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Senate GOP Launches Inquiry Into Facebook's News Curation
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '16 at 10:33 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's drawing-the-line department:
Michael Nunez, reporting for Gizmodo: The US Senate Commerce Committee -- which has jurisdiction over media issues, consumer protection issues, and internet communication -- has sent a letter to Mark Zuckerberg requesting answers to questions it has on its trending topics section. The letter comes after Gizmodo on Monday reported on allegations by one former news curator, who worked for Facebook as a contractor, that the curation team routinely suppressed or blacklisted topics of interest to conservatives. That report also included allegations from several former curators that they used an "injection tool" to add or bump stories onto the trending module. The letter asks that Facebook "arrange for your staff including employees responsible for trending topics to brief committee staff on this issue." The letter was signed by Chairman for the Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, Senator John Thune (R) from South Dakota.

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Seattle Seventh Grader Wins National Math Bee
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '16 at 09:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's these-kids-get-math department:
Edward Wan, a Seattle-based seventh grader has won the national math bee. Wan, who studies at Lakeside Middle School, beat 224 other middle school students nationwide to win the 2016 Raytheon Mathcounts National Competition. From an Associated Press report: Competition officials said in a news release the 13-year-old won the final round by answering the question, "What is the remainder when 999,999,999 is divided by 32?" Wan gave the correct answer of 31 In just under seven seconds.Deadspin reports about the live streaming of the event: Today's Mathcounts national championship for middle-school mathletes aired on ESPN3, and it was definitely the best live sports anyone could be watching at 10 a.m. on a Monday morning. We couldn't agree more.

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Software Security Suffers as Startups Lose Access To Google's Virus Data
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '16 at 09:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's the-talk-of-the-town department:
Iain Thomson, writing for The Register: Security firms that use the Google-owned VirusTotal malware database but don't contribute to the silo are going to find themselves out on a limb. For the past 12 years, researchers have been feeding samples of software nasties into VirusTotal, allowing antivirus engines to check they can detect malicious code. But the site has seen an increasing number of security startups have been using the VirusTotal data without giving back. Now Google, and other contributors have had enough and have changed the terms and conditions of the website. Put simply, if you don't share samples, you can find your own malware elsewhere.From a Reuters report: The policy change at the information-sharing pioneer VirusTotal takes aim mainly at a new generation of security companies, some with valuations of $1 billion or more, that haven't been contributing their analysis. Older companies, some with market valuations much smaller than the upstart rivals, had pressed for the shift. "If they no longer have access to VirusTotal, their detection scores will drop," said Andreas Marx, chief executive of security software evaluation firm AV-TEST. With detection rates down, hackers will find easier entry.

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Amazon Goes After YouTube With New Online Video Posting Service
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '16 at 07:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's luring-video-content-creators department:
Spencer Soper, writing for Bloomberg (edited and condensed): Amazon will let people post videos to its website and earn money from advertising, royalties and other sources, putting the company in more-direct competition with Google's YouTube. Amazon already offers movies and television programs over the Internet -- including its own original productions -- to compete with Netflix. The new product dubbed Video Direct will let Amazon give consumers more options about what to watch without an upfront fee because many of those posting videos will be paid based on how their content performs. Competing streaming services have been driving up the cost of this material. Amazon used a similar strategy to boost its inventory of electronic books through Kindle Direct Publishing, which lets authors bypass traditional publishers and reach readers directly by posting and selling their own e-books online. The Seattle-based e-commerce giant said the service is designed for "professional video producers," but its only requirements are that the videos be high definition and have closed-captioning for the hearing impaired.The company is offering 15 cents for every hour of viewing a video creator's content via Prime Video in the U.S, and six cents an hour for views outside of the U.S. Content creators can also allow Amazon to show their videos to any visitor for free. In such case, Amazon says it is offering 55 percent of all ad revenue their clips generate. Content creators can also sell their videos via its subscription service, or its rental its store -- in which case, Amazon will offer 50 percent of the revenue. YouTube has been long criticized for paying less to YouTube creators, forcing many to leave the platform, or look for alternate revenue channels.

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Sales Of PCs, Laptops, Tablets Continue to Fall, Hit Lowest Point Since 2011
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '16 at 07:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's shrinking-PC-market department:
According to the latest numbers provided by marketing research firm Canalys, the shipments of PC devices -- which includes desktops, notebooks, all-in-ones, two-in-ones, and tablets -- amounted to 101 million units in the first quarter of 2016. The number underscores a 13% decline from the same period a year ago, and it is also the lowest volume since the second quarter of 2011. Apple led the chart among PC OEMs, moving 14 million units (suffering 17% fall), followed by Chinese conglomerate Lenovo. HP assumed the third position, with Dell and Samsung closely following it. Tim Coulling, Canalys Senior Analyst said in a press statement: The global PC market had a bad start to 2016 and it is difficult to see any bright spots for vendors in the coming quarters. The tablet boom has faded in the distance and the market is fully mature. Global shipments declines are expected to continue unless vendors bring transformational innovation to the market. Apple and Microsoft are propping up shipments in established markets with their detachables, but price points make them less affordable in low-income countries. Although other vendors are coming to market with cheaper alternatives, they are unlikely to have a big impact on volumes in the short term. The number of people looking to buy their first PC is at an all-time low and 2016 is likely to bring yet more turmoil to global PC vendors.

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Fedora Project Releases Fedora 24 Beta; Stable Version Comes Next Month
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '16 at 06:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-Fedora department:
A month ahead of its final release, Fedora Project on Tuesday released Fedora 24 beta for users and enthusiasts to try. An anonymous reader writes: The workstation version -- the one most home users will target -- offers GNOME 3.20 preview as a desktop environment. The GNOME environment has improved leaps and bounds over the years, becoming one of the best UIs of any operating system. Wayland is available as preview, but not default. The display server protocol is still poised to replace X, but it will not yet be ready for Fedora 24. The team explains that it should be ready for 'future versions'. Whether that means version 25 is something that remains to be seen."We're pleased to announce that Fedora 24, the latest version of the Fedora operating system, is now available in beta. The Fedora Project is a global community that works together to lead the advancement of free and open source software. As part of the community's mission the project delivers three editions, each one a free, Linux-based operating system tailored to meet specific use cases: Fedora 24 Cloud Beta, Fedora 24 Server Beta, and Fedora 24 Workstation Beta," said Matthew Miller, Fedora Project Leader.

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This Unusual Botnet Targets Scientists, Engineers, and Academics
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '16 at 05:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unusual-suspect department:
schwit1 quotes a report from ZDNet: A botnet and cyberattack campaign is infecting victims across the globe and appears to be tracking the actions of specially selected targets in sectors ranging from government to engineering. Researchers from Forcepoint Security Labs have warned that the campaign it has dubbed 'Jaku' -- after a planet in the Star Wars universe because of references to the sci-fi saga in the malware code -- is different to and more sophisticated than many botnet campaigns. Rather than indiscriminately infecting victims, this campaign is capable of performing "a separate, highly targeted operation" used to monitor members of international non-governmental organizations, engineering companies, academics, scientists and government employees, the researchers said. The findings are set out in Forcepoint's report on Jaku, which outlines how of the estimated 19,000 unique victims, 42 percent are in South Korea and a further 31 percent in Japan. Both are countries and neighbors of North Korea. A further nine percent of Jaku victims are in China, six percent in the US, with the remainder spread across 130 other countries.

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Swarm AI Correctly Predicts Kentucky Derby Superfecta, Turns $20 Into $11,000
Posted by News Fetcher on May 10 '16 at 02:32 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's incredibly-accurate-predictions department:
New "Swarm Intelligence" platform UNU from Unanimous A.I. made a bet on the Kentucky Derby this weekend and won big. The bet is called the Superfecta and it paid 540 to 1 odds. "Swarm Intelligence" allows groups to amplify their collective IQ beyond the capacity of individuals, something that the human species hasn't been able to do because of evolutionary restraints. Silicon Valley startup Unanimous A.I. set out to answer one question: Can humans swarm, and if so can we amplify our intelligence beyond the ability of individuals? Spoiler: yes we can. According to Yahoo, "Unanimous spent the last two years building a swarm intelligence platform called UNU that enables groups to get together as online swarms -- combing their thoughts, opinions, and intuitions in real-time to answer questions, make predictions, reach decisions, and even play games as a unified collective intelligence." Already, UNU has predicted the Oscars better than experts, and predicted the NCAA college bowl games with 70% accuracy. As for the Kentucky Derby, Hope Reese, reporter for Tech Republic and the Atlantic, challenged Unanimous A.I. to use UNU to predict the winners. The group used UNU to answer questions as a unified Swarm Intelligence, narrowing the field of 20 horses down to four winners. Then it was asked to order the winners into Win, Place, Show, and Fourth. Swarm Intelligence convened again a week later after the Derby announced the post positions of the horses -- one of the four picks was replaced by an alternate.

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Tesla's Inherent Safety Saves Five Joyriding Teenagers In Germany
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 11:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's testament-to-safety department:
According to German newspaper Merkur, one 18-year old and four of her friends lost control of her father's Model S electric vehicle. The car reportedly flew more than 80 feet into a field before it came to a stop. Even though the driver and two of the passengers were airlifted to hospitals, none of their injuries were life-threatening, thanks largely in part to Tesla's skateboard chassis. Ars Technica writes, "The skateboard chassis used by the Model S and Model X is extremely safe, with crumple zones that are unconcerned with engines that can transfer kinetic energy into the passengers during a frontal collision." The images of the crash are not pretty, but one could imagine how much worse they would be if a front-engined internal combustion vehicle were involved instead of the Tesla Model S.

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Google News Will Now Highlight Local News Sources For Major Stories
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 08:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's little-guy department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Google's News section will now highlight the importance of local news sources. "When a local story is picked up by national publishers, it can be difficult for local sources to be heard even after they've done the legwork and research to break a story," admits James Morehead, Google News product manager. Google is helping with a new change today that will see a "Local Source" tag applied to all Google News instances. Google is tagging local news based on where a publisher has written about previously and matching it to a story location. Tagged articles will be available on the web and in Google's iOS and Android apps, and will serve as a way to highlight a local source on a national story.

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Scientists: Electric Vehicles Produce As Many Toxins As Dirty Diesels
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 07:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's contrary-to-popular-belief department:
An anonymous reader writes: Thanks to ongoing efforts to reduce engine emissions, nowadays only 10% to 15% of particulate emissions from traffic are coming from vehicles' tailpipes. The remainder originates in tire, road surface and brake wear. A study by Victor Timmers and Peter Achten published in Atmospheric Environment has now found that the extra weight of electric vehicles causes non-tailpipe emissions to increase by about as much as the omission of the internal combustion engine saves. Atmospheric particulates have been shown to cause cancer, cardiovascular disease and respiratory diseases and are widely considered as the most harmful form of air pollution. Achten said, "We found that non-exhaust emissions, from brakes, tires and the road, are far larger than exhaust emissions in all modern cars. These are more toxic than emissions from modern engines so they are likely to be key factors in the extra heart attacks, strokes and asthma attacks seen when air pollution levels surge." The study shows that non-exhaust emissions a vehicle produces is directly related to its weight. Scientists found that electric and eco-friendly vehicles weighed around 24 percent more than conventional vehicles, which in turn contributes to more wear on the tires.

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Five Solomon Islands Disappear Into The Pacific Ocean As A Result Of Climate Change
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 04:57 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rising-sea-levels department:
An anonymous reader writes: Climate change strikes again. A paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters says five of the Solomon Islands have completely submerged underwater due to man-made climate change, and six more have experienced a dramatic reduction in shoreline. The Solomon Islands has a population of a little more than 500,000 people, many of whom have been adversely affected by rising sea levels in recent years. NASA scientist James Hansen estimated that seas could rise by seven meters within the next century. In 2014, Losing Ground issued a report that shows how large areas of the Louisiana coastline are being lost to rising sea levels. A 2011 study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey determined that the state's wetlands were being lost at a rate of "a football field per hour." Michael Edison Hayden writes from ABC News, "The Solomon Islands provides a preview of how sea-level rise could affect other coastal communities in the coming years, according to the study, largely because the speed which erosion is taking place has been accelerated by a "synergistic interaction" with the waves that surround it.

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Scientists Develop 'Second Skin' To Smooth Wrinkles
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 04:57 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's human-reptile department:
An anonymous reader writes a report from CBS News: MIT researchers have developed a "second skin" that could be used to smooth wrinkles, protect skin from damage, or administer medications to treat skin conditions, such as eczema. "It's an invisible layer that can provide a barrier, provide cosmetic improvement, and potentially deliver a drug locally to the area that's being treated," Daniel Anderson said in a university news release. "We started thinking about how we might be able to control the properties of skin by coating it with polymers that would impart beneficial effects," said Anderson. "We also wanted it to be invisible and comfortable." The scientists created a library of more than 100 potential polymers, and they tested each material in order to determine which one would most closely match the appearance and characteristics of healthy skin. The "second skin" is applied in two steps. Both layers are applied as creams or ointments. Once on the skin, XPL is nearly invisible. It can remain on the skin for up to 24 hours, the study authors said. Researchers found the polymer was able to reshape "eye bags" beneath the lower eyelids, and the effect lasted about 24 hours. It also treated dry skin and improved hydration.

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'Battlefield 1' Trailer Most Liked In YouTube History, 'Infinite Warfare' Trailer Most Disliked
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 04:57 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's statistical-data department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Battlefield 1 reveal trailer has officially passed 20 million views, with around 1 million likes and just 18,500 dislikes. Meanwhile, Infinite Warfare's announcement trailer has passed 14 million views, but with only 273,819 likes and a staggering 1.3 million dislikes. The Battlefield 1 trailer is YouTube's most liked trailer of all-time, while Infinity Ward's trailer is YouTube's most disliked trailer of all-time. How is that for a statistic? Battlefield and Call of Duty have been direct competitors in the FPS space for quite some time now, but the differences between each developer's upcoming game has never been more apparent. We can only wait and see if these likes/dislikes provide any insight as to how well each game will sell when they're released later in the year. Battlefield 1 comes out first, launching on October 21, while Infinite Warfare is slated to debut on November 4. In addition, Infinite Warfare has become the 8th most disliked video ever on YouTube. What do you think of each trailer?

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Panama Papers Affair Widens As Database Goes Online
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 03:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's tip-of-the-iceberg department:
In late April, it was reported there would be a huge new 'Panama Papers' data dump on May 9th. The report did not disappoint as today the Panama Papers affair has widened, with a huge database of documents relating to more than 200,000 offshore accounts posted online. The database can be accessed at offshoreleaks.icij.org. The papers were leaked by a source known as "Jony Doe," and the papers belonged to the Panama-based law firm Mossack Fonseca. The International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) decided to make the database public despite a "cease and desist" order issued by the law firm.

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Newspaper Chain CEO 'Pleased' To Announce IT Plan, Then Fires Tech Staff
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 03:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's turn-of-events department:
dcblogs writes from a report on Computerworld: The McClatchy Company, which operates a major chain of newspapers in the U.S., is moving IT work overseas. The number of affected jobs, based on employee estimates, range from 120 to 150. The chain owns about 30 newspapers, including The Sacramento Bee, where McClatchy is based; The Fresno Bee, The News and Observer in Raleigh, N.C., The State in Columbia, S.C. and the Miami Herald. In a letter sent to the chain's IT employees in late March, McClatchy CEO Patrick Talamantes detailed all the improvements a contract with the outsourcing firm, India-based Wipro, will bring, but buries, well down in the letter what should have been in its lead paragraph: There will be cutbacks of U.S. staff. The letter received by McClatchy's IT employees from Talamantes begins by telling them [the company] is "pleased to unveil our new IT Transformational Program, a program designed to provide improved service to all technology users, accelerated development and delivery of technology solutions and products, variable demand-based technology resources and access to modern and cutting-edge skills and platforms." Seven paragraphs down in the letter, he lowers the boom: "As we embark on the implementation phase, there will be a realignment of resources requiring a reduction in McClatchy technology staff." IT employees thought they were part of the solution to McClatchy's tech direction, not the problem. Said one IT employee: "This has taken us all by surprise. I'm not saying that we felt untouchable as they have been doing layoffs for the past 10 years, but being part of IT we felt that we had a big part in what happens" in the company. Employees are now training their replacements.

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FTC Orders Apple, Google, Microsoft, BlackBerry, Samsung To Divulge Mobile Security Practices
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 02:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's key-to-understanding department:
coondoggie quotes a report from Networkworld: The Federal Trade Commission today said it issued a 10-page letter to eight leading players in the mobile communications arena requiring them to tell the agency how they issue security updates to address vulnerabilities in smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. Apple, BlackBerry, Google, HTC America, LG Electronics, Microsoft, Motorola Mobility, and Samsung must provide the following: The factors that they consider in deciding whether to patch a vulnerability on a particular mobile device, detailed data on the specific mobile devices they have offered for sale to consumers since August 2013, the vulnerabilities that have affected those devices, and whether and when the company patched such vulnerabilities.

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Uganda, Where a Book Can Cost a Month's Salary
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 12:43 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's let-there-be-light department:
An anonymous reader shared with us a BBC report on Uganda, where books are unbelievably expensive to afford. The publication reports that it almost feels like a black market for people looking to purchase a book in the landlocked country in East Africa. A book Nothing Left To Steal by South African journalist Mzilikazi wa Afrika (less than $15 on Amazon.com), for instance, is selling in the country for 140,000 Ugandan shillings ($42). This might sound reasonable to most of us, but for a country with a poor economy, BBC reports, this amount can "buy a week's worth of groceries for a family." People, in fact, look for friends going on a foreign trip to help them buy books. Many books are simply not available to them, and the ones that are, they are too expensive in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. From the report: I did splurge once on a book by Guinea's revolutionary leader Ahmed Sekou Toure. It set me back $60 -- the pan-Africanist in me got the better of me that day. Waitresses in downtown Kampala barely earn $60 in a month.One of the encouraging things mentioned in the report is a growing desire among people to read books and wanting to share it with their friends and families despite the struggle. Someone named Rosey Sembatya has started the Malaika Children's Mobile Library. "My sister has four children now and I've been finding it very difficult to buy them books because they're quite expensive," she told BBC. The library is in the spare room of a two-bedroom house she rents. For a $30 annual fee, each child can borrow three books a week. It's an incredible read, and we urge you to read it in its entirety.

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Opera Launches 'Free And Unlimited' VPN App For iOS
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 12:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's geo-blocked department:
Opera has launched a new VPN app for iOS that is free to use and includes unlimited data. The app uses the US-based SurfEasy VPN service acquired by Opera last March. Opera is promising that its mobile VPN is free for life, with no subscription needed. For comparison, SurfEasy's standalone apps for Android and iOS do charge subscription fees. Opera says the app is "especially relevant on campuses and workplaces," where Wi-Fi provided by one institution may have limited access to "social media and video streaming websites." The software blocks ads and trackers, in addition to allowing users to access geo-blocked content by routing their internet connection through another country. You can download the app here.

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Google Testing a Radical Change By Turning People's Search Results Black
Posted by News Fetcher on May 09 '16 at 12:43 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's black-is-the-new-black department:
Google may have plans to do a visual tweak to its search results. The company appears to be testing black search result links since the weekend, according to multiple reports. While some users are pleased with this tweak, many users have already posted their grievances on Google help forums. Some users note that it has become hard to tell which links they have already clicked. The Telegraph reports: Google puts a lot of thought into the exact colours it uses in its services -- and for a good reason. A few years ago its A/B test of different shades of blue -- nicknamed "50 shades of blue" -- earned the company an extra $200 million (£138 million). Designers at Google couldn't decide between two different blues, so they decided to test 41 shades between each blue to see which users preferred. In the test, Google showed each shade to one per cent of its users, and found that users were more likely to click on a slightly more purple shade.

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