By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
An anonymous reader writes: Apple has quietly fixed a security issue affecting some laptops that shipped with Intel chips that were mistakenly left configured into "manufacturing mode." The issue was discovered by two security researchers bug hunting for security flaws in Intel's Management Engine. While digging around through the tens of ME configuration options, the two spotted a feature that they believed could lead to problems, if left enabled by accident on Intel chips. The configuration they eyed was named Manufacturing Mode, and it's an Intel ME option that desktop, server, laptop, or mobile OEMs can enable for Intel chips and use it for testing ME's remote management features. As the name implies, this configuration option should be enabled only on manufacturing lines to enable automated configuration and testing operations, but disabled before shipping the end product. Leaving an Intel ME chip in Manufacturing Mode allows attackers to change ME settings and disable security controls, opening a chip for other attacks. The two researchers said they only tested Lenovo and Apple laptops for the presence of Intel ME chips in Manufacturing Mode. Other laptops or computers may also be affected. Instructions on how to spot Intel ME chips in Manufacturing Mode and how to disable it are available here. Apple fixed the issue in June, with the release of macOS High Sierra 10.13.5, and Security Update 2018-003 for macOS Sierra and El Capitan.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's dude,-where's-my-manual? department
OpenSourceAllTheWay writes: As someone who grew up with 1980s and 1990s computers and electronics and still has whole boxes of lovingly prepared printed computer, peripheral, game and software manuals from that era, I am continually surprised by how just many products ship without a proper printed manual these days. Case in point would be things like Android phones. Android has quite a few not-entirely-obvious functions built into it. And a lot of people aren't even aware they exist. No Android phone I've bought has ever had a printed manual included in its little product box. Not even a small one. Even expensive laptops ranging in price from 2,000 to 5,000 Dollars often come only with a few sheets of printed paper in the box -- warranty card, where to register the device, URL for downloading drivers and so on. Why is this? It can't be environmental concern -- the electronics devices themselves, when thrown away, are a hundred times (if not worse) more harmful to the environment than a little 50 to 100 page recycled paper booklet would be. So where are the manuals? Is it the cost of preparing the manuals? The cost of printing them? Is it a few grams of extra weight added to the product box? Is everyone supposed to look up everything online now, even in places where there is no internet connection? And why can't there be a print manual option -- e.g. pay 3 to 5 Dollars extra, and get a full, printed manual you can study on a couch?Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Every website and product connected to the internet would not be able to exist without a vast network of wireless routers, fiber optic cables running underground and underwater, and data centers that house the servers which bring the internet to life. Data centers in the U.S. alone eat up 70 billion kilowatts of energy per year, according to a 2016 estimate from the Department of Energy -- that's 1.8 percent of all energy use across the country. The internet is not ethereal, and a new project from the blog Low-Tech Magazine aims to make that issue more tangible. Low-Tech Magazine -- a blog operated by Kris De Decker that has run on Wordpress since 2007 -- launched a "Low-Tech," solar version of the site that's designed from the ground-up to use as little energy as possible. (Check out the solar version of the site here.) In a Skype call with Motherboard, De Decker said that he doesn't think people don't care about how much energy it takes they use the internet, they just don't understand the extent of the problem. "There's this idea that the internet is immaterial, it's somewhere floating in clouds," he said. "Of course, it's a very material thing that uses resources, materials, energy -- and quite a lot actually."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
When it comes to devouring bandwidth online, no company can hold a candle to Netflix. From a report: Netflix remains the 800-pound gorilla of the streaming world: Video from the service consumes a significant 15% of all internet bandwidth globally, the most of any single application. That's according to the latest Global Internet Phenomena Report from Sandvine, a vendor of bandwidth-management systems. Netflix was followed by HTTP media streams, representing 13.1% of all downstream traffic; YouTube (11.4%); web browsing (7.8%); and MPEG transport streams (4.4%). In the Americas, Netflix grabs an even bigger slice of the bandwidth pie, accounting for 19.1% of total downstream traffic. Here's an interesting wrinkle: In this Americas, Amazon Prime Video consumes more data (7.7% of downstream traffic) than YouTube (7.5%), per Sandvine. During peak evening hours, Netflix usage can spike as high as 40% of all downstream traffic on some wireline operator networks in the Americas, per the study, which remains consistent with past studies Sandvine has conducted. Further reading: File-sharing Site Openload Generates More Traffic Than Hulu or HBO Go, and the source study: Sandvine.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's step-in-the-right-direction department
Amazon said Tuesday it's raising the minimum wage for all 350,000 of its U.S. employees to $15, effective next month. From a report: The new pay threshold will go into effect Nov. 1 and impact all full-time, temporary and seasonal workers across the company's U.S. warehouse and customer service teams as well as Whole Foods, the company said in a blog post. It did not disclose what its current minimum pay wage is for U.S. workers, perhaps in part because there is not one set rate. "We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead," Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. "We're excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us." Alongside the cash compensation bump, Amazon said it will eventually eliminate its practice of granting stock to these workers and will instead institute a program that allows them to purchase Amazon stock through the company. The announcement comes as Amazon faces increased criticism over its pay and treatment of warehouse workers. Senator Bernie Sanders, in particular, has been relentless in his criticism of Amazon over the last few months, proposing a bill that would tax the company as a penalty for having workers who need food stamps and other public assistance to make ends meet.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's game-changing department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Aeva, a Mountain View, California-based startup founded only just last year, has built what its two-cofounders claim is a next-generation version of LIDAR, the 3D mapping technology that has become instrumental for how self-driving cars measure the distance of objects and effectively see the road in front of them. And today, the company is officially unveiling its product, a tiny box that can more directly measure objects in a given scene and the distance and velocity of those objects relative to one another.
Aeva's technology is able to separate objects based on distance and whether the object is moving away from or toward it. It's also able to measure the velocity of the object, which enables the software to predict where cars and pedestrians are going. The company even says its sensing system is capable of completely shutting out interference from other, similar sensors -- including those from other companies -- and operating in all weather conditions and in the dark, thanks to a reflectivity sensor. Not only is Aeva's version of LIDAR superior to the variety found in most self-driving test vehicles on the road today, the company says, but the lightweight, low-power box it's housed in also contains all the other types of sensors and cameras necessary for an autonomous vehicle to see and make sense of every component within its field of vision. Aeva's new system sounds a lot more promising when you consider the company's co-founders, Soroush Salehian and his business partner Mina Rezk, are former Apple engineers who both worked on Apple's "Special Projects" team. Although they will not say so, they likely helped progress the company's secretive autonomous car division. The Verge notes that Salehian also "worked on developing the first Apple Watch and the iPhone 6, while Rezk is a veteran of Nikon where he worked on optical hardware."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's nobel-prize department
A trio of laser scientists have won the 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for their work using intense beams to capture superfast processes and to manipulate tiny objects. From a report: The laureates include Donna Strickland, who is the first woman to win the award in 55 years. Strickland, at the University of Waterloo, Canada, will share half the 9 million Swedish krona (US$1 million) prize with her former supervisor, Gerard Mourou, from the Ecole Polytechnique, in Palaiseau, France. The other half of the prize went to Arthur Ashkin, of Bell Laboratories in Holmdel, New Jersey. Strickland and Mourou pioneered a way to produce the shortest, most intense pulses of light ever created, which are now used throughout science to unravel processes that previously appeared instantaneous, such as the motion of electrons within atoms, as well as in laser-eye surgery. Ashkin won the prize for his pioneering development of 'optical tweezers', beams of laser light that can grab and control microscopic objects such as viruses and cells. Further reading: The Guardian.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's global-tipping-point department
schwit1 shares a report from the Brookings Institution: Something of enormous global significance is happening almost without notice. For the first time since agriculture-based civilization began 10,000 years ago, the majority of humankind is no longer poor or vulnerable to falling into poverty. By our calculations, as of this month, just over 50 percent of the world's population, or some 3.8 billion people, live in households with enough discretionary expenditure to be considered "middle class" or "rich." About the same number of people are living in households that are poor or vulnerable to poverty. So September 2018 marks a global tipping point. After this, for the first time ever, the poor and vulnerable will no longer be a majority in the world. Barring some unfortunate global economic setback, this marks the start of a new era of a middle-class majority.
In most countries, there is a clear relationship between the fate of the middle class and the happiness of the population. According to the Gallup World Poll, new entrants into the middle class are noticeably happier than those stuck in poverty or in vulnerable households. Conversely, individuals in countries where the middle class is shrinking report greater degrees of personal stress. The middle class also puts pressure on governments to perform better. They look to their governments to provide affordable housing, education, and universal health care. They rely on public safety nets to help them in sickness, unemployment or old age. But they resist efforts of governments to impose taxes to pay the bills. This complicates the politics of middle-class societies, so they range from autocratic to liberal democracies. Many advanced and middle-income countries today are struggling to find a set of politics that can satisfy a broad middle-class majority. The tipping point in the world today offers opportunities for business but complications for policymakers.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-forever department
OpenSourceAllTheWay writes: The BBC has posted an interesting video series on "Starlite," a white paste developed in the 1970s and 1980s by British hairdresser Maurice Ward that could completely insulate any object it coated, like a raw egg or a piece of cardboard, against extreme heat sources -- even acetylene torches, nuclear blasts and lasers capable of heating an object to 10,000 degrees Celsius. Anything Starlite paste was smeared on could withstand extreme heat exposure without the coated object melting or combusting or heating at all in the process. The heat-proof paste got a lot of attention around the world when it was demonstrated on the BBC's Tomorrow's World TV program in 1990. Ward was an eccentric inventor -- not a classically trained scientist -- who came up with the formula for Starlite by experimenting wildly with different substances. He got the initial idea for Starlite when he was burning garbage in his backyard one day and one particular piece of garbage simply would not burn at all. Ward thought that Starlite would be worth billions when commercialized. He let NASA and other scientists test Starlite -- it did work as advertised -- but never allowed anyone to retain a sample of the substance, fearing that it could be reverse engineered. Starlite never was commercialized properly, and Ward died in 2011 without making the millions or billions he had imagined he would. Sadly, Ward took the chemical formula for Starlite to his grave with him. To this day, nobody knows the exact chemical composition of Starlite, or how one might go about recreating the substance.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-tactics department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The practice of "swatting," or calling in fake threats to activate an aggressive police response to an unwitting home or business, has unfortunately lingered for the past few years. Starting this week, one police department in the United States is rolling out a system targeted directly at this illegal hoax practice. On its official "swatting" resource site, the Seattle Police Department acknowledges how swatting works, along with the fact that citizens have requested a way to submit their own concerns or worries about being a potential victim. "To our knowledge, no solution to this problem existed, so we engineered one," SPD's site reads. The site claims that swatting victims are "typically associated with the tech industry, video game industry, and/or the online broadcasting community."
SPD's process asks citizens to create a profile on a third-party data-management service called Rave Facility (run by the company Smart911). Though this service is advertised for public locations and businesses, it supports private residences as well, and SPD offers steps to input data and add a "swatting concerns" tab to your profile. With that information in hand, SPD says that any police or 911 operator who receives a particularly troubling emergency report and matches it to a location that has already been flagged with a "swatting concerns" notice, will share that information "with first responders to inform and improve their police response to the incident." The report notes that "all calls" will still receive standard police response, whether or not any swatting concerns are filed. "Nothing about this solution is designed to minimize or slow emergency services," the site reads. "At the same time, if information is available, it is more useful for responding officers to have it than to not."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department
Ross Goodwin, a former ghostwriter for the Obama administration, uses neural networks to generate poetry, screenplays, and, now, literary travel fiction. The Atlantic tells the story of how Goodwin used a custom machine to write a "novel" narrating its own cross-country road trip. Slashdot reader merbs shares an excerpt from the report: On March 25, 2017, a black Cadillac with a white-domed surveillance camera attached to its trunk departed Brooklyn for New Orleans. An old GPS unit was fastened atop the roof. Inside, a microphone dangled from the ceiling. Wires from all three devices fed into Ross Goodwin's Razer Blade laptop, itself hooked up to a humble receipt printer. This, Goodwin hoped, was the apparatus that was going to produce the next American road-trip novel. The aim was to use the road as a conduit for narrative experimentation, in the tradition of Kerouac, Wolfe, and Kesey, but with the vehicle itself as the artist. He chose the New York-to-NOLA route as a nod to the famous leg of Jack Kerouac's expedition in On the Road. Underneath the base of the Axis M3007 camera, Goodwin scrawled "Further."
Along the way, the four sensors would feed data into a system of neural networks Goodwin had trained on hundreds of books and Foursquare location data, and the printer would spit out the results one letter at a time. By the end of the four-day trip, receipts emblazoned with artificially intelligent prose would cover the floor of the car. They're collected in 1 the Road, a book Goodwin's publisher, Jean Boite Editions, is marketing as "the first novel written by a machine." (Though, for the record, Goodwin says he disagrees it should bear that distinction -- "That might be The Policeman's Beard Is Half Constructed by a program from the '80s," he tells me.) Regardless, it is a hallucinatory, oddly illuminating account of a bot's life on the interstate; the Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test meets Google Street View, narrated by Siri.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's to-each-their-own department
Last year, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak announced a coding program called Woz U that's designed with the goal of offering an affordable education. "Our goal is to educate and train people in employable digital skills without putting them into years of debt," Wozniak said last fall. "People often are afraid to choose a technology-based career because they think they can't do it. I know they can, and I want to show them how."
Now that a round of students have been through the 33-week program, a number of problems have appeared. Former student, Bill Duerr, called the program "broken," and that "lots of times there's just hyperlinks to Microsoft documents, to Wikipedia." 9to5Mac reports: "Duerr said typos in course content were one of many problems. So-called 'live lectures' were pre-recorded and out of date, student mentors were unqualified, and at one point, one of his courses didn't even have an instructor," reports CBS. CBS heard from over 24 current and former students and employees that reiterated Duerr's experiences. Instead of a quality program, Duerr said Woz U was comparable to an ultra expensive e-book: "'I feel like this is a $13,000 e-book,' Duerr said. While it was supposed to be a program written by one of the greatest tech minds of all time, 'it's broken, it's not working in places, lots of times there's just hyperlinks to Microsoft documents, to Wikipedia,' he said."
A former Woz U enrollment counselor said that at times he had to do things that didn't feel right: "Asked whether he regrets working for Woz U, Mionske said, 'I regret in the aspect to where they're spending this money for, it's like rolling the dice. [...] But on the reverse side, I have to support my family.'" According to Business Insider, Steve Wozniak said that he's "not involved" in the "operational aspects" of Woz U and doesn't know anything about the report this morning.Read Replies (0)