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Bing Bans 'Computer Support' Ads From Its Network

5/13/2016 3:25pm
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has changed the terms of service for its Bing Ad network to disallow ads which offer computer support service. Its Bing Ads User Safety Policy now reads: Bing Ads disallows the promotion of third party online technical support services to consumers because of serious quality issues that can impact end user safety. These ads mislead users, tricking them to believe that their PC is infected. This is clearly a move to block scammers from making victims of Bing users, but any and all third party tech support ads will be blocked, including, perhaps legitimate ones.

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Fitness App Runkeeper Secretly Tracks Users At All Times, Sends Data to Advertisers

5/13/2016 2:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: FitnessKeeper, the company behind running app Runkeeper, is in hot water in Europe. The company has received a formal complaint from the Norwegian Consumer Council for breaching European data protection laws. But why? Runkeeper tracks its users' location at all times -- not just when the app is active -- and sends that data to advertisers. The NCC, a consumer rights watchdog, is conducting an investigation into 20 apps' terms and conditions to see if the apps do what their permissions say they do and to monitor data flows. Tinder has already been reported to the Norwegian data protection authority for similar breaches of privacy laws. The NCC's investigation into Runkeeper discovered that user location data is tracked around the clock and gets transmitted to a third party advertiser in the U.S. called Kiip.me.Finn Myrstad, the council's digital policy director, said: We checked the apps technically, to see the data flows and to see if the apps actually do what they say they do. Everyone understands that Runkeeper tracks users while they exercise, but to continue after the training has ended is not okay. Not only is it a breach of privacy laws, we are also convinced that users do not want to be tracked in this way, or for information to be shared with third party advertisers.

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Raspbian Linux OS Gets Major Update, Adds Bluetooth Support to Pi 3

5/13/2016 2:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Raspberry Pi 3 was launched with built-in chip for Bluetooth and Wi-Fi support, however, software support for Bluetooth was lacking until now. The drivers were there, but today's update to the Raspbian Linux distribution adds much-needed GUI tools to help you establish Bluetooth connections. Another cool addition is a new backup tool. There are other improvements as well including the mouse settings, and the ability to empty the wastebasket through right-clicking as seen below (yes, seriously). There is even a new shutdown dialog, something even casual users should notice.Official blog post here.

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Second Bank Hit By 'Sophisticated' Malware Attack, Says Swift

5/13/2016 1:30pm
An anonymous reader cites an article on The Guardian: Swift, the global financial messaging network that banks use to move billions of dollars every day, warned of a second malware attack similar to the one that led to February's $81 million cyberheist at the Bangladesh central bank. The second case targeted a commercial bank, Swift spokeswoman Natasha de Teran said, without naming it. It was not immediately clear how much money, if any, was stolen in the second attack. Swift said in a statement that the attackers exhibited a "deep and sophisticated knowledge of specific operational controls" at targeted banks and may have been aided by "malicious insiders or cyber attacks, or a combination of both." The organization, a Belgian co-operative owned by member banks, said that forensic experts believe the second case showed that the Bangladesh heist was not a single occurrence, "but part of a wider and highly adaptive campaign targeting banks."

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Linksys WRT Routers Won't Block Open Source Firmware, Despite FCC Rules

5/13/2016 12:50pm
The FCC requires all manufacturers to prevent users from having any direct ability to change RF parameters (frequency limits, output power, country codes, etc). The easiest way for a router manufacturer to comply with FCC's guideline is to block the open source router firmware -- which is what TP-Link has been doing. But thankfully, at least one router manufacturer doesn't think blocking the firmware is the right way to go about it. Ars Technica reports: Linksys has been collaborating with chipmaker Marvell and the makers of OpenWrt to make sure its latest WRT routers can comply with the new rules without blocking open source firmware, company officials told Ars. Linksys' effort stands in contrast with TP-Link, which said it would entirely prevent loading of open source firmware on its routers to satisfy the new Federal Communications Commission requirements. "They're named WRT... it's almost our responsibility to the open source community," Linksys router product manager Vince La Duca told Ars. Cybersecurity experts have urged the router manufacturers to not block open source firmware.

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France's After Work Email Ban Is 1 Step Closer To Reality

5/13/2016 12:10pm
Jesse Ferreras, writing for Huffington Post: France is that much closer to becoming the first country to ban after-work emails. The country's lower parliamentary house passed a bill this week that would ban companies with 50 or more employees from sending emails outside regular work hours, BBC News reported. It now goes to the Senate, where members will study it before sending it back to the National Assembly to enshrine it in French law. The bill would make businesses come up with hours during which employees cannot check or send emails. And it comes as workers are finding it increasingly difficult to detach themselves from work, Socialist MP Benoit Hamon told BBC News.Hamon adds: "Employees physically leave the office, but they do not leave their work. They remain attached by a kind of electronic leash -- like a dog. The texts, the messages, the emails -- they colonize the life of the individual to the point where he or she eventually breaks down."

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Astronauts Won't Be Flying To Space In Boeing's Starliner Until 2018

5/13/2016 11:30am
An anonymous reader writes: The Boeing Starliner, one of two new spacecraft meant to break the Russian stranglehold on sending people to orbit, has hit a snag. Originally scheduled to start flying next year, the Starliner won't carry a crewed mission to the International Space Station until 2018 at the earliest. Six years is long enough. Ever since the 2011 retirement of the space shuttle NASA has been pushing for privately built craft capable of ferrying astronauts to orbit, which would let the agency buy American-made ships and end its dependency on renting seats aboard Russian spacecraft. The Starliner and SpaceX's Dragon were chosen, and 2017 was to be the year. But while SpaceX has sent its ship to the ISS on multiple uncrewed cargo resupply missions, the Starliner won't make such trips until 2017 and won't carry people until 2018 at the earliest. SpaceX maintains that it will be able to send crews to orbit in 2017.GeekWire explains: "For Boeing to shift its crewed test flight from 2017 to 2018 isn't as much of a slip as it might sound: The company's earlier schedule had called for the visit to the space station to take place in mid-December."

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Oregon ISP Now Forcing Cordcutters to Sign up For TV to Avoid Caps

5/13/2016 10:50am
An anonymous reader writes: Oregon ISP BendBroadband has revised its usage-based broadband policies to favor customers that subscribe to TV services as well. According to a blog post by the company, Bend is deploying a number of new speed upgrades, including new Ultra 50, Ultra 100 and Ultra 300 Mbps speed tiers. The company is telling users on its Bronze and Silver Internet plans that they should be eligible for a free upgrade later this month. But another post adds a different wrinkle: Bend says it's removing its current usage caps if you bundle TV and phone service. These caps have historically ranged from 150 to 500 GB. "Customers who subscribe to Bronze or above internet (including Silver, Gold and Platinum) and Essentials or above TV (including Preferred, Preferred Plus and The Works) are no longer limited on data usage and will no longer pay overage fees," says the company.The report cites similar practices by other ISPs, suggesting that it's quickly becoming an industry standard.

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Tech Layoffs More Than Double In Bay Area

5/13/2016 10:10am
An anonymous reader shares an article on Mercury News: In yet another sign of a slowdown in the booming Bay Area economy, tech layoffs more than doubled in the first four months of this year compared to the same period last year (could be paywalled, here's an alternate source). Yahoo's 279 workers let go this year contributed to the 3,135 tech jobs lost in the four-county region of Santa Clara, San Mateo, Alameda and San Francisco counties from January through April, as did the 50 workers axed at Toshiba America in Livermore and the 71 at Autodesk in San Francisco. In the first four months of last year, just 1,515 Bay Area tech workers were laid off, according to mandatory filings under California's WARN Act. For that period in 2014, the region's tech layoffs numbered 1,330. The jump comes amid a litany of other signs that the tech economy may be taking a breather: disappointing earning reports from stalwarts like Apple, an IPO market that has come to a near standstill, a volatile stock exchange and uncertainty in China.

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National Microbiome Initiative To Harness Microbes For Health, Environment

5/13/2016 9:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from WTOP: The National Microbiome Initiative being announced by White House science officials Friday aims to bring together scientists who study the microbes that live in the human gut and in the oceans, in farm soil and in hospitals -- to speed discoveries that could bring big payoffs. Consider: Taking antibiotics alters the diversity of your gut bacteria, which eventually settle into a new normal. The 2010 oil spill altered microbes in the Gulf of Mexico, which likewise settled into a new normal, said Dr. Jo Handelsman, associate director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Despite the parallels, "we have no idea if that's a healthier norm or a less healthy norm than before, and no idea how to fix it," said Handelsman, who led development of the initiative. The U.S. government spends about $300 million a year on microbiome research, until now mostly an effort to catalog different communities of bacteria, viruses and other microbes, Handelsman said. The National Microbiome Initiative will add $121 million this year and next for ecosystem-crossing federal research. And in partnership with the government, dozens of universities, foundations and other organizations are announcing more than $400 million in additional microbiome research investments, she said. The ultimate goal is to control and alter microbes to improve either human or environmental health. One of the most recent discoveries was of a gut microbe that completely lacks mitochondria.

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Wendy's Plans To Automate 6,000 Restaurants With Self-Service Ordering Kiosks

5/13/2016 6:00am
An anonymous reader writes: In response to the rising minimum wage, the fast-food chain Wendy's plans to start automating all of its restaurants. The company said it will have self-service ordering kiosks available to its 6,000-plus restaurants in the second half of the year. Wendy's President Todd Penegor said it will be up to franchisees to decide whether or not to adopt the kiosks in their stores, noting that many franchise locations have had to raise prices to offset wage increases. California's decision to gradually raise the minimum wage to $15 by 2022 will impact Wendy's 258 restaurants, all of which are franchise-operated. About 75% of 200-plus Wendy's restaurants are run by franchisees in New York, a state that is also on its way to $15. Penegor said, wage pressures have been manageable both because of falling commodity prices and better operating leverage due to an increase in customer counts. The company is still "working so hard to find efficiencies" so it can deliver "a new QSR experience but at traditional QSR prices." The CEO of Carl's Jr., Andy Puzder, is also looking into replacing many of its workers with machines to save money.

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Apple Invests $1 Billion In Uber's Chinese Rival Didi

5/13/2016 3:00am
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Apple Inc. invested $1 billion in Chinese ride-sharing service Didi, making one of its biggest bets on software and services and dealing a blow to Uber Technologies Inc.'s ambitions in the country. The iPhone maker will help Uber's largest rival build up a ride-sharing platform that handles more than 11 million rides a day and serves about 300 million users across China, Didi said in a statement on Friday. Executive Officer Tim Cook has highlighted higher-margin services as a growth area and suggested he would use some of its $200 billion-plus cash hoard for investments. The investment in one of China's largest online companies will allow Apple to forge alliances in its single largest market outside of the United States. Didi, incorporated as Xiaoju Kuaizhi Inc., is in the process of raising more than $2 billion at a valuation of about $25 billion, people familiar with the matter have said. It operates in 400 Chinese cities and works with more than 14 million Chinese car owners. The company is Uber's most potent rival and has formed an international coalition with Lyft Inc. in the U.S., India's Ola and Southeast Asia's Grab to fight the globally expanding San Francisco firm. Apple is hoping to reinvigorate lackluster iPhone sales in China with its $1 billion investment in Didi. The last big investment the company made was when it acquired Beats for $3 billion in 2014.

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Mark Zuckerberg: 'No Evidence' Facebook Staff Suppressed Stories With Conservative Viewpoints

5/12/2016 11:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: Mark Zuckerberg has issued a statement in response to the controversy alleging that Facebook staff intentionally prevented stories with a conservative viewpoint from appearing in the site's Trending Topics section. "We take this report very seriously and are conducting a full investigation to ensure our teams upheld the integrity of this product," Zuckerberg writes on Facebook. "We have found no evidence that this report is true. If we find anything against our principles, you have my commitment that we will take additional steps to address it." Zuckerberg says he will invite "leading conservatives and people from across the political spectrum" to discuss the matter in the coming weeks, with the aim of having a "direct conversation about what Facebook stands for and how we can be sure our platform stays as open as possible." Earlier today, more evidence surfaced to support Gawker's two recent reports that claimed editors manipulate the trending news. Facebook published a blog post explaining how Trending Topics on its platform works, insisting there's no discrimination against sources of any political origin.

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Dangerous 7-Zip Vulnerabilities Flow To Top Security, Software Tools

5/12/2016 9:50pm
mask.of.sanity quotes a report from The Register: Some of the world's biggest security and software vendors will be rushing to patch holes in implementations of the popular 7-Zip compression tool to stop attackers gaining full control of customer machines. Marcin Noga, Cisco security researcher, found and reported the holes to the platform, which could allow attackers to compromise updated machines, giving attackers the same access rights as logged-in users. FireEye and MalwareBytes are two of many products that use 7-Zip. "An out-of-bounds read vulnerability exists in the way 7-Zip handles Universal Disk Format files ... [which] can be triggered by any entry that contains a malformed Long Allocation Descriptor," Colleague of The Register Jaeson Schultz said. The flaws were fixed in 7-Zip 16.00, which was released Tuesday.

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Government Spy Truck Is Disguised As A Google Street View Car

5/12/2016 9:10pm
An anonymous reader writes: Matt Blaze, a University of Pennsylvania computer and information science professor, discovered a SUV "tucked away in the shadows of the Philadelphia Convention Center's tunnel" that was labeled as a Google Maps Street View car. It had two high-powered license plate reader cameras mounted on top, meaning it had to belong to a government agency. The Philadelphia Police Department had admitted it owns the truck after the report from Motherboard was published. "Unless the Philadelphia Fire Department of Streets Department are using automated license plate recognition (ALPR), this strongly suggests the city's police department is trawling city streets under the auspices of Google while snapping thousands of license plate images per minute," says Motherboard. ALPR can photograph thousands of license plate images per minute and track and store a person's travel habits without a warrant. Google spokesperson Susan Cadrecha commented on the report, "We can confirm this is not a Google Maps car, and that we are currently looking into the matter." The Philadelphia Police Department since responded to the report: "We have been informed that this unmarked vehicle belongs to the police department; however, the placement of any particular decal on the vehicle was not approved through any chain of command. With that being said, once this was brought to our attention, it was ordered that the decals be removed immediately."

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Google Launches 'Gboard' Keyboard For iOS, Featuring Built-In Google Search

5/12/2016 8:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: Google launched a new keyboard application called "Gboard" for iOS today that features Google Search built-in to the keyboard itself. In addition, it offers swipe-based typing and access to GIFs, as well as some basic features like emojis and word predictions. The "G" icon in the upper lefthand corner opens a window for you to search Google without leaving the keyboard and launching a browser or the Google app. From there you can search for things like flight times, news articles, restaurant and business listings, weather and more, and paste that information into your chat with a single tap. The information is presented in a card-style layout. "We wanted to bring the best of Google to Gboard, so you'll see Maps, Translate, image and video search, News and others," says Rajan Patel, head of the product team that developed Gboard. "Initially, Gboard will not surface any information specific to you," he added, hinting that a personalized keyboard is in the works for the future.

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Mozilla Fights FBI In Court For Details On Tor Browser Hack

5/12/2016 7:50pm
An anonymous reader writes from a report on Help Net Security: Mozilla has asked a Washington State District Court to compel FBI investigators to provide details about a vulnerability in the Tor Browser hack with them, before they share it with the defendant in a lawsuit, so that they could fix it before the knowledge becomes public. The lawsuit in question is against Jay Michaud, a Vancouver (Wa.) teacher that stands accused of accessing and downloading child pornography from a website on the Dark Web. The FBI used a "network investigative technique" (NIT) to discover the IP address and identity of the defendant, which was only possible from a vulnerability in the Tor Browser. Why does Mozilla care to learn about the vulnerability? "The Tor Browser is partially based on our Firefox browser code. Some have speculated, including members of the defense team, that the vulnerability might exist in the portion of the Firefox browser code relied on by the Tor Browser," Denelle Dixon-Thayer, Chief Legal and Business Officer at Mozilla Corporation, explained.

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Google Open-Sources SyntaxNet Natural-Language Understanding Library, Parsey McParseface Training Model

5/12/2016 7:10pm
Google announced on Thursday that it is open sourcing its new language parsing model called SyntaxNet. It's a piece of natural-language understanding software, Google says, that you can use automatically parse sentences, as part of its TensorFlow open source machine learning library. The company also announced that it is releasing something called Parsey McParseface (Google has a sense of humor), which is a pre-trained model for parsing English-language text. Nate Swanner of The Next Web, attempts to explain it: Combining machine learning and search techniques, Parsey McParseface is 94 percent accurate, according to Google. It also leans on SyntaxNet's neural-network framework for analyzing the linguistic structure of a sentence or statement, which parses the functional role of each word in a sentence. If you're confused, here's the short version: Parsey and SyntaxNet are basically like five year old humans who are learning the nuances of language. In Google's simple example above, 'saw' is the root word (verb) for the sentence, while 'Alice' and 'Bob' are subjects (nouns). Parsey's scope can get a bit broader, too.

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Scientists Find Gut Microbe That Survives Without Mitochondria

5/12/2016 6:30pm
An anonymous reader writes: Scientists have found a eukaryote microbe that completely lacks mitochondria, which are the powerhouses inside eukaryotic cells, the type of cells that make up humans, animals, plants and fungi. All eukaryotic cells contain a nucleus, organelles and mitochondrion. Scientists believe they were once free-living bacteria that got engulfed by primitive, ancient cells that were evolving to become what they are today. Anna Karnkowska, a researcher in evolutionary biology at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, found a gut microbe that contains no trace that it made any mitochondrial proteins at all. "That should theoretically kill the cell -- it shouldn't exist," she said. The researchers learned that these cells use a kind of machinery that is different than relying on mitochondria to assemble iron-sulfur clusters, which is thought to be a mitochondrial function. Michael Gray, biochemist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, calls the discovery of a eukaryote without any vestige of mitochondrion, "unprecedented." He adds, the results do not negate the idea that the acquisition of a mitochondrion was an important and perhaps defining event in the evolution of eukaryotic cells, because this organism's ancestors had mitochondria that were then lost after the cells acquired their non-mitochondrial system for making iron-sulfur clusters.

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Opera Adds Power-Saving Mode, Offers 'Up To 50 Percent' Longer Battery Life

5/12/2016 5:50pm
An anonymous reader writes: Opera Software has added a power-saving mode to its desktop web browser that "can increase the battery life by as much as 50 percent." The company claims optimizations are what has made the battery life increase possible, including "reducing activity from background tabs, adapting page-redrawing frequency, and tuning video-playback parameters." Opera claimed that a laptop running Windows 10 64-bit with the power-saving feature enabled lasts 49 percent longer than one with Chrome put under equal stress. Ad blocking was turned on during the test as well. The feature is not enabled by default, but a blue battery icon will appear next to the browser's address bar whenever the power cable is unplugged from your computer. When the laptop's battery is running low, the browser will suggest turning on power-saving mode, too. Earlier this week, Opera launched a new VPN app for iOS that is free to use and includes unlimited data.

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