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Google Is Putting An Algorithmic Audio News Feed On Its Assistant

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 23:30
Google is adding an algorithmically determined news feed to its Google Assistant via a new service it's calling "Your News Update." The Verge reports: Google uses the information it has learned about you over the years alongside your location to custom-build a series of short news updates from partners from which it has licensed audio. It hopes to foster an ecosystem it's calling "the audio web," according to Liz Gannes, Google's product manager of audio news. These aren't podcasts so much as news bites, similar to the hourly news updates that can be heard on the radio. Your News Update replaces the current way of getting news updates from Assistant, which consists of a straightforward list of news sources. With that system, you have to choose which sources you want and what order they're played in. Before, you would have had to ask for the news and hear the hourly update from NPR, then The Daily from The New York Times, then CNN (or whichever news sources you chose). Now, you will hear individual, topic-specific news bites from Google's news partners. And instead of it cycling hourly or daily, it will play based on those topics. Google says that once Your News Update goes live, users will be able to choose between either the new system or the original one.

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Cops Put GPS Tracker On Man's Car, Charge Him With Theft For Removing It

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 22:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Back in 2012, the US Supreme Court ruled that it's illegal for the police to attach a GPS tracking device to someone's car without a warrant. But what if you find a GPS tracking device on your car? Can you remove it? A little more than a year ago, the state of Indiana charged a suspected drug dealer [Derek Heuring] with theft for removing a government-owned GPS tracking device from his SUV. This month, the state's Supreme Court began considering the case, and some justices seemed skeptical of the government's argument. "I'm really struggling with how is that theft," said Justice Steven David during recent oral arguments. At trial, Heuring's legal team argued that the search had been illegal because the police didn't have probable cause to believe their client had committed theft. The defense pointed out that the device could have fallen off the car by accident or simply malfunctioned. Even if Heuring did take the device off the vehicle, he couldn't have known for sure that it belonged to the government. It wasn't exactly labeled as the property of the Warrick County Sheriff's Office. Most important, it's not clear that taking an unwanted device off your car is theft -- even if you know who it belongs to. With the case now at the state Supreme Court, the stakes are high. If Heuring can show that the police lacked probable cause to search his house, he could get all of the evidence gathered in the search thrown out -- not only evidence of GPS device theft, but evidence of drug dealing, too. In July, an appellate court ruled against Heuring, "leading to the case reaching the Indiana Supreme Court earlier this month," the report says. "Initially, multiple justices seemed skeptical of the idea that taking a tracking device off your own car amounted to theft." "If somebody wants to find me to do harm to me and it's not the police and they put a tracking device on my car and I find a tracking device and I dispose of it after stomping on it 25 times, I would hope they would not be able to go to a local prosecutor and somehow I'm getting charges filed against me for destroying someone else's property," Justice David said.

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Senators Ask Zuckerberg To Explain Why Facebook Still Tracks Users' Location Even When They Have Asked it Not To

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 22:10
Two senators are asking Facebook to "respect" users' decisions to keep their location data from the company. From a report: In a letter sent Tuesday, Sen. Josh Hawley, R-Mo., and Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., asked Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to respond to questions about how the company collects location data through the new operating systems for Apple's iPhones and Google's Android. Both Google and Apple updated their operating systems earlier this year to give users more control and insight into which apps can access their location data. Anticipating those changes, Facebook released a blog post in September explaining that even if users opt out of letting Facebook collect their data, it could still determine users' locations in other ways, like through check-ins and users' internet connections. "If a user has decided to limit Facebook's access to his or her location, Facebook should respect these privacy choices," the senators, members of the Judiciary Committee, wrote in the letter to Zuckerberg. "The language in the blog post, however, indicates that Facebook may continue to collect location data despite user preferences, even if the user is not engaging with the app, and Facebook is simply deducing the user's location from information about his or her internet connection. Given that most mobile devices are connected to the internet nearly all the time, whether through a cellular network or a Wi-Fi connection, this practice would allow Facebook to collect user location data almost constantly, irrespective of the user's privacy preferences. Users who have selected a restrictive location services option could reasonably be under the misimpression that their selection limits all of Facebook's efforts to extract location information."

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Mozilla expands bug bounty program and triples payouts for flaw finders for hire

TheRegister - Tue, 2019-11-19 21:56
But the big money's in Huawei's new (invite only) program

Mozilla has decided to celebrate the 15th anniversary of its Firefox browser by expanding its bug bounty program to cover a range of new sites and services and - get this - triple its maximum payout.…

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The Flat-Earth Conspiracy Continues To Spread Around the Globe

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 21:30
An anonymous reader shares a report: "I don't want to be a flat Earther," David Weiss says, his voice weary as he reflects on his personal awakening. "Would you wake up in the morning and want everyone to think you're an idiot?" But Weiss is a flat Earther. Ever since he tried and failed to find proof of the Earth's curve four years ago, he's believed with an evident passion that our planet is both flat and stationary -- and it's turned his world upside down. [...] People in every pocket of this spherical planet are rejecting science and spreading the word that the Earth is flat. There's no clear study indicating how many people have been convinced -- and flat Earthers like Weiss will tell you without evidence there are millions more in the closet anyway, including Hollywood A-listers and commercial airline pilots -- but online communities have hundreds of thousands of followers and YouTube is inundated with flat-Earth content creators, whose productions reach millions. A YouGov survey of more than 8,000 American adults suggested last year that as many as one in six Americans are not entirely certain the world is round, while a 2019 Datafolha Institute survey of more than 2,000 Brazilian adults indicated that 7% of people in that country reject that concept, according to local media. The flat-Earth community has its own celebrities, music, merchandise -- and a weighty catalog of pseudo-scientific theories. It's been the subject of a Netflix documentary and has been endorsed by figures including the rapper B.o.B. Each year, more flat-Earth events fill the calendar, organizers say.

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Xiaomi Integrates Earthquake Alert System Into MIUI OS

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 20:50
Xiaomi today unveiled a new iteration of its virtual assistant Xiao Ai and shared a new feature of Android-based MIUI operating system as the publicly listed Chinese technology group pushes to expand its internet services ecosystem. From a report: At its annual Mi Developer conference in Beijing, the company said it is integrating an earthquake warning function into MIUI for select users in China, with plans to expand it nationwide soon. The integration, touted as the first of its kind globally, will enable alerts to be sent to smartphones running MIUI 11 and Mi TV "seconds to tens of seconds" before the quake waves arrive, Xiaomi said. The feature, which was first tested in September this year, has been developed in partnership with Institute of Care-life, a Chengdu-based organization focusing on natural disaster warning. Xiaomi said it has activated the feature for the earthquake-prone Sichuan Province and plans to expand it elsewhere in the nation soon. Wang Tun, head of the institute, said this function, unlike those available through apps in some countries, works more efficiently and does not rely on a working internet connection.

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Magic Leap’s CFO and creative director quit, and it's not a harbinger of doom or anything

TheRegister - Tue, 2019-11-19 20:17
'Magic Leap has moved from being an IF company to a WHEN company,' claims outgoing director

Augmented reality hype-machine Magic Leap has lost its chief financial officer (CFO) and creative director, putting yet more question marks over the company’s future.…

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Antivirus Vendors and Non-Profits Join To Form 'Coalition Against Stalkerware'

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 20:10
Ten organizations today announced the creation of the Coalition Against Stalkerware, the first global initiative of its kind, with the sole purpose of fighting against stalkerware. From a report: Also known as spouseware, stalkerware is a smaller category of the spyware class. Stalkerware refers to apps that abusive partners install on the devices of their loved ones without their knowledge or consent. They contain features that allow the abuser to track their significant other's geographical location, web browsing habits, social media activity, log keystrokes inside instant messaging apps, retrieve photos, or even record audio and video without the owner's knowledge. Stalkerware apps are available for both mobile and desktop operating systems and are often sold commercially under the guise of child trackers, pet trackers, phone-finding apps, remote access toolkits, and so on. This kind of apps live in a gray area of the current app ecosystem where they can be used for both legitimate and criminal purposes, giving app makers an easy excuse when confronted with abuse reports from victims -- albeit some apps are more blatant and advertise themselves as a way to catch cheating girlfriends, although, these cases are rare.

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Shopped online at Macy's last month? Might want to toss, or at least check, that card

TheRegister - Tue, 2019-11-19 19:50
Magecart making like difficult yet again for shopping website

US retailer Macy's says that hackers planted a card-stealing malware script on its site and harvested customer details for eight days last month.…

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Secretive Energy Startup Backed By Bill Gates Achieves Solar Breakthrough

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 19:10
A secretive startup backed by Bill Gates has achieved a solar breakthrough aimed at saving the planet. From a report: Heliogen, a clean energy company that emerged from stealth mode on Tuesday, said it has discovered a way to use artificial intelligence and a field of mirrors to reflect so much sunlight that it generates extreme heat above 1,000 degrees Celsius. Essentially, Heliogen created a solar oven -- one capable of reaching temperatures that are roughly a quarter of what you'd find on the surface of the sun. The breakthrough means that, for the first time, concentrated solar energy can be used to create the extreme heat required to make cement, steel, glass and other industrial processes. In other words, carbon-free sunlight can replace fossil fuels in a heavy carbon-emitting corner of the economy that has been untouched by the clean energy revolution. "We are rolling out technology that can beat the price of fossil fuels and also not make the CO2 emissions," Bill Gross, Heliogen's founder and CEO, told CNN Business. "And that's really the holy grail."

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Brexit bad boy Arron Banks' Twitter account hacked: Private messages put online

TheRegister - Tue, 2019-11-19 19:07
And the fake news merry-go-round is already in full swing

Brexit-supporting businessman Arron Banks has had his Twitter account hijacked and his private messages dumped online by person or persons unknown – and random script kiddies are trying to claim the credit for it.…

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Google and Samsung Fix Android Spying Flaw. Other Makers May Still Be Vulnerable

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 18:50
Until recently, weaknesses in Android camera apps from Google and Samsung made it possible for rogue apps to record video and audio and take images and then upload them to an attacker-controlled server -- without any permissions to do so. Camera apps from other manufacturers may still be susceptible. From a report: The weakness, which was discovered by researchers from security firm Checkmarx, represented a potential privacy risk to high-value targets, such as those preyed upon by nation-sponsored spies. Google carefully designed its Android operating system to bar apps from accessing cameras and microphones without explicit permission from end users. An investigation published Tuesday showed it was trivial to bypass those restrictions. The investigation found that an app needed no permissions at all to cause the camera to shoot pictures and record video and audio. To upload the images and video -- or any other image and video stored on the phone -- to an attacker-controlled server, an app needed only permission to access storage, which is among one of the most commonly given usage rights. The weakness, which is tracked as CVE-2019-2234, also allowed would-be attackers to track the physical location of the device, assuming GPS data was embedded into images or videos. Google closed the eavesdropping hole in its Pixel line of devices with a camera update that became available in July. Checkmarx said Samsung has also fixed the vulnerability, although it wasn't clear when that happened. Checkmarx said Google has indicated that Android phones from other manufacturers may also be vulnerable. The specific makers and models haven't been disclosed.

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People Are Having Sex With 3D Avatars of Their Exes and Celebrities

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 18:10
samleecole writes: Using a photograph to algorithmically generate a person's face and some 3D-rendered body parts, anyone can make a realistic avatar of someone who is walking around in real life. Import the avatar into another program, and you can have sex with them in virtual reality, without the real person ever giving consent. On forums like Reddit, marketplaces like Patreon, and on standalone websites, communities of anonymous users are making and selling computer-generated likenesses of celebrities and other real people. The 3D models that emerge from these communities can be articulated into any position, animated, modified, interacted with in real time, and manipulated in ways that defy the constraints of physical reality. Like deepfake videos traded online, the technology to create photorealistic 3D models of real people is rapidly approaching -- and it's getting easier for the average user to access those tools and programs. Rendering a realistic human is a process which historically required the specialized technical knowledge of teams of artists in game and special effects studios. Those studios, traditionally, have to obtain the rights to use someone's likeness before rendering them, but many hobbyists seemingly make avatars of anyone, with or without their consent.

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Google Stadia Review: Gaming's Streaming Future Isn't Here Yet

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 17:30
Scott Stein, reviews Google Stadia cloud gaming service for CNET: Stadia's launch day was earlier this week... sort of. Really, consider this the start of Stadia's early-access beta period. Because Google's big promises haven't arrived, and at the price of the Stadia's Founder's Edition, I can't recommend anyone jump onboard at the moment. Google's experimental game streaming service, Stadia, launches without many of its promised features, and just a handful of games. It works, but there's not much incentive to buy in. We've heard about the promises of streaming games over the internet for a decade. Stadia really does work as a way to stream games. I've only played a couple of the 12 games Google promised by Tuesday's launch, though. That short list pales compared to what Microsoft already has on tap for its in-beta game-streaming service, xCloud. It's no match for what Nvidia's game streaming GeForce Now already has or what PlayStation Now offers. Prices of Stadia games at launch in the US are below. They're basically full retail game prices. This could get crazy expensive fast. [...] Stadia has so few games right now, and I'm trying them with no one else online. It isn't clear how things will work now that the service is going live, and what other features will kick in before year's end. I'm curious, but I might lose interest. Others might, too. I have plenty of other great games to play right now: on Apple Arcade, VR and consoles such as the Switch. Stadia isn't delivering new games yet, it's just trying to deliver a new way to play through streaming. One that you can already get from other providers. Until Google finds a way to loop in YouTube and develop truly unique competitive large-scale games, Stadia isn't worth your time yet. Yes, the future is possibly wild, and you can see hints of the streaming-only cloud-based playground Stadia wants to become. But we'll see what it shapes into over the next handful of months and check back in. Raymond Wong, writing for Input Mag looks at the amount of data playing a game on Stadia consumes and how the current state of things require a very fast internet connection to work: Like streaming video, streaming games is entirely dependent on your internet speed. Faster internet delivers smooth, lag-free visuals, and slower internet means seeing some glitches and dropped framerates. Google recommends a minimum of connection of 10Mbps for 1080p Full HD streaming at 30 fps with stereo sound and 35Mbps for 4K resolution streaming (in HDR if display is supported) at 60 fps with 5.1 surround sound. Reality didn't reflect Google's advertising, though. Despite having a Wi-Fi connection with 16-20Mbps downloads in a hotel room in LA, streaming Shadow of the Tomb Raider and Destiny 2 to my 13-inch MacBook Pro wasn't 100% stable. The visuals would glitch out for a second or two about every 10 minutes of playtime. [...] A fast internet connection isn't the only thing you need for Stadia to work right. You need a lot of bandwidth, too. One hour of playing Red Dead Redemption 2 at 1080p resolution on my 46-inch HDTV via a Chromecast Ultra ate up 5.3GB of data. This seemed insane until I saw an hour of Destiny 2 on a Pixel 3a XL with 6-inch, 1080p-resolution display gobbled up 9.3GB of data!

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Watchmen Creator Alan Moore: Modern Superhero Culture is Embarrassing

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 16:50
Is it embarrassing for adults to like superheroes? According to Alan Moore -- creator of the Watchmen series and widely considered one of the greatest comic book writers -- it is. From a report: He says superheroes are perfectly fine for 12 or 13-year-olds but adults should think again. "I think the impact of superheroes on popular culture is both tremendously embarrassing and not a little worrying," he says. Alan wrote Watchmen in 1986. The series depicts an alternate history where superheroes emerged in the 1940s and 1960s and their presence changed the course of history. He believes the characters are "perfectly suited" to the imaginations of a younger audience - but now, they serve a "different function, and are fulfilling different needs." The writer claims adults enjoy superhero films because they don't wish to leave their "relatively reassuring childhoods" behind, or move into the 21st century.

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'Big Bang': Great for creating the universe, but not as an approach to IT migration, TSB told

TheRegister - Tue, 2019-11-19 16:45
Poor testing and supplier oversight to blame for 'unprecedented' cockup

TSB's disastrous migration of its core banking data and payment records of five million customers has today been slammed by an independent report from London City law firm Slaughter and May.…

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Some Fitbit Users Say They're Getting Rid of the Devices Because They Don't Trust Google

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 16:11
The trend of people throwing or threatening to throw out their Fitbit devices comes as Google faces a perception problem that has spanned everyday users and regulators alike. From a report: The company has paid data privacy fines in the EU and made recent strides into the stringently regulated healthcare industry, which has caused the public to re-think seemingly harmless tools. Privacy groups this week began pushing regulators to block the Fitbit acquisition, which the company originally hoped to close in early 2020. Google didn't respond to requests for comment. "I only recently got it and now I'm thinking I don't need Google watching literally my every step or my every heart beat," said Dan Kleinman, who said he is getting rid of his Fitbit Versa. Some people cited Google's 2014 acquisition of Nest Labs, which, at the time consisted of smart home thermostats. Since then, the company has tied Nest's technology, branding and device accounts to its digital assistant and smart speakers. Twitter users have been tweeting about their plans to get rid of their devices upon hearing of the acquisition.

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AWS shoves Java 11 support into Lambda serverless toy box

TheRegister - Tue, 2019-11-19 16:07
As well as managed nodes for K8s and new FireLens container logging service

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has hauled in Java 11 support to its Lambda serverless platform, along with other upgrades and a new service for container log management.…

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India Says Law Permits Agencies To Snoop on Citizens' Devices

Slashdot - Tue, 2019-11-19 15:27
The Indian government said on Tuesday that it is "empowered" to intercept, monitor, or decrypt any digital communication "generated, transmitted, received, or stored" on a citizen's device in the country in the interest of national security or to maintain friendly relations with foreign states. From a report: Citing section 69 of the Information Technology Act, 2000, and section 5 of the Telegraph Act, 1885, Minister of State for Home Affairs G. Kishan Reddy said local law empowers federal and state government to "intercept, monitor or decrypt or cause to be intercepted or monitored or decrypted any information generated, transmitted, received or stored in any computer resource in the interest of the sovereignty or integrity of India, the security of the state, friendly relations with foreign states or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above or for investigation of any offence." Reddy's remarks were in response to the parliament, where a lawmaker had asked if the government had snooped on citizens' WhatsApp, Messenger, Viber, and Google calls and messages.

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Second time lucky: Sweden drops Julian Assange rape investigation

TheRegister - Tue, 2019-11-19 15:21
US Dept of Justice books one-way plane ticket in his name

A rape investigation involving everyone's favourite cupboard-dwelling WikiLeaker, Julian Assange, has been dropped, Swedish prosecutors told the world's press today.…

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