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Google Maps Is Being Used To Track Air Pollution In Oakland and Other Cities

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 09:00
The functionality of Google Maps is expanding to include air pollution levels. Depending on where you live, you will soon be able to see the specific air quality in your neighborhood. Oakland, California is the first city to have air quality information, but data should be released soon for the Los Angeles and Central Valley regions of California. Android Authority reports: In a blog post, Google says it has been working with the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and Aclima since 2015 on this project. Google Street View cars were equipped with devices from Aclima to monitor the levels of nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and black carbon in the city of Oakland, California. You can now see those modified Google Maps on the EDF website. The Google Maps that have this information show how pollution levels can change in Oakland based on specific locations, street activity, and more. The idea is that posting this data in an easy visual way will assist communities to campaign for better air quality standards in their neighborhoods to their local and state governments.

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Hyperloop One Reveals Its Plans For Connecting Europe

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 05:30
Hyperloop One has revealed its plans for connecting Europe via its Hyperloop transportation system that can move passengers/cargo at airlines speeds for a fraction of the cost of air travel. The company is currently considering nine potential routes in Europe, "running from a 90km hop to connect Estonia and Finland, through to a 1,991km pan-German route," reports Engadget. "The UK [...] gets three proposes routes: one to connect its Northern Cities, one to connect the North and South, and one to connect Scotland with Wales." From the report: Several of the routes, including ones between Estonia and Finland, Corsica to Sardinia and Spain -- Morocco, all cross bodies of water. The company has, on several occasions, spoke of its love of tunnels, and plans to use them extensively in construction. Although rather than using tunneling machines, which can be slow, submerged box tunnels or archimedes bridges may be cheaper and faster to build. CNBC notes that the proposals for Europe connect more than 75 million people in 44 cities, spanning 5,000 kilometers (3,100 miles).

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Steve Ballmer Says Tech Firms Should Be As Accountable As NBA Teams

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 04:05
New submitter mirandakatz writes: Steve Ballmer has worn many hats -- as the CEO of Microsoft and the owner of the LA Clippers, to start -- and his latest endeavor, launched earlier this year, is a comprehensive trove of government statistics called USA Facts. Ballmer recently sat down with Backchannel's Steven Levy to discuss publishing government information, owning the Clippers, why he bought stock in Twitter, and what tech can learn from the world of professional sports: "There's no hiding in sports. How well you're doing is all entirely transparent, and there's no way to talk yourself out of a jam, or confuse yourself. It's hardcore -- you either win or you lose. Your season's over, or it's not over. It's just binary. It's the highest accountability thing in the world. In basketball, every human on the planet can evaluate your performance. All the analytics are available. Everybody can watch all your games or write about it -- the columnist knows absolutely everything that the general manager knows. Everything. Your individual human performance can get reviewed in a way that never happens in business. And every 24 seconds, I can tell you how good our teamwork is. That's high accountability." In response to a question asking if a tech company should publish everyone's salary and be transparent to the press, Ballmer replied: "I only worked at one tech company, but I would say, the opportunity to improve accountability in the tech industry is not insubstantial. It's different than Procter & Gamble, which got to show good soap sales every quarter. Some companies making money right now say they're investing for the future. Where's the accountability? You can say, 'Well, the ultimate accountability's the stock price.' It sort of is, but it sort of isn't. You can talk your stock price up. But you can't talk up wins and losses."

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Malware Uses Router LEDs To Steal Data From Secure Networks

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 03:25
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Israel have developed malware that when installed on a router or a switch can take control over the device's LEDs and use them to transmit data in a binary format to a nearby attacker, who can capture it using simple video recording equipment. The attack is similar to the LED-it-GO attack developed by the same team, which uses a hard drive's blinking LED to steal data from air-gapped computers. Because routers and switches have many more LEDs than a hard drive, this attack scenario is much more efficient, as it can transmit data at about the same speed, but multiplied by the number of ports/LEDs. Researchers say they were able to steal data by 1000 bits/ per LED, making this the most efficient attack known to date. The attack worked best when coupled with optical sensors, which are capable of sampling LED signals at high rates, enabling data reception at a higher bandwidth than other typical video recording equipment. A video of the attack is available here.

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Ask Slashdot: How Do News Organizations Keep Track of So Much Information?

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 02:45
dryriver writes: Major news organizations from CNN, BBC, ABC to TIME magazine, the New York Times and the Economist publish a tremendous amount of information, especially now that almost everybody runs a 24/7 updated website alongside their TV channel, magazine or newspaper. Question: How do news organizations actually keep track of what must be 1000s of pieces of incoming information that are processed into news stories every day? If they are using software to manage all this info -- which makes a lot of sense -- is it off-the-shelf software that anybody can buy, or do major news organizations typically commission IT/software contractors to build them a custom "Information Management System" or similar? If there is good off-the-shelf software for managing a lot of information, who makes it and what is it called?

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Apple 'Error 53' Sting Operation Caught Staff Misleading Customers, Court Documents Allege

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 02:05
AmiMoJo writes: "Australia's consumer watchdog carried out a sting operation against Apple which it says caught staff repeatedly misleading iPhone customers about their legal rights to a free repair or replacement after a so-called 'error 53' malfunction, court documents reveal," reports The Guardian. Error 53 refers to an error message that renders iPhones useless if third-party repairs are made. From the report: "The case, set to go to trial in mid-December, accuses Apple of wrongly telling customers they were not entitled to free replacements or repair if they had taken their devices to an unauthorized third-party repairer. That advice was allegedly given even where the repair -- a screen replacement, for example -- was not related to the fault. Apple has so far chosen to remain silent about the case brought by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC). But court documents obtained by Guardian Australia show the company has denied the ACCC's allegations, saying it did not mislead or cause any harm to its Australian customers. The documents also show how the ACCC used undercover methods to investigate Apple. Investigators, posing as iPhone customers, called all 13 Apple retailers across Australia in June last year. They told Apple staff their iPhone speakers had stopped working after screens were replaced by a third party. Apple's response was the same in each of the 13 calls, the ACCC alleges."

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Ubuntu Works With GNOME To Improve HiDPI Support On Linux Desktop

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 01:20
An anonymous reader shares an article: Canonical is playing host to a 'fractional scaling hackfest' in its Taipei offices this week. Both GNOME developers and Ubuntu developers are in attendance, ready to wrestle with the aim: improve GNOME HiDPI support. Ubuntu's Unity desktop (I'm told, anyhow) plays fairly nice with high DPI monitors because the shell supports fractional scaling (though most apps, I believe, do not). Furthermore, users can tweak some high DPI settings to better suit their display(s). GNOME Shell also supports HiDPI monitors, but has, until now, been a little less flexible about it. "Currently, we only allow to scale windows by integral factors (typically 2). This proves somewhat limiting as there are many systems that are just in between the dpi ranges that are good for scale factor 2, or unscaled," the hackfest page explains.

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Apple Adds Support For FLAC Lossless Audio In iOS 11

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 01:00
Reddit users who have installed copies of the developer beta of iOS 11 are reporting that Apple has finally added support for lossless FLAC audio files in their new mobile operating system. The Next Web reports: The functionality was first spotted on an iPhone 6S Plus running iOS 11 Beta 1 and is reportedly available as part of the newly announced file-management app, Files. Up until now, Apple had deliberately opted to ignore offering playback support for FLAC files in both iTunes and iOS -- though there are numerous third-party apps to do the trick. But it appears things are finally about to change.

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WannaCry Exploit Could Infect Windows 10

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 00:40
msm1267 writes: EternalBlue, the NSA-developed attack used by criminals to spread WannaCry ransomware last month, has been ported to Windows 10 by security researchers. The publicly available version of EternalBlue leaked by the ShadowBrokers targets only Windows XP and Windows 7 machines. Researchers at RiskSense who created the Windows 10 version of the attack were able to bypass mitigations introduced by Microsoft that thwart memory-based code-execution attacks. These mitigations were introduced prior to a March security update from Microsoft, MS17-010, and any computer running Windows that has yet to install the patch is vulnerable. You can read the researchers' report here (PDF), which explains what was necessary to bring the NSA exploit to Windows 10.

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GPU and Motherboard OEMs Readying Components Optimized For Cryptocurrency Mining

Wed, 06/07/2017 - 00:00
MojoKid writes: With the popularity of upstart cryptocurrencies like Ethereum on the rise and the value of well-established currencies like Bitcoin steadily increasing, there is new-found interest in cryptocurrency mining. As such, there is another run on AMD and NVIDIA GPUs, which is driving up prices. In an effort to prevent the same kind of GPU shortages that happened in the past, reports have surfaced claiming that AMD and NVIDIA are both readying stripped-down graphics cards, specifically targeting cryptocurrency miners. At Computex, ASRock also announced a new motherboard targeted at cryptocurrency miners, the ASRock H110 Pro BTC+. The ASRock H110 Pro BTC+ is packing 13 PCI Express slots -- twelve x1 slots and one x16 slot -- to accommodate as many graphics cards. ASRock didn't specify pricing or when the H110 Pro BTC+ will be available, however. And the reports that AMD and NVIDIA graphics card for mining will be made available sometime at the end of the June are as yet unconfirmed.

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Police In Oklahoma Have Cracked Hundreds of People's Cell Phones

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 23:20
An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via Motherboard: Mobile phone forensic extraction devices have been a law enforcement tool for years now, and the number of agencies using them is only rising. As part of an ongoing investigation, we have finally been able to turn up some usage logs of this equipment, from Tulsa Police Department, and Tucson Police Department. While the logs do not list the cause of the crime or any other notes about why the phone was being searched, it does list the make of the phone, the date, and the type of extraction. First, let's go over what extraction devices are being used here. Tucson PD opted for the brand that is arguably the worldwide leader in mobile device forensics, the Israeli company Cellebrite. Tulsa Police Department however opted for a few different models -- they purchased two different password breakers from Teel Technologies in 2015, and in March 2016 gave about $1,500 to Susteen for their SecureView extraction device (SecureView was the product Susteen created when the FBI requested they create a more advanced extraction device for them). It does its work instantly, and has an incredible reach into a phone's data. They renewed this contract in 2017. In August 2016 they also purchased the Detective extraction device from Oxygen Forensics. Oxygen is much less common than Cellebrite, from what we have found. The kicker really is how often these are being used -- it is simply really hard to believe that out of the 783 times Tulsa Police used their extraction devices, all were for crimes in which it was necessary to look at all of the phone's data. Even for the 316 times Tucson PD used theirs in the last year, it is still a real stretch to think that some low-level non-violent offenders weren't on the receiving end. There are some days where the devices were used multiple times -- Tulsa used theirs eight times on February 28th of this year, eight again on April 3rd, and a whopping 14 times on May 10th 2016. That is a whole lot of data that Tulsa was able to tap into, and we aren't even able to understand the why.

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At $75,560, Housing a Prisoner in California Now Costs More Than a Year at Harvard

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 22:40
The cost of imprisoning each of California's 130,000 inmates is expected to reach a record $75,560 in the next year, the AP reported. From the article: That's enough to cover the annual cost of attending Harvard University and still have plenty left over for pizza and beer Gov. Jerry Brown's spending plan for the fiscal year that starts July 1 includes a record $11.4 billion for the corrections department while also predicting that there will be 11,500 fewer inmates in four years (alternative source) because voters in November approved earlier releases for many inmates. The price for each inmate has doubled since 2005, even as court orders related to overcrowding have reduced the population by about one-quarter. Salaries and benefits for prison guards and medical providers drove much of the increase. The result is a per-inmate cost that is the nation's highest -- and $2,000 above tuition, fees, room and board, and other expenses to attend Harvard. Since 2015, California's per-inmate costs have surged nearly $10,000, or about 13%. New York is a distant second in overall costs at about $69,000.

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Slashdot Asks: Is Trump's Blocking of Some Twitter Users Unconstitutional?

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 22:00
An anonymous reader shares an article: Some Twitter users say President Trump should not be able to block them on the social network. The president makes unprecedented use of Twitter, having posted more than 24,000 times on his @realDonaldTrump account to 31.7 million followers. His tweets about domestic and foreign policy -- and media coverage of him and his administration -- has transformed Twitter into a public forum with free speech protections. That's the opinion of two Twitter users, who have the backing of the Knight First Amendment Institute. They are sending a letter today to the White House asking Trump to unblock them on his @realDonaldTrump Twitter account. Both users say they were blocked recently after tweeting messages critical of the President. Holly O'Reilly (@AynRandPaulRyan), whose Twitter account identifies her as a March for Truth organizer, said she was blocked on May 23 after posting a GIF of Pope Francis looking and frowning at Trump captioned "this is pretty much how the whole world sees you." In the letter to Trump and the White House, the Knight First Amendment Institute's attorneys argue that Trump's Twitter account "operates as a 'designated public forum' for First Amendment purposes, and accordingly the viewpoint-based blocking of our clients is unconstitutional." In some other news, Press Secretary Sean Spicer said today "@realDonaldTrump's tweets are official White House statements."

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How a Few Yellow Dots Burned the Intercept's NSA Leaker

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 21:20
On Monday, news outlet The Intercept released documents on election tampering from an NSA leaker. The documents revealed that a Russian intelligence operation sent spear-phishing emails to more than 100 local election officials days before the election, which ran through a hack of a U.S. voting software supplier. Hours later, the Department of Justice charged 25-year-old government contractor Reality Leigh Winner with sharing top secret material with the media. The DoJ said it Winner had "printed and improperly removed classified intelligence reporting, which contained classified national defense information" before mailing the materials. But how could the DoJ know that it was Winner who had printed the documents, or that the documents were printed at all? ArsTechnica explains: [...] The Intercept team inadvertently exposed its source because the copy showed fold marks that indicated it had been printed -- and it included encoded watermarking that revealed exactly when it had been printed and on what printer. The watermarks in the scanned document The Intercept published yesterday -- were from a Xerox Docucolor printer. Many printers use this or similar schemes, printing faint yellow dots in a grid pattern on printed documents as a form of steganography, encoding metadata about the document into its hard-copy output. Researchers working with the Electronic Frontier Foundation have reverse-engineered the grid pattern employed by this class of printer; using the tool, Ars (and others, including security researcher Robert Graham) determined that the document passed to The Intercept was printed on May 9, 2017 at 6:20am from a printer with the serial number 535218 or 29535218. Further reading: How The Intercept Outed Reality Winner.

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More Than 20 Employees Fired at Uber in Sexual Harassment Investigation

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 20:45
More than 20 employees have been fired from Uber as part of an ongoing sexual harassment investigation, according to Bloomberg. From a report: In an explosive blog post earlier this year, former Uber engineer Susan Fowler alleged the company failed to act on sexual harassment and gender discrimination complaints. CEO Travis Kalanick called for an urgent investigation into the claims, led by former U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. That investigation, with Holder at the helm, has given its own recommendations to Uber's board, according to Bloomberg. But Uber's 12,000 employees have been given an assessment of a separate investigation, led by an attorney in at Perkins Coie LLP, according to Bloomberg, who cite an anonymous source. Perkins Coie examined 215 claims, Bloomberg said.

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Many Colleges Fail to Improve Critical-Thinking Skills: WSJ

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 20:05
Freshmen and seniors at about 200 colleges across the U.S. take a little-known test every year to measure how much better they get at learning to think. The results are discouraging. From a report: At more than half of schools, at least a third of seniors were unable to make a cohesive argument, assess the quality of evidence in a document or interpret data in a table (Editor's note: the link might be paywalled; alternative source), The Wall Street Journal found after reviewing the latest results from dozens of public colleges and universities that gave the exam between 2013 and 2016. At some of the most prestigious flagship universities, test results indicate the average graduate shows little or no improvement in critical thinking over four years. Some of the biggest gains occur at smaller colleges where students are less accomplished at arrival but soak up a rigorous, interdisciplinary curriculum.

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Before Silicon Valley, New Jersey Was Tech Capital

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 19:27
New submitter artmancc writes: It was in New Jersey that Thomas Edison invented sound recording, motion pictures, and the light bulb in what is considered the first modern corporate R&D facility. In other words, Edison invented the modern lab -- teams of people working together, sharing ideas and perfecting devices. In the century after Edison, New Jersey became the place to set up shop if you wanted to invent. On top of all the other assets, the state had lots of inexpensive land available. The transistor and cellular communications came out of AT&T's Bell Labs, also in New Jersey. If it was 1955 and you had to bet on where the next half-century of technical innovation would emerge, the Garden State would be the most likely winner, not some farmland south of San Francisco. As a couple of Jersey natives at NPR note, it didn't quite work out that way. What happened?

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Amazon Is Offering a Discount on Prime For People On Government Assistance

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 18:48
Amazon announced on Tuesday that it is offering a discount on Prime membership for US customers participating in a number of government assistance programs. From a report: Anyone with a valid Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) card, which disburses funds for programs like Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP, or food stamps), is eligible for Prime's discounted monthly price of $5.99. Prime's normal price is a $99 a year, or a monthly fee of $10.99. From a report:

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Amazon, Mozilla, Kickstarter, and Reddit Are Staging a Net Neutrality Online Protest

Tue, 06/06/2017 - 18:04
An anonymous reader shares a report: Some of the Internet's biggest names are banding together for a "day of action" to oppose the Federal Communications Commission (alternative source), which is working to undo regulations for Internet providers that it passed during the Obama administration. Among the participants are Etsy, Kickstarter and Mozilla, the maker of the popular Firefox Web browser. Also joining the day of protest will be Reddit, the start-up incubator Y Combinator, and Amazon. On July 12, the companies and organizations are expected to change their websites to raise awareness of the FCC effort, which is aimed at deregulating the telecom and cable industries. Mozilla, for example, will change what users see on their screens when they open a new browser window. Other participants include Demand Progress, Etsy, Vimeo, Private Internet Access, Fight for the Future, EFF, DreamHost, Creative Commons, BitTorrent, American Library Association, ACLU, GreenPeace, Open Media, and Patreon. Find more details here.

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