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The SEC Just Handed Bitcoin a Huge Setback

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 22:40
The SEC has decided to deny an application for the first exchange-traded product that tracks the price of bitcoin, according to an order posted on the regulator's website. From a report: In an order today, the commission found that the proposed fund was too susceptible to fraud, due to the unregulated nature of Bitcoin. The result is a major setback for the fund, and a frustrating false start for the crypto-currency at large. The ETF is essentially a common stock fund pegged to the price of Bitcoin, allowing investors to purchase Bitcoin without the work of establishing a personal wallet. (In concrete terms, the ETFs investors will be buying shares whose price will always be the same as the price of a single bitcoin, similar to an equivalent investment in gold or cattle.) Without a wallet, investors still won't be able to spend Bitcoin, but they can buy and sell it at market price, adding more liquidity to the Bitcoin system overall.

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Oculus CTO John Carmack Is Suing ZeniMax For $22.5 Million

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 22:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: The feud between Oculus and ZeniMax Media is opening up once again, this time with the CTO of Oculus, John Carmack, suing his former employer for earnings that he claims are still owed to him. The suit is largely unrelated to the $6 billion trade secrets suit which ended last month with a $500 million judgment against Oculus. Instead, Carmack is suing ZeniMax Media for $22.5 million that he says has not been paid to him for the 2009 sale of his game studio, id Software, known for such pioneering video game classics as Doom and Quake. The lawsuit reveals that ZeniMax Media paid $150 million for the game studio. The document details that Carmack was set to earn $45 million from the id acquisition. In 2011, Carmack converted half of that note into a half-million shares of ZeniMax common stock, but has yet to receive the other half of his earnings in cash or common stock from the company, despite formal requests being made. The lawsuit was reported first by Dallas News.

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Microsoft Admits Mistake, Pulls Problematic Windows 10 Driver

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 21:40
Wayne Williams, writing for BetaNews: Microsoft pushed out a mysterious driver to Windows users on Wednesday that caused big problems for some. The driver, listed as "Microsoft -- WPD -- 2/22/2016 12:00:00 AM -- 5.2.5326.4762," wasn't accompanied by any details, although we knew from the name that it related to Windows Portable Devices and affected users who had phones and tablets connected to the OS. Microsoft today admitted the problem with the driver, saying on the Answers Forum: "An incorrect device driver was released for Windows 10, on March 8, 2017, that affected a small group of users with connected phones or portable devices. After installation, these devices are not detected properly by Windows 10, but are affected in no other way. We removed the driver from Windows Update the same day, but if the driver had already installed, you may still be having this issue." As Williams adds, even though it was an optional update for Windows 7 and Windows 8.1 users, it was pushed to those on Windows 10.

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Alphabet's Waymo Asks Judge To Block Uber From Using Self-Driving Car Secrets

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 21:00
Waymo, Alphabet's self-driving spinoff from Google, is formally asking a judge to block Uber from operating its autonomous vehicles, according to new documents filed in Waymo's lawsuit against Uber. From a report on The Verge: The lawsuit, which was filed last month, alleges that Uber stole key elements of its self-driving car technology from Google. Uber has called the accusations "baseless." Today in federal court, Waymo filed the sworn testimony of Gary Brown, a forensic security engineer with Google since 2013. Citing logs from Google's secure network, Brown claims that Anthony Levandowski, a former Google engineer who now runs Uber's self-driving car program, downloaded 14,000 files from a Google repository that contain design files, schematics, and other confidential information pertaining to its self-driving car project. Levandowski used his personal laptop to download the files, a fact that Brown says made it easy to track.

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Pennsylvania Sues IBM Over Jobless Claims System Upgrade

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 20:20
Pennsylvania has sued IBM for $170 million, claiming the company failed to deliver a promised upgrade to its outdated system of processing unemployment claims. From a report: IBM did not immediately respond to a request for comment but a company representative told the Associated Press the suit had no merit and the company would fight it. The suit stems from a 2006 fixed-price contract awarded to IBM for $109.9 million with a completion date of February 2010, the state said in a press release. As delays and costs mounted, the state let the contract lapse in 2013 when an independent assessment determined the project had a high risk of failure.

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Africa Gets Its Own Web Address

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 19:40
Africa now has the unique web address .africa, equivalent to the more familiar .com, following its official launch by the African Union. From a report on BBC: AU commission chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma hailed its creation as the moment when Africa "got [its] own digital identity." The AU says the .africa domain name will "bring the continent together as an internet community." Addresses can now reflect a company's interest in the whole of Africa. For example, a mobile phone company could create mobile.africa to show its Africa-wide presence, or a travel company could set up travel.africa.

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How Many Snapchat Clones Does It Take For Facebook To Lose Its Self-Respect?

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 19:00
Alex Hern, writing for The Guardian: Over the past year, Facebook has shown an almost monomaniacal dedication to taking on Snapchat by importing its defining features wholesale into the company's own apps. Facebook Live has "masks" now (think Snapchat's Lenses). Instagram has geostickers (like Snapchat's location-aware stickers.) WhatsApp has "Status" (think Snapchat Stories). Instagram has "Stories" (think ... Snapchat stories). The latest fruit of Facebook's labours is Messenger Day -- "a way for you to share these photos and videos -- as they happen -- by adding to your Messenger Day, where many of your friends can view and reply to them". It's Snapchat Stories. Again. [...] Facebook has seen potential threats on the horizon before, but its chequebook has always been enough to ward off real danger: that's why it bought Instagram, that's why it bought WhatsApp, and that's why it tried to buy Snapchat. But it couldn't get the company's fiercely independent co-founder, Evan Spiegel, to sell. And now it's in uncharted waters, with a competitor stealing advertising revenue, desirable millennial users, and industry credibility, and with no obvious way to reverse that trend. Facebook's time at the top probably isn't up. But its self-respect deficit is going to take years to pay off.

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U.S. Jobs, Pay Show Solid Gains in Trump's First Full Month

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 18:20
Two anonymous reader share a Bloomberg report: U.S. employers added jobs at an above-average pace for a second month on outsized gains in construction and manufacturing while wage growth picked up, as the labor market continued its steady improvement in the new year. The 235,000 increase followed a 238,000 rise in January that was more than previously estimated, the best back-to-back rise since July, a Labor Department report showed Friday in Washington. The unemployment rate fell to 4.7 percent, and wages grew 2.8 percent from February 2016. While unseasonably warm weather may have boosted the payrolls count, the data represent President Donald Trump's first full month in office and coincide with a surge in economic optimism following his election victory.

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NASA Finds Lunar Spacecraft That Vanished 8 Years Ago

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 17:40
An anonymous reader shares a CNN report: It made history as India's first unmanned lunar spacecraft. Then it vanished. Nearly a decade later, NASA has located two unmanned spacecraft orbiting the moon, including India's Chandrayaan-1, which went quiet in 2009. Scientists used a new ground radar to locate the two spacecraft -- one active and one dormant, NASA said Thursday. "We have been able to detect NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter [LRO] and the Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-1 spacecraft in lunar orbit with ground-based radar," said Marina Brozovic, a radar scientist at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. "Finding LRO was relatively easy, as we were working with the mission's navigators and had precise orbit data where it was located."

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Elon Musk: I Can Fix South Australia Power Network in 100 Days Or It's Free

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 17:00
An anonymous reader shares a report on The Guardian: Elon Musk, the billionaire founder of electric car giant Tesla, has thrown down a challenge to the South Australian and federal governments, saying he can solve the state's energy woes within 100 days -- or he'll deliver the 100MW battery storage system for free. On Thursday, Lyndon Rive, Tesla's vice-president for energy products, told the AFR the company could install the 100-300 megawatt hours of battery storage that would be required to prevent the power shortages that have been causing price spikes and blackouts in the state. Thanks to stepped-up production out of Tesla's new Gigafactory in Nevada, he said it could be achieved within 100 days. Mike Cannon-Brookes, the Australian co-founder of Silicon Valley startup Atlassian, on Friday tweeted Elon Musk, asking if Tesla was serious about being able to install the capacity. Musk replied that the company could do it in 100 days of the contract being signed, or else provide it free, adding: "That serious enough for you?"

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Google Launches Official Gmail Add-On Program

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 16:20
Google is making it possible for developers to bring their services into Gmail using new integrations called Add-ons. From a report on PCWorld: It's built so that developers can write one set of code in Google's Apps Script language and have their integration run in Gmail on the web, as well as inside Google's Android and iOS apps for the service. For example, a QuickBooks add-on would let users easily send invoices to people who they're emailing. Google already offers Add-ons for its Docs word processing and Sheets spreadsheet software. This sort of system could be useful for users because it helps them get work done without leaving Gmail. It also helps draw users into Google's official email app, rather than use one of the many other clients that can access the service, including Microsoft Outlook.

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Chrome 57 Arrives With CSS Grid Layout and API Improvements

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 15:40
Google has launched Chrome 57 for Windows, Mac, and Linux. From a report on VentureBeat: Among the additions is CSS Grid Layout, API improvements, and other new features for developers. You can update to the latest version now using the browser's built-in silent updater, or download it directly from google.com/chrome. Chrome is arguably more than a browser: With over 1 billion users, it's a major platform that web developers have to consider. In fact, with Chrome's regular additions and changes, developers have to keep up to ensure they are taking advantage of everything available. Chrome 57 implements CSS Grid Layout, a two-dimensional grid-based layout system for responsive user interface design. Elements within the grid can be specified to span multiple columns or rows, plus they can also be named so that layout code is easier to understand. The goal is to give developers more granular control, especially as websites are increasingly accessed on various screen sizes, so they can slowly move away from complex code that is difficult to maintain.

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Slashdot Asks: Are Password Rules Bullshit?

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 15:00
Here's what Jeff Atwood, a founder of Stack Overflow thinks: Password rules are bullshit. They don't work. They heavily penalize your ideal audience, people that use real random password generators. Hey, guess what, that password randomly didn't have a number or symbol in it. I just double checked my math textbook, and yep, it's possible. I'm pretty sure. They frustrate average users, who then become uncooperative and use "creative" workarounds that make their passwords less secure. Are often wrong, in the sense that they are grossly incomplete and/or insane. Seriously, for the love of God, stop with this arbitrary password rule nonsense already. If you won't take my word for it, read this 2016 NIST password rules recommendation. It's right there, "no composition rules". However, I do see one error, it should have said "no bullshit composition rules". What do you think?

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Verizon Wireless Wades Right Back Into the Net Neutrality Debate With Fios Deal

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Verizon is taking a page out of AT&T's book by zero rating its Fios cable TV service for all Verizon Wireless customers. That means that if you purchase your mobile data plan from Verizon Wireless and your cable TV plan from Fios, you can now use the Fios Mobile app to stream live channels and on-demand shows and not have it count against your monthly data cap. (It should be noted that Verizon Wireless and Fios are separate subsidiaries, but both are owned by Verizon Communications.) This builds on Verizon's previous decision to zero rate its Go90 mobile app for customers of its own wireless service, which net neutrality advocates see as prioritizing its own products to the detriment of those from competitors and upstarts. One notable exception here is for customers with unlimited mobile data plans. Streaming Fios Mobile content will in fact count toward the unlimited plans' 22GB a month cap, after which Verizon will cap speeds. This caveat is not made clear in Verizon's marketing language, and instead is found only in the App Store release notes.

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Apache Servers Under Attack Through Easily Exploitable Struts 2 Flaw

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 12:30
Orome1 quotes a report from Help Net Security: A critical vulnerability in Apache Struts 2 is being actively and heavily exploited, even though the patch for it has been released on Monday. The vulnerability (CVE-2017-5638) affects the Jakarta file upload Multipart parser in Apache Struts 2. It allows attackers to include code in the "Content-Type" header of an HTTP request, so that it is executed by the web server. Almost concurrently with the release of the security update that plugs the hole, a Metasploit module for targeting it has been made available. Unfortunately, the vulnerability can be easily exploited as it requires no authentication, and two very reliable exploits have already been published online. Also, vulnerable servers are easy to discover through simple web scanning. "Struts 2 is a Java framework that is commonly used by Java-based web applications," reports SANS ISC in their blog. "It is also known as 'Jakarta Struts' and 'Apache Struts.' The Apache project currently maintains Struts." Cisco Talos also has a blog detailing the attack.

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Stunning Close-up of Saturn's Moon, Pan, Reveals a Space Empanada

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 11:00
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: Astronomers have long known that Pan, one of Saturn's innermost moons, has an odd look. Based on images taken from a distance, researchers have said it looks like a walnut or a flying saucer. But now, NASA's Cassini probe has delivered stunning close-ups of the 35-kilometer-wide icy moon, and it might be better called a pan-fried dumpling or an empanada. Pan orbits Saturn in a gap in the planet's rings and pulls material from them, so the ridge around it likely started accumulating soon after the moon formed, researchers say. If material in the ridge is still loose, rather than somehow fused together, the ridge can maintain its steepness only because the moon's gravity is so low. The latest pictures were obtained as Cassini conducts its final (and riskiest) flybys past Saturn's moons and rings before it blazes into the planet's atmosphere later this year.

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NVIDIA Lifts Veil On GeForce GTX 1080 Ti Performance Reviews, Which Show Faster Speeds Than Titan X

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 08:00
MojoKid writes from a report via HotHardware: NVIDIA is officially launching its most powerful gaming graphics card today, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti. It was announced last week at the Game Developers Conference and pre-orders began shortly thereafter. However, the cards will begin shipping today and NVIDIA has lifted the veil on performance reviews. Though its memory complement and a few blocks within the GPU are reduced versus NVIDIA's previous top-end card, the Titan X, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti makes up for its shortcomings with a combination of refinement and the brute force of higher memory clocks, based on new and improved Micron GDDR5X memory, faster core clocks and an improved cooler. For gamers, the good news is, the 1080 Ti retails for $699, versus $1200 for the Titan X, and it is in fact faster, for the most part. Throughout a battery of game tests and benchmarks, regardless of the resolution or settings used, the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti performed on par with or slightly faster than the NVIDIA Titan X and roughly 30-35% better than the standard GeForce GTX 1080 Founders Edition. Versus AMD's current flagship GPU, the Radeon R9 Fury X, there is no competition; the GeForce GTX 1080 Ti was nearly 2x faster than the Fury X in some cases.

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Ancient Technique Can Dramatically Improve Memory, Research Suggests

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 04:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: After spending six weeks cultivating an internal "memory palace," people more than doubled the number of words they could retain in a short time period and their performance remained impressive four months later. The technique, which involves conjuring up vivid images of objects in a familiar setting, is credited to the Greek poet Simonides of Ceos, and is a favored method among so-called memory athletes. The study also revealed that after just 40 days of training, people's brain activity shifted to more closely resemble that seen in some of the world's highest ranked memory champions, suggesting that memory training can alter the brain's wiring in subtle but powerful ways. The study, published in the journal Neuron, recruited 23 of the 50 top-scoring memory athletes in an annual contest called the World Memory Championships. The athletes were given 20 minutes to recall a list of 72 random nouns and they scored, on average, nearly 71 of the 72 words. By contrast, an untrained control group recalled an average of 26 words. This group then followed a daily 30-minute training regime where they practiced walking through a chosen familiar environment, such as their own home, and placing objects in specific locations. After 40 days of 30-minute training sessions, the participants who had average memory skills at the start more than doubled their memory capacity, recalling 62 words on average -- and four months later, without continued training, they could remember 48 words from a list of 72.

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Google's reCAPTCHA Turns 'Invisible,' Will Separate Bots From People Without Challenges

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 03:25
Google is making CAPTCHAs invisible using "a combination of machine learning and advanced risk analysis that adapts to new and emerging threats." Ars Technica reports: The old reCAPTCHA system was pretty easy -- just a simple "I'm not a robot" checkbox would get people through your sign-up page. The new version is even simpler, and it doesn't use a challenge or checkbox. It works invisibly in the background, somehow, to identify bots from humans. Google doesn't go into much detail on how it works, only saying that the system uses "a combination of machine learning and advanced risk analysis that adapts to new and emerging threats." More detailed information on how the system works would probably also help bot-makers crack it, so don't expect details to pop up any time soon. When sites switch over to the invisible CAPTCHA system, most users won't see CAPTCHAs at all, not even the "I'm not a robot" checkbox. If you are flagged as "suspicious" by the system, then it will display the usual challenges.

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EU Court Sets Limit On 'Right To Be Forgotten' In Company Registers

Slashdot - Fri, 03/10/2017 - 02:45
The European Union's top court ruled in May 2014 that people could ask search engines, such as Google or Microsoft's Bing, to remove inadequate or irrelevant information from the web results produced from searches for people's names. Today, the court is limiting the so-called "right to be forgotten" principle, ruling that individuals cannot demand that personal data be erased from company records in an official register. Reuters reports: In Thursday's ruling the European Court of Justice said that company registers needed to be public to ensure legal certainty and to protect the interests of third parties. Company registers only contained a limited amount of personal information and, as executives in companies should disclose their identity and functions, it said. This did not constitute too severe an interference in their private lives and personal data. However, the court said there might be specific situations in which access to personal data in company registers could be limited, such as a long period after a company's dissolution. But this should be determined on a case-by-case basis.

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