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Coffee Requires Cancer Warning, California Judge Rules

/. - 30 March 2018 - 10:03am
Scientists haven't rendered a verdict on whether coffee is good or bad for you but a California judge has. He says coffee sellers in the state should have to post cancer warnings. From a report: The culprit is a chemical produced in the bean roasting process that is a known carcinogen and has been at the heart of an eight-year legal struggle between a tiny nonprofit group and Big Coffee. The Council for Education and Research on Toxics wanted the coffee industry to remove acrylamide from its processing -- like potato chip makers did when it sued them years ago -- or disclose the danger in ominous warning signs or labels. The industry, led by Starbucks, said the level of the chemical in coffee isn't harmful and any risks are outweighed by benefits. Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elihu Berle said Wednesday that the coffee makers hadn't presented the proper grounds at trial to prevail.

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An Up-Close Look At the Parker Solar Probe -- the Spacecraft That Will Skim the Sun's Surface

/. - 30 March 2018 - 9:00am
schwit1 shares a report from Ars Technica, offering an up-close look at the Parker Solar Probe: This summer, NASA will launch the Parker Solar Probe, an impressively heat-resistant spacecraft destined to glide closer to the surface of the Sun than any spacecraft before it. It will fly within about 6 million kilometers of the searing surface, more than seven times closer than earlier craft. If all goes to plan, the craft will be hurtling at 724,205 km per hour and have its one-of-a-kind heat shield perfectly facing the surface as it makes those closest approaches. In about seven years, it will complete 24 orbits around the Sun and pass by Venus seven times. All the while, the Parker probe will collect a constellation of data to help answer scientists' burning questions -- and solve some sizzling mysteries -- about the orb of hot plasma that lights up our Solar System. Namely, it will try to help us finally understand why the Sun's atmosphere is 300 times hotter than its surface, which itself is a balmy 5,727C. This fact defies basic physics and to this day is unexplained. One of the leading hypotheses to account for the heat shift comes from famed physicist Eugene Parker, after whom the probe is named. In the mid-1950s, Parker theorized that the Sun's super-heated corona could be explained by a complex system of plasma, magnetic fields, and energetic particles that spark solar explosions called "nanoflares." Scientists are thirsty for close-up data on those potential explosions as well as the cascade of energy called solar wind. With that data, they can put their hypotheses to the test. And in addition to helping us understand coronal heat, data on these sunny phenomena could help clear up poorly understood space weather, which can wreak havoc on satellites and power lines here on Earth.

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Scientists Explain the Sound of Knuckle Cracking

/. - 30 March 2018 - 6:00am
"The BBC reports on something sure to impress your next date -- and possibly your last -- when you explain it," writes Slashdot reader dryriver. From the report: Scientists have turned their attention to investigating that most annoying of human habits -- the sound made when you crack your knuckles. The characteristic pop can be explained by three mathematical equations, say researchers in the US and France. Their model confirms the idea that the cracking sound is due to tiny bubbles collapsing in the fluid of the joint as the pressure changes. Surprisingly, perhaps, the phenomenon has been debated for around a century. Science student Vineeth Chandran Suja was cracking his knuckles in class in France when he decided to investigate. "The first equation describes the pressure variations inside our joint when we crack our knuckles," he told BBC News. "The second equation is a well-known equation which describes the size variations of bubbles in response to pressure variations. And the third equation that we wrote down was coupling the size variation of the bubbles to ones that produce sounds." The equations make up a complete mathematical model that describes the sound of knuckle cracking, said Chandran Suja, who is now a postgraduate student at Stanford University in California. "When we crack our knuckles we're actually pulling apart our joints," he explained. "And when we do that the pressure goes down. Bubbles appear in the fluid, which is lubricating the joint -- the synovial fluid. "During the process of knuckle cracking there are pressure variations in the joint which causes the size of the bubbles to fluctuate extremely fast, and this leads to sound, which we associate with knuckle cracking.'' The study has been published in the journal Scientific Reports.

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FCC Authorizes SpaceX's Ambitious Satellite Internet Plans

/. - 30 March 2018 - 3:00am
The Federal Communications Commission on Thursday approved an application by Elon Musk's SpaceX, allowing the aerospace company to provide broadband services using satellites in the U.S. and worldwide. "With this action, the Commission takes another step to increase high-speed broadband availability and competition in the United States," the FCC said in a statement. CNBC reports: This marks the first time the FCC has allowed a U.S.-licensed satellite constellation to provide broadband services through low-Earth orbit satellites. "We appreciate the FCC's thorough review and approval of SpaceX's constellation license. Although we still have much to do with this complex undertaking, this is an important step toward SpaceX building a next-generation satellite network that can link the globe with reliable and affordable broadband service, especially reaching those who are not yet connected," Gwynne Shotwell, President and Chief Operating Officer at SpaceX said in a statement. SpaceX will begin launching the constellation it dubbed "Starlink" in 2019. The system will be operational once at least 800 satellites are deployed. Starlink will offer broadband speeds comparable to fiber optic networks.The satellites would offer new direct to consumer wireless connections, rather the present system's redistribution of signals, transforming a traditionally high-cost, low reliability service.

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Top Facebook Executive Defended Data Collection In 2016 Memo, Warned That Facebook Could Get People Killed

/. - 29 March 2018 - 11:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed: On June 18, 2016, one of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's most trusted lieutenants circulated an extraordinary memo weighing the costs of the company's relentless quest for growth. "We connect people. Period. That's why all the work we do in growth is justified. All the questionable contact importing practices. All the subtle language that helps people stay searchable by friends. All of the work we do to bring more communication in. The work we will likely have to do in China some day. All of it," VP Andrew "Boz" Bosworth wrote. "So we connect more people," he wrote in another section of the memo. "That can be bad if they make it negative. Maybe it costs someone a life by exposing someone to bullies. Maybe someone dies in a terrorist attack coordinated on our tools." The explosive internal memo is titled "The Ugly," and has not been previously circulated outside the Silicon Valley social media giant. The Bosworth memo reveals the extent to which Facebook's leadership understood the physical and social risks the platform's products carried -- even as the company downplayed those risks in public. It suggests that senior executives had deep qualms about conduct that they are now seeking to defend. And as the company reels amid a scandal over improper outside data collection on its users, the memo shows that one senior executive -- one of Zuckerberg's longest-serving deputies -- prioritized all-encompassing growth over all else, a view that has led to questionable data collection and manipulative treatment of its users. The full memo is embedded in BuzzFeed's report. In response to the story, Zuckerberg wrote in a statement: "Boz is a talented leader who says many provocative things. This was one that most people at Facebook including myself disagreed with strongly. We've never believed the ends justify the means. We recognize that connecting people isn't enough by itself. We also need to work to bring people closer together. We changed our whole mission and company focus to reflect this last year."

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Tesla Issues Its Largest Recall Ever Voluntarily Over Faulty Model S Steering

/. - 29 March 2018 - 10:10pm
Tesla announced today that it is recalling 123,000 Model S vehicles around the world over a power steering issue. The company said via an email that it was a proactive move and none of the company's other vehicles are affected. The Verge reports: The automaker said 123,000 Model S vehicles built before April 2016 were affected. No injuries or crashes have been reported in connection with the problem. In the email, Tesla said it had, "observed excessive corrosion in the power steering bolts," but that the problem was most prevalent in colder climates where road salt is used. "If the bolts fail, the driver is still able to steer the car, but increased force is required due to loss or reduction of power assist," Tesla wrote in the email to customers. "This primarily makes the car harder to drive at low speeds and for parallel parking, but does not materially affect control at high speed, where only small steering wheel force is needed." Tesla said owners do not need to stop driving their cars if they haven't experienced any problems. The company said it would inform Model S owners when a retrofit, which is estimated to take an hour to install, is ready in their area.

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Facebook Begins 'Fact-Checking' Photos, Videos

/. - 29 March 2018 - 9:30pm
Facebook said today that it had begun "fact-checking" photos and videos to reduce the hoaxes and false news stories that have plagued the world's largest social media network. Reuters reports: The fact-checking began on Wednesday in France with assistance from the news organization AFP and will soon expand to more countries and partners, Tessa Lyons, a product manager at Facebook, said in a briefing with reporters. Lyons did not say what criteria Facebook or AFP would use to evaluate photos and videos, or how much a photo could be edited or doctored before it is ruled fake. The project is part of "efforts to fight false news around elections," she said. Facebook has tried other ways to stem the spread of fake news. It has used third-party fact-checkers to identify them, and then given such stories less prominence in the Facebook News Feed when people share links to them.

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Instagram Reenables GIF Sharing After GIPHY Promises No More Racism

/. - 29 March 2018 - 8:50pm
Earlier this month, Instagram and Snapchat dropped their GIPHY integrations when a racial slur slipped into the company's online database. Now Instagram is bringing GIPHY Integration back after GIPHY confirmed it's reviewed its GIF library four times and will preemptively review any new GIFs it adds. Snapchat has yet to bring the service back. TechCrunch reports: "We've been in close contact with GIPHY throughout this process and we're confident that they have put measures in place to ensure that Instagram users have a good experience," an Instagram spokesperson told TechCrunch. GIPHY told TechCrunch in a statement: "To anyone who was affected: we're sorry. We take full responsibility for this recent event and under no circumstances does GIPHY condone or support this kind of content. We have also finished a full investigation into our content moderations systems and processes and have made specific changes to our process to ensure something like this does not happen again." The racial slur was spotted by a user in the UK around March 8th. "We've shared a censored version of the image below, but warning, it still includes graphic content that may be offensive to some users," reports TechCrunch.

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Google Removes 'Kodi' From Search Autocomplete In Anti-Piracy Effort

/. - 29 March 2018 - 8:10pm
Google has banned the term "Kodi" from the autocomplete feature of its search engine because it's "closely associated with copyright infringement." This means that the popular software and related suggestions won't appear unless users type out the full term. TorrentFreak reports: It turns out that Google has recently removed the term "Kodi" from its autocomplete results. While Kodi can be abused through pirate add-ons, the media player software itself is perfectly legal, which makes it an odd decision. Users who type in "Kod" get a list of suggestions including "Kodak" and "Kodiak," but not the much more popular search term Kodi. Similarly, when typing "addons for k" Google suggests addons for Kokotime and Krypton 17.6. While the latter is a Kodi version, the name of the media player itself doesn't come up as a suggestion. Once users type the full Kodi term and add a space, plenty of suggestions suddenly appear, which is similar to other banned terms. Ironically enough, the Kokotime app is frequently used by pirates as well. Also, the names of all of the pirate Kodi addons we checked still show up fine in the autosuggest feature. Unfortunately, Google doesn't document its autocomplete removal decisions, nor does it publish the full list of banned words. However, the search engine confirms that Kodi's piracy stigma is to blame here. In a statement to TorrentFreak, a Google spokesperson said: "Since 2011, we have been filtering certain terms closely associated with copyright infringement from Google Autocomplete. This action is consistent with that long-standing strategy."

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Comcast Supports Ban On Paid Prioritization, Except For 'Specialized Services'

/. - 29 March 2018 - 7:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Comcast would support a ban on paid prioritization as long as there is an exception for "specialized services" that benefit consumers, a company executive said this week. Comcast Senior Executive VP David Cohen, who is generally the public face in Comcast's dealings with government policymakers, spoke about paid prioritization at the Free State Foundation's Telecom Policy Conference on Tuesday. (Video available on C-SPAN's website; the segment begins at 2:20.) "How about if we agree to a prohibition on paid prioritization and we have a limited exception created in some way for this concept of specialized services," Cohen said. Cohen's suggestion of a paid-prioritization ban with an exception for specialized services is similar to an early version of net neutrality rules that was passed in 2010 but thrown out in court in 2014. (The FCC was able to impose stricter net neutrality rules in 2015; that's the set of rules that is being thrown out by the current FCC.) The FCC in 2010 said that specialized services may share capacity with broadband networks but wouldn't be the same as regular broadband. There has never been a great definition of the term, but the 2010 FCC said that broadband providers' facilities-based VoIP and Internet Protocol-video offerings would be included. These services "differ from broadband Internet access service and may drive additional private investment in broadband networks and provide end users valued services, supplementing the benefits of the open Internet," the FCC said at the time. Under the 2010 rules, ISPs could have charged other companies for the right to offer specialized services over broadband networks. Cohen didn't say exactly what types of future services should be covered by an exemption for specialized services. But the services may come along soon enough, he said. "There is a recognition that something might come along that is not anti-competitive, that is pro-consumer, that is a specialized service available not to every user of the Internet, [and] that would be in consumers' interests and in the public interest," Cohen said.

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Under Armour Says 150 Million MyFitnessPal Accounts Were Hacked

/. - 29 March 2018 - 6:50pm
Under Armour said about 150 million user accounts for its MyFitnessPal nutrition tracker were breached earlier this year. From a report: An unauthorized party stole data from the accounts in late February, Under Armour said on Thursday. It became aware of the breach earlier this week and took steps to alert users about the incident, the company said.

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US To Seek Social Media Details From All Visa Applicants

/. - 29 March 2018 - 6:10pm
According to Bloomberg, the State Department wants to require all U.S. visa applicants to submit their social media usernames, previous email addresses and phone numbers. From the report: In documents to be published in Friday's Federal Register, the department said it wants the public to comment on the proposed new requirements, which will affect nearly 15 million foreigners who apply for visas to enter the U.S. each year. The new rules would apply to virtually all applicants for immigrant and non-immigrant visas. The department estimates it would affect 710,000 immigrant visa applicants and 14 million non-immigrant visa applicants, including those who want to come to the U.S. for business or education, according to the documents. If the requirements are approved by the Office of Management and Budget, applications for all visa types would list a number of social media platforms and require the applicant to provide any account names they may have had on them over the previous five years. It would also give the applicant the option to volunteer information about social media accounts on platforms not listed in the application. In addition to their social media histories, visa applicants will be asked for five years of previously used telephone numbers, email addresses, international travel and deportation status, as well as whether any family members have been involved in terrorist activities. Only applicants for certain diplomatic and official visa types may be exempted from the requirements, the documents said.

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European Commission Says It Will Cancel All 300,000 UK-Owned<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.EU Domains

/. - 29 March 2018 - 5:30pm
Brexit has hit the internet, and not in a good way. From a report: In an official statement Thursday, the European Commission announced it will cancel all 300,000 domains under the .eu top-level domain that have a UK registrant, following Britain's eventual departure from the European Union. "As of the withdrawal date, undertakings and organizations that are established in the United Kingdom but not in the EU and natural persons who reside in the United Kingdom will no longer be eligible to register .eu domain names," the document states, adding, "or if they are .eu registrants, to renew .eu domain names registered before the withdrawal date." Going even further, the EC suggested that existing .eu domains might be cancelled the moment Brexit happens -- expected to be 366 days from now -- with no right of appeal.

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Uber Settles With Family of Woman Killed By Self-Driving Car, Avoids Lawsuit

/. - 29 March 2018 - 4:50pm
It appears that Uber won't go to court to settle a lawsuit after one of its self-driving cars killed a woman in Tempe, Arizona earlier this month. An anonymous Slashdot reader shares a report from Ars Technica: Uber has reached a settlement with the family of the woman killed by an Uber self-driving car. Uber reached the settlement with the daughter and husband of Elaine Herzberg, who died at age 49 after being hit by the Uber vehicle in Tempe, Arizona. The settlement presumably includes a cash payment, but no details were provided by either Uber or the family's attorney. "The matter has been resolved," said Christina Perez Hesano, an attorney for Herzberg's family, according to reports by Reuters and NPR.

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X-ray 'Ghost Images' Could Cut Radiation Doses

/. - 29 March 2018 - 4:10pm
Sophia Chen, writing for Science magazine: On its own, a single-pixel camera captures pictures that are pretty dull: squares that are completely black, completely white, or some shade of gray in between. All it does, after all, is detect brightness. Yet by connecting a single-pixel camera to a patterned light source, a team of physicists in China has made detailed x-ray images using a statistical technique called ghost imaging, first pioneered 20 years ago in infrared and visible light. Researchers in the field say future versions of this system could take clear x-ray photographs with cheap cameras -- no need for lenses and multipixel detectors -- and less cancer-causing radiation than conventional techniques. "Our system is much smaller and cheaper, and it could even be portable if you needed to take it into the field," says Wu Ling-An, a physicist at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing whose work with her colleagues was published on 28 March in Optica. The researchers' system still isn't ready to be used in medicine. But they have lowered the x-ray dose by about a million times compared with earlier attempts, says Daniele Pelliccia, who in 2015 made some of the first x-ray ghost images.

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Reddit No Longer Accepts Bitcoin

/. - 29 March 2018 - 3:30pm
Reddit, one of the most active hubs of Bitcoin enthusiasts, has dropped its support for the cryptocurrency. From a report: The widely read social media site will no longer accept Bitcoin as payment for its Reddit Gold program. A person claiming to be an administrator on the site told users who were grumbling about the shift that the decision was made, in part, due to Coinbase discontinuing its Merchant Tool product. "The upcoming Coinbase change, combined with some bugs around the Bitcoin payment option that were affecting purchases for certain users, led us to remove Bitcoin as a payment option," said user "emoney04."

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81% of Recent ICOs Were Scams, Research Finds

/. - 29 March 2018 - 2:58pm
Four out of five initial coin offerings (ICOs) that have taken place in the last year have been classified as scams, according to a recent study by Satis Group, an ICO advisory firm. From a report: ICOs have been the rage of the cryptocurrency world because they allow companies to raise money for various ventures by issuing cryptocurrency tokens that users could buy and later trade on cryptocurrency exchanges. The concept is similar to an IPO, but instead of shares, companies issue tokens, and some companies promised to buy tokens back from users after a product became successful and the token's value increases. The study's results don't bode well for people who've invested in one or more and are expecting profits sometime in the near future. The Satis study organized ICOs in six categories, based on their current status. Only ICOs with a market cap of $50 million or higher have been included in the results, and the percentage of scammy ICOs would have probably bee higher if researchers looked at the smaller ICOs. According to researchers, 81% of ICO's were Scams, 6% were classified as Failed, 5% had Gone Dead, and 8% went on to trade on a exchange.

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Apple Launches iOS 11.3 With Raft of Privacy Features

/. - 29 March 2018 - 2:07pm
Apple is launching a major privacy push, with software updates across all its devices to introduce new data privacy information immediately, with an updated website offering new privacy management tools to follow in May. From a report: Thursday's updates (macOS 10.13.4, iOS11.3 and tvOS 11.3) are prompted by the enormous new European data protection regulation GDPR, and have been in the works since at least January. But they come at a good time for the company, whose head Tim Cook has been merrily capitalising on the Facebook/Cambridge Analytica scandal, publicly rebuking Mark Zuckerberg over the social network's business model. For users of the company's devices, the biggest change will be the introduction of a unified data privacy iconography, which now shows up alongside detailed information about how Apple uses personal data for its various first-party services. "Apple believes privacy is a fundamental human right," the company will tell every user the first time they turn on their devices after the update, "so every Apple product is designed to minimise the collection and use of your data, use on-device processing whenever possible, and provide transparency and control over your information."

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ACLU Urges Cities To Build Public Broadband To Protect Net Neutrality

/. - 29 March 2018 - 1:20pm
The ACLU is calling on cities across the country to build their own public municipal broadband networks to help preserve net neutrality after the Federal Communications Commission repealed the open internet rules. From a report: In a report released Thursday morning, the civil liberties group argued that in the absence of the FCC's rules cities could give residents an alternative to private service providers who will soon no longer be required to treat all web traffic equally. "Internet service has become as essential as utilities like water and electricity, and local governments should treat it that way," Jay Stanley, an ACLU policy analyst who authored the report, said in a statement. "If local leaders want to protect their constituents' rights and expand quality internet access, then community broadband is an excellent way to do that," Stanley added. The ACLU sent the report to more than 100 mayors across the country who had spoken out against the FCC's decision to scrap the rules.

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Amazon is Burying Sexy Books, Sending Erotic Novel Authors to the 'No-Rank Dungeon'

/. - 29 March 2018 - 12:40pm
Samantha Cole, reporting for Motherboard: In the last few days, word has spread among independent erotica authors on social media that Amazon was quietly changing its policies for erotic novels. Five authors I spoke to, and several more on social media, have reported that their books were stripped of their best seller rankings -- essentially hiding them from casual browsing on the site, and separating them from more mainstream, safe-for-work titles. [...] Most people browsing Amazon books might not notice or care about the best seller rank -- a number that's based on how well the title is selling on Amazon.com -- but it's part of an algorithm that influences how the book appears in search, and whether it shows up in advertisements, including suggestions from one product to the next ("If you like this book, you might like this book"). For independent authors and booksellers, this ranking is hugely important for visibility.

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