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HP Quietly Installs System-Slowing Spyware On Its PCs, Users Say
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 09:54 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's something-fishy department:
It hasn't been long since Lenovo settled a massive $3.5 million fine for preinstalling adware on laptops without users' consent, and it appears HP is on to the same route already. According to numerous reports gathered by news outlet Computer World, the brand is deploying a telemetry client on customer computers without asking permission. The software, called "HP Touchpoint Analytics Service", appears to replace the self-managed HP Touchpoint Manager solution. To make matter worse, the suite seems to be slowing down PCs, users say. From the report: Dubbed "HP Touchpoint Analytics Service," HP says it "harvests telemetry information that is used by HP Touchpoint's analytical services." Apparently, it's HP Touchpoint Analytics Client version 4.0.2.1435. There are dozens of reports of this new, ahem, service scattered all over the internet. According to Gunter Born, reports of the infection go all the way back to Nov. 15, when poster MML on BleepingComputer said: "After the latest batch of Windows updates, about a half hour after installing the last, I noticed that this had been installed on my computer because it showed up in the notes of my Kaspersky, and that it opened the Windows Dump File verifier and ran a disk check and battery test." According to Gartner, HP was the largest PC vendor in the quarter that ended in September this year.

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Researchers Identify 44 Trackers in More Than 300 Android Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 08:36 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's privacy-woes department:
Catalin Cimpanu, reporting for BleepingComputer: A collaborative effort between the Yale Privacy Lab and Exodus Privacy has shed light on dozens of invasive trackers that are embedded within Android apps and record user activity, sometimes without user consent. The results of this study come to show that the practice of collecting user data via third-party tracking code has become rampant among Android app developers and is now on par with what's happening on most of today's popular websites. The two investigative teams found tracking scripts not only in lesser known Android applications, where one might expect app developers to use such practices to monetize their small userbases, but also inside highly popular apps -- such as Uber, Twitter, Tinder, Soundcloud, or Spotify. The Yale and Exodus investigation resulted in the creation of a dedicated website that now lists all apps using tracking code and a list of trackers, used by these apps. In total, researchers said they identified 44 trackers embedded in over 300 Android apps.

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Elon Musk Says He Is Not Bitcoin's Satoshi Nakamoto
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 08:36 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's mystery-solved department:
An anonymous reader writes: Not only does Elon Musk deny being the mysterious creator of bitcoin Satoshi Nakamoto, but he's also forgotten where he keeps his cryptocurrency. Musk's assertions came in response to a blog post coursing through digital-currency sites that suggested the PayPal co-founder and Tesla chief executive officer himself is probably the bitcoin originator who used the alias Nakamoto. "Not true," Musk said Tuesday in a tweet. "A friend sent me part of a BTC a few years, but I don't know where it is."

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Firms Team Up On Hybrid Electric Plane Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 07:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Airbus, Rolls-Royce and Siemens are to develop hybrid electric engine plane technology as part of a push towards cleaner aviation. The E-Fan X programme will first put an electric engine with three jet engines on a BAe 146 aircraft. The firms want to fly a demonstrator version of the plane by 2020, with a commercial application by 2030. Firms are racing to develop electric engines for planes after pressure from the EU to cut aviation pollution. Each of the partners in the programme will be investing tens of millions of pounds, they said on a press call. The firms are developing hybrid technology because fully electric commercial flights are currently out of reach, a spokeswoman said.

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India's Telecom Regulator Backs Net Neutrality
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 07:13 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's setting-an-example department:
From a report on Reuters: India's telecom regulator has made recommendations to ensure an open internet in the country and prevent any discrimination in internet access in a long-awaited report (PDF), after debating the issue of net neutrality for more than a year. The Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) said it was not in favor of any "discriminatory treatment" with data, including blocking, slowing or offering preferential speeds or treatment to any content. The Indian regulator's support of net neutrality stands in contrast to the recent stance taken by the chair of the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. Last week, Ajit Pai, a Republican appointed by President Donald Trump in January, unveiled plans to rescind so-called net neutrality rules championed by former President Barack Obama that treated internet service providers like public utilities.

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Destiny 2 Misrepresented XP Gains To Its Players Until the Developers Got Caught
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hidden-figures department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Destiny 2, like its predecessor, depends largely on an open-ended "end game" system. Once you beat the game's primary "quest" content, you can return to previously covered ground to find remixed and upgraded battles, meant to be played ad nauseam alone or with friends. To encourage such replay, Bungie dangles a carrot of XP gain, which works more slowly than during the campaign stages. Players are awarded a "bright engram" every time they "level up" past the level cap; the engrams are essentially loot boxes that contain a random assortment of cosmetics and weapon mods. Everything you do in the game, from killing a weak bad guy to completing a major raid-related milestone, is supposed to reward you a fixed XP amount. As series fans gear up for the game's first expansion, slated to launch December 5 on PC, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One, its eagle-eyed fans at r/DestinyTheGame began questioning whether those rewards were really as fixed as claimed. Some players began to suspect that they were actually getting less XP than advertised each time they repeated certain in-game missions and tasks, such as the game's "Public Events."

< article continued at Slashdot's hidden-figures department >

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Microsoft Office Now Available On All Chromebooks
Posted by News Fetcher on November 28 '17 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's come-and-get-it department:
Microsoft has reportedly finished testing out its Office apps on Chromebooks as a number of Chromebooks are now seeing the Office apps in the Google Play Store. Samsung's Chromebook Pro, Acer's Chromebook 15, and Acer's C771 have the Office apps available for download. The Verge reports: The apps are Android versions of Office which include the same features you'd find on an Android tablet running Office. Devices like Asus' Chromebook Flip (with a 10.1-inch display) will get free access to Office on Chrome OS, but larger devices will need a subscription. Microsoft has a rule across Windows, iOS, and Android hardware that means devices larger than 10.1 inches need an Office 365 subscription to unlock the ability to create, edit, or print documents.

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Tom Baker Returns To Finish Shelved Doctor Who Episodes Penned By Douglas Adams
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 11:15 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's blast-from-the-past department:
Zorro shares a report from The Register: The fourth and finest Doctor, Tom Baker, has reprised the role to finish a Who serial scuppered in 1979 by strike action at the BBC. Shada, penned by Hitchhiker's Guide author Douglas Adams, was supposed to close Doctor Who's 17th season. Location filming in Cambridge and a studio session were completed but the strike nixed further work and the project was later shelved entirely for fear it might affect the Beeb's Christmas-time productions. The remaining parts have been filled in with animation and the voice of 83-year-old Baker, although he also filmed a scene. BBC Worldwide has now released the episodes, which interweave the 1979 footage with the new material to complete the story. "I loved doing Doctor Who, it was life to me," Baker told the BBC of his tenure as the much-loved Time Lord. "I used to dread the end of rehearsal because then real life would impinge on me. Doctor Who... when I was in full flight, then I was happy."

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Scientists Have Built Robot Muscles That Can Lift 1,000 Times Their Own Weight
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 08:24 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's origami-inspired department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: Researchers at Harvard's Wyss Institute and MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) announced today (Nov. 27) that they've created robotic "muscles" that can lift up to 1,000 times their own weight. The simple objects are constructed out of metal or plastic "skeletons" that are covered in either a liquid or air, and then sealed in plastic or fabric "skins." The muscle pulls taught when a vacuum is created inside the skin, and goes slack when the vacuum is released. By folding the skeletons in different ways, the vacuum can pull the muscle in different directions. "Vacuum-based muscles have a lower risk of rupture, failure, and damage, and they don't expand when they're operating, so you can integrate them into closer-fitting robots on the human body," Daniel Vogt, a research engineer at the Wyss Institute, said in a release.

These new structures are also surprisingly cheap. As they don't require anything other than water or air to move them, the researchers told Harvard that a single muscle can be built in about 10 minutes, for less than $1. (Obviously, there'd still be a cost for the vacuum or whatever is being used to change the pressure of the muscles.)

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The Pixel 2's Dormant 'Visual Core' Chip Gets Activated In Latest Android Developer Preview
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 07:04 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's latest-and-greatest department:
The Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL both feature a custom Intel "Visual Core" co-processor, which is meant to improve speed and battery life when shooting photos with Google's HDR+ technology. The chip has been hanging out in the phone not really doing much of anything -- until now. TechCrunch reports of a new developer preview of Android 8.1 due out today that puts the chip to use. "The component is expected to further improve the handsets' cameras, which were already scoring good marks, production issues aside." From the report: According to the company, Pixel Visual Core has eight image processing unit (IPU) cores and 512 arithmetic logic units. Using machine learning, the company says it's able to speed things up by 5x, with one tenth of the energy. Access to the chip, combined with the Android Camera API means third-party photo apps will be able to take advantage of the system's speedy HDR+. Sounds swell, right? Of course, this is still just an early preview, only available to people who sign up for Google's Beta program. That means, among other things, dealing with potential bugs of an early build. Google wouldn't give us any more specific information with regards to when the feature will be unlocked for the public, but it's expected to arrive along with the 8.1 public beta in December.

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Facebook Rolls Out AI To Detect Suicidal Posts Before They're Reported
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 05:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's proactive-detection department:
Facebook is rolling out "proactive detection" artificial intelligence technology that will scan all posts on the site for patterns of suicidal thoughts, and when necessary send mental health resources to the user at risk or their friends, or contact local first-responders. The goal is to use AI to decrease how long it takes to send help to those in need. TechCrunch reports: Facebook previously tested using AI to detect troubling posts and more prominently surface suicide reporting options to friends in the U.S. Now Facebook is will scour all types of content around the world with this AI, except in the European Union, where General Data Protection Regulation privacy laws on profiling users based on sensitive information complicate the use of this tech. Facebook also will use AI to prioritize particularly risky or urgent user reports so they're more quickly addressed by moderators, and tools to instantly surface local language resources and first-responder contact info. It's also dedicating more moderators to suicide prevention, training them to deal with the cases 24/7, and now has 80 local partners like Save.org, National Suicide Prevention Lifeline and Forefront from which to provide resources to at-risk users and their networks.

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Pokemon Go Led To Increase In Traffic Deaths and Accidents, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 05:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fun-while-it-lasted department:
A new study from Purdue University uses detailed local traffic accident reports to suggest that Pokemon Go caused a marked increase in vehicle damages, injuries, and even deaths due to people playing the game while driving. Ars Technica reports: In the provocatively titled "Death by Pokemon Go" (which has been shared online but has yet to be peer-reviewed), Purdue professors Mara Faccio and John J. McConnell studied nearly 12,000 accident reports in Tippecanoe County, Indiana, in the months before and after Pokemon Go's July 6, 2016 launch. The authors then cross-referenced those reports with the locations of Pokestops in the county (where players visit frequently to obtain necessary in-game items) to determine whether the introduction of a Pokestop correlated with an increase in accident frequency, relative to intersections that didn't have them. While the incidence of traffic accidents increased across the county after Pokemon Go's introduction, that increase was a statistically significant 26.5 percent greater at intersections within 100 meters of a Pokestop, compared to those farther away. All told, across the county, the authors estimate 134 extra accidents occurred near Pokestops in the 148-day period immediately after the game came out, compared to the baseline where those Pokestops didn't exist. That adds up to nearly $500,000 in vehicle damage, 31 additional injuries, and two additional deaths across the county, based on extrapolation from the accident reports. The study uses a regression model to account for potential confounding variables like school breaks and inclement weather, which could cause variation separate from Pokemon Go. The model also compares Pokestops to Pokegyms (where it was nearly impossible to play while driving) to account for the possibility that generally increased traffic to Pokemon Go locations was leading to more accidents, even among drivers who stopped and parked before playing. In all cases, though, being able to compare to intersections without a Pokestop and to the same dates the year before, helped provide natural control variables for the study.

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iPhone Users Complain About the Word 'It' Autocorrecting To 'I.T' On iOS 11 and Later
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 04:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's buggy-software department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MacRumors: At least a few hundred iPhone users and counting have complained about the word "it" autocorrecting to "I.T" on iOS 11 and later. When affected users type the word "it" into a text field, the keyboard first shows "I.T" as a QuickType suggestion. After tapping the space key, the word "it" automatically changes to "I.T" without actually tapping the predictive suggestion. A growing number of iPhone users have voiced their frustrations about the issue on the MacRumors discussion forums, Twitter, and other discussion platforms on the web since shortly after iOS 11 was released in late September. Many users claim the apparent autocorrect bug persists even after rebooting the device and performing other basic troubleshooting. A temporary workaround is to tap Settings: General: Keyboard: Text Replacement and enter "it" as both the phrase and shortcut, but some users insist this solution does not solve the problem. A less ideal workaround is to toggle off auto-correction and/or predictive suggestions completely under Settings: General: Keyboard. MacRumors reader Tim shared a video that highlights the issue.

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White House Weighs Personal Mobile Phone Ban For Staff
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 04:23 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unauthorized-news-leaks department:
The White House is considering banning its employees from using personal mobile phones while at work. While President Trump has been vocal about press leaks since taking office, one official said the potential change is driven by cybersecurity concerns. Bloomberg reports: One official said that there are too many devices connected to the campus wireless network and that personal phones aren't as secure as those issued by the federal government. White House Chief of Staff John Kelly -- whose personal phone was found to be compromised by hackers earlier this year -- is leading the push for a ban, another official said. The White House already takes precautions with personal wireless devices, including by requiring officials to leave phones in cubbies outside of meeting rooms where sensitive or classified information is discussed. Top officials haven't yet decided whether or when to impose the ban, and if it would apply to all staff in the executive office of the president. While some lower-level officials support a ban, others worry it could result in a series of disruptive unintended consequences.

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Plex's DVR Can Now Automatically Remove Commercials For You
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 03:04 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's magic-wand department:
Plex has updated its DVR, adding a new feature to automatically remove commercials. According to Digital Trends, "The feature was added in an update the Plex team pushed out over the weekend. You'll need to manually enable the feature by heading into your Plex DVR settings and finding the option, labeled 'Remove Commercials.'" From the report: You may not want to turn the feature on immediately without looking into reports from other users. The description in the settings warns that while the feature will attempt to automatically locate and remove commercials, this could potentially take a long time and cause high CPU usage. If you're running your Plex server on a powerful computer, this may not be an issue, but if you're running it on an old laptop, you might want to hold off. This new feature also changes your DVR recordings permanently, removing commercials from the files themselves. This shouldn't be a problem as long as the feature works as intended, but if it detects wrong portions of the file as commercials, you could end up missing out on part of your favorite shows.

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Comcast Hints At Plan For Paid Fast Lanes After Net Neutrality Repeal
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 03:04 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's carefully-worded department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: For years, Comcast has been promising that it won't violate the principles of net neutrality, regardless of whether the government imposes any net neutrality rules. That meant that Comcast wouldn't block or throttle lawful Internet traffic and that it wouldn't create fast lanes in order to collect tolls from Web companies that want priority access over the Comcast network. This was one of the ways in which Comcast argued that the Federal Communications Commission should not reclassify broadband providers as common carriers, a designation that forces ISPs to treat customers fairly in other ways. The Title II common carrier classification that makes net neutrality rules enforceable isn't necessary because ISPs won't violate net neutrality principles anyway, Comcast and other ISPs have claimed. But with Republican Ajit Pai now in charge at the Federal Communications Commission, Comcast's stance has changed. While the company still says it won't block or throttle Internet content, it has dropped its promise about not instituting paid prioritization. Instead, Comcast now vaguely says that it won't "discriminate against lawful content" or impose "anti-competitive paid prioritization." The change in wording suggests that Comcast may offer paid fast lanes to websites or other online services, such as video streaming providers, after Pai's FCC eliminates the net neutrality rules next month.

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Computer Science GCSE in Disarray After Tasks Leaked Online
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 01:43 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: The new computer science GCSE has been thrown into disarray after programming tasks worth a fifth of the total marks were leaked repeatedly online. Exams regulator Ofqual plans to pull this chunk of the qualification from the overall marks as it has been seen by thousands of people. Ofqual said the non-exam assessment may have been leaked by teachers as well as students who had completed the task. The breach affects two year groups. The first will sit the exam in summer 2018. Last year 70,000 students were entered for computer science GCSE. A quick internet search reveals numerous posts about the the non-exam assessment, with questions and potential answers.

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Reddit, Twitter, and 200 Others Say Ending Net Neutrality Could Ruin Cyber Monday
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 01:43 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's avengers,-unite department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: More than 200 businesses and trade organizations have signed a letter to the FCC asking that the agency reconsider its plan to end net neutrality. The letter is signed by an array of big and recognizable tech and web companies: that includes Airbnb, Automattic (which owns WordPress), Etsy, Foursquare, GitHub, Pinterest, Reddit, Shutterstock, Sonos, Square, Squarespace, Tumblr (certainly to the displeasure of its owner, Verizon), Twitter, and Vimeo, among quite a few others. The letter is being released on Cyber Monday and speaks directly to the internet's constantly growing role in the US economy. "The internet is increasingly where commerce happens," the letter says. It cites figures saying that $3.5 billion in online sales happed last year on Cyber Monday and $3 billion on Black Friday. Throughout all of last year, online purchases accounted for $400 billion in sales.

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'Complicit' Is The Word Of The Year In 2017, Dictionary.com Says
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 12:23 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's word department:
Dictionary.com has selected "complicit" as its word of the year for 2017, citing the term's renewed relevance in U.S. culture and politics -- and noting that a refusal to be complicit has also been "a grounding force of 2017." From a report: The website defines "complicit" as "choosing to be involved in an illegal or questionable act, especially with others; having complicity." Interest in the word spiked several times this year, Dictionary.com says -- most notably when Ivanka Trump said in April, "I don't know what it means to be complicit."

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Tumblr Is Tumbling
Posted by News Fetcher on November 27 '17 at 12:23 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's roadblocks department:
Alex Barredo, a technology writer, shares his observation on Tumblr's popularity over the past few years: Tumblr is the home of some of the most creative online personas, and now it is dying. Or so it seems. Founded on early 2007 by David Karp with a new formula for really simplified blogging, it quickly took off. With each passing quarter, most of their stats were crushing it. It was the new star of the New York tech scene. The East Coast had a good social platform after years of Californian monopoly (MySpace, Bebo, Facebook, Twitter, etc), at last. In May of 2013, Yahoo snatched it for a cool $1.1 billion: $990 million plus liabilities. Less than a year after the deal was closed, Tumblr peaked in activity. By February of 2014, there were more than 106 million new posts each day on the platform. Today that figure has been slashed by two thirds to around 35 million. David Karp, the founder of Tumblr, said today he was leaving the company. Karp founded Tumblr close to 11 years ago with Marco Arment. He wrote: I beg you to understand that my decision comes after months of reflection on my personal ambitions, and at no cost to my hopefulness for Tumblr's future or the impact I know it can have. The internet is at a crossroads of which this team can play a fundamental role in shaping. You are in the driver seat, and I am so excited to see where you go!

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