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Toyota Teams With Microsoft On Connected Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 07:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's way-of-the-future department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA TODAY: Toyota announced an enhanced relationship with Microsoft on Monday aimed at delivering "connected car" services to drivers in ways they probably never could have imagined. Already, drivers ask the infotainment system in their cars for restaurant recommendations, but many locations often would require that a driver turn around. But with Toyota Connected, the system might be modified to only recommend restaurants on the highway ahead -- and then only the kinds of food that the driver usually prefers. Road information can be delivered to drivers based on driving patterns -- knowing the routes they usually take. Auto insurance could be priced more accurately because the system could report on a driver's actual miles and routes traveled. Medical-related sensors could also be built into the car, like heartbeat monitors or sensors on the steering wheel. Some of the services could be offered to customers wirelessly by being beamed directly into their cars, but Lobenstein said that customer privacy considerations will be paramount. Toyota Connected hopes to have its first products within a year. Toyota Connected, as it's called, is built on Microsoft's Azure cloud computing platform. Toyota plans to invest $5.5 million in the new venture, even though much of the technology will be based on their current research and development for smart automobiles.

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US Army Hopes To Outfit Soldiers With Tiny Drones By 2018
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 06:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's high-tech-warfare department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: The U.S. Army has requested industry information on the feasibility of making tiny drones that would help infantry gather intelligence on a small scale, such as peeping over a hill or around a building. its dream recon machine would weigh no more than a third of a pound, launch within one minute and fly for at least 15 minutes. Ideally, the drones would be in service as soon as 2018. "[A nano-drone] will send real-time video back to the operator to give them real-time situational awareness of what's in the immediate vicinity," says Phil Cheatham, the deputy branch chief for electronics at the Army's Maneuvers Center for Excellence (MCOE). Cheatham says he and his team want something cheap enough to deploy with every squad, noting the Army already uses satellite imagery and larger drones to provide broader battlefield intelligence.

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Risks To Human Health Will Accelerate As Climate Changes, White House Warns
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 05:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's the-day-after-tomorrow department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: More deaths from extreme heat. Longer allergy seasons. Increasingly polluted air and water. Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and ticks spreading farther and faster. Those are among the health risks that could be exacerbated by global warming coming decades, the Obama administration warned in a new report Monday. The study, more than 300 pages long and several years in the making, focuses on what the White House has described as one of the gravest threats to the nation: major health problems associated with climate change. It details direct effects, such as the potential for worsening air quality to trigger thousands more premature deaths from respiratory problems or an uptick in annual deaths from crushing heat waves. While every American could be affected, administration officials said Monday, the brunt of the harm is most likely to fall disproportionately on the most vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, children, the poor, the elderly, minorities, immigrants and people with disabilities.

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Massachusetts AG Sues ITT Tech For Exploiting Computer Network Students
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 05:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
alphadogg quotes a report from Networkworld: Browsing through the latest news releases from ITT Technical Institute you'd never think the for-profit school would be capable of the things that Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says the state is suing it for. The school, which boasts of over 130 locations in 38 states, touts its efforts for women in STEM, its donation of laptops to public schools in Indiana and its record giving for United Way. But AG Healey is suing ITT Tech "for engaging in unfair and harassing sales tactics and misleading students about the quality of its Computer Network Systems program, and the success of the program's graduates in finding jobs." ITT Educational Services, however, rejected the AG office's claims and lashed out at the office for the manner in which it has brought the suit. ITT's statement reads in part: "The litigation follows the Office's wide-ranging fishing expedition that lasted for more than three years..." If the state wins, the school could be forced to reimburse students for tuition and fees, though ITT says it will defend itself against the charges.

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TSA Paid $1.4 Million For Randomizer App That Chooses Left Or Right
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 03:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's large-payout department:
An anonymous reader writes: For those of you who have traveled through U.S. airports in recent years, you may have noticed the Transport Security Administration (TSA) use a Randomizer app to randomly search travelers in the Pre-Check lane. The app randomly chooses whether travelers go left or right in the Pre-Check lane so they can't predict which lane each person is assigned to and can't figure out how to avoid the random checks. Developer Kevin Burke submitted a Freedom of Information Act request asking for details about the app. The documents he received reveals the TSA purchased the Randomizer iPad app for $336,413.59. That's $336,413.59 for an app, which is incredibly simple to make as most programming languages of choice have a randomizing function available to use. What may be even more intriguing is that the contract for the TSA Randomizer app was won by IBM. The total amount paid for the project is actually $1.4 million, but the cost is not broken down in Burke's documents. It's possible IBM supplied all the iPads and training in addition to the app itself.

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Turkish Citizenship Database Allegedly Leaked Online
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 02:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gift-that-keeps-on-giving department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: The entire Turkish citizenship database has allegedly been hacked and leaked online. A website with purportedly leaked details of 49,611,709 Turkish citizens is online and allegedly gives the following details of each citizen -- including the Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan: National Identifier (TC Kimlik No), First Name, Last Name, Mother's First Name, Father's First Name, Gender, City of Birth, Date of Birth, ID Registration City and District, and Full Address. The apparent hack seems to be politically motivated. The website reads: "Who would have imagined that backwards ideologies, cronyism and rising religious extremism in Turkey would lead to a crumbling and vulnerable technical infrastructure?"

The hack amounts to about 6.6GB worth of uncompressed files, which may make it one of the biggest data leaks of its kind in history. While The Register has also reported on the leak, some claim the leak has correct information but is just a decrypted version of data that was leaked over a couple of months ago. Specifically, the info contains data of Turkish citizens who voted in 2009 elections.

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Taliban App's Publication Points To Holes In Google's App Review Process
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 02:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-days-too-late department:
An anonymous reader writes: A propaganda app developed by the Taliban was live on the Google Play store for two days before being removed, raising questions about Google's app review process, which includes a combination of human editors and algorithms. According to a Taliban spokesperson speaking with Bloomberg, the app was "part of our advanced technological efforts to make more global audience." Its creation signaled how the group was expanding its use of technology to reach a wider audience. When the app was first removed two days after it went live, the Taliban claimed it was due to "technical issues." In actuality, Google removed the app itself, as it was in violation of its policy that bans apps promoting hate speech, violence and illegal activities. The app's publication is a high-profile example of a failure in Google's app review process, and one that raises questions about how thorough its human reviewers are with the apps they test. The company announced last March that it had actually begun using algorithms along with an internal team of reviewers to analyze apps for policy violations prior to publishing. It said apps would be reviewed by this team, hands-on, before the apps go live on Google Play. Since Google relies heavily on its community of users and developers to flag apps for additional review, some apps are bound to fall through the cracks, leaving Google to reactively ban them instead of prohibit their publication in the first place. It's fair to say Google's review process isn't perfect and could use some tweaking.

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Microsoft Trials Outlook Premium For $4 Per Month, With No Ads and Custom Domains
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 01:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sweet-spot department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: Microsoft is testing a premium version of Outlook.com that removes the ads and supports custom domains for email addresses. According to Brad Sams at Thurrott.com, Outlook Premium is free for one year and then costs $3.99 per month during the trial phase, though it's only available by invite for now. The service appears to combine two features that Microsoft offers or has offered in the past. The first is an ad-free version of Outlook, which is already available today as a $20 per year upgrade. The second is custom domains, which allow users to enjoy Outlook.com's features but with a personalized email address.

Outlook Premium could also slightly undercut Google's Apps for Work plans, which support custom domains for $5 per user per month. It also offers a middle ground between ad-free Outlook and a full Office 365 subscription. While Outlook Premium may be tempting for a select few, general users may be hard-pressed to pay anything for Outlook, let alone $4 per month.

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Jeff Bezos Says Amazon Will Unveil a New Kindle Next Week
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 01:02 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-e-ink-readers department:
An anonymous reader writes: Amazon founder Jeff Bezos said on Monday that the next Kindle will be unveiled next week. Bezos posted on Twitter that an "all-new, top of the line Kindle is almost ready". Calling it the 8th-generation Kindle, Bezos promised to share more details next week but didn't say anything more than that. Other sources say that the new Kindle will have Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and 3G connectivity options, and come with a case which has its own battery

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Half of Scotland's Energy Consumption Came From Renewables Last Year
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 11:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's paving-way-for-a-brighter-future department:
An anonymous reader quotes an article on Herald Scotland: Scotland has met a key target for renewable energy consumption, according to official figures. Statistics published by the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change show 57.7% of Scottish electricity consumption came from renewables in 2015 -- 7.7% ahead of the 50% target. The SNP welcomed the figures and pledged to bring forward plans to go further if re-elected in May. Deputy First Minister and SNP campaign director John Swinney said: "The SNP have long championed green energy and these new figures show the huge progress we have made - but we are determined to go even further.

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New State of Matter Detected in a Two-Dimensional Material
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 11:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's advancements-in-physics-world department:
An anonymous reader cites a report on Phys.org: An international team of researchers have found evidence of a mysterious new state of matter, first predicted 40 years ago, in a real material. This state, known as a quantum spin liquid, causes electrons -- thought to be indivisible building blocks of nature -- to break into pieces. The researchers, including physicists from the University of Cambridge, measured the first signatures of these fractional particles, known as Majorana fermions, in a two-dimensional material with a structure similar to graphene. Their experimental results successfully matched with one of the main theoretical models for a quantum spin liquid, known as a Kitaev model. The results are reported in the journal Nature Materials. Quantum spin liquids are mysterious states of matter which are thought to be hiding in certain magnetic materials, but had not been conclusively sighted in nature. The observation of one of their most intriguing properties -- electron splitting, or fractionalisation -- in real materials is a breakthrough. The resulting Majorana fermions may be used as building blocks of quantum computers, which would be far faster than conventional computers and would be able to perform calculations that could not be done otherwise.

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People Often Deride Game Changing Technology as 'a Toy'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 11:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's mock-it-if-you-don't-understand-it department:
Steven Sinofsky, former President of the Windows Division at Microsoft, has cataloged how often game-changing technologies have been derided as toys. Some of the things he has included in the list include a PC, C programming, PC networking, GUI, color screen, AI, and internet video. He writes: As many have recognized, when inventions and innovations first appear they are often (always) labeled as "toys" or "incapable" of doing "real work" or providing "real entertainment." Of course, many new inventions don't work out the way inventors had hoped, though quite frequently it is just a matter of timing and the coming together of a variety of circumstances. It can be said that being labeled a toy is necessary, but not sufficient, to become the next big thing. This got me thinking about all the conferences, trip reports, and new products I have looked at over many years. Sure turns out that a huge number of things in my own career were labeled as toys -- not just by me, but by an industry at large. Check out the list on Medium.

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Chrome Extension Caught Hijacking Users' Browsers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 10:22 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's shady-owners,-rogue-extensions department:
An anonymous reader writes: Google has intervened and banned the Better History Chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store after users reported that it started taking over their browsing experience and redirecting them to pages showing ads. As it turns out, the extension was sold off to an unnamed buyer who started adding malicious code that would redirect the user's traffic through a proxy, showing ads and collecting analytics on the user's traffic habits. This same malicious code has also been found in other Google Chrome extensions such as Chrome Currency Converter, Web Timer, User-Agent Switcher, Better History, 4chan Plus, and Hide My Adblocker. At the moment, only Better History and User-Agent Switcher have been removed from the Web Store.

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FCC's 'Nutrition Labels' For Broadband Show Speed, Caps, and Hidden Fees
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 10:22 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's delicious-plans-nutritious-broadband department:
An anonymous reader shares an Ars Technica article: The Federal Communications Commission today unveiled new broadband labels modeled after the nutrition labels commonly seen on food products. Home Internet service providers and mobile carriers are being urged to use the labels to give consumers details such as prices (including hidden fees tacked onto the base price), data caps, overage charges, speed, latency, packet loss, and so on. ISPs aren't required to use these labels. But they are required to make more specific disclosures as part of transparency requirements in the FCC's net neutrality order, which reclassified Internet providers as common carriers under Title II of the Communications Act. The FCC recommends that ISPs use these labels to comply with the disclosure rules and says use of the labels will act as a "safe harbor" for demonstrating compliance. However, ISPs can come up with their own format if they still make all the required disclosures in "an accurate, understandable, and easy-to-find manner," the FCC said today.

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Anti-Piracy Firm Rightscorp Will Hijack Pirates' Browsers Until a Fine is Paid
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 10:22 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's copyright-trolls department:
An anonymous reader writes: Anti-piracy firm Rightscorp says that it's working on a next-generation technology called Scalable Copyright, under which it plans to extract cash settlements from suspected Internet pirates. The company says its new technology will lock users' browsers and prevent Internet access until they pay a fine. (Sounds familiar?) To encourage ISPs to play along, Rightscorp says the system could help to limit their copyright liability. For those unaware, Rightscorp works with copyright owners such as movie studios, music labels, and game developers, and tracks the IP addresses of people who are torrenting copyright infringing material. Sadly, the company's previous tactics haven't worked so well. The company doesn't have many clients, and it posted a net loss of $3.43m in 2015, up from the $2.85m net loss recorded in 2014.

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BlackBerry Makes Privacy and Control Subscription in BBM Free
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 08:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's good-guy-BlackBerry department:
BlackBerry, on Monday, announced it is making all the privacy features in BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) messaging app free to use. Prior to the announcement, the Canadian company charged $1 monthly premium subscription for the advanced privacy and control features. From the company's blog post: These enhanced privacy and control features give users full ownership over what they share through BBM -- even after it leaves their phone. With "Retract," users can retract messages and pictures from recipients they sent mistakenly or no longer wish to make accessible. "Timer," meanwhile, gives users control over how long their contacts can view shared messages, pictures, or location information.

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Australian Man Uses 1TB of Mobile Data in a Single Day
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 08:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's who-doesn't-like-free-downloads? department:
An anonymous reader cites an amusing article on Stuff: When Telstra offered its mobile customers unlimited data for two separate days this year as compensation for network outages, some customers took it as a challenge to download as much as they possibly could in one day. On Sunday, 27-year-old Sydney resident John Szaszvari outdid himself and everyone else by ploughing through almost a whole terabyte of data. That's more than double what he managed during the first free data day in February -- an already mammoth 425GB.

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US Govt Commits To Publish Publicly Financed Software Under FOSS
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 08:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's something-is-better-than-nothing department:
An anonymous reader writes: The White House has published a draft (PDF) for a Source Code Policy. The policy requires every public agency to publish their custom-build software as Free Software for other public agencies as well as the general public to use, study, share and improve the software. The Source Code Policy is intended for efficient use of US taxpayers' money and reuse of existing custom-made software across the public sector. It is said to reduce vendor lock-in of the public sector, and decrease duplicate costs for the same code which in return will increase transparency of public agencies. The custom-build software will also be published to the general public either as public domain, or as Free Software so others can improve and reuse the software. Looking at the exceptions, it appears the list excludes a number of interesting things. But what's remarkable here is that, by default, publicly financed software will now be deemed as open-source. That's a win.

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The White House Finally Got Color Printers
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 07:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's upgrade-time department:
An anonymous reader quotes an article on Gizmodo: Everyone loves an upgrade -- even POTUS. The New York Times reports that the White House has recently undergone a technological transformation, though it may not sound too impressive to many of us: Its employees are now equipped with modern laptops, iPhones and even... color printers. [...] Employees have new computers with "fast, solid-state drives and modern processors," according to the newspaper, along with color printers. There's a new phone system and many staff now tote iPhones. The Wi-Fi has been upgraded, so it's now fast enough to live-stream video. And security has been increased too, with a new software system for managing visitors and a chip-based card system which is used by staffers instead of passwords.

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FBI Wants To Access Terror Suspect's Skype Records
Posted by News Fetcher on April 04 '16 at 07:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's fbi-vs-your-privacy department:
Milton J. Valencia, reporting for BostonGlobe: The FBI is investigating whether a third, unknown person discussed an alleged terrorism plot with Alexander Ciccolo, the Western Massachusetts man accused of planning to attack a state university with guns and explosives on behalf of the Islamic State terror group. FBI Special Agent Jeffrey J. Lawrence said in an affidavit filed in US District Court in Springfield last week that Ciccolo told a witness who was cooperating with the FBI that he had discussed his terrorism plans with one other person. The affidavit was part of an application for a search warrant authorities filed with the court. Officials are seeking access to Ciccolo's online Skype account as part of their investigation into the alleged terror plot. The search warrant seeks to have Microsoft -- which owns Skype -- provide the government with logs and the content of conversations and written messages made on Ciccolo's account, as well as passwords. Given Microsoft's stance on these matters, the company is likely to hand over the data FBI is looking for.

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