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Oceans Are Getting Louder, Posing Potential Threats To Marine Life

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 10:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: Slow-moving, hulking ships crisscross miles of ocean in a lawn mower pattern, wielding an array of 12 to 48 air guns blasting pressurized air repeatedly into the depths of the ocean. The sound waves hit the sea floor, penetrating miles into it, and bounce back to the surface, where they are picked up by hydrophones. The acoustic patterns form a three-dimensional map of where oil and gas most likely lie. The seismic air guns probably produce the loudest noise that humans use regularly underwater, and it is about to become far louder in the Atlantic. As part of the Trump administration's plans to allow offshore drilling for gas and oil exploration, five companies have been given permits to carry out seismic mapping with the air guns all along the Eastern Seaboard, from Central Florida to the Northeast, for the first time in three decades. The surveys haven't started yet in the Atlantic, but now that the ban on offshore drilling has been lifted, companies can be granted access to explore regions along the Gulf of Mexico and the Pacific. And air guns are now the most common method companies use to map the ocean floor. Some scientists say the noises from air guns, ship sonar and general tanker traffic can cause the gradual or even outright death of sea creatures, from the giants to the tiniest — whales, dolphins, fish, squid, octopuses and even plankton. Other effects include impairing animals' hearing, brain hemorrhaging and the drowning out of communication sounds important for survival, experts say. So great is the growing din in the world's oceans that experts fear it is fundamentally disrupting the marine ecosystem, diminishing populations of some species as the noise levels disturb feeding, reproduction and social behavior. A 2017 study, for example, found that a loud blast, softer than the sound of a seismic air gun, killed nearly two-thirds of the zooplankton in three-quarters of a mile on either side. Tiny organisms at the bottom of the food chain, zooplankton provide a food source for everything from great whales to shrimp. Krill, a tiny crustacean vital to whales and other animals, were especially hard hit, according to one study.

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DHS Issues Security Alert About Recent DNS Hijacking Attacks

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 9:20pm
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security has published today an "emergency directive" that contains guidance in regards to a recent report detailing a wave of DNS hijacking incidents perpetrated out of Iran. ZDNet reports: The emergency directive [1, 2] orders government agencies to audit DNS records for unauthorized edits, change passwords, and enable multi-factor authentication for all accounts through which DNS records can be managed. The DHS documents also urges government IT personnel to monitor Certificate Transparency (CT) logs for newly-issued TLS certificates that have been issued for government domains, but which have not been requested by government workers. The emergency directive comes after last week, the DHS issued an alert about ongoing DNS hijacking attacks through its US-CERT division. The DHS US-CERT alert was based on a report published last week by U.S. cyber-security firm FireEye. The now infamous report detailed a coordinated hacking campaign during which a cyber-espionage group believed to operate out of Iran had manipulated DNS records for the domains of private companies and government agencies. The purpose of these DNS hijacks was to redirect web traffic meant for companies and agencies' internal email servers towards malicious clones, where the Iranian hackers would record login credentials.

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Netflix 'Would Lose 57 Percent of Their Subscribers If They Added Commercials'

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 8:40pm
According to new research from marketing technology firm Audience Project, the majority (57%) of UK customers would stop watching Netflix if commercials were introduced, and even lowering subscriptions would cause a significant drop off of 42%. Here are some of the other key findings: - In the UK, Netflix takes the lion's share of the streaming audience at 70%, followed by BBC iPlayer (61%). Interestingly, YouTube, ITV Player and All4, all of which host ads, saw a decline. - TV is still the preferred streaming device in the UK used by 42% of respondents. - Streaming is on the rise particularly amongst the young, with almost as many 15-25 year olds streaming/downloading (63%) as watching traditional TV (65%) "This is proof, if it were needed, that Netflix is right to focus on growing through its investment in content rather than considering hosting advertising any time soon," Netimperative reports. Martyn Bentley, Commercial Director UK at Audience Project, comments: "Our findings highlight the growing importance of targeting and relevance in advertising. As consumers have increasing choice over whether or not they see ads, both broadcasters and advertisers alike need to work hard to ensure that campaigns enhance experience, rather than detract -- plus it suggests that greater inroads need to be made with Connected TV as a means to help tailor advertising at a granular level."

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Wine 4.0 Released With Vulkan Support, Initial Direct3D 12 and Better HiDPI

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 8:25pm
Michael Larabel writes via Phoronix: Wine 4.0 is now officially available as the new annual stable release to Wine for running Windows programs and games on Linux and other operating systems. Following seven weekly release candidates, Wine 4.0 was ready to ship today as judged by Wine founder Alexandre Julliard. Wine 4.0 is a big release bringing initial Vulkan graphics API support, Direct3D CSMT is enabled by default, early Direct3D 12 support via VKD3D, continued HiDPI work, various OpenGL improvements, multi-sample D3D texture support, 64-bit improvements, continued Android support, and much more. The release announcement and notes can be read via WineHQ.org. The source can be downloaded here.

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Google Proposes Changes To Chromium Browser That Will Break Content-Blocking Extensions, Including Various Ad Blockers

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 8:00pm
"Google engineers have proposed changes to the open-source Chromium browser that will break content-blocking extensions, including various ad blockers," reports The Register. "The drafted changes will also limit the capabilities available to extension developers, ostensibly for the sake of speed and safety. Chromium forms the central core of Google Chrome, and, soon, Microsoft Edge." From the report: In a note posted Tuesday to the Chromium bug tracker, Raymond Hill, the developer behind uBlock Origin and uMatrix, said the changes contemplated by the Manifest v3 proposal will ruin his ad and content blocking extensions, and take control of content away from users. Manifest v3 refers to the specification for browser extension manifest files, which enumerate the resources and capabilities available to browser extensions. Google's stated rationale for making the proposed changes is to improve security, privacy and performance, and supposedly to enhance user control. But one way Google would like to achieve these goals involves replacing the webRequest API with a new one, declarativeNetRequest. The webRequest API allows extensions to intercept network requests, so they can be blocked, modified, or redirected. This can cause delays in web page loading because Chrome has to wait for the extension. In the future, webRequest will only be able to read network requests, not modify them. The declarativeNetRequest allows Chrome (rather than the extension itself) to decide how to handle network requests, thereby removing a possible source of bottlenecks and a potentially useful mechanism for changing browser behavior. The report notes that Adblock Plus "should still be available" since "Google and other internet advertising networks apparently pay Adblock Plus to whitelist their online adverts."

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Apple's Security Expert Joined the ACLU To Tackle 'Authoritarian Fever'

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 7:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Apple security expert Jon Callas, who helped build protection for billions of computers and smartphones against criminal hackers and government surveillance, is now taking on government and corporate spying in the policy realm. Jon Callas is an elder statesman in the world of computer security and cryptography. He's been a vanguard in developing security for mobile communications and email as chief technology officer and co-founder of PGP Corporation -- which created Pretty Good Privacy, the first widely available commercial encryption software -- and serving the same roles at Silent Circle and Blackphone, touted as the world's most secure Android phone. As a security architect and analyst for Apple computers -- he served three stints with the tech giant in 1995-1997, 2009-2011, and 2016-2018 -- he has played an integral role in helping to develop and assess security for the Mac and iOS operating systems and various components before their release to the public. His last stretch there as manager of a Red Team (red teams hack systems to expose and fix their vulnerabilities) began just after the FBI tried to force the tech giant to undermine security it had spent years developing for its phones to break into an iPhone belonging to one of the San Bernardino shooters. But after realizing there's a limit to the privacy and surveillance issues technology companies can address, Callas decided to tackle the issues from the policy side, accepting a two-year position as senior technology fellow for the American Civil Liberties Union. Callas spoke to Motherboard about government backdoors, the need for tech expertise in policymaking, and what he considers the biggest challenge for the security industry.

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Slashdot Asks: Which Mobile Payment Service Is Best For You?

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 6:40pm
Everyone has a smartphone these days, therefore everyone should have access to at least one mobile payment service -- Apple Pay, Google Pay, or Samsung Pay. Personally, I've only used Apple Pay a handful of times because the vast majority of stores I visit don't support it. For me, the biggest problem with mobile payment services like Apple Pay and Google Pay isn't the potential security concerns or inconveniences (having to pull my phone out of my pocket or requiring the merchant to pull out an NFC reader while in a drive-thru) -- it's the lack of compatibility. I want to be able to leave my wallet at home and do all of my shopping with my phone, which is not possible due to the lack of support at most retailers. With that said, the support is improving. Today, Apple announced that Apple Pay is now available at 74 of the top 100 U.S. retailers. Quartz reports: Today (Jan. 22), Apple announced that it has also signed up Taco Bell and Target -- two years ago, Target said it had no plans to adopt Apple Pay -- meaning that 74 of the top 100 U.S. retailers by revenue now accept Apple's digital payment. The company added pharmacy chain CVS, along with 7-Eleven, late last year. They joined other major US retailers that include Best Buy, Starbucks, McDonald's, Walgreens, Costco, and Kohl's. (Some of the biggest holdouts: Walmart and Home Depot.) Do you use mobile payment services? Which service(s) do you use and why?

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Google Will Start Retiring Hangouts For G Suite Users In October

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 6:00pm
In a blog post, Google clarified the timeline of the transition from classic Hangouts to Chat and Meet for its paying G Suite customers. "For them, the Hangouts retirement party will start in October of this year," reports TechCrunch. From the report: For consumers, the situation remains unclear, but Google says there will be free versions of Chat and Meet that will become available "following the transition of G Suite customers." As of now, there is no timeline, so for all we know, Hangouts will remain up and running into 2020. As for G Suite users, Google says it will start bringing more features from classic Hangouts to Chat between April and September. Those include integration with Gmail, the ability to talk to external users, improved video calling and making calls with Google Voice.

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US Will Seek Extradition of Huawei CFO From Canada

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 5:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Justice Department said on Tuesday it will pursue the extradition of the chief financial officer of China's Huawei, arrested in Canada in December. The United States has accused Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou of misrepresenting the company's links to a firm that tried to sell equipment to Iran despite U.S. sanctions. The arrest soured relations between Canada and China, with China subsequently detaining two Canadian citizens and sentencing a third to death. The United States must file a formal request for extradition by Jan. 30. Once a formal request is received, a Canadian court has 30 days to determine whether there is enough evidence to support extradition and the Canadian minister of justice must issue a formal order. Canada has not asked the United States to abandon its bid to have Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou extradited, Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said in an interview with Bloomberg TV. "We will continue to pursue the extradition of defendant Ms. Meng Wanzhou, and will meet all deadlines set by the U.S./Canada Extradition Treaty," Justice Department spokesman Marc Raimondi said in a statement. "We greatly appreciate Canada's continuing support of our mutual efforts to enforce the rule of law." Slashdot reader AmiMoJo shares a separate report from the BBC: The chairman of Chinese tech giant Huawei has warned his company could shift away from the U.S. and the U.K. if it continues to face restrictions. Huawei has been under scrutiny by Western governments, which fear its products could be used for spying. Speaking at the World Economic Forum, in Davos, Mr Liang Hua said his firm might transfer technology to countries "where we are welcomed." Huawei makes smartphones but is also a world leader in telecoms infrastructure, in particular the next generation of mobile phone networks, known as 5G.

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'I Tried to Block Amazon From My Life. It Was Impossible.'

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 4:41pm
Kashmir Hill, a reporter at Gizmodo, spent weeks trying to avoid and block Amazon -- and every service that is owned by Amazon or uses Amazon's web services (AWS). She went to great lengths such as getting her own custom-built VPN. Turns out, it is impossible to keep Amazon off your life. An excerpt from the report: Launched in 2006, AWS has taken over vast swaths of the internet. My VPN winds up blocking over 23 million IP addresses controlled by Amazon, resulting in various unexpected casualties, from Motherboard and Fortune to the U.S. Government Accountability Office's website. (Government agencies love AWS, which is likely why Amazon, soon to be a corporate Cerberus with three "headquarters," chose Arlington, Virginia, in the D.C. suburbs, as one of them.) Many of the smartphone apps I rely on also stop working during the block.

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Google Considering Pulling News Service From Europe

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 4:02pm
Google is considering pulling its Google News service from Europe as regulators work toward a controversial copyright law. From a report: The European Union's Copyright Directive will give publishers the right to demand money from Alphabet, Facebook and other web platforms when fragments of their articles show up in news search results, or are shared by users. The law was supposed to be finalized this week but was delayed by disagreement among member states. Google News might quit the continent in response to the directive, said Jennifer Bernal, Google's public policy manager for Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The internet company has various options, and a decision to pull out would be based on a close reading of the rules and taken reluctantly, she said. "The council needs more time to reflect in order to reach a solid position" on the directive, said a representative of Romania, current head of the European Council, which represents the 28 member nations.

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Apple Releases macOS 10.14.3, iOS 12.1.3, watchOS 5.1.3, and tvOS 12.1.2

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 3:22pm
Apple today pushed software updates for a range of its computing platforms. They are all minor releases that simply offer a few bug fixes and security updates, with no new features -- and there are no new features in any of the beta releases for these versions of the operating systems, either. From a report: iOS 12.1.3 fixes a scrolling bug in Messages, an iPad Pro-specific audio bug, and a graphical error in some photos, and it addresses some CarPlay disconnects experienced by owners of the three new iPhone models released in late 2018. It also fixes two minor bugs related to the company's HomePod smart speaker.

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MasterCard Fined $648 Million for High EU Card Fees

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 2:40pm
MasterCard was fined 570.6 million euros ($648 million) by the European Union for imposing rules that regulators said may have artificially raised the costs of card payments in the region. From a report: The European Commission said MasterCard unfairly prevented retailers from seeking cheaper rates from banks outside the EU country where they are based. MasterCard's curbs on cross-border acquiring ended when the EU introduced credit card legislation in 2015. The EU's probe started in 2013 and escalated with a statement of objections two years later. MasterCard last month set aside $650 million to cover the fine, less than a potential 1 billion euros it flagged as a possibility in 2017. The company got a 10 percent fine reduction for cooperating with the EU, regulators said.

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A Meteorite Hit the Moon During Total Lunar Eclipse

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 1:59pm
Observers of Sunday's lunar eclipse were blessed with the first known sighting of a meteorite impact during such an event. From a report: The so-called "super wolf blood moon" was eagerly watched by millions of people around the world, mostly via live streaming video. During the eclipse, some people noticed a tiny flash, a brief yellow-white speck, popping up on the lunar surface during the online broadcasts. One Reddit user raised the possibility that this was a meteorite impact and others scoured eclipse footage for evidence of the event. A flash is visible in at least three different videos. Jose Maria Madiedo at the University of Huelva in Spain has confirmed that the impact is genuine. For years, he and his colleagues have been hoping to observe a meteorite impact on the moon during a lunar eclipse, but the brightness of these events can make that very difficult -- lunar meteorite impacts have been filmed before, but not during an eclipse. On this occasion, Madiedo doubled the number of telescopes trained on different parts of the moon -- from four to eight -- in the hope of seeing an impact. "I had a feeling, this time will be the time it will happen," says Madiedo.

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Microsoft Debuts New Low-Cost Laptops and 'Classroom Pen' For Schools

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 1:21pm
Microsoft is doubling down on the education market, a competitive arena for the world's largest tech giants, with a series of new low-cost laptops and tools to help students and teachers work together. From a report: At the BETT education conference in London Tuesday, Microsoft unveiled seven new laptops and two-in-one tablets made by partners like Lenovo, Dell and Acer and a new Microsoft Classroom Pen designed for the smaller hands of kids. Starting at $189, the low-cost devices are designed to stand up to tough treatment of being dragged around in a backpack everyday. The seven new devices showcased today are: Lenovo 100e -- priced from $189, Lenovo 300e (2-in-1) -- priced from $289, Lenovo 14w -- priced from $299, Acer TravelMate B1(B118-M) -- priced from $215, Acer TravelMate Spin B1 (B118-R/RN) -- priced from $299, Acer TravelMate B1-114 -- priced from $319, and Dell Latitude 3300 for Education -- priced from $299. The pen is priced at $40.

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Google Says Data is More Like Sunlight Than Oil

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 11:45am
Google wants to popularize a more upbeat way of describing data: It's more like sunlight than oil. From a report: Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday morning, Google's chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, said that "data is more like sunlight than oil," adding, "It is like sunshine -- we keep using it, and it keeps regenerating." It's a twist on the well-known phrase "data is the new oil," meaning the world's most valuable resource is information rather than petroleum. Like the oil barons who preceded them, Silicon Valley titans such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon have risen quickly to profit from this new resource and even control its flow. And in another echo of history, regulators are eyeing the industry.

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MacBook Pro Stage Light Fault: Apple's Design Turns $6 Fix Into a $600 Nightmare

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 11:05am
An anonymous reader shares a report: Some MacBook Pro owners have complained of a 'stage light' effect, where they see uneven backlighting at the bottom of the display. For some, the symptom is only the first stage, with the backlight failing altogether. iFixit says that it has identified the cause -- and the way in which Apple changed the design of the Touch Bar generation for the MacBook Pro turns what would otherwise be a $6 fix into a $600 nightmare. The problem, says the company, is caused by Apple using much thinner ribbon cables instead of the thicker wires used in previous generation MacBook Pro models.

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Ubuntu Core 18 Released for IoT devices

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 10:30am
Canonical today announced the release of Ubuntu Core 18 "for secure, reliable IoT devices." The Canonical blog notes that "Immutable, digitally signed snaps ensure that devices built with Ubuntu Core are resistant to corruption or tampering. Any component can be verified at any time." In addition, "The attack surface of Ubuntu Core has been minimized, with very few packages installed in the base OS, reducing the size and frequency of security updates and providing more storage for applications and data." Ubuntu Core also "enables a new class of app-centric things, which can inherit apps from the broader Ubuntu and Snapcraft ecosystems or build unique and exclusive applications that are specific to a brand or model." You can download it from here.

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Why Your New Heart Could Be Made in Space One Day

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 9:57am
Imagine a laboratory growing human hearts - and imagine that laboratory floating in space hundreds of miles above the surface of the Earth. That may sound like science fiction, but bizarre as it seems, it could bring new hope for transplant patients within the next decade. From a report: While about 7,600 heart transplants were carried out around the world in 2017, there's a desperate shortage of organs, with thousands of people on waiting lists dying every year. Efforts to grow human hearts in the lab are showing promise, but are hampered by the need for the organs to grow around a "scaffolding" to make sure they don't collapse during the process. Reliably removing the scaffolding once the heart is complete is proving to be a challenge. Space tech company Techshot believes zero gravity could be the answer. The International Space Station (ISS) is in constant freefall around the planet, meaning that anything inside experiences effective weightlessness, known technically as microgravity. This means organs could be grown without the need for any scaffolding, believes Rich Boling, the firm's vice-president of corporate advancement. One day hearts could be grown commercially for transplant, Techshot believes. [...] Developed in partnership with Nasa, Techshot's BioFabrication Facility (BFF) is a microwave oven-sized device that uses 3D printing techniques to create patches for heart repairs using a patient's own stem cells.

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Facebook Appears To Be Quietly Building Laser Satellites For Global Communications

Tue, 01/22/2019 - 9:05am
The snow-dusted peak of Mount Wilson in California has been home to many famous observatories. Until 1949, its 100-inch (2.5-meter) Hooker telescope was the largest aperture telescope in the world, and in 2004, its CHARA array became the world's largest optical interferometer. Now, two new observatories are being built there that, while not focused on the stars, might prove equally historic. They could house Facebook's first laser communications systems designed to connect to satellites in orbit. IEEE Spectrum reports: Construction permits issued by the County of Los Angeles show that a small company called PointView Tech is building two detached observatories on the mountain peak. PointView is the company that IEEE Spectrum revealed last year to be a previously unknown subsidiary of Facebook working on an experimental satellite called Athena. In April, PointView sought permission from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to test whether E-band radio signals could "be used for the provision of fixed and mobile broadband access in unserved and underserved areas." That application was still pending at the FCC before the current U.S. federal government shutdown took effect, but it and other public documents and presentations now strongly suggest that PointView is planning to utilize laser technology, possibly both in Athena and future spacecraft. Facebook has long been interested in free space optical, or laser, communication technology. Lasers are able to support much higher data rates than radio transmitters for a given input power, and their signals are largely immune to interference or hacking, although clouds can be problematic. Although Facebook developed millimeter-wave E-band links for its stratospheric Aquila drones, it was also experimenting with air-to-ground laser communications before it canceled its drone program last June. The laser tests, which used technology supplied by German company Mynaric, succeeded in establishing 10-gigabit-per-second links between a ground station and a light aircraft flying overhead.

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