By BeauHD from Slashdot's orbital-launches department
Privately funded space startups are changing China's space industry, helping it become a space power on par with the United States. "2018 is shaping up to be the first year in which more rockets reach Earth orbit from China than from any other country," reports MIT Technology Review. "As of mid-December, China had made 35 successful launches, as against 30 for the U.S." "As American and Russian space programs struggle with uncertain budgets, China is expanding its efforts on every front: communications and reconnaissance satellites; a navigation and positioning constellation to rival America's GPS; a human spaceflight program; and ambitious space-science and robotic exploration projects. All of these are enabled by a menagerie of new rockets with advanced capabilities." Here's an excerpt from the report summarizing some of China's space ambitions: In 2014, the Chinese government decided to allow private investment in space-related industry. Landspace began with a few dozen people. It now has over 200 employees at a manufacturing base in Huzhou in eastern China and at assembly and testing facilities in X'ian, a central Chinese city. The company plans to work incrementally, beginning with nano-satellites -- devices weighing between 1 and 10 kilograms (2 to 22 pounds) -- then moving to larger cargoes and, eventually, into human spaceflight. In September 2018, iSpace launched three nanosatellites on a brief suborbital flight, becoming the first Chinese space startup to successfully get beyond Earth's atmosphere. Another company, LinkSpace, plans to launch a vertical takeoff, vertical landing rocket in 2020. Landspace, OneSpace, iSpace, LinkSpace, and ExPace (which fashions itself as a startup though it's a subsidiary of a state-owned enterprise) are the leaders of a bevy of lesser-known Chinese launch startups.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's not-approved-for-combat department
According to a Navy Inspector General report, U.S. military troops used two Android apps that contained severe vulnerabilities in live combat scenarios. "The two apps are named KILSWITCH (Kinetic Integrated Low-Cost Software Integrated Tactical Combat Handheld) and APASS (Android Precision Assault Strike Suite)," reports ZDNet. From the report: Both apps work by showing satellite imagery of surroundings, including objectives, mission goals, nearby enemy and friendly forces. The two apps work as a modern-day replacement for radios and paper maps and allow troops to use a real-time messaging client to coordinate with other military branches, and even call in air-strike support with a few simple screen taps, according to a DARPA press release and accompanying YouTube video. The apps have been under development since 2012 and starting 2015, they have been made generally available to all U.S. troops via a public app store managed by the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency. But according to a Navy Inspector General report from March that was made public today, both apps contained vulnerabilities that could have allowed enemy forces access to troops' information.
The heavily redacted report doesn't detail the nature of the two vulnerabilities, but it does point out that the Navy had failed to control the distribution of these two applications, and later failed to act in warning troops of the danger they were in for almost a year. The report says that the two apps, KILSWITCH and APASS, were never meant or approved to be deployed in live combat zones. But the two apps, because of their flashy features and easier to use interface, became wildly popular among U.S. troops, but also other military branches, including foreign allied forces.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's let's-try-this-again department
Nine months after an Uber self-driving car struck and killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in Tempe, Arizona, Uber has decided that it's time to resume testing its self-driving cars on public roads. The company received a letter from Pennsylvania's Department of Transportation authorizing it to restart its program, although it will be massively scaled back from the one it had last year. The Verge reports: For the time being, Uber's self-driving Volvo SUVs will be confined to a one-mile loop around Pittsburgh's Strip District, where the company's Advanced Technologies Group (ATG) is headquartered. Only two vehicles are being tested for now, though more will be added. The cars won't exceed the posted speed limit of 25 mph, and will have two safety drivers in them at all times -- Uber calls them "mission specialists." For now, the cars aren't picking up any passengers. A spokesperson for Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto said since Uber has "accepted established state guidelines, demonstrated transparency, and conformed to our expectations in addressing the unique conditions of a complex urban environment, the city is satisfied that self-driving testing operations by Uber will not introduce an increased level of safety risk in Pittsburgh," the spokesperson said.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's largest-of-its-kind department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TorrentFreak: This week the Federal Court has issued the largest pirate site blocking injunction thus far in Australia, judging by the number of targeted sites. The case in question was filed by Village Roadshow, Disney, Twentieth Century Fox, Paramount, Columbia, Universal, Warner, and others, targeting 78 pirate "locations." The list of targets includes IPTorrents, BT-Scene, Fmovies, Putlocker, RuTracker, KissAnime, NYAA, Torrentday, YIFY-movies and various others. In total, the injunction lists 181 domain names. Interestingly, the court order also targets several subtitle sites. The injunction lists OpenSubtitles, YifySubtitles, and SubScene, for example. While these sites don't host or link to infringing videos, the movie companies argued that the sites are "communicating to the public a literary work," referencing the screenplay.
The list of ISPs that are required to implement the blockades includes Telstra, Optus, Vocus, TPG, Vodafone, and several subsidiaries. The blocking measures have to be implemented within 15 days, through DNS blocking, IP-address blocking, or any other means agreed with the rightsholder. This order will remain valid for a period of three years. If required, the rightsholders can then apply for an extension. The movie companies must also pay ISPs to implement the blocking measures but, at the rate of $50 per domain name, that's not going to be a problem.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cease-and-desist department
"Qualcomm was granted a second injunction against Apple on Thursday, banning it from selling some iPhone models in Germany that use chips from Intel and parts from another supplier, Qorvo," reports CNBC. This is the second major win for Qualcomm against Apple after a Chinese court granted an injunction against Apple for an alleged patent violation on Dec. 10." From the report: In a statement, Apple said it plans to appeal the ruling. Under this condition, Judge Matthias Zigann told the court earlier Thursday, the ruling would not go into immediate effect. However, Apple said that throughout the appeal process, iPhone 7 and iPhone 8 models will not be sold in its 15 retail stores in Germany. Its newest models, iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR, will still be sold in those stores, Apple said in the statement. All iPhone models will still be sold through carriers and other third-party retailers in Germany, Apple said. But Qualcomm said in a press release that the injunction will be in effect as soon as it posts the required bonds. It said it would complete the process "within a few days."Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's given-the-boot department
The FBI has shut down the domains of 15 high-profile distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) websites. "Several seizure warrants granted by a California federal judge went into effect Thursday, removing several of these 'border' or 'stresser' sites off the internet 'as part of coordinated law enforcement action taken against illegal DDoS-for-hire services,'" reports TechCrunch. "The orders were granted under federal seizure laws, and the domains were replaced with a federal notice." From the report: Prosecutors have charged three men, Matthew Gatrel and Juan Martinez in California and David Bukoski in Alaska, with operating the sites, according to affidavits filed in three U.S. federal courts, which were unsealed Thursday. The FBI had assistance from the U.K.'s National Crime Agency and the Dutch national police, and the Justice Department named several companies, including Cloudflare, Flashpoint and Google, for providing authorities with additional assistance. In all, several sites were knocked offline -- including downthem.org, netstress.org, quantumstress.net, vbooter.org and defcon.pro and more -- which allowed would-be attackers to sign up to rent time and servers to launch large-scale bandwidth attacks against systems and servers.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Videos and pictures of children being subjected to sexual abuse are being openly shared on Facebook's WhatsApp on a vast scale, with the encrypted messaging service failing to curb the problem despite banning thousands of accounts every day. From a report: Without the necessary number of human moderators, the disturbing content is slipping by WhatsApp's automated systems. A report reviewed by TechCrunch from two Israeli NGOs details how third-party apps for discovering WhatsApp groups include "Adult" sections that offer invite links to join rings of users trading images of child exploitation. TechCrunch has reviewed materials showing many of these groups are currently active.
TechCrunch's investigation shows that Facebook could do more to police WhatsApp and remove this kind of content. Even without technical solutions that would require a weakening of encryption, WhatsApp's moderators should have been able to find these groups and put a stop to them. Groups with names like "child porn only no adv" and "child porn xvideos" found on the group discovery app "Group Links For Whats" by Lisa Studio don't even attempt to hide their nature.
Better manual investigation of these group discovery apps and WhatsApp itself should have immediately led these groups to be deleted and their members banned. While Facebook doubled its moderation staff from 10,000 to 20,000 in 2018 to crack down on election interference, bullying, and other policy violations, that staff does not moderate WhatsApp content. With just 300 employees, WhatsApp runs semi-independently, and the company confirms it handles its own moderation efforts. That's proving inadequate for policing at 1.5 billion user community. It's a similar problem that WhatsApp, used by more than a billion users,
is facing in developing markets where its service is being used to spread false information.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
merbs writes: Out of the three major sectors of the economy -- agriculture, manufacturing, and service -- two are already largely automated. Farm labor, which about half the American workforce used to do, now comprises around 2 percent of American jobs. And we all know the rust belt song and dance, beat out to outsourcing and mechanization. Which is largely why some 80 percent of all American jobs are service jobs. And this year, quietly but in the open, the robots and their investors came for them, too.
There's a case to be made that 2018 is the year automation took its biggest lunge forward toward our largest pool of human labor: Amazon opened five cashier-less stores; three in Seattle, one in Chicago, and one in San Francisco. Self-ordering kiosks invaded fast food and franchise restaurants in a big way. Smaller robot-centric outfits like the long-awaited auto-burger joint Creator opened, too, and so did a number of others.
In Las Vegas, our service job mecca, hotels' and casinos' widespread plans for automation in everything from bartending to waitstaff to hotel work led one of the city's most powerful hospitality unions to the brink of a 50,000-person strike last summer before a successful negotiation was reached... Combined, they act as a set of markers on a trendline we can no longer ignore. We face the prospect of major upheaval in the last dependable pool of jobs we've got.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's for-the-record department
The Python Software Foundation has settled on a new governance model for the programming language Python. The decision to come up with a new model was made after Python creator and chief Guido van Rossum stepped down as the "Benevolent Dictator For Life" (BDFL). SDTimes: The new governance model will rely on a five-person steering council to establish standard practices for introducing new features to the Python programming language. Based on tested methods, the proposal was designed to be "boring," comprehensive, flexible and lightweight, the steering council model document explained. "We're not experts in governance, and we don't think Python is a good place to experiment with new and untried governance models," software developers Nathaniel Smith and Donald Stufft explained in the Python documentation.
"So this proposal sticks to mature, well-known, previously tested processes as much as possible. The high-level approach of a mostly-hands-off council is arguably the most common across large successful F/OSS projects, and low-level details are derived directly from Django's governance." The steering council will serve as the "court of final appeal" for changes to the language and will have broad authority over the decision-making process, including the ability to accept or reject PEPs (Python Enhancement Proposals) (such as the one used to introduce this governance model), enforce and update the project's code of conduct, create subcommittees and manage project assets. But the intended goal of the council is to take a more hands-off and occasional approach to flexing its powers, Smith and Stufft explained.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
An anonymous reader shares a report: Latest registration figures released by Verisign, an internet network company that oversees some domain name endings, seem to indicate that after a rocky few years, new gTLDs may finally be finding their niche in the marketplace. 2019 could be the year of the obscure domain name. Registrations for new gTLDs rose by nearly 11 per cent in the last year, compared to an average 3.5 per cent increase across the entire domain landscape, according to Verisign. One in five domain name registrations in the last year were on new gTLDs.
"The numbers are picking up as well as the usage," says Thomas Keller of 1&1 IONOS, a German web hosting company. In part that's down to saturation in more traditional domain name endings like dot-com, and country code TLDs (such as .uk, .tk and .cn). It's difficult to get good, precise and short dot-com domain names now, but hyper-specific and new gTLDs still have plenty of choice. Around ten per cent of new URLs registered through 1&1 IONOS were for new gTLds, Keller says.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
In an official statement Thursday, Intel called out Qualcomm for allegedly continuing to pursue its use of patent lawsuits and threatening lawsuits against its own customers and competitors even as multiple antitrust agencies have found Qualcomm to be violating competition laws with these tactics. From a report: The statement from Steven Rodgers, Intel EVP and general counsel, said that despite Qualcomm being fined by multiple governments around the world over its abuse of patents against other companies, the company continues the same aggressive legal strategy against its partners and competitors. This, Intel said, will only lead to higher prices for consumers and less innovation.
According to Intel, Qualcomm's goal is not to vindicate its IP rights, but to drive competition out of the market completely. Intel pointed out that Qualcomm has been fined almost a billion dollars in China, $850 million in Korea, $1.2 billion in the European Union and $773 million in Taiwan over the companyâ(TM)s anti-competitive practices. Intel also encouraged everyone to pay attention to FTC's lawsuit against Qualcomm in the United States. The FTC will begin its opening arguments in court on January 4. Intel, who is a competitor of Qualcomm in the wireless modem space, said that it hopes the actions taken by global authorities against Qualcomm will preserve competition in the 5G market.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's dirty-dealings department
Fascinating article on The Verge on the many ways Amazon Marketplace, the ecommerce giant's the company's third-party platform, sellers sabotage each other and defraud customers, and how Amazon is run its own government, so to speak -- with its own rules that its suppliers have no choice but to follow. And, of course, sellers have little choice but to continue with Amazon. The story starts with this anecdote: framing a seller for false advertising by buying fake five-star reviews for their products. Select excerpts from the report: For sellers, Amazon is a quasi-state. They rely on its infrastructure -- its warehouses, shipping network, financial systems, and portal to millions of customers -- and pay taxes in the form of fees. They also live in terror of its rules, which often change and are harshly enforced. A cryptic email like the one Plansky received can send a seller's business into bankruptcy, with few avenues for appeal. Sellers are more worried about a case being opened on Amazon than in actual court, says Dave Bryant, an Amazon seller and blogger. Amazon's judgment is swifter and less predictable, and now that the company controls nearly half of the online retail market in the US, its rulings can instantly determine the success or failure of your business, he says. "Amazon is the judge, the jury, and the executioner."Read Replies (0)