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Facebook Knows Your Political Preferences

/. - 1 hour 1 min ago
Facebook knows a lot more about its users than they think. For instance, the New York Times reports, the company is categorizing its users as liberal, conservative, or moderate. These details are valuable for advertisers and campaign managers, especially ahead of the election season. From a BusinessInsider report: For some, Facebook is able to come to conclusions about your political leanings easily, if you mention a political party on your page. For those that are less open about politics on social media, Facebook makes assumptions based on pages you like. As The New York Times explained, if you like Ben and Jerry's Facebook page and most of the other people that like that page identify as liberal, Facebook might assume you too are liberal.

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User Illusion: Everyday 'Placebo Buttons' Create Semblance of Control

Soylent New - 1 hour 34 min ago

Late for work in Manhattan, you push the crosswalk button and curse silently at the slowness of the signal change. You finally get a green light, cross the street, arrive at the office, get in the elevator and hit the close door (>|<) button to speed things along. Getting out on your target floor, you find that hurrying has you a bit hot under the collar, so you reach for the thermostat to turn up the air conditioning.

Each of these seemingly disconnected everyday buttons you pressed may have something in common: it is quite possible that none of them did a thing to influence the world around you. Any perceived impact may simply have been imaginary, a placebo effect giving you the illusion of control.

In the early 2000s, New York City transportation officials finally admitted what many had suspected: the majority of crosswalk buttons in the city are completely disconnected from the traffic light system. Thousands of these initially worked to request a signal change but most no longer do anything, even if their signage suggests otherwise.

[...] Today, a combination of carefully orchestrated automation and higher traffic has made most of these buttons obsolete. Citywide, there are around 100 crosswalk buttons that still work in NYC but close to 1,000 more that do nothing at all. So why not take them down? Removing the remaining nonfunctional buttons would cost the city millions, a potential waste of already limited funds for civic infrastructure.

More examples are quoted in linked article, and some suggestions how tech can make our lives more pleasant while waiting - Pong anyone?.

http://99percentinvisible.org/article/user-illusion-everyday-placebo-buttons-create-semblance-control/

-- submitted from IRC

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PlayStation 3 Games Are Coming To PC

/. - 1 hour 40 min ago
PlayStation 3 games are coming to Windows. Sony said Tuesday that it is bringing its PlayStation Now game-streaming program to Windows PCs. The service broadcasts PlayStation 3 games over the internet similar to the way Netflix beams movies to devices like Roku. CNET reports: This fall, you'll be able to play previously exclusive games like Uncharted 3 and Shadow of the Colossus on a Windows laptop. The catch: you'll be playing those games over the internet with Sony's streaming game service, PlayStation Now. Think Netflix. PlayStation Now has already been around for a couple of years on the PS4, PS3, PS Vita handheld, plus a handful of Blu-ray players and smart TVs. For $20 a month or $45 for three, the service gives players unlimited access to a long list of over 400 PlayStation 3 games. Like Netflix or any other streaming service, the quality can vary wildly depending on your internet connection -- Sony requires a solid 5Mbps connection at all times, and that doesn't change today. What changes is the size of Sony's audience. With a Windows laptop or tablet, you aren't tethered to a big-screen TV. You could theoretically take these PlayStation games anywhere -- and wherever you go, your save games stream with you.

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FBI Investigating Russian Hack Of New York Times Reporters, Others

/. - 2 hours 19 min ago
Hackers thought to be working for Russian intelligence have carried out a series of cyber breaches targeting reporters at the New York Times and other U.S. news organizations, reports CNN, citing US officials briefed on the matter. From the report: The intrusions, detected in recent months, are under investigation by the FBI and other US security agencies. Investigators so far believe that Russian intelligence is likely behind the attacks and that Russian hackers are targeting news organizations as part of a broader series of hacks that also have focused on Democratic Party organizations, the officials said. "Like most news organizations we are vigilant about guarding against attempts to hack into our systems," said New York Times Co. spokeswoman Eileen Murphy. "There are a variety of approaches we take up to and including working with outside investigators and law enforcement. We won't comment on any specific attempt to gain unauthorized access to The Times." The breaches targeting reporters and news organizations are part of an apparent surge in cyber attacks in the past year against entities beyond US government agencies.

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Steve Wozniak Says Apple Must Fix iPhone 7 Bluetooth Or Revive Its Headphone Jack

/. - 3 hours 51 sec ago
We've talked extensively about the missing headphone jack on the upcoming iPhone. While some say that the move will ruin user experience -- something that has already started to seem that way in the real world -- a few argue that someone needs to push the needle to move the technology forward. Now Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has something to say about the missing legacy audio jack as well. He is asking Apple to fix the Bluetooth first if the company intends to give users to move to wireless headphones. From a Financial Review report: Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has warned Apple is going to frustrate a lot of customers if it removes the headphone jack from the upcoming iPhone 7. [...] Customers wanting to use their existing, wired earbuds and headphones might have to buy an adaptor that attaches to the iPhone's Lightning port, or to whatever port does remain on the phone. "If it's missing the 3.5mm earphone jack, that's going to tick off a lot of people," Mr Wozniak told The Australian Financial Review. "I would not use Bluetooth ... I don't like wireless. I have cars where you can plug in the music, or go through Bluetooth, and Bluetooth just sounds so flat for the same music." Mr Wozniak said he would probably use the adaptor to connect his existing earphones to his next iPhone, and said that, like many other users he is attached to the accessories that he uses alongside the phone. "Mine have custom ear implants, they fit in so comfortably, I can sleep on them and everything. And they only come out with one kind of jack, so ''ll have to go through the adaptor," he said. "If there's a Bluetooth 2 that has higher bandwidth and better quality, that sounds like real music, I would use it. But we'll see. Apple is good at moving towards the future, and I like to follow that."

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Patent Dispute over Nanopore Sequencing Reaches Settlement

Soylent New - 3 hours 8 min ago

Illumina Inc. and Oxford Nanopore Technologies have reached a settlement in this legal battle, according to a U.S. International Trade Commission document released last week. Oxford has agreed not to import or sell any product containing a pore with an amino acid sequence at least 68% similar to Mycobacterium smegmatis porin (Msp)—the protein at the heart of Illumina's infringement claim—and to destroy any inventory of such products.

[...] Illumina, Inc.—which dominates the genetic sequencing industry—sued Oxford Nanopore Technologies, the first company to market a commercial nanopore platform. Illumina claims that Oxford's two flagship devices infringe on patents that Illumina controls.

[...] Illumina, meanwhile, has yet to release a nanopore platform

[...] Illumina's chance of winning the case might come down to a "very messy" aspect of patent law called the doctrine of equivalents, he says. The doctrine holds that a party can be liable for infringement even if their product doesn't literally match what's described in a patent, provided their product performs the same function, in the same way, to achieve the same result as the patented invention.

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctrine_of_equivalents
https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2016/03/gene-sequencing-technology-sparks-patent-fight-shrouded-mystery

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Didi Launches Car Rental Service In China

/. - 3 hours 41 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing is adding a car rental service for customers in several cities, to take advantage of the enormous domestic tourism market in China. Users can reserve a car through the Didi app and have it delivered to their door within two hours. The service, which is currently in beta testing in Shanghai, is expected to expand to several more cities in China over the next year. In a statement the company said, "Didi car rental is launched in response to the boom in China's short-term and tourist car rental market as the population goes through a lifestyle revolution." In 2015, 2.34 billion cars were rented for domestic tourists in China. That number is expected to more than double, reaching 5.8 billion by 2020.The move comes weeks after Uber announced it was selling its Chinese operation to Didi.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Hey Google, Want To Fix Android Updates? Hit OEMs Where It Hurts

/. - 4 hours 21 min ago
Yesterday we talked about some of Nexus devices, including 2013's Nexus 5 not receiving an update, because it has been more than two years since the launch of the phone. But as you may know, this commitment to keeping the devices up to date is even worse when you look at what other Android OEMs are doing. ArsTechnica's Ron Amadeo has a solution: Google keeps missing the point when it comes to addressing Android's update situation. It keeps coming up with strategies to make updating "easier" for OEMs, but I don't think the problem is "ease of updating" -- it's creating any incentive for OEMs to update at all. Google seems to think that its partners will update phones because it's The Right Thing To Do by their customers and that handing out gold stars will send them scrambling to produce updates for their devices. I don't think that's ever going to happen. Google actually already tried the "shame" tactic and it didn't work. When Google-owned Motorola, Moto's update speed went through the roof. Motorola was achieving near-Nexus-like update speeds on many of its phones and was definitely putting other manufacturers to shame. But the increased update competition never really spurred other OEMs to start competing on update speeds. The bottom line is that Android partners only care about, well, the bottom line -- money. These companies already have your money, so updating a device that's already been sold is a needless expense. There's also a good argument to be made that updating a device hurts future sales. If your phone isn't updated, it will start to feel old, so you're more likely to buy a new phone sooner.

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Five-Storey BSoD Spotted in Thailand

Soylent New - 4 hours 45 min ago

from the beat-this dept.

Via El Reg, Richard Chirgwin asks if anyone has seen a dramatic failure of Microsoft's OS. One assumes that he is referring to very public instances.

In Topper style, he starts off with a real beauty[1] that was spotted in Thailand.

In the comments, cornz 1 mentions seeing every screen at Schiphol Airport (Amsterdam) BSoD'd; Shadow Systems says he had to go to the other side of town when his branch bank's ATM BSoD'd; Robert Helpmann wasn't thrilled when the hotel elevator that was to take him up 20something storeys was showing a BSoD; James 51 also notes that Blue Screens are not a thing of the past, as his wife's Windows 10 update BSoD'd.

[1] If you have Facebook blocked, I have saved you the trip to Blake Sibbit's Facebook page.

Hat tips to TechWorm (though I wish you wouldn't put parts of your content behind scripts) and to Archive.is (which will run scripts for you on their machines).

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Epic Games Forums Hacked, Again

/. - 5 hours 1 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: Epic Games, maker of popular games such as Unreal and Infinity Blade, announced today that its forums have been hacked. Now, if you don't reuse password that isn't a huge deal. But if you have used the same password on any service, perhaps even a variation of that password, you will want to ensure that you have changed password of all your accounts. In the meanwhile, here's Epic Games: "We believe a recent Unreal Engine and Unreal Tournament forum compromise revealed email addresses and other data entered into the forums, but no passwords in any form, neither salted, hashed, nor plaintext. While the data contained in the vBulletin account databases for these forums were leaked, the passwords for user accounts are stored elsewhere. These forums remain online and no passwords need to be reset", says Epic Games.ZDNet is reporting that thousands of passwords have been stolen.

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Internaut Day Might Not Be the Web Anniversary You're Looking For

/. - 5 hours 40 min ago
David Meyer, reporting for Fortune: The web arguably went public before August 23, 1991. Social media users are enthusiastically celebrating "Internaut Day" on Tuesday. They're thanking Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, for first providing public access to it on this day in 1991, precisely a quarter of a century back. The only problem is that the supposed importance of Internaut Day doesn't seem to be supported by much evidence. Berners-Lee submitted his seminal proposal for a new information management system to CERN on March 12, 1989, a date which Berners-Lee celebrates as the birthday of the web. The building blocks were specified and written up by October 1990, and the first webpage went live in December that year. So when somebody celebrates the "Internaut Day" today, it really doesn't seem like the right occasion. The report adds: According to Wikipedia, that's when "new users could [first] access" the web -- and that's what a gazillion news stories on Tuesday are supposedly celebrating. But it doesn't square with what the Web Foundation and CERN say.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pokemon Go Daily Active Users, Downloads, Engagement Are Dropping

/. - 6 hours 21 min ago
An anonymous reader writes:Pokemon Go is starting to lose the battle for mobile mindshare, according to Axiom Capital Management. As such, investors and executives at Facebook Inc., Instagram, Tinder (Match Group Inc.), Twitter Inc., and Snapchat can breathe a sigh of relief, says Senior Analyst Victor Anthony. "Given the rapid rise in usage of the Pokemon Go app since the launch in July, investors have been concerned that this new user experience has been detracting from time spent on other mobile focused apps," he writes. Enthusiasm about the potential for Pokemon Go (and augmented reality gaming in general) to improve Nintendo Co Ltd.'s financial performance sent shares parabolic after the app launched in the U.S., and even spurred rallies in secondary plays linked to the success of the game. Data from Sensor Tower, SurveyMonkey, and Apptopia, however, show that Pokemon Go's daily active users, downloads, engagement, and time spent on the app per day are all well off their peaks and on a downward trend.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

FBI Releases Bank Robbers App

Soylent New - 6 hours 29 min ago

The FBI has released an app that displays information about bank robberies:

The FBI today released a Bank Robbers mobile app designed to help the public, law enforcement, and financial institutions see and share photos and information about robberies all over the country.

The app allows users to sort bank robberies by date, state, category (armed? disguised? serial offender?), as well as the FBI field station handling the case. You can get surveillance photos, details of the crime, physical descriptions of the suspect as well as the FBI's wanted poster. And if you want, a push notification will tell you when a bank robbery has occurred near your location and a link to the FBI's online tips page.

Install FBI code on my phone? Why not!?

Original Submission

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Microsoft Apps Will Be Pre-loaded On Lenovo and Motorola Android Devices

/. - 7 hours 1 min ago
An anonymous reader writes: There was a time when Microsoft was seen as the enemy of Linux and Apple communities. Understandably, at the time, the company only wanted Windows to succeed. Nowadays, however, the operating system is sort of inconsequential. Microsoft seems happy to have its software succeed on 'competitor' platforms such as iOS, Android, macOS, Ubuntu and more. Today, Microsoft announces that it has partnered with Lenovo on a new mobile initiative. The Windows-maker's productivity apps will be pre-loaded on Lenovo and Motorola-branded devices running Google's Linux-based Android operating system.As of earlier this year, Microsoft had over 74 Android OEM partners. As for submitter's take on this, it's pretty simple. Microsoft is going where users are. If they are not going to purchase Windows Phones, Microsoft will go to Android and iOS.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

US Customs and Border Protection Wants To Know Who You Are On Twitter

/. - 8 hours 1 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electronic Frontier Foundation: U.S. border control agents want to gather Facebook and Twitter identities from visitors from around the world. But this flawed plan would violate travelers' privacy, and would have a wide-ranging impact on freedom of expression -- all while doing little or nothing to protect Americans from terrorism. A proposal has been issued by U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect social media handles from visitors to the United States from visa waiver countries. The Electronic Frontier Foundation opposes the proposal and has commented on it individually and as part of a larger coalition. "CBP specifically seeks 'information associated with your online presence -- Provider/Platform -- Social media identifier' in order to provider DHS 'greater clarity and visibility to possible nefarious activity and connections' for 'vetting purposes,'" reports EFF. "In our comments, we argue that would-be terrorists are unlikely to disclose social media identifiers that reveal publicly available posts expressing support for terrorism." They say this plan "would unfairly violate the privacy of innocent travelers," would cause "innocent travelers" to "engage in self-censorship, cutting back on their online activity out of fear of being wrongly judged by the U.S. government," and would lead to a "slippery slope, where CBP would require U.S. citizens and residents returning home to disclose their social media handles, or subject both foreign visitors and U.S. persons to invasive device searches at ports of entry with the intent of easily accessing any and all cloud data."

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Who Are You? Squatters Can Actually Help a Neighborhood

Soylent New - 8 hours 18 min ago

Arthur T Knackerbracket has found the following story:

Squatters who illegally occupy vacant homes or buildings are not always contributing to apathy or social disorder, says a new University of Michigan study that will be presented at the 111th Annual Meeting of the American Sociological Association (ASA).

It can actually be a good situation for a neighborhood to have these individuals move into abandoned homes, lessening the chance of them becoming sites for drug users or burned by arsonists, the study indicates.

In urban communities nationwide, such as Detroit, which are experiencing population decline, homes have been abandoned by owners or left unattended by private investors who often purchase them in bundles of tens, hundreds, or even thousands.

"While attempts to revitalize a city rely on private ownership to induce responsible care for property, that isn't always an option," said study author Claire Herbert, a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she earned a PhD in sociology.

That's where squatters come in.

Herbert, who will be an assistant professor at Drexel University in the fall, interviewed more than 60 people, including squatters, city authorities, and residents between 2013-2015, while also gathering ethnographic data on illegal property use from various sources, such as community meetings and squatted areas across Detroit.

Surprisingly, many of the residents in the study welcome squatters to keep abandoned homes occupied. Squatting, however, was not considered acceptable to residents if the home was still occupied or if the legal owner was maintaining and overseeing the property.

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Your wget is Broken and Should DIE, GitHubbers Tell Microsoft

Soylent New - 10 hours 3 min ago

Well, that didn't take long: within a week of applause for Microsoft's decision to open-source PowerShell, a comment-war has broken out over curl and wget.

For those not familiar with these commands: they're open source command line tools for fetching Internet content without a browser. Apart from obvious applications like downloading whole sites (for example as backup), they're also under the hood for a lot of other toolsets (an example the author is familiar with – GIS tools use curl and/or wget to fetch maps from Web services).

For some reason, Microsoft's team decided to put aliases for curl and wget in Windows PowerShell – but, as this thread begins, those aliases don't deliver curl and wget functionality.

The pull request says the aliases should be spiked: "They block use of the commonly used command line tools without providing even an attempt to offer the same functionality. They serve no purpose for PowerShell users but cause confusion and problems to existing curl and wget users."

http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/08/23/your_wget_is_broken_and_should_die_powershellers_tell_microsoft/

-- submitted from IRC

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Samsung Plans To Sell Refurbished High-End Smartphones In 2017

/. - 11 hours 1 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Samsung Electronics Co Ltd plans to launch a program to sell refurbished used versions of its premium smartphones as early as next year, a person with direct knowledge of the matter told Reuters. The world's top smartphone maker will refurbish high-end phones returned to the company by users who signed up for one-year upgrade programs in markets such as South Korea and the United States. Samsung would then re-sell these phones at a lower price, the person said, declining to be identified as the plan was not yet public. The person declined to say how big a discount the refurbished phones would be sold at, which markets the phones would be sold in or how many refurbished devices Samsung could sell. It was not clear to what extent the phones would be altered, but refurbished phones typically are fitted with parts such as a new casing or battery. Refurbished phones could help vendors such as Samsung boost their presence in emerging markets such as India, where high-end devices costing $800 or so are beyond most buyers. Samsung's refurbishment program, details of which the person said could be finalized as early as 2017, could help the firm generate revenue from dated high-end smartphones returned by users upgrading to newer versions.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

New England Drought Means Bolder Bears, Stressed Fish

Soylent New - 11 hours 45 min ago

Bears are bolder, mosquitoes are multiplying and stream-dwelling fish are stressed. Beyond hurting crops and helping the tourism industry, New England's hot, dry summer also is affecting the region's wildlife.

All six New England states are experiencing at least moderate drought, according to the National Drought Mitigation Center, with severe patches in all but Vermont and pockets of extreme drought in Massachusetts and New Hampshire.

Low rainfall also means low stream flow levels across the region. The U.S. Geological Survey says all six states have areas exhibiting moderate hydrologic drought, with severe spots in Massachusetts and one extreme area in Maine.

[...] In Maine, officials are recommending that people fish earlier or later in the day when temperatures are cooler. The same goes for southern New Hampshire, said Scott Decker, inland fisheries program director at New Hampshire Fish and Game.

Given that mosquitoes breed in standing water, you might expect fewer instead of more during a drought, said Pete Pekins, wildlife professor at the University of New Hampshire. But the opposite happens because as water levels drop, river banks and the edges of ponds widen, he said.

[...] The drought has implications on land as well as water, with bears, snakes and ants among those species venturing further afield in search of food or water. In Quincy, Massachusetts, a timber rattlesnake showed up on someone's front steps. In New Hampshire, bears have been foraging for food at campgrounds and neighborhood trash cans because drought-stricken berry bushes didn't produce as much as usual.

Too bad there is no simple way for Louisiana to export some of their excess rainfall to New England.

[Ed. Note: For our international readers, "New England" refers to the northeast region of the USA that encompasses the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut.]

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EpiPen's Price Increased 400% since 2008

Soylent New - 13 hours 27 min ago

EpiPen's price has ballooned about 400% since 2008, rising from about a $100 list price to $500 today. The EpiPen is one of the most important life-saving medical innovations for people with severe food allergies—which affect as many as 15 million Americans and 1 in 13 children in the United States. But its price has exploded over the last decade despite few upgrades to the product itself. The product's lack of competitors is likely a significant driver of the costs. [...] [The] EpiPen enjoys a near-monopoly on the market with annual sales of more than $1.3 billion and nearly 90% U.S. market share.

At Fortune, NYT, The Hill.

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