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China Developing Manned Space Mission To the Moon
Posted by News Fetcher on March 09 '17 at 10:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
China is building a manned spacecraft capable of sending astronauts to the moon as well as near-Earth orbit flight, according to Chinese state media. From a report on CNBC: The official newspaper of the Ministry of Science and Technology of China cited system chief architect Zhang Bainan who claimed the craft is being designed to carry as many as six astronauts. The newspaper, Science and Technology Daily, quoted Zhang Bainan as saying China wished to catch up with international standards of space exploration. The fresh announcement follows a separate Chinese ambition to bring back samples from the moon before the end of this year.

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Google Confirms Small Number of Pixel Phones Have Broken Microphones
Posted by News Fetcher on March 09 '17 at 10:02 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fault-in-our-pixels department:
An anonymous reader shares a report on The Verge: Google says that a small number of Pixel phones have broken microphones that need to be sent back for replacement. The issue is seemingly not that widespread. Google claims the issue is present on less than 1 percent of devices -- the company also announced that it would replace defective phones last month, and it went largely unnoticed until now. Google says the primary cause for Pixels having microphone issues is a "hairline crack in the solder connection on the audio codec," which causes all three of the device's mics to go out at once. The issue has apparently been known about for several months now. Google says it's been "taking additional steps to reinforce the connection" since January and that phones built or refurbished since then should be fine.

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How Wiretaps Actually Work
Posted by News Fetcher on March 09 '17 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening-here department:
David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security from 2009 to 2011, has responded to the recent accusations made by president Donald Trump. On Saturday, Trump accused former president Obama of orchestrating a "Nixon/Watergate" plot to tap the phones at his Trump Tower headquarters in the run-up to last fall's election. He writes in an opinion piece for The Washington Post: First, the U.S. government needs probable cause, signatures from government officials and advance approval from a federal court before engaging in wiretapping in the United States. There are some narrow exceptions, for things such as short-term emergencies, which are then reviewed by a judge promptly after the fact. This is not something that the president simply orders. Under the law governing foreign intelligence wiretaps, the government has to show probable cause that a "facility" is being used or about to be used by a "foreign power" -- e.g., a foreign government or an international terrorist group -- or by an "agent of a foreign power." A facility is something like a telephone number or an email address. Second, there is no requirement that the facility being wiretapped be owned, leased or listed in the name of the person who is committing the offense or is the agent of a foreign power. [...] Third, government officials, including the president, don't normally speak publicly about wiretaps. Indeed, it is in some cases a federal crime to disclose a wiretap without authorization, including not only the information obtained from the wiretap, but also the mere existence of a wiretap with an intent to obstruct it. With respect to intelligence wiretaps, there is an additional issue: They are always classified, and disclosure of classified information is also generally a crime. The president enjoys authority over classified information, of course, but at a minimum it would be highly irregular to disclose an intelligence wiretap via Twitter.

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Samsung Group Chief Denies All Charges as 'Trial of the Century' Begins
Posted by News Fetcher on March 09 '17 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's trial-of-the-century department:
An anonymous reader shares a Fortune report: The head of South Korea's Samsung Group, Jay Y. Lee, denies all charges against him, his lawyer said on Thursday, at the start of what the special prosecutor said could be the "trial of the century" amid a political scandal that has rocked the country. Lee has been charged with bribery, embezzlement and other offenses in a corruption scandal that has already led to the impeachment of President Park Geun-hye.
Lee, who is being detained at Seoul Detention Centre, did not attend court. A defendant does not have to turn up during a preparatory hearing, held to organize evidence and set dates for witness testimony. The date of the next hearing will be decided next week. Lee's defense denied all charges against him on his behalf, saying that the special prosecution's indictment cites conversations, evidence or witnesses the prosecution did not actually hear, investigate or interview according to the rules -- or states opinions that are not facts.

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China Expresses Concern at Revelations in Wikileaks Dump of Hacked CIA Data
Posted by News Fetcher on March 09 '17 at 07:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's concerns-rise department:
China has expressed concern over revelations in a trove of data released by Wikileaks purporting to show that the CIA can hack all manner of devices, including those made by Chinese companies. From a report on Reuters: Dozens of firms rushed to contain the damage from possible security weak points following the anti-secrecy organization's revelations, although some said they needed more details of what the U.S. intelligence agency was up to. Widely-used routers from Silicon Valley-based Cisco were listed as targets, as were those supplied by Chinese vendors Huawei and ZTE and Taiwan supplier Zyxel for their devices used in China and Pakistan. "We urge the U.S. side to stop listening in, monitoring, stealing secrets and internet hacking against China and other countries," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a daily news briefing.

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Uber Admits Its Ghost Driver 'Greyball' Tool Was Used To Thwart Regulators, Vows To Stop
Posted by News Fetcher on March 09 '17 at 07:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's guilty-as-charged department:
Uber has admitted it used a tool to thwart city regulators, and announced a review of its controversial Greyball technology. From a report on USA Today: Greyballing, a play on blackballing, was a way for Uber officials to remotely provide ghost driver information to a targeted individual. A March 3 report on the program in The New York Times cited a 2014 example where a regulator in Portland, Ore., a city in which Uber was operating without approval at the time, was unable to hail a car because of his Greyball-powered app. "We have started a review of the different ways this technology has been used to date," Joe Sullivan, Uber's chief security officer, wrote in a blog post. "In addition, we are expressly prohibiting its use to target action by local regulators going forward."

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Microsoft Is Spamming Windows 10 File Explorer With Ads For OneDrive Storage
Posted by News Fetcher on March 09 '17 at 06:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's where's-Clippy-when-you-need-him department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: While Microsoft is addressing some other complaints about Windows 10 in the upcoming Creators Update -- such as privacy concerns over the data that's being transmitted and issues regarding how the operating system updates itself -- the company seems intent on retaining Windows 10's advertising functionality. In fact, it has apparently been adding OneDrive commercials to File Explorer, ExtremeTech reports. Basically, you might start seeing a new promotion for OneDrive when you're perusing your file structure in Windows 10. OneDrive is baked into Windows 10 and can't easily be uninstalled, and Microsoft wants to make sure you know that the 5GB of free OneDrive storage can be easily upgraded to significantly more space. Turning off the OneDrive advertising isn't without consequences. You can go to the View menu in File Explorer, then Options, and select "Change folder and search options." In the next window, select the View menu, then scroll down to and uncheck the "Show sync provider notifications" option. Note that while this should disable the OneDrive ads, it will also stop you from seeing potentially important notifications from OneDrive. The report notes that, while these OneDrive ads aren't new, "they seem to be showing up more often for more people."

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Study Suggests Potatoes Can Grow On Mars
Posted by News Fetcher on March 09 '17 at 03:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's genetically-superior department:
The International Potato Center (CIP) has launched a series of experiments to discover if potatoes can grow under Mars' atmospheric conditions, as well as under extreme conditions on Earth. The CIP placed a potato inside a "specially constructed CubeSat contained environment" that simulates Mars temperature, air pressure, oxygen and carbon dioxide levels. They then used sensors and live-streaming cameras to record the soil and monitor the status of the potato. Preliminary results are positive as cameras inside the container show sprouts. Phys.Org reports: "We have been looking at the very dry soils found in the southern Peruvian desert. These are the most Mars-like soils found on Earth." Chris McKay of NASA ARC. "This [research] could have a direct technological benefit on Earth and a direct biological benefit on Earth," says Chris McKay of NASA ARC. From the initial experiment, CIP scientists concluded that future Mars missions that hope to grow potatoes will have to prepare soil with a loose structure and nutrients to allow the tubers to obtain enough air and water to allow it to tuberize. "It was a pleasant surprise to see that potatoes we've bred to tolerate abiotic stress were able to produce tubers in this soil," Amoros said. He added that one of the best performing varieties was very salt-tolerant from the CIP breeding program for adaptation to subtropical lowlands with tolerance to abiotic stress that was also recently released as a variety in Bangladesh for cultivation in coastal areas with high soil salinity. Amoros noted that whatever their implications for Mars missions, the experiments have already provided good news about potato's potential for helping people survive in extreme environments on Earth.

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FCC Investigating Coast-To-Coast 911 Outage For AT&T Wireless Users
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 11:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's coast-to-coast department:
AT&T says it has fixed a nationwide outage that prevented its wireless customers from making 911 emergency calls. "Service has been restored for wireless customers affected by an issue connecting to 911. We apologize to those affected," the company officials said in a statement. The outage was serious enough to gain the attention of the Federal Communications Commission. The FCC chairman, Ajit Pai, said via Twitter that they are investigating what went wrong. NBC News reports: The company didn't say how widespread the outage was, but as reports poured in from across the country, Karima Holmes, director of unified communications for the Washington, D.C., government, said her office had been "advised there is a nationwide outage for AT&T." At 10:20 p.m. ET, about 10 minutes before AT&T gave the all-clear, DownDetector, a site that monitors internet traffic for real-time information on wireless and broadband carriers, indicated that outage reports for AT&T were clustered most prominently around New York City, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Miami, Dallas, Houston, San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle. But emergency authorities across the country confirmed 911 outages and publicized direct police, fire and ambulance dispatch telephone numbers that AT&T customers should call in emergencies.

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Quantum Computer Learns To 'See' Trees
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 08:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's I-spy-something-green department:
sciencehabit writes from a report via Science Magazine: Scientists have trained a quantum computer to recognize trees. That may not seem like a big deal, but the result means that researchers are a step closer to using such computers for complicated machine learning problems like pattern recognition and computer vision. The team fed hundreds of NASA satellite images of California into a D-Wave 2X processor, and asked the computer to consider dozens of features -- hue, saturation, even light reflectance -- to determine whether clumps of pixels were trees as opposed to roads, buildings, or rivers. They then told the computer whether its classifications were right or wrong so that the computer could learn from its mistakes, tweaking the formula it uses to determine whether something is a tree. After it was trained, the D-Wave was 90% accurate in recognizing trees in aerial photographs of Mill Valley, California. The results demonstrate how scientists can program quantum computers to 'look' at and analyze images, and opens up the possibility of using them to solve other complex problems that require heavy data crunching.

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IBM Researchers Prove It Is Possible To Store Data In a Single Atom
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 06:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's boundaries-of-Newtonian-physics department:
In an experiment published today in Nature, IBM researchers have managed to read and write data to a single atom. A previous atomic storage technique, as mentioned by TechCrunch, doesn't actually store data in the atom, but moves them around to form readable patterns. "This means that imbuing individual atoms with a 0 or 1 is the next major step forward and the next major barrier in storing data digitally, both increasing capacity by orders of magnitude and presenting a brand new challenge to engineers and physicists," reports TechCrunch. From the report: It works like this: A single Holmium atom (a large one with many unpaired electrons) is set on a bed of magnesium oxide. In this configuration, the atom has what's called magnetic bistability: It has two stable magnetic states with different spins (just go with it). The researchers use a scanning tunneling microscope (also invented at IBM, in the 1980s) to apply about 150 millivolts at 10 microamps to the atom -- it doesn't sound like a lot, but at that scale, it's like a lightning strike. This huge influx of electrons causes the Holmium atom to switch its magnetic spin state. Because the two states have different conductivity profiles, the STM tip can detect which state the atom is in by applying a lower voltage (about 75 millivolts) and sensing its resistance. In order to be absolutely sure the atom was changing its magnetic state and this wasn't just some interference or effect from the STM's electric storm, the researchers set an iron atom down nearby. This atom is affected by its magnetic neighborhood, and acted differently when probed while the Holmium atom was in its different states. This proves that the experiment truly creates a lasting, stored magnetic state in a single atom that can be detected indirectly. And there you have it: a single atom used to store what amounts to a 0 or a 1. The experimenters made two of them and zapped them independently to form the four binary combinations (00,01,10,11) that two such nodes can form.

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Tesla's New Solar Energy Station On Kauai Will Power Hawaii At Night
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's the-future-is-bright department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: The Kapaia project is a combination 13MW SolarCity solar farm and 53MWh Tesla Powerpack station on the island of Kauai. In partnership with the KIUC (Kauai Island Utility Cooperative) the project will store the sun's energy during the day and release it at night. The station (along with Kauai's other renewable resource solutions including wind and biomass) won't completely keep the island from using fossil fuels but it will temper the need. In addition to using Tesla's station to battle the island's incredibly high electric bills, it's also part of a long-term Hawaii-state plan to be completely powered by renewable energy sources by 2045. Kauai has its own goal of using 70 percent renewable energy by 2030. With this project the island is getting closer to that goal and can now produce 100 percent of the energy it needs during high usage mid days and low loads via renewables during a brief period of time. The island state doesn't have the benefit of a massive grid like the mainland to pull electricity from sources hundreds of miles away. Instead each island has to take care of its own energy solutions. According to Tesla and the KIUC, the 45 acre Kapaia project will reduce the use of fossil fuels by 1.6 million gallons a year. You can view Tesla's Powerpack and solar farm on Kauai here.

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Ask Slashdot: Should You Use Password Managers?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 04:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's actions-have-consequences department:
New submitter informaticsDude writes: What do Slashdot users recommend regarding the use of password managers? The recent election underscored the hackability of many personal accounts. One solution is to use different passwords for every digital experience. But, of course, humans are lousy at remembering large numbers of large random strings. Another solution is to use a password manager. However, password managers have been hacked in the past, in which case you lose everything. How do Slashdot users balance the competing risks? What is a person to do?

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GOP Senators' New Bill Would Let ISPs Sell Your Web Browsing Data
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 04:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's back-to-square-one department:
Yesterday, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) and 23 Republican co-sponsors introduced a resolution that would overturn new privacy rules for internet service providers. "If the Federal Communications Commission rules are eliminated, ISPs would not have to get consumers' explicit consent before selling or sharing web browsing data and other privacy information with advertisers and other third parties," reports Ars Technica. "The measure would use lawmakers' power under the Congressional Review Act to ensure that the FCC rulemaking 'shall have no force or effect.' The resolution would also prevent the FCC from issuing similar regulations in the future." From the report: Flake's announcement said he's trying to "protect consumers from overreaching Internet regulation." Flake also said that the resolution "empowers consumers to make informed choices on if and how their data can be shared," but he did not explain how it will achieve that. The privacy order had several major components. The requirement to get the opt-in consent of consumers before sharing information covered geo-location data, financial and health information, children's information, Social Security numbers, Web browsing history, app usage history, and the content of communications. This requirement is supposed to take effect on December 4, 2017. The rulemaking had a data security component that required ISPs to take "reasonable" steps to protect customers' information from theft and data breaches. This was supposed to take effect on March 2, but the FCC under newly appointed Chairman Ajit Pai halted the rule's implementation. Another set of requirements related to data breach notifications is scheduled to take effect on June 2. Flake's resolution would prevent all of those requirements from being implemented. He said that this "is the first step toward restoring the [Federal Trade Commission's] light-touch, consumer-friendly approach." Giving the FTC authority over Internet service providers would require further FCC or Congressional action because the FTC is not allowed to regulate common carriers, a designation currently applied to ISPs.

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Malta's Azure Window Collapses Into the Sea
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gone-with-the-wind department:
New submitter Duvzo writes: Sadly, our famous [Azure Window] landmark disappeared today, and not just the arch but the whole offshore stack has vanished. Strong gale force winds hit Malta yesterday, ultimately causing their landmark to collapse. Malta's prime minister, Joseph Muscat, said the news was heartbreaking. "Reports commissioned over the years indicated that this landmark would be hard hit by unavoidable natural corrosion. That sad day arrived," he said. Slashdot reader Duvzo notes that the landmark was featured in Clash of the Titans and Game of Thrones. It served as the backdrop to the Dothraki wedding scene in the Game of Thrones.

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Norway Says Half of New Cars Now Electric Or Hybrid
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 03:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's go-big-or-go-home department:
AmiMoJo quotes a report from Phys.Org: Norway, which already boasts the world's highest number of electric cars per capita, said Monday that electric or hybrid cars represented half of new registrations in the country so far this year. Sales of electric cars accounted for 17.6 percent of new vehicle registrations in January and hybrid cars accounted for 33.8 percent, for a combined 51.4 percent, according to figures from the Road Traffic Information Council (OVF). In February, those proportions fell slightly but remained high at 15.8 percent and 32 percent, respectively. While cars with combustion engines are heavily taxed, electric vehicles are exempt from almost all taxes. Their owners also benefit from numerous advantages such as free access to toll roads, ferries and parking at public car parks, as well as the possibility of driving in bus lanes.

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Apple Says It's Already Fixed Many WikiLeaks Security Issues
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 02:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's one-step-ahead-of-you department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: Apple says many of the vulnerabilities to its devices and software that came to light in WikiLeaks' revelations of CIA cyber weapons were already fixed in its latest updates. Late Tuesday, Apple emailed the following statement to USA TODAY: "Apple is deeply committed to safeguarding our customers' privacy and security. The technology built into today's iPhone represents the best data security available to consumers, and we're constantly working to keep it that way. Our products and software are designed to quickly get security updates into the hands of our customers, with nearly 80 percent of users running the latest version of our operating system. While our initial analysis indicates that many of the issues leaked today were already patched in the latest OS, we will continue work to rapidly address any identified vulnerabilities. We always urge customers to download the latest iOS to make sure they have the most recent security updates." For its part, Samsung emailed its own statement Wednesday: "Protecting consumers' privacy and the security of our devices is a top priority at Samsung. We are aware of the report in question and are urgently looking into the matter."

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Google Can Now Recognize Objects in Videos Using Machine Learning
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 02:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's breakthrough-in-AI department:
Google has found a new way to allow software to parse video. On Wednesday, the company announced "Video Intelligence API", which is able to identify objects in a video. From a report: By playing a short commercial, the API was able to identify the dachshund in the video, when it appeared in the video, and then understand that the whole thing was a commercial. In another demo, we saw a simple search for "beach" and was able to find videos which had scenes from beaches in them, complete with timestamps. That's similar to how Google Photos lets you search for "sunset" and pull up your best late-day snapshots. Before now, computers couldn't really understand the content of a video directly without manual tagging. "We are beginning to shine light on the dark matter of the digital universe," Fei-Fei Li, chief scientist of artificial intelligence and machine learning at Google Cloud, said. At least in Google's demo, it was genuinely impressive. And Google is making the API available to developers, just as it has with its other machine learning APIs.

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Hyperloop Firm Eyes Indonesia For Ultra-Fast Transport System
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 02:02 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department:
An anonymous reader shares a CNBC report: Hyperloop Transportation Technologies (HTT), one of the companies developing the futuristic transport service dreamed up by billionaire Elon Musk, said it was exploring Indonesia as a potential site to put one of its tracks. The so-called "feasibility study" contract is worth $2.5 million and will look into whether a hyperloop system would work initially in the capital Jakarta, and then connecting Java and Sumatra. A hyperloop would work by propelling pods through a large tube at speeds of 750 mph using magnets. It is seen as a solution to long distance travel, but also alleviating congestion in many cities. Jakarta is the world's third-worst city for traffic, according to a study by navigation from TomTom released earlier this year.

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The Quest To Crystallize Time - Previously Considered Impossible, Researchers Create Time Crystals
Posted by News Fetcher on March 08 '17 at 12:42 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's breakthrough department:
New submitter omaha393 writes: Researchers have addressed a perplexing issue in physics: the existence of time crystals. Time crystals, previously only hypothetical in nature, are structures that oscillate without any external energy supplied. The idea of time crystals set off a massive feud among physicists, arguing that such a state of matter could not exist. As leading time crystal proponent Frank Wilczek describes it: "conceptually, it is a clock that ticks forever without being wound." With the paper published in Nature Wednesday, researchers showed their method of production and the unusual nature of time crystals, which owe their oscillation properties to never achieving a state of equilibrium. From a report on Phys.org: Ordinary crystals such as diamonds, quartz or ice are made up of molecules that spontaneously arrange into orderly three-dimensional patterns. The sodium and chlorine atoms in a crystal of salt, for example, are spaced at regular intervals, forming a hexagonal lattice. In time crystals, however, atoms are arranged in patterns not only in space, but also in time. In addition to containing a pattern that repeats in space, time crystals contain a pattern that repeats over time. One way this could happen is that the atoms in the crystal move at a certain rate. Were a time crystal of ice to exist, all of the water molecules would vibrate at an identical frequency. What is more, the molecules would do this without any input from the outside world. [...] Shivaji Sondhi, a Princeton professor of physics said that the work addresses some of the most fundamental questions about the nature of matter. "It was thought that if a system doesn't settle down and come to equilibrium, you couldn't really say that it is in a phase. It is a big deal when you can give a definition of a phase of matter when the matter is not in equilibrium," he said.

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