Technology News

America Reports Its First Cases of A Fungus Resistant To All Major Drugs

(15 minutes ago)
An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times:About 90 percent of C. auris strains are resistant to at least one drug, and 30 percent are resistant to two or more of the three major classes of antifungal drugs. However, on Tuesday, the C.D.C. confirmed that it has learned in the last month of the first known cases in the United States of so-called "pan-resistant" C. auris -- a strain resistant to all major antifungals, said Dr. Tom Chiller, head of the agency's fungal division, in an interview. Such cases have been seen in several countries, including India and South Africa, but the two new cases, from New York State, have not been reported previously. Dr. Chiller said that it appeared that, in each case, the germ evolved during treatment and became pan-resistant, confirming a fear that the infection will continue to develop more effective defenses. "It's happening and it's going to happen," Dr. Chiller said. "That's why we need to remain vigilant and rapidly identify and control these infections." It often has been hard to gather details about the path of C. auris because hospitals and nursing homes have been unwilling to publicly disclose outbreaks or discuss cases, creating a culture of secrecy around the infection. States have kept confidential the locations of hospitals where outbreaks have occurred, citing patient confidentiality and a risk of unnecessarily scaring the public. In an interview with CBS News, the reporter stressed that while this was a serious issue,[..]

New Device Treats Childhood ADHD With Electric Pulses To Their Foreheads While They Sleep

(One hour ago)
An anonymous reader quotes CNN:The first medical device to treat childhood attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, was OK'd Friday by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Designated for children ages 7 to 12 who are not currently on medication for the disorder, the device delivers a low-level electrical pulse to the parts of the brain responsible for ADHD symptoms.... The pocket-sized device is connected by wire to a small adhesive patch placed on the child's forehead above the eyebrows. Designed to be used at home while sleeping, it delivers a "tingling" electrical stimulation to branches of the cranial nerve that delivers sensations from the face to the brain. A clinical trial of 62 children showed that the Monarch external Trigeminal Nerve Stimulation System increases activity in the regions of the brain that regulate attention, emotion and behavior, all key components of ADHD. Compared to a placebo, children using the device had statistically significant improvement in their ADHD symptoms, the FDA said, although it could take up to four weeks to see improvement. Authors of the clinical trial called for additional research to examine if the response to treatment will last over time, and its potential impact on brain development with prolonged use.... The device was previously approved for the treatment of epilepsy and depression in Europe and Canada. Studies at UCLA found the stimulation decreased seizure activity by inhibiting overactive neurons in one[..]

'Incognito Mode' Isn't Really Private. Try Browser Compartmentalization

(2 hours ago)
tedlistens writes: One of the most common techniques people think can help hide their activity is the use of an "incognito" mode in a browser," writes Michael Grothaus at Fast Company. But "despite what most people assume, incognito modes are primarily built to block traces of your online activity being left on your computer -- not the web. Just because you are using incognito mode, that doesn't mean your ISP and sites like Google, Facebook, and Amazon can't track your activity." However, there's still a way to brew your own, safer "incognito mode." It's called browser compartmentalization. Grothaus writes: "The technique sees users using two or even three browsers on the same computer. However, instead of switching between browsers at random, users of browser compartmentalization dedicate one browser to one type of internet activity, and another browser to another type of internet activity. Specifically, the article recommends one browser for sites you need to log into, and another for random web surfing and any web searches. "By splitting up your web activity between two browsers, you'll obtain the utmost privacy and anonymity possible without sacrificing convenience or the ease of use of the websites you need to log in to." It recommends choosing a privacy-focused browser like Brave, Firefox, Apple's Safari, or Microsoft's Edge. "As for Chrome: It's made by Google, whose sole aim is to know everything you do online, so it's probably best to stay away from Chrome if you[..]

26 States Now Ban Or Restrict Community Broadband, Report Finds

(3 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: A new report has found that 26 states now either restrict or outright prohibit towns and cities from building their own broadband networks. Quite often the laws are directly written by the telecom sector, and in some instances ban towns and cities from building their own broadband networks -- even if the local ISP refuses to provide service. The full report by BroadbandNow, a consumer-focused company that tracks US broadband availability, indicates the total number of state restrictions on community broadband has jumped from 20 such restrictions since the group's last report in 2018. BroadbandNow's report looks at each state's restrictions individually, and found that while some states simply banned community broadband outright (a notable assault on voters' democratic rights), others impose clever but onerous restrictions on precisely how a local network can be funded, who they can partner with, or how quickly (and where) they're allowed to grow. In Tennessee, for example, state laws allow publicly-owned electric utilities to provide broadband, "but limits that service provision to within their electric service areas." Such restrictions have made it hard for EPB -- the highest rated ISP in America last year according to Consumer Reports -- to expand service into new areas.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Bacteria Use Viruses To Differentiate Themselves From Their Competitors, Study Finds

(6 hours ago)
schwit1 shares a report from UPI: Normally, bacteria and viruses are enemies, but new research suggests a viral infection can offer bacteria some benefits -- chiefly, the ability to distinguish friend from foe. Scientists discovered the phenomenon after observing a stark demarcation line between two strains of the bacteria Escherichia coli K-12, but no such divide between identical clones. The related rivals steered clear of one another, while the identical strains swam toward one another. To find out why, scientists surveyed 4,296 single-gene knockouts in the genome of Escherichia coli K-12. Researchers determined only one mutation caused the demarcation line to disappear. The mutation involved a gene that is used in viral replication. According to their analysis, the virus-related proteins produced by the gene allow for bacterial self-recognition. Scientists were also able erase the demarcation line by silencing the bacteriophage genomes that have weaved their way into the bacteria's genome. These leftover viral genes don't produce active phage particles, nor do they rupture host cells. When scientists exposed bacteria to a related virus, the old viral genes were activated and began producing phage particles for the new virus. Experiments showed the virus doesn't attack its host cells. Instead, the virus attacks other bacteria cells that don't carry the virus. The host helps the virus reproduce, and the virus takes out the bacteria's competitors. The new study has been[..]

China releases new rules on game approvals

(7 hours ago)
China's press and publication regulator has issued new rules on applications for publishing online games in China, signaling a possible acceleration in the handing out of formal approvals.

Robot News Presenter Causes a Stir On Russian TV

(9 hours ago)
Russia state news channel Rossiya 24 has introduced a robot presenter for some of its bulletins. The BBC reports that the robot, named Alex, "has already caused a stir, with some viewers complaining about his appearance and accusing him of peddling political propaganda." From the report: The robot was developed by Promobot in the city of Perm. His silicon head is modeled on the face of the company's co-founder Alexei Yuzhakov. At the moment, the robot anchor can only move his facial features and neck. However, the final robot will have fully mobile limbs as well. Production of the robot began in 2017 and should be fully complete later this year, according to Promobot. It said Alex had cost more than one million roubles ($15,600) to develop and that it had received orders for 12 more humanoids. Rossiya 24 said its newest presenter was of Russian origin with "software and almost all of its components produced inside the country." Alex has delivered a number of bulletins for the channel, presenting news items about agriculture, a nuclear technology forum and micro-finance. Most observers think on-air Alex is a temporary stunt to inject some fun and promote innovative Russian technology in TV news.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Cyber expert credited with stopping 'WannaCry' attack admits malware charges

(10 hours ago)
A British cyber security researcher hailed as a hero for neutralizing the global "WannaCry" ransomware attack in 2017 has pleaded guilty to U.S. charges of writing malware.

U.S. intelligence says Huawei funded by Chinese state security: report

(11 hours ago)
U.S. intelligence has accused Huawei Technologies of being funded by Chinese state security, The Times said on Saturday, adding to the list of allegations faced by the Chinese technology company in the West.

Hacker Dumps Thousands of Sensitive Mexican Embassy Documents Online

(13 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: A hacker stole thousands of documents from Mexico's embassy in Guatemala and posted them online. The hacker, who goes by the online handle @0x55Taylor, tweeted a link to the data earlier this week. The data is no longer available for download after the cloud host pulled the data offline, but the hacker shared the document dump with TechCrunch to verify its contents. The hacker told TechCrunch in a message: "A vulnerable server in Guatemala related to the Mexican embassy was compromised and I downloaded all the documents and databases." He said he contacted Mexican officials but he was ignored. More than 4,800 documents were stolen, most of which related to the inner workings of the Mexican embassy in the Guatemalan capital, including its consular activities, such as recognizing births and deaths, dealing with Mexican citizens who have been incarcerated or jailed and the issuing of travel documents. We found more than a thousand highly sensitive identity documents of primarily Mexican citizens and diplomats -- including scans of passports, visas, birth certificates and more -- but also some Guatemalan citizens. Several documents contained scans of the front and back of payment cards. The stolen data also included dozens of letters granting diplomatic rights, privileges and immunities to embassy staff.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

West Virginia Will Allow 'Blockchain Voting' In the 2020 Election

(14 hours ago)
Military voters stationed overseas will be able to cast their votes for the 2020 presidential election via a mobile app that uses a private blockchain. MIT Technology Review reports: Donald Kersey, West Virginia's elections director, tells the cryto news website LongHash that he believes the app, created by a startup called Voatz, can enhance participation by overseas voters. Turnout among this group is very low, in part because the process of receiving a ballot and securely returning it on time is often not straightforward. This is the rationale behind the decision by a number of states to allow overseas military voters to return their ballots via e-mail. West Virginia apparently is of the mind that Voatz's private blockchain will make this kind of online voting more secure. The state first piloted the program during the 2018 midterms. Though Kersey admits there's no telling for certain whether the app can be compromised, West Virginia is undeterred, especially given the "really good response rate" officials saw during the midterms last year. "We are not saying mobile voting is the best solution to the problem, we are not saying that blockchain technology is the best solution to storage of security data," Kersey tells LongHash. "What we are saying though is that it's better than what we have."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Should Vendors Start Adding Physical On/Off Switches To Devices That Can Spy On Us?

(15 hours ago)
Larry Sanger, American internet project developer and co-founder of Wikipedia, argues in a blog post that vendors must start adding physical on/off switches to webcams, smartphone cameras/mics, and other devices that spy on us. He writes: Have you ever noticed that your webcam doesn't have an "off" switch? I looked on Amazon, and I couldn't find any webcams for sale that had a simple on/off switch. When I thought I found one, but it turned out just to have a light that turns on when the camera is in use, and off when not -- not a physical switch you can press or slide. The "clever" solution is supposed to be webcam covers (something Mark Zuckerberg had a hand in popularizing); you can even get a webcam (or a laptop) with such a cover built in. How convenient! I've used tape, which works fine. But a cover doesn't cover up the microphone, which could be turned on without your knowledge.[...]It's almost as if the vendors of common, must-have devices want to make it possible to spy on us. An enterprising journalist should ask why they don't make such switches. They certainly have deliberately made it hard for us to stop being spied upon -- even though we're their customers. Think about that. We're their bread and butter, and we're increasingly and rightly concerned about our security. Yet they keep selling us these insecure devices. That's just weird, isn't it? What the hell is going on? [...] If your webcam, or your phone, or any other device with an Internet-connected camera[..]

Unexpected Protection Added To Microsoft Edge Subverts IE Security

(15 hours ago)
Dan Goodin writes via Ars Technica: A researcher has uncovered strange and unexpected behavior in Windows 10 that allows remote attackers to steal data stored on hard drives when a user opens a malicious file downloaded with the Edge browser. The threat partially surfaced last week when a different researcher, John Page, reported what he called a flaw in Internet Explorer. Page claimed that when using the file manager to open a maliciously crafted MHT file, the browser uploaded one or more files to a remote server. According to Page, the vulnerability affected the most recent version of IE, version 11, running on Windows 7, Windows 10, and Windows Server 2012 R2 with all security updates installed. (It's no longer clear whether any OS other than Windows 10 is affected, at least for some users. More about that in a moment.) [I]n Page's post was a video demonstration of the proof-of-concept exploit Page created. It shows a booby-trapped MHT file triggering an upload of the host computer's system.ini file to a remote server. Page's video shows the file being downloaded with Edge. "This can allow remote attackers to potentially exfiltrate Local files and conduct remote reconnaissance on locally installed Program version information," Page wrote. "Example, a request for 'c:\Python27\NEWS.txt' can return version information for that program."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

NYC Subway Denies Using 'Real-Time Face Recognition Screens' in Times Square

(16 hours ago)
The New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority has denied suggestions that it's putting facial recognition cameras in the subway, saying that a trick designed to scare fare-dodgers was misinterpreted. From a report: "There is no capability to recognize or identify individuals and absolutely no plan" to do so with NYC subway cameras, says MTA spokesperson Maxwell Young. Young was responding to a photo taken in the Times Square subway station by New York Times analyst Alice Fung, which shows a prominently placed monitor with the words "RECORDING IN PROGRESS" and "Please Pay Your Fare" superimposed on a video feed. "Hey @MTA, who are you sharing the recordings with?" Fung asked. The monitor featured the name Wisenet, a security company that prominently advertises facial recognition capabilities, and the video feed traced squares around subjects' faces. [...] Young says that the recordings aren't being monitored to identify individuals in the footage, though. "There is absolutely no facial recognition component to these cameras, no facial recognition software, or anything else that could be used to automatically identify people in any way, and we have no plans to add facial recognition software to these cameras in the future," he tells The Verge. "These cameras are purely for the purpose of deterring fare evasion -- if you see yourself on a monitor, you're less likely to evade the fare."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Netflix Is Experimenting With a 'Random Episode' Feature For TV Shows

(17 hours ago)
Netflix has begun testing a shuffle button with some users of its Android app. "Spotted by one our tipsters, the Android app (specifically v7.6.0 build 19 34157) offered to randomly select something to watch," reports Android Police. "And in the playback controls, there's a shuffle icon with a 'Random Episode' label." From the report: It's unclear at this point whether this is just an experiment or if we'll see this roll out to a wider batch of people soon. For now, if you don't have this, you're stuck with picking something on your own.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

AI is Helping Old Video Games Look Like New

(17 hours ago)
Classic video games are getting a makeover. But it's not big-name game developers making the improvements: it's independent modders. From a report: The technique being used is known as "AI upscaling." In essence, you feed an algorithm a low-resolution image, and, based on training data it's seen, it spits out a version that looks the same but has more pixels in it. Upscaling, as a general technique, has been around for a long time, but the use of AI has drastically improved the speed and quality of results. "It was like witchcraft," says Daniel Trolie, a teacher and student from Norway who used AI to update the visuals of 2002 RPG classic The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. "[It] looked like I just downloaded a hi-res texture pack from [game developers] Bethesda themselves." Trolie is a moderator at the r/GameUpscale subreddit where, along with specialist forums and chat apps like Discord, fans share tips and tricks on how to best use these AI tools. Browsing these forums, it's apparent that the modding process is a lot like restoring old furniture or works of art. It's a job for skilled craftspeople, requiring patience and knowledge. Not every game is a good fit for upscaling, and not every upscaling algorithm produces similar results. Modders have to pick the right tool for the job before putting in hundreds of hours of work to polish the final results. It's a labor of love, not a quick fix.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

FTC May Hold Zuckerberg Personally Responsible For Facebook Privacy Failures

(18 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Federal Trade Commission officials are discussing whether to hold Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg personally accountable for Facebook's privacy failures, according to reports by The Washington Post and NBC News. Facebook has been trying to protect Zuckerberg from that possibility in negotiations with the FTC, the Post wrote. Federal regulators investigating Facebook are "exploring his past statements on privacy and weighing whether to seek new, heightened oversight of his leadership," the Post reported, citing anonymous sources who are familiar with the FTC discussions. "The discussions about how to hold Zuckerberg accountable for Facebook's data lapses have come in the context of wide-ranging talks between the Federal Trade Commission and Facebook that could settle the government's more than year-old probe," the Post wrote. According to NBC, FTC officials are "discussing whether and how to hold Facebook Chief Executive Mark Zuckerberg personally accountable for the company's history of mismanaging users' private data." However, NBC said its sources "wouldn't elaborate on what measures are specifically under consideration." According to the Post, one idea raised during the probe "could require [Zuckerberg] or other executives to certify the company's privacy practices periodically to the board of directors." But it's not clear how likely the FTC is to target Zuckerberg in a final settlement, and "Facebook has fought[..]

Hacking 'hero' Marcus Hutchins pleads guilty to US malware charges

(18 hours ago)
Marcus Hutchins said he regrets his actions and accepts "full responsibility for my mistakes".

French Government Releases In-house IM App To Replace WhatsApp and Telegram Use

(19 hours ago)
A year ago, the French government unveiled its plan to build its own encrypted messenger service to ease fears that foreign entities could spy on private conversations between top officials. That app, named Tchap, is now official for Android handsets and the iPhone. From a report: A web dashboard is also in the works. Only official French government employees can sign-up for an account; however, the French government also open-sourced Tchap's source code on GitHub so other organizations can roll out their own versions of Tchap for internal use as well. Work on the app started in July 2018, and the app itself is based on Riot, a well-known open-source, self-hostable, and secure instant messaging client-server package. The app was officially developed by DINSIC (Interministerial Directorate of Digital and Information System and Communication of the State), under the supervision of ANSSI, France's National Cybersecurity Agency.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ransomware Attack Knocks The Weather Channel Off the Air

(19 hours ago)
A computer attack knocked the Weather Channel off the air for more than an hour Thursday morning [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source], and federal authorities are investigating the incident, WSJ is reporting. From the report: After its broadcast was disrupted, the weather news service sent a tweet saying it had been the victim of "a malicious software attack," adding that federal law-enforcement officials were investigating the matter. A spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation said the incident was a ransomware attack, and the agency was conducting an investigation. Ransomware is an increasingly common form of digital extortion. Criminals install it on computer networks via trickery or hacking, and the software then spreads from computer to computer, locking up systems until a digital ransom is paid.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Instagram Hides Like Counts In Leaked Design Prototype

(20 hours ago)
Instagram's Android code is hiding a design change that hides the number of likes your posts get. "During this test, only the person who shares a post will see the total number of likes it gets," the company says. TechCrunch reports on the seemingly small design change test and the massive potential impact it'll have on users' well-being: Hiding Like counts could reduce herd mentality, where people just Like what's already got tons of Likes. It could reduce the sense of competition on Instagram, since users won't compare their own counts with those of more popular friends or superstar creators. And it could encourage creators to post what feels most authentic rather than trying to rack up Likes for everyone to see. You can see [in a leaked screenshot] on the left that the Instagram feed post lacks a Like count, but still shows a few faces and a name of other people who've Liked it. Users are alerted that only they will see their post's Like counts, and anyone else won't. Many users delete posts that don't immediately get "enough" Likes or post to their fake "Finstagram" accounts if they don't think they'll be proud of the hearts they collect. Hiding Like counts might get users posting more because they'll be less self-conscious. It appears there's no plan to hide follower counts on user profiles, which are the true measure of popularity, but also serve a purpose of distinguishing great content creators and assessing their worth to marketers. Hiding Likes could just put more[..]

Utah Bans Police From Searching Digital Data Without a Warrant

(21 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Forbes: In a major win for digital privacy, Utah became the first state in the nation to ban warrantless searches of electronic data. Under the Electronic Information or Data Privacy Act (HB 57), state law enforcement can only access someone's transmitted or stored digital data (including writing, images, and audio) if a court issues a search warrant based on probable cause. Simply put, the act ensures that search engines, email providers, social media, cloud storage, and any other third-party "electronic communications service" or "remote computing service" are fully protected under the Fourth Amendment (and its equivalent in the Utah Constitution). HB 57 also contains provisions that promote government transparency and accountability. In most cases, once agencies execute a warrant, they must then notify owners within 14 days that their data has been searched. Even more critically, HB 57 will prevent the government from using illegally obtained digital data as evidence in court. In a concession to law enforcement, the act will let police obtain location-tracking information or subscriber data without a warrant if there's an "imminent risk" of death, serious physical injury, sexual abuse, livestreamed sexual exploitation, kidnapping, or human trafficking. Backed by the ACLU of Utah and the Libertas Institute, the act went through five different substitute versions before it was finally approved -- without a single vote against it --[..]

Google Will Begin To Block Sign-ins From Embedded Browser Frameworks in June

(21 hours ago)
To fight phishing, Google last year announced it would require users to enable JavaScript during Google Account sign-in so that it could run attack-detecting risk assessments, and this week, the company said it'll begin to block all sign-ins from embedded browser frameworks like Chromium Embedded Framework starting in June. From a report: For the uninitiated, embedded browser frameworks enable developers to add basic web browsing functionality to their apps, and to use web languages like HTML, CSS, and JavaScript to create those apps' interface (or portions of it). They're typically cross-platform -- Chromium Embedded Framework runs on Linux, Windows, and macOS -- and they support a range of language bindings. With the change, Google is specifically targeting man in the middle (MITM) attacks, which it says are particularly difficult to spot from automation platforms like embedded browser frameworks.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Notre Dame Official Says 'Computer Glitch' Could Be Fire Culprit

(22 hours ago)
A "computer glitch" may have been behind the fast-spreading fire that ravaged Notre Dame, Associated Press reported Friday, citing the cathedral's rector. From the report: Speaking during a meeting of local business owners, rector Patrick Chauvet did not elaborate on the exact nature of the glitch, adding that "we may find out what happened in two or three months." On Thursday, Paris police investigators said they think an electrical short-circuit most likely caused the fire. French newspaper Le Parisien has reported that a fire alarm went off at Notre Dame shortly after 6 p.m. Monday but a computer bug showed the fire's location in the wrong place. The paper reported the flames may have started at the bottom of the cathedral's giant spire and may have been caused by an electrical problem in an elevator. Chauvet said there were fire alarms throughout the building, which he described as "well protected."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Debuts Bosque, a New Programming Language With No Loops, Inspired by TypeScript

(23 hours ago)
Microsoft has introduced a new open source programming language called Bosque that aspires to be simple and easy to understand by embracing algebraic operations and shunning techniques that create complexity. From a report: Bosque was inspired by the syntax and types of TypeScript and the semantics of ML and Node/JavaScript. It's the brainchild of Microsoft computer scientist Mark Marron, who describes the language as an effort to move beyond the structured programming model that became popular in the 1970s. The structured programming paradigm, in which flow control is managed with loops, conditionals, and subroutines, became popular after a 1968 paper titled "Go To Statement Considered Harmful" by computer scientist Edsger Dijkstra. Marron believes we can do better by getting rid of sources of complexity like loops, mutable state, and reference equality. The result is Bosque, which represents a programming paradigm that Marron, in a paper he wrote, calls "regularized programming."Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Millions of Rehab Records Exposed on Unsecured Database

(23 hours ago)
Records for potentially tens of thousands of patients seeking treatment at several addiction rehabilitation centers were exposed in an unsecured online database, an independent researcher revealed Friday. From a report: The 4.91 million documents included patients' names, as well as details of the treatments they received, according to Justin Paine, the researcher. Each patient had multiple records in the database, and Paine estimates that the records may cover about 145,000 patients. Paine notified the main treatment center, as well as the website hosting company, when he discovered the database. The data has since been made unavailable to the public. Paine found the data by typing keywords into the Shodan search engine that indexes servers and other devices that connect to the internet. "Given the stigma that surrounds addiction this is almost certainly not information the patients want easily accessible," Paine said in a blog post that he shared with CNET ahead of publication. Paine hunts for unsecured databases in his free time. His day job is head of trust and safety at web security company Cloudflare. The find is the latest example of a widespread problem: Any organization can easily store customer data on cloud-based services now, but few have the expertise to set them up securely. As a result, countless unsecured databases sit online and can be found by anyone with a few search skills. Many of those databases are full of sensitive personal data.Read more of this[..]

Windows 8 Will No Longer Get App Updates After This Summer

(2 days ago)
An anonymous reader shares a report: Last year, Microsoft announced when it would be killing app updates and distribution in the Windows Store for Windows Phone 8.x and Windows 8.x. At the time, the blog post stated that Windows Phone 8.x devices would stop receiving app updates after July 1, 2019, while Windows 8.x devices would get app updates through July 1, 2023. However, it seems as though plans have changed a little bit, as the blog post has quietly been updated earlier this month. Microsoft has changed the wording in the post to state that Windows 8 devices will stop getting updates for their apps at the same time as Windows Phone 8.x, that is, July 1 of this year. Windows 8.1 devices will continue to receive updates through the previously announced date in 2023.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

HDD Shipments Fell Nearly 13% in the First Quarter of 2019, 18% Since Last Year

(2 days ago)
Suren Enfiajyan writes: HDD shipments are continuing to decline. This is about all major HDD vendors with WDC with the most decline yearly -- 26.1% against 11.3% (Toshiba) and 14.4% (Seagate). Desktop HDD shipments are said to have fallen to just 24.5 million units, a drop of nearly 4 million units from the previous quarter. Laptop HDD shipments dropped more than 6 million units to hit the 37 million mark. Enterprise HDDs are said to have rebounded by nearly 1 million units, however, to around 11.5 million hard drives purchased in the quarter. Business customers essentially picked up the slack left by consumers. These shipments were likely affected by many factors. But there's also the simple fact that most people want SSDs instead of HDDs for most of their devices. Nobody wants to wait for their system to boot, their files to load, or their apps to finish routine tasks.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The Quest To Save the Banana From Extinction

(2 days ago)
Panama disease, an infection that ravages banana plants, has been sweeping across Asia, Australia, the Middle East and Africa. The impact has been devastating. From a report: In the Philippines alone, losses have totalled US$400m. And the disease threatens not only the livelihoods of everyone in this US$44 billion industry but also the 400m people in developing countries who depend on bananas for a substantial proportion of their calorie intake. However, there may be hope. In an attempt to save the banana and the industry that produces it, scientists are in a race to create a new plant resistant to Panama disease. But perhaps this crisis is a warning that we are growing our food in an unsustainable way and we will need to look to more radical changes for a permanent solution.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

After a $14-Billion Upgrade, New Orleans' Levees Are Sinking

(2 days ago)
An anonymous reader shares a report: The $14 billion network of levees and floodwalls that was built to protect greater New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina was a seemingly invincible bulwark against flooding. But now, 11 months after the Army Corps of Engineers completed one of the largest public works projects in world history, the agency says the system will stop providing adequate protection in as little as four years because of rising sea levels and shrinking levees. The growing vulnerability of the New Orleans area is forcing the Army Corps to begin assessing repair work, including raising hundreds of miles of levees and floodwalls that form a meandering earth and concrete fortress around the city and its adjacent suburbs. "These systems that maybe were protecting us before are no longer going to be able to protect us without adjustments," said Emily Vuxton, policy director of the Coalition to Restore Coastal Louisiana, an environmental group. She said repair costs could be "hundreds of millions" of dollars, with 75% paid by federal taxpayers. "I think this work is necessary. We have to protect the population of New Orleans," Vuxton said. The protection system was built over a decade and finished last May when the Army Corps completed a final component that involves pumps.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Doctors Used HIV To Develop Cure For 'Bubble Boy' Disease

(2 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: U.S. scientists say they used HIV to make a gene therapy that cured eight infants of severe combined immunodeficiency, or "bubble boy" disease. The babies, born with little to no immune protection, now have fully functional immune systems. Untreated babies with this disorder have to live in completely sterile conditions and tend to die as infants. The gene therapy involved collecting the babies' bone marrow and correcting the genetic defect in their DNA soon after their birth. The "correct" gene -- used to fix the defect -- was inserted into an altered version of one of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. Researchers said most of the babies were discharged from the hospital within one month. Dr Ewilina Mamcarz of St Jude, an author of the study, said in a statement: "These patients are toddlers now, who are responding to vaccinations and have immune systems to make all immune cells they need for protection from infections as they explore the world and live normal lives. This is a first for patients with SCID-X1 (the most common type of SCID)." The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Mir card payment system looks beyond Russia

(2 days ago)
After Western sanctions gutted Russia's financial system five years ago, a new bank card began appearing in the wallets of many Russians.

BlackBerry Messenger To Shut Down In May

(2 days ago)
The consumer version of Blackberry Messenger is shutting down May 31. CNET reports: Emtek, the company BlackBerry partnered with in 2016 to run the consumer version of the messaging app, said in a blog post Thursday that the technology industry is "very fluid" and despite "substantial efforts," users have moved on to other platforms. "We poured our hearts into making this a reality, and we are proud of what we have built to date," Emtek said. Mark Wilson, BlackBerry's chief marketing officer, said that though the company is disappointed, BBM users won't be without a secure messaging platform. They can now go to the Google Play store to download BBMe, the enterprise version of the app that BlackBerry continues to run. The app will be free the first year. Then a 6-month subscription will cost $2.49. BlackBerry is working on an iOS app.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Foxconn says it remains committed to Wisconsin investment project

(2 days ago)
Taiwan's Foxconn said on Friday it remains committed to its contract to build a display plant and tech research facilities in Wisconsin, days after the U.S. state's governor said he wanted to renegotiate the deal.

TESS Discovers Its First Earth-Sized Planet

(2 days ago)
Iwastheone shares a report from MIT News: NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS, has discovered its first Earth-sized exoplanet. The planet, named HD 21749c, is the smallest world outside our solar system that TESS has identified yet. In a paper published today in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters, an MIT-led team of astronomers reports that the new planet orbits the star HD 21749 -- a very nearby star, just 52 light years from Earth. The star also hosts a second planet -- HD 21749b -- a warm "sub-Neptune" with a longer, 36-day orbit, which the team reported previously and now details further in the current paper. The new Earth-sized planet is likely a rocky though uninhabitable world, as it circles its star in just 7.8 days -- a relatively tight orbit that would generate surface temperatures on the planet of up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The discovery of this Earth-sized world is nevertheless exciting, as it demonstrates TESS' ability to pick out small planets around nearby stars. In the near future, the TESS team expects the probe should reveal even colder planets, with conditions more suitable for hosting life. Slashdot reader RockDoctor shares a link to the paper at Arxiv, adding: The 'b' object in the system (the largest perturbation on the star's light) is estimated at 2.61*Radius_earth, and 22.7*Mass_earth for a surface gravity of 3.332*littleG_Earth. If it has a "surface" in any recognizable sense rather than gradual transitions between gas[..]

Qualcomm's joint venture with Chinese province to shut down: The Information

(2 days ago)
A joint venture between U.S. smartphone chipmaker Qualcomm Inc and China's Guizhou province will shut down by the end of the month, The Information reported on Friday, citing employees at the venture.

Source Code of Iranian Cyber-Espionage Tools Leaked on Telegram

(2 days ago)
In an incident reminiscent of the Shadow Brokers leak that exposed the NSA's hacking tools, someone has now published similar hacking tools belonging to one of Iran's elite cyber-espionage units, known as APT34, Oilrig, or HelixKitten. From a report: The hacking tools are nowhere near as sophisticated as the NSA tools leaked in 2017, but they are dangerous nevertheless. The tools have been leaked since mid-March on a Telegram channel by an individual using the Lab Dookhtegan pseudonym. Besides hacking tools, Dookhtegan also published what appears to be data from some of APT34's hacked victims, mostly comprising of username and password combos that appear to have been collected through phishing pages. ZDNet was previously aware of some of these tools and victim data after this reporter received a tip in mid-March. In a Twitter DM, a Twitter user shared some of the same files that were discovered today on Telegram, and we believe that this Twitter user is the Telegram Lab Dookhtegan persona.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Global Attention Span Is Narrowing and Trends Don't Last As Long, Study Reveals

(2 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: It's just as you suspected; the information age has changed the general attention span. A recently published study from researchers at the Technical University of Denmark suggests the collective global attention span is narrowing due to the amount of information that is presented to the public. Released on Monday in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the study shows people now have more things to focus on -- but often focus on things for short periods of time. The researchers studied several modes of media attention, gathered from several different sources, including (but not limited to): the past 40 years in movie ticket sales; Google books for 100 years; and more modernly, 2013 to 2016 Twitter data; 2010 to 2018 Google Trends; 2010 to 2015 Reddit trends; and 2012 to 2017 Wikipedia attention time. The researchers then created a mathematical model to predict three factors: the "hotness" of the topic, its progression throughout time in the public sphere and the desire for a new topic, said Dr Philipp Hovel, an applied mathematics professor of University College Cork in Ireland. The empirical data found periods where topics would sharply capture widespread attention and promptly lose it just as quickly, except in the cases of publications like Wikipedia and scientific journals. For example, a 2013 Twitter global trend would last for an average of 17.5 hours, contrasted with a 2016 Twitter trend, which would last[..]

Nintendo shares jump 17 percent after Tencent wins key China Switch sales approval

(2 days ago)
Nintendo Co Ltd shares jumped 17 percent in morning Tokyo trade on Friday, a day after China's Tencent Holdings Ltd won a key approval to begin selling Nintendo's Switch console in the world's largest video games market.

Uber's self-driving unit valued at $7.25 billion in new investment

(2 days ago)
Uber's autonomous vehicle unit has raised $1 billion from a consortium of investors including SoftBank Group Corp, giving the company a much-needed funding boost for its pricey self-driving ambitions on the eve of its public stock offering.

Uber's self-driving unit valued at $7.25 billion in new investment

(2 days ago)
Uber's autonomous vehicle unit has raised $1 billion from a consortium of investors including SoftBank Group Corp, giving the company a much-needed funding boost for its pricey self-driving ambitions on the eve of its public stock offering.

Nintendo shares jump 13 percent after Tencent gains Switch sales approval in China

(2 days ago)
Nintendo shares jumped 13 percent in early Tokyo trade on Friday, a day after China's Tencent won a key approval to begin selling Nintendo's Switch console in China, the world's largest games market.

Uber lands $1 billion from SoftBank, Toyota for self-driving unit

(2 days ago)
Uber's autonomous vehicle unit has raised $1 billion from a consortium of investors including SoftBank Group Corp , giving the company a much-needed funding boost for its pricey self-driving ambitions on the eve of its public stock offering.

Uber lands $1 billion from SoftBank, Toyota for self-driving unit

(2 days ago)
Uber's autonomous vehicle unit has raised $1 billion from a consortium of investors including SoftBank Group Corp , giving the company a much-needed funding boost for its pricey self-driving ambitions on the eve of its public stock offering.

Amazon Will No Longer Sell Chinese Goods In China

(2 days ago)
Amazon announced today that it will close its marketplace in China in the coming months, meaning Amazon customers in the country will no longer be able to buy goods from Chinese merchants. "Amazon did not explain why it was withdrawing its marketplace service, saying only it will instead focus on selling goods shipped from other countries into China," reports CNN. From the report: "We are notifying sellers we will no longer operate a marketplace on, and we will no longer be providing seller services on effective July 18," the company said in a statement. Amazon's platform competes for Chinese sellers with Tmall, owned by the country's e-commerce leader Alibaba. Users logging onto Amazon's Chinese site after July 18 will see products sold from its global store, the company said. "Over the past few years, we have been evolving our China online retail business to increasingly emphasize cross-border sales, and in return we've seen very strong response from Chinese customers," Amazon said. It will retain its other operations in China, such as cloud computing services. It will also continue to sell its Kindle e-readers and content in the country. "Amazon's commitment to China remains strong. We have built a solid foundation here in a number of successful businesses and we will continue to invest and grow in China," the company added.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Why Juul and Republican Lawmakers Want To Raise the Minimum Vaping Age To 21

(2 days ago)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a new bill today that would block all tobacco and vape purchases for Americans under 21 years old, citing widespread public health risks. Surprisingly, vaping companies don't appear to be too concerned, as Juul's CEO Kevin Burns issued this statement supporting the measure: "JUUL Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world and to accomplish that goal, we must restrict youth usage of vapor products. Tobacco 21 laws fight one of the largest contributors to this problem -- sharing by legal-age peers -- and they have been shown to dramatically reduce youth usage rates." The Verge says it all has to do with Big Vape's image: Over the past year, Juul has come under the FDA's fire for its massive popularity among young people. So supporting a higher minimum age could help its image and take some of the regulatory pressure off. From an industry perspective, the move is fairly low risk since the product is already embedded in the population, and people under age 21 may already be addicted, says Kathleen Hoke, a law professor at the University of Maryland. "We can change this age to 21 but we're going to have to work extraordinarily hard at the state and local level to actually get cigarettes or vape products or chew out of the hands of the 18 to 20 year olds," she says. [T]he bill's success will depend on how it's crafted. Rob Crane, professor of family medicine at The[..]

The Source Code For All Infocom Text Adventure Classics Has Been Released

(2 days ago)
You can now download the source code of every Infocom text adventure game, thanks to archivist Jason Scott who uploaded the code to GitHub. "There are numerous repositories under the name historicalsource, each for a different game," reports Ars Technica. "Titles include, but are not limited to, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall, Shogun, and several Zork games -- plus some more unusual inclusions like an incomplete version of Hitchhiker's sequel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Infocom samplers, and an unreleased adaptation of James Cameron's The Abyss." From the report: The code was uploaded by Jason Scott, an archivist who is the proprietor of His website describes itself as "a glimpse into the history of writers and artists bound by the 128 characters that the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) allowed them" -- in particular those of the 1980s. He announced the GitHub uploads on Twitter earlier this week. The games were written in the LISP-esque "Zork Implementation Language," or ZIL, which you could be forgiven for not being intimately familiar with already. Fortunately, Scott also tweeted a link to a helpful manual for the language on Gamasutra, which first reported the news, notes that Activision still owns the rights to Infocom games and could request a takedown if it wanted.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

First Japan-Built Airliner In 50 Years Takes On Boeing and Airbus

(2 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: More cities in Asia and Europe are seeking to link up with each other and the global air travel network. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month in Moses Lake, Washington, to satisfy that demand. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.'s new airliner is testing the skies just as rivals are moving to sell off their manufacturing operations for jets with up to 160 seats. Boeing is set to buy 80 percent of the Embraer SA's commercial operations in a joint venture, while Bombardier last year sold control of its C Series airliner project to Airbus SE and is exploring "strategic options" for its regional-jet operations. At stake, particularly in the market for jets with fewer seats, is $135 billion in sales in the two decades through 2037, according to industry group Japan Aircraft Development Corp. With few seats and smaller fuselages, regional jets are a different class of aircraft from larger narrow-body planes such as Boeing's 737 or Airbus's A320. The MRJ has a range of about 2,000 miles, while a smaller variant can haul up to 76 people for about the same distance. A longtime supplier of aircraft components to Boeing, Mitsubishi Heavy is developing the MRJ to emerge from its customer's shadow. After spending at least $2 billion over more than a decade, the manufacturer is looking to get its jet certified and start deliveries to launch partner ANA[..]

Netflix Will Invest Up To $100 Million In a NYC Production Hub

(2 days ago)
Netflix is establishing an NYC production hub that will include six sound stages in Brooklyn and an expanded office in Manhattan's Flatiron District. "It should create 'hundreds of jobs' (including 127 executive, marketing and production development roles) over the next five years, and should foster up to $100 million in investments, according to Governor Cuomo," reports Engadget. From the report: The sound stages will also have the capacity for "thousands" of jobs, Cuomo said, although that's likely to vary widely based on what's in production at any given time. Not surprisingly, there are financial incentives attached to the move. The state is offering up to $4 million in tax credits over 10 years, although those are contingent on Netflix's ability to both create the 127 promised office jobs and keep the 32 existing positions.Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Ask Slashdot: What's a Good Chair For a Software Developer?

(2 days ago)
AmiMoJo writes: It's time to buy a new chair so I'm turning to Slashdot for recommendations. The Herman Miller Aeron seems to be the go-to, much like the Model M for keyboards, but I've heard that there are some other good options on the market. I need something that is comfortable and durable -- too many chairs get squeaky and loose because I can't sit still and keep shifting my weight around. Many are difficult to maintain as well, e.g. the screws attacking the back are often under plastic attached with very stiff clips so you can't easily give them a quick tighten. What does Slashdot recommend for my posterior? It's been more than a decade since readers sought recommendations for a quality chair for desktop coding, or back-friendly chairs. In fact, it's been almost two decades since a user inquired about the perfect computer chair. Hopefully office chairs have improved in quality/design since then...Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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