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An Underground Ice Deposit On Mars Is Bigger Than New Mexico

11/26/2016 2:00am
schwit1 quotes a report from Popular Mechanics: A single underground deposit of ice on Mars contains about as much water as there is in Michigan's Lake Superior, according to new research from NASA. The deposit rests in the mid-northern latitudes of the Red Planet, specifically in the Utopia Planitia region. Discovered by the Shallow Subsurface Radar (SHARD) instrument on the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO), the deposit is "more extensive in area than the state of New Mexico," according to a NASA press release. It ranges in thickness from about 260 feet to about 560 feet, and has a composition that's 50 to 85 percent water ice, with what appears to be dust or larger rocky particles mixed in as well. None of the ice is exposed to the surface. At various points the dirt covering it is in between 3 and 33 feet thick.

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6 Major Countries Have Recently Announced Plans To Phase-Out All Coal-Fired Power Plants

11/25/2016 10:30pm
At least 6 major countries, including Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Finland, have all recently -- several within the past few weeks -- announced the imminent phase-out of all coal-fired power plants. Electrek reports: Earlier this week, Canada, which has already significantly reduced its use of coal to about 7% of its energy generation, announced a phase of the resource by 2030. The country's strong hydropower should keep dominating its energy generation, but the country has also been investing in wind and solar to make up the difference. A week before Canada's announcement, France announced a more aggressive timeline of 2023 for its own phase-out of coal, but it should be more easily achievable since they have already reduced the use of coal to 3% of their electricity generation -- thanks to a strong local nuclear industry. Finland is the latest country to join the group, but it also announced a more aggressive solution of simply banning entirely the use of coal to produce energy by 2030. The country gets about 12% of its electricity from coal, which it has to import. Peter Lund, a researcher at Aalto University and chair of the energy program at the European Academies' Science Advisory Council, told New Scientist: "These moves are important forerunners to enforce the recent positive signals in coal use. The more countries join the coal phase-out club, the better for the climate as this would force the others to follow." As for the U.S., it gets about 33% of its total electricity generation from coal and will likely grow the coal industry rather than phase it out under President-elect Donald Trump.

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Consumer Reports: Tesla's Model X Is 'Fast and Flawed'

11/25/2016 9:25pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from MarketWatch: Tesla Motors Inc. was dealt a blow earlier this week as Consumer Reports magazine called the Model X, its much-awaited and much-feted SUV, a "flawed" vehicle. Beyond a "brag-worthy magic, the all-wheel drive Model X 90D largely disappoints," the magazine said, citing rear doors prone to pausing and stopping, second-row seats that can't be folded, and limiting cargo capacity. Even its panoramic, helicopter-like windshield won cranky-sounding disapproval from Consumer Reports: It's not tinted enough to offset the brightness of a sunny day, it said. Overall "the ride is too firm and choppy for a $110,000 car," Consumer Reports said. Earlier this year, Consumer Reports released its 2016 Car Reliability Survey and found that, while the Tesla Model S has become more reliable, the Tesla Model X has proved to be unreliable overall.

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Trump National Security Adviser Michael Flynn Had 'Forbidden' Internet Connection At the Pentagon, Says Report

11/25/2016 8:45pm
According to The New Yorker, President-elect Donald Trump's national security advisor, retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, installed a secret internet connection into his office at the Pentagon even though it was "forbidden." Business Insider reports: The network connection was among other rules the former chief of the Defense Intelligence Agency broke because he found them to be "stupid," including sometimes sneaking out of a CIA station in Iraq without authorization and sharing classified information with NATO allies without approval, according to The New Yorker. While Flynn -- who was recently tapped to be President-elect Donald Trump's national security adviser -- apparently had his own private connection, the New Yorker profile doesn't provide a clear picture as to why. It's likely his Pentagon office already had an authorized, unclassified connection to the internet called NIPRNet, which is separate from classified networks such as SIPRNet and JWICS, a former DIA analyst told Business Insider. All of those networks are monitored in some way. A separate, unknown network would not have had the same -- or possibly any -- level of monitoring. If it were implemented in secret, it would also not have the same protections from hackers that a known connection would have. It's also possible that Flynn's Pentagon office was known as a SCIF, or sensitive compartmented information facility -- a secure facility in which intelligence can be discussed without fear of it being compromised. Network connections in SCIFs are closely controlled, and outside electronics such as mobile phones are not allowed inside.

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Microsoft Is Working On a New Design Language For Windows 10 Codenamed Project NEON

11/25/2016 8:05pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Windows Central: Microsoft has made several adjustments to its design language over the last few years, starting with Windows 8 and evolving into what we now know as "Microsoft Design Language 2" or MDL2 in Windows 10. With MDL2 being the current design language used throughout Windows 10, Microsoft has plans to begin using a much more streamlined design language with Redstone 3, codenamed Project NEON. Cassim Ketfi at Numerama.com confirms our information and has heard Project NEON called "basically Metro 2." That designation refers to the first Metro design language (nee Modern) that harkens to Windows Media Center up through Windows Phone 7 and Windows 8. Per our sources, Project NEON has been in the works for over a year internally at Microsoft. It builds upon the design language introduced with Windows 10, with its simple and clean interfaces, but adds some much-needed flair to the UI that the current design language just lacks. Details are still scarce, but we hear some of the new designs in the plans include adding more animations and transitions, with the overall goal of making the UI very fluid and "beautiful" compared to the current, almost static UI that is MDL2. One source familiar with Microsoft's plans described NEON as "Very fluid, lots of motion and nice transitions." Some more information about NEON reveals that it serves as a bridge between holographic and augmented reality (AR) and the desktop environment. It's a "UI that transports across devices" with a UX that maps to the physical world. It uses textures, 3D models, lighting and more.

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Russian Propaganda Effort Helped Spread 'Fake News' During Election, Experts Say

11/25/2016 7:25pm
According to the Washington Post (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternate source), the "fake news" phenomenon that circulated thousands of phony stories during the election was aided by a sophisticated Russian propaganda effort that aimed to punish Democrat Hillary Clinton, help Republican Donald Trump and undermine faith in American democracy. Slashdot reader xtsigs shares with us an excerpt from the Washington Post's report: The flood of "fake news" this election season got support from a sophisticated Russian propaganda campaign that created and spread misleading articles online with the goal of punishing Democrat Hillary Clinton, helping Republican Donald Trump and undermining faith in American democracy, say independent researchers who tracked the operation. Russia's increasingly sophisticated propaganda machinery -- including thousands of botnets, teams of paid human "trolls," and networks of websites and social-media accounts -- echoed and amplified right-wing sites across the Internet as they portrayed Clinton as a criminal hiding potentially fatal health problems and preparing to hand control of the nation to a shadowy cabal of global financiers. The effort also sought to heighten the appearance of international tensions and promote fear of looming hostilities with nuclear-armed Russia. Two teams of independent researchers found that the Russians exploited American-made technology platforms to attack U.S. democracy at a particularly vulnerable moment, as an insurgent candidate harnessed a wide range of grievances to claim the White House.

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Locky Ransomware Uses Decoy Image Files To Ambush Facebook, LinkedIn Accounts

11/25/2016 6:45pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A low-tech but cunning malware program is worrying security researchers after it started spreading rapidly in the past week through a new attack vector: by forcibly exploiting vulnerabilities in Facebook and LinkedIn. According to the Israeli security firm Check Point, security flaws in the two social networks allow a maliciously coded image file to download itself to a user's computer. Users who notice the download, and who then access the file, cause malicious code to install "Locky" ransomware onto their computers. Locky has been around since early this year, and works by encrypting victims' files and demands a payment of around half a bitcoin for the key. Previously, it had relied on a malicious macro in Word documents and spam e-mails, but Check Point says that in the past week there has been a "massive spread of the Locky ransomware via social media, particularly in its Facebook-based campaign." Users are advised not to open any file that has automatically downloaded, especially any image file with an unusual extension such as SVG, JS, or HTA -- though benign-looking images could exploit the way Windows hides file extensions by default.

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Green Party Calls For Recount, Wants To Push For Open-Source Voting Machines

11/25/2016 6:00pm
The Green party candidate in the U.S. presidential election, Jill Stein, has raised over $5 million in donations to fund a recount in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin, which are the states key to Hillary Clinton's loss on November 8th. She is seeking a recount in these three states after computer scientists discovered Clinton averaged 7% worse in counties with e-voting machines vs. counties with only paper or optical scan ballots. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: On November 23, the Stein/Baraka Green Party Campaign launched an effort to ensure the integrity of our elections," calling for "publicly-owned, open source voting equipment." In approximately 48 hours (as of 1:20pm EST (GMT-5) on Nov-25-2016) $5,026,516.15 has been raised to pay for a recount in Wisconsin and Pennsylvania, and [they are] currently collecting towards a recount in Michigan. The Green party also states: "The Green Party Platform calls for 'publicly-owned, open source voting equipment and deploy it across the nation to ensure high national standards, performance, transparency and accountability; use verifiable paper ballots; and institute mandatory automatic random precinct recounts to ensure a high level of accuracy in election results.'" More details can be read on MSNBC news. The Washington Post asks: Why are people giving Jill Stein millions of dollars for an election recount? UPDATE 11/25/16: Washington Examiner is reporting that Green Party officials have filed for a presidential vote recount in Wisconsin. UPDATE 11/26/16: Hillary Clinton's campaign said Saturday that it will take part in the recount in Wisconsin.

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Edward Snowden Loses Norway Safe Passage Case

11/25/2016 5:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from BBC: Edward Snowden's bid to guarantee that he would not be extradited to the U.S. if he visited Norway has been rejected by the Norwegian supreme court. The former spy contractor filed the lawsuit in April, attempting to secure safe passage to Norway to pick up a free speech award. It had already been rejected by Oslo District court and an appeals court. Mr Snowden's lawyers have previously said if he were extradited to the U.S., it would be "a foregone conclusion" that he would be convicted and jailed. Mr Snowden has been living in Russia, out of reach of the U.S. authorities, since the leaks in 2013. He had hoped to travel to Oslo to receive the Ossietzky Prize, for "outstanding efforts for freedom of expression." The award was due to be presented earlier this month. But the Norwegian Supreme Court said it could not rule on the legality of any move to extradite Mr Snowden as the U.S. had so far made no such request.

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Iceland is Suing a Supermarket That's Using Its Name

11/25/2016 4:50pm
In a case which could puzzle copyright, trademark, and intellectual property offices, Iceland (the country) is not happy with a Britain supermarket chain, which is also called Iceland. From a CNN report:On Friday, Iceland, the country, took legal action against Iceland (the retailer), saying its enforcement of a trademark has prevented local firms from marketing their products using the name. Iceland Foods holds a Europe-wide trademark for the name Iceland, which it has been trading under for 46 years. "Iceland Foods has aggressively pursued and won multiple cases against Icelandic companies which use 'ICELAND' in their representation or as part of their trademark, even in cases when the products and services do not compete," the government said in a statement. The Icelandic government is now asking the European Union Intellectual Property Office to invalidate the trademark.

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Uber Is About to Face a Landmark Battle in Europe

11/25/2016 4:20pm
In a case which could affect other app-based startups, Uber will seek to convince Europe's top court next week that it is a digital service, not a transport company. The outcome could determine whether app-based startups should be exempt from strict laws meant for regular companies. From a report on Fortune:The European Commission is trying to boost e-commerce, a sector where the EU lags behind Asia and the United States, to drive economic growth and create jobs. The U.S. taxi app, which launched in Europe five years ago, has faced fierce opposition from regular taxi companies and some local authorities, who fear it creates unfair competition because it is not bound by strict local licensing and safety rules. Supporters however say rigid regulatory obligations protect incumbents and hinder the entry of digital startups which offer looser work arrangements to workers in the 28-country European Union looking for more flexibility, albeit without basic rights.

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Toyota's Battery 'Breakthrough' Can Lead To More Range, Longer Life

11/25/2016 3:40pm
Toyota thinks it's found a way to create more efficient EV batteries. The car company is calling its method, which allows a free flow of lithium ions from the cathode to the anode, the "world's first behavior observation method for lithium ions in electrolyte." CNET adds:Charging and discharging batteries can create lithium ion deviation. Some of these ions can get bunched up, which can affect a battery's performance over time. In order to help reduce that bunching, scientists need to see what's happening as the ions flow through the battery's electrolyte. That observation wasn't possible until now. Toyota made has replaced the phosphorous in a traditional lithium-ion battery electrolyte with heavier elements. These heavier elements, which ferry the ions through the electrolyte, are then bombarded with powerful x-rays, which allows researchers to observe how the ions flow through. So what does this all mean? By observing the lithium ions in the electrolyte, research and development dollars can be spent on preventing the bunching that degrades battery performance. Toyota believes its breakthrough can improve electric vehicle range by up to 15 percent and improve the battery's life simultaneously.

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Japan Eyes World's Fastest-Known Supercomputer, To Spend Over $150M On It

11/25/2016 3:00pm
Japan plans to build the world's fastest-known supercomputer in a bid to arm the country's manufacturers with a platform for research that could help them develop and improve driverless cars, robotics and medical diagnostics. From a Reuters report: The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry will spend 19.5 billion yen ($173 million) on the previously unreported project, a budget breakdown shows, as part of a government policy to get back Japan's mojo in the world of technology. The country has lost its edge in many electronic fields amid intensifying competition from South Korea and China, home to the world's current best-performing machine. In a move that is expected to vault Japan to the top of the supercomputing heap, its engineers will be tasked with building a machine that can make 130 quadrillion calculations per second -- or 130 petaflops in scientific parlance -- as early as next year, sources involved in the project told Reuters. At that speed, Japan's computer would be ahead of China's Sunway Taihulight that is capable of 93 petaflops. "As far as we know, there is nothing out there that is as fast," said Satoshi Sekiguchi, a director general at Japan's âZNational Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology, where the computer will be built.

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$1 Billion Getty Images Public Domain Photograph Dispute is Over

11/25/2016 2:20pm
Earlier this year, photographer Carol Highsmith received a $120 settlement demand from Getty Images after she used one of her own public domain images on her website (which is she had donated to the Library of Congress and made available to the public to reproduce and display for free). Highsmith responded with a $1bn lawsuit but after a few short months, as TorrentFreak reports, the case is all over, with neither side a clear winner. From the report: To begin, on October 28, US District Court Judge Jed S. Rakoff dismissed each of Carol Highsmith's federal copyright claims. "Defendants Getty Images (US), Inc., License Compliance Services, Inc., Alamy, including that Inc., and Alamy Ltd. collectively moved to dismiss all claims of plaintiffs Carol Highsmith and This is America!, Inc. under the Digital Millenium Copyright Act,... the Lanham Act,... New York General Business Law,... and New York common law of unfair competition," the Judge wrote. "Upon consideration, the Court grants defendants' motions,â he added. With the federal claims gone, three state law claims were including that Getty charged licensing fees for images when it shouldn't have and collected settlements from alleged infringers when it had no right. However, these claims have now also been dismissed, along with the rest of the case. "It is hereby stipulated and agreed, by and among the parties, that this action shall be dismissed with prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(a)(l)(A)(ii) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, each party to bear its own costs and fees," the Judge wrote in his dismissal. Since the case was dismissed with prejudice, it is done and cannot be brought back to court.

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For the First Time, Living Cells Have Formed Carbon-Silicon Bonds

11/25/2016 1:42pm
From a ScienceDaily alert: Scientists have managed to coax living cells into making carbon-silicon bonds, demonstrating for the first time that nature can incorporate silicon -- one of the most abundant elements on Earth -- into the building blocks of life. While chemists have achieved carbon-silicon bonds before -- they're found in everything from paints and semiconductors to computer and TV screens -- they've so far never been found in nature, and these new cells could help us understand more about the possibility of silicon-based life elsewhere in the Universe. After oxygen, silicon is the second most abundant element in Earth's crust, and yet it has nothing to do with biological life. Why silicon has never be incorporated into any kind of biochemistry on Earth has been a long-standing puzzle for scientists, because, in theory, it would have been just as easy for silicon-based lifeforms to have evolved on our planet as the carbon-based ones we know and love. Not only are carbon and silicon both extremely abundant in Earth's crust - they're also very similar in their chemical make-up.

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Microsoft Shares Windows 10 Telemetry Data With Third Parties

11/25/2016 12:40pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: To help with the smooth running of Windows 10, and to get an idea of how users interact with the operating system, Microsoft collects telemetry data, which includes information on the device Windows 10 is running on, a list of installed apps, crash dumps, and more. Telemetry data recorded by Windows 10 is, in a nutshell, just technical information about the device the OS is on, and how Windows and any installed software is performing, but it can occasionally include personal information. If you're worried about that, the news that Microsoft is sharing telemetry data with third parties might concern you. Microsoft recently struck a deal with security firm FireEye to provide access to Windows 10 telemetry data, in exchange for having FireEye's iSIGHT Threat Intelligence technology included in its Windows Defender Advanced Threat Protection service. WDATP is an enterprise security product that helps enterprises detect, investigate, and respond to advanced attacks on their networks and is different from the free version of Windows Defender. The upsides of the deal are obvious for both Microsoft and FireEye, and enterprise customers will certainly benefit from the partnership. It's not known exactly what data Microsoft has made available to FireEye, but in a detailed TechNet article on its telemetry gathering the software giant originally said: "Microsoft may share business reports with OEMs and third party partners that include aggregated and anonymized telemetry information. Data-sharing decisions are made by an internal team including privacy, legal, and data management."

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VLC Media Player Previews 360-degree Video Support

11/25/2016 12:10pm
VideoLAN has released a technical preview of VLC Media Player 3.0 with 360-degree video support. The new build handles videos following the Spatial Video format, and photos and panoramas following the Spherical spec (the official test page has sample files). From an article on SoftwareCrew:The files play back just like any other video, but you can now left-click and drag within the screen or use the numeric keypad arrows to look around. VideoLAN says there are multiple display modes -- Zoom, Little Planet and Reverse Little Planet -- although we couldn't immediately see how they were activated. This initial release is only available for Windows and Mac, but eventually 360-degree support will arrive for Android, iOS and Xbox One, with VR headset support likely to arrive in 2017.

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Police in UK Warn About Dating Apps After Serial Killer Conviction

11/25/2016 11:40am
Mark Wilson, writing for BetaNews: Police are warning people who use dating sites and dating apps to take extra precautions to ensure their safety. The advice comes after serial killer Stephen Port who contacted his victims through apps such as Grindr and Gaydar. While people making use of dating services have always been warned to take safety precautions, police are concerned that sexual predators are increasingly using such sites and apps as a way of finding potential victims. The UK's National Crime Agency has noticed an alarming increase in the number of people reporting cases of rape after meeting someone through a dating site or app. In 2009 the number was just 33, while in 2014 it had jumped to 184. Clearly things such changes to the reporting of sexual assault need to be factored in, as do considerations such as whether the number of reported incidents represents an increase in actual incidents in real terms.

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UK Revises Safe Flying Drone Code

11/25/2016 11:00am
The UK's drone code has been revised and updated to help pilots of the unmanned craft ensure they fly the gadgets safely. From a BBC report: The revised code turns the five main safety tips into a mnemonic, spelling drone, to make it easier to remember. (1) Don't fly near airports or airfields. (2) Remember to stay below 120m (400ft) and at least 50m (150ft) away from people. (3) Observe your drone at all times. (4). Never fly near aircraft. (5) Enjoy responsibly. "Drones are an incredible, inspiring technology but it's vital that people are using them safely," said Andrew Sage from air traffic control body NATS in a statement. "With the number of reported drone incidents on the rise, it's important that people understand their legal obligations and fly safe," he said.

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IBM To Pay More Than $30 Million in Compensation For Census Fail

11/25/2016 10:20am
IBM will pay more than $30 million in compensation for its role in the bungled census, Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has indicated. From a report: The Prime Minister described the four Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks that caused a 40-hour outage inconveniencing millions of Australians as "utterly predictable, utterly foreseeable." "I have to say -- and I'm not trying to protect anyone here at all -- but overwhelmingly the failure was IBM's and they have acknowledged that, they have paid up and they should have," he said. "They were being paid big money to deliver a particular service and they failed."

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