By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
The International Energy Agency (IEA) released a report this week saying that in 2018, "global energy-related CO2 emissions rose by 1.7 percent to 33 Gigatonnes." That's the most growth in emissions that the world has seen since 2013. From a report: Coal use contributed to a third of the total increase, mostly from new coal-fired power plants in China and India. This is worrisome because new coal plants have a lifespan of roughly 50 years. But the consequences of climate change are already upon us, and coal's hefty emissions profile compared to other energy sources means that, globally, carbon mitigation is going to be a lot more difficult to tackle than it may look from here in the US.
Even in the US, carbon emissions grew by 3.1 percent in 2018, according to the IEA. (This closely tracks estimates by the Rhodium Group, which released a preliminary report in January saying that US carbon emissions increased by 3.4 percent in 2018.) "By country, China, the United States, and India together accounted for nearly 70 percent of the rise in energy demand," Reuters wrote.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's what's-yours-is-mine department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Court documents unsealed today revealed that Microsoft has been waging a secret battle against a group of Iranian government-sponsored hackers. The OS maker sued and won a restraining order that allowed it to take control of 99 web domains that had been previously owned and operated by a group of Iranian hackers known in cyber-security circles as APT35, Phosphorus, Charming Kitten, and the Ajax Security Team. The domains had been used as part of spear-phishing campaigns aimed at users in the US and across the world.
APT35 hackers had registered these domains to incorporate the names of well-known brands, such as Microsoft, Yahoo, and others. The domains were then used to collect login credentials for users the group had tricked into accessing their sites. The tactic is decades old but is still extremely successful at tricking users into unwittingly disclosing usernames and passwords, even today. Some of the domains Microsoft has confiscated include the likes of outlook-verify.net, yahoo-verify.net, verification-live.com, and myaccount-services.net. Microsoft said it received substantial support from the domain registrars, which transferred the domains over to Microsoft as soon as the company obtained a court order.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's soon-to-be-a-relic-of-the-past department
In January, California Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) introduced a law barring retailers from printing paper receipts unless a customer requests one. Otherwise they'd be required to provide proof-of-purchase receipts "only in electronic form." The bill has cleared its first hurdle in the sate Legislature on Monday as it passed the Nature Resources Committee in a 6-3 vote, despite concerns from some industry groups that say the switch should be driven by the market, not a government mandate. The Los Angeles Times reports: Assembly Bill 161 by Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco) said his bill is an easy way to reduce paper waste in the state while addressing consumers' frustrations with excessively long receipts. Customers have taken to social media for years to complain and poke fun at the size of their receipts, particularly at CVS drugstore, posting pictures of the coupon-packed printouts measuring taller than a refrigerator. The paper that receipts are printed on is generally too thin to be made from recycled material, according to a legislative analysis of the bill. Once they are thrown away, the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery, or CalRecycle, said the use of chemicals on paper receipts makes them undesirable to recyclers.
The American Forest and Paper Assn., a paper industry group that opposes the bill, estimates that the United States generates 180,000 tons of paper receipts each year. That, the group points out, is a small percentage of total paper waste. The bill would give businesses until 2022 to provide customers electronic receipts, or a paper printout available on request. Violators would receive two warnings before being levied a $25-per-day fine. The maximum annual fine would be $300. The bill exempts cash-only and smaller businesses with gross receipts under $1 million a year from the electronic receipt requirement.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's brb-getting-popcorn department
Last year, a Belgian court ruled that Facebook would have to stop tracking Belgian internet users and delete the data it's already gathered on them, or face fines of about $280,000 a day. "Belgium's data-protection regulators have targeted the company since at least 2015 when a court ordered it to stop storing non-users' personal data," Mercury News reported at the time. Facebook is now fighting the Belgian court's decision, and will go "face to face with the Belgian data protection authority in a Brussels appeals court for a two-day hearing starting on Wednesday," reports Bloomberg. From the report: Armed with new powers since the introduction of stronger European Union data protection rules, Belgium's privacy watchdog argues Facebook "still violates the fundamental rights of millions of residents of Belgium." The Brussels Court of First Instance in February 2018 ruled that Facebook doesn't provide people with enough information about how and why it collects data on their web use, or what it does with the information. "Facebook then uses that information to profile your surfing behavior and uses that profile to show you targeted advertising, such as advertising about products and services from commercial companies, messages from political parties, etc," the Belgian regulator said in an emailed statement on Wednesday.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's explain-like-I'm-five department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Four senior senators have called on the largest U.S. voting machine makers to explain why they continue to sell devices with "known vulnerabilities," ahead of upcoming critical elections. The letter, sent Wednesday, calls on election equipment makers ES&S, Dominion Voting and Hart InterCivic to explain why they continue to sell decades-old machines, which the senators say contain security flaws that could undermine the results of elections if exploited. "The integrity of our elections is directly tied to the machines we vote on," said the letter sent by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Mark Warner (D-VA), Jack Reed (D-RI) and Gary Peters (D-MI), the most senior Democrats on the Rules, Intelligence, Armed Services and Homeland Security committees, respectively. "Despite shouldering such a massive responsibility, there has been a lack of meaningful innovation in the election vendor industry and our democracy is paying the price," the letter adds.
Their primary concern is that the three companies have more than 90 percent of the U.S. election equipment market share but their voting machines lack paper ballots or auditability, making it impossible to know if a vote was accurately counted in the event of a bug. Yet, these are the same devices tens of millions of voters will use in the upcoming 2020 presidential election. ES&S spokesperson Katina Granger said it will respond to the letter it received. The ranking Democrats say paper ballots are "basic necessities" for a reliable voting system, but the companies still produce machines that don't produce paper results.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's payback-time department
Four companies that made billions of illegal robocalls have been caught and fined. From a report: The Federal Trade Commission on Tuesday said the agency reached settlements with four operations responsible for billions of illegal robocalls pitching debt-relief services, home security systems, fake charities, auto warranties and Google search results services. The companies were charged with violating the FTC Act, as well as the agency's Telemarketing Sales Rule and its Do Not Call provisions.
"We have brought dozens of cases targeting illegal robocalls, and fighting unwanted calls remains one of our highest priorities," said Andrew Smith, director of the Bureau of Consumer Protection at the FTC, in a release. "We also have great advice on call-blocking services and how to reduce unwanted calls at [our website.]" The settlements come as the agency focuses on combating illegal robocalls. The four companies, NetDotSolutions, Higher Goals Marketing, Veterans of America and Pointbreak Media, are banned by court orders from robocalling and most telemarketing activities, according to the FTC's release. Further reading: FTC Tells ISPs To Disclose Exactly What Information They Collect On Users and What It's For.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Airbnb says it's cracking down on hosts who record guests. But is it doing enough? From a report: Airbnb's rules allow cameras outdoors and in living rooms and common areas, but never in bathrooms or anywhere guests plan to sleep, including rooms with foldout beds. Starting in early 2018, Airbnb added another layer of disclosure: If hosts indicate they have cameras anywhere on their property, guests receive a pop-up informing them where the cameras are located and where they are aimed. To book the property, the guests must click "agree," indicating that they're aware of the cameras and consent to being filmed.
Of course, hosts have plenty of reason to train cameras on the homes they rent out to strangers. They can catch guests who attempt to steal, or who trash the place, or who initially say they're traveling alone, then show up to a property with five people. A representative for Airbnb's Trust & Safety communications department told me the company tries to filter out hosts who may attempt to surveil guests by matching them against sex-offender and felony databases. The company also uses risk scores to flag suspicious behavior, in addition to reviewing and booting hosts with consistently poor scores.
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By msmash from Slashdot's tightening-bolts department
Facebook will begin banning posts, photos and other content that reference white nationalism and white separatism, revising its rules in response to criticism that a loophole had allowed racism to thrive on its platform. From a report: Previously, Facebook only had prohibited users from sharing messages that glorified white supremacy -- a rhetorical discrepancy, in the eyes of civil rights advocates, who argued that white nationalism, supremacy and separatism are indistinguishable and that the policy undermined the tech giant's stepped-up efforts to combat hate speech online. Facebook now agrees with that analysis, [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source] according to people who've been briefed on the decision. The new policy also applies to Instagram. The rise and spread of white nationalism on Facebook were thrown into sharp relief in the wake of the deadly neo-Nazi rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017, when self-avowed white nationalists used the social networking site as an organizing tool.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
Joanna Stern, writing for the Wall Street Journal [the link may be paywalled]: Why is the breaking of my MacBook Air keyboard so insanely maddening? Let's take a trip down Memory Lane. April 2015: Apple releases the all-new MacBook with a "butterfly" keyboard. In order to achieve extreme thinness, the keys are much flatter than older generations but the butterfly mechanism underneath, for which the keyboard is named, aims to replicate the bounce of a more traditional keyboard. October 2016: The MacBook Pro arrives with a second-generation butterfly keyboard. A few months later, some begin to report that letters or characters don't appear, that keys get stuck or that letters unexpectedly repeat. June 2018: Apple launches a keyboard repair program for what the company says is a "small percentage" of MacBook and MacBook Pro keyboards impacted. July 2018: Apple releases a new high-end MacBook Pro with the third-generation of the keyboard that's said to fix the issues. October 2018: Apple's new MacBook Air also has the third-generation keyboard. I recommend it, and even get one for myself.
Which brings us to the grand year 2019 and my MacBook Air's faulty E and R keys. Others have had problems with Apple's latest laptops, too. A proposed nationwide class-action suit alleges that Apple has been aware of the defective nature of these keyboards since 2015 yet sold affected laptops without disclosing the problem. "We are aware that a small number of users are having issues with their third-generation butterfly keyboard and for that we are sorry," an Apple spokesman said in a statement. "The vast majority of Mac notebook customers are having a positive experience with the new keyboard." If you have a problem, contact Apple customer service, he added.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's space-power department
India shot down one of its satellites in space with an anti-satellite missile on Wednesday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, hailing the country's first test of such technology as a major breakthrough that establishes it as a space power. From a report: India would only be the fourth country to have used such an anti-satellite weapon after the United States, Russia and China, said Modi, who heads into general elections next month. "Our scientists shot down a live satellite 300 kilometres away in space, in low-earth orbit," Modi said in a television broadcast. "India has made an unprecedented achievement today," he added, speaking in Hindi. "India registered its name as a space power." Anti-satellite weapons allow for attacks on enemy satellites, blinding them or disrupting communications, as well as providing a technology base to intercept ballistic missiles.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's Turing-Award department
An anonymous reader shares a report: In 2004, Geoffrey Hinton doubled down on his pursuit of a technological idea called a neural network. It was a way for machines to see the world around them, recognize sounds and even understand natural language. But scientists had spent more than 50 years working on the concept of neural networks, and machines couldn't really do any of that. Backed by the Canadian government, Dr. Hinton, a computer science professor at the University of Toronto, organized a new research community with several academics who also tackled the concept. They included Yann LeCun, a professor at New York University, and Yoshua Bengio at the University of Montreal.
On Wednesday, the Association for Computing Machinery, the world's largest society of computing professionals, announced that Drs. Hinton, LeCun and Bengio had won this year's Turing Award for their work on neural networks. The Turing Award, which was introduced in 1966, is often called the Nobel Prize of computing, and it includes a $1 million prize, which the three scientists will share. More: The Godfathers of the AI Boom Win Computing's Highest Honor; Hinton Says We Need To Start Over; Bengio is Worried About Its Future; and Deep Learning May Need a New Programming Language That's More Flexible Than Python, LeCun Says.Read Replies (0)
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cool-but-slightly-creepy department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Huawei officially announced the Huawei P30 Pro smartphone today. While it has a new Huawei-made SoC, an in-screen optical fingerprint reader, and lots of other high-end features, the highlight is definitely the camera's optical zoom, which is up to a whopping 5x. Not digital zoom. Real, optical zoom. Space, of course, is at a premium in smartphones. Imagine a smartphone sitting face down, and you would have to fit a vertical stack of the display, the CMOS sensor, and the lens all in about an 8mm height. There is just not a lot of room. But what if we didn't have to stack all the components vertically? The trick to Huawei's 5x optical zoom is that it uses a periscope design.
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By BeauHD from Slashdot's full-steam-ahead department
Today at the fifth meeting of the National Space Council, Vice President Mike Pence said the Trump administration is committed to sending humans back to the Moon by 2024, four years earlier than NASA's previous target of 2028. The Verge reports: Pence, speaking at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, noted that the administration will meet this goal "by any means necessary." He called on NASA to adopt new policies and argued that the space agency would need to embrace "a new mindset that begins with setting bold goals and staying on schedule." To do that, he said the administration may consider ditching some of NASA's current contractors -- which are currently developing new vehicles to take humans into deep space -- and using commercially developed rockets instead. "If commercial rockets are the only way to get American astronauts to the Moon in the next five years, then commercial rockets it will be," said Pence. "Urgency must be our watch word."
However, Pence offered few clear recommendations and changes that would help to accelerate NASA's return, apart from potentially switching rockets and contractors. "It was rhetoric about 'by all means possible' and 'we'll provide the resources necessary' and 'leadership is essential,'" John Logsdon, a space policy expert at George Washington University, tells The Verge. "I mean, they're all good words. But the devil's in the details."Read Replies (0)