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Updated: 22 hours 17 min ago

TV Journalists Try Buying AK-47 On Dark Web, Fail

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 9:29am
An anonymous reader writes: "It was supposed to be a great story about terrorism, uncertainty and the evils of the DarkNet," writes Deep Dot Web, describing an investigative report titled "Fear of Terror -- How Endangered is Germany?" After interviewing security experts, federal investigators, and a survivor of the Paris terrorist attack, a TV news crew in Germany attempted to buy an AK-47 on the dark web -- only to be scammed out of $800. "If he had done a little research he could have known that most weapon dealers on the DarkNet are actually scams," the article points out, adding that German customs officers say they would have intercepted any AK-47 had a delivery been attempted. Motherboard reported in November that the high number of scams -- some of which are undercover agents -- prompted several dark web markets to stop offering guns altogether, though they suggest the German news crew was trying to recreate the purchases of "disabled" weapons which were then converted back into their original form.

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Motorola's Legendary RAZR Flip Phone Is Making a Comeback

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 8:30am
An anonymous reader shares an Engadget article: The year was 2004, and Motorola had just announced what was then an insanely thin flip phone, the RAZR V3. It was -- and still is -- a head-turner, and eventually over 130 million units were sold in total. Such were the glorious days of Motorola. Twelve years later, the now Lenovo-owned brand appears to be prepping a relaunch of this legendary model, according to its teaser video of a nostalgic walkthrough at a high school.The teaser is available on YouTube. Nice of Motorola to try doing something different from most of its rivals. However, a flip phone -- with a tiny display and those buttons (assumption) -- may not have much of practical case in 2016.

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New Clues About Why Mt. Gox Failed

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 7:29am
An anonymous reader writes: The Daily Beast is investigating internal emails, contracts, and new information provided by a former accounting employee at Mt. Gox for clues about how and why the world's largest bitcoin exchange failed in 2014. They conclude that CEO Mark Karpeles "bought a company already missing tens of thousands of bitcoins" in 2011, leading to an email exchange a few months later where the previous owner suggested ways to make up the $800,000 shortfall. Unfortunately, Karpeles "had signed a non-disclosure agreement that left him unable to discuss the loss," and after a second larger hack, he moved the majority of bitcoins offline into "cold storage," leaving only enough online to complete transactions. According to the article, former Mt. Gox employees "claim rogue U.S. government agents seized $5 million of Mt. Gox funds in summer 2013 in retaliation for Karpeles's refusal to cooperate with them. This seizure supposedly cut into the firm's operating reserves, which may have been the beginning of the end, at least according to the former Mt. Gox accountant." While $450 million eventually disappeared, Thursday ZDNet reported that a class-action lawsuit brought against the bitcoin exchange by investors "has been dismissed."

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Terrorists No Longer Welcome On OneDrive, Outlook, Xbox Live

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 6:30am
Microsoft has updated its anti-terrorism policies. In a blog post, the Redmond, Washington-based company said that it would remove "terrorist content" from a fleet of its services including OneDrive, Outlook and Xbox Live, reports BetaNews. For its search engine Bing, however, Microsoft says that it would only remove links when it is required by local law, citing free expression for all. The company adds that it would fund research for a tool that could help it better scan such content and flag image, audio and video. From company's blog post: There is no universally accepted definition of terrorist content. For purposes of our services, we will consider terrorist content to be material posted by or in support of organizations included on the Consolidated United Nations Security Council Sanctions List that depicts graphic violence, encourages violent action, endorses a terrorist organization or its acts, or encourages people to join such groups. The UN Sanctions List includes a list of groups that the UN Security Council considers to be terrorist organizations.

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Ask Slashdot: Can You Have A Smart Home That's Not 'In The Cloud'?

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 5:29am
With the announcement of Google Home on Wednesday, one anonymous Slashdot reader asks a timely question about cloud-based "remote control" services that feed information on your activities into someone else's advertising system: In principle, this should not be the case, but it is in practice. So how hard is it, really, to do 'home automation' without sending all your data to Google, Samsung, or whoever -- just keep it to yourself and share only what you want to share? How hard would it be, for instance, to hack a Nest thermostat so it talks to a home server rather than Google? Or is there something already out there that would do the same thing as a Nest but without 'the cloud' as part of the requirement? Yes, a standard programmable thermostat does 90% of what a Nest does, but there are certain things that it won't do like respond to your comings and goings at odd hours, or be remotely switchable to a different mode (VPN to your own server from your phone and deal with it locally, perhaps?) Fundamentally, is there a way to get the convenience and not expose my entire life and home to unknown actors who by definition (read the terms of service) do not have my best interest in mind? Yesterday one tech company asked its readers, "What company do you trust most to always be listening inside your home?" The winner was "nobody", with 63% of the votes -- followed by Google with 16%, and Apple with 13%. (Microsoft scored just 3%, while Amazon scored 2%.) So share your alternatives in the comments. What's the best way to set up home automation without sending data into the cloud?

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Scientists Say Nuclear Fuel Pools Pose Safety, Health Risks

Sat, 05/21/2016 - 1:30am
mdsolar quotes a report from NBC News: Ninety-six aboveground, aquamarine pools around the country that hold the nuclear industry's spent reactor fuel may not be as safe as U.S. regulators and the nuclear industry have publicly asserted, a study released May 20 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine warned. Citing a little-noticed study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the academies said that if an accident or an act of terrorism at a densely-filled pool caused a leak that drains the water away from the rods, a cataclysmic release of long-lasting radiation could force the extended evacuation of nearly 3.5 million people from territory larger than the state of New Jersey. It could also cause thousands of cancer deaths from excess radiation exposure, and as much as $700 billion dollars in costs to the national economy. The report is the second and final study of Japan's Fukushima Daiichi power plant, which was pummeled from a tsunami on March 11, 2011. The authors suggest the U.S. examine the benefits of withdrawing the spent fuel rods from the pools and storing them instead in dry casks aboveground in an effort to avoid possible catastrophes. The idea is nothing new, but it's been opposed by the industry because it could cost as much as $4 billion. The latest report contradicts parts of a study by Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff released two years after the Fukushima incident. The NRC staff in its 2014 study said a major earthquake could be expected to strike an area where spent fuel is stored in a pool once in 10 million years or less, and even then, "spent fuel pools are likely to withstand severe earthquakes without leaking."

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A Third Of Cash Is Held By 5 US Tech Companies

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 4:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: Moody's Investors Service released an analysis Friday that shows Apple, Microsoft, Alphabet, Cisco Systems, and Oracle are sitting on $504 billion, which is roughly 30% of the $1.7 trillion in cash and cash equivalents held by U.S. non-financial companies in 2015. Almost all of their earnings ($1.2 trillion) are stashed overseas in an effort to avoid paying taxes on moving profits back to the U.S. under the country's complex tax code. Apple has more than 90 percent of its money located outside of the U.S., according to its most recent filings. Moody's said in its report that "we expect that overseas cash balances will continue to grow unless tax laws are changed to encourage companies to repatriate money." Some of the other tech and Silicon Valley companies in the top 50 include Intel, Gilead Sciences, Facebook, Amazon, Qualcomm, eBay, Hewlett-Packard and Yahoo.

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Apple Opens First 'Next Generation' Retail Store

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 4:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: Apple has opened its new flagship store on Thursday in San Fransisco, throwing the curtain back on a design that puts a premium on hanging out over shopping. About 20 percent of the new store's space features an open Forum area where visitors can learn about Apple's various products. The new design is rolling out to stores in Brussels, Memphis and Guilderland, N.Y. "This is the next generation of Apple retail," Angela Ahrendts, Apple's senior vice president of retail and online operations, told media. "Fifteen years ago today Apple opened its first two stores and we're thrilled to mark the occasion with the opening of Apple Union Square in San Francisco," she said. "We are not just evolving our store design, but its purpose and greater role in the community as we educate and entertain visitors and serve our network of local entrepreneurs." The new stores were designed by Ahrendts and Apple's design chief, Jony Ive. "Among the other big changes in evidence is morphing Apple's Genius Bar to Genius Grove; the addition of a new Boardroom area dedicated to small business customers; and the advent of a new staff position, Apple Creative Pro, tasked with helping consumers with specific questions on music, photography, videos and the like," writes USA Today. "In addition, some of Apple's most significant store locations, include the [Apple Union Square in San Fransisco], will feature a public Plaza that will be open 24/7 and feature free Wi-Fi as well as occasional concerts and other performances." Oh, and you can't forget about the new 6K video wall, which display broadcasts various Apple products.

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Wristband Gives You An Electric Shock When You Overspend

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 3:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: "Intelligent Environments, the company that brought us emoji passwords, has launched another original product, a banking platform integrated with IoT devices working on the classic 'If This, Then That' principle," writes Softpedia. "Called Interact IoT, the platform will allow developers to create smart products that interact with your bank account. Intelligent Environments launched the platform yesterday with two integrations, one for the Pavlok wristband and one for Google's Nest thermostat." Bank account owners can set a threshold for their account, which if they go under they'll receive an electric shock from their Pavlok wristband or Interact IoT will turn down their Nest thermostat to save money. More integrations are under work. Which ones would you like to see? "Both Pavlok and Nest Thermostat are opt-in services, so customers can decide whether to switch them on or not," said David Webber, Managing Director at Intelligent Environments. "However, with the Pavlok integration users have told us they love it. They think it's much better to get a little shock now, instead of a nasty one later."

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Real-Life RoboCop Guards Shopping Centers In California

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 2:40pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Metro: While machines from the likes of RoboCop and Chappie might just be the reserve of films for now, this new type of robot is already fighting crime. This particular example can be found guarding a shopping center in California but there are other machines in operation all over the state. Equipped with self-navigation, infra-red cameras and microphones that can detect breaking glass, the robots, designed by Knightscope, are intended to support security services. Stacy Dean Stephens, who came up with the idea, told The Guardian the problem that needed solving was one of intelligence. "And the only way to gain accurate intelligence is through eyes and ears," he said. "So, we started looking at different ways to deploy eyes and ears into situations like that." The robot costs about $7 an hour to rent and was inspired by the Sandy Hook school shooting after which it was claimed 12 lives could have been saved if officers arrived a minute earlier.

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AI Will Create 'Useless Class' Of Human, Predicts Bestselling Historian

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 2:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: Yuval Noah Harari, author of the international bestseller "Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind," doesn't have a very optimistic view of the future when it comes to artificial intelligence. He writes about how humans "might end up jobless and aimless, whiling away our days off our nuts and drugs, with VR headsets strapped to our faces," writes The Guardian. "Harari calls it 'the rise of the useless class' and ranks it as one of the most dire threats of the 21st century. As artificial intelligence gets smarter, more humans are pushed out of the job market. No one knows what to study at college, because no one knows what skills learned at 20 will be relevant at 40. Before you know it, billions of people are useless, not through chance but by definition." He likens his predictions, which have been been forecasted by others for at least 200 years, to the boy who cried wolf, saying, "But in the original story of the boy who cried wolf, in the end, the wolf actually comes, and I think that is true this time." Harari says there are two kinds of ability that make humans useful: physical ones and cognitive ones. He says humans have been largely safe in their work when it comes to cognitive powers. But with AI's now beginning to outperform humans in this field, Harari says, that even though new types of jobs will emerge, we cannot be sure that humans will do them better than AIs, computers and robots.

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Oculus No Longer Lets Customers Move Purchased Software To Non-Oculus Hardware

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 1:20pm
AmiMoJo quotes a report from Boing Boing: As recently as 5 months ago, Oculus founder Palmer Luckey was promising his customers that they could play the software they bought from the Oculus store on "whatever they want," guaranteeing that the company wouldn't shut down apps that let customers move their purchased software to non-Oculus hardware. But now, Oculus has changed its DRM to exclude Revive, a "proof-of-concept compatibility layer between the Oculus SDK [software development kit] and OpenVR," that let players buy software in the Oculus store and run it on competing hardware. The company billed the update as an anti-piracy measure, but Revive's developer, who call themselves "Libre VR," points out that the DRM only prevents piracy using non-Oculus hardware, and allows for unlimited piracy by Oculus owners.

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Judge Orders 'Intentionally Deceptive' DOJ Lawyers To Take Remedial Ethics Class

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 12:40pm
According to the Daily Caller, "The judge overseeing the challenge by 26 states to President Obama's executive action in immigration has ordered all lawyers 'employed at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C. who appears, or seeks to appear, in a court (state or federal) in any of the 26 Plaintiff States annually attend a legal ethics course.'" An anonymous reader quotes a report from Zero Hedge: In writing the ruling, Hanen quoted from the scene in "Miracle on 34th Street" when the boy is called to testify to Santa's existence and saying that everyone knows not to tell a lie to the court. Hanen went on to say that that the Justice Department lawyers have an even stricter duty: Tell the truth, don't mislead the court, and don't allow it to be mislead by others. "The Government's lawyers failed on all three fronts. The actions of the DHS should have been brought as early as December 19, 2014. The failure of counsel to do that constituted more than mere inadvertent omissions -- it was intentionally deceptive." Judge Hanen wrote in his ruling. Hanen ordered that the classes must be "taught by at least one recognized ethics expert who is unaffiliated with the Justice Department." I wonder if the judge could order the lawyers to jail for contempt of court?

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Silicon Valley Tech Workforce Is Vastly Different From US, Say Feds

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 11:25am
Reader dcblogs shares an article on Computer World: In recent years, major high-tech firms have started releasing workforce diversity data, along with a promise to improve. And there is much room for improvement, according to federal officials. Among the top 75 Silicon Valley tech firms, whites make up 47% of the workforce, Asian Americans 41%, Hispanics, 6% and African Americans 3%, according to an analysis by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Women account for 30% of the workforce at these 75 firms. The diversity makeup of these Silicon Valley high-tech firms is very different from the national employment picture. When compared to overall private industry employment, the tech sector nationally -- not just Silicon Valley -- employed a larger share of whites (63% to 68%), as well as a larger share of Asian Americans (6% to 14%) and a smaller share of African Americans (14% to 7%) and Hispanics (14% to 8%). Employers with a workforce greater than 100 file reports to the EEOC about their employees' race, color, gender and national origin. Nationally, 64% of the employees in high-tech are men versus 52% in the broader workforce. Women account for 36% of the tech workforce, versus comprising 48% of the broader workforce.

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Project Ara Lives: Google's Modular Smartphones Coming To Developers This Fall

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 10:45am
Finally, there's some update on Project Ara, an open hardware platform for creating highly modular smartphones. Google announced on Friday that a test version of the modular smartphone will be released to developers in the fourth quarter. Google, which owns Project Ara, added that a thinner version of the phone will be made available to consumers next year. Recode, reports: The revamped Project Ara design puts the core phone technology together in the phone's frame, with room for six interchangeable module slots. Modules can also be inserted and ejected while the phone is running, Google said. Onstage Friday at its I/O developer conference, Google demonstrated a camera module, taking a picture of the session discussing Ara. It also talked about other modules, including one to allow diabetics to monitor their blood glucose. Google said it made enough progress with Ara that it is spinning it out of its advanced projects team and into its own business unit.

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Uber Knows Exactly When You'll Pay Surge Pricing

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 10:05am
An anonymous reader writes: Uber has figured out exactly when you are more likely to pay double or triple the cost of your ride: when your phone battery is low. Uber's head of economic research, Keith Chen, recently told NPR on an episode of The Hidden Brain podcast that people are willing to accept up to 9.9 times surge pricing if their phones are about to go dead. Data about user batteries is collected because the app uses that information to know when to switch into low-power mode. The idea being: If you really need to get where you're going, you'll pay just about anything (or at least 9.9 times anything) to ensure you're getting a ride home and won't be stranded. A person with a more fully charged device has time to wait and see if the surge pricing goes down.The company insists that it won't use this information against you.

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Foul-Mouthed Worm Takes Control Of Wireless ISPs Around the Globe

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 9:25am
Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica (edited and condensed): ISPs around the world are being attacked by self-replicating malware that can take complete control of widely used wireless networking equipment, according to reports from customers. San Jose, California-based Ubiquiti Networks confirmed recently that attackers are actively targeting a flaw in AirOS, the Linux-based firmware that runs the wireless routers, access points, and other gear sold by the company. The vulnerability, which allows attackers to gain access to the devices over HTTP and HTTPS connections without authenticating themselves, was patched last July, but the fix wasn't widely installed. Many customers claimed they never received notification of the threat.ISPs in Argentina, Spain, Brazil have been attacked by the worm, said Nico Waisman, a research at security firm Immunity, adding that it's likely that ISPs in the U.S. and other places have also been attacked by the same malware. From the report, "Once successful, the exploit he examined replaces the password files of an infected device and then scans the network it's on for other vulnerable gear. After a certain amount of time, the worm resets infected devices to their factory default configurations, with the exception of leaving behind a backdoor account, and then disappears."

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IMAX Embraces Virtual Reality, To Open Six VR Theaters This Year

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 8:43am
An anonymous reader writes: IMAX is getting into the virtual reality business. Tthe company has announced that it is teaming up with Google to build cinema-quality virtual reality video cameras. It is also planning to launch virtual reality "locations." The cinemas will be opened in shopping malls, much like traditional movie theatres. There are six reportedly planned for this year, including in Los Angeles and China. From the Verge report: IMAX chief executive Richard Gelfond told The WSJ that he imagined that the VR content would be tied to existing movie franchises, that they would last around 10 minutes and cost between $7 and $10. The idea, suggests Gelfond, is to create a VR experience that's better than what you can get at home -- the same way that a movie theater is better than your living room TV.

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Fox 'Stole' a Game Clip, Used It In Family Guy and DMCA'd the Original

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 8:00am
An anonymous reader shares a TorrentFreak report: This week's episode of Family Guy included a clip from 1980s Nintendo video game Double Dribble showing a glitch to get a free 3-point goal. Perhaps surprisingly the game glitch is absolutely genuine and was documented in a video that was uploaded to YouTube by a user called 'sw1tched' back in February 2009. Interestingly the clip that was uploaded by sw1tched was the exact same clip that appeared in the Family Guy episode on Sunday. So, unless Fox managed to duplicate the gameplay precisely, Fox must've taken the clip from YouTube. Whether Fox can do that and legally show the clip in an episode is a matter for the experts to argue but what followed next was patently absurd. Shortly after the Family Guy episode aired, Fox filed a complaint with YouTube and took down the Double Dribble video game clip on copyright grounds. Perhaps YouTube should also be blamed for this.

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India Records Its Hottest Day Ever As Temperature Hits 51C (123.8F)

Fri, 05/20/2016 - 7:20am
An anonymous reader writes: A city in northern India has shattered the national heat record, registering a searing 51C -- the highest since records began -- amid a nationwide heatwave. The new record was set in Phalodi, a city in the desert state of Rajasthan, and is the equivalent of 123.8F. It tops a previous record of 50.6C set in 1956."Yesterday (Thursday) was the hottest temperature ever recorded in the country... 51C in Phalodi," said BP Yadav, a director of India's meteorological department, on Friday.

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