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Updated: 2 hours 15 min ago

Researchers Find That Filters Don't Prevent Porn

13 July 2018 - 6:00pm
According to a new paper from Oxford Internet Institute researchers Victoria Nash and Andrew Przybylski, internet filters rarely work to keep adolescents away from online porn. Basically, the filters are expensive and they don't work. "Internet filtering tools are expensive to develop and maintain, and can easily 'underblock' due to the constant development of new ways of sharing content. Additionally, there are concerns about human rights violations -- filtering can lead to 'overblocking', where young people are not able to access legitimate health and relationship information." TechCrunch reports: The researchers "found that Internet filtering tools are ineffective and in most cases [and] were an insignificant factor in whether young people had seen explicit sexual content." The study's most interesting finding was that between 17 and 77 households "would need to use Internet filtering tools in order to prevent a single young person from accessing sexual content" and even then a filter "showed no statistically or practically significant protective effects." The study looked at 9,352 male and 9,357 female subjects from the EU and the UK and found that almost 50 percent of the subjects had some sort of Internet filter at home. Regardless of the filters installed, subjects still saw approximately the same amount of porn.

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Chinese Police Bust World Cup Gambling Ring With More Than $1 Billion In Cryptocurrency

13 July 2018 - 5:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Chinese authorities have arrested six suspects behind a World Cup gambling ring that was hosting more than 10 billion yuan -- or $1.5 billion USD -- worth of cryptocurrency bets, according to a statement released yesterday by the police department in Guangdong province. The gambling syndicate ran on the dark web, accepting bets in the form of bitcoin, ethereum, and litecoin for an eight-month stretch before being apprehended. It attracted more than 300,000 players from different countries, and 8,000 "agents" who earned commissions for recruiting new members through a pyramid scheme-like system, according to the South China Morning Post. The bust that took down the dark web syndicate was a part of China's larger plans to stem the criminal activity -- though this was the first to involve cryptocurrency, according to Guangdong law enforcement. Thus far, they've arrested 540 suspects and frozen more than 260 million yuan as a part of their efforts.

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Alaska's Last Two Blockbusters Are Closing, Leaving Just One In the US

13 July 2018 - 4:40pm
According to Anchorage Daily News, the two remaining Blockbuster stores in Alaska are set to close, leaving just one location left in the United States. The last one standing in the U.S. is in Bend, Oregon. From the report: The stores, one on DeBarr Road in Anchorage and the other in Fairbanks, will close Monday for rental business, a post on the Facebook page for Blockbuster in Alaska said Thursday afternoon. They will reopen at noon Tuesday for an inventory sales that will run through July and August. Thursday's news follows a smattering of other recent Blockbuster closures across the state, which had 13 Blockbusters in 2013 and was down to nine stores by 2016. As Blockbuster stores disappeared from most of the Lower 48 in recent years, the brand long managed to persist in Alaska. Some have said expensive internet here is one reason why. The stores have also been a destination for some who visit just for the nostalgia.

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Compromised JavaScript Package Caught Stealing npm Credentials

13 July 2018 - 4:05pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: A hacker gained access to a developer's npm account earlier this week and injected malicious code into a popular JavaScript library, code that was designed to steal the npm credentials of users who utilize the poisoned package inside their projects. The JavaScript (npm) package that got compromised is called eslint-scope, a sub-module of the more famous ESLint, a JavaScript code analysis toolkit. The hack took place on the night between July 11 and 12, according to the results of a preliminary investigation posted on GitHub a few hours ago. "One of our maintainers did observe that a new npm token was generated overnight (said maintainer was asleep)," said Kevin Partington, ESLint project member. Partington believes the hacker used the newly-generated npm token to authenticate and push a new version of the eslint-scope library on the npm repository of JavaScript packages.

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Smart TVs Are Invading Privacy and Should Be Investigated, Senators Say

13 July 2018 - 3:26pm
Earlier this month, The New York Times reported that a number of smart TV makers include services from companies that track a range of viewer information about their customers. Now, two Democratic US senators are asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate privacy problems related to Internet-connected televisions. From a report: "Many Internet-connected smart TVs are equipped with sophisticated technologies that can track the content users are watching and then use that information to tailor and deliver targeted advertisements to consumers," Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) wrote in a letter yesterday to FTC Chairman Joseph Simons. "Regrettably, smart TV users may not be aware of the extent to which their televisions are collecting sensitive information about their viewing habits." The letter asked the FTC to "launch an investigation into the privacy policies and practices of smart TV manufacturers." When contacted by Ars, an FTC spokesperson confirmed that the agency received the letter from Markey and Blumenthal, but the FTC offered no further comment.

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Instagram is Down [Updated]

13 July 2018 - 3:02pm
According to thousands of users, Instagram website and app are facing technical issues. Users attempting to visit the website are seeing a "5xx Server Error", while on the app, they are getting "Couldn't refresh feed." According to DownDetector, a service which monitors outages on the web, more than 2,000 people have reported issues with Facebook-owned Instagram in the last 10 minutes. Update: As of 19:20 GMT, Instagram appears to have resolved the issue.

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Amazon Plans To Challenge Cisco in Networking Market With Much Cheaper Switches, Report Says

13 July 2018 - 2:43pm
Amazon Web Services already dominates the market for cloud services. Now, reports The Information, it is eyeing a part of the cloud business it doesn't already control: the $14 billion global market for data center switches [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled; alternative source]. From the report: AWS is considering selling its own networking switches for business customers -- hardware devices that move traffic around networks, according to a person with direct knowledge of the cloud unit's plans and another person who has been briefed on the project. The plan could plunge Amazon more deeply into the lucrative enterprise computing market, posing a direct challenge to incumbents in the business like Cisco, along with Arista Networks and Juniper Networks. As it does in many other categories, Amazon plans to use price to undercut rivals. The company could price its white-box switches between 70% and 80% less than comparable switches from Cisco, one of the people with knowledge of the program estimated.

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PC Market Sees Its First Growth Quarter in Six Years

13 July 2018 - 2:00pm
From a report: Gartner found PC shipments were up globally in Q2 2018, the first quarter of year-over-year global PC shipment growth since the first quarter of 2012. Gartner estimates that worldwide PC shipments grew 1.4 percent to 62.1 million units in Q2 2018. The top five vendors were Lenovo, HP, Dell, Apple, and Acer. Lenovo in particular saw big gains (its highest growth rate since the first quarter of 2015), although that's largely due in part to the inclusion of units from its joint venture with Fujitsu.

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Microsoft Calls on Congress To Regulate Face Recognition

13 July 2018 - 1:20pm
Addressing a growing concern by privacy advocates and users alike over the usage of facial recognition by government bodies, Microsoft urged the US government on Friday to start thinking about what limits should be set on the use of such technologies. From a report: In a blog post, Microsoft also said it is consulting with outside groups to help set its own policies for how it will use and sell such technology. Face recognition can be used for a range of purposes, from reuniting missing kids to mass surveillance. Currently, there are few rules for those using or selling the technology. "The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself," Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a blog post. "And if there are concerns about how a technology will be deployed more broadly across society, the only way to regulate this broad use is for the government to do so." For its own part, Smith said Microsoft is going to move slowly on commercial use of face recognition while it explores what its own policies should be.

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Special Counsel Mueller Charges 12 Russian Intelligence Officers With Hacking Democrats During 2016 Election

13 July 2018 - 12:30pm
Special counsel Robert Mueller has obtained a new indictment charging 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democrats to interfere with the 2016 presidential election, and with stealing information of about 500,000 American voters, the Justice Department announced Friday. From a report: The indictment lodged in Washington, D.C., accuses the Russian spies of hacking into the Democratic National Committee and the presidential campaign of Hillary Clinton, and of releasing emails obtained from that cybersnooping with a a goal of influencing the election. The accused also hacked into state boards of elections, secretaries of state, and into companies that provided software used to administer elections, according to Deputy Attorney Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein said he briefed President Donald Trump about the case earlier in the week.

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Has Video Refereeing Ruined The World Cup?

13 July 2018 - 12:00pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: This is the first time FIFA, soccer's governing body, has allowed video replay to be used to make penalty calls in a World Cup. And while fans of basketball and American football are used to the referees stopping the game to consult video footage, soccer purists say it's ruining everything. The major complaint is that it's making the matches much longer than the typical 90-minute games. Martin Rogers, a sports columnist for USA Today, says Video Assistant Referee (or VAR) is "slow, clunky and unpredictable." Over the phone from Russia, where he's reporting on the World Cup, he jokes, "I remember back in the day, when if a game kicked off at 3 o'clock in the afternoon, you'd be all wrapped up by 4:45." Rogers says this type of technology works well for American football and basketball. "When you look at the calls that are used for replay, in basketball for example, it's normally factual. It's based on, 'Did a player get a shot off before the clock expired?' It's easy. You know. It's black and white." But soccer, Rogers says, is different. He's referring to one of the most hated and beloved qualities of the game: the endless drama. It's a thespian sport.

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On Silicon Valley Companies' Bet On Boosting Their Userbases in Developing Markets With Dirt-Cheap Phones and Lite Apps

13 July 2018 - 11:21am
As user growth slows in developed markets, Silicon Valley companies are increasingly looking at developing markets such as India for new customers. The playbook of many of these companies is similar: make services work on low-cost devices that are increasingly popular among new users in these nations. Facebook, Microsoft, Uber, Twitter, Google, and Amazon have all released "lite" apps (they usually have fewer features, but are comparatively less resource intensive) for these markets, with some also offering their services as progressive web app (that mimic app-esque behavior on a website, but don't require installation of any special app for access). But how do these apps fare on the low-cost devices? And what is it like to live on a low-cost smartphone? A reporter ditched his iPhone for a $60 Android handset to find out: The phone is, well, basic. It comes with a slow-as-molasses processor, so little memory that I kept having to remove and reinstall apps to keep the thing running, a camera that would have been at home on the first iPhone, a two-year-old version of Android, about a dozen pre-installed Google apps that take up hundreds of megabytes, and a single, measly gigabyte of usable storage. Imagine your favorite Android phone, except with a waaay crappier screen, cameras, storage, and battery to get an idea. What I bumped into immediately after turning on the Bharat 2 for the first time was the lack of storage, and this limitation entirely defined what I used my phone for. I had to start off by uninstalling the pre-installed bloatware before I actually installed any apps, because the first thing I got after switching on the phone was a low storage notification. Slack went out the window because it was too bloated; Outlook, my email app of choice, was too big to install; and pretty much everything else -- banking apps, shopping apps, games, and more -- was a luxury I'd live without. Even Google Maps Go, a lightweight browser version of Google Maps that the company said is "designed to run quickly and smoothly on devices with limited memory," was crippled, allowing me to look up a location only to prompt me to download the full version of Google Maps when I asked for turn-by-turn directions. So I boiled down to the essentials: staying in touch with people, catching up on news, ordering cabs, and watching videos (which went shockingly well, and supports the huge popularity of video here), pretty much the same as the Next Billion. Further reading: Shitphone: A Love Story (2015).

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Adobe To Launch Photoshop for iPad in Strategy Shift

13 July 2018 - 10:40am
Adobe, the maker of popular digital design programs for creatives, is planning to launch the full version of its Photoshop app for Apple's iPad as part of a new strategy to make its products compatible across multiple devices and boost subscription sales. From a report: The software developer is planning to unveil the new app at its annual MAX creative conference in October, according to people with knowledge of the plan. The app is slated to hit the market in 2019. Engineering delays could still alter that timeline. San Jose, California-based Adobe has been on a multiyear journey to modernize its dominant creative media software. The company shifted all of its apps to the cloud in 2012, launching a new subscription-based business model that's on track to more than double sales through the end of this fiscal year and sent the stock soaring more than 700 percent. Recently, Adobe has also begun pitching its products to hobbyists, who prefer working on mobile devices rather than PCs. Still, the company has yet to transition full versions of its best-known apps to smaller screens.

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Apple Partnered With Blackmagic On An External GPU For MacBooks

13 July 2018 - 10:00am
Apple has worked with cinema company Blackmagic on an external GPU based around an AMD Radeon Pro 580 graphics card with 8GB of DDR5 RAM. The Blackmagic eGPU features "an HDMI port, four USB 3.1s and three Thunderbolt 3s, the latter of which makes it unique among these peripherals," reports TechCrunch. From the report: The company says the on-board cooling system operates pretty quietly, which should fit nicely alongside those new, quieter MacBook keyboards. Many developers will no doubt prefer to configure their own, but for those who want an easier solution for playing resource-intensive games or graphics rendering on with a MacBook, this is a fairly simple solution. The [$699] eGPU is available now through Apple's retail channels.

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The FCC Is Changing Up the Country's Emergency Alert System

13 July 2018 - 9:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The FCC announced today that it'll bolster the country's Emergency Alert System to prevent unexpected false alarms, like the one that happened in Hawaii earlier this year. State and local officials will now be able to conduct "live code" tests that'll use the same alert codes and processes that would be required in an actual emergency. The idea is that officials will better learn the system while the public will get used to responding to alerts and know what to expect. Everyone in the area will get a test message, like a real alert. The agency also says that public service announcements about the Emergency Alert System will now be able to use the same alert sounds as an actual emergency. (The alerts will include a disclaimer about what's happening, and officials will have to actually tell people beforehand.) Finally, anyone who uses the emergency system will be required to tell the FCC if it accidentally triggers a false alert.

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You Can Inherit Facebook Content Like a Letter or Diary, German Court Rules

13 July 2018 - 6:00am
A German court ruled Thursday that Facebook content can be passed onto heirs like letters, books, or diaries. The ruling comes after the parents of a teenager who died in 2012 after being hit by a train argued Facebook should allow them to access her account, including her private messages, to determine whether she committed suicide. "This would also help determine whether the driver of the train should be entitled to compensation," notes Quartz. From the report: Currently, Facebook's policy is to "memorialize" an account when the site is informed of someone's death. If a user has a "legacy contact" (here are instructions on how to set one up), Facebook grants them limited access to the user's account, allowing them change the user's profile picture, accept friend requests, or pin posts to the top of the user's profile. They can also ask the platform to delete the account. Recently, Facebook told Quartz, the company revised its policy to allow parents or guardians of minors to become legacy contacts after their child has died. In rare cases, the company says, authorized people, like family members, can request information from a deceased person's account, if they have a court order. But there's no guarantee they will get what they need. A Facebook spokesperson said in a statement the company disagreed with the German ruling: "These questions -- how to weigh the wishes of the relatives and protect the privacy of third parties -- are some of the toughest we've confronted. We empathize with the family. At the same time, Facebook accounts are used for a personal exchange between individuals which we have a duty to protect. While we respectfully disagree with today's decision by [the court], the lengthy process shows how complex the issue under discussion is. We will be analyzing the judgment to assess its full implications."

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China's Quantum Radar Could Detect Stealth Planes, Missiles

13 July 2018 - 3:00am
hackingbear shares a report from Popular Science: China Electronics Technology Group Corporation (CETC), China's foremost military electronics company, announced that its groundbreaking quantum radar has achieved capability of tracking high altitude objects, likely by increasing the coherence time entangled photons. CETC envisions that its quantum radar will be used in the stratosphere to track objects in "the upper atmosphere and beyond" (including space). Quantum can identify the position, radar cross section, speed, direction and even "observe" on the composition of the target such as differentiating between an actual nuclear warhead against inflatable decoys. [...] Importantly, attempts to spoof the quantum radar would be easily noticed since any attempt to alter or duplicate the entangled photons would be detected by the radar. The news is an important illustration of a larger trend of Chinese advancement in the new, crucial area of quantum research. Other notable projects in China's quantum technology include the Micius satellite, and advances by Alibaba and the Chinese University of Science and Technology in a world record of entangling 18 photons (a quantum supercomputer would require about 50 entangled photons), such that China arguably leads the world in quantum technologies.

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Ireland Becomes World's First Country To Divest From Fossil Fuels

12 July 2018 - 11:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: The Republic of Ireland will become the world's first country to sell off its investments in fossil fuel companies, after a bill was passed with all-party support in the lower house of parliament. The state's 8 billion euro national investment fund will be required to sell all investments in coal, oil, gas and peat "as soon as is practicable", which is expected to mean within five years. The Irish fossil fuel divestment bill was passed in the lower house of parliament on Thursday and it is expected to pass rapidly through the upper house, meaning it could become law before the end of the year. The Irish state investment fund holds more than 300 million euro in fossil fuel investments in 150 companies. The bill defines a fossil fuel company as a company that derives 20% or more of its revenue from exploration, extraction or refinement of fossil fuels. The bill also allows investment in Irish fossil fuel companies if this funds their move away from fossil fuels. "The [divestment] movement is highlighting the need to stop investing in the expansion of a global industry which must be brought into managed decline if catastrophic climate change is to be averted," said Thomas Pringle, the independent member of parliament who introduced the bill. "Ireland by divesting is sending a clear message that the Irish public and the international community are ready to think and act beyond narrow short term vested interests."

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Apple Says New MacBook Pro Keyboard Won't Fix Sticky Key Issue

12 July 2018 - 10:05pm
After multiple lawsuits have been filed over the butterfly-switch keyboards found on the MacBook Pro and MacBook lineups, you would think Apple would fix this issue by including a keyboard in the new MacBook Pros that can't be damaged by a little dust. Unfortunately, while the new 2018 MacBook Pro does have an updated third-generation keyboard, Apple tells CNET it doesn't include any new engineering or tweaks to address the sticky key issue. CNET reports: Instead, the third-generation keyboard's tweaks are about making it quieter. In a brief typing test, CNET's long-time MacBook reviewer Dan Ackerman says it isn't "whisper-quiet" but does "lack the sharp click of the previous design." Technically, Apple has admitted only that "a smaller percentage of the keyboards in certain MacBook and MacBook Pro models" have demonstrated the sticky key issue. If you buy one, you may likely never have that problem. But it's worth noting that when the company launched its free keyboard repair program in June, it made literally every single model of MacBook Pro with the "butterfly switch" keyboard eligible.

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Sprint Follows Rivals By Complicating Its Unlimited Mobile Data Plans

12 July 2018 - 9:25pm
Sprint on Thursday unveiled a new, more complicated lineup of unlimited mobile data plans. Sprint goes from having one plan starting at $60 per month to four different options costing $50 to $70 a month. "The main price hike hits customers who want to watch streaming video at HD quality instead of being reduced to DVD quality," reports Fortune. From the report: A new "unlimited plus" plan most resembles the carrier's current one, with subscribers allowed to use up to 15 GB monthly before experiencing slowed download speeds, receiving HD-quality streaming video, and getting free Hulu and Tidal subscriptions. It costs $70 for one line, rising to $180 for four lines. But Sprint also added a "limited time" promotion that cuts the price to $50 to $100 per month for customers who buy a new phone or bring their own device. A cheaper "unlimited basic" plan, starting at $60 for one line and up to $140 for four lines, slows downloads to 3G speeds after just 500 MB, downgrades streaming to DVD-quality, and offers just a Hulu subscription, but no Tidal account. Although consumers no longer get cut off or have to pay expensive overage charges when they run through a monthly data allowance, they face an increasing array of restrictions and conditions on all but the most expensive unlimited plans, including slowed download speeds. Sprint's four-page press release announcing the new plans included 11 footnotes, signaling just how complicated they are.

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