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NASA Scientists Suggest We've Been Underestimating Sea Level Rise
Posted by News Fetcher on October 31 '16 at 07:06 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's wrong-estimation department:
Our current estimate about the global sea level is "way off" according to a new study. The study published in Geophysical Research Letters this month suggests that our historial sea level records have been off by an underestimation of five to 28 percent. From a report on Motherboard: Global sea level, the paper concluded, rose no less than 5.5 inches over the last century, and likely saw an increase of 6.7 inches. The reason for this discrepancy was uncovered by earth scientists at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Hawai'i at Manoa. By comparing newer climate models with older sea level measurements, the team discovered that readings from coastal tide gauges may not have been as indicative as we thought. These gauges, located at more than a dozen sites across the Northern Hemisphere, have been a primary data source for estimating sea level changes during the last several decades. "It's not that there's something wrong with the instruments or the data, but for a variety of reasons, sea level does not change at the same pace everywhere at the same time," said Philip Thompson, the study's lead author and associate director of the University of Hawa'i Sea Level Center, in a statement. "As it turns out, our best historical sea level records tend to be located where past sea level rise was most likely less than the true global average."

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Facebook Tried To Buy Asian Snapchat Clone Snow
Posted by News Fetcher on October 31 '16 at 07:06 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's can't-beat-em',-buy-'em department:
Jon Russell, reporting for TechCrunch:Here's fuel to the fire for those who believe that Facebook will buy anything that looks, smells or moves like Snapchat. The U.S. social networking giant this summer made an unsuccessful bid to acquire Snow, a Snapchat-like service from Naver, the $25 billion-valued Korean firm behind chat app Line, a source close to the company told TechCrunch. Snow currently has around 80 million downloads, and it is adding around 10 million more each month, according to the source. That growth has also encouraged acquisition interest from Tencent -- the maker of blockbuster chat app WeChat -- Alibaba and others, TechCrunch understands. "It's true that Snow is receiving love calls from various companies," a representative from Naver told us in a statement. Despite acknowledging outside interest, Naver did not name Snow's would-be suitors.

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EFF Suggests Halloween Costume To Protest Facial Recognition Databases
Posted by News Fetcher on October 31 '16 at 04:25 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's treats-or-tricks department:
An anonymous reader writes:
EFF's list of costume ideas for digital rights activists include a Stingray costume, dressing up like a Privacy Badger (or a patent troll), and using facepaint to simulate the eerie digitization algorithms that are currently capturing images of your face for government databases. "Just this week we learned that facial recognition is far more prevalent among local and federal law enforcement than we thought, with at least 26 states using this biometric technology... To draw attention to this emerging threat to privacy, you can use your face painting skills to recreate the digitization algorithms on your own mug based on public records we and others have obtained from law enforcement agencies."
Sixteen states already grant the FBI access to their DMV databases, reports EFF, noting that it's "almost completely unregulated," with one study reporting that 50% of American faces are already in a government database.

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Male Birth Control Shot Found Effective
Posted by News Fetcher on October 31 '16 at 12:22 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I'm-on-the-shot department:
An anonymous reader quotes the BBC:
A hormone injection has been shown to be a safe and effective method of contraception -- for men. U.S. researchers say the jab was almost 96% effective in tests on around 270 men who were using it, with four pregnancies among their partners. However, a relatively high number developed side effects, including acne and mood disorders... Because men constantly produce sperm, high levels of hormones are needed to reduce levels from the normal sperm count of over 15 million per milliliter to under one million/ml.
One professor pointed out that despite the side effects, "75% of the men who took part in the trial would be willing to use this method of contraception again."

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Ask Slashdot: What Training Helps Older Programmers Most?
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 08:12 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's experience-vs-wisdom department:
brown.dragon is an older programmer moving to Australia. He writes:

I want to start an online solution that other programmers find helpful, and right now I'm wondering if I should go with "learning new technologies" or "getting really good at the basics". Both are targeted towards giving a career boost to older programmers...

Would you like to keep in touch with the latest technologies because that's what makes it easy to get jobs? Or would you like to be really good at answering (Google/Facebook/Amazon) algorithmic interview questions?

He asks programmers looking for an online educational tool, "which of these (if any), would interest you?" So leave your answers in the comments. What training do you think would help older programmers most?

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EA Blocks 'Origin' Access In Six Countries, Citing US Embargoes
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 06:52 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's game-over department:
An anonymous reader writes: "In compliance with US embargoes and sanctions laws, Origin is not available in Cuba, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Sudan, Syria, and Ukraine (Crimea region)," a community manager from EA posted in September. Engadget calls it "a reminder of the risks you take when buying copy-protected game downloads... Even if you started your account elsewhere, you aren't allowed to either visit the Origin store or use any of your purchased games."

Sunday an employee at EA's Origin game store commented "This isn't an EA-specific issue -- it's an issue that impacts all companies offering services that are covered by trade embargoes." But since the U.S. lifted sanctions on Myanmar in September, EA "is internally reviewing the situation... It's unclear to me whether we can do anything for residents of other countries that are still similarly embargoed, but I'll bring the topic up for discussion internally."

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Wordpress Founder Accuses Wix Of Stealing Code
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 04:23 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's taking-license-with-GPL department:
An anonymous reader writes:
"Wow, dude I did not even know we were fighting," Wix CEO Avishai Abrahami posted on the company's blog Saturday -- responding to Wordpress creator Matt Mullenweg, who on Friday accused Wix of stealing their code. "The claim is that the Wix mobile apps distribute GPL code and aren't themselves GPL, so they violate the license," Mullenweg wrote.
Abrahami argued that "Everything we improved there or modified, we submitted back as open source," adding "we will release the app you saw as well... " Mullenweg responded "It appears you and [lead engineer] Tal might share a misunderstanding of how the GPL works," ultimately adding "software licensing can be tricky and many people make honest mistakes."

Wix had also argued they're giving back to the open source community by listing 224 public projects on their GitHub page. "Thank you for the offer to use them," Mullenweg responded. "If we do, we'll make sure to follow the license you've put on the code very carefully."

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CETA Signed Off As Wallonia Folds Under Pressure
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 02:54 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's global-DMCA department:
Dangerous_Minds writes: The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) has been signed off. The government of Wallonia appeared to be holding off on the agreement, but has since folded under the pressure. Two days after Wallonia agreed to the trade deal, countries signed off on the agreement. The agreement contains provisions surrounding a three strikes law, a global DMCA, site blocking, and the hugely controversial ISDS provisions to name a few. The deal still needs to be ratified for these laws to take effect.

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'Armies' of Twitter Bots Bolster Both The Trump And Clinton Campaigns
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 02:54 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-America-tweet-again department:
An anonymous reader writes:
During the first U.S. presidential debate, "automated accounts were tweeting messages with hashtags associated with the candidates. For example, #makeamericagreatagain or #draintheswamp for Trump; #imwithher for Clinton," according to TechNewsWorld. They cite researchers at PoliticalBots.org, who "found that one-third of all tweets using pro-Trump hashtags were created by bots and one-fifth of all Clinton hashtags were generated by automated accounts."

In addition, "Political actors and governments worldwide have begun using bots to manipulate public opinion, choke off debate, and muddy political issues... We know for a fact that Russia, as a state, has sponsored the use of bots for attacking transnational targets... We've had cases in Mexico, Turkey, South Korea and Australia. The problem is that a lot of people don't know bots exist, and that trends on social media or even online polls can be gamed by bots very easily."
After the second presidential debate, "Pro-Clinton bots 'fought back'," reported the BBC, adding that they were still outnumbered by the Trump bots.

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Pirate Party Gains Seats In Iceland's Election
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 01:34 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's talk-like-a-politician-day department:
The BBC reports that Iceland's Pirate Party "has tripled its seats in the 63-seat parliament, election results show. It is in joint second place with the Left-Greens -- with 10 seats each."
An anonymous reader quotes USA Today:
Iceland's hacker-led, upstart Pirate Party failed to make the nation's powerful Independence Party walk the plank after all. The Pirate Party -- led by a former WikiLeaks collaborator -- rode the populist movement sweeping Europe to make big gains in Saturday's election, but returns on Sunday gave the largest bloc of seats to the center-right Independence Party...

Pirate Party co-founder Birgitta Jonsdottir, who became involved with WikiLeaks in 2010 after its leader Julian Assange visited Iceland, said she was satisfied with the Pirate plunder at the polls. "Our internal predictions showed 10 to 15%, so this is at the top of the range."
Iceland's prime minister was forced to resign in April after the Panama Papers suggested his family had sheltered its personal wealth outside the country.

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Serious Hacks Possible Through Inaudible Ultrasound
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 12:12 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hear-hear department:
An anonymous reader writes:
"High-frequency audio 'beacons' are embedded into TV commercials or browser ads," reports New Scientist. "These sounds, which are inaudible to the human ear, can be picked up by any nearby device that has a microphone and can then activate certain functions on that device...Some shopping reward apps, such as Shopkick, already use it to let retailers push department or aisle-specific ads and promotions to customers' phones as they shop."

But now Fortune reports that some apps "often actively listen for ultrasound signals, even when the app itself is closed, creating a new and relatively poorly-understood pathway for hacking." In addition, security researchers "have already found ways to mine cloaked IP addresses. Speaking to New Scientist, team member Vasilios Mavroudis suggests that an app's always-on microphone access could be leveraged to monitor conversations (and, if you're not paranoid already, to decipher what you're typing). The 'beacons' that transmit ultrasound data can also be spoofed to manipulate apps' user data."

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Family Sues Amazon After Counterfeit Hoverboard Catches Fire, Destroys Home
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 10:45 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bad-news-batteries department:
Three weeks after unboxing a hoverboard, it burst into flames. But is Amazon partly to blame?
tripleevenfall quotes The Tennessean:
A Nashville family whose $1 million home was destroyed earlier this year in a fire caused by a hoverboard toy is suing Amazon saying the retail giant knowingly sold a dangerous product...
The lawsuit says the seller of the hoverboard listed online, "W-Deals," is a sham organization that is registered to an apartment in New York City that has not responded to requests from lawyers in the case. It alleges the family was sold a counterfeit product from China instead of a brand with a Samsung lithium ion battery they believed they were buying from Amazon . It says Tennessee product liability law holds a seller responsible if the manufacturer cannot be found.

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Air Force Says F-35 Glitches Mean the A-10 Will Keep Flying 'Indefinitely'
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 10:45 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's high-planes-drifting department:
The A-10 aircraft "is just too effective to get rid of," wrote one defense blogger -- especially in light of ongoing issues with the F-35.
schwit1 quotes Jalopnik:
Strategists have feared that the jet will be axed in favor of funding the F-35, but the U.S. Air Force recently confirmed that it plans to keep the A-10 flying "indefinitely." While the Air Force is theoretically supposed to be diverting the A-10's operating expenses to feed the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the people in charge are now planning to keep the plane running...

Air Force Materiel Command chief Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski told AviationWeek in a interview, "Our command, anyway, is approaching this as another airplane that we are sustaining indefinitely." While the beancounters and product planners are trying to push the A-10 off the board, Materiel Command is going to keep on keeping the planes in peak condition, which will give the A-10 it's best chance of proving its worth over and over again. And it seems to be working -- the A-10 posted a 5% increase in its availability rate from 2014 to 2015, and the Air Force seems to keep postponing its demise.
In Congress one representative has even suggested an operational testing "fly-off" between the two aircraft -- a jet-vs-jet competition to determine whether any more A-10s get retired.

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Red Hat CEO: Linux Is Now The 'Default Choice' For The Cloud
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 09:22 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's cloudy-with-a-chance-of-Linux department:
Speaking at the "All Things Open" conference, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst remembered when Linux "was just a 'bunch of geeks' getting together figuring it all out on an 8286 chip" 25 years ago. An anonymous reader quotes BizJournals:
"It went from being kind of a hacker movement to truly what I'll say [is] a viable alternative to traditional software," Whitehurst says, adding that Red Hat was a part of that push. Over the years, it came out from under the radar, being what Whitehurst calls "the default choice for a next-generation of infrastructure," particularly when it comes to cloud architectures... He points to Google, Microsoft and Facebook, all having open sourced their machine learning systems. "They recognize the company that builds the community around that piece of technology, that technology is going to win."

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Mines May Eliminate More Than Half Their Human Workers Within 10 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 08:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's canary-in-the-coal-mine? department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes ComputerWorld:
In the next decade, the mining industry may lose more than half of its jobs to automation, according to a new report... This industry is adopting self-driving trucks, automated loaders and automated drilling and tunnel-boring systems. It is also testing fully autonomous long-distance trains, which carry materials from the mine to a port...
A broader question is whether mining is a bellwether for other industries. There's no clear answer, but what Aaron Cosbey, a development economist and a report author, can say is this: "Where you can find robotic replacements for human labor you tend to do it." Cosbey estimates that automation will replace 40% to 80% of the workers at a mine...
Driverless technology can increase output up to 20%, while decreasing fuel consumption up to 15%, according to the article. "This will increase demand for people with IT skills who can set up and operate the automation systems -- but at far smaller numbers than the people automation displaces."

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'Robocall Strike Force' Proposal Could Stop Caller ID Spoofing
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 06:42 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's do-not-call-from department:
This summer the FCC convened a "Robocall Task Force" to help consumers fight unwanted automated telemarketers, and Wednesday the coalition finally delivered a report recommending a "Do Not Originate" list so carriers could spot spoofed numbers which should be blocked.

A trial of the "DNO" list that's been running for the last few weeks on some IRS numbers has resulted in a 90 percent drop in the volume of IRS scam calls, officials from AT&T, which leads the strike force, said during the FCC meeting Wednesday. The carriers on the strike force, which include Sprint, Verizon, and many others, plan to continue testing the DNO list in the coming months, with the intent to fully implement it some time next year...

The strike force members also are working on a system to classify calls into categories, such as political or charity, as a way to give consumers more information before they answer calls from unknown numbers. And, the group said it has developed a working solution for authentication between VoIP applications and traditional landline networks as another way to defeat spoofing from callers in foreign countries.

Early next year they're planning larger tests -- and the strike force has also created a new site describing how to block and report robocalls.

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New Attack Can Seize Control of Drones
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 06:42 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's better-than-a-shotgun department:
A new radio transmitter "seizes complete control of nearby drones as they're in mid-flight," reports Ars Technica:
From then on, the drones are under the full control of the person with the hijacking device. The remote control in the possession of the original operator experiences a loss of all functions, including steering, acceleration, and altitude... Besides hijacking a drone, the device provides a digital fingerprint that's unique to each craft. The fingerprint can be used to identify trusted drones from unfriendly ones and potentially to provide forensic evidence for use in criminal or civil court cases...

Hijacks could allow law-enforcement officers to safely seize control of vulnerable drones that are endangering or interfering with first responders. The hacks could also provide ordinary citizens with a less-draconian way of disabling a drone they believe is impinging on their property or privacy... A patchwork of federal and state laws makes it unclear if even local authorities have the legal authority to shoot or hack an aircraft out of the sky.

XKCD once proposed solving the problem with butterfly nets, but instead this new attack is exploiting unencrypted DSMx radio signals.

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Police Used Cell Tower Logs To Text 7,500 Possible Crime Witnesses
Posted by News Fetcher on October 30 '16 at 03:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's unlimited-roaming department:
"Investigators are calling it a 'digital canvass' -- the high-tech equivalent of knocking on thousands of doors for information," reports the CBC, describing how an Ontario police department sent text messages to 7,500 potential witnesses of a homicide using phone numbers from a nearby cell tower's logs. Police obtained the numbers through a court order, and sent two texts -- one in English, and another one in French -- asking recipients to "voluntarily answer a few simple questions..."

Slashdot reader itamblyn writes: On one hand, this seems like the natural progression from the traditional approach of canvassing local residents by putting up flyers and knocking on doors. On the other hand, I think one can reasonably ask -- Are we OK with this approach...? Do we want this to happen whenever there is a major crime?

The article adds that the police force "will keep the numbers on file until the killing is solved, officers said at a news conference on Wednesday... Investigators will also consider calling the numbers of people who don't respond voluntarily, but they would be required to obtain another court order to do so."

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How Linux Saved A School's Failing Windows Laptop Program
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '16 at 11:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's P-is-for-Penguin department:
OpenSource.com reports on a Minnesota school's 1:1 program -- one device per child -- where "Lots of the Windows laptops were in very poor condition and needed to be replaced."
An anonymous reader writes:
An Indiegogo campaign triggered extra money and donations of laptops, allowing the school's Linux club to equip much of the school with Linux laptops. "When you're using open source software you're free to use operating systems and application software without the hassle of license keys or license tracking inherent with proprietary software," says Stu Keroff, the school's technology coordinator. "This allows a school to experiment [and] gives them the freedom to make mistakes...

But there's also another benefit. "By empowering the students to be part of that process we were able to get more done, and to generate more excitement about the learning that the students were taking part in." There's now a waiting list for the school's Linux club, where they'd planned to cap membership at 35...until 62 students applied. Instead, they found themselves creating two Linux clubs, one for the sixth graders, and one for the 7th and 8th graders.

And to answer the obvious question -- they're using Ubuntu, with the Unity desktop.

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Apple Shared User Data With Governments, Says WikiLeaks Email
Posted by News Fetcher on October 29 '16 at 07:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's responding-to-warrants department:
"Please know that Apple will continue its work with law enforcement," reads an email from Apple's vice president of Environment, Policy and Social Initiatives, who reports directly to CEO Tim Cook, according to new documents this week on WikiLeaks. An anonymous reader writes:
In the email the Apple executive writes "we work closely with authorities to comply with legal requests for data that have helped solve complex crimes. Thousands of times every month, we give governments information about Apple customers and devices, in response to warrants and other forms of legal process. We have a team that responds to those requests 24 hours a day." The email was addressed to Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta.
But the context is missing, and could show a larger attempt to soften Hillary Clinton's position on encryption. While Jackson writes that at Apple, "We share law enforcement's concerns about the threat to citizens," she later writes "Strong encryption does not eliminate Apple's ability to give law enforcement meta-data or any of a number of other very useful categories of data."

The email also compliments Clinton for her "principled and nuanced stance" on encryption in a December debate against Bernie Sanders. Clinton had said "maybe the backdoor is the wrong door, and I understand what Apple and others are saying about that. But I also understand, when a law enforcement official charged with the responsibility of preventing attack...well, if we can't know what someone is planning, we are going to have to rely on the neighbor... I just think there's got to be a way, and I would hope that our tech companies would work with government to figure that out."

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