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British Airways Cancels Over 100 Flights After Computer Systems Fail

Wed, 2019-08-07 16:03
British Airways canceled more than 100 flights Wednesday after the airline's computer systems crashed. From a report: The cancellations hit thousands of travelers using London's Heathrow and Gatwick airports. Another 300 flights faced delays of up to an hour, according to the airline's website. British Airways, which is owned by International Airlines Group (ICAGY), said its check-in and flight start systems suffered a partial crash, and that it was using "backup manual systems to keep our flights operating." A spokesperson for the airline said it would allow customers on canceled flights to rebook for between August 8 and August 13. British Airways did not say what caused the computer outage.

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FedEx is Ending Ground-Delivery Contract With Amazon

Wed, 2019-08-07 15:21
FedEx said Wednesday it will end its ground-delivery contract with Amazon and won't renew it at the end of the month. From the report: "This change is consistent with our strategy to focus on the broader e-commerce market, which the recent announcements related to our FedEx Ground network have us positioned extraordinarily well to do," a FedEx spokesperson said. Shares of FedEx and Amazon were down at least 1% in premarket trading. Amazon was not immediately available to comment. FedEx announced in June that it is ending its express U.S. shipping contract, which only affected air services. At the time, FedEx said it was a "strategic decision" that would not affect its other contracts with Amazon. At the time, FedEx said less than 1.3% of total revenue was attributable to Amazon during the 12-month period ended Dec. 31.

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Microsoft Contractors Are Listening To Some Skype Calls

Wed, 2019-08-07 14:42
Contractors working for Microsoft are listening to personal conversations of Skype users conducted through the app's translation service, according to a cache of internal documents, screenshots, and audio recordings obtained by Motherboard. From a report: Although Skype's website says that the company may analyze audio of phone calls that a user wants to translate in order to improve the chat platform's services, it does not say some of this analysis will be done by humans. The Skype audio obtained by Motherboard includes conversations from people talking intimately to loved ones, some chatting about personal issues such as their weight loss, and others seemingly discussing relationship problems. Other files obtained by Motherboard show that Microsoft contractors are also listening to voice commands that users speak to Cortana, the company's voice assistant.

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Microsoft's MSDN Magazine is Ending Its Run After More Than Three Decades

Wed, 2019-08-07 14:01
After more than three decades of publishing editorial content and providing technical guidance to the Microsoft developer community, MSDN Magazine will publish its last issue in November. From a report: Microsoft Developer Network (MSDN) was launched in 1992 to manage the relationship of the company with the developer ecosystem. MSDN Magazine originally started as two separate magazines -- Microsoft Systems Journal (MSJ) and Microsoft Internet Developer (MIND) -- which consolidated into MSDN Magazine in March 2000. The monthly magazine is available as a print magazine in the United States and online in several languages. While the March 2000 issue was entirely devoted to Windows, the MSDN Magazine has gone through its evolution over the years as Microsoft products and services expanded exponentially.

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July Was the Hottest Month On Record, Global Data Shows

Wed, 2019-08-07 13:00
European climate researchers said Monday that last month was the hottest July -- and thus the hottest month -- ever recorded (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source), slightly eclipsing the previous record-holder, July 2016. "While July is usually the warmest month of the year for the globe, according to our data it also was the warmest month recorded globally, by a very small margin," Jean-Noel Thepaut, head of the Copernicus Climate Change Service, said in a statement. The New York Times reports: The service, part of an intergovernmental organization supported by European countries, said the global average temperature last month was about 0.07 degree Fahrenheit (0.04 Celsius) hotter than July 2016. The researchers noted that their finding was based on analysis of only one of several data sets compiled by agencies around the world. The climate service noted some regional temperature differences in July. Western Europe was above average, in part because of a heat wave that occurred during the last week of the month and set temperature records in Germany, the Netherlands and elsewhere. A rapid analysis released last week found that climate change made the heat wave more likely. "The highest above-average conditions were recorded across Alaska, Greenland and large swathes of Siberia," the report adds. "Large parts of Africa and Australia were warmer than normal, as was much of Central Asia. Cooler than average temperatures prevailed in Eastern Europe, much of Asia, the Northern Plains and Pacific Northwest of the United States and over large parts of Western Canada."

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Tardigrades Are Now On the Moon Thanks To a Crashed Israeli Spacecraft

Wed, 2019-08-07 10:00
Tardigrades, the microsopic water-dwelling animals that can survive almost any environment, may be on the moon thanks to an Israeli spacecraft called Beresheet. The spacecraft was carrying thousands of dehydrated tardigrades (among other cargo) when it crashed due to glitches with the landing process. CNET reports: The Israeli spacecraft was transporting Arch Mission's first lunar library, a digital archive holding the equivalent of 30 million pages of information. It also carried human DNA samples and thousands of dehydrated tardigrades. It's unknown how much of the cargo actually ended up on the moon's surface following the crash. Based on Arch Mission's analysis of the spacecraft's path as well as the makeup of the lunar library itself, Arch Mission Foundation founder Nova Spivack told Wired on Monday that he's confident the library, a "DVD-sized object made of thin sheets of nickel," survived the crash mostly intact. That doesn't mean the DNA or water bears are in good shape. "About the tardigrades in the Lunar Library: Some are sealed in epoxy with 100 million human, plant and microorganism cells," Spivack tweeted Tuesday. "Some are encapsulated onto the sticky side of a 1cm square piece of Kapton tape that is sealed inside the disc stack. They cannot reproduce on the moon." Even though the dehydrated tardigrades can't spring to life on the moon, they could theoretically be gathered, revived and studied to teach us about their time there. "It is not likely that cells can survive on the moon without a lot more protection from radiation," Spivack added. "However the human cells, plant cells and micro organisms we sent could be recovered, studied and their DNA extracted -- perhaps to be cloned and regenerated, far in the future."

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SpaceX Successfully Launches Twice-Flown Falcon 9, Catches Fairing At Sea

Wed, 2019-08-07 07:00
SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 first-stage that had previously served two missions in July and November of 2018, today carrying its final payload, the AMOS-17 satellite for Spacecomm. "SpaceX had configured the Falcon 9 in its 'expendable mode' for this mission, which means it made use of all available fuel on board to carry the 14,000+ lb satellite to orbit, without enough left over to come back in a controlled descent and landing," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The multi-purpose geostationary communications satellite, which will provide mobile, streaming and video connectivity across parts of the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, reached geostationary transfer orbit and then reached its target orbit and deployed as planned. SpaceX also recovered at least the fairing used to protect the cargo as it ascends to space tonight -- it managed to catch one half in a giant net strung across support structures on 'Ms. Tree,' a ship operated by SpaceX specifically for this purpose. The other half fell into the ocean, and SpaceX will try to collect that half as well, using a second ship it has for that purpose. Elon Musk tweeted a video of SpaceX's droneship catching the fairing.

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Physicists Overturn a 100-Year-Old Assumption On How Brain Cells Work

Wed, 2019-08-07 03:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ScienceAlert: A study published in 2017 has overturned a 100-year-old assumption on what exactly makes a neuron "fire," posing new mechanisms behind certain neurological disorders. To understand why this is important, we need to go back to 1907 when a French neuroscientist named Louis Lapicque proposed a model to describe how the voltage of a nerve cell's membrane increases as a current is applied. Once reaching a certain threshold, the neuron reacts with a spike of activity, after which the membrane's voltage resets. What this means is a neuron won't send a message unless it collects a strong enough signal. Lapique's equations weren't the last word on the matter, not by far. But the basic principle of his integrate-and-fire model has remained relatively unchallenged in subsequent descriptions, today forming the foundation of most neuronal computational schemes. According to the researchers, the lengthy history of the idea has meant few have bothered to question whether it's accurate. The experiments approached the question from two angles -- one exploring the nature of the activity spike based on exactly where the current was applied to a neuron, the other looking at the effect multiple inputs had on a nerve's firing. Their results suggest the direction of a received signal can make all the difference in how a neuron responds. A weak signal from the left arriving with a weak signal from the right won't combine to build a voltage that kicks off a spike of activity. But a single strong signal from a particular direction can result in a message. This potentially new way of describing what's known as spatial summation could lead to a novel method of categorizing neurons, one that sorts them based on how they compute incoming signals or how fine their resolution is, based on a particular direction. Better yet, it could even lead to discoveries that explain certain neurological disorders.

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US Appeals Court Voids Google 'Cookie' Privacy Settlement That Paid Users Nothing

Wed, 2019-08-07 02:02
A federal appeals court on Tuesday struck down Google's class-action settlement meant to resolve claims it invaded the privacy of millions of computer users by installing "cookies" in their browsers, but paying those users nothing for their troubles. Reuters reports: In a 3-0 decision, the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia said it could not tell whether the $5.5 million settlement was fair, reasonable and adequate, and said a lower court judge should revisit the case. Google, a unit of Alphabet Inc, had been accused of exploiting loopholes in Apple's Safari and Microsoft's Internet Explorer browsers to help advertisers bypass cookie blockers. The settlement approved in February 2017 by U.S. District Judge Sue Robinson in Delaware called for Google to stop using cookies for Safari browsers, and pay the $5.5 million mainly to the plaintiffs' lawyers and six groups, including some with prior Google ties, to research and promote browser privacy. But in Tuesday's decision, Circuit Judge Thomas Ambro said the settlement raised a "red flag" and possible due process concerns because it broadly released money damages claims.

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Hyundai Releases Car With Solar Panel Roof

Wed, 2019-08-07 01:45
Hyundai has released a version of its Sonata hybrid that has solar panels to help charge its battery. The BBC reports: The Korean car maker said up to 60% of the power for the car's battery could be supplied if the solar roof was used for six hours a day. The panels would provide enough power to propel the Sonata for 1,300km (800miles) a year, it added. Hyundai said it planned to offer the roof as an optional extra on other models in its range. The solar-roof equipped Sonata will be on sale in North America and Korea. Hyundai said it had no plans to sell it in other regions. No price for the hybrid passenger car equipped with a solar roof has been given by Hyundai. Stephen Edelstein from Digital Trends said: "Hybrids like the Sonata have smaller battery packs than all-electric cars, so a solar roof can make a bigger difference in charging." With that said, solar cells add cost and weight to cars, so "it's unclear how effective they can be in the real world," he added.

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High-Security Locks For Government and Banks Hacked By Researcher

Wed, 2019-08-07 01:25
pgmrdlm shares a report from Reuters: Hackers could crack open high-security electronic locks by monitoring their power, allowing thieves to steal cash in automated teller machines, narcotics in pharmacies and government secrets, according to research to be presented Friday at the annual Def Con hacking conference in Las Vegas. Mike Davis, a researcher with security firm IOActive, discovered the vulnerability last year and alerted government officials and Swiss company DormaKaba Holding, the distributor of multiple brands of locks at issue. In an interview with Reuters, Davis said he used an oscilloscope worth about $5,000 to detect small changes in the power consumption, through what is known as a side-channel attack. The method worked best in older models. The locks include their own power supply so they function even when an external source of electricity is cut off. Most versions do not consume extra or randomized power to hide what they are doing. That leaves them open to attack if a thief can get physically close enough and has the right tools, Davis said. "I can download that analog signal and parse through the power trace to get ones and zeroes," Davis said. "I know what the lock is doing internally." Inside ATMs, the company's locks typically protect the cash in the more secure, lower compartment. An upper compartment includes the interface with customers and directs the lower compartment to send up money. The upper compartment often has less physical security, and breaking into it might provide access to the lower vault's vulnerable lock. A bigger concern is that another series of DormaKaba locks are used on military bases, U.S. presidential jet Air Force One and elsewhere in the government.

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Windows Defender Achieves 'Best Antivirus' Status

Wed, 2019-08-07 00:45
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PC Magazine: As Softpedia reports, the independent IT security institute AV-TEST spent May and June continuously evaluating 20 home user security products using their default settings to see which offered the best protection. Only four of those products achieved a top score, and one of them was Windows Defender. The other three are F-Secure SAFE 17, Kaspersky Internet Security 19.0, and Norton Security 22.17. The big difference between these and Windows Defender is the fact Microsoft includes Windows Defender for free with Windows 10, where as the others require a paid subscription to continue being fully-functional. "Of the other products evaluated, Webroot SecureAnywhere 9.0 came last," adds PC Magazine. "Those just missing out on the top score while still earning an AV-TEST 'Top Product' award include Avast Free AntiVirus 19.5, AVG Internet Security 19.5, Bitdefender Internet Security 23.0, Trend Micro Internet Security 15.0, and VIPRE AdvancedSecurity 11.0."

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Google Expands its Advanced Protection Program To Chrome

Wed, 2019-08-07 00:07
Google is expanding its Advanced Protection Program to its Chrome browser. From a report: If you're an Advanced Protection Program user and you have sync turned on in Chrome, you will now automatically receive stronger protections against risky downloads. Google didn't go into much detail regarding the protections, likely not to publicly give away how they work. But the company did say that when users attempt to download "certain risky files," Chrome will now show additional warnings, or in some cases even block the downloads outright. The warnings are, however, only available in Chrome for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Google is not rolling out the Advanced Protection Program to Chrome for Android and iOS.

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Tokyo Offers $1 Billion Research Grant For Human Augmentation, Cyborg Tech

Tue, 2019-08-06 23:25
The Japanese government is offering researchers up to $1 billion to develop ambitious human augmentation and cyborg technologies. From a report: As reported by the Nikkei Asian Review, the government will soon invite researchers and academics to submit proposals in 25 areas, ranging from technologies which can support our aging bodies to environmental solutions that tackle industrial waste. An unnamed government source told the publication that 100 billion yen ($921 million) has been set aside to fund these projects for the first five years of a decade-long support agreement. While some of the projects, such as cyborg technology, might appear whimsical, others are heavily grounded in problems that Japan faces. Industrial waste, an aging population, and the challenge of cleaning up our oceans have influenced some of the project areas on offer.

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Comcast Expands Low-Income Internet Program

Tue, 2019-08-06 22:45
Comcast announced today its largest-ever eligibility expansion for Internet Essentials, the cable giant's program that subsidizes basic broadband service and low-cost computers to help increase adoption for low-income households in the cities Comcast serves. From a report: The program, which began 8 years ago with the merger of Comcast and NBCUniversal, will now be open to seniors and people with disabilities. To date, the program has connected more than 8 million low-income individuals from 2 million households, the company says. The Internet Essentials service, which costs $10 a month, provides download speeds of 15 megabits per second, which is slower than the FCC's benchmark for broadband (25 megabits per second)

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Ask Slashdot: Is a Return To Idealism Possible In Computing?

Tue, 2019-08-06 22:00
dryriver writes: Almost everything in computing appears to be tainted by profits-driven decisionmaking today, from the privacy catastrophe of using personal electronic devices to forced SaaS software licensing. If Big Oil or Big Tobacco ran the computing sector, things probably wouldn't be much worse than they are today. So here's the question: Is a return to idealism possible in computing? Can we go back to the days when computing was about smart nerds building cool shit for other nerds? Or is computing so far gone now that things simply cannot get better anymore?

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Final Red Hat Enterprise Linux 7 Version Released

Tue, 2019-08-06 21:20
The last RHEL release, RHEL 7.7, is now available for current Red Hat Enterprise Linux subscribers via the Red Hat Customer Portal. ZDNet reports on what's new: RHEL 7.7's most important updates are support for the latest generation of enterprise hardware and remediation for the recently disclosed ZombieLoad vulnerabilities. The latest RHEL 7 also includes network stack performance enhancements. With this release, you can offload virtual switching operations to network interface card (NIC) hardware. What that means for you is, if you're using virtual switching and network function virtualization (NFV), you'll see better network performance on cloud and container platforms such as Red Hat OpenStack Platform and Red Hat OpenShift. RHEL 7.7 users can also use Red Hat's new predictive problem shooter: Red Hat Insights. This uses a software-as-a-service (SaaS)-based predictive analytics approach to spot, assess, and mitigate potential problems to their systems before they can cause trouble. For developers, RHEL 7.7 comes with Python 3.6 interpreter, and the pip and setup tools utilities. Previously, Python 3 versions were available only as a part of Red Hat Software Collections. Moving on to the cloud, RHEL 7.7 Red Hat Image Builder is now supported. This feature, which is also in RHEL 8, enables you to easily create custom RHEL system images for cloud and virtualization platforms such as Amazon Web Services (AWS), VMware vSphere, and OpenStack. To help cloud-native developers, RHEL 7.7 includes full support for Red Hat's distributed-container toolkit -- buildah, podman, and skopeo -- on RHEL workstations. After building on the desktop, programmers can use Red Hat Universal Base Image to build, run, and manage containerized applications across the hybrid cloud.

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Toshiba Introduces New Tiny NVMe SSD Form Factor

Tue, 2019-08-06 20:40
At the Flash Memory Summit today, Toshiba introduced a new form factor for NVMe SSDs that is small enough to be a removable alternative to soldered-down BGA SSDs. "The new XFMEXPRESS form factor allows for two or four PCIe lanes while taking up much less space than even the smallest M.2 22x30mm card size," reports AnandTech. "The XFMEXPRESS card size is 18x14x1.4mm, slightly larger and thicker than a microSD card. It mounts into a latching socket that increases the footprint up to 22.2x17.75x2.2mm." From the report: XFMEXPRESS is intended to bring the benefits of replaceable storage to devices that would normally be stuck with soldered BGA SSDs or eMMC and UFS modules. For consumer devices this opens the way for aftermarket capacity upgrades, and for embedded devices that need to be serviceable this can permit smaller overall dimensions. Device manufacturers also get a bit of supply chain flexibility since storage capacity can be adjusted later in the assembly process. XFMEXPRESS is not intended to be used as an externally-accessible slot like SD cards; swapping out an XFMEXPRESS SSD will require opening up the case of the device it's installed in, though unlike M.2 SSDs the XFMEXPRESS socket and retention mechanism itself is tool-less. XFMEXPRESS will allow for similar performance to BGA SSDs. The PCIe x4 host interface will generally not be the bottleneck, especially in the near future when BGA SSDs start adopting PCIe gen4, which the XFMEXPRESS connector can support. Instead, SSDs in these small form factors are often thermally limited, and the XFMEXPRESS connector was designed to allow for easy heat dissipation with a metal lid that can serve as a heatspreader.

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The Fed Is Getting Into the Real-Time Payments Business

Tue, 2019-08-06 20:03
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNN: The Fed announced Monday that it will develop a real-time payment service called "FedNow" to help move money around the economy more quickly. It's the kind of government service that companies and consumers have been requesting for years -- one that already exists in other countries. The service could also compete with solutions already developed in the private sector by big banks and tech companies. The Fed itself is not setting up a consumer bank, but it has always played a behind-the-scenes role facilitating the movement of money between banks and helping to verify transactions. This new system would help cut down on the amount of time between when money is deposited into an account and when it is available for use. FedNow would operate all hours and days of the week, with an aim to launch in 2023 or 2024. Currently, the process of sending and receiving money can take up to 72 hours, leaving businesses and consumers, and especially low-income people, in limbo. "For example, the current system can create problems for people paid by check at the end of a month, because they must deposit the check into their bank accounts and wait for it to be cleared before they can use that money to pay a utility bill at the start of the next month," reports CNN.

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China Warns India of 'Reverse Sanctions' if Huawei is Blocked

Tue, 2019-08-06 19:25
China has told India not to block its Huawei from doing business in the country, warning there could be consequences for Indian firms operating in China, Reuters reported on Tuesday, citing sources with knowledge of the matter said. From a report: India is due to hold trials for installing a next-generation 5G cellular network in the next few months, but has not yet taken a call on whether it would invite the Chinese telecoms equipment maker to take part, telecoms minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said. Huawei, the world's biggest maker of such gear, is at the centre of a geopolitical tug-of-war between China and the United States. U.S. President Donald Trump's administration put the company on a blacklist in May, citing national security concerns. It has asked its allies not to use Huawei equipment, which it says China could exploit for spying.

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