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Uber's Short-lived Helicopter Service In Utah Grounded
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 03:11 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's and-stay-down department:
New submitter captaindomon writes: It may come as no surprise that the Uber helicopter flights which debuted at the Sundance Film Festival were apparently illegal and quickly grounded. "Thanks to the support and partnership we have with Sundance and Park City Municipal Corporation, we were able to come to an agreement," said Summit County spokeswoman Katie Mullaly. "We are glad to have this issue resolved, not only for the safety of all those involved, but also for the wildlife of the area, affected residents and environmental concerns."

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Wikipedia Editors Revolt, Vote "No Confidence" In Newest Board Member
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 01:52 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's get-outta-here department:
An anonymous reader writes with news about an editor revolt at Wikimedia to remove Arnnon Geshuri from the foundation's board. Ars reports: "Nearly 200 Wikipedia editors have taken the unprecedented step of calling for a member of the Wikimedia Foundation board of directors to be tossed out. The Wikimedia Foundation, which governs both the massive Wikipedia online encyclopedia and related projects, appointed Arnnon Geshuri to its board earlier this month. His appointment wasn't well received by the Wikipedia community of volunteer editors, however. And last week, an editor called for a 'vote of no confidence on Arnnon Geshuri.' The voting, which has no legally binding effect on the Wikimedia Foundation, is now underway. As of press time, 187 editors had voted in favor of this proposition: 'In the best interests of the Wikimedia Foundation, Arnnon Geshuri must be removed from his appointment as a trustee of the Wikimedia Foundation Board.' Just 13 editors have voted against, including Wikimedia board member Guy Kawasaki.

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US Regulators Find Serious Deficiencies At Theranos Lab
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 01:52 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's worst-practices department:
An anonymous reader writes: 2016 has not started well for blood-testing startup Theranos. Already facing allegations of data manipulation, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have found problems with Theranos' laboratory in Newark, California, putting the company's relationship with the Medicare program in danger. WSJ reports: "It isn't clear exactly what regulators have faulted Theranos for in their latest inspection, which took several months. Adverse findings would be another regulatory setback for one of Silicon Valley's highest-profile startups, valued at about $9 billion in 2014. Theranos already has stopped collecting tiny samples of blood from patients' fingers for all but one of its tests while it waits for the Food and Drug Administration to review the company's applications for wider use of the proprietary vials called 'nanotainers.' In October, the FDA said it had determined that the nanotainers were an 'uncleared medical device.'"

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YouTube and the Modern Mad Scientist
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 12:32 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's warm-up-the-water-engine department:
szczys writes: Making change for $1.00 and getting $1.10 back. That's the premise of overunity, free energy, and perpetual motion experiments. Using money as the the analogy is fitting because these concepts are heavily aligned with scams trying to land a payday for their "research". But there is another branch of people working on them: tinkerers who believe they can actually solve the problem. Laws of thermodynamics say otherwise, but this isn't necessarily wasted time. Other breakthroughs are waiting to be discovered as these mad scientists try to remove all efficiency losses from their doomed systems. YouTube can be an interesting place to look for ideas on low-friction, high efficiency fabrication.

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German Court: "Sharing" Your Amazon Purchases Is Spamming
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 12:32 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's keep-it-to-yourself department:
An anonymous reader writes: A court in Germany has ruled that the 'Share' links which Amazon provides to customers directly after making a purchase at the site are unlawful. The "Share" functionality provides buttons which allow the consumer to signal a new purchase via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or email. The court, ratifying an earlier decision made at a lower court, declared that emails initiated via the Share function constitute "unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment."

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Apple Court Testimony Reveals Why It Refuses To Unlock iPhones For Police
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 11:12 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's we-won't-do-it department:
blottsie writes: Newly unsealed court transcripts from the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York show that Apple now refuses to unlock iPhones for law enforcement, saying "In most cases now and in the future, the government’s requested order would be substantially burdensome, as it would be impossible to perform." “Right now Apple is aware that customer data is under siege from a variety of different directions. Never has the privacy and security of customer data been as important as it is now,” Apple lawyer Marc Zwillinger said at the hearing. “A hypothetical consumer could think if Apple is not in the business of accessing my data and if Apple has built a system to prevent itself from accessing my data, why is it continuing to comply with orders that don’t have a clear lawful basis in doing so?”

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Microsoft Releases Its Deep Learning Toolkit On GitHub
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 11:12 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's more-deep-learning-software-than-you-can-shake-a-stick-at department:
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft is moving its machine learning Computational Network Toolkit (CNTK) from its own hosting site, CodePlex, to GitHub. They're also putting it under the MIT open source license. The move marks an effort to make it easier for developers to collaborate on building their own deep learning applications using the CNTK. Under the CodePlex license, access was restricted to academics only, and it was wholly targeted to that audience. Now that it's opening the project to everyone, Microsoft hopes to attract a greater number of developers, and a wider variety as well.
This follows similar releases from Google and Baidu.

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Hollywood Turning Against Digital Effects
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 09:52 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's scorpion-king-vs-avatar department:
An anonymous reader writes: One of the easiest complaints to lob at a modern film is that the special effects look bad. It's been over two decades since Jurassic Park; the novelty is finally wearing off. The New Yorker puts it this way: "It's as if directors—especially the reboot generation—have finally become self-conscious about CGI; 2015 was the year they got embarrassed by the digital miracles of the movies." Both the new Star Wars film and Mad Max: Fury Road were lauded for their use of "practical effects" — not abandoning CGI entirely, but using it to embellish scenes, rather than creating them from whole cloth. "Movies are a faddish, self-quoting business. At one time, the stark lighting effects of the German Expressionists were the visual rage. Later, it was the helicopter shot or the zoom. Any new tool, once used promiscuously, becomes a cliché. As time goes by, a director rediscovers the tool, and what was once cliché becomes an homage to a distant and more cultured time. This is what has happened to the last, pre-digital wave of effects. They are now happily vintage." It also counts as marketing, when you consider that audiences are turned off by too much CGI: "Touting your movie's wood, concrete, and steel is an implicit promise of restraint. I didn't go totally wild, the filmmaker is telling the audience, not like Peter Jackson did in the Hobbit trilogy."

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Ask Slashdot: What Are Your Experiences With Online IDEs For Web Development?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 09:52 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's made-me-hate-my-ISP department:
Qbertino writes: I'm toying with the thought of moving my web development (PHP, HTML, CSS, JavaScript with perhaps a little Python and Ruby thrown in) into the cloud. The upsides I expect would be: 1) No syncing hassles across machines. 2) No installation of toolchains to get working or back to work — a browser and a connection is all that would be required. 3) Easy teamwork. 4) Easy deployment. 5) A move to Chrome OS for ultra-cheap laptop goodness would become realistic. Is this doable/feasible? What are your experiences? Note, this would be for professional web development, not hobbyist stuff. Serious interactive JS, non-trivial PHP/LAMP development, etc. Has anyone have real world experience doing something like this? Maybe even experience with moving to a completely web-centric environment with Chrome OS? What have you learned? What would you recommend? How has it impacted your productivity and what do you miss from the native pipelines? What keeps you in the cloud, and enables you to stay there? Are you working "totally cloud" with a team and if so, how does it work out/feel? Does it make sense? As for concrete solutions, I'm eyeing Cloud9, CodeAnywhere, CodeEnvy but also semi-FOSS stuff like NeutronDrive. Anything you would recommend for real world productivity? Have you tried this and moved back? If so, what are your experiences and what would need to be improved to make it worthwhile? Thanks for any insights.

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FortiGuard SSH Backdoor Found In More Fortinet Security Appliances
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 08:33 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-customer-service-reps-involved department:
itwbennett writes: Earlier this month, an SSH backdoor was identified in Fortinet firewall appliances. Last week, the company said that the problem was not an intentional backdoor, but the result of a management feature which relied on an undocumented account with a hard-coded password. Now, it has found that the same issue also exists in some versions of FortiSwitch, FortiAnalyzer and FortiCache. They said, "In accordance with responsible disclosure, today we have issued a security advisory that provides a software update that eliminates this vulnerability in these products. This update also covers the legacy and end-of-life products listed above. We are actively working with customers and strongly recommend that all customers using [those] products update their systems with the highest priority."

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Insurance Companies Looking For Fallback Plans To Survive Driverless Cars
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 08:32 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's yeah-we're-all-totally-pulling-for-you-*cough* department:
An anonymous reader writes: Driverless cars could mean a huge downsizing of the auto insurance industry, as the frequency of accidents declines and liability shifts from the driver to the vehicle's software or automaker. This is compounded by the rise of ride-sharing services. Once summoning a vehicle to take you somewhere isn't limited by the number of people available to drive them (and are correspondingly cheaper), car ownership is likely to decline. Many major automakers and tech companies are throwing billions of research dollars into making this happen, and insurance companies are trying to figure out how to survive. For example, a recent patent application shows State Farm is betting on collecting massive amounts of data about you. While they'll no doubt use it to set your insurance rates, they also plan to "send you advice, alerts, coupons or discounts on insurance or other goods and services." Traveler's Insurance is thinking along somewhat similar lines. They want to create "a device that offers specific suggestions for managing errands and other travel. Customers would be able to see a map of 'risk zone' data for places they want to go, such as stores, restaurants and roads. They could then plan the day 'with an eye toward how risky such endeavors may be,' according to the patent application."

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2016's First Batch of Anti-Science Education Bills Arrive In Oklahoma
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 07:12 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's stories-that-are-both-OK-and-not-OK department:
An anonymous reader writes: It's only January and we're already seeing the first anti-science education bills of 2016 going through the Oklahoma legislature. The state's lawmakers fight over this every year, and it looks like this year won't be any different. "The Senate version of the bill (PDF) is by State Senator Josh Brecheen, a Republican. It is the fifth year in a row he's introduced a science education bill after announcing he wanted 'every publicly funded Oklahoma school to teach the debate of creation vs. evolution.' This year's version omits any mention of specific areas of science that could be controversial. Instead, it simply prohibits any educational official from blocking a teacher who wanted to discuss the 'strengths and weaknesses' of scientific theories. The one introduced in the Oklahoma House (PDF) is more traditional. Billed as a 'Scientific Education and Academic Freedom Act' (because freedom!), it spells out a whole host of areas of science its author doesn't like: 'The Legislature further finds that the teaching of some scientific concepts including but not limited to premises in the areas of biology, chemistry, meteorology, bioethics, and physics can cause controversy, and that some teachers may be unsure of the expectations concerning how they should present information on some subjects such as, but not limited to, biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.'"

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Amazon's Customer Service Backdoor
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 05:53 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's be-less-helpful-please department:
An anonymous reader writes: Eric Springer describes his recent troubles with Amazon to highlight one of the biggest weak points in information security: customer service. You can use complex passwords and two-factor authentication all you want — all it takes is a low-level representative trying to be helpful and your account information is now compromised. In this case, a bad actor was able to use Amazon's online chat support and a fake address to get the rep to tell him Springer's real address and phone number. That was enough to commit fraud with a couple of unrelated online services. Springer complained, but months later the same thing happened again. That time, he had Amazon put a note on his account not to give out his details. But that didn't help; the attacker contacted Amazon's phone support line instead, and gathered yet more information. Springer writes, "At this point, Amazon has completely betrayed my trust three times. I have done absolutely everything in my power to secure my account, but it's hopeless. I am in the process of closing my Amazon account, and migrating as much to Google services which seem significantly more robust at stopping these attacks." Springer's advice for fixing this: "Never do customer support unless the user can log in to their account. The only exception to this would be if the user forgot the password, and there should be a very strict policy." He also says email services should make aliases easier, and whois protection should be default.

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The Clock Is Ticking For the US To Relinquish Control of ICANN
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 05:53 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's independence-day department:
Mark Wilson writes: The U.S. is not afraid to throw its weight around; it likes not only to be involved in things, but to be in control. For decades, ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) — the non-profit organization that manages IP addresses and domain names — has been overseen by the U.S. Department of Commerce, much to the chagrin of people around the world. Most upset are those who point to the independent nature of the internet, and the need for any body with global power to be similarly indpendent. Later this year ICANN is set — at long last — to completely separate from the U.S. government. While this does hinge on U.S. government approval, by the end of September, ICANN could instead be in the hands of businesses, individuals, and multiple global governments. While the changing of hands should not alter the way ICANN operates, it is hoped that it will go some way to restoring faith that may have been lost after revelations about online surveillance by the NSA and other U.S. government agencies.

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SaxoBank Predicts Universal Basic Income For Europe
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 03:12 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's one-billion-dollars department:
jones_supa writes: Saxo Bank, an investment bank based in Denmark, has released a list of its outrageous predictions for 2016. Among these predictions, economist Christopher Dembik claims that Europe will consider the introduction of a universal basic income to ensure that all citizens can meet their basic needs in the face of rising inequality and unemployment. This will come on the back of increased interest in basic income from Spain, Finland, Switzerland, and France.

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Chronic Stress Could Lead To Depression and Dementia, Scientists Warn
Posted by News Fetcher on January 25 '16 at 01:52 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's well-that's-a-problem department:
schwit1 writes: A major review of published research suggests that chronic stress and anxiety can damage areas of the brain involved in emotional responses, thinking and memory, leading to depression and even Alzheimer's disease. Dr Linda Mah, the lead author of the review carried out at a research institute affiliated to the University of Toronto, said: 'Pathological anxiety and chronic stress are associated with structural degeneration and impaired functioning of the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, which may account for the increased risk of developing neuropsychiatric disorders, including depression and dementia.'

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To Solve a Rubik's Cube In 1 Second, It Takes a Robot
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '16 at 09:51 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's don't-blink department:
The Next Web features a quick look at an eyebrow-raisingly fast Rubik's Cube-solving robot, created by developers Jay Flatland and Paul Rose. How fast? The robot can solve a scrambled cube in one second (as long as you're willing to round down consistent solutions in "less than 1.2 seconds") which makes for some fun repeat views on YouTube. One speed-shaving element of the design: Rather than grip the cube with a robot hand, Flatland and Rose essentially made the cube an integral part of the system, by drilling holes in the cube's center faces, and attaching stepper motors directly. (Also at Motherboard).

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Is Blockchain the Most Important IT Invention of Our Age?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '16 at 07:12 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's using-every-part-of-the-algorithm department:
mspohr writes: This article makes a fairly persuasive argument for the utility of the blockchain. It discusses a wide variety of companies and government exploring blockchain to maintain secure records which cannot be altered. One interesting application is to use blockchain to maintain property records in many countries where these records are often incomplete and are easily corrupted (intentionally or unintentionally). A linked article in The Economist expands the thought and discusses changes to the blockchain to improve performance, reduce overhead and accommodate different uses.

(See also this related poll.)

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Ransomware Hits Three Indian Banks, Causes Millions In Damages
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '16 at 04:31 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's pretty-soon-talking-real-money department:
An anonymous reader writes: Ransomware has locked computers in three major Indian banks and one pharmaceutical company. While the ransom note asks for 1 Bitcoin, so many computers have been infected that damages racked up millions of dollars. According to an antivirus company that analyzed the ransomware, it's not even that complex, and seems the work of some amateur Russians.

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Ask Slashdot: Affordable Hardware For Remote-Booting USB Devices?
Posted by News Fetcher on January 24 '16 at 04:31 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's should-exist department:
phlawed writes: USB ports are everywhere. It is very convenient for powering low-power devices, and by using a run-of-the-mill phone charger you can easily get 10+ watts or so. In other words: everyone already has the generic power supply and power cable. No issue with voltage or polarity. Perfect for the hobbyist market. Another ubiquitous power source (in the enterprise environment) is Power over Ethernet. Active PoE splitters for 12V output are available for ~6-7 USD and up on eBay. With PoE you get networking and power over the same wires, and booting your (possibly borked) PoE device is a matter of instructing the PoE source to cycle the power on that port. (Also, USB chargers with 12V input are available for less than 1 USD on eBay. They are likely all crap, though.) I am looking for the combination of these two concepts in a compact, affordable, quality product. I found one product offering USB power from PoE. That product appears to have left out Ethernet and has a MSRP of 30 USD. Otherwise, I find PoE wall sockets for a MSRP of USD 100 or more. It appears excessive, given the cost figures of the pieces listed above. So, if it does not already exist... anyone feel like running with this on your favorite crowdsourcing platform? Any experienced electronics people who can do a back-of-the-envelope calculation for cost of parts and assembly?

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