Technology News

South Australia To Be Home To Australia's New Space Agency

Slashdot - Wed, 12/12/2018 - 00:00
"South Australia, which has a history with space events long ago, is set to become the base for the Australian space industry," writes Slashdot reader Badooleoo. ABC News reports: Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced Adelaide will be the home of Australia's new space agency. South Australia beat strong competition from other states to secure the headquarters, after enlisting homegrown NASA astronaut Andy Thomas to help with its campaign. The agency will be based at Lot Fourteen, the former Royal Adelaide Hospital site, which is being transformed into an innovation precinct. The Prime Minister said South Australia was an ideal home for the new agency and was already a key hub for the space and technology industry. "This agency is going to open doors for local businesses and Australian access to the $US345 billion global space industry," Prime Minister Scott Morrison said. "Our Government's $41 million investment into the agency will act as a launching pad to triple Australia's space economy to $12 billion and create up to 20,000 jobs by 2030."

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Net Neutrality Bill 38 Votes Short In Congress, and Time Has Almost Run Out

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 20:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Legislation to restore net neutrality rules now has 180 supporters in the U.S. House of Representatives, but that's 38 votes short of the amount needed before the end of the month. The Congressional Review Act (CRA) resolution, already approved by the Senate, would reverse the Federal Communications Commission's repeal of net neutrality rules. But 218 signatures from U.S. representatives (a majority) are needed to force a full vote in the House before Congress adjourns at the end of the year. Net neutrality advocates previously said they needed 218 signatures by December 10 to force a vote. But an extension of Congress' session provided a little more time. "[Now that the Congressional session has officially been extended, members of Congress could be in town as late as December 21st," net neutrality advocacy group Fight for the Future wrote yesterday. "This means we have until the end of the year to get as many lawmakers as possible signed on to restore net neutrality." A discharge petition that would force a vote on the CRA resolution gained three new supports in the past two weeks, but even if all Democrats were on board it still wouldn't be enough to force a vote. Republicans have a 236-197 House majority, and only one House Republican has signed the petition.

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Amazon Fires Employees Over Data Leak As It Fights Seller Scams, Report Says

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 19:20
After investigating claims that its employees are taking bribes to sell internal data to merchants to help them increase their sales on the site, Amazon has reportedly fired several employees involved in the scams. The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon let go of several workers in the U.S. and India who allegedly inappropriately accessed company data that disreputable merchants had misused. The Hill reports: Amazon is focusing its internal bribery investigation on India, a person familiar with the effort told the paper. Some employees in India and China working as customer support have said that their access to an internal database that allows them to find data about specific product performance or trending keywords has been dramatically limited. Amazon has also deleted thousand of suspect reviews, restricted sellers' access to customer data on its platform, and quashed some methods to force the site to bring up certain products higher in search results, the people told the Journal. "We have strict policies and a Code of Business Conduct & Ethics in place for our employees. We implement sophisticated systems to restrict and audit access to information," the company wrote. "We hold our employees to a high ethical standard and anyone in violation of our Code faces discipline, including termination and potential legal and criminal penalties." "In addition, we have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behavior, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action," Amazon added.

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Google's CEO Thinks Android Users Know How Much Their Phones Are Tracking Them

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 18:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Google CEO Sundar Pichai thinks Android users have a good understanding of the volume of data Google collects on them, when they agree to use the Android mobile operating system. The exec, who is testifying today in front of the House Judiciary committee for a hearing entitled "Transparency & Accountability: Examining Google and its Data Collection, Use and Filtering Practices," claimed that users are in control of the information Google has on them. "For Google services, you have a choice of what information is collected, and we make it transparent," Pichai said in response to questioning from Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA). Google's defense on the data collection front is similar to Facebook's -- that is, Pichai responded that Google provides tools that put users in control. But do they actually use them? "It's really important for us that average users are able to understand it," said Pichai, stating that users do understand the user agreement for Android OS. "We actually ... remind users to do a privacy checkup, and we make it very obvious every month. In fact, in the last 28 days, 160 million users went to their My Account settings, where they can clearly see what information we have -- we actually show it back to them. We give clear toggles, by category, where they can decide whether that information is collected, stored, or -- more importantly -- if they decide to stop using it, we work hard to make it possible for users to take their data with them," he said. When asked if Google could improve its user dashboard and tools to better teach people how to protect their privacy, including turning off data collection and location tracking, Pichai said "there's complexity," but it is "something I do think we can do better." He continued: "We want to simplify it, and make it easier for average users to navigate these settings. It's something we are working on."

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Ask Slashdot: Why Don't HDR TVs Have sRGB Or AdobeRGB Ratings?

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 18:00
dryriver writes: As anyone who buys professional computer monitors knows, the dynamic range of the display device you are looking at can be expressed quite usefully in terms of percentage sRGB coverage and percentage AdobeRGB coverage. The higher the percentage for each, the better and wider the dynamic range of the screen panel you are getting. People who work with professional video and photographs typically aim for a display that has 100 percent sRGB coverage and at least 70 to 80 percent AdobeRGB coverage. Laptop review site Notebookcheck for example uses professional optical testing equipment to check whether the advertised sRGB and AdobeRGB percentages and brightness in nits for any laptop display panel hold up in real life. This being the case, why do quote-on-quote "High Dynamic Range" capable TVs -- which seem to be mostly 10 bits per channel to begin with -- not have an sRGB or AdobeRGB rating quoted anywhere in their technical specs? Why don't professional TV reviewers use optical testing equipment that's readily available to measure the real world dynamic range of HDR or non-HDR TVs objectively, in hard numbers? Why do they simply say "the blacks on this TV were deep and pleasing, and the lighter tones were..." when this can be expressed better and more objectively in measured numbers or percentages? Do they think consumers are too unsophisticated to understand a simple number like "this OLED TV achieves a fairly average 66 percent AdobeRGB coverage?"

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Canada Grants Bail For Arrested Huawei CFO Who Faces US Extradition

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 17:21
A judge in Vancouver, British Columbia, has set a $7.5 million U.S. bail for Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou, who was arrested last week on suspicion of violating U.S. trade sanctions against Iran. "The United States had asked the Vancouver court to deny bail for Meng, whose father is a billionaire and a founder of Huawei, calling her a flight risk," reports CNBC. From the report: Canada has been expected to extradite Meng to the United States over charges that the company improperly took payments from Iran in violation of sanctions against the country. Meng's next moves will be closely watched, but it is likely with her corporate and family connections that she will be able to make bail. The $10 million CAD ($7.5 million USD) includes $7 million CAD ($5.2 million USD) cash and $3 million CAD ($2.2 million USD) more from five or more guarantors, presented by Meng and her attorney's as sureties that she would remain in the country. As conditions of the bail agreement, Meng must surrender her passports, wear a GPS tracking device and be accompanied by security detail whenever she leaves her residence.

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Border Agents Fail To Delete Personal Data of Travelers After Electronic Searches, Watchdog Says

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 16:40
The Department of Homeland Security's internal watchdog, known as the Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that the majority of U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents fail to delete the personal data they collect from travelers' devices. Last year alone, border agents searched through the electronic devices of more than 29,000 travelers coming into the country. "CBP officers sometimes upload personal data from those devices to Homeland Security servers by first transferring that data onto USB drives -- drives that are supposed to be deleted after every use," Gizmodo reports. From the report: Customs officials can conduct two kinds of electronic device searches at the border for anyone entering the country. The first is called a "basic" or "manual" search and involves the officer visually going through your phone, your computer or your tablet without transferring any data. The second is called an "advanced search" and allows the officer to transfer data from your device to DHS servers for inspection by running that data through its own software. Both searches are legal and don't require a warrant or even probable cause -- at least they don't according to DHS. It's that second kind of search, the "advanced" kind, where CBP has really been messing up and regularly leaving the personal data of travelers on USB drives. According to the new report [PDF]: "[The Office of the Inspector General] physically inspected thumb drives at five ports of entry. At three of the five ports, we found thumb drives that contained information copied from past advanced searches, meaning the information had not been deleted after the searches were completed. Based on our physical inspection, as well as the lack of a written policy, it appears [Office of Field Operations] has not universally implemented the requirement to delete copied information, increasing the risk of unauthorized disclosure of travelers' data should thumb drives be lost or stolen." The report also found that Customs officers "regularly failed to disconnect devices from the internet, potentially tainting any findings stored locally on the device." It also found that the officers had "inadequate supervision" to make sure they were following the rules. There's also a number of concerning redactions. For example, everything from what happens during an advanced search after someone crosses the border to the reason officials are allowed to conduct an advanced search at all has been redacted.

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Verizon Admits Defeat With $4.6 Billion AOL-Yahoo Writedown

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 16:02
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Verizon is conceding defeat on its crusade to turn a patchwork of dot-com-era businesses into a thriving online operation. The wireless carrier slashed the value of its AOL and Yahoo acquisitions by $4.6 billion, an acknowledgment that tough competition for digital advertising is leading to shortfalls in revenue and profit. The move will erase almost half the value of the division it had been calling Oath, which houses AOL, Yahoo and other businesses like the Huffington Post. The revision of the Oath division's accounting leaves its goodwill balance -- a measure of the intangible value of an acquisition -- at about $200 million, Verizon said in a filing Tuesday. The unit still has about $5 billion of assets remaining. Verizon also announced yesterday that 10,400 employees are taking buyouts to leave the company. The cuts are "part of an effort to trim the telecom giant's workforce ahead of its push toward 5G," TechCrunch reported.

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Comcast Rejected by Small Town -- Residents Vote For Municipal Fiber Instead

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 14:40
A small Massachusetts town has rejected an offer from Comcast and instead plans to build a municipal fiber broadband network. From a report: Comcast offered to bring cable Internet to up to 96 percent of households in Charlemont in exchange for the town paying $462,123 plus interest toward infrastructure costs over 15 years. But Charlemont residents rejected the Comcast offer in a vote at a special town meeting Thursday. "The Comcast proposal would have saved the town about $1 million, but it would not be a town-owned broadband network," the Greenfield Recorder reported Friday. "The defeated measure means that Charlemont will likely go forward with a $1.4 million municipal town network, as was approved by annual town meeting voters in 2015." About 160 residents voted, with 56 percent rejecting the Comcast offer, according to news reports.

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Facebook is Starting To Test Search Ads in its Search Results and Marketplace

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 14:00
It's an ad duopoly battle. From a report: Facebook is starting to test search ads in its search results and Marketplace, directly competing with Google's AdWords. Facebook first tried Sponsored Results back in 2012 but eventually shut down the product in 2013. Now it's going to let a small set of automotive, retail, and ecommerce industry advertisers show users ads on the search results page on mobile in the US and Canada. They'll be repurposed News Feed ads featuring a headline, image, copy text, and a link in the static image or carousel format that can point users to external websites. Facebook declined to share screenshots as it says the exact design is still evolving. Facebook may expand search ads to more countries based on the test's performance.

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Google CEO Admits Company Must Better Address the Spread of Conspiracy Theories on YouTube

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 12:40
Google CEO Sundar Pichai admitted today that YouTube needs to do better in dealing with conspiracy content on its site that can lead to real-world violence. From a report: During his testimony on Tuesday before the House Judiciary Committee, the exec was questioned on how YouTube handles extremist content that promotes conspiracy theories like Pizzagate and, more recently, a Hillary Clinton-focused conspiracy theory dubbed Frazzledrip. According to an article in Monday's Washington Post, Frazzledrip is a variation on Pizzagate that began spreading on YouTube this spring. In a bizarre series of questions, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) asked Pichai if he knew what Frazzledrip was. Pichai replied that he was "not aware of the specifics about it." Raskin went on to explain that the recommendation engine on YouTube has been suggesting videos that claim politicians, celebrities and other leading figures were "sexually abusing and consuming the remains of children, often in satanic rituals." He said these new conspiracist claims were echoing the discredited Pizzagate conspiracy, which two years ago led to a man firing shots into a Washington, D.C. pizzeria, in search of the children he believed were held as sex slaves by Democratic Party leaders.

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What Student Developers Want in a Job

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 11:54
Organizations desperate for software engineering talent tend to follow similar plays when it comes to attracting student developers about the enter the workforce, including offering perks like free food, beer, and ping pong. However, student developers have a much stronger appetite for other workplace elements when making employment decisions, according to a Tuesday report from HackerRank. From a news writeup: The three most important criteria students look for in job opportunities are professional growth and learning (58%), work/life balance (52%), and having interesting problems to solve (46%), according to a survey of 10,350 student developers worldwide. These far outpaced compensation (18%) and perks (11%), which they view as "nice to haves" rather than deal breakers, the survey found. For many student developers, a computer science degree is not enough to teach them the skills they will need in the workforce, the report found. Nearly two-thirds (65%) said they rely partially on self-teaching to learn to code, and 27% say they are totally self-taught. Only 32% said they were entirely taught at school, the survey found.

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New Firefox Suggests Ways To Get More Out of the Web

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 11:01
Starting Tuesday, Firefox will nudge you to try out options designed to make the web more interesting, more useful or more productive. From a report: Mozilla's new Firefox 64 keeps an eye on what you're up to and prompts you to try extensions and features that could help you with that activity, the browser maker said. For example, if you open the same tab lots of times, it could suggest you pin it to your tab strip for easier future access. Other suggestions include installing the Facebook Container extension to curtail the social network's snooping, a Google Translate extension to tap into Google's service, and the Enhancer for YouTube extension to do things like block ads and control playback on Google's video site. The feature could help you customize Firefox more to your liking -- something that could help you stick with the browser in the face of Google Chrome's dominance. And that, in turn, could help Mozilla pursue its push toward a privacy-respecting web that's not just effectively controlled by Chrome.

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Android Trojan Steals Money From PayPal Accounts Even With 2FA On

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 10:23
ESET researchers have discovered a new Android Trojan using a novel Accessibility-abusing technique that targets the official PayPal app, and is capable of bypassing PayPal's two-factor authentication. A report elaborates: At the time of writing, the malware is masquerading as a battery optimization tool, and is distributed via third-party app stores. After being launched, the malicious app terminates without offering any functionality and hides its icon. This video, courtesy of ESET, demonstrates the process in practice.

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Evelyn Berezin, Who Built the First True Word Processor, Has Died at 93

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 09:40
An anonymous reader shares a report: Evelyn Berezin, a computer pioneer who emancipated many a frazzled secretary from the shackles of the typewriter nearly a half-century ago by building and marketing the first computerized word processor, died on Saturday in Manhattan. She was 93. In an age when computers were in their infancy and few women were involved in their development, Ms. Berezin (pronounced BEAR-a-zen) not only designed the first true word processor; in 1969, she was also a founder and the president of the Redactron Corporation, a tech start-up on Long Island that was the first company exclusively engaged in manufacturing and selling the revolutionary machines.

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Why I'm Usually Unnerved When Modern SSDs Die on Us

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 09:16
Chris Siebenmann, a Unix Systems Administrator at University of Toronto, writes about the inability to figure out the bottleneck when an SSD dies: What unnerves me about these sorts of abrupt SSD failures is how inscrutable they are and how I can't construct a story in my head of what went wrong. With spinning HDs, drives might die abruptly but you could at least construct narratives about what could have happened to do that; perhaps the spindle motor drive seized or the drive had some other gross mechanical failure that brought everything to a crashing halt (perhaps literally). SSDs are both solid state and opaque, so I'm left with no story for what went wrong, especially when a drive is young and isn't supposed to have come anywhere near wearing out its flash cells (as this SSD was). (When a HD died early, you could also imagine undetected manufacturing flaws that finally gave way. With SSDs, at least in theory that shouldn't happen, so early death feels especially alarming. Probably there are potential undetected manufacturing flaws in the flash cells and so on, though.) When I have no story, my thoughts turn to unnerving possibilities, like that the drive was lying to us about how healthy it was in SMART data and that it was actually running through spare flash capacity and then just ran out, or that it had a firmware flaw that we triggered that bricked it in some way.

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Doom Turns 25: The FPS That Wowed Players, Gummed Up Servers, and Enraged Admins

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 08:25
On December 10, 1993, after a marathon 30-hour coding session, the developers at id Software uploaded the first finished copy of Doom for download, the game that was to redefine first-person shooter (FPS) genre. Hours later IT admins wanted id's guts for garters. The Register: Doom wasn't the first FPS game, but it was the iPhone of the field -- it took parts from various other products and packaged them together in a fearsomely addictive package. Admins loathed it because it hogged bandwidth for downloading and was designed to allow network deathmatches, so millions of users immediately took up valuable network resources for what seemed a frivolous pursuit to some curmudgeonly BOFHs. The game was an instant hit -- so much so that within hours of its release admins were banning it from servers to try and cope with the effects of thousands, and then millions of people playing online. It spawned remakes and follow-up games, its own movie (don't bother) and even a glowing endorsement from Bill Gates.

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What it's Like To Work in the Biggest Building in the World

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 07:46
To build a fleet of giant airliners requires a building just as big. Boeing's Everett Factory, built to construct the famous 747, is the biggest enclosed structure in the world. BBC Future: When you're building some of the world's biggest airliners, you need an equally outsized building. When Boeing decided to build the 747 -- a plane so big it would become known around the world as the jumbo jet -- they had to build a factory large enough to build several of them at the same time. If you've ever seen a 747 from close quarters you'll know just how giant Boeing's jumbo is. So it's no surprise the factory which ended up building has to be very big indeed. How big? Try the biggest enclosed building in the world. Boeing started work on the Everett factory in 1967, just as the Boeing 747 project was starting to gather pace. Bill Allen, Boeing's charismatic chief, had realised the company would need a huge amount of space if they were going to build an airliner big enough to carry 400 passengers. They chose an area of woodland some 22 miles (35km) north of Seattle, near an airport that had served as a fighter base during World War Two. [...] Today, the Everett factory easily dwarfs any other building in the world by volume, with the Guinness Book of Records reporting that it occupies 72 million cubic feet (13.3 million cubic metres). [...] Each shift has as many as 10,000 workers, and there are three shifts each day. Over the course of 24 hours, the factory has a population only a little less than the Australian city of Alice Springs. Reese has worked for Boeing for 38 years -- 11 of them running the factory tours -- but says he can still remember his first impression of the factory. "It was very awe-inspiring the first time -- and I would have to say every day since, too. It changes constantly. Each day there's something new." The Everett factory is so big that there's a fleet of some 1,300 bicycles on hand to help cut travel time. It has its own fire station and medical services on station, and an array of cafes and restaurants to feed the thousands of workers.

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Super Micro Says Review Found No Malicious Chips in Motherboards

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 07:10
Computer hardware maker Super Micro Computer told customers on Tuesday that an outside investigations firm had found no evidence of any malicious hardware in its current or older-model motherboards. From a report: In a letter to customers, the San Jose, California, company said it was not surprised by the result of the review it commissioned in October after a Bloomberg article reported that spies for the Chinese government had tainted Super Micro equipment to eavesdrop on its clients.

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China To Force Changes To 20 Popular Games, Ban 9 Including Fortnite and PUBG

Slashdot - Tue, 12/11/2018 - 06:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: A panel of censors set up to vet mobile video games in China has signaled it will be hard to please. State media reports that of the first 20 titles it assessed, nine were refused permission to go on sale. The Xinhua news agency added that developers of the other 11 had been told they had to make adjustments to remove "controversial content." The authorities have voiced concerns about the violent nature of some titles as well as worries about the activity being addictive. It was announced in August that a new body -- the State Administration of Press and Publications -- had taken over responsibility for approving games and that it would limit the number of online titles available. And although it has not been specified, some experts are assuming that the new panel will operate under its auspices. Xinhua said it is comprised of gaming experts, government-employed researchers, and representatives from the media and video games industry. But it provided no other information about who they were or the titles they had already examined. UPDATE: The list of games being examined by the ethics panel has been revealed by users on NGA, a Chinese gaming forum. A number of games, such as League of Legends, Overwatch, Diablo, and World of Warcraft, will need "corrective action," while others will be "banned/withdrawn" entirely. Some of the most popular prohibited titles include Fortnite and PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG).

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