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Hacker Breaches Securus, the Company That Helps Cops Track Phones Across the US
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '18 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's was-bound-to-happen department:
Securus, the company which tracks nearly any phone across the US for cops with minimal oversight, has been hacked, Motherboard reported Wednesday. From the report: The hacker has provided some of the stolen data to Motherboard, including usernames and poorly secured passwords for thousands of Securus' law enforcement customers. Although it's not clear how many of these customers are using Securus's phone geolocation service, the news still signals the incredibly lax security of a company that is granting law enforcement exceptional power to surveill individuals. "Location aggregators are -- from the point of view of adversarial intelligence agencies -- one of the juiciest hacking targets imaginable," Thomas Rid, a professor of strategic studies at Johns Hopkins University, told Motherboard in an online chat.

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Nobody Knows How Much Energy Bitcoin Is Using
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '18 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
dmoberhaus writes: A new report published in 'Joule' today claims Bitcoin may use up to 0.5% of the world's energy by the end of this year. We often hear about how bad Bitcoin is for the environment -- it already uses the same amount of energy as the country of Ireland -- but these numbers are usually just the /minimum/ amount of energy the network must be using. The actual amount of energy used by the Bitcoin network is likely substantially higher, but getting an accurate reading on that energy level is hard. The only researcher trying to quantify Bitcoin's energy use spoke to Motherboard about opening Bitcoin's 'black box.'

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Twitter Delays Shutdown of Legacy APIs By 3 Months as it Launches a Replacement
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '18 at 09:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's some-leeway department:
Twitter said on Wednesday that it will be giving developers more time to adjust to its API platform overhaul, which has affected some apps' ability to continue operating in the same fashion. From a report: The company clarified this morning, along with news of the general availability of its Account Activity API, that it will be delaying the shutdown of some of its legacy APIs by three months' time. That is, APIs originally slated for a June 19, 2018 shutdown -- including Site Streams, User Streams, and legacy Direct Message Endpoints -- will now be deprecated on Wednesday, August 16, 2018.

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Sony Ends Production Of Physical Vita Games
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '18 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department:
Sony is ending physical production of Vita games, news outlet Kotaku reports. Although the hardware manufacturer says digital distribution will continue, this move will mark the end of physical cards for the maligned portable game system, Kotaku added. From a report: Sony's American and European branches "plan to end all Vita GameCard production by close of fiscal year 2018," the company told developers today in a message obtained by Kotaku. The message asks that all Vita product code requests be submitted by June 28, 2018, and that final purchase orders be entered by February 15, 2019. Sony's 2018 fiscal year will end on March 31, 2019.

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'Bird Scooters Are Ruining Venice'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '18 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's fair-point? department:
Nate Jackson, writing for LA Times: Although I would like to avoid them, I have no choice but to consider them because I live in Venice, which is where the first Bird (electric scooters) hatched and where the flock is thickest. Bird's founder and CEO, Travis VanderZanden, says, "We won"t be happy till there are more Birds than cars," so I guess I am supposed to get used to it. [...] Suddenly, almost daily, I have some near-collision with a Bird scooter rider -- he who sees nothing but the phone in his hand, thinks of nothing but the next text, and hears nothing but whatever music he has chosen to pump through the white inserts protruding from his wasted ears. He who, despite all that, is still traveling up to 15 mph on the street or sidewalk. Aside from road safety, which has been discussed thoroughly in this and other papers, Bird is also tearing away at the fabric of our Westside society. In Venice and Santa Monica, where Bird is centralized, thousands of people live on the streets, which helps explain the scooter's popularity. With a press of a throttle button, one can be whizzing along, leaving it all in a blur. Bird calls this solving the "first/last mile" problem. Problem? Is it a problem for a twentysomething to walk a single mile? To most residents, Venice itself is the solution: The weather is perfect, the ocean is a stone's throw away and each block has something interesting to see. But to walk through Venice is to understand that human misery exists just outside the frame of your Instagram feed.

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Microsoft To Launch a Line of Lower-Cost Surface Tablets With 10-inch Displays By Second Half of 2018, Report Says
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '18 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's coming-up-next department:
Microsoft plans to launch a line of lower-cost Surface tablets as soon as the second half of 2018, Bloomberg reported Wednesday. These devices should help Microsoft improve its market share in the iPad-led hybrid machines market, the outlet noted. From the report: Microsoft has tried this before. The software giant kicked off its consumer-oriented hardware push in 2012 with the launch of the original Surface RT. At the time, it was priced starting at $499. After the tablets didn't resonate with consumers and product reviewers, Microsoft pivoted to the more-expensive Surface Pro, a line which has gained steam and likely contributed to demand for a pro-oriented iPad, which Apple launched in 2015. The new tablets will feature 10-inch screens -- around the same size as a standard iPad, but smaller than the 12-inch screens used on the Surface Pro laptop line. The new Surfaces, priced about $400, will have rounded edges like an iPad, differing from the squared off corners of current models. They'll also include USB-C connectivity, a first for Surface tablets, a new charging and syncing standard being used by some of the latest smartphones. The tablets are expected to be about 20 percent lighter than the high-end models, but will have around four hours fewer of battery life. (The current Surface Pro can last 13.5 hours on a single charge.)

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Fedora-Based Linux Distro Korora Halts Development
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '18 at 07:12 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department:
Korora, a Fedora-based Linux distro, halted its development this month, BetaNews' Brian Fagioli spotted Wednesday. The announcement would irk many, as Korora consistently received positive feedback from critics and users alike. News outlet ZDNet once described Korora as "Fedora++", while Slashdot readers, too, spoke highly of the distro. At the same time, the announcement should come as little surprise to anyone who has been tracking Korora's work. In a blog post, Korora team wrote: Korora for the forseeable future is not going to be able to march in cadence with the Fedora releases. In addition to that, for the immediate future there will be no updates to the Korora distribution. Our team is infinitesimal (currently 1 developer and 2 community managers) compared to many other distributions, we don't have the luxury of being able to dedicate the amount of time we would like to spend on the project and still satisfy our real life obligations. So we are taking a little sabbatical to avoid complete burn out and rejuvenate ourselves and our passion for Korora/Fedora and wider open source efforts. The team had expressed similar concerns earlier this year: For the past few years Korora has released a new version in line with each Fedora version. That means that approximately twice a year we prepare, test and create 5 different ISO versions. This is as well as, among other things, developing new projects, supporting existing releases and planning the future versions. As each team member has different skills some tasks, such as development, can only be done by one person. All this is done in our spare time along side our job, family and personal responsibilities. For a very small team, currently 3 people plus the occasional input from others, this is a lot of work. It means that often Korora has to take a back seat when real life intrudes. This isn't the first time Korora had to abruptly pause its development. In 2007, Christopher Smart, who kickstarted Korora (at the time based on Gentoo Linux), had discontinued the project -- only to revive it three years later.

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Researchers Create First Flying Wireless Robotic Insect
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '18 at 05:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from New Atlas: You might remember RoboBee, an insect-sized robot that flies by flapping its wings. Unfortunately, though, it has to be hard-wired to a power source. Well, one of RoboBee's creators has now helped develop RoboFly, which flies without a tether. Slightly heavier than a toothpick, RoboFly was designed by a team at the University of Washington -- one member of that team, assistant professor Sawyer Fuller, was also part of the Harvard University team that first created RoboBee. That flying robot receives its power via a wire attached to an external power source, as an onboard battery would simply be too heavy to allow the tiny craft to fly. Instead of a wire or a battery, RoboFly is powered by a laser. That laser shines on a photovoltaic cell, which is mounted on top of the robot. On its own, that cell converts the laser light to just seven volts of electricity, so a built-in circuit boosts that to the 240 volts needed to flap the wings. That circuit also contains a microcontroller, which tells the robot when and how to flap its wings -- on RoboBee, that sort of "thinking" is handled via a tether-linked external controller. The robot can be seen in action here.

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Tesla Model X Breaks Electric Towing Record By Pulling Boeing 787
Posted by News Fetcher on May 16 '18 at 03:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's showing-off department:
A Tesla Model X has set the world record for heaviest tow by electric production passenger vehicle when it pulled a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner at the Melbourne Airport in Australia. The video can be viewed on YouTube. Inverse reports: As probably expected, the plane far exceeds the Model X's recommended tow limit of around 5,000 pounds. In fact, the weight of the unloaded 787 with a minimal amount of fuel came closer to around 300,000 pounds. The airline pulled the Dreamliner around 1,000 feet down the tarmac. The stunt was part of a wider campaign around Qantas' new work with Tesla, which involves offering high-powered chargers at its Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide facilities as well as offsetting miles for Tesla drivers that are also frequent flyer members.

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Ecuador Spent $5 Million Protecting and Spying On Julian Assange, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '18 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-for-the-price-of-one department:
Citing reports from The Guardian and Focus Ecuador, The Verge reports that Ecuador's intelligence program spent at least $5 million "on an elaborate security and surveillance network around WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange." The intelligence program was known as "Operator Hotel," which began as "Operation Guest" when Assange took refuge in Ecuador's UK embassy in 2012. From the report: Operation Hotel has allegedly covered expenses like installing CCTV cameras and hiring a security team to "secretly film and monitor all activity in the embassy," including Assange's daily activities, moods, and interactions with staff and visitors. The Guardian estimates Ecuadorian intelligence agency Senain has spent at least $5 million on Assange-related operations, based on documents they reviewed. The report details attempts to improve Assange's public image and potentially smuggle him out of the embassy if he was threatened. But it also writes that relations between Assange and Ecuador have badly deteriorated over the past several years. In 2014, Assange allegedly breached the embassy's network security, reading confidential diplomatic material and setting up his own secret communications network.

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Justice Department, FBI Are Investigating Cambridge Analytica
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '18 at 08:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's when-it-rains-it-pours department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CBS News: The Justice Department and FBI are investigating Cambridge Analytica, the now-shuttered political data firm that was once used by the Trump campaign and came under scrutiny for harvesting data of millions of users, The New York Times reported on Tuesday. The Times, citing a U.S. official and people familiar with the inquiry, reported federal investigators have looked to question former employees and banks connected to the firm.

The Times reports prosecutors have informed potential witnesses there is an open investigation into the firm, whose profiles of voters were intended to help with elections. One source tells CBS News correspondent Paula Reid prosecutors are investigating the firm for possible financial crimes. A company that has that much regulatory scrutiny is almost guaranteed to have federal prosecutors interested, Reid was told. Christopher Wylie, a former Cambridge Analytica employee who spoke out about the data sharing practices, told the Times federal investigators had contacted him. The American official told the Times investigators have also contacted Facebook as a part of the probe.

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Tesla Unveils New Large Powerpack Project For Grid Balancing In Europe
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '18 at 07:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's teeter-totter department:
Tesla has unveiled a new large Powerpack energy storage project to be used as a virtual power plant for grid balancing in Europe. It consists of 140 Powerpacks and several Tesla inverters for a total power output of 18.2 MW. Electrek reports: Tesla partnered with Restore, a demand response aggregator, to build the system and offer balancing services to European transmission system operators. Instead of using gas generators and steam turbines kicking to compensate for losses of power on the grid, Tesla's batteries are charged when there's excess power and then discharge when there's a need for more power.

Restore UK Vice President Louis Burford told The Energyst that they are bundling their assets like batteries as a "synthetic pool": "By creating synthetic pools or portfolios, you reduce the technical requirements on individual assets that otherwise would not be able to participate [in certain balancing services]. By doing so you create value where it does not ordinarily exist. That is only achievable through synthetic portfolios." For those interested, Tesla has released promo video on YouTube about the project.

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Uber Drops Arbitration Requirement For Sexual Assault Victims
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '18 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's under-pressure department:
Previously, Uber required complaints to be resolved in mandatory arbitration -- out of court and behind closed doors. Today, the company announced it is "changing its policies to allow customers, employees and drivers who are sexually harassed or assaulted to take their complaints to court and to speak publicly about their experiences," reports NPR. From the report: Last month, Katherine and Lauren were among 14 female victims who sent an open letter to Uber's board, pointing to the company's own sexual harassment problems and the #MeToo movement. "Silencing our stories deprives customers and potential investors from the knowledge that our horrific experiences are part of a widespread problem at Uber," they wrote. The women's demand -- and Uber's response -- highlight the significance of mandatory arbitration agreements, which are increasingly common. The provisions are usually in the fine print -- and most people who sign the agreements don't know they have signed away their right to sue.

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YouTube Might Finally Get An Incognito Mode
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '18 at 05:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hidden-activity department:
Currently, you can head to the "History and Privacy" settings in YouTube and toggle on the options to pause watch and search history if you don't want the site to track your searches and watched videos, but that can be a bit complicated each time you want to search for something weird. According to Android Police, "YouTube will make it a little easier to go into incognito without digging into many settings and without having to disable it later." A new "Incognito Mode" will appear when you tap your account avatar in the top right of the app. From the report: With "Incognito Mode" on, all your activity from the current session is not saved and subscriptions are hidden too. It's as if you were signed out without being so, and there's a neat incognito icon replacing your avatar. If you turn off Incognito or become inactive on YouTube, you'll be back to using your own account.

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In a Poll, 43% of Millennials in 36 Countries Say They Plan To Leave Their Jobs Within Two Years
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '18 at 04:31 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's missing-loyalty department:
A poll by Deloitte with more than 10,000 millennials across 36 countries found that 43% of them are planning to leave their jobs within two years, while only 28% are looking to stay beyond five years.

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Comcast Charges $90 Install Fee At Homes That Already Have Comcast Installed
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '18 at 04:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's slap-in-the-face department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Based on our tests, signing up for standalone Internet or TV service on Comcast.com often requires payment of a $59.99 or $89.99 installation fee, depending on where you live. (The fee was $60 in two Massachusetts suburbs and $90 at homes in Houston, Texas, and Seattle, Washington.) In cases where the $60 or $90 fee is charged, the fee is required whether you purchase your own modem or rent one from Comcast for another $11 a month.

The installation fee might be charged even if the home you're buying service at has existing Comcast service, and even if you order Internet speeds lower than those purchased by the current occupant. That means the fee is charged even when Comcast doesn't have to make any upgrades at the house or apartment you're moving into. Internet speed makes no difference, as the fee may be charged whether you purchase 15Mbps downloads or gigabit service. You can avoid the installation fee by purchasing certain bundles that include both TV and Internet, but the fee is often mandatory if you buy only TV service or broadband individually. The $60 or $90 fee is also charged when you buy phone service only or a "double-play" package of phone service and broadband.

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Hackers Steal Millions From Mexican Banks In Transfer Heist
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '18 at 03:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's drag-and-drop department:
happyfeet2000 shares a report from Reuters: Thieves siphoned hundreds of millions of pesos out of Mexican banks, including No. 2 Banorte, by creating phantom orders that wired funds to bogus accounts and promptly withdrew the money, two sources close to the government's investigation said. Hackers sent hundreds of false orders to move amounts ranging from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of pesos from banks including Banorte, to fake accounts in other banks, the sources said, and accomplices then emptied the accounts in cash withdrawals in dozens of branch offices. The total amount is estimated to be as much as $20 million (~400 million pesos).

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A Quarter of Americans Spend All Day Inside, Survey Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '18 at 03:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's indoor-generation department:
Zorro shares a report from The Washington Times: A quarter of Americans spend almost an entire 24 hours without going outside and downplay the negative health effects of only breathing indoor air, according to a new survey claiming a new "indoor generation." It's unclear how dangerous indoor air is in the modern era -- reports by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency evaluating indoor air quality are from 1987 and 1989, which found that it is two to five times more polluted than outside.

The "Indoor Generation Report" surveyed 16,000 people from 14 countries in Europe and North America about their knowledge and perceptions of indoor vs outdoor air quality and the amount of time spent inside. Of the results for Americans, a quarter said they spend between 21 and 24 hours inside; 20 percent said they spend 19 to 20 hours a day inside and 21 percent say they spend between 15 and 18 hours inside. Thirty-four percent said they spend between zero and 14 hours inside. Great Britain and Canada had similar results to the U.S., with 23 and 26 percent of its respondents saying they spend between 21 and 24 hours inside. The countries with the highest percentage of people who spend the lowest amount of time inside were Italy (57 percent), the Czech Republic (57 percent) and the Netherlands (51 percent). This group said they only spend between zero and 14 hours indoors.

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Suspect Identified In CIA 'Vault 7' Leak
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '18 at 01:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's search-and-destroy department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: In weekly online posts last year, WikiLeaks released a stolen archive of secret documents about the Central Intelligence Agency's hacking operations, including software exploits designed to take over iPhones and turn smart television sets into surveillance devices. It was the largest loss of classified documents in the agency's history and a huge embarrassment for C.I.A. officials. Now, The New York Times has learned the identity of the prime suspect in the breach (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source): a 29-year-old former C.I.A. software engineer who had designed malware used to break into the computers of terrorism suspects and other targets.

F.B.I. agents searched the Manhattan apartment of the suspect, Joshua A. Schulte, one week after WikiLeaks released the first of the C.I.A. documents in March last year, and then stopped him from flying to Mexico on vacation, taking his passport, according to court records and family members. The search warrant application said Mr. Schulte was suspected of "distribution of national defense information," and agents told the court they had retrieved "N.S.A. and C.I.A. paperwork" in addition to a computer, tablet, phone and other electronics. But instead of charging Mr. Schulte in the breach, referred to as the Vault 7 leak, prosecutors charged him last August with possessing child pornography, saying agents had found the material on a server he created as a business in 2009 while he was a student at the University of Texas.

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Smarter People Don't Have Better Passwords, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on May 15 '18 at 01:51 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: A study carried out at a college in the Philippines shows that students with better grades use bad passwords in the same proportion as students with bad ones. The study's focused around a new rule added to the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) guideline for choosing secure passwords -- added in its 2017 edition. The NIST recommendation was that websites check if a user's supplied password was compromised before by verifying if the password is also listed in previous public breaches. If the password is included in previous breaches, the website is to consider the password insecure because all of these exposed passwords have most likely been added to even the most basic password-guessing brute-forcing tools.

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