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Updated: 37 min 27 sec ago

Microsoft Is Closing the Social Network You Forgot It Ever Launched

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 15:00
So.cl, the little-known and probably much-forgotten social network project from Microsoft Research's FUSE Labs division, is closing down. From a report on TechCrunch: The service was launched in late 2011 as a social community where the objective was "collaborative consumption, not communication." Initially for students, So.cl opened up to anyone once it had gotten going and subsequently added support for mobile devices, too. When word of the project first leaked out prior to its launch, many had assumed that Microsoft was building a social network to compete directly with Facebook -- this was a time when companies might be inclined to do that, remember Google Buzz launching in 2010? But Facebook this wasn't. It actually used Facebook log-in for user sign-up so if anything it is/was a Facebook app. If you're looking for a comparison, the focus on image collages and video made So.cl a little like a Pinterest-style service for visual content.

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Google AMP Is Rolling Out For 1 Billion People In Asia-Pacific Region

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 14:00
meshrepublic shares a report: As per the latest announcement, Google AMP is rolling out for 1 billion people in Asia Pacific. Baidu and Sogou, which account for around 90% of the search market in China, made the announcement on the opening day of the first AMP developer conference which is taking place in New York. Also, Yahoo Japan will connect to AMP pages from their Search results. This will bring all the benefits of AMP to their 58m daily users in Japan. With the addition of these search giant's, means, a billion more people will be using Google Accelerated Mobile Pages. Per Google research, 70 percent of conventional mobile pages take seven to 10 seconds for visual page content to load. By comparison, AMP pages' load in less than one second, on average.

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The Dark Web Has Shrunk By 85%

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 11:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BleepingComputer: The number of Dark web services has gone down significantly following the Freedom Hosting II hack that took place at the start of February, and only consists of around 4,400 services, according to a recently published OnionScan report. Previous research published in April 2016 by threat intelligence firm Deep Light had the total number of Dark Web services at around 30,000. Comparing the two numbers, the report shows a decrease of over 85% in the overall size of Dark Web in the last year alone. According to the recent OnionScan statistics, the Dark Web is laughably small, with around 4,000 HTTP websites, 250 TLS (HTTPS) endpoints, 100 SMTP services, and only 10 FTP nodes.

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Airbus Reveals a Modular, Self-Piloting Flying Car Concept

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 08:00
At this year's Geneva Motor Show, Airbus has revealed a concept design created in partnership with Italdesign. "The demonstration vehicle offers modular functionality, meaning it can operate both on the ground and in the air, and Airbus thinks it's one potential answer to the growing problem of urban traffic congestion," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The concept vehicle is intended to work with others to form a network that can be summoned on demand, with passengers hailing a ride from an app on their mobile device. The capsule-based design can connect to either ground or air conveyance modules, letting customers specify their preferred method of transit. It's also designed to be used in concert with other existing transportation methods for maximum efficiency. Airbus and Italdesign call their creation the "Pop.Up System," which includes the artificial intelligence platform that uses what it knows about any individual user, and available routes and transit options to determine the best travel options. The main vehicle itself is a passenger capsule, which holds the rider and which can be paired with either ground and air modules, as well as, Airbus suggests, with hyperloop systems down the line once that tech becomes more widely available. There's a third part of Pop.Up that ensures this whole project touches all bases when it comes to current tech hype -- an interface that will respond and interact with the user in a "fully virtual environment" while in transit. They've thought of everything.

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Americans Are Having Less Sex Than 20 Years Ago, Study Finds

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 04:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: American adults reported having nine fewer romps a year in the early 2010s than they did in the late 1990s -- dropping from an average of about 62 times a year between 1995 and 2000 to around 53 a year between 2010 and 2014. Researchers saw declines across ages, races, religions, education levels, employment statuses, and regions. They linked the sagging numbers to two trends: an increase in singletons over that period -- who tend to have less sex than married or partnered people -- plus a slow-down in the sex lives of married and coupled people. But the drivers of those trends are still unclear. The study is based on data from a long-standing national survey called the General Social Survey (GSS). It involves a nationally representative sample of Americans over 18 years old, surveyed most years between 1972 and 2014. The new study involved responses from 26,620 Americans. Specifically, researchers found that married people's annual whoopee frequency dropped from an average of nearly 69 in the 1995-2000 period to just below 56 in the 2010-2014 period. The unmarried saw their lovemaking drop from 54 per year to 51 in the same timeframes. Meanwhile, the number of people without steady partners -- married or otherwise -- rose from 26 percent of survey respondents in 2006 to 33 percent in 2014. People who took the biggest hits in the bedroom since the 1990s were those with a college degree (about 15 fewer times a year) and people living in the South (about 13 fewer times a year). The study has been published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior.

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AMD Offers Full Details and Performance of Zen-Based Naples Server Platform

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 03:05
MojoKid writes: AMD lifted the veil this morning on architecture details and performance expectations of its next generation Zen-based server platform, codenamed Naples. Naples is an up to 32-core, 64-thread variant of Zen, targeted at enterprise and data center applications. The processors will feature eight-channel DDR4 memory controllers (with up to 16 DIMMs attached per CPU), with support for up to 4TB of memory and 128 lanes of on-chip PCI Express connectivity. In a 2P (dual processor/dual socket) configuration, Naples offers up to 64 physical cores (128 threads), access to 32 DIMM slots, and aggregate 16 memory channels. Versus a 2P Intel Xeon E5-2699A V4 based server, the 2P Naples setup ends up with double the memory channels, a higher total memory capacity, more cores (20 more physical cores, 40 more threads), and 48 more available PCI Express lanes. AMD's performance comparisons at its tech day event pit a 2P Naples server with 512GB of DDR4 RAM up against a 2P Intel Xeon E4-2699A V4 configuration with 384GB of RAM. The Naples system had a higher memory capacity and that memory was clocked much higher too -- 2400MHz versus 1866MHz. The Naples system has more cores, and with SMT on, can ultimately process more threads as a result. The AMD Naples system also has double the memory channels, further improving peak memory bandwidth. In its demos, AMD used a seismic analysis workload, which involved multiple iterations of 3D wave equations. According to AMD, the test taxes the entire system, including CPU cores, memory and I/O. In this demo, the AMD server system completed equations roughly 2.5x faster than the dual-socket Intel Xeon server. Expected price points weren't given, but Naples processors and servers should be available in Q2 this year.

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Developer Proclaims Death of Cyberfox Web Browser

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 02:25
In a forum entitled "Cyberfox and its future direction," the lead developer of Cyberfox proclaimed the death of its web browser. "Cyberfox is a Firefox-based browser that is available as processor-specific builds, in classic and Australis styles," reports Ghacks Technology News. "It ships with additional features built-in to the browser, but is compatible mostly with Firefox." From the report: Cyberfox, and other Firefox-based browsers like Pale Moon or Waterfox, came to prominence by offering optimized builds, especially for 64-bit versions of Windows, long before Mozilla started to even offer 64-bit versions officially. The death of Cyberfox, or more precisely, the announcement of end of life for the web browser may come as a shock to users who run it. It should not be too much of a surprise though for users who keep an eye on the browser world and especially Mozilla and Firefox. Mozilla announced major changes to Firefox, some of which landed already, some are in process, and others are announced for 2017. [Some of the critical changes:] Multi-process Firefox is almost done, plugins are out except for Flash and Firefox ESR, Windows XP and Vista users are switched to Firefox ESR so that the operating systems are supported for eight additional releases, and WebExtensions will replace all other add-on systems of the browser. That's a lot of change, especially for projects that are maintained by a small but dedicated group of developers such as Cyberfox. The author of Cyberfox made the decision to switch the browser's release channel to Firefox 52.0 ESR. This means that Cyberfox will be supported with security updates for the next eight release cycles, but new features that Mozilla introduces in Firefox Stable won't find their way into the browser anymore.

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WikiLeaks CIA Files: The 6 Biggest Spying Secrets Revealed By the Release of 'Vault 7'

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 01:45
Earlier today, WikiLeaks unleashed a cache of thousands of files it calls "Year Zero," which is part one of the release associated with "Vault 7." Since there are over 8,000 pages in this release, it will take some time for journalists to comb through the release. The Independent has highlighted six of the "biggest secrets and pieces of information yet to emerge from the huge dump" in their report. 1) The CIA has the ability to break into Android and iPhone handsets, and all kinds of computers. The U.S. intelligence agency has been involved in a concerted effort to write various kinds of malware to spy on just about every piece of electronic equipment that people use. That includes iPhones, Androids and computers running Windows, macOS and Linux. 2) Doing so would make apps like Signal, Telegram and WhatsApp entirely insecure. Encrypted messaging apps are only as secure as the devices they are used on -- if an operating system is compromised, then the messages can be read before they are encrypted and sent to the other user(s). 3) The CIA could use smart TVs to listen in on conversations that happened around them. One of the most eye-catching programs detailed in the documents is "Weeping Angel." That allows intelligence agencies to install special software that allows TVs to be turned into listening devices -- so that even when they appear to be switched off, they're actually on. 4) The agency explored hacking into cars and crashing them, allowing "nearly undetectable assassinations." Many of the documents reference tools that appear to have dangerous and unknown uses. One file, for instance, shows that the CIA was looking into ways of remotely controlling cars and vans by hacking into them. 5) The CIA hid vulnerabilities that could be used by hackers from other countries or governments. Such bugs were found in the biggest consumer electronics in the world, including phones and computers made Apple, Google and Microsoft. But those companies didn't get the chance to fix those exploits because the agency kept them secret in order to keep using them, the documents suggest. 6) More information is coming. The documents have still not been looked through entirely. There are 8,378 pages of files, some of which have already been analyzed but many of which haven't. And that's not to mention the other sets of documents that are coming. The "Year Zero" leaks are just the first in a series of "Vault 7" dumps, Julian Assange said. You can view the Vault 7 Part 1 'Year Zero' release here via WikiLeaks. The Intercept has an in-depth report focusing on how the "CIA Could Turn Smart TVs Into Listening Devices."

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Ask Slashdot: How Do You Best Protect Client Files From Wireless Hacking?

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 01:05
dryriver writes: A client has given you confidential digital files containing a design for a not-yet-public consumer product. You need to work on those files on a Windows 10 PC that has a wireless chipset built into it. What can you do, assuming that you have to work under Windows 10, that would make 3rd party wireless access to this PC difficult or impossible? I can imagine that under a more transparent, open-source, power-user OS like Linux, it would be a piece of cake to kill all wireless access completely and reliably even if the system contains wireless hardware. But what about a I-like-to-phone-home-sometimes, non open-source OS like Windows 10 that is nowhere near as open and transparent? Is there a good strategy for making outside wireless access to a Windows 10 machine difficult or impossible?

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How To Close the Gender Pay Gap By 2044

Wed, 03/08/2017 - 00:20
An anonymous reader shares an article on FastCompany: The wage gap in developing countries could be reduced by 35% by 2030 and eliminated by 2044, according to a new report from consultancy Accenture. But in order achieve pay parity, women need to be more involved in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields, the report notes. But, workplaces will have to change too. One of the biggest barriers to women attaining equal pay is that many women don't work full-time. They take part-time jobs in order to balance responsibilities at home or within a family -- work that is generally unpaid. If workplaces provide more flexible schedules, allowing women to work 40 hours outside of a typical 9-5 schema, more women would be able to work full-time.

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Trump Renominates Ajit Pai For Five More Years at the FCC

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 23:40
According to Axios, Bloomberg, and several other publications, President Trump has nominated FCC chairman Ajit Pai for a second five-year term at the commission. "Pai's current term ended last June, though he's been able to stick around through the end of the year even without reconfirmation," reports The Verge. From the report: The nomination comes just days after Pai sat down with the president for a meeting, during which they're said to have "reconnected" but without actually discussing anything the commission is actively considering. Pai will need confirmation from the Senate for the nomination to be approved. He was first nominated in 2012 to fill the slot of a commissioner. With approval, he'll be able to stick around through at least the entirety of Trump's current term. The question now is when Trump will nominate people to fill the two slots still vacant at the commission. The FCC remains short staffed, with only three out of five seated leaders, which somewhat limits how quickly Pai is able to get through his agenda.

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RadioShack Is Preparing to File For Bankruptcy Again

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 23:00
BarbaraHudson writes: Bloomberg is reporting that the "new" RadioShack is preparing to file for bankruptcy. From the report: "General Wireless Operations, the RadioShack successor created by a partnership between Sprint Corp. and the defunct retailer's owners, is preparing to file for bankruptcy, according to people familiar with the matter. A filing could happen within the coming days and will probably result in liquidation, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the process isn't public. The beleaguered company, which does business as RadioShack, operates outlets that share space with Sprint's retail locations, as well as franchising the name to other stores." Investors had thrown $75 million in lines of credit and term loans at the business, which was used for "renovated locations and updated inventory." That's less than $60,000 per store -- chickenfeed in today's world, where renovating a McDonalds can run between $500,000 and $2,000,000, and you're not trying to pivot.

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China's ZTE Pleads Guilty, Will Pay $1.19 Billion For Violating US Trade Sanctions

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 22:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Chinese telecom equipment maker ZTE Corp will plead guilty and pay $1.19 billion ($892 million in the Iran case) to settle allegations it violated U.S. laws that restrict the sale of American-made technology to Iran and North Korea, the company and U.S. government agencies said on Tuesday. ZTE entered into an agreement to plead guilty to conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, obstruction of justice and making a material false statement, the U.S. Justice Department said. The Commerce Department investigation followed reports by Reuters in 2012 that ZTE had signed contracts to ship millions of dollars worth of hardware and software from some of the best-known U.S. technology companies to Iran's largest telecoms carrier. Between January 2010 and January 2016, ZTE directly or indirectly shipped approximately $32 million of U.S.-origin items to Iran without obtaining the proper export licenses from the U.S. government. ZTE then lied to federal investigators during the investigation when it insisted that the shipments had stopped, Justice said. It also took actions involving 283 shipments of controlled items to North Korea, authorities said. Shipped items included routers, microprocessors and servers controlled under export regulations for security, encryption and anti-terrorism reasons.

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Dell Doubles Down On High-End Ubuntu Linux Laptops

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 21:40
Dell became the first major OEM to offer a laptop with Linux pre-installed in it in 2007. Ten years later, the company says it is more committed than ever to offering Linux-powered machines to users. From a report on ZDNet: The best known of these is the Dell XPS 13 developer edition, but it's not the only Linux laptop Dell offers. In a blog post, Barton George, senior principal engineer at Dell's Office of the CTO, announced "the next generation of our Ubuntu-based Precision mobile workstation line." All of these systems boast Ubuntu 16.04 long-term support (LTS), 7th generation Intel Core or Intel Xeon processors, and Thunderbolt 3, AKA 40 Gigabit per second (Gbps) USB-C, ports. As the Xeon processor option shows, these are top-of-the-line laptops for professionals. It took longer than expected for Dell to get this new set of five Ubuntu-powered Precision mobile workstations out the door. The Precision 5520 and 3520 are now available. The 3520, the entry-level workstation, starts with an Intel Core 2.5GHz i5-7300HQ Quad Core processor with Intel HD Graphics 630. From there, you can upgrade it all the way to an Intel Core Xeon 3 GHz E3-1505M v6 processor with Nvidia Quadro M62 graphics.

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Payments Giant Verifone Investigating Breach

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 21:00
Verifone is investigating a breach of its internal networks that appears to have impacted a number of companies running its point-of-sale card terminals, security reporter Brian Krebs reports. From the report: Verifone says the extent of the breach was limited to its corporate network and that its payment services network was not impacted. San Jose, Calif.-based Verifone is the largest maker of credit card terminals used in the United States. It sells point-of-sale terminals and services to support the swiping and processing of credit and debit card payments at a variety of businesses, including retailers, taxis, and fuel stations. On Jan. 23, 2017, Verifone sent an "urgent" email to all company staff and contractors, warning they had 24 hours to change all company passwords.

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Music Charts No Longer Make Sense

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 20:20
American rapper Future's back to back new albums have created a stir among music enthusiasts and the studios alike. Billboard today refreshed its weekly US Top 200 chart, and the American rapper officially became the first artist to ever knock his own album out of the #1 spot with another one of his albums. Future released the self-titled FUTURE on Feb. 17. One week later, the artist then dropped a second album HNDRXX which is the new champion. What does it mean, though? Confusion, some say. From a report on Quartz: Up till December 2014, Billboard's Top 200 chart -- which pulls its numbers from data juggernaut Nielsen -- measured new music in the US only by album sales. As music streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, came into the mainstream, Nielsen and Billboard revamped their system to be based off "units." How does is work? One "unit" is equivalent to either one album sale, 10 track sales, or 1,500 song streams. In other words, listeners on a streaming platform would need to stream a Future song 1,500 times for it to count the same way a single album purchase does. While that number may seem high, consider that it costs (more or less) $9.99 a month to stream tens of thousands of songs, as opposed to dropping $10-15 on a single album to own it, either physically or digitally. That means people who subscribe to online streaming services aren't taking out an additional cost to listen to every new Future song or album or the same ones over and over again -- it's essentially free. It becomes an odd, if necessary, way of calculating charts, because it means people who pay the most for an artist's music count for the least when sales are tallied.

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Microsoft Releases Visual Studio 2017

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 19:40
Reader Anon E. Muss writes: Microsoft on Tuesday released Visual Studio 2017. The latest version of the venerable Integrated Development Environment supports a variety of languages (C/C++, C#, VB.net, F#, Javascript/Typescript, Python, etc.) and targets classic "Win32" desktop, Universal Windows Platform (UWP, also known as "Metro"), .NET, ASP, node.js, etc.). A "Community Edition" is available at no cost for individual developers and those working on open source software. "Professional" and "Enterprise" editions are available for corporate developers, at prices sure to shock whoever has to sign the check.

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Android is About To Eclipse Windows as the World's Most-Used Operating System

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 19:00
John Falcone, writing for CNET: Android is poised to overtake Windows as the world's most-used operating system. That's the word from web analytics service StatCounter, which monitors worldwide web traffic with an eye towards device operating systems. The firm found that 37.4 percent of devices online were Android -- just a hair behind Windows at 38.6 percent. Perhaps the bigger concern for Microsoft are the trend lines, however: Windows is on a steady march down from 82 percent in 2012, while Android is mirroring it upward from 2.2 percent in the same 5-year period.

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For the First Time, More US Households Have Netflix Than a DVR

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 18:20
For the first time, U.S. households with the Netflix video-streaming service outnumber those that own a digital video recorder (DVR), a dramatic rise from just five years ago, according to new data. From a report: About 54% of U.S. adults said they have Netflix in their household -- while 53% have a DVR, according to Research Group's annual on-demand study. It's the first time that households with Netflix have surpassed the level of those with a DVR in the history of LRG's studies. In 2011, according to the research firm, 44% of TV households had a DVR and 28% had Netflix. Netflix has now eclipsed DVR usage despite the latter having a years-long head start. TiVo's first digital video recorder shipped in 1999, while Netflix debuted its video-streaming service in 2007 and started the shift away from its DVD-by-mail business. As of the end of 2016, Netflix had 49.4 million streaming subscribers in the U.S., up 10.5% year over year.

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Chatbot that Overturned 160,000 Parking Fines Now Helping Refugees Claim Asylum

Tue, 03/07/2017 - 17:40
Elena Cresci, writing for The Guardian: The creator of a chatbot which overturned more than 160,000 parking fines and helped vulnerable people apply for emergency housing is now turning the bot to helping refugees claim asylum. The original DoNotPay, created by Stanford student Joshua Browder, describes itself as "the world's first robot lawyer", giving free legal aid to users through a simple-to-use chat interface. The chatbot, using Facebook Messenger, can now help refugees fill in an immigration application in the US and Canada. For those in the UK, it helps them apply for asylum support. The London-born developer worked with lawyers in each country, as well as speaking to asylum seekers whose applications have been successful. Browder says this new functionality for his robot lawyer is "long overdue". He told the Guardian: "I've been trying to launch this for about six months -- I initially wanted to do it in the summer. But I wanted to make sure I got it right because it's such a complicated issue. I kept showing it to lawyers throughout the process and I'd go back and tweak it.

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