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Google Releases a Searchable Database of US Political Ads
Posted by News Fetcher on August 16 '18 at 05:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's show-me-the-money department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: In an effort to provide more transparency and deliver on a promise to Congress, Google just published an archive of political ads that have run on its platform. Google's new database, which it calls the Ad Library, is searchable through a dedicated launch page. Anyone can search for and filter ads, viewing them by candidate name or advertiser, spend, the dates the ads were live, impressions and type. For anyone looking for the biggest ad budget or the farthest reaching political ad, the ads can be sorted by spend, impressions and recency, as well. Google also provided a report on the data, showing ad spend by U.S. state, by advertiser and by top keywords.

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Did Apple Secretly Crush An App Store Competitor In Japan?
Posted by News Fetcher on August 16 '18 at 02:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's ulterior-motives department:
According to Nikkei, Japan's Fair Trade Commission is looking into whether Apple improperly pressured Yahoo Japan to shut down a game streaming platform that competed with the iOS App Store. "Yahoo Japan's Game Plus service allowed people to stream full games made for other platforms and to play HTML5 games on mobile phones, which would have allowed iPhone owners to get games without going through the App Store," reports The Verge. From the report: Nikkei reports that Yahoo Japan slashed the program's budget last fall, just months after it launched, and told partners that it was due to pressure from Apple. It's said to have begun filing complaints with Japan's FTC around the same time. Developers essentially have no good alternative to the App Store on iOS. Their only other option is the web, which is a wonderful place for websites, but the web is rarely as fast or flashy as a native app. There are a great number of features that only native apps can take advantage of, which requires going through the App Store and giving Apple a 30 percent cut of most sales. Yahoo Japan's service was meant, in part, to be an alternative to that, offering better terms to developers, according to Nikkei, and fewer restrictions around how games were updated and sold. Final Fantasy creator Square Enix had even signed on and produced an exclusive game for the platform, which has since been pulled.

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Child Drownings In Germany Linked To Parents' Obsession With Mobile Phones
Posted by News Fetcher on August 16 '18 at 12:10 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's phone-fixation department:
The German Lifeguard Association (DLRG) has made a direct connection between children getting into difficulty in the water and parents being too busy on their mobile phones to notice. More than 300 people have drowned in Germany so far this year. The Guardian reports: "Too few parents and grandparents are heeding the advice: when your children and grandchildren are in the water, put your smartphone away," Achim Wiese, the DLRG's spokesman, said. "We're experiencing on a daily basis that people treat swimming pools like a kindergarten and simply don't pay attention," added Peter Harzheim of the German federation of swimming pool supervisors. "In the past, parents and grandparents spent more time with their children in the swimming pool. But increasing numbers of parents are fixated by their smartphones and are not looking left or right, let alone paying attention to their children," he told German media. "It's sad that parents behave so neglectfully these days." The organization also put some blame on the school system for not making swimming lessons required from an early age. "Budget cuts have also led to swimming pools shortening their opening times," adds The Guardian.

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Climate Change Has Doubled the Frequency of Ocean Heatwaves
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 08:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cause-and-effect department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Nature: Scientists analyzed satellite-based measurements of sea surface temperature from 1982 to 2016 and found that the frequency of marine heatwaves had doubled. These extreme heat events in the ocean's surface waters can last from days to months and can occur across thousands of kilometers. If average global temperatures increase to 3.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century, as researchers currently project, the frequency of ocean heatwaves could increase by a factor of 41. In other words, a one-in-one-hundred-day event at pre-industrial levels of warming could become a one-in-three-day event. The study has been published in the journal Nature.

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Police Bodycams Can Be Hacked To Doctor Footage, Install Malware
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 04:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's eminently-hackable department:
AmiMoJo shares a report from Boing Boing: Josh Mitchell's Defcon presentation analyzes the security of five popular brands of police bodycams (Vievu, Patrol Eyes, Fire Cam, Digital Ally, and CeeSc) and reveals that they are universally terrible. All the devices use predictable network addresses that can be used to remotely sense and identify the cameras when they switch on. None of the devices use code-signing. Some of the devices can form ad-hoc Wi-Fi networks to bridge in other devices, but they don't authenticate these sign-ons, so you can just connect with a laptop and start raiding the network for accessible filesystems and gank or alter videos, or just drop malware on them.

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Google Patches Chrome Bug That Lets Attackers Steal Web Secrets Via Audio Or Video HTML Tags
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 04:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's sensitive-data-at-risk department:
An anonymous reader writes: "Google has patched a vulnerability in the Chrome browser that allows an attacker to retrieve sensitive information from other sites via audio or video HTML tags," reports Bleeping Computer. The attack breaks CORS -- Cross-Origin Resource Sharing, a browser security feature that prevents sites from loading resources from other websites -- and will attempt to load resources (some of which can reveal information about users) inside audio and video HTML tags. During tests, a researcher retrieved age and gender information from Facebook users, but another researcher says the bug can be also used to retrieve data from corporate backends or private APIs. Ron Masas, a security researcher with Imperva, first discovered and reported this issue to Google. The bug was fixed at the end of July with the release of Chrome v68.0.3440.75.

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SEC Sends Subpoena To Tesla In Probe Over Musk's Take-Private Tweets
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's serious-business department:
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sent Tesla a subpoena regarding Elon Musk's effort to take the company private, "indicating the regulatory scrutiny of his statements have reached a more serious stage," reports Bloomberg. Last week, Musk tweeted he was considering taking Tesla off the market and had "funding secured" for the deal. From the report: Musk exposed himself to legal risk by tweeting Aug. 7 that he had the funding for a buyout. Almost a week later, the chief executive officer said the basis for his statement was conversations with Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, which first expressed interest in helping take the company private in early 2017. Tesla's board has since clarified that it hasn't received a formal proposal from Musk, who's also chairman, nor has it concluded whether going private would be advisable or feasible. Tesla may face potential regulatory challenges beyond the SEC investigation. The company probably will need approval of U.S. national security officials if Saudi Arabia finances the effort to take the company private, and President Donald Trump's administration has been stepping up scrutiny of foreign investment in American technology.

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Investor Sues AT&T Over Two-Factor Security Flaws, $23 Million Cryptocurrency Theft
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 02:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's stolen-digital-funds department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fast Company: Crypto investor Michael Terpin filed a $224 million lawsuit against AT&T in California federal court Wednesday alleging that the phone company's negligence let hackers steal nearly $24 million in cryptocurrency from him, Reuters reports. He's also seeking punitive damages. Terpin says hackers were twice able to convince AT&T to connect his phone number to a SIM card they controlled, routing his calls and messages to them and enabling them to defeat two-factor authentication protections on his accounts. In one case, he says hackers also took control of his Skype account and convinced one of this clients to send money to them rather than Terpin. The second hack came even after AT&T agreed to put an additional passcode on his account, when a fraudster visited an AT&T store in Connecticut and managed to hijack Terpin's account without providing the code or a "scannable ID" as AT&T requires, he says.

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The Next Flagship iPhone Will Support Apple Pencil and 512GB Flash Storage, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 01:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's new-and-improved department:
Next month, Apple is expected to unveil three new iPhones, each with differing specs/features. According to analyst firm Trendforce, the large 6.5-inch "flagship" model will support up to 512GB of onboard flash storage. Apple Pencil support will also be "offered as an option," although the company didn't specify which models will support the stylus. Apple Insider reports: The company expects that the the 6.1-inch LCD version will come with Face ID, Dual-SIM technology. The firm expects it to retail for between $699 and $749. The 5.8-inch OLED iPhone will be priced at $899 to $949. The 6.5-inch device will come in storage capacities up to 512GB, with one variant of the size potentially having dual-SIM support and expected to be "limited within $1,000 threshold as to encourage purchasing from consumers," according to Trendforce. Both the 5.8- and 6.5-inch OLED models are expected to have 4GB of RAM. The 6.1-inch LED devices will have 3GB of RAM, the same as the iPhone X. The analyst firm believes that all three models are expected to ship in September and October.

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Valve Seems To Be Working On Tools To Get Windows Games Running On Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 01:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's cross-platform department:
"Valve appears to be working on a set of 'compatibility tools,' called Steam Play, that would allow at least some Windows-based titles to run on Linux-based SteamOS systems," writes Kyle Orland from Ars Technica. From the report: Yesterday, Reddit users noticed that Steam's GUI files (as captured by SteamDB's Steam Tracker) include a hidden section with unused text related to the unannounced Steam Play system. According to that text, "Steam Play will automatically install compatibility tools that allow you to play games from your library that were built for other operating systems." Other unused text in the that GUI file suggests Steam Play will offer official compatibility with "supported tiles" while also letting users test compatibility for "games in your library that have not been verified with a supported compatibility tool." That latter use comes with a warning that "this may not work as expected, and can cause issues with your games, including crashes and breaking save games."

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Engineers Say They've Created Way To Detect Weapons Using Wi-Fi
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 12:10 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's non-invasive-security-measures department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: The researchers, which include engineers from Rutgers University-New Brunswick, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), and Binghamton University, published a study this month detailing a method in which common wifi can be used to easily and efficiently identify weapons, bombs, and explosive chemicals in public spaces that don't typically have affordable screening options. The researchers' system uses channel state information (CSI) from run-of-the-mill wifi. It can first identify whether there are dangerous objects in baggage without having to physically rifle through it. It then determines what the material is and what the risk level is. The researchers tested the detection system using 15 different objects across three categories -- metal, liquid, and non-dangerous -- as well as with six bags and boxes across three categories -- backpack or handbag, cardboard box, and a thick plastic bag.

The findings were pretty impressive. According to the researchers, their system is 99 percent accurate when it comes to identifying dangerous and non-dangerous objects. It is 97 percent accurate when determining whether the dangerous object is metal or liquid, the study says. When it comes to detecting suspicious objects in various bags, the system was over 95 percent accurate. The researchers state in the paper that their detection system only needs a wifi device with two to three antennas, and can run on existing networks.

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Children 'At Risk of Robot Influence'
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 10:51 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
An anonymous reader shares a report: Forget peer pressure, future generations are more likely to be influenced by robots, a study suggests. The research, conducted at the University of Plymouth, found that while adults were not swayed by robots, children were. The fact that children tended to trust robots without question raised ethical issues as the machines became more pervasive, said researchers. They called for the robotics community to build in safeguards for children. Those taking part in the study completed a simple test, known as the Asch paradigm, which involved finding two lines that matched in length. Known as the conformity experiment, the test has historically found that people tend to agree with their peers even if individually they have given a different answer. In this case, the peers were robots. When children aged seven to nine were alone in the room, they scored an average of 87% on the test. But when the robots joined them, their scores dropped to 75% on average. Of the wrong answers, 74% matched those of the robots.

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A Look at Facebook's Presence in Myanmar Where Despite Public Outcries, Facebook is Still Struggling To Contain Hate Speech
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 09:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
More than 1,000 anti-Rohingya posts featuring calls for their murder among other hate speech were live on Facebook last week, Reuters reported Wednesday. A probe by the news agency indicates that the network is still being used to encourage violence against the Muslim group in Myanmar despite the tech firm promising to tackle the issue. Reuters reports some of the material had been online for six years. Facebook's rules prohibit "violent or dehumanizing" attacks on ethnic groups. However, the US-based firm mostly relies on users to flag related offending posts rather than hunting them out itself, in part because its software has not had enough training to reliably interpret Burmese text.

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Americans Don't Think the Platforms Are Doing Enough To Fight Fake News
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 09:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's you're-not-alone department:
Journalists regularly weigh in on what platforms like Facebook and Google are and aren't doing to stop the spread of viral misinformation. But what do Americans at large think? From a report: Nothing good, according to a new survey published by Gallup and the Knight Foundation on Wednesday. The report, based on web surveys from a random sample of 1,203 U.S. adults, found that 85 percent of Americans don't think the platforms are doing enough to stop the spread of fake news. Additionally, 88 percent want tech companies to be transparent about how they surface content, while 79 percent think those companies should be regulated like other media organizations -- a common trope among journalists. That's despite the fact that the majority of people surveyed (54 percent) said social media platforms help keep them informed and that they're concerned about those companies making editorial judgments.

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Florida's Gulf Coast Battles Deadly And Smelly Red Tide
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 08:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department:
Greg Allen, writing for NPR: Florida this week declared a state of emergency because of a slow-moving natural disaster -- red tide. Red tide is toxic algae that have persisted off Florida's Gulf Coast for nearly a year. In recent weeks, the algae bloom has worsened, killing fish, turtles and dolphins and discouraging tourism on some of the state's most beautiful beaches. Scores of dead fish were visible on the shore of Manatee Beach on a recent morning. There was a smell from the fish, but something more -- an acrid smell that can make you cough. Mary Vanswol, who was at the beach with her husband, James, said, "Uh, the smell is terrible. And it's affecting my lungs. I'm coughing, not so much him, but I am. It's just sad to see all the dead fish." The Vanswols live nearby and usually go swimming. But not today. After getting a look at the dead fish and the murky, slightly reddish-hued water, Mary Vanswols said they were leaving. "I wouldn't even walk along the edge of it. I just don't think it's safe," she said.

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Microsoft and Amazon Begin Public Rollout of First Alexa-Cortana Integrations
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 08:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's avengers-assemble department:
Starting today, Amazon and Microsoft will begin rolling out the first integrations between the digital assistants, allowing users to rouse Cortana on Echo devices and conjure Alexa on Windows 10 PCs and Harman Kardon Invoke speakers. From a report: "The goal is to have two integrated digital assistants who can carry out tasks across different dimensions of daily life -- at home or work, and on whatever device is most convenient," Microsoft's Jennifer Langston wrote in a blog post. "Currently, Cortana and Alexa can each be enabled as a skill on the other." Cortana users can ask Alexa to shop for items on Amazon, manage their Amazon orders and access many of Alexa's more than 45,000 skills. Alexa users will be able to get their hands on Cortana's top abilities, like calendar management and email integration. Users first have to ask their Amazon or Microsoft digital assistant to open up the other in order to begin the setup. After completing several steps and account logins, Alexa and Cortana will be able to communicate. Amazon and Microsoft are encouraging users to give feedback on the experience via the Cortana and Alexa apps.

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India To Launch First Manned Space Mission By 2022
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
India will launch its first manned space mission by 2022, the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi said on Wednesday, which could make it the fourth nation to do so after the United States, Russia and China. From a report: Modi congratulated Indian scientists for excelling in their research and are at the forefront of innovation. "Our scientists have made us proud. They launched over 100 satellites... They successfully completed the Mars mission." ISRO, India's space agency, successfully launched 104 satellites on 15 February 2017, of which three were Indian while the rest were foreign commercial satellites. The Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), also called Mangalyaan, India's first interplanetary mission was launched on November 5, 2013 by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO). It has been orbiting Mars since September 24, 2014.

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Apple Argued That Buildings at Its Headquarters Were Worth $200, Not $1B, To Reduce Its Tax Bill: Report
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 06:50 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's they-were-estimating-it-wrong department:
Apple argued that buildings it owned around Cupertino, where it is headquartered, were only worth $200 instead of the $1 billion tax assessors deemed in 2015, according to appeals reviewed by the San Francisco Chronicle. From a report: The report characterized the dispute as part of an aggressive strategy by Apple to lower its tax bills. According to the Chronicle, Apple has 489 open appeals in tax disputes over property assessed at $8.5 billion in Santa Clara County, Calif., dating back to 2004. Those appeals include the $1 billion building assessed by tax officials, as well as another $384 million property that Apple also claims is worth $200. Apple is now valued at $1 trillion. It is also the county's biggest taxpayer, paying $56 million in the 2017-2018 tax year.

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Scientists Find Way To Make Mineral Which Can Remove CO2 From Atmosphere
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 05:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's do-able-science department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Scientists have found a rapid way of producing magnesite, a mineral which stores carbon dioxide. If this can be developed to an industrial scale, it opens the door to removing CO2 from the atmosphere for long-term storage, thus countering the global warming effect of atmospheric CO2. This work is presented at the Goldschmidt conference in Boston. Now, for the first time, researchers have explained how magnesite forms at low temperature, and offered a route to dramatically accelerating its crystallization. A tonne of naturally-occurring magnesite can remove around half a tonne of CO2 from the atmosphere, but the rate of formation is very slow. The researchers were able to show that by using polystyrene microspheres as a catalyst, magnesite would form within 72 days. The microspheres themselves are unchanged by the production process, so they can ideally be reused. Project leader, Professor Ian Power from Trent University in Ontario added: "Using microspheres means that we were able to speed up magnesite formation by orders of magnitude. This process takes place at room temperature, meaning that magnesite production is extremely energy efficient. For now, we recognize that this is an experimental process, and will need to be scaled up before we can be sure that magnesite can be used in carbon sequestration (taking CO2 from the atmosphere and permanently storing it as magnesite). This depends on several variables, including the price of carbon and the refinement of the sequestration technology, but we now know that the science makes it do-able."

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Mobile Internet Goes Free, National For a Day In Cuba
Posted by News Fetcher on August 15 '18 at 02:50 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's be-grateful-for-what-you-have department:
More than 5 million cellphone users in Cuba received free internet on Tuesday, in an eight-hour test before the government launches sales of the service. The test marks the first time internet services were available nationwide. Reuters reports: Cuba is one of the Western Hemisphere's least connected countries. There are hundreds of Wi-Fi hotspots in Cuba but virtually no home penetration. Dissident blogger Yoani Sanchez, considered the country's social media pioneer, raved that she had directly sent a tweet from her mobile. In another tweet, she called the test a "citizen's victory." On the streets of Havana, mobile users said they were happy about the day of free internet, even as some complained that connectivity was notably slower than usual.

Hotspots currently charge about $1 an hour although monthly wages in Cuba average just $30. The government has not yet said how much most Cubans would pay for mobile internet, or when exactly sales of the service will begin. But [the state-run telecommunications monopoly ETECSA] is already charging companies and embassies $45 a month for four gigabytes. Analysts have said broader Web access will ultimately weaken government control over what information reaches people in a country where the state has a monopoly on the media.

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