By EditorDavid from Slashdot's faith-healing department
An anonymous reader quotes the Pew Research Center:
New York recently became the fifth state -- after California, Maine, Mississippi and West Virginia -- to enact a law requiring children in public school to be vaccinated unless they have a valid medical reason. Legislatures in several other states are considering similar legislation. Most states (44), however, allow children to be exempt from vaccinations due to religious concerns, according to a Pew Research Center analysis. And one state, Minnesota, allows for a broader exemption based on personal beliefs but does not explicitly mention religion... Among the states that specifically allow religious exemptions to vaccinations, 15 also allow exemptions for any type of nonreligious personal belief, according to the Center's analysis...
The action in New York came after the state became the center of a nationwide measles outbreak that has sickened more than 1,000 Americans in 28 states so far this year.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fondness-for-philanthropists department
Microsoft's original co-founder Paul Allen was honored posthumously with a lifetime achievement award for philanthropy this week at the Forbes Philanthropy summit.
Bill Gates remembers Allen as "one of the most intellectually curious people I've ever known," adding "I wish more people understood just how wide-ranging his giving was," and shared his remembrances at the ceremony:
Later in life, Paul gave to a huge spectrum of issues that seem unrelated at first glance. He wanted to prevent elephant poaching, improve ocean health, and promote smart cities. He funded new housing for the homeless and arts education in the Puget Sound region. In 2014 alone, he supported research into the polio virus and efforts to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa -- all while standing up an amazing new institute for studying artificial intelligence.
If you knew him, the logic in Paul's portfolio is easy to see. He gave to the things that he was most interested in, and to the places where he thought he could have the most impact. Even though Paul cared about a lot of different things, he was deeply passionate about each of them.
There's a picture of a young Bill Gates in the eighth grade watching Paul Allen on a teletype terminal. "The only way for us to get computer time was by exploiting a bug in the system."
"We eventually got busted, but that led to our first official partnership between Paul and me: we worked out a deal with the company to use computers for free if we would identify problems. We spent just about all our free time messing around with any machine we could get our hands on."
One day -- when Paul and I were both in Boston -- he insisted that I rush over to a nearby newsstand with him. He wanted to show me the cover of the January 1975 issue of Popular Electronics. It featured a new computer called the Altair 8800, which ran on a powerful new chip. I remember him holding up the cover and saying, "This is happening without us!"
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's speculating-about-speculative-execution department
Linux founder Linus Torvalds "warns that managing software is about to become a lot more challenging, largely because of two hardware issues that are beyond the control of DevOps teams," reports DevOps.com.
An anonymous reader shares their report about Torvalds remarks at the KubeCon + CloudNative + Open Source Summit China conference:
The first, Torvalds said, is the steady stream of patches being generated for new cybersecurity issues related to the speculative execution model that Intel and other processor vendors rely on to accelerate performance... Each of those bugs requires another patch to the Linux kernel that, depending on when they arrive, can require painful updates to the kernel, Torvalds told conference attendees. Short of disabling hyperthreading altogether to eliminate reliance on speculative execution, each patch requires organizations to update both the Linux kernel and the BIOS to ensure security. Turning off hyperthreading eliminates the patch management issue, but also reduces application performance by about 15 percent.
The second major issue hardware issue looms a little further over the horizon, Torvalds said. Moore's Law has guaranteed a doubling of hardware performance every 18 months for decades. But as processor vendors approach the limits of Moore's Law, many developers will need to reoptimize their code to continue achieving increased performance. In many cases, that requirement will be a shock to many development teams that have counted on those performance improvements to make up for inefficient coding processes, he said.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fierce-rivalries department
Nokia's CTO Marcus Weldon "told the BBC that the UK should be wary of using the Chinese hardware" -- though Nokia rushed to assure the BBC that Weldon's remarks do "not reflect the official position of Nokia."
On the security front, Weldon referred to analysis suggesting Huawei equipment was far more likely to have vulnerabilities than technology from Nokia or Ericsson. "We read those reports and we think okay, we're doing a much better job than they are," Weldon said, describing Huawei's failings as serious and claiming Nokia's alternatives to be a safer bet. "Some of it seems to be just sloppiness, honestly, that they haven't patched things, they haven't upgraded. But some of it is real obfuscation, where they make it look like they have the secure version when they don't...."
The comments from Nokia's CTO came in light of research from Finite State, which published a scathing report claiming that "Huawei devices quantitatively pose a high risk to their users. In virtually all categories we examined, Huawei devices were found to be less secure than those from other vendors making similar devices." And this included the potential backdoors that lie at the heart of the U.S. government's security case against the Chinese company. "Out of all the firmware images analyzed, 55% had at least one potential backdoor," Finite State found. "These backdoor access vulnerabilities allow an attacker with knowledge of the firmware and/or with a corresponding cryptographic key to log into the device."
Nokia's later statement insisted that their company "is focused on the integrity of its own products and services and does not have its own assessment of any potential vulnerabilities associated with its competitors."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sky-internet department
SpaceX says 57 of its 60 broadband data satellites are now communicating with their ground stations -- and that this grants them special privileges when other companies launch their own satellite telecommunication networks.
An anonymous reader quotes GeekWire:
In an emailed update, SpaceX said Starlink is ready to go into a testing phase that involves streaming videos and playing video games via satellite.... "Now that the majority of the satellites have reached their operational altitude, SpaceX will begin using the constellation to start transmitting broadband signals, testing the latency and capacity by streaming videos and playing some high-bandwidth video games using gateways throughout North America," SpaceX said... SpaceX said "Starlink is now the first NGSO [non-geosynchronous satellite orbit] system to operate in the Ku-band and communicate with U.S. ground stations, demonstrating the system's potential to provide fast, reliable internet to populations around the world."
That statement isn't intended merely as a marketing boast: In documents filed earlier this month with the Federal Communications Commission, SpaceX says its "first to operate" status with the FCC means it can "select its frequencies first" if there's a conflict with other satellite telecommunication networks in low Earth orbit. SpaceX's claim on that score has set off a flurry of regulatory filings from its rivals in the market for satellite broadband services, including the international OneWeb consortium and Canada's biggest satellite operator, Telesat.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's show-me-the-money department
"The golden age of streaming is over," writes Stuart Heritage in the Guardian, arguing that TV "will become more elitist, tiered and fragmented than it already is."
One report last year said that The Office accounts for 7% of all U.S. Netflix viewing. So, naturally, NBC wants it back. This week, it was announced that Netflix had failed to secure the rights to The Office beyond January 2021. The good news is that it will still be available to watch elsewhere. The bad news is that "elsewhere", means "the new NBCUniversal streaming platform". As a viewer, you are right to feel queasy. The industry-disrupting success of Netflix means that everybody wants a slice of the pie...
Friends is likely to disappear behind a new WarnerMedia streaming service -- along with Lord of the Rings films, the Harry Potter films, anything based on a DC comic and everything on HBO -- that it is believed will cost about £15 a month... Facebook is making shows, for crying out loud. And this sucks. Watching television is about to get very, very expensive.... There's a huge difference between not being able to watch everything because there's too much choice and not being able to watch everything because you don't have enough money.
The Netflix model was great for viewers, but it couldn't last. The content creators got greedy and scared, and now they're determined to drag things back to the bad old ways. They will force everyone to pay for everything separately, and the subscriber base will split, and the providers will have to recoup the money they are spending to take on Netflix -- such as the $500m that NBCUniversal spent to get The Office back, the $250m Amazon is spending on a Lord of the Rings series and the $500m that Warner just spent to win the services of JJ Abrams -- which means that subscriptions will rise. Make no mistake: we're the ones likely to get stiffed here. The golden age of television may be going strong, but the golden age of streaming is dead.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's primitive-methods department
"ProPublica recently reported that two U.S. firms, which professed to use their own data recovery methods to help ransomware victims regain access to infected files, instead paid the hackers. Now there's new evidence that a U.K. firm takes a similar approach."
An anonymous reader quotes their report:
Fabian Wosar, a cyber security researcher, told ProPublica this month that, in a sting operation he conducted in April, Scotland-based Red Mosquito Data Recovery said it was "running tests" to unlock files while actually negotiating a ransom payment. Wosar, the head of research at anti-virus provider Emsisoft, said he posed as both hacker and victim so he could review the company's communications to both sides. Red Mosquito Data Recovery "made no effort to not pay the ransom" and instead went "straight to the ransomware author literally within minutes," Wosar said. "Behavior like this is what keeps ransomware running."
Since 2016, more than 4,000 ransomware attacks have taken place daily, or about 1.5 million per year, according to statistics posted by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Law enforcement has failed to stem ransomware's spread, and culprits are rarely caught... But clients who don't want to give in to extortion are susceptible to firms that claim to have their own methods of decrypting files. Often, victims are willing to pay more than the ransom amount to regain access to their files if they believe the money is going to a data recovery firm rather than a hacker, Wosar said.
Red Mosquito charged their client four times the actual ransom amount, according to the report -- though after ProPublica followed up, the company "did not respond to emailed questions, and hung up when we called the number listed on its website."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's whose-book-is-it-anyway department
Cory Doctorow writes at BoingBoing:
"The books will stop working": That's the substance of the reminder that Microsoft sent to customers for their ebook store, reminding them that, as announced in April, the company is getting out of the ebook business because it wasn't profitable enough for them, and when they do, they're going to shut off their DRM servers, which will make the books stop working.
Almost exactly fifteen years ago, I gave an influential, widely cited talk at Microsoft Research where I predicted this exact outcome. I don't feel good about the fact that I got it right. This is a fucking travesty.
We're just days away from the "early July" shutdown. And Doctorow elaborated on his feelings in a blog post in April:
This puts the difference between DRM-locked media and unencumbered media into sharp contrast... The idea that the books I buy can be relegated to some kind of fucking software license is the most grotesque and awful thing I can imagine: if the publishing industry deliberately set out to destroy any sense of intrinsic, civilization-supporting value in literary works, they could not have done a better job.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's explosive-charges department
Pursuing a renewable energy strategy, Arizona's largest electric company "installed massive batteries near neighborhoods with a large number of solar panels, hoping to capture some of the energy from the afternoon sun to use after dark," reports the Associated Press.
Slashdot reader pgmrdlm shares their report on what happened next:
But an April fire and explosion at a massive battery west of Phoenix that sent eight firefighters and a police officer to the hospital highlighted the challenges and risks that can arise as utilities prepare for the exponential growth of the technology. With an investigation ongoing and no public word on the fire's cause, the incident is being closely watched by energy storage researchers and advocates... "Absent battery storage, the whole value proposition of intermittent renewable energy makes no sense at all," said Donald Sadoway, a battery researcher at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and co-founder of battery storage company Ambri...
Nearly all of the utility-scale batteries now on the grid or in development are massive versions of the same lithium ion technology that powers cellphones and laptops... Arizona Public Service (APS) has assembled a team of engineers, safety experts and first responders to work with the utility, battery-maker Fluence and others to carefully remove and inspect the 378 modules that comprise the McMicken battery system and figure out what happened....
The APS fire was the third involving a utility-scale battery. One was at an APS-owned battery in Flagstaff in 2012, and the other was in Hawaii. APS has shut down its two similar batteries while awaiting the investigation's results, but the utility is not slowing down its plans to deploy new massive batteries, said Alan Bunnell, a company spokesman. "We believe energy storage is vital to a clean energy future here in Arizona," Bunnell said.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's blogging-rebuttals department
Thursday the Wall Street Journal wrote a piece about AMD's joint venture with Chinese holding coming THATIC -- titled "How a Big U.S. Chip Maker Gave China the 'Keys to the Kingdom'." The article argues that AMD "essentially granted China access to advanced processor IP that could be used to threaten U.S. national security," reports Forbes.
But they add that the same day, AMD executive Harry Wolin wrote an angry blog post in response, complaining that the story "contains several factual errors and omissions and does not portray an accurate picture." Forbes reports:
From Wolin's post, "Starting in 2015, AMD diligently and proactively briefed the Department of Defense, the Department of Commerce and multiple other agencies within the U.S. Government before entering into the joint ventures. AMD received no objections whatsoever from any agency to the formation of the joint ventures or to the transfer of technology -- technology which was of lower performance than other commercially available processors. In fact, prior to the formation of the joint ventures and the transfer of technology, the Department of Commerce notified AMD that the technology proposed was not restricted or otherwise prohibited from being transferred. Given this clear feedback, AMD moved ahead with the joint ventures."
Not only does AMD claim it had the green light from multiple government entities to enter into the deal, the post claims that the WSJ article is simply wrong. "The Wall Street Journal story omits important factual details, including the fact that AMD put significant protections in place to protect its intellectual property (IP) and prevent valuable IP from being misused or reverse engineered to develop future generations of processors."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's high-scores-in-the-cloud department
harrymcc writes: Jay Adelson, the cofounder of Digg, has a new, deeply personal startup: Scorbit. It aims to connect existing pinball machines to the internet, giving them networked leaderboards, compatibility with smartphone apps, and other newfangled features. But Scorbit faces a major competitor in Stern, the pinball giant whose new Spike platform is attempting to introduce similar functionality. Over at Fast Company, Jared Newman reports on the dueling systems and the general pinball resurgence now underway.
The COO of a pinball parts supplier tells Fast Company that "People are just saturated with the internet. They don't want to look at screens anymore for entertainment, but they want to be entertained, so they want something physical. Pinball ticks all the boxes there."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bitcoin-bears department
An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg News:
Bitcoin soared as much as 39% this week to $13,852, the highest since January 2018. But it hit a brick wall around 4:30 p.m. New York time Wednesday, plunging more than $1,800 within about 10 minutes. Moments later, prominent cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase Inc. reported a system outage, which was resolved after an hour. Swings continued Thursday, with the coin anywhere from down 7.3% to up 4.8%... Volatility in Bitcoin is near the highest levels since early 2018, when the bubble was bursting. Analysts said this was likely a sign of things to come.
It was just last Saturday that the price of bitcoin surged past $11,000 -- less than 24 hours after rising past $10,000. (Right now it's within $50 of $12,000.)
But another Bloomberg article notes that the price of Bitcoin tends to spike on weekends (when the traditional stock exchanges are closed), and that those spikes since just the beginning of May accounted for nearly 40% of Bitcoin's price gains in 2019. One pundit tells them it "takes a lot less to move the needle when everyone's sleeping or it's the weekend."
That rang true to Bloomberg Intelligence analyst Mike McGlone. "It is more Asia and those more sophisticated traders picking time and paths of least resistance to profit," said McGlone. "I fully expect the leveraged money professional-types are utilizing all tools to spark moves and profit from."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's back-to-the-future department
Long-time Slashdot reader cshamis tipped us off to this story in HotHardware:
It is official, folks -- Retro Games is releasing a full-size retro reboot of the original Commodore 64, called TheC64, on December 5...
Of course, modern amenities abound for this reboot. TheC64 can connect to any modern TV via HDMI, to deliver "crisp 720p HD visuals" at 60Hz (USA) or 50Hz (Europe). It also comes with an updated joystick featuring 8 buttons, micro switches, and USB connectivity. It bears a passing resemblance to the original, but with additional bells and whistles. TheC64 will arrive with 64 games preinstalled, including titles such as California Games, Destroyer, Impossible Mission (1 and 2), Monty on the Run, Speedball 2, and many others... [P]layers will be able to add more games from a USB memory stick (not included).
The original Commodore 64 is widely considered the best-selling single-model PC of all time. Estimates have sales pegged at somewhere between 10-17 million units.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's please-trust-nobody department
In comments submitted to America's Federal Trade Commission, Microsoft says repairing its devices could jeopardize protections from the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) security chip.
"Don't believe them," argues a group of information security professionals who support the right to repair. Slashdot reader chicksdaddy quotes their report:
The statement was submitted ahead of Nixing the Fix, an FTC workshop on repair restrictions that is scheduled for mid-July... "The unauthorized repair and replacement of device components can result in the disabling of key hardware security features or can impede the update of firmware that is important to device security or system integrity," Microsoft wrote... "If the TPM or other hardware or software protections were compromised by a malicious or unqualified repair vendor, those security protections would be rendered ineffective and consumers' data and control of the device would be at risk. Moreover, a security breach of one device can potentially compromise the security of a platform or other devices connected to the network...."
As we know: Firms like Microsoft, Lexmark, LG, Samsung and others use arguments like this all the time and then not too subtly imply that their authorized repair professionals are more trustworthy and honest than independent competitors. But that's just hot air. They have no data to back up those assertions and there's no way that their repair technicians are more trustworthy than owners, themselves...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's beneficial-bacteria department
Long-time Slashdot reader tomhath shares some big bacteria news from Harvard Medical School:
Researchers from Joslin Diabetes Center determined Veillonella metabolizes lactic acid produced by exercise and converts it into propionate, a short chain fatty acid. The human body then utilizes that propionate to improve exercise capacity...
"It creates this positive feedback loop. The host is producing something that this particular microbe favors. Then in return, the microbe is creating something that benefits the host," Aleksandar D. Kostic Ph.D. says. "This is a really important example of how the microbiome has evolved ways to become this symbiotic presence in the human host."
By Friday, CNBC was reporting their research "could lead to a probiotic-like supplement that 'regular joes' could use to enhance their performance in a few years."
"The future of fitness is here and it's something that we're rapidly developing," Jonathan Scheiman, former Harvard postdoctoral fellow and CEO and co-founder of FitBiomics, tells CNBC Make It. "We want to translate this into consumer products to promote health and wellness [to the masses]..."
[The researchers] found the mice given Veillonella ran 13% longer on a treadmill compared to mice who were not given the bacteria. "It might not seem like a huge number, but I definitely think its biologically significant and certainly if you ask a marathon runner, if they could increase their running ability by 13% -- I think that they will be generally interested," Aleksandar Kostic, co-author of the study and an assistant professor of microbiology at the Joslin Diabetes Center tells CNBC Make It.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's maybe-not department
hackingbear tipped us off to a breaking news story.
US President Donald Trump has appeared to soften his tone on Chinese communications giant Huawei, suggesting that he would allow the company to once again purchase U.S. technology. Speaking at a press conference in Osaka, Saturday, Trump said that the U.S. sells a "tremendous amount of product" to Huawei. "That's okay, we will keep selling that product," said Trump. "The (U.S.) companies were not exactly happy that they couldn't sell."
Forbes points out "While it's not a lifting of the blanket ban, it will significantly benefit the Chinese manufacturer."
This news just broke with comments made by Trump, including "U.S. companies can sell their equipment to Huawei. We're talking about equipment where there's no great national security problem with it." The details of this statement are still pending, but it is likely that 5G infrastructure equipment may still not be part of this access deal while the smartphone segment may be where we see open access.
One Daily Beast contributor argues the action "appears to be a surrender to publicly issued Chinese demands."
But TechCrunch writes that "any mutual trust has been broken and things are unlikely to be the same again."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's programmer-paparazzi department
"Linux frontman Linus Torvalds thinks he's 'more self-aware' these days and is 'trying to be less forceful' after his brief absence from directing Linux kernel developers because of his abusive language on the Linux kernel mailing list," reports ZDNet.
"But true to his word, he's still not necessarily diplomatic in his communications with maintainers..."
Torvalds' post-hiatus outburst was directed at Dave Chinner, an Australian programmer who maintains the Silicon Graphics (SGI)-created XFS file system supported by many Linux distros. "Bullshit, Dave," Torvalds told Chinner on a mailing list. The comment from Chinner that triggered Torvalds' rebuke was that "the page cache is still far, far slower than direct IO" -- a problem Chinner thinks will become more apparent with the arrival of the newish storage-motherboard interface specification known as Peripheral Express Interconnect Express (PCIe) version 4.0. Chinner believes page cache might be necessary to support disk-based storage, but that it has a performance cost....
"You've made that claim before, and it's been complete bullshit before too, and I've called you out on it then too," wrote Torvalds. "Why do you continue to make this obviously garbage argument?" According to Torvalds, the page cache serves its correct purpose as a cache. "The key word in the 'page cache' name is 'cache'," wrote Torvalds.... "Caches work, Dave. Anybody who thinks caches don't work is incompetent. 99 percent of all filesystem accesses are cached, and they never do any IO at all, and the page cache handles them beautifully," Torvalds wrote.
"When you say the page cache is slower than direct IO, it's because you don't even see or care about the *fast* case. You only get involved once there is actual IO to be done."
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