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Google's My Activity Reveals How Much It Knows About You
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's optional-tools department:
An anonymous reader writes: Google has released a new section to Google's account settings, called My Activity, which lets users review everything that Google has tracked about their online behavior -- search, YouTube, Chrome, Android, and every other Google service. Best of all, users can edit or delete their tracked behaviors. In addition, the My Activity tools come with new ad preferences. Google is now offering to use its behavioral information to tailer ads shown across the wider non-Google internet and Google's search pages, which until now was purely done through the use of cookies. The difference between Google and other companies that offer ads like Facebook is that Google is making this interest-based advertising extension optional, or opt-in, not opt-out. There are two separate behavioral advertising settings for users to switch on or off: signed in ads and signed out ads. Signed in ads are those on Google services, and signed out ads are those served by Google on third-party sites. However, if you're conscious about your privacy, you'll probably want to stay opted out.

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AMD RX 480 Offers Best-in-Class Performance For $199/$239
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 01:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-powerful-GPU department:
Reader Vigile writes: It's been a terribly long news cycle, but today is finally the day reviews and sales start of the new AMD Radeon RX 480 graphics card based on the company's latest Polaris architecture and built on 14nm FinFET process technology. With a starting price tag of $199 for the 4GB model and $239 for the 8GB, the RX 480 has some interesting performance characteristics. Compared to the GeForce GTX 970, currently selling for around $280, the RX 480 performs +/- 5-10% in DX11 games but PC Perspective found that the RX 480 was as much as 40% faster in DX12 titles like Gears of War, Hitman and Rise of the Tomb Raider. Compared to previous AMD products, the RX 480 is as fast as a Radeon R9 390 but uses just 150 watts compared to 275 watts for the previous generation. Chances are that NVIDIA will have a competing product based on Pascal available sometime in July, so AMD's advantage may be short-lived; but in the meantime, the Radeon RX 480 is clearly the best GPU for $200.AnandTech has more details.

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Facebook Wins Belgian Court Appeal Over Storing Non-User Data
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 01:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's no-escape department:
Stephanie Bodoni, and Aoife White reporting for Bloomberg Technology (condensed):Facebook won an appeal against a Belgian privacy ruling that prompted the social network to prevent people without an account from accessing its site within the country. The Brussels Court of Appeal said the nation's data protection authority couldn't prevent Facebook from storing data from non-users in a fight over measures the technology giant says help it combat hacking attacks. "Belgian courts don't have international jurisdiction over Facebook Ireland, where the data concerning Europe is processed," the Brussels court of appeal said in a ruling Wednesday, referring to the company's European headquarters. The court also said there was no urgency to rule on the case since Belgian court proceedings only started in mid-2015 over behavior that started in 2012. Facebook is appealing a ruling that ordered it to stop storing data from people who don't have an account with the social network, or face a 250,000 euro ($277,800) daily fine. Willem Debeuckelaere, president of the Belgian data protection commission, said last year that Facebook's "disrespectful" treatment of users' personal data, without their knowledge, "needs tackling." Facebook said it can now start showing its pages to Belgians who aren't signed up to its service.

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Wi-Fi Gets Multi-Gigabit, Multi-User Boost With Upgrades To 802.11ac
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 01:21 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's new-standards department:
The Wi-Fi Alliance has announced its certification program for IEEE 802.11ac Wave 2, a technology that has been around on the market for more than a year. Wave 2 can deliver up to 6.8Gbps and lets an access point interact with more than one device at a time. Wave 2 features MIMO (or MU-MIMO) which improves the MIMO technology that lets Wi-FI transmit over more than one stream through the air. Wave 2 standard utilizes channels up to 160MHz wide (up from 80MHz channels available with Wave 1). It also creates more spatial streams and uses spectrum more efficiently, the industry group said on Wednesday. Ars Technica adds:On top of MU-MIMO, wider channels, and more streams, the Wi-Fi Alliance says Wave 2 features now being certified bring "support for a greater number of available channels in 5GHz," a change that "makes more efficient use of available spectrum and reduces interference and congestion by minimizing the number of networks operating on overlapping channels." You may have already noticed routers supporting some of these features, since the specification details have been available for a few years. In fact, routers with MU-MIMO started appearing in July 2014, and you can find routers that use 160MHz channels. The certification program takes a while to catch up with real-world implementations, but it ensures compatibility between devices and may spur faster adoption by vendors. End-user devices such as phones, tablets, and laptops must also be updated to take advantage of new features such as MU-MIMO.

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Facebook Tweaks Its Newsfeed To Better Showcase Posts From Friends Instead Of Publishers
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 12:01 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's making-decisions-for-you department:
Facebook announced on Wednesday that it is making some changes to its algorithm that powers the News Feed to better showcase posts from friends and family members over posts from publishers. Mark Wilson, writing for BetaNews:The problem we currently face, Facebook says, is that there is "far too much information for any one person to consume." This is where algorithms come into play, meddling with timelines and newsfeeds in ways that never please everyone. The latest change promises that content from "the friends you care about" will appear "higher up in your News Feed."The move comes as Facebook struggles to get people to interact and post more on its social network. This is yet another blow to publishers that rely heavily on social media exposure. In recent years, Facebook has not only downranked stories that have misleading and unclear headlines but also cut the traffic it was once sending publishers' way. It is worth pointing out that these events have happened in the lights of Facebook launching its own publishing network called Instant Articles on the social media and encouraging publishers to directly publish on its platform instead of their respective websites.

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Microsoft Kills Windows 10's Messaging Everywhere Texts, To Bolster Skype
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 12:01 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's logic-need-not-apply department:
Reader tripleevenfall writes: The ability to respond to text messages received on your phone with the same app on your PC. It's a dream that's been a reality for Mac users since 2014, and Windows 10 Mobile users were supposed to get the feature, called Messaging Everywhere, with the Anniversary Update rolling out August 2. But that's not happening anymore. Instead, Microsoft thinks it has a better idea: add Messaging Everywhere to an upcoming version of Skype for Windows 10 PCs.Microsoft commentator Brad Sams writes, "Skype barely works; let's add new features. Texting from your phone is cool, let's remove it. 0.0% people want this."

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Amazon Prime Will Knock $50 Off an Android Phone If You Watch Amazon's Lock-Screen Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 10:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's interesting-moves department:
It's no secret that Amazon's Fire Phone tanked on the market. But while the e-commerce giant is keeping a distance from smartphone manufacturing business for some time, it is not ignoring the platform. The company is now willing to offer its Prime members a $50 discount on two unlocked phone models should they agree to see ads on the lock-screen of their smartphone. Recode reports:Unlike the Fire Phone, which used Amazon services in place of Google, these two phones (the fourth-generation Moto G and Blu R1 HD) will include all the standard Google apps (Play Store, YouTube, Gmail, Chrome, etc.) along with Amazon apps for shopping, watching video and playing music. With the discount, the Blu phone will sell for just $49, while the price of the Moto G drops to $149. The move is clearly a modest one but could at some point become more significant, particularly if Amazon is willing to strike deals with other hardware makers to include its apps and services.The bigger news is Amazon finding its way into Google Mobile Services-powered Android smartphones. Most of the Amazon-branded devices don't have Google Mobile Services (Google Play, Google Play Services, Gmail etc).

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Android Malware Pretends To Be WhatsApp, Uber and Google Play
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 10:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Reader itwbennett writes: Security vendor FireEye said on Tuesday that malware that can spoof the user interfaces of Uber, WhatsApp and Google Play has been spreading through a phishing campaign over SMS. Once downloaded, the malware, which has struck Android users in Denmark, Italy and Germany, will create fake user interfaces on the phone as an 'overlay 's top of real apps. These interfaces ask for credit card information and then send the entered data to the hacker.

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Microsoft Is Giving Students a Free Xbox One With Surface Pro 4 Purchases
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 09:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's sweet-deal department:
Microsoft on Wednesday announced a sweet deal for any student on the fence on purchasing the Surface Pro 4. The company has said that it will be taking $300 off when students purchase a Surface Pro 4 and Xbox One. In a statement to The Verge, Terry Myerson, head of Windows and devices at Microsoft said, "So basically a free Xbox One with the purchase of a Surface Pro 4." The deal is only running at Microsoft's retail stores in the United States. The deal goes live today and will last until August 14.

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Europe's 'Net Neutrality' Rules Fail to Ban BitTorrent Throttling
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 09:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's major-oversight department:
Europe has finally agreed on a set of net neutrality rules. According to a report on TorrentFreak, these rules offer improvements for some individual members states, various activist groups and experts. But the current language would also allow ISPs to throttle BitTorrent traffic permanently if that would optimize overall "transmission quality." From the report (edited):"Europe's new net-neutrality rules should ban throttling BitTorrent, but they don't. They leave ISPs a loophole," said Holmes Wilson of Fight for the Future (FFTF), one of the driving forces behind the Save Net Neutrality campaign. "ISPs can say they're doing it for 'traffic management' purposes -- even when their networks aren't clogged, because the rules say they can throttle to 'prevent impending network congestion,'" he adds. In addition to file-sharing traffic, the proposed rules also allow Internet providers to interfere with encrypted traffic including VPN connections. Since encrypted traffic can't be classified through deep packet inspection, ISPs may choose to de-prioritize it altogether. In theory, ISPs may choose to throttle any type of traffic they want, as long as they frame it as a network congestion risk. "So if your ISP is lazy, or wants to cut corners and save money, they can throttle BitTorrent, or VPNs, or Bitcoin, or Tor, or any class of traffic they can identify," Wilson says.

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Satya Nadella Explores How Humans and AI Can Work Together To Solve Society's Greatest Challenges
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 09:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's moving-forward department:
In an op-ed for Slate, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has shared his views on AI, and how humans could work together with this nascent technology to do great things. Nadella feels that humans and machines can work together to address society's greatest challenges, including diseases and poverty. But he admits that this will require "a bold and ambition approach that goes beyond anything that can be achieved through incremental improvements to current technology," he wrote. You can read the long essay here. GeekWire has summarized the principles and goals postulated by Nadella. From the article:AI must be designed to assist humanity. AI must be transparent.AI must maximize efficiencies without destroying the dignity of people.AI must be designed for intelligent privacy. AI needs algorithmic accountability so humans can undo unintended harm.AI must guard against bias.It's critical for humans to have empathy.It's critical for humans to have education.The need for human creativity won't change.A human has to be ultimately accountable for the outcome of a computer-generated diagnosis or decision.

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Istanbul Attack: A Grim Reminder Of Why Airports Are Easy Targets
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 07:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's weak-link department:
An anonymous reader shares a FirstPost article:Even as I write this the echo of gunfire continues at Ataturk International Airport. For reasons that defy logic, Istanbul's main airport has always been seen as a vulnerable target which only underscores the fact that all airports in the world are open to attack and fail-safe is not a viable option. At Ataturk, security is usually high, but the weak underbelly lies in vehicular traffic entering the airport being given cursory checks, pretty much like most airports which is why President Erdogan was able to say this sort of attack could have occurred anywhere. That is true. Airports are easy targets. That even though Turkey was aware of the chinks nothing much was done to up the security levels. If you take Delhi International as a prime example, the access to the terminal is scarcely blockaded and one can reach the entry points with ease, crossing a couple of indolent checkpoints and a roller fence. (Editor's note: the article has been written by an Indian author, and so he uses an Indian airport as an example.) Indian airports are as porous as a sponge. Most of our airports are red-starred which places them in the inadequate category. Add to that the fact that several thousand VIPs are given privileges that make a pudding out of security and it indicates how easy peasy it would be to amble up to the terminal entrance. The weakness primarily lies in the absence of X-Rays and deterrent technology on approach. You practically can check in and get to immigration before being cleared for hazardous material.

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Windows 10 Anniversary Update To Roll Out On August 2
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 07:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-Windows-updates department:
Windows 10's first major update -- dubbed Anniversary Update -- will be released to users on August 2, according to a blog post published by Microsoft (Archive link). The company presumably posted the blog post ahead of the original publication plans, and as a result, quickly pulled the story. Windows 10 Anniversary Update will bring with it a number of major changes including extensions to Edge, and improvements to Cortana and Hello biometric feature. It will also mark the end of the one-year free Windows 10 update offer for Windows 7 and Windows 8.x users.

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Google Found Disastrous Symantec and Norton Vulnerabilities That Are 'As Bad As It Gets'
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 06:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Google's Project Zero team has discovered a heap of critical vulnerabilities in Symantec and Norton security products. The flaws, the team says, allow hackers to completely compromise people's machines by simply sending them malicious self-replicating code through unopened emails or un-clicked links. According to a Fortune report, the vulnerabilities affect millions of people who run the company's endpoint security and antivirus software -- all 17 enterprise products (Symantec brand) and eight consumer and small business products (Norton brand). Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica:The flaws reside in the engine the products use to reverse the compression tools malware developers use to conceal their malicious payloads. The unpackers work by parsing code contained in files before they're allowed to be downloaded or executed. Because Symantec runs the unpackers directly in the operating system kernel, errors can allow attackers to gain complete control over the vulnerable machine. Tavis Ormandy, a researcher with Google's Project Zero, said a better design would be for unpackers to run in a security "sandbox," which isolates untrusted code from sensitive parts of an operating system.

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Clinton Tech Plan Reads Like Silicon Valley Wish List
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 06:32 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's silicon-valley department:
theodp writes from a report via USA Today: "If there was any lingering doubt as to tech's favored presidential candidate," writes USA Today's Jon Swartz, "Hillary Clinton put an end to that Tuesday with a tech plan that reads like a Silicon Valley wish list. It calls for connecting every U.S. household to high-speed internet by 2020, reducing regulatory barriers and supporting Net neutrality rules, [which ban internet providers from blocking or slowing content.] It proposes investments in computer science and engineering education ("engage the private sector and nonprofits to train up to 50,000 computer science teachers in the next decade"), expansion of 5G mobile data, making inexpensive Wi-Fi available at more airports and train stations, and attaching a green card to the diplomas of foreign-born students earning STEM degrees." dcblogs shares with us a report from Computerworld that specifically discusses Clinton's support of green cards for foreign students who earn STEM degrees: As president, Hillary Clinton will support automatic green cards, or permanent residency, for foreign students who earn advanced STEM degrees. Clinton, the presumptive Democratic presidential candidate, wants the U.S. to "staple" green cards on the diplomas of STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) masters and PhD graduates "from accredited institutions." Clinton outlined her plan in a broader tech policy agenda released today. Clinton's "staple" idea isn't new. It's what Mitt Romney, the GOP presidential candidate in 2012, supported. It has had bipartisan support in Congress. But the staple idea is controversial. Critics will say this provision will be hard to control, will foster age discrimination, and put pressure on IT wages.

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Study: 78% of Resold Drives Still Contain Readable Personal or Business Data
Posted by News Fetcher on June 29 '16 at 02:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's it's-all-just-a-simple-misunderstanding department:
itwbennett writes: Blancco Technology Group, which specializes in data erasure, bought 200 secondhand PC storage drives (PDF) from eBay and Craigslist to see if they could recover any of the old data saved inside. Their findings: 78 percent of the drives contained residual data that could be recovered, 67 percent still held personal files, such as photos with location indicators, resumes and financial data, and 11 percent of the drives also contained company data, such as emails, spreadsheets and customer information. Only 10 percent had all the data securely wiped, Blancco said. The Consumerist points out that Blancco makes their money from promising secure data erasure, so the company has a "strong and vested interest in these results." As for why so many of the drives contain unwanted information, the report says it has to do with the difference between "deleting" data and "erasing" data. Your files aren't actually deleted when you drag them to the Trash or Recycle Bin, or by using the delete key -- shocking, I know. You can format a drive to erase the data, but you have to be careful of the format commands being used. A quick format, which was used on 40% of the drives in the sample, still leaves some residual data on the drive for someone to possibly access. A full format, which was used on 14% of the drives, will do a better job in removing unwanted files, but it too may still miss some crucial information. The solution Blancco recommends: buy a tool to perform complete data erasure.

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Google Is Testing Its Own Internet Speed Test In Search Results
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '16 at 11:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's all-in-one-solution department:
An anonymous reader writes: Everyone appears to have a speed test of their own nowadays. Netflix launched fast.com more than a month ago; SourceForge released their new HTML5 speed test soon after. Google appears to want a piece of the action as they are trying out a way for people to check their internet speed by simply typing "check internet speed" into search. The tests are performed by Google's Measurement Lab tools, and were first spotted by Pete Meyers, who posted a screenshot of the feature and discovered a Google Support webpage detailing how it works. The feature has not been widely released yet, but it's possible we'll see it made more widely available soon.

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The Moral Dilemma of Driverless Cars: Save The Driver or Save The Crowd?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '16 at 08:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's right-vs-wrong department:
HughPickens.com writes: What should a driverless car with one rider do if it is faced with the choice of swerving off the road into a tree or hitting a crowd of 10 pedestrians? The answer depends on whether you are the rider in the car or someone else is, writes Peter Dizikes at MIT News. According to recent research most people prefer autonomous vehicles to minimize casualties in situations of extreme danger -- except for the vehicles they would be riding in. "Most people want to live in in a world where cars will minimize casualties," says Iyad Rahwan. "But everybody wants their own car to protect them at all costs." The result is what the researchers call a "social dilemma," in which people could end up making conditions less safe for everyone by acting in their own self-interest. "If everybody does that, then we would end up in a tragedy whereby the cars will not minimize casualties," says Rahwan. Researchers conducted six surveys, using the online Mechanical Turk public-opinion tool, between June 2015 and November 2015. The results consistently showed that people will take a utilitarian approach to the ethics of autonomous vehicles, one emphasizing the sheer number of lives that could be saved. For instance, 76 percent of respondents believe it is more moral for an autonomous vehicle, should such a circumstance arise, to sacrifice one passenger rather than 10 pedestrians. But the surveys also revealed a lack of enthusiasm for buying or using a driverless car programmed to avoid pedestrians at the expense of its own passengers. "This is a challenge that should be on the mind of carmakers and regulators alike," the researchers write. "For the time being, there seems to be no easy way to design algorithms that would reconcile moral values and personal self-interest."

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Volkswagen Agrees To Record $14.7B Settlement Over Emissions Cheating
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '16 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's time-to-face-the-consequences department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNNMoney: Volkswagen's deliberate cheating on emissions tests will cost it a record $14.7 billion. And that's just the start of its problems. The settlement is only a preliminary step in the case; the automaker still faces possible criminal charges, as well as civil penalties for Clean Air Act violations. The Department of Justice is investigating possible criminal charges against both the company and individuals, said Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates. Up to $10 billion of the funds will be paid out to owners of the 487,000 affected diesel cars in the U.S., sold under the VW or luxury Audi brands. How much an owner gets will depend on whether an owner chooses to fix their car or just have VW buy it back -- they have until May 2018 to decide. Repurchasing the cars will cost VW between $12,500 to $44,000 per car. The $14.7 billion settlement estimate assumes that all the cars are repurchased. Owners who elect to get their vehicles fixed will also get a cash payment of between $5,100 and $10,000 to compensate them for the lost value of the cars, as well as for Volkswagen's deceptive promise of "clean diesel." Most of the buyers paid extra for a car with a diesel engine. In addition to the customer payments, Volkswagen will pay $2.7 billion for environmental cleanup and $2 billion to promote zero-emission vehicles. The clean up money will be used by individual states to cut other diesel emissions by replacing older, government-owned trucks, buses and other diesel engines now in use. Volkswagen is betting big on electric vehicles after this emissions scandal. It plans to deliver 30 electric plug-in models by 2025.

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Tesla Owner Makes 'Solid Metal Snake' Self-Charging System That Elon Musk Promised
Posted by News Fetcher on June 28 '16 at 06:01 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's DIY department:
An anonymous reader writes: Nearly two years ago, Elon Musk teased us with a robotic snake that would automatically plug-in and charge your Model S. Well, many months have passed and there has yet to be an official "solid metal snake" available for Tesla owners. So, one Tesla owner decided to make his own autonomous charging station, as spotted by Electrek, that will automatically guide the Model S's charging cable into the waiting receptacle with no human intervention required. The inventor Deepak Mital posted a video showing how it works, and while it's incredibly slow, it does work. Compared to the demo video of the system teased by Elon Musk last year, this version appears much less threatening. Mital calls it the "Evtron," which is controlled with a Raspberry Pi and swings from one side to another before sliding forward to make the connection with the car.

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