By BeauHD from Slashdot's across-the-universe department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today announced that Chrome's ad blocker is expanding across the globe starting on July 9, 2019. As with last year's initial ad blocker rollout, the date is not tied to a specific Chrome version. Chrome 76 is currently scheduled to arrive on May 30 and Chrome 77 is slated to launch on July 25, meaning Google will be expanding the scope of its browser's ad blocker server-side. Google last year joined the Coalition for Better Ads, a group that offers specific standards for how the industry should improve ads for consumers. In February, Chrome started blocking ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that display non-compliant ads, as defined by the coalition. When a Chrome user navigates to a page, the browser's ad filter checks if that page belongs to a site that fails the Better Ads Standards. If so, network requests on the page are checked against a list of known ad-related URL patterns and any matches are blocked, preventing ads from displaying on the page. Because the Coalition for Better Ads announced this week that it is expanding its Better Ads Standards beyond North America and Europe to cover all countries, Google is doing the same. In six months, Chrome will stop showing all ads on sites in any country that repeatedly display "disruptive ads."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's flip-of-a-switch department
With signs that the New York trial of notorious Mexican drug lord and alleged mass murderer Joaquin "El Chapo" Guzman is entering its end phase, prosecutors on Tuesday played copies of what they said were audio recordings of Guzman the FBI obtained "after they infiltrated his encrypted messaging system" with the help of Colombian and former cartel systems engineer Cristian Rodriguez, Reuters reported. Gizmodo reports: As has been previously reported by Vice, Colombian drug lord Jorge Cifuentes testified that Rodriguez had forgot to renew a license key critical to the communications network of Guzman's Sinaloa Cartel in September 2010, forcing cartel leaders to temporarily rely on conventional cell phones. Cifuentes told the court he considered Rodriguez "an irresponsible person" who had compromised their security, with a terse phone call played by prosecutors showing Cifuentes warned the subordinate he was in "charge of the system always working."
But on Tuesday it was revealed that the FBI had lured Rodriguez into a meeting with an agent posing as a potential customer much earlier, in February 2010, according to a report in the New York Times. Later, they flipped Rodriguez, having him transfer servers from Canada to the Netherlands in a move masked as an upgrade. During that process, Rodriguez slipped investigators the network's encryption keys. The communications system ran over Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP), with only cartel members able to access it. Getting through its encryption gave authorities access to roughly 1,500 of Guzman's and other cartel members' calls from April 2011 to January 2012, the Times wrote, with FBI agents able to identify ones placed by the drug lord by "comparing the high-pitched, nasal voice on the calls with other recordings of the kingpin, including a video interview he gave to Rolling Stone in October 2015."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's stinky-times department
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there's a 1.4 billion-pound cheese surplus. "The glut, which at 900,000 cubic yards is the largest in U.S. history, means that there is enough cheese sitting in cold storage to wrap around the U.S. Capitol," reports NPR. Americans managed to consume nearly 37 pounds per capita in 2017, but that wasn't enough to reduce the surplus. From the report: The stockpile started to build several years ago, in large part because the pace of milk production began to exceed the rates of consumption, says Andrew Novakovic, professor of agricultural economics at Cornell University. Over the past 10 years, milk production has increased by 13 percent because of high prices. But what dairy farmers failed to realize was that Americans are drinking less milk. According to data from the USDA, Americans drank just 149 pounds of milk per capita in 2017, down from 247 pounds in 1975.
Suppliers turn that extra milk into cheese because it is less perishable and stays fresh for longer periods. But Americans are turning their noses up at those processed cheese slices and string cheese -- varieties that are a main driver of the U.S. cheese market -- in favor of more refined options, Novakovic tells Here & Now's Jeremy Hobson. Despite this shift, sales of mozzarella cheese, the single largest type of cheese produced and consumed in the U.S., remain strong, he says. Novakovic also notes that imported cheeses tend to cost more, so when people choose those, they buy less cheese overall. The growing surplus of American-made cheese and milk means that prices are declining. The current average price of whole milk is $15.12 per 100 pounds, which is much lower than the price required for dairy farmers to break even.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what-to-expect department
Apple CEO Tim Cook told CNBC's Mad Money host Jim Cramer that the company will announce new "services" this year, suggesting that Apple might be planning to launch its long-awaited TV service in the first half of 2019. "While Cook didn't say what kind of services -- Cramer was asking whether Apple had any tricks up its services sleeve, including healthcare or mobile payments -- it's the long-awaited TV service that has recently seen all the pieces fall into place," notes The Verge. From the report: Here at CES 2019, there's been a series of surprise announcements from TV manufacturers that are suddenly supporting Apple's AirPlay 2 and HomeKit features to allow you to cast content directly from your iPhone, iPad and Mac -- including TVs running rival operating systems from Google and Samsung. New TVs from rival Samsung will actually support iTunes, too, letting you access your movies and TV shows there as well. It wouldn't be a stretch to think Apple might be priming the pump with those hardware manufacturers for the upcoming TV service, too.
Then, there's content: We reported last June how Apple has been spending over $1 billion on original TV content with no obvious place for users to watch it. Another report suggested that some of those original shows were slated to debut as soon as this March. And another still claimed that those shows might be free for people who own Apple devices. But even if the TV service is one of the "services" Cook mentioned, it's not clear what other services Apple might be talking about.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening?! department
Astronomers have detected 13 high-speed bursts of radio waves coming from deep space -- including one that regularly repeats. While the exact sources remain unknown, the new bevy of mysterious blasts does offer fresh clues to where and why such flashes appear across the cosmos. From a report: Fast radio bursts, as they are known to scientists, are among the universe's most bizarre phenomena. Each burst lasts just thousandths of a second, and they all appear to be coming from far outside our home galaxy, the Milky Way. Since these bursts were discovered in 2007, their cause has remained a puzzle. Based on estimations of the known range of their frequencies and an understanding of activity in the universe, scientists expect that nearly a thousand of them happen every day. But to date, only a handful have been found.
Now, a team using the Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment, or CHIME, has announced the additional 13 new detections, including an especially rare repeating burst. Until now, only one other repeating fast radio burst was known to exist. "The repeater," as it being called, and its 12 counterparts came from a region of space some 1.5 billion light-years away, the team reports today in the journal Nature. All 13 new bursts have the lowest radio frequency yet detected, but they were also brighter than previously seen fast radio bursts, leading the team to think the low frequency has something to do with the sources' environment.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
A feature of the Google search engine lets threat actors alter search results in a way that could be used to push political propaganda, oppressive views, or promote fake news. From a report: The feature is known as the "knowledge panel" and is a box that usually appears at the right side of the search results, usually highlighting the main search result for a very specific query. For example, searching for Barack Obama would bring a box showing information from Barack Obama's Wikipedia page, along with links to the former president's social media profiles. But Wietze Beukema, a member of PwC's Cyber Threat Detection & Response team, has discovered that you can hijack these knowledge panels and add them to any search query, sometimes in a way that pushes legitimate search results way down the page, highlighting an incorrect result and making it look legitimate. The way this can be done is by first searching for a legitimate item, and pressing the "share" icon that appears inside a knowledge panel.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
What if there were a way to eliminate student debt? No, really. Student debt reached a new height last year -- a whopping $1.5 trillion. A typical student borrower will have $22,000 in debt by graduation, according to the National Center for Education Statistics. Now, Silicon Valley is backing a novel idea that proposes to rewrite the economics of getting an education.
From a report: The concept is deceptively simple: Instead of charging students tuition -- which often requires them to take out thousands of dollars in loans -- students go to school for free and are required to pay back a percentage of their income after graduation, but only if they get a job with a good salary. The idea, known as an Income Share Agreement, or I.S.A., has been experimented with and talked about for years. But what's happening at Lambda School, an online learning start-up founded in 2017 with the backing of Y Combinator, has captivated venture capitalists.
On Tuesday, Lambda will receive $30 million in funding led by one of Peter Thiel's disciples, Geoff Lewis, the founder of Bedrock, along with additional funds from Google Ventures; GGV Capital; Vy Capital; Y Combinator; and the actor-investor Ashton Kutcher, among others. The new funding round values the school at $150 million. The investments will be used to turn Lambda, which has focused on subjects like coding and data science, into a multidisciplinary school offering half-year programs in professions where there is significant hiring demand, like nursing and cybersecurity. It's an expansion that could be a precursor to Lambda becoming a full-scale university.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's some-justice department
Cambridge Analytica's parent company, SCL Elections, has been fined 15,000 Pound (roughly $19,000) in a UK court after pleading guilty to failing to comply with an enforcement notice issued by the national data protection watchdog, the Guardian reports. From a report: While the fine itself is a small and rather symbolic one, given the political data analytics firm went into administration last year, the implications of the prosecution are more sizeable. Last year the Information Commissioner's Office ordered SCL to hand over all the data it holds on U.S. academic, professor David Carroll, within 30 days. After the company failed to do so it was taken to court by the ICO. Prior to Cambridge Analytica gaining infamy for massively misusing Facebook user data, the company, which was used by the Trump campaign, claimed to have up to 7,000 data points on the entire U.S. electorate -- circa 240M people. So Carroll's attempt to understand exactly what data the company had on him, and how the information was processed to create a voter profile of it, has much wider relevance.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's bigger-picture department
An anonymous reader shares a report: The enemy of my enemy is my friend, and this week's CES is clearly showing how what was once the way companies did business, has changed, and at the same time, what's old is new again and companies who once fought with each other are finding new ways to be allies. For example, Apple stopped licensing in 1997. Now they're redefining licensing by making it easier for anyone to access their iTunes platform. That's called distribution. What's next? Letting anyone make an iPhone -- I think NOT. Taken on face so far, it's clear Apple, Google and Amazon are dominating CES. News about assistants being deployed by multiple brands, new features and uses of the AI backed functionality and most of all iTunes ending up on Samsung, Vizio, and other smart TV brands. That and pure word play on the famed "what goes on in Vegas, stays in Vegas" line tied to your privacy.
Looking more closely, neither Amazon, Apple nor Google has really introduced any new products themselves. No new iPhones or MacBooks. No new Homes, Hubs, Mini's or Pixelbooks and no new Echos were introduced. But all three are dominating the news and over time, your wallets directly and indirectly. In everyway possible, they have mastered the hardware channel at this year's CES and at the same time proved that "software really is eating the world." But what about all the news about them you say? Well, its all indeed smoke and mirrors, with the media jumping on the names of Apple, Amazon, and Google when in reality what we have is a roll-out of services. Yes, those same services Tim Cook talked about is what caused the ill-informed stock market types to think Apple was a bad stock to hold onto, who misunderstand Google's real motivations, and who have yet to really see Amazon for what they are.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's glass-half-full department
The good news is that cancer in America was beaten back over the 25 years ending 2016, with death rates plummeting, particularly when it comes to the four most common types of the dreaded affliction. From a report: There's a caveat, however. Those gains have been reaped mostly by the well-off. While racial disparities have begun to narrow, the impact of limited access to treatment for the poorest Americans has increased wealth-based inequality, according to the American Cancer Society's annual update on trends and statistics. "Any time you have a disease as serious as cancer, when you have a substantial reduction in deaths, that's a notable achievement," said Len Lichtenfeld, the interim chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society. "But there are still a lot of areas for improvement."
Health insurance and access to care can be an issue in some poor and rural portions of the country, where there are higher death rates of colon, cervical and lung cancers, according to Cancer Statistics 2019. While poverty was actually associated with lower rates of cancer mortality prior to the 1980s, that trend has since reversed, due in part to changes in diet and smoking as well as screening and treatment rates, the health organization said.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's bad-news department
AmiMoJo shares a report: "The US was already off track in meeting its Paris Agreement targets. The gap is even wider headed into 2019." That's the dire news from Rhodium Group, a research firm that released preliminary estimates of US carbon emissions in 2018. Though the Trump administration said it would exit the Paris Agreement in 2017, the US is still bound by the agreement to submit progress reports until 2020. But the administration has justified regulatory rollbacks since then, claiming that regulation from the US government is unnecessary because emissions were trending downward anyway. But it appears that emissions have increased 3.4 percent in 2018 across the US economy, the second-largest annual increase in 20 years, according to Rhodium Group's preliminary data. (2010, when the US started recovering from the recession, was the largest annual increase in the last two decades.)
This reversal of course -- the first increase in emissions in three years -- came from a few sources. Carbon emissions from the US electricity sector increased by 1.9 percent, largely because the installation of new natural gas plants has outpaced coal retirements. Cheap natural gas has been credited with killing coal, which is a dirtier fossil fuel in terms of emissions. But natural gas is a fossil fuel, too, and burning more natural gas than is needed to simply replace coal will result in more carbon emissions. But electricity wasn't the main culprit. Transportation was.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's worst-nightmares department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Nick Winke, a photographer in the Pacific northwest, was perusing internet forums when he came across a complaint that alarmed him: On certain Samsung Electronics Co. smartphones, users aren't allowed to delete the Facebook app. Winke bought his Samsung Galaxy S8, an Android-based device that comes with Facebook's social network already installed, when it was introduced in 2017. He has used the Facebook app to connect with old friends and to share pictures of natural landscapes and his Siamese cat -- but he didn't want to be stuck with it. He tried to remove the program from his phone, but the chatter proved true -- it was undeletable. He found only an option to "disable," and he wasn't sure what that meant.
A Facebook spokesperson said the disabled version of the app acts like it's been deleted, so it doesn't continue collecting data or sending information back to Facebook. But there's rarely communication with the consumer about the process. The Menlo Park, California-based company said whether the app is deletable or not depends on various pre-install deals Facebook has made with phone manufacturers, operating systems and mobile operators around the world over the years, including Samsung. Facebook, the world's largest social network, wouldn't disclose the financial nature of the agreements, but said they're meant to give the consumer "the best" phone experience right after opening the box.Read Replies (0)