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Google Offers To Treat Rivals Equally Via Auction

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 8:40pm
Google has offered to display rival comparison shopping sites via an auction, as it aims to stave off further EU antitrust fines, four people familiar with the matter told Reuters. From a report: Google is under pressure to come up with a big initiative to level the playing field in comparison shopping, but its proposal was roundly criticized by competitors as inadequate, the sources said. EU enforcers see the antitrust case as a benchmark for investigations into other areas dominated by the U.S. search giant such as travel and online mapping. Google has already been fined a record 2.4 billion euros ($2.9 bln) by the European Commission for favoring its own service, and could face millions of euros in fresh fines if it fails to treat rivals and its own service equally.

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Chrome To Force Domains Ending With Dev and Foo To HTTPS Via Preloaded HSTS

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 8:00pm
Developer Mattias Geniar writes (condensed and edited for clarity): One of the next versions of Chrome is going to force all domains ending with .dev and .foo to be redirected to HTTPs via a preloaded HTTP Strict Transport Security (HSTS) header. This very interesting commit just landed in Chromium: Preload HSTS for the .dev gTLD: This adds the following line to Chromium's preload lists: { "name": "dev", "include_subdomains": true, "mode": "force-https" }, { "name": "foo", "include_subdomains": true, "mode": "force-https" }, It forces any domain on the .dev gTLD to be HTTPs. What should we [developers] do? With .dev being an official gTLD, we're most likely better of changing our preferred local development suffix from .dev to something else. There's an excellent proposal to add the .localhost domain as a new standard, which would be more appropriate here. It would mean we no longer have site.dev, but site.localhost. And everything at *.localhost would automatically translate to 127.0.0.1, without /etc/hosts or dnsmasq workarounds.

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HTML5 DRM Standard Is a Go

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 7:20pm
Artem Tashkinov writes: The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), the industry body that oversees development of HTML and related Web standards, has today published the Encrypted Media Extensions (EME) specification as a Recommendation, marking its final blessing as an official Web standard. Final approval came after the W3C's members voted 58.4 percent to approve the spec, 30.8 percent to oppose, with 10.8 percent abstaining. EME provides a standard interface for DRM protection of media delivered through the browser. EME is not itself a DRM scheme; rather, it defines how Web content can work with third-party Content Decryption Modules (CDMs) that handle the proprietary decryption and rights-management portion. The principal groups favoring the development of EME have been streaming media companies such as Netflix and Microsoft, Google, and Apple, companies that both develop browsers and operate streaming media services. Following the announcement, EFF wrote a letter to W3C director, chief executive officer and team, in which it expressed its disappointment and said it was resignation from the W3C.

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Flush With Cash: Swiss Toilets Mysteriously Stuffed With 500-Euro Bills

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 6:40pm
Someone in the Swiss city of Geneva has been trying to flush tens of thousands of euros down toilets. From a report: The bathrooms at a branch of the UBS bank in Geneva, as well as in three nearby restaurants, had pipes stuffed with 500-euro bills that had apparently been cut up with scissors and flushed down the toilets. The mysterious misplaced funds were first reported by a Swiss newspaper, and local authorities have confirmed the incident to multiple media outlets. Each individual bill is worth nearly $600. Collectively, the destroyed bank notes were worth tens of thousands of dollars. The Geneva Prosecutor's Office tells Bloomberg it has launched an investigation into the bathroom bills. Switzerland is not in the European Union, although it is entirely surrounded by EU member countries, and the nation's currency is the Swiss franc.

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Microsoft Confirms Outlook Issues

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 6:00pm
Microsoft has confirmed that some users of its email service Outlook are unable to send email or access their accounts. From a report: Hundreds from around Europe have commented on the website Downdetector that they have been affected by the problem -- many since Monday morning. One common issue seems to be that sent emails remain in the drafts folder and are not being delivered to recipients. On its website, Microsoft says the service dropped "unexpectedly" and it is working on a fix. Not all account holders are affected. "Intermittent connectivity is affecting customers in some European countries, which we are working to resolve as soon as possible," said a Microsoft representative.

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Meet the Font Detectives Who Ferret Out Fakery

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 5:20pm
New submitter rgh02 writes: Earlier this year, the former prime minister of Pakistan and his family came under scrutiny thanks to revelations in the Panama Papers. The smoking gun in the case of a forged document was none other than a font -- Calibri, which, as it turned out, wasn't even available until after the document had allegedly been signed and dated. This is not the first or the last time typography helped crack a case, and often with help from experts appropriately referred to as the 'font detectives.' At Backchannel, Glenn Fleishman dives into the adventures of the experts ferreting out fakery with their knowledge of fonts and the high-profile cases they've found themselves involved in.

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Google's New Payment App For India Transfers Money Via Ultrasound

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 4:40pm
Pranav Dixit, writing for BuzzFeed News: Google's goal for the brand-new payments app it launched in India on Monday is simple yet ambitious: to get in on the action each time someone sends or receives money in its largest market outside the United States. The app is called Tez -- Hindi for "fast" -- and it lets users do three things: send money to people in their phones' address books, make payments to businesses (both online as well as in real-world mom-and-pop stores), and zap cash to anyone around them -- all without knowing bank account numbers or personal details. Tez is powered by UPI, short for Unified Payments Interface, a Indian government-backed payments standard that lets users transfer money directly into each other's bank accounts using just their mobile numbers, or a bank-issued payment ID that looks like an email address. It works a lot like Venmo does in the US, except that anyone can build their own payments app on top of UPI. Once you hit Pay or Receive, Tez detects other Tez users around you with a proprietary technology called Audio QR based on ultrasound, and pairs with their phones. Once a sender puts in the amount and authenticates with a preset PIN to confirm who they're sending money to, a transaction happens in seconds.

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Kids Praised for Being Smart Are More Likely to Cheat, Study Says

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 4:00pm
An international team of researchers reports that when children are praised for being smart not only are they quicker to give up in the face of obstacles they are also more likely to be dishonest and cheat. From a report: Kids as young as age 3 appear to behave differently when told "You are so smart" vs "You did very well this time." The study, published in Psychological Science, is co-authored by Gail Heyman of the University of California San Diego, Kang Lee of the University of Toronto, and Lulu Chen and Li Zhao of Hangzhou Normal University in China. The research builds on well-known work by Stanford's Carol Dweck, author of "Mindset," who has shown that praising a child's innate ability instead of the child's effort or a specific behavior has the unintended consequence of reducing their motivation to learn and their ability to deal with setbacks. The present study shows there's also a moral dimension to different kinds of praise and that it affects children at younger ages than previously known. Even the kindergarten and preschool set seem to be sensitive to subtle differences in praise.

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Apple Officially Bans Scammy Antivirus Apps From iOS App Store

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 3:20pm
Fake "virus scanning" apps have plagued the iOS App Store for a while, and Apple seems to finally be banning them once and for all in updated developer guidelines it published last week. From a report: The updated developer guidelines, compiled by Paul Hudson over at Hacking With Swift, now includes a ban on apps that claim to "including content or services that it does not actually offer" -- something that includes any iOS virus scanning apps, seeing as it wasn't possible to scan for viruses on iOS with third party apps, since iOS's sandboxing prevents applications from directly interacting with each other or the core of the iOS operating system.

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Ask Slashdot: What Would Happen If a Hyperloop Train Failed?

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 2:40pm
dryriver writes: I've been following Elon Musk's Hyperloop initiative with great interest. The idea of getting from one city to another at 700 MPH without having to suffer through an airport and all that jazz is revolutionary. I'm glad that somebody is trying to innovate in the area of land travel. My question though: When conventional trains going at much slower speeds derail or crash, the result is often serious injuries or deaths. What happens if something goes wrong with a 700 MPH Hyperloop train/pod or with part of the track? Would a Hyperloop accident at that speed even be survivable?

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Avast's CCleaner Free Windows Application Infected With Malware

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 2:01pm
Reader Tinfoil writes: Cisco Talos announces that malware cleaning app, CCleaner, has been infected with malware for the past month. Version 5.33 of the CCleaner app offered for download between August 15 and September 12 was modified to include the Floxif malware, according to a report published by Cisco Talos a few minutes ago. Cisco Talos believes that a threat actor might have compromised Avast's supply chain and used its digital certificate to replace the legitimate CCleaner v5.33 app on its website with one that also contained the Floxif trojan. The company said more 2.27 million had downloaded the compromised version of CCleaner.

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Americans Plan Massive 'Net Neutrality' Protest Next Week

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 11:30am
An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian: A coalition of activists, consumer groups and writers are calling on supporters to attend the next meeting of the Federal Communications Commission on September 26 in Washington DC. The next day, the protest will move to Capitol Hill, where people will meet legislators to express their concerns about an FCC proposal to rewrite the rules governing the internet... The activist groups are encouraging internet users to meet their lawmakers and tell them how a free and open internet is vital to their lives and their livelihoods... "The FCC seems dead set on killing net neutrality, but they have to answer to Congress, and Congress has to answer to us, their constituents," said Evan Greer, campaign director for Fight for the Future, one of the protest's organisers. "With this day of advocacy, we're harnessing the power of the web to make it possible for ordinary internet users to meet directly with their senators and representatives to tell their stories, and make sure that lawmakers hear from the public, not just lobbyists for AT&T and Verizon," she said. Monday Mozilla and the Internet Archive are also inviting the public to a free panel discussion featuring former FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler on ways the American public can act to preserve net neutrality.

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Illinois Tests A Blockchain-Based Birth Registry/ID System

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 7:30am
An anonymous reader quotes Government Technology: The state of Illinois, which has six blockchain pilots underway, will partner with Utah-based Evernym for a birth registry pilot meant to individualize and secure identities... The endeavor, one of six distinct blockchain explorations Illinois began last summer with a working group, is expected to utilize the Sovrin Foundation's publicly available distributed identity ledger and expand upon accomplishments of the W3C Verifiable Claims Task Force, the state said... Recognizing that identity -- and, now, digital identity -- begin at birth, the state will explore using these technologies to create "a secure 'self-sovereign' identity for Illinois citizens during the birth registration process," it said in the announcement. More from the Illinois Blockchain Initiative site: Self-sovereign identity refers to a digital identity that remains entirely under the individual's control. A self-sovereign identity can be efficiently and securely validated by entities who require it, free from reliance on a centralized repository. Jennifer O'Rourke, Blockchain Business Liaison for the Illinois Blockchain Initiative commented, "To structurally address the many issues surrounding digital identity, we felt it was important to develop a framework that examines identity from its inception at child birth... Identity is not only foundational to nearly every government service, but is the basis for trust and legitimacy in the public sector." In the proposed framework, government agencies will verify birth registration information and then cryptographically sign identity attributes such as legal name, date of birth, sex or blood type, creating what are called "verifiable claims" or attributes. Permission to view or share each of these government-verified claims is stored on the tamper-proof distributed ledger protocol in the form of a decentralized identifier... This minimizes the need for entities to establish, maintain and rely upon their own proprietary databases of identity information. Evernym's "Chief Trust Officer" sees the program as "a major contribution to the larger effort of solving the online identity problem."

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Can An Individual Still Resist The Spread of Technology?

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 3:34am
schwit1 shares a column from the Chicago Tribune: When cellphones first appeared, they gave people one more means of communication, which they could accept or reject. But before long, most of us began to feel naked and panicky anytime we left home without one. To do without a cellphone -- and soon, if not already, a smartphone -- means estranging oneself from normal society. We went from "you can have a portable communication device" to "you must have a portable communication device" practically overnight... Today most people are expected to be instantly reachable at all times. These devices have gone from servants to masters... Few of us would be willing to give up modern shelter, food, clothing, medicine, entertainment or transportation. Most of us would say the trade-offs are more than worth it. But they happen whether they are worth it or not, and the individual has little power to resist. Technological innovation is a one-way street. Once you enter it, you are obligated to proceed, even if it leads someplace you would not have chosen to go. The column argues "the iPhone X proves the Unabomber was right," citing this passage from the 1996 manifesto of the anti-technology terrorist. "Once a technical innovation has been introduced, people usually become dependent on it, so that they can never again do without it, unless it is replaced by some still more advanced innovation. Not only do people become dependent as individuals on a new item of technology, but, even more, the system as a whole becomes dependent on it."

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Kids Praised for Being Smart are More Likely to Cheat

Mon, 18/09/2017 - 1:34am
An anonymous reader quotes the University of California: An international team of researchers reports that when children are praised for being smart not only are they quicker to give up in the face of obstacles, they are also more likely to be dishonest and cheat. Kids as young as age 3 appear to behave differently when told "You are so smart" vs. "You did very well this time"... The research builds on well-known work by Stanford's Carol Dweck, author of "Mindset," who has shown that praising a child's innate ability instead of the child's effort or a specific behavior has the unintended consequence of reducing their motivation to learn and their ability to deal with setbacks... In another study, published recently in Developmental Science, the same co-authors show that the consequences are similar even when children are not directly praised for their smarts but are merely told that they have a reputation for being smart. Then again, another study found that students also performed better in school if you paid them to get good grades.

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Typing By Brain Arrives: No Surgery Necessary

Sun, 17/09/2017 - 11:34pm
mirandakatz writes: 2017 has been a coming-out year of sorts for the brain-machine interface. But the main barrier to adoption is the potentially invasive nature of a BMI: Not many people are going to want to get surgery to have a chip implanted in their brains. A New York company may have found a solution to that. It's created a BMI that works just by an armband -- and it works now, not in some far-off future. Steven Levy describes a recent demo by the CEO of CTRL-Labs: After [typing] a few lines of text, he pushes the keyboard away... He resumes typing. Only this time he is typing on...nothing. Just the flat tabletop. Yet the result is the same: The words he taps out appear on the monitor... The text on the screen is being generated not by his fingertips, but rather by the signals his brain is sending to his fingers. The armband is intercepting those signals, interpreting them correctly, and relaying the output to the computer, just as a keyboard would have... CTRL-Labs, which comes with both tech bona fides and an all-star neuroscience advisory board, bypasses the incredibly complicated tangle of connections inside the cranium and dispenses with the necessity of breaking the skin or the skull to insert a chip -- the Big Ask of BMI. Instead, the company is concentrating on the rich set of signals controlling movement that travel through the spinal column, which is the nervous system's low-hanging fruit. Reardon and his colleagues at CTRL-Labs are using these signals as a powerful API between all of our machines and the brain itself.

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There's a Logic To How Squirrels Bury Their Nuts

Sun, 17/09/2017 - 10:34pm
sandbagger shares an announcement from the University of California: Like trick-or-treaters sorting their Halloween candy haul, fox squirrels apparently organize their stashes of nuts by variety, quality and possibly even preference, according to new UC Berkeley research... Fox squirrels stockpile at least 3,000 to 10,000 nuts a year and, under certain conditions, separate each cache into quasi "subfolders," one for each type of nut, researchers said... Over a two-year period, the research team tracked the caching patterns of 45 male and female fox squirrels as the reddish gray, bushy-tailed rodents buried almonds, pecans, hazelnuts and walnuts in various wooded locations on the UC Berkeley campus... Using hand-held GPS navigators, researchers tracked the squirrels from their starting location to their caching location, then mapped the distribution of nut types and caching locations to detect patterns. They found that the squirrels who foraged at a single location frequently organized their caches by nut species, returning to, say, the almond area, if that was the type of nut they were gathering, and keeping each category of nut that they buried separate. Meanwhile, the squirrels foraging in multiple locations deliberately avoided caching in areas where they had already buried nuts, rather than organizing nuts by type.

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Linux Foundation President Used MacOS For Presentation at Open Source Summit

Sun, 17/09/2017 - 9:34pm
Slashdot reader mschaffer writes:It appears that Jim Zemlin, President of the Linux Foundation, was using MacOS while declaring "2017 is officially the year of the Linux desktop!" at the Open Source Summit 2017. This was observed by several YouTube channels: Switched to Linux and The Lunduke Show. Finally it was reported by It's FOSS. if, indeed, this is the year of desktop Linux, why oh why cannot people like Zemlin present a simple slide presentation -- let alone actually use a Linux distro for work. A security developer at Google has now "spotted Jim Zemlin using Apple's macOS twice in last four years," according to the article, which complains the Foundation's admirable efforts on cloud/container technology has them neglecting Linux on the desktop. Ironically, in March Zemlin told a cloud conference that organizations that "don't harvest the shared innovation" of open source "will fail."

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Essential Phone Now Supported By All Four Major Carriers (Including Verizon)

Sun, 17/09/2017 - 9:04pm
An anonymous reader quotes the Verge: Essential's debut smartphone has received approval to run on Verizon, meaning it's now supported by all four major US carriers. Sprint was the device's launch partner, so it of course had support, and both AT&T and T-Mobile gave tacit support ahead of the phone's launch. But Verizon, for some reason, said it couldn't guarantee that the Essential Phone would work and that the phone still had to clear a certification process. Evidently it's now done that, with Essential tweeting out this morning that the phone is now compatible with Verizon.

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Idaho Wants To Establish America's First 'Dark Sky Preserve'

Sun, 17/09/2017 - 8:34pm
schwit1 shares a story from the AP: Tourists heading to central Idaho will be in the dark if local officials get their way. The first International Dark Sky Reserve in the United States would fill a chunk of the state's sparsely populated region that contains night skies so pristine that interstellar dust clouds are visible in the Milky Way... Supporters say excess artificial light causes sleeping problems for people and disrupts nocturnal wildlife and that a dark sky can solve those problems, boost home values and draw tourists. Opposition to dark sky measures elsewhere in the U.S. have come from the outdoor advertising industry and those against additional government regulations. Researchers say 80 percent of North Americans live in areas where light pollution blots out the night sky. Central Idaho contains one of the few places in the contiguous United States large enough and dark enough to attain reserve status, Barentine said. Only 11 such reserves exist in the world... The proposed Idaho reserve is mainly land managed by the U.S. Forest Service and contains the wilderness of the Sawtooth National Recreation Area... Leaders in the cities of Ketchum and Sun Valley, the tiny mountain town of Stanley, other local and federal officials, and a conservation group have been working for several years to apply this fall to designate 1,400 square miles (3,600 square kilometers) as a reserve. A final decision by the association would come about 10 weeks after the application is submitted.

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