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Updated: 2 hours 13 min ago

Saint Louis University Is Outfitting Student Living Spaces With Thousands of Echo Dots

3 hours 15 min ago
Saint Louis University announced this week a plan to outfit living spaces with 2,300 Echo Dots. The smart speakers will be ready by the time classes start later this month. TechCrunch reports: SLU is quick to note that it's "the first college or university in the country to bring Amazon Alexa-enabled devices, managed by Alexa for Business, into every student residence hall room and student apartment on campus." It's certainly not the first to adopt Amazon's smart speakers, but it's among the largest scale for this sort of deployment. While the product has become a mainstay in plenty of American homes, it does seem like an odd choice dorms and student campus. SLU has worked with Alexa for Business to create 100 custom questions, including, "What time does the library close tonight?" and "Where is the registrar's office?" The company addressed [the privacy concerns] on a privacy page, writing: "Because of our use of the Amazon Alexa for Business (A4B) platform, your Echo Dot is managed by a central system dedicated to SLU. This system is not tied to individual accounts and does not maintain any personal information for any of our users, so all use currently is anonymous. Additionally, neither Alexa nor the Alexa for Business management system maintains recordings of any questions that are asked."

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Google Is Poised To Open Its First Permanent Retail Store

5 hours 4 min ago
Google is planning to open a 14,000 square-foot retail store in Chicago's Fulton Market district, according to local media reports from Crain's Chicago Business and Chicago Tribune. While Google has opened pop-up stores in the past, this would be its first permanent location. Ad Age reports: In 2015, Google abandoned plans to open a store in New York City, after spending $6 million renovating the 131 Greene St. location, Crain's New York Business reported at the time. The Chicago store would give Google a bricks-and-mortar location to show off its expanding line of products, including Pixel phones, Daydream VR headsets, Nest products and more. The location Google is eyeing in Chicago is just a few blocks from Google's Midwest headquarters. The Fulton Market neighborhood, part of Chicago's West Loop, is formerly a meatpacking district. It has been transformed in recent years and is now home to some of Chicago's hottest restaurants. The report notes that there's still a future in brick-and-mortar locations, citing Amazon's interest in Whole Foods and the fact that retail stores have been a key part of Apple's strategy. Microsoft operates stores in 35 states.

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Construction Begins On $1 Billion Telescope That Will Take Pictures 10 Times Sharper Than Hubble's

9 hours 15 min ago
The $1 billion Giant Magellan Telescope in Chile is officially under construction with a scheduled date of operation in 2024. The telescope "will have an array of seven enormous mirrors totaling 80 feet in diameter, giving it 10 times the precision of the Hubble telescope," reports Quartz. "Among its advances is technology to help it correct for the distorting effect of Earth's atmosphere by using software to make hundreds of adjustments per second to its array of secondary mirrors." From the report: The project's architects, a consortium of universities and institutions in the U.S., Korea, and Australia, chose to build in Chile's Atacama desert for its clear, dry skies. Astronomers will use the Magellan Telescope to study the origins of elements and the birth of stars and galaxies, and to examine planets that have been identified as potentially harboring life. Mother Nature Network has an article highlighting nine of the largest new telescopes expected to begin operation in the next decade.

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Apple Pulls 25,000 Apps From China Amid a Barrage of State-Media Criticism

10 hours 45 min ago
Apple has pulled more than 25,000 illegal apps from its App Store in China after coming under fire from state media for not doing enough to filter out banned material. From a report: "Gambling apps are illegal and not allowed on the App Store in China," Apple said in a statement Monday. "We have already removed many apps and developers for trying to distribute illegal gambling apps on our App Store, and we are vigilant in our efforts to find these and stop them from being on the App Store." The removals were reported earlier by Chinese state broadcaster CCTV on Sunday, which said 25,000 apps were pulled. Apple didn't confirm that number. It offers more than 1.8 million apps in China, according to the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. Removing 25,000 apps would amount to about 1.4% of that total.

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BitTorrent Founder Bram Cohen Has Left the Company

11 hours 10 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Bram Cohen, a co-founder of BitTorrent, the company which oversees the development of eponymous P2P protocol, has left its board, he told TorrentFreak. The revelation comes weeks after the file-sharing service provider said it had been acquired by blockchain startup Tron. It remains unclear exactly when Cohen, who also served as a lead engineer at the firm for years, made the decision to part ways with the company. He hinted to TechCrunch last year that, as of August, he was no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the company. The departure of Cohen underscores BitTorrent's long battle to find a lucrative business model. The company, the services of which are used by more than 100 million customers, has long struggled to find new applications of its platform and avenues to bring home some cash. In 2016, the company announced a mobile music and video streaming service [called] BitTorrent Now, which it abruptly shut down months later while also firing its co-CEOs. Last year, the company shut down its much hyped live streaming service BitTorrent Live, which Variety described as a brainchild of Cohen.

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Vitamin D, the Sunshine Supplement, Has Shadowy Money Behind It

19 August 2018 - 11:30pm
The New York Times tells the story of Dr. Michael Holick, a Boston University endocrinologist "who perhaps more than anyone else is responsible for creating a billion-dollar vitamin D sales and testing juggernaut." From the report: Dr. Holick's role in drafting national vitamin D guidelines, and the embrace of his message by mainstream doctors and wellness gurus alike, have helped push supplement sales to $936 million in 2017. That's a ninefold increase over the previous decade. Lab tests for vitamin D deficiency have spiked, too: Doctors ordered more than 10 million for Medicare patients in 2016, up 547 percent since 2007, at a cost of $365 million. But few of the Americans swept up in the vitamin D craze are likely aware that the industry has sent a lot of money Dr. Holick's way. A Kaiser Health News investigation for The New York Times found that he has used his prominent position in the medical community to promote practices that financially benefit corporations that have given him hundreds of thousands of dollars -- including drug makers, the indoor tanning industry and one of the country's largest commercial labs. In an interview, Dr. Holick acknowledged he has worked as a consultant to Quest Diagnostics, which performs vitamin D tests, since 1979. Dr. Holick, 72, said that industry funding "doesn't influence me in terms of talking about the health benefits of vitamin D." There is no question that the hormone is important. Without enough of it, bones can become thin, brittle and misshapen, causing a condition called rickets in children and osteomalacia in adults. The issue is how much vitamin D is healthy, and what level constitutes deficiency.

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Apple's Amsterdam Store Evacuated After iPad Battery Explodes

19 August 2018 - 9:11pm
Slashdot readers radi0man and DeBaas report of an exploding iPad battery in Apple's Amsterdam store. DeBaas writes: An exploding iPad led to the Amsterdam Apple store being evacuated, as reported by 9to5mac and local news in dutch. The store reopened after the fire brigade ventilated the store. 9to5Mac notes that this is the third evacuation this year of an Apple store due to an exploding battery -- the other two were from iPhones. The iPad and its punctured battery were put in a container of sand after it exploded. No major injuries were reported, however, "three employees who experienced trouble breathing were treated by first responders," reports 9to5Mac.

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China Aims To Narrow Cyberwarfare Gap With US

19 August 2018 - 7:23pm
According to the Department of Defense, China is looking to narrow the gap with the U.S. in terms of cyberwarfare capabilities. "The Pentagon report said that in recent years the Chinese army has emphasized the importance of cyberspace for national security because of the country's increasing reliance on its digital economy," reports ZDNet. "It said Chinese military strategists see cyber operations as a low-cost deterrent that can demonstrate capabilities and challenge an adversary." From the report: The DoD's annual report to congress (PDF) points to a Chinese international cyberspace cooperation strategy in March 2017, which called for the expedited development of a military "cyber force" as an important aspect of the country's defense strategy. However, the U.S. report said that China also believes its cyber capabilities and personnel lag behind those of the U.S. and that China "is working to improve training and bolster domestic innovation to overcome these perceived deficiencies and advance cyberspace operations." The report lists "cyber activities" directed against the DoD by China and said: "Computer systems around the world, including those owned by the U.S. government, continued to be targeted by China-based intrusions through 2017." It said these intrusions focused on accessing networks and extracting information, and said China uses its cyber capabilities to support intelligence collection against U.S. diplomatic, economic, academic, and defense sectors.

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'Americans Own Less Stuff, and That's Reason To Be Nervous'

19 August 2018 - 5:21pm
Bloomberg's Tyler Cowen writes about "the erosion of personal ownership and what that will mean for our loyalties to traditional American concepts of capitalism and private property." An anonymous Slashdot reader shares the report: The main culprits for the change are software and the internet. For instance, Amazon's Kindle and other methods of online reading have revolutionized how Americans consume text. Fifteen years ago, people typically owned the books and magazines they were reading. Much less so now. If you look at the fine print, it turns out that you do not own the books on your Kindle. Amazon.com Inc. does. I do not consider this much of a practical problem. Although Amazon could obliterate the books on my Kindle, this has happened only in a very small number of cases, typically involving account abuse. Still, this licensing of e-books, instead of stacking books on a shelf, has altered our psychological sense of how we connect to what we read -- it is no longer truly "ours." The change in our relationship with physical objects does not stop there. We used to buy DVDs or video cassettes; now viewers stream movies or TV shows with Netflix. Even the company's disc-mailing service is falling out of favor. Music lovers used to buy compact discs; now Spotify and YouTube are more commonly used to hear our favorite tunes. Each of these changes is beneficial, yet I worry that Americans are, slowly but surely, losing their connection to the idea of private ownership. The nation was based on the notion that property ownership gives individuals a stake in the system. It set Americans apart from feudal peasants, taught us how property rights and incentives operate, and was a kind of training for future entrepreneurship. We're hardly at a point where American property has been abolished, but I am still nervous that we are finding ownership to be so inconvenient.

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Netflix Deletes All User Reviews

19 August 2018 - 4:20pm
Netflix has removed all user reviews from its site, just like they said they would in early July. Here's what Netflix now has to say about posting reviews on its site: "Netflix customers were able to leave reviews on Netflix.com until mid-2018, when reviews were removed due to declining use. To learn how Netflix suggests TV shows and movies we think you'll love, visit our Ratings & Recommendations article." Engadget reports: Netflix probably had reasons other than the section's decline in use, as well. For instance, it had to deal with issues like "review bombing" by trolls hoping to bring down a show's rating back when it used stars instead of the thumbs up-down system. Netflix might have decided that reviews don't lead to enough views to warrant spending resources on policing them. It has a "percentage match" system that suggests titles based on previous ones you've watched, after all, so there's probably very little incentive for the platform to keep the reviews section running.

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Rolls-Royce Launches New Battery System To Electrify Ships

19 August 2018 - 3:19pm
Rolls-Royce, a British power system company (not to be confused with the luxury automobile maker), is launching a new battery system to electrify ships. "Rolls-Royce now offers SAVe Energy, a cost competitive, highly efficient and liquid cooled battery system with a modular design that enables the product to scale according to energy and power requirements," the company said in a statement. "SAVe Energy comply with international legislations for low and zero emission propulsion systems." Electrek reports: The company has been working on battery systems for years, but the recent improvements in li-ion batteries are now resulting in a boom of electrification of ships. Andreas Seth, Rolls-Royce, EVP Electrical, Automation and Control for Commercial Marine, said the company expects to deploy more batteries next year than they did over the last 8 years combined: "The electrification of ships is building momentum. From 2010 we have delivered battery systems representing about 15 MWh in total. However now the potential deployment of our patent pending SAVe Energy in 2019 alone is 10-18 MWh." Seth said that they are delivering the first system to Prestfjord as part of Norway's effort to electrify its maritime transport: "Battery systems have become a key component of our power and propulsions systems, and SAVe Energy is being introduced on many of the projects we are currently working on. This includes the upgrade programme for Hurtigruten's cruise ferries, the advanced fishing vessel recently ordered by Prestfjord and the ongoing retrofits of offshore support vessels. As a system provider we can find the best solution considering both installation and operational cost."

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Stolen Android Anti-Piracy Software Dumped On Github

19 August 2018 - 2:18pm
Dexguard, a tool used to protect Android software from piracy, tampering and cloning attacks, has been removed after being illegally posted on Github. A version of the tool exposed on the code repository was stolen from a customer of Guardsquare, the software's creator. TorrentFreak reports: "We develop premium software for the protection of mobile applications against reverse engineering and hacking," the [security company Guardsquare's] website reads. "Our products are used across the world in a broad range of industries, from financial services, e-commerce and the public sector to telecommunication, gaming and media." One of Guardsquare's products is Dexguard, a tool to protect Android applications from being decompiled, something that can lead to piracy, credential harvesting, tampering and cloning. Unfortunately, a version of Dexguard itself ended up on Github. In a takedown notice filed with the Microsoft-owned code platform, Guardsquare explains that the code is unauthorized and was obtained illegally. "The listed folders... contain an older version of our commercial obfuscation software (DexGuard) for Android applications. The folder is part of a larger code base that was stolen from one of our former customers," Guardsquare writes. Guardsquare found almost 300 "forks" of the stolen software on Github and filed a request to have them all taken down.

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Volkswagen's CEO Was Told About Emissions Software Months Before Scandal, Says Report

19 August 2018 - 1:17pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Volkswagen Chief Executive Herbert Diess was told about the existence of cheating software in cars two months before regulators blew the whistle on a multi-billion exhaust emissions scandal, German magazine Der Spiegel said. Der Spiegel's story, based on recently unsealed documents from the Braunschweig prosecutor's office, raises questions about whether VW informed investors in a timely manner about the scope of a scandal which it said has cost it more than $27 billion in penalties and fines. Responding to the magazine report, the carmaker reiterated on Saturday that the management board had not violated its disclosure duties, and had decided to not inform investors earlier because they had failed to grasp the scope of the potential fines and penalties. Citing documents unsealed by the Braunschweig prosecutor's office, Der Spiegel said Diess was present at a meeting on July 27, 2015 when senior engineers and executives discussed how to deal with U.S. regulators, who were threatening to ban VW cars because of excessive pollution levels. Diess, who had defected from BMW to become head of the VW brand on July 1, 2015, joined the July 27 meeting with Volkswagen's then Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn to discuss how to convince regulators that VW's cars could be sold, a VW defense document filed with a court in Braunschweig in February, shows.

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Does Gmail's 'Confidential Mode' Go Far Enough?

19 August 2018 - 12:16pm
Last month, Gmail's big redesign became default for everyone, changing up the aesthetic appearance of the email service and introducing several new features. One of the key features, Confidential Mode, lets you add an "expiration date" and passcode to emails either in the web interface or via SMS, but not everyone is so trusting of its ability to keep your private data secure. "Recipients of these confidential emails won't be able to copy, paste, download, print or forward the message, and attachments will be disabled," notes Engadget. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) doesn't think this new mode is secure at all. It's not encrypted end-to-end, so Google could read your messages in transit, and the expiring messages do not disappear from your Sent mail, which means they are retrievable. What's more is that if you use an SMS passcode, you might need to give Google your recipient's phone number. Because of these reasons, Slashdot reader shanen doesn't believe the new feature goes far enough to secure your data. They write: [M]y initial reaction is that I now need a new feature for Gmail. I want an option to reject incoming email from any person who wants to use confidential mode to communicate with me. Whatever conspiracy you are trying to hide, I'm not interested. So can anyone convince me you have a legitimate need for confidential mode? The main features I still want are completely different. Easiest one to describe would be future delivery of email, preferably combined with a tickler system.

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Uber Loses $900 Million In Second Quarter; Urged By Investors To Sell Off Self-Driving Division

19 August 2018 - 11:15am
Last week, Uber reported a second-quarter loss of $891 million, even though it brought in $2.8 billion in revenue. "While it's a 16 percent improvement from a year earlier, the loss follows a rare profit posted in the first quarter, thanks largely to the sale of overseas assets," reports Bloomberg. As a result, the company is being pressured by investors to sell its self-driving cars unit, which Uber is spending $125-200 million a quarter to maintain. From the report: Even after increased spending last quarter, revenue growth is slowing. Sales rose 63 percent to $2.8 billion in the second quarter compared with the same period last year. The rate in the first quarter was 70 percent. [Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi] Khosrowshahi is pouring large, undisclosed sums of money into food delivery, logistics and autonomous-car technology. The San Francisco-based company has said the food delivery business, Uber Eats, represents more than 10 percent of its gross bookings. Growth in that segment may be masking a slowdown in Uber's main business.

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HUD Files Complaint Alleging Facebook Ad Tools Allow Housing Discrimination

19 August 2018 - 10:14am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development has filed an official discrimination complaint against Facebook, saying the site's dizzying array of advertising tools makes it simple for advertisers to illegally exclude wide swathes of the population from seeing housing ads, Politico wrote on Friday. In a press release, HUD wrote that Facebook's "targeted advertising" model more or less constitutes a way for said advertisers to skirt the federal Fair Housing Act, specifically by excluding members of protected categories: "HUD claims Facebook enables advertisers to control which users receive housing-related ads based upon the recipient's race, color, religion, sex, familial status, national origin, disability, and/or zip code. Facebook then invites advertisers to express unlawful preferences by offering discriminatory options, allowing them to effectively limit housing options for these protected classes under the guise of 'targeted advertising.'" Specific examples cited by HUD included showing display ads "either only to men or women," as well as preventing users flagged as interested in disabilities-related topics like "assistance dog" or "accessibility" from seeing display ads. HUD also said that the targeted advertising tool can be used to prevent people interested in specific religions or regions from seeing ads, as well as "draw a red line around zip codes and then not display ads to Facebook users who live in specific zip codes." The complaint is just a complaint, but it does start an official process that will either end in Facebook reaching a resolution with federal officials or a lawsuit. CNN Tech notes that the National Fair Housing Alliance is simultaneously suing Facebook for the same reason. "Facebook is trying to dismiss the suit by claiming it has limited liability for user-generated content, though HUD and federal prosecutors claim the site operates as an internet content provider with respect to housing ads and therefore is subject to civil rights law," reports Gizmodo.

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Musk's Boring Company Proposes High-Speed Underground Subway To Dodger Stadium

19 August 2018 - 7:34am
Elon Musk's Boring Company wants to build a transit tunnel connecting Dodger Stadium to a Los Angeles' subway station. An anonymous reader quotes GeekWire: The Boring Company laid out the plan for the Dugout Loop on its website, saying that the linkup could take baseball fans and concertgoers to the stadium in less than four minutes for a roughly $1 fare. This ride would be nothing like your typical subway trip: Loopers could book their tickets in advance, through an app-based reservation system that's similar to what's used to purchase theater tickets, or buy them over the phone or in person for a given time (say, 5:45 p.m. heading for the stadium). At least initially, the Dugout Loop clientele would be limited to about 1,400 people per event, or roughly 2.5 percent of stadium capacity. The Boring Company says that capacity could be doubled over time. Loopers would board electric-powered pods (also known as "skates") that are based on the Tesla Model X auto design and are capable of carrying 8 to 16 passengers at a time. The skates would be lowered into the tunnel system, and sent autonomously at speeds of 125 to 150 mph from one terminal to the other. The Boring Company says it'll cover the cost of digging the roughly 3.6-mile tunnel with no public funding sought. The Boring Company's site says this project will preempt construction of their proof-of-concept tunnel under Los Angeles' Sepulveda Boulevard. "The Boring Company has made technical progress much faster than expected and has decided to make its first tunnel in Los Angeles an operational one, hence Dugout Loop!"

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Recruiters Are Still Complaining About No-Shows At Interviews

19 August 2018 - 3:34am
An anonymous reader quotes CNN Money: Chandra Kill had scheduled face-to-face interviews with 21 candidates to fill some job openings at her employment screening firm. Only 11 showed up. "About half flaked out," said Kill.... "A year or two ago it wasn't like this." With the U.S. unemployment rate at its lowest in 18 years, and more job openings than there are people looking for work, candidates are bailing on scheduled interviews. In some cases, new hires are not showing up for their first day of work.... While there's nothing wrong with accepting another job offer, bailing on an employer without notice could have lasting effects. "The world is small," said Johnny Taylor, president and CEO of the Society for Human Resource Management.... He added that he's heard of a candidate being flown out for a job interview only to skip that part of the trip. "I expect that if I send you a plane ticket and block off two hours to meet with you, you will show up." As a result, he said some companies are having candidates agree to reimburse for travel costs if they take the trip but flake on the interview. In an effort to curb the problem, recruiters have been changing their tactics and moving through the hiring process faster. If they have a qualified candidate that seems like a good fit, they work to get them in for an interview the next day. Inc. magazine once blamed the problem of no-shows on the low unemployment rate and "the effects technology have had on the communication style of younger generations." But leave your own thoughts in the comments. And have you ever been a no-show for a job interview?

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Egypt Fights Terrorism By Censoring Web Sites, Threatening Jail Time For Accessing Them

19 August 2018 - 12:34am
An anonymous reader quotes the Associated Press: Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi has ratified an anti-cybercrime law that rights groups say paves the way for censoring online media. The law, published Saturday in the country's official gazette, empowers authorities to order the blocking of websites that publish content considered a threat to national security. Viewers attempting to access blocked sites can also be sentenced to one year in prison or fined up to EGP100,000 ($5,593) under the law. Last month, Egypt's parliament approved a bill placing personal social media accounts and websites with over 5,000 followers under the supervision of the top media authority, which can block them if they're found to be disseminating false news. "Authorities say the new measures are needed to tackle instability and terrorism," reports the BBC. "But human rights groups accuse the government of trying to crush all political dissent in the country."

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Firefox-Forking Browser 'Pale Moon' Releases Major Update 28.0

18 August 2018 - 9:34pm
Long-time Slashdot reader tdailey spotted a new version of Pale Moon, a customised version of Firefox optimized for speed and efficiency. Beta News reports it's the first major update since November of 2016: There are virtually no visual or obvious changes in this new major build, but the under-the-hood changes are both extensive and necessary.... Despite all the updates, Moonchild is keen to stress certain things haven't changed -- unlike Firefox, for example, Pale Moon continues to support NPAPI plugins, complete themes and a fully customizable user interface. There is also no DRM built into the browser, although third-party plugins such as Silverlight are supported. It will also continue to work with certain "legacy" plugins of the type abandoned by Firefox. Pale Moon strips out what one reviewer calls "little-used components" of Firefox, including parental controls and accessbility features, as well as crash reports and support for Internet Explorer's ActiveX and ActiveX scripting technology. "Proving that open source leads to great development, Pale Moon takes the already decent Firefox web browser and makes it even better and a faster."

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