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Updated: 18 min 3 sec ago

Brazil Judge Orders Phone Carriers To Block WhatsApp Message App

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 5:20pm
A Brazilian judge has ordered wireless phone carriers to block access to Facebook's WhatsApp indefinitely, starting on Tuesday, the third such incident against the popular phone messaging app in eight months. Reuters report: The decision by Judge Daniela Barbosa Assuncao de Souza in the southeastern state of Rio de Janeiro applies to Brazil's five wireless carriers. The reason for the order was not known due to legal secrecy in an ongoing case, and will only be lifted once Facebook surrenders data, Souza's office said. Sao Paulo-based representatives at WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook Inc, as well as the Brazilian five carriers -- Telefonica Brasil SA, America Movil SAB's Claro, TIM Participacoes SA, Oi SA and Nextel Participacoes SA.

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Volkswagen Sued For Violating State Environmental Statutes With Dieselgate

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 4:40pm
The attorneys general of New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland are suing Volkswagen for violating state environmental regulations with its diesel emissions cheating scandal. The states say that the car company has violated their air quality laws, combined with some sort of anti-fraud measure for the defeat mechanisms to bypass emissions testing. The move comes after many states agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement for violating consumer protection and EPA and California state environmental regulations. The Verge reports: "Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche defrauded thousands of Massachusetts consumers, polluted our air, and damaged our environment and then, to make matters worse, plotted a massive cover-up to mislead environmental regulators," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in a statement. This was echoed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who released his own statement saying "the allegations against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche reveal a culture of deeply-rooted corporate arrogance, combined with a conscious disregard for the rule of law and the protection of public health and the environment."

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NVIDIA Launches GeForce GTX 1060 To Take On AMD's Radeon RX 480

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 4:00pm
Reader MojoKid writes: NVIDIA just launched their answer to AMD's Radeon RX 480 mainstream card today, dubbed the GeForce GTX 1060. The GP106 GPU at the heart of the GeForce GTX 1060 has roughly half of the resources of NVIDIA's current flagship GeForce GTX 1080. NVIDIA claims the GTX 1060 performs on par with a previous generation high-end GeForce GTX 980 and indeed this 120W mainstream offers an interesting mix of low-power and high-performance. The new GeForce GTX 1060 features a new Pascal derivative GPU that's somewhat smaller, called the GP106. The GP106 features 10 streaming multiprocessors (SM) with a total of 1280, single-precision CUDA cores and eight texture units. The GeForce GTX 1060 also features six 32-bit memory controllers, for 192-bits in total. GeForce GTX 1060 cards with either 6GB or 3GB of GDDR5 memory will be available and offered performance that just misses the mark set by the pricier AMD Radeon R9 Nano but often outran the 8GB Radeon RX 480. The GeForce GTX 1060 held onto its largest leads over the Radeon RX 480 in the DirectX 11 tests, though the Radeon had a clear edge in OpenCL and managed to pull ahead in Thief and in some DirectX 12 tests (like Hitman). The GeForce GTX 1060, however, consumes significantly less power than the Radeon RX 480 and is quieter too.You may also want to read PCPerspective's take on this.

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Google Is Spending Half a Billion Dollars To Curry Europe's Favor

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 3:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: Google has ratchet up its investment in European goodwill, aiming to spend about $450 million from 2015 to 2017 as EU regulators narrow their gaze on the search giant, according to a report by the New York Times. The company is pouring money into wide-ranging sponsorships, like an exhibition at a Belgian museum incorporating virtual reality, a fund to help European news publishers amp up their web savvy, a digital training course for Irish teachers, and YouTube-backed concerts, according to the report.

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Farmers Demand Right To Fix Their Own Dang Tractors

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 2:40pm
According to a report, farmers are demanding the right to fix their tractors. The report reminds us that owners of tractors aren't allowed to fix them, thanks to a set of laws designed to protect software intellectual property. The world's largest tractor maker, John Deere, in fact, says that people who purchase tractors don't really own them and instead they are getting an "implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle." Some farmers are voicing their opinion against these laws. From the article: What this has meant is that tractor owners can't repair their own tractors -- and if they do, they're in violation of the DMCA. So, if a machine stops working, its owner can't pop the hood, run some tests, and find out what's going on; he or she is legally required to take the tractor to a service center (one owned by the manufacturer, since that's the only entity allowed to analyze the tractor's issues). This can be expensive and time-consuming, and more to the point, unnecessary -- at least according to farmers in several states, who are lobbying to force tractor manufacturers make their diagnostic tools available to independent repair shops and owners. Not everyone is on the farmers' side here; some, according to the Associated Press, are concerned that the move would reduce revenue to tractor manufacturers, potentially landing them in trouble. But the tractor owners disagree, annoyed that their tractors are treated differently from their cars and trucks, which can be serviced by any independent shop.

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Google: Government Requests For User Data Hit All-Time High In Second Half Of 2015

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 2:00pm
Stephanie Condon, writing for ZDNet: Government requests for user data from Google hit an all-time high in the second half of 2015, the internet company revealed on Monday. Through July to December 2015, governments from around the globe made 40,677 requests, impacting as many as 81,311 user accounts. That's an 18 percent spike from the first half of 2015, when government requests for data impacted 68,908 users. By far and away, the most requests came from the United States, which made 12,523 data requests for this reporting period. The requests impacted 27,157 users or accounts. Google reports the number of user data requests it has received every six-month period going as far back as the second half of 2009. It started detailing the number of users and/or accounts impacted in the first half of 2011. "Usage of our services have increased every year, and so have the user data request numbers," the company noted. Since the second half of 2010, Google has reported the percentage of user data requests it at least partially complies with. For the second half of 2015, the company produced at least some data for 64 percent of requests. That figure has been about the same since 2013, but it's been trending slightly downward. Google complied with 79 percent of requests from the United States.

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Marissa Mayer Says Yahoo Continues To Make Solid Progress, Earnings Report Says Otherwise

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 1:00pm
tomhath quotes a report from Fool: Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer tried to emphasize the progress that the company has made. "We continue to make solid progress against our 2016 plan," Mayer said, and "in addition to our efforts to improve the operating business, our board has made great progress on strategic alternatives." The CEO argued that the results met or exceeded the company's own guidance. Yahoo! was able to post a revenue increase by changing the ways that it presents revenue related to its search agreement with Microsoft, and without that change, adjusted revenue of $1.055 billion was down 15% from the year-ago quarter. That was even worse than the 13% drop investors were expecting, and adjusted EBITDA fell by more than a third. That resulted in adjusted net earnings of $0.09 per share, missing the consensus forecast by a penny but also glossing over a $440 million net loss on a GAAP basis. The company took a $395 million goodwill impairment charge and an $87 million intangibles impairment charge related to its Tumblr unit, determining that the fair value of the division is less than the amount indicated on Yahoo!'s balance sheet. It was also revealed that Yahoo is writing down the value of its Tumblr acquisition by $482 million, citing lower projections for the social network's future performance, according to a report from CNNMoney. Last quarter, the company took a $230 million write-down on its Tumblr acquisition. Since Yahoo acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion in 2013, Yahoo has written down more than half of its value.

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Facebook's Android App Can Now Save Offline Videos

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 10:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NDTV: The latest versions of Facebook's Android app now allow users to save videos for offline viewing. The video is saved inside the app in the 'Saved' section, and is not accessible independently to users. Facebook for Android is showing a 'Save video' option in the dropdown menu of a Facebook video post. The videos can be saved and viewed offline for as many times as the user desires and can also be deleted as per his/her wish. The company might not be willing to provide the video file independently to its users in order to encourage sharing over its own social media networking site, however, it is anybody's guess what the actual reason behind this decision is. It seems in line with what companies like Google have been doing with YouTube in developing nations like India, where a save for offline viewing option is present to combat mobile data woes. As per an Android Police report, the option to save videos is currently showing up in versions 85 and 86 (beta) of the Facebook for Android app.

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Taiwan Building Lunar Lander For NASA Moon-Mining Mission

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 7:00am
MarkWhittington quotes a report from Blasting News: According to AFP, the Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology in Taiwan is building a $47 million, 3.7 metric ton lunar lander on behalf of NASA. The vehicle is designed to carry a rover called Resource Prospector, which would roll about the lunar surface searching out deposits of oxygen, hydrogen, and water. The Resource Prospector mission is still being formulated but is envisioned to be a joint project with several national space agencies and commercial companies. The lunar lander is the first vehicle of its type to be built in Taiwan. "The Resource Prospector would take samples from about a meter beneath the lunar surface and then heat them in an oven to ascertain what the materials are that comprise it," reports Blasting News. The mission is part of the second stage to NASA's Journey to Mars program called "Proving Ground." "Should the Resource Prospector prove to be successful, the moon could be used as a base for space journeys into Mars," says Han Kuo-change, the head of CSIST's international cooperation program.

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Kepler Confirms 100+ New Exoplanets

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 3:30am
schwit1 writes: Astronomers have confirmed another 100 of Kepler's more than 3,000 candidate exoplanets. Phys.org reports: "One of the most interesting set of planets discovered in this study is a system of four potentially rocky planets, between 20 and 50 percent larger than Earth, orbiting a star less than half the size and with less light output than the Sun. Their orbital periods range from five-and-a-half to 24 days, and two of them may experience radiation levels from their star comparable to those on Earth. Despite their tight orbits -- closer than Mercury's orbit around the sun -- the possibility that life could arise on a planet around such a star cannot be ruled out, according to Crossfield." Because the host star as well as many of these other confirmed exoplanets are red dwarf stars, the possibility of life is reduced because the star and its system is likely to have a less rich mix of elements compared to our yellow G-type Sun. In May, Kepler added a record 1,284 confirmed planets, nine of which orbit in their sun's habitable zone.

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Researchers Develop Atomic-Scale Hard Drive That Writes Information Atom By Atom

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 1:30am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Researchers in the Netherlands have created a microscopic storage system that encodes every bit with a single atom -- allowing them to fit a kilobyte in a space under 100 nanometers across. That translates to a storage density of about 500 terabits per square inch. For comparison, those 4-terabyte hard drives you can buy today are about 1 terabit per square inch. That's because, unlike this new system, they use hundreds or thousands of atoms to store a single bit. "Every bit consists of two positions on a surface of copper atoms, and one chlorine atom that we can slide back and forth between these two positions," explained Sander Otte, lead scientist at Delft University of Technology, in a news release. Because chlorine on copper forms into a perfectly square grid, it's easy (relatively, anyway) to position and read them. If the chlorine atom is up top, that's a 1; if it's at the bottom, that's a 0. Put 8 chlorine atoms in a row and they form a byte. The data the researchers chose to demonstrate this was a fragment of a Feynman lecture, "There's plenty of room at the bottom" (PDF) -- fittingly, about storing data at extremely small scales. (You can see a high-resolution image of the array here.) The chlorine-copper array is only stable in a clean vacuum and at 77 kelvin -- about the temperature of liquid nitrogen. Anything past that and heat will disrupt the organization of the atoms. The research was published today in the journal Nature Nanotechnology.

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Netflix Stock Price Tanks As Customers Quit Over Higher Prices

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 12:50am
An anonymous reader writes: Netflix released its earnings report (PDF) for the second quarter today, where it reported $1.97 billion in revenue and net income of $41 million. The company did however report only 1.54 million subscribers, which is below its projections of 2.5 million new subscribers. As a result, stock is down around 14 percent in after-hours trading. "Our global member forecast for Q2 was 2.5m and we came in at 1.7m. Gross additions were on target, but churn ticked up slightly and unexpectedly, coincident with the press coverage in early April of our plan to ungrandfather longer tenured members and remained elevated through the quarter," Netflix wrote. "We think some members perceived the news as an impending new price increase rather than the completion of two years of grandfathering." The company defended its price hikes, writing that "while ungrandfathering and associated media coverage may moderate near term membership growth, we believe that ungrandfathering will provide us with more revenue to invest in our content to satisfy members, thus driving longterm growth." In the past, Netflix gained 13 million new subscribers in 2014, and 17 million in 2015. Comcast will reportedly allow Netflix onto its X1 platform, which may entice more customers to the streaming service.

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BuzzFeed and Washington Post To Use Robots For RNC Coverage

Tue, 19/07/2016 - 12:10am
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Engadget: The Washington Post and Buzzfeed have sent robots to cover the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. The Washington Post is using a telepresence robot from Double Robotics that consists of an iPad mounted on a Segway-like base. It's objective: to roam around the convention, streaming live on Periscope. Those viewing the stream will be able to ask questions of delegates, politicians and other figures who stumble upon the robot. BuzzFeed is using a robot called 'BuzzBot.' It's a Facebook chat bot that collects and caters news from the convention to users' messaging feeds. All you have to do is add the channel to your Messenger app and it will deliver news updates from BuzzFeed reporters. Specifically, it will collect reports from delegates, protesters and others in Cleveland. You have the option to send pictures and other info to BuzzBot, but it may ask you questions about your experience. The questions it asks will be different depending on your location. For example, if you live in Cleveland it will want to know what kind of impact the RNC is having on your daily life. Meanwhile, with roughly 50,000 attendees and likely millions of viewers watching across the country and abroad, the RNC is preparing for cyberattacks that aim to disrupt the network.

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Ex Cardinal's Scouting Director Chris Correa Sentenced To 46 Months For Hacking Astros' Computer System

Mon, 18/07/2016 - 11:30pm
New submitter yzf750 quotes a report from ESPN: A federal judge sentenced the former scouting director of the St. Louis Cardinals [Christopher Correa] to nearly four years in prison Monday for hacking the Houston Astros' player personnel database and email system in an unusual case of high-tech cheating involving two Major League Baseball clubs. "The data breach was reported in June 2014 when Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow told reporters the team had been the victim of hackers who accessed servers and proceeded to publish online months of internal trade talks," reports ESPN. "Luhnow had previously worked for the Cardinals. The FBI said Correa was able to gain access using a password similar to that used by a Cardinals employee who 'had to turn over his Cardinals-owned laptop to Correa along with the laptop's password' when he was leaving for a job with the Astros in 2011. Prosecutors have said Correa in 2013 improperly downloaded a file of the Astros' scouting list of every eligible player for that year's draft. They say he also improperly viewed notes of trade discussions as well as a page that listed information such as potential bonus details, statistics and notes on recent performances and injuries by team prospects. Authorities say that after the Astros took security precautions involving [a database called Ground Control] following a Houston Chronicle story about the database, Correa was able to still get into it. Authorities say he hacked the email system and was able to view 118 pages of confidential information, including notes of trade discussions, player evaluations and a 2014 team draft board that had not yet been completed. Federal prosecutors say the hacking cost the Astros about $1.7 million, taking into account how Correa used the Astros' data to draft players. Christopher Correa had pleaded guilty in January to five counts of unauthorized access of a protected computer from 2013 to at least 2014, the same year he was promoted to director of baseball development in St. Louis. He was fired last summer and now faces 46 months behind bars and a court order to pay $279,038 in restitution. He had faced up to five years in prison on each count."

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Researcher Finds Way To Steal Cash From Google, Instagram, and Microsoft Through The Phone

Mon, 18/07/2016 - 10:50pm
Trailrunner7 quotes a report from On the Wire: A security researcher has discovered a method that would have enabled fraudsters to steal thousands of dollars from Facebook, Microsoft, and Google by linking premium-rate numbers to various accounts as part of the two-step verification process. Arne Swinnen discovered the issue several months ago after looking at the way that several of these companies's services set up their two-step verification procedures. Facebook uses two-step verification for some of its services, including Instagram, and Google and Microsoft also employ it for some of their user accounts. Swinnen realized that the companies made a mistake in not checking to see whether the numbers that users supply as contact points are legitimate. "They all offer services to supply users with a token via a computer-voiced phone call, but neglected to properly verify whether supplied phone numbers were legitimate, non-premium numbers. This allowed a dedicated attacker to steal thousands of EUR/USD/GBP," Swinnen said in a post explaining the bug. "For services such as Instagram and Gmail, users can associate a phone number with their accounts," reports On the Wire. "In the case of Instagram, users can find other people by their phone number, and when a user adds a number, Instagram will send a text to verify the number. If the user never enters the code included in the text, Instagram will eventually call the number. Swinnen noticed that Instagramâ(TM)s robocallers would call any number supplied, including premium-rate numbers. 'One attacker could thus steal 1 GBP per 30 minutes, or 48 GBP/day, 1.440 GBP/month or 17.280/year with one pair. However, a dedicated attacker could easily setup and manage 100 of these pairs, increasing these numbers by a factor 100: 4.800 GBP/day, 144.000 GBP/month or 1.728.000 GBP/year.'"

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Hacking Group 'OurMine' Claims Credit For Attack On Pokemon Go Servers

Mon, 18/07/2016 - 10:10pm
An anonymous reader writes: A group of hackers known as OurMine have attacked Pokemon Go's login servers, making it all but impossible for players to get online. The group says they hacked the game in an effort for the game to be more stable. They want to show the developers behind Pokemon Go that the app can and should be made more secure. Prior to the hack, the servers have been shaky as interest in the game has spiked. But over the weekend, users faced the most extreme connectivity issues yet. "No one will be able to play this game till Pokemon Go contact us on our website to teach them how to protect it!" the group wrote on its website. A different hacking group, which claimed to be part of OurMine, said that the latest attack had been launched after the huge outage caused by a group called Poodlecorp, on Saturday. "The group makes money from charging for vulnerability assessment, where hackers attempt to break into corporate networks to check how safe they are," reports The Independent. A representative said via Twitter that the group wasn't requesting money from those behind Pokemon Go, and that OurMine "just don't want other hackers [to] attack their servers." It should come as no surprise to see that the servers have been having trouble keeping up with demand as Pokemon Go has become the biggest mobile game in U.S. history after launching just about two weeks ago.

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Pixels Are Driving Out Reality

Mon, 18/07/2016 - 9:35pm
An article on Motherboard today investigates the reasons why people didn't go "oh-my-god, that was awesome" looking at the CGI-based scenes in the recent movies such as Independence Day: Resurgence, Batman v Superman and X-Men: Apocalypse. Though the article acknowledges that this could be the result of some poor-acting, spotty storyline, or bad editing, it also underscores the possibility that this could be the aftermath of a "deeper mechanism that is draining all substance from our cinematic imaginary worlds?" The author of the article, Riccardo Manzotti to make his case stronger adds that the original Alien movie was able to impress us because what we saw was strongly linked to actual life. From the article: The humongous spaceship Nostromo -- a miniature model -- provoked awe and respect. When the creature erupted from Kane's abdomen -- a plaster model encased in fake blood and animal entrails -- people were horrified. The shock was registered on the faces of the actors, who, per Ridley Scott's direction, weren't told ahead of time that the moment would include a giant splatter of blood. "That's why their looks of disgust and horror are so real," producer and co-writer David Giler said. Manzotti further argues that some of the modern movies haven't left us awe-inspired because there is just too much CGI content. Compared to 430 computerized shots in the original Independence Day movie, for instance, the new one has 1,750 digitized shots. "People have been looking at pixels for much too long," the author argues, adding: Our imaginary world has been diluted and diluted to the point that, so to speak, there is no longer even a stain of real blood, love, and pain. Nowadays, when spectators see blood, they see pixels. [...] VR and augmented reality and the steady pace of CGI have pushed the process of substitution of reality to a higher level. At least, movies were once made using real stunts and real objects. Now, the actual world is no longer needed. The actual world, which is the good money, is no longer required. The virtual world, the bad money, is taking over. Yet, it lacks substance. The author makes several more compelling arguments, that are worth mulling.

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RNC Is Preparing For Cyberattacks

Mon, 18/07/2016 - 8:55pm
An anonymous reader writes from a report via CNBC: The Republican National Convention will be a popular target for cyberattacks. An official in charge of securing the network has said the RNC already had to fend off a wave of cyberattacks before the convention opened. Many more attacks are expected throughout the convention ranging from "nation-states hunting for intelligence or protesters trying to disrupt the network at the convention," said the consulting chief information officer for the RNC, Max Everett. Donald Trump's campaign appears to only fuel attackers, security experts said. The convention opens Monday afternoon and will attract roughly 50,000 people in addition to a global audience watching from afar. "A successful attack could impact physical security on the ground, for example, by taking connected security scanners offline. It could also affect online activity, for example, by hijacking the livestream and derailing the GOP's message," reports CNBC. The Secret Service has designated the conventions "national special security events." Everett and his team of 70 IT specialists will be using Microsoft and ForeScout software to monitor the network in real time, working with ATT and Cisco on securing external access to the network and a firm called Dark Cubed to share real-time threat information among the firms trying to defend against cyberattacks.

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Microsoft Stream Is a New Video Service For Businesses

Mon, 18/07/2016 - 8:15pm
An anonymous reader shares a TechCrunch report: Microsoft today launched Stream, a new business video service that aims to give businesses that want to share video internally the same kind of tools and flexibility that YouTube offers to consumers -- but with the added benefits of the security tools enterprises expect from their document management services. The service is now available as a free preview. As James Phillips, Microsoft's corporate VP of its Business Intelligence Products Group, told me, all it takes to get started with Stream is an email address. The user experience in Stream does take its cues from consumer services like Vimeo and YouTube, and includes a number of social features, including likes and comments, as well as recommendations. "We've all been trained as consumers to understand what beautiful and fully featured software looks like," Phillips told me. "And we are now delivering on those experiences in business software." Some of the basic use cases for using video in a company include training and employee communications.

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Apple Begins Rolling Out iTunes Match With Audio Fingerprint to Apple Music Subscribers

Mon, 18/07/2016 - 7:30pm
In May, Vellum's James shared an ordeal that many people were able to relate to. Apple Music had deleted music files from his computer. It's an issue that many of us have faced over the years. At the time, Apple noted that it didn't actually know what was causing this. But it appears, it has finally figured out the issue and patched it. Jim Dalrymple, reporting for The Loop: One of the biggest complaints about Apple Music over the past year was that it wouldn't properly match songs subscribers had in their existing iTunes libraries. That problem is being fixed by Apple. Apple has been quietly rolling out iTunes Match audio fingerprint to all Apple Music subscribers. Previously Apple was using a less accurate metadata version of iTunes Match on Apple Music, which wouldn't always match the correct version of a particular song. We've all seen the stories of a live version of a song being replaced by a studio version, etc. Using iTunes Match with audio fingerprint, those problems should be a thing of the past. If you had songs that were matched incorrectly using the metadata version of iTunes Match, the new version will rematch to the correct song. However, it will not delete any downloaded copies of songs you have in your library. This is a very good thing -- we don't want songs auto-deleting from our libraries.

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