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The Tech Industry Has Contributed To an 'Attention Crisis', Google Researchers Say
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 08:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
A new paper written by Google's user experience researchers delves into the reasons that we can't put down our phones, and starts to explore what companies can do about it. It also calls on the technology industry to reexamine the way it ties engagement to success -- noting that capturing people's attention is not necessarily the best way to measure whether they're satisfied with a product. From a report: For its study, Google focused on a small group of smartphone users and kept tabs on how they used their smartphone throughout a normal day. It also dug into 112 interviews from previous research to evaluate how people felt about their phone use. Researchers Julie Aranda and Safia Baig of Google presented the paper at mobile conference Tuesday in Barcelona. Google used the results of this study to help design its "Digital Wellbeing" tools, which are a part of the company's newest Android operating system and designed to help people curb their smartphone use. The paper provides an overall picture of the reasons people feel they have to be in constant contact with their phones -- though it stops short of evaluating the best ways to combat that. It does, however, take aim at the basic way that Internet companies -- including Google -- have elevated engagement as the best metric to measure success, creating an economy where attention becomes the most important currency. "We feel that the technology industry's focus on engagement metrics is core to this attention crisis that users are facing," the paper says. "... It's important to consider alternative metrics to indicate success, relating to user satisfaction and quality of time spent."

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IBM Used NYPD Surveillance Footage To Develop Technology That Lets Police Search by Skin Color
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Three months after the American Civil Liberties Union revealed that Amazon provided facial recognition technology to local law enforcement, a new report by The Intercept says that IBM collaborated with the New York City Police Department to develop a system that allowed officials to search for people by skin color, hair color, gender, age, and various facial features. VentureBeat: The Intercept and the National Institute's nonprofit Investigative Fund, citing "confidential corporate documents" and interviews with engineers involved with the project, write that IBM began developing the analytics platform roughly 10 years ago in partnership with New York's Lower Manhattan Security Initiative counterterrorist center, after an earlier experiment with the city of Chicago. Using "thousands" of photographs from roughly 50 cameras provided by the NYPD, its computer vision system learned from 16,000 points to identify clothing color and other bodily characteristics, in addition to potential threats like unattended packages, people entering off-limits areas, and cars speeding up against the flow of traffic.

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DOJ To Announce Charges Against North Koreans For Sony Hack, Wannacry Attack
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
The Justice Department is planning to announce charges Thursday against North Korean nationals who U.S. authorities have accused of being behind the massive hack of Sony in 2014 and the Wannacry ransomware attack lack year. From a report: Earlier on Thursday, President Donald Trump praised North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un on Twitter. "Kim Jong Un of North Korea proclaims 'unwavering faith in President Trump.' Thank you to Chairman Kim. We will get it done together!" Trump tweeted. The Washington Post adds: Pak Jin Hyok, who conducted hacking on behalf of North Korea's Reconnaissance General Bureau, the military intelligence agency that controls most of the country's cyber capabilities, is charged in the attack on Sony, according to U.S. officials. He is linked to the notorious Lazarus Group, which has also been implicated in the audacious attempt to use cyber techniques to steal $1 billion from the Bangladesh Bank in 2016, and to the WannaCry computer virus that affected more than 230,000 computers in 150 countries last year.

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DOJ: We Will Examine Social Media Firms That 'May Be Hurting Competition'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 05:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's under-investigation department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: In the wake of a Senate committee hearing in which top officials from Facebook and Twitter testified, the Department of Justice issued a statement saying that it would be investigating social media firms. "We listened to today's Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on Foreign Influence Operations' Use of Social Media Platforms closely," Devin O'Malley, a DOJ spokesman, said in a statement released to reporters on Wednesday morning. "The Attorney General has convened a meeting with a number of state attorneys general this month to discuss a growing concern that these companies may be hurting competition and intentionally stifling the free exchange of ideas on their platforms." The DOJ did not further explain by what criteria it would be examining these companies. d Google submitted a written testimony, while Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg told the committee that the social media company is continuing to fight misinformation, fake news, and foreign interference. Similarly, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey dismissed any allegations of his company's bias during the testimony.

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'IMAX Enhanced' Promises Highest-Quality Image, Sound Experiences For Home Theater Setups
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 02:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
Audiofan writes: Just when we thought Sony learned their lessons from past formats DOA, they are at it again this time by teaming up with IMAX and select partners to certify the "IMAX movie experience" for home theater setups. Will Sony be on the losing side against already established Dolby Vision and HDR10 or will they leverage IMAX's immersive picture and sound quality on top of these other technologies? This smells like a format war or at the very least more consumer confusion. The new certification and license program from IMAX and DTS will give what they say to be the highest-quality image and sound experiences for home theater. "IMAX and DTS [as well as partners Denon, Marantz, Sony, and Paramount Studios] aren't clear as to whether this will be significantly different from DTS:X immersive 3D sound other than to say, 'The DTS:X codec technology (is) integrated in home audio equipment to deliver an IMAX signature sound experience,'" reports Audioholics. "To be accepted into the program, leading consumer electronics manufacturers will design top-of-the-line 4K HDR televisions, A/V receivers, sound systems and other home theater equipment to meet a carefully prescribed set of the highest audio and video performance standards, set by a certification committee of IMAX and DTS engineers and Hollywood's leading technical specialists." The report notes that the program will use an IMAX post-production process "to digitally re-master content to produce more vibrant colors, greater contrast and sharper clarity," as well as "deliver an IMAX signature sound experience."

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Bizarre Hexagon On Saturn May Be 180 Miles Tall
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 12:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's taller-than-anticipated department:
Iwastheone shares a report from Space.com: The weird hexagon swirling around Saturn's north pole is much taller than scientists had thought, a new study suggests. Researchers have generally regarded the 20,000-mile-wide (32,000 kilometers) hexagon -- a jet stream composed of air moving at about 200 mph (320 km/h) -- as a lower-atmosphere phenomenon, restricted to the clouds of Saturn's troposphere. But the bizarre structure actually extends about 180 miles (300 km) above those cloud tops, up into the stratosphere, at least during the northern spring and summer, a new study suggests. The hexagon, which surrounds a smaller circular vortex situated at the north pole, has existed for at least 38 years; NASA's Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 spacecraft spotted the sharp-cornered feature when they flew by Saturn in 1980 and 1981, respectively. Scientists started to get much more detailed looks at the hexagon in 2004, when NASA's Cassini spacecraft began orbiting the ringed planet. But Cassini's hexagon observations were pretty much confined to the troposphere for a decade after its arrival; springtime didn't come to Saturn's north until 2009, and low temperatures in the stratosphere continued to compromise measurements by the probe's Composite Infrared Spectrometer (CIRS) instrument for another five years.

< article continued at Slashdot's taller-than-anticipated department >

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White House Says Anonymous 'Coward' Behind New York Times Op-Ed Should Resign
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 08:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's inside-job department:
Earlier today, The New York Times published an op-ed from an anonymous staffer in the Trump administration, who has "vowed to thwart parts of [President Trump's] agenda and his worst inclinations," citing the president's amorality. The staffer writes: "We want the administration to succeed and think that many of its policies have already made America safer and more prosperous. But we believe our first duty is to this country, and the president continues to act in a manner that is detrimental to the health of our republic. That is why many Trump appointees have vowed to do what we can to preserve our democratic institutions while thwarting Mr. Trump's more misguided impulses until he is out of office." An anonymous [coward] shares the response from the White House: White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders ripped the anonymous senior White House staffer who wrote an op-ed for The New York Times slamming President Trump's conduct. "The individual behind this piece has chosen to deceive, rather than support, the duly elected President of the United States," she said in a statement. "He is not putting country first, but putting himself and his ego ahead of the will of the American people. This coward should do the right thing and resign," she added. Trump himself called the op-ed's author "gutless." He tweeted: "Does the so-called 'Senior Administration Official' really exist, or is it just the Failing New York Times with another phony source? If the GUTLESS anonymous person does indeed exist, the Times must, for National Security purposes, turn him/her over to government at once!" The New York Times op-ed page editor Jim Dao described the process behind publishing the op-ed, telling CNN that the official contacted him "through an intermediary." He said that the New York Times also spoke with the anonymous individual but there are only a "very small number of people within the Times who know this person's identity." Dao didn't provide a gender for the person, but the author was described in a New York Times tweet as a "he" earlier Wednesday. [The Times later said that the tweet was a mistake and that it "was drafted by someone who is not aware of the author's identity."] Furthermore, Dao "said there was no special effort to disguise the person's writing style, for example by rewriting the piece in some fashion," reports CNN. "'There's editing in everything we do,' he said, but it's based on making the person's views 'clearer' and adhering to style standards." A separate CNN article highlights 12 senior Trump administration officials who may be behind the op-ed.

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Japan Confirms First Radiation-Linked Death Out of Fukushima
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 06:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
Japan's Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare announced for the first time that a man employed at the Fukushima nuclear power plant died of lung cancer linked to radiation exposure. "The man, who was in his 50s, died from lung cancer that was diagnosed in 2016," reports the BBC. "Japan's government had previously agreed that radiation caused illness in four workers but this is the first acknowledged death." From the report: The Fukushima reactor suffered meltdowns after a 9.0 magnitude earthquake and a tsunami in March 2011. Cooling systems were wrecked at the plant on Japan's north-east coast and radioactive material leaked out. The employee who died had worked at atomic power stations since 1980 and was in charge of measuring radiation at the Fukushima No 1 plant shortly after its meltdown. He worked there at least twice after it was damaged, and had worn a face mask and protective suit, Japan's Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare said. After hearing opinions from a panel of radiologists and other experts, the ministry ruled that the man's family should be paid compensation.

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BitTorrent Embraces Streaming Torrents, Takes uTorrent Web Out of Beta
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's changing-with-the-times department:
Mark Wilson shares a report from BetaNews: Acknowledging that we are now very much in the streaming age, BitTorrent has launched the first version of Torrent Web. The aim of the browser-based tool is to make torrenting as simple as possible and -- most importantly -- support torrent streaming. It remains to be seen how many people are willing to switch from a dedicated app to a browser-based torrenting experience, but the promise that you can "play while you download, no more staring at progress bars" is certainly alluring. Files are streamable near-instantly as they download, but they are also saved locally in the way you're used to. uTorrent Web is available for Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge and Opera and the release finds BitTorrent partnering with Adaware to check torrents for signs of malware, and even download torrents without having to visit websites. Warning: the installer includes (optional) bundleware in the form of Adaware Internet Security and the Opera web browser.

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Uber Will Turn Your Smartphone Into An Automatic Crash Detector
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 05:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's safety-first department:
Uber is introducing a new safety feature called "Ride Check" that will use GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, and other sensors inside a smartphone to detect whether there has been a vehicle crash. The Verge reports: In the event of a crash, the Uber app will automatically send a notification to a rider's phone to answer a series of questions. If they verify that there has been an accident, the rider will be prompted to call 911. Uber's team of safety operators may also reach out to ensure the rider is safe when the feature is triggered. The feature doesn't require any new permissions because it is linked to the driver's smartphone, rather than the riders. Drivers have the Uber app on more frequently than riders, who typically keep the app on in the background during trips.

Ride Check isn't just for crashes, though. The feature is also triggered if the vehicle stops for a prolonged or unusual period of time. Riders will receive a notification asking them if everything is alright, and based on their response, the app will present a series of options, including a call to 911. The ride-hail company also released a number of other features, including voice commands and an insurance hub for Uber drivers, new ways to mask addresses and phone numbers between riders and drivers, and two-factor authentication to protect a rider's account from malicious hacking.

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Researchers Used Sonar Signal From a Smartphone Speaker To Steal Unlock Passwords
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: On Thursday, a group of researchers from Lancaster University posted a paper to arXiv that demonstrates how they used a smartphone's microphone and speaker system to steal the device's unlock pattern. Although the average person doesn't have to worry about getting hacked this way any time soon, the researchers are the first to demonstrate that this kind of attack is even possible. According to the researchers, their "SonarSnoop" attack decreases the number of unlock patterns an attacker must try by 70 percent and can be performed without the victim ever knowing they're being hacked. The attack begins when a user unwittingly installs a malicious application on their phone. When a user downloads the infected app, their phone begins broadcasting a sound signal that is just above the human range of hearing. This sound signal is reflected by every object around the phone, creating an echo. This echo is then recorded by the phone's microphone. By calculating the time between the emission of the sound and the return of its echo to the source, it is possible to determine the location of an object in a given space and whether that object is moving -- this is known as sonar. The researchers were able to leverage this phenomenon to track the movement of someone's finger across a smartphone screen by analyzing the echoes recorded through the device's microphone. There are nearly 400,000 possible unlock patterns on the 3x3 swipe grid on Android phones, but prior research has demonstrated that 20 percent of people use one of 12 common patterns. While testing SonarSnoop, the researchers only focused on these dozen unlock combinations. Ten volunteers were recruited for the study and were asked to draw each of the 12 patterns five different times on a custom app. The researchers then tried a variety of sonar analysis techniques to reconstruct the password based on the acoustic signatures emitted by the phone. The best analysis technique resulted in the algorithm only having to try 3.6 out of the 12 possible patterns on average before it correctly determined the pattern.

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Facebook Accuses BlackBerry of Stealing Its Voice-Messaging Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 04:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's he-said-she-said department:
Facebook is suing BlackBerry, claiming the company stole its voice-messaging technology and other patented processes. The social media company is seeking unspecified damages for infringement of six patents. Bloomberg reports: In addition to the voice-messaging patent, Facebook cites infringement of patented technology that improves how a mobile device delivers graphics, video and audio and another that centralizes tracking and analysis of GPS data. In March, BlackBerry sued Facebook in federal court in Los Angeles, accusing the social media giant of infringing on its mobile messaging patents. BlackBerry claimed Facebook made unauthorized use of its technology in its own instant messenger service, Facebook Messenger, and in WhatsApp Messenger and Instagram.

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Amazon.com Suffers Search Glitch, Users Say
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 04:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's outage-report department:
An anonymous reader writes: If you go to Amazon.com right now and attempt to search for a product, no items are appearing in the search results. Attempts to submit any feedback are failing too, with no error or response of any kind on the page. This is happening regardless of browser, operating system or ISP. On Twitter, numerous people have corroborated the issue. It appears the issue began roughly 40 minutes ago. Amazon has yet to acknowledge the glitch. Interestingly, Amazon's international properties, such as Amazon India, are not facing this issue.

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Theranos To Close Shop
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's case-closed department:
Major Blud writes: Multiple news outlets are reporting that Theranos, the company that promised to revolutionize healthcare with new blood-testing devices, is closing shop. The company "was unable to sell itself and is now looking to pay unsecured creditors its remaining cash of about $5 million in the upcoming months," reports CBS News. The CEO, Elizabeth Holmes, and President/COO Ramesh Balwani recently settled a civil suit with the SEC, which charged them with massive fraud related to them seeking investment based on misleading information regarding the accuracy of their "Edison" diagnostic equipment. According to The Wall Street Journal, investors lost almost $1 billion in the company. At one point, it was valued at almost $10 billion.

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EU To Move Ahead With Cultural Quotas For Streaming Services
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's preferential-treatment department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The European Union is set to move ahead with a plan to enforce pan-European quotas on streaming services like Amazon Prime Video and Netflix to support production of locally produced film and video content. Roberto Viola, the European Commission's directorate general of communication, networks, content and technology told Variety that the new rules are on track to be approved in December. The proposals will require that streaming services give over at least 30% of their on-demand catalogues to original productions made in each EU country where a service is provided (individual EU Member States could choose to set the content bar even higher, at 40%).

Streaming services will also have to ensure visibility and prominence for local content -- so no burying the 'European third' in a dingy corner of the site where no one will find it, let alone stream it. The EU lawmakers' intention is to stand up for cultural diversity against the might of Hollywood and the flattening power of platforms -- in the latter case by making platforms invest in local content production rather than just doing the easy thing of fencing yet more Marvel superhero movies.

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Benin Becomes the Latest African Nation Taxing the Internet; Citizens and Advocates Denounce the Move
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 01:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's world-dispatch department:
Benin has joined a growing list of African states imposing levies for using the internet. From a report: The government passed a decree in late August taxing its citizens for accessing the internet and social-media apps. The directive, first proposed in July, institutes a fee of 5 CFA francs ($0.008) per megabyte consumed through services like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Twitter. It also introduces a 5% fee, on top of taxes, on texting and calls, according to advocacy group Internet Sans Frontieres (ISF). The new law has been denounced, with citizens and advocates using the hashtag #Taxepamesmo ("Don't tax my megabytes") to call on officials to cancel the levy. The increased fees will not only burden the poorest consumers and widen the digital divide, but they will also be "disastrous" for the nation's nascent digital economy, says ISF's executive director Julie Owono. A petition against the levy on Change.org has garnered nearly 7,100 signatures since it was created seven days ago.

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Amazon.com Faces Search Glitch, Users Say
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 01:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's outage-report department:
An anonymous reader writes: If you go to Amazon.com right now and attempt to search for a product, no items are appearing in the search results. Attempts to submit any feedback are failing too, with no error or response of any kind on the page. This is happening regardless of browser, operating system or ISP. On Twitter, numerous people have corroborated the issue. It appears the issue began roughly 40 minutes ago. Amazon has yet to acknowledge the glitch. Interestingly, Amazon's international properties, such as Amazon India, are not facing this issue.

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Uber To Ban Riders With Four-Star or Lower Ratings in Australia and New Zealand
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 01:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Uber is to block customers in Australia and New Zealand from its ride service if they have a low passenger rating. Riders rated four-out-of-five stars or lower will be banned for six months. Ratings are based on feedback left by drivers after each journey. BBC: The move is aimed at improving passenger behaviour, the company said. Uber told the BBC that Australia and New Zealand had been identified as a place to bring in the rule after feedback from drivers. The same policy was introduced in Brazil earlier this this year, Uber said, but it's the first time the control has been rolled out in an English-speaking market. An Uber spokeswoman declined to be drawn on exactly how many of its 2.8 million users in Australia and New Zealand currently had ratings of below 4.0 -- but conceded it was only "a few thousand." The "vast majority" -- believed to be more than 90% -- had ratings of at least 4.5, the company said. The policy will kick in on 19 September and passengers will receive several warnings before they are banned.

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Microsoft's Outlook and Skype Are Facing Outages
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's outage-report department:
People from all corners of the world are reporting connectivity issues when using Microsoft Skype and Office 365's Outlook, they said on Wednesday. The users are seeing a "Throttled" error message when attempting to access either of the aforementioned services, they said. From a report: The weird text box pops up in the chat software and cloud-backed email client, preventing people from sending messages, and talking to contacts. This is, according to Microsoft, due to a botched update to Azure's backend authentication systems. The internal upgrade was introduced as its engineers brought servers knocked out by storms in Texas back online. Outlook Web Access is said to be unaffected. According to mailing list chatter among IT bods and other sysadmins seen by The Register in the past hour, as well as tweets and Reddit threads, the outage is hitting businesses and subscribers at least throughout America, Canada, the UK, and Europe. Microsoft Office 365 tweeted just before 3 p.m. ET that the company has rolled back an update that was causing the throttling. It is testing to be sure that the problem is resolved.

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Official Chrome Extension of Cloud Storage Service Mega Caught Stealing Passwords, Cryptocurrency Private Keys
Posted by News Fetcher on September 05 '18 at 10:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
The official Chrome extension for the MEGA.nz file sharing service has been compromised with malicious code that steals usernames and passwords, but also private keys for cryptocurrency accounts, ZDNet reports. From the report: The malicious behavior was found in the source code of the MEGA.nz Chrome extension version 3.39.4, released as an update earlier today. Google engineers have already intervened and removed the extension from the official Chrome Web Store, and also disabled the extension for existing users. According to an analysis of the extension's source, the malicious code triggered on sites such as Amazon, Google, Microsoft, GitHub, the MyEtherWallet and MyMonero web wallet services, and the IDEX cryptocurrency trading platform. The malicious code would record usernames, passwords, and other session data that attackers would need to log in and impersonate users. If the website managed cryptocurrency, the attacker would also extract the private keys needed to access users' funds.

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