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China Bans Ad Blocking

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 15:45
An anonymous reader writes: Two weeks ago, China released its first ever set of digital ad regulations that impacted Chinese market leaders like Baidu and Alibaba. "But hidden among (the new regulations) is language that would seem to all but ban ad blocking," wrote Adblock Plus (ABP) operations manager Ben Williams in a blog post Wednesday. The new regulations prohibit "the use of network access, network devices, applications, and the disruption of normal advertising data, tampering with or blocking others doing advertising business (or) unauthorized loading the ad." There is also a clause included that addresses tech companies that "intercept, filter, cover, fast-forward and [impose] other restrictions" on online ad campaigns. ABP general counsel Kai Recke said in an email to AdExchanger that the Chinese State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) has much more control over the market than its otherwise equal U.S. counterpart, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). "After all it looks like the Chinese government tries to get advertising more under their control and that includes that they want to be the only ones to be allowed to remove or alter ads," said Recke. "Ad-block users are a distinct audience and they require a distinct strategy and ways to engage them," said ABP CEO Till Faida at AdExchanger's Clean Ads I/O earlier this year. "They have different standards they've expressed for accessing them, and advertising has to reflect that."

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There's A 50% Chance of Another Chernobyl Before 2050, Say Safety Specialists

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 15:05
An anonymous reader writes from a report via MIT Technology Review: Spencer Wheatley and Didier Sornette at ETH Zurich in Switzerland and Benjamin Sovacool at Aarhus University in Denmark have compiled the most comprehensive list of nuclear accidents ever created and used it to calculate the chances of future accidents. They say there is a 50:50 chance that a major nuclear disaster will occur somewhere in the world before 2050. "There is a 50 percent chance that a Chernobyl event (or larger) occurs in the next 27 years," they conclude. Since the International Atomic Energy Agency doesn't publish a historical database of the nuclear accidents it rates using the International Nuclear Event Scale, others, like Wheatley and co, have to compile their own list of accidents. They define an accident as "an unintentional incident or event at a nuclear energy facility that led to either one death (or more) or at least $50,000 in property damage." Each accident must have occurred during the generation, transmission, or distribution of nuclear energy, which includes accidents at mines, during transportation, or at enrichment facility, and so on. Fukushima was by far the most expensive accident in history at a cost of $166 billion, which is 60 percent of the total cost of all other nuclear accidents added together. Wheatley and co say their data suggests that the nuclear industry remains vulnerable to dragon king events, which are large unexpected events that are difficult to analyze because they follow a different statistical distribution, have unforeseen causes, and are few in number. "There is a 50% chance that a Fukushima event (or larger) occurs in the next 50 years," they say.

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Verizon Begins Charging a Fee Just to Use an Older Router

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 14:25
Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports: Several users have written in to note that Verizon has informed them the company will begin charging FiOS customers with an older router a new "Router Maintenance Charge." An e-mail being sent to many Verizon FiOS customers says that the fee of $2.80 will soon be charged every month -- unless users pay Verizon to get a more recent iteration of its FiOS gateway and router. Since Verizon FiOS often uses a MOCA coax connection and the gateway is needed for Verizon TV, many FiOS users don't have the ability to swap out gear as easily as with other ISPs. "Our records indicate that you have an older model router that is being discontinued," states the e-mail. "If you do plan to keep using your current router, we will begin billing, on 9.29.16, a monthly Router Maintenance Charge of $2.80 (plus taxes), to ensure we deliver the best support."

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US Navy Faces $600M Lawsuit For Allegedly Pirating 3D VR Software

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 13:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from HotHardware: The U.S. Navy has been accused of pirating 3D software after first testing a software package offered by Germany company Bitmanagement Software GmbH. The company is suing the United States of America for nearly $600 million. HotHardware reports: "According to the court filing, Bitmanagement licensed its BS Contact Geo software for use on 38 Navy computers from 2011 to 2012. This limited rollout was 'for the purposes of testing, trial runs, and integration into Navy systems.' While this test period was underway, the Navy reportedly began negotiating to license the software for use on thousands of additional computers. However, even as the negotiations were ongoing, the Navy decided to go ahead and initiate its full-scale rollout without actually paying for the software. In total, the initial 38 computers allegedly swelled to 104,922 computers by October 2013. As of today, BS Contact GEO is claimed to be installed on 558,466 Navy computers, although 'likely this unauthorized copying has taken place on an even larger scale' according to the filing. As if the unauthorized installation of software onto hundreds of thousands of computers wasn't enough, Bitmanagement is alleging that the Navy during 2014 began disabling the Flexwrap software that is tasked with tracking the use of BS Contact Geo and helping to prevent it from being duplicated. When this software piracy was taking place, the retail price of a single BS Contact Geo license was $1067.76. With nearly 600,000 computers now in play, Bitmanagement is seeking a whopping $596,308,103 in damages. The lawsuit, which alleges willful copyright infringement was filed on July 15th."

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Engineer Gets Tired Of Waiting For Telecom Companies To Wire His town -- So He Does It Himself

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 13:05
Gurb, 75 kilometers north of Barcelona, is a quiet farming community of 2,500. It has suddenly become a popular place, thanks to being the birthplace of Guifi.net, one of the world's "most important experiments in telecommunications." It was built by an engineer who got tired of waiting for Telefonica, the Spanish telecom giant, to provide internet access to the people of his community. At first he wanted an internet access for himself, but it soon became clear that he also wanted to help his neighbors. Guifi has grown from a single wifi node in 2004, to 30,000 working nodes today, including some fiber connections, with thousands more in the planning stages. An article on Backchannel today documents the tale of Guifi. From the article: The project is a testament to tireless efforts -- in governance, not just in adding hardware and software -- by Ramon Roca (the engineer who started it) and his colleagues. They've been unwavering in their commitment to open access, community control, network neutrality, and sustainability. In 2004, he bought some Linksys WiFI hackable routers with a mission to get himself and his neighbors connected to the Internet. This is how he did it: Roca turned on a router with a directional antenna he'd installed at the top of a tall building near the local government headquarters, the only place in town with Internet access -- a DSL line Telefonica had run to municipal governments throughout the region. The antenna was aimed, line of sight, toward Roca's home about six kilometers away. Soon, neighbors started asking for connections, and neighbors of neighbors, and so on. Beyond the cost of the router, access was free. Some nodes were turned into "supernodes" -- banks of routers in certain locations, or dedicated gear that accomplishes the same thing -- that could handle much more traffic in more robust ways. The network connected to high-capacity fiber optic lines, to handle the growing demand, and later connected to a major "peering" connection to the global Internet backbone that provides massive bandwidth. Guifi grew, and grew, and grew. But soon it became clear that connecting more and more nodes wasn't enough, so he created a not-for-profit entity, the Guifi.net Foundation. The foundation, thanks to its cause and a cheerful community, has received over a million Euros to date -- from various sources including several levels of government. But as the article notes, a million Euros is a drop in the bucket next to the lavish subsidies and favors that state-approved monopolies such as Telefonica have enjoyed for decades. The article adds: The Guifi Foundation isn't the paid provider of most Internet service to end-user (home and business) customers. That role falls to more than 20 for-profit internet service providers that operate on the overall platform. The ISPs share infrastructure costs according to how much demand they put on the overall system. They pay fees to the foundation for its services -- a key source of funding for the overall project. Then they offer various kinds of services to end users, such as installing connections -- lately they've been install fiber-optic access in some communities -- managing traffic flows, offering email, handling customer and technical support, and so on. The prices these ISPs charge are, to this American (Editor's note: the author is referring to himself) who's accustomed to broadband-cartel greed, staggeringly inexpensive: 18 to 35 Euros (currently about $26-$37) a month for gigabit fiber, and much less for slower WiFi. Community ownership and ISP competition does wonders for affordability. Contrast this with the U.S. broadband system, where competitive dial-up phone access -- phone companies were obliged to let all ISPs use the lines as the early commercial Internet flourished in the 1990s -- gave way to a cartel of DSL and cable providers. Except in a few places where there's actual competition, we pay way more for much less.Read the story in its entirety here.

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France: Windows 10 Collects 'Excessive Personal Data', Issues Microsoft With Formal Warning

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 12:25
France's National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) has ordered Microsoft to "stop collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without consent," adding that Microsoft must comply with the French Data Protection Act within next three months. BetaNews reports: In addition to this, the chair of CNIL has notified Microsoft that it needs to take "satisfactory measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of user data." The notice comes after numerous complaints about Windows 10, and a series of investigations by French authorities which revealed a number of failings on Microsoft's part. Microsoft is accused of not only gathering excessive data about users, but also irrelevant data. The CNIL points to Windows 10's telemetry service which gathers information about the apps users have installed and how long each is used for. The complaint is that "these data are not necessary for the operation of the service."

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Japan Will Make Its Last-Ever VCR This Month

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 11:44
An anonymous reader writes: Most of us stopped using video cassette recorders a very, very long time ago. By 2008, DVD had officially replaced VHS as the preferred home media format, and the glory days of the 1980s -- when VHS and Betamax battled it out to be the number-one choice for watching and recording movies and television at home -- were very much in the rear-view mirror. So it might surprise you to learn that VCRs are still being manufactured -- at least they were until this month. Funai Electric, the last remaining Japanese company to make the units, has announced that the company will cease production on its VCR units, due to declining sales and difficulty acquiring parts. Their VCRs are made in China and sold in many territories, including North America, under brand names like Sanyo, but last year's figures reported just 750,000 sales worldwide.

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Android Nougat Won't Boot If Your Phone's Software Is Corrupt Or Has Malware

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 11:06
An anonymous reader shares a report on Android Authority: In a bid to increase the security of the Android operating system, Google has introduced a new check for malware as part of the boot process in all Android devices. Until Marshmallow, Android devices ran the check as part of the boot process and in Marshmallow, the phone would warn you that it was compromised but would continue to let the phone boot up. In Nougat however, Google is taking this security check to the next level. On the Android Developer's blog, the company explains that Android Nougat strictly enforces that boot check, giving you far more than a warning. The good news is that if your phone is infected with types of malware, it will refuse to boot or will boot in a limited capacity mode (presumably akin to safe mode). The bad news however, is that some non-malicious corruption of data could also mean that your phone will refuse to boot up. Considering that corrupted data may not always be malicious -- even a single-byte error could cause your phone to refuse to boot up -- Android Nougat brings additional code to guard against corruption.

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Firefox To Block Non-Essential Flash Content In August 2016, Require Click-To-Activate In 2017

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 10:25
Mozilla has announced that it plans to discontinue support for Flash in Firefox. Starting next month, Firefox will block Flash content "that is not essential to the user experience." Also, starting sometime in 2017, the browser will require click-to-activate approval from users before a website activates the Flash plugin for any content. In a blogpost, the company writes:Mozilla and the Web as a whole have been taking steps to reduce the need for Flash content in everyday browsing. Over the past few years, Firefox has implemented Web APIs to replace functionality that was formerly provided only by plugins. This includes audio/video playback and streaming capabilities, clipboard integration, fast 2D and 3D graphics, WebSocket networking, and microphone/camera access. As websites have switched from Flash to other web technologies, the plugin crash rate in Firefox has dropped significantly. [...] We continue to work closely with Adobe to deliver the best possible Flash experience for our users.

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Software Flaw Puts Mobile Phones and Networks At Risk Of Complete Takeover

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 09:45
Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica: A newly disclosed vulnerability could allow attackers to seize control of mobile phones and key parts of the world's telecommunications infrastructure and make it possible to eavesdrop or disrupt entire networks, security experts warned Tuesday. The bug resides in a code library used in a wide range of telecommunication products, including radios in cell towers, routers, and switches, as well as the baseband chips in individual phones. Although exploiting the heap overflow vulnerability would require great skill and resources, attackers who managed to succeed would have the ability to execute malicious code on virtually all of those devices. The code library was developed by Pennsylvania-based Objective Systems and is used to implement a telephony standard known as ASN.1, short for Abstract Syntax Notation One."The vulnerability could be triggered remotely without any authentication in scenarios where the vulnerable code receives and processes ASN.1 encoded data from untrusted sources," researchers who discovered the flaw wrote in an advisory published Monday evening. "These may include communications between mobile devices and telecommunication network infrastructure nodes, communications between nodes in a carrier's network or across carrier boundaries, or communication between mutually untrusted endpoints in a data network."

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Google Testing AI System To Cool Data Center Energy Bills

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 09:05
An anonymous reader writes: Google is looking at artificial intelligence technology to help it identify opportunities for data center energy savings. The company is approaching the end of an initial 2-year trial of the machine learning tool, and hopes to see it applied across the entire data center portfolio by the end of 2016. The new AI software, which is being developed at Google's DeepMind, has already helped to cut energy use for cooling by 40%, and to improve overall data center efficiency by 15%. DeepMind said that the program has been an enormous help in analyzing data center efficiency, from looking at energy used for cooling and air temperature to pressure and humidity. The team now hopes to expand the system to understand other infrastructure challenges, in the data center and beyond, including improving power plant conversion, reducing semiconductor manufacturing energy, water usage, and helping manufacturers increase throughput.

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Facebook Messenger Hits 1B Monthly Active Users, Accounts For 10 Percent Of All VoIP Calls

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 08:25
Speaking of instant messaging and VoIP call apps, Facebook announced on Wednesday that Facebook Messenger has hit the 1 billion monthly active users milestone. The company adds that Messenger is just more than a text messenger -- in addition to the ambitious bot gamble, a digital assistant, and the ability to send money to friends -- Messenger now accounts for 10 percent of all VoIP calls made globally. Messenger's tremendous growth also underscores Facebook's mammoth capture of the world. The social network is used by more than 1.6 billion people actively every month. WhatsApp, the chat client it owns, is also used by more than one billion people. TechCrunch has a brilliant story on the growth of Messenger from the scratch.

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Skype Finalizes Its Move To the Cloud; To Kill Older Clients -- Remains Tight Lipped About Privacy

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 07:45
When it was first created, Skype network was built as a decentralized peer-to-peer system. PCs that had enough processing muscle and bandwidth acted as "supernodes," and coordinated connections between other machines on the network. This p2p system was generally perceived as being relatively private, a belief that has since been debunked. There were several technical challenges, which led Microsoft to move most of Skype's operations to the cloud. Ars Technica is reporting that the company has finalized the switch. From the article: Microsoft has developed a more conventional client-server network, with clients that act as pure clients and dedicated cloud servers. The company is starting to transition to this network exclusively. This transition means that old peer-to-peer Skype clients will cease to work. Clients for the new network will be available for Windows XP and up, OS X Yosemite and up, iOS 8 and up, and Android 4.03 and up. However, certain embedded clients -- in particular, those integrated into smart TVs and available for the PlayStation 3 -- are being deprecated, with no replacement. Microsoft says that since those clients are little used and since almost every user of those platforms has other Skype-capable devices available, it is no longer worth continuing to support them.The issue, as the report points out, is that Microsoft is strangely not talking about privacy and security concerns. The article adds: The Ed Snowden leaks raised substantial questions about the privacy of services such as Skype and have caused an increasing interest in platforms that offer end-to-end encryption. The ability to intercept or wiretap Skype came as a shock to many, especially given Skype's traditionally peer-to-peer infrastructure. Accordingly, we've seen similar services such as iMessage, WhatsApp, and even Facebook Messenger, start introducing end-to-end encryption. The abandonment of Skype's peer-to-peer system can only raise suspicions here.Matthew Green, who teaches cryptography at Johns Hopkins, said: "The surprising thing here is not that Microsoft can intercept Skype calls (duh) but that they won't just admit it."

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BT Internet Outage Was Our Fault, Says Equinix

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 07:00
Kat Hall, reporting for The Register: Telecity's owner, Equinix, has 'fessed up to a "brief outage" which subsequently knocked 10 per cent of BT internet users offline this morning as well as a number of other providers. A spokesman from the group, which slurped up Telecity for 2.3bn euro last year, confirmed that the outage occurred at its LD8 site in the Docklands. The company has nine London sites which service more than 600 businesses.The outage occurred due to power failure, which lasted for around 75 minutes. ( Update: Some readers note that the outage lasted for as long as three hours. ) BT wasn't the only ISP that suffered an outage earlier this morning. All services have been restored, according to Ars Technica. Update: 07/20 14:57 GMT: It was apparently a faulty UPS that caused the outage.

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Neuroscientists Have Isolated The Part Of The Brain That Controls Free Will

SlashDot - Wed, 2016-07-20 06:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ExtremeTech: Free will might have been the province of philosophers until now, but we've cracked the problem with an fMRI. Neuroscientists from Johns Hopkins report in the journal Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics that they were able to see both what happens in a human brain the moment a free choice is made, and what happens during the lead-up to that decision -- how activity in the brain changes during the deliberation over whether to act. The team devised a novel way to track a participant's focus without using cues or commands, avoiding a Schrodinger's-like dilemma of altering the process of choice by calling attention to it. Participants took positions in MRI scanners, and then were left alone to watch a split screen as rapid streams of colorful numbers and letters scrolled past on both sides. They were asked just to pay attention to one side for a while, then to the other side. When to switch sides, and for how long to look, was entirely up to them. Over the duration of the experiment, the participants glanced back and forth, switching sides dozens of times. In terms of connectivity in the brain, the actual process of switching attention from one side to the other was tightly linked with activity in the parietal lobe, which is sort of the top back quadrant of the brain. Activity during the period of deliberation before a choice took place in the frontal cortex, which engages in reasoning and plans movement. Deliberation also lit up the basal ganglia, important parts of the deep brain that handle motor control, including the initiation of motion. Participants' frontal-lobe activity began earlier than it would have if participants had been cued to shift attention, which demonstrates that the brain was planning a voluntary action rather than merely following an order. A report from Fast Company details how technology is making doctors feel like glorified data-entry clerks.

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Google and Bing Have No Obligation To Censor Searches For Torrents

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 14:20
Microsoft and Google are under no obligation to weed out 'torrent' results from their respective search engines, the High Court of Paris has ruled. BetaNews adds: French music industry group SNEP went to court on behalf of a trio of artists, requesting that Microsoft and Google automatically filter out links to pirated material. The group had called for a complete block on searches that include the word 'torrent' as well as blocking sites whose name includes the word. The court found that SNEP's request was far too broad, saying: "SNEP's requests are general, and pertain not to a specific site but to all websites accessible through the stated methods, without consideration for identifying or even determining the site's content, on the premise that the term 'Torrent' is necessarily associated with infringing content".The court added that 'torrent' is a common noun, which has a range of different meanings.

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Pokemon Go Doubles Nintendo's Stock Price

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 13:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report form Reuters: Shares of Japan's Nintendo Co soared another 14 percent on Tuesday, more than doubling the firm's market capitalization to 4.5 trillion yen ($42.5 billion) in just seven sessions since the mobile game Pokemon GO was launched in the United States. The phenomenal success of Pokemon GO -- now available in 35 countries, the majority in Europe, and most recently in Canada -- has triggered massive buying in Nintendo shares, surprising even some seasoned market players. Nintendo shares ended Tuesday up 14.4 percent at 31,770 yen, bringing its gains to more than 100 percent since the launch of the game on July 6. Turnover in Nintendo shares hit 703.6 billion yen, surpassing the record for trading turnover in individual shares it set on Friday, of 476 billion yen. Trading in Nintendo shares roughly accounted for a quarter of the entire trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board. The success of Pokemon GO, unforeseen even by its creators, has boosted hopes that Nintendo could capitalize on a line-up of popular characters ranging from Zelda to Super Mario to strengthen its new foray into augmented reality. Pokemon GO is now the biggest mobile game of all time in the United States.

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Windows 10 Warns Chrome and Firefox Users About Battery Drain, Recommends Switching To Edge

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 13:00
A month after Microsoft claimed that its Edge web browser is more power efficient than Google Chrome and Firefox, the company is now warning Windows 10 users about the same. VentureBeat reports: Microsoft has turned on a new set of Windows Tips that warn Windows 10 users that Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox is draining their laptop's battery. The solution, according to the notification, is to use Microsoft Edge.In a statement to the publication, the company said: "These Windows Tips notifications were created to provide people with quick, easy information that can help them enhance their Windows 10 experience, including information that can help users extend battery life. That said, with Windows 10 you can easily choose the default browser and search engine of your choice."

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UK 'Emergency' Bulk Data Slurp Permissible In Pursuit Of 'Serious Crime'

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 12:20
An anonymous reader writes: Bulk collection of data from phone calls and emails by carriers acting under government orders could be permissible in the pursuit of 'serious crime'. That's the preliminary ruling in a case brought by Brexit chief minister David Davis against PM Theresa May before the European Union's highest court. The ruling suggests bulk collection and retention of customer data might not be in breach of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights -- if it's done legally and with safeguards. Davis with Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson and others brought their case to the European Court of Justice in February.

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A Google Maps Glitch Turned This Korean Fishing Town Into a 'Pokemon Go' Haven

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 11:40
Madison Margolin, reporting for Motherboard: A glitch in Google Maps has turned the small fishing town of Sokcho, South Korea, into a Pokemon Go tourist haven. The globally popular mobile game hasn't launched yet in South Korea, but that hasn't stopped clever gamers from finding a way to play it anyways. The city of Sokcho is taking full advantage of it, according to this video by the Wall Street Journal. Because of Cold War era laws preventing North Korea from obtaining maps of the country, the use of Google Maps is restricted in South Korea, the WSJ reports. However, a fluke in the system allows it to work in Sokcho, in the northeast corner of the country, just outside the DMZ (demilitarized zone) between North and South Korea. Sokcho is outside the range of indexing grids that Pokemon Go developers used for mapping restrictions of South Korea and other countries.

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