By msmash from Slashdot's slow-expansion department
An anonymous reader shares a report: What better way to replace New York City's thousands of aging pay phones than with 9.5-foot-tall kiosks outfitted with 55-inch HD displays, gigabit internet, and Android tablets preloaded with informational apps? So went the thinking back in 2014, when then-mayor Michael Bloomberg launched a competition -- the Reinvent Payphones initiative -- calling on private enterprises, residents, and nonprofits to submit designs for spruced-up, publicly accessible hubs that would provide advertising-subsidized services to the public. CityBridge's LinkNYC beat out piezoelectric pressure plates, EV charging stations, and other competing proposals for a contract, and the consortium wasted no time in getting to work.
Intersection -- which with Qualcomm and CIVIQ Smartscapes manages the kiosks -- said it plans to spend $200 million laying down 400 miles of new communication cables and installing as many as 10,000 Links that supply free Wi-Fi to passersby within a 150-foot radius. The first kiosk went online in January, though the project has quite a ways to go -- 1,780 Links are active currently, short of the initial goal of 4,500 kiosks by July of this year. [...] And the initial kiosks have really taken off. According to Intersection, the LinkNYC network now has more than 6 million unique users who have used 8.597 terabytes of data collectively -- equivalent to about 1.3 billion songs or 292 billion WhatsApp messages. And the project facilitates 600,000 phone calls every month, up from 500,000 in September of last year. Further reading: Free Municipal Wi-Fi May Be the Next Front In the War Against Privacy.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lost-and-found department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A group of academics from South Korea have identified 36 new vulnerabilities in the Long-Term Evolution (LTE) standard used by thousands of mobile networks and hundreds of millions of users across the world. The vulnerabilities allow attackers to disrupt mobile base stations, block incoming calls to a device, disconnect users from a mobile network, send spoofed SMS messages, and eavesdrop and manipulate user data traffic. They were discovered by a four-person research team from the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology Constitution (KAIST), and documented in a research paper they intend to present at the IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in late May 2019.
The Korean researchers said they found 51 LTE vulnerabilities, of which 36 are new, and 15 have been first identified by other research groups in the past. They discovered this sheer number of flaws by using a technique known as fuzzing --a code testing method that inputs a large quantity of random data into an application and analyzes the output for abnormalities, which, in turn, give developers a hint about the presence of possible bugs. The resulting vulnerabilities, see image below or this Google Docs sheet, were located in both the design and implementation of the LTE standard among the different carriers and device vendors. The KAIST team said it notified both the 3GPP (industry body behind LTE standard) and the GSMA (industry body that represents mobile operators), but also the corresponding baseband chipset vendors and network equipment vendors on whose hardware they performed the LTEFuzz tests.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Modern Labor promises to teach you to code in five months and help find you a job when you graduate -- but you're on the hook for the next two years. From a report: Most coding bootcamps almost sound like get-rich-quick schemes: Devote a few months to learning a new skill from home, and walk into a job that could pay you $70,000 a year to start. For the most immersive programs, you'll need to put your life on hold while you learn full-time. Usually, students pay for those coding bootcamps upfront while they take time off their jobs to learn.
Startup coding bootcamp Modern Labor pays people $2,000 a month for five months while they learn to code, following a curriculum remotely from wherever they live for at least 30 hours every week (working out to roughly minimum wage). After graduation, if they land a job that pays at least $40,000, Modern Labor takes 15 percent of their salary for the next two years. For example, if they find a job that pays $80,000, they'll pay Modern Labor $24,000 over two years. [...] Modern Labor's business model is an example of an "income sharing agreement," a scheme that's on-trend for Wall Street and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs looking to disrupt education.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
A leaked internal document outlines a program that looks almost exactly like the requirements of right to repair legislation that has been proposed in 20 states. From a report: As Apple continues to fight legislation that would make it easier for consumers to repair their iPhones, MacBooks, and other electronics, the company appears to be able to implement many of the requirements of the legislation, according to an internal presentation obtained by Motherboard. According to the presentation, titled "Apple Genuine Parts Repair" and dated April 2018, the company has begun to give some repair companies access to Apple diagnostic software, a wide variety of genuine Apple repair parts, repair training, and notably places no restrictions on the types of repairs that independent companies are allowed to do. The presentation notes that repair companies can "keep doing what you're doing, with ... Apple genuine parts, reliable parts supply, and Apple process and training."
This is, broadly speaking, what right to repair activists have been asking state legislators to require companies to offer for years. "This looks to me like a framework for complying with right to repair legislation," Kyle Wiens, CEO of iFixit and a prominent member of the right to repair movement, told me on the phone. "Right now, they are only offering it to a few megachains, but it seems clear to me that it would be totally possible to comply with right to repair."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's marching-forward department
Gilles Dubuc, writing for the Wikimedia Foundation: We're excited to announce that we've become a member of the W3C, the main international standards organization for the World Wide Web. Founded by Tim Berners-Lee in 1994, W3C works with hundreds of organizations to ensure that the web's basic building blocks -- like HTML or CSS -- remain consistent across browsers, platforms, and more. You can learn more about what W3C does over on Wikipedia. Joining the W3C fits right into our 2030 strategy, which calls on the Wikimedia movement to "become the essential infrastructure of the ecosystem of free knowledge, and [ensure that] anyone who shares our vision will be able to join us."
The underlying technologies and standards of the web are a core part of the infrastructure that can facilitate knowledge equity, and so to achieve our vision, we need to participate and collaborate in designing the future of the web. As part of working groups, we will be collaborating directly with other major stakeholders on the web. Through attending meetings, providing feedback, helping with the drafting of standards, and performing some of the technical work necessary to put standards together (as well as participating in the decision-making process of their design), we're going to contribute to shaping a future of the web that helps everyone create and share free knowledge.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Joseph Tsidulko, writing for CRN: Oracle asked the U.S. Supreme Court on Wednesday to not review an appellate court's decision finding Google violated Oracle's copyright of the Java platform when building the Android mobile operating system. In that opposition brief, Oracle's attorneys said Google's copyright violation shut Oracle, the Java platform owner, out of the emerging smartphone market, causing incalculable harm to its business. The complex case pitting two Silicon Valley giants against each other has raged on since 2010, and already saw many twists in turns before a circuit court last year reversed a jury decision in favor of Oracle. That prompted Google's appeal to the nation's highest court. Oracle notes Google had previously asked for a writ of certiorari -- the legal term for review by the high court -- in 2015 without success in an earlier phase of the case, and the company argues nothing has changed in the time since.
Oracle believes Google destroyed its hopes of competing as a smartphone platform developer with the Java platform, which enables development and execution of software written in Java, including through APIs that access a vast software library. The lawsuit alleged Google copied those APIs without a proper license. Java was developed at Sun Microsystems, which Oracle acquired in 2010. "Google's theory is that, having invested all those resources to create a program popular with platform developers and app programmers alike, Oracle should be required to let a competitor copy its code so that it can coopt the fan base to create its own best-selling sequel," Oracle's brief states.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's new-lows department
Office Depot and Support.com have coughed up $35 million after they were accused of lying to people that their PCs were infected with malware in order to charge them cleanup fees. From a report: Late Wednesday, the pair of businesses settled a lawsuit brought against them by the US Federal Trade Commission, which alleged staff at the tech duo falsely claimed software nasties were lingering on customers' computers to make a fast buck. The lawsuit, filed in southern Florida, claimed the two companies, including Office Depot subsidiary OfficeMax, from 2009 until November 2016 misrepresented the state of consumers' computers by using a sales tool designed to convince people to pay for diagnostic and repair services.
"In numerous instances throughout this time period, Defendants used the PC Health Check Program to report to Office Depot Companies customers that the scan had found or identified 'Malware Symptoms' when it had not done so," the complaint stated. "Additionally, in numerous instances, the PC Health Check Program falsely reported to consumers that the program had found 'infections' on the consumerâ(TM)s computer." According to the watchdog's complaint, the PC Health Check Program was incapable of finding malware. Support.com allegedly programmed the software so that whenever an Office Depot Company employee checked any one of four checkboxes describing a generic concern, like slowness, before the scan started, the scan would automatically report the detection of malware symptoms, and for a time, infections.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's my-way-or-highway department
Apple News Plus, the company's new magazine (and news) subscription service, is the latest offender because of how easy Apple makes it to subscribe. From a report: Just tap that "Try it Free" button, confirm your payment, and you're off to the races. Thing is, Apple forbids developers from making things seem quite this simple. Typically, Apple protects users from recurring fees by requiring developers to make those numbers so large on the screen that it's painfully obvious what you're getting into, how often you'll pay, and how to cancel if you decide you're not interested anymore. Here are some screenshots from Apple's dev website so you can see just how crystal-clear the developer "guidelines" are. For whatever reason, Apple decided that a cleaner, more attractive layout, one that hides some of the information it asks of developers, was the right choice for Apple News Plus.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Linux-of-storage department
prpplague writes: Despite Linus Torvald's recent claims ARM won't win in the server space, there are very specific use cases where ARM is making advances into the datacenter. One of those is for use with software-defined storage with open-source projects like CEPH. In a recent The Register article, Softiron's CTO Phil Straw states about their ARM-based CEPH appliances: "It's a totally shitty computer, but what we are trying to do here is storage, and not compute, so when you look at the IO, when you look at the buffering, when you look at the data paths, there's amazing performance -- we can approach something like a quarter of a petabyte, at 200Gbps wireline throughput." Straw claimed that, on average, SoftIron servers run 25C cooler than a comparable system powered by Xeons." So... ARM in the datacenter might be saying, "I'm not quite dead yet!"Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's road-safety department
AmiMoJo shares a report from the BBC: Speed limiting technology looks set to become mandatory for all vehicles sold in Europe from 2022, after new rules were provisionally agreed by the EU. Road safety charity Brake called it a "landmark day," but the AA said "a little speed" helped with overtaking or joining motorways. Safety measures approved by the European Commission included intelligent speed assistance (ISA), advanced emergency braking and lane-keeping technology. The EU says the plan could help avoid 140,000 serious injuries by 2038 and aims ultimately to cut road deaths to zero by 2050. Under the ISA system, cars receive information via GPS and a digital map, telling the vehicle what the speed limit is. This can be combined with a video camera capable of recognizing road signs. The system can be overridden temporarily. If a car is overtaking a lorry on a motorway and enters a lower speed-limit area, the driver can push down hard on the accelerator to complete the maneuver. According to the report, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Peugeot-Citroen, Renault and Volvo already have models available with some of the ISA technology fitted.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's exploited-vulnerabilities department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: French authorities have arrested five men who stole over 120,000 liters (26,400 gallons) of fuel from gas stations around Paris by unlocking gas pumps using a special remote. The five-man team operated with the help of a special remote they bought online and which could unlock a particular brand of gas pumps installed at Total gas stations. The hack was possible because some gas station managers didn't change the gas pump's default lock code from the standard 0000. Hackers would use this simple PIN code to reset fuel prices and remove any fill-up limits. Crooks would operate in small teams of two to three individuals who visited gas stations at night using two vehicles. A man in a first car would use the remote to unlock the gas station, and then a second car, usually a van, would come along seconds later to fill a giant tanker installed in the back of the vehicle with as much as 2,000 or 3,000 liters in one go. The group advertised the fuel they stole on social media, providing a time and place where customers could come and refuel their vehicles or pick up orders for gasoline and diesel at smaller prices. Police uncovered the scheme in April 2018, when they arrested a suspect in possession of a remote used in the hack. "Five men, part of the same gang, were arrested on Monday, according to Le Parisien, who first reported the scheme last November," the report adds.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's don't-blink department
Xiaomi is teasing a new 100W quick-charging solution for mobile phones that can fully charge a large 4,000mAh battery in just 17 minutes. Ars Technica reports: The video shows a charging race between two phones, Xiaomi's unnamed "100W" prototype and a phone with "50W" charging from "Brand O," which looks like it's an Oppo RX17 Pro. I put both of these wattage ratings in quotations because neither phone actually hits its rated charging speed. Xiaomi's video shows a live, in-line power reading, and the "100W" charging shows a sustained ~80W (18V / 4.5A) from about 5-30 percent, with a peak of 88W. The competing 50W Oppo quick-charge solution caps out at around 40W.
Branding aside, what matters is the actual charging speed, and Xiaomi's ability to fully charge a phone battery in 17 minutes is impressive. The test stops when the Xiaomi phone fills up, leaving the Oppo battery stuck at a mere 65 percent. Considering that Xiaomi was charging a 4000mAh battery and that Oppo only had a 3700mAh battery, Xiaomi's solution is about 1.6 times faster than Oppo's quick charge, which is currently the fastest charging scheme on the market. Unfortunately, Xiaomi didn't offer any specifics on how its charging solution works.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unusual-demands department
Microsoft is urging lawmakers in Washington to increase the tax burden on itself and Amazon (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source) to help pay for a new higher education fund. "The bill, which was introduced Monday by Rep. Drew Hansen and Rep. Gerry Pollet among others, "would pour about a billion dollars over the next four years into a 'workforce education account,' to be spent on more financial aid as well as more degree slots in high-demand subjects such as computer science, engineering and nursing," The Seattle Times reports. Microsoft and Amazon would be the only two companies included in the highest tax bracket. From the report: The premise now is to put a surcharge on businesses that benefit the most from a highly skilled workforce. That means high-tech of course, as well as professional services firms. The bill proposes increasing the state business and occupation tax by 20 percent on about 40 categories of technical services, such as telecom, engineering, medical and finance. And by 33 percent on tech firms with more than $25 billion in annual revenue. But here's where this goes off the charts, into politically unheard-of territory. It mandates a top rate, a whopping 67 percent business tax increase, for those "advanced computing businesses" with "worldwide gross revenue of more than one hundred billion dollars" per year. There are only two businesses headquartered here that fit that rarefied description. And one of them, Microsoft, is the tax's biggest booster.
But that other company that would also be most on the hook? Apparently it isn't so thrilled to have been volunteered for civic duty by one of its chief rivals. "Amazon was surprised to be included in such a public 'hey, let's do this' by Microsoft," said Rep. Gael Tarleton, D-Seattle, who said she heard that lament directly from an Amazon lobbyist. Added Pollet: "Amazon has groused in meetings down here that Microsoft is doing this mostly as a way of making Amazon look bad."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report this week saying that in 2018, "global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7 percent to 33 Gigatonnes." That's the most growth in emissions that the world has seen since 2013. From a report: Coal use contributed to a third of the total increase, mostly from new coal-fired power plants in China and India. This is worrisome because new coal plants have a lifespan of roughly 50 years. But the consequences of climate change are already upon us, and coal's hefty emissions profile compared to other energy sources means that, globally, carbon mitigation is going to be a lot more difficult to tackle than it may look from here in the US.
Even in the US, carbon emissions grew by 3.1 percent in 2018, according to the IEA. (This closely tracks estimates by the Rhodium Group, which released a preliminary report in January saying that US carbon emissions increased by 3.4 percent in 2018.) "By country, China, the United States, and India together accounted for nearly 70 percent of the rise in energy demand," Reuters wrote.Read Replies (0)