News for nerds, stuff that mattersUpdated: 2 hours 1 min agoTue, 2016-05-24 22:30HughPickens.com writes: Ron Nixon reports at the NYT that facing a backlash over long security lines and management problems, TSA administrator Peter V. Neffenger has shaken up his leadership team, replacing the agency's top security official Kelly Hoggan (Warning: source may be paywalled) and adding a new group of administrators at Chicago O'Hare International Airport. Beginning late that year, Hoggan received $90,000 in bonuses over a 13-month period, even though a leaked report from the Department of Homeland Security showed that auditors were able to get fake weapons and explosives past security screeners 95 percent of the time in 70 covert tests. Hoggan's bonus was paid out in $10,000 increments, an arrangement that members of Congress have said was intended to disguise the payments. During a hearing of the House Oversight Committee two weeks ago, lawmakers grilled Mr. Neffenger about the bonus, which was issued before he joined the agency in July. Last week and over the weekend, hundreds of passengers, including 450 on American Airlines alone, missed flights because of waits of two or three hours in security lines, according to local news reports. Many of the passengers had to spend the night in the terminal sleeping on cots. The TSA has sent 58 additional security officers and four more bomb-sniffing dog teams to O'Hare. Several current and former TSA employees said the moves to replace Hoggan and add the new officials in Chicago, where passengers have endured hours long waits at security checkpoints, were insufficient. "The timing of this decision is too late to make a real difference for the summer," says Andrew Rhoades, an assistant federal security director at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport who testified his supervisor accused him of "going native" after attending a meeting at a local mosque and that TSA's alleged practice of "directed reassignments," or unwanted job transfers were intended to punish employees who speak their minds. "Neffenger is only doing this because the media and Congress are making him look bad."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 20:50An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Toyota and Uber are forming a "strategic partnership" which will include an investment by the Japanese automaker in the San Francisco-based ride-sharing company. Under the agreement, Uber drivers can lease their vehicles from Toyota and cover their payments through earnings generated as Uber drivers. Toyota says it will invest an undisclosed sum in Uber, which is already the most valuable technology startup in the world. A partnership between Toyota and Uber could help the ride-sharing company solve a lingering question surrounding its self-driving ambitions, namely where its going to get a fleet of cars to equip with its autonomous technology. Toyota, which is the world's largest car manufacturer, is taking self-driving technology very seriously. It recently established the Toyota Research Institute to develop AI technologies in two main areas: autonomous cars and robot helpers for around the home. Last month, Google, Ford, Volvo, Lyft and Uber joined a coalition to help spur the development of self-driving cars, ultimately to make them arrive to the market faster. Meanwhile, Apple made an investment in Uber's Chinese rival Didi.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 20:07An anonymous reader quotes a report from BGR: According to a new report from The Information, Apple is finally ready to let Siri grow up. Specifically, the publication relays that Apple will finally offer official Siri APIs to developers, thus paving the way for third-party integrations, the kind that Amazon Echo users can't seem to get enough of. Things like ordering an Uber or pizza are currently impossible, because Siri is locked down by Apple. What's more, Apple is also reportedly working on a standalone device meant to compete with the Amazon Echo and Google's recently unveiled Google Home. If that's true, it's huge news -- Apple has been lacking any kind of smart home hub until now, but a Siri-powered device would be a serious play to get Apple into our homes. Google is the latest tech giant to announce a virtual home assistant. It unveiled Google Home, a small round gadget with microphones and speakers that listen and respond to your questions and commands.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 19:23SkinnyGuy writes: The reflective display company finally figured out how to make those ultra tiny balls produce 32,000 colors in one super-low-powered display. It's a breakthrough for E Ink, display advertising and, maybe someday, e-readers and digital photo frames. The new prototype display, which can be manufactured in an array of sizes, features a 20-inch, 2500 x 1600 resolution and is equally as power-efficient as the monochromatic display. E Ink Holding's Head of Global marketing Giovanni Mancini said it can be powered with solar cells used in bus stop signage, for example. Some of the limitations center around the resolution and refresh rate. As of right now, the resolution is only 150 pixels per inch (ppi), which is about half the resolution of a typical 6-inch, monochromatic E ink display. It also takes about two seconds to fully resolve images, which is pretty slow when compared to today's e-readers. The company is currently only focused on using the new color display for commercial signage.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 17:57An anonymous reader writes from a report via Quartz: A report released May 24 by Gigya surveyed 4,000 adults in the U.S. and U.K. and found that 18- to 34-year-olds are more likely to use bad passwords and report their online accounts being compromised. The majority of respondents ages 51 to 69 say they completely steer away from easily cracked passwords like "password," "1234," or birthdays, while two-thirds of those in the 18-to-34 age bracket were caught using those kind of terms. Quartz writes, "The diligence of the older group could help explain why 82% of respondents in this age range did not report having had any of their online accounts compromised in the past year. In contrast, 35% of respondents between 18 and 34 said at least one of their accounts was hacked within the last 12 months, twice the rate of those aged 51 to 69."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 17:13An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Microsoft said Tuesday it had awarded grants to 12 businesses as part of the company's Affordable Access Initiative, part of the software giant's effort to encourage low-cost Internet around the world. Grant recipients include businesses from Argentina, Botswana, India, Indonesia, Malawi, Nigeria, Philippines, Rwanda, Uganda, the UK and the US. In addition to financial support, each company will have access to Microsoft resources, software and services to help them develop their technology. "With more than half of the world's population lacking access to the Internet, connectivity is a global challenge that demands creative problem solving," Peggy Johnson, executive vice president of business development, said in a press release. "By using technology that's available now and partnering with local entrepreneurs who understand the needs of their communities, our hope is to create sustainable solutions that will not only have impact today but also in the years to come." Google and Facebook are also working on bringing affordable Internet access around the world. Google has plans to broadcast Internet from hot air balloons via Project Loon, while Facebook plans to beam Internet down to earth from drones.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 16:30jones_supa writes: Investigators in France have raided Google's Paris headquarters amid a probe over the company's tax payments, Reuters reports. The French Finance Ministry is investigating $1.8 billion in back taxes. According to a report in French daily Le Parisien, at least 100 investigators are part of the raid at Google's offices. A source close to the finance ministry said that the raid at Google's offices has been ongoing on Tuesday since 03:00 GMT. In February, a source at the French Finance Ministry told Reuters that the government was seeking the $1.8 billion from Google. At the time, official spokespeople for Google France and the Finance Ministry refused to comment on the situation. Google could face up to a $11.14 million fine if it is found guilty, or a fine of half of the value of the laundered amount involved. In April, the EU revealed plans to force multinationals such as Google, Amazon and Facebook to disclose exactly where and how much tax they pay across the continent. A new clause was added since the Panama Papers leak requiring the companies to report how much money they make in so-called "tax havens."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 15:45Danny Sullivan, reporting for Search Engine Land: How many searches per year happen on Google? After nearly four years, the company has finally released an updated figure today of "trillions" per year. How many trillions, exactly, Google wouldn't say. Consider two trillion the starting point. Google did confirm to Search Engine Land that because it said it handles "trillions" of searches per year worldwide, the figure could be safely assumed to be two trillion or above. Is it more than two trillion? Google could be doing five trillion searches per year. Or 10 trillion. Or 100 trillion. Or presumably up to 999 trillion, because if it were 1,000 trillion, you'd expect Google would announce that it does a quadrillion searches per year.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 15:15Researchers at the University of California, Davis are working on creating half-human, half-animal hybrid embryos dubbed chimeras to better understand diseases and its progression. But not everybody is thrilled about it. IBTimes reports: One of the aims of the experiment using chimeras is to create farm animals with human organs. The body parts could then be harvested and transplanted into very sick people. However, a number of bioethicists and scientists frown on the creation of interspecies embryos which they believe crosses the line. New York Medical College Professor of Cell Biology and Anatomy Stuart Newman calls the use of chimeras as entering unsettling ground which damages "our sense of humanity." They are not alone in voicing their opinion against the idea. Huffington Post adds: The project is so controversial that the National Institutes of Health has refused to fund it. The researchers are relying on private donors. Critics of these experiments say they are too risky because there is no way of knowing where the human stem cells will go. Will they just become a pancreas? Or could they become a brain? And if they become a brain, will the pigs who house them have human consciousness?
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 14:45Don Reisinger, reporting for Fortune: Apple won't be competing with its carrier partners anytime soon. Speaking at Startup Fest Europe in Amsterdam during an interview on Tuesday, Apple CEO Tim Cook squashed rumors that his company is planning to eventually get into the cellular market to compete with the likes of AT&T and Verizon. "Our expertise doesn't extend to the network," Cook said. "We've worked with AT&T in the U.S., O2 in the U.K., as well as T-Mobile and Orange, and we expanded as we learned more. But generally, the things Apple likes to do, are things we can do globally. We don't have the network skill. We'll do some things along the way with e-SIMs along the way, but in general, I like the things carriers do."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 14:15An anonymous reader cites an article on Ars Technica: FBI officials are warning private industry partners to be on the lookout for highly stealthy keystroke loggers that surreptitiously sniff passwords and other input typed into wireless keyboards. The FBI's Private Industry Notification (PDF) comes more than 15 months after whitehat hacker Samy Kamkar released a KeySweeper, a proof-of-concept attack platform that covertly logged and decrypted keystrokes from many Microsoft-branded wireless keyboards and transmitted the data over cellular networks. To lower the chances that the sniffing device might be discovered by a target, Kamkar designed it to look almost identical to USB phone chargers that are nearly ubiquitous in homes and offices."If placed strategically in an office or other location where individuals might use wireless devices, a malicious cyber actor could potentially harvest personally identifiable information, intellectual property, trade secrets, passwords, or other sensitive information," FBI officials wrote in last month's advisory. "Since the data is intercepted prior to reaching the CPU, security managers may not have insight into how sensitive information is being stolen."
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 13:30An anonymous reader shares a report on The Guardian: Facebook has apologized for banning a photo of a plus-sized model and telling the feminist group that posted the image that it depicts "body parts in an undesirable manner". Cherchez la Femme, an Australian group that hosts popular culture talkshows with "an unapologetically feminist angle", said Facebook rejected an advert featuring Tess Holliday, a plus-sized model wearing a bikini, telling the group it violated the company's "ad guidelines". After the group appealed against the rejection, Facebook's ad team initially defended the decision, writing that the photo failed to comply with the social networking site's "health and fitness policy". "Ads may not depict a state of health or body weight as being perfect or extremely undesirable," Facebook wrote. "Ads like these are not allowed since they make viewers feel bad about themselves. Instead, we recommend using an image of a relevant activity, such as running or riding a bike." In a statement on Monday, Facebook apologized for its original stance and said it had determined that the photo does comply with its guidelines.Facebook said that its team scans millions of ad images every week, and sometimes understandably misses out on a few.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 12:50An anonymous reader writes: Huawei said on Wednesday it has filed lawsuits against Samsung claiming infringement of smartphone patents, in the first such case by the Chinese firm against the world's biggest mobile maker. Huawei has filed lawsuits in the United States and China seeking compensation for what it said was unlicensed use of fourth-generation (4G) cellular communications technology, operating systems and user interface software in Samsung phones. The lawsuit marks a reversal of roles in China where firms have often been on the receiving end of patent infringement disputes. In smartphones, makers have grown rapidly in recent years but different intellectual property laws outside of China have slowed overseas expansion. "We hope Samsung will ... stop infringing our patents and get the necessary license from Huawei, and work together with Huawei to jointly drive the industry forward," Ding Jianxing, president of Huawei's Intellectual Property Rights Department, said.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 12:05Reader Raging Bool writes: In a move guaranteed to annoy many people, Microsoft has "jumped the shark" on encouraging users to upgrade to Windows 10. Microsoft has faced criticism for changing the pop-up box encouraging Windows users to upgrade to Windows 10. Clicking the red cross on the right hand corner of the pop-up box now activates the upgrade instead of closing the box. And this has caused confusion as typically clicking a red cross closes a pop-up notification. The upgrade could still be cancelled, when the scheduled time for it to begin appeared, Microsoft said The change occurred because the update is now labelled "recommended" and many people have their PCs configured to accept recommended updates for security reasons. This means dismissing the box does not dismiss the update.Brad Chacos, senior editor at the PC World wrote about this incident over the weekend, and described it as a "nasty trick".
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 11:15Pebble on Tuesday unveiled its latest line of wearable devices. The company announced the Pebble 2 -- a sleeker successor to the company's four-year-old Pebble watch -- and the Pebble Time 2, which comes with a large colour display and steel frame. Both the devices are up on Kickstarter, and scheduled to be shipped later this year. The company also announced the Pebble Core, a square-shaped timepiece which supports 3G, GPS, and Bluetooth connections and lets users stream music using Spotify and make emergency calls without the need of a smartphone. The Pebble 2 and the Pebble Time 2 come equipped with heart-rate sensors, a feature that was missing from the earlier Pebble smartwatches. The Pebble Core runs Android 5.0 Lollipop, and also has a 4GB storage which users can use when they don't have a flash drive in handy. The Pebble 2 is priced at $99, whereas the Pebble Time 2 will cost you $169. The Pebble Core is priced at $69. Pebble's new devices will be up on Kickstarter for 36 days, should you feel the urge to support the company. However, it is worth noting that in within hours, Pebble has received more money than it had asked for.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 10:30Karl Bode, reporting for DSLReports (edited for clarity): Just a reminder to AT&T customers: the company's usage caps on U-Verse broadband connections is now in effect. When AT&T originally announced broadband caps on fixed-line connections back in 2011, it capped DSL customers at 150 GB per month and U-Verse customers at 250 GB per month. But while the DSL customer cap was enforced (by and large because AT&T wants these users to migrate to wireless anyway), AT&T didn't enforce caps for its U-Verse customers. Until now, anyway. Back in March AT&T announced it would begin enforcing usage caps on all connections starting May 23. As of today, U-Verse customers face different caps depending on their speed tier. AT&T says customers on U-Verse tiers with speeds between 768 Kbps and 6 Mbps will now face a 300 GB cap; customers on U-Verse tiers of speeds between 12 Mbps and 75Mbps will see a 600 GB cap, and customers on speeds between 100 Mbps and 1 Gbps will see a cap of 1 terabyte. Users who exceed these caps in any given month will automatically have to pay for 50 GB of additional data for $10 each.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 09:50An anonymous reader writes: Apple, Microsoft, and Google are the top three cash-rich U.S. companies across all sectors of business, not including banks and other financial institutions -- holding a combined $391 billion in cash as of the end of 2015, or more than 23 percent of the entire $1.68 trillion held by the nation's non-financial corporations. Apple leads the pack with $215.7 billion in cash, followed by Microsoft at $102.6 billion, and Google at $73.1 billion. The numbers are documented in a new report from Moody's Investors Service that shows an unprecedented concentration of cash in the tech sector. For the first time, the top five companies on the Moody's cash ranking are tech companies, with Cisco and Oracle following Apple, Microsoft, and Google. Technology companies overall held $777 billion in cash, or 46 percent of the total cash across all non-financial industries.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 09:10Apple plans to refresh its MacBook Pro line later this year. The makeover will see both 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models replace their function keys atop laptop keyboards with an OLED touch bar, according to a report. Both the models will also have Touch ID fingerprint sensor, and will support Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port, multiple outlets are reporting citing ever-so-reliable KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. The refreshed MacBook Pro model will be thinner and lighter as well. There's no word on if -- and when -- the MacBook Air lineup will receive a refresh.
Read more of this story at Slashdot.Tue, 2016-05-24 08:00HughPickens.com writes: Discovery News reports that dirty laundry smells bad because of certain chemicals called volatile organic compounds, which can't always be washed out on an eco-friendly 20C cycle. Researchers identified six volatile organic compounds (VOCs) on dirty t-shirts and socks. "The need to conserve the environment by reducing the wash temperature and the use of biodegradable washing products have grown in importance in the new millennium, making this type of research more high profile," says Professor John Dean. The researchers gave 6 men and two women a new pair of socks. They asked the volunteers to wash their feet with tap water and dry them before wearing the socks for at least 10 hours in a specified type of shoe. They then put each sock into a separate sample bag and stored them in the dark overnight. The researchers graded each sock and t-shirt on a scale of 0 (no malodor) to 10 (malodorous) by smelling them. To determine the chemicals present, samples were taken from each one. Items were then washed on a cold cycle using unscented detergent, and resampled before they were dried, at which point researchers took one final series of specimens. Following a method called static headspace-multi-capillary column-gas chromatography-ion mobility spectrometry (SHS-MCC-GC-IMS), six main VOCs were identified as the main culprits behind smelly clothing. Each one left its own scented signature. Butyric acid, for example, produced a rancid butter-like odor, while 2-heptanone created a banana-like fruity smell. "The work is fascinating as it links an everyday event -- the washing of clothes -- with cutting-edge research," says Dean. "In this particular research project we applied a new and innovative analytical technique for the detection of volatile compounds found in laundry items. We hope this provides a way of analyzing the effectiveness of different washing techniques."
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