Technology News

Free Software Foundation Shakes Up Its List of Priority Projects

(One hour ago)
alphadogg quotes Network World:The Free Software Foundation Tuesday announced a major rethinking of the software projects that it supports, putting top priority on a free mobile operating system, accessibility, and driver development, among other areas. The foundation has maintained the High Priority Projects list since 2005, when it contained just four free software projects. [That rose to 12 projects by 2008, though the changelog shows at least seven projects have since been removed.] Today's version mostly identifies priority areas, along with a few specific projects in key areas. The new list shows the FSF will continue financially supporting Replicant, their free version of Android, and they're also still supporting projects to create a free software replacement for Skype with real-time voice and video capabilities. But they're now also prioritizing various projects to replace Siri, Google Now, Alexa, and Cortana with a free-software personal assistant, which they view as "crucial to preserving users' control over their technology and data while still giving them the benefits such software has for many." And other priorities now include internationalization, accessibility, decentralization and self-hosting, and encouraging governments to adopt free software. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

ASUS launches $73 Tinker Board, a Raspberry Pi competitor with 4K video, gigabit Ethernet, quad-core processor, and more, available in Europe and UK (Logan Booker/Gizmodo Australia)

(3 hours ago)
Logan Booker / Gizmodo Australia:ASUS launches $73 Tinker Board, a Raspberry Pi competitor with 4K video, gigabit Ethernet, quad-core processor, and more, available in Europe and UK  —  It doesn't matter if you want a computer the size of a card, a thumb drive or dice box — there's a manufacturer out there that has you covered.

Knuth Previews New Math Section For 'The Art of Computer Programming'

(3 hours ago)
In 1962, 24-year-old Donald Knuth began writing The Art of Computer Programming -- and 55 years later, he's still working on it. An anonymous reader quotes Knuth's web site at Stanford:Volume 4B will begin with a special section called 'Mathematical Preliminaries Redux', which extends the 'Mathematical Preliminaries' of Section 1.2 in Volume 1 to things that I didn't know about in the 1960s. Most of this new material deals with probabilities and expectations of random events; there's also an introduction to the theory of martingales. You can have a sneak preview by looking at the current draft of pre-fascicle 5a (52 pages), last updated 18 January 2017. As usual, rewards will be given to whoever is first to find and report errors or to make valuable suggestions. I'm particularly interested in receiving feedback about the exercises (of which there are 125) and their answers (of which there are 125). Over the years Knuth gave out over $20,000 in rewards, though most people didn't cash his highly-coveted "hexadecimal checks", and in 2008 Knuth switched to honorary "hexadecimal certificates". In 2014 Knuth complained about the "dumbing down" of computer science history, and his standards remain high. In his most-recent update, 79-year-old Knuth reminds readers that "There's stuff in here that isn't in Wikipedia yet!"[..]

New Wyoming Bill Penalizes Utilities Using Renewable Energy

(5 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a Christian Science Monitor report on "a bill that would essentially ban large-scale renewable energy" in Wyoming.The new Wyoming bill would forbid utilities from using solar or wind sources for their electricity by 2019, according to Inside Climate News... The bill would require utilities to use "eligible resources" to meet 95 percent of Wyoming's electricity needs in 2018, and all of its electricity needs in 2019. Those "eligible resources" are defined solely as coal, hydroelectric, natural gas, nuclear, oil, and individual net metering... Utility-scale wind and solar farms are not included in the bill's list of "eligible resources," making it illegal for Wyoming utilities to use them in any way if the legislation passes. The bill calls for a fine of $10 per megawatt-hour of electricity from a renewable source to be slapped on Wyoming utilities that provide power from unapproved sources to in-state customers. The bill also prohibits utilities from raising rates to cover the cost of those penalties, though utilities wouldn't be penalized if they exported that energy to other states. But one local activist described it as 'talking-point' legislation, and even the bill's sponsor gives it only a 50% chance of passing. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

As nuclear loss grows, Toshiba needs chip investors, soon

(5 hours ago)
TOKYO (Reuters) - With mounting writedowns from its nuclear business, Japan's Toshiba Corp is looking to sell part of its core semiconductors business, a world No.2 in the flash memory chips used in smartphones.

Open letter signed by 70 security experts calls for Guardian to retract story about WhatsApp alleged backdoor vulnerability (Zeynep Tufekci/technosociology)

(6 hours ago)
Zeynep Tufekci / technosociology:Open letter signed by 70 security experts calls for Guardian to retract story about WhatsApp alleged backdoor vulnerability  —  You recently published a story with the alarming headline “WhatsApp backdoor allows snooping on encrypted messages.”  This story included the phrasing “security loophole”.

The SHA-1 End Times Have Arrived

(6 hours ago)
"Deadlines imposed by browser makers deprecating support for the weakened SHA-1 hashing algorithm have arrived," writes Slashdot reader msm1267. "And while many websites and organizations have progressed in their migrations toward SHA-2 and other safer hashing algorithms, pain points and potential headaches still remain."Threatpost reports:Starting on Jan. 24, Mozilla's Firefox browser will be the first major browser to display a warning to its users who run into a site that doesn't support TLS certificates signed by the SHA-2 hashing algorithm... "SHA-1 deprecation in the context of the browser has been an unmitigated success. But it's just the tip of the SHA-2 migration iceberg. Most people are not seeing the whole problem," said Kevin Bocek, VP of security strategy and threat intelligence for Venafi. "SHA-1 isn't just a problem to solve by February, there are thousands more private certificates that will also need migrating"... Experts warn the move to SHA-2 comes with a wide range of side effects; from unsupported applications, new hardware headaches tied to misconfigured equipment and cases of crippled credit card processing gear unable to communicate with backend servers. They say the entire process has been confusing and unwieldy to businesses dependent on a growing number of digital certificates used for not only their websites, but data centers, cloud services, and mobile apps... According to Venafi's research team, 35 percent of the IPv4 websites it analyzed in[..]

Raspberry Pi Gets Competitors

(7 hours ago)
Hackaday reports that Asus has "quietly released their Tinker board that follows the Pi form factor very closely, and packs a 1.8 GHz quad-core ARM Cortes A17 alongside an impressive spec At £55 (about $68) where this is being written it's more expensive than the Pi, but Asus go to great lengths to demonstrate that it is significantly faster." And though the Raspberry Pi foundation upgraded their Compute Module, Pine64 has just unveiled their new SOPINE A64 64-bit computing module, a smaller version of the $15 Pine64 computer. An anonymous reader quotes ComputerWorld:At $29, the SOPINE A64 roughly matches the price of the Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3, which ranges from $25 to $30. The new SOPINE will ship in February, according to the website. The SOPINE A64 can't operate as a standalone computer like the Pine64. It needs to be plugged in as a memory slot inside a computer. But if you want a full-blown computer, Pine64 also sells the $15 SOPINE Baseboard Model-A, which "complements the SOPINE A64 Compute Module and turns it into a full single board computer," according to the company... The original Pine64 was crowdsourced and also became popular for its high-end components like a 64-bit chip and DDR3 memory... It has 2GB RAM, which is twice that of Raspberry Pi's compute module. SOPINE also has faster DDR3 memory, superior to DDR2 memory in Raspberry Pi Compute Module 3 board.[..]

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey apologizes for errors migrating @POTUS followers, says the issues, which affected about 560K people, have been fixed (Rhett Jones/Gizmodo)

(7 hours ago)
Rhett Jones / Gizmodo:Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey apologizes for errors migrating @POTUS followers, says the issues, which affected about 560K people, have been fixed  —  People are a bit on edge at the moment when it comes to being forced to do things by now-President Donald Trump.

Newest Tesla Autopilot Data Shows A 40% Drop in Crashes

(8 hours ago)
There's a surprise in the data from an investigation into Tesla safety by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg:[W]hile all Tesla vehicles come with the hardware necessary for Autopilot, you need a software upgrade that costs thousands of dollars to make it work. Since buyers can add Autopilot features after purchase, this provides a perfect before-and-after comparison. It turns out that, according to the data Tesla gave investigators, installing Autopilot prevents crashes -- by an astonishing 40 percent... Now -- thanks to an investigation that initially hurt the company -- there is finally some real data, and it's good news for Tesla... As the software matures to match the new hardware, Musk said on Thursday via a Tweet, Tesla is targeting a 90 percent reduction in car crashes. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Rocket Internet Capital Partners fund, operational since early 2016, says it reached $1B fundraising target; Rocket Internet committed $140M to the fund (Ingrid Lunden/TechCrunch)

(8 hours ago)
Ingrid Lunden / TechCrunch:Rocket Internet Capital Partners fund, operational since early 2016, says it reached $1B fundraising target; Rocket Internet committed $140M to the fund  —  If you thought the problems Rocket Internet has had bringing its portfolio of startups and its business overall into the black …

Oracle to Block JAR Files Signed with MD5 Starting In April

(9 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes BleepingComputer:Oracle says that starting with April 18, 2017, Java (JRE) will treat all JAR files signed with the MD5 algorithm as unsigned, meaning they'll be considered insecure and blocked from running. Oracle originally planned MD5's deprecation for the current Critical Patch Update, released this week, which included a whopping 270 security fixes, one of the biggest security updates to date. The company decided to give developers and companies more time to prepare and delayed MD5's deprecation for the release of Oracle Java SE 8u131 and the next Java CPU, scheduled for release in April... Oracle removed MD5 as a default code signing option from Java SE 6, released in 2006. Despite this, there will be thousands of Java apps that will never be resigned. For this, Oracle will allow system administrators to set up custom deployment rule sets and exception site lists to allow Java applets and Java Web Start applications signed with MD5 to run. Sometimes in the second half of 2017, Oracle also plans to change the minimum key length for Diffie-Hellman algorithms to 1024 bits. These updates are part of Oracle's long-standing plan for changes to the security algorithms in the Oracle Java Runtime Environment and Java SE Development Kit. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pwn2Own 2017 Offers Big Bounties For Linux, Browser, and Apache Exploits

(10 hours ago)
Now that TrendMicro owns TippingPoint, there'll be "more targets and more prize money" according to eWeek, and something special for Pwn2Own's 10th anniversary in March.Slashdot reader darthcamaro writes: For the first time in its ten-year history, the annual Pwn2Own hacking competition is taking direct aim at Linux. Pwn2Own in the past has typically focused mostly on web browsers, running on Windows and macOS. There is a $15,000 reward for security researchers that are able to get a local user kernel exploit on Ubuntu 16.10. The bigger prize though is a massive $200,000 award for exploiting Apache Web Server running on Ubuntu. "We are nine weeks away," TrendMicro posted Wednesday, pointing out that they're giving out over $1 million in bounties, including the following:$100,000 for escaping a virtualization hypervisor$80,000 for a Microsoft Edge or Google Chrome exploit$50,000 for an exploit of Adobe Reader, Microsoft Word, Excel or PowerPoint$50,000 for an Apple Safari exploit$30,000 for a Firefox exploit$30,000, $20,000 and $15,000 for privilege-escalating kernel vulnerabilities on Windows, macOS and Linux (respectively)$200,000 for an Apache Web Server exploit Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Are Squirrels A Bigger Threat To Our Critical Infrastructure?

(11 hours ago)
"The real threat to global critical infrastructure is not enemy states or organizations but squirrels, according to one security expert." Long-time Slashdot reader randomErr quotes the BBC.Cris Thomas has been tracking power cuts caused by animals since 2013... His Cyber Squirrel 1 project was set up to counteract what he called the "ludicrousness of cyber-war claims by people at high levels in government and industry", he told the audience at the Shmoocon security conference in Washington. Squirrels topped the list with 879 "attacks", followed by birds with 434 attacks and then snakes at 83 attacks. Those three animals -- along with rats -- have caused 1,700 different power cuts affecting nearly 5,000,000 people . Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google Pressured 90,000 Android Developers Over Insecure Apps

(12 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes PCWorld:Over the past two years, Google has pressured developers to patch security issues in more than 275,000 Android apps hosted on its official app store. In many cases this was done under the threat of blocking future updates to the insecure apps... In the early days of the App Security Improvement program, developers only received notifications, but were under no pressure to do anything. That changed in 2015 when Google expanded the types of issues it scanned for and also started enforcing deadlines for fixing many of them... Google added checks for six new vulnerabilities in 2015, all of them with a patching deadline, and 17 in 2016, 12 of which had a time limit for fixes. These issues ranged from security flaws in third-party libraries, development frameworks and advertising SDKs to insecure implementations of Android Java classes and interfaces. 100,000 applications had been patched by April of 2016, but that number tripled over the next nine months, with 90,000 developers fixing flaws in over 275,000 apps. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

FTC Dismantles Two Huge Robocall Organizations

(13 hours ago)
Billions of robocalls came from two groups selling extended auto warranties, SEO services, and home security systems over the last seven years -- many to numbers on the "Do Not Call" list -- but this week the Federal Trade Commission took action. Trailrunner7 shares this report from OnTheWire:Continuing its campaign against phone fraud operations, the FTC has dismantled two major robocall organizations... They and many of their co-defendants have agreed to court-ordered bans on robocall activities and financial settlements... The FTC and the FCC both have been cracking down on illegal robocall operations recently. The FCC has formed a robocall strike force with the help of carriers and also has signed an agreement to cooperate with Canadian authorities to address the problem. "The law is clear about robocalls," says one FTC executive. "If a telemarketer doesn't have consumers' written permission, it's illegal to make these calls." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New Release Of Nim Borrows From Python, Rust, Go, and Lisp

(14 hours ago)
An anonymous reader writes:"Nim compiles and runs fast, delivers tiny executables on several platforms, and borrows great ideas from numerous other languages," according to InfoWorld. After six years, they write, Nim is finally "making a case as a mix of the best of many worlds: The compilation speed and cross-platform targeting of Go, the safe-by-default behaviors of Rust, the readability and ease of development of Python, and even the metaprogramming facilities of the Lisp family..." Fossbytes adds that Nim's syntax "might remind you of Python as it uses indented code blocks and similar syntax at some occasions. Just like Rust and Go, it uses strong types and first class functions... Talking about the benchmarks, it's comparable to C. Nim compiler produces C code by default. With the help of different compiler back-ends, one can also get JavaScript, C++, or Objective-C. There's an improved output system in the newest release, and both its compiler and library are MIT licensed. Share your thoughts and opinions in the comments. Is anybody excited about writing code in Nim? Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft shows popup in Windows 10 to advertise its shopping extension to Chrome users (Jan Willem Aldershoff/Myce.com)

(14 hours ago)
Jan Willem Aldershoff / Myce.com:Microsoft shows popup in Windows 10 to advertise its shopping extension to Chrome users  —  Microsoft has started to advertise it's Personal Shopping Assistant (PSA) extension for Chrome to Windows 10 users.  Users of Microsoft's latest operating system now receive a small notification above …

Microsoft To Lay Off 700 Employees Next Week, Report Says

(16 hours ago)
According to a report by Business Insider (Warning: may be paywalled), Microsoft will cut about 700 jobs in conjunction with its quarterly earnings release next week. GeekWire reports: The latest layoffs are part of the company's previously announced plan to cut about 2,850 roles globally during its current fiscal year, according to the Business Insider report. The company declined to comment this afternoon, but we understand the report to be accurate, based on our own sources. Next week's cuts will be spread across a variety of job functions inside the company. The company's previous job cuts have come in areas including its smartphone business and global sales team. Microsoft announced its largest cuts in July 2014, eliminating 18,000 jobs, or 14 percent of the company at the time. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Scientists Enter Hawaii Dome In Eight-Month Mars Space Mission Study

(19 hours ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Six scientists have entered a dome perched atop a remote volcano in Hawaii where they will spend the next eight months in isolation to simulate life for astronauts traveling to Mars, the University of Hawaii said. The study is designed to help NASA better understand human behavior and performance during long space missions as the U.S. space agency explores plans for a manned mission to the Red Planet. The crew will perform geological field work and basic daily tasks in the 1,200-square-foot (365 m) dome, located in an abandoned quarry 8,000 feet (2.5 km) above sea level on the Mauna Loa volcano on Hawaii's Big Island. There is little vegetation and the scientists will have no contact with the outside world, said the university, which operates the dome. Communications with a mission control team will be time-delayed to match the 20-minute travel time of radio waves passing between Earth and Mars. "Daily routines include food preparation from only shelf-stable ingredients, exercise, research and fieldwork aligned with NASA's planetary exploration expectations," the university said. The project is intended to create guidelines for future missions to Mars, some 35 million miles (56 million km) away, a long-term goal of the U.S. human space program. The NASA-funded study, known as the Hawaii Space Exploration Analog and Simulation (Hi-SEAS), is the fifth of its kind.[..]

NASA Is Planning Mission To An Asteroid Worth $10 Quintillion

(22 hours ago)
New submitter kugo2006 writes: NASA announced a plan to research 16 Psyche, an asteroid potentially as large as Mars and primarily composed of Iron and Nickel. The rock is unique in that it has an exposed core, likely a result of a series of collisions, according to Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Psyche's principal investigator. The mission's spacecraft would launch in 2023 and arrive in 2030. According to Global News, Elkins-Tanton calculates that the iron in 16 Psyche would be worth $10,000 quadrillion ($10 quintillion). Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Weekly Lineage OS CyanogenMod fork builds supporting 80+ Android 6, 7 devices start shipping this weekend; Lineage OS to offer data migration tool for CM users (Corbin Davenport/Android Police)

(22 hours ago)
Corbin Davenport / Android Police:Weekly Lineage OS CyanogenMod fork builds supporting 80+ Android 6, 7 devices start shipping this weekend; Lineage OS to offer data migration tool for CM users  —  CyanogenMod has long been the most popular custom ROM, covering a wide array of devices from numerous manufacturers.

A glitch autofollowed some users to @POTUS after transition; Twitter is investigating issue (Sarah Perez/TechCrunch)

(2 days ago)
Sarah Perez / TechCrunch:A glitch autofollowed some users to @POTUS after transition; Twitter is investigating issue  —  A number of Twitter users tonight are claiming their accounts have somehow automatically followed the Twitter accounts, @POTUS, @FLOTUS and @VP - now in the hands of the Trump administration …

Lavabit, which shut down in 2013 to avoid compliance with court order connected to Snowden investigation, relaunches with features to thwart surveillance (Kim Zetter/The Intercept)

(2 days ago)
Kim Zetter / The Intercept:Lavabit, which shut down in 2013 to avoid compliance with court order connected to Snowden investigation, relaunches with features to thwart surveillance  —  In 2013, Ladar Levison, founder of the encrypted email service Lavabit, took the defiant step of shutting down the company's service rather …

The Mind-Reading Gadget For Dogs That Got Funded, But Didn't Get Built

(2 days ago)
the_newsbeagle writes: Crowdfunding campaigns that fail to deliver may be all too common, but some flameouts merit examination. Like this brain-scanning gadget for dogs, which promised to translate their barks into human language. It's not quite as goofy as it sounds: The campaigners planned to use standard EEG tech to record the dogs' brainwaves, and said they could correlate those electrical patterns with general states of mind like excitement, hunger, and curiosity. The campaign got a ton of attention in the press and raised twice the money it aimed for. But then the No More Woof team seemed to vanish, leaving backers furious. This article explains what went wrong with the campaign, and what it says about the state of neurotech gadgets for consumers. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

CBS, Paramount Settle Lawsuit Over 'Star Trek' Fan Film

(2 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Hollywood Reporter: Stand down from battle stations. Star Trek rights holders CBS and Paramount have seen the logic of settling a copyright suit against Alec Peters, who solicited money on crowdfunding sites and hired professionals to make a YouTube short and a script of a planned feature film focused on a fictional event -- a Starfleet captain's victory in a war with the Klingon Empire -- referenced in the original 1960s Gene Roddenberry television series. Thanks to the settlement, CBS and Paramount won't be going to trial on Stardate 47634.44, known to most as Jan. 31, 2017. According to a joint statement, "Paramount Pictures Corporation, CBS Studios Inc., Axanar Productions, Inc. and Alec Peters are pleased to announce that the litigation regarding Axanar's film Prelude to Axanar and its proposed film Axanar has been resolved. Axanar and Mr. Peters acknowledge that both films were not approved by Paramount or CBS, and that both works crossed boundaries acceptable to CBS and Paramount relating to copyright law." Peters' Axanar video and script, which feature such arguably copyrighted elements as Vulcan ears, the Klingon language and an obscure character from a 1969 episode, sparked a lawsuit in December 2015. The litigation then proceeded at warp speed with the case almost making it to trial in just 13 months, an amazingly brisk pace by typical standards. When Axanar comes out, it will look different. "Axanar and Mr. Peters have[..]

Second Time In 9 Months: AT&T Raises Phone Activation Fee $5, Now Charges $25

(2 days ago)
For the second time in 9 months, ATT is raising its activation and upgrade fee. In April 2016, the fee for non-contract customers was raised from $15 to $20. Today, it has been raised another $5, from $20 to $25, according to PhoneScoop. Ars Technica reports: As the mobile carrier switched from contracts to device payment plans, ATT initially did not charge an activation and upgrade fee for customers who brought their own phone or bought one from ATT on an installment plan. But in July 2015, ATT started charging a $15 activation fee to customers who don't sign two-year contracts. (ATT also raised the activation/upgrade fee for contract customers from $40 to $45 in July 2015.) The $25 fee is charged for new activations or upgrades when customers purchase devices on installment agreements, ATT says. Customers who bring their own phone to the network are charged the $25 fee when they activate a new line of service, but not when they upgrade phones on an existing line. "We are making a minor adjustment to our activation and upgrade fees. The change is effective today," ATT told Ars. ATT also still charges the $45 activation and upgrade fee on two-year contracts, but those contracts are "available only on select devices." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Jay Z's Tidal Music Streaming Service Is Fraudulently Inflating Subscriber Numbers, Report Says

(2 days ago)
A new report published by Markus Tobiassen and Kjetil Saeter of Norwegian publication Dagens Naeringsliv is accusing Jay Z's Tidal music streaming service of fabricating their subscriber numbers by creating fake accounts and lying to the media and partners. The company claims to have more than 3 million paying subscribers with more than half of those paying $20-a-month. Digital News Music reports: Tobiassen and Saeter interviewed staffers at TIDAL, as well as partners and confidential sources. And the information that came back was pretty damning. "When 16 of the world's biggest pop stars, one a convicted cocaine smuggler and a former Israeli intelligence officer was not able to obtain enough customers to Jay Z's Tidal, the company began to inflate subscription numbers," the report alleges. DMN spoke this morning with Tobiassen, who offered a translation of the report. "On March 30th of last year, Tidal issued a press release stating that the company had reached 'three million members,'" the report states. "The news story reported worldwide was that Tidal had three million paying subscribers. Tidal also specified to online newspaper The Verge that this figure did not include trial subscribers. This was the last time Tidal reported a total number of subscribers to the public." The only problem with that? "In April 2016, one month after the press release issued by the company claiming three million members, Tidal made payments to the record labels for around 850,000[..]

Uber Hires Former Google Search Chief Amit Singhal As SVP of Engineering

(2 days ago)
The former Senior Vice President of Search and employee number 176 at Google has joined the ride-hailing company Uber as SVP of Engineering. TechCrunch is reporting that "Singhal will be heading up the Maps and Marketplace departments at Uber, while also advising CEO Travis Kalanick and Uber VP of Engineering and Otto co-founder Anthony Levandowski on their efforts to build out the company's self-driving technology." From the report: The last time we in tech news circles heard from Singhal, he was saying goodbye after a 15-year career at Google, in a farewell letter that felt a lot like a retirement announcement. Singhal wrote that he was leaving to "see what kind of impact [he could] make philanthropically" and to"spend more time with [his] family," in an effort to "define [his] next fifteen years." Now, a little under a year later, Singhal is back in an executive role -- this time at a much younger company, but still at one of the most influential technology firms in the world. So how did Singhal get from there to here? Well, for starters, Singhal did throw himself into philanthropic pursuits, focusing on the Singhal Foundation established by him and his wife Shipa, which aims to deliver access to high quality education for kids who normally wouldn't be able to attend top schools, and which began with a focus on the city of Jodhpur, in India. Singhal met Travis Kalanick through a mutual friend, which sparked a series of conversations between the search expert and the[..]

New Senate Bill Would Give US Grads Preference In Receiving H-1B Visas

(2 days ago)
dcblogs quotes a report from Computerworld: A new bill in Congress would give foreign students who graduate from U.S. schools priority in getting an H-1B visa. The legislation also "explicitly prohibits" the replacement of American workers by visa holders. This bill, the H-1B and L-1 Visa Reform Act, was announced Thursday by its co-sponsors, U.S. Senators Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), longtime allies on H-1B reform. Grassley is chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which gives this bill an immediate big leg up in the legislative process. This legislation would end the annual random distribution, via a lottery, of H-1B visas, and replace it with a system to give priority to certain types of students. Foreign nationals in the best position to get one of the 85,000 H-1B visas issued annually will have earned an advanced degree from a U.S. school, have a well-paying job offer, and have preferred skills. The specific skills weren't identified, but will likely be STEM-related. "Congress created these programs to complement America's high-skilled workforce, not replace it," said Grassley, in a statement. "Unfortunately, some companies are trying to exploit the programs by cutting American workers for cheaper labor." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Twitter launches archive of Vine videos containing all posts from 2013 through 2017, with a creator spotlight section and Vines grouped by genre and year (Sarah Perez/TechCrunch)

(2 days ago)
Sarah Perez / TechCrunch:Twitter launches archive of Vine videos containing all posts from 2013 through 2017, with a creator spotlight section and Vines grouped by genre and year  —  Twitter just can't seem to let go of Vine.  The company announced last fall it would close the video-sharing community site …

Elite Scientists Have Told the Pentagon That AI Won't Threaten Humanity

(2 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: A new report authored by a group of independent U.S. scientists advising the U.S. Dept. of Defense (DoD) on artificial intelligence (AI) claims that perceived existential threats to humanity posed by the technology, such as drones seen by the public as killer robots, are at best "uninformed." Still, the scientists acknowledge that AI will be integral to most future DoD systems and platforms, but AI that could act like a human "is at most a small part of AI's relevance to the DoD mission." Instead, a key application area of AI for the DoD is in augmenting human performance. Perspectives on Research in Artificial Intelligence and Artificial General Intelligence Relevant to DoD, first reported by Steven Aftergood at the Federation of American Scientists, has been researched and written by scientists belonging to JASON, the historically secretive organization that counsels the U.S. government on scientific matters. Outlining the potential use cases of AI for the DoD, the JASON scientists make sure to point out that the growing public suspicion of AI is "not always based on fact," especially when it comes to military technologies. Highlighting SpaceX boss Elon Musk's opinion that AI "is our biggest existential threat" as an example of this, the report argues that these purported threats "do not align with the most rapidly advancing current research directions of AI as a field, but rather spring from dire predictions about one[..]

Lavabit Is Relaunching

(2 days ago)
The encrypted email service once used by whistleblower Edward Snowden is relaunching today. Ladar Levison, the founder of the encrypted email service Lavabit, announced on Friday that he's relaunching the service with a new architecture that fixes the SSL problem and includes other privacy-enhancing features as well, such as one that obscures the metadata on emails to prevent government agencies like the NSA and FBI from being able to find out with whom Lavabit users communicate. In addition, he's also announcing plans to roll out end-to-end encryption later this year. The Intercept provides some backstory in its report: In 2013, [Levison] took the defiant step of shutting down the company's service rather than comply with a federal law enforcement request that could compromise its customers' communications. The FBI had sought access to the email account of one of Lavabit's most prominent users -- Edward Snowden. Levison had custody of his service's SSL encryption key that could help the government obtain Snowden's password. And though the feds insisted they were only after Snowden's account, the key would have helped them obtain the credentials for other users as well. Lavabit had 410,000 user accounts at the time. Rather than undermine the trust and privacy of his users, Levison ended the company's email service entirely, preventing the feds from getting access to emails stored on his servers. But the company's users lost access to their accounts as well. Levison, who[..]

Canada's Competition Bureau reaches deal with Apple, publishers

(2 days ago)
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada's business competition watchdog said on Friday it had reached an agreement with Apple Inc and three major e-book publishers that will allow retailers to offer discounts to customers.

Outgoing FCC chair warns against overturning net neutrality

(2 days ago)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Outgoing U.S. Federal Communications Commission Chairman Tom Wheeler warned Republicans against dismantling the Obama administration's landmark "net neutrality" protections that bar internet service providers from slowing consumer access to web content.

Uber hires Google search veteran Singhal for senior engineering post

(2 days ago)
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - Ride-hailing company Uber Technologies Inc [UBER.UL] has hired the man behind Google search to work closely with Chief Executive Travis Kalanick and help grow the company's self-driving car program.

Rockwell Collins sees defense market uptick, small 777 impact

(2 days ago)
(Reuters) - Aviation electronics maker Rockwell Collins Inc's defense business is "really busy right now," reflecting a new emphasis on defense spending, Chief Executive Officer Kelly Ortberg said on Friday.

South Korea prosecutors summon another Samsung executive

(2 days ago)
SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea's special prosecutor's office said on Friday it summoned a Samsung Electronics Co Ltd executive for questioning as it investigates a widening influence-peddling scandal that has embroiled President Park Geun-hye.

Apple Sues Qualcomm For Roughly $1 Billion Over Royalties

(2 days ago)
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Apple is suing Qualcomm for roughly $1 billion, saying Qualcomm has been "charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with." The suit follows the U.S. Federal Trade Commission's lawsuit against Qualcomm earlier this week over unfair patent licensing practices. Apple says that Qualcomm has taken "radical steps," including "withholding nearly $1 billion in payments from Apple as retaliation for responding truthfully to law enforcement agencies investigating them." Apple added, "Despite being just one of over a dozen companies who contributed to basic cellular standards, Qualcomm insists on charging Apple at least five times more in payments than all the other cellular patent licensors we have agreements with combined." Apple also alleges that once it began cooperating with Korean authorities' antitrust investigation of Qualcomm, the company withheld $1 billion in retaliation. Korean regulators fined Qualcomm $854 million for unfair trade practices in December. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Apple files $1 billion lawsuit against chip supplier Qualcomm

(2 days ago)
(WASHINGTON) - Apple Inc filed a $1 billion lawsuit against supplier Qualcomm Inc on Friday, following a U.S. government lawsuit which accused the chip maker of using anti-competitive tactics to maintain its monopoly of a key semiconductor used in mobile phones.

Apple sues Qualcomm for ~$1B, says Qualcomm has been "charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with" (Anita Balakrishnan/CNBC)

(2 days ago)
Anita Balakrishnan / CNBC:Apple sues Qualcomm for ~$1B, says Qualcomm has been “charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with”  —  Apple is suing Qualcomm for roughly $1 billion, saying Qualcomm has been “charging royalties for technologies they have nothing to do with.”

Despite Glitches, AT&T's DirecTV Now Hits 200,000 Subscribers in Its First Month

(2 days ago)
AT&T's new live TV streaming service DirecTV Now has been off to a shaky start in terms of performance, but that hasn't stemmed the flow of sign-ups, AT&T reports. The company said the service added more than 200,000 subscribers in its first month of operations. From a report on TechCrunch: These details were included in an SEC filing for the quarter ending on December 31, 2016. DirecTV Now launched on November 30, 2016. The filing also notes the additions only include paying customers. To be clear, there's no free tier for DirecTV Now, but the company has been offering free trials so customers can kick the tires before committing to a subscription plan. Of course, it's not entirely surprising that DirecTV Now was able to gain so many customers in such a short period of time. On paper, at least, the service sounds compelling. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Norwegian newspaper: Tidal publicly claimed 3M members in March 2016, but paid music labels for just 850K subscribers a month later (Paul Resnikoff/Digital Music News)

(2 days ago)
Paul Resnikoff / Digital Music News:Norwegian newspaper: Tidal publicly claimed 3M members in March 2016, but paid music labels for just 850K subscribers a month later  —  How many subscribers does TIDAL really have?  A new study is now accusing the Jay Z-owned service of completely fabricating their numbers.  And not by a little bit.

Sony Is Weighing a Sale of Film, TV Business

(2 days ago)
Sony could be exploring the sale of its film and television unit just a week after announcing the departure of Sony Entertainment CEO Michael Lynton. From a report: Tokyo's Sony Corp. is listening to bank pitches about a potential sale of its film and TV operations, several sources told The Post. "Every bank is pushing pitches," said one person familiar with the process. Another confirmed that banks have paid a flurry of visits to Tokyo to advise on a sale of Sonyâ(TM)s film and TV business. The Post was first to report that the Japanese owners were ready to listen to bid proposals if they had the right number attached. CBS CEO Leslie Moonves has long signaled interest in acquiring the asset, though several Chinese bidders could be in the wings. Sony CEO Kaz Hirai has denied any intent to sell the firm during the five years he's been in the top slot at the company. Still, he has not appointed a successor to Lynton, despite knowing of his intention to depart for some time. That has sparked speculation that there may be no position to fill. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Galaxy S7 Display Defaults To Full HD After Nougat Update, But You Can Switch Back

(2 days ago)
An anonymous reader writes: Samsung's new display scaling options change the default resolution of the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge. The Nougat update to the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge introduces a new display scaling option that lets you reduce the screen resolution as a way to conserve battery life. With the update, you can now choose between three modes -- WQHD (2560x1440), FHD (1920x1080), and HD (1280x720). While it's a nifty feature to have, the display on the Galaxy S7 and S7 edge is automatically defaulting to Full HD for those that have installed the update. Fortunately, you can easily switch back to the native Quad HD resolution by navigating to Settings -> Display. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Microsoft Targets Chrome Users With Windows 10 Pop-up Ad

(2 days ago)
Google Chrome users on Windows 10 are apparently being treated to a new experience: a pop-up ad. From a PCMag report: If you have Chrome installed and the icon present on the Windows Taskbar, chances are you're going to start seeing a pop-up advert appear suggesting you install Microsoft's Personal Shopping Assistant Chrome extension. Microsoft touts it as "Your smart shopping cart across the web." Opting to install the extension results in Microsoft monitoring which products you've searched for and viewed while using Chrome, and then offering to compare those products to find the best price. There's also alerts when prices change, and the ability to track products across all your devices. Of course, Microsoft will make money if you opt to purchase any products using the Assistant. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Launches Virtual 'Dash' Buttons For One-Click Buying From the Homepage

(2 days ago)
Amazon's Dash Buttons, those tiny, physical gadgets, make buying products from the online retailer easier when you're not in front of a computer. Now the company is taking that idea back to its digital storefront. From a report on Recode: The new virtual Dash buttons started appearing on the Amazon.com homepage and the Amazon app home screen on Thursday night. The company is automatically creating ones for items you recently ordered or order often. An order is placed with one click or tap on the digital button. An Amazon spokesperson said Prime members can create a virtual one-click button for tens of millions of products available for Prime delivery. "Add to your Dash buttons" is now an option on the product page of all eligible products. Virtual Dash buttons are free to use, while the physical ones cost $4.99. A spokesperson said the idea for the virtual shortcuts came from the success of the physical buttons and is not connected to the reported expiration of the Amazon patent for one-click purchases. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
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