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Valve Finally Takes On Steam User Review Score Manipulation
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 10:02 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's no-fake-stuff department:
Valve is taking a step to stop developers from artificially inflating review scores on Steam. From a EuroGamer report: Valve just changed the way Steam user reviews work -- and it's certainly set the cat among the pigeons. In May, Valve updated Steam so that it highlighted recent reviews on games. The thinking behind this change was sound: it wanted to better show the current state of a game, many of which evolve quickly as developers issue updates. Now, though, Valve is changing the default review score that shows up at the top of each product page -- the one developers and potential customers put so much stock in -- so that it does not include reviews written by those who obtained the product through a Steam key. What this means is that reviews penned by those who got a game after backing it on Kickstarter, for example, or via a developer's website, do not affect the Steam user review score. Again, the thinking behind this change is sound. Valve knows that some developers were gaming the system -- that is, they were giving keys to friends or shady paid services in exchange for positive reviews.

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US Tech Firms Urge Congress To Allow Internet Domain Changeover
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 08:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's bring-about-a-change department:
Dustin Volz, reporting for Reuters: Major technology companies including Facebook, Google and Twitter are urging Congress to support a plan for the U.S. government to cede control of the internet's technical management to the global community, they said in a joint letter dated on Tuesday. The U.S. Commerce Department has primary oversight of the internet's management, largely because it was invented in the United States. Some Republican lawmakers are trying to block the handover to global stakeholders, which include businesses, tech experts and public interest advocates, saying it could stifle online freedom by giving voting rights to authoritarian governments. The years-long plan to transfer oversight of the nonprofit Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, or ICANN, is scheduled to occur on Oct. 1 unless Congress votes to block the handover. The California-based corporation operates the database for domain names such as .com and .net and their corresponding numeric addresses that allow computers to connect. In the Sept. 13 letter, a copy of which had been reviewed by Reuters before it was sent, the technology companies said it was "imperative" that Congress does not delay the transition.

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Samsung, LG Sued Over US Employee Recruiting Policies
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 08:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's what-agreement? department:
A former sales manager for LG has sued Samsung and LG in a California court, alleging that both the companies have poached each other's U.S. employees despite having signed an agreement to not do so. Reuters reports: The plaintiff, A. Frost, says in the lawsuit that a recruiter contacted Frost via LinkedIn in 2013, seeking to fill a position with Samsung. According to the lawsuit, the recruiter then informed Frost the same day: "I made a mistake! I'm not supposed to poach LG for Samsung!!! Sorry! The two companies have an agreement that they won't steal each other's employees." It is "implausible" that such a deal in the United States could have been reached without the consent of each company's corporate parent in South Korea, says the lawsuit, which does not state a specific damages amount.

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US 911 Emergency System Can Be Crippled By a Mobile Botnet
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 07:21 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's server-overload department:
An anonymous reader writes: What would it take for attackers to significantly disrupt the 911 emergency system across the US? According to researchers from Ben-Gurion Univerisity of the Negev's Cyber-Security Research Center, as little as 200,000 compromised mobile phones located throughout the country. The phones, made to repeatedly place calls to the 911 service, would effect a denial-of-service attack that would made one third (33%) of legitimate callers give up on reaching it. And if the number of those phones is 800,000, over two thirds (67%) would do the same.

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EU Court Blocks Brazilian Company From Trademarking Sound Of a Ringing Phone
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 07:21 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's nope-can't-do-that department:
The standard ringing from an alarm clock or a telephone is too boring and banal to be registered as a trademark within the EU, a top court has ruled. The judgment was handed down by the EU General Court (EGC), blocking a Brazilian company that had tried to claim ownership of the sound, Ars Technica reports. From its story: In 2014, the Brazilian mass media company Grupo Globo applied to register the globally familiar "ring-ring" sound "for the dissemination of information electronically, orally, or by means of television" -- guarding its use on all electronic devices and in media representations. The European Union Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO) at the time refused to register the jingle on the grounds that it had "no distinctive character," and that it was "a banal and commonplace ringtone which would generally go unnoticed and would not be remembered by the consumer." Globo -- the biggest media company in Latin America -- appealed EUIPO's decision at the EU General Court, which has today ruled that the sound is indeed too boring to register.

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Instagram Rolls Out 'Keyword Moderation Tool' That Will Filter Out Offensive Comments
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 05:52 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's turn-a-blind-eye department:
In an effort to "promote a culture where everyone feels safe to be themselves without criticism or harassment," Instagram has introduced today a "keyword moderation tool" that anyone can use to block offensive or inappropriate words. Mac Rumors reports: Referred to as a "keyword moderation tool," the feature will let each user type in words they find to be offensive, effectively hiding any mention of them in the comment section of their posts. The comments containing the harsh language will still be available for other Instagram users, but the company believes that allowing each user to determine which words to hide from their personal collection of photos will cultivate a "positive and safe" environment. To deal with abusive accounts, Instagram already lets users swipe to delete comments, report inappropriate comments and block accounts.

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Twitter Will Extend Its 140 Character Limit On September 19th
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 02:59 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-room-for-activities department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Beginning September 19th, [Twitter] will cut down on exactly which types of content count toward the platform's 140-character limit. Media attachments (images, GIFs, videos, polls, etc.) and quoted tweets will no longer reduce the count. The extra room for text will give users more flexibility in composing their messages. Twitter first announced plans to stop counting extras like photos, videos, and user polls toward the limit back in May, but gave no firm date on when the shift would occur. A Twitter spokesperson declined to comment when contacted by The Verge. The date comes from two sources familiar with the company's business, but plans for the rollout could change. Another new adjustment to the character limit is that usernames will no longer count when they're at the beginning of replies, giving users additional room for discussion. It's unclear whether all of these changes will occur simultaneously; certain content types may gradually stop counting against the character limit in stages. But the company will at least kick off the move next Monday.

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The Moon's Gravitational Pull Can Trigger Major Earthquakes, Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on September 13 '16 at 12:05 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gravitational-pull department:
schwit1 writes: A careful statistical analysis of when major earthquakes occur has suggested they are more likely to be more powerful if they occur around the full and new moons when tidal forces are at their peak. Nature.com reports: "Satoshi Ide, a seismologist at the University of Tokyo, and his colleagues investigated three separate earthquake records covering Japan, California and the entire globe. For the 15 days leading up to each quake, the scientists assigned a number representing the relative tidal stress on that day, with 15 representing the highest. They found that large quakes such as those that hit Chile and Tohoku-Oki occurred near the time of maximum tidal strain -- or during new and full moons when the Sun, Moon and Earth align. For more than 10,000 earthquakes of around magnitude 5.5, the researchers found, an earthquake that began during a time of high tidal stress was more likely to grow to magnitude 8 or above." As these results are based entirely on statistical evidence, not on any direct link between tidal forces and actual quakes, they are quite uncertain and unproven.

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Sugar Industry Bought Off Scientists, Skewed Dietary Guidelines For Decades
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 07:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sugar-free department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Back in the 1960s, a sugar industry executive wrote fat checks to a group of Harvard researchers so that they'd downplay the links between sugar and heart disease in a prominent medical journal -- and the researchers did it, according to historical documents reported Monday in the journal JAMA Internal Medicine. One of those Harvard researchers went on to become the head of nutrition at the United States Department of Agriculture, where he set the stage for the federal government's current dietary guidelines. All in all, the corrupted researchers and skewed scientific literature successfully helped draw attention away from the health risks of sweets and shift the blame to solely to fats -- for nearly five decades. The low-fat, high-sugar diets that health experts subsequently encouraged are now seen as a main driver of the current obesity epidemic. The bitter revelations come from archived documents from the Sugar Research Foundation (now the Sugar Association), dug up by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco. Their dive into the old, sour affair highlights both the perils of trusting industry-sponsored research to inform policy and the importance of requiring scientists to disclose conflicts of interest -- something that didn't become the norm until years later. Perhaps most strikingly, it spotlights the concerning power of the sugar industry. In a statement also issued today, the Sugar Association acknowledged that it "should have exercised greater transparency in all of its research activities." However, the trade-group went on to question the UCSF researchers' motives in digging up the issue and reframing the past events to "conveniently align with the currently trending anti-sugar narrative." The association also chastised the journal for publishing the historical analysis, which it implied was insignificant and sensationalist. "Most concerning is the growing use of headline-baiting articles to trump quality scientific research -- we're disappointed to see a journal of JAMA's stature being drawn into this trend," the association wrote. But scientists disagree with that take. In an accompanying editorial, nutrition professor Marion Nestle of New York University argued that "this 50-year-old incident may seem like ancient history, but it is quite relevant, not least because it answers some questions germane to our current era."

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Microsoft To Kill The Lumia Brand In Favor of a New Surface Phone, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 06:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fresh-coat-of-paint department:
It's no secret the Lumia brand is struggling to gain any significant market share these days. Earlier this year, it was reported that Microsoft's Windows Phone OS dropped below 1 percent mark share, all but confirming the death of Windows Phone. A new report suggests that, despite the irrelevance of Windows Phone, Microsoft will not be giving up on its mobile OS. Instead, the company plans to drop the Lumia brand by the end of the year and replace it with a brand new Surface Phone in an effort to breathe new life into its flagging smartphone business. The Next Web reports: There is some credibility to the claims. Microsoft's Lumia lineup has shrunk to just four models, and there's nothing to indicate it's working on a successor. In the U.S., where Microsoft has struggled to shift Lumia phones, it has removed the link to buy them from its website. On the retail side, stores have started removing units from display, and are trying to shift remaining stock by offering steep discounts. Further evidence comes from two since-deleted tweets from Laura Butler, engineering director at Microsoft, who posted "Surface iPhone ;-)" on September 6, and "Surface Phone not NOT confirmed. :-)" on September 7, in reply to questions posed by other Twitter users. Microsoft is expected to hold an event in October, where it's believed it will announce a new Surface all-in-one. As Ars Technica pointed out, this could be when Microsoft announces its new Surface Phone, just in time for Christmas.

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MIT Invented A Camera That Can Read Closed Books
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 05:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's eyes-closed department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: In a breakthrough that will appeal to both spies and those who work with priceless but frail historical documents, researchers at MIT have developed a camera that uses terahertz radiation to peer at the text on pages of a book, without it having to be open. Terahertz radiation falls somewhere between the microwave and infrared spectrums, and the research team, including Barmak Heshmat, Ramesh Raskar, and Albert Redo Sanchez from MIT, and Justin Romberg and Alireza Aghasi from Georgia Tech, chose that particular flavor of radiation because of how it reacts with different chemicals. Different chemicals produce a distinct frequency as they react with different terahertz frequencies, which can be measured and distinguished. In this instance, it allows the researchers to tell the different between ink and blank paper. Complex algorithms and software is required to translate the frequencies being bounced back to the camera, allowing it to distinguish letters on a page. But it also relies on how far the short bursts of terahertz radiation are traveling, by precisely timing how long it takes to reach the 20-micrometer-thick air gaps between pages of a book, it's able to calculate when it moves from page to page. The report adds, "the researchers feel their system could be a fantastic tool for museums or other facilities who want to explore and catalog historical documents, without actually having to touch or open them, and risk damage."

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Yelp Is Not Liable For Negative Rating 'Stars' On Website, Says Appeals Court
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 05:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's customer-service department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: Online review site Yelp's star rating system does not make it responsible for negative reviews of businesses because it is based on user input, a federal appeals court ruled on Monday, dismissing a libel lawsuit filed against Yelp by a Washington state locksmith company owner. The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said the star rating system that Yelp features is not content created by the company that helps guide people to everything from restaurants to plumbers. Under federal law, the decision said, Yelp is not liable for content its users post. The ruling focused on the libel lawsuit filed by Douglas Kimzey, a locksmith business owner in Redmond, Washington. The court said Kimzey's business received a negative review on Yelp in 2011. The review by a person identified in court documents only as "Sarah K" gave Kimzey's company one star out of five, saying it was slow to respond to a car lockout and then overcharged. The appeals court has ruled previously that the 1996 Communications Decency Act lets websites provide "neutral tools" to post material online and that they cannot be held liable for libelous or potentially libelous material posted by third parties. Monday's ruling affirmed a lower federal court decision that also dismissed Kimzey's claim that Yelp should be held liable for distributing reviews to search engines. The appeals court said distributing the content does not make Yelp the creator or developer of the content.

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HP To Buy Samsung's Printer Business For $1.05 Billion
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 03:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's refill-ink-cartridges department:
HP has agreed to a deal with Samsung to acquire their printer business for $1.05 billion, a deal that will be the largest print acquisition in HP's history. USA Today reports: "The acquisition of Samsung's printer business allows us to deliver print innovation and create entirely new business opportunities with far better efficiency, security, and economics for customers," said HP president and CEO Dion Weisler in a statement. The Samsung deal would give HP access to 6,500 printing patents as well as 1,300 researchers and engineers "with advanced expertise in laser printer technology." While this deal is being negotiated, Samsung's mobile phone business has been navigating a recall of its Galaxy Note 7 smartphones over issues with batteries catching fire and exploding. One of the most recent accidents reported involved a six-year-old boy in New York, who was using the device when it "suddenly burst into flames."

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ACLU Is Launching A Campaign To Convince President Obama To Pardon Edward Snowden
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 03:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pretty-please department:
Coinciding with the launch of Oliver Stone's movie Snowden in select theaters this week, a coalition of civil rights groups are launching a campaign to convince President Obama to pardon NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Fusion reports: The effort, which is organized by the ACLU, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch, will gather signatures from regular people and endorsements from celebrities. Snowden will speak by video link from Moscow at a press conference on Wednesday morning in New York, and an initial list of "prominent legal scholars, policy experts, human rights leaders, technologists and former government officials" in support of the cause will be released, according to a statement from the campaign. A presidential pardon would mean that Snowden could come home from Moscow, where he's lived for the past three years, without the fear of being prosecuted. He currently faces federal charges of violating the Espionage Act and stealing government property, even though his disclosures led to reform of the wiretapping program by Congress. Many Snowden supporters are hoping the movie Snowden, which opens in U.S. theaters on Friday, will spur support for a pardon. "I think the value of the movie is that it's lsikely to reach millions of people who have not been paying close attention to Snowden or to the debate about surveillance and privacy," Snowden's layer at the ACLU, Ben Wizner, told Fusion. "Those people will emerge from the movie more education about surveillance and with more positive attitudes toward Snowden."

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Facebook Is Collaborating With The Israeli Government To Determine What Should Be Censored
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 02:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's root-cause department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ABC News: The Israeli government and Facebook agreed to work together to determine how to tackle incitement on the social media network, a senior Israeli Cabinet minister said Monday. The announcement came after two government ministers met top Facebook officials to discuss the matter. The Facebook delegation is in Israel as the government pushes ahead with legislative steps meant to force social networks to rein in content that Israel says incites violence. Israel has argued that a wave of violence with the Palestinians over the past year has been fueled by incitement, much of it spread on social media sites. It has repeatedly said that Facebook should do more to monitor and control the content, raising a host of legal and ethical issues over whether the company is responsible for material posted by its users. Both Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, two key figures in Israel's battle against the alleged online provocations, participated in Monday's meeting. Erdan's office said they agreed with Facebook representatives to create teams that would figure out how best to monitor and remove inflammatory content, but did not elaborate further. Erdan and Shaked have proposed legislation that seeks to force social networks to remove content that Israel considers to be incitement. An opposition lawmaker has also proposed a bill seeking to force social networks to self-monitor or face a fine. Facebook said in a statement "online extremism can only be tackled with a strong partnership between policymakers, civil society, academia and companies, and this is true in Israel and around the world." The company did also say that its community standards "make it clear there is non place for terrorists or content that promotes terrorism on Facebook." ABC News reports that "over the past four months Israel submitted 158 requests to Facebook to remove inciting content and another 13 requests to YouTube," according to Shaked. "She said Facebook granted some 95 percent of the requests and YouTube granted 80 percent." All of this adds to the censorship controversy that is currently surrounding Facebook. Last week, Norway's largest newspaper accused Mark Zuckerberg of abusing power after his company decided to censor a historic photograph of the Vietnamese "Napalm Girl," claiming it violated the company's ban on "child nudity."

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Samsung Galaxy Note 7 Explodes In New York, Burns Six-Year-Old Boy
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 02:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ticking-time-bomb department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A six-year-old boy from Brooklyn has reportedly become the latest victim of Samsung's disastrous exploding Galaxy Note 7 batteries. The boy had been using the device at his family home when it "suddenly burst into flames," according to the New York Post. He was rushed to hospital with burns to his body. Samsung issued a recall of 2.5 million of its latest flagship phone on September 2 -- which had only been released the previous month -- after 35 reports that lithium batteries were exploding while they were being charged. The injured boy's grandmother said that the fire caused by the phone was strong enough to "set off alarms in my house." "He is home now," Linda Lewis told press. "He doesn't want to see or go near any phones. He's been crying to his mother." Samsung issued a statement on Saturday, urging owners of the Galaxy Note 7 to "power down your device and return to using your previous phone. We will voluntarily replace your Galaxy Note 7 device with a new one, beginning on September 19th... We acknowledge the inconvenience this may cause in the market but this is to ensure that Samsung continues to deliver the highest quality products to our customers." The recall has caused Samsung's stock to plunge. On Monday, Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. stock suffered from its biggest one-day price decline in its 28-year history as a public company.

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Verizon Is Moving From Telephone Poles To Light Poles for Smart Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 02:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's further-expansion department:
An anonymous reader shares a Fortune report:Verizon is moving from telephone poles to street lighting poles with its latest acquisition to bolster its Internet of things business. The telecom giant has been looking for new growth areas around connected smart devices -- including water meters, self-driving cars, and drones -- as some of its traditional markets slow. On Monday, Verizon said it was buying privately-held Sensity, a company that puts sensors in LED street lamps to perform functions such as monitoring traffic and detecting security threats. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. It's the latest in a string of acquisitions to bolster the carrier's IoT unit. Verizon agreed to pay $2.4 billion for truck tracking service Fleetmatics last month and startup Telogis, another fleet-tracker, earlier this summer.

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Digital Wallets Have Yet To Catch On, JPMorgan Executive Says
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 12:51 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's gaining-traction department:
Despite major tech companies working aggressively on making digital wallet solutions available everywhere, these digital payment apps in our smartphones are yet to gain traction, according to Chief Executive of Consumer Banking JP Morgan Chase & Co. From a Reuters report: Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay are being used for less than 1 percent of payments at retailers, Gordon Smith said, citing industry data at an investor conference. Ultimately, the convenience of paying with phones will bring a surge of use from consumers, but it is impossible to know when that inflexion point will be reached, said Smith.

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Unredacted User Manuals Of Stingray Device Show How Accessible Surveillance Is
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 12:51 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's truth-is-out-there department:
The Intercept has today published 200-page documents revealing details about Harris Corp's Stingray surveillance device, which has been one of the closely guarded secrets in law enforcement for more than 15 years. The firm, in collaboration with police clients across the U.S. have "fought" to keep information about the mobile phone-monitoring boxes from the public against which they are used. The publication reports that the surveillance equipment carries a price tag in the "low six figures." From the report:The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department alone has snooped via Stingray, sans warrant, over 300 times. Richard Tynan, a technologist with Privacy International, told The Intercept that the "manuals released today offer the most up-to-date view on the operation of" Stingrays and similar cellular surveillance devices, with powerful capabilities that threaten civil liberties, communications infrastructure, and potentially national security. He noted that the documents show the "Stingray II" device can impersonate four cellular communications towers at once, monitoring up to four cellular provider networks simultaneously, and with an add-on can operate on so-called 2G, 3G, and 4G networks simultaneously.

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Slashdot Asks: What Are Your Favorite Technology Books and Novels?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 11:23 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's share-share-share department:
It can be a nonfiction book, or a fictional narrative where technology plays a key role. I recently started to read 'The Rise of the Robots' by Martin Ford. It talks about how robots are threatening mass unemployment more than they ever did before. I also found Andrew Blum's 'Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet' quite insightful. I would like to read 'The Victorian Internet: The Remarkable Story of the Telegraph and the Nineteenth Century's On-line Pioneers'. What are some of your favorite tech-centric books? And which book are you currently reading, or recently finished?

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