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Google's Not Investing in Young Startups Anymore
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 12:11 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's don't-take-my-money department:
GV, the division of Alphabet, is no longer investing in startups that are at their nascent stage. According to data from research firm CB Insights, GV completed no seed-stage deals in the first half of this year, down from 10 such deals last year. That represented a 77% drop from the number of deals it did in 2014. Quartz reports (edited and condensed): GV's former chief executive and co-founder, Bill Maris, who stepped down earlier this month, told the Wall Street Journal in December that he was cutting fewer checks at the seed stage because he thought that market was overheated. He also said that he was mystified by the reluctance of some portfolio companies to avoid a stock market flotation. "They would benefit from the rigor and discipline that the public market requires," he said.

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Tech Giants Sign Pledge With World Wildlife Fund To Prevent Wildlife Trading
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 12:11 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's save-animals department:
Kerry Flynn, writing for Mashable: Looking to buy an elephant tusk on eBay? Might not be so easy. The e-commerce giant, along with Etsy, Gumtree, Microsoft, Pinterest, Tencent and Yahoo, have signed on to a new commitment to prevent the sale of illegal wildlife products on their services. The initiative is in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund, the International Fund for Animal Welfare and TRAFFIC, and was announced Friday to coincide with World Elephant Day. Under the new policy, companies are seeking to prohibit the sale of wild live animals and animal body parts that are sourced illegally, species that are threatened by extinction and other protected animals. That includes rhino horns, pangolin parts and turtle meat. It's the first time that conservation organizations have partnered with multiple tech companies. Prior, the WWF, for example, has worked with other organizations individually.Recently, the Indian government had accused several tech companies including Amazon of "selling" rare animals and their parts.

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More Airline Outages Seen As Carriers Grapple With Aging Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 10:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's outdated-tech department:
An anonymous reader writes: Airlines will likely suffer more disruptions like the one that grounded about 2,000 Delta flights this week because major carriers have not invested enough to overhaul reservations systems based on technology dating to the 1960s, airline industry and technology experts told Reuters. Airlines have spent heavily to introduce new features such as automated check-in kiosks, real-time luggage tracking and slick mobile apps. But they have avoided the steep cost of rebuilding their reservations systems from the ground up, former airline executives said. Scott Nason, former chief information officer at American Airlines Group Inc, said long-term investments in computer technology were a tough sell when he worked there. "Most airlines were on the verge of going out of business for many years, so investment of any kind had to have short pay-back periods," said Nason, who left American in 2009 and is now an independent consultant. The reservations systems of the biggest carriers mostly run on a specialized IBM operating system known as Transaction Processing Facility, or TPF. It was designed in the 1960s to process large numbers of transactions quickly and is still updated by IBM, which did a major rewrite of the operating system about a decade ago.

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Linux 4.9 Will Be the Next LTS Kernel Branch, Says Greg Kroah-Hartman
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 10:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's Linux-marvel-heroes department:
Reader prisoninmate writes: Renowned Linux kernel developer and maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman said on Friday that the next LTS (Long-Term Support) kernel branch will be Linux 4.9. The development cycle of a new Linux kernel branch doesn't take more than a month and a half or a maximum of two months, depending if the respective series will receive seven or eight Release Candidate (RC) milestones, but LTS releases are picked by veteran kernel developers from time to time when older ones reach end of life (EOL). If Linux kernel 4.8 will be a normal release with a total of seven RCs and it'll be announced on day of September 25, then the development cycle of the Linux 4.9 kernel should start with the first Release Candidate development snapshot on October 9, 2016. But if Linux kernel 4.8 will have eight RCs, then we should see Linux kernel 4.9 LTS RC1 one week later, on October 16.

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Local Canadian Police Station Admits To Owning Stingray Surveillance Device
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's big-brother-and-his-van department:
The Edmonton Police Service has admitted to Motherboard that it owns a Stingray and that it used the [surveillance] device in the past during investigations. After Vancouver cops admitted to using the phone tracker to investigate an abduction in 2007, Motherboard called up other local police stations in Canada to ask if they had also previously used one. As you can imagine, the other stations kept mum. In the US, Stingrays are a regular part of government and law enforcement agencies' surveillance arsenal. But Vancouver's and Edmonton's police services are the first law enforcement offices in Canada to confirm that they've used the device. Motherboard adds: According an emailed statement from police spokesperson Anna Batchelor, Edmonton's cops have "used the device in the past during investigations," but would not release any additional details in order to "to protect [Edmonton Police Service] operations." Until now, the only law enforcement in the country known to use the devices was the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the country's analogue to the US Federal Bureau of Investigation. These suitcase-sized surveillance tools have been used in the past by the Vancouver and Toronto police, but the Vancouver police have said they borrowed the Stingray from the RCMP, and in Toronto an RCMP technician was on hand, at least in that incident. The Edmonton police's comment to Motherboard is the first time a local police department in Canada has publicly admitted to owning a Stingray device.

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Rightscorp Threatens Every ISP in the United States
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's unprecedented-move department:
An anonymous reader writes: Following a court win by its client BMG over Cox Communications this week, Rightscorp has issued an unprecedented warning to every ISP in the United States today. Boasting a five-year trove of infringement data against Internet users, Rightscorp warned ISPs that they can either cooperate or face the consequences. "For nearly five years, Rightscorp has warned US internet service providers (ISPs) that they risk incurring huge liabilities if they fail to implement and enforce policies under which they terminate the accounts of their subscribers who repeatedly infringe copyrights," the company said in a statement. "Over that time, many ISPs have taken the position that it was simply impossible for an ISP to be held liable for its subscribers' actions -- even when the ISP had been put on notice of massive infringements and supplied with detailed evidence. There had never been a judicial decision holding an ISP liable."

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Canonical Releases Snapcraft 2.14 For Ubuntu With New Rust Plugin, Improvements
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's little-happiness department:
Marius Nestor, reporting for Softpedia News: Canonical, through Sergio Schvezov, has had the great pleasure of announcing the release and general availability of Snapcraft 2.14 Snap creator tool for the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS (Xenial Xerus) operating system. Coming hot on the heels of Snapcraft 2.13, the new 2.14 maintenance update is here to introduce a bunch of new plugins, namely rust, godeps, and dump. You can find more information about each one by running the "snapcraft help " command in a terminal window. Also new in the Snapcraft 2.14 release is support for alternate relocation mechanisms in the "make" plugin (for example, you can use DESTDIR alternatives), as well as many improvements to the "go" plugin, such as support for local sources, which are now preferred instead of fetching new ones, and proper handling of the source entry. The list of improvements implemented in Snapcraft 2.14 continues with support for building a kernel Snaps for multiple hardware architectures using a single snapcraft.yaml file, support for "oneshot" daemons, better wiki parser source management, as well as proper setting of "shebangs" and support for requirement files in the "python" plugin.

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Cory Doctorow On What iPhone's Missing Headphone Jack Means For Music Industry
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 08:01 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's case-of-missing-headphone-jack department:
Rumors of Apple's next iPhone missing a headphone jack have been swirling around for more than a year now. But a report from WSJ a few weeks ago, and another report from Bloomberg this week further cemented such possibility. We've talked about it here -- several times -- but now Cory Doctorow is shedding light on what this imminent change holds for the music industry. Reader harrymcc writes: Fast Company's Mark Sullivan talked about the switch with author and EFF adviser Cory Doctorow, who thinks it could lead to music companies leveraging DRM to exert more control over what consumers can do with their music.From the article:"If Apple creates a circumstance where the only way to get audio off its products is through an interface that is DRM-capable, they'd be heartbreakingly naive in assuming that this wouldn't give rise to demands for DRM," said Doctorow. If a consumer or some third-party tech company used the music in way the rights holders didn't like, the rights holders could invoke the anti-circumvention law written in Section 1201 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Steve Jobs famously convinced the record industry to remove the DRM from music on iTunes; is there really any reason to believe the industry might suddenly become interested in DRM again if the iPhone audio goes all digital? "Yes -- for streaming audio services," Doctorow says. "I think it is inevitable that rights holder groups will try to prevent recording, retransmission, etc." Today it's easy to record streamed music from the analog headphone jack on the phone, and even to convert the stream back to digital and transmit it in real time to someone else. With a digital stream it might not be nearly so easy, or risk-free."Doctorow shares more on BoingBoing.

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Creator of Chatbot that Beat 160K Parking Fines Now Tackling Homelessness
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 08:01 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's doing-what's-right department:
An anonymous reader writes: The chatbot lawyer that overturned hundreds and thousands of parking tickets is now tackling another problem: homelessness. London-born Stanford student Joshua Browder created DoNotPay initially to help people appeal against fines for unpaid parking tickets. Dubbed "the world's first robot lawyer", Browder later programmed it to deal with a wider range of legal issues, such as claiming for delayed flights and trains and payment protection insurance (PPI). Now, Browder, 19, wants his chatbot to provide free legal aid to people facing homelessness. He said: "I never could have imagined a parking ticket bot would appeal so much to people. Then I realised: this issue is bigger than a few parking tickets." In an interview with the Washington Post, the 19-year-old said he decided to expand the bot's capabilities after DoNotPay began receiving messages about evictions and repossessions. In February this year tenant evictions reached the highest on record.

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New Air-Gap Jumper Covertly Transmits Data in Hard-Drive Sounds
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 06:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's no-escape department:
Security researchers have found a new way to siphon data out of an infected computer even when it has been physically disconnected from the Internet -- otherwise known as "air-gap" computers -- to prevent the leakage of sensitive information it stores, reports ArsTechnica. From the article: The method has been dubbed "DiskFiltration" by its creators because it uses acoustic signals emitted from the hard drive of the air-gapped computer being targeted. It works by manipulating the movements of the hard drive's actuator, which is the mechanical arm that accesses specific parts of a disk platter so heads attached to the actuator can read or write data. By using so-called seek operations that move the actuator in very specific ways, it can generate sounds that transfer passwords, cryptographic keys, and other sensitive data stored on the computer to a nearby microphone. The technique has a range of six feet and a speed of 180 bits per minute, fast enough to steal a 4,096-bit key in about 25 minutes.

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Facebook Rolls Out Code To Nullify Adblock Plus' Workaround
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 05:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cat-and-mouse department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Wall Street Journal issued a report Tuesday that said Facebook will begin forcing ads to appear for all users of its desktop site, even if they use ad-blocking software. Adblock Plus, the most popular ad-blocking software, opposed Facebook's plan and found a workaround to Facebook's revision two days later. Now, TechCrunch is reporting that Facebook is well aware of Adblock Plus' workaround and their "plan to address the issue" is coming quick. "A source close to Facebook tells [TechCrunch] that today possibly within hours, the company will push an update to its site's code that will nullify Adblock Plus' workaround," reports TechCrunch. "Apparently it took two days for Adblock Plus to come up with the workaround, and only a fraction of that time for Facebook to disable it." An update on their site says, "A source says Facebook is now rolling out the code update that will disable Adblock Plus' workaround. It should reach all users soon."

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Barry Jenner, Who Played Admiral Ross On 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine,' Dies At 75
Posted by News Fetcher on August 12 '16 at 02:31 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department:
New submitter bufo333 quotes a report from Deadline: Character actor Barry Jenner, best known for his pivotal role as Admiral William Ross on "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine" and with credits including recurring roles on "Dallas," "Knott's Landing," "Family Matters" and many others, died on August 9, his family has announced. He was 75.

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Venus May Have Been Habitable, Says NASA
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '16 at 11:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2016/08/160811120405.htm department:
EzInKy writes: Science Daily has an article speculating that Venus may have been habitable which is suggested by NASA climate modeling, which proposes that Venus may have had a shallow liquid-water ocean and habitable surface temperatures for up to two billion years of its early history. Talk about global climate change run amok. Venus may represent a near Earth example of what is in store for the future of our world if we don't make it a number one priority to address. Science Daily reports: "Venus today is a hellish world. It has a crushing carbon dioxide atmosphere 90 times as thick as Earth's. There is almost no water vapor. Temperatures reach 864 degrees Fahrenheit (462 degrees Celsius) at its surface. Scientists have long theorized that Venus formed out of ingredients similar to Earth's, but followed a different evolutionary path. Measurements by NASA's Pioneer mission to Venus in the 1980s first suggested Venus originally may have had an ocean. However, Venus is closer to the sun than Earth and receives far more sunlight. As a result, the planet's early ocean evaporated, water-vapor molecules were broken apart by ultraviolet radiation, and hydrogen escaped to space. With no water left on the surface, carbon dioxide built up in the atmosphere, leading to a so-called runaway greenhouse effect that created present conditions."

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Perseid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight With Up To 200 Meteors Per Hour
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '16 at 09:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's city-lights-and-desert-skies department:
The Perseid meteor shower happens ever year in August, but this year it will be especially spectacular with twice as many shooting stars streaking across the night sky. Los Angeles Times reports: "In past years, stargazers would have seen up to one meteor each minute, on average, in a very dark sky. But this year, there's even more reason to stay up late or crawl out of bed in the middle of the night. 'We're expecting 160 to 200 meteors per hour,' said Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. This year's 'outburst' of shooting stars was set into motion more than a year ago, when Jupiter passed closer than usual to the stream of dusty debris left in the wake of the comet Swift-Tuttle. Jupiter's gravity field tugged a large clump of the tiny particles closer to Earth's eventual path. These intense displays happen once a decade or so, Cooke said. The next one won't be until 2027 or 2028." The best viewing experience will be away from the city. Since it takes roughly 30-45 minutes for your eyes to adjust to the darkness, it's recommended you don't pull out your smartphone or excessively shine your flashlight around. The Los Angeles Times has a neat infographic of the Perseid meteor shower.

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Cracking The Code On Trump Tweets
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '16 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's crack-the-code department:
jIyajbe writes: From Electoral-Vote.com: "A theory has been circulating that the Donald Trump tweets that come from an Android device are from the candidate himself, while the ones that come from an iPhone are the work of his staff. David Robinson, a data scientist who works for Stack Overflow, decided to test the theory. His conclusion: It's absolutely correct. Robinson used some very sophisticated algorithms to analyze roughly 1,400 tweets from Trump's timeline, and demonstrated conclusively that the iPhone tweets are substantively different than the Android tweets. The former tend to come later at night, and are vastly more likely to incorporate hashtags, images, and links. The latter tend to come in the morning, and are much more likely to be copied and pasted from other people's tweets. In terms of word choice, the iPhone tweets tend to be more neutral, with their three most-used phrases being 'join,' '#trump2016,' and '#makeamericagreatagain.' The Android tweets tend to be more emotionally charged, with their three most-used phrases being 'badly,' 'crazy,' and 'weak.'"

reifman adds: In an excellent forensic text analysis of Trump's tweets with the Twitter API, data geek David Robinson demonstrates Trump authors his angriest, picture-less, hashtag-less Android tweets often in the morning, while staff tweet from an iPhone with pictures, hashtags and greater joy mostly in the middle of the day. Robinson's report was inspired by a tweet by artist Todd Vaziri. As for why Robinson decided to look into Trump's tweets, he told TIME, "For me it's more about finding a really interesting story, a case where people suspect something, but don't have the data to back it up. For me it was much more about putting some quantitive details to this story that has been going around than it was about proving something about Trump's campaign."

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Tor Promises Not To Build Backdoors Into Its Services
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '16 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pinky-swear department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: Tor has published what it calls a "Social Contract" comprised of promises to users and the principles the team believes in. Whatever the reason is, its social contract contains one interesting pledge: "We will never implement front doors or back doors into our projects," the team wrote. Tor's ability to keep users anonymous made it the go-to browser of people looking for drugs, illegal firearms, hitmen, child porn and other things you won't find on eBay or YouTube. If there's a browser law enforcement agencies would want a backdoor to, it's Tor, especially since its main source of funding is the U.S. government. That's right -- the famous anonymizing network gets most of its money from a government known for conducting mass surveillance on a global scale. Loudly proclaiming that it will never build a backdoor into its services might not even matter, though. The government already proved once that it's capable of infiltrating the dark web. If you'll recall, the FBI identified 1,500 users of a child porn website called "Playpen" by deploying a Tor hacking tool. It led to numerous court battles that opened up the discussion on the validity of evidence obtained without warrant through malware. "We believe that privacy, the free exchange of ideas, and access to information are essential to free societies. Through our community standards and the code we write, we provide tools that help all people protect and advance these rights," Tor writes in the contract.

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Twitter CEO Dick Costolo Secretly Censored Abusive Responses To President Obama, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '16 at 04:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's free-speech department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed: In 2015, then-Twitter CEO Dick Costolo secretly ordered employees to filter out abusive and hateful replies to President Barack Obama during a question and answer session, sources tell BuzzFeed News. According to a former senior Twitter employee, Costolo ordered employees to deploy an algorithm (which was built in-house by feeding it thousands of examples of abuse and harassing tweets) that would filter out abusive language directed at Obama. Another source said the media partnerships team also manually censored tweets, noting that Twitter's public quality-filtering algorithms were inconsistent. Two sources told BuzzFeed News that this decision was kept from senior company employees for fear they would object to the decision. According to sources, the decision upset some senior employees inside the company who strictly followed Twitter's long-standing commitment to unfettered free speech. A different source alleges that Twitter did the same thing during a question and answer with Caitlyn Jenner.

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8 Paralyzed Patients Learn To Walk Again Using Virtual Reality
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '16 at 04:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's groundbreaking-studies department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: In a new study published in Scientific Reports, eight patients paralyzed with spinal cord injuries exhibited partial restoration of muscle control and sensations in their lower limbs following an extensive training regimen with non-invasive brain-controlled robotics and a virtual reality system. Developed by Duke University neuroscience Miguel Nicolelis and colleagues, the system tapped into the patients' own brain activity to simulate full control of their legs, causing the injured parts of their spinal cord to re-engage. Brain-machine interfaces (BMIs) work by establishing direct communication between the brain and a computer, which then allows patients to control external devices with their thoughts, including prosthetic limbs or exoskeletons. Earlier this year, Nicolelis showed that it was possible for a monkey to control a wheelchair with its mind, though with an implanted brain chip. In the new experiment, the system non-invasively recorded hundreds of brain patterns emitted by the brain, collecting these motor commands from those signals, and then translating them into movements. During the year long experiment, Nicolelis and his team investigated the ways in which BMI-based training could influence the ability of paraplegics to walk using a brain-controlled exoskeleton. To augment this process, they turned to virtual reality, which assisted with visualization and mind-body awareness. While in a virtual reality environment, and when hooked up to the exoskeletons, the patients could see virtual representations of the own bodies, and even receive tactile feedback.

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Microsoft's Bill Gates Is Richest Tech Billionaire With $78 Billion Fortune
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '16 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-place department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from GulfNews: The "100 Richest Tech Billionaires In The World 2016" list has been topped by Microsoft founder Bill Gates with an estimated fortune of $78 billion. The titans on Forbes' second annual list of the world's richest in technology are worth a combined $892 billion, six percent more than a year ago. Just over half of the 100 richest in tech are from the U.S., including eight of the top 10 richest on the list. Forbes said the second richest person in tech Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is also the biggest gainer on the list this year and has an estimated $66.2 billion fortune, an increase of $18.4 billion since this list was released last year. That puts him ahead of Oracle chairman Larry Ellison, who comes in on the fourth spot. Ellison was also beaten by Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who climbed from fourth to third place thanks to a 30 percent jump in the value of Facebook's stock; he is now also California's richest person, another title that previously belonged to Ellison.

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A Bit of Cash Can Keep Someone Off the Streets For 2 Years or More
Posted by News Fetcher on August 11 '16 at 03:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's people-and-money department:
An anonymous reader writes: If someone is about to become homeless, giving them a single cash infusion, averaging about $1000, may be enough to keep them off the streets for at least 2 years. That's the conclusion of a new study, which finds that programs that proactively assist those in need don't just help the victims -- they may benefit society as a whole. "I think this is a really important study, and it's really well done," says Beth Shinn, a community psychologist at Vanderbilt University in Nashville who specializes in homelessness but was not involved in the work. Homelessness isn't just bad for its sufferers -- it shortens life span and hurts kids in school -- it's a burden on everyone else. Previous studies have concluded that a single period of homelessness can cost taxpayers $20,000 or more, in the form of welfare, policing, health care, maintaining homeless shelters, and other expenses. To combat homelessness, philanthropic organizations have either tried to prevent people from losing their homes in the first place or help them regain housing after they are already destitute. But there aren't many data on whether giving cash to people on the brink of becoming homeless actually prevents them from living on the street.

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