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Valve Loses Australian Court Battle Over Steam
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 07:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's agree-to-disagree department:
angry tapir writes: Valve Software has lost court action launched against it by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. The Australian court case centered on the refund policies of Valve Software's Steam digital distribution service. Some of Steam's refund policies contradicted the statutory guarantees of the Australian Consumer Law, the court found. A hearing on penalties is yet to be held.

Such "false or misleading representations about guarantees" include: consumers were not entitled to a refund for digitally downloaded games purchased from Valve via the Steam website or Steam Client (in any circumstances); Valve had excluded statutory guarantees and/or warranties that goods would be of acceptable quality; and Valve had restricted or modified statutory guarantees and/or warranties of acceptable quality. Valve has contested ACCC's arguments on a number of grounds.

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The World's Largest Renewable Energy Developer Could Go Broke
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-only-a-matter-of-time department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Huffington Post: There is a "substantial risk" that SunEdison may file for bankruptcy, the world's largest renewable energy developer said in a regulatory filing on Tuesday. The company's fall isn't a referendum on the solar industry as a whole, as much as it is on SunEdison's aggressive growth strategy fueled by excessive debt and financial engineering, analysts say. SunEdison "just thought they were smarter than everyone else," said David Levine, the founder and CEO of Geostellar, a solar energy marketplace that has done deals with the company.

SunEdison loaded up a total of $11 billion in debt to develop or acquire renewable energy projects. The companyâ(TM)s shares have fallen steeply since they hit a high of $30 in July. They were at just $1.26 before the filing. The stock immediately dropped another 40 percent when the market opened after the filing, and the company was trading at just $0.59 by Tuesday lunchtime.

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Internet of Seals: Vodafone Connects Marine Mammals To IoT
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's always-connected department:
Mickeycaskill writes: Researchers in Scotland claim to be the first to connect marine mammals to the Internet of Things (IoT) as part of a study into declining populations of harbor seals in the north and east of the country. Several seals in Orkney, an archipelago off the north cost, will be tagged and their behavior monitored by scientists at the Sea Mammal Research Unit (SMRU) at the University of St Andrews. The data is transmitted using Vodafone's M2M network and the tags are designed to simply fall off when seals molt. Researchers say the use of cellular networks will greatly improve their data gathering capabilities. The data collected will be used to help form Scottish marine policy in areas such as offshore wind farms and unexplained seal deaths.

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Company Creates Gun That Looks Like a Cellphone
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 04:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's concealed-smartphone department:
Earthquake Retrofit writes: Sometimes you want to carry your gun in peace, but people keep drawing attention to your piece. This very issue plagued Kirk Kjellberg, the creator of Ideal Conceal, a [.380-caliber pistol] that folds up to look like a smartphone. "A boy spotted me in [a] restaurant and said loudly, 'Mommy, Mommy, that guy's got a gun!' And then pretty much the whole restaurant stared at me," Kjellberg told NBC News. He developed Ideal Conceal to avoid those awkward situations.
According to NBC News, "In locked position, the two-shot plastic gun with a metal core can be discreetly slipped into pockets, like a real phone. But 'with one click of the safety it opens and is ready to fire,' Ideal Conceal claims. The Department of Homeland Security has contacted him about the pistol, and he plans on giving them x-rays of it so law enforcement can distinguish it from cellphones during airport screenings. An Ideal Conceal prototype is slated for June, with sales beginning in October. The gun is listed for $395."

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Why ISIS Is Winning The Online Propaganda War
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 04:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's number-of-followers department:
blottsie writes: The U.S. government has been unable to fight the Islamic State on the one battlefield it currently commands: the Internet. Exemplified by an August 2014 video produced by the State Department, the U.S. remains ineffective at combating violent extremism online. A definitive report by the Daily Dot explores how ISIS succeeds in spreading its message and recruiting new militants, and why the U.S. government continues to fail in its efforts to stop ISIS online.

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Global Majority Backs a Ban On 'Dark Net,' Poll Says
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 03:12 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's it's-hard-to-please-people department:
Alastair Sharp reports for Reuters: Seven in 10 people say the 'dark net' -- an anonymous online home to both criminals and activists fearful of government surveillance -- should be shut down, according to a global Ipsos poll released on Tuesday. The findings, from a poll of at least 1,000 people in each of 24 countries, come as policymakers and technology companies argue over whether digital privacy should be curbed to help regulators and law enforcement more easily thwart hackers and other digital threats.

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Preterm Births Linked To Air Pollution Cost Billions In The US
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 03:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-you-don't-know-can't-hurt-you department:
mdsolar quotes a report from TIME: Air pollution leads to 16,000 premature births in the United States each year, leading to billions of dollars in economic costs, according to new research. Researchers behind the study, published in the journal Environmental Health Perspectives, found that preterm births associated with particulate matter -- a type of pollutant -- led to more than $4 billion in economic costs in 2010 due to medical care and lost productivity that results from disability. And, like many other public health issues, affected populations tend to be concentrated in low-income areas home to large numbers of minorities. "This is another piece of the evidentiary pie about why we should really be doing something about air pollution," says Tracey Woodruff, a professor who studies reproductive health and the environment at the University of California, San Francisco. "When you reduce air pollution you get lots of different health benefits." Countless studies have shown the effect of air pollution on cardiovascular and respiratory health -- killing millions each year. Air pollution leads to inflammation in blood vessels and contributes to lung cancer, asthma and a slew of other disorders. The effect on pregnancy may in some ways be an extension of those effects as air pollution disrupts the way a pregnant woman delivers oxygen to the fetus. Air pollution may also disrupt the endocrine system, keeping women from producing a protein needed to regulate pregnancy, researchers say.

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US Federal Court: This Year's Scams More Aggressive and Sophisticated Than Years Past
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 01:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's beware-of-imposters department:
coondoggie quotes a report from Network World: The fraud and scam war rages. This week the Federal Courts warned of swindles involving people posing as federal court officials and U.S. Marshals targeting citizens, threatening them with arrest unless they pay some fake fine for failing to show up for jury duty. "This year's scams are more aggressive and sophisticated than we've seen in years past," says Melissa Muir, Director of Administrative Services for the U.S. District Court of Western Washington in a statement. "Scammers are setting up call centers, establishing call-back protocols and using specific names and designated court hearing times." The bottom line: A federal court will never threaten an individual or demand the immediate payment -- either over the telephone or money wire service -- for fines or for not responding to a jury summons, the court stated.

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Researcher Uses Valve Security Bug To Upload Paint Drying Game On Steam
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 01:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Early-April-Fools department:
An anonymous reader writes: A security researcher found two bypasses in Valve's game review process that eventually allowed him to publish Steam Trading Cards and a full game on the Steam Store called "Watch Paint Dry" (reference to this case from last month involving the British film censors). The game was supposed to be an April Fools' Day prank, but the researcher forgot to set a release date, and [the game] was published on the Steam Store last weekend. Valve has fixed the security bypass in the meantime. These bypasses were extremely dangerous since they allowed anyone to publish games on the Store (possibly containing malware) without a Valve employee ever taking a look at them, or knowing they went through the review process.

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Virus Hits MedStar Health Hospital Network
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 12:22 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's growing-trend department:
An anonymous reader writes: IT staff at multiple hospitals have been forced to stop all routine and net new operations and perform an all hands on deck emergency malware control effort in the last several weeks. The latest instance of this can be seen at MedStar Hospital. From a ZDNet report, "Malware has infected the computer network of MedStar Health, forcing the healthcare provider to shut down large portions of its electronic operations. A statement by the health system said that all facilities remain open, and that there was "no evidence of compromised information." The not-for-profit healthcare system operates ten hospitals across the Washington and Baltimore region, with more than a hundred outpatient health facilities. According to the system's website, it has more than 31,000 employees and serves hundreds of thousands of patients annually." This outbreak appears to be fairly widespread and not limited to the single story listed. A similar story appeared on Slashdot several weeks ago and a quick search on Google provides multiple hits that indicate that this type of incident is much more commonplace than I would have believed. Hospitals provide round the clock service to patients and many of these services are critical to the health of the hospital clients. Most hospitals invest significant resources into security. Vendors may limit local IT staff in terms of how well a turnkey solution is designed to prevent infection. In short, hospital IT staff seem to be in the position of having to respond to rather than prevent these types of incidents. IT analysts predicted that 2015 would be the year that hospitals became targets for hackers. It appears that 2015 was just the first wave of the potential storm coming that is headed directly towards our healthcare IT infrastructure. How can hospitals guard themselves against these attacks when perpetrators can adapt almost instantly to new security measures while hospitals are constrained by operating concerns?

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Sony's Ultra 4K Streaming Service Launching On April 4; Titles Priced At $30
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 12:22 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's can-never-have-enough-streaming-services department:
Janko Roettgers reports for Variety: Sony is launching its 4K movie streaming service called Ultra next month: Consumers will be able to buy movies from the service, and stream to supported Sony 4K TV sets, starting April 4. The new service will offer 4K HDR movies to stream, including extras that have previously been able only on physical discs. Ultra ties into UltraViolet, the cloud locker service backed by Sony. Consumers will be able to upgrade SD and HD quality movies from their UltraViolet cloud locker for $12 to $15, respectively.

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Google Announces Fiber Phone, a $10/Month Home Telephone Service
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 11:06 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's making-landlines-cool department:
Google on Tuesday announced Fiber Phone, a home phone service for Fiber subscribers. For $10 a month, Fiber Phone offers unlimited local and nationwide calling, and "the same affordable rates as Google Voice for international calls." From company's blog post: You can keep your old phone number, or pick a new one. You can use call waiting, caller ID, and 911 services just as easily as you could before. Fiber Phone can also make it easier to access your voicemail -- the service will transcribe your voice messages for you and then send as a text or email. Writing for TechCrunch, Devin Coldewey explains why this matters: Fiber Phone features unlimited calls to the U.S., call filtering and blocking, voicemail transcription, and call forwarding to your mobile so you don't miss that telemarketer. It may seem an anachronism, but if Google aims to be the main or even sole conduit for communication in the areas it is expanding to, it does have to offer this.

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US Says It Would Use 'Court System' Again To Defeat Encryption
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 11:06 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's smell-of-betrayal? department:
An anonymous reader shares an Ars Technica report: U.S. government officials from the FBI director down have said repeatedly that the FBI-Apple legal brouhaha was just about a single phone -- the seized iPhone used by Syed Farook, one of the San Bernardino shooters. And just last week, James Comey, the FBI director, said his fight with Apple wasn't about setting precedent; rather, it was about battling terrorism. But it seems that the storyline has changed. The Justice Department now says it will not hesitate to invoke the precedent it won in its iPhone unlocking case. Having won the court and technological battle a triumphant Department of Justice warned late Monday that its legal battle for what many say amounts to judicially ordered encryption backdoors has only just begun. "It remains a priority for the government to ensure that law enforcement can obtain crucial digital information to protect national security and public safety, either with cooperation from relevant parties, or through the court system when cooperation fails," Melanie Newman, a Justice Department spokesman, wrote in an e-mail to Ars. "We will continue to pursue all available options for this mission, including seeking the cooperation of manufacturers and relying upon the creativity of both the public and private sectors."

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China Proposes Foreign Domain Name Censorship
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 09:48 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's what-are-they-even-thinking department:
An anonymous reader writes: A new draft law in China could potentially increase domain name restrictions, limiting domestic access to foreign websites. The measures outlined in the 'Internet Domain Name Management Rules' remain unclear, yet they suggest a marked effort to increase censorship on online content. The proposals, released for public comment by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, seek to update existing regulations to censor any domain names not registered within China. Only domain names approved by authorities would be permitted while other names registered outside of China would be blocked automatically.

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Mass Surveillance Silences Minority Opinions: Study
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 09:48 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's byproduct-of-mass-surveillance department:
Reader sittingnut writes: According to a study by Elizabeth Stoycheff from Wayne State University -- which was also referred to in the Washington Post, "knowing one is subject to surveillance and accepting such surveillance as necessary, act as moderating agents in the relationship between one's perceived climate of opinion and willingness to voice opinions online." In other words, knowledge of government surveillance causes people to self-censor their dissenting opinions online. This study adds to the well-researched phenomenon known as "spiral of silence", of people suppressing unpopular opinions to fit in by explicitly examining how government surveillance affects self-censorship. Participants who claimed they don't break any laws and don't have anything to hide and tended to support mass surveillance as necessary for national security, were the most likely to silence their minority opinions.

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The Arctic Sets Yet Another Record Low Maximum Extent
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 08:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's tracking-climate-change department:
Layzej writes: Arctic sea ice was at a record low maximum extent for the second straight year, according to scientists at the National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) and NASA. This year's maximum extent is 1.12 million square kilometers below the 1981 to 2010 average of 15.64 million square kilometers. Ice extent increases through autumn and winter, and the maximum typically occurs in mid-March. Sea ice then retreats through spring and summer and shrinks to its smallest or minimum extent typically by mid-September. Ice melt in the region is reducing the transport of warm southern waters brought north by the Atlantic Meridional Overturning Circulation (AMOC). "Some studies suggest that decreased heat flux of warm Atlantic waters could lead to a recovery of all Arctic sea ice in the near future," said NSIDC senior research scientist Julienne Stroeve. "I think it will have more of a winter impact and could lead to a temporary recovery of winter ice extent in the Barents and Kara seas."

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Clicking on Links in iOS 9.3 Can Crash Your iPhone and iPad
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 08:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's don't-click-on-that-link department:
Reader lxrocks writes: Many users are experiencing an issue with their iPhone and iPad wherein trying to open a link on Safari, Mail, Chrome or any other app causes it to freeze and crash. The issue renders any type of search with Safari as useless as none of the links returned will open. The wide-spread issue -- for which there's no known workaround just yet -- seems to be affecting users on both iOS 9.2 and iOS 9.3. Apple has acknowledged the issue and says it will release a fix "soon." There's no official word on what's causing the issue, but a popular theory with developers is that the glitch has something to do with Universal Links, a feature Apple first introduced with iOS 9. It appears some apps, such as Booking.com, are abusing this capability, causing the Universal Link database to overload.

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Chinese QQ Browser Caught Sending User Data To Its Servers
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 06:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's something-smells-fishy department:
An anonymous reader writes: A report from the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto reveals that the popular QQ Browser is collecting sensitive user information and sending it in an insecure manner to its servers. The Android version is collecting data such as the user's search terms, browsing history, nearby Wi-Fi networks, and the user's device IMSI and IMEI codes. For the Windows version of QQ Browser, the app was caught collecting data such as the user's browsing history, hard drive serial number, MAC address, Windows hostname, and Windows user security identifier. All of this is sent unencrypted, or with a weak encryption, to Tencent's servers, QQ Browser's manufacturer. Additionally, the update process is flawed and delivered in an insecure manner that allows others to manipulate upgrade patches with malicious software. This is the third browser caught exhibiting this behavior after UC Browser and Baidu Browser.

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'My Heroic and Lazy Stand Against IFTTT'
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 06:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's 'sewer-pipe-suggests-diet' department:
Like many of you, I use IFTTT. It's one of the handiest tools on the internet to get your work done. Want a text alert for weather? Want a notification on your Android smartphone whenever someone you follow publishes a blog post? IFTTT can do all sorts of such things. It is able to do so because it works with different companies and utilizes APIs of their services. Many of these companies are happy to have IFTTT trying to enhance the experience of their customers. Many don't necessarily want -- or can allow -- IFTTT to do that. Pinboard, a social bookmarking website, falls in the latter category. Maciej Ceglowski, CEO of Pinboard in a blog post explained why that is the case: Imagine if your sewer pipe started demanding that you make major changes in your diet. Now imagine that it got a lawyer and started asking you to sign things. You would feel surprised. This is the position I find myself in today with IFTTT, a form of Internet plumbing that has been connecting peaceably to my backend for the past five years, but which has recently started sending scary emails. [...] Because many of you rely on IFTTT, and because [their request] makes it sound like I'm the asshole, I feel I should explain myself. In a nutshell: 1. IFTTT wants me to do their job for them for free. 2. They have really squirrely terms of service. In the blog post, Ceglowski further explains his concerns with IFTTT. He says IFTTT wants ownership of all right, title, and interest. "Pinboard is in some ways already a direct competitor to IFTTT. The site offers built-in Twitter integration, analogous to IFTTT's twitter-Pinboard recipe. I don't know what rights I would be assigning here, but this is not the way I want to find out." You should read the blog post, it's very insightful and sheds light on things that many of us might not have considered otherwise. Jason Snell has offered his take on this as well, he writes: If IFTTT sticks with this philosophy, it will rapidly become a lot less useful and interesting as a service.

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Ocean Temps Predict US Heat Waves 50 Days Out, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on March 29 '16 at 05:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's predicting-the-future department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from UCAR.edu: The formation of a distinct pattern of sea surface temperatures in the middle of the North Pacific Ocean can predict an increased chance of summertime heat waves in the eastern half of the United States up to 50 days in advance, according to a new study led by a scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). The pattern is a contrast of warmer-than-average water butting up against cooler-than-average seas. When it appears, the odds that extreme heat will strike during a particular week -- or even on a particular day -- can more than triple, depending on how well-formed the pattern is. "We found that we could go back as far as seven weeks and still predict an increase in the odds of future heat waves," said McKinnon, a postdoctoral research at NCAR and the lead author of the study. "What's exciting about this is the potential for long-range predictions of individual heat waves that gives society far more notice than current forecasts."

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