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Valve Will Delay Some Steam Auto-Updates To Preserve Bandwidth

Tue, 2020-03-31 00:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Valve announced today that it won't automatically update games in customers' libraries as regularly as before to help preserve bandwidth during the novel coronavirus pandemic. Starting this week, Valve says Steam will only immediately auto-update games you've played in the last three days. Otherwise, Valve says Steam will be spreading out updates over several days. Steam had already been scheduling game updates for "the next off-peak local time period," according to Valve, though if you want to update a game manually, you can still initiate that yourself. Valve already lets you schedule auto-update windows and even self-throttle your connection to Steam if you want to additionally optimize how much of your bandwidth Steam uses at any given time.

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FDA Issues Limited Emergency Use For Two Drugs Used To Treat Malaria

Tue, 2020-03-31 00:10
knorthern knight shares a report from CNN: The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued an emergency use authorization for chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine to treat patients hospitalized with COVID-19. [...] Do the drugs work? In its statement, HHS said: "Anecdotal reports suggest that these drugs may offer some benefit in the treatment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. The safety profile of these drugs has only been studied for FDA approved indications, not COVID-19." The authorization is limited to patients who are currently hospitalized and weigh at least 50kg, or about 110 pounds. Under the emergency use authorization, health care providers must contact their local or state health department to access the drugs. "It would take several months of clinical trials to gauge its effectiveness, but we don't have the luxury of time," adds Slashdot reader knorthern knight. "We do know that it helps some COVID-19 patients, and has been in use for many years to treat malaria and other diseases. So it's not poisonous (and no, don't confuse it with fish tank cleaner)."

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Internet Pioneer Vint Cerf Tests Positive For Covid-19

Mon, 2020-03-30 23:30
New submitter NoMoreACs shares a report from Gizmodo: Tech pioneer Vint Cerf, one of the co-creators of the modern internet, has tested positive for covid-19, according to a tweet Cerf sent out Monday morning. The 76-year-old tweeted out a clip from HBO's Last Week Tonight with John Oliver about the U.S. response to the global pandemic. "I tested positive for COVID-19 and am recovering," Cerf tweeted. "Listen to what John Oliver has to say about our national response so far." Cerf helped create the modern internet in the 1970s while working at UCLA with other pioneers like Bob Kahn and Leonard Kleinrock. Cerf worked on packet switching for the APRANET under Kleinrock and TCP/IP protocols with ARPA (now DARPA), the plumbing that makes the internet function. DARPA tweeted its support of Cerf, telling him to get well soon.

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LG Is Ditching 'G' Series Branding On Future Smartphones

Mon, 2020-03-30 22:50
LG is ditching the "G" series branding on future smartphones. The company released the LG Optimus G1 Pro in 2013 and went on to release a new "G" series flagship smartphone every year since, with the most recent being the LG G8X ThinQ. 9to5Google reports: The Korea Herald and Naver have reported over the weekend that LG has decided to stop using the G series branding on future smartphones. Instead, LG would use separate names for each smartphone model with the names "focused on each model's design or special feature." Apparently, a goal for LG is to bring back the success of its "Chocolate" phones from the 2000s. Those devices had a different name for every model focusing on a specific design or software feature. Apparently, this change would take effect starting with the device we previously knew as the "LG G9 ThinQ." It's unclear what that device will be called at this point, but the device is rumored to be less of a flagship, using Qualcomm's Snapdragon 765 instead of the more powerful Snapdragon 865. While this branding decision was reportedly made public in Korea, LG's PR isn't confirming it globally yet.

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Trump Administration, In Biggest Environmental Rollback, To Announce Auto Pollution Rules

Mon, 2020-03-30 22:10
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The New York Times: The Trump administration is expected on Tuesday to announce its final rule to roll back Obama-era automobile fuel efficiency standards, relaxing efforts to limit climate-warming tailpipe pollution and virtually undoing the government's biggest effort to combat climate change. The new rule, written by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation, would allow vehicles on American roads to emit nearly a billion tons more carbon dioxide over the lifetime of the cars than they would have under the Obama standards and hundreds of millions of tons more than will be emitted under standards being implemented in Europe and Asia. Trump administration officials have raced to complete the auto rule by this spring, even as the White House is consumed with responding to the coronavirus crisis. President Trump is expected to extol the rule, which will stand as one of the most consequential regulatory rollbacks of his administration, as a needed salve for an economy crippled by the pandemic. [...] The new rule, which is expected to be implemented by late spring, will roll back a 2012 rule that required automakers' fleets to average about 54 miles per gallon by 2025. Instead, the fleets would have to average about 40 miles per gallon. To meet the new number, fuel economy standards would have to rise by about 1.5 percent a year, compared to the 5 percent annual increase required by the Obama rule. The industry has said it would increase fuel economy standards by about 2.4 percent a year without any regulation. The new standard would lead to nearly a billion more tons of planet-warming carbon dioxide released and the consumption of about 80 billion more gallons of gasoline over the lifetime of the vehicles built during the terms of the rule, according to a recent draft of the plan. The report says about 20 states are expect to sue the Trump administration to undo the rule in a case expected to be resolved by the Supreme Court in the coming years.

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Researchers Develop Faster Way To Replace Bad Data With Accurate Information

Mon, 2020-03-30 21:30
sandbagger writes: Researchers from North Carolina State University and the Army Research Office have demonstrated a new model of how competing pieces of information spread in online social networks and the Internet of Things (IoT). The findings could be used to disseminate accurate information more quickly, displacing false information about anything from computer security to public health. "Whether in the IoT or on social networks, there are many circumstances where old information is circulating and could cause problems -- whether it's old security data or a misleading rumor," says Wenye Wang, co-author of a paper on the work and a professor of electrical and computer engineering at NC State. "Our work here includes a new model and related analysis of how new data can displace old data in these networks." "Ultimately, our work can be used to determine the best places to inject new data into a network so that the old data can be eliminated faster," says Jie Wang, a postdoctoral researcher at NC State and first author of the paper. In their paper, the researchers show that a network's size plays a significant role in how quickly "good" information can displace "bad" information. However, a large network is not necessarily better or worse than a small one. Instead, the speed at which good data travels is primarily affected by the network's structure.

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Amazon, Instacart Grocery Delivery Workers Strike For Coronavirus Protection And Pay

Mon, 2020-03-30 20:51
Amazon warehouse workers in Staten Island, N.Y., and Instacart's grocery delivery workers nationwide plan to walk off their jobs on Monday. From the report: They are demanding stepped-up protection and pay as they continue to work while much of the country is asked to isolate as a safeguard against the coronavirus. The strikes come as both Amazon and Instacart have said they plan to hire tens of thousands of new workers. Online shopping and grocery home delivery are skyrocketing as much of the nation hunkers down and people stay at home, following orders and recommendations from the federal and local governments. This has put a spotlight on workers who shop, pack and deliver these high-demand supplies. Companies refer to the workers as "heroes," but workers say their employers aren't doing enough to keep them safe.

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2019 Saw Over 60 Gigawatts of Wind Power Installed

Mon, 2020-03-30 20:09
The Global Wind Energy Council, an industry trade organization, released its review of the market in 2019. During the past year, wind power saw its second-largest amount of new installed capacity ever, with over 60GW going in. From a report: But the news going forward is a bit more uncertain, with the report predicting that after years of double-digit growth, the industry would see things tail off into steady-but-unspectacular territory. And that prediction was made before many key markets started dealing with the coronavirus. Wind power is now one of the cheapest options for generating electricity. In many areas of the globe, building and maintaining wind power is cheaper per unit of power than it is to fuel a previously constructed fossil fuel plant. While offshore wind remains more expensive, its prices have dropped dramatically over the last several years, and it is rapidly approaching price parity with fossil fuels.

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General Electric Workers Walk Off the Job, Demand To Make Ventilators

Mon, 2020-03-30 19:30
On Monday, General Electric factory workers walked off the job and demanded that the company convert its jet engine factories to make ventilators. From a report: Workers protested at GE's Lynn, Massachusetts aviation facility held a silent protest, standing six feet apart. Union members at the company's Boston headquarters also marched six feet apart, calling on the company to use its factories to help the country close its ventilator shortage amid the coronavirus pandemic. These protests come just after General Electric announced it would be laying off 10 percent of its domestic aviation workforce, firing nearly 2,600 workers, along with a "temporary" layoff of 50 percent of its maintenance workers in a bid to save the company "$500 million to $1 billion." This news came as Congress stood ready to pass a multi-trillion dollar corporate bailout that would include at least $50 billion in federal assistance and $25 billion in loans and temporary tax relief for the aviation industry, as well as a further $17 billion for federal assistance to companies deemed "crucial to national security" (e.g. defense contractors like Boeing or General Electric).

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Nintendo is Making 3D Mario Remasters For His 35th Anniversary

Mon, 2020-03-30 18:49
The Super Mario series is turning 35 this year, and Nintendo has big plans for the plumber's birthday. From a report: That includes updating and bringing back most of his games for Nintendo Switch, according to a report from Video Games Chronicle. Eurogamer is backing up that report, and GamesBeat can as well. The core of the report is that Nintendo originally planned to focus on Mario's 35th anniversary at E3 (the Electronic Entertainment Expo) in Los Angeles in June. But organizers canceled that event due to the spread of the coronavirus. Nintendo is going ahead with that promotion, and it will likely hold a Direct-style event to provide all of the details. That includes info on remasters, a Paper Mario game, the upcoming Mario film, and Universal Studios' Super Nintendo World theme park. For the remasters, our source is telling us that Nintendo is pursuing something like a Super Mario All-Stars 2 for the 3D Mario games. This would include Super Mario 64, Super Mario Sunshine, and then Super Mario Galaxy and Super Mario Galaxy 2.

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Trump Says Keeping Covid-19 Deaths To 100,000 in the US Would Be a 'Very Good Job'

Mon, 2020-03-30 18:05
Donald Trump has extended America's national shutdown for a month, bowing to public health experts, and scientific reality, and warning that the worst of the coronavirus pandemic is yet to come. From a report: Speaking in the White House Rose Garden, the US president claimed that, if his administration keeps the death toll to 100,000, it will have done "a very good job" -- a startling shift from his optimistic predictions of a few days ago when he said he hoped to restart the economy by Easter. Trump also undermined his plea for unity by uttering falsehoods, verbally abusing reporters and making incendiary allegations that implied health care workers were stealing masks, without providing evidence. The extended deadline marked a humiliating retreat for the president who, having squandered six precious weeks at the start of the pandemic, more recently complained that the cure is worse than the problem and floated Easter Sunday

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SoftBank is Letting Internet Satellite Company OneWeb File For Bankruptcy

Mon, 2020-03-30 17:30
SoftBank has decided to let satellite internet provider OneWeb file for bankruptcy rather than pump billions of dollars into the start-up to save it. From a report: SoftBank, which has already invested $2 billion into OneWeb, was in talks to provide more capital to the satellite operator but ultimately backed down after making the decision it needs to save capital instead of spending more, said people familiar with the matter, who asked not to be named because the discussions were private. OneWeb was in the early stages of launching its own global satellite internet constellation, which would have competed directly with the network SpaceX is building called Starlink. While SoftBank is its largest investor, OneWeb had raised about $3.4 billion in funding with investors including Qualcomm, Airbus, Virgin Group, Coca-Cola, Maxar Technologies, Hughes Communications and Intelsat. All 74 of the satellites OneWeb put in orbit so far are operating as expected. CEO Adrian Steckel told CNBC in a February interview that the company "is always raising" money.

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Hacker Hijacks Microsoft YouTube Accounts To Broadcast Crypto Ponzi Scam

Mon, 2020-03-30 16:51
A hacker has hijacked all of Microsoft's official YouTube accounts and is broadcasting a cryptocurrency Ponzi scam to all of the company's subscribers, ZDNet reported Monday. From the report: The hijacked accounts are still streaming at the time of writing, despite being reported to YouTube's moderators for more than an hour. The hacker is currently live-streaming an old Bill Gates talk on startups that the former Microsoft CEO gave to an audience at Village Global in June 2019. Hackers are live-streaming an altered version of the presentation, but also asking for viewers to participate in a classic "crypto giveway" -- where victims are tricked to send a small sum of cryptocurrency to double their earnings but never get any funds in return.

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Microsoft Wants To Sell More Consumers a Software Subscription

Mon, 2020-03-30 16:11
Microsoft unveiled a consumer subscription service with added Office programs and tools to protect children and older adults, part of an effort to shift more customers to ongoing payment plans that provide a smooth revenue stream. From a report: Microsoft 365 Personal and Family will begin rolling out April 21 at $6.99 a month for an individual and $9.99 a month for the family edition, which includes six users. That's the same price as the previous Office 365 consumer products, which have more than 37 million subscribers, said Yusuf Mehdi, a Microsoft vice president. Features will continue to be made available over the few months, he said. The company is adding services such as Microsoft Editor, an artificial-intelligence powered program for Word, Outlook email and the web browser that gives suggestions about how to make writing more concise, inclusive and grammatical. There's also a presentation coach for the PowerPoint slideshow program that lets users practice in front of their laptops or phones -- the app will point out, for example, if presenters are turning away from their audience too often or resorting to the word "um." Excel will get a new service to track and analyze personal spending through a partnership with Plaid Technologies that lets customers import data from banking and checking accounts. Microsoft is trying to shift more corporate and consumer users to ongoing subscriptions delivered via the cloud and eliminate the need to persuade them to upgrade to new software every few years. Further reading: Microsoft Really Doesn't Want You To Buy Office 2019.

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Microsoft's Chromium Edge is Getting Vertical Tabs, Smart Copy, and Password Monitor

Mon, 2020-03-30 16:00
Microsoft today announced upcoming features for its Edge browser based on Google's Chromium open source project, the same browser Google's Chrome is based on. Consumer features like Vertical Tabs, Smart Copy, and Password Monitor are coming soon. Microsoft also shared a few updates for existing or already announced features like Collections, InPrivate mode, and Immersive Reader.

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Internet Archive's 'National Emergency Library' Has Over a Million Books To Read Right Now

Mon, 2020-03-30 15:36
The Internet Archive will suspend its waiting lists for digital copies of books, as part of its National Emergency Library, the organization said. From a report: "Users will be able to borrow books from the National Emergency Library without joining a waitlist, ensuring that students will have access to assigned readings and library materials that the Internet Archive has digitized," according to a blog post. The move comes as schools around the country are shut down in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and as it's become more difficult to get goods of all kinds. The post noted that many people can't physically go to their local libraries these days. The waiting lists apply to more than 1.4 million books. The Internet Archive said it would keep the waiting list suspended until June 30, 2020, or "the end of the US national emergency, whichever is later."

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Scott Kelly, Who Spent a Year in Space, Shares Tips on Isolation

Mon, 2020-03-30 14:05
Scott Kelly, writing for The New York Times: Being stuck at home can be challenging. When I lived on the International Space Station for nearly a year, it wasn't easy. When I went to sleep, I was at work. When I woke up, I was still at work. Flying in space is probably the only job you absolutely cannot quit. But I learned some things during my time up there that I'd like to share -- because they are about to come in handy again, as we all confine ourselves at home to help stop the spread of the coronavirus. Here are a few tips on living in isolation, from someone who has been there. Follow a schedule: On the space station, my time was scheduled tightly, from the moment I woke up to when I went to sleep. Sometimes this involved a spacewalk that could last up to eight hours; other times, it involved a five-minute task, like checking on the experimental flowers I was growing in space. You will find maintaining a plan will help you and your family adjust to a different work and home life environment. When I returned to Earth, I missed the structure it provided and found it hard to live without. But pace yourself: When you are living and working in the same place for days on end, work can have a way of taking over everything if you let it. Living in space, I deliberately paced myself because I knew I was in it for the long haul -- just like we all are today. Take time for fun activities: I met up with crewmates for movie nights, complete with snacks, and binge-watched all of "Game of Thrones" -- twice.

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Court Finds Algorithm Bias Studies Don't Violate US Anti-Hacking Law

Mon, 2020-03-30 11:34
"A federal court in D.C. has ruled in a lawsuit against Attorney General William Barr that studies aimed at detecting discrimination in online algorithms don't violate the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act," reports Engadget: The government argued that the Act made it illegal to violate a site's terms of service through some investigative methods (such as submitting false info for research), but Judge John Bates determined that the terms only raised the possibility of civil liability, not criminal cases. Bates observed that many sites' terms of service (which are frequently buried, cryptic or both) didn't provide a good-enough notice to make people criminally liable, and that it's problematic for private sites to define criminal liability. The judge also found that the government was using an overly broad interpretation when it's supposed to use a narrow view whenever there's ambiguity. "Researchers who test online platforms for discriminatory and rights-violating data practices perform a public service," wrote the staff attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union (which filed the suit "on behalf of academic researchers, computer scientists, and journalists who wish to investigate companies' online practices.") "They should not fear federal prosecution for conducting the 21st-century equivalent of anti-discrimination audit testing." Their announcement notes it's the kind of testing used by journalists "who exposed that advertisers were using Facebook's ad-targeting algorithm to exclude users from receiving job, housing, or credit ads based on race, gender, age, or other classes protected from discrimination in federal and state civil rights laws."

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What Happens When Epidemiologists are Undermined By Politics?

Mon, 2020-03-30 07:34
Earlier this month Slashdot covered the Imperial College in London forecast of "what happens if the U.S. does absolutely nothing to combat COVID-19," which predicted 2.2 million deaths just in the U.S. and another 510,000 in Great Britain. The paper was co-written by Neil Ferguson, one of the world's leading epidemiologists, and "launched leaders in both countries into action," according to the Washington Post. Earlier this month Ferguson posted on Twitter that Microsoft and GitHub are working to "document, refactor and extend" the thousands of lines of C code written over 13 years ago to run pandemic simulations, "to allow others to use [it] without the multiple days training it would currently require (and which we don't have time to give)." But the Washington Post's national health correspondent and senior political reporter look at a new twist this week: In recent days, a growing contingent of Trump supporters have pushed the narrative that health experts are part of a deep-state plot to hurt Trump's reelection efforts by damaging the economy and keeping the United States shut down as long as possible. Trump himself pushed this idea in the early days of the outbreak... After Ferguson gave new testimony to British officials Wednesday...Fox News host Laura Ingraham wrongly stated that in his testimony Ferguson's projection had been "corrected." The chyron on her show Thursday night stated, "Faulty models may be skewing COVID-19 data...." But in fact, Ferguson had not revised his projections in his testimony, which he made clear in interviews and Twitter. His earlier study had made clear the estimate of 500,000 deaths in Britain and 2.2 million in the United States projected what could happen if both took absolutely no action against the coronavirus. The new estimate of 20,000 deaths in Britain was a projected result now that Britain had implemented strict restrictions, which this week came to include a full lockdown... [O]ne factor many modelers failed to predict was how politicized their work would become in the era of President Trump, and how that in turn could affect their models.

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Ask Slashdot: Should the Internet Be A Public Utility?

Mon, 2020-03-30 04:34
The pandemic has "proven conclusively that the internet should be a public utility," argues Quartz. "It's a basic necessity in the 21st century, like running water, gas, and electricity. Indeed, the United Nations in 2016 declared that internet access is a human right." Sure, you could theoretically survive without it, just as you might light your home with candles or warm it by fire. Just as you could arguably trek to the closest freshwater source and walk back with buckets of the life-sustaining stuff. But in wealthy societies, like the U.S., those are absurd notions. Living under such conditions is virtually impossible and endangers everyone... [T]hough we have a whole lot of social woes to contend with right now -- pressing medical and economic needs -- it's not too soon to recognize that internet service providers' profits are not the top priority and that lack of access exacerbates existing class divides.... Increasingly, towns, cities, and states are taking a close look at Chattanooga, Tennessee, which built its own high-speed fiber-optic internet network in 2009. A 2018 Consumer Reports survey found the city's broadband was rated best in the US. There are already more than 500 communities nationwide operating public networks or leveraging their massive contracts with broadband providers to ensure free wiring of schools, libraries, and other publicly-accessible wifi hotspots. This patchwork approach to public access is taking hold across the U.S. and there is a growing understanding that internet access is a social issue that has to be addressed by governments, not private companies operating with profit as their sole motivator. Perhaps after the pandemic panic gives way to a new state of normalcy, the people will demand inexpensive and reliable high-quality broadband, and maybe private internet service providers will have to sing a different tune. An anonymous reader asked how exactly this could be accomplished, and long-time Slashdot reader Futurepower(R) suggested towns and cities should own the fiber lines, and then rent it out "to as many Internet-providing companies as are interested." But the original submission also asks, "If you aren't convinced yet, why not?" So share your own opinions in the comments. Should the internet be a public utility?

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