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Amazon To Experiment With Part-Time Tech Teams

Slashdot - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 15:30
Elizabeth Weise, reporting from USATODAY: In an effort to lure hard-to-hire tech workers and possibly recast its reputation as a harsh workplace, Amazon plans to pilot a program of part-time teams composed entirely of employees putting in 30-hour weeks. The Seattle company will test using entire teams of engineers and tech staff who will all work 30 hours a week, thus side-stepping many of the problems faced by part-time workers in a full-time environment. The pilot teams' core hours would be Monday through Thursday from 10 am to 2 pm, with flexible hours throughout the week. The 30-hour groups would receive the same benefits as 40-hour-a-week employees but less pay, Amazon said. The plan is smart from a recruiting standpoint and a unique strategy in the highly competitive tech world, said Kate Kennedy with the Society for Human Resource Management.

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Fedora 25 To Run Wayland By Default Instead Of X.Org Server

Slashdot - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 13:00
An anonymous reader writes: Fedora 25 will finally be the first release for this Linux distribution -- and the first tier-one desktop Linux OS at large -- that is going ahead and using Wayland by default. Wayland has been talked about for years as a replacement to the xorg-server and finally with the upcoming Fedora 25 release this is expected to become a reality. The X.Org Server will still be present on Fedora systems for those running into driver problems or other common issues. Fedora's steering committee agreed to the change provided the release notes "are clear about how to switch back to X11 if needed." In addition, according to the Fedora Project's wiki, "The code will automatically fall back to Xorg in cases where Wayland is unavailable (like NVIDIA)."

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Astronauts Successfully Install Parking Spot At ISS

Slashdot - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 09:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: With more private spaceship traffic expected at the International Space Station in the coming years, two U.S. astronauts embarked on a spacewalk Friday to install a special parking spot for them. Americans Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins switched their spacesuits to internal battery power at 8:04 (1204 GMT) and floated outside the orbiting laboratory to begin the work of attaching the first of two international docking adaptors. The spacewalkers finished the task in just over two hours. "With that, we have a new port of call," said NASA commentator Rob Navias, as the space station flew over Singapore at 10:40 am (1440 GMT). NASA describes the docking adaptor as a "metaphorical gateway to a future" that will allow a new generation of U.S. spacecraft -- the first since the space shuttle program ended in 2011 -- to carry astronauts to the space station. The second docking adaptor is expected to be installed in 2018. Built by Boeing, the circular adaptor measures around 42 inches (one meter) tall and about 63 inches wide. The adaptors will work with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon, two spaceships under construction that are planned to ferry astronauts to the space station. The docking adaptor is more sophisticated than past equipment because it will allow automatic parking instead of the current grapple and berthing process, which is managed by astronauts.

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Marijuana Provides More Pain Relief For Men Than Woman, Says Study

Slashdot - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 05:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PsyPost: Researchers from Columbia University Medical Center (CUMC) found that men had greater pain relief than women after smoking marijuana. In this study, the researchers analyzed data from two double-blinded, placebo-controlled studies looking at the analgesic effects of cannabis in 42 recreational marijuana smokers. After smoking the same amount of either an active or placebo form of cannabis, the participants immersed one hand in a a cold-water bath until the pain could no longer be tolerated. Following the immersion, the participants answered a short pain questionnaire. After smoking active cannabis, men reported a significant decrease in pain sensitivity and an increase in pain tolerance. Women did not experience a significant decrease in pain sensitivity, although they reported a small increase in pain tolerance shortly after smoking. "These findings come at a time when more people, including women, are turning to the use of medical cannabis for pain relief," said Ziva Cooper, PhD, associate professor of clinical neurobiology (in psychiatry) at CUMC. "Preclinical evidence has suggested that the experience of pain relief from cannabis-related products may vary between sexes, but no studies have been done to see if this is true in humans." You can view the results of the study online in Drug and Alcohol Dependence.

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Oracle Is Funding a New Anti-Google Group

Slashdot - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 03:30
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Fortune: Oracle says it is funding a new non-profit called "Campaign for Accountability," which consists of a campaign called "The Google Transparency Project" that claims to expose criminal behavior carried out by Google. "Oracle is absolutely a contributor (one of many) to the Transparency Project. This is important information for the public to know. It is 100 percent public records and accurate," said Ken Glueck, Senior Vice President of Oracle. Fortune reports: "Oracle's hidden hand is not a huge surprise since the company has a history of sneaky PR tactics, and is still embroiled in a bitter intellectual property lawsuit with Google." One would think Microsoft may be another contributor, but the company said it is not. Daniel Stevens, the deputy director of the CfA, declined to name the group's other donors, or to explain why it does not disclose its funders. Why does this matter? "When wealthy companies or individuals pose as a grass-roots group like the so-called 'campaign for accountability' project, [it] can confuse news and public relations, and foster public cynicism," writes Jeff John Roberts via Fortune.

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Comcast Rolls Out $70-Per-Month Gigabit Internet Service In Chicago

Slashdot - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 02:50
An anonymous reader writes from a report via PC Magazine: Comcast is now offering Chicagoans gigabit internet speeds. PC Magazine reports: "Launched on Wednesday, the program uses DOCSIS 3.1 technology to deliver speeds up to 1Gbps over existing network infrastructure. DOCSIS 3.1 runs through standard cable connections already in place at your home or office. So Xfinity and Comcast Business Internet customers can simply sign up for a plan and plug in a new modem; no fiber installation required. The service, according to Comcast, allows you to download a 5GB HD movie in 40 seconds, a 60MB TV episode in four seconds, a 150MB music album in two seconds, or a 15GB video game in two minutes. Initial users have the choice of a promotional contract price of $70 per month for 36 months, or $139.95 per month (plus tax and fees) with no contract."

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EFF Accuses T-Mobile of Violating Net Neutrality With Throttled Video

Slashdot - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 02:10
An anonymous reader writes: T-Mobile's new "unlimited" data plan that throttles video has upset the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), which accuses the company of violating net neutrality principles. The new $70-per-month unlimited data plan "limits video to about 480p resolution and requires customers to pay an extra $25 per month for high-definition video," reports Ars Technica. "Going forward, this will be the only plan offered to new T-Mobile customers, though existing subscribers can keep their current prices and data allotments." EFF Senior Staff Technologist Jeremy Gillula told the Daily Dot, "From what we've read thus far it seems like T-Mobile's new plan to charge its customers extra to not throttle video runs directly afoul of the principle of net neutrality." The FCC's net neutrality rules ban throttling, though Ars notes "there's a difference between violating 'the principle of net neutrality' and violating the FCC's specific rules, which have exceptions to the throttling ban and allow for case-by-case judgements." "Because our no-throttling rule addresses instances in which a broadband provider targets particular content, applications, services, or non-harmful devices, it does not address a practice of slowing down an end user's connection to the internet based on a choice made by the end user," says the FCC's Open Internet Order (PDF). "For instance, a broadband provider may offer a data plan in which a subscriber receives a set amount of data at one speed tier and any remaining data at a lower tier." The EFF is still determining whether or not to file a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission.

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Google Will Kill Chrome Apps For Windows, Mac, and Linux In Early 2018

Slashdot - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 01:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Google today announced plans to kill off Chrome apps for Windows, Mac, and Linux in early 2018. Chrome extensions and themes will not be affected, while Chrome apps will continue to live on in Chrome OS. Here's the deprecation timeline: Late 2016: Newly published Chrome apps will not be available to Windows, Mac, and Linux users (when developers submit apps to the Chrome Web Store, they will only show up for Chrome OS). Existing Chrome apps will remain available as they are today and developers can continue to update them. Second half of 2017: The Chrome Web Store will no longer show Chrome apps on Windows, Mac, and Linux. Early 2018: Chrome apps will not load on Windows, Mac, and Linux. There appears to be two main reasons why Google is killing Chrome apps off now. First, as Google explains in a blog post: "For a while there were certain experiences the web couldn't provide, such as working offline, sending notifications, and connecting to hardware. We launched Chrome apps three years ago to bridge this gap. Since then, we've worked with the web standards community to enable an increasing number of these use cases on the web. Developers can use powerful new APIs such as service worker and web push to build robust Progressive Web Apps that work across multiple browsers." Secondly, Chrome apps aren't very popular: "Today, approximately 1 percent of users on Windows, Mac and Linux actively use Chrome packaged apps, and most hosted apps are already implemented as regular web apps. Chrome on Windows, Mac, and Linux will therefore be removing support for packaged and hosted apps over the next two years."

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Scammers Use Harvard Education Platform to Promote Pirated Movies

Slashdot - Sat, 08/20/2016 - 00:30
TorrentFreak reports: Spammers are using Harvard's educational sharing tool H2O to promote pirated movies. Thousands of links to scammy sites have appeared on the site in recent weeks. Copyright holders are not happy with this unintended use and are targeting the pages with various takedown notices. H2O is a tool that allows professors and students to share learning material in a more affordable way. It is a welcome system that's actively used by many renowned scholars. However, in recent weeks the platform was also discovered by scammers. As a result, it quickly filled up with many links to pirated content. Instead of course instructions and other educational material, the H2O playlists of these scammers advertise pirated movies. The scammers in question are operating from various user accounts and operate much like traditional spam bots, offering pages with movie links and related keywords such as putlocker, megashare, viooz, torrent and YIFY.

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Tesla Owner in Autopilot Crash Won't Sue, But Car Insurer May

Slashdot - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 23:40
Dana Hull, reporting for Bloomberg: A Texas man said the Autopilot mode on his Tesla Model S sent him off the road and into a guardrail, bloodying his nose and shaking his confidence in the technology. He doesn't plan to sue the electric-car maker, but his insurance company might. Mark Molthan, the driver, readily admits that he was not paying full attention. Trusting that Autopilot could handle the route as it had done before, he reached into the glove box to get a cloth and was cleaning the dashboard seconds before the collision, he said. The car failed to navigate a bend on Highway 175 in rural Kaufman, Texas, and struck a cable guardrail multiple times, according to the police report of the Aug. 7 crash. "I used Autopilot all the time on that stretch of the highway," Molthan, 44, said in a phone interview. "But now I feel like this is extremely dangerous. It gives you a false sense of security. I'm not ready to be a test pilot. It missed the curve and drove straight into the guardrail. The car didn't stop -- it actually continued to accelerate after the first impact into the guardrail." Cozen O'Connor, the law firm that represents Molthan's auto-insurance carrier, a unit of Chubb Ltd., said it sent Tesla Motors Inc. a notice letter requesting joint inspection of the vehicle, which has been deemed a total loss.

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Microsoft Has Broken Millions Of Webcams With Windows 10 Anniversary Update

Slashdot - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 22:53
The Anniversary Update which Microsoft rolled out to Windows 10 users earlier this month has broken millions of webcams, the company said on Friday. The problem is that after installing the update, the company added, Windows no longer allows USB webcams to use MJPEG or H264 encoding processes, and only supports YUY2 encoding. Microsoft says it introduced the changes to prevent an issue that was resulting in duplication of encoding the stream (poor performance). If you're facing the issue, there's a workaround (via Thurrott.com): Rafael has figured out a workaround that should hopefully stop the freezing issue; if you are comfortable tweaking the registry, make this change. HKLM\SOFTWARE\WOW6432Node\Microsoft\Windows Media Foundation\Platform, add DWORD "EnableFrameServerMode" and set to 0

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Google Restores Backspace Functionality To Chrome With an Add-on

Slashdot - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 22:13
In May, Google upset many users when it announced it was going to stop the backspace button from also functioning as the back button. If you're among the ones who felt let down by company's decision, there is something you can do about it now. Alan Buckingham, writing for BetaNews: If you don't want to go to the effort of moving your mouse pointer to the back arrow at the left of the address bar to go back to the previous site, you can now install the new Go Back With Backspace add-on. The official description reads, "Go back with the backspace button! This extension re-enables the backspace key as a back navigation button -- except if you're writing text". The reason given for all of this, according to Google, is "many people lost their progress while working online by accidentally pressing backspace and leaving a page -- so we removed the feature from Chrome, and created this extension for those who prefer the old behavior".

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'We're Just Rentals': Uber Drivers Ask Where They Fit In a Self-Driving Future

Slashdot - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 21:32
Bloomberg reported on Thursday about Uber's plan to bring its first fleet of self-driving cars to Pittsburgh as soon as this month, a move that has since been confirmed by the cab-hailing company. Amid the announcement, Uber drivers are disappointed at Uber, wondering what the future of the company lies for them. The Guardian reports:"Wo-o-o-o-w," 60-year old Uber driver Cynthia Ingram said. "We all knew it was coming. I just didn't expect it this soon." For Ingram, autonomous Ubers are an unwelcome threat to her livelihood. "I kind of figured it would be a couple more years down the line before it was really implemented and I'll be retired by then," she said. A paralegal with 30 years experience, Ingram began driving for Uber and Lyft in June 2015 when she lost her job. She said that she loves driving for Uber, though she has struggled to make ends meet. Rob Judge, 41, was also concerned with the announcement. "It feels like we're just rentals. We're kind of like placeholders until the technology comes out." A longtime customer service representative, Judge began driving for Uber three months ago to make money while he looks for other work. "For me personally, this isn't a long term stop," he added. "But for a lot of other people that I've connected with, this is their only means."

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China's Xiaomi Gearing Up For US Debut

Slashdot - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 20:51
An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg report: Xiaomi is preparing to enter the U.S. smartphone market "in the near future," employing the same online sales and social media marketing tactics that helped the six-year-old startup become China's largest privately funded startup. Xiaomi can no longer afford to ignore the world's largest smartphone arena by revenue, company vice president Hugo Barra said in an interview. Its international expansion is taking on new-found urgency as growth at home slows and rivals such as Huawei erode its market share. "The U.S. is a market that we definitely have in our sights," Barra said on Bloomberg Television. "We will lead with social media, with the channels that allow us to get in touch with the young generation that are enthusiastic about new technology. We are definitely going there." Barra, who oversees the Chinese company's international expansion, has signaled Xiaomi's U.S. debut before. But the smartphone vendor is now in a better position to launch an incursion onto Apple's turf. In June, the Beijing-based company announced the acquisition of nearly 1,500 technology patents from Microsoft -- a deal that may smooth potential legal tangles over intellectual property as it pushes abroad.

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Microsoft Wants To Pay You To Use Its Windows 10 Browser Edge

Slashdot - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 20:10
An anonymous reader shares a report by The Guardian: Microsoft has a new browser. It launched with Windows 10 and it's called Edge. The company says it's faster, more battery efficient and all-round better than Chrome or Firefox. You can even draw on websites with a stylus. Trouble is, not very many people are using it. So now Microsoft's trying to bribe you to switch. The newly rebranded Microsoft Rewards -- formerly Bing Rewards, which paid people for using Bing as their search engine (another product Microsoft says is better than a Google product but that very few people actually use) -- will now pay you for using Edge, shopping at the Microsoft store, or using Bing. Users of Edge who sign up to Microsoft Rewards, which is currently US-only, are then awarded points simply for using the browser. Microsoft actively monitors whether you're using Edge for up to 30 hours a month. It tracks mouse movements and other signs that you're not trying to game the system, and you must also have Bing set as your default search engine. Points can then be traded in for vouchers or credit for places such as Starbucks, Skype, Amazon and ad-free Outlook.com -- remember, if you're not paying for something, you are the product.

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PSA: Twitch's 'Activity Sharing' Feature Exposes Your Activity By Default

Slashdot - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 19:30
The 'Activity Sharing' feature that Twitch announced on Thursday aims to notify your entire Friends list if you're doing something interesting. The video games streaming platform hopes that it would bolster the engagement level, as people will want to know what their friends are doing. The problem is that this feature is on by default. An anonymous reader writes: While the feature is fairly harmless, it is understandable that some people won't want others to easily spy on their behaviors. As an example, maybe you are watching a Hello Kitty game stream -- some folks might be embarrassed to have that displayed under their name. To turn it off, simply deselect the box as seen in this image.

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AT&T, Apple, Google To Work On 'Robocall' Crackdown

Slashdot - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 19:03
Last month the FCC had pressed major U.S. phone companies to take immediate steps to develop technology that blocks unwanted automated calls available to consumers at no charge. It had demanded the concerned companies to come up with a "concrete, actionable" plan within 30 days. Well, the companies have complied. On Friday, 30 major technology companies announced they are joining the U.S. government to crack down on automated, pre-recorded telephone calls that regulators have labeled as "scourge." Reuters adds: AT&T, Alphabet, Apple, Verizon Communications and Comcast are among the members of the "Robocall Strike Force," which will work with the U.S. Federal Communications Commission. The strike force will report to the commission by Oct. 19 on "concrete plans to accelerate the development and adoption of new tools and solutions," said AT&T Chief Executive Officer Randall Stephenson, who is chairing the group. The group hopes to put in place Caller ID verification standards that would help block calls from spoofed phone numbers and to consider a "Do Not Originate" list that would block spoofers from impersonating specific phone numbers from governments, banks or others.

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The NSA Leak Is Real, Snowden Documents Confirm

Slashdot - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 18:20
Sam Biddle, reporting for The Intercept: On Monday, A hacking group calling itself the "ShadowBrokers" announced an auction for what it claimed were "cyber weapons" made by the NSA. Based on never-before-published documents provided by the whistleblower Edward Snowden, The Intercept can confirm that the arsenal contains authentic NSA software, part of a powerful constellation of tools used to covertly infect computers worldwide. The provenance of the code has been a matter of heated debate this week among cybersecurity experts, and while it remains unclear how the software leaked, one thing is now beyond speculation: The malware is covered with the NSA's virtual fingerprints and clearly originates from the agency. The evidence that ties the ShadowBrokers dump to the NSA comes in an agency manual for implanting malware, classified top secret, provided by Snowden, and not previously available to the public. The draft manual instructs NSA operators to track their use of one malware program using a specific 16-character string, "ace02468bdf13579." That exact same string appears throughout the ShadowBrokers leak in code associated with the same program, SECONDDATE. SECONDDATE plays a specialized role inside a complex global system built by the U.S. government to infect and monitor what one document estimated to be millions of computers around the world. Its release by ShadowBrokers, alongside dozens of other malicious tools, marks the first time any full copies of the NSA's offensive software have been available to the public, providing a glimpse at how an elaborate system outlined in the Snowden documents looks when deployed in the real world, as well as concrete evidence that NSA hackers don't always have the last word when it comes to computer exploitation.

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Password Strength Meters on Websites Are Doing a Terrible Job

Slashdot - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 17:40
An anonymous reader shares a report on The Register: Password strength meters used during web sites' signup process remain incapable of doing their job, says Compound Eye developer Mark Stockley. Indeed, a majority of security experts consider the tools a useless control that grant little more than an illusion of protection. Stockley revisited his examination of five popular password meters and found they failed to prevent users from entering the world's worst passwords. "You can't trust password strength meters on websites," Stockley says. "The passwords I used in the test are all, deliberately, absolutely dreadful ... they're chosen from a list of the 10,000 most common passwords and have characteristics I thought the password strength meters might overrate." The basis for his argument is that the meters rate character complexity but fail to identify those combinations that can be guessed outright such as popular passwords or those based on cliches.

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Wikiverse Turns Wikipedia Into a Marvelous Galaxy of Knowledge

Slashdot - Fri, 08/19/2016 - 17:10
An anonymous reader shares a The Next Web report: If recklessly clicking through hundreds of Wikipedia entries at a time no longer does it for you, Wikiverse is about to become your new favorite way of browsing the internet's richest encyclopedia. Built by Owen Cornec, it's a Web-based interactive 3D map of Wikipedia that visualizes the website as a cosmic web of information, literally turning it into a marvelous galaxy of knowledge you can conveniently explore with your mouse. To accomplish this, Wikiverse sources thousands of articles from Wikipedia and then generates a map where it showcases the countless connections and overlaps of information between each entry. In Wikiverse, each article appears as a star within larger domains and clusters of knowledge. To access any entry on Wikipedia, simply click on a star and Wikiverse will pull up the information for you.

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