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Sunday July 15, 2018 @ 11:27:15 PM mt

New Book Paints Different Picture of Workplace Behavior At Google and Facebook




Longtime Slashdot reader theodp writes: In Valley of Genius: The Uncensored History of Silicon Valley (As Told by the Hackers, Founders, and Freaks Who Made It Boom), Adam Fisher paints quite a different picture of life at now-workforce behavior preachers Google and Facebook, revealing that the tech giants' formative days were filled with the kind of antics that run afoul of HR protocols. Google was not a normal place, begins an excerpt in Vanity Fair that includes some juicy quotes attributed to Google executive chef Charlie Ayers about Google's founders ("Sergey's the Google playboy. He was known for getting his fingers caught in the cookie jar with employees that worked for the company in the masseuse room. He got around.") And in Sex, Beer, and Coding, Wired runs an excerpt about Facebook's wild early days, which even extended to the artwork gracing its office ("The office was on the second floor, so as you walk in you immediately have to walk up some stairs, and on the big 10-foot-high wall facing you is just this huge buxom woman with enormous breasts wearing this Mad Max-style costume riding a bulldog. It's the most intimidating, totally inappropriate thing. [...] That set a tone for us. A huge-breasted warrior woman riding a bulldog is the first thing you see as you come in the office, so like, get ready for that!" So, what changed? "When Sheryl Sandberg joined the company is when I saw a vast shift in everything in the company," said Ayers about Google. Sandberg later became Facebook's grown-up face.

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Sunday July 15, 2018 @ 08:12:09 PM mt

Passwords For Tens of Thousands of Dahua Devices Cached In IoT Search Engine




An anonymous reader writes: "Login passwords for tens of thousands of Dahua devices have been cached inside search results returned by ZoomEye, a search engine for discovering Internet-connected devices (also called an IoT search engine)," reports Bleeping Computer. A security researcher has recently discovered that instead of just indexing IoT devices, ZoomEye is also sending an exploitation package to devices and caching the results, which also include cleartext DDNS passwords that allow an attacker remote access to these devices. Searching for the devices is trivial and simple queries can unearth tens of thousands of vulnerable Dahua DVRs. According to the security researcher who spotted these devices, the trick has been used in the past year by the author of the BrickerBot IoT malware, the one who was on a crusade last year, bricking unsecured devices in an attempt to have them go offline instead of being added to IoT botnets.

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Sunday July 15, 2018 @ 05:55:49 PM mt

Digital Ads Are Starting To Feel Psychic




It seems like everyone these days has had a paranoiac moment where a website advertises something to you that you recently purchased or was gifted without a digital trail. According to a new website called New Organs, which collects first-hand accounts of these moments, "the feeling of being listened to is among the most common experiences, along with seeing the same ads on different websites, and being tracked via geo-location," reports The Outline. The website was created by Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne, two Brooklyn-based artists whose work explores the intersections of technology and society. From the report: "We are stuck in this 20th century idea of spying, of wiretapping and hidden microphones," said Brain. "But really there is this whole new sensory apparatus, a complicated entanglement of online trackers and algorithms that are watching over us." It is this new sensory apparatus that Brain and Lavigne metaphorically refer to as "new organs," as if the online surveillance framework used by social media platforms like Facebook has somehow transfigured into a semi-living organism. "These new organs don't actually need to listen to your voice to know that you like Japanese knives," Lavigne told me. "They actually have ways of coming to know things about you that we don't fully understand yet." In other words, these new methods of data collection have become so uncannily accurate in their knowledge of you as to occasionally feel indistinguishable from actual ears listening in on and understanding intimate conversations. There are a few things that we do already know about these new "organs" of data processing, as defined by Brain and Lavigne. We know, for instance, that they have an insatiable appetite for personal data. They gather this by first tracking online activity, which is enough to tell them what people like, what they search for, what they listen to, what they read, where they're walking for dinner, and also, worryingly, who their friends are and what they like, read, purchase -- data that is gathered without their awareness. But, then, the organs also gather information purchased from commercial data brokers about people's offline lives, like how many credit cards they own, what their income is, and what they purchase when they go grocery shopping. And all of this information is triangulated with friends' data, because if they know what those dear to you are buying -- a Japanese knife, for instance -- there is a good chance that that person will be interested in that very same thing. The new organs process this enormous amount of information to break you down into categories, which are sometimes innocuous like, "Listens to Spotify" or "Trendy Moms," but can also be more sensitive, identifying ethnicity and religious affiliation, or invasively personal, like "Lives away from family." More than this, the new organs are being integrated with increasingly sophisticated algorithms, so they can generate predictive portraits of you, which they then sell to advertisers who can target products that you don't even know you want yet.

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Sunday July 15, 2018 @ 04:52:39 PM mt

Coinbase Says It's Exploring Adding 5 New Coins To Its Platform




Coinbase, the largest U.S.-based digital currency exchange, announced that it is "exploring the addition" of five new cryptocurrencies to its platform. The five cryptocurrencies being considered are Cardano (ADA), Basic Attention Token (BAT), Stellar Lumens (XLM), Zcash (ZEC), and 0x (ZRX). Bitcoinist reports: Coinbase's announcement claims to arrive for both employees and the public at the same time. Notes Coinbase: "We are making this announcement internally at Coinbase and to the public at the same time to remain transparent with our customers about support for future assets." Despite the apparent attempt at remaining transparent, the statement of intent has led many to question why the exchange giant is even making an announcement of its "exploration" at all -- especially following a cut-and-dry announcement of future support for Ethereum Classic. The company pre-emptively responded to such questions by explaining: "Unlike the ongoing process of adding Ethereum Classic, which is technically very similar to Ethereum, these assets will require additional exploratory work and we cannot guarantee they will be listed for trading. Furthermore, our listing process may result in some of these assets being listed solely for customers to buy and sell, without the ability to send or receive using a local wallet. We may also only enable certain ways to interact with these assets through our site, such as supporting only deposits and withdrawals from transparent Zcash addresses. Finally, some of these assets may be offered in other jurisdictions prior to being listed in the U.S." Coinbase also said to expect future announcements of exploration: "Going forward, you should expect that we will make similar announcements about exploring the addition of multiple assets. Some of these assets may become available everywhere, while others may only be supported in specific jurisdictions."

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Sunday July 15, 2018 @ 04:52:38 PM mt

The New MacBook Pro Features 'Fastest SSD Ever' In a Laptop




Last week, Apple refreshed the 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models, bringing newer Intel processors and quieter keyboards. The new 13-inch MacBook Pro also just so happens to feature the fastest SSD ever in a laptop, according to benchmarks from Laptop Mag. Mac Rumors summarizes the findings: The site's tests were performed on the $2,499 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar equipped with a 2.7GHz quad-core 8th-generation Core i7 processor, 16GB RAM, Intel Iris Plus 655, and a 512GB SSD. A file copy test of the SSD in the new MacBook Pro, which Apple says supports sequential read speeds of up to 3.2GB/s and sequential write speeds up to 2.2GB/s, led Laptop Mag to declare the SSD in the MacBook Pro "the fastest ever" in a laptop. Higher capacity SSDs may see even faster speeds on disk speeds tests. A BlackMagic Disk Speed test was also conducted, resulting in an average write speed of 2,682 MB/s. On a Geekbench 4 CPU benchmark, the 13-inch MacBook Pro earned a score of 18,055 on the multi-core test, outperforming 13-inch machines from companies like Dell, HP, Asus, and Microsoft. That score beats out all 2017 MacBook Pro models and is faster than some iMac configurations. 15-inch MacBook Pro models with 6-core 8th-generation Intel chips will show even more impressive speeds. With that said, the 13-inch MacBook Pro didn't quite measure up to other machines when it came to GPU performance. "The 13-inch 2018 MacBook Pro uses Intel's Iris Plus Graphics 655 with 128MB of embedded DRAM and was unable to compete in a Dirt 3 graphics test, getting only 38.8 frames per second," reports Mac Rumors. "All Windows-based machines tested offered much better performance."

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Sunday July 15, 2018 @ 04:52:37 PM mt

How Minecraft Is Helping Kids Fall In Love With Books




An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Robert Louis Stevenson's 1881 classic Treasure Island tells of Jim Hawkins's adventures on board the Hispaniola, as he and his crew -- along with double-crossing pirate Long John Silver -- set out to find Captain Flint's missing treasure on Skeleton Island. Now, more than a century later, children can try and find it themselves, with the bays and mountains of Stevenson's fictional island given a blocky remodeling in Minecraft, as part of a new project aimed at bringing reluctant readers to literary classics. From Spyglass Hill to Ben Gunn's cave, children can explore every nook and cranny of Skeleton Island as part of Litcraft, a new partnership between Lancaster University and Microsoft, which bought the game for $2.5 billion in 2015 and which is now played by 74 million people each month. The Litcraft platform uses Minecraft to create accurate scale models of fictional islands: Treasure Island is the first, with Michael Morpurgo's Kensuke's Kingdom just completed and many others planned. [...] The project, which is featured on Microsoft's Minecraft.edu website, is currently being presented to school teachers and librarians across the UK. There has been "an enthusiastic response" to the trials under way in local schools, with plans to roll Litcraft out to libraries in Lancashire and Leeds from October 2018.

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Sunday July 15, 2018 @ 04:52:35 PM mt

Tesla Will Be First Automaker To Lose the Federal Tax Credit For Electric Cars




Tesla has confirmed to Jalopnik that its 200,000th vehicle has been delivered this month, meaning the full $7,500 federal tax credit for electric cars will slowly be phased out. Tesla is the first automaker to reach this mark. "GM is close, too, while Nissan, Ford, and others still have a ways to go," notes The Verge. From the report: Tesla customers who take delivery of their cars -- regardless of whether it's a Model S, X, or 3 -- between now and December 31st, 2018, will still be eligible for the full $7,500 credit from the IRS. Customers who take delivery of their cars between January 1st and June 30th, 2019, will only be eligible for a $3,750 credit. And customers who take delivery of their cars between July 1st and December 31st, 2019, will be offered just $1,875. After that, the incentive is dead. Put in place early on in the Obama administration, the tax credit was seen as a tool that could be used to encourage customers to buy plug-in electric or hybrid vehicles. This would simultaneously help advance the president's climate and clean energy goals while offering consumers a bit of a break while the cost of battery technology slowly came down. It was also meant to encourage manufacturers to push for greater advancements in that technology. The dollar amount was technically flexible; it was essentially a $2,500 credit with room to increase up to $7,500 depending on the battery capacity of the car being sold. The better the battery in a company's car, the better the rebate their buyers would get.

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Sunday July 15, 2018 @ 04:52:34 PM mt

Facebook Makes Moves On Instagram's Users




Facebook is trying to get Instagram users to visit its site more often by further entwining the two services. According to Instagram user Spencer Chen, the Instagram app prompted him to check out a friend's new photo on Facebook. "Chen grabbed a screenshot and posted the notification on the internet, calling it a cry for attention by the older social network," reports Bloomberg. From the report: Instagram says what Chen experienced was a product test with a small contingent of users. Still, Instagram feeds Facebook in other ways. Last year, Facebook launched its own version of an Instagram tool called Stories, which lets people post videos that disappear within 24 hours. (The feature was initially copied from Snap Inc., a competitor.) Greenfield noticed the Facebook version became more popular once it became possible for Instagram users to post their stories in both places with the click of a button. Instagram Stories' 400 million users present a significant opportunity for Facebook's advertising business, according to Ken Sena, an analyst at Wells Fargo Securities. Instagram is on track to provide Facebook with $20 billion in revenue by 2020, about a quarter of Facebook's total, he wrote to investors. And cross-posting could help Facebook's video ambitions.

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Sunday July 15, 2018 @ 04:52:33 PM mt

Unlike Most Millennials Norway's Are Rich




An anonymous reader quotes a report from the BBC: Best known for its Viking history, snow sports and jaw-dropping fjords, Norway is making a new name for itself as the only major economy in Europe where young people are getting markedly richer. People in their early thirties in Norway have an average annual disposable household income of around 460,000 kroner (around $56,200). Young Norwegians have enjoyed a 13% rise in disposable household income in real terms compared to Generation X (those born between 1966 and 1980) when they were the same age. These startling figures come from the largest comparative wealth data set in the world, the Luxembourg Income Database, and were analyzed in a recent report on generational incomes for the UK Think Tank The Resolution Foundation. Compare this with young people in other strong economies: U.S. millennials have experienced a 5% dip, in Germany it's a 9% drop. For those living in southern Europe (the southern Eurozone suffered the brunt of the global economic crisis in 2008), disposable incomes have plunged by as much as 30%. Norway's youth unemployment rate (among 15- to 29-year-olds) is also relatively low at 9.4% compared to an OECD average of 13.9%. According to the BBC, this can be attributed to the country's rapid economic growth, thanks largely to their huge oil and gas sectors. "After seeing the biggest increase in average earnings of any large high-income economy between 1980 and 2013, it now leads multiple global rankings for wealth and wellbeing."

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Sunday July 15, 2018 @ 08:15:32 AM mt

EFF To Japan: Reject Website Blocking




An anonymous reader quotes a report from the Electronic Frontier Foundation: The latest country to consider a website blocking proposal is Japan, and EFF has responded to the call for comment by sharing all the reasons that cutting off websites is a terrible solution for copyright violations. In response to infringement of copyrighted material, specifically citing a concern for manga, the government of Japan began work on a proposal that would make certain websites inaccessible in Japan. In response to Japan's proposal, EFF explained that website blocking is not effective at the stated goal of protecting artists and their work. First, it can be easily circumvented. Second, it ends up capturing a lot of lawful expression. Blocking an entire website does not distinguish between legal and illegal content, punishing both equally. According to numerous studies, the best answer to the problem of online infringement is providing easy, lawful alternatives. Doing this also has the benefit of not penalizing legitimate expression the way blocking does. According to The Japan Times, the "emergency measure" would "encourage [ISPs] to restrict access to such 'malicious' websites 'on a voluntary basis' in order to protect the nation's famed manga and anime industries from free-riders."

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