By BeauHD from Slashdot's awkward-dynamic department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: Amid reports that first daughter and White House senior advisor Ivanka Trump exchanged hundreds of official government business emails using a personal email account, top Democrats on Capitol Hill "want to know if Ivanka complied with the law" and in the next Congress plan to continue their investigation of the Presidential Records Act and Federal Records Act. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat who's in line to become the next chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee next year, promises any potential investigation into Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump's emails won't be like the "spectacle" Republicans led in the Clinton email probe.
The Oversight committee has jurisdiction over records and transparency laws, and Cummings helped write an update to the Presidential and Federal Records Acts that was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2014. That measure mandates that every federal employee, including the President, forward any message about official business sent using a private account to the employee's official email account within 20 days. "We launched a bipartisan investigation last year into White House officials' use of private email accounts for official business, but the White House never gave us the information we requested," Cummings, D-Md., noted. "We need those documents to ensure that Ivanka Trump, Jared Kushner, and other officials are complying with federal records laws and there is a complete record of the activities of this Administration. My goal is to prevent this from happening again -- not to turn this into a spectacle the way Republicans went after Hillary Clinton. My main priority as Chairman will be to focus on the issues that impact Americans in their everyday lives."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's for-what-it-is-worth department
As you travel this holiday season, bouncing from airport to airplane to hotel, you'll likely find yourself facing a familiar quandary: Do I really trust this random public Wi-Fi network? As recently as a couple of years ago, the answer was almost certainly a resounding no. But in the year of our lord 2018? Friend, go for it. Wired: This advice comes with plenty of qualifiers. If you're planning to commit crimes online at the Holiday Inn Express, or to visit websites that you'd rather people not know you frequented, you need to take precautionary steps that we'll get to in a minute. Likewise, if you're a high-value target of a sophisticated nation state, stay off of public Wi-Fi at all costs. But for the rest of us? You're probably OK. That's not because hotel and airport Wi-Fi networks have necessarily gotten that much more secure. The web itself has.
"A lot of the former risks, the reasons we used to warn people, those things are gone now," says Chet Wisniewski, principle researcher at security firm Sophos. "It used to be because almost nothing on the internet was encrypted. You could sit there and sniff everything. Or someone could set up a rogue access point and pretend to be Hilton, and then you would connect to them instead of the hotel." In those Wild West days, in other words, signing onto a shared Wi-Fi network exposed you to myriad attacks, from hackers tracking your every move online, to so-called man-in-the-middle efforts that tricked you into entering your passwords, credit card information, or more on phony websites. A cheap, easy to use device called a Wi-Fi Pineapple makes those attacks simple to pull off. All of that's still technically possible. But a critical internet evolution has made those efforts much less effective: the advent of HTTPS.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's fascinating-tales department
Reader pacopico writes: Humans have been spotting UFO-like objects for hundreds of years. But, in the late 1920s, an obscure engineer/artist named Alexander Weygers actually designed a flying saucer and later patented the craft. Bloomberg Businessweek spent two years reporting on the strange tale of Weygers, uncovering a Da Vinci type figure who lived on the outskirts of Silicon Valley in a house he built from recycled materials. Weygers was an engineer, sculptor, photographer, wood carver, tax evader and generally weird dude who lived off the land for decades. He became convinced the military stole his flying saucer design and built the vehicles, and there's some evidence he might be right. Weygers was largely forgotten until an art collector became obsessed with his story and found out everything there was to know about the guy. Overall, he's a symbol of a different, purer time in Silicon Valley.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-updates department
You and 800 million other people now can use hardware authentication keys -- and no password at all -- to log on to Microsoft accounts used for Outlook, Office 365, OneDrive, Skype and Xbox Live. From a report: Microsoft is using a technology called FIDO2, which employs hardware keys for the no-password logon, the company said Tuesday. New versions of Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system and Edge web browser support the technology. The hardware authentication keys plug into laptop USB ports or, for phones, use Bluetooth or NFC wireless communications to help prove who you are. Initially, they worked in combination with a password for dual-factor authentication, but FIDO2 and a related browser technology called WebAuthn expands beyond that to let the company ditch the password altogether.
Microsoft's no-password logon offers three options: the hardware key combined with Windows Hello face recognition technology or fingerprint ID; the hardware key combined with a PIN code; or a phone running the Microsoft Authenticator app. It works with Outlook.com, Office 365, Skype, OneDrive, Cortana, Microsoft Edge, Xbox Live on the PC, Mixer, the Microsoft Store, Bing and the MSN portal site.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
The dome where crew members practiced red-planet missions will now be converted to a simulated moon base. Excerpt from a report: For the last five years, a small Mars colony thrived in Hawaii, many miles away from civilization. The Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation, or HI-SEAS, was carried out in a small white dome nestled along the slope of a massive volcano called Mauna Loa. The habitat usually housed six people at a time, for as long as eight months. They prepared freeze-dried meals, took 30-second showers to conserve water, and wore space suits every time they left the dome. To replicate the communication gap between Earth and Mars, they waited 20 minutes for their emails to reach their family members, and another 20 to hear back. Sometimes, as they drifted off to sleep, with nothing but silence in their ears, they really believed they were on Mars.
In February of this year, something went wrong. The latest and sixth mission was just four days in when one of the crew members was carried out on a stretcher and taken to a hospital, an Atlantic investigation revealed in June. There had been a power outage in the habitat, and some troubleshooting ended with one of the residents sustaining an electric shock. The rest of the crew was evacuated, too. There was some discussion of returning -- the injured person was treated and released in the same day -- but another crew member felt the conditions weren't safe enough and decided to withdraw. The Mars simulation couldn't continue with a crew as small as three, and the entire program was put on hold. [...]Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Samsung is planning a major upgrade for its 10th anniversary flagship phones next year, including next-generation 5G network speeds, bigger screens and more cameras, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday, citing people familiar with the matter. From the report: Samsung, the world's largest smartphone maker by volume, is preparing three versions of its next flagship Galaxy S10 smartphone, with displays that range in size from 5.8 inches to 6.4 inches, the people said, versus two variants in previous years. Those three phones are set to debut in February next year, they added. In addition, the South Korean technology giant is developing a fourth variant of the Galaxy S10 that will be 5G-enabled and is internally code-named "Beyond X," [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source] some of these people said.
The 5G phone, slated for a spring release in the U.S. and South Korea, would sport an even larger screen, measuring 6.7 inches diagonally, and pack in a whopping six cameras -- two in the front and four in the back, these people said, which promise richer photos and better spatial perception.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's perspective-is-everything department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Mercury News: Nine out of every 10 Silicon Valley jobs pays less now than when Netflix first launched in 1997, despite one of the nation's strongest economic booms and a historically low unemployment rate that outpaces the national average. While tech workers have thrived, employees in the middle of Silicon Valley's income ladder have been hit hardest as their inflation-adjusted wages declined between 12 and 14 percent over the past 20 years, according to a study from UC Santa Cruz's Everett Program for Technology and Social Change and the labor think tank Working Partnership USA, which examined the economic impact of technology companies.
Technology workers saw a median wage increase of 32 percent over the past 20 years, the study found. But Silicon Valley workers in virtually all other areas lost ground during that time. Across all jobs, wages for even the highest-paid 10 percent increased just under 1 percent, the study found. Meanwhile, the region's economy has been booming. Since 2001, the amount of money generated per Silicon Valley resident -- the area's per person GDP -- has grown 74 percent, the study found. That's more than five times faster than the equivalent national growth. Also, a smaller percentage of wealth is going to workers. "In 2001, about 64 percent of the money generated in Silicon Valley went to workers," reports Mercury News. "By 2016, that was down to 60 percent. The drop translated to $9.6 billion -- about $8,480 in potential pay and benefits per worker -- that instead went to investors and owners, according to the study."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's target-acquired department
Five years and sixty potential locations later, NASA has chosen the Jezero Crater as the landing site for its Mars 2020 rover mission. "Slated to launch in July the Mars 2020 rover mission will touch down at the Jezero Crater as NASA's exploration of the Red Planet enters its next phase," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The rover will be looking for signs of habitable conditions -- and past microbial life -- while also collecting rock and soil samples that will be stored in a cache on the Martian surface. "The landing site in Jezero Crater offers geologically rich terrain, with landforms reaching as far back as 3.6 billion years old, that could potentially answer important questions in planetary evolution and astrobiology," said Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA's Science Mission Directorate, in a statement. "Getting samples from this unique area will revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life."
The crater is located on the western edge of Isidis Planitia, a giant impact basin just north of the Martian equator, with some of the oldest and most scientifically interesting landscapes Mars has to offer, according to NASA scientists. Mission scientists believe the 28-mile-wide crater once held an ancient river delta, and could have collected and preserved organic molecules and other potential signs of microbial life from the water and sediments that flowed into the crater. NASA thinks it can collect up to five different kinds of Martian rock, including clays and carbonates that may preserve indicators of past life. There's also the hope that minerals have been swept into the crater over the last billion years which Rover could also collect.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's highly-anticipated-remakes department
On Monday, developer Crowbar Collective released the first trailer for Black Mesa: Xen, the final act of its long running remake of Valve's 1998 game Half-Life, which marked its 20-year anniversary on the same day. "The finale of Half-Life put hero Gordon Freeman in an alien world, and Black Mesa: Xen's upgraded graphics and redesign makes the original's muddy palette look vibrant and strange," reports Motherboard. "It looks just as exciting as it did at the time of the original game's release." From the report: When Valve unleashed Half-Life, it changed video games forever. The first person shooter from what was then a relatively unknown company starred a silent scientist beating down alien headcrabs and shooting human Marines in a novel sci-fi adventure. It was a triumph. Shortly after, in 2003, the Crowbar Collective began work on a remake that would come to be known as Black Mesa. Fan communities routinely reimagine their favorite video games, often as modifications, or mods, of the originals. Black Mesa began life as a free mod for Half-Life 2, but grew into a proper remake. Crowbar Collective added new voice work, changed animations, and tweaked the original game in hundreds of ways big and small. Black Mesa: Xen has a target release date of early 2019.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hypocrisy-at-its-finest department
The Washington Post is reporting that Ivanka Trump used a personal email account to send hundreds of emails last year to White House aids, Cabinet officials and her assistants. Many of the emails were "in violation of federal records rules," the report says. Ivanka's practices are reminiscent of the personal email account Hillary Clinton used as secretary of state. From the report: White House ethics officials learned of Trump's repeated use of personal email when reviewing emails gathered last fall by five Cabinet agencies to respond to a public records lawsuit. That review revealed that throughout much of 2017, she often discussed or relayed official White House business using a private email account with a domain that she shares with her husband, Jared Kushner. Some aides were startled by the volume of Ivanka Trump's personal emails -- and taken aback by her response when questioned about the practice. Trump said she was not familiar with some details of the rules, according to people with knowledge of her reaction. A spokesperson for Ivanka Trump's attorney and ethics counsel, Abbe Lowell, "acknowledged that the president's daughter occasionally used her private email before she was briefed on the rules, but he said none of her messages contained classified information," reports Washington Post. "While transitioning into government, after she was given an official account but until the White House provided her the same guidance they had given others who started before she did, Ms. Trump sometimes used her personal account, almost always for logistics and scheduling concerning her family," he said in a statement. He went on to say that her email use was different than that of Clinton. "Ms. Trump did not create a private server in her house or office, no classified information was ever included, the account was never transferred at Trump Organization, and no emails were ever deleted," Mirijanian said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Forget the old American campaign slogan of a chicken in every pot, or the Indian politician's common pledge to put rice in every bowl. The New York Times reports: Here in the state of Chhattisgarh, the chief minister, Raman Singh, has promised a smartphone in every home -- and he is using the government-issued devices to reach voters as he campaigns in legislative elections that conclude on Tuesday. [...] The phones are the latest twist in digital campaigning by the B.J.P., which controls the national and state government and is deft at using tools like WhatsApp groups and Facebook posts to influence voters. The B.J.P. government in Rajasthan, which holds state elections next month, is also subsidizing phones and data plans for residents, and party leaders are considering extending the model to other states.
Chhattisgarh's $71 million free-phone program -- known by the acronym SKY after its name in Hindi -- is supposed to bridge the digital divide in this state of 26 million people, which is covered by large patches of forest and counts 7,000 villages that do not even have a wireless data signal. The plan is to add hundreds of cellphone towers and give a basic smartphone to every college student and one woman in every household to connect more families to the internet and help fulfill the central government's goal of a "Digital India." But this election season, many of the 2.9 million people who have received the phones have found themselves targeted by the B.J.P.Read Replies (0)