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Updated: 32 min 49 sec ago

State-sponsored Hackers Targeting Prominent Journalists, Google Warns

2/10/2017 1:40pm
State-sponsored hackers are attempting to steal email passwords of a number of prominent journalists, Google has warned. The hackers are suspected to be Russians, reports POLITICO. Some of the journalists who have received such warnings from Google as recent as two-to-three weeks ago include Jonathan Chait of New York Magazine, Julia Ioffe, who recently started at The Atlantic, Ezra Klein of Vox, and CNN's Brian Stelter. From the report: "The fact that all this started right after the election suggests to me that journalists are the next wave to be targeted by state-sponsored hackers in the way that Democrats were during it," said one journalist who got the warning. "I worry that the outcome is going to be the same: Someone, somewhere, is going to get hacked, and then the contents of their Gmail will be weaponized against them -- and by extension all media."

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How UPS Trucks Saved Millions of Dollars By Eliminating Left Turns

2/10/2017 1:00pm
Some people probably already know this, but for those who don't: UPS truck drivers don't take left turns, and despite this usually resulting in longer route, they are saving millions of dollars in fuel costs. From a report: The company decided on eliminating left turns (or right turns in left-hand driving countries such as India) wherever possible after it found that drivers have to sit idly in the trucks while waiting to take the left turn to pass through traffic. So, it created an algorithm that eliminated left turns from drivers' routes even if meant a longer journey. This meant that drivers do not have to wait in traffic to take a left turn and can take the right turn at junctions. Of course, the algorithm does not entirely eliminate left turns, but the number of left turns taken by UPS trucks is less than 10 percent of all turns made. Turns out that UPS was right -- the idea really paid off. In 2005, a year after it announced that it will minimize left turns, the company said that the total distance covered by its 96,000 trucks was reduced by 747,000km, and 190,000 litres of fuel had been saved. In 2011, Bob Stoffel, a UPS Senior Vice President, told Fortune that the company had reduced distance traveled by trucks by 20.4 million miles, and reduced CO2 emissions by 20,000 metric tons, by not taking left turns. A recent report by The Independent says that the total reduction in distance traveled by UPS trucks now stands at 45.8 million miles, and there are 1,100 fewer trucks in its fleet because of the algorithm. Even by conservative estimates, that's tens of millions of dollar of savings in fuel costs. Senior VP Bob Stoffel explained how it works on CNN a few years ago.

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More Than 20,000 AT&T Workers Are Getting Ready To Protest Nationwide

2/10/2017 12:20pm
Aaron Pressman, reporting for Fortune: Some 21,000 workers in AT&T's wireless business have overwhelming voted to authorize a strike just ahead of the expiration of their contract on Saturday. The vote, which was expected, comes after 17,000 additional workers in AT&T's phone, internet, and cable services in Nevada and California also approved a strike authorization last month. They have been working without a contract since April. But despite the strike authorization votes -- a common tactic to increase pressure on management during labor negotiations -- AT&T said it was still seeking to find common ground with its workers. Unlike some of its peers, AT&T has had a long run of labor peace with its workers and their main union, the Communications Workers of America (CWA).

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Internet Backbone Provider Cogent Blocks Pirate Bay and Other 'Pirate' Sites

2/10/2017 11:40am
Several Pirate Bay users from ISPs all over the world have been unable to access their favorite torrent site for more than a week. Their requests are being stopped in the Internet backbone network of Cogent Communications, which has blackholed the CloudFlare IP-address of The Pirate Bay and many other torrent and streaming sites, reports TorrentFreak. From the article: When the average Internet user types in a domain name, a request is sent through a series of networks before it finally reaches the server of the website. This also applies to The Pirate Bay and other pirate sites such as Primewire, Movie4k, TorrentProject and TorrentButler. However, for more than a week now the US-based backbone provider Cogent has stopped passing on traffic to these sites. The sites in question all use CloudFlare, which assigned them the public IP-addresses 104.31.18.30 and 104.31.19.30. While this can be reached just fine by most people, users attempting to pass requests through Cogent's network are unable to access them.

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How Tech Ate the Media and Our Minds

2/10/2017 11:00am
From a report: On average, we check our phones 50 times each day -- with some studies suggesting it could three times that amount. We spend around 6 hours per day consuming digital media. As a result, the human attention span has fallen from 12 seconds to eight seconds since 2000, while the goldfish attention span is nine seconds. And we just mindlessly pass along information without reading or checking it. Columbia University found that nearly 60 percent of all social media posts are shared without being clicked on.

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Intel Confirms 8th Gen Core On 14nm, Data Center First To New Nodes

2/10/2017 10:20am
Ian Cutress, writing for AnandTech: Intel's 8th Generation Core microarchitecture will remain on the 14nm node. This is an interesting development with the recent launch of Intel's 7th Generation Core products being touted as the 'optimization' behind the new 'Process-Architecture-Optimization' three-stage cadence that had replaced the old 'tick-tock' cadence. With Intel stringing out 14nm (or at least, an improved variant of 14nm as we've seen on 7th Gen) for another generation, it makes us wonder where exactly Intel can promise future performance or efficiency gains on the design unless they start implementing microarchitecture changes.

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Most of the Web Really Sucks If You Have a Slow Connection

2/10/2017 9:40am
Dan Luu, hardware/software engineer at Microsoft, writes in a blog post: While it's easy to blame page authors because there's a lot of low-hanging fruit on the page side, there's just as much low-hanging fruit on the browser side. Why does my browser open up 6 TCP connections to try to download six images at once when I'm on a slow satellite connection? That just guarantees that all six images will time out! I can sometimes get some images to load by refreshing the page a few times (and waiting ten minutes each time), but why shouldn't the browser handle retries for me? If you think about it for a few minutes, there are a lot of optimizations that browsers could do for people on slow connections, but because they don't, the best current solution for users appears to be: use w3m when you can, and then switch to a browser with ad-blocking when that doesn't work. But why should users have to use two entirely different programs, one of which has a text-based interface only computer nerds will find palatable?

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Slashdot Asks: How Do You Know a Developer is Doing a Good Job?

2/10/2017 9:00am
An anonymous reader writes: One of the easiest ways to evaluate a developer is keeping a tab on the amount of value they provide to a business. But the problem with this approach is that the nature of software development does not make it easy to measure the value a single developer brings. Some managers are aware of this, and they look at the number of lines of code a developer has written. The fewer, the better, many believe. I recently came across this in a blog post, "If you paid your developers per line of code, you would reward the inefficient developers. An analogy to this is writing essays, novels, blog posts, etc. Would you judge a writer solely on the number of words written? Probably not. There are a minimum number of words needed to get a complex point across, but those points get lost when a writer clutters their work with useless sentences. So the lines of code metric doesn't work. The notion of a quantifiable metric for evaluating developers is still attractive though. Some may argue that creating many code branches is the mark of a great developer. Yet I once worked with a developer who would create code branches to hide the fact that he wasn't very productive." Good point. But then, what other options do we have?

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Tesla Employee Calls For Unionization, Musk Says That's 'Morally Outrageous'

2/10/2017 8:00am
"In a Medium post published today, Tesla employee Jose Moran detailed working conditions at the company's Freemont factory and called for the factory workers to unionize with United Auto Workers (UAW)," reports Ars Technica. In response, Elon Musk told Gizmodo via Twitter Direct Messages: "Our understanding is that this guy was paid by the UAW to join Tesla and agitate for a union. Frankly, I find this attack to be morally outrageous. Tesla is the last car company left in California, because costs are so high." Musk went on to blame the UAW for killing the New United Motor Manufacturing, Inc (NUMMI), which sold the Fremont factory to Musk in 2010. Ars Technica reports: Tesla currently employs more than 5,000 non-union workers at its Fremont, CA-based factory. Moran wrote that the workers are often faced with "excessive mandatory overtime" and earn between $17 and $21 hourly, compared with the national average of $25.58 hourly for most autoworkers in the U.S. The Tesla employee noted that the astronomical cost of living in the Bay Area makes $21 an hour difficult to live on. Moran also claimed that the factory's "machinery is often not ergonomically compatible with our bodies," and requires "too much twisting and turning and extra physical movement to do jobs that could be simplified if workers' input were welcomed." He added that at one point, six out of eight people on his team were out on medical leave "due to various work-related injuries."

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A Guide To Friday's Comet-Eclipse-Full-Moon Triple Feature

2/10/2017 5:00am
SonicSpike quotes a report from CNET: Even if you aren't a space nerd whose idea of a good time is craning your neck to stare into the vast nothingness of space on a frigid evening, this Friday the heavens will put on a show worth heading outdoors for. A penumbral lunar eclipse, a full "snow moon" and a comet will be spicing up the night sky February 10 in a rare convergence of such celestial happenings. We'll start with our nearest neighbor. February brings the full moon known as the "snow moon" because this month in North America tends to see a lot of the white fluffy stuff. This snow moon will be special though because, well... we'll all get in its way in a sense when the penumbral lunar eclipse takes place Friday. The eclipse will be at least partly visible from most but not all places on Earth (sorry Australia and Japan). The moment of greatest eclipse is at 4:43 p.m. PT and the eclipse will then dissipate until it completes a little over two hours later, according to the U.S. Naval Observatory. Next up, Comet 45P/Honda-Mrkos-Pajdusakova has actually been visible with binoculars and telescopes for several weeks already, but it will be at its closest approach to Earth on the morning of February 11 as it passes by at a distance of 7.4 million miles (11.9 million kilometers) or 30 times further away than the moon.

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Attacks On WordPress Sites Intensify As Hackers Deface Over 1.5 Million Pages

2/10/2017 2:00am
An anonymous reader writes: "Attacks on WordPress sites using a vulnerability in the REST API, patched in WordPress version 4.7.2, have intensified over the past two days, as attackers have now defaced over 1.5 million pages, spread across 39,000 unique domains," reports BleepingComputer. "Initial attacks using the WordPress REST API flaw were reported on Monday by web security firm Sucuri, who said four groups of attackers defaced over 67,000 pages. The number grew to over 100,000 pages the next day, but according to a report from fellow web security firm WordFence, these numbers have skyrocketed today to over 1.5 million pages, as there are now 20 hacking groups involved in a defacement turf war." Making matters worse, over the weekend Google's Search Console service, formerly known as Google Webmaster, was sending out security alerts to people it shouldn't. Google attempted to send security alerts to all WordPress 4.7.0 and 4.7.1 website owners (vulnerable to the REST API flaw), but some emails reached WordPress 4.7.2 owners. Some of which misinterpreted the email and panicked, fearing their site might lose search engine ranking.

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Genetically Modified Salmonella Destroys Cancer By Provoking An Immune Response, Study Finds

2/9/2017 10:30pm
schwit1 quotes a report from San Diego Union-Tribune: A genetically modified bacterium destroys tumors by provoking an immune response, according to a study published Wednesday. Using mice and cultures of human cancer cells, a South Korean-led scientific team demonstrated that Salmonella typhimurium engineered to make a foreign protein caused immune cells called macrophages and neutralizes to mobilize against the cancer. The bacterium came from an attenuated strain that has little infectious potential. Such strains have been tested as vaccines. The protein, called FlaB, is made by a gene in the estuarine bacterium Vibrio vulnificus, a close relative of the cholera bacterium, Vibrio cholerae. Tumors shrank below detectable levels in 11 out of 20 mice injected with the modified Salmonella, said the study, published in Science Translational Medicine. The engineered Salmonella provoke a sustained immune response, in addition to preventing the spread of a human colon cancer implanted in a mouse. The bacterium also were found to be nontoxic, multiplying almost exclusively inside tumors.

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eBay Founder Pledges $500,000 To Test Universal Basic Income Program In Kenya

2/9/2017 8:25pm
"Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar is the latest tech bigwig to get behind the concept [of universal basic income]," reports Mashable. "His philanthropic investment firm, the Omidyar Network, announced Wednesday that it will give nearly half a million dollars to a group testing the policy in Kenya." The money will come from the Omidyar Network and be doled out to people living in Kenya through a program called GiveDirectly. Mashable reports: Universal basic income is the notion that a government should guarantee every citizen a yearly sum of money, no strings attached. The thinking is that such a program would relieve economic stress as automation technology severely reduces the demand for labor. Theories along these lines have existed for centuries, but their proponents have never had much luck convincing governments to give them a shot. Thus, the only data on real-world effects come from a few scattered experiments throughout the years. GiveDirectly is looking to add to that knowledge with one of the biggest trials of a basic income system in history. The group recently launched a 12-year pilot program in which it plans to give 6,000 Kenyans regular stipends for the entire duration. Around 20,000 more will receive at least some form of cash transfer. The Omidyar Network is hoping the study will help advance the debate around basic income from broad theoretical terms to more practical considerations. "While the discussion has generated a lot of heat, it hasn't produced very much light," wrote the Omidyar Network's Mike Kubzansky and Tracy Williams in a blog post announcing the pledge. "There is very little research and empirical evidence on how and when UBI could best be used."

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All Three New 2017 iPhones To Feature Wireless Charging, Says Analyst

2/9/2017 7:45pm
In late October, Nikkei Asian Review released a report claiming Foxconn was testing wireless charging modules for the iPhone 8. Another report has surfaced recently that further reinforces those claims. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo now claims that all three new iPhones expected to launch later this year will feature wireless charging. MacRumors reports: Kuo said wireless charging increases the internal temperature of smartphones, so he expects the rumored iPhone 8 with an OLED display and glass casing to have a new 3D Touch module with "additional graphite sheet lamination" in order to prevent the device from malfunctioning due to overheating. An excerpt from Kuo's research note obtained by MacRumors: "While we don't expect general users to notice any difference, lamination of an additional graphite sheet is needed for better thermal control and, thus, steady operation; this is because FPCB is replaced with film, which is more sensitive to temperature change of the 3D touch sensor in OLED iPhone." The new 3D Touch module could be up to $5 more expensive for Apple to procure per phone. While that is a minimal increase, it lends further credence to a report claiming the high-end iPhone 8 could cost upwards of $1,000 in the United States due to a significant redesign and the use of premium parts.

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Republicans Are Reportedly Using a Self-Destructing Message App To Avoid Leaks

2/9/2017 7:05pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Trump administration members and other Republicans are using the encrypted, self-destructing messaging app Confide to keep conversations private in the wake of hacks and leaks, according to Jonathan Swan and David McCabe at Axios. Axios writes that "numerous senior GOP operatives and several members of the Trump administration" have downloaded Confide, which automatically wipes messages after they're read. One operative told Axios that the app "provides some cover" for people in the party. He ties it to last year's hack of the Democratic National Committee, which led to huge and damaging information dumps of DNC emails leading up to the 2016 election. But besides outright hacks, the source also said he liked the fact that Confide makes it difficult to screenshot messages, because only a few words are shown at a time. That suggests that it's useful not just for reducing paper trails, but for stopping insiders from preserving individual messages -- especially given the steady flow of leaks that have come out since Trump took office. As Axios notes, official White House business is subject to preservation rules, although we don't know much about who's allegedly using Confide and what they're doing with it, so it's not clear whether this might run afoul of those laws. It's also difficult to say how much this is a specifically Republican phenomenon, and how much is a general move toward encryption.

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RSA: Ban On Booth Babes Has Been No Big Deal

2/9/2017 6:20pm
netbuzz quotes a report from Network World: In March 2015, RSA Conference organizers made news by contractually insisting that vendors pitch their security wares without the help of "booth babes," a first such ban for the technology industry. Next week's event will be third under the new rules. With the use of "booth babes" long a source of contention -- and some would say embarrassment -- implementation of the ban has gone smoothly, according to RSA. "Overall I would say this has been received well by our exhibitors," says Sandra Toms, vice president and curator of the conference. "Several have thanked us for having a policy." If you compare the policy's contract language in 2015 with the language now used by Toms, you'll notice how much it has evolved and how it has been accepted by various stake-holders. Here's an excerpt from the "short Q&A" between Paul McNamara, news editor for Network World, and Toms: Has there been any need to enforce the code or have all exhibitors complied? "Enforce" always makes it sound like armed guards have come into play and dragged someone off the show floor. We share these guidelines with our exhibitors and we're clear that this is a policy that is expected to be acknowledged and complied with. We take our attendee experience seriously and expect our exhibitors to do the same. If we receive a complaint about a particular exhibitor, we will send someone over to the booth and examine the situation. If the attire matches our dress code, then they can proceed and we can explain to the attendee why that form of dress is allowed. If they are clearly in violation, we will ask them to change. This policy is equally applied to both men and women -- from Sumo wrestlers to scantily clad models.

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Arby's Probes Possible Data Breach Affecting 355,000 Credit Cards

2/9/2017 5:40pm
Brian Krebs is reporting that Arby's "recently remediated a breach involving malicious software installed on payment card systems at hundreds of its restaurant locations nationwide." The breach is said to only affect some corporate stores and not franchised restaurant locations. While there is no exact number of those affected, it's possible that more than 355,000 credit and debit cards issued by PCSU members banks may have been compromised. Krebs On Security reports: The first clues about a possible breach at the sandwich chain came in a non-public alert issued by PSCU, a service organization that serves more than 800 credit unions. The alert sent to PSCU member banks advised that PSCU had just received very long lists of compromised card numbers from both Visa and MasterCard. The alerts stated that a breach at an unnamed retailer compromised more than 355,000 credit and debit cards issued by PCSU member banks. Arby's declined to say how long the malware was thought to have stolen credit and debit card data from infected corporate payment systems. But the PSCU notice said the breach is estimated to have occurred between Oct. 25, 2016 and January 19, 2017. Such a large alert from the card associations is generally a sign of a sizable nationwide breach, as this is likely just the first of many alerts Visa and MasterCard will send to card-issuing banks regarding accounts that were compromised in the intrusion. If history is any lesson, some financial institutions will respond by re-issuing thousands of customer cards, while other (likely larger) institutions will focus on managing fraud losses on the compromised cards.

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Watchdog Group Wants Uber's Self-Driving Trucks Off the Road

2/9/2017 5:00pm
New submitter Kemtores quotes a report from USA Today: A few months ago, the ride-hailing giant announced that it would begin testing self-driving Volvo SUVs in this hilly city, but a day later that process was halted after the DMV said Uber had not applied for the proper permits. Uber moved its fleet to Arizona. Uber cars laden with sensors still troll San Francisco, but the company said it is only for mapping purposes. Now a southern California non-profit that has long raised concerns about the safety of autonomous vehicles has asked the DMV to look closer at the operations of Otto, a self-driving truck company that Uber bought last year for $670 million. Otto made headlines in October when it completed a 120-mile beer run with a large semi-tractor in Colorado. But Consumer Watchdog's John Simpson charged in a letter to DMV director Jean Shiomoto that in fact Otto's testing here did violate the law by operating in autonomous mode, offering proof in the form of documentation Otto submitted to Colorado officials that described a process where the driver hit a button and let the truck do the work.

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Microsoft Teases Windows 10's Upcoming 'Project Neon' Design Language

2/9/2017 4:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Windows Central: Microsoft just gave developers a sneak peek at Project Neon, Microsoft's upcoming design language for Windows 10 that aims to add fluidity, animation and blur to apps and the operating system. We exclusively revealed that this was in the works in late 2016, and today Microsoft has given us a first peak at what Project Neon will look like. During the Windows Developer Day livestream, an image of Project Neon was seen the background of one of the PowerPoint slides being shown off on stage. Although not much, it's further confirmation that this is the end goal for Windows 10's UI, and Project Neon will be bringing a fresh coat of paint to apps. Project Neon should benefit all types of Windows 10 devices, including Windows 10 Mobile, HoloLens and even Xbox. We're still several months away from Project Neon being everywhere in Windows 10, and we're expecting to see more at BUILD this coming May. In fact, a lot of the Project Neon APIs are available in the latest Insider Preview builds of Windows 10, meaning developers can already begin taking advantage of these new user interfaces and design language! Animations and transitions are a big deal with Project Neon, with the goal of making the operating system and apps feel like they work together. Peter Bright does a good job summarizing the looks of the screenshot via Ars Technica: "The picture shows a refreshed version of the Groove music app on a Windows desktop. The fundamentals of the app and its layout aren't changed, underscoring that Neon is very much an iteration of the current Metro/Microsoft Design Language (MDL). The window has shed its discrete title bar and one pixel border, with the application content now extending to the very edge of the window. The search text field no longer has a box around it, and the left hand pane has a hint of translucency to it." You can view the screenshot here and judge it for yourself.

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Maybe It's Time For Jack Dorsey To Pick a Company

2/9/2017 3:44pm
To Jack Dorsey, running two high-profile companies -- Twitter and Square -- at the same time doesn't seem like a problem. In an earlier interview with The New York Times, he said, "I can split my time and be present at both companies every single day." But despite how confidently Dorsey seems about his leadership roles at both the companies, investors and journalists keep asking him this question. And there's a reason why, both the companies are unprofitable (for now, at least), and pretty much every social media app that emerges on the face of the Earth is able to gain more users and figure out a better business plan than the decade-old Twitter. In a column on The Outline, Adrianne Jeffries writes: This question popped up again this week on Twitter's earnings call. Twitter missed its fourth quarter revenue targets. The stock is down and advertising revenue is down. User growth plateaued a year ago. Bloomberg estimated that Twitter has about 140 million daily active users, which was recently surpassed by the much-younger Snapchat. [...] Unlike Twitter, Square has real competitors, including PayPal, Intuit, and Stripe. "Twitter's got a niche where it owns that niche," said Jay Ritter, a professor at the Department of Finance at the University of Florida who specializes in IPOs. "Square, on the other hand, has competition. It is not something where it owns a niche. There are other ways to have easy electronic payments. And consequently, investors are more concerned about, is Square going to be able to get sufficient size that it then becomes profitable? Or is a competitor going to wind up dominating the market?" That's one reason why investors, and probably Dorsey himself, are still seduced by Twitter. While Twitter has seen user growth stall -- a very bad sign for a social network -- it's still able to capture a lot of mindshare, and some investors believe that that means there is still a windfall to be made. Facebook, after all, saw its stock cut in half after its IPO only to rebound and march steadily upward. At this point, it's clear that Facebook has a solid business and terrifying staying power. That's what Twitter investors want: to dominate a market, trap advertisers, and conquer the world. The possibility that maybe Twitter has no competitors because there is no money to be made in microblogging is sidelined. As Ritter said, "Just because it's a winner-take-all market doesn't mean it's a profitable winner-take-all market."

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