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UK Police Accessed Civilian Data For Fun and Profit, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 03:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's power-corrupts department:
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Motherboard: A report from activist group Big Brother Watch surfaced that says more than 800 U.K. police staff inappropriately accessed personal information between June 2011 and December 2015. Motherboard reports: "The report says some police staff used their access to a growing trove of police data, which includes personal information on civilians, for entertainment and personal and financial gain. In several notable incidents, one Metropolitan Police officer found the name of a victim so funny that he attempted to take a photo of the driving license and send it to his friend over Snapchat. A Greater Manchester Police officer tipped someone off that they would be arrested, and one from North Yorkshire Police conducted a check on a vehicle on his phone whilst off-duty. The report also includes incidents of staff distributing other types of police data. Someone from South Wales Police was dismissed after photographing and distributing restricted documents "for personal gain," the report said. Not only was some information not needed for official police work, according to the report, but was shared with third parties outside the police, including some organized crime groups, 877 times. In total, 2,315 incidents of inappropriate access or distribution of data were reported. The majority of incidents, 1,283, ended up with no disciplinary action taking place, while 297 ended in a resignation or dismissal, 258 resulted in a written or verbal warning, and 70 led to a criminal conviction or caution."

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73% of Subscribers Would Download Netflix Content, Says Survey
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 02:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's scale-of-one-to-ten department:
An anonymous reader writes: A report surfaced a couple weeks ago suggesting Netflix is soon going to let users download videos for offline playback. AllFlicks decided to poll 1,000 stakeholders to see what they think of the bold new idea. In their survey, they asked respondents to tell them how important offline viewing was to them. Nearly two thirds of Netflix subscribers said offline support was either "Important" or "Very Important" to them. About a quarter of all respondents chose the most enthusiastic option, "Very Important." Just plain "Important" was the most popular answer, at 39%, and "Not Important" netted a significant minority at 34%. They followed up by asking subscribers if they think they will download Netflix videos if offline viewing becomes possible. The respondents agreed overwhelmingly that they would download Netflix videos if it became possible. A whopping 73% said they would, while only 16% were confident that they would not. In an open-ended question, AllFlicks asked when would they use the feature. Respondents said they'd need offline support when traveling (in particular, air and car travel), camping, and working out in the gym. They did also mention public transit and train commutes. In addition to offline playback, Recode reports that Comcast will allow Netflix onto its X1 platform.

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Elon Musk: Tesla's Autopilot Software Could Save Half a Million Lives Every Year
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 02:32 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's fighting-odds department:
An anonymous reader writes: In the wake of a deadly crash involving a Model S that was driving with its Autopilot software turned on, Tesla CEO Elon Musk issued a few interesting remarks on the technology to Fortune. Notably, the publication recently ran a piece attempting to portray Tesla in a bad light by noting that Musk sold more than $2 billion worth of Tesla stock just 11 days after the aforementioned May, 2016 accident. And all the while, shareholders were kept in the dark up until recently. "Indeed, if anyone bothered to do the math (obviously, you did not) they would realize that of the over 1M auto deaths per year worldwide, approximately half a million people would have been saved if the Tesla autopilot was universally available. Please, take 5 mins and do the bloody math before you write an article that misleads the public.

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Apple To Encourage Organ Donation With Health App
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 01:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's head-shoulders-knees-and-toes department:
An anonymous reader writes: Apple announced today that its updated Health app, which will be available as part of iOS 10, will allow people to sign-up to be organ donors. The app will use its Medical ID feature, which has been used in the past to keep track of medical and health information, to include the ability to register as a donor of organs, eyes and tissues. The registrations will be forwarded to the National Donate Life Registry, an organization managed by Donate Life of America. All you need to do is tap the registration button in the Health app to volunteer as an organ donor. That adds your status as a donor to an "emergency information" screen that can appear even when the phone is locked. Tapping another button brings up information on organ donation. The demand for organs greatly exceeds the supply, as more than 120,000 Americans are currently waiting for a transplant -- every 10 minutes a new person is added to that waiting list, according to Apple. The feature is currently available for developers, but will be rolling out to the public in the public beta soon.

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BlackBerry's 'Classic' Smartphone Is About to Disappear
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 01:11 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's good-riddance department:
From a Reuters report:The beleaguered tech company continues its shift to software. BlackBerry will stop making its Classic smartphone, 18 months after launching it in an effort to entice users who prefer physical, rather than touch, keyboards, the Canadian technology company said on Tuesday. The Classic was launched early last year, with a physical keyboard in the vein of its Bold predecessor and powered by the company own overhauled BlackBerry 10 operating system. BlackBerry has since launched a phone powered by Alphabet's Android software and plans several more, and BlackBerry Chief Executive John Chen last month expressed confidence the company's trimmed-down handset business can turn a profit by a self-imposed September deadline.

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Skype Meetings Is Microsoft's New Free Video Conferencing Tool For Small Businesses
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 11:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's if-an-app-was-preventing-you-from-talking department:
Microsoft is launching a free tool to make it easier for people to make video conference calls. The company on Tuesday released Skype Meetings, which is largely similar to using the traditional Skype app, but comes with features that make it easier to set up video calls and collaborate with colleagues. TechCrunch reports:The more fully featured Skype for Business product allows you to host meetings with up to 250 people and it's deeply integrated into Outlook, Word and PowerPoint. Skype Meetings, on the other hand, only allows for PowerPoint collaboration (screen sharing, laser pointer, etc.) and screen sharing. Video calls are also limited to a maximum of 10 people during the first two months. After that, the maximum number of participants drops to three people. Participants can join Skype Meetings from virtually any device with the help of a personalized URL and the calls are powered by the same technology as Skype for Business calls. That means you will get to take advantage of Skype's head tracking feature, for example, which ensures that a face will always be in the center of the screen, no matter where it is in the actual video image.

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Linux Letting Go: 32-bit Builds On the Way Out
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 11:41 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's good-riddance department:
An anonymous shares a report on The Register:Major Linux distributions are in agreement: it's time to stop developing new versions for 32-bit processors. Simply: it's a waste of time, both to create the 32-bit port, and to keep 32-bit hardware around to test it on. At the end of June, Ubuntu developer Dimitri Ledkov chipped into the debate with this mailing list post, saying bluntly that 32-bit ports are a waste of resources. "Building i386 images is not 'for free', it comes at the cost of utilising our build farm, QA and validation time. Whilst we have scalable build-farms, i386 still requires all packages, autopackage tests, and ISOs to be revalidated across our infrastructure." His proposal is that Ubuntu version 18.10 would be 64-bit-only, and if users desperately need to run 32-bit legacy applications, the'll have to do so in containers or virtual machines. [...] In a forum thread, the OpenSUSE Chairman account says 32-bit support "doubles our testing burden (actually, more so, do you know how hard it is to find 32-bit hardware these days?). It also doubles our build load on OBS".

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Google's DeepMind AI To Use 1 Million NHS Eye Scans To Spot Diseases Earlier
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 10:22 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's interesting-advances department:
Google DeepMind has announced its second collaboration with the NHS, as part of which it will work with Moorfields Eye Hospital in east London to build a machine learning system which will eventually be able to recognise sight-threatening conditions from just a digital scan of the eye. The five-year research project will draw on one million anonymous eye scans which are held on Moorfields' patient database, reports Ars Technica, with the aim to speed up the complex and time-consuming process of analysing eye scans. From the report:The hope is that this will allow diagnoses of common causes of sight loss, like diabetic retinopathy and age-related macular degeneration, to be spotted more rapidly and hence be treated more effectively. For example, Google says that up to 98 percent of sight loss resulting from diabetes can be prevented by early detection and treatment. Two million people are already living with sight loss in the UK, of whom around 360,000 are registered as blind or partially-sighted. Google quotes estimates that the number of people suffering from sight loss in the UK will double by 2050. Improvements in detection and treatment would therefore have a major impact on the quality of life for large numbers of people in the UK and around the world.

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Uber Hires a Robot To Patrol Its Parking Lot and It's Way Cheaper Than a Security Guard
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 10:22 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's humans-need-not-apply department:
Fusion's Kashmir Hill is reporting about a five-foot-tall, white, egg-shaped robot that one can find at the company's inspection lot near Mission Bay in San Francisco. The K5 robot is a stand-in for a human security guard, and it sports multiple high-definition cameras for 360-degree vision, a thermal camera, a laser rangefinder, a weather sensor, a license-plate recognition camera, four microphones, and person recognition capabilities. The report adds:If someone suspicious comes into the lot, or starts messing with a car, the robot can't tase them or break out any weapons. Instead the robot can set off an alarm, send a signal to human security personnel, and record everything that person does to be used against them later by police. Customers of Knightscope, the company that manufactures the aforementioned robot don't buy the machines. They rent them, usually two at a time, so one can charge its battery while the other patrols. The cost is $7 an hour. "For the cost of a single-shift security guard, you get a machine that will patrol for 24 hours a day 7 days a week," said Stephens, citing wages of $25 to $35 hour for a human security guard.

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Comcast Will Let Netflix Onto Its X1 Platform
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 09:02 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's talk-of-the-town department:
Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode:Cable giant Comcast will allow popular web video streaming service Netflix onto its X1 platform. (Editor's note: both the companies confirmed the move to the publication.) Sources said the deal to be on the cable giant's set-top box would be akin to the arrangement that Netflix has cut with smaller cable operators in the United States and bigger ones across the globe. Netflix also has deals with Apple, Roku and Google's Chromecast; its app is offered on these Internet TV services. It also is embedded in smart televisions.It's an enormous step, given the long and sometimes contentious history between the two companies against a backdrop of increased consumer usage of internet-delivered video. From the report:Back in 2012, for example, Peter Kafka reported that Netflix CEO Reed Hastings was "once again accusing Comcast of violating 'net neutrality' principles by favoring its own web video service over those from Netflix, HBO and Hulu, when it comes to data usage."

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The FBI Recommends Not To Indict Hillary Clinton For Email Misconduct
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 09:02 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's sense-prevails department:
FBI Director James Comey says that his agency isn't recommending that the DOJ pursue charges against Hillary Clinton for setting up a private email server as Secretary of State. At a press conference on Tuesday, Comey added that while there is "evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information," they think that "no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case." The Verge reports:The recommendation is the result of a painstaking investigation by the bureau, which uncovered a number of new details. The investigation found 110 emails in 52 email chains were determined to contain classified information, including 8 chains contained information that was marked as top secret at the time, Director Comey said. Secretary Clinton used several different email servers and numerous mobile devices, and many of those servers were decommissioned and otherwise altered as they were replaced.

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MRI Software Bugs Could Upend Years Of Research
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 07:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's bad-data department:
An anonymous reader shares a report on The Register: A whole pile of "this is how your brain looks like" MRI-based science has been invalidated because someone finally got around to checking the data. The problem is simple: to get from a high-resolution magnetic resonance imaging scan of the brain to a scientific conclusion, the brain is divided into tiny "voxels". Software, rather than humans, then scans the voxels looking for clusters. When you see a claim that "scientists know when you're about to move an arm: these images prove it", they're interpreting what they're told by the statistical software. Now, boffins from Sweden and the UK have cast doubt on the quality of the science, because of problems with the statistical software: it produces way too many false positives. In this paper at PNAS, they write: "the most common software packages for fMRI analysis (SPM, FSL, AFNI) can result in false-positive rates of up to 70%. These results question the validity of some 40,000 fMRI studies and may have a large impact on the interpretation of neuroimaging results."

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TP-LINK Loses Control of Two Device Configuration Domains
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 07:31 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Reader Orome1 writes: Security researcher Amitay Dan warns that tplinklogin.net, a domain through which TP-LINK router owners can configure their devices, is no longer owned by the company, and that this fact could be misused by malware peddlers. TP-LINK has confirmed that they no longer own the domain in question, and will not be trying to buy it from the unknown seller for now. Instead, they intend to change the domain in the manuals to a newer one that's already in use.ComputerWorld has more details.

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Verizon To Hike Prices On Plans But Offer More Data
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 06:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's pay-more,-get-more department:
Roger Cheng, reporting for CNET: Big changes are afoot at Verizon. The nation's largest wireless carrier is set to unveil changes to its plans that will make them more expensive, but will also include more data, according to someone familiar with the changes. The low-end "S" plan will go up by $5 to $35 a month, but will include 2 gigabytes of data, twice as much as before. The "M" plan will go up by $5 to $50 a month, while its data will rise from 3GB to 4GB. The "L" plan will go up by $10 to $70 a month, while data increases from 6GB to 8GB. The "XL" plan will go up by $10 to $90 a month, but you'll get 16GB, up from 12GB before. Lastly, the "XXL" plan will cost $10 more at $110 a month, but you will get 24GB instead of 18GB. The changes are part of a broader overhaul of its plans, which will also include a rollover data program called "Carryover Data," a new way to avoid overage fees, and better access to Canada and Mexico. The move reflects a heightened competitive environment, one in which smaller rivals T-Mobile and Sprint have begun winning away customers through aggressive offers. Many of these changes mimic offers already available at the other carriers.

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Historic Route 66 To Feature Solar Road Technology
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 06:11 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's glowing-superhighway department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has announced plans to upgrade a small stretch of the historic Route 66 roadway with solar-powered panels. The panels, which are created by Solar Roadways, can support the weight of cars, feature built-in LEDs to create light-up road markings, and can be used to generate electricity to donate back to the grid. The company has won a number of contracts with the U.S. Department of Transportation, though it's unlikely we'll see solar-powered roadways throughout the country anytime soon. MoDOT said it hopes to lay the first panels starting with the Historic Route 66 Welcome Center by the end of the year, The Kansas City Star reports. SolarCity released a new report recently that says their solar power systems have a usable lifetime of at least 35 years, which is 40% longer than what the market expects.

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NASA's Juno Space Probe Enters Orbit Around Jupiter
Posted by News Fetcher on July 05 '16 at 03:21 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's mission-accomplished department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: NASA says it has received a signal from 540 million miles across the solar system, confirming its Juno spacecraft has successfully started orbiting Jupiter, the largest planet in our solar system. "Welcome to Jupiter!" flashed on screens at mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena, California. The probe had to conduct a tricky maneuver to slow down enough to allow it to be pulled into orbit: It fired its main engine for 35 minutes, effectively hitting the brakes to slow the spacecraft by about 1,212 miles per hour (542 meters per second). Juno was launched nearly five years ago on a mission to study Jupiter's composition and evolution. It's the first spacecraft to orbit Jupiter since Galileo. The largest planet in our solar system, Jupiter is a huge ball of gas 11 times wider than Earth and 300 times more massive than our planet. Researchers think it was the first planet to form and that it holds clues to how the solar system evolved. Juno is a spinning, robotic probe as wide as a basketball court. It will circle Jupiter 37 times for 20 months, diving down to about 2,600 miles (4,100 kilometers) above the planet's dense clouds. The seven science instruments on board will study Jupiter's auroras and help scientists better understand the planet's origins, structure, atmosphere and magnetosphere. An onboard color camera called JunoCam will take "spectacular close-up, color images" of Jupiter, according to NASA. Juno launched from Cape Canaveral on August 5, 2011, which is some 445 million miles (716 million kilometers) away from Jupiter. Juno has however traveled a total distance of 1,740 million miles (2,800 million kilometers) to reach Jupiter as it had to make a flyby of Earth to help pick up speed. "After a 1.7 billion mile journey, we hit our burn targets within one second, on a target that was just tens of kilometers large," said Nybakken, Juno Project Manger. "That's how well the Juno spacecraft performed tonight."

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Microsoft Xbox Project Scorpio Puts Out 6 TFLOPs On Par With Current Gaming PCs
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '16 at 11:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's frozen-in-time department:
MojoKid quotes a report form HotHardware: Microsoft is hoping to usher in a new era in console gaming just over a year from now. While the company is just a month away from launching the Xbox One S refresh in the U.S., Project Scorpio is the console that really has gamers talking. During E3, Microsoft provided scant details on the console, only cluing us in to the fact that it would support virtual reality, 4K gaming, and push 6 TFLOPs of computing power. Mateusz Tomaszkiewicz, CD Projekt Red's Principal Narrative Designer, had a few things to say about that last bullet point regarding compute performance. If you recall, AMD's newly introduced Radeon RX 480 offers peak performance of 5.8 TFLOPs, which puts it in close proximity of Microsoft's Project Scorpio. But of course, trying to compare consoles to PCs using this stat alone isn't exactly apples to oranges, though Tomaszkiewicz explains, "For sure [Scorpio] will have better looking games," Tomaszkiewicz said. "If this was available when we were working on Wild Hunt, I would expect similar quality that we have on PC right now or even better maybe." HotHardware's report goes on to mention that once new console hardware is introduced, it's frozen for years at a time without any updates. Therefore, it would only be a short while before PCs would completely outcompete it in terms of performance. Also, given the fact that Project Scorpio is not arriving until late 2017 at the earliest, the 6 TFLOPs of power won't seem like much when compared to the new cycle of high-end GPUs with far superior performance. Tomaszkiewicz agrees, adding, "New graphic cards are being released very often and more often than the new consoles being released. So I think it will put Scorpio on par with the PC is that we have at that point. But I think PC is growing so fast that it'll outpace [Scorpio]."

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Researchers Develop Electronic Nose To Sniff Out Pesticides and Nerve Gas
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '16 at 08:34 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's Basset-Hound department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Researchers from KU Leuven have now built a very sensitive electronic nose with metal-organic frameworks (MOFs). "MOFs are like microscopic sponges," postdoctoral researcher Ivo Stassen explains. "They can absorb quite a lot of gas into their minuscule pores." "We created a MOF that absorbs the phosphonates found in pesticides and nerve gases. This means you can use it to find traces of chemical weapons such as sarin or to identify the residue of pesticides on food. This MOF is the most sensitive gas sensor to date for these dangerous substances. Our measurements were conducted in cooperation with imec, the Leuven-based nanotechnology research centre. The concentrations we're dealing with are extremely low: parts per billion -- a drop of water in an Olympic swimming pool -- and parts per trillion." The chemical sensor can easily be integrated into existing electronic devices, Professor Rob Ameloot adds. "You can apply the MOF as a thin film over the surface of, for instance, an electric circuit. Therefore, it's fairly easy to equip a smartphone with a gas sensor for pesticides and nerve gas." Professor Ameloot continues, "MOFs can measure very low concentrations, so we could use them to screen someone's breath for diseases such as lung cancer and MS in an early stage. Or we could use the signature scent of a product to find out whether food has gone bad or to distinguish imitation wine from the original. This technology, in other words, offers a wide range of perspectives."

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Google Cast Is Now Baked Into Chrome, No Extension Needed
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '16 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's all-in-one-solution department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Google Chrome 51 browser now includes a built-in 'Cast' option within the drop-down settings menu, which can also be accessed from right clicking in a tab. This will then cast the current tab to the appropriate TV or monitor. Previously, if you wanted to cast content from your computer to your Chromecast-equipped display, you needed to download a Chrome extension. Along with the new changes, Google has removed the ability to tweak settings for resolution, bitrate, and quality when casting a tab, so Chrome itself will now control such parameters automatically. Chrome 51 is now available as a stable version, and the Cast option should be rolling out to users now. This casting ability will also be baked into Chrome OS. The report points out several new related features coming in Chrome 52, such as the ability to cast to Hangouts. You will be able to push Chrome tabs to your contacts within an open video Hangout, which may be useful for remote meetings. In addition, the Cast to Hangouts feature will also retrieve your calendar information to find such scheduled Hangout meetings to make quick sharing easier.

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SolarCity Pushing Industry To 40% Increase In Useful Lifetime of Solar Power Installations
Posted by News Fetcher on July 04 '16 at 05:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's limited-powertrain-warranty department:
An anonymous reader writes: SolarCity released a new report that says solar power systems have a usable lifetime of at least 35 years, which is 40% longer than what the market expects. Electrek reports: "The key finding of the report is that power degradation (annual efficiency loss) of solar panels supplied to SolarCity is as much as 35% lower than for a comparable industry-wide selection of non-SolarCity panels, which are typically expected to last for 25 years. In the study here, SolarCity looked at greater than 11,000 panels to determine their data points and come to their conclusion that their solar panels are performing well beyond expected industry standards. Today, standard efficiency solar panels put out by Tier 1 suppliers are generally warranted to lose no more than 0.7% efficiency per year for the first 25 years -- this is the Power Production Warranty. The key finding in this study is that the annual 0.7% efficiency loss is too high an estimation -- and that the number ought be closer to 0.5%. While it might seem a small number -- a difference of 0.2% -- when applied over a multiple decades timeframe, it means that instead of the standard twenty five year assumed productive life, we can expect at least another ten years of production above 80% of the original system output. Large installers like SolarCity, able to do this type of wide-scale research -- and to also demand higher quality, are showing their ability to pull the manufacturers of the world upward. With SolarCity building their own solar panel Gigafactory we ought expect the quality levels to be even greater in the near future.

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