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Army Special Operations Command Ditching Android For iPhone, Says Report

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 11:00
The United States Army's Special Operations Command is ditching its Android phones for the "faster" iPhone, according to a report. The source cited in the story says that Android phones were freezing unexpectedly, which was one of the reasons they decided to give the iPhone 6s a spin. Gizmodo adds: The smartphones allow members of the Special Operations Command to access rich information about the battlefield. There's also quickly accessible information, like a weapons and ammunitions guide. Other apps can help with high altitude jumps; another can detect radiation. While DARPA helped develop the program on Android due to the operating system's open platform, Apple's hardware is apparently superior enough to warrant the switch.

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Brazil Judge Orders Phone Carriers To Block WhatsApp Message App

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 10:20
A Brazilian judge has ordered wireless phone carriers to block access to Facebook's WhatsApp indefinitely, starting on Tuesday, the third such incident against the popular phone messaging app in eight months. Reuters report: The decision by Judge Daniela Barbosa Assuncao de Souza in the southeastern state of Rio de Janeiro applies to Brazil's five wireless carriers. The reason for the order was not known due to legal secrecy in an ongoing case, and will only be lifted once Facebook surrenders data, Souza's office said. Sao Paulo-based representatives at WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook Inc, as well as the Brazilian five carriers -- Telefonica Brasil SA, America Movil SAB's Claro, TIM Participacoes SA, Oi SA and Nextel Participacoes SA.

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Volkswagen Sued For Violating State Environmental Statutes With Dieselgate

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 09:40
The attorneys general of New York, Massachusetts, and Maryland are suing Volkswagen for violating state environmental regulations with its diesel emissions cheating scandal. The states say that the car company has violated their air quality laws, combined with some sort of anti-fraud measure for the defeat mechanisms to bypass emissions testing. The move comes after many states agreed to a $14.7 billion settlement for violating consumer protection and EPA and California state environmental regulations. The Verge reports: "Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche defrauded thousands of Massachusetts consumers, polluted our air, and damaged our environment and then, to make matters worse, plotted a massive cover-up to mislead environmental regulators," said Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey in a statement. This was echoed by New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who released his own statement saying "the allegations against Volkswagen, Audi and Porsche reveal a culture of deeply-rooted corporate arrogance, combined with a conscious disregard for the rule of law and the protection of public health and the environment."

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NVIDIA Launches GeForce GTX 1060 To Take On AMD's Radeon RX 480

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 09:00
Reader MojoKid writes: NVIDIA just launched their answer to AMD's Radeon RX 480 mainstream card today, dubbed the GeForce GTX 1060. The GP106 GPU at the heart of the GeForce GTX 1060 has roughly half of the resources of NVIDIA's current flagship GeForce GTX 1080. NVIDIA claims the GTX 1060 performs on par with a previous generation high-end GeForce GTX 980 and indeed this 120W mainstream offers an interesting mix of low-power and high-performance. The new GeForce GTX 1060 features a new Pascal derivative GPU that's somewhat smaller, called the GP106. The GP106 features 10 streaming multiprocessors (SM) with a total of 1280, single-precision CUDA cores and eight texture units. The GeForce GTX 1060 also features six 32-bit memory controllers, for 192-bits in total. GeForce GTX 1060 cards with either 6GB or 3GB of GDDR5 memory will be available and offered performance that just misses the mark set by the pricier AMD Radeon R9 Nano but often outran the 8GB Radeon RX 480. The GeForce GTX 1060 held onto its largest leads over the Radeon RX 480 in the DirectX 11 tests, though the Radeon had a clear edge in OpenCL and managed to pull ahead in Thief and in some DirectX 12 tests (like Hitman). The GeForce GTX 1060, however, consumes significantly less power than the Radeon RX 480 and is quieter too.You may also want to read PCPerspective's take on this.

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Google Is Spending Half a Billion Dollars To Curry Europe's Favor

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 08:20
An anonymous reader writes: Google has ratchet up its investment in European goodwill, aiming to spend about $450 million from 2015 to 2017 as EU regulators narrow their gaze on the search giant, according to a report by the New York Times. The company is pouring money into wide-ranging sponsorships, like an exhibition at a Belgian museum incorporating virtual reality, a fund to help European news publishers amp up their web savvy, a digital training course for Irish teachers, and YouTube-backed concerts, according to the report.

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Farmers Demand Right To Fix Their Own Dang Tractors

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 07:40
According to a report, farmers are demanding the right to fix their tractors. The report reminds us that owners of tractors aren't allowed to fix them, thanks to a set of laws designed to protect software intellectual property. The world's largest tractor maker, John Deere, in fact, says that people who purchase tractors don't really own them and instead they are getting an "implied license for the life of the vehicle to operate the vehicle." Some farmers are voicing their opinion against these laws. From the article: What this has meant is that tractor owners can't repair their own tractors -- and if they do, they're in violation of the DMCA. So, if a machine stops working, its owner can't pop the hood, run some tests, and find out what's going on; he or she is legally required to take the tractor to a service center (one owned by the manufacturer, since that's the only entity allowed to analyze the tractor's issues). This can be expensive and time-consuming, and more to the point, unnecessary -- at least according to farmers in several states, who are lobbying to force tractor manufacturers make their diagnostic tools available to independent repair shops and owners. Not everyone is on the farmers' side here; some, according to the Associated Press, are concerned that the move would reduce revenue to tractor manufacturers, potentially landing them in trouble. But the tractor owners disagree, annoyed that their tractors are treated differently from their cars and trucks, which can be serviced by any independent shop.

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Google: Government Requests For User Data Hit All-Time High In Second Half Of 2015

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 07:00
Stephanie Condon, writing for ZDNet: Government requests for user data from Google hit an all-time high in the second half of 2015, the internet company revealed on Monday. Through July to December 2015, governments from around the globe made 40,677 requests, impacting as many as 81,311 user accounts. That's an 18 percent spike from the first half of 2015, when government requests for data impacted 68,908 users. By far and away, the most requests came from the United States, which made 12,523 data requests for this reporting period. The requests impacted 27,157 users or accounts. Google reports the number of user data requests it has received every six-month period going as far back as the second half of 2009. It started detailing the number of users and/or accounts impacted in the first half of 2011. "Usage of our services have increased every year, and so have the user data request numbers," the company noted. Since the second half of 2010, Google has reported the percentage of user data requests it at least partially complies with. For the second half of 2015, the company produced at least some data for 64 percent of requests. That figure has been about the same since 2013, but it's been trending slightly downward. Google complied with 79 percent of requests from the United States.

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Marissa Mayer Says Yahoo Continues To Make Solid Progress, Earnings Report Says Otherwise

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 06:00
tomhath quotes a report from Fool: Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer tried to emphasize the progress that the company has made. "We continue to make solid progress against our 2016 plan," Mayer said, and "in addition to our efforts to improve the operating business, our board has made great progress on strategic alternatives." The CEO argued that the results met or exceeded the company's own guidance. Yahoo! was able to post a revenue increase by changing the ways that it presents revenue related to its search agreement with Microsoft, and without that change, adjusted revenue of $1.055 billion was down 15% from the year-ago quarter. That was even worse than the 13% drop investors were expecting, and adjusted EBITDA fell by more than a third. That resulted in adjusted net earnings of $0.09 per share, missing the consensus forecast by a penny but also glossing over a $440 million net loss on a GAAP basis. The company took a $395 million goodwill impairment charge and an $87 million intangibles impairment charge related to its Tumblr unit, determining that the fair value of the division is less than the amount indicated on Yahoo!'s balance sheet. It was also revealed that Yahoo is writing down the value of its Tumblr acquisition by $482 million, citing lower projections for the social network's future performance, according to a report from CNNMoney. Last quarter, the company took a $230 million write-down on its Tumblr acquisition. Since Yahoo acquired Tumblr for $1.1 billion in 2013, Yahoo has written down more than half of its value.

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Facebook's Android App Can Now Save Offline Videos

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 03:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from NDTV: The latest versions of Facebook's Android app now allow users to save videos for offline viewing. The video is saved inside the app in the 'Saved' section, and is not accessible independently to users. Facebook for Android is showing a 'Save video' option in the dropdown menu of a Facebook video post. The videos can be saved and viewed offline for as many times as the user desires and can also be deleted as per his/her wish. The company might not be willing to provide the video file independently to its users in order to encourage sharing over its own social media networking site, however, it is anybody's guess what the actual reason behind this decision is. It seems in line with what companies like Google have been doing with YouTube in developing nations like India, where a save for offline viewing option is present to combat mobile data woes. As per an Android Police report, the option to save videos is currently showing up in versions 85 and 86 (beta) of the Facebook for Android app.

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Taiwan Building Lunar Lander For NASA Moon-Mining Mission

SlashDot - Tue, 2016-07-19 00:00
MarkWhittington quotes a report from Blasting News: According to AFP, the Chung-shan Institute of Science and Technology in Taiwan is building a $47 million, 3.7 metric ton lunar lander on behalf of NASA. The vehicle is designed to carry a rover called Resource Prospector, which would roll about the lunar surface searching out deposits of oxygen, hydrogen, and water. The Resource Prospector mission is still being formulated but is envisioned to be a joint project with several national space agencies and commercial companies. The lunar lander is the first vehicle of its type to be built in Taiwan. "The Resource Prospector would take samples from about a meter beneath the lunar surface and then heat them in an oven to ascertain what the materials are that comprise it," reports Blasting News. The mission is part of the second stage to NASA's Journey to Mars program called "Proving Ground." "Should the Resource Prospector prove to be successful, the moon could be used as a base for space journeys into Mars," says Han Kuo-change, the head of CSIST's international cooperation program.

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Is The DOJ Using Obsolete Software To Subvert FOIA Requests?

SlashDot - Sun, 2016-07-17 07:35
"A new lawsuit alleges that the U.S. Department of Justice intentionally conducts inadequate searches of its records using a decades-old computer system when queried by citizens looking for records that should be available to the public," reports The Guardian. Slashdot reader Bruce66423 writes: An MIT PhD student has filed a suit in Federal court alleging that the use of a 21-year-old, IBM green screen controlled search software to search the Department of Justice databases...constitutes a deliberate failure to provide the data that should be being produced. Ryan Shapiro's lawsuit alleges "failure by design," saying that the Justice Department records are inadequately indexed -- and that they fail to search the full text of their records when responding to requests "When few or no records are returned, Shapiro said, the FBI effectively responds 'sorry, we tried' without making use of the much more sophisticated search tools at the disposal of internal requestors." The FBI has a $425 million software system to handle FOIA requests, but refuses to use it, saying that would be "needlessly duplicative...and wasteful of Bureau resources."

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First Open Source-Based Database Completes U.S. Security Review

SlashDot - Sun, 2016-07-17 06:35
RaDag writes: The U.S. government has published a DoD-validated implementation guide, known as a STIG, for EDB Postgres Advanced Server from EnterpriseDB (EDB). This is a first. No other open source database, or open source-based database, has been through the US government's security review process and gotten a STIG published. Having this guide will help agencies seeking an open source-based alternative to costly traditional vendors like Oracle [and] will speed and ease deployment of EDB Postgres, which has database compatibility for Oracle. They're now working with the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, according to a company statement. It also says that the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies "seek open source alternatives to traditional proprietary software," and see their database solution as "an opportunity to quickly reduce costs and shift away from expensive proprietary vendors, particularly as public policy initiatives around the world mandate adoption of more open source."

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New Study Shows Why Big Pharma Hates Medical Marijuana

SlashDot - Sun, 2016-07-17 04:35
HughPickens.com writes: Christopher Ingraham writes in the Washington Post that a new study shows that painkiller abuse and overdose are significantly lower in states with medical marijuana laws and that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. The researchers "found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law... In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication. But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year." [P]ainkiller drug companies "have long been at the forefront of opposition to marijuana reform, funding research by anti-pot academics and funneling dollars to groups, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, that oppose marijuana legalization..."

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How (And Why) FreeDOS Keeps DOS Alive

SlashDot - Sun, 2016-07-17 00:35
FreeDOS was originally created in response to Microsoft's announcement that after Windows 95, DOS would no longer be developed as a standalone operating system, according to a new interview about how (and why) Jim Hall keeps FreeDOS alive. For its newest version, Hall originally imagined "what 'DOS' would be like in 2015 or 2016 if Microsoft hadn't stopped working on MS-DOS in favor of Windows" -- before he decided there's just no such thing as "modern DOS". An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: No major changes are planned in the next version. "The next version of FreeDOS won't be multitasking, it won't be 32-bit, it won't run on ARM," Hall said. "FreeDOS is still intended for Intel and Intel-compatible computers. You should still be able to run FreeDOS on your old 486 or old Pentium PC to play classic DOS games, run legacy business programs, and support embedded development." By day, Hall is the CIO for a county in Minnesota, and he's also a member of the board of directors for GNOME (and contributes to other open source projects) -- but he still remembers using DOS's built-in BASIC system to write simple computer programs. "Many of us older computer nerds probably used DOS very early, on our first home computer..." he tells ComputerWorld. Even without John Romero's new Doom level, "The popularity of DOS games and DOS shareware applications probably contributes in a big way to FreeDOS's continued success." I'd be curious how many Slashdot readers have some fond memories about downloading DOS shareware applications.

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Microsoft 'Patch' Blocks Linux Installs On Locked-Down Windows RT Computers

SlashDot - Sat, 2016-07-16 20:35
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from fossBytes: Microsoft has released a security update that has patched a backdoor in Windows RT operating system [that] allowed users to install non-Redmond approved operating systems like Linux and Android on Windows RT tablets. This vulnerability in ARM-powered, locked-down Windows devices was left by Redmond programmers during the development process. Exploiting this flaw, one was able to boot operating systems of his/her choice, including Android or GNU/Linux. The Register points out that since Windows RT is "a dead-end operating system" which Microsoft has announced they'll stop developing, "mainstream support for Surface RT tablets runs out in 2017 and Windows RT 8.1 in 2018. This is why a means to bypass its boot mechanisms is highly sought."

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Energy Prices Skyrocket in South Australia

SlashDot - Sat, 2016-07-16 18:35
Slashdot reader sycodon quotes an article from AFR: Turmoil in South Australia's heavily wind-reliant electricity market has forced the state government to plead with the owner of a mothballed gas-fired power station to turn it back on. The emergency measures are needed to ease punishing costs for South Australian industry as National Electricity Market prices in the state have frequently surged above $1000 a megawatt hour this month and at one point on Tuesday hit the $14,000/MWh maximum price... "A planned outage of the Heywood Interconnector to Victoria, coupled with higher than expected gas prices and severe weather conditions have contributed to large-scale price volatility in the energy spot market in recent days," said South Australia's energy minister, Tom Koutsantonis. The Australian Associated Press adds that "The state Labor government has invested heavily in wind and solar energy at the expense of baseload power, a move critics say has left the state exposed during poor weather. Mr. Koutsantonis has described the energy volatility as a failure of the national energy market because a lack of interconnection means South Australia often produces more renewable power than it can sell into the grid. But opposition spokesman Dan van Holst Pellekaan said the government had been too hasty to invest in renewables."

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Bird-Shaped Drone Symbolizes New Forms Of Covert Surveillance To Come

SlashDot - Sat, 2016-07-16 16:35
One security writer in Somali recently discovered a downed metal drone that had been carefully disguised as a bird, a reminder that drones will bring powerful new forms of surveillance. Slashdot reader Stephen Sellner also shares an article by the CEO of one unmanned systems company who's predicting that the commercial drone industry will create more than 100,000 new jobs and generate more than $82 billion for the U.S. economy, and suggesting "security of industrial areas (shipyard, storage facility, etc.) can now be augmented by drones to provide a quick eye in the sky." But it may be inevitable that drones will be used in a variety of unexpected ways. Airbus is also testing the use of drones for quality inspections on their commercial aircraft. In Iowa, a drone helped lead first-responders to a man suffering from a heart attack. And the U.S. wildlife service is planning to drop peanut-butter pellets onto northeastern Montana to deliver vaccines to prairie dogs -- so that they can then in turn be eaten by Montana's population of endangered black-footed ferrets. Any predictions about drone news we'll be seeing in the future?

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Robotic Exoskeletons May Become Skintight Suits

SlashDot - Sat, 2016-07-16 15:35
Slashdot reader Kassandra Perlongo shares an article about "soft robotics and exoskeletons" at the University of Salford, writing "those bulky, mechanical suits could eventually be a thing of the past." Children with a rare neurological disease were recently given the chance to walk for the first time thanks to a new robotic exoskeleton... But while today's exoskeletons are mostly clumsy, heavy devices, new technology could make them much easier and more natural to use by creating a robotic skin... [Soft robotic devices] are particularly well suited to interaction with humans as they are typically lightweight which means if they collide with a person they are unlikely to cause injury. We recently developed a new "soft continuum actuator", a joint that bends like an elephant's trunk...if it encounters resistance in one part of its body it will still bend but at a different location elsewhere along its length. By equipping a skintight material suit with these actuators, we can create a soft exoskeleton that bends at the precise location of the wearer's joints. This means the suit will fit a range of users comfortably without needing mechanical adjustment or calibration. Plus, the system is lightweight and can be worn like clothing rather than a bulky mechanical frame.

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Paypal Founder Peter Thiel To Speak At Trump's Republican Convention

SlashDot - Sat, 2016-07-16 14:35
Slashdot reader speedplane writes: The New York Times is reporting that renowned Venture Capitalist, Paypal Founder, and Gawker Litigation Funder, Peter Thiel will be speaking at the Republican National Convention. The original story does not state what Thiel will discuss at the convention, only that he'll be speaking the last day, but there's plenty of speculation. Facebook issued a statement that though Thiel is on their board of directors, his appearance was "personal," saying Thiel "is not attending on behalf of Facebook or to represent our views." NBC reports Thiel will be the first openly-gay man to speak at the convention in 16 years, "as party leaders refuse to soften the GOP's formal opposition to gay marriage," noting Thiel "has been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump's run for the oval office, previously supported Ron Paul for president and has identified himself as a conservative libertarian in the past... Other speakers will include four of Trump's children, Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin, and actor and former underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr."

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Intel ChromeBooks Can Now Run Wine and Steam

SlashDot - Sat, 2016-07-16 13:35
"With Google Play and Android app support hitting Chromebooks, it's now possible to run Windows applications/games on Chromebooks via CrossOver For Android," reports Phoronix. Slashdot reader grungy writes: The first Intel ChromeBooks have access to the Play Store now, and the Android version of Wine apparently runs on them... Pictures show the Steam client running, and a clip of a D3D game. Of course, the Play Store is only available on the ChromeOS developer channel so far, but that should change later this year. CrossOver for Android also hasn't been officially released, but Thursday CodeWeavers' president blogged excitedly that "we are staring at a Leprechaun riding on the back of a Unicorn while taking a picture of a UFO. We are running CrossOver through Android on a ChromeBook running a Windows based game launched from the Steam client. THIS HAS NEVER BEEN DONE BEFORE...EVER!!!"

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