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Startup Aims To Commercialize a Brain Implant To Improve Memory

Slashdot - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 09:00
the_newsbeagle writes: Neuroscientist Ted Berger has achieved some remarkable feats in his work on an implanted brain prosthetic to boost memory. Working with rats, he recorded the electrical signals associated with a specific memory from one animal's brain, then inserted that signal -- and thus the memory -- into another animal's brain. Working with monkeys, the implanted device enhanced the animals' recall in difficult memory tasks. Still, it's startling to learn that a startup is ready to commercialize Berger's work, and is trying to build a memory prosthetic for humans suffering from Alzheimer's, brain injuries, and stroke. The new company, named Kernel, will fund human trials and develop electrodes that can record from and stimulate more brain cells. "An implanted memory prosthetic would have electrodes to record signals during learning, a microprocessor to do the computations, and electrodes that stimulate neurons to encode the information as a memory," writes Eliza Strickland via IEEE Spectrum.

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Wrong Chemical Dumped Into Olympic Pools Made Them Green

Slashdot - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 05:30
Z00L00K writes: [Ars Technica reports:] "After a week of trying to part with green tides in two outdoor swimming pools, Olympic officials over the weekend wrung out a fresh mea culpa and yet another explanation -- neither of which were comforting. According to officials, a local pool-maintenance worker mistakenly added 160 liters of hydrogen peroxide to the waters on August 5, which partially neutralized the chlorine used for disinfection. With chlorine disarmed, the officials said that 'organic compounds' -- i.e. algae and other microbes -- were able to grow and turn the water a murky green in the subsequent days. The revelation appears to contradict officials' previous assurances that despite the emerald hue, which first appeared Tuesday, the waters were safe." I would personally have avoided using the green pools, but that's just me. "Hydrogen peroxide is sometimes used in pools -- often to de-chlorinate them," reports Ars. "Basically, the chemical, a common household disinfectant, is a weak acid that reacts with chlorine and chlorine-containing compounds to release oxygen and form other chlorine-containing compounds. Those may not be good at disinfecting pools, but they still may be picked up by monitoring systems. Hydrogen peroxide can also be used to disinfect pools but must be maintained in the waters -- not a one-time dumping -- and can't be used in combination with chlorine." Apparently, the green water irritates eyes and smells like farts.

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Malware That Fakes Bank Login Screens Found In Google Ads

Slashdot - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 03:05
tedlistens quotes a report from Fast Company: For years, security firms have warned of keystroke logging malware that surreptitiously steals usernames and passwords on desktop and laptop computers. In the past year, a similar threat has begun to emerge on mobile devices: So-called overlay malware that impersonates login pages from popular apps and websites as users launch the apps, enticing them to enter their credentials to banking, social networking, and other services, which are then sent on to attackers. Such malware has even found its way onto Google's AdSense network, according to a report on Monday from Kaspersky Lab. The weapon would automatically download when users visited certain Russian news sites, without requiring users to click on the malicious advertisements. It then prompts users for administrative rights, which makes it harder for antivirus software or the user to remove it, and proceeds to steal credentials through fake login screens, and by intercepting, deleting, and sending text messages. The Kaspersky researchers call it "a gratuitous act of violence against Android users." "By simply viewing their favorite news sites over their morning coffee users can end up downloading last-browser-update.apk, a banking Trojan detected by Kaspersky Lab solutions as Trojan-Banker.AndroidOS.Svpeng.q," according to the company. "There you are, minding your own business, reading the news and BOOM! -- no additional clicks or following links required." The good news is that the issue has since been resolved, according to a Google spokeswoman. Fast Company provides more details about these types of attacks and how to stay safe in its report.

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Univision To Buy Gawker Media For $135 Million

Slashdot - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 02:20
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: Univision has won the auction for Gawker Media. The TV network and digital publisher has agreed to pay $135 million for the bankrupt blog network, according to a person familiar with the deal. Univision's offer will encompass all seven of Gawker Media's sites, including Gawker.com. Ziff Davis and Univision were the only two bidders for Gawker, which filed for bankruptcy after Hulk Hogan and Peter Thiel won a $140 million judgment in a privacy case. Ziff Davis had originally offered $90 million for Gawker Media. Here's a statement from Gawker Media owner Nick Denton: "Gawker Media Group has agreed this evening to sell our business and popular brands to Univision, one of America's largest media companies that is rapidly assembling the leading digital media group for millennial and multicultural audiences. I am pleased that our employees are protected and will continue their work under new ownership -- disentangled from the legal campaign against the company. We could not have picked an acquirer more devoted to vibrant journalism." The deal won't be official for a bit. For starters, a U.S. bankruptcy court judge needs to sign off on the transaction. When it is final, the judgment funds will be set aside while Gawker appeals its court case; eventually the money will go to the side that wins.

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Intel Unveils Project Alloy 'Merged Reality' Wireless Headset

Slashdot - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 01:40
MojoKid writes: Intel CEO Bryan Krzanich took to the stage at the Moscone Center in San Francisco today to kick off this year's Intel Developers Forum. Kyrzanich unveiled a number of new projects and products including a product code-named "Project Alloy." The device is an un-tethered, merged reality Head Mounted Device (HMD) that combines compute, graphics, multiple RealSense modules, various sensors, and batteries into a self-contained headset that offers a full six degrees of freedom. Unlike the Oculus Rift and HTC Vive, Project Alloy does not need to be wired to a PC or other device and it does not require externally mounted sensors to define a virtual space. Instead, it uses RealSense cameras to map the actual physical world you're in while wearing the HMD. The RealSense cameras also allow the device to bring real-world objects into the virtual world, or vice versa. The cameras and sensors used in Project Alloy offer full depth sensing, so obstacles can be mapped, and people and objects within camera range -- like your hand, for example -- can be brought into the virtual world and accurately tracked. During a live, on-stage demo performed by Intel's Craig Raymond, Craig's hand was tracked and all five digits, complete with accurate bones and joint locations, were brought into the the VR/AR experience. Project Alloy will be supported by Microsoft's Windows Holographics Shell framework.

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FCC Complaint: Baltimore Police Breaking Law With Use of Stingray Phone Trackers

Slashdot - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 01:00
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Baltimore Sun: Civil rights groups have complained to the FCC over the Baltimore Police Department's use of stingray phone tracking devices. They claim that "the way police use it interferes with emergency calls and is racially discriminatory." Baltimore Sun reports: "The complaint argues that the police department doesn't have a proper license to use the devices and is in violation of federal law. It calls on regulators at the Federal Communications Commission to step in and formally remind law enforcement agencies of the rules. 'The public is relying on the Commission to carry out its statutory obligation to do so, to fulfill its public commitment to do so, and to put an end to widespread network interference caused by rampant unlicensed transmissions made by BPD and other departments around the country,' the groups say in the complaint. Police in Baltimore acknowledged in court last year that they had used the devices thousands of times to investigate crimes ranging from violent attacks to the theft of cellphones. Investigators had been concealing the technology from judges and defense lawyers and after the revelations Maryland's second highest court ruled that police should get a warrant before using a Stingray. The groups argue that surveillance using the devices also undermines people's free speech rights and describe the use of Stingrays as an electronic form of the intrusive police practices described in the scathing Justice Department report on the police department's pattern of civil rights violations."

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Twitch Acquires Curse, Its Sites, Tools For Gamers, and Databases

Slashdot - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 00:35
An anonymous reader writes from a report via VentureBeat: The Amazon-owned, game-streaming site Twitch has announced today that it has acquired Curse, a company that creates programs like voice clients, databases, and mod managers for PC games for some 30 million users. Twitch did not disclose how much they paid for Curse. VentureBeat reports: "Twitch has more than 100 million users a month, and it has helped to popularize new trends gaming like esports and the rise of influencers and personalities who create fanbases that watch them (and donate money to them) while they play. Curse has over 30 million users a month across its website, social media channels, and desktop applications. The company hosts popular websites for hit PC games like Hearthpwn for Hearthstone: Heroes of Warcraft and MMO Champion for World of Warcraft. Outside of its site, Twitch hasn't made many services for gamers. It could use this acquisition to extend a reach into that field."

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Snowden Speculates Leak of NSA Spying Tools Is Tied To Russian DNC Hack

Slashdot - Wed, 08/17/2016 - 00:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Two former employees of the National Security Agency -- including exiled whistleblower Edward Snowden -- are speculating that Monday's leak of what are now confirmed to be advanced hacking tools belonging to the U.S. government is connected to the separate high-profile hacks and subsequent leaks of two Democratic groups. Private security firms brought in to investigate the breach of the Democratic National Committee and a separate hack of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee have said that the software left behind implicates hackers tied to the Russian government. U.S. intelligence officials have privately said they, too, have high confidence of Russian government involvement. Both Snowden and Dave Aitel, an offensive security expert who spent six years as an NSA security scientist, are speculating that Monday's leak by a group calling itself Shadow Brokers is in response to growing tensions between the U.S. and Russia over the hacks on the Democratic groups. As this post was being prepared, researchers with Kaspersky Lab confirmed that the tools belong to Equation Group, one of the most sophisticated hacking groups they've ever investigated. "Why did they do it?" Snowden wrote in a series of tweets early Tuesday morning. "No one knows, but I suspect this is more diplomacy than intelligence, related to the escalation around the DNC hack." In a brief post of his own, Aitel agreed that Russia is the most likely suspect behind both the Democratic hacks and the leaking of the NSA spying tools. He also said the NSA data was likely obtained by someone with physical access to an NSA secure area who managed to walk out with a USB stick loaded with secrets.

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Windows UAC Bypass Permits Code Execution

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 23:30
msm1267 writes from a report via Threatpost: A Windows UAC bypass has been publicly disclosed that not only bypasses the security feature meant to prevent unauthorized installs, but can be used to run code on compromised machines without leaving a trace on the hard disk. The bypass relies on Event Viewer (eventvwr.exe), a native Windows feature used to view event logs locally or remotely. Researcher Matt Nelson said he figured out a way to use eventvwr to hijack a registry process, start Powershell and execute commands on Windows machines; he collaborated with fellow researcher Matt Graeber on a proof-of-concept exploit, which was tested against Windows 7 and 10. A report published today by Nelson said it would work against any version of the OS that implements UAC. An attacker would already need to be on the machine to use this technique, Nelson said. The attack allows an admin user to execute code in a high-integrity context without requiring the user to approve the administrative action via the UAC pop-up. Microsoft, the researcher said, does not consider UAC bypasses a security boundary worthy of a bulletin and patch. It's unclear how Microsoft will address this issue.

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Intel's Joule is Its Most Powerful Dev Kit Yet

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 22:50
Devindra Hardawar, writing for Engadget: We've seen plenty of unique dev kits from Intel, including the SD card-sized Edison, but not one as powerful as this. Intel announced Joule today, a tiny maker board that will allow developers to test RealSense-powered concepts and, hopefully, bring the to the market faster than before. The company says the tiny, low-powered Joule would be ideal for testing concepts in robotics, AR, VR, industrial IoT and a slew of other industries. And it also looks like it could be an interesting way for students to dabble in RealSense's depth-sensing technology in schools. There will be two Joule kits to choose from: the 550x, which includes a 1.5GHz quad-core Atom T5500 processor, 3GB of RAM and 8GB of storage; and the 570x, which packs in a 1.7Ghz quad-core Atom T5700 CPU (with burst speeds up to 2.4GHz), 4GB of RAM and 16GB of storage. Both models include "laptop-class" 802.11AC wireless, Intel graphics with 4K capture and display support, and a Linux-based OS.

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Cable Expands Broadband Domination as AT&T and Verizon Lose Customers

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 22:11
The cable industry's grip on the U.S. broadband space increased last quarter, with Comcast and Charter gaining nearly 500,000 subscribers, combined. Phone companies AT&T, Verizon, CenturyLink, and Frontier, however, all lost Internet customers. ArsTechnica reports:The 14 largest ISPs, accounting for 95 percent of the US market, gained 192,510 Internet customers in Q2 2016, bringing the total to 91.9 million, Leichtman Research Group reported today. Cable companies accounted for all of the gains, adding 553,293 subscribers for a new total of 57 million. The phone companies lost 360,783 subscribers, bringing them down to 34.9 million. Phone companies' losses more than doubled since Q2 2015, when they lost about 150,000 subscribers. [...] Comcast and Charter, the two biggest ISPs, led the way in subscriber gains. Comcast added 220,000 broadband subscribers to boost its total to 24 million, while Charter (the new owner of Time Warner Cable) added 277,000 subscribers for a new total of 21.8 million. AT&T lost 123,000 subscribers, lowering its total to 15.6 million. Verizon lost 83,000, leaving it with 7 million Internet customers. CenturyLink and Frontier lost 66,000 and 77,000, respectively.

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Canada's Police Chiefs Want New Law To Compel People To Reveal Passwords

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 21:31
Reader DaveyJJ writes: CBC is reporting that the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, has passed a resolution calling for a legal measure to unlock digital evidence, saying criminals increasingly use encryption to hide illicit activities. The chiefs are recommending new legislation that would force people to hand over their electronic passwords with a judge's consent. RCMP Assistant Commissioner Joe Oliver is using the usual scare tactics "child-molesters and mobsters live in the 'dark web'" in his statement today to drum up public support in his poorly rationalized privacy-stripping recommendation. A few years ago, Canada's Supreme Court ruled that police must have a judge's order to request subscriber and customer information from ISPs, banks and others who have online data about Canadians. I guess that ruling isn't sitting too well with law enforcement and Canada's domestic spy agencies.

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Ford Plans a Fleet of Fully Autonomous Cars Operating in a Ride-Hail Service By 2021

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 20:53
Ford will mass-produce autonomous vehicles without steering wheels by 2021, Ford chief executive Mark Fields said today at the Ford Research and Innovation Center in Palo Alto, California. Recode reports:Fields announced that the company is working toward launching a fleet of commercial, level 4 (one level below a completely autonomous system, in which drivers don't have to be engaged) vehicles in a ride-hail service by 2021. The details of that ride-hail service -- such as which company Ford will partner with to operate it -- still haven't been determined. As part of that effort, Ford is investing in Velodyne, a self-driving tech company, and is working with three other startups. Ford has acquired Israel-based computer vision and machine learning company SAIPS, struck up an exclusive licensing agreement with machine vision company Nirenberg Neuroscience LLC and, as previously announced, invested in 3-D mapping startup Civil Maps.

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All Windows 10 PCs Will Support HoloLens Next Year

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 20:10
Tech giants are betting on augmented reality and virtual reality as the "next big thing." However, both of these nascent technologies are seeing a slow adoption rate because a user needs high-end computing power at her disposal to experience most of them. Microsoft believes it has made enough software advancements to offset the hardware requirements. At Intel's annual developers conference, Microsoft's Windows chief Terry Myerson announced a partnership with the chip maker that will make all future Windows 10 PCs able to support mixed reality applications. From a report on The Verge:"All Windows 10 PCs next year will include a holographic shell," Myerson said, the same operating system that runs on the company's HoloLens headset. PCs will work with a head-mounted display, and run all Windows Holographic applications, Myerson said, allowing wearers to interact not just with 3D applications but also 2D apps. Microsoft will enable these apps through a future Windows update and the company's universal Windows app platform.TechCrunch has more details.

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Tesla Removes 'Self-driving' From China Website After Beijing Crash

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 19:31
Last week, a Tesla owner in China blamed electric vehicle's "autopilot" feature for a crash. Amid the reports, Tesla quietly removed the term "self-driving" feature from its Chinese website. Reuters report: The Tesla driver crashed earlier this month while on a Beijing commuter highway after the car failed to avoid a vehicle parked on the left side but partially in the roadway, damaging both cars but causing no injuries. It was the first known such crash in China, although it follows a fatal accident in Florida earlier this year that put pressure on auto executives and regulators to tighten rules for automated driving. A check of Tesla's Chinese website on Sunday showed that the word "autopilot" had also been removed. But that term was subsequently reinstated on Monday. "At Tesla we are continuously making improvements, including to translations," a Tesla spokeswoman said in an emailed statement to Reuters when asked about the removal of the terms "autopilot" and "self-driving."

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Your Political Facebook Posts Aren't Changing How Your Friends Think

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 18:49
An anonymous reader writes:It may be hard to resist airing political grievances or appealing to voters on social media during a U.S. presidential race as heated as this one. But no one wants to hear about your politics, least of all on Facebook. Those long rants about how Trump is a bully and a buffoon, Hillary is a crook, and conspiring against Bernie Sanders has doomed America forever aren't changing voters' minds, a new study found. A staggering 94% of Republicans, 92% of Democrats, and 85% of independents on Facebook say they have never been swayed by a political post, according to Rantic, a firm that sells social media followers. The firm surveyed 10,000 Facebook users who self-identified as Republicans, Democrats, or independents. The only thing those opinionated election posts are doing is damaging your friendships. Nearly one-third of Facebook users surveyed said social media is not an appropriate forum for political discussions. And respondents from each political affiliation admitted they've un-friended people on Facebook because of their political posts.

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Metropolitan Police To Target Online Hate Crime and Abuse

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 18:02
A new team of specialist police officers is being set up to investigate online hate crimes, including abuse on Twitter and Facebook. The London-based hub will include a team of five officers who will support victims and identify online abuse, reports BBC. From the report: The two-year pilot will cost 1.7m pound and has received 452,000 pound from the Home Office, the London Mayor's office said. A spokesman said there was "no place for hate" in London and there would be a "zero tolerance" of online abuse. The team, which will be set up in the coming months, will identify the location of crimes and allocate them to the appropriate force. They will work with a team of volunteers. The Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime (Mopac) said social media "provides hate crime perpetrators with a veil of anonymity, making it harder to bring them to justice and potentially impacting on a larger number of people".

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Google Duo Video Chat App Arrives On iOS and Android With End-to-end Encryption

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 17:20
An anonymous reader writes: Video chat should be simple, but it is not. The biggest issue is fragmentation. On iOS, for instance, Facetime is a wonderfully easy solution, but there is no Android client. While there are plenty of cross-platform third-party options to solve this, they aren't always elegant. Skype is a good example of an app that should bridge the gap, but ends up being buggy and clunky. Google is aiming to solve this dilemma with its 'Duo' video chat app. With it, the search giant is putting a heavy focus on ease of use. The offering is available for both Android and iOS -- the only two mobile platforms that matter (sorry, Windows 10 Mobile). Announced three months ago, it finally sees release today. There is no news about the Allo chat sister-app, sadly.

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Too Many New Smartphone Models Released Each Year: Survey

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 16:40
An anonymous reader writes: Consumers think smartphone makers are releasing too many new models each year, a survey showed on Tuesday. The survey conducted in six countries, commissioned by the environmental group Greenpeace, showed that more than half of those who responded would prefer to change their phones less frequently. Handset devices are one of the most frequently replaced electronics products. The top cellphone companies, Samsung and Apple, launch new flagship phone models at least once every year, showing off the latest display and mobile processor technologies. Phone makers typically upgrade their cheaper lineups as well. "Over half of respondents across the countries surveyed agree that manufacturers are releasing too many new models, many designed to only last a few years," said Chih An Lee, global IT campaigner at Greenpeace East Asia. "In fact, most users actually want their phones to be more easily dismantled, repaired and recycled."

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LinkedIn Sues 100 Individuals For Scraping User Data From the Site

Slashdot - Tue, 08/16/2016 - 16:00
Mark Wilson, writing for BetaNews: Professional social network LinkedIn is suing 100 anonymous individuals for data scraping. It is hoped that a court order will be able to reveal the identities of those responsible for using bots to harvest user data from the site. The Microsoft-owned service takes pride in the relationship it has with its users and the security it offers their data. Its lawsuit seeks to use the data scrapers' IP addresses and then discover their true identity in order to take action against them. LinkedIn says that a botnet has been used to gain access to user data which is then passed on to third parties. The site has a number of measures in place to prevent this type of data harvesting, but it seems that scrapers have found a way to circumvent these security restrictions. A series of automated tools -- FUSE, Quicksand, Sentinel, and Org Block -- are used to monitor suspicious activity and blocking scraping.

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