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Twitter Pays $150 Million For Magic Pony Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 01:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's do-you-believe-in-magic department:
An anonymous reader writes: Following news that Twitter would invest around $70 million in music streaming service SoundCloud, the company is reportedly acquiring Magic Pony Technology, a company out of London that has developed technologies of using neural networks and machine learning to provide expanded data for images. For example, they can be used to enhance a picture or video taken on a mobile phone or to help develop graphics for virtual reality or augmented reality applications. "Machine learning is increasingly at the core of everything we build at Twitter," said Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO and co-founder, in a statement. "Magic Pony's machine learning technology will hep us build strength into our deep learning teams with world-class talent, so Twitter can continue to be the best place to see what's happening and why it matters, first. We value deep learning to help make our world better, and we will keep doing our part to share our work and learnings with the community." "[Magic Pony Technology] made a few further waves this year, as it further revealed the way that its technology worked to help enhance visuals with information that may not be in the picture itself, but essentially be created from composites of similar pictures, much like how the human eye works," writes TechCrunch. The company has remained under the radar for the most part. They have filed a number of patents -- around 20, which now belong to Twitter.

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Twitch Brings CFAA and Trademark Claim Against Bot Operators
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 01:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's legal-issues department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Techdirt: I think most people agree that bots that drive up viewer/follower counts on various social media systems are certainly a nuisance, but are they illegal? Amazon-owned Twitch has decided to find out. On Friday, the company filed a lawsuit against seven individuals/organizations that are in the business of selling bots. Twitch's lawsuit uses a CFAA claim and a trademark claim. The CFAA is the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, which was put in place in the 1980s in response to the movie War Games and is supposed to be used to punish "hackers" who break into secure computer systems. Techdirt reports: "It's a pretty big stretch to argue that bots accessing your open website that anyone can visit requires some kind of specific "authorization." Yes, cheating bots are annoying. And yes, they can be seen as a problem. But that doesn't mean that Twitch should be trying to expand the definition of the CFAA to include accessing an open website in a way the site doesn't like. The trademark claim is also somewhat troubling, though not as much. No one is visiting the sites of these bot makers and assuming that they're endorsed by Twitch. I mean, they're all pretty clear that their entire purpose is to inflate viewers/followers on Twitch, which is clearly something that Twitch is against. Twitch doesn't need to use either of these claims, and it's disappointing that they and their lawyers have chosen to do so. This is not to say that bots and fake followers are okay. But these kinds of cases can set really bad precedents when a company like Twitch decides to over-claim things in a way that harms the wider tech and internet industry."

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Mark Zuckerberg Votes To Keep Peter Thiel On Facebook Board
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 12:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's money-can-buy-anything department:
Mark Zuckerberg has decided to keep billionaire VC Peter Thiel on Facebook's board of directors. The decision comes after weeks of controversy over whether it was appropriate for billionaire Thiel, who recently admitted to secretly funding a campaign of third-party lawsuits to bankrupt Gawker Media, to remain on the board of a company that now plays such a powerful role in publishing. From a Gizmodo report: At Facebook's annual shareholders meeting today, every board member was up for re-election. The decision was made by shareholder vote, but ultimately fell to Zuckerberg, who controls more than 60 percent of the total voting power on the Facebook board.

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New York Criminalizes the Use Of Ticket-Buying Bots
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 12:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's don't-spoil-the-fun department:
An anonymous reader writes: If you failed to get tickets for your favorite band, even though your finger was poised on the "buy" link the instant they went on sale, don't worry -- you never stood a chance. They were probably snapped up by bots that, in one case, bought 1,012 Madison Square Garden U2 tickets in less than a minute. The state of New York has declared that scalpers who use them could get fines and even jail time. "New Yorkers have been dealing with this frustrating ticket buying experience for too long," says state assembly member Marcos Crespie. Using such bots was illegal before, but only brought civil, not criminal sanctions. However, a three-year investigation by NY attorney general Eric. T. Schneiderman found that the practice was so widespread that the state had to take harsher measures. Ticketing outlets and credit card companies revealed that bots scoop up the best seats in seconds, which scalpers then resell at prices many times over face value. Scalpers who exploit such software could now face criminal, class A misdemeanor charges.

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High IQ Countries Have Less Software Piracy, Research Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 12:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's why-do-we-pirate-stuff,-Mr.-Wayne? department:
Ernesto Van der Sar, writing for TorrentFreak (edited and condensed): There are hundreds of reasons why people may turn to piracy. A financial motive is often mentioned, as well as lacking legal alternatives. A new study from a group of researchers now suggests that national intelligence can also be added to the list. In a rather straightforward analysis, the research examined the link between national IQ scores and local software piracy rates -- from data provided by the Business Software Alliance. They concluded that there's a trend indicating that countries with a higher IQ have lower software piracy rates.

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FCC To Vote On Spectrum For 5G Wireless Networks
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 12:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's faster-download-speeds department:
5G has been in the news for years, but it's not available for commercial use just yet. Things will become clearer this week. The Federal Communications Commission will vote on July 14 to decide new rules to identity and open spectrum for next-generation high-speed 5G wireless applications. Reuters reports: FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said if the FCC "approves my proposal next month, the United States will be the first country in the world to open up high-band spectrum for 5G networks and applications." He said the FCC also will seek comments on opening other high-frequency spectrum bands. Policymakers and mobile phone companies say the next generation of wireless signals needs to be 10 to 100 times faster and be far more responsive to allow advanced technologies like virtual surgery or controlling machines remotely.

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Alicia Keys Latest Artist To Enforce No Cell Phone Policy at Concerts
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 12:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's phone-free-show department:
Shane McGlaun, reporting for SlashGear:It appears that artists of all sorts are getting very serious about keeping fans from using smartphones while they are at their concerts or events. The latest musician to ban cell phones at her events is Alicia Keys. Fans aren't forced to give up their smartphones at the door to be locked up in some locker or box until the show is over. Rather, fans are handed a special pouch that is locked up with their smartphone inside the fan keeps that pouch with them during the event, but they can't get to the device to call, take photos, or shoot video. If they need to use their device during the show the users can go back to the door and a worker passes a disc about the size of a bagel over the bag to unlock it and the fan can step outside to use their smartphone.

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Slashdot Asks: What's Your Preferred Music Streaming Service?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 09:21 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-music department:
Spotify announced on Monday that it has hit 100 million users on its music streaming service, with over 30 million paid subscribers. The Swedish music company's service rivals with Apple Music, Pandora, and Google's Play Music. Apple's streaming service, which was launched last year, has over 15 million paid customers as of earlier this month. Amazon also reportedly plans to launch its music streaming service later this year. YouTube is also a stop for many music listeners, and so is radio. How do you get your music? Do you still purchase CDs and DVDs? Anyone with a turntable in the audience?

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Tesla Model S Floats Well Enough To Act As a Boat, According To Elon Musk
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 09:21 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's it's-a-boat,-it's-a-car,-it's-boatcar department:
It appears a Tesla Model S car can float and effectively drive on water. Tesla CEO Elon Musk tweeted a video of a Model S car which was able to float well through a flooded tunnel in Kazakhstan. Musk also noted that the company "definitely" doesn't recommend trying this -- but still vouched for the availability of this feature. The Guardian reports: The car appears to power through the water using the thrust of the wheels turning in the water, as the bow wave laps over the car's bonnet. Most internal combustion engine cars are sunk in water when the exhaust becomes flooded, which is why serious off-roaders have big exhaust scoops leading to the roof. Electric cars don't suffer from that particular issue, but how the rest of the car will react is unknown.

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Hacker Taunts Blizzard After Knocking Gamers Offline
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 08:03 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's another-day,-another-hack department:
Reader itwbennett writes: A person nicknamed AppleJ4ck, who has been previously been linked to Lizard Squad, a group notorious for DDoS attacks against gaming platforms, including the PlayStation Network and Xbox Live, has taken credit for server outages affecting gaming giant Blizzard (Alternate source: ZDNet) Monday morning. The outages led to authentication lockouts for gamers attempting to access Overwatch, Hearth Stone, World of Warcraft, Diablo, Heroes of the Stone, and others. During the outage, AppleJ4ck said Monday's problems were just a test, promising more outages in the future.

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Microsoft Says Edge Browser Is More Power-Efficient Than Chrome
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 08:03 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's saving-power department:
An anonymous reader writes: It's no secret that Google's Chrome browser eats up a considerable amount of memory (and by extension, battery). On Monday, Microsoft announced that its Edge browser has succeeded on that front. Citing several tests, Microsoft claims Edge browser is a better choice for portable device owners. The company took four identical laptops running Windows 10 to see which of the four most popular browsers would be most efficient when it comes to battery life. Interestingly, Chrome was the first to kill the laptop in the video streaming test at 4 hours and 19 minutes. Firefox closely followed its rival at 5 hours and 9 minutes, while Opera (running on the same tech as Chrome) managed to hit 6 hours and 18 minutes. In Microsoft's tests, it was found that Edge was best of the bunch when it came to enjoying a video online, lasting for 7 hours and 22 minutes. That's worked out to be 70% longer than Chrome.In a blog post, Microsoft wrote: "We designed Microsoft Edge from the ground up to prioritize power efficiency and deliver more battery life, without any special battery saving mode or changes to the default settings. Our testing and data show that you can simply browse longer with Microsoft Edge than with Chrome, Firefox, or Opera on Windows 10 devices."

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China Builds World's Fastest Supercomputer Without U.S. Chips
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 06:42 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's supercomputer department:
Reader dcblogs writes: China on Monday revealed its latest supercomputer, a monolithic system with 10.65 million compute cores built entirely with Chinese microprocessors. This follows a U.S. government decision last year to deny China access to Intel's fastest microprocessors. There is no U.S.-made system that comes close to the performance of China's new system, the Sunway TaihuLight. Its theoretical peak performance is 124.5 petaflops (Linpack is 93 petaflops), according to the latest biannual release today of the world's Top500 supercomputers. It has been long known that China was developing a 100-plus petaflop system, and it was believed that China would turn to U.S. chip technology to reach this performance level. But just over a year ago, in a surprising move, the U.S. banned Intel from supplying Xeon chips to four of China's top supercomputing research centers. The U.S. initiated this ban because China, it claimed, was using its Tianhe-2 system for nuclear explosive testing activities. The U.S. stopped live nuclear testing in 1992 and now relies on computer simulations. Critics in China suspected the U.S. was acting to slow that nation's supercomputing development efforts. There has been nothing secretive about China's intentions. Researchers and analysts have been warning all along that U.S. exascale (an exascale is 1,000 petaflops) development, supercomputing's next big milestone, was lagging.

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Ask Slashdot: How Can You Manage Developers Distributed Across Multiple Projects?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 04:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's believing-the-unbelievable department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader asks whether it's possible to manage a "distributed" team of software developers in different locations who are all assigned to different projects, each with their own independent project managers:

All embedded software engineers from multiple offices in different countries are now being reorganized into this new distributed team [with] better control of its own development practices, processes and tools, since everyone is working in embedded software...

While there's extensive material throughout the Internet on best practices for managing distributed teams, it seems to either take an agile perspective, the project manager's perspective or be otherwise based on the assumption that everyone in the team are working in the same project. In my case, I'd be managing a distributed team of developers all assigned to different projects. How can I build cohesion, alignment and trust for my team of embedded software developers in this new three-dimensional distributed matrix organization?

Anyone have any relevant experiences to share with distributed teams or "matrix" organizations? Leave your answers in the comments. How can you manage developers who are all distributed across multiple projects?

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Hacker Who Stole Half-Life 2's Source Code Interviewed For New Book
Posted by News Fetcher on June 20 '16 at 12:02 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Rise-and-shine,-Mr.-Freeman department:
"Can you love a game so much you must take its sequel?" asks Ars Technica, posting an excerpt from the new book "Death By Video Game: Danger, Pleasure, and Obsession on the Virtual Frontline."

At 6am on May 7, 2004, Axel Gembe awoke in the small German town of Schonau im Schwarzwald to find his bed surrounded by police officers bearing automatic weapons... "You are being charged with hacking into Valve Corporation's network, stealing the video game Half-Life 2, leaking it onto the Internet, and causing damages in excess of $250 million... Get dressed..." The corridors were lined by police, squeezed into his father's house...
Gembe had tried creating homegrown keystroke-recorders specifically targeted at Valve, according to the book, but then poking around their servers he'd discovered one which wasn't firewalled from the internal network. Gembe spent several weeks discovering notes and design documents, until eventually he stumbled onto the latest version of the unreleased game's source code. He'd never meant for the code to be leaked onto the internet -- but he did share it with another person who did. ("I didn't think it through. The person I shared the source with assured me he would keep it to himself. He didn't...")
Eventually Game contacted Valve, apologized, and asked them for a job -- which led to a fake 40-minute job interview designed to gather enough evidence to arrest him. But ultimately a judge sentenced him to two years probation -- and Half-Life 2 went on to sell 8.6 million copies.

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California Researchers Build The World's First 1,000-Processor Chip
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '16 at 07:51 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's laying-down-all-your-chips department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the University of California, Davis about the world's first microchip with 1,000 independent programmable processors: The 1,000 processors can execute 115 billion instructions per second while dissipating only 0.7 Watts, low enough to be powered by a single AA battery...more than 100 times more efficiently than a modern laptop processor... The energy-efficient "KiloCore" chip has a maximum computation rate of 1.78 trillion instructions per second and contains 621 million transistors.

Programs get split across many processors (each running independently as needed with an average maximum clock frequency of 1.78 gigahertz), "and they transfer data directly to each other rather than using a pooled memory area that can become a bottleneck for data." Imagine how many mind-boggling things will become possible if this much processing power ultimately finds its way into new consumer technologies.

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New 'Hardened' Tor Browser Protects Users From FBI Hacking
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '16 at 06:21 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's communicating-anonymously department:
An anonymous reader quotes an article from Motherboard: According to a new paper, security researchers are now working closely with the Tor Project to create a "hardened" version of the Tor Browser, implementing new anti-hacking techniques which could dramatically improve the anonymity of users and further frustrate the efforts of law enforcement...

"Our solution significantly improves security over standard address space layout randomization (ASLR) techniques currently used by Firefox and other mainstream browsers," the researchers write in their paper, whose findings will be presented in July at the Privacy Enhancing Technologies Symposium in Darmstadt, Germany.

The researchers say Tor is currently field-testing their solution for an upcoming "hardened" release, making it harder for agencies like the FBI to crack the browser's security, according to Motherboard. "[W]hile that defensive advantage may not last for too long, it shows that some in the academic research community are still intent on patching the holes that their peers are helping government hackers exploit."

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J.J. Abrams Reacts To Death of Star Trek Actor Anton 'Chekov' Yelchin
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '16 at 05:02 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's lived-long-and-prospered department:
On Sunday morning 27-year-old actor Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov in the new Star Trek movies, was killed in a freak accident with his own car in the driveway of his home in Studio City. "It appears he momentarily exited his car and it rolled backward, causing trauma that led to his death," a police spokesperson told the Hollywood Reporter. This afternoon J. J. Abrams tweeted a picture of a handwritten eulogy addressed to Anton. "You were brilliant. You were kind. You were funny as hell, and supremely talented. And you weren't here nearly long enough. Missing you..." Zachary Quinto, who plays Mr. Spock, also tweeted a link to a picture posted in memorial on Instagram, where he called Yelchin "one of the most open and intellectually curious people I have ever had the pleasure to know... wise beyond his years, and gone before his time..."

Stephen King called him a "crazily talented actor gone too soon," remembering Yelchin from one of his last roles in a 10-episode adaptation of King's "Mr. Mercedes". Yelchin will play a mentally deranged ice cream truck driver who's also an IT worker for a Geek Squad-like company named "Cyber Patrol".

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One Million IP Addresses Used In Brute-Force Attack On A Bank
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '16 at 03:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's million-IP-march department:
Cisco says in just one week in February they detected 1,127,818 different IP addresses being used to launch 744,361,093 login attempts on 220,758,340 different email addresses -- and that 93% of those attacks were directed at two financial institutions in a massive Account Takeover (ATO) campaign. An anonymous reader writes: Crooks used 993,547 distinct IPs to check login credentials for 427,444,261 accounts. For most of these attacks, the crooks used proxy servers, but also two botnets, one of compromised Arris cable modems, and one of ZyXel routers/modems. Most of these credentials have been acquired from public breaches or underground hacking forums. This happened before the recent huge data breaches such as MySpace, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and VK.com.
It's apparently similar to the stolen-credentials-from-other-sites attack that was launched against GitHub earlier this week.

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IBM Engineer Builds a Harry Potter Sorting Hat Using 'Watson' AI
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '16 at 02:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's happy-Father's-Day department:
An anonymous reader writes: As America celebrates Father's Day, The Next Web reports on an IBM engineer who found a way to combine his daughters' interest in the Harry Potter series with an educational home technology project. Together they built a Hogwarts-style sorting hat -- which assigns its wearer into an appropriate residence house at the school of magic -- and it does it using IBM's cognitive computing platform Watson. "The hat uses Watson's Natural Language Classifier and Speech to Text to let the wearer simply talk to the hat, then be sorted according to what he or she says..." reports The Next Web. "Anderson coded the hat to pick up on words that fit the characteristics of each Hogwarts house, with brainy and cleverness going right into Ravenclaw's territory and honesty a recognized Hufflepuff attribute."

The hat's algorithm would place Stephen Hawking and Hillary Clinton into Ravenclaw, according to the article, while Donald Trump "was assigned to Gryffindor for his boldness -- but only with a 48 percent certainty."

The sorting hat talks, drawing its data directly from the IBM Cloud, and if you're interested in building your own, the IBM engineer has shared a tutorial online.

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New Ransomware Written Entirely In JavaScript
Posted by News Fetcher on June 19 '16 at 12:41 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's ECMA-emails department:
An anonymous reader writes: Security researchers have discovered a new form of ransomware written entirely in JavaScript and using the CryptoJS library to encode a user's files. Researchers say the file is being distributed through email attachments, according to SC Magazine, which reports that "Opening the attachment kicks off a series of steps that not only locks up the victim's files, but also downloads some additional malware onto the target computer. The attachment does not visibly do anything, but appears to the victim as a corrupted file. However, in fact it is busy doing its dirty work in the background. This includes deleting the Windows Volume Shadow Copy so the encrypted files cannot be recovered and the ransomware is set to run every time Windows starts up so it can capture any new information."

"It's a little bit unusual to see an actual piece of ransomware powered by a scripting language," one security executive tells the magazine, which suggests disabling e-mail attachments that contain a JavaScript file.

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