By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-Google-Maps-wrong-again department
An anonymous reader quotes a Digital Trends story about a suspicious malfunction on Google Maps:
At some point yesterday, Donald Trump's Fifth Avenue home was given a rather unceremonious rechristening, and a search for "Trump Tower" revealed a pin for "Dump Tower" instead. It was rather tricky to find for some, and required zooming in on the building itself at just the right angle (which is perhaps how the culprit got away with the stunt in the first place). At a separate angle, someone else (or perhaps the same person) transliterated the skyscraper's name in Russian Cyrillic, perhaps meant to be a jab at Trump's alleged ties to President Vladimir Putin and company... While the team [at Google Maps] managed to put out this first fire, another quickly arose to take its place (as is often the case on the internet), and later in the day on Saturday, Trump International Hotel and Tower in Columbus Circle was renamed Dump International Hotel and Tower.
Meanwhile, another anonymous reader writes:
Earlier this week Donald Trump emailed his supporters selling a $149 collectible "Make America Great Again" Christmas ornament finished with 14k gold, to raise money for both his campaign and the Republican party. But Yahoo News reports that it's now getting some suspicious negative (and politically-charged) reviews on its page on Amazon. ("One Star. "It tried to put my nativity figures into an internment camp.") And another reviewer even wrote a satirical story about how their family decided on the ornament for the tree. "During our family meeting we overwhelmingly chose the other ornament but somehow we still ended up with this one. We're not sure what happened."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's watching-WikiLeaks department
Long-time Slashdot reader cstacy noticed Saturday that Julian Assange hadn't made any communications or public appearances in six weeks. But today an anonymous reader writes:
Julian Assange is still not dead, reports The Inquisitr, noting "the WikiLeaks founder made his first appearance in weeks, speaking with an interviewer for a conference in Beirut" including comments about the recent death of Fidel Castro.
Assange is also in the running to be chosen as "Person of the Year" in Time magazine's annual online reader's poll, and last Monday even moved briefly into first place, inching past Donald Trump. "It's worth noting that the poll presents people alphabetically," Time reported, "so Assange is the first option participants consider and Trump comes near the end of the poll."
I think the poll's being hacked by state actors, since Vladimir Putin now leads with 38%, followed by Theresa May (16%) and North Korea leader Kim Jong Un (13%), and Donald Trump is locked in a tie for fourth place with India Prime Minister Narendra Modi at 9%. Time worked with Opentopic and IBM's Watson to assemble the initial list for reader's votes, which also included Apple CEO Tim Cook and FBI director James Comey. Surprisingly, a few celebrities also turned up on the list too, including comedian Samantha Bee, Hamilton creator Lin-Manuel Miranda, and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's telnetting-for-dollars department
An anonymous reader writes: Two hackers are renting access to a massive Mirai botnet, which they claim has more than 400,000 infected bots, ready to carry out DDoS attacks at anyone's behest. The hackers have quite a reputation on the hacking underground and have previously been linked to the GovRAT malware, which was used to steal data from several US companies. Renting around 50,000 bots costs between $3,000-$4,000 for 2 weeks, meaning renting the whole thing costs between $20,000-$30,000. After the Mirai source code leaked, there are countless smaller Mirai botnets around, but this one is [believed to be the one] accounting for more than half of all infected IoT devices...that supposedly shut down Internet access in Liberia. The original Mirai botnet was limited to only 200,000 bots because there were only 200,000 IoT devices connected online that had their Telnet ports open. The botnet that's up for rent now has received improvements and can also spread to IoT devices via SSH, hence the 400,000 bots total.
Interestingly, the article claims the botnet's creators had access to the Mirai source code "long before it went public."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sugar-coating-the-truth department
Nutritionists suspected that artificial sweeteners weren't really helping people lose weight, according to a new article submitted by schwit1. Now there's hints of proof in a new aspartame study by the Massachusetts General Hospital.
"We found that aspartame blocks a gut enzyme called intestinal alkaline phosphatase," explains Professor Hodin. IAP is produced in the small intestine. "We previously showed [this enzyme] can prevent obesity, diabetes and metabolic syndrome [a disease characterized by a combination of obesity, high blood pressure, a metabolic disorder and insulin resistance]. So, we think that aspartame might not work because, even as it is substituting for sugar, it blocks the beneficial aspects of IAP...."
The researchers confirmed their suspicions via a variety of tests on mice. In one case, they fed IAP directly to mice, who were also on a high-fat diet. It turned out that the IAP could effectively prevent the emergence of the metabolic syndrome. It also helped relieve symptoms in animals that were already suffering from the obesity-related illness.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's achievement-unlocked department
"It was completely surprising. We were standing around in the tissue culture room, scratching our heads, and saying 'Wow, what do we make of this?'" An anonymous reader quotes Engadget's report on new research with "huge implications":
A team of scientists from the University of California, San Francisco only wanted to slow down mice embryos' cell growth in the lab. Instead, they managed to completely pause their development, putting the blastocysts (very early embryos) in suspended animation for a month. What's more, they found that the process can put stem cells derived from the blastocysts in suspended animation as well, [and] the researchers were able to prove that the embryos can develop normally even after a pause in their growth. Team member Ramalho-Santos from the Eli and Edythe Broad Center of Regeneration Medicine and Stem Cell Research said... "To put it in perspective, mouse pregnancies only last about 20 days, so the 30-day-old 'paused' embryos we were seeing would have been pups approaching weaning already if they'd been allowed to develop normally."
The new research could lead to better treatments for damaged organs and even aging, according to the article. (Besides, of course, its science fiction-y implications for long-distance space travel...)Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's conquering-the-cable-cars department
Buses and light rail cars make San Francisco's "Muni" fleet the seventh largest mass transit system in America. But yesterday its arrival-time screens just displayed the message "You Hacked, ALL Data Encrypted" -- and all the rides were free, according to a local CBS report shared by RAYinNYC:
Inside sources say the system has been hacked for days. The San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency has officially confirmed the hack, but says it has not affected any service... The hack affects employees, as well. According to sources, SFMTA workers are not sure if they will get paid this week. Cyber attackers also hit Muni's email systems.
Though the article claims "The transit agency has no idea who is behind it, or what the hackers are demanding in return," Business Insider reports "The attack seems to be an example of ransomware, where a computer system is taken over and the users are locked out until a certain amount of money is sent to the attacker." In addition, they're reporting the attack "reportedly included an email address where Muni officials could ask for the key to unlock its systems." One San Francisco local told CBS, "I think it is terrifying. I really do I think if they can start doing this here, we're not safe anywhere."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's shades-of-Isaac-Asimov department
"No Man's Sky changed a great deal this morning, getting new modes and a ton of gameplay tweaks thanks to update 1.1, the largest one yet," reports Kotaku. Calling it "the first of many free updates," the game's developers introduced a new Minecraft-style Creative Mode which "allows players to explore the universe without limits, and build a huge base," plus a tougher Survival Mode, "creating a much more challenging endurance experience." The Next Web calls it "features that really should have been in the game from Day One."
Now, when you stumble upon a desolate outpost, you can build your own base on it, which can be upgraded with new housing, hydroponics, research, and storage buildings. If all goes well, you'll start to attract alien settlers who bring their own skills to your new society. As your stockpiles of resources begin to swell, you'll want to schlep them across the galaxy to other bases and trade terminals. Which is where freighters come in... Oh, and did I mention you can now stack items five times per inventory slot, meaning you can carry more stuff? Handy.
"The discussion around No Man's Sky since release has been intense and dramatic," Hello Games announced Friday, describing update 1.1 as "putting in place a foundation for things to come... the first small step in a longer journey." Hello Games founder Sean Murray tweeted "We're getting better as quickly as we can for the players who invested in us," adding "Thank you for sticking with us." At 2 a.m. this morning, he tweeted "If you could have lived our lives over the last months, you'd know how meaningful this is," adding "Here's the update..."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's making-campaign-promises-great-again department
Monday president-elect Donald Trump sent "the strongest signal yet that the H-1B visa program is going get real scrutiny once he takes office," according to CIO.
Slashdot reader OverTheGeicoE summarizes their report:
President-elect Donald Trump released a video message outlining his policy plans for his first 100 days in office. At 1 minute, 56 seconds into the message, he states that he will direct the Department of Labor to investigate "all abuses of the visa programs that undercut the American worker." During his presidential campaign, Trump was critical of the H-1B visa program that has been widely criticized for displacing U.S. high-technology workers. "Companies are importing low-wage workers on H-1B visas to take jobs from young college-trained Americans," said Trump at an Ohio rally. At other rallies, Trump invited former IT workers from Disney who had been forced to train their H-1B replacements to speak.
"What he didn't say was that he was going to close the door to skilled immigrants," one tech entrepreneur told CNN Money -- although Trump's selection for attorney general has called the shortage of qualified American tech workers "a hoax".Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's singing-the-body-electric department
IEEE Spectrum reports on a "radical new weapon" against brain tumors -- only available since 2015. They profile a typical patient who "wears electrodes on her head all day and night to send an electric field through her brain, trying to prevent any leftover tumor cells from multiplying [and] goes about her business with a shaved head plastered with electrodes, which are connected by wires to a bulky generator she carries in a shoulder bag."
The Optune system, which bathes the brain tumor in an AC electric field, is the first new treatment to come along that seems to extend some patients' lives. New data on survival rates from a major clinical trial showed that 43% of patients who used Optune were still alive at the 2-year mark, compared to 30% of patients on the standard treatment regimen. At the 4-year mark, the survival rates were 17% for Optune patients and 10% for the others.
Patients have to re-shave their heads every few days and re-apply all the electrodes, but that's never been a problem, according to one patient. "If you have a condition which has no cure, it's a great motivator."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's help-me-hive-mind department
Upworthy co-founder Eli Pariser is leading a group of online volunteers hunting for ways to respond to the spread of fake news. An anonymous reader quotes Wired UK:
Inside a Google Doc, volunteers are gathering ideas and approaches to get a grip on the untruthful news stories. It is part analysis, part brainstorming, with those involved being encouraged to read widely around the topic before contributing. "This is a massive endeavour but well worth it," they say...
At present, the group is coming up with a list of potential solutions and approaches. Possible methods the group is looking at include: more human editors, fingerprinting viral stories then training algorithms on confirmed fakes, domain checking, the blockchain, a reliability algorithm, sentiment analysis, a Wikipedia for news sources, and more.
The article also suggests this effort may one day spawn fake news-fighting tech startups.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's nothing-to-sneeze-at department
After decades of research, the fabled cure for the common cold could be on its way in the form of a nasal spray called SynGEM, the brainchild of a Dutch biotechnology company. After successful tests on mice and rats (yes, they get colds too), 36 human volunteers at London's Imperial College are now trying out the spray.
While colds can be caused by hundreds of different viruses, just three viruses are responsible for 80% of them -- and yet colds are responsible for 40% of the sick days taken in the U.S., according to another article, as well as 75 million doctor visits (costing $7.7 billion) every year, plus another $2.9 billion for cold medications. One experimental medicine professor at London's Imperial College London has spent the last 30 years researching colds and flu, and though a cure has never been found, he now tells the Daily Mail, "I think we are on the verge of it. I really do."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's shopper-showdowns department
An anonymous reader writes:
Friday a group of protesters picketed Amazon's warehouse in Dunfermline, Scotland, alleging workers there face "up to 60 hours per week for little more than the minimum wage," according to an article in The Courier. "They also claim that new workers are tracked and monitored every minute of their working day and sacked if they fail to meet targets... Amazon has dismissed the claims, insisting that the firm values its employees and maintains a 'culture of direct dialogue' with them."
But around the world, more than 1 million people celebrated Buy Nothing Day on Friday, according to the editor in chief of Adbusters, saying their event has now spread to more than 60 countries. The Adbusters.org site suggested protesters stage zombie walks to parody the mindlessness of consumerism, and urged credit card-cutting ceremonies as well as "Whirl-Marts," where large groups of people "silently drive your shopping carts around in a long, inexplicable conga line without ever actually buying anything." The site is also sharing downloadable images which can be printed out for posters "to insert into public spaces."
One prominent retailer even closed both its physical and online stores Friday and gave all of its 12,000 employees the day off, according to USA Today. REI, which sells outdoor recreational equipment, was encouraging people to take advantage of Friday's free admission to many state parks for the second year in a row, and as many as 2.7 million people "pledged to participate" using the company's hashtag, #OptOutside.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's elections-vs-electors department
Lawrence Lessig's new op-ed in the Washington Post argues against the idea "that the person who lost the popular vote this year must nonetheless become our president." (Paywalled version here, free version here.) Lessig points out that the electoral college results have already been ignored twice in U.S. history -- in 1824 and 1876.
The Constitution says nothing about "winner take all." It says nothing to suggest that electors' freedom should be constrained in any way...They were to be citizens exercising judgment, not cogs turning a wheel.
Complaining that the electoral college weights the votes in Wyoming roughly four times as heavily as the votes in Michigan, Lessig argues that the popular vote should be respected, and that the authors of the U.S. Constitution "left the electors free to choose. They should exercise that choice by leaving the election as the people decided it: in Clinton's favor." Meanwhile, Politico is reporting that six electors, "mostly former Bernie Sanders supporters who hail from Washington state and Colorado," are already urging electors pledged to Clinton and Trump to instead coalesce around "a consensus pick like Mitt Romney or John Kasich." And the ethics lawyers for both President Obama and President Bush both told one liberal site "that if Trump continues to retain ownership over his sprawling business interests by the time the electors meet on December 19, they should reject Trump."
Finally, from the original submission:
Even Donald Trump has called the Electoral College a "total sham." Is it time for the Electoral College to reflect the popular vote?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's RISC-y-business department
"Did you ever think it would be great if hardware was open to the transistor level, not just the chip level?" writes hamster_nz, pointing to a new Crowd Supply campaign for the OnChip Open-V microcontroller, "a completely free (as in freedom) and open source 32-bit microcontroller based on the RISC-V architecture." hamster_nz writes:
With a completely open instruction-set architecture and no license fees for the CPU design, the RISC-V architecture is well positioned to take the crown as the 'go to' design for anybody needing a 32-bit in their silicon, and Open-V are crowd-sourcing their funding for an initial manufacturing run of 70,000 chips, offering options from a single chip to a seat in the design review process. This project is shaping up to be a milestone for the coming Open Source Silicon revolution, and they are literally offering a seat at the table. Even if you don't end up backing the project, it makes for very interesting reading.
Their crowdfunding page argues "If you love hacking on embedded controllers, breaking down closed-source barriers, having the freedom to learn how things work even down to the transistor level, or have dreamed of spinning your own silicon, then this campaign is for you."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's speaking-of-fake-news department
Tuesday a Canadian journalist described his newest victory in his war on fake-science journals. An anonymous reader writes:
In 2014, journalist Tom Spears intentionally wrote "the world's worst science research paper...a mess of plagiarism and meaningless garble" -- then got it accepted by eight different journals. ("I copied and pasted one phrase from a geology paper online, and the rest from a medical one, on hematology...and so on. There are a couple of graphs from a paper about Mars...") He did it to expose journals which follow the publish-for-a-fee model, "a fast-growing business that sucks money out of research, undermines genuine scientific knowledge, and provides fake credentials for the desperate."
But earlier this year, one such operation actually purchased two prominent Canadian medical journals, and one critic warns they're "on a buying spree, snatching up legitimate scholarly journals and publishers, incorporating them into its mega-fleet of bogus, exploitative, and low-quality publications.â So this summer, Spears explains to Vice, "I got this request to write for what looked like a fake journal -- of ethics. Something about that attracted me... one morning in late August when I woke up early I made extra coffee and banged out some drivel and sent it to them."
He's now publicizing the fact that this formerly-respectable journal is currently featuring his submission, which was "mostly plagiarized from Aristotle, with every fourth or fifth word changed so that anti-plagiarism software won't catch it. But the result is meaningless. Some sentences don't have verbs..."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's government-ordered-recess department
Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg are two investors in Bridge International Academies. But in Uganda, the group's 63 schools have been "ordered to shut down in a matter of weeks, leaving the lives of thousands of pupils in limbo." An anonymous reader quotes CNN:
Uganda's High Court has described the Bridge International Academies...as unsanitary and unqualified, and has ordered it to close its doors in December because it ignored Uganda's national standards and put the "life and safety" of its 12,000 young students on the line. The Director of Education Standards for the Ministry, Huzaifa Mutazindwa, told CNN that the nursery and primary schools were not licensed, the teachers weren't qualified and that there was no record of its curriculum being approved.
Bridge's Uganda director denies the allegations, says the government hasn't even granted them an audience, and "suggested that the opposition against BIA was because the campuses competed against local state-run and private schools," according to CNN. Their reporter also found two educator advocates who complained that Bridge's schools were actually a privatized, profit-making entity targeting the poor. There's strong arguments on both sides, but it's all raising a lot of questions about how technology should be used in school programs, as well as how they should be funded.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's shopping-around department
Friday humanity set a new record for the most money ever spent online in a single day -- and the most ever purchased on mobile devices. An anonymous reader writes:
Online sales reached $3.34 billion yesterday, up 11.3% from the same day last year, according to a new report from Adobe Digital Insights. And most of that traffic came from mobile devices. In fact, yesterday became "the first day to ever generate over a billion dollars in online sales from mobile devices," according to their report. Although 64% of online sales came from desktop computers, 55% of the traffic to shopping sites still came from mobile devices -- 45% from smartphones, and 10% from tablets. (Just three years ago, only 20% of Black Friday sales came from mobile devices.)
The top-grossing products appeared to be iPads and Macbooks, Microsoft's Xbox, and Samsung and LG TVs, while the top-grossing toys were electric scooters, drones, Nerf guns and LEGO sets. The products mostly likely to be "out of stock" yesterday included the new NES Classic and the Nintendo 3DS XL Solgaleo Lunala (black edition), the Playstation VR bundle (and the PS4 "Call of Duty: Black Ops" bundle), and the Xbox One S bundle for Madden NFL 17.
The day after Black Friday is now being touted as "Small Business Saturday," a tradition started in 2010 when American Express partnered with the non-profit National Trust for Historic Preservation (and some civic-minded groups in Boston) to encourage people to shop in their local brick-and-mortar stores. American Express reported a $1.7 billion increase in sales on Small Business Saturday in 2015, "with 95 million customers reporting shopping small at local retailers, salons, restaurants and more."Read Replies (0)