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National Microbiome Initiative To Harness Microbes For Health, Environment
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 06:13 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's big-payoffs department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from WTOP: The National Microbiome Initiative being announced by White House science officials Friday aims to bring together scientists who study the microbes that live in the human gut and in the oceans, in farm soil and in hospitals -- to speed discoveries that could bring big payoffs. Consider: Taking antibiotics alters the diversity of your gut bacteria, which eventually settle into a new normal. The 2010 oil spill altered microbes in the Gulf of Mexico, which likewise settled into a new normal, said Dr. Jo Handelsman, associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Despite the parallels, "we have no idea if that's a healthier norm or a less healthy norm than before, and no idea how to fix it," said Handelsman, who led development of the initiative. The U.S. government spends about $300 million a year on microbiome research, until now mostly an effort to catalog different communities of bacteria, viruses and other microbes, Handelsman said. The National Microbiome Initiative will add $121 million this year and next for ecosystem-crossing federal research. And in partnership with the government, dozens of universities, foundations and other organizations are announcing more than $400 million in additional microbiome research investments, she said. The ultimate goal is to control and alter microbes to improve either human or environmental health. One of the most recent discoveries was of a gut microbe that completely lacks mitochondria.

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Wendy's Plans To Automate 6,000 Restaurants With Self-Service Ordering Kiosks
Posted by News Fetcher on May 13 '16 at 03:22 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's importance-of-efficiency department:
An anonymous reader writes: In response to the rising minimum wage, the fast-food chain Wendy's plans to start automating all of its restaurants. The company said it will have self-service ordering kiosks available to its 6,000-plus restaurants in the second half of the year. Wendy's President Todd Penegor said it will be up to franchisees to decide whether or not to adopt the kiosks in their stores, noting that many franchise locations have had to raise prices to offset wage increases. California's decision to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2022 will impact Wendy's 258 restaurants, all of which are franchise-operated. About 75% of 200-plus Wendy's restaurants are run by franchisees in New York, a state that is also on its way to $15. Penegor said, wage pressures have been manageable both because of falling commodity prices and better operating leverage due to an increase in customer counts. The company is still "working so hard to find efficiencies" so it can deliver "a new QSR experience but at traditional QSR prices." The CEO of Carl's Jr., Andy Puzder, is also looking into replacing many of its workers with machines to save money.

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Apple Invests $1 Billion In Uber's Chinese Rival Didi
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 11:13 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's money-reserves department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple Inc. invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-sharing service Didi, making one of its biggest bets on software and services and dealing a blow to Uber Technologies Inc.'s ambitions in the country. The iPhone maker will help Uber's largest rival build up a ride-sharing platform that handles more than 11 million rides a day and serves about 300 million users across China, Didi said in a statement on Friday. Executive Officer Tim Cook has highlighted higher-margin services as a growth area and suggested he would use some of its $200 billion-plus cash hoard for investments. The investment in one of China's largest online companies will allow Apple to forge alliances in its single largest market outside of the United States. Didi, incorporated as Xiaoju Kuaizhi Inc., is in the process of raising more than $2 billion at a valuation of about $25 billion, people familiar with the matter have said. It operates in 400 Chinese cities and works with more than 14 million Chinese car owners. The company is Uber's most potent rival and has formed an international coalition with Lyft Inc. in the U.S., India's Ola and Southeast Asia's Grab to fight the globally expanding San Francisco firm. Apple is hoping to reinvigorate lackluster iPhone sales in China with its $1 billion investment in Didi. The last big investment the company made was when it acquired Beats for $3 billion in 2014.

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Mark Zuckerberg: 'No Evidence' Facebook Staff Suppressed Stories With Conservative Viewpoints
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's prove-it department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Mark Zuckerberg has issued a statement in response to the controversy alleging that Facebook staff intentionally prevented stories with a conservative viewpoint from appearing in the site's Trending Topics section. "We take this report very seriously and are conducting a full investigation to ensure our teams upheld the integrity of this product," Zuckerberg writes on Facebook. "We have found no evidence that this report is true. If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it." Zuckerberg says he will invite "leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum" to discuss the matter in the coming weeks, with the aim of having a "direct conversation about what Facebook stands for and how we can be sure our platform stays as open as possible." Earlier today, more evidence surfaced to support Gawker's two recent reports that claimed editors manipulate the trending news. Facebook published a blog post explaining how Trending Topics on its platform works, insisting there's no discrimination against sources of any political origin.

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Dangerous 7-Zip Vulnerabilities Flow To Top Security, Software Tools
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's access-rights department:
mask.of.sanity quotes a report from The Register: Some of the world's biggest security and software vendors will be rushing to patch holes in implementations of the popular 7-Zip compression tool to stop attackers gaining full control of customer machines. Marcin Noga, Cisco security researcher, found and reported the holes to the platform, which could allow attackers to compromise updated machines, giving attackers the same access rights as logged-in users. FireEye and MalwareBytes are two of many products that use 7-Zip. "An out-of-bounds read vulnerability exists in the way 7-Zip handles Universal Disk Format files ... [which] can be triggered by any entry that contains a malformed Long Allocation Descriptor," Colleague of The Register Jaeson Schultz said. The flaws were fixed in 7-Zip 16.00, which was released Tuesday.

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Government Spy Truck Is Disguised As A Google Street View Car
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's master-of-disguise department:
An anonymous reader writes: Matt Blaze, a University of Pennsylvania computer and information science professor, discovered a SUV "tucked away in the shadows of the Philadelphia Convention Center's tunnel" that was labeled as a Google Maps Street View car. It had two high-powered license plate reader cameras mounted on top, meaning it had to belong to a government agency. The Philadelphia Police Department had admitted it owns the truck after the report from Motherboard was published. "Unless the Philadelphia Fire Department of Streets Department are using automated license plate recognition (ALPR), this strongly suggests the city's police department is trawling city streets under the auspices of Google while snapping thousands of license plate images per minute," says Motherboard. ALPR can photograph thousands of license plate images per minute and track and store a person's travel habits without a warrant. Google spokesperson Susan Cadrecha commented on the report, "We can confirm this is not a Google Maps car, and that we are currently looking into the matter." The Philadelphia Police Department since responded to the report: "We have been informed that this unmarked vehicle belongs to the police department; however, the placement of any particular decal on the vehicle was not approved through any chain of command. With that being said, once this was brought to our attention, it was ordered that the decals be removed immediately."

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Google Launches 'Gboard' Keyboard For iOS, Featuring Built-In Google Search
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's all-in-one department:
An anonymous reader writes: Google launched a new keyboard application called "Gboard" for iOS today that features Google Search built-in to the keyboard itself. In addition, it offers swipe-based typing and access to GIFs, as well as some basic features like emojis and word predictions. The "G" icon in the upper lefthand corner opens a window for you to search Google without leaving the keyboard and launching a browser or the Google app. From there you can search for things like flight times, news articles, restaurant and business listings, weather and more, and paste that information into your chat with a single tap. The information is presented in a card-style layout. "We wanted to bring the best of Google to Gboard, so you'll see Maps, Translate, image and video search, News and others," says Rajan Patel, head of the product team that developed Gboard. "Initially, Gboard will not surface any information specific to you," he added, hinting that a personalized keyboard is in the works for the future.

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Mozilla Fights FBI In Court For Details On Tor Browser Hack
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's help-me-Obi-Wan-Kanobi department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report on Help Net Security: Mozilla has asked a Washington State District Court to compel FBI investigators to provide details about a vulnerability in the Tor Browser hack with them, before they share it with the defendant in a lawsuit, so that they could fix it before the knowledge becomes public. The lawsuit in question is against Jay Michaud, a Vancouver (Wa.) teacher that stands accused of accessing and downloading child pornography from a website on the Dark Web. The FBI used a "network investigative technique" (NIT) to discover the IP address and identity of the defendant, which was only possible from a vulnerability in the Tor Browser. Why does Mozilla care to learn about the vulnerability? "The Tor Browser is partially based on our Firefox browser code. Some have speculated, including members of the defense team, that the vulnerability might exist in the portion of the Firefox browser code relied on by the Tor Browser," Denelle Dixon-Thayer, Chief Legal and Business Officer at Mozilla Corporation, explained.

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Google Open-Sources SyntaxNet Natural-Language Understanding Library, Parsey McParseface Training Model
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 04:31 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's Parsey-McParseface department:
Google announced on Thursday that it is open sourcing its new language parsing model called SyntaxNet. It's a piece of natural-language understanding software, Google says, that you can use automatically parse sentences, as part of its TensorFlow open source machine learning library. The company also announced that it is releasing something called Parsey McParseface (Google has a sense of humor), which is a pre-trained model for parsing English-language text. Nate Swanner of The Next Web, attempts to explain it: Combining machine learning and search techniques, Parsey McParseface is 94 percent accurate, according to Google. It also leans on SyntaxNet's neural-network framework for analyzing the linguistic structure of a sentence or statement, which parses the functional role of each word in a sentence. If you're confused, here's the short version: Parsey and SyntaxNet are basically like five year old humans who are learning the nuances of language. In Google's simple example above, 'saw' is the root word (verb) for the sentence, while 'Alice' and 'Bob' are subjects (nouns). Parsey's scope can get a bit broader, too.

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Scientists Find Gut Microbe That Survives Without Mitochondria
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unprecedented-discovery department:
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists have found a eukaryote microbe that completely lacks mitochondria, which are the powerhouses inside eukaryotic cells, the type of cells that make up humans, animals, plants and fungi. All eukaryotic cells contain a nucleus, organelles and mitochondrion. Scientists believe they were once free-living bacteria that got engulfed by primitive, ancient cells that were evolving to become what they are today. Anna Karnkowska, a researcher in evolutionary biology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, found a gut microbe that contains no trace that it made any mitochondrial proteins at all. "That should theoretically kill the cell -- it shouldn't exist," she said. The researchers learned that these cells use a kind of machinery that is different than relying on mitochondria to assemble iron-sulfur clusters, which is thought to be a mitochondrial function. Michael Gray, biochemist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, calls the discovery of a eukaryote without any vestige of mitochondrion, "unprecedented." He adds, the results do not negate the idea that the acquisition of a mitochondrion was an important and perhaps defining event in the evolution of eukaryotic cells, because this organism's ancestors had mitochondria that were then lost after the cells acquired their non-mitochondrial system for making iron-sulfur clusters.

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Opera Adds Power-Saving Mode, Offers 'Up To 50 Percent' Longer Battery Life
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 03:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's battery-saving department:
An anonymous reader writes: Opera Software has added a power-saving mode to its desktop web browser that "can increase the battery life by as much as 50 percent." The company claims optimizations are what has made the battery life increase possible, including "reducing activity from background tabs, adapting page-redrawing frequency, and tuning video-playback parameters." Opera claimed that a laptop running Windows 10 64-bit with the power-saving feature enabled lasts 49 percent longer than one with Chrome put under equal stress. Ad blocking was turned on during the test as well. The feature is not enabled by default, but a blue battery icon will appear next to the browser's address bar whenever the power cable is unplugged from your computer. When the laptop's battery is running low, the browser will suggest turning on power-saving mode, too. Earlier this week, Opera launched a new VPN app for iOS that is free to use and includes unlimited data.

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Breathalyzer That Detects Lung Cancer Early From a Single Breath Wins $100K Entrepreneurship Competition
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 01:51 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's enthralling-news-of-the-day department:
Lung cancer "breathalyzer," developed by a team of MIT and Harvard University students, has won $100K Entrepreneurship Competition. The breathalyzer connects to a smartphone and is able to detect lung cancer early from a single breath, reports MIT News. From the report: Astraeus Technologies has developed a postage-stamp-sized device, called the L CARD, that detects certain gases indicative of lung cancer. When someone blows onto the device, a connected mobile app turns a smartphone screen red if those gases are present and green if they aren't. "The L CARD reacts and sends instantaneous information to the physician that further attention is required," Joseph Azzarelli, an MIT PhD student in chemistry said while a ripple of excitement spread through the crowd. Lung cancer is the deadliest type of cancer in the United States, causing more deaths than breast, colon, and prostate cancers combined, according to the World Health Organization.

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BakerHostetler Hires Artificial Intelligent Attorney 'Ross'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 12:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's legal department:
An anonymous reader writes: Futurism reports, Ross, the first artificially intelligent attorney, was just hired by the global law firm Baker and Hostetler. The firm announced they hired a robot lawyer created by ROSS Intelligence. Ross was built on IBM's Watson and is fully capable of understanding your questions, responding with a hypothesis backed by references and citations. It provides you with the most relevant information you are looking for rather than thousands of results you'd need to sift though. In addition, it can notify you about recent court decisions that may or may not affect your case, and it will continue to learn based off each experience it encounters. ROSS Intelligence co-founder and CEO says other law firms have also signed licenses with Ross.

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Where Does America's E-Waste End Up? GPS Tracker Tells All
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 12:32 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's ewaste-roaming-worldwide department:
The United States produces more e-waste than any country in the world, reports PBS News Hour. But where does this e-waste go? The publication utilized the GPS coordinates in some of the e-waste to find out. Basel Action Network, a Seattle-based e-waste watchdog group partnered with MIT to put 200 geolocating tracking devices inside old computers, TVs and printers. They dropped them off nationwide at donation centers, recyclers and electronic take-back programs -- enterprises that advertise themselves as "green," "sustainable," "earth friendly" and "environmentally responsible." From the report: About a third of the tracked electronics went overseas -- some as far as 12,000 miles. That includes six of the 14 tracker-equipped electronics that e-waste watchdog group dropped off to be recycled in Washington and Oregon. The tracked electronics ended up in Mexico, Taiwan, China, Pakistan, Thailand, Dominican Republic, Canada and Kenya. Most often, they traveled across the Pacific to rural Hong Kong. You can read the report in its entirety here.

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DVDFab Has Ignored Court's Shut Down Order, AACS Says
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 11:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's ignoring-court-orders-like-a-boss department:
An anonymous reader cites a report on TorrentFreak: DVDFab has failed to cease its operations in the U.S. and should be sanctioned, AACS says. The decryption licensing outfit founded by Warner Bros, Disney, Microsoft, Intel and others, informs a New York federal court that DVDFab's parent company has blatantly ignored a permanent injunction that was issued last year. In 2014 decryption licensing outfit AACS LA initiated a renewed crackdown on DRM-circumvention software. The company, founded by a group of movie studios and technology partners, sued the makers of popular DVD and Blu-Ray ripping software DVDFab in a New York federal court. After a brief legal battle the court ruled in favor of AACS, issuing an injunction based on the argument that the "DVDFab Group" violates the DMCA's anti-circumvention clause, since their software can bypass DVD and Bluray encryption. Among other things, the injunction barred DVDFab from distributing its software in public and allowed AACS to seize a wide range of domain names. The crippling injunction seemed to work, but not for long. In a new court filing, AACS notes that the software vendor briefly blocked U.S. purchases but went back to business as usual soon after (PDF).

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Linux Is the Largest Software Development Project On the Planet: Greg K-H
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 11:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's love-for-Linux department:
sfcrazy writes: Greg Kroah-Hartmant, the Linux superstar, delivered a keynote at CoreOS Fest where he gave some impressive details on how massive is the Linux project. Kroah-Hartman said the latest release (4.5) made two months ago contains over 21 million lines of code. More impressive than the amount of code, and what truly makes Linux the world's largest software project is the fact that last year around 4,000 developers and at least 440 different companies that contributed to the kernel. Kroah-Hartman said, "It's the largest software development project ever, in the history of computing -- by the number of people using it, developing it, and now using it, and the number of companies involved. It's a huge number of people."

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Internal Docs Show Human Intervention at Almost Every Stage Of Facebook's News Operation
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 11:12 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's facebook-and-how-it-works department:
More evidence has surfaced to support Gawker's two recent reports that claimed editors manipulate the trending news and a few other aspects on Facebook. The Guardian, citing leaked documents it obtained, reports that the topics one sees on Facebook are determined on a number of factors including "engagement, timeliness, Pages you've liked and your location." From the report: But the documents show that the company relies heavily on the intervention of a small editorial team to determine what makes its "trending module" headlines -- the list of news topics that shows up on the side of the browser window on Facebook's desktop version. The company backed away from a pure-algorithm approach in 2014 after criticism that it had not included enough coverage of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in users' feeds. The guidelines show human intervention -- and therefore editorial decisions -- at almost every stage of Facebook's trending news operation, a team that at one time was as few as 12 people.Sam Biddle of Gawker, wrote: Never trust what a company tells you, on/off record -- FB straight up lied to Recode last year. He adds: unless they're under oath a company like Facebook has every incentive to lie about how it operates. It's not illegal to lie to a reporter!"

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Internal Docs Show Human Intervention at Almost Every Stage Of Its News Operation
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 09:54 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's facebook-and-how-it-works department:
More evidence has surfaced to support Gawker's two recent reports that claimed editors manipulate the trending news and a few other aspects on Facebook. The Guardian, citing leaked documents it obtained, reports that the topics one sees on Facebook are determined on a number of factors including "engagement, timeliness, Pages you've liked and your location." From the report: But the documents show that the company relies heavily on the intervention of a small editorial team to determine what makes its "trending module" headlines -- the list of news topics that shows up on the side of the browser window on Facebook's desktop version. The company backed away from a pure-algorithm approach in 2014 after criticism that it had not included enough coverage of unrest in Ferguson, Missouri, in users' feeds. The guidelines show human intervention -- and therefore editorial decisions -- at almost every stage of Facebook's trending news operation, a team that at one time was as few as 12 people.Sam Biddle of Gawker, wrote: Never trust what a company tells you, on/off record -- FB straight up lied to Recode last year. He adds: unless they're under oath a company like Facebook has every incentive to lie about how it operates. It's not illegal to lie to a reporter!"

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The NYPD Was Ticketing Legally Parked Cars; Open Data Put an End to It
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 09:54 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's open-data-solving-world-problems department:
Data analyst Ben Wellington claims that that the NYPD has been systematically ticketing legally parked cars for years. Doing so, he says, helps NYPD collect millions of dollars every year. In a blog post, Wellington notes about a change of law in 2008 (PDF) which allowed one in New York City to park their car in front of a sidewalk pedestrian ramp -- provided it's not connected to a crosswalk. Despite this, the NYPD continues to ticket people. To check how many more people are falling for this, Wellington looked into NYC's Open Data portal, and his findings are startling. In front of 575 Ocean Avenue in Brooklyn, which is in the middle of the block, with no crosswalk, over $48,000 in parking fines were issued in the last 2.5 years. He writes: 1705 Canton Avenue in Brooklyn, 273 Tickets, $45,045: Legal. 270-05 76 Avenue in Queens, 256 Tickets ($42,440) Legal. 143-49 Cherry Ave, Queens, 246 Tickets, ($40,590). Legal. A spot in Battery Park, ranked #16 on my list and the top spot in Manhattan, had 116 tickets ($19,140) and turned out to be legal.Wellington wrote to the NYPD about this, and he got the following response: Mr. Wellington's analysis identified errors the department made in issuing parking summonses. It appears to be a misunderstanding by officers on patrol of a recent, abstruse change in the parking rules. We appreciate Mr. Wellington bringing this anomaly to our attention. The department's internal analysis found that patrol officers who are unfamiliar with the change have observed vehicles parked in front of pedestrian ramps and issued a summons in error. When the rule changed in 2009 to allow for certain pedestrian ramps to be blocked by parked vehicles, the department focused training on traffic agents, who write the majority of summonses.

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US Congress Bans Members From Using Yahoo Mail
Posted by News Fetcher on May 12 '16 at 09:54 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's banning-technology-is-one-solution department:
A week after we learned that the House of Represantives had banned its members from using Google's appshot.com, more details about the blockage have surfaced. Reader Big Hairy Ian writes: A series of ransomware attacks on the House of Representatives has led U.S. Congress to ban members from using Yahoo Mail, according to a leaked email. Both Yahoo Mail and Gmail are named in the 30 April email, published on Thursday by Gizmodo, saying the attacks had increased "in the past 48 hours". Yahoo Mail will be blocked "until further notice" it adds. Ransomware encrypts victims' files and demands a ransom be paid for unlocking. In this particular instance, I think it isn't all of Yahoo Mail's fault. People need to be wary of the links they click on.

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