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Nintendo May Start Selling 'Computer Software'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 06:42 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's rumors-and-speculation department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Nintendo's most recent fiscal-year disclosure made headlines for announcing a release window for the new "Nintendo NX" console and yet another Zelda game delay, but it also included news of serious corporate restructuring. The short version: Nintendo will soon involve a supervisory committee in making top-level executive decisions. A Tuesday announcement included the company's amended articles of incorporation, expected to be approved by shareholders this June, and it included three new entries in its "business engagement" list: restaurants, medical and health devices, and "computer software." The choice of adding "computer software" to that list, on the other hand, seems particularly curious -- especially since Nintendo's existing list of engaged businesses includes terms that sound very much like computer software, particularly the broad term of "contents such as games, images, and music." That list also revised an entry that used to say that the company would license the "use or reproduction of copyrighted works" and "trademarks." Now, Nintendo will license its "intellectual property rights." That shift to the term "intellectual property" includes copyrighted works and trademarks in an umbrella that also may include such Nintendo-owned concepts as patents.

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Updated Skimer Malware Infects ATMs Worldwide
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's back-at-it-again department:
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers at Kaspersky have discovered an improved version of Backdoor.Win32.Skimer infecting ATM machines worldwide. The new Skimer allows criminal access to card data, including PIN numbers, as well as to the actual cash located in the machine. The malicious installers use the packer Thermida to disguise the Skimer malware which is then installed on the ATM. If the ATM file system is FAT32, the malware drops the file netmgr.dll in the folder C:WindowsSystem32. If the ATM has an NTFS file system, netmgr.dll is placed in the executable file of the NTFS data stream, which makes detection and analysis of the malware more difficult. Skimer may lie dormant for months until it is activated with the phsyical use of a "magic card," which gives access control to the malware, and then offers a list of options that are accessed by inputing a choice on the pin pad. The user can then request the ATM to: show installation details, dispense money, start collecting the details of inserted cards, print collected card details, self delete, enable debug mode, and update. Here's a video of the Skimer malware in action.

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Google's Tensor Processing Unit Could Advance Moore's Law 7 Years Into The Future
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 05:21 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Moore's-Law department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via PCWorld: Google says its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU) advances machine learning capability by a factor of three generations. "TPUs deliver an order of magnitude higher performance per watt than all commercially available GPUs and FPGA," said Google CEO Sundar Pichai during the company's I/O developer conference on Wednesday. The chips powered the AlphaGo computer that beat Lee Sedol, world champion of the game called Go. "We've been running TPUs inside our data centers for more than a year, and have found them to deliver an order of magnitude better-optimized performance per watt for machine learning. This is roughly equivalent to fast-forwarding technology about seven years into the future (three generations of Moore's Law)," said Google's blog post. "TPU is tailored to machine learning applications, allowing the chip to be more tolerant of reduced computational precision, which means it requires fewer transistors per operation. Because of this, we can squeeze more operations per second into the silicon, use more sophisticated and powerful machine learning models, and apply these models more quickly, so users get more intelligent results more rapidly." The chip is called the Tensor Processing Unit because it underpins TensorFlow, the software engine that powers its deep learning services under an open-source license.

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Google Turns Firebase Into Its Unified Platform For Mobile Developers
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 04:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unified-platform department:
An anonymous reader writes: Google has announced a plethora of new features to Firebase, its cloud services provider that mobile developers can use to power their apps. TechCrunch reports: "In its previous incarnation, Firebase was somewhat similar to Facebook's now-defunct Parse in that it offered a database service, user authentication features and hosting tools. In this new version, Firebase takes many of Google's existing developer tools, like Google Cloud Messaging, and combines them with new and existing Firebase services. With this update, Google is turning Firebase into a unified app platform for its now 470,000 developers on the service (up from 110,000 when it acquired Firebase)." The new Firebase features deeply integrated analytics services, allowing developers to track specific parts of their apps with fine-grained events. Firebase can build audience segments and allow developers to analyze their behavior in even more detail than before, and view how their advertising campaigns are performing. With these audience segments, developers can make remote configuration changes in apps and take advantage of Firebase's new notifications system. This feature is based on Google Cloud Messaging, which is now changing its name to Firebase Cloud Messaging. Google is offering all Firebase users free and unlimited notifications with support for iOS, Android and the Web. They're also integrating its Cloud Test Lab into Firebase for testing mobile apps on real hardware, renaming it the Firebase Test Lab. Other new features include crash reporting, the ability to create dynamic deep links into your app, Firebase Invites for allowing app users to share referral codes, Firebase App Indexing for bringing app content into Google Search, and integration with Google's AdWords and AdMob advertising platforms. Last but not least, Google is introducing new pricing plans for Firebase, including a new free plan, a fixed-rate plan, and a pay-as-you go plan.

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Scientists Find A 'Weak Spot' In HIV That May Pave The Way To A Vaccine
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 04:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's promising-results department:
iONiUM quotes a report from Futurism: Research conducted by a team from the National Institutes of Health reported a new vulnerable site on HIV for vaccines to target. It is based on an antibody from the blood of an HIV-infected patient that binds with the virus and also prevents it from infecting a cell. A recent press release reports that a team of scientists led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) has discovered a new "weak spot" in HIV that vaccines can target. The area, called the fusion peptide, is a simple structure of eight amino acids that helps the virus fuse with a cell. According to the study, the team used a particularly powerful antibody, called VRC34.01, taken from the blood of an unnamed HIV-positive patient that caught the weak spot in the virus. It's not only capable of binding with the virus through the fusion peptide but also preventing it from infecting an entire cell.

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Google Announces New Virtual Reality Platform 'Daydream'
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 02:41 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's immerse-yourself department:
ErnieKey writes: At Google I/O today, the company announced what they are calling "Google Daydream." This is their upcoming virtual-reality platform that takes Google Cardboard several steps further. Daydream is a platform that will provide guidance for both hardware and software developers to create truly immersive Android N compatible VR hardware, games and experiences. The first hardware will be available this Fall. Companies such as HTC, Samsung, ASUS and others are working on smartphone handsets and VR headsets that are Daydream compatible. Game developers like EA and Ubisoft are already working on compatible games. Google is also releasing reference devices including a headset and controller to encourage developers and companies to develop content for Daydream. In addition to Daydream, Google announced Allo, Duo, Instant Apps, and a stable Android N developer preview.

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Europa's Ocean Chemistry Could Be Earth-Like
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 02:41 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's in-search-of-life department:
An anonymous reader writes: Alien life in the universe could be close to home, swimming around Europa's ocean. The idea has been floating around scientific minds for more than a decade: beneath the icy surface of the Jovian moon could slosh a deep, wide ocean with the perfect environment for life to develop. In new research published in the journal Geophysical Research Letters, NASA scientists studied how the chemical composition of the Europan ocean may have evolved and what chemicals it possibly contains, assuming similar geochemical processes as on Earth are at play. Europa is thought to possess a rocky core fractured with deep cracks that have filled with water. Since the formation of the moon, the core has continued to cool, creating more cracks and exposing more rocks to chemical processes with this water."We're studying an alien ocean using methods developed to understand the movement of energy and nutrients in Earth's own systems," said planetary scientist Steve Vance, of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif. "The cycling of oxygen and hydrogen in Europa's ocean will be a major driver for Europa's ocean chemistry and any life there, just it is on Earth."

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Spy Chief: Foreign Hackers May Be Targeting Presidential Candidates
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 01:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's overseas-threats department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via NBC News: Director of National Intelligence James Clapper warned Wednesday that foreign hackers may be targeting the campaigns of U.S. presidential candidates. The FBI and Homeland Security are working with the campaigns to tighten security and prevent cyber intruders from penetrating their defenses, said Clapper. "We have already had some indications of that, and a combination of DHS, FBI are doing what they can to educate both candidates of potential cyber threats," Clapper said, without specifying which candidates they were advising. "I anticipate as the campaigns intensify we will probably have more of it." A senior U.S. intelligence official told NBC News that they are "most worried about Trump, who has no experience with government computer systems or protocols." Foreign hacking against American political candidates is nothing new, Clapper said. Prior to the 2008 presidential election, Chinese cyber spies had targeted the presidential campaigns of then Sen. Obama and Sen. John McCain in order to read emails and policy papers. The hackers successfully compromised some emails, including private correspondence from McCain, NBC News reported. Also, both Obama's and GOP candidate Mitt Romney's campaigns were hit by Chinese cyber-attacks during the 2012 election. The Office of the DNI clarified Clapper's remarks tweeting: "We're aware that campaigns and related organizations and individuals are targeted by actors with a variety of motivations -- from philosophical differences to espionage -- and capabilities -- from defacements to intrusions. We defer to FBI for specific incidents."

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Snapchat Faces An Outcry Against 'Whitewashing' Filters
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 01:12 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's playing-with-fire department:
Last month Snapchat was thrown under the bus for a feature that many found downright racist. The photo-sharing app had added a face-altering filter that made users look like Bob Marley. Less than a month to it, Snapchat is getting blasted over another controversial feature. Several users are reporting about a "whitewash" filter that aims to "beautify" their looks. Mashable reports: Users of the app have noticed that many of the face-altering filters "whitewash." Upset Snapchatters point to the flower crown filter and the beautifying filter, both of which seem to lighten skin and eyes and contour the face to make one's chin and nose appear smaller. Since the debut, and subsequent popularity, of the Coachella-inspired filter, Snapchat users have taken to forums to voice their disproval with the app.

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iOS 9.3.2 Bricking Some 9.7-inch iPad Pro Devices With 'Error 56' Message
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 11:58 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's apple,-software,-and-bugs department:
An anonymous reader writes: iOS 9.3.2 is causing problems for some 9.7-inch iPad Pro owners, with multiple users reporting issues shortly after installing the update over the air. Affected users are seeing an "Error 56" message that instructs them to plug their devices into iTunes. Apple has issued a statement to iMore, simply stating the company is "looking into a small number of reports" regarding this issue. The statement reads: "We're looking into a small number of reports that some iPad units are receiving an error when updating the software. Those unable to restore their device through iTunes should contact Apple support."

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Google Announces Allo, Duo, Stable Android N Preview, Instant Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 11:58 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's yummy-Google-updates department:
Also at the conference, Google announced Allo, a new smart messaging app, and Duo, a high-definition video chat app for Android and iOS devices. TechCrunch reports: Why the decision to launch two separate apps? A couple of reasons, it seems. The first is to keep the experiences simple and lightweight; and the second: to do something a little different from the rest of the pack. Facebook, for example, has supercharged Messenger with smart bots, as well as voice and video calling and more on top of its basic text messaging service. Allo leverages Google's assistant bot to prompt interesting and relevant responses to texts. Duo is a one-to-one video chatting app with a number of interesting features including "Knock Knock" which lets you see the real-time video of the person calling you. Google has also released the third preview of Android N. The company says that it is now safe enough to be used on your primary smartphone and tablet. The new update comes with a feature called "Seamless Updates" which will install system updates in the background. The company also announced Instant Apps, a feature that will allow users to tap an Instant App URL, and run the app without installing it. Clicking on Instant App URL, Google says, only gleans the parts of the app that you need for a specific purpose. The feature will work on all phones running Android 4.2 or newer version, and will be available starting later this year.

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Google Assistant and Google Home: Amazon Echo, But From Google
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 10:29 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's smart-gadgets department:
At its developer conference I/O, Google on Wednesday unveiled Google Home, a small round gadget with microphones and speakers that listens and responds to your questions and commands. As you may have guessed, Google Home will compete with Amazon Echo. The company also announced Assistant. Ars Technica reports: Google's conversational assistant is in the same vein as Cortana and Siri, Google Assistant. Google Assistant will be on phones and wearables too, and Google says that it will be better at picking out the context of what you're doing than any of the competitors. As an example, when standing near Cloud Gate, better known as The Bean, in Chicago, you can ask Google Assistant "Who designed this?" Based on your location alone, Assistant will understand that you're probably referring to the large shiny sculpture in front of you, and answer "Anish Kapoor."The Google Home will be available for purchase later this year. CNET has more details.

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Transparent Displays Are Here, But They're Pretty Useless
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 10:29 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's making-sense-of-the-tech department:
An anonymous reader writes: Samsung has debuted the first commercial installation of its 55-inch 'mirror' displays at a salon in South Korea with a transparent OLED screen overlaid over a mirrored surface to allow interaction. The Samsung product rivals an equivalent TOLED from Planar, with both intended for high-end use in the retail display and exhibition space. However both manufacturers are struggling to find practical applications for the much-awaited technology. Transparent displays have been a staple of sci-fi films such as Minority Report for decades, but only, it seems, because they helped to open up scenes which would otherwise have been difficult to film. With the pending advent of AR-based visualization, the innovation of the clear monitor seems not only to have come too late, but also offer limited practical use, even if its current breathtaking prices were to descend to the consumer space.

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Australia Engineers Set New Solar Energy World Record With 34.5% Sunlight To Energy Efficiency
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 09:02 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-solar-energy department:
An anonymous reader writes: Australian engineers have edged closer to the theoretical limits of sunlight-to-electricity conversion by photovoltaic cells with a device that sets a new world efficiency record. A new solar cell configuration developed by engineers at the University of New South Wales has pushed sunlight-to-electricity conversion efficiency to 34.5% -- establishing a new world record for unfocused sunlight and nudging closer to the theoretical limits for such a device. The record was set using a 28-cm2 four-junction mini-module -- embedded in a prism -- that extracts the maximum energy from sunlight. It does this by splitting the incoming rays into four bands, using a hybrid four-junction receiver to squeeze even more electricity from each beam of sunlight.

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LinkedIn User? Your Data May Be Up For Sale
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 09:02 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's another-day,-another-hack department:
An anonymous reader cites a ZDNet report: Reports indicate that a LinkedIn data breach may have led to the sale of sensitive data belonging to 117 million users. The company's website experienced a data breach in 2012, but the true consequences of the breach are only now becoming apparent. Users of LinkedIn's website in 2012 discovered that roughly 6.5 million user account passwords were posted online, and the company never completely confirmed just who was impacted by the security incident. However, a hacker called "Peace" told the publication that this information is being sold on the dark web for roughly $2,200, and paid hacker data search engine LeakedSource also claims to have the data. Both sources say there are approximately 167 million accounts in the data dump, 117 million of which have both emails and encrypted passwords.LinkedIn has acknowledged the breach. In a blog post, the company writes: Yesterday, we became aware of an additional set of data that had just been released that claims to be email and hashed password combinations of more than 100 million LinkedIn members from that same theft in 2012. We are taking immediate steps to invalidate the passwords of the accounts impacted, and we will contact those members to reset their passwords. We have no indication that this is as a result of a new security breach.

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Netflix Launches Fast.com To Show How Fast Your Internet Connection Really Is
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 07:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's what's-your-speed department:
Paul Sawers, writing for VentureBeat (condensed): Netflix really wants to show you how fast (or slow) your Internet connection is, and to do so it has launched a new website at Fast.com that conveys the real-time speed of your connection to the Web. It's designed to give people "greater insight and control of their Internet service." Netflix said it was for: Providing a website featuring non-downloadable software for testing and analyzing the speed of a user's Internet connection, as well as downloadable computer software for testing and analyzing the speed of a user's Internet connection.Compared to Speedtest.net, Fast.com doesn't offer any details on how fast is your upload speeds, what's the ping time, and any detail on location and ISP. However, it's seemingly faster, and automatically detects your download speeds when you visit the website.

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Wikipedia Editor Says Site's Toxic Community Has Him Contemplating Suicide
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 07:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's some-other-news department:
An anonymous reader writes: A longtime Wikipedia editor wrote an email to a large public mailing list Tuesday, saying he was contemplating suicide due to online abuse by his fellow Wikipedians. "Nobody on Wikipedia seems to be kind," he wrote. "You are all so busy power tripping that you forget there is a real, live person on the other side." He lamented that obstructionism by other editors stopped him from contributing to the site's "great mission -- one I feel so keenly." The email was sent to the Wikimedia-L mailing list, which is one of the largest community-run Wikimedia mailing lists and has hundreds of subscribers. The editor was upset after an ongoing disagreement with other editors on the "talk" pages of an article about a local politician. The debate devolved into name-calling, the editor wrote, and eventually he was completely banned from editing the site he had devoted so much time to.

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Nokia Announces Return To Smartphone, Tablet Markets
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 06:22 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's 'I'll-be-back' department:
Nokia is making a return to phones and tablets. The Finnish company on Wednesday announced that it will license its brand and IP to a newly created company called HMD global. The company in question, Nokia says, will produce and sell a range of Android smartphones and tablets. The company has also inked a deal with Microsoft to acquire the rights to use Nokia brand name on feature phones and also utilize some design elements. Nokia veteran Arto Nummela will assume the CEO position when the deal is closed, which is expected to happen by the end of June. Microsoft announced today that it has sold the remainings of Nokia's feature phone business to FIH Mobile, a subsidiary of Foxconn. As part of the deal, FIH Mobile paid a sum of $350 million to Microsoft. Interestingly, HMD global and FIH Mobile already have a collaborative agreement in place to support the building of a global business for Nokia-branded mobile phones and tablets. Nokia says it will set mandatory brand requirements and performance-related provisions for the new devices.

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Developer Of Anonymous Tor Software Dodges FBI, Leaves US
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 06:22 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's u-can't-touch-this department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: FBI agents are currently trying to subpoena one of Tor's core software developers to testify in a criminal hacking investigation, CNNMoney has learned. But the developer, who goes by the name Isis Agora Lovecruft, fears that federal agents will coerce her to undermine the Tor system -- and expose Tor users around the world to potential spying. That's why, when FBI agents approached her and her family over Thanksgiving break last year, she immediately packed her suitcase and left the United States for Germany. "I was worried they'd ask me to do something that hurts innocent people -- and prevent me from telling people it's happening," she said in an exclusive interview with CNNMoney. Earlier in the month, Tech Dirt reported the Department of Homeland Security wants to subpoena the site over the identity of a hyperbolic commenter.

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Backblaze Releases Billion-Hour Hard Drive Reliability Report
Posted by News Fetcher on May 18 '16 at 02:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's reliability department:
jones_supa writes: The storage services provider Backblaze has released its reliability report for Q1/2016 covering cumulative failure rates of mechanical hard disk drives by specific model numbers and by manufacturer. The company noted that as of this quarter, its 60,000 drives have cumulatively spun for over one billion hours (100,000 years). Hitachi Global Storage Technologies (HGST) is the clear leader here, with an annual failure rate of just 1% for three years running. The second position is also taken by a Japanese company: Toshiba. Third place goes to Western Digital (WD), with the company's ratings having improved in the past year. Seagate comes out the worst, though it is suspected that much of that rating was warped by the company's crash-happy 3 TB drive (ST3000DM001). Backblaze notes that 4 TB drives continue to be the sweet spot for building out its storage pods, but that it might move to 6, 8, or 10 TB drives as the price on the hardware comes down.

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