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Google Engineers Refused To Build Security Tool To Win Military Contracts

Slashdot - Sat, 23/06/2018 - 00:10
Mark Bergen reports via Bloomberg: Earlier this year, a group of influential software engineers in Google's cloud division surprised their superiors by refusing to work on a cutting-edge security feature. Known as "air gap," the technology would have helped Google win sensitive military contracts. The coders weren't persuaded their employer should be using its technological might to help the government wage war, according to four current and former employees. After hearing the engineers' objections, Urs Holzle, Google's top technical executive, said the air gap feature would be postponed, one of the people said. Another person familiar with the situation said the group was able to reduce the scope of the feature. The act of rebellion ricocheted around the company, fueling a growing resistance among employees with a dim view of Google's yen for multi-million-dollar government contracts. The engineers became known as the "Group of Nine" and were lionized by like-minded staff. The current and former employees say the engineers' work boycott was a catalyst for larger protests that convulsed the company's Mountain View, California, campus and ultimately forced executives to let a lucrative Pentagon contract called Project Maven expire without renewal.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Facebook Messenger Kids App Is Expanding

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 23:30
Facebook's controversial Messenger Kids app is heading outside the U.S. to Canada and Peru. From a report: As part of the expansion, the social networking giant said Friday that it would also debut Spanish and French language versions of the children's messaging app that are now available in all three countries where the service is available. Facebook introduced Messenger Kids in December, pitching it as a safer way for children under 13 to chat with friends while sending them silly GIFs, emoji, and other goofy digital imagery. Unlike the core Facebook social networking service or other messaging apps, Facebook said that Messenger Kids does not display any online ads or allow kids to buy things within the app.

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

China Will Partly Lift Internet Censorship For One of Its Provinces To Promote Tourism

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 22:50
In an effort to promote tourism, the southern tropical Chinese island of Hainan will no longer censor its internet. "Visitors to select areas of Hainan will be able to access Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, according to a new plan authorities have put together to turn the province into a free trade port by 2020," reports The Verge. "It's not clear if other banned platforms will be uncensored." From the report: The three-year action plan was published on Thursday, but removed from the local government website by Friday, as spotted by the South China Morning Post. For Hainan, China will lift part of its censorship system, or what's known as the Great Firewall, that blocks access to most foreign social media and news sites. Tourists will be able to enter designated zones in Hainan's two major cities to access Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Other banned foreign social media platforms, like Google, Instagram, or WhatsApp, haven't been mentioned. Ironically, China appears to be censoring people's reactions to the news that some censorship is being lifted. One user on Weibo commented that people weren't allowed a chance to provide any feedback on the new tourism plan. "Thousands of comments have since been deleted. As if censoring people solved the problem."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

That Tablet On The Table At Your Favorite Restaurant Is Hurting Your Waiter

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 22:10
In data-hungry, tech-happy chain restaurants, customers are rating their servers using tabletop tablets, not realizing those ratings can put jobs at risk, an investigation by BuzzFeed News has found. From the report: When the Smokey Bones restaurant in Dayton, Ohio, where Nicole Bishop waits tables introduced Ziosk tabletop tablets, she wasn't too worried about them. Ziosks are designed to increase restaurant efficiency by allowing customers to order drinks, appetizers, and desserts, and pay their bill from the table without talking to a server. But, as Bishop soon discovered, they also prompt customers to take a satisfaction survey at the end of every meal, the results of which are turned into a score that's used to evaluate the server's performance. One day not long after the Ziosks appeared, Bishop found that her work schedules had been cut short in half, a change she estimated would cost her between $200 and $400 a week. The report documents stories of several other waiters, all of whom have been affected by the tablet. It adds: Ziosk tablets sit atop dining tables at more than 4,500 restaurants across the United States -- including most Chili's and Olive Gardens, and many TGI Friday's and Red Robins. Competitor E La Carte's PrestoPrime tablets are in more than 1,800 restaurants, including most Applebee's. Tens of thousands of servers are being evaluated based on a tech-driven, data-oriented customer feedback system many say is both inaccurate and unfair. And few of the customers holding the reins are even aware their responses have any impact on how much servers earn.

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Uber Driver Was Streaming Hulu Just Before Fatal Self-Driving Car Crash, Says Police

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 21:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Tempe, Arizona, police have released a massive report on the fatal Uber vehicle crash that killed pedestrian Elaine Herzberg in March. The report provides more evidence that driver Rafaela Vasquez was distracted in the seconds before the crash. "This crash would not have occurred if Vasquez would have been monitoring the vehicle and roadway conditions and was not distracted,'' the report concludes. Police obtained records from Hulu suggesting that Vasquez was watching "The Voice," a singing talent competition that airs on NBC, just before the crash. Hulu's records showed she began watching the program at 9:16pm. Streaming of the show ended at 9:59pm, which "coincides with the approximate time of the collision," according to the police report.

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Adobe Is Using AI To Catch Photoshopped Images

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 20:48
An anonymous reader shares a report: Adobe, certainly aware of how complicit its software is in the creation of fake news images, is working on artificial intelligence that can spot the markers of phony photos. In other words, the maker of Photoshop is tapping into machine learning to find out if someone has Photoshopped an image. Using AI to find fake images is a way for Adobe to help "increase trust and authenticity in digital media," the company says. That brings it in line with the likes of Facebook and Google, which have stepped up their efforts to fight fake news. Whenever someone alters an image, unless they are pixel perfect in their work, they always leave behind indicators that the photo is modified. Metadata and watermarks can help determine a source image, and forensics can probe factors like lighting, noise distribution and edges on the pixel level to find inconsistencies. If a color is slightly off, for instance, forensic tools can flag it. But Adobe wagers that it could employ AI to find telltale signs of manipulation faster and more reliably.

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Facebook Mistakenly Leaked Developer Analytics Reports To Testers

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 20:10
This week, an alarmed developer contacted TechCrunch, informing us that their Facebook App Analytics weekly summary email had been delivered to someone outside their company. TechCrunch: It contains sensitive business information, including weekly average users, page views and new users. Forty-three hours after we contacted Facebook about the issue, the social network now confirms to TechCrunch that 3 percent of apps using Facebook Analytics had their weekly summary reports sent to their app's testers, instead of only the app's developers, admins and analysts. Testers are often people outside of a developer's company. If the leaked info got to an app's competitors, it could provide them an advantage. At least they weren't allowed to click through to view more extensive historical analytics data on Facebook's site. Facebook tells us it has fixed the problem and no personally identifiable information or contact info was improperly disclosed.

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Blue Origin Plans To Start Selling Suborbital Spaceflight Tickets Next Year

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 19:18
Blue Origin expects to start flying people on its New Shepard suborbital vehicle "soon" and start selling tickets for commercial flights next year, a company executive said June 19, according to a report on SpaceNews.com. From the report: Speaking at the Amazon Web Services Public Sector Summit here, as the keynote of a half-day track on earth and space applications, Blue Origin Senior Vice President Rob Meyerson offered a few updates on the development of the company's suborbital vehicle. "We plan to start flying our first test passengers soon," he said after showing a video of a previous New Shepard flight at the company's West Texas test site. All of the New Shepard flights to date have been without people on board, but the company has said in the past it would fly its personnel on the vehicle in later tests. He also offered a timetable for selling tickets. "We expect to start selling tickets in 2019," he said, but did not disclose a price. Further reading: Gizmodo.

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Ubuntu Makes Public Desktop Metrics

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 18:40
Canonical introduced Ubuntu Hardware/Software Survey in Ubuntu 18.04 and has since been collecting data (it is optional, and users' consent is taken; Ubuntu says 67 percent users opted in to the survey). Now for the first time, it is revealing the stats, shedding light on how Ubuntu users like things around. The takeaways from the result: Installation Duration: The average install of Ubuntu Desktop takes 18 minutes. Some machines out there can install a full desktop in less than 8 minutes! Installer Options: Another interesting fact is that the newly introduced Minimum Install option is being used by a little over 15% of our users. This is a brand new option but is already attracting a considerable fanbase. CPU Count: A single CPU is most common, and this is not very surprising. We haven't broken this down to cores but is something we will look in to. Disk Partitioning Schemes: Most people choose to wipe their disks and reinstall from scratch. The second most common option is a custom partition table. Display: Full HD (1080p) is the most popular screen resolution, followed by 1366 x 768, a common laptop resolution. HiDPI and 4k are not yet commonplace.

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Paladins runs at 60fps on Switch and it's superb

Eurogamer - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 18:09

Paladins on Switch is a current-gen port that offers a genuine surprise: it's a true 60fps rendition of a title that - perhaps unfairly - has been overshadowed by Overwatch. But with Blizzard's own shooter missing from Switch's library, Paladins has a great chance to shine here, and shine it does: developer Hi-Rez Studios squeezes almost all of the full console experience onto Nintendo's hybrid. It comes fully featured with all characters and maps and as a result, cross-play with Xbox One works brilliantly. 60fps support for a current-gen port is far from the norm on Switch, so what are the trades and do they have any impact on the quality of the gameplay?

With the docked Switch hooked up to your HDTV, gameplay is as tight and responsive as you could possibly hope for - a 60fps game with v-sync that tackles even the busiest scenes without too much trouble. Yes, there are some blips and hiccups along the way - a state of affairs that doesn't really trouble the PS4 or Xbox One versions - but in general, performance is comparable. The small stutters are curious though. They don't manifest in offline practice matches, suggesting that the Switch's background processing of network code may be the cause.

While a complete 60fps lock might be off the table, the smooth performance level delivered to Switch users for an online shooter is clearly a boon. True, it dispenses with visual quality to maintain that frame-rate, but the pay-off is clear: Switch players actually have close to level footing with Xbox One users in cross-play, who populate the same online servers. It's ideal for anyone picking Paladins up hoping for a fair chance in deathmatch or siege games. By comparison, it's the opposite situation for Fortnite, which leaves Switch users running at half the frame-rate of cross-play rivals.

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Categories: Video Games

The World's Smallest Computer Can Fit on the Tip of a Grain of Rice

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 18:00
Engineers at the University of Michigan have created the world's smallest computer -- again. From a report: The University held the record for the smallest computer after it created its 2x2x4mm Michigan Micro Mote in 2014. The Micro Mote (or M3) is fully functional and able to retain its programming and data even when it loses power. But after IBM debuted an even tinier "computer" in February, a 1mm x 1mm chip with "several hundred thousand" transistors. Engineers at the University of Michigan were not about to be one-upped, and quickly created an even smaller computer, so small it could fit on the tip of a grain of rice. However, the engineers quibbled over whether IBM's machine and the new Michigan design could really be called computers, since the data gets wiped as soon as it's turned off. You can find more details on the university's website.

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Supreme Court: Warrant Generally Needed To Track Cell Phone Location Data

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 17:14
daveschroeder writes: The Supreme Court on Friday said the government generally needs a warrant if it wants to track an individual's location through cell phone records over an extended period of time. The ruling [PDF] is a major victory for advocates of increased privacy rights who argued more protections were needed when it comes to the government obtaining information from a third party such as a cell phone company. The 5-4 opinion was written by Chief Justice John Roberts siding with the four most liberal justices. It is a loss for the Justice Department, which had argued that an individual has diminished privacy rights when it comes to information that has been voluntarily shared with someone else.

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Life is Strange 2's first episode has a release date

Eurogamer - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 17:12

The first episode of Life is Strange 2 arrives on 27th September 2018 - that's just three months away.

It's actually titled Life is Strange 2, as well - to delineate it from Dontnod's original series and the excellent prequel spin-off Before the Storm.

Life is Strange 2 will comprise of five episodes. The teaser below shows the game's title being stitched onto a worn backpack. More details, a post on the game's Twitter says, will be revealed in August (likely Gamescom).

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Categories: Video Games

Two years on, Pokémon Go's new friend system refreshes the game

Eurogamer - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 16:52

Alolan Meowth is brilliantly haughty - the way cats can be, when they sit in judgement awaiting food when you're still lying in bed. It's one of my favourite Alolan designs - the tropical takes on popular Pokémon which were added to Pokémon Go around midnight last night.

And so, shortly after midnight last night, I was delighted to see a friend had just gotten an Alolan Meowth of his own. But not via a Twitter post or gloating Whatsapp message - I saw this via the new friends section within Pokémon Go itself, where we'd just finished adding each other.

Pokémon Go has always been a game about collecting things and over the past six months with the introduction of weather-based gameplay, quests and yet more Pokémon it has only gotten better. But Pokémon Go previously lacked a direct way to connect with everyone else out there playing, doing the same things - leaving its dedicated community blind without the aid of external services like Discord or IM.

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Categories: Video Games

Report: Bethesda sues Warner Bros., claims Westworld game uses Fallout Shelter code

Eurogamer - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 16:49

Bethesda is reportedly suing Warner Bros. over the Westworld mobile game, which it claims uses Fallout Shelter code.

According to TMZ, Bethesda is suing Warner Bros. and Behaviour Interactive, the developer of the game. In court documents, Bethesda reveal it contracted Behaviour in 2014 to work on Fallout Shelter before Behaviour went on to make the Westworld game for Warner.

Fallout Shelter is a building and people management sim with a cute art design where you play the vault overseer. You have to keep your vault dwellers alive, playing Cupid to get them to have babies, while all sorts of things go wrong in the vault and, when you can, send your people out into the wasteland to gather resources. It looks like this:

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Categories: Video Games

Assassin's Creed Odyssey has reversible boxart to let choose your cover star

Eurogamer - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 16:47

We've come a long way from Assassin's Creed not letting you play as a woman - or from doing so only in short sections of its campaign.

Assassin's Creed Odyssey will let you play through the entire game as either female or male mercenaries Kassandra or Alexios - and just like the game itself, its reversible cover will let you pick your favourite.

That's according to creative director Jonathan Dumont, who revealed the detail in a reddit AMA last night.

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Categories: Video Games

America's Chipmakers Go To War vs. China

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 16:40
Chinese raids of U.S. intellectual property have helped China build a solid high-tech economy. But the U.S. semiconductor industry is still far ahead -- and China is desperate to catch up. From a report: Semiconductor manufacturers are fighting to protect IP from the Chinese, fearing that, without coherent action from the Trump administration, Beijing could bulldoze their industries. Three weeks ago, Micron and South Korean chipmakers Samsung and SK Hynix all reported that the Chinese government had launched antitrust probes into their firms, and accused them of setting artificially high prices for memory chips. American companies and the U.S. government have long been suspicious about the link between China's anti-monopoly policies and its industrial goals. "They want access to the intellectual property. They need us to teach them how to do it. Once they have the industry, they want to push us out," an industry source familiar with China's investigation into Micron tells Axios. The price hikes, the source says, are largely due to a boom in demand for memory chips in everything from smartphones to autonomous vehicles. China's investigation is "a clear indication that they're not ready to make [semiconductors] work," says the source. The New York Times has a story which also details the lawsuit of how a Fujian govt-backed chipmaker allegedly stole secrets from Micron. Then Micron got sued for patent infringement in Fujian. Or as the Times reporter describes it, "This is how you lose a major tech company. First, a Beijing-backed buyout offer. Then friendly Chinese partnership proposals. Then the tech gets stolen. Then when you file a complaint in court, you get hit with investigations in China, your biggest market."

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Categories: Geeky Stuff

Epic keeps disabling the Fortnite shopping cart because players keep using it to glitch under the map

Eurogamer - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 16:10

Fortnite's shopping cart is a lot of fun - but it doesn't look like Epic's laughing.

Fortnite's first vehicle - if you can call it that - has been added and pulled from the battle royale game multiple times since it went live in May as Epic battled to prevent players from using it to glitch under the map.

This week, Epic added the shopping cart back into the game only to pull it again a couple of hours later.

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Categories: Video Games

Eurogamer Q&A: Your World of Warcraft bios

Eurogamer - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 16:04

This week, our pals at Blizzard gave us a great big orc fistful of beta keys for the upcoming World of Warcraft expansion, Battle for Azeroth to give to EG readers.

We didn't want to just GIVE them away though - that would be too easy. So we set a little creative writing task. We asked you guys to write up a short social media bio for either your own WoW character, or a NPC from the world.

And MAN, you guys really ran with that. We received over 6,500 entries in just a few days. Sure, some of those were just copied and pasted character bios from the WoW wiki (no keys for you guys), but a great many were actually really good! So good in fact, that I wanted to share some of our favourites with you below.

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Categories: Video Games

Someone Is Taking Over Insecure Cameras and Spying on Device Owners

Slashdot - Fri, 22/06/2018 - 16:00
As security webcams, security cameras, and pet and baby monitors become part of our lives, their underlying technology is increasingly receiving scrutiny from researchers. Many of these devices are woefully insecure, and an attacker could -- and in some cases, has -- take over these devices to perform internet scans, among other things. BleepingComputer's Catalin Cimpanu dives into the subject: In the last nine months, two security firms have published research on the matter. Both pieces of research detail how the camera vendor lets customers use a mobile app to control their device from remote locations and view its video stream. The mobile app requires the user to enter a device ID, and a password found on the device's box or the device itself. Under the hood, the mobile app connects to the vendor's backend cloud server, and this server establishes connections to each of the user's device in turn, based on the device ID and the last IP address the device has reported from.

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