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Scientific Linux Distro is Being Discontinued; The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and CERN Will Move To CentOS
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '19 at 11:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's end-of-road department:
Scientific Linux, a 14-year-old operating system based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) and which was maintained by some significant members of the scientific community such as The Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and CERN, is being discontinued. From a report: While current versions (6 and 7) will continue to be supported, future development has permanently ended, with the organizations instead turning to CentOS -- another distro based on RHEL. "Scientific Linux is driven by Fermilab's scientific mission and focused on the changing needs of experimental facilities. Fermilab is looking ahead to DUNE and other future international collaborations. One part of this is unifying our computing platform with collaborating labs and institutions," said James Amundson, Head of Scientific Computing Division, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory.

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Drivers Think Bikers Are Less Than Human, Survey Says
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '19 at 11:23 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Researchers have found an explanation for why many drivers act out toward cyclists: They are actually dehumanizing people who ride bikes, according to an April study by Australian researchers in the journal Transportation Research. From a report: And this dehumanization -- the belief that a group of people are less than human -- correlates to drivers' self-reported aggressive behavior. Since 2010, cyclist fatalities have increased by 25 percent in the US. A total of 777 bicyclists were killed in crashes with drivers in 2017, and 45,000 were injured from crashes in 2015. Data compiled by the League of American Bicyclists also suggests that, in some states, bicyclists are overrepresented in the number of traffic fatalities.

"The idea is that if you don't see a group of people as fully human, then you're more likely to be aggressive toward them," said Narelle Haworth, a professor and director of the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety at Queensland University of Technology, one of the authors of the study. The researchers asked 442 Australians, including those who identified as cyclists, to rank the average cyclist on a scale from ape to human. This ape-to-human diagram has been used in other studies, like this one from 2015, looking at the dehumanization of marginalized groups, such as Muslims and black people.

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Hacker Can Monitor Cars And Kill Their Engines After Breaking Into GPS Tracking Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '19 at 10:04 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's security-woes department:
Reader eatmorekix writes: A hacker broke into thousands of accounts belonging to users of two GPS tracker apps, giving him the ability to monitor the locations of tens of thousands of vehicles and even turn off the engines for some of them while they were in motion, Motherboard has learned. The hacker, who goes by the name L&M, told Motherboard he hacked into more than 7,000 iTrack accounts and more than 20,000 ProTrack accounts, two apps that companies use monitor and manage fleets of vehicles through GPS tracking devices. The hacker was able to track vehicles in a handful of countries around the world, including South Africa, Morocco, India, and the Philippines. On some cars, the software has the capability of remotely turning off the engines of vehicles that are stopped or are traveling 12 miles per hour or slower, according to the manufacturer of certain GPS tracking devices.

By reverse engineering ProTrack and iTrack's Android apps, L&M said he realized that all customers are given a default password of 123456 when they sign up. At that point, the hacker said he brute-forced 'millions of usernames' via the apps' API. Then, he said he wrote a script to attempt to login using those usernames and the default password. This allowed him to automatically break into thousands of accounts that were using the default password and extract data from them.

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First 'Marsquake' Detected on Red Planet
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '19 at 10:04 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's more-you-know department:
There are earthquakes and moonquakes, and now a NASA spacecraft has detected what's believed to be a "marsquake" on the Red Planet. From a report: The spacecraft picked up the faint trembling of Mars's surface on 6 April, 128 days after landing on the planet last November. The quake is the first to be detected on a planetary body other than Earth or Moon. The shaking was relatively weak, the French space agency CNES said on 23 April. The seismic energy it produced was similar to that of the moonquakes that Apollo astronauts measured in the late 1960s and early 1970s. "We thought Mars was probably going to be somewhere between Earth and the Moon" in terms of seismic activity, says Renee Weber, a planetary scientist at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama. "It's still very early in the mission, but it's looking a bit more Moon-like than Earth-like," she says. It's not yet clear whether the shaking originated within Mars or was caused by a meteorite crashing into the planet's surface.

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Car Rental Company Hertz Sues Accenture Over $32M Website Project
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '19 at 08:44 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Car rental giant Hertz is suing consultancy firm Accenture over a website redesign. From a report: The US corporation hired monster management consultancy firm Accenture in August 2016 to completely revamp its online presence. The new site was due to go live in December 2017. But a failure to get on top of things led to a delay to January 2018, and then a second delay to April 2018 which was then also missed, we're told. As Hertz endured the delays, it found itself immersed in a nightmare: a product and design that apparently didn't do half of what was specified and still wasn't finished. "By that point, Hertz no longer had any confidence that Accenture was capable of completing the project, and Hertz terminated Accenture," the car rental company complained in a lawsuit lodged against Accenture in New York this month.

Hertz is suing for the $32m it paid Accenture in fees to get to that aborted stage, and it wants more millions to cover the cost of fixing the mess. "Accenture never delivered a functional website or mobile app," Hertz claimed. Accenture told El Reg on Tuesday this week it believes Hertz's lawsuit is "without merit."

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Chalking Tires To Enforce Parking Rules is Unconstitutional, Court Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '19 at 07:25 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
Reader schwit1 writes: Marking your tires with chalk is trespassing, not law enforcement, the federal appeals panel said in a Michigan case. U.S. Circuit Judge Bernice Bouie Donald wrote that when drivers pull into parking spaces, "the city commences its search on vehicles that are parked legally, without probable cause or even so much as 'individualized suspicion of wrongdoing' -- the touchstone of the reasonableness standard." Moreover, overstaying your welcome at a parking space doesn't cause "injury or ongoing harm to the community," she wrote, meaning the city is wrong to argue that parking enforcement is part of its "community caretaking" responsibility, potentially justifying a search without a warrant. In fact, she wrote, "there has been a trespass in this case because the City made intentional physical contact with Taylor's vehicle." Further reading: A court ruling 'chalking' illegal could make way for more privacy-invasive tech.

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Microsoft Blocks Windows 10 May 2019 Update on PCs That Use USB Storage or SD Cards
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '19 at 07:25 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's stranger-things department:
Microsoft has published a support document today warning Windows 10 users that the impending May 2019 Update may not install on their systems if they use external USB storage devices or SD cards. From a report: The OS maker cited problems with "inappropriate drive reassignment" as the main reason for blocking the May 2019 Update. "Inappropriate drive reassignment can occur on eligible computers that have an external USB device or SD memory card attached during the installation of the May 2019 update," the company said. "For this reason, these computers are currently blocked from receiving the May 2019 Update."

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iFixit's Galaxy Fold Teardown Reveals Its Biggest Design Flaw
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '19 at 06:05 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Following up on its post speculating on the possible causes of the various screen breakages we've seen on review units, iFixit's teardown analysis seems to reveal a fundamental design tradeoff Samsung had to make -- one that may have doomed the phone. It seems as though Samsung focused quite a bit on ensuring the mechanics of the hinge would be a sturdy and dependable mechanism for folding and unfolding a screen. Yet for whatever reason, the Galaxy Fold does not have enough protection against the ingress of debris. And because that screen is so incredibly delicate (as any OLED is if it's not protected by something like Gorilla Glass), that was a significant risk.

We still can't know the full reasoning behind Samsung's decision to delay the launch of the phone, but this debris/bulge problem feels much more fundamental than the fact that the protective layer on the top looks like a screen protector that should be peeled off (but, again, should not be as that breaks the screen as well). The bulk of the rest of the reviewers who had broken screens tried to remove that layer -- a natural inclination since the review unit packaging didn't have any warning on it.

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Chrome 74 Arrives With Less Motion Sickness, New JavaScript Features
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '19 at 06:05 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's latest-and-greatest department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today launched Chrome 74 for Windows, Mac, Linux, Android, and iOS. The release includes support for a reduced motion media query, private class fields, feature policy improvements, and more developer features. You can update to the latest version now using Chrome's built-in updater or download it directly from google.com/chrome.

Motion sickness in the browser is a real thing. Android provides an accessibility option to reduce motion whenever possible, as shown above in the âoeremove animationsâ setting. Chrome is now taking that a step further so websites can limit motion sickness when viewing parallax scrolling, zooming, and other motion effects. Chrome 74 introduces prefers-reduced-motion (part of Media Queries Level 5) that allows websites to honor when an operating system is set to limit motion effects. This might not seem like a big deal today, but it could be very useful if websites start abusing motion effects. Check out the full changelog for more information on this release.

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Tesla Plans To Launch a Robotaxi Network In 2020
Posted by News Fetcher on April 24 '19 at 03:20 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's I'll-believe-it-when-I-see-it department:
Iwastheone shares a report from TechCrunch: Tesla expects to launch the first robotaxis as part of broader vision for an autonomous ride-sharing network in 2020, CEO Elon Musk said during the company's Autonomy Day. "I feel very confident predicting that there will be autonomous robotaxis from Tesla next year -- not in all jurisdictions because we won't have regulatory approval everywhere" Musk said without detailing what regulations he was referring to. He added that he is confident the company will have regulatory approval somewhere next year. Tesla will enable owners to add their properly equipped vehicles to its own ride-sharing app, which will have a similar business model to Uber or Airbnb. Tesla will take 25 percent to 30 percent of the revenue from those rides, Musk said. In places where there aren't enough people to share their cars, Tesla would provide a dedicated fleet of robotaxis. Musk also said at the event that all new Tesla vehicles are now produced with its custom full self-driving computer chip. The remaining step for Tesla's full self-driving mode to work is the software, "which Musk says will be 'feature complete' and at a reliability level that we could consider that no one needs to pay attention, by the middle of next year," reports TechCrunch.

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Scientists Develop Self-Propelling Phoenix Aircraft That Inhales Air
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 11:20 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's first-of-its-kind department:
dryriver writes: The BBC reports on a 50ft long and only 120kg heavy blimp-like UAV aircraft that is designed to fly at 70,000 feet, is entirely solar powered, uses variable-buoyancy for propulsion, and can essentially stay airborne in a self-powered way until it experiences mechanical or electrical failure. The Phoenix varies its buoyancy continuously using a helium-filled fuselage that also has an interior air sack that works a bit like a lung. It can inhale air and compress it on demand, making the aircraft temporarily heavier than air, and expel the inhaled air through a nozzle at the back of the aircraft, making the aircraft lighter than air again, creating some extra forward propulsion in the process.

The Phoenix -- which is a simple, cheap-to-build aircraft that its designers describe as "almost a disposable aircraft" -- could one day act as a satellite replacement flying at 70,000 feet. It may also be used for surveillance purposes or to release micro-satellites into earth orbit. The Phoenix has already completed short test-flights of 120m inside the hangar it was built in. This YouTube video shows just how gently the Phoenix rises into the air, hovers in place, and lands again. Unlike drones that need to land, refuel and then take to the skies again, the Phoenix may stay in the air for very long periods of time, landing only for periodic maintenance of its electrical and mechanical components.

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Melting Permafrost In Arctic Will Have $70 Trillion Climate Impact, Study Says
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 08:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's current-trajectory department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The release of methane and carbon dioxide from thawing permafrost will accelerate global warming and add up to $70 trillion to the world's climate bill, according to the most advanced study yet of the economic consequences of a melting Arctic. If countries fail to improve on their Paris agreement commitments, this feedback mechanism, combined with a loss of heat-deflecting white ice, will cause a near 5% amplification of global warming and its associated costs, says the paper, which was published on Tuesday in Nature Communications.

< article continued at Slashdot's current-trajectory department >

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ICANN Proposes Allowing Unlimited Fee Increases For<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.Org Domain Names
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 06:05 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's controversial-proposals department:
GeorgeK writes: ICANN is proposing allowing unlimited fee increases for .org domain names, which currently are allowed to increase a maximum of 10% annually. That 10% annual cap on fee increases came about after the huge public outcry that ensued in 2006 when a comparable proposal to eliminate price caps was made, and successfully opposed by the public. It seems that ICANN did not learn from history.
Nat Cohen explains why the new proposal to eliminate price caps is a bad idea. Similar proposals exist for the .info, .biz, and .asia top-level domains, and are all open for public comment now (.org public comment period ends April 29, 2019). If these unlimited fee increases are permitted, it is likely that Verisign will seek to further increase their fees for .com and .net. I encourage readers who wish to oppose these unlimited fee increases to submit comments today.

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Malicious Lifestyle Apps Found On Google Play, 30 Million Installs Recorded
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 06:05 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hidden-adware department:
A total of 50 malicious apps have managed to bypass Google's security checks and land on the Google Play store, leading to millions of installs on Android devices. ZDNet reports: Now, the cybersecurity team from Avast have found a further 50 apps relating to lifestyle services which masquerade as legitimate software but are actually adware, and these malicious apps have been downloaded a total of 30 million times. On Tuesday, Avast published a report on the discovery, in which the apps are linked to each other through third-party libraries that "bypass the background service restrictions present in newer Android versions."

"Although the bypassing itself is not explicitly forbidden on the Play Store, Avast detects it as Android:Agent-SEB [PUP], because apps using these libraries waste the user's battery and make the device slower," the researchers say. "The applications use the libraries to continuously display more and more ads to the user, going against Play Store rules." Each app displays full-blown ads to users, and in some cases, will also attempt to lure viewers to install additional adware-laden applications. The malicious apps include Pro Piczoo, Photo Blur Studio, Mov-tracker, Magic Cut Out, and Pro Photo Eraser. Installation rates range from one million to one thousand.

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'Technology Needs To Be Regulated': Apple CEO Tim Cook Says No Oversight Has Led To Great Damage To Society
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 04:47 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's smart-regulation department:
In an interview at the TIME 100 Summit in New York, Apple CEO Tim Cook said more government regulation on the tech industry is needed in order to protect privacy. "We all have to be intellectually honest, and we have to admit that what we're doing isn't working," said Cook. "Technology needs to be regulated. There are now too many examples where the no rails have resulted in a great damage to society." Time Magazine reports: In the interview, Cook suggested that U.S. regulators could look to Europe's passage of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018. "GDPR isn't ideal," said Cook. "But GDPR is a step in the right direction." In light of recent data breaches and foreign election influence through social media, Cook's view is that the tech industry has no other responsible option but to accept more government oversight, a position he outlined in a recent TIME Ideas piece.

"I'm hopeful," Cook said at the Summit. "We are advocating strongly for regulation -- I do not see another path." Cook also explained Apple's stance on transparency and money in politics. "We focus on policies, not politics," Cook said. "Apple doesn't have a PAC...I refuse to have one because it shouldn't exist." [...] "I try not to get wrapped up in a pretzel about who we upset," Cook said. "At the end of the day we'll be judged more on 'did we stand up for what we believed in,' not necessarily, 'do they agree with it.'"

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Record Number of Consumers Waiting To Upgrade Their Cellphones
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 04:47 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's fewer-than-expected department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Wireless customers are hanging on to their old phones longer than ever. That's the message from Verizon, which said its upgrade rate fell to a record low last quarter -- a harbinger of tough times ahead for the iPhone and other devices. Faced with $1,000 price tags on moderately improved phones, consumers may be waiting to hear more about new 5G networks before committing to new models. The faster, more advanced services won't roll out in earnest until 2020. "Incremental changes from one model the the next, hasn't been that great, and it hasn't been enough of an incentive," Verizon Chief Financial Officer Matt Ellis said in an interview Tuesday after the company reported fewer-than-expected new customers for the first quarter. He expects replacement rates to be down for the year.

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California's Politicians Rush To Gut Internet Privacy Law With Pro-Tech Giant Amendments
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 03:25 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's pro-privacy-proposals department:
The right for Californians to control the private data that tech companies hold on them may be undermined today at a critical committee hearing in Sacramento. The Register reports: The Privacy And Consumer Protection Committee will hold a special hearing on Tuesday afternoon to discuss and vote on nine proposed amendments to the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) -- which was passed last year in the U.S. state but has yet to come into force. Right now, the legislation is undergoing tweaks at the committee stage. Privacy advocates are warning that most of the proposals before the privacy committee are influenced by the very industry that the law was supposed to constrain: big tech companies like Google, Facebook, and Amazon.

In most cases, the amendments seek to add carefully worded exemptions to the law that would benefit business at the cost of consumer rights. But most upsetting to privacy folk is the withdrawal of an amendment by Assembly member Buffy Wicks (D-15th District) that incorporated changes that would enhance consumer data privacy rights. Wicks' proposal would have given consumers more of a say of what is done with their personal data and more power to sue companies that break the rules. But the Assembly member pulled the measure the day before the hearing because it was not going to get the necessary votes. If a measure is voted down it cannot be reintroduced in that legislative session.

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Engineers Develop Colorful Printed Patch That Hides People From AI
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 03:25 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's invisibility-cloak department:
A group of engineers from the University of KU Leuven in Belgium have come up with a solution to make users invisible to one specific algorithm. "In a paper shared last week on the preprint server arXiv, these students show how simple printed patterns can fool an AI system that's designed to recognize people in images," reports The Verge. From the report: If you print off one of the students' specially designed patches and hang it around your neck, from an AI's point of view, you may as well have slipped under an invisibility cloak. As the researchers write: "We believe that, if we combine this technique with a sophisticated clothing simulation, we can design a T-shirt print that can make a person virtually invisible for automatic surveillance cameras."

In the case of this recent research -- which we spotted via Google researcher David Ha -- some caveats do apply. Most importantly, the adversarial patch developed by the students can only fool one specific algorithm named YOLOv2. It doesn't work against even off-the-shelf computer vision systems developed by Google or other tech companies, and, of course, it doesn't work if a person is looking at the image.

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US Farmers Are Being Bled By the Tractor Monopoly
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 02:04 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's right-to-repair department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: As tractors become as complex as Teslas, agricultural equipment manufacturers and their authorized dealerships are using technology as an excuse to force farmers to use the authorized service center -- and only the authorized service center -- for repairs. That's costing farmers -- and independent repair shops -- dearly. John Nauerth III, a farmer in remote Jackson, under pressure to plant, waited a costly "two or three hours" for an authorized dealer to show up at his farm to plug in a computer and diagnose the problem. Worse, the dealer didn't have the repair part -- and independent repair shops, excluded from the repair monopoly, didn't either. "Right now, you're at the mercy of the dealers," Nauerth said. "Good thing is we figured out a way to get it running with a two-by-six piece of plywood."

< article continued at Slashdot's right-to-repair department >

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Skyscraper's Rooftop Pool Spills Everywhere as Earthquake Rocks Manila
Posted by News Fetcher on April 23 '19 at 02:04 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
The Philippines was rocked with a 6.3 earthquake this week that sent buildings swaying and people running for safety. An anonymous reader shares a report: But one of the most bizarre videos of the earthquake so far has to be this footage of water pouring out of a residential skyscraper in Manila's Binondo district. According to local reports, that water is from a penthouse swimming pool. The building, called the Anchor Skysuites, is relatively new and didn't officially open until 2015. It's one of the tallest buildings in the area and is credited as the tallest building in any Chinatown around the world outside of China. The video, credited to Michael Rivo, was just one of many videos capturing the terrifying experience.

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