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Why OpenStreetMap Should Be a Priority for the Open Source Community
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '18 at 12:01 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sharing-the-road department:
"Despite its low profile, OpenStreetMap is arguably one of the most important projects for the future of free software," argues Glyn Moody, author of Rebel Code: Linux And The Open Source Revolution, in a new Linux Journal article shared by long-time Slashdot reader carlie:
The rise of mobile phones as the primary computing device for billions of people, especially in developing economies, lends a new importance to location and movement. Many internet services now offer additional features based on where users are, where they are going and their relative position to other members of social networks. Self-driving cars and drones are two rapidly evolving hardware areas where accurate geographical information is crucial. All of those things depend upon a map in critical ways, and they require large, detailed datasets. OpenStreetMap is the only truly global open alternative to better-known, and much better-funded geodata holdings, such as Google Maps.
The current dominance of the latter is a serious problem for free software -- and freedom itself. The data that lies behind Google Maps is proprietary. Thus, any open-source program that uses Google Maps or other commercial mapping services is effectively including proprietary elements in its code. For purists, that is unacceptable in itself. But even for those with a more pragmatic viewpoint, it means that open source is dependent on a company for data that can be restricted or withdrawn at any moment....
< article continued at Slashdot's sharing-the-road department >

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Eric Raymond Shares 'Code Archaeology' Tips, Urges Bug-Hunts in Ancient Code
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '18 at 10:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's C-no-evil department:
Open source guru Eric Raymond warned about the possibility of security bugs in critical code which can now date back more than two decades -- in a talk titled "Rescuing Ancient Code" at last week's SouthEast Linux Fest in North Carolina. In a new interview with ITPro Today, Raymond offered this advice on the increasingly important art of "code archaeology".
"Apply code validators as much as you can," he said. "Static analysis, dynamic analysis, if you're working in Python use Pylons, because every bug you find with those tools is a bug that you're not going to have to bleed through your own eyeballs to find... It's a good thing when you have a legacy code base to occasionally unleash somebody on it with a decent sense of architecture and say, 'Here's some money and some time; refactor it until it's clean.' Looks like a waste of money until you run into major systemic problems later because the code base got too crufty. You want to head that off...."
"Documentation is important," he added, "applying all the validators you can is important, paying attention to architecture, paying attention to what's clean is important, because dirty code attracts defects. Code that's difficult to read, difficult to understand, that's where the bugs are going to come out of apparent nowhere and mug you."
< article continued at Slashdot's C-no-evil department >

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Killer Robots Will Only Exist If We Are Stupid Enough To Let Them
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '18 at 10:40 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's no-kill-I department:
Heritype quotes the Guardian's science correspondent:
The idea of killer robots rising up and destroying humans is a Hollywood fantasy and a distraction from the more pressing dilemmas that intelligent machines present to society, according to one of Britain's most influential computer scientists. Sir Nigel Shadbolt, professor of computer science at the University of Oxford, predicts that AI will bring overwhelming benefits to humanity, revolutionising cancer diagnosis and treatment, and transforming education and the workplace. If problems arise, he said, it will not be because sentient machines have unexpectedly gone rogue in a Terminator-like scenario.

"The danger is clearly not that robots will decide to put us away and have a robot revolution," he said. "If there [are] killer robots, it will be because we've been stupid enough to give it the instructions or software for it to do that without having a human in the loop deciding...."

However, Prof Shadbolt is optimistic about the social and economic impact of emerging technologies such as machine learning, in which computer programmes learn tasks by looking for patterns in huge datasets. "I don't see it destroying jobs grim reaper style," he said. "People are really inventive at creating new things for humans to do for which will pay them a wage. Leisure, travel, social care, cultural heritage, even reality TV shows. People want people around them and interacting with them."

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Two Teenaged Gamers Plead 'Not Guilty' For Fatal Kansas Swatting Death
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '18 at 09:23 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sharing-a-cell department:
Two more men entered pleas in federal court for their roles in a SWAT call that led to a fatal police shooting in Kansas: not guilty. An anonymous reader quotes Reuters:
Shane Gaskill, 19, of Wichita, Kansas, and Casey Viner, 18, from a suburb of Cincinnati, pleaded not guilty on Wednesday and remained free on $10,000 bond, court records showed. Both of the suspects live with their parents, local media reported. In the so-called "swatting" incident, in which someone falsely reports an emergency requiring a police response, Viner got upset at Gaskill over a video game they played online, federal prosecutors said, and Viner contacted a known "swatter"...and asked him to make the false report to police at an address that had been provided by Gaskill. Viner did not know that Gaskill no longer lived at the address, but Gaskill knew, prosecutors said.
After media reports of the shooting, Gaskill urged [swatter Tyler] Barriss to delete their communications and Viner wiped his phone, according to the indictment... Barriss and Viner face federal charges of conspiracy and several counts of wire fraud. Viner and Gaskill were charged with obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice, and Gaskill was also charged with wire fraud and additional counts of obstruction of justice.

In a jailhouse interview in January, Barriss told a local news team that "Whether you hang me from a tree, or you give me 5, 10, 15 years... I don't think it will ever justify what happened... I hope no one ever does it, ever again. I hope it's something that ceases to exist."
In April, while still in jail, Barriss gained access to the internet then posted "All right, now who was talking shit? >:) Your ass is about to get swatted."

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Microsoft Program Manager Mistakenly Tweets Office 365 Will Be Rewritten in JavaScript
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '18 at 08:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's MS-to-JS department:
"A Microsoft employee claimed publicly that 'all of Office 365' was being 'completely rewritten' in JavaScript," writes Paul Thurrott, adding "And then all hell broke loose."
First things first. It's not true. So if you were freaking out that Microsoft was somehow abandoning C# and C++ for its most mission-critical offerings, freak out no more. It's not happening. So what is happening? A Microsoft program manager named Sean Larkin perhaps got a little overly-exuberant on Monday... he tried to clarify things in follow-up tweets when his original missive exploded intro controversy. Which shouldn't have been a surprise. And yet, somehow, it was...
[H]e finally corrected himself on Reddit, blaming Twitter's character limitations for his many factual errors. "We are not abandoning C++, C#, or any of the other awesome languages, APIs, and toolings that we use across Microsoft," he clarifies. "Nothing [in Office 365] is converting to 'all/completely' JavaScript/TypeScript."
Thurrott, a long-time Windows blogger, concludes that "getting something this big this wrong is inexcusable."

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Firefox's Pocket Tries to Build a Facebook-Style Newsfeed That Respects Your Privacy
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '18 at 06:40 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Making-for-Mozilla department:
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica:
Pocket, which lets you save articles and videos you find around the web to consume later, now has a home inside Firefox as the engine powering recommendations to 50 million people a month. By analyzing the articles and videos people save into Pocket, [Pocket founder and CEO Nate] Weiner believes the company can show people the best of the web -- in a personalized way -- without building an all-knowing, Facebook-style profile of the user.

"We're testing this really cool personalization system within Firefox where it uses your browser history to target personalized [recommendations], but none of that data actually comes back to Pocket or Mozilla," Weiner said. "It all happens on the client, inside the browser itself. There is this notion today... I feel like you saw it in the Zuckerberg hearings. It was like, 'Oh, users. They will give us their data in return for a better experience.' That's the premise, right? And yes, you could do that. But we don't feel like that is the required premise. There are ways to build these things where you don't have to trade your life profile in order to actually get a good experience."
Pocket can analyze which articles and videos from around the web are being shared as well as which ones are being read and watched. Over time, that gives the company a good understanding of which links lead to high-quality content that users of either Pocket or Firefox might enjoy.
I use Firefox, but I don't use Pocket.
Are there any Slashdot readers who want to share their experiences with read-it-later services, or thoughts about what Firefox is attempting?

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Samsung Plans To Use 100% Renewable Energy by 2020
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '18 at 02:41 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department:
Samsung said this week it plans to transition to entirely renewable energy in its offices, factories, and operational facilities in the United States, China, and Europe by 2020. From a report: The company has also joined the World Wildlife Fund's Renewable Energy Buyers' Principles and the Rocky Mountain Institute's Business Renewables Center. In its home in Korea, Samsung plans to install 42,000 meters of solar panels at its headquarters, and will continue to add approximately 21,000 meters of solar arrays and geothermal power generation facilities beginning in 2019 at its satellite campuses in Pyeongtaek and Hwaseong.

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We're All Getting Dumber, Says Science
Posted by News Fetcher on June 16 '18 at 12:01 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-else-is-new department:
dryriver shares a report from Fast Company: Researchers at Norway's Ragnar Frisch Center for Economic Research now have scientific proof of something we've long suspected -- we're all getting dumber. In their paper, "Flynn effect and its reversal are both environmentally caused," which was published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Bernt Bratsberg and Ole Rogeberg report that IQ scores have been steadily dropping since the 1970s. The study consisted of analyzing 730,000 IQ test results gleaned from young men entering Norway's compulsory military service from 1970 to 2009. They found that scores declined by an average of seven points per generation, a reversal of the so-called "Flynn effect" where IQ was seen to be rising during the first part of the 20th century. The decline may be due to environmental factors, but because the researchers couldn't find consistent trends among families, Bratsberg and Rogeberg discounted factors like parental education, family size, increased immigration, and genetics as significant causes.

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$950 Million Large Hadron Collider Upgrade 'Could Upend Particle Physics'
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 08:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: A massive project to supercharge the world's largest particle collider launched on Friday in the hope that the beefed-up machine will reveal fresh insights into the nature of the universe. The approximately $950 million Swiss franc mission will see heavy equipment, new buildings, access shafts and service tunnels installed, constructed and excavated at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) at Cern, the particle physics laboratory on the edge of Geneva.

The upgrade will make the collider far more sensitive to subtle quirks in the laws of physics, and physicists hope these anomalies will pry open the door to entirely new theories of the universe. If the upgrade goes to plan, the proton beams in the souped-up accelerator, known as the high-luminosity LHC, or HL-LHC, will be so intense that the number of collisions in the machine will be five to 10 times greater than today. The upgrade is expected to take eight years. While new magnets and beam instruments will be installed when the LHC is switched off for two years in 2019, most of the required equipment will be fitted in a longer shutdown from 2024 to 2026, when the revamped machine will switch back on again.

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The Most Important Study of the Mediterranean Diet Has Been Retracted
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 06:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-cry-over-spilled-oil department:
Zorro shares a report from Quartz: In 2013, the New England Journal of Medicine published a landmark study that found that people put on a Mediterranean diet had a 30% lower chance of heart attack, stroke, or death from cardiovascular disease than people on a low-fat diet. It received massive media and public attention when released, and since has been cited by 3,268 other scientific papers. The study had tremendous impact on the field of nutrition and health science. Yesterday (June 13), however, the journal retracted the study -- providing a new reason for skepticism about how effective the now-popular Mediterranean diet really is.

The reasons for the withdrawal are complicated, having to do with the methodology of the study. As Alison McCook of the Retraction Watch blog writes for NPR, this retraction is the result of the work of John Carlisle, a British anesthesiologist and self-taught statistician. Carlisle has spent recent years analyzing over 5,000 published randomized controlled trials (the gold standard of medical science research) to see how likely they were to have actually been properly randomized. In 2017, he reported his results: at least 2% of the studies were problematic. One was the 2013 NEJM article on the Mediterranean diet.

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The Silk Road's Alleged Right-Hand Man Will Finally Face a US Court
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 05:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department:
It's been nearly five years since the FBI surrounded Ross Ulbricht in the science fiction section of a San Francisco library, arrested him, and grabbed the laptop from which he had run the dark web drug bazaar known as the Silk Road. Ulbricht went on trial in a New York courtroom, and is currently serving a life sentence without parole. But even now, the Silk Road saga still hasn't ended: Half a decade after Ulbricht's arrest, his alleged advisor, mentor and right-hand man Roger Clark will finally face a US court, too. From a report: On Friday, the FBI, IRS, DHS, and prosecutors in the Southern District of New York announced the extradition of 56-year-old Canadian man Roger Clark from a Thai jail cell to New York to face newly unsealed charges for his role in Silk Road's operation. The indictment accuses Clark, who allegedly went by the pseudonyms Variety Jones, Cimon, and Plural of Mongoose in his role as Silk Road's consigliere, of crimes ranging from narcotics trafficking to money laundering. But even those charges don't capture the outsize role Clark is believed to have played in building and managing the Silk Road, from security audits to marketing, and even reportedly encouraging Ulbricht to use violence to maintain his empire. "As Ulbricht's right-hand man, Roger Clark allegedly advised him of methods to thwart law enforcement during the operation of this illegal ploy, pocketing hundreds of thousands of dollars in the process," writes FBI assistant director William Sweeney in a press statement. "Today's extradition of Roger Clark shows that despite alleged attempts to operate under the radar, he was never out of our reach."

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Inside the Private Event Where Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and Other Rivals Share Security Secrets
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 05:21 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-greater-good department:
News outlet GeekWire takes us inside Building 99 at Microsoft, where security professionals of the software giant, along with those of Amazon, Google, Netflix, Salesforce, Facebook (and others), companies that fiercely compete with one another, gathered earlier this week to share their learnings for the greater good. From the story: As the afternoon session ended, the organizer from Microsoft, security data wrangler Ram Shankar Siva Kumar, complimented panelist Erik Bloch, the Salesforce security products and program management director, for "really channeling the Ohana spirit," referencing the Hawaiian word for "family," which Salesforce uses to describe its internal culture of looking out for one another. It was almost enough to make a person forget the bitter rivalry between Microsoft and Salesforce. Siva Kumar then gave attendees advice on finding the location of the closing reception. "You can Bing it, Google it, whatever it is," he said, as the audience laughed at the rare concession to Microsoft's longtime competitor. It was no ordinary gathering at Microsoft, but then again, it's no ordinary time in tech. The Security Data Science Colloquium brought the competitors together to focus on one of the biggest challenges and opportunities in the industry. Machine learning, one of the key ingredients of artificial intelligence, is giving the companies new superpowers to identify and guard against malicious attacks on their increasingly cloud-oriented products and services. The problem is that hackers are using many of the same techniques to take those attacks to a new level. "The challenge is that security is a very asymmetric game," said Dawn Song, a UC Berkeley computer science and engineering professor who attended the event. "Defenders have to defend across the board, and attackers only need to find one hole. So in general, it's easier for attackers to leverage these new techniques." That helps to explain why the competitors are teaming up. In a statement, Erik Bloch, Director Security PM at Salesforce, said, "This is what the infosec and security industry needs more of. Our customers are shared, and so is our responsibility to protect them.

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Chinese Cyber-Espionage Group Hacked Government Data Center
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 04:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department:
Catalin Cimpanu, writing for BleepingComputer: A Chinese-linked cyber-espionage unit has hacked a data center belonging to a Central Asian country and has embedded malicious code on government sites. The hack of the data center happened sometime in mid-November 2017, according to a report published by Kaspersky Lab earlier this week. Experts assigned the codename of LuckyMouse to the group behind this hack, but they later realized the attackers were an older Chinese threat actor known under various names in the reports of other cyber-security firms, such as Emissary Panda, APT27, Threat Group 3390, Bronze Union, ZipToken, and Iron Tiger.

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Making Buildings, Cars and Planes From Materials Based on Plant Fibres
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 04:01 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Materials-science researchers are finding that plant fibres can add durability and strength to substances already used in the construction of buildings and in goods that range from toys and furniture to cars and aircraft. From a report: A big bonus is that, because plants lock up carbon in their structure, using their fibres to make things should mean less carbon dioxide is emitted. The production of concrete alone represents some 5% of man-made global CO{-2} emissions, and making 1kg of plastic from oil produces 6kg of the greenhouse gas. Start with the carrots. These are being investigated by Mohamed Saafi at Lancaster University, in England. Dr Saafi and his colleagues do not use whole carrots, but rather what they call "nanoplatelets" that have been extracted from carrots discarded by supermarkets or as waste from food-processing factories. Sugar-beet peelings are also a useful source of nanoplatelets. The researchers are working with CelluComp, a British firm that produces such platelets for industrial applications, including as an additive that helps toughen the surface of paint as it dries. Each platelet is only a few millionths of a metre across. It consists of a sheet of stiff cellulose fibres. Although the fibres are minute, they are strong. By combining platelets with other materials a powerful composite can be produced. Dr Saafi is mixing the platelets into cement, which is made by burning limestone and clay together at high temperature. To turn cement into concrete it is mixed with aggregates such as sand, stones and crushed rocks, which act as reinforcement, and with water, which reacts with the chemicals in the cement to form a substance called calcium silicate hydrate. This starts off as a thick gel, but then hardens into a solid matrix that binds the aggregates together.

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US Files Criminal Charges Against Theranos's Elizabeth Holmes, Ramesh Balwani
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 02:41 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's no-mercy department:
John Carreyrou, reporting for WSJ: Federal prosecutors filed criminal charges against Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes and the blood-testing company's former No. 2 executive, alleging that they defrauded investors out of hundreds of millions of dollars and also defrauded doctors and patients. The indictments of Ms. Holmes and Ramesh "Sunny" Balwani, Theranos's former president and chief operating officer who was also Ms. Holmes's boyfriend, are the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year investigation by the U.S. attorney's office in San Francisco, sparked by articles in The Wall Street Journal that raised questions about the company's technology and practices. Ms. Holmes, 34 years old, and Mr. Balwani, 53, were charged with two counts of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and nine counts of wire fraud in an indictment handed up Thursday and unsealed Friday.

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17 Backdoored Images Downloaded 5 Million Times Removed From Docker Hub
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-properly-contained department:
An anonymous reader writes: "The Docker team has pulled 17 Docker container images that have been backdoored and used to install reverse shells and cryptocurrency miners on users' servers for the past year," reports Bleeping Computer. "The malicious Docker container images have been uploaded on Docker Hub, the official repository of ready-made Docker images that sysadmins can pull and use on their servers, work, or personal computers." The images, downloaded over 5 million times, helped crooks mine Monero worth over $90,000 at today's exchange rate. Docker Hub is now just the latest package repository to feature backdoored libraries, after npm and PyPl. Docker Hub is now facing criticism for taking months to intervene after user reports, and then going on stage at a developer conference and claiming they care about security.

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Guy Robs Someone At Gunpoint For Domain Name, Gets 20 Years In Jail
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 01:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's domain-hijacking department:
Yesterday, 43-year-old Iowa man Sherman Hopkins Jr. was sentenced to 20 years in prison for attempting to rob a domain name from another man at gunpoint in 2017. As Motherboard reports, "this may be the first time someone has attempted to steal a domain name at gunpoint." From the report: Last June, Hopkins broke into the home of 26 year-old Ethan Deyo in Cedar Rapids, Iowa one afternoon and demanded that Deyo to log on to his computer to transfer the domain name for "doitforstate.com" to another account. According to Deyo's bio on his personal website, he is a web entrepreneur who previously worked for the web hosting service GoDaddy. After seeing Hopkins enter the apartment, Deyo locked himself into his room and Hopkins kicked in the door. Hopkins kicked in the door and "pistol-whipped" Deyo, held a gun to his head and used a stun gun on him during the encounter. While he attempted to wrestle the gun away from Hopkins, Deyo was shot in the leg, but he eventually gained control of the firearm and shot Hopkins multiple times in the chest. It's unclear why Hopkins wanted the domain name or who he was transferring the domain name to.

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Time Warner Deal Aftermath: AT&T Is About To Give Free TV To Its Wireless Customers
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 01:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's free-for-all department:
AT&T completed its $85 billion purchase of Time Warner yesterday and we're already starting to see some exclusive deals offered to its customers. CNBC reports that the company "will be launching a 'very, very skinny bundle' of television programming free to its mobile customers." From the report: "We will be launching, and you're going to hear more about this next week, a product called 'AT&T Watch TV,'" Chairman and CEO Randall Stephenson said on CNBC's "Squawk Box." "It will be the Turner content. It will not have sports. It'll be entertainment-centered." AT&T's unlimited wireless customers will get the service for free, Stephenson said, "or you can buy it for $15 a month on any platform." The service will be ad-supported, and AT&T will be ramping up an advertising platform, he said. He added that the company expects in coming weeks to make smaller acquisitions to enable those ad efforts. CNBC is also reporting that Time Warner is changing its name to WarnerMedia, and Turner Broadcasting CEO John Martin is departing the company.

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Verizon's New Phone Plan Proves It Has No Idea What 'Unlimited' Actually Means
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 12:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's read-the-fine-print department:
Verizon has unveiled its third "unlimited" smartphone plan that goes to show just how meaningless the term has become in the U.S. wireless industry. "In addition to its Go Unlimited and Beyond Unlimited plans, Verizon is now adding a premium Above Unlimited plan to the mix, which offers 75GB of 'unlimited' data per month (as opposed to the 22GB of 'unlimited' data you get on less expensive plans), along with 20GB of 'unlimited' data when using your phone as a hotspot, 500GB of Verizon cloud storage, and five monthly international Travel Passes, which are daily vouchers that let you use your phone's wireless service abroad the same as if you were in the U.S.," reports Gizmodo. Are you confused yet? From the report: And as if that wasn't bad enough, Verizon has also updated its convoluted sliding pricing scheme that adjusts based on how many phones are on a single bill. For families with four lines of service, the Above Unlimited cost $60 per person, but if you're a single user the same service costs $95, which really seems like bullshit because if everything is supposed to be unlimited, it shouldn't really make a difference how many people are on the same bill. As a small concession to flexibility, Verizon says families with multiple lines can now mix and match plans instead of having to choose a single plan for every line, which should allow families to choose the right service for an individual person's needs and help keep costs down. The new Above Unlimited plan and the company's mix-and-match feature arrives next week on June 18th.

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Some Prominent Tech Companies Are Paying Big Money To Kill a California Privacy Initiative
Posted by News Fetcher on June 15 '18 at 12:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's big-surprise department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: As data-sharing scandals continue to mount, a new proposal in California offers a potential solution: the California Consumer Privacy Act would require companies to disclose the types of information they collect, like data used to target ads, and allow the public to opt out of having their information sold. Now, some of tech's most prominent companies are pouring millions of dollars into an effort to to kill the proposal.

In recent weeks, Amazon, Microsoft, and Uber have all made substantial contributions to a group campaigning against the initiative, according to state disclosure records. The $195,000 contributions from Amazon and Microsoft, as well as $50,000 from Uber, are only the latest: Facebook, Google, AT&T, and Verizon have each contributed $200,000 to block the measure, while other telecom and advertising groups have also poured money into the opposition group. After Mark Zuckerberg was grilled on privacy during congressional hearings, Facebook said it would no longer support the group. Google did not back down, and the more recent contributions suggest other companies will continue fighting the measure.

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