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Microsoft's BSOD Is Getting More Descriptive With QR Codes
Posted by News Fetcher on April 12 '16 at 12:23 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's QR-codes department:
itwbennett writes: Reddit user javelinnl posted a picture last week showing a new dreaded Blue Screen of Death (BSOD) featuring a QR code and a link that may appear in a future version of Windows 10. "Right now, the code and the link take users to a webpage that discusses generic fixes for errors that might cause a crash," writes Blair Frank from CIO. "In the future, though, Microsoft could provide a QR code that leads to more specific information about what caused the computer freeze up." As of this writing, Microsoft had not responded to Frank's request for comment, but when he forced a Blue Screen of Death on his Surface Pro 3, he was unable to get a QR code to appear, though a link to the help page did. The QR code shown in the image simply points to a generic resource page for "troubleshooting blue screen errors."

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Tesla Recalls 2,700 Model X Cars, Highlighting Risk of Massive Model 3 Rollout
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 08:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's potential-risk department:
An anonymous reader writes: Tesla has recalled 2,700 Model X cars due to a design flaw affecting the vehicle's third row of seats. Specifically, a faulty locking hinge on the last row of seats could potentially cause the seats to collapse forward during a crash. "Despite [15] prior successful tests and no reports of a third row seat slipping in any customer vehicles," Tesla said in an email to affected owners, "we have decided to conduct a voluntary recall as a precautionary measure and will be replacing all affected third row seat backs." Even though the Model X recall is small, it brings to mind the Model 3 and what possible manufacturing issues will pertain to it. BGR writes, "The current number of Model 3 reservations is absolutely staggering and Tesla will have no choice but to get as many Model 3s manufactured and out on the road as soon as humanly possible. So even in a best-case scenario where the rollout of the Model 3 goes swimmingly, Tesla will need to do all it can to ensure that the Model 3s rolling off the line in late 2018 and early 2019 are flawless." Recalling 2,700 vehicles is one thing, but a recall affecting the Model 3 could be a logistical and publicity nightmare.

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How George W. Bush and NASA Saved SpaceX From Financial Ruin
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 05:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's success-story department:
MarkWhittington quotes a report from Blasting News: Elon Musk and the people at SpaceX are rightly basking in the afterglow of finally landing the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket on a drone barge in the Atlantic. The same flight delivered an expandable module built by Bigelow Aerospace to the International Space Station. But, as Ars Technica points out, the launch, landing, and arrival at the space station would not have taken place had it not been for the generosity of NASA. George W. Bush began the Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program, which commercialized first cargo and then crew flights to and from the ISS. Four years later, SpaceX, having endured a number of launch failures of its small Falcon 1 rocket, was running out of cash. They were teetering on the brink of financial ruin as they were trying to develop a much larger and more complex Falcon 9 that would compete with more established launch vehicles such as the Atlas 5 and the Delta 4. Then NASA announced the initial contracts for COTS cargo flights. SpaceXâ(TM)s share was $1.6 billion. The NASA contract saved the company and allowed it to press on with building the Falcon 9 and the Dragon and then successfully compete for the Commercial Crew contracts.

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Over 80 Percent of China's Well Water Is Polluted
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 05:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's adverse-effects department:
An anonymous reader writes: 32.9 percent of the 2,103 underground wells tested in China received grade 4 for water quality -- meaning they're only fit for industrial use and are not safe for drinking water. Another 47.3 percent received a grade 5 for water quality. "These latest statistics are an indicator of how bad the underground water quality is. The sources of pollution are widespread and include a lot of agricultures. I think that would be the main source of pollution," Dabo Guan, professor at the University of East Anglia in Britain, told the New York Times. "From my point of view, this shows how water is the biggest environmental issue in China. People in the cities, they see air pollution every day, so it creates huge pressure from the public. But in the cities, people don't see how bad the water pollution is," said Guan. According to statistics from the country's Ministry of Water Resources, 70 percent of lakes used as a water source, 60 percent of underground water, and 11 percent of water in reservoirs did not meet the country's safety standards. Even though the study measured water sources close to the surface, the results are shocking and depict the adverse effects air pollution has in China currently and in years to come.

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Amazon Customers Sign Letter To Jeff Bezos To Dump Donald Trump
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 04:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's torches-and-pitchforks department:
An anonymous reader writes: More than 13,000 Amazon customers (including upwards of 5,000 Amazon Prime subscribers), have signed a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos calling for the company to stop selling Trump's line of menswear. UltraViolet Action is the organization hosting the petition, which calls for Amazon to "stop profiting off of [Trump's] brand of hate." The letter reads: "Donald Trump has consistently lobbed racist, sexist, and xenophobic attacks against entire groups of people, encouraged violence and vitriol against his political enemies and perpetuated a culture of violence against women. Amazon.com should want to distance themselves from this hateful rhetoric, but instead, they're profiting off his brand," explained Karin Roland, Chief Campaigns Officer at UltraViolet, in a statement. "Jeff Bezos needs to listen to his customers and ensure that Amazon doesn't profit off of Trump hate, and take immediate steps to dump Trump." If Amazon does take action, they wouldn't be the first. Macy's stopped carrying Trump's products last summer, and Univision and NBC cut ties with Trump over his statements as well.

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Cellebrite Is Developing Roadside Police 'Textalyzer' Device
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 04:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's from-the-breathalyzer-to-the-textalyzer department:
An anonymous reader writes: Cellebrite, the company many believe helped the FBI crack into the iPhone 5c belonging to a San Bernardino terrorist, is developing a roadside "textalyzer" device to help law enforcement determine whether someone involved in a motor vehicle accident was unlawfully driving while distracted. As reported from Ars Technica: "Under the first-of-its-kind legislation proposed in New York, drivers involved in accidents would have to submit their phone to roadside testing from a textalyzer to determine whether the driver was using a mobile phone ahead of a crash." The textalyzer allegedly would keep conversations, contacts, numbers, photos, and application data private in an effort to get around the Fourth Amendment right to privacy. "Cellebrite has been leading the adoption of field mobile forensics solutions by law enforcement for years, culminating in the formal introduction of our UFED FIELD series product line a year ago," Jim Grady, Cellebrite's CEO, said in a statement. "We look forward to supporting DORCs and law enforcement -- both in New York and nationally to curb distracted driving."

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Microsoft Improves Efforts To Offer Equal Pay For Equal Work To Its Employees
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 02:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's discrimination-in-the-workplace department:
An anonymous reader writes: One day before National Equal Pay Day, Microsoft has provided a new update on its efforts to provide equal pay for equal work for all of its employees. Kathleen Hogan, Microsoft's Executive Vice-President for Human Resources, wrote in a blog post: "Today, for every $1 earned by men, our female employees in the U.S. earn 99.8 cents at the same job title and level. Racial and ethnic minorities in the U.S. combined earn $1.004 for every $1 earned by their Caucasian counterparts. Breaking it down even further, African American/black employees are at $1.003; Hispanic/Latino(a) employees are at 99.9 cents; and Asian employees are at $1.006 for every $1 earned by Caucasian employees at the same job title and level, respectively." Hogan said she is "encouraged by these results" and that Microsoft will continue to monitor the data and publicly disclose it as part of Microsoft's annual public diversity and inclusion information and data reporting. "Our announcement today is another step forward along the path of greater diversity and inclusion progress at Microsoft, and in society as a whole. Along with our industry peers, the mission of landing intentional, enduring and impactful diversity and inclusion initiatives is one will we continue to pursue vigilantly."

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Apple Patent Filing Points To a Keyboard With No Keys
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 02:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's force-touch department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Digital Trends: Apple's patent, titled "Configurable Force-Sensitive Input Structure for Electronic Devices," was filed in September 2015 and was recently made available to the public on April 7th. It states that this all-in-one input interface consists of a metal contact layer, and a sense layer combined with a drive layer mounted underneath. According to the patent, the sense and drive layers detect a force exerted on the metal contact layer. This is accomplished by using an array of pixels on the sense and drive layers that determine an input location when active pixels are aligned on both layers. The user then gets a response to his or her action thanks to a haptic feedback module and a light guide layer that lights up the "keys" through extremely tiny holes in the metal surface. The components of the force-input sensitive "structure" are enclosed within the device's chassis; thus the only exposed portion is the contact surface itself. In a provided drawing, the illustrated notebook shows four distinct input areas on the surface. However, the patent states that the device can have any number of input areas defined on the contact portion.

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Ford Tests Its Self-Driving Car In Total Darkness Using LiDAR Tech
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 01:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's eyes-closed department:
An anonymous reader writes: Using a combination of radar, cameras, and light-sensitive radar called LiDAR, one of Ford's self-driving cars has successfully navigated a winding road at night and without headlights. LiDAR works by emitting short pulses of laser light -- 2.8 million laser pulses a second -- so that the vehicle's software can create a real-time, high-definition 3D image of what's around it to determine the best driving path. Ford's self-driving cars come equipped with high-definition 3D maps, which include information about road markings, signs, geography, landmarks, and topography. If a vehicle isn't able to see the ground due to inclement conditions, it will detect above-ground landmarks to locate itself on the map. Ford's self-driving cars equipped with the LiDAR radar system are particularly noteworthy because they can operate without the usual cameras that depend on sunshine and street lamps.

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Internet Mapping Glitch Turned a Random Kansas Farm Into a Digital Hell
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 01:32 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's solving-the-great-mapping-glitch department:
An anonymous reader writes: Back in 2002, a company called MaxMind had an idea: Gather up as many unique computer or smartphone IP addresses as they can, match them to a map, and sell that data to advertisers. The problem is that MaxMind's tech has made life miserable for a handful of homes across the US -- especially one otherwise unnoteworthy northern Kansas farm. The farm's 82-year-old owner, Joyce Taylor, and her tenants have been subject to numerous FBI visits, IRS collectors, ambulances, threats, and the release of private information online. They've found people rummaging in the farm's barn and one person even left a broken toilet for some reason. People would even post her details online and encourage others to get in on the harassment, she said. The local sheriff even had to put a sign on her driveway, telling trespassers to stay away and contact him first if there are any questions. What's her mistake? MaxMind thought that if its tech couldn't tell where, exactly, in the United States, an IP address was located, it would instead return a default set of coordinates very near the geographic center of the country -- coordinates that happen to coincide with Taylor's front yard. The abuse began in 2011. A quick online search for the farm's address brings up pages of forum posts reporting the "scam farm."

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Experts Crack Petya Ransomware, Enable Hard Drive Decryption For Free
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 12:11 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's a-day-late-and-a-dollar-short? department:
Reader itwbennett writes: Petya appeared on researchers' radar last month when criminals distributed it to companies through spam emails that masqueraded as job applications. It stood out from other file-encrypting ransomware programs because it overwrites a hard drive's master boot record (MBR), leaving infected computers unable to boot into the operating system. Now, security experts have devised a method that, while not exactly straightforward, allows users to recover data from computers infected with the ransomware without paying money to cyber criminals. Folks over at BleepingComputer have confirmed that the aforementioned technique works.

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Life Expectancy Study: It's Not Just What You Make, It's Where You Live
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 12:11 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's can-money-lengthen-your-life-span? department:
An anonymous reader shares a report on NPR.org: Poor people who reside in expensive, well-educated cities such as San Francisco tend to live longer than low-income people in less affluent places, according to a study of more than a billion Social Security and tax records. The study, published in JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, bolsters what was already well-known -- the poor tend to have shorter lifespans than those with more money. But it also says that among low-income people, big disparities exist in life expectancy from place to place, said Raj Chetty, professor of economics at Stanford University. "There are some places where the poor are doing quite well, gaining just as much in terms of life span as the rich, but there are other places where they're actually going in the other direction, where the poor are living shorter lives today than they did in the past," Chetty said, in an interview with NPR.The New York Times' take on the same study: New York is a city with some of the worst income inequality in the country. But when it comes to inequality of life spans, it's one of the best. Impoverished New Yorkers tend to live far longer than their counterparts in other American cities, according to a detailed new research of Social Security and earnings records published Monday in The Journal of the American Medical Association. They still die sooner than their richer neighbors, but the city's life-expectancy gap was smaller in 2014 than nearly everywhere else, and it has shrunk since 2001 even as gaps grew nationwide. That trend may appear surprising. New York is one of the country's most unequal and expensive cities, where the poor struggle to find affordable housing and the money and time to take care of themselves.

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Google Developers Create API For Direct USB Access Via Web Pages
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 10:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's improved-connectivity department:
An anonymous reader writes: Two Google developers have uploaded an unofficial (for now) draft to the World Wide Web Consortium's Web Incubator Community Group (W3C WICG) that describes a method of interconnecting USB-capable devices to Web pages. The API, called WebUSB, allows device manufacturers to provide special "registry and landing pages" where they can host JavaScript SDKs for their USB-capable devices. Site owners can load these SDKs as iframes inside their websites, and allow a site to access and relay commands (via the iframe to the browser's WebUSB API) to the actual device. To protect privacy and security, the WebUSB API also comes with a CORS-like system that prompts users for access to their devices to avoid abuse and Web-based fingerprinting. The system is also backward compatible with devices created before the standard's approval (if it gets approved).

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Surveillance Cameras Sold On Amazon Found Infected With Malware
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 10:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's why-is-the-red-light-still-on? department:
An anonymous reader shares a report on ZDNet: Security researcher Mike Olsen has warned that some products sold through the Amazon marketplace are harboring a dark secret -- malware. Olsen said in a blog post that while scouring Amazon for a decent set of outdoor surveillance cameras for a friend, he came across a deal for 6 PoE cameras and recording equipment. The seller, Urban Security Group, had generally good reviews and was offering a particular Sony setup on sale. After purchasing the kit, Olsen started setting up the surveillance system, logging into the administrator panel to configure it. [...] Upon investigation, Olsen found that the device was talking to a server with hostname Brenz.pl, which is linked to malware distribution. If the device's firmware links to this domain, malware can be downloaded and installed, potentially leading to unlawful surveillance and data theft.Perhaps the company which made the device didn't realize its source code was compromised. While the aforementioned incident should serve as a reminder to people on why they need to be wary of the product they are purchasing, this isolated occurrence doesn't prove in any way that "plenty" of cameras on Amazon are also infected, as the article and the original blog post are subtly trying to imply.

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Kepler Recovered from Emergency and Stable
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 10:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's this-is-awesome department:
Here's an exciting update on NASA's Kepler, which entered "emergency mode" last week. An anonymous reader points us to a press release on NASA's official website: Mission operations engineers have successfully recovered the Kepler spacecraft from Emergency Mode (EM). On Sunday morning, the spacecraft reached a stable state with the communication antenna pointed toward Earth, enabling telemetry and historical event data to be downloaded to the ground. The spacecraft is operating in its lowest fuel-burn mode. The mission has cancelled the spacecraft emergency, returning the Deep Space Network ground communications to normal scheduling. Once data is on the ground, the team will thoroughly assess all on board systems to ensure the spacecraft is healthy enough to return to science mode and begin the K2 mission's microlensing observing campaign, called Campaign 9. This checkout is anticipated to continue through the week. Earth-based observatories participating in Campaign 9 will continue to make observations as Kepler's health check continues. The K2 observing opportunity for Campaign 9 will end on July 1, when the galactic center is no longer in view from the vantage point of the spacecraft.

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Hacked Swedish Military Servers Used In Attacks On US Banks
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's just-like-in-movies department:
Reader wiredmikey writes: Swedish military computers were hacked and used in an attack targeting major U.S. banks in 2013, the armed forces said on Monday. The attack knocked out the web sites of as many as 20 major U.S. banks and financial institutions, sometimes for several days. According to Swedish military spokesman Mikael Abramsson, a server in the Swedish defense system had a vulnerability which was exploited by hackers to carry out the attacks. At the time, the attack, which began in 2012 and continued for months, was one of the biggest ever reported. U.S. officials blamed Iran, suggesting it was in retaliation for political sanctions and several earlier cyberattacks on its own systems.

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Microsoft Declares Wholehearted Support For Privacy Shield
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 08:17 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's dispute-over-what's-right department:
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has declared its support for the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield. The proposed legislation to govern data transmission between the EU and U.S. has been the subject of much debate. While acknowledging that more work will need to be done after it is adopted, Microsoft has thrown its support behind Privacy Shield, stating that after careful and detailed review, it 'believes wholeheartedly that it represents an effective framework and should be approved.' Microsoft has pledged to sign up for Privacy Shield, to adhere to its current and future guidelines, and to respond to Microsoft user complaints under Privacy Shield within 45 days. Despite the framework being criticized for its inadequacy, Microsoft supports the Privacy Shield in its current form, and believes that further adjustments should be made after the initial adoption.Microsoft is the first company to sign up for EU-U.S. Privacy Shield pact. The EU privacy regulators are yet to share their views on the deal. According to a recent leak, however, it appears they wouldn't approve it. While this shouldn't stop the commission from making a decision, as Fortune explains, "they can't technically stop the commission issuing its adequacy decision, but they can make life very difficult for companies transferring the data if they think the U.S. doesn't offer adequate protections."

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Top Tech Firms Urged To Step Up Online Abuse Fightback
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 08:17 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's making-the-Internet-a-peaceful-place department:
An anonymous reader shares a report on The Guardian: Top tech companies are talking to grassroots organisations across the globe to organise a fightback on their platforms against online abuse, hate speech, misogyny and stalking. Facebook, Twitter and Google are reaching out to women's groups, NGOs and communities in Africa, America, India, Europe and the Middle East as the scale of abuse online continues to increase. But their attempts to foster a "counter-speech" movement to challenge the violent misogyny, racism, threats, intimidation and abuse that flood social media platforms have prompted some of the communities they are trying to empower to question whether they are ducking their own responsibilities. Sarah Green, of the End Violence against Women coalition, said: "Any moves by social media companies to support, encourage and empower individuals and groups to resist and counter abuse is very welcome."

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India's Audacious Plan to Bring Digital Banking to 1.2 Billion People
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 08:17 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's frictionless-mobile-payments department:
Saritha Rai, reporting for Bloomberg: India is trying to yank its cash-based economy into the 21st century. But how do you get 1.2 billion people, many of whom have never seen a bank or opened an account, to send digital payments to each other? The government's answer is an effort it has named the Unified Payment Interface. Debuting Monday, it's a system designed to make transferring and receiving money as easy as exchanging e-mail or text messages. The goal is to bring banking and financial services to hundreds of millions of citizens, many of them poor and disadvantaged, in one fell swoop. The network was created by India's retail banks and backed by India's central bank -- and they're confident it will work because it's built on top of an even more audacious project: India's biometrics-enabled national ID system, called Aadhaar after the Hindi word for foundation.The idea is to make mobile payments and utilization of other services between users with accounts in different banks frictionless. The Aadhaar number, or a virtual address, will serve as the single identifier. This will also allow a person to use several services of a bank without being its customer, explains Forbes India. The UPI app is in phase-I and is operational for a closed user group. The app is expected to be launched for public in the coming months.

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Music Streaming Service Exclusives Make Pirating Tempting Again
Posted by News Fetcher on April 11 '16 at 06:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's subscription-vs-piracy department:
The advent of online music streaming service has made it easier for millions of people worldwide to listen to all of their favorite songs, and convinced plenty to pay for music. But with the space of music streaming service getting increasingly crowded and artists beginning to do exclusive with select platforms, it has again become inconvenient for people to get everything they want with one subscription. The Verge's Ashley Carman writes that this is pushing many people to resort to piracy. Carman writes: Rampant piracy could make a comeback, solely because streaming service exclusives, and complete artist opt-outs, make it impossible to get all music in one place. Last week, Drake dropped two new singles off his upcoming album Views from the 6. The tracks are currently only available on Apple Music. Last month, Kanye West released his newest album The Life of Pablo on Tidal only. It came to Spotify this month after an estimated 500,000 people had already torrented it. Big Sean and Jhen's Aiko released their collaboration album TWENTY88 on only Tidal at first. Beyonce and Nicki Minaj released a Tidal-only music video for Feeling Myself. More than a million people signed up for Tidal over the course of a day just to get Kanye's new album, though it's assumed that most won't stick around. At what cost to listeners are these exclusives being made and where does it leave fans? If users wanted to subscribe to only one service, it would come out to approximately $120 per year. Two services will cost $240, and three services, say, Apple Music, Tidal, and Spotify, will cost $360, which will be a substantial cost to casual listeners.

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