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Twitter and Salesforce CEOs Spat Over Who is Helping the Homeless More

Slashdot - Sat, 13/10/2018 - 01:40
The CEOs of two of the world's most prominent tech companies got into an online spat on Friday over who was doing the most to address homelessness. From a report: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were tweeting at each other about a proposed tax on high-earning San Francisco businesses. It would redirect millions of dollars to help thousands of people who live on the streets, including outside the headquarters of both companies. Benioff tweeted that he was in favor of the tax. Dorsey tweeted that he was not -- prompting a displeased response. "Hi Jack. Thanks for the feedback," Benioff quipped. "Which homeless programs in our city are you supporting? Can you tell me what Twitter and Square & you are in for & at what financial levels? How much have you given to heading home our $37M initiative to get every homeless child off the streets?" Benioff was referring to an initiative he is spearheading for homeless families. In May he announced that he and his wife would match a $1.5m donation from his company's philanthropic arm. In a second tweet, he alleged that Dorsey had failed to contribute to the city's homeless programs, public hospitals and public schools, despite earning billions and receiving a tax break to relocate in a deprived part of town. Dorsey did not respond.

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World's Fastest Camera Shoots 10 Trillion Frames a Second

Slashdot - Sat, 13/10/2018 - 01:00
bbsguru shares a report from New Atlas: Slow-motion video has always been fun to watch, with the best rigs usually shooting on the scale of thousands of frames per second. But now the world's fastest camera, developed by researchers at Caltech and INRS, blows them out of the water, capturing the world at a mind-boggling 10 trillion frames per second -- fast enough to probe the nanoscale interactions between light and matter. For the new imaging technique, the team started with compressed ultrafast photography (CUP), a method that it is capable of 100 billion fps. That's nothing to scoff at by itself, but it's still not fast enough to really capture what's going on with ultrafast laser pulses, which occur on the scale of femtoseconds. A femtosecond, for reference, is one quadrillionth of a second. So the team built on that technology by combining a femtosecond streak camera and a static camera, and running it through a data acquisition technique known as Radon transformation. This advanced system was dubbed T-CUP. For the first test, the camera proved its worth by capturing a single femtosecond pulse of laser light, recording 25 images that were each 400 femtoseconds apart. Through this process, the team could see the changes in the light pulse's shape, intensity and angle of inclination, in much slower motion than ever before.

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The UK Invited a Robot To 'Give Evidence' In Parliament For Attention

Slashdot - Sat, 13/10/2018 - 00:20
"The UK Parliament caused a bit of a stir this week with the news that it would play host to its first non-human witness," reports The Verge. "A press release from one of Parliament's select committees (groups of MPs who investigate an issue and report back to their peers) said it had invited Pepper the robot to 'answer questions' on the impact of AI on the labor market." From the report: "Pepper is part of an international research project developing the world's first culturally aware robots aimed at assisting with care for older people," said the release from the Education Committee. "The Committee will hear about her work [and] what role increased automation and robotics might play in the workplace and classroom of the future." It is, of course, a stunt. As a number of AI and robotics researchers pointed out on Twitter, Pepper the robot is incapable of giving such evidence. It can certainly deliver a speech the same way Alexa can read out the news, but it can't formulate ideas itself. As one researcher told MIT Technology Review, "Modern robots are not intelligent and so can't testify in any meaningful way." Parliament knows this. In an email to The Verge, a media officer for the Education Committee confirmed that Pepper would be providing preprogrammed answers written by robotics researchers from Middlesex University, who are also testifying on the same panel. "It will be clear on the day that Pepper's responses are not spontaneous," said the spokesperson. "Having Pepper appear before the Committee and the chance to question the witnesses will provide an opportunity for members to explore both the potential and limitations of such technology and the capabilities of robots." MP Robert Halfon, the committee's chair, told education news site TES that inviting Pepper was "not about someone bringing an electronic toy robot and doing a demonstration" but showing the "potential of robotics and artificial intelligence." He added: "If we've got the march of the robots, we perhaps need the march of the robots to our select committee to give evidence."

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Cops Told 'Don't Look' at New iPhones To Avoid Face ID Lock-Out

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 23:40
As Apple continues to update its iPhones with new security features, law enforcement and other investigators are constantly playing catch-up, trying to find the best way to circumvent the protections or to grab evidence. From a report: Last month, Forbes reported the first known instance of a search warrant being used to unlock a suspect's iPhone X with their own face, leveraging the iPhone X's Face ID feature. But Face ID can of course also work against law enforcement -- too many failed attempts with the 'wrong' face can force the iPhone to request a potentially harder to obtain passcode instead. Taking advantage of legal differences in how passcodes are protected, US law enforcement have forced people to unlock their devices with not just their face but their fingerprints too. But still, in a set of presentation slides obtained by Motherboard this week, one company specialising in mobile forensics is telling investigators not to even look at phones with Face ID, because they might accidentally trigger this mechanism. "iPhone X: don't look at the screen, or else... The same thing will occur as happened on Apple's event," the slide, from forensics company Elcomsoft, reads. Motherboard obtained the presentation from a non-Elcomsoft source, and the company subsequently confirmed its veracity. The slide is referring to Apple's 2017 presentation of Face ID, in which Craig Federighi, Apple's senior vice president of software engineering, tried, and failed, to unlock an iPhone X with his own face. The phone then asked for a passcode instead. "This is quite simple. Passcode is required after five unsuccessful attempts to match a face," Vladimir Katalov, CEO of Elcomsoft, told Motherboard in an online chat, pointing to Apple's own documentation on Face ID. "So by looking into suspect's phone, [the] investigator immediately lose one of [the] attempts."

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WW1 adventure 11-11: Memories Retold is raising money for War Child with "charity DLC"

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 23:10

Bandai Namco will be releasing a special "charity DLC" for its forthcoming narrative-driven World War I adventure 11-11: Memories Retold. Proceeds from the DLC will go to War Child UK, which aims to "protect, educate and stand up for the rights of children caught up in war."

11-11: Memories Retold is a collaboration between Bandai Namco, Lost in Harmony developer DigixArt, and Wallace and Gromit creator Aardman Studios. It tells the interweaving tales of two men - Harry, a young Canadian photographer joining the Western Front (played by Elijah Wood) and Kurt, a German technician searching for his son (Sebastian Koch) - beginning on November 11th, 1916, and leading to Armistice Day two years later.

It's an intriguing little thing, with an extremely unusual, painterly art style, that brings to mind Ubisoft's wonderful WW1 tale Valiant Hearts. Like that game, 11-11 switches perspective throughout its story, sometimes even showing events from the viewpoint of the protagonists' animal companions. You can get a taste of its action in the 17-minute video below.

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Categories: Video Games

A Mysterious Grey-Hat Is Patching People's Outdated MikroTik Routers

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 23:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A Russian-speaking grey-hat hacker is breaking into people's MikroTik routers and patching devices so they can't be abused by cryptojackers, botnet herders, or other cyber-criminals, ZDNet has learned. The hacker, who goes by the name of Alexey and says he works as a server administrator, claims to have disinfected over 100,000 MikroTik routers already. "I added firewall rules that blocked access to the router from outside the local network," Alexey said. "In the comments, I wrote information about the vulnerability and left the address of the @router_os Telegram channel, where it was possible for them to ask questions." But despite adjusting firewall settings for over 100,000 users, Alexey says that only 50 users reached out via Telegram. A few said "thanks," but most were outraged. The vigilante server administrator says he's been only fixing routers that have not been patched by their owners against a MikroTik vulnerability that came to light in late April.

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Google CEO Tells Senators That Censored Chinese Search Engine Could Provide 'Broad Benefits'

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 22:20
Google CEO Sundar Pichai has refused to answer a list of questions from U.S. lawmakers about the company's secretive plan for a censored search engine in China. From a report: In a letter newly obtained by The Intercept, Pichai told a bipartisan group of six senators that Google could have "broad benefits inside and outside of China," but said he could not share details about the censored search engine because it "remains unclear" whether the company "would or could release a search service" in the country. Pichai's letter contradicts the company's search engine chief, Ben Gomes, who informed staff during a private meeting that the company was aiming to release the platform in China between January and April 2019. Gomes told employees working on the Chinese search engine that they should get it ready to be "brought off the shelf and quickly deployed." [...] In his letter to the senators, dated August 31, Pichai did not mention the word "censorship" or address human rights concerns. He told the senators that "providing access to information to people around the world is central to our mission," and said he believed Google's tools could "help to facilitate an exchange of information and learning." The company was committed to "promoting access to information, freedom of expression, and user privacy," he wrote, while also "respecting the laws of jurisdictions in which we operate."

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US Lawmakers Urge Canada To Snub China's Huawei in Telecoms

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 21:40
Two leading U.S. lawmakers, both sharp critics of China, urged Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Friday to consider dropping China's Huawei Technologies from helping to build next-generation 5G telecommunications networks. From a report: Senators Mark Warner, a Virginia Democrat, and Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, said they had "grave concern" about the prospects of Huawei equipment in Canada's 5G networks on the grounds that it would pose dangers for U.S. networks. "While Canada has strong telecommunications security safeguards in place, we have serious concerns that such safeguards are inadequate given what the United States and other allies know about Huawei," the lawmakers wrote in the letter to Trudeau. Warner and Rubio are on the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.

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Apple Rebukes Australia's 'Dangerously Ambiguous' Anti-Encryption Bill

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 21:00
Apple has strongly criticized Australia's anti-encryption bill, calling it "dangerously ambiguous" and "alarming to every Australian." From a report: The Australian government's draft law -- known as the Access and Assistance Bill -- would compel tech companies operating in the country, like Apple, to provide "assistance" to law enforcement and intelligence agencies in accessing electronic data. The government claims that encrypted communications are "increasingly being used by terrorist groups and organized criminals to avoid detection and disruption," without citing evidence. But critics say that the bill's "broad authorities that would undermine cybersecurity and human rights, including the right to privacy" by forcing companies to build backdoors and hand over user data -- even when it's encrypted. Now, Apple is the latest company after Google and Facebook joined civil and digital rights groups -- including Amnesty International -- to oppose the bill, amid fears that the government will rush through the bill before the end of the year. In a seven-page letter to the Australian parliament, Apple said that it "would be wrong to weaken security for millions of law-abiding customers in order to investigate the very few who pose a threat." The company adds, "We appreciate the government's outreach to Apple and other companies during the drafting of this bill. While we are pleased that some of the suggestions incorporated improve the legislation, the unfortunate fact is that the draft legislation remains dangerously ambiguous with respect to encryption and security. This is no time to weaken encryption. Rather than serving the interests of Australian law enforcement, it will just weaken the security and privacy of regular customers while pushing criminals further off the grid."

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Movie Commentary Tracks Are Back

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 20:30
An anonymous reader shares a report: Last spring, long before Get Out's eventual Oscar win, the movie was released on home video with a commentary track from its writer-director. A decade ago, in the pre-streaming era, this wouldn't have been news: Back then, seemingly every movie got a commentary track, even Good Luck Chuck. Then the DVD market began to decline, and the commentary track went from a being standard-issue add-on to relative rarity. Even recent Best Picture nominees like Mad Max: Fury Road, The Wolf of Wall Street, 12 Years a Slave, and Spotlight were released sans tracks -- bad news for anyone looking for behind-the-scenes intel on Mark Ruffalo's little-Ceasar haircut. In the last few years, though, several high-profile films -- everything from Star Wars: The Last Jedi to Lady Bird to Get Out -- have been released with commentary tracks. That means you can spend your umpteenth viewing of Peele's film listening to him talk about how he modeled the opening credits on those of The Shining, or how the film's title was inspired by a routine from Eddie Murphy Delirious. For casual movie watchers, such details may not be too thrilling. But for film nerds who absorb behind-the-scenes trivia and how-we-made-it logistics, tracks like the one for Get Out remain the cheapest movie-making education available.

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Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales shows off its RPG credentials in new 37-minute video

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 20:26

CD Projekt Red has released a new 37-minute video, with commentary, showcasing a whole heap of gameplay elements from its upcoming Gwent-based Witcher RPG, Thronebreaker: The Witcher Tales.

Thronebreaker, which is due to launch on PC on October 23rd, and Xbox One and PS4 on December 4th, is set before the events of the first Witcher game, during the second Nilfgaardian invasion, and follows the story of Meve, a war veteran queen of Lyria and Rivia.

When CD Projekt Red initially began describing Thronebreaker as a fully fledged Witcher RPG, I found the whole thing a bit hard to visualise, particularly given its origins as a solo mode for free-to-play card battling game Gwent. It all makes a lot more sense in the lengthy new video though, with Thronebreaker's bold art style doing a wonderful job of tying the various gameplay elements together.

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Categories: Video Games

The FBI Is Now Investigating Facebook's Security Breach Where Attackers Accessed 30 Million Users' Personal Information

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 19:45
An online attack that forced Facebook to log out 90 million users last month directly affected 29 million people on the social network [alternative source], the company said Friday as it released new details about the scope of an incident that has regulators and law enforcement on high alert. The company said the FBI is actively investigating the hack, and asked Facebook not to disclose any potential culprits. From a report: Through a series of interrelated bugs in Facebook's programming, unnamed attackers stole the names and contact information of 15 million users, Facebook said. The contact information included a mix of phone numbers and email addresses. An additional 14 million users were affected more deeply, by having additional details taken related to their profiles such as their recent search history, gender, educational background, geolocation data, birth dates, and lists of people and pages they follow. Facebook said last month that it detected the attack when it noticed an uptick in user activity. An investigation soon found that the activity was linked to the theft of security codes that, under normal circumstances, allow Facebook users to navigate away from the site while remaining logged in. The bugs that allowed the attack to occur gave hackers the ability to effectively take over Facebook accounts on a widespread basis, Facebook said when it disclosed the breach. The attackers began with a relatively small number of accounts that they directly controlled, exploiting flaws in the platform's "View As" feature to gain access to other users' profiles.

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FCC Tells Court It Has No 'Legal Authority' To Impose Net Neutrality Rules

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 19:40
The Federal Communications Commission opened its defense of its net neutrality repeal yesterday, telling a court that it has no authority to keep the net neutrality rules in place. From a report: Chairman Ajit Pai's FCC argued that broadband is not a "telecommunications service" as defined in federal law, and therefore it must be classified as an information service instead. As an information service, broadband cannot be subject to common carrier regulations such as net neutrality rules, Pai's FCC said. The FCC is only allowed to impose common carrier regulations on telecommunications services. "Given these classification decisions, the Commission determined that the Communications Act does not endow it with legal authority to retain the former conduct rules," the FCC said in a summary of its defense filed yesterday in the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. The FCC is defending the net neutrality repeal against a lawsuit filed by more than 20 state attorneys general, consumer advocacy groups, and tech companies. The FCC's opponents in the case will file reply briefs next month, and oral arguments are scheduled for February.

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Scientists Have Laid Out a Plan To Search For Life in the Universe

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 18:10
An anonymous reader shares a report: A blue-ribbon panel of researchers chaired by the University of Toronto's Barbara Sherwood Lollar assembled the report at the behest of the US Congress, which asked in a 2017 law that a "strategy for astrobiology" be developed to prioritize "the search for life's origin, evolution, distribution, and future in the universe." The 196-page report does not offer easy access to ET, but the steady drumbeat of scientific advancement it documents suggests an increasingly sophisticated understanding of what we know -- and don't know -- about biology on our planet and beyond. Indeed, the recently gained knowledge it highlights is the front end of a wave: Only the Viking mission in the 1970s hunted rigorously for signs of life on other planets, and now the first new NASA mission to do so, the Europa lander, is being designed. In the past four years alone, scientists using data gathered by space probes on Mars discovered evidence of past surface water, the presence of nutrients and organic molecules, and methane gas in the atmosphere that varies by season. This doesn't mean life exists now on Mars, but it is helping contribute to an understanding of astrobiology as a discipline that looks at physical and chemical processes over time to determine if the conditions for life once existed or may do so in the future. Much work on astrobiology is Earth-focused; it is the only place we know life exists and thus is our guinea pig for detecting life from a distance. The Galileo space probe found signs of life on our planet in 1990. The report stressed that recent discoveries of life on Earth that exists without the sun's energy, deep under the ocean or the ground, should inform what we look for on other worlds. Scientists are expanding their understanding of habitability beyond a binary and into a spectrum, which may sound trite, but previous research relied on blunt instruments and blunter assumptions about alien life -- starting with the idea that it would appear on the surface.

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Eurogamer Q&A: Terror lives here

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 17:59

Dead Space is ten years old this week. You probably didn't need another reason to feel as old as dust - I know I didn't - but there it is.

In terms of terrifying game locations, Dead Space's USG Ishimura still stands the test of time as an iconic house of horrors: cramped, dark and packed quite literally to the rafters with ghoulish creatures ready to eat the face right off your head.

Of course, because everyone is unique and special, different people are spooked by different things. Which is why I asked my colleagues here at EG to tell me which location or environment has sweatied their palms the most in their video game playing career:

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Categories: Video Games

THQ Nordic details Darksiders 3's post-launch DLC plans

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 17:30

THQ Nordic has outlined its post-launch DLC plans for Darksiders 3, Gunfire Games' continuation of Vigil Games' well-regarded hack and slash action-adventure series.

Darksiders 3, which chronicles the escapades of Fury, the third Horseman of the Apocalypse, comes to PC, Xbox One, and PS4 on November 27th. It'll be followed by two separate DLC drops - each of which, according to THQ Nordic, will feature "new playable areas... new challenges, puzzles, items and enemies".

DLC pack one, known as The Crucible, takes Fury on a journey to the mysterious location of the title - her presence "requested by a strange entity wishing to test her skills in battle". This one's a Horde-Mode-style affair, with players up against "wave after wave of enemies". Success in combat will unlock new rewards and items.

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Senators Demand Google Hand Over Internal Memo Urging Google+ Cover-up

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 17:25
An anonymous reader writes: Three Republican senators have sent a letter to Google demanding the company hand over an internal memo based on which Google decided to cover up a Google+ data leak instead of going public as most companies do. The existence of this internal memo came to light on Monday in a Wall Street Journal article that forced Google to go public with details about a Google+ API bug that could have been used to harvest data on Google users. According to the report, the internal memo, signed by Google's legal and policy staff, advised Google top execs not to disclose the existence of the API bug fearing "immediate regulatory interest." Google's legal staff also feared that the bug would bring Google "into the spotlight alongside or even instead of Facebook despite having stayed under the radar throughout the Cambridge Analytica scandal," and would "almost [guarantee] Sundar will testify before Congress," akin to Facebook's CEO. In a letter sent today to Google, three GOP senators want to see this internal memo for themselves by October 30, and also with on-the-record answers to seven questions in regards to what, why, and how Google handled the Google+ API data leak.

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Speedrunner misses out on world record by accidentally activating GTA helicopter cheat code

Eurogamer - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 17:19

One of the things I love most about old school games are their cheat codes. I have fond memories of spamming "motherlode" into the Sims to make it rain simoleons - while codes in other games gave you invincibility, new characters and even (somewhat infamously) unlockable blood and gore.

GTA San Andreas was no exception to the rule, and the game is stuffed full of classic cheat codes allowing players to mess around. When you wouldn't want to activate these, however, is right in the middle of a world-record pace speedrun, which is exactly what happened to LelReset.

During an attempt to break his own world record for GTA San Andreas any% (finishing the game with any level of completion), LelReset accidentally triggered a cheat code which brought a helicopter crashing down on his run. The code, called OHDUDE, spawns a hunter helicopter when used. Although the code is typically activated by typing the name, codes in GTA San Andreas can be triggered through pressing certain other WASD combinations, which is likely what happened to LelReset.

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To Deter Foreign Hackers, Some States May Also Be Deterring Voters

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 16:40
A number of states are blocking web traffic from foreign countries to their voter registration websites, making the process harder for some U.S. citizens who live overseas to vote, despite the practice providing no real security benefits. From a report: On its face, the "geo-targeting" of foreign countries may seem like a solid plan: election officials around the country are concerned about foreign interference after Russia's efforts leading up to the 2016 election, so blocking traffic to election websites from outside the United States might seem like an obvious defense starting point. But cybersecurity experts and voting rights advocates say it's an ineffective solution that any hacker could easily sidestep using a virtual private network, or VPN, a commonly-used and easily-available service. Such networks allow for a computer user to use the Internet and appear in a different location than they actually are.

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Firefox Removes Core Product Support For RSS/Atom Feeds

Slashdot - Fri, 12/10/2018 - 16:00
Starting with Firefox 64, RSS/Atom feed support will be handled via add-ons, rather than in-product. Mozilla's Gijs Kruitbosch writes: After considering the maintenance, performance and security costs of the feed preview and subscription features in Firefox, we've concluded that it is no longer sustainable to keep feed support in the core of the product. While we still believe in RSS and support the goals of open, interoperable formats on the Web, we strongly believe that the best way to meet the needs of RSS and its users is via WebExtensions. With that in mind, we have decided to remove the built-in feed preview feature, subscription UI, and the "live bookmarks" support from the core of Firefox, now that improved replacements for those features are available via add-ons. By virtue of being baked into the core of Firefox, these features have long had outsized maintenance and security costs relative to their usage. Making sure these features are as well-tested, modern and secure as the rest of Firefox would take a surprising amount of engineering work, and unfortunately the usage of these features does not justify such an investment: feed previews and live bookmarks are both used in around 0.01% of sessions.

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