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An Asteroid Has Been Named After Freddie Mercury
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 01:36 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's honor-system department:
An anonymous reader shares a Motherboard report: Freddie Mercury, frontman of Queen and transcendent being of pure performative joy and vitality, would have been 70 years old this Monday, September 5. To celebrate the occasion and honor Mercury's enormous impact on pop culture, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) has officially changed the name of Asteroid 17473, located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, to "Freddiemercury." It's a fitting tribute to the man who exuberantly sang that he was "a shooting star leaping through the sky" in the heart-thumping rock rager "Don't Stop Me Now." Queen's lead guitarist Brian May, who also happens to be an astrophysicist with a namesake asteroid of his own, announced the news to the band's fans via YouTube on Sunday. Mercury's asteroid is about three and a half kilometers across, and has an albedo of about 0.3, which means it reflects only about 30 percent of the Sun's light. "It's a dark object, like a cinder in space, as many of these asteroids are," May said. "It's just a dot of light, but it's a very special dot of light."

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President Obama Wants To Prevent a Cyber Weapon 'Arms Race'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 12:12 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's let-there-be-peace department:
An anonymous reader writes:During an address to reporters at the G-20 international summit in China, President Obama stated that he'd like to prevent an "arms race" among countries that have various cyber weapons at their disposal. The remarks come after Russian president Vladimir Putin denied having any involvement with the hack of the Democratic National Committee's emails earlier this summer. Obama said that the world is "moving into a new era where a number of countries have significant capacities", before noting that the United States has "more capacity than anybody, both offensively and defensively" when it comes to cyber weapons.

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Sony's Signature Walkman and Headphones Are $5,500 of Ridiculous
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 12:12 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's overpriced-stuff department:
Vlad Savov, writing for The Verge: Like a grand old dinosaur that's being left behind by the evolution of the tech industry, Sony is in desperate recovery mode here at IFA. The company has new phones, a rather nice pair of noise-canceling headphones, the imminent PS VR, and... a truly outlandish combo of music player and headphones that costs a mighty $5,499.98. I guess there had to be some outlet for Sony's classic wild-eyed grandeur. Sony's new Signature audio series consists of the gold-plated NW-WM1Z Walkman, which weighs in at 455g (1lb) and $3,200, the $2,300 MDR-Z1R closed-back headphones, and a desktop headphone amp whose price I haven't even dared to look up. First impressions? The portable media player barely qualifies to be called portable. This new 256GB Walkman glints beautifully under IFA's bright lights, and its hefty case is machined to a perfect finish, but its weight is overwhelming. I simultaneously love it for its looks and hate it for its impracticality. Typical Sony, then!

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Chrome For Windows To Get Battery Performance Boost
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 12:12 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's less-battery-extensive department:
Earlier this year, Microsoft claimed that its Edge browser was much lighter on battery than Chrome. Google is now attempting to address that. It has announced that Chrome 53 will contain numerous CPU and GPU power consumption enhancements for video playback, along with other big performance and power improvements. ZDNet adds: Google hasn't as yet published any test results to back up these claims, and I'm not expecting that Chrome will have closed the gap with Edge in one leap, but it's good that Google is addressing these issues. Along with battery life improvements, Google has made what it calls "material design" changes to Chrome, in the form of tweaking the user interface.

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Long-Lost Comet Lander Philae Found
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 10:44 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's better-later-than-ever department:
astroengine writes: With only a month before its mission ends, the European Space Agency's Rosetta mission swooped low over Comet 67P/Churyumov–Gerasimenko to see the stranded Philae lander jammed in a crack. After months of searching for the lander, which made its dramatic touchdown on Nov. 14, 2014, mission scientists had a good idea as to the region the robot was in, but this is the first photographic proof of the lander, on its side, stuck in the craggy location called Abydos. "This wonderful news means that we now have the missing 'ground-truth' information needed to put Philae's three days of science into proper context, now that we know where that ground actually is!" said Rosetta project scientist Matt Taylor in a statement.

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Warner Bros Issues Takedown For Own Website
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 09:25 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's carelessness department:
An anonymous reader writes: In a case of sloppy automation run amok, Warner Bros' copyright enforcement contractor -- Vobile -- issued takedown notices for legitimate distributors and Warner Bros' own website, according to the BBC. It also asked the search giant to remove links to legitimate movie streaming websites run by Amazon and Sky, as well as Amazon-owned film database IMDB. Fortunately for them, Google chose to cut them a break and ignore those requests.

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Japan Goes Public With Brexit Demands, Says Data Flow Deals Must Be Protected
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 08:07 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's aftermath department:
Kelly Fiveash, writing for ArsTechnica:UK Prime minister Theresa May said at the weekend that she wanted to take her time to secure the best trade deals for a post-Brexit Britain, and reiterated -- in her trademark vague terms -- that the so-called Article 50 won't be triggered this year. But political pressure from governments as far away as Japan continues to mount. On Sunday, in a bold move, the Japanese government published a 15-page memo setting out a number of demands it wants the UK to adhere to, once it leaves the European Union. It underscored that Britain faces a torrid time of negotiations -- not just with member states in the EU, but further afield, too. Japan, which has close economic ties with the UK, listed its demands based on requests from businesses in the country. It said; "It is of great importance that the UK and the EU maintain market integrity and remain attractive destinations for businesses where free trade, unfettered investment, and smooth financial transactions are ensured." It's brutal stuff from Japan, and could well lead to other countries making similarly robust demands. On tech specifically, the Japanese government called on the UK and EU, post-Brexit, to maintain cloud agreements between businesses at an international level, by safeguarding the "free transfer of data."

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Swedish ISP Attacks Copyright Trolls Over Trademark Infringement
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 08:07 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's pirate-attack department:
An anonymous reader shares a TorrentFreak report: Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof is launching a direct attack against Spridningskollen, the group that's spearheading the copyright trolling efforts in Sweden. Bahnhof accuses the anti-piracy outfit of trademark infringement and demands the shutdown of its website.Firm Spridningskollen, which is one of the top organizations that is helping rightholders in target Sweden plans to target 1,000 alleged pirates, offering them settlements of around $233. The report adds: Spridningskollen spokesman Gordon Odenbark compared the process with speeding cameras, where torrent users risk a 'fine' if they get caught. This will generate revenue, but could also act as a deterrent, preventing other people from violating rightsholders' rights. Interestingly, however, shortly after Spridningskollen announced its plans the group itself faced allegations of intellectual property rights violations. Swedish ISP Bahnhof is accusing the group of trademark infringement, noting that they have a claim on the "spridningskollen" mark. "Bahnhof was the first to apply for the Spridningskollen trademark rights at the Swedish Patent and Registration Office," the ISP announced.

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Apps Are Devouring the Open Web
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 08:07 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's app-attack department:
Rob Price, writing for Business Insider: Apps are eating the web. Over the past decade, there has been an inexorable movement from the open internet to the walled gardens of apps -- and this trend just hit a major milestone. According to new data from ComScore, more than half of all time Americans spend online is spent in apps -- up from around 41% two years ago. It's a stat that will be discomfiting to advocates of the open web, as well as companies whose core business is built around it -- notably Google. As content that was once freely available and indexable on websites becomes silo-ed away in closed-off apps, it makes it harder to search and link to content. This is, of course, the cornerstone of Google's original business.

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Brazzers Porn Site's Forum Hacked, Exposes Data Of 800,000 Users
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 06:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Forum of porn website Brazzers has been hacked, exposing the data of as many as 800,000 users, reports Motherboard. Though the data originated from the company's separate forum, the report adds, Brazzers users who never signed up to the forum may also find their details included in the dump. From the report: Motherboard was provided the dataset by breach monitoring site Vigilante.pw for verification purposes. The data contains 790,724 unique email addresses, and also includes usernames and plaintext passwords. (The set has 928,072 entries in all, but many are duplicates.) Troy Hunt, a security researcher and creator of the website Have I Been Pwned? helped verify the dataset by contacting subscribers to his site, who confirmed a number of their details from the data.

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Ask Slashdot: Would You Fire Your CEO?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 03:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's because-why-not? department:
As America celebrates a national holiday honoring organized labor, long-time Slashdot reader itwbennett shares this story about the modern workplace:
Three years ago, talent management and human resources company Haufe U.S. created a workplace democracy in which C-level leadership is elected by the employees for a one-year term. In an interview with CIO, Kelly Max, who is currently serving as Haufe's CEO, explains how the company got to this point and what they've learned from the experience.

"If you're going to talk about how your employees 'own' the company, if you're going to tout how they all have a voice, why not go all the way and see what happens? Because why not? You already have people working for and with you who elect you every day, who either agree or disagree with you and follow you, so we wanted to make it very transparent," says Max.
This raises an inevitable question for Slashdot readers: would your own organization work as a democracy? So leave your answers here in the comments. Would your company's employees fire your CEO?

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Microsoft Helps Develop Smart, IoT-Enabled Refrigerators
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '16 at 01:02 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cool-technologies department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
Promising "intelligent food management" to help with shopping and meal planning, Microsoft is collaborating with household appliance manufacturer Liebherr to develop a refrigerator where stored groceries "can be monitored using internal cameras." The refrigerators will use Microsoft's object recognition technology to create a list of your groceries -- with photos -- accessible via an an Android or iOS app (or a Windows device).

"Microsoft is providing computer vision capability as part of this collaboration," says their web page, citing the deep-learning technology underlying the Microsoft Cognitive Services Computer Vision API, released in Microsoft's open source Computational Network Toolkit. "Using the deep learning algorithms contained within CNTK, Microsoft data scientists worked with Liebherr to build a new image processing system to detect specific food products present inside a Liebherr refrigerator..."

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Whither Tor? Building the Next Generation of Anonymity Tools
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '16 at 09:02 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's whither,-not-withered department:
"Tor hasn't changed, it's the world that's changed," says Aaron Johnson, the lead researcher on a 2013 paper which reported that 80% of Tor users could be de-anonymized within six months, and that today's users may want protection from different threats. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Ars Technica:
The most probable future we face is a world in which Tor continues to offer a good-but-not-perfect, general-purpose anonymity system, while new anonymity networks arrive offering stronger anonymity optimised for particular use-cases, like anonymous messaging, anonymous filesharing, anonymous microblogging, and anonymous voice-over-IP. Nor is the Tor Project standing still. Tor today is very different from the first public release more than a decade ago, [Tor project cofounder Nick] Mathewson is quick to point out. That evolution will continue.

"It's been my sense for ages that the Tor we use in five years will look very different from the Tor we use today," he says. "Whether that's still called Tor or not is largely a question of who builds and deploys it first. We are not stepping back from innovation. I want better solutions than we have today that are easier to use and protect people's privacy."

The article lists five projects that are "breaking new ground in developing stronger anonymity systems," including the Dissent Project, the Aqua and Herd projects (for filesharing and voice over IP), Vuvuzela/Alpenhorn (for anonymous chat), Riffle (filesharing), and Riposte (anonymous microblogging). Tor project cofounder Nick Mathewson is urging anonymity developers to begin using their own software. "What you learn about software from running it is like what you learn from food by tasting it... You can't actually know whether you've made a working solution for humans unless you give it to humans, including yourself."

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NSO Has Been Selling a Smartphone-Surveilling Malware For Six Years
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '16 at 06:21 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's spying-on-spyware department:
The New York Times continues their coverage of the commercial spytech industry, noting its services "are in higher demand now that companies like Apple, Facebook and Google are using stronger encryption to protect data in their systems, in the process making it harder for government agencies to track suspects... For the last six years, the NSO Group's main product, a tracking system called Pegasus, has been used by a growing number of government agencies to target a range of smartphones -- including iPhones, Androids, and BlackBerry and Symbian systems -- without leaving a trace...to extract text messages, contact lists, calendar records, emails, instant messages and GPS locations." Slashdot reader turkeydance quotes their article:

That will cost you $650,000, plus a $500,000 setup fee with an Israeli outfit called the NSO Group. You can spy on more people if you would like -- just check out the company's price list. The NSO Group is one of a number of companies that sell surveillance tools that can capture all the activity on a smartphone, like a user's location and personal contacts. These tools can even turn the phone into a secret recording device...

The company is one of dozens of digital spying outfits that track everything a target does on a smartphone. They aggressively market their services to governments and law enforcement agencies around the world. The industry argues that this spying is necessary to track terrorists, kidnappers and drug lords. The NSO Group's corporate mission statement is "Make the world a safe place"... An ethics committee made up of employees and external counsel vets potential customers based on human rights rankings set by the World Bank and other global bodies....

< article continued at Slashdot's spying-on-spyware department >

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Long TSA Delays Force Airports To Hire Private Security Contractors
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '16 at 03:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's missed-connections department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
TSA checkpoints caused 6,800 American Airlines passengers to miss their flights in just one week this spring, and the problem isn't improving. "Two years ago the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) offered $15,000 to anybody -- literally anybody -- who could come up with an idea to speed up airport security..." writes Popular Science. "They wouldn't say who won or for which idea, but since we're here two years later with longer wait times than ever, it's fair to say it hasn't lived up to the groundbreaking ideals of that call to action... Now in summer 2016, the TSA recommends arriving three hours early instead of a mere two."

So this spring the Seattle-Tacoma airport replaced many of the TSA staff with private screeners, although "Private security operates under strict direction from the TSA, and even those airports that heavily utilize private contractors still have a lot of TSA personnel in the back rooms..." according to the article. "The ability to do exactly what the TSA does, only faster and cheaper, seems to be the major draw." Now 22 U.S. airports are using private screeners, although the Seattle and San Francisco airports are the only ones with significant traffic.

The article also cites a Homeland Security report which discovered that investigators were able to smuggle a test bomb past security checkpoints in 67 out of 70 tests.

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Finland Prepares Their First Tests Of A Universal Basic Income
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '16 at 02:13 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's government-giving department:
Finland is getting ready to launch their first pilot program with a Universal Basic Income -- one of several countries which are now testing the concept. An anonymous reader quotes a report from Futurism.com:
Finland is about to launch an experiment in which a randomly selected group of 2,000-3,000 citizens already on unemployment benefits will begin to receive a monthly basic income of 560 euros (approximately $600). That basic income will replace their existing benefits. The amount is the same as the current guaranteed minimum level of Finnish social security support. The pilot study, running for two years in 2017-2018, aims to assess whether basic income can help reduce poverty, social exclusion, and bureaucracy, while increasing the employment rate.

In January a basic income program will also begin testing in the Netherlands, according to the article, which points out that Y Combinator has also launched a test program in Oakland, California. And there's now also calls for a Universal Basic Income in India, where one social worker argues it's "sound social policy," while pointing out that it's already being implemented in other countries. "In Brazil, it targets the poor and has been a way out of poverty; in Iran, it has substituted for subsidies and citizens receive about $500 a year..."

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New HDMI Mode Will Allow USB-C Connections
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '16 at 12:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's ditching-the-dongles department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from TechHive:
On Friday, HDMI Licensing announced a new cable standard that connects USB-C and HDMI devices... The idea, naturally enough, is to to develop an HDMI-to-USB Type-C cable that ties together the most common cabling protocols in both the PC and consumer electronics industries, eliminating the need for an adapter or special silicon. Source devices like PCs, tablets, and smartphones will be able to output HDMI video and multi-channel audio from a USB-C port, just as they can now with DisplayPort.

"The USB Type-C connector is gaining traction in the mobile and PC markets," said HDMI Licensing, LLC president Rob Tobias. "Consumers expect to easily connect these devices to displays with a USB Type-C to HDMI cable and utilize the capabilities and features of native HDMI. This specification will also result in more source devices incorporating HDMI," which already total about 6 billion, he said.

HDMI Licensing expects to see products launching with this new technology "early next year".

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Fugitive Arrested After Using 'Wanted' Poster As His Facebook Profile Pic
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '16 at 12:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's friend-requests department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
"A fugitive in Florida has been arrested by police after he used a wanted poster adorned with his mug shot for his Facebook profile picture," writes the International Business Times. After investigating reports of a disturbance, police discovered the 41-year-old's Facebook profile, which revealed the man was already wanted for six months for violating his parole after two counts of battery.

"Police say that as they arrested Yearwood a bag of marijuana fell out of his pocket. They charged him with possession of cannabis under 20 grams and are continuing to investigate the battery complaint."

One Twitter user jokingly suggested that the suspect should also be charged with copyright infringement -- for using the police department's photo without their permission.

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John McAfee Sues Intel To Use His Own Name
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '16 at 11:22 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's naming-names department:
Long-time Slashdot reader AmiMoJo quotes a report from Bloomberg: John McAfee, the creator of the eponymous antivirus computer software system, sued Intel Corp. for the right to use his name in new ventures after the chip maker bought his former company. Intel bought McAfee in 2010 and eventually renamed it "Intel Security." McAfee has since joined digital gaming company MGT Capital Investments Inc. as chairman and chief executive, with plans to rename the company "John McAfee Global Technologies Inc." McAfee says Intel warned him that any use of his name will infringe on the company's trademarks that it acquired with the McAfee deal in 2010, according to his complaint filed Friday in Manhattan federal court.
Intel hopes to sell their antivirus unit for $3 billion, according to the article -- after acquiring it in 2011 for $7.7 billion.

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Should We Kill All The Mosquitoes?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 04 '16 at 10:02 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's insecticide-vs-genocide department:
If scientists could send Zika-carrying mosquitoes into extinction, should they do it? Several science and business journals are now exploring the question, and Slashdot reader retroworks asks if scientists will ultimately target "not just the most deadly species of the animal, but all 12 species of human-biting mosquitoes in the world, responsible for 500,000 deaths per year."
The headline on today's [paywalled] Wall Street Journal article begs the question, "Why Not Kill Them All...?" [M]ore business journals are exploring private sector investments to eradicate the species of mosquito entirely, [and] most articles seem to find extinction of the indoors-attacking, dengue fever- and malaria-spreading Aedes aegypti a tantalizing prospect...

The BBC weighed the approach more carefully, noting that mosquitoes make rain forests uninhabitable (and consequences of human populations in rain forests are usually disastrous)... Will capitalism make the itch of mosquito bites be forgotten... Forever?

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