By msmash from Slashdot's blade-runner-is-here department
T-Mobile, Sprint, and AT&T are selling access to their customers' location data, and that data is ending up in the hands of bounty hunters and others not authorized to possess it, letting them track most phones in the country, an investigation by news outlet Motherboard has found. From the report: Nervously, I gave a bounty hunter a phone number. He had offered to geolocate a phone for me, using a shady, overlooked service intended not for the cops, but for private individuals and businesses. Armed with just the number and a few hundred dollars, he said he could find the current location of most phones in the United States. The bounty hunter sent the number to his own contact, who would track the phone. The contact responded with a screenshot of Google Maps, containing a blue circle indicating the phone's current location, approximate to a few hundred metres. [...] The bounty hunter did this all without deploying a hacking tool or having any previous knowledge of the phone's whereabouts. Instead, the tracking tool relies on real-time location data sold to bounty hunters that ultimately originated from the telcos themselves, including T-Mobile, AT&T, and Sprint, a Motherboard investigation has found. These surveillance capabilities are sometimes sold through word-of-mouth networks.
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By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Ryne Hager, writing for AndroidPolice: Late last year, Google decided it was time to crack down on apps requesting SMS and call log permissions. Ostensibly, exceptions would be granted for categories including backups and automation, but as of now, there are still gaps which cover legitimate use cases. While some popular apps like Tasker have successfully secured exemptions, others like Cerberus have not. Instead, they've decided to strip out those permissions or risk facing the wrath of Google's upcoming January 9th banhammer, killing associated functionality and disappointing millions of long-time users to adhere to the Play Store's new policy.
The Play Console support page for the applicable set of permissions notifies developers that they can submit what is effectively an application for an exemption, categories for which are listed on the same page. (And that list of exceptions has grown since the original announcement.) Nonetheless, a further set of prohibitions are also included in the form itself, which explicitly preclude support for phone security/device location apps like Cerberus.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-an-era department
Pingdom, a popular website monitoring and performance management service, will soon stop welcoming non-paying users. In an email sent to users today, Pingdom announced that it will be ending its free tier on February 6. From a report: The move, which has unsurprisingly upset many users, comes five years after Pingdom was acquired by SolarWinds, an Austin, Texas-based firm. In its email, Pingdom said it intends to focus its resources and investment on the next phase of its product development. Founded in 2007, Pingdom attracted over 500,000 users from 200 countries in seven years, before it was acquired. Several major companies, including Google, Spotify, Microsoft, Twitter, Slack, Evernote, Mailchimp, Github, Square, Instagram, and others became its clients.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's free-of-charge department
GitHub has always offered free accounts, but users were forced to make their code public. To get private repositories, you had to pay. Now, as TechCrunch reports, "Free GitHub users now get unlimited private projects with up to three collaborators." From the report: The amount of collaborators is really the only limitation here and there's no change to how the service handles public repositories, which can still have unlimited collaborators. This feels like a sign of goodwill on behalf of Microsoft, which closed its acquisition of GitHub last October, with former Xamarin CEO Nat Friedman taking over as GitHub's CEO.
Talking about teams, GitHub also today announced that it is changing the name of the GitHub Developer suite to 'GitHub Pro.' The company says it's doing so in order to "help developers better identify the tools they need." But what's maybe even more important is that GitHub Business Cloud and GitHub Enterprise (now called Enterprise Cloud and Enterprise Server) have become one and are now sold under the 'GitHub Enterprise' label and feature per-user pricing. In response, GitLab CEO Sid Sijbrandij said: "GitHub today announced the launch of free private repositories with up to three collaborators. GitLab has offered unlimited collaborators on private repositories since the beginning. We believe Microsoft is focusing more on generating revenue with Azure and less on charging for DevOps software. At GitLab, we believe in a multi-cloud future where organizations use multiple public cloud platforms."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's now-you-see-it-now-you-don't department
One of the 2019 TV models LG outlined at its CES press conference today was the LG Signature OLED TV R (65R9), which has a display that can roll up and disappear into its base when you're not using it. "LG calls the TV 'a revolutionary innovation that helps address the very human need for an aesthetically pleasing environment' and says it is 'redefining space' to offer unprecedented levels of 'immersion' and 'a new level of space integration,'" reports Ars Technica. From the report: LG says to expect picture quality on par with its just-announced 2019 4K OLED lineup. That means 120Hz and AI image processing using LG's new Alpha 9 Gen 2 CPU. The TV's base -- the same one it rolls into -- houses a 4.2-channel, 100-watt soundbar with Dolby Atmos support. Additionally, the TV doesn't have to scroll all the way in. As seen in one of the images at the start of this article, it can fold down to what LG calls "Line View." This has five modes: music, clock, frame, mood, and home dashboard. Music offers an interface for playing music from the base. Clock shows the time, date, and weather. Frame displays a scrolling line of photos streamed from your smartphone, which is the mode in the photo above. The mood mode is for aesthetics, and home dashboard will allow access to some of LG's usual TV software features. No price has been announced yet, but TechCrunch reports that it could cost more than the 8K TV LG announced last week, which will compete directly with Samsung's $15,000 8K offering. LG says the Signature OLED TV R will be available for purchase in the second half of the year.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's going-going-gone department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from USA Today: The number of monarch butterflies turning up at California's overwintering sites has dropped by about 86 percent compared to only a year ago, according to the Xerces Society, which organizes a yearly count of the iconic creatures. That's bad news for a species whose numbers have already declined an estimated 97 percent since the 1980s. Each year, monarchs in the western United States migrate from inland areas to California's coastline to spend the winter, usually between September and February. Results from the count so far show that the number of monarchs at 97 California overwintering sites has dropped from around 148,000 in 2017 to just over 20,400 this year. Counts for dozens of other sites are still being tabulated, but the outlook is troubling.
What's causing the dramatic drop-off is somewhat of a mystery. Experts believe the decline is spurred by a confluence of unfortunate factors, including late rainy-season storms across California last March, the effects of the state's yearslong drought and the seemingly relentless onslaught of wildfires that have burned acres upon acres of habitat and at times choked the air with toxic smoke. The Thomas Fire last year burned almost 300,000 acres, including areas important for monarch breeding and migration. More recently, the Woolsey Fire damaged at least four monarch butterfly overwintering sites in the Malibu area, according to Lara Drizd, a wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in Ventura.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's more-the-merrier department
Zerodium, a startup that buys and sells hacking tools and exploits to governments around the world, announced on Monday price increases for almost everything they are looking for, such as iOS remote jailbreaks and Windows exploits. "It said it will now pay security researchers $1,000,000 for exploits in WhatsApp, iMessage, and SMS/MMS apps for all mobile operating systems," reports Motherboard. From the report: Compromising the whole iPhone, sometimes referred to as remote jailbreaking or rooting the phone, can cost $2 million or more, and usually involves a series of bugs and exploits. The price increase shows that mobile devices in general are getting more and more secure, and thus harder to hack. That means that it's becoming increasingly hard for hackers to break into iOS and Android devices. That makes the life of folks like spy agencies and police departments harder too. That's where Zerodium and other similar companies, such as Azimuth and Crowdfense, come in: they act as intermediaries between security researchers and government agencies looking for tools -- often called zero-days -- to break into targets. Before today, Zerodium was willing to pay $500,000 for WhatsApp and iMessage exploits, according to an archived version of the company's site. These new prices are in line with the market, according to Maor Shwartz, who used to run a company that acquired and sold exploits to government agencies.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what'd-you-expect department
AT&T's DirecTV, Dish, and Comcast are all planning to raise their rates again in the new year, "a move that could boost revenue but risks alienating subscribers who have been ditching their traditional TV subscriptions in record numbers," reports Dallas News. From the report: Cable and satellite providers are hoping to squeeze more money from consumers who remain loyal to their packages with hundreds of channels, Philip Cusick, a JPMorgan Chase & Co. analyst, said in a note this week, even though "this strategy could accelerate video sub declines." The latest price increases come as cord-cutting accelerates. In the third quarter, the TV industry saw its largest ever rate of decline, with subscribers shrinking by 3.7 percent, according to MoffettNathanson LLC. Consumers are dropping traditional TV for lower-cost online options like Netflix Inc. and slimmer TV options from Hulu and YouTube.
DirecTV is raising rates on all English-language video packages by $3 to $8 a month while hiking fees for regional sports networks by $1 to $1.90 in most markets. Dish said it's increasing prices for English-language video packages by $3 to $5 a month. Altice USA, the fourth-largest cable operator, recently raised rates by 3 percent on Optimum subscribers. Comcast, the largest U.S. cable company, is raising its fee for regional sports networks by $1.50 on average and its fee for broadcast channels by $2 a month, according to Cusick. Charter Communications Inc., the second-largest U.S. cable provider, recently boosted its monthly fee for a set-top box by about 50 cents and its broadcast channel fee by about $1. Charter operates as Spectrum in Dallas-Fort Worth.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's gone-with-the-wind department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Babble, a parenting blog that Disney acquired reportedly for about $40 million to help it target hipster parents, quietly ceased publishing in the middle of December, TechCrunch has learned. "For everything there is a season, and after more than a decade of serving as a community and resource for parents, Babble will be saying goodbye," reads a post from the site's editors. "To all the moms, dads, family, friends, writers, and readers who supported us -- thank you. We are so grateful for the time spent sharing your stories and your lives, through all the ups and downs of raising tiny humans."
When Disney acquired Babble -- originally spun out from a (now-defunct) dating website called Nerve.com -- in 2011, it was part of a bigger push at the media giant to built up a stock of content properties to target younger parents, the kind that turn to online media for parenting advice and inspiration. The idea was that Disney would populate the site with lots of evergreen content aimed at savvy middle class parents -- recent articles included a post on soft-serve pickle-flavored ice cream and kids nailing 80s-style Halloween costumes -- to help it build a connection to these consumers that would lead, over time, to trusting and using and exposing kids to other Disney products as they grew up. But times have changed. The Disney Interactive Media Group that housed Babble doesn't exist as such anymore -- and Babble's two founders, Rufus Griscom and Alicia Volkman, moved on years ago from Disney.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's suggestion-box department
vikingpower writes: Until now, yours truly has been running a one-man freelancer show. However, since January 1st the first employee is here, and of course I'm mighty proud of a stellarly clever young person working for me. She works remotely (I'm in one European capital; she is in another) and I need to buy her a laptop. Since she's straight out of college and a non-techie, she basically only knows one OS: Windows, although she could get comfortable with macOS. However, as a long-time (server-side) programmer, I feel Apple hardware is seriously overpriced. Also, my brilliant first employee will mostly do research and hardly needs anything more than a browser, Office or Office-like software (yes, I'm looking at you, Libre Office, and I love you!), and bibliography software. Should I get her a Chromebook or a mid-level laptop running Windows? Any thoughts?Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department
MojoKid writes from a report via Hot Hardware: NVIDIA launched a new, more reasonably-priced GeForce RTX card today, dubbed the GeForce RTX 2060. The new midrange graphics card will list for $349 and pack all the same features as NVIDIA's higher-end GeForce RTX 2080 and 2070 series cards. The card is also somewhat shorter than other RTX 20-series cards at only 9.5" (including the case bracket), and its GPU has a few functional blocks disabled. Although it's packing a TU106 like the 2070, six Streaming Multiprocessors (SMs) have been disabled, along with 20% of its Tensor and RT cores. All told, the RTX 2060 has 1,920 active CUDA cores, with 240 Tensor cores, and 30 RT cores. Although the GeForce RTX 2060 seems like the next-gen cousin to the 1060, the RTX 2060 is significantly more powerful and more in line with the GeForce GTX 1070 Ti and GTX 1080 in terms of raw performance in the benchmarks. It can also play ray-tracing enabled games like Battlefield V with decent frame rates at 1080p with high image quality and max ray-tracing enabled. NVIDIA has also apparently decided to support open standards-based adaptive refresh rate monitor technology and will soon begin supporting even AMD FreeSync monitors in future driver update.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's heads-up department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Two politicians from Amazon's hometown traveled across the country to New York to deliver a cautionary message about the company's expansion in the city. Members of the Seattle City Council, Lisa Herbold and Teresa Mosqueda, are urging elected officials in New York to pass legislation now that will address potential housing and transportation issues that will inevitably follow in the wake of Amazon's decision to build a major new campus in Queens. Both are speaking Monday at an event hosted by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which has been backing efforts to organize workers at an Amazon fulfillment center in Staten Island.
Amazon announced in November a major expansion in Long Island City, New York, and Crystal City, Virginia. In New York, Amazon would spend about $2.5 billion to create an 8.5 million square foot campus on the East River waterfront facing Manhattan from Long Island City. In return, the internet giant is set to receive almost $3 billion worth of state and city incentives. While Amazon could generate more than $27.5 billion in additional tax revenue for the city over 25 years, local politicians and community activists have already come out against the deal. Opponents fear the high salaries promised by Amazon and influx of as many as 40,000 employees eventually will push out residents in one of the city's fastest growing neighborhoods, and lead to even more congestion in the already overburdened subway system.Read Replies (0)