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FDA Confirms Toxicity of Homeopathic Baby Products; Maker Refuses To Recall
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 04:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's buyer-beware department:
Last year in November, the Federal Trade Commission issued an enforcement policy statement that requires over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic drugs and product makers to disclose in their advertisement and labeling that there is no evidence that homeopathic products are effective. At around the same time the FTC issued the statement, the Food and Drug Administration was investigating homeopathic teething gels and tablets, which may have been improperly diluted, thus causing serious harm to infants. The FDA investigated 10 infant deaths and more than 400 reports of seizures, fever, and vomiting and confirmed Friday that belladonna, also known as deadly nightshade, was the prime suspect. When the FDA notified the products' maker, Hyland's, the company would not agree to recall the products. Ars Technica reports: Hyland's has been defensive since the FDA first opened the investigation last September. In an October press release, the company referred to agency's warnings as a source of "confusion" and assured consumers that the products are safe and effective. Still, the company discontinued distribution in the U.S. The National Center for Homeopathy, which has ties with Hyland's, slammed the FDA, calling the agency's warnings "arbitrary and capricious." In an "action alert," the organization went on to suggest that warning was prompted by "groups interested in seeing homeopathy destroyed" and led to "fear mongering" by the media. As before, the FDA is urging parents to avoid the homeopathic teething products and toss any already purchased. The FDA does not evaluate or approve the homeopathic products, which have no proven health benefit. Belladonna is an active ingredient in those products, but is supposed to be heavily diluted. Homeopaths belief that ailments and diseases can be cured by trace amounts or "memories" of toxic substances that mimic or cause similar symptoms. Homeopathy is a pseudoscience that has been squarely debunked, offering no more than a placebo effect. In its announcement Friday, the FDA said it had found inconsistent amounts of belladonna in Hyland's products. Some of the amounts were "far exceeding" what was intended.

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'Father of Pac-Man,' Masaya Nakamura, Dies At Age 91
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rest-in-peace department:
AmiMoJo writes from a report via The Japan Times: Masaya Nakamura, the founder of game developer Namco and known as "the father of Pac-Man," has died at age 91. He founded Nakamura Seisakusho in 1955, which was renamed Namco in 1977. The company developed numerous hit video games, including "Galaxian," "Pac-Man" and "Ridge Racer." "Pac-Man," designed by Namco's inhouse video game maker Toru Iwatani, is one of the most recognizable and popular video games in history. In 2005 it was listed by Guinness World Records as the "most successful coin-operated arcade machine."

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Former Fed Employee Fined $5,000 For Installing Bitcoin Software On Server
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rake-in-the-money department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: A former Federal Reserve employee was sentenced Friday to 12 months probation and a $5,000 fine after pleading guilty in October to installing unauthorized software on a computer server at the U.S. central bank. Nicholas Berthaume, who as a communications analyst had access to computer servers at the Fed's Board of Governors in Washington, installed software that connected to an online bitcoin network in order to earn units of the digital currency, according to a statement Monday from the central bank's Office of Inspector General. Berthaume also "modified certain security safeguards so that he could remotely access the server from home," the statement said. When confronted, he tried to cover up his actions by deleting the software; eventually he was fired and admitted guilt, the office said. His actions didn't result in the loss of any Fed information, and the board has enhanced security since the incident, the internal watchdog said. The story was first reported by The Wall Street Journal (Warning: source may be paywalled).

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Google Removes Plugin Controls From Chrome, Reports Claim
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 01:33 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department:
An anonymous reader shares a Ghacks report: Google made a change in Chrome 57 that removes options from the browser to manage plugins such as Google Widevine, Adobe Flash, or the Chrome PDF Viewer. If you load chrome://plugins in Chrome 56 or earlier, a list of installed plugins is displayed to you. You can use it, among other things, to disable plugins that you don't require. While you can do the same for some plugins, Flash and PDF Viewer, using Chrome's Settings, the same is not possible for the DRM plugin Widevine, and any other plugin Google may add to Chrome in the future. Starting with Chrome 57, that option is no longer available. This means essentially that Chrome users won't be able to disable -- some -- plugins anymore, or even list the plugins that are installed in the web browser. Please note that this affects Google Chrome and Chromium.Further report on BetaNews.

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Facebook's New Tool Looks To Replace Traditional Two-Factor Authentication
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 01:33 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's passwords-as-never-before department:
Facebook today unveiled a new feature to let its 1.79 billion users reset passwords for other websites using its platform, an effort to further entrench the social network in people's digital lives. From a report: Delegated Recovery, as it's being called, looks to be a step forward for those afraid of losing their devices when using two-factor authentication (2FA) -- which, should be most of us. The security feature addresses the common concern of losing the device tied to your account. With Delegated Recovery, Facebook lets users set up an encrypted recovery token for sites like GitHub, and stores it at Facebook. If you lose the login information for GitHub, you'd simply log in to Facebook and send the stored token to the site to prove your identity and regain access. The token is encrypted, and Facebook can't access the information stored on it. Facebook also promises not to share it with third-party websites (aside from those you authorize).

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Facebook's Parse Is Shutting Down Today
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 12:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department:
Facebook acquired Parse, a toolkit and support system for mobile developers, in 2013. At the time, the social network's ambitions were high: Parse would be Facebook's way into one day harnessing developers to become a true cloud business, competing alongside the likes of Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Three years later, Facebook announced it would be shutting down Parse. Today is that day. From Parse's status page: As we previously shared, the Parse service is shutting down today. Throughout the day we will be disabling the Parse API on an app-by-app basis. When your app is disabled, you will not be able to access the data browser or export any data, and your applications will no longer be able to access the Parse API.

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Oracle Effectively Doubles Licence Fees To Run Its Stuff in AWS
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 12:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's more-money department:
Oracle has changed the way it charges users to run its software in Amazon Web Services, effectively doubling the cost along the way. From a report: Big Red's previous licensing regime recognised that AWS's virtual CPUs were a single thread of a core that runs two threads. Each virtual CPU therefore counted as half a core. That's changed: Oracle's new cloud licensing policy says an AWS vCPU is now treated as a full core if hyperthreading is not enabled. A user hiring two AWS vCPUS therefore needs to pay full freight for both, effectively doubling the number of Oracle licences required to run Big Red inside AWS. And therefore doubling the cost as well. The new policy also says: "When counting Oracle Processor license requirements in Authorized Cloud Environments, the Oracle Processor Core Factor Table is not applicable." That table says Xeons cores count as half a licence. Making the Table inapplicable to the cloud again doubles the licence count required.

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Dropbox Finally Brings Its Google Docs Competitor Out of Beta
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 12:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's more-options department:
Dropbox today made Paper -- its note-taking app that it's emphasizing is a tool that's built for managing workflow as well -- global. In addition to the launch of Paper, the company said that users will also be able to automatically generate presentations in Keynote and other applications through the app. From a report: Dropbox's software is similar to Google's suite of workplace cloud apps. Paper -- itself a minimal document editor and writing tool like Google Docs -- is the focal point, while all of Dropbox's other services and features now plug into and augment the experience. Paper is Dropbox's latest attempt to court businesses away from Microsoft and Google, or at the very least to encourage companies to pay for Dropbox services on top of what they already use institutionally. It's part of Dropbox's ongoing shift away from consumer storage and apps and toward enterprise software that is both more lucrative and self-sustaining. The company shut down its Mailbox email app and Carousel photo storage service back in 2015. In place of its consumer focus, Dropbox has been pouring more resources into Paper and other projects that make its mobile apps and website a place to perform work, instead of a barebones destination for files.

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Sony Warns It Will Take $1 Billion Writedown, Blames Slowing DVD Sales
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 12:11 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's sloppy-dvd-sales department:
Sony has warned investors that it will take roughly $978m writedown on its film business, blaming a goodwill impairment charge that dates back to an acquisition of a Hollywood studio almost three decades ago. From a report on Reuters: The impairment charge came as Sony cut its outlook for profits from DVD, blu-ray discs and other home entertainment operations in line with a broader market decline, the company said in statement on Monday. Sony has been working to revive its movie business. In November, the Japanese conglomerate's chief financial officer, Kenichiro Yoshida, said a turnaround was "progressing, but it takes time for the benefit to be realized."

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Sony Warns It Will Take $1 Billion Writedown As DVD Sales Declines
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 10:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's sloppy-dvd-sales department:
Sony has warned investors that it will take roughly $978m writedown on its film business, blaming a goodwill impairment charge that dates back to an acquisition of a Hollywood studio almost three decades ago. From a report on Reuters: The impairment charge came as Sony cut its outlook for profits from DVD, blu-ray discs and other home entertainment operations in line with a broader market decline, the company said in statement on Monday. Sony has been working to revive its movie business. In November, the Japanese conglomerate's chief financial officer, Kenichiro Yoshida, said a turnaround was "progressing, but it takes time for the benefit to be realized."

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Fitness Wearable Maker Fitbit To Cut Six-Percent of Its Staff Following a Disappointing Q4
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 10:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's not-as-planned department:
As anticipated, wearable leader Fitbit kicked off the week by announcing a six-percent reduction in global work force, following disappointing fourth quarter financials. From a report: A preliminary statement issued this morning details the loss of 110 jobs, as part of a "reorganization of its business" designed to "creat[e] a more focused and efficient operating model." The news follows what has been a disappointing several months for the wearable space at large, impacting even Fitbit, the dominant player in the space. As rivals like Jawbone grapple with the future and the smartwatch space looks dismal, however, the Fitbit has been making acquisitions, including the once promising smartwatch pioneer Pebble, which met with its own struggles as the year drew to a close. The financials detail 6.5 million devices sold for the fourth quarter of last year, with quarterly revenue and annual revenue growth both falling below the company's guidance range.

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Microsoft's Coming Windows 10 Cloud Release May Have Nothing To Do With the Cloud
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 09:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's clearing-the-cloud department:
Last week, several users spotted a mention of "Windows Cloud" in Windows 10 inside builds, speculating if it is a new version of Windows 10 which will stream from Azure. That's not the case, according to long-time Microsoft journalist Mary Jo Foley. From a report: Windows 10 Cloud is a simplifed version of Windows 10 that will be able to run only Unified Windows Platform (UWP) apps installed from the Windows Store, my contacts say. Think of it as being similar to the version of Windows 10 formerly known as Windows RT or the Windows 8.1 with Bing SKU. Windows 10 Cloud is meant to help Microsoft in its ongoing campaign to attempt to thwart Chromebooks with a simpler, safer, cheaper version of Windows 10, my contacts say, though Microsoft is unlikely to position it that way (publicly). Windows 10 Cloud seemingly has little or nothing to do with the cloud.

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Let Us Now Praise MacroMind Director
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 09:22 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's twas-the-days department:
Adobe announced last week that it is discontinuing sales of Contribute, and Director, adding that support to Shockwave for Mac will also be stopped in March. Fast Company's editor Harry McCracken ran into Marc Canter, the industry legend who cofounded MacroMind, the company that created Director back in the 1980s. Following is an excerpt from their conversation: I took the opportunity to ask Canter for his thoughts about Director, which was born in the pre-web era when CD-ROMs seemed to be the future. He told me that 85% of the CD-ROMs published in the medium's golden age were assembled using the package. "You'd buy this $800 product and hang a shingle and make multi-millions," he said. Canter also lamented that Director doesn't receive the same appreciation for its pioneering role in interactive content creation as does Apple's HyperCard, which appeared two years after Videoworks and had a much briefer period of relevance. He's right. Even though Director long ago faded away, it gave way to Flash, which was rendered irrelevant by HTML5 -- and it deserves a spot on any list of the most significant foundational technologies of all time.

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Asteroid Whizzing By Earth 6 Times Closer Than the Moon
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 08:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's asteroid-sighting department:
An anonymous reader shares a CNET report: The problem with asteroids passing near Earth is that they're often difficult to spot. Fortunately the hardest ones to see in our neighborhood also tend to be the smaller ones. Such is the case with 2017 BH30, which was discovered Sunday by the Catalina Sky Survey just hours before passing by us at the creepy-close distance of only 40,563 miles (65,280 kilometres). This asteroid is estimated to be between 15-32.8 feet (4.6-10 metres) in length, making it somewhere between the size of a truck and a... big truck. That's pretty small by asteroid standards, but it's also the closest spotted asteroid to pass us since September when asteroid 2016 RB1 passed within 24,000 miles (about 39,000 kilometres) of our planet's surface, putting it almost as close as satellites in geosynchronous orbit. This is the third asteroid to buzz by earth closer than the distance to the moon this year. We don't expect a closer pass by one of these visitors until October, when asteroid 2012 TC4 could come more than twice as close.

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Vinyl Record Production Gets a Much-Needed Tech Upgrade
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 08:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's more-vinyl department:
Ever wondered why you sometimes have to wait months after an album's launch to get the music on vinyl? It's not necessarily because the label hates vinyl -- in many cases, it's because the decades-old manufacturing process can't keep up with the format's resurgence. From a report on Engadget: Relief may be in sight for turntable fans, though. Viryl Technologies is producing a pressing machine system, WarmTone, that should drag vinyl production into the modern era. Much of WarmTone's improvement rests in its use of modern engineering. It's more reliable when producing the "pucks" that become records, makes it easier to switch out stampers (the negatives that press records) and sports a trimming/stacking system that can better handle large-scale production. Also, there's a raft of sensors -- the machine checks everything from pressure to temperature to timing, so companies will immediately know if something goes wrong.

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Bill Gates Warns Against Denying Climate Change
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 06:33 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's steering-clear department:
Reader JoshTops shares a USA Today report: Bill Gates warned against denying climate change and pushed for more innovation in clean energy, during an event Friday at Columbia University in New York. The billionaire philanthropist and Microsoft co-founder joined friend and fellow billionaire Warren Buffett for a question-and-answer session with students. "Certain topics are so complicated like climate change that to really get a broad understanding is a bit difficult and particularly when people take that complexity and create uncertainty about it," Gates said. The planet needs to find reliable, cheap and clean energy, "the innovations there will be profound," Gates said. In December, Gates announced that he and a group of investors would invest more than $1 billion in Breakthrough Energy Ventures, a fund that aims to finance the development of affordable energy that will reduce global greenhouse-gas emissions.

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10% Of 'Resident Evil 7' Players Are Wearing VR Headsets
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 05:03 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's 3D-glasses department:
Released five days ago, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard already has over 800,000 players -- and 84,036 of them are using a PlayStation VR headset. An anonymous reader quotes Digital Trends:

These numbers show that VR might have some real legs if compelling software is made... The numbers are also being updated live, so expect them to go up in the coming weeks. Earlier this week, numbers were in the 60-thousand range, meaning that positive buzz is driving gamers to pick up the game along with a VR headset.
Unfortunately for many gamers, Resident Evil 7: Biohazard is a PSVR exclusive, meaning PC gamers that own an HTC Vive or Oculus Rift are unable to experience the game in VR... Luckily, patient PC gamers will be able to experience the game in VR next year, when Sony and Capcom's PSVR exclusivity deal expires.

It's the first Resident Evil game using the first-person point-of-view. Are there any Slashdot readers who have already tried gaming with a VR headset?

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'Second Life' Creators Develop A VR Social World Named 'Sansar'
Posted by News Fetcher on January 30 '17 at 12:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's second-Second-Life department:
An anonymous reader writes:
After four years of development, Sansar, the new virtual reality world from Second Life's creators will arrive later this year on Oculus Rift and HTC Vive headsets. "It is trying to solve some of the big problems that plagued Second Life for years," reports MIT Technology Review, "such as that most users come in through what is essentially a front door and have a hard time finding things to do once they get in... In the demos I tried, I navigated via an atlas that shows a simple clickable thumbnail image of each destination along with its name."

But it still has to prove itself to users like John Artz, an associate professor at George Washington University who once taught a class about using Second Life for business applications. Artz "thinks Sansar will still suffer from the same fundamental issue that dogs Second Life: while the technology behind it is good, he says, it just got boring after a while."

Second Life still has 800,000 monthly users -- and in Sansar, virtual land will be cheaper, with Linden Lab concentrating "more on making money from selling virtual objects like clothing for avatars and furniture."

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This Week 'IT Issues' Ground Delta Airlines' Flights
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '17 at 09:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's deja-vu department:
Delta Air Lines has been forced to cancel at least 150 flights, and expects to cancel even more. But "the IT department is working to rectify the situation as soon as possible," they tweeted Sunday -- more than four hours ago. Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes CNBC:
Delta Air Lines U.S. domestic flights were grounded on Sunday evening due to automation issues, according to an advisory from the Federal Aviation Administration... "Delta teams are expeditiously working to fix a systems outage that has resulted in departure delays for flights on the ground," the airline said in the statement. "Flights in the air remain unaffected". [And their international flights were unaffected.]

Delta also grounded 2,000 flights last summer after a computer outage caused by a power outage in Atlanta. At the time Reuters reported that "Airlines will likely suffer more disruptions... because major carriers have not invested enough to overhaul reservations systems based on technology dating to the 1960s." And sure enough, just last week, another "IT issue" forced United Airlines to ground all their domestic flights.

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Running For Congress, Brianna Wu Criticizes The FBI's GamerGate Report
Posted by News Fetcher on January 29 '17 at 07:12 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's government-versus-gamers department:
An anonymous reader shares this update about programmer/game developer Brianna Wu as well as the FBI's recently-released report on their GamerGate investigation:Wu has officially unveiled the web site for her campaign for a seat in the U.S. Congress, and says if elected she'll confront the FBI over their "appalling failure" when investigating members of the controversial GamerGate coalition. "Wu catalogued more than 180 death threats that she said she received because she spoke out against sexism in the game industry and #GamerGate misogyny," according to VentureBeat, which quotes Wu as saying "only a fraction of a fraction of the information we gave them was ever looked into."
The article says the FBI did investigate -- even asking Google to "preserve records" for several email addresses and YouTube accounts, and making a similar request to Microsoft. And the FBI also interviewed one minor who admitted to making at least 40 threatening phone calls, but after turning over that information learned that the state of Massachusetts had declined to prosecute. In the end the FBI's 173-page report ultimately concluded that there were no actionable leads.
Wu's response? "All this report does for me is show how little the FBI cared about the investigation."

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