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Lego Wants To Completely Remake Its Toy Bricks Using Plant-Based Or Recycled Materials
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 08:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's slowly-but-surely department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Seattle Times: Lego is trying to refashion the product it is best known for: It wants to eliminate its dependence on petroleum-based plastics, and build its toys entirely from plant-based or recycled materials by 2030. The challenge is designing blocks that click together yet separate easily, retain bright colors, and survive the rigors of being put through a laundry load, or the weight of an unknowing parent's foot. In essence, the company wants to switch the ingredients, but keep the product exactly the same. [...] Lego emits about 1 million tons of carbon dioxide each year, about three-quarters of which comes from the raw materials that go into its factories, according to Tim Brooks, the company's vice president for environmental responsibility. Lego is taking a two-pronged approach to reducing the amount of pollution it causes. For one, it wants to keep all of its packaging out of landfills by 2025 by eliminating things like plastic bags inside its cardboard packaging. It is also pushing for the plastic in its toys to come from sources like plant fibers or recycled bottles by 2030. The billion-dollar company is reportedly investing about $120 million and hiring about 100 people to make these changes possible. "Lego is already using polyethylene made from sugar-cane husks in flexible pieces like dragon wings, palm trees and fishing rods, but these constitute only 1 to 2 percent of its output, and the material is too soft for the company's toy blocks," reports The Seattle Times. Lego has already experimented with around 200 alternatives, but most of the materials have so far fallen short.

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FCC Criticized For Surrendering Power To Punish Verizon After Firefighters Got Throttled During Wildfire
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 05:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-good-enough department:
Democratic lawmakers on Wednesday criticized the FCC on its response to Verizon's throttling of firefighters' data speeds as they battled a major wildfire in Northern California. "In a letter Friday, Senator Edward Markey and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo demanded answers from the FCC over what steps it is currently taking to address 'critical threats to public safety,' citing its decision to repeal Obama-era net neutrality protections," reports Gizmodo. From the report: The 2015 Open Internet Order -- overturned by the FCC's Republican majority last winter -- reclassified internet providers like Verizon as common carriers under Title II of the Federal Communications Act, granting the FCC regulatory authority that, in this instance, would have allowed the commission to investigate and potential penalize Verizon for its decision. At Chairman Ajit Pai's direction, the commission abdicated that authority this year. It no longer has the power to establish rules prohibiting Verizon from throttling emergency services, or charging police and fire departments additional fees to maintain their communications at optimal speeds when usage peaks -- say, during a wildfire, or an earthquake, or a mass shooting.

"The FCC has incorrectly suggested that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) could sufficiently fill this void," wrote Markey and Eschoo, whose congressional districting includes portions of Santa Clara. "We strongly disagree with that assertion." In their letter, the Democratic lawmakers urged the FCC to make use of its Public Safety and Homeland Security Bureau and investigate the matter, saying that while the FTC may find Verizon's actions exemplify an "unfair and deceptive practice," both agencies should use "all of the tools available" to resolve this public safety matter. "To do nothing is unacceptable," they said.

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Linus Torvalds No Longer Knows the Whole Linux Kernel and That's OK
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 05:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-panic department:
darthcamaro writes: In a wide-ranging conversation at the Open Source Summit, Linus Torvalds admitted that he no longer knows everything that's in LInux. "Nobody knows the whole kernel anymore," Torvalds said. "Having looked at patches for many years, I know the big picture of all the areas in the kernel and I can look at a patch and know if it's right or wrong." Overall, he emphasized that being open source has enabled Linux to attract new developers that can pick up code and maintain all the various systems in Linux. In his view, the only way to deal with complexity is to be open. "When you have complexity you can't manage it in a closed environment, you need to have the people that actually find problems and give them the ability to get involved and help you to fix them," Torvalds said. "It's a complicated world and the only way to deal with complexity is the open exchange of ideas."

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Scientists Make a Touch Tablet That Rolls and Scrolls
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's one-of-a-kind department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Research scientists at Queen's University's Human Media Lab have built a prototype touchscreen device that's neither smartphone nor tablet but kind of both -- and more besides. The device, which they've christened the MagicScroll, is inspired by ancient (papyrus/paper/parchment) scrolls so it takes a rolled-up, cylindrical form factor -- enabled by a flexible 7.5inch touchscreen housed in the casing. This novel form factor, which they made using 3D printing, means the device can be used like an erstwhile Rolodex (remember those?!) for flipping through on-screen contacts quickly by turning a physical rotary wheel built into the edge of the device. (They've actually added one on each end.) Then, when more information or a deeper dive is required, the user is able to pop the screen out of the casing to expand the visible display real estate. The flexible screen on the prototype has a resolution of 2K. So more mid-tier mobile phone of yore than crisp iPhone Retina display at this nascent stage. The scientists also reckon the scroll form factor offers a pleasing ergonomically option for making actual phone calls too, given that a rolled up scroll can sit snugly against the face. The team posted a video showing the prototype in action. They will be presenting the project at the MobileHCI conference on Human-Computer Interaction in Barcelona next month.

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Apple Records First-Ever Accident In Self-Driving Car Program
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
Apple's self-driving car program has reported its first-ever accident, according to a filing to the state's DMV. No injuries were reported. AppleInsider reports: A test car was rear-ended by a Nissan Leaf while merging onto an expressway, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman said on Twitter. The Apple vehicle suffered "moderate" damage. Details are still forthcoming, so it's unclear if the fault was with the Nissan driver, Apple's hardware and software, or some combination of the two. In an update, AppleInsider provided the following information: "The Apple vehicle, a Lexus SUV, was merging onto the Lawrence Expressway in California's Bay Area on Aug. 24, Gurman later wrote, citing a filing by Apple's Steve Kenner with the Department of Motor Vehicles. The Leaf was moving at just 15 miles per hour, but was also damaged."

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Murder Suspect Jailed Over Refusing To Reveal Password In the UK
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 02:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hand-it-over department:
A man suspected of murdering a teenager in England has been arrested for failing to hand over his Facebook password to authorities. The BBC reports: Lucy McHugh, 13, was found stabbed to death in woodland last month, a day after she disappeared. Stephen-Alan Nicholson, 24, pleaded guilty to failing to comply with an order under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, requiring him to disclose the Facebook password. He was sentenced to 14 months in jail.

He was first arrested on July 27 on suspicion of murder and sexual activity with a child and subsequently bailed. But he was also charged under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act. The court heard the charge related to a court order that Nicholson disclose his Facebook password protecting any private communications with Lucy McHugh. Passing sentence, Judge Christopher Parker did not accept Nicholson's "wholly inadequate" excuse that providing his password would expose information relating to cannabis.

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Humans To Blame For Most Self-Driving Car Crashes In California, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 02:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's finger-pointing department:
cartechboy writes: Turns out computers are better drivers than humans after all. Axios compiled a study that found the vast majority of crashes in California involving self-driving cars were not caused by the autonomous vehicles themselves. Of the 54 incidents involving 55 companies holding self-driving permits in California, only one crash could be blamed on a self-driving car in autonomous mode. Six crashes were when the self-driving cars were in conventional driving modes, while the majority of the accidents were to be blamed on other drivers or pedestrians. Maybe self-driving cars aren't such a bad thing after all, it's humans that are the problem.

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'Gold Standard' State Net Neutrality Bill Approved By California Assembly
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 01:30 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's in-the-works department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: California's state Assembly yesterday approved a strict net neutrality bill despite opposition from the telecom industry. California's Senate already approved an earlier version of the bill in May. But some minor changes were made in the Assembly, so the Senate must vote on the bill again today before going into recess. If the Senate approves, California Governor Jerry Brown would have until September 30 to sign the bill into law. The bill would prohibit Internet service providers from blocking or throttling lawful traffic, and from requiring fees from websites or online services to deliver or prioritize their traffic to consumers. The bill also imposes limits on data cap exemptions (so-called "zero-rating") and says that ISPs may not attempt to evade net neutrality protections by slowing down traffic at network interconnection points. Yesterday's Assembly vote was 61-18. All 55 Democratic members of the Assembly and six Republicans voted for the bill. All 18 votes against it came from Republicans. "ISPs have tried hard to gut and kill this bill, pouring money and robocalls into California," Electronic Frontier Foundation Policy Analyst Katharine Trendacosta said. "California could pass a gold standard net neutrality bill, providing a template for states going forward. California can prove that ISP money can't defeat real people's voices."

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Lenovo's Yoga Book C930 Laptop Swaps the Keyboard For an E Ink Display
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 01:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Lenovo has launched a laptop with an e-ink display in place of a normal keyboard. An anonymous reader writes: The Yoga Book C930 laptop follows in the footsteps of the Yoga Book A12, the convertible that was all the rage at IFA back in 2016. That device swapped the standard keyboard for a touchscreen, so the surface could double as a drawing pad. It wasn't particularly conducive for typing, but it certainly was innovative. The C930 takes things even further, swapping the Halo keyboard for E Ink. It's an interesting application for the technology, which has largely been relegated to the world of e-readers. The secondary display serves the same function as on the A12, doing triple duty as a keyboard, notepad and e-reader. The C930 will be available in October, starting at $1,000.

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China Plans To Restrict New Games Coming Into the Country and Limit the Time Kids Spend Online
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
China's regulators plan to curtail the number of online games and discourage play-time, part of a broader effort to tackle device addiction and other ills that sent shares reeling from the U.S. to Japan. From a report: The curbs were just one aspect of a swathe of edicts intended to address the health and growing incidence of myopia among children. But they come on top of a months-long freeze in game approvals, further muddying the waters for an industry that labors under one of the world's most opaque regulatory regimes. While the new regulations encompassed everything from encouraging outdoor activities to usage of electronics, investors zeroed in on the game curbs during a highly sensitive time for the industry. The government hasn't given any explanation for a freeze on title approvals since March, prompting debate over whether it's a temporary halt due to regulatory reshuffling or whether Beijing is planning a crackdown in a wider campaign against online content. Tencent's inability to monetize its hottest games also cast doubt over the relationship between the world's largest gaming company and the government.

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80-Year-Old Inventor Gil Hyatt Says Patent Office is Waiting For Him To Die
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Dean Takahashi, reporting for VentureBeat: Gil Hyatt has gotten many rewards from his days as an inventor. In 1990, he received a fundamental but controversial patent on what he called the first microprocessor, or computer on a chip. It was 22 years late, but he nosed out rivals such as Intel in being the first to file for a patent application in 1968. He then licensed that patent and 22 of his 69 other patents to Philips Electronics, which then began enforcing them on the rest of the electronics industry and collecting royalties. Philips' efforts netted Hyatt more than $150 million, though the state of California would try for 24 years to take a big chunk of that money for taxes. It argued that Hyatt pretended to move to Las Vegas in 1991, but in 2017, he finally prevailed in convincing the tax board that he really did move. But at 80 years old, Hyatt still isn't resting on the rewards he got. In fact, he's still in a bitter battle with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He claims the office is sitting on his remaining applications, and is waiting for him to die. Hyatt sued to get the patent office to issue his remaining patent applications. The patent office declined to comment, citing the litigation. Further reading: Gil Hyatt interview: Why patent examiners gave controversial patents a scarlet letter.

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Startups Ditching Silicon Valley For New Cities
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 10:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's changing-dynamics department:
The rising cost of living in Silicon Valley is pushing startups out, the Economist reports, and re-focusing innovation in new cities around the country [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From the story: More Americans are leaving the Valley than moving to it. In 2017 several counties in the area saw their largest combined domestic outward migrations in around a decade. In a recent survey by the Bay Area Council, a think-tank, 46% of Bay Area residents said they planned to leave in "the next few years," up from 34% in 2016. This is not just a case of people of more modest means being pushed out by carpet-bagging techies. At this year's "FOO camp," a freewheeling annual gathering of hackers and others, a session called "Should I/you leave the Bay Area?" saw a strong turnout. Participants shared their gripes about the high cost of living, bad traffic and a "toxic" culture obsessed with money.

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Email Security Systems Miss Thousands of Malicious Links
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 10:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
A new study from email security company Mimecast shows that malicious links in emails are being missed by many security systems. From a report: Mimecast examined more than 142 million emails that had passed through organizations' email security vendors. The latest results reveal 203,000 malicious links within 10,072,682 emails were deemed safe by other security systems -- a ratio of one unstopped malicious link for every 50 emails inspected. The report also finds an 80 percent increase impersonation attacks in comparison to last quarters' figures. Additionally, 19,086,877 pieces of spam, 13,176 emails containing dangerous file types, and 15,656 malware attachments were all missed by these incumbent security providers and delivered to users' inboxes.

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US Accuses China of 'Super Aggressive' Spy Campaign on LinkedIn
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 10:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
The United States' top spy catcher said Chinese espionage agencies are using fake LinkedIn accounts to try to recruit Americans with access to government and commercial secrets, and the company should shut them down. From a report: William Evanina, the U.S. counter-intelligence chief, told Reuters in an interview that intelligence and law enforcement officials have told LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, about China's "super aggressive" efforts on the site. He said the Chinese campaign includes contacting thousands of LinkedIn members at a time, but he declined to say how many fake accounts U.S. intelligence had discovered, how many Americans may have been contacted and how much success China has had in the recruitment drive. German and British authorities have previously warned their citizens that Beijing is using LinkedIn to try to recruit them as spies. But this is the first time a U.S. official has publicly discussed the challenge in the United States and indicated it is a bigger problem than previously known.

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AI Still Useless at Catching Hate Speech, Research Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 09:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's letting-humanity-down department:
New research has shown just how bad AI is at dealing with online trolls. From a report: Such systems struggle to automatically flag nudity and violence, don't understand text well enough to shoot down fake news and aren't effective at detecting abusive comments from trolls hiding behind their keyboards. A group of researchers from Aalto University and the University of Padua found this out when they tested seven state-of-the-art models used to detect hate speech. All of them failed to recognize foul language when subtle changes were made, according to a paper [PDF] on arXiv. Adversarial examples can be created automatically by using algorithms to misspell certain words, swap characters for numbers or add random spaces between words or attach innocuous words such as 'love' in sentences.

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Microsoft Announces Windows 10 October 2018 Update, the Next Free Major Update To Its Desktop OS
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 09:30 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Microsoft today revealed that the next free Windows 10 update is called the Windows 10 October 2018 Update ... and it will arrive in that month. From a report: For those keeping track, this is Windows 10 version 1809. Although the company had not announced this update before today, Windows Insiders have been getting builds from Windows 10's RS5 branch since February. Windows 10 October 2018 Update includes a dark theme for File Explorer, a new snipping experience, a cloud-powered clipboard, support for extended line endings in Notepad, integration with the Your Phone app, new web sign-in and fast sign-in features, a mixed reality flashlight feature, SwiftKey in the touch keyboard, and many other improvements. The highly anticipated Sets feature did not make the cut. Windows 10 is being developed as a service, meaning it receives new features on a regular basis. Microsoft has released five major updates so far: November Update, Anniversary Update, Creators Update, Fall Creators Update, and April 2018 Update.

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Some Baltimore Residents Are Lobbying To Bring Back Aerial Surveillance
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 08:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
A local group in Baltimore argues that a plane providing real-time surveillance of the city will dial down police brutality. From a report: A piloted plane would fly over the city, capture images from 30,000 feet in the air, and use a computer program to stitch the photos together for a real-time, by-the-second portrait of what's happening on the ground. With access to all 911 dispatches, which provide information about the the time and place of a crime, local analysts could track the dot-like people and cars at the scene of a crime forward and backward in time until they arrive at a house or address. With a permit from the city of Baltimore, this surveillance system could access videos from street cameras and cross-reference their aerial data with precise, on-the-ground footage. The analysts would then compose a PowerPoint report with visual data and a written explanation regarding the activities of all possible suspects or witnesses, and they send out five copies of that report via thumb drive: two copies go to the Baltimore police (one for an investigator, and one for evidence storage), and if the case goes to trial, two copies are given to the city prosecutor, and one copy is given to the defense. All of this could occur in just a few hours. Baltimore residents argue that a system like this is the only solution for a city grappling with high crime rates and a systemically corrupt police department.

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EU Backs Ending Daylight Saving Time
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's about-time department:
New submitter Zarhan writes: Earlier this summer, European Commission conducted a poll on whether EU citizens would like to abolish adjusting their clocks twice a year. The results are now in: 80% of the respondents want to get rid of the changes every spring and autumn. EU Commission is planning to follow through and abolish the practice. In EU, individual countries decide what timezone they belong in, but the clock adjustment is an EU-level decision. The recommendation for now is to stick to summer time year-round, although individual countries will make those decisions. More from DW. The changes are known to affect sleep patterns and causes loss in productivity and even heart attacks, especially when you lose one hour of sleep during the spring change. "I will recommend to the commission that, if you ask the citizens, then you have to do what the citizens say," said Jean-Claude Juncker, the commission's president. "We will decide on this today, and then it will be the turn of the member states and the European parliament."

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Popular College Majors Changed Abruptly After the Financial Crisis
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Ten years have passed since the 2008 financial crisis, and the effects linger. For one thing, the crisis produced a significant shift in American higher education. Scared by a seemingly treacherous labor market, since the downturn college students have turned away from the humanities and towards job-oriented degrees. It's not clear they are making the right decision. The humanities were humming along prior to 2008, according to an analysis by the Northeastern University historian Benjamin Schmidt. Over the previous decade, disciplines like history, philosophy, English literature, and religion were either growing or holding steady as a share of all college majors. But in the decade after the financial crisis, all of these majors took a nosedive. The popularity of the history major is an illustrative example. From 1998 to 2007, the share of college students graduating with a degree in history averaged around 2%. By 2017, it had fallen closer to 1%. (All data in this article are based on reports that colleges submit to the US Department of Education.) Other humanities majors saw a similar fall. "Declines have hit almost every field in the humanities... and related social sciences," wrote Schmidt in the The Atlantic. "[T]hey have not stabilized with the economic recovery, and they appear to reflect a new set of student priorities, which are being formed even before they see the inside of a college classroom."

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John McAfee's 'Unhackable' Bitfi Wallet Got Hacked -- Again
Posted by News Fetcher on August 31 '18 at 05:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's if-there's-a-will-there's-a-way department:
Earlier this month, computer programmer John McAfee released "the world's first un-hackable storage for cryptocurrency & digital assets" -- a $120 device, called the Bitfi wallet, that McAfee claimed contained no software or storage. McAfee was so sure of its security that it launched with a bug bounty inviting researchers to try and hack the wallet in return for a $250,000 award. Lo and behold, a researcher by the name of Andrew Tierney managed to hack the wallet, but Bitfi declined to pay out, arguing that the hack was outside the scope of the bounty. TechCrunch is now reporting that Tierney has managed to hack the Bitfi wallet again. An anonymous reader shares the report: Security researchers have now developed a second attack, which they say can obtain all the stored funds from an unmodified Bitfi wallet. The Android-powered $120 wallet relies on a user-generated secret phrase and a "salt" value -- like a phone number -- to cryptographically scramble the secret phrase. The idea is that the two unique values ensure that your funds remain secure. But the researchers say that the secret phrase and salt can be extracted, allowing private keys to be generated and the funds stolen. Using this "cold boot attack," it's possible to steal funds even when a Bitfi wallet is switched off. Within an hour of the researchers posting the video, Bitfi said in a tweeted statement that it has "hired an experienced security manager, who is confirming vulnerabilities that have been identified by researchers."

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