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Updated: 1 min 28 sec ago

The Future of Shopping: Trapping You in a Club You Didn't Know You Joined

12 min 1 sec ago
Just a word of caution: the next time you spot a great deal on a shopping portal, you will want to carefully look for all the radio buttons, and tick boxes -- and perhaps also skim through the ToS -- before placing the order. Bloomberg has an in-depth piece on the ordeal of a customer who purchased a lingerie item from an e-commerce website called Adore Me. Little did the customer know that the $19.95 she was spending to purchase a piece of cloth would end up costing her -- partly because of her own ignorance -- more than $300. Adore Me, you see, maintains a subscription model in which it charges users a fee of around $40 a month, even if they don't purchase anything. It might surprise many, but Adore Me isn't the only shopping portal or service that runs this sort of tactic. "It's the new thing," says Francisca Allen, the deputy district attorney of California's Santa Clara County.. "There's thousands and thousands of companies that do this." What's more, these companies have made it frustratingly difficult to cancel these subscriptions -- it often requires you to sit through a one-hour call to the customer representative and listening to a bunch of funky songs that you suddenly don't adore as much. Bloomberg reports:Hundreds of customer complaints against Adore Me and other subscription e-commerce businesses are stacking up at the Federal Trade Commission, according to records obtained by Bloomberg. They follow a pattern: Shoppers believe they've been tricked into signing up for recurring credit card charges, often for a relatively small amount that can be easily overlooked in a monthly bill. Then companies make it an exasperating hassle to quit and get a refund.

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Google Helps Police With Child Porn WebCrawler

4 hours 12 min ago
The San Jose Mercury News is reporting that the Internet Watch Foundation, "an organization that works with police worldwide to remove images of child sexual abuse from the Internet, has credited Google with helping it develop a 'Web crawler' that finds child pornography." The pilot project makes it easier to identify and remove every copy of specific images online, and the group says "We look forward to the next phase of the Googler in Residence project in 2016." Last year Google also had an engineer working directly with the foundation, and the group's annual report says "This was just one part of the engineering support Google gave us in 2015." [PDF] Their report adds that the new technology "should block thousands of their illegal images from being viewed on the Internet."

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US Spy Court Didn't Reject a Single Government Surveillance Request In 2015

Sun, 01/05/2016 - 3:30am
schwit1 shares news from ZDNet's security blog: In more than three decades years, the FISA Court has only rejected 12 requests. A secret court that oversees the US government's surveillance requests accepted every warrant that was submitted last year, according to new figures.The Washington DC.-based Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court received 1,457 requests from the National Security Agency and the Federal Bureau of Investigation to intercept phone calls and emails. In long-standing fashion, the court did not reject a single warrant, entirely or in part. The FBI also issued 48,642 national security letters, a subpoena-like power that compels a company to turn over data on national security grounds without informing the subject of the letter. The memo said the majority of these demands sought data on foreigners, but almost one-in-five were requests for data on Americans. It'll be interesting to see if the numbers go down any in 2016, since in November the court appointed five new lawyers to push back against government requests. Meanwhile, a new report shows an increase in the number of government requests to Facebook about their users, more than half of which contained a non-disclosure order prohibiting Facebook from notifying those users.

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Australia: VPN Users Aren't Breaching Copyright

Sun, 01/05/2016 - 1:30am
Slashdot reader Zanadou writes: The Australian Government Productivity Commission in a draft report recommended that Australian consumers should be able to legally circumvent geoblocking restrictions that have prevented them from using foreign online streaming services like Netflix, and that the Australian Government needs to send a clear message that it is not an infringement of copyright for consumers to be able evade geoblocking technology. Karen Chester, a commissioner with the Productivity Commission, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation that geoblocking restrictions have the opposite effect of encouraging internet piracy. "Making copyright material more accessible and more competitively priced online, and not geoblocking, is the best antidote to copyright infringement." In probably related news, Australia topped the list of countries who illegally downloaded the Game Of Thrones season six premiere, this week. In January Netflix's chief product officer admitted that the company has no magic solution to subscribers who use VPNs to circumvent geoblocking.

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Amazon Beats Microsoft In 'The Battle of Seattle'

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 11:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: Yesterday Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos earned $5 billion in one afternoon when the company's stock price jumped 9.6%. Amazon reported an actual profit of $513 million (nearly double the amount expected), and next year Amazon's sales are projected by analysts to be 63% higher than Microsoft's, which USA Today calls "a good illustration of how growth in the sector has moved from hardware, software and chip companies to Internet firms selling goods or advertising online... [W]hile Bill Gates helped put Seattle area on the map as a U.S. tech hub, Bezos now runs the largest tech company in the State of Washington, by far, in terms of sales." Amazon's Echo and Alexa devices are believed to be outselling their Kindles (and Alexa will soon make her first appearance on a non-Amazon device). But Amazon attributed their surprise jump in revenue to a 51% annual increase in the "tens of millions" of subscribers paying for their Amazon Prime shipping service (which in San Francisco now even includes delivery from restaurants), as well as a 64% increase from their AWS cloud service, which recently announced a new automated security assessment tool. Amazon ultimately reported more than twice as much new business as Google and three times as much as Facebook, according to USA Today, which notes that now of all the tech companies, only Apple has more revenue than Amazon, and because of the jump in their stock price, Jeff Bezos is now the fourth-richest person in the world. But with all that money floating around, Seattle tech blogger Jeff Reifman is now wondering why Amazon's local home delivery vehicles in Seattle seem to be operating with out of state plates.

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Germany Plans $1.4 Billion In Incentives For Electric Cars

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 10:30pm
An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg article: German Chancellor Angela Merkel's government reached a deal with automakers to jointly spend 1.2 billion euros ($1.4 billion) on incentives to boost sluggish electric-car sales. Buyers will be able to receive as much as 4,000 euros in rebates to help offset the higher price of an electric vehicle, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble said at a press conference in Berlin. Purchasers of hybrid cars will get as much as 3,000 euros off the price. The industry will shoulder 50 percent of the cost. The program is set to start in May, pending approval from the German parliament's budget committee, he said. "The goal is to move forward as quickly as possible on electric vehicles," Schaeuble told reporters, adding that the aim is to begin offering the incentives next month. "With this, we are giving an impetus."

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Malware Taps Windows' 'God Mode'

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 9:30pm
Reader wiredmikey writes: Researchers at McAfee have discovered a piece of malware dubbed "Dynamer" that is taking advantage of a Windows Easter Egg -- or a power user feature, as many see it -- called "God Mode" to gain persistency (warning: annoying popup ads) on an infected machine. God Mode, as many of you know, is a handy tool for administrators as it is essentially a shortcut to accessing the operating system's various control settings. Dynamer malware is abusing the function by installing itself into a folder inside of the %AppData% directory and creating a registry run key that persists across reboots. Using a "com4" name, Windows considers the folder as being a device, meaning that the user cannot easily delete it. Given that Windows treats the folder "com4" folder differently, Windows Explorer or typical console commands are useless when attempting to delete it.Fortunately, there's a way to remove it. McAfee writes: Fortunately, there is a way to defeat this foe. First, the malware must be terminated (via Task Manager or other standard tools). Next, run this specially crafted command from the command prompt (cmd.exe): > rd "\\.\%appdata%\com4.{241D7C96-F8BF-4F85-B01F-E2B043341A4B}" /S /Q.

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Ask Slashdot: Should This Photographer Sue A Hotel For $2M?

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 8:30pm
Unhappy Windows User writes: An Austrian photographer was contracted by the luxury [hotel] Sofitel in Vienna to photograph the bar with an amazing view over the skyline. He was paid for his time (4200 euros) and arranged a three-year internal usage contract for the photos. After the contract expired, he still found his photos being used -- on external sites too. He is now suing for 2 million euros, based on each individual usage. My question is: Is this the real market value of his work...? It seems like the largest economic contribution to the work was from Sofitel, who allowed access to the property and closed it to customers. I don't have any issue in a photographer wanting to be paid fairly for his work, and asking for perhaps double or treble the original price for the breach of contract to match what an unlimited license would have cost. [But] with this money they could have employed a professional for a month and automatically obtained full rights to the work...it seems like this guy is trying to take advantage of an oversight by a large corporation, never to have to work again. Here's the original article in German and an English translation, and it's one of those rare cases where the copyright belongs to an individual instead of a massive entertainment conglomeration. But do you think the photographer should be suing for 2 million euros over this copyright beach?

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Wireless Carriers To Adopt a New Real-Time Text Protocol To Help People With Disabilities

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 7:30pm
The FCC, an independent agency of the United States government, says it is ready to adopt a proposal which would help people with disabilities communicate more efficiently and conveniently (PDF). Dubbed real-time text, the protocol is designed to supersede the aging teletypewriter devices that facilitate text conversations over traditional phone lines. FCC said that wireless phone networks would be required to support the aforementioned protocol starting in December 2017. "As communications networks migrate to IP-based environments, this technology would allow Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled or deaf-blind to use the same wireless communications devices as their friends, relatives and colleagues, and more seamlessly integrate into tomorrow's communications networks," FCC wrote. Engadget reports: The big differentiator for RTT over current, commonly used text-based messaging systems is that RTT messages are sent immediately as they're typed. The RTT technology will let text users communicate with people on voice-based phones and vice versa; it can also work easily on your standard smartphone, eliminating the need for specialized equipment.

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Neil Gaiman Celebrates Independent Bookstore Day

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 6:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: Today is "Independent Bookstore Day," a national event promoting local bookstores which will feature exclusive bookstore-only offerings, including a Neil Gaiman coloring book with 20 black-and-white illustrations by Gaiman illustrator Chris Riddell and quotes from Coraline, The Graveyard Book, and Fortunately, the Milk. "Independent bookstores are not just stores, they're community centers and local anchors run by passionate readers," reads the event's web site, saying independent bookstores "are not just stores, they are solutions. They hold the key to your love life, your career, and your passions." There's actually more independent bookstores this year than there were last year, according to the site, which argues that "In a world of tweets and algorithms and pageless digital downloads, bookstores are not a dying anachronism. They are living, breathing organisms that continue to grow and expand."

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Humble Bundle Announces 'Hacker' Pay-What-You-Want Sale

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 5:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: Humble Bundle announced a special "pay what you want" sale for four ebooks from No Starch Press, with proceeds going to the Electronic Frontier Foundation (or to the charity of your choice). This "hacker edition" sale includes two relatively new titles from 2015 -- "Automate the Boring Stuff with Python" and Violet Blue's "Smart Girl's Guide to Privacy," as well as "Hacking the Xbox: An Introduction to Reverse Engineering" by Andrew "bunnie" Huang, and "The Linux Command Line". Hackers who are willing to pay "more than the average" -- currently $14.87 -- can also unlock a set of five more books, which includes "The Maker's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse: Defend Your Base with Simple Circuits, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi". (This level also includes "Bitcoin for the Befuddled" and "Designing BSD Rootkits: An Introduction to Kernel Hacking".) And at the $15 level -- just 13 cents more -- four additional books are unlocked. "Practical Malware Analysis: The Hands-On Guide to Dissecting Malicious Software" is available at this level, as well as "Hacking: The Art of Exploitation" and "Black Hat Python." Nice to see they've already sold 28,506 bundles, which are DRM-free and available in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI format. (I still remember Slashdot's 2012 interview with Make magazine's Andrew "bunnie" Huang, who Samzenpus described as "one of the most famous hardware and software hackers in the world.")

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Language Creation Society Says Klingon Language Isn't Covered By Copyright

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 4:30pm
Reader AmiMoJo writes: Earlier this year Paramount Pictures and CBS Studios filed a lawsuit against the makers of a Star Trek inspired fan film, accusing them of copyright infringement. In their amicus brief, which actually uses Klingon language, the Language Creation Society lists many examples of how Klingon has evolved, and it specifically disputes Paramount's earlier claims that there are no human beings who communicate using the Klingon language. "In fact, there are groups of people for whom Klingon is their only common language. There are friends who only speak Klingon to each other. In fact, at least one child was initially raised as a native speaker of Klingon." As such, Paramount should not be allowed to claim copyright over the entire Klingon language, both in written and spoken form. The language is a tool for people to communicate and express ideas, something people should be allowed to do freely under U.S. law, LCS argues.

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Design, Hardware, Software Errors Doomed Japanese Hitomi Spacecraft

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 3:30pm
Reader Required Snark writes: The Japanese space agency JAXA said its recently launched X-Ray observation satellite Hitomi has been destroyed. After a successful launch on February 17, contact with the satellite was lost on March 28. Off the 10-year expected life span, only three days of observations were collected. Preliminary inquiry points to multiple failures in design, hardware and software. After the launch it was discovered that the star tracker stabilization didn't work in a low magnetic flux area over the South Atlantic. When the backup gyroscopic spin stabilization took control, the spin increased instead of stopping. An internal magnetic limit feature in the gyroscope failed, causing the spin get worse. Finally, a thruster based control started, but because of a software failure the spin increased further. The solar panels broke off, leaving the satellite without a long-term power supply. It seems that untested software had been uploaded for thrust control just before the breakup. This is a major loss for astronomical research. Two previous attempts by Japan to launch a high-resolution X-ray calorimeter had also failed, and the next planned sensor of this type is not scheduled until 2028 by the ESA. Just building a replacement unit would take 3 to 5 years and cost $50 million, without the cost of a satellite or launch.

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Design, Hardware, Software Error Doomed Japanese Hitomi Spacecraft

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 3:30pm
Reader Required Snark writes: The Japanese space agency JAXA said its recently launched X-Ray observation satellite Hitomi has been destroyed. After a successful launch on February 17, contact with the satellite was lost on March 28. Off the 10-year expected life span, only three days of observations were collected. Preliminary inquiry points to multiple failures in design, hardware and software. After the launch it was discovered that the star tracker stabilization didn't work in a low magnetic flux area over the South Atlantic. When the backup gyroscopic spin stabilization took control, the spin increased instead of stopping. An internal magnetic limit feature in the gyroscope failed, causing the spin get worse. Finally, a thruster based control started, but because of a software failure the spin increased further. The solar panels broke off, leaving the satellite without a long-term power supply. It seems that untested software had been uploaded for thrust control just before the breakup. This is a major loss for astronomical research. Two previous attempts by Japan to launch a high-resolution X-ray calorimeter had also failed, and the next planned sensor of this type is not scheduled until 2028 by the ESA. Just building a replacement unit would take 3 to 5 years and cost $50 million, without the cost of a satellite or launch.

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Yahoo's Marissa Mayer In Line For $55M Severance If Fired Within A Year Of Sale

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 2:30pm
whoever57 writes: A Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) filing on Friday revealed that Yahoo's board has agreed to a $55 million severance package for Marissa Mayer if she loses her job within a year of a sale. That's a lot of money for a chief executive who hasn't been able to keep Yahoo's stock from falling. In 2015, the value of Yahoo's stock fell by 33%. Worth noting: most of the money from the severance package is composed of restricted stock units and options -- there's only $3 million in cold hard cash. Also, Yahoo revealed Mayer received a significant pay cut last year. Her "reported pay" was $36 million, but her "realized pay" is closer to $14 million.

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Berkeley Researchers Examine Five Worst-Case Security Nightmares

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 1:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: Berkeley researchers have gamed out five worst-case security scenarios at their Center for Long-Term Cybersecurity, calling it "a disciplined, imaginative approach to modeling what cybersecurity could mean in the future...to provoke a discussion about what the cybersecurity research and policy communities need to do now in order to be better positioned..." Two of the scenarios are set in 2020 -- one called "The New Normal" imagining a world were users assume their personal information can no longer be kept safe, and another involving the privacy and security implications in a world where hackers lurk undetected on a now-ubiquitous Internet of Things. "Our goal is to identify emerging issues that will become more important..." they write in an executive summary, including "issues on the table today that may become less salient or critical; and new issues that researchers and decision-makers a few years from now will have wished people in the research and policy communities had noticed -- and begun to act on -- earlier. Scenario #2 imagines a super-intelligent A.I. which can predict and even manipulate the behavior of individuals, and scenario #3 involves criminals exploiting valuable data sets -- and data scientists -- after an economic collapse.

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Slack To Disable Thousands of Logins Leaked on GitHub

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 12:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: Thursday one technology site reported that thousands of developers building bots for the team-collaboration tool Slack were exposing their login credentials in public GitHub repositories and tickets. "The irony is that a lot of these bots are mostly fun 'weekend projects', reported Detectify. "We saw examples of fit bots, reminding you to stretch throughout the day, quote bots, quoting both Jurassic Park...and Don Quixote...." Slack responded that they're now actively searching for publicly-posted login credentials, "and when we find any, we revoke the tokens and notify both the users who created them, as well as the owners of affected teams." Detectify notes the lapse in security had occurred at a wide variety of sites, including "Forbes 500 companies, payment providers, multiple internet service providers and health care providers... University classes at some of the world's best-known schools. Newspapers sharing their bots as part of stories. The list goes on and on..."

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Bison To Become First National Mammal Of The US

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 10:01am
mdsolar quotes a report from Washington Post: North America used to be teeming with bison. But in one century, their numbers plummeted from tens of millions to just a few dozen in the wild after hunters nearly wiped out the continent's largest mammals. Now, the bison is about to become the first national mammal of the United States. The National Bison Legacy Act, which designates the bison as the official mammal of the United States, passed the House on Tuesday and the Senate on Thursday. The legislation now heads to President Obama's desk to be signed into law. At a time of political gridlock and partisan bickering, lawmakers agree on an official national mammal. The bison, which will join the bald eagle as a national symbol, represents the country's first successful foray into wildlife conservation. Lobbying for the official mammal designation was a coalition of conservationists; ranchers, for whom bison are business; and tribal groups, such as the InterTribal Buffalo Council, which wants to "restore bison to Indian nations in a manner that is compatible with their spiritual and cultural beliefs and practices."

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Wireless Carriers To Adopt New Real-Time Text Protocol By December 2017

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 7:01am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Engadget: The FCC is ready to adopt a proposal that'll bring a new protocol to wireless networks to help people with disabilities communicate. It's called real-time text (RTT) and will be a replacement for the aging teletypewriter devices that let users transmit text conversations over traditional phone lines. According to the FCC's statement, RTT will "allow Americans who are deaf, hard of hearing, speech disabled or deaf-blind to use the same wireless communications devices as their friends, relatives and colleagues, and more seamlessly integrate into tomorrow's communications networks." The big differentiator for RTT over current, commonly-used text-based messaging systems is that RTT messages are sent immediately as they're typed. The RTT technology will let text users communicate with people on voice-based phones and vice versa; it can also work easily in your standard smartphone, eliminating the need for specialized equipment. The proposal calls for RTT to roll out over wireless networks run by "larger carriers" by December of 2017.

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Developer Installs Windows 95 On An Apple Watch

Sat, 30/04/2016 - 3:36am
An anonymous reader writes: Developer Nick Lee has successfully installed Windows 95 on his Apple Watch. It works, but it runs very slow. For example, it takes about an hour for the OS to boot up. In a blog post, Lee points out the Apple Watch features specs capable of running the old OS. To get Windows 95 running on the Apple Watch, Lee had to modify Apple's development software in "rather unorthodox ways" that allowed him to turn the OS into a Watch app, which also emulates an environment for the OS to run on, he tells The Verge. To deal with the fact that Apple Watch's screen is always turning itself off when not in use, he set up a motorized tube that constantly turns the Watch's crown, preventing it from falling asleep. In addition, Lee altered the Watch's software to let Windows 95 track a single fingertip, hence the constant swiping in his video.

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