By BeauHD from Slashdot's traveling-in-style department
We first earned that Google co-founder Sergey Brin was secretly building a "massive airship" inside of Hangar 2 at the NASA Ames Research Center back in 2017, but few details on the project have emerged since. Now, according to a report from the Telegraph, progress on the project appears to be picking up as Brin is currently soliciting aerospace engineers to work on his blimp from a hangar in Mountain View, California. From a report: At 656 feet in length, the massive craft is expected to be the largest of its kind in the world upon completion, and it's reportedly costing Brin upwards of $150 million to construct. Some of that money will presumably go toward paying the $28 per hour salary and pension benefits Brin is offering entry level engineers to work on the project, according to the Telegraph piece, which notes that the job listing also requires that applicants be "comfortable working outdoors."
As for why Brin wants to build this massive blimp, sources with knowledge of the project told The Guardian in 2017 that the Google billionaire plans to use craft as an intercontinental "air yacht," ferrying his friends and family around the globe in style. The blimp will also find use on the other end of the privilege spectrum, according to those sources, who told the newspaper that Brin envisions using it to deliver supplies and food to remote locations on humanitarian missions.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's forgotten-heroes department
dryriver writes: In 1942, Allied troops tried to invade a French port at Dieppe. The troop landing was a disaster -- within 10 hours, 60% of the 6,000 allied troops that landed were dead, and all 28 tanks that were supposed to support the troops had been picked off by mines and anti-tank weapons. The Allies realized that conventional tank designs were next to useless when landing on heavily fortified sandy beaches. A British army commander named Percy Hobart had the solution. Over two years, he designed completely new and unconventional tanks like the Churchill AVRE, Sherman Crab and and Churchill Fascine that were custom-made to storm a mined beach defended by an enemy army.
Commander Hobart had initially fallen out of favor, been retired early from the British army for his "unconventional thinking" and demoted, humiliatingly, to guarding his home village in Britain. When he managed to set up a meeting with Winston Churchill, Churchill reinstated Hobart, and Hobart went on to design some of the strangest looking beach lading tanks anyone had seen at that time. Hobart's tanks carried everything from flamethrowers intended to frighten German soldiers into surrendering to fascines (essentially a huge bundle of sticks) that could be dropped to allow other tanks to drive over deep ditches and trenches, to huge mortars firing shells the size of dustbins that were designed to blow holes into seawalls and concrete fortifications. The tank designs performed as Hobart had intended, and the D-Day victory would not have been possible without them. A man who had once demoted to Corporal and retired for rubbing the British army brass the wrong way went on to make D-Day winnable for the Allied forces.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's remembering-one-of-the-greatest-in-the-field department
"In recent years, The New York Times has been publishing obituaries of people long dead but who nevertheless would have been deserving of one when they died," writes Slashdot reader necro81. "They call it their 'Overlooked' series. Today, their overlooked figure is British mathematician and prototype computer scientist Alan Turing." Here's an excerpt from the obituary: His genius embraced the first visions of modern computing and produced seminal insights into what became known as "artificial intelligence." As one of the most influential code breakers of World War II, his cryptology yielded intelligence believed to have hastened the Allied victory. But, at his death several years later, much of his secretive wartime accomplishments remained classified, far from public view in a nation seized by the security concerns of the Cold War. Instead, by the narrow standards of his day, his reputation was sullied.
On June 7, 1954, Alan Turing, a British mathematician who has since been acknowledged as one the most innovative and powerful thinkers of the 20th century -- sometimes called the progenitor of modern computing -- died as a criminal, having been convicted under Victorian laws as a homosexual and forced to endure chemical castration. Britain didn't take its first steps toward decriminalizing homosexuality until 1967. Only in 2009 did the government apologize for his treatment. [...] A coroner determined that he had died of cyanide poisoning and that he had taken his own life "while the balance of his mind was disturbed."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's another-one-bites-the-dust department
The Google Trips app is headed into the sunset as functionality is integrated into Google's other services. 9to5Google reports: Our APK Insight of Google Trips for Android today reveals an upcoming "goodbye" message that will prompt users about the sunsetting. Google already implied in May that a shutdown for the dedicated was coming as part of an evolution. We now know specifics, like how Google will "stop supporting" the app. Trips will encourages users to find "favorite features" in other services like the new Travel website that features a Material Theme, and the Google Search app. Full feature parity -- namely offline capabilities and maps -- will likely make their way to Google Maps, which is set to add trip bundles over the coming months.
The "learn more" page has been spotted by XDA with Google noting that support "will end on August 5, 2019." According to the help document, notes from Trips will be coming to the Google Travel website, while Google Maps trip reservations will be located in Your places-Upcoming reservations. However, version 1.14 leaves some ambiguity on whether the app will stop working for existing users that already have it installed. A pair of strings -- one of which is in past tense -- implies that Trips could continue to function, but that some features will break in the future. As of today, this sunset prompt is not yet live in Google Trips for Android or iOS, and the apps are still available to download.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica, written by Wired's . Andy Greenberg: In upcoming versions of iOS and macOS, the new Find My feature will broadcast Bluetooth signals from Apple devices even when they're offline, allowing nearby Apple devices to relay their location to the cloud. That should help you locate your stolen laptop even when it's sleeping in a thief's bag. And it turns out that Apple's elaborate encryption scheme is also designed not only to prevent interlopers from identifying or tracking an iDevice from its Bluetooth signal, but also to keep Apple itself from learning device locations, even as it allows you to pinpoint yours.
In a background phone call with WIRED following its keynote, Apple broke down that privacy element, explaining how its "encrypted and anonymous" system avoids leaking your location data willy nilly, even as your devices broadcast a Bluetooth signal explicitly designed to let you track your device. The solution to that paradox, it turns out, is a trick that requires you to own at least two Apple devices. Each one emits a constantly changing key that nearby Apple devices use to encrypt and upload your geolocation data, such that only the other Apple device you own possesses the key to decrypt those locations. That system would obviate the threat of marketers or other snoops tracking Apple device Bluetooth signals, allowing them to build their own histories of every user's location. In fact, Find My's cryptography goes one step further than that, denying even Apple itself the ability to learn a user's locations based on their Bluetooth beacons. That would represent a privacy improvement over Apple's older tools like Find My iPhone and Find Friends, which don't offer such safeguards against Apple learning your location.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's something-everyone-agrees-on department
The FCC voted unanimously today to allow carriers to block robocalls by default, setting the stage for the major carriers to take action against the surge of unwanted automated calls that basically everyone hates. From a report: The agency also voted to move forward on a proposed rule that would require carriers to adopt the SHAKEN / STIR caller ID authentication system if they don't do it themselves by year-end. Ajit Pai, a Republican, has called robocalls the "scourge of civilization," while Geoffrey Starks, a Democrat, said that the unwanted calls have "changed the fabric of our culture." The vote comes just two weeks after FCC Chairman Ajit Pai proposed the blocking rule, which he said was designed to give carriers "certainty" about whether automatic blocking was allowed or not. Carriers like AT&T and T-Mobile have offered robocall-blocking services for a while, but they were opt-in. In an op-ed published on USA Today, Pai said, "I hate robocalls as much as you do." He added, "If Americans can agree on anything these days, it's that they're fed up with robocalls. The scam calls. The calls from foreign countries at 2 a.m. The deceptive caller ID 'spoofing,' which happens when a caller falsifies caller ID information to make it look as if they're calling from your area code."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
Players will have to pay $129.99 up front and $9.99 a month, on top of individual game purchase costs, when Google's previously announced Stadia game-streaming service launches in November. From a report: A free tier will be available some time in 2020, as will a paid subscription tier that doesn't require the upfront purchase. The Stadia Founder's Edition and its contingent Stadia Pro subscription will be the only way to get access to the Stadia service when it launches, Google announced today. That $129.99 package, available for pre-order on the Google Store right now, will include: A Stadia controller in "limited-edition night blue", a Chromecast Ultra, a three months of Stadia Pro service and a three-month "buddy pass" to give to a friend, and first dibs on claiming a "Stadia Name".
After the first three months, Stadia Pro users will have to pay $9.99 a month to maintain their membership. For that price, they will get access to Google's highest-quality streams, at up to 4K/60fps with high-dynamic range (HDR) and 5.1 surround sound. In 2019, users will not be able to sign up for Stadia Pro without investing in the Founder's Edition hardware package, and Founder's Edition packages will only be available "in limited quantities and for a limited time."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's taking-a-stand department
Microsoft has quietly pulled from the internet its database of 10 million faces [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], which has been used to train facial recognition systems around the world, including by military researchers and Chinese firms such as SenseTime and Megvii. From a report: The database, known as MS Celeb, was published in 2016 and described by the company as the largest publicly available facial recognition data set in the world, containing more than 10m images of nearly 100,000 individuals. The people whose photos were used were not asked for their consent, their images were scraped off the web from search engines and videos under the terms of the Creative Commons license that allows academic reuse of photos.
Microsoft, which took down the database days after the FT reported on its use by companies, said: "The site was intended for academic purposes. It was run by an employee that is no longer with Microsoft and has since been removed." Two other data sets have also been taken down since the FT report was published in April, including the Duke MTMC surveillance data set built by Duke University researchers, and a Stanford University data set called Brainwash.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's tussle-continues department
YouTube will reconsider its harassment policies and may update them, the company said in a new blog post. The statement was apparently prompted by public pressure on the company after a conflict between two YouTubers: Carlos Maza, who hosts for Vox, and Stephen Crowder, a conservative media personality. From a report: In response to backlash, YouTube has convened a blue-ribbon commission and appears to be hoping everyone will stop screaming. YouTube has promised to consult journalists, experts, creators, and those who have experienced harassment as the company tries to figure out how to update its policies. Last week, Maza tweeted a very viral thread about how Crowder had targeted him for harassment, calling him -- among other epithets -- a "lispy sprite," a "little queer," and a "gay Latino from Vox." Maza's target was YouTube; he wanted to know why the company hadn't responded to the derogatory remarks Crowder made about Maza's sexuality and ethnicity, as can be seen in a supercut posted by Maza.
Last night, YouTube said Crowder's homophobic harassment didn't violate any of its policies, and that Crowder's videos would stay up. Earlier today, YouTube said that it would remove ads from Crowder's videos, a process known as "demonetization" among YouTubers. But Crowder's demonetization isn't permanent; according to YouTube, Crowder can once again make money from ads if he "addresses all of the issues with his channel."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's major-security-holes department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A critical remote command execution (RCE) security flaw impacts over half of the Internet's email servers, security researchers from Qualys have revealed today. The vulnerability affects Exim, a mail transfer agent (MTA), which is software that runs on email servers to relay emails from senders to recipients. According to a June 2019 survey of all mail servers visible on the Internet, 57% (507,389) of all email servers run Exim -- although different reports would put the number of Exim installations at ten times that number, at 5.4 million.
In a security alert shared with ZDNet earlier today, Qualys, a cyber-security firm specialized in cloud security and compliance, said it found a very dangerous vulnerability in Exim installations running versions 4.87 to 4.91. The vulnerability is described as a remote command execution -- different, but just as dangerous as a remote code execution flaw -- that lets a local or remote attacker run commands on the Exim server as root. Qualys said the vulnerability can be exploited instantly by a local attacker that has a presence on an email server, even with a low-privileged account. lBut the real danger comes from remote hackers exploiting the vulnerability, who can scan the internet for vulnerable servers, and take over systems. The vulnerability was patched with Exim 4.92, on February 10, 2019, "but at the time the Exim team released v4.92, they didn't know they fixed a major security hole," reports ZDNet.
"This was only recently discovered by the Qualys team while auditing older Exim versions. Now, Qualys researchers are warning Exim users to update to the 4.92 version to avoid having their servers taken over by attackers."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department
When you type in a URL to your browser and press "enter," your browser sends that name to a network of computers called the Domain Name System (DNS), which converts it into IP addresses. These numbers are what allow your browser to find the right server on the internet and connect to it. When you navigate to a website, you are trusting a handful of organizations that have been charged with keeping the DNS working and secure.
"To people like Steven McKie, a developer for and investor in an open-source project called the Handshake Network, this centralized power over internet naming makes the internet vulnerable to both censorship and cyberattacks," reports MIT technology review. "Handshake wants to decentralize it by creating an alternative naming system that nobody controls. In doing so, it could help protect us from hackers trying to exploit the DNS's security weaknesses, and from governments hoping to use it to block free expression." From the report: The system would be based on blockchain technology, meaning it would be software that runs on a widely distributed network of computers. In theory, it would have no single point of failure and depend on no human-run organization that could be corrupted or co-opted. Handshake's software is a heavily modified version ("fork") of Bitcoin, and just as Bitcoin's network of miners protects the cryptocurrency from manipulation and makes it virtually impossible for authorities to shut down, a similar network could keep a permanent, censorship-resistant record of internet names. The Handshake team is far from the first to try to create a decentralized naming system for the web. But unlike previous efforts, Handshake isn't trying to replace DNS but work with it.
< article continued at Slashdot's behind-the-scenes department
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