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Linux Mint 18.1 'Serena' Is Here For Christmas
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '16 at 11:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's linux-build-drop department:
Long time reader BrianFagioli writes: if you love Linux Mint and use it regularly, I have very good news -- version 18.1 'Serena' is finally here. There are two desktop environments from which to choose -- Cinnamon and Mate. Regardless of which version you choose, please know that it is based on Ubuntu 16.04, which offers long-term support (LTS). In other words, Linux Mint 18.1 will be supported until 2021. Linux Mint 18.1 comes with the updated Cinnamon 3.2 which looks to be wonderful. The Mint team touts a new screensaver/ login screen in the desktop environment, and yeah, it looks good.

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Apple Explores Dual-SIM Capability in iPhones, Patent Filing Reveals
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '16 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's feeding-the-beast department:
Apple is exploring the idea of having two SIM card slots in its iPhones. The Cupertino-based company has registered a patent for a dual-SIM card technology that involves two separate antennas. Though not as popular in the US, and UK markets, smartphones with dual-SIM card capability are extremely popular in developing regions such as China and India. For instance, according to Counterpoint Research marketing firm, more than 90 percent smartphones sold in India, world's fastest growing smartphone market had dual-SIM card slot in them. But why does Apple care about India and China, you ask. The iPhones sales growth has dropped everywhere in the world, except India, which is also the world's second most populous nation, and world's second largest smartphone market. As per Apple's previous earnings call, sales of iPhones grew by 50 percent in India, and Tim Cook has said that he sees a huge potential in the country.

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Wikipedia Exceeds Fundraising Target, But Continues Asking For More Money
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '16 at 10:11 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department:
Reader Andreas Kolbe writes: The fundraising banners on Wikipedia this year are so effective that halfway through its December fundraising campaign, the Wikimedia Foundation has already exceeded its $25 million donations target for the entire month, reports The Register. A few weeks ago, Jimmy Wales promised that the Wikimedia Foundation would "stop the fundraiser if enough money were raised in shorter than the planned time". But there's no sign of the Foundation doing that. When asked about this more recently, a Wikimedia Foundation spokesperson remained non-committal on ending the campaign early. The most recent audited accounts of the Wikimedia Foundation showed net assets of $92 million and revenue of $82 million. None of this money, incidentally, pays for writing or checking Wikipedia content – that's the job of unpaid volunteers – and only $2 million are spent on internet hosting every year.

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Building a Coder's Paradise Is Not Profitable: GitHub Lost $66M In Nine Months Of 2016
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '16 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's it's-not-easy department:
Though not much popular outside the technology circles, GitHub is very popular among coders around the world. The startup operates a sort of Google Docs for programmers, giving them a place to store, share and collaborate on their work. But GitHub is losing money through profligate spending and has stood by as new entrants emerged in a software category it essentially gave birth to, according to people familiar with the business and financial paperwork reviewed by Bloomberg. From the report: The rise of GitHub has captivated venture capitalists. Sequoia Capital led a $250 million investment in mid-2015. But GitHub management may have been a little too eager to spend the new money. The company paid to send employees jetting across the globe to Amsterdam, London, New York and elsewhere. More costly, it doubled headcount to 600 over the course of about 18 months. GitHub lost $27 million in the fiscal year that ended in January 2016, according to an income statement seen by Bloomberg. It generated $95 million in revenue during that period, the internal financial document says. The income statement shows a loss of $66 million in the first three quarters of this year. That's more than twice as much lost in any nine-month time frame by Twilio Inc., another maker of software tools founded the same year as GitHub. At least a dozen members of GitHub's leadership team have left since last year.

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Amazon Is Secretly Building an 'Uber For Trucking' App, Setting Its Sights On a Massive $800 Billion Market
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '16 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's there's-an-Uber-for-that department:
Amazon is building an app that matches truck drivers with shippers, a new service that would deepen its presence in the $800 billion trucking industry, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Business Insider. From the report: The app, scheduled to launch next summer, is designed to make it easier for truck drivers to find shippers that need goods moved, much in the way Uber connects drivers with riders. It would also eliminate the need for a third-party broker, which typically charges a commission of about 15% for doing the middleman work. The app will offer real-time pricing and driving directions, as well as personalized features such as truck-stop recommendations and a suggested "tour" of loads to pick up and drop off. It could also have tracking and payment options to speed up the entire shipping process.

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World Energy Hits a Turning Point: Solar That's Cheaper Than Wind
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '16 at 08:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's boom department:
A transformation is happening in global energy markets that's worth noting as 2016 comes to an end: Solar power, for the first time, is becoming the cheapest form of new electricity. From a report on Bloomberg: This has happened in isolated projects in the past: an especially competitive auction in the Middle East, for example, resulting in record-cheap solar costs. But now unsubsidized solar is beginning to outcompete coal and natural gas on a larger scale, and notably, new solar projects in emerging markets are costing less to build than wind projects, according to fresh data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The chart shows the average cost of new wind and solar from 58 emerging-market economies, including China, India, and Brazil. While solar was bound to fall below wind eventually, given its steeper price declines, few predicted it would happen this soon.

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Yahoo's Billion-User Database Reportedly Sold On the Dark Web for Just $300,000 - NYT
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '16 at 07:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
An anonymous reader writes: As if 2016 wasn't shitty enough for Yahoo -- which admitted to two separate breaches that saw 500 million users' and then 1 billion users' details stolen by hackers -- the New York Times reports that a billion-user database was sold on the Dark Web last August for $300,000. That's according to Andrew Komarov, chief intelligence office at security firm InfoArmor. He told NYT that three buyers, including two prominent spammers and another who might be involved in espionage tactics purchased the entire database at the aforementioned price from a hacker group believed to based in Eastern Europe. It's lovely to know that it only costs $300,000 to be able to threaten a billion people's online existence -- which means each account is only worth $0.0003 to hackers who can ruin your life online in a matter of minutes. Yahoo also doesn't yet know who made off with all the data from the attack in 2013, which is said to be the largest breach of any company ever.

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Evernote Reverses Course On Opt-out Privacy Policy That Would've Exposed Users' Content To Employees
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '16 at 07:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's backtrack department:
Evernote has withdrawn planned changes to its privacy policy that would have permitted some employees to view the content of users' note, as the company works on new features that rely on machine-learning technology. From a report on VentureBeat: The company caused an uproar earlier this week when news emerged of the pending changes, which were due to take effect on January 23. Even if users were to opt out of allowing their information to be viewed by employees, the planned changes drew attention to the company's existing policy that permitted employees to look at users' content "for other reasons stated in our Privacy Policy," which included quite a few vague reasons, including "to maintain and improve the service." Evernote CEO Chris O'Neill issued an apology of sorts yesterday for the company's "poor communication" around the policy, and pointed out that users' information would be anonymized. But today the company has gone one step further by announcing that it's no longer implementing the planned changes in their current form
.

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Twitter Blocks Government 'Spy Centers' From Accessing User Data
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '16 at 07:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's controversial-surveillance department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Twitter has blocked federally funded "domestic spy centers" from using a powerful social media monitoring tool after public records revealed that the government had special access to users' information for controversial surveillance efforts. The American Civil Liberties Union of California discovered that so-called fusion centers, which collect intelligence, had access to monitoring technology from Dataminr, an analytics company partially owned by Twitter. The ACLU's records prompted the companies to announce that Dataminr had terminated access for all fusion centers and would no longer provide social media surveillance tools to any local, state or federal government entities. The government centers are partnerships between agencies that work to collect vast amounts of information purportedly to analyze "threats". The spy centers, according to the ACLU, target protesters, journalists and others protected by free speech rights while also racially profiling people deemed "suspicious" by law enforcement. Records that the ACLU obtained uncovered that a fusion center in southern California had access to Dataminr's "geospatial analysis application", which allowed the government to do location-based tracking as well as searches tied to keywords. That means the center could use Dataminr to search billions of tweets and monitor specific demographics or organizations.

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Zero-Days Hitting Fedora and Ubuntu Open Desktops To a World of Hurt
Posted by News Fetcher on December 16 '16 at 02:51 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rock-em-sock-em-robots department:
An anonymous reader writes: It's the year of the Linux desktop getting pwned. Chris Evans (not the red white and blue one) has released a number of linux zero day exploits, the most recent of which employs specially crafted audio files to compromise linux desktop machines. Ars Technica reports: "'I like to prove that vulnerabilities are not just theoretical -- that they are actually exploitable to cause real problems,' Evans told Ars when explaining why he developed -- and released -- an exploit for fully patched systems. 'Unfortunately, there's still the occasional vulnerability disclosure that is met with skepticism about exploitability. I'm helping to stamp that out.' Like Evans' previous Linux zero-day, the proof-of-concept attacks released Tuesday exploit a memory-corruption vulnerability closely tied to GStreamer, a media framework that by default ships with many mainstream Linux distributions. This time, the exploit takes aim at a flaw in a software library alternately known as Game Music Emu and libgme, which is used to emulate music from game consoles. The two audio files are encoded in the SPC music format used in the Super Nintendo Entertainment System console from the 1990s. Both take aim at a heap overflow bug contained in code that emulates the console's Sony SPC700 processor. By changing the .spc extension to .flac and .mp3, GSteamer and Game Music Emu automatically open them."

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Vitamin D Deficiency During Pregnancy Linked To Autism
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 11:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's preventative-health-measures department:
New submitter future guy quotes a report from New Atlas: The researchers examined around 4,200 blood samples from pregnant women and their children and discovered a link between autism and low levels of vitamin D. More specifically, they found that pregnant women who were vitamin D deficient at 20 weeks gestation were more likely to have a child with autistic traits by the age of six. Rather than taking in more sunlight and the heightened risk of skin cancer that it carries, the researchers suggest that making inexpensive and safe vitamin D supplements available to at-risk groups may be a better path forward. "This study provides further evidence that low vitamin D is associated with neurodevelopmental disorders," says Professor John McGrath from the University of Queensland. "Just as taking folate in pregnancy has reduced the incidence of spina bifida, the result of this study suggests that prenatal vitamin D supplements may reduce the incidence of autism." The research was published in the journal Molecular Psychiatry.

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Aging Process May Be Reversable, Scientists Claim
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 07:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's wrinkle-free department:
New submitter TheNinjaCoder writes: A new type of gene therapy is showing promise in reversing the aging process. The scientists are not claiming that aging can be eliminated, but say that in the foreseeable future treatments designed to slow the process could increase life expectancy. The Guardian explains the scientists' experiment in its report: "The rejuvenating treatment given to the mice was based on a technique that has previously been used to 'rewind' adult cells, such as skin cells, back into powerful stem cells, very similar to those seen in embryos. These so-called induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells have the ability to multiply and turn into any cell type in the body and are already being tested in trials designed to provide 'spare parts' for patients. The treatment involved intermittently switching on the same four genes that are used to turn skin cells into iPS cells. The mice were genetically engineered in such a way that the four genes could be artificially switched on when the mice were exposed to a chemical in their drinking water. The scientists tested the treatment in mice with a genetic disorder, called progeria, which is linked to accelerated aging, DNA damage, organ dysfunction and dramatically shortened lifespan. After six weeks of treatment, the mice looked visibly younger, skin and muscle tone improved and they lived 30% longer. When the same genes were targeted in cells, DNA damage was reduced and the function of the cellular batteries, called the mitochondria, improved. Crucially, the mice did not have an increased cancer risk, suggesting that the treatment had successfully rewound cells without turning them all the way back into stem cells, which can proliferate uncontrollably in the body." The study has been published in the journal Cell.

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A $300 Device Can Steal Mac FileVault2 Passwords
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 06:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's 30-seconds-or-less department:
An anonymous reader writes: Swedish hardware hacker Ulf Frisk has created a device that can extract Mac FileVault2 (Apple's disk encryption utility) passwords from a device's memory before macOS boots and anti-DMA protections kick in. The extracted passwords are in cleartext, and they also double as the macOS logon passwords. The attack requires physical access, but it takes less than 30 seconds to carry out. A special device is needed, which runs custom software (available on GitHub), and uses hardware parts that cost around $300. Apple fixed the attack in macOS 10.12.2. The device is similar to what Samy Kamker created with Poison Tap.

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Apple Will Charge You $69 To Replace a Lost AirPod
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's out-of-pocket department:
Apple's AirPods finally went on sale earlier this week after being announced in September and delayed in October. Now that people are able to actually purchase these wireless earphones for $159, many are wondering what happens if they lose an AirPod. Apple has recently updated its repair and replacement costs for AirPods on its iPhone Service Pricing Page, mentioning a $69 fee for those who need to replace an AirPod or charging case. Mac Rumors reports: Apple doesn't appear to be offering AppleCare+ for AirPods, instead providing a standard one-year warranty that's available on all Apple products. If the AirPods need service during that one year period, all work will be covered for free. After the one-year warranty has expired, Apple will charge a $69 fee for out-of-warranty service repairs. Battery service for AirPods that lose battery capacity is free during the one-year warranty period or $49 out of warranty. If you lose or damage one of the AirPods or the charging case, Apple will charge $69 for a replacement, regardless of whether or not the AirPods are still under warranty. The pricing in Apple's support document is U.S. pricing, and will vary based on country.

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GM Expands Testing, Production of Self-Driving Cars In Michigan
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 05:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's next-generation-of-transportation department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: General Motors Co Chief Executive Mary Barra said on Thursday the automaker will expand testing of self-driving vehicles to Michigan, and will build its next generation of self-driving cars in the Michigan plant that builds the Chevrolet Bolt electric car. GM has been accelerating its efforts to deploy self-driving cars, earlier this year buying autonomous driving startup Cruise Automation. GM and Cruise engineers have been testing self-driving prototypes in Arizona and California. Rivals, including Ford Motor Co, Uber Technologies and Alphabet Inc's Waymo self-driving car unit, are also testing autonomous vehicles on public roads in various states and countries. Barra used a press conference at the company's Detroit headquarters to show off an electric Chevrolet Bolt equipped with roof-top sensors designed to enable autonomous driving. GM executives have said the automaker could eventually deploy self driving electric cars in fleets managed by its ride services partner, Lyft. However, Barra did not address Lyft in her remarks Thursday.

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Super Mario Run Is Now Available
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 03:44 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's nostalgic-gaming department:
Nintendo's first smartphone game "Super Mario Run" is now available in the App Store across the world. The game follows the success of Pokemon Go, which launched earlier this year. Nintendo owns a third of the Pokemon Company, but the game itself was developed by Niantic. The Independent reports: But just like Pokemon Go, the game requires that anyone playing it has a connection to the internet. That's intended as a way of stopping pirates getting around the game's relatively expensive $10 price -- not required to download the game, but to unlock it -- but has already drawn some complaints. In the case of Pokemon Go, which also required that people were online, the huge popularity of the game meant that its servers regularly crashed and were sometimes intentionally taken offline. That in turn meant that the game was impossible to play for large amounts of time, since it required that same connection, as Super Mario Run will. The restriction will also mean that fans won't be able to play the game underground or on flights, or anywhere else with restricted Wi-Fi. But for the most part, the game has been hailed as a signal that Nintendo are finally bringing their nostalgia-inducing characters to a broader range of platforms and consoles. The company unveiled the game at the launch event for the iPhone 7, drawing praise for having liberated Mario and his friends and enemies from Nintendo's own consoles for the first time. You can download Super Mario Run here.

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Google May Prevent Samsung From Adding Viv AI Assistant To Galaxy S8
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 03:44 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's outmuscled-by-Google department:
New submitter drunkdrone quotes a report from International Business Times: Samsung is reported to be equipping its upcoming Galaxy S8 flagship with all manner of technical marvels in its attempt to erase the Note 7 catastrophe from memory. However, Google may throw a wrench into the works by potentially prohibiting Samsung from imbuing the phone with one of its most compelling features (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternate source) -- its AI personal assistant. Reports have suggested that Samsung planned to load the Galaxy S8 with Viv, a smartphone-based digital assistant similar to Apple's Siri and Google Assistant. Because of an ongoing non-compete pact between Samsung and Google, however, Samsung may be forced to exclude Viv from its upcoming flagship as would challenge Google's digital helper. The report adds: "According to Recode, the restriction forms part of a patent-sharing agreement Samsung signed with Google in 2014. While the pact will allow the two companies to put up a stronger, united front against Apple, it may hinder Samsung's ambitions for independence and its attempts to differentiate itself from the wider Android crowd."

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White House Supports Claim Putin Directed US Election Hack
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 03:44 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
The White House is suggesting that Russian President Vladimir Putin was directly involved in a hacking operation aimed at interfering with the U.S. presidential election. BBC reports: Ben Rhodes, adviser to President Barack Obama, said that Mr Putin maintains tight control on government operations, which suggests that he was aware. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest added that it was "pretty obvious" that Mr Putin was involved. "Everything we know about how Russia operates and how Putin controls that government would suggest that, again, when you're talking about a significant cyber intrusion like this, we're talking about the highest levels of government," Mr Rhodes said. "And ultimately, Vladimir Putin is the official responsible for the actions of the Russian government." NBC reported that the U.S. had evidence that Mr Putin personally directed how information hacked by Russian intelligence was leaked. The Department of Homeland Security and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence also released a statement asserting Russia had orchestrated the hack, including breaches on the Democratic National Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. The contents of those hacks, passed to Wikileaks and posted online, were embarrassing to the Democrats and shook up the presidential campaign. The NBC report, which cited two unnamed senior officials, said the hacking campaign began as a "vendetta" against Mrs Clinton before becoming "an effort to show corruption in American politics and split off key American allies." Mr Putin is said to have been furious when Mrs Clinton, as secretary of state, questioned the integrity of 2011 parliamentary elections in Russia. He publicly accused her of encouraging street protests.

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Businesses May No Longer Sue Customers Over Negative Reviews
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 02:17 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's thanks-Obama department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: A few months I wrote about the Consumer Review Fairness Act. In a nutshell, this offers legal protections to consumers who leave negative reviews on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor. You can now call out the restaurant who gave you food poisoning, or a bed-bug infested hotel without the risk of being dragged into a civil court. The long-overdue bill explicitly bans non-disparagement clauses in contracts between businesses and patrons. Over the years, there's been a rash of people getting sued after speaking their mind online. Today, President Obama signed off on the Consumer Review Fairness Act. It's now law. As great as this is for consumers, it's even better for the likes of TripAdvisor and Yelp, whose business model relies on people being able to speak their minds.

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Verizon Changes Its Mind and Will Kill Samsung's Galaxy Note 7 on January 5th
Posted by News Fetcher on December 15 '16 at 02:17 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's change-in-heart department:
Verizon has just announced that it plans to roll out Samsung's upcoming Note 7 update, which permanently stops the recalled smartphone from charging and disables its wireless radios, on January 5th. Only last week, the leading US carrier took a controversial stance when it said it would "not be taking part in this update because of the added risk this could pose to Galaxy Note 7 users that do not have another device to switch to." From a report on The Verge: The company was particularly concerned about nuking the Note 7 during the holiday travel season, something that its US rivals also seemed to take into consideration when scheduling a roll-out date for the update. AT&T is waiting until the very same day. Sprint will release it on January 8th. And T-Mobile's going first among major US carriers on December 27th. Verizon still seems to think it's making the right decision pushing things off a bit for the same reasons. "We want to make sure you can contact family, first responders, and emergency medical professionals during the holiday travel season."

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