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Blockchains Are Not Safe For Voting, Concludes NAP Report
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 02:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ensuring-the-integrity-of-elections department:
The National Academies Press has released a 156-page report, called "Securing the Vote: Protecting American Democracy," concluding that blockchains are not safe for the U.S. election system. "While the notion of using a blockchain as an immutable ballot box may seem promising, blockchain technology does little to solve the fundamental security issues of elections, and indeed, blockchains introduce additional security vulnerabilities," the report states. "In particular, if malware on a voter's device alters a vote before it ever reaches a blockchain, the immutability of the blockchain fails to provide the desired integrity, and the voter may never know of the alteration." The report goes on to say that "Blockchains do not provide the anonymity often ascribed to them." It continues: "In the particular context of elections, voters need to be authorized as eligible to vote and as not having cast more than one ballot in the particular election. Blockchains do not offer means for providing the necessary authorization. [...] If a blockchain is used, then cast ballots must be encrypted or otherwise anonymized to prevent coercion and vote-selling." The New York Times summarizes the findings: The cautiously worded report calls for conducting all federal, state and local elections on paper ballots by 2020. Its other top recommendation would require nationwide use of a specific form of routine postelection audit to ensure votes have been accurately counted. The panel did not offer a price tag for its recommended overhaul. New York University's Brennan Center has estimated that replacing aging voting machines over the next few years could cost well over $1 billion. The 156-page report [...] bemoans a rickety system compromised by insecure voting equipment and software whose vulnerabilities were exposed more than a decade ago and which are too often managed by officials with little training in cybersecurity.

< article continued at Slashdot's ensuring-the-integrity-of-elections department >

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Software Developers Are Now More Valuable To Companies Than Money, Says Survey
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 02:50 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-breed-of-corporate-leaders department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: As our global economy increasingly comes to run on technology-enabled rails and every company becomes a tech company, demand for high-quality software engineers is at an all-time high. A recent study from Stripe and Harris Poll found that 61 percent of C-suite executives believe access to developer talent is a threat to the success of their business. Perhaps more surprisingly -- as we mark a decade after the financial crisis -- this threat was even ranked above capital constraints. And yet, despite being many corporations' most precious resource, developer talents are all too often squandered. Collectively, companies today lose upward of $300 billion a year paying down "technical debt," as developers pour time into maintaining legacy systems or dealing with the ramifications of bad software. This is especially worrisome, given the outsized impact developers have on companies' chances of success. Software developers don't have a monopoly on good ideas, but their skill set makes them a uniquely deep source of innovation, productivity and new economic connections. When deployed correctly, developers can be economic multipliers -- coefficients that dramatically ratchet up the output of the teams and companies of which they're a part.

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Computer Chips Are Still 'Made in USA'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 01:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
For all the wishful thinking about manufacturing more laptops and iPhones in the U.S., there is one sector of tech manufacturing where America remains a leader: computer chips. From a report: Some $44 billion worth of semiconductors are exported from the U.S. each year, making them America's fourth leading manufacturing export after cars, airplanes and refined oil. There are roughly 80 wafer fabrication plants (aka fabs) in the U.S., spread across 19 states. [...] An even greater share of the world's computer chips are designed domestically and made overseas by companies including Qualcomm, Apple, Broadcom and Nvidia. A bunch of the high-tech gear needed to produce chips is also designed and/or made in the U.S.

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'I've Seen the Future of Consumer AI, and it Doesn't Have One'
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 01:30 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's there-is-no-spoon department:
Andrew Orlowski of The Register recounts all the gadgets supercharged with AI that he came across at IFA tradeshow last week -- and wonders what value AI brought to the table. He writes: I didn't see a blockchain toothbrush at IFA in Berlin last week, but I'm sure there was one lurking about somewhere. With 30 vast halls to cover, I didn't look too hard for it. But I did see many things almost as tragic that no one could miss -- AI being squeezed into almost every conceivable bit of consumer electronics. But none were convincing. If ever there was a solution looking for a problem, it's ramming AI into gadgets to show of a company's machine learning prowess. For the consumer it adds unreliability, cost and complexity, and the annoyance of being prompted. [...] Back to LG, which takes 2018's prize for sticking AI into a superfluous gadget. The centrepiece of its AI efforts this year is a robot, ClOi. Put Google Assistant or Alexa on wheels, and you have ClOi. I asked the booth person what exactly ClOi could do to be told "it can take notes for your shopping list." Why wasn't this miracle of the Fourth Industrial Revolution let loose on the LG floor? I wondered -- a question answered by this account of ClOi's debut at CES in January. Clearly things haven't improved much -- this robot buddy was kept indoors.

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400,000 Websites Vulnerable Through Exposed<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.git Directories
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Open .git directories are a bigger cybersecurity problem than many might imagine, at least according to a Czech security researcher who discovered almost 400,000 web pages with an open .git directory possibly exposing a wide variety of data. From a report: Vladimir Smitka began his .git directory odyssey in July when he began looking at Czech websites to find how many were improperly configured and allow access to their .git folders within the file versions repository. Open .git directories are a particularly dangerous issue, he said, because they can contain a great deal of sensitive information. "Information about the website's structure, and sometimes you can get very sensitive data such as database passwords, API keys, development IDE settings, and so on. However, this data shouldn't be stored in the repository, but in previous scans of various security issues, I have found many developers that do not follow these best practices," Smitka wrote. Smitka queried 230 million websites to discover the 390,000 allowing access to their .git directories. The vast majority of the websites with open directories had a .com TLD with .net, .de, .org and uk comprising most of the others.

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'Eve Online' Studio Acquired By Korean MMO Maker
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 12:10 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's in-some-business-news department:
MAXOMENOS writes: EVE Online developer CCP Games has been acquired by Pearl Abyss, the South Korean studio behind the action-oriented MMORPG Black Desert Online. According to VentureBeat, the deal was worth $425 million and will close in early October. It's a surprise announcement for CCP, which has long operated as an independent developer. Eve Online isn't the biggest MMORPG on the market, but it has maintained a steady and loyal userbase through continuous updates and a well-timed switch to a hybrid premium and free-to-play model. The 15-year-old game is unique, too, with its large-scale battles and notoriously complex economic and political systems.

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Google Investigating Issue With Blurry Fonts on new Chrome 69
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 10:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's blurry-texts department:
Since the release of Chrome 69 earlier this week, countless of users have gone on social media and Google Product Forums to complain about "blurry" or "fuzzy" text inside Chrome. ZDNet: The blurred font issue isn't only limited to text rendered inside a web page, users said, but also for the text suggestions displayed inside the address bar search drop-down, and Chrome's Developer Tools panel. [...] According to reports, the issue only manifests for Chrome 69 users on Windows. Those who rolled back to Chrome 68 stopped having problems. Users said that changing Chrome, operating system, or screen DPI settings didn't help. "Our team is investigating reports of this behavior. You can find more information in this public bug report," a Google spokesperson said last night after first user complaints started surfacing online. Some users have also expressed concerns over Chrome not showing "trivial subdomains" including www and secure lock sign in the address bar.

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Tor Browser Gets a Redesign, Switches To New Firefox Quantum Engine
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 10:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department:
The Tor Browser has rolled out a new interface with the release of v8. From a report: The Tor Browser has always been based on the Firefox codebase, but it lagged behind a few releases. Mozilla rolled out a major overhaul of the Firefox codebase in November 2017, with the release of Firefox 57, the first release in the Firefox Quantum series. Firefox Quantum came with a new page rendering engine, a new add-ons API, and a new user interface called the Photon UI. Because these were major, code-breaking changes, it took the smaller Tor team some time to integrate all of them into the Tor Browser codebase and make sure everything worked as intended. The new Tor Browser 8, released yesterday, is now in sync with the most recent version of Firefox, the Quantum release, and also supports all of its features. This means the Tor Browser now uses the same modern Photon UI that current Firefox versions use, it supports the same speed-optimized page rendering engine and has also dropped support for the old XUL-based add-ons system for the new WebExtensions API system used by Chrome, Opera, Vivaldi, Brave, and the rest of the Chromium browsers.

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Robot Boat Sails Into History By Finishing Atlantic Crossing
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 09:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's impressive-feat department:
An anonymous reader writes: For the first time an autonomous sailing robot has completed the Microtransat Challenge by crossing the Atlantic from Newfoundland, Canada to Ireland. The Microtransat has been running since 2010 and has seen 23 previous entries all fail to make it across. The successful boat, SB Met was built by the Norwegian company Offshore Sensing AS and is only 2 metres (6.5 ft) long. It completed the crossing on August 26th, 79 days and 5000 km (3100 miles) of sailing after departing Newfoundland on June 7th. Further reading: A Fleet of Sailing Robots Sets Out To Quantify the Oceans.

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One Year After the Massive Equifax Data Breach, Pretty Much Nothing Has Changed
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 09:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's they-don't-really-care-about-us department:
The Equifax data breach was supposed to change everything about cybersecurity regulation on Capitol Hill. A year ago, Equifax announced that 145.5 million U.S. adults had their social security numbers stolen in an easily preventable breach. If any data breach was going to be able to shock Washington into enacting sweeping privacy reforms, this should have been it. Axios: But that didn't happen: "The initial interest that was implied by congressional actions didn't pan out," said Michelle Richardson, director of the Privacy and Data Project at the Center for Democracy and Technology (CDT). What was supposed to happen: After the first of several hearings involving Equifax, Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), chair of the Judiciary Committee, said it was "long past time" for federal standards for how companies like Equifax secure data. Data security wasn't the only anticipated reform. Congress appeared poised to create a national breach notification law governing how and how quickly companies must notify anybody whose personal information is stolen in a breach. Currently, to the chagrin of national retailers, those laws vary state to state. Several investigations were supposed to penalize the credit bureau for lax cybersecurity, including failing to patch the vulnerability hackers exploited despite government warnings. What actually happened: The bills petered out. Mick Mulvaney took over the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau in November and halted the bureau's investigation.

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Profile of Apple's Eddy Cue, Who Oversees Company's Internet Software and Services
Posted by News Fetcher on September 06 '18 at 08:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's looking-closer department:
The Information (paywalled) reports: In 2012, Mr. Cue took on even more responsibility when Mr. Cook fired Scott Forstall, then a senior vice president of the iOS software powering iPhones. Mr. Forstall had overseen the launch of Apple Maps, which was panned due to misplaced landmarks, distorted satellite images and other problems. With Mr. Forstall gone, Mr. Cue took over Apple Maps and Siri, the intelligent assistant that launched as a major feature of the iPhone 4S the prior year. From the moment he gained responsibility for Siri, Mr. Cue seemed to lack much interest in it, according to people who worked on the project. When Siri team members presented Mr. Cue with technical data around the performance of the assistant -- an area of frequent criticism of the technology -- Mr. Cue appeared bored and seemed to fall asleep in at least two meetings, said a former Apple employee who was present. [...] One obstacle for Mr. Cue, in his meetings with television executives, was that he didn't encounter the kind of desperation that made it possible for Apple to sign all the major record labels, then being ravaged by piracy, to iTunes. Cord-cutting -- people dumping their cable and satellite subscriptions -- had not yet emerged as a problem. "Apple kept wanting to use the same playbook, and it's not going to work in the video world," said a former Apple executive who worked on video. Around four years ago, Mr. Cue oversaw development of a version of Apple TV that could integrate with cable services, with the goal of replacing set-top boxes distributed by the likes of Comcast and Time Warner Cable, said a former Apple employee. The Apple TV box -- with a coaxial cable port for plugging into cable networks and software to handle the combination of live and on-demand video -- never launched due to disagreements with the potential cable partners. Apple engineers involved in the product were dispirited, said a former employee. A non-paywalled source.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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