By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
In one of the most detailed descriptions yet of the relationship between Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration during the 737 Max's certification process, the Seattle Times reports that the U.S. regulator delegated much of the safety assessment to Boeing and that the analysis the planemaker in turn delivered to the authorities had crucial flaws. 0x2A shares the report: Both Boeing and the FAA were informed of the specifics of this story and were asked for responses 11 days ago, before the second crash of a 737 MAX. [...] Several technical experts inside the FAA said October's Lion Air crash, where the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) has been clearly implicated by investigators in Indonesia, is only the latest indicator that the agency's delegation of airplane certification has gone too far, and that it's inappropriate for Boeing employees to have so much authority over safety analyses of Boeing jets. "We need to make sure the FAA is much more engaged in failure assessments and the assumptions that go into them," said one FAA safety engineer. Going against a long Boeing tradition of giving the pilot complete control of the aircraft, the MAX's new MCAS automatic flight control system was designed to act in the background, without pilot input. It was needed because the MAX's much larger engines had to be placed farther forward on the wing, changing the airframe's aerodynamic lift. Designed to activate automatically only in the extreme flight situation of a high-speed stall, this extra kick downward of the nose would make the plane feel the same to a pilot as the older-model 737s.
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By msmash from Slashdot's new-devices department
Ahead of a planned event next week, Apple today unveiled two new iPads. From a report: The new, larger, 10.5-inch iPad Air will arrive with a 70 percent performance boost compared to its predecessor, thanks to the company's A12 Bionic chip with Apple's Neural Engine. That'll be useful alongside the now 20-percent larger display -- which is compatible with the first-gen Apple Pencil too.
A new iPad Mini has been a long time coming. The 7.9-inch option will, barring screen size, match the Air on specs. The screen is also 25 percent brighter versus old iPad minis, and will also support Apple Pencil -- the tiniest model to do so. Both new iPads have a laminated display that brings the surface glass and screen closer together to improve visibility -- and making them at least a little more desirable than Apple's entry-level iPad. Neither has FaceID built-in, it seems. Look, there's that Home button. The new iPad mini starts at $399 for the Wi-Fi model and $529 for the variant that includes cellular support. The new iPad Air starts at $499 for Wi-Fi, and $629 for Wi-Fi and cellular model.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's closer-look department
A meteor explosion over the Bering Sea late last year unleashed 10 times as much energy as the atomic bomb that destroyed Hiroshima, scientists have revealed. From a report: The fireball tore across the sky off Russia's Kamchatka peninsula on 18 December and released energy equivalent to 173 kilotons of TNT. It was the largest air blast since another meteor hurtled into the atmosphere over Chelyabinsk, in Russia's south-west, six years ago, and the second largest in the past 30 years. Unlike the Chelyabinsk meteor, which was captured on CCTV, mobile phones and car dashboard cameras, the December arrival from outer space went largely unnoticed at the time because it exploded in such a remote location. Nasa received information about the blast from the US air force after military satellites detected visible and infrared light from the fireball in December.
Lindley Johnson, a planetary defense officer at Nasa, told BBC News that blasts of this size were expected only two or three times a century. The space agency's analysis shows that the meteor, probably a few metres wide, barrelled into Earth's atmosphere at 72,000mph and exploded at an altitude of 16 miles. The blast released about 40% of the energy of the meteor explosion over Chelyabinsk, according to Kelly Fast, Nasa's near-Earth objects observations programme manager, who spoke at the 50th Lunar and Planetary Science conference near Houston.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's interesting-moves department
Business communications and collaboration service Slack said today that it is launching Enterprise Key Management (EKM) for Slack, a new tool that enables customers to control their encryption keys in the enterprise version of the communications app. The keys are managed in the AWS KMS key management tool. From a report: Geoff Belknap, chief security officer (CSO) at Slack, says that the new tool should appeal to customers in regulated industries, who might need tighter control over security. "Markets like financial services, health care and government are typically underserved in terms of which collaboration tools they can use, so we wanted to design an experience that catered to their particular security needs," Belknap told TechCrunch. Slack currently encrypts data in transit and at rest, but the new tool augments this by giving customers greater control over the encryption keys that Slack uses to encrypt messages and files being shared inside the app.
He said that regulated industries in particular have been requesting the ability to control their own encryption keys including the ability to revoke them if it was required for security reasons. "EKM is a key requirement for growing enterprise companies of all sizes, and was a requested feature from many of our Enterprise Grid customers. We wanted to give these customers full control over their encryption keys, and when or if they want to revoke them," he said. Further reading: Slack Doesn't Have End-to-End Encryption Because Your Boss Doesn't Want It.Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department
Amazon is testing a new way to bolster its relationship with startups and possibly bring in more capital to the ecosystem. From a report: The fledgling effort, known as the Amazon Web Services Pro-Rata Program, is designed to link private investors with companies that use AWS, as well as venture funds whose portfolios are filled with potential cloud customers. Amazon is not investing money through the program.
The Pro-Rata program is being run by Brad Holden, a former partner at TomorrowVentures (founded by ex-Google CEO Eric Schmidt), and Jason Hunt, who are both part of AWS's business development team focused on angel and seed relationships, according to an email they sent to investors in January. "The Pro-Rata Program is a new pilot intended to connect family offices and venture capitalists for specific investment opportunities from the AWS ecosystem," according to the email, which was viewed by CNBC. "Pro rata" refers to the rights investors have to put money in subsequent rounds. Mike Isaac, a reporter at The New York Times, writes, "If Amazon is using its direct knowledge of startups' health based on the fact that Amazon literally owns and operates the servers, how is this at all ethical? If that's not the case, Amazon should make that crystal clear (even though i'd have a hard time believing it). It's like Facebook's years of insights into [various] apps' data with the Onavo team, only instead of ripping companies off (which FB did), they invested in them."Read Replies (0)
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department
MySpace may have lost your digital memories in a server migration. From a report: "As a result of a server migration project, any photos, videos, and audio files you uploaded more than three years ago may no longer be available on or from Myspace," it said in a note at the top of the site. "We apologize for the inconvenience. If you would like more information, please contact our Data Protection Officer at DPO@myspace.com."
Andy Baio, one of the people behind Kickstarter, tweeted that it could mean millions of songs uploaded between the site's Aug. 1, 2003 launch and 2015 are gone for good. "Myspace accidentally lost all the music uploaded from its first 12 years in a server migration, losing over 50 million songs from 14 million artists," he wrote Sunday. "I'm deeply skeptical this was an accident. Flagrant incompetence may be bad PR, but it still sounds better than 'we can't be bothered with the effort and cost of migrating and hosting 50 million old MP3s,'" Baio noted.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's dark-matters department
"A team of international astronomers have been hunting for ancient, supermassive black holes -- and they've hit the motherlode, discovering 83 previously unknown quasars," reports CNET:
The Japanese team turned the ultra-powerful "Hyper Suprime-Cam", mounted to the Subaru Telescope in Hawaii, toward the cosmos' darkest corners, surveying the sky over a period of five years. By studying the snapshots, they've been able to pick potential quasar candidates out of the dark. Notably, their method of probing populations of supermassive black holes that are similar in size to the ones we see in today's universe, has given us a window into their origins.
After identifying 83 potential candidates, the team used a suite of international telescopes to confirm their findings. The quasars they've plucked out are from the very early universe, about 13 billion light years away. Practically, that means the researchers are looking into the past, at objects form less than a billion years after the Big Bang. "It is remarkable that such massive dense objects were able to form so soon after the Big Bang," said Michael Strauss, who co-authored the paper, in a press release. Scientists aren't sure how black holes formed in the early universe, so being able to detect them this far back in time provides new avenues of exploration.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's not-earning-your-trust department
Wells Fargo has been hit with a lawsuit from a 63-year-old pastor at the United Methodist Church of Parsippany. Wells Fargo sent his ATM photos to the police, which he says led to false arrest, malicious prosecution -- and humiliation. NJ.com reports:
In the lawsuit filed Thursday in Morris County Superior Court, attorneys for the 63-year-old pastor sought unspecified damages against Wells Fargo, which has come under fire over a series of scandals in recent years. Also named were the State Police detectives who originally brought the charges against him last year after bank security officials allegedly mistakenly identified a photo of Edwards taken at an ATM machine as a suspect in a series of fraudulent check deposits....
In the lawsuit, Edwards' attorney wrote that Wells Fargo notified the State Police when it discovered the bogus transactions, and the bank was asked to provide any still photos or video images taken from the ATM at Parsippany where some of the checks were deposited and later cashed out. The bank sent photos of Edwards, who had made his own deposit of checks at the same ATM the very same day, according to the complaint...
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's unpopularity-contest department
In "Hated and hunted," a BBC reporter describes visiting a ransomware expert "who has devoted himself, at huge personal cost, to helping victims of ransomware around the world."
They hate him so much that they leave him angry threats buried deep inside the code of their own viruses... "I was shocked but I also felt a real sense of pride," says Fabian. "Almost like, a little bit cocky. I'm not going to lie, yeah, it was nice...." He works remotely for a cyber security company, often sitting for hours at a time working with colleagues in different countries. When he's "in the zone", the outside world becomes even less important and his entire existence focuses on the code on his screen. He once woke up with keyboard imprints all over his face after falling asleep during a 35-hour session.
All of this to create anti-ransomware programs that he and his company usually give away free. Victims simply download the tools he makes for each virus, follow the instructions and get their files back... According to research from Emsisoft, the cyber security company Fabian works for, a computer is attacked every two seconds. Their network has managed to prevent 2,584,105 infections in the past 60 days -- and that's just one anti-virus firm of dozens around the world.... "It's pretty much an arms race," says Fabian. "They release a new ransomware virus, I find a flaw in its code and build the decryption tool to reverse it so people can get their files back. Then the criminals release a new version which they hope I can't break... It escalates with them getting more and more angry with me...."
Fabian accepts that moving around and restricting his life and circle of friends is just a part of the sacrifice for his hobby-turned-profession... He earns a very good salary but looking around his home and at his life it's hard to see how he spends it.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's sowing-superbugs department
An anonymous reader quotes the Harvard School of Public Health:
Drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea, salmonella, Escherichia coli (E. coli) and many other disease-causing agents are flourishing around the world, and the consequences are disastrous -- at least 700,000 people die globally as a result of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) annually, according to a 2016 review on antimicrobial resistance commissioned by former UK Prime Minister David Cameron. It's a perilous situation, but several new studies from researchers at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health indicate that an important tool in the fight against AMR already exists: vaccines.
The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences recently devoted a special feature section to examine the role vaccines can play in stemming the tide of antimicrobial resistance. In general terms, vaccinations can help lessen the burden in two ways: First, they can protect against the direct transmission of drug-resistant infections. Second, they can lessen the chances of someone getting sick, which in turn reduces the likelihood that he or she will be prescribed antibiotics or other medications. The fewer medications someone takes, the less likely it is that microbes will evolve resistance to the drugs.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's squashing-bugs department
NBC News reports on how microbiologist Gerry Quinn "followed up on some folklore his family had passed on to him."
Old timers insisted that the dirt in the vicinity of a nearly 1,500-year-old church in County Fermanagh in Northern Ireland, an area once occupied by the Druids, had almost miraculous curative powers.... "Here in the western fringes of Ireland there is still a tradition of having this folk cure," Quinn told NBC News. "We can look at it and see maybe it's just superstition -- or we can actually investigate and ask, 'is there anything in the soil that produces antibiotics...?'"
Once Quinn and his team decided to focus on the Irish soil, they narrowed their search to a specific type of bacteria, called Streptomyces, because other strains of this bacteria have led to the development of 75 percent of existing antibiotics, Quinn said. The bacteria was discovered by a team based at Swansea University Medical School, made up of researchers from Wales, Brazil, Iraq and Northern Ireland. The researchers first tried the newly discovered strain of Streptomyces on some garden variety bacteria. In their petri dish experiment, "it knocked them out," Quinn said. "Then we thought we'd take it one step further and find some multi-resistant organisms."
The bacteria in the experiment killed four out of the top six organisms that are resistant to antibiotics, including MRSA. "It's quite surprising," said Quinn... "The lesson is, some of the cures are right underneath your feet."
Vaughn Cooper, an evolutionary geneticist/microbiologist at the University of Pittsburgh's School of Medicine, tells NBC that more research is needed before this yields a super-antibiotic -- but "it's a cool discovery."
The World Health Organization has named antibiotic resistance as one of 2019's ten top public health threats.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's I-see-what-you-did-there department
An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press:
Most states ban texting behind the wheel, but a legislative proposal could make Nevada one of the first states to allow police to use a contentious technology to find out if a person was using a cellphone during a car crash... If the Nevada measure passes, it would allow police to use a device known as the "textalyzer," which connects to a cellphone and looks for user activity, such as opening a Facebook messenger call screen. It is made by Israel-based company Cellebrite, which says the technology does not access or store personal content. It has not been tested in the field and is not being used by any law enforcement agencies. The company said the device could be tested in the field if the Nevada legislation passes...
Opponents air concerns that the measure violates the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure. Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, also raised questions over how the software will work and if it will be open sourced so the public can ensure it doesn't access personal content...
Law enforcement officials argue that distracted driving is underreported and that weak punishments do little to stop drivers from texting, scrolling or otherwise using their phones. Adding to the problem, they say there is no consistent police practice that holds those drivers accountable for traffic crashes, unlike drunken driving.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's memory-holes department
Google+ "was an Internet-based social network. It was almost 8 years old," reports KilledByGoogle.com, which bills itself as "The Google Graveyard: A list of dead products Google has killed and laid to rest in the Google Cemetery."
But before Google+ closes for good in April, its posts are being preserved by Internet Archive and the ArchiveTeam, reports the Verge:
In a post on Reddit, the sites announced that they had begun their efforts to archive the posts using scripts to capture and back up the data in an effort to preserve it. The teams say that their efforts will only encompass posts that are currently available to the public: they won't be able to back up posts that are marked private or deleted... They also note that they won't be able to capture everything: comment threads have a limit of 500 comments, "but only presents a subset of these as static HTML. It's not clear that long discussion threads will be preserved." They also say that images and video won't be preserved at full resolution...
They also urge people who don't want their content to be archived to delete their accounts, and pointed to a procedure to request the removal of specific content.
A bit of history: Linus Torvalds launched a Google+ page in 2017 called "Gadget Reviews" -- where he made exactly six posts.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's building-blocks department
"When your phone rings, there's about a 50 percent chance it's a spam robo-call," reports the Washington Post. Now a computer science professor who's researched robo-call technologies reveals the economics behind automatically dialing phone numbers "either randomly, or from massive databases compiled from automated Web searches, leaked databases of personal information and marketing data."
It doesn't matter whether you've signed up with the federal Do Not Call Registry, although companies that call numbers on the list are supposed to be subject to large fines. The robo-callers ignore the list, and evade penalties because they can mask the true origins of their calls.... Each call costs a fraction of a cent -- and a successful robo-call scam can net millions of dollars. That more than pays for all the calls people ignored or hung up on, and provides cash for the next round. Casting an enormous net at low cost lets these scammers find a few gullible victims who can fund the whole operation...
Partly that's because their costs are low. Most phone calls are made and connected via the Internet, so robo-call companies can make tens of thousands, or even millions, of calls very cheaply. Many of the illegal robo-calls targeting the United States probably come from overseas -- which used to be extremely expensive but now is far cheaper...
Meanwhile, the Federal Communications Commission has been asking U.S. phone companies to filter calls and police their own systems to keep out robo-calls. It hasn't worked, mainly because it's too costly and technically difficult for phone companies to do that. It's hard to detect fake Caller ID information, and wrongly blocking a legitimate call could cause them legal problems.
The professor's article suggests guarding your phone number like you guard your credit card numbers. "Don't give your phone number to strangers, businesses or websites unless it's absolutely necessary."
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's arrival-times department
An anonymous reader quotes a report from public news station KNPR about how close weare flying taxi services:
The dream of flying cars is as at least as old as the automobile itself. Bell, which makes attack helicopters for the U.S. Navy, is working on this new project with another high-profile partner, Uber. The prototype, the Bell Nexus, was unveiled earlier this year. Boeing and Airbus also have prototypes of these flying cars in the works. Uber has become the face of the aerial mobility movement as it has the most public campaign touting its work so far. Elon Musk says he'll get us to Mars. Uber says it'll get a millennial from San Francisco to San Jose in 15 minutes flat (instead of the two-hour slog in morning traffic). And its timeline for this flying taxi that does not yet exist is 2023...
NASA is another Uber partner. While Jaiwon Shin, NASA's associate administrator for the Aeronautics Research Mission Directorate, thinks Uber is being a little bullish -- he'd put the timeline further out, to the mid-2020s -- Shin says it's close. "Convergence of many different technologies are maturing to the level that now aviation can benefit to put these things together," he said. The batteries that power electric cars can evolve further, to power flight. Companies can stockpile and pool data, and build artificial intelligence to take over air traffic control, managing the thousands of drones and taxis in the air.
And Uber, his partner, is really well-connected. While fighting the legacy taxi industry, Uber made so many government and lobbyist contacts, that that Rolodex can help grease the wheels -- or wings.
"While no flying taxi exists yet, Uber has dared to estimate the 'near-term' cost of that San Francisco to San Jose trip: $43," the article reports -- suggesting that could create a new division in society.
"With flying cars, the haves can escape to the air and leave the have-nots forgotten in their potholes."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's messes-in-Texas department
In Texas the local car dealer lobby has blocked Tesla from selling its cars directly to customers. They're using old laws meant to prevent car manufacturers from competing with their own local dealers -- but Tesla never had any local dealers!
And according to Electrek, it gets worse...
Despite this issue, Texans have bought thousands of Tesla vehicles, which the automaker delivers from other states to comply with the law. Tesla has been able to service those vehicles through its own service centers, which are not subject to those same direct-sale rules, but now dealers are even going after Tesla's right to service its cars.
Quartz offers some additional coverage:
At issue is a battle over money. Car dealers derive much of their revenue from selling and (especially) servicing vehicles. Tesla's direct-to-customer sales and service stations are a threat to that business model since they cut dealers out of the transaction.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's unmasked-singers department
To avoid copyright claims, "YouTube creators and Twitch streamers have been performing terrible a capella covers of popular songs," reports the Verge:
React videos are a huge part of YouTube's current culture; people lift popular movie trailers and film their reactions to what's happening on-screen. These videos are typically monetized... In recent months, YouTube creators have run into copyright issues while making TikTok reaction videos, where they collect cringey TikTok clips and either react or provide commentary on them. [T]hose TikTok videos contain music from artists signed to labels like Sony and Warner, and those labels will issue copyright claims, preventing creators from monetizing their videos... TikTok videos include less than 10 seconds of music, yet that can still be enough to receive a copyright claim -- on TikTok itself, the music is all licensed from the labels...
To work around that, creators like Danny Gonzalez and Kurtis Conner have started replacing the music with their own singing. Gonzalez and Conner half-heartedly sing songs like Linkin Park's "In The End" and Imagine Dragons' "Believer" while the corresponding TikTok video plays on screen... It's a little painful to hear, but ultimately a very fun loophole in the copyright system that YouTube has to enforce... The hope is that major labels like Sony Music or Warner Music Group can't claim copyright infringement, or at least that the singing won't trigger YouTube's automated system for finding copyrighted content.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's make-edits-make-money department
The Huffington Post ran a bombshell report this week on one of a handful of people who have "figured out how to manipulate Wikipedia's supposedly neutral system to turn a profit." They're describing Ed Sussman, a former head of digital for Fast Company and Inc.com who's now paid to do damage control by relentlessly lobbying for changes to Wikipedia pages. "In just the past few years, companies including Axios, NBC, Nextdoor and Facebook's PR firm have all paid him to manipulate public perception using a tool most people would never think to check. And it almost always works."
The benefit of hiring Sussman, aside from insulating talking heads from the humiliation of being found to have edited their own pages, is that he applies the exacting and annoying vigor of an attorney to Wikipedia's stringent editing rules. Further, because his opponents in these arguments are not opposing lawyers but instead Wikipedia's unpaid editors, he's really effective. From HuffPost:
"Sussman's main strategy for convincing editors to make the changes his clients want is to cite as many tangentially related rules as possible (he is, after all, a lawyer). When that doesn't work, though, his refusal to ever back down usually will. He often replies to nearly every single bit of pushback with walls of text arguing his case. Trying to get through even a fraction of it is exhausting, and because Wikipedia editors are unpaid, there's little motivation to continue dealing with Sussman's arguments. So he usually gets his way."
NBC and Axios confirmed that they hired Sussman, and an Axios spokesperson told HuffPost that the site "hired him to correct factual inaccuracies." The spokesperson added "pretty sure lots of people do this," which may or may not be true.
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By EditorDavid from Slashdot's dark-clouds department
"In the cloud wars, Microsoft has been able to win big business from retailers, largely because companies like Walmart, Kroger, Gap and Target are opting not to write big checks to rival Amazon," reports CNBC:
The more Amazon grows, the more that calculation could start working its way into other industries -- like automotive. In a recent interview with CNBC, Volkswagen's Heiko Huttel, who runs the company's connected car division, said the carmaker chose Microsoft Azure late last year for its "Automotive Cloud" project after considering Amazon Web Services... "If I take a look at all the competitors out there, you see they have capabilities in disrupting you at the customer interface," HÃ¼ttel said. "Then you have to carefully choose who is really getting down into the car, where you open up a lot of data to these people, and then you have to carefully choose with whom you are doing business."
Microsoft likes to tout the merits of its cloud technology, but the company is fully aware that taking on AWS, which has a commanding lead in the cloud infrastructure market, isn't just about offering the best services... Microsoft doesn't break out Azure revenue, but analysts at Morgan Stanley estimate that it accounted for almost 10 percent of sales in the latest quarter.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's touching-the-moon department
"Scientists are hoping to unlock some of the universe's mysteries through 50-year-old moon rocks," reports the New York Daily News -- specifically, three samples that spent that half century sealed in airtight canisters.
One Apollo 18 sample from 1972 contains 1.8 pounds of a vacuum-sealed lunar core that is a stratified layer of rock that will be studied by six research teams. About 842 pounds of lunar rocks and soil have been brought back to Earth over six missions. Although a great deal of it has found its way to science labs, technological breakthroughs should allow for a more thorough comprehension of the satellite's chemical and geological composition...
"When the previous generations did Apollo, they knew the technology they had in that day was not the technology we would have in this day," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "So they made a determination that they would preserve samples. â¦ I'd like to thank, if it's OK, the Apollo generation, for preserving these samples, so that our generation could have this opportunity."
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes, "That's remarkable considering how often moon rocks were misplaced over the years."Read Replies (0)