By EditorDavid from Slashdot's growing-overnight department
The price of Bitcoin surged past $11,000 today -- less than 24 hours after surging past $10,000.
Ars Technica points out Bitcoin's price has tripled in less than six months, "after crashing from an all-time high around $19,500 in December 2017." And as the price of Ethereum rose above $300 for the first time in nearly a year, Mashable writes that the total value of all cryptocurrencies is now over $300 billion, and suggests the new price milestones may indicate a broader awareness:
The $10,000 and the $300 price levels for Bitcoin and Ethereum, respectively, are important psychological barriers, and not only because they're nice and round. Last time, those levels were when the 'cab driver' effect was in full swing: Everyone was talking about Bitcoin; Coinbase was adding hundreds of thousands of users on a weekly basis. People who'd never even considered stocks were suddenly stocking up on Ethereum and other cryptocurrencies.
"Details about Facebook's long-awaited cryptocurrency brought significant attention to the industry as a whole," reports the Street, "and created anticipation that markets could move higher."
Not only will Facebook's cryptocurrency, Libra, introduce the platform's 2.5 billion users to cryptocurrencies, but the project doesn't take direct aim at bitcoin. Rather than striving to supplant the first and still-most-popular digital currency, Libra caters to the 1.7 billion unbanked around the world by striving to provide a fast, affordable and reliable way to send and receive money...
There is growing evidence that investors view bitcoin has a hedge against global instability, and several factors are creating FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt) in traditional financial markets.
< article continued at Slashdot's growing-overnight department
>Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's in-Soviet-Union-web-watches-you department
"You open your browser to look at the Web. Do you know who is looking back at you?" warns Washington Post technology columnist Geoffrey A. Fowler:
Over a recent week of Web surfing, I peered under the hood of Google Chrome and found it brought along a few thousand friends. Shopping, news and even government sites quietly tagged my browser to let ad and data companies ride shotgun while I clicked around the Web. This was made possible by the Web's biggest snoop of all: Google. Seen from the inside, its Chrome browser looks a lot like surveillance software...
My tests of Chrome vs. Firefox unearthed a personal data caper of absurd proportions. In a week of Web surfing on my desktop, I discovered 11,189 requests for tracker "cookies" that Chrome would have ushered right onto my computer but were automatically blocked by Firefox. These little files are the hooks that data firms, including Google itself, use to follow what websites you visit so they can build profiles of your interests, income and personality... And that's not the half of it. Look in the upper right corner of your Chrome browser. See a picture or a name in the circle? If so, you're logged in to the browser, and Google might be tapping into your Web activity to target ads. Don't recall signing in? I didn't, either. Chrome recently started doing that automatically when you use Gmail.
Chrome is even sneakier on your phone. If you use Android, Chrome sends Google your location every time you conduct a search. (If you turn off location sharing it still sends your coordinates out, just with less accuracy.)
The columnist concludes that "having the world's biggest advertising company make the most popular Web browser was about as smart as letting kids run a candy shop," and argues that through its Doubleclick and other ad businesses, Google "is the No. 1 cookie maker -- the Mrs. Fields of the web."
He also reports that Firefox is now working on ways to block browser "fingerprinting".Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's can-you-hear-me-now department
Zorro shares a report from The Register: Smart speakers are always listening for wake words, and recording everything they hear to improve their neural networks and target their masters with marketing. It's, frankly, creepy. Academics at the University of Washington in Seattle, USA, however, believe there are benefits to installing a cyber-assistant at home that listens in all the time. "A lot of people have smart speakers in their homes, and these devices have amazing capabilities that we can take advantage of," said Shyam Gollakota, coauthor of the research published this week in npj Digital Medicine. "We envision a contactless system that works by continuously and passively monitoring the bedroom for an agonal breathing event, and alerts anyone nearby to come provide CPR. And then if there's no response, the device can automatically call 911." "When the researchers tested their system on samples from the positive dataset, the devices correctly identified the noises associated with heart attacks about 96 percent of the time when they were placed six meters away from the source of the sound," the report adds. "But thereâ(TM)s a catch: it only really works when the researchers apply a noise cancellation algorithm to drown out background noise. The percentage for identifying heart attacks rapidly drops to just below five per cent if a noise cancellation algorithm isn't applied."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-one-bites-the-dust department
The latest Google product coming to an end is "Hangouts on Air," a fairly popular service for broadcasting a group video call live over the internet. "Notices saying the service is 'going away later this year' have started to pop up for users when they start a Hangout on Air," reports Ars Technica, noting that Hangouts on Air is completely different from "Google Hangouts," which just so happens to also be shutting down in the not-too-distant future. From the report: Hangouts on Air was popular with podcasters, since it was a super easy way to get a group of people together, on video, and have the conversation broadcasted live. Hangouts on Air started life on Google+ and transitioned to a part of YouTube in 2016, where live group video conversations could be created in the YouTube interface and then be recorded as a video for your YouTube channel. The service had great features like chat, screenshare, and an automatic camera system that would switch to the person that was talking, making it perfect for easy podcast videos. With Hangouts on Air dying, there really is no equivalent, easy way to do a live streamed group video chat. Google's shutdown message points people to YouTube.com/webcam, but that page is only for a single person on a local webcam, not a group video chat.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's faith-in-humanity-restored department
If you find a wallet stuffed with bank notes, do you pocket the cash or track down the owner to return it? We can each speak for ourselves, but now a team of economists have put the unsuspecting public to the test in a mass social experiment involving 17,000 "lost" wallets in 40 countries. From a report: They found that a majority of people returned the wallets and -- contrary to classic economic logic -- they were more likely to do so the more money the wallet contained. The findings defied the expectations of both professional economists and 2,500 respondents to a survey, who predicted that people would act in self-interest. Research assistants posed as people who had found wallets, hurriedly dropping them off in public places including banks, theatres, museums and police stations. Most of the wallet drops were in large cities, and there were about 400 observations per country.
The wallets contained either no money, a small amount or a larger sum, along with a grocery list and business cards with an email and phone number for the "owner." The amounts were scaled to match spending power in different countries. The entire cost of the project was about $600,000. Overall, 51% of those who were handed a wallet with the smaller amount of money reported it, compared with 40% of those handed an empty wallet. When the wallet contained a large sum of money, the rate of return was 72%.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's largest-data-breach-in-Canadian-history department
Freshly Exhumed shares a report from The Georgia Straight: The Quebec-based Desjardins Group has admitted to being victimized by one of the largest data breaches in Canadian history. Laval police informed the financial-services giant that personal information of more than 2.9 million members has been shared with people outside of the organization. This includes 2.7 million people and 173,000 businesses. "This situation is the outcome of unauthorized and illegal use of our internal data by an employee who has since been fired," Desjardins said in a statement. "In light of these events, and given the circumstances, additional security measures were put in place on all accounts." Desjardins, which is the largest federation of credit unions in North America, will be informing people by letters if they've been affected. The leaked data included first and last names, birthdates, social insurance numbers, addresses, phone numbers, email addresses, and details about banking habits. However, passwords, security questions, and PINs were not disclosed.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's banned-books department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: The Oregon Department of Corrections has banned prisoners from reading a number of books related to technology and programming, citing concerns about security. According to public records obtained by the Salem Reporter, the Oregon Department of Corrections has banned dozens of books related to programming and technology as they come through the mail room, ensuring that they don't get to the hands of prisoners. At least in official department code, there is no blanket ban on technology-related books. Instead, each book is individually evaluated to assess potential threats. Many programming-related books are cited as "material that threatens," often including the subject matter ("computer programming") as justification. The Oregon Department of Corrections (DOC) worries that prisoners could use the tools mentioned in some of the programming-related books to compromise their systems. But what's odd is the scope of the ban. Justin Seitz's Black Hat Python book failed the prison's security test since it's geared towards hacking, but so did the book Windows 10 for Dummies, Microsoft Excel 16 for Dummies which simply teaches proficiency in Excel and Windows 10.
Officials at the DOC argue that knowledge of even these basic programs can pose a threat to prisons. "Not only do we have to think about classic prison escape and riot efforts like digging holes, jumping fences and starting fires, modernity requires that we also protect our prisons and the public against data system breaches and malware," DOC spokesperson Jennifer Black said in an emailed statement. "It is a balancing act we are actively trying to achieve."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
As early as next Monday night, a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will launch a cluster of 24 satellites for the US Air Force. From a report: Known as the Space Test Program-2 mission, the rocket will deposit its payloads into three different orbits. Perhaps the most intriguing satellite will be dropped off at the second stop -- a circular orbit 720km above the Earth's surface. This is the Planetary Society's LightSail 2 spacecraft. After a week in space, allowing the satellites deposited in this orbit to drift apart, LightSail 2 will eject from its carrying case into open space. About the size of a loaf of bread, the 5kg satellite will eventually unfurl into a solar sail 4 meters long by 5.6 meters tall. The Mylar material composing the sail is just 4.5 microns thick, or about one-tenth as thick as a human hair. This experiment, which will attempt to harness the momentum of photons and "sail" through space, is the culmination of decades of work by The Planetary Society. "This goes back to the very beginning, to Carl Sagan, Bruce Murray, and Lou Friedman," the organization's chief executive, Bill Nye, told Ars in an interview. "We are carrying on a legacy that has been with us since the founders. It's just an intriguing technology because it lowers the cost of going all over the place in the Solar System."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's man-speaks-again department
In May, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes shocked many when he expressed grave concerns about Facebook's CEO, its business and its impact on the world. He went as far as suggesting that Facebook should be broken up. Two months later, Hughes has another interesting remark to share. He has warned that Facebook's new planned digital currency Libra would shift monetary power to corporate giants. [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source.] In an op-ed he wrote today: If even modestly successful, Libra would hand over much of the control of monetary policy from central banks to these private companies, which also include Visa, Uber, and Vodafone. If global regulators don't act now, it could very soon be too late. I've been a cryptocurrency sceptic, believing that the instability and regulatory challenges are just too sizeable. But Libra is different because it is a "stablecoin", with a value pegged to a basket of currencies and other assets. Anyone, whether they use Facebook or not, can buy in with a local currency and cash back out at any time. Vital decisions about Libra's administration, security and underlying assets will be made by the Switzerland-based Libra Association -- essentially Facebook and its largely corporate partners. To avoid complaints that setting up this coin would give a single company dangerous powers, Facebook has smartly limited itself to a single vote on the commission.
< article continued at Slashdot's man-speaks-again department
>Read Replies (0)