Tech News Feed

Inside the historic Liberty ship SS Jeremiah O’Brien - CNET

CNET News - Sun, 2019-08-18 07:00
A true piece of history, not just one of the only remaining Liberty ships, but one of the only ships still floating that was part of the D-Day invasion in 1944. Here’s a look inside.

Runkeeper drops its Wear OS app due to a 'buggy experience'

Engadget - Sun, 2019-08-18 02:18
Add Runkeeper to the list of companies dropping their smartwatch apps -- albeit not for the usual reasons. The developer is warning customers that it's scrapping its Wear OS app as of the 9.13 release. It's "just not able" to deliver the best exper...

'I Want a Super-Smart Chair!'

SlashDot - Sun, 2019-08-18 00:34
Long-time Slashdot reader shanen writes: Imagine you had a perfect chair for using your computer. Also a perfect chair for watching TV. And a chair for listening to music, a chair for reading, a chair for napping, a work chair that keeps you awake, and a perfect chair for dinner. Also a massage chair and a diagnostic chair that checks your temperature, pulse, and blood pressure. Is your house full of chairs yet? Wait! what about your spouse's perfect chairs? Need a bigger house? What if you had one chair that could be all nine of those chairs? What if you could teach the super-smart modular chair to be more chairs, too? That's what I want, plus the voodoo chair controller to manipulate and teach the slightly deformable triangular modules (in two or three sizes) that would form all of the virtual chairs for the current real chair. Anyway, this story ticks me off because I sent that idea to a couple of companies, including IKEA. I'm still waiting. Not holding my breath. That article shows Ikea promising a new "smart homes" unit -- but with no mention of investments in wondrous smart chair technologies. So the original submission ends by asking how we can bring about such a smart chair revolution?

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Drako's GTE electric supercar will be a four-motor, 1,200HP monster

Engadget - Sat, 2019-08-17 22:00
The new Tesla Roadster won't be the only wildly overpowered electric supercar arriving in the near future. Drako Motors (a startup created by Barracuda Networks co-founder Dean Drako) has unveiled the GTE, an electric sedan that's built to take on t...

Intel Patches Three High-Severity Vulnerabilities

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 21:34
Intel's latest patches "stomped out three high-severity vulnerabilities and five medium-severity flaws," reports Threatpost: One of the more serious vulnerabilities exist in the Intel Processor Identification Utility for Windows, free software that users can install on their Windows machines to identify the actual specification of their processors. The flaw (CVE-2019-11163) has a score of 8.2 out of 10 on the CVSS scale, making it high severity. It stems from insufficient access control in a hardware abstraction driver for the software, versions earlier than 6.1.0731. This glitch "may allow an authenticated user to potentially enable escalation of privilege, denial of service or information disclosure via local access" according to Intel. Users are urged to update to version 6.1.0731. Intel stomped out another high-severity vulnerability in its Computing Improvement Program, which is program that Intel users can opt into that uses information about participants' computer performance to make product improvement and detect issues. However, the program contains a flaw (CVE-2019-11162) in the hardware abstraction of the SEMA driver that could allow escalation of privilege, denial of service or information disclosure... A final high-severity flaw was discovered in the system firmware of the Intel NUC (short for Next Unit of Computing), a mini-PC kit used for gaming, digital signage and more. The flaw (CVE-2019-11140) with a CVSS score of 7.5 out of 10, stems from insufficient session validation in system firmware of the NUC. This could enable a user to potentially enable escalation of privilege, denial of service and information disclosure. An exploit of the flaw would come with drawbacks -- a bad actor would need existing privileges and local access to the victim system. The article notes that the patches "come on the heels of a new type of side-channel attack revealed last week impacting millions of newer Intel microprocessors manufactured after 2012."

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Three Years Later, France's Solar Road is a Flop

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 21:34
DigressivePoser and schwit1 both submitted the same story. That 1-km ( .62-mile) "solar road" paved with photovoltaic panels in France is "too noisy, falling apart, and doesn't even collect enough solar energy," reports Popular Mechanics: Le Monde describes the road as "pale with its ragged joints," with "solar panels that peel off the road and the many splinters [from] that enamel resin protecting photovoltaic cells." It's a poor sign for a project the French government invested in to the tune of €5 million, or $5,546,750. The noise and poor upkeep aren't the only problems facing the Wattway. Through shoddy engineering, the Wattway isn't even generating the electricity it promised to deliver... Normandy is not historically known as a sunny area. At the time, the region's capital city of Caen only got 44 days of strong sunshine a year, and not much has changed since. Storms have wrecked havoc with the systems, blowing circuits. But even if the weather was in order, it appears the panels weren't built to capture them efficiently... Solar panels are most efficient when pointed toward the sun. Because the project needed to be a road as well as a solar generator, however, all of its solar panels are flat. So even within the limited sun of the region, the Wattway was further limiting itself. The problem-plagued road is producing just half the solar energy expected -- although that's more energy than you'd get from an asphalt road. But Marc Jedliczka, vice president of the Network for Energetic Transition (CLER), which promotes renewable energy, offered this suggestion in the Eurasia Times. "If they really want this to work, they should first stop cars driving on it." He later told Le Monde that the sorry state of the project "confirms the total absurdity of going all-out for innovation to the detriment of solutions that already exist and are more profitable, such as solar panels on roofs." But Futurism adds that the idea of having roadways generate solar power "is far from dead, according to Business Insider. In the Netherlands, a solar bike lane has fared much better, exceeding the expected energy production. A solar panel road is also being tested near Amsterdam's Schiphol airport."

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'Travis Strikes Again' comes to PC and PS4 on October 17th

Engadget - Sat, 2019-08-17 19:50
You won't have to own a Switch to play a modern take on the No More Heroes universe. Suda51's Travis Strikes Again: No More Heroes Complete Edition is now slated to launch on PC (via Steam) and PS4 October 17th. The expanded title includes both the...

YouTube's Algorithms Blamed For Brazil's Dangerous Conspiracy Video-Sharing on WhatsApp

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 19:34
Sunday the New York Times reported that YouTube "radicalized" Brazil -- by "systematically" diverting users to conspiracy videos. Yet conventional wisdom in Brazil still puts the blame on WhatsApp, the Times reported in a follow-up story on Thursday shared by Slashdot reader AmiMoJo. "Everything began to click into place when we met Luciana Brito, a soft-spoken clinical psychologist who works with families affected by the Zika virus." Her work had put her on the front lines of the struggle against conspiracy theories, threats and hatred swirling on both platforms. And it allowed her to see what we -- like so many observers -- had missed: that WhatsApp and YouTube had come to form a powerful, and at times dangerous, feedback loop of extremism and misinformation. Either platform had plenty of weaknesses on its own. But, together, they had formed a pipeline of misinformation, spreading conspiracy theories, campaign material and political propaganda throughout Brazil. The first breakthrough came when we spoke to Yasodara Cordova, who at the time was a researcher at Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society. Illiteracy remains widespread in some parts of Brazil, she said, ruling out text-based social media or news sources for many people. And TV networks can be low-quality, which has helped drive YouTube's stunning growth in many parts of Brazil, particularly on mobile. But YouTube has had less success in poorer regions of Brazil for one simple reason: Users cannot afford the cellphone data. "The internet in Brazil is really expensive," Ms. Cordova said. "I think it's the fourth or fifth country in terms of internet prices." WhatsApp has become a workaround. The messaging app has a deal with some carriers to offer free data on the app, and poorer users found that this offered them a way around YouTube's unaffordability. They would share snippets of YouTube videos that they found on WhatsApp, where the videos can be watched and shared for free. Ms. Cordova suspected that the WhatsApp-spread misinformation had often come from videos that first went viral on YouTube, where they had been boosted by the extremism-favoring algorithms that we documented in our story earlier this week... It was like an infection jumping from one host to the next. Some of the videos blame the mosquito-bourne Zika virus on vaccines or suggest an international conspiracy, while some were "staged to resemble news reports or advice from health workers," the Times reports -- adding that as of Thursday the videos were still being recommended by YouTube's algorithm. (A spokesperson for YouTube "called the results unintended, and said the company would change how its search tool surfaced videos related to Zika.") Researchers say conspiracy videos were even shown to people who'd searched for reputable information on the virus, the Times reports. "The videos often spread in WhatsApp chat groups that had been set up to share information and news about coping with Zika, turning users' efforts to take control of their families' health against them." YouTube told the Times that their recommendation system now drives 70% of total time spent on YouTube -- and according to their article Thursday, Dr. Brito estimates that she now receives serious threats on her life about once a week.

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Elon Musk Begins Selling $25 'Nuke Mars' T-Shirts

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 18:34
"Elon Musk tweeted on Thursday evening 'Nuke Mars.' A few hours later he followed it up with 'T-shirt soon'," writes Business Insider. BGR reports: Musk's tweet is a reference to the theory that by dropping one or more large bombs on Mars' poles, the CO2 locked away in the ice there would be released, giving the Martian atmosphere a much-needed boost... Making the planet's atmosphere denser could help it retain heat and bring it a small step closer to being habitable by human settlers. However, past research has suggested that bombing the planet's poles wouldn't release nearly enough CO2 to be worth the trouble. Elon Musk has publicly disagreed. It's unclear why the SpaceX boss decided to bring this all up again, but he does have a habit of saying whatever he thinks will get a big reaction on Twitter. Oh, and apparently he's hoping to sell some shirts as well. In any case, no space agency is ready to even begin preliminary planning for a crewed Mars mission, much less any long-term efforts to change the climate of the Red Planet. If that ever does happen, bombs may or may not play a role. The article adds that scientists "aren't fully on board" with Musk's line of thinking, but the t-shirts really are available in the online SpaceX store. Late Friday Musk began promoting them with an optimistic tweet. "Nuking Mars one T-shirt at a time."

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Nintendo says there is no Switch exchange program

Engadget - Sat, 2019-08-17 18:21
You might not want to buy a first-generation Switch with the assumption Nintendo will replace it with a new model. A Nintendo spokesperson has flatly denied that swaps are available, telling The Verge that "we do not have a Nintendo Switch exchange...

US Navy Tests WWII-ERA Messaging Tech: Dropping Bean Bags Onto Ships

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 17:34
Long-time Slashdot reader davidwr writes: In World War II, pilots would air-drop messages onto ships using bean-bags. Just as with sextants a few years ago, the Navy is bringing back old tech, because it works. Just as during the Doolittle Raid of Tokyo, the purpose is to prevent eavesdropping. You can read more about the modern bean-bag-drop on Military.com or Popular Mechanics. There's a video about the Doolittle Raid hosted at archive.org with bean-bag-drops at 2:39 and 5:19 into the video. I wonder how many high-density SSD drives fit in a standard Navy bean-bag? "In a future conflict with a tech-savvy opponent, the U.S. military could discover even its most advanced, secure communications penetrated by the enemy," notes Popular Mechanics. "Secure digital messaging, voice communications, video conferencing, and even chats could be intercepted and decrypted for its intelligence value. "This could give enemy forces an unimaginable advantage, seemingly predicting the moves and actions of the fleets at sea with uncanny accuracy."

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IKEA creates a business unit devoted to smart home tech

Engadget - Sat, 2019-08-17 17:03
It's clear by now that IKEA is serious about smart home tech between its Sonos-powered speakers and connected lights, but the home furniture giant wants to formalize that commitment. It just established a full-fledged Home Smart business unit that,...

Can JPEG XL Become the Next Free and Open Image Format?

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 16:34
"JPEG XL looks very promising as a next gen replacement for JPEG, PNG and GIF," writes icknay (Slashdot reader #96,963): JPEG was incredibly successful by solving a real problem with a free and open format. Other formats have tried to replace it, notably HEIF which will never by universal due to its patent licensing. JPEG XL combines all the modern features, replacing JPEG PNG and GIF and has free and open licensing. The linked slides from Jon Sneyers review the many other attempts at replacing JPEG plus the obligatory XKCD standards joke.

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US will reportedly give Huawei another temporary reprieve

Engadget - Sat, 2019-08-17 15:49
Huawei hasn't had any luck reversing the US trade ban despite promises of removing some restrictions. It might be a long while before the company is forced to cut all its ties, however. Reuters sources have claimed the Commerce Department is expect...

Google Criticized For Vulnerability That Can Trick Its AI Into Deactivating Accounts

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 15:34
In July Google was sued by Tulsi Gabbard, one of 23 Democrats running for president, after Google mistakenly suspended her advertising account. "I believe I can provide assistance on where to focus your discovery efforts," posted former YouTube/Google senior software engineer Zach Vorhies (now a harsh critic of Google's alleged bias against conservatives). He says he witnessed the deactivation of another high-profile Google account triggered by a malicious third party. I had the opportunity to inspect the bug report as a full-time employee. What I found was that Google had a technical vulnerability that, when exploited, would take any gmail account down. Certain unknown 3rd party actors are aware of this secret vulnerability and exploit it. This is how it worked: Take a target email address, change exactly one letter in that email address, and then create a new account with that changed email address. Malicious actors repeated this process over and over again until a network of spoof accounts for Jordan B. Peterson existed. Then these spoof accounts started generating spam emails. These email-spam blasts caught the attention of an AI system which fixed the problem by deactivating the spam accounts... and then ALSO the original account belonging to Jordan B. Peterson! To my knowledge, this bug has never been fixed. "Gabbard, however, claims the suspension was based on her criticism of Google and other major tech companies," reports the Verge. But they also quote the campaign as saying that Gmail "sends communications from Tulsi into people's Spam folders at a disproportionately high rate." "Google may blame this on automated systems, but the reality is that there is no transparency whatsoever, which makes it difficult to determine the truth."

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Silicon Valley season 6 trailer shows Richard testifying in front of Congress - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2019-08-17 15:29
And he's doing just as badly as Mark Zuckerberg did. Also, what's Amazon anyway?

Dreams of Offshore Servers Haunt The Ocean-Based Micronation of 'Sealand'

SlashDot - Sat, 2019-08-17 14:34
Late Christmas Eve, 1966, a retired British army major named Paddy Roy Bates piloted a motorboat seven miles off the coast of England to an abandoned anti-aircraft platform "and declared it conquered," writes Pulitzer Prize-winning author Ian Urbina. Bates used it as a pirate radio station, sometimes spending several months there while living on tins of corned beef, rice pudding, flour, and scotch. But then he declared it to be the world's tiniest maritime nation, writes Urbina, adding that in the half-century to come, "Sealand" was destined to become "a thumb in the eye of international law." Though no country formally recognizes Sealand, its sovereignty has been hard to deny. Half a dozen times, the British government and assorted other groups, backed by mercenaries, have tried and failed to take over the platform by force. In virtually every instance, the Bates family scared them off by firing rifles in their direction, tossing gasoline bombs, dropping cinder blocks onto their boats, or pushing their ladders into the sea. Britain once controlled a vast empire over which the sun never set, but it's been unable to control a rogue micronation barely bigger than the main ballroom in Buckingham Palace.... In recent years, its permanent citizenry has dwindled to one person: a full-time guard named Michael Barrington... In the decades since its establishment, Sealand has been the site of coups and countercoups, hostage crises, a planned floating casino, a digital haven for organized crime, a prospective base for WikiLeaks, and myriad techno-fantasies, none brought successfully to fruition, many powered by libertarian dreams of an ocean-based nation beyond the reach of government regulation, and by the mythmaking creativity of its founding family. I had to go there. The article also acknowledges the Seasteading Institute founded by Google software engineer Patri Friedman and backed by Peter Thiel -- as well as the idea of offshore-but-online services in Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicon and Google's real-world plans for offshore data centers cooling their servers with seawater. Urbina also tells the story of HavenCo, a grand plan for a Sealand-based data empire which ultimately had trouble powering their servers, alienating their gambling-industry customers with frequent outages. And in addition, one of the Bates' family says that "we also didn't see eye to eye with the computer guys about what sort of clients we were willing to host" -- and they objected to plans to illegally rebroadcast DVDs. "For all their daring, the Bates family was wary of antagonizing the British and upsetting their delicately balanced claim to sovereignty." The article is adapted from Urbina's upcoming book The Outlaw Ocean: Journeys Across the Last Untamed Frontier (to be released Tuesday).

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Beto O'Rourke wants to hold internet companies liable for hate speech

Engadget - Sat, 2019-08-17 14:32
If some politicians have their way, internet companies might be held responsible for hate that exists on their platform. Presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke has proposed amending the Communication Decency Act's Section 230, which protects internet...

The best LED floodlights you can buy in 2019 - CNET

CNET News - Sat, 2019-08-17 14:04
Today's BR30 LED floodlight bulbs are better and more affordable than ever before. Here are the best ones.

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