a partnership with Northwestern University and public schools to help teachers bring programming and other forms of computer science into Chicago-area classrooms. "The trio will set up a learning hub at Lane Tech College Prep High School that will introduce high school teachers to Apple's Everyone Can Code curriculum," reports Engadget. "They'll also have the option to train in an App Development with Swift course to boost the number of high school-oriented computer science teachers. Teachers will also have options for in-school coaching and mentorship to make sure they're comfortable with the curriculum when they're in front of actual students."

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Google Home Can Now Control Your Bluetooth Speakers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '18 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-features department:
Google Home speakers can now play music and other audio on the Bluetooth speakers you might have around the house. "We brought this feature to life after hearing how much you wanted to amp up the sound with your Google Home Mini," the company said in a blog announcement. "Now any of your Google Home devices can connect to other Bluetooth speakers so you can control your entertainment experience simply using the sound of your voice." The Verge reports: You can also add your existing Bluetooth speakers to Google Home groups for multi-room audio, which is where this might prove handy for Home Max users. You can pair a Bluetooth speaker with Google Home in the device settings section of the Home app. Just set it as your default speaker. Your Home device will still listen for your commands, but will route all audio through the connected Bluetooth speaker. This doesn't magically give those paired speakers Google Assistant's smarts, though. "You'll still need to talk to your Google Home device -- not the connected Bluetooth speakers -- for queries like asking questions, getting weather updates, and using smart home commands."

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Tim Cook Says Apple's Customers Are Not Its Product, Unlike Facebook
Posted by News Fetcher on March 28 '18 at 02:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unfortunate-situations department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Apple CEO Tim Cook said in an interview with MSNBC and Recode on Wednesday that Silicon Valley, and notably Facebook, should be far more careful with its customers' data in the wake of the Cambridge Analytica disclosures. "I think the best regulation is no regulation, is self-regulation," he said, according to Recode. "However, I think we're beyond that here." Cook reiterated points that he and former CEO Steve Jobs made previously, that Apple's business model -- unlike Google, Facebook, and many other tech companies -- is predicated on selling physical products rather than capturing data about customers. "We've never believed that these detailed profiles of people that have incredibly deep personal information that is patched together from several sources should exist," he said, according to The Wall Street Journal. "The truth is, we could make a ton of money if we monetized our customer -- if our customer was our product," he added. "We've elected not to do that."

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