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Slashdot Asks: Anyone Considering an Apple Watch 4?

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 23:44
Long-time Slashdot reader kwelch007 writes: I finally gave in, after years of Android loyalty, because the iPhone and Apple Watch just worked, so I was told (and it is true). I changed from my Motorola Maxx for an iPhone 7, because I wanted the Apple Watch. Shortly after, I purchased a second-hand Apple Watch Series 1. I have never looked back...and I'm happy with it. Last week, I was able to buy an Apple Watch Series 4 with the exact specs I wanted... Wow! The screen is a ton bigger than my Series 1. I noticed right away when it asked me to set my passcode...the buttons were WAY bigger! It truly has the "side-to-side" screen...it's noticable... "Walkie Talkie" is super convenient (used with my associate who told me that it was in stock at Best Buy...) Cool: 1) It's big, but not much bigger on your wrist than the 42mm versions previous...rather, the screen is bigger, brighter, and more usable. 2) The speakers and mics are far and away better than previous versions of the Apple Watch. But they don't yet have access to "the highly-touted 'ECG' capability". (Fortune reports it was only approved by America's FDA the day before the launch event -- and isn't yet available for "international" customers.) And the software also isn't ready yet for "Fall Protection," a feature which calls emergency responders if it detects that you've fallen to the ground and you don't respond to prompts for the next 60 seconds. ("The feature is automatic with Watch owners who identify themselves as 65 and up," USA Today reported last week.) "I spoke to several people in their 40s or 50s who said the same thing: they were already considering buying Series 4 watches for their parents for this feature alone," reported Daring Fireball, and both sites concluded that excitement was actually higher for Apple's new watches than it was for their new iPhones. ("We're talking about a device used by over a billion people -- the iPhone," writes USA Today, "compared with an accessory that analysts say have sold about 15 million units.") Daring Fireball acknowledges that the Apple Watch isn't the "nicest" watch in the world, but it's definitely the nicest if you compare it only to other smart watches and fitness trackers. (Though "that's like saying you're the richest person in the poorhouse.") But what do Slashdot readers think? Is anyone considering an Apple Watch 4?

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Huge Trove of Employee Records Discovered At Abandoned Toys 'R' Us

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 21:34
An anonymous reader writes: Hackaday recently engaged in a bit of urban exploration, taking a look inside of a recently purchased Toys "R" Us location that has been boarded up since the once giant toy store chain folded in June. Inside they found plenty of hardware left behind, from point-of-sale systems to the Cisco networking gear in the server room. But the most interesting find was on paper. In a back office, they found "several boxes" of personal information about the store's employees, from their medical records to photocopies of their driver's licenses and Social Security cards [and also tax forms]. A video included with the article gives the viewer an impression of just how large a collection of files were left behind. The author wonders if the situation in this particular store was a fluke, or if the other [800] Toys "R" Us locations were left in a similar state. The article calls it "a very surprising look at what get's left behind when the money runs out and the employees simply give up...." "We saw the great lengths the company went to protect customer information, so to see how little regard they had for their own people was honestly infuriating."

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MIT's Elegant Schoolbus Algorithm Was No Match For Angry Parents

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 19:34
"Computers can solve your problem. You may not like the answer," writes the Boston Globe. Slashdot reader sandbagger explains: "Boston Public Schools asked MIT graduate students Sebastien Martin and Arthur Delarue to build an algorithm that could do the enormously complicated work of changing start times at dozens of schools -- and re-routing the hundreds of buses that serve them. In theory this would also help with student alertness...." MIT also reported that "Approximately 50 superfluous routes could be eliminated using the new method, saving the school district between $3 million and $5 million annually." The Globe reports: They took to the new project with gusto, working 14- and 15-hour days to meet a tight deadline -- and occasionally waking up in the middle of the night to feed new information to a sprawling MIT data center. The machine they constructed was a marvel. Sorting through 1 novemtrigintillion options -- that's 1 followed by 120 zeroes -- the algorithm landed on a plan that would trim the district's $100 million-plus transportation budget while shifting the overwhelming majority of high school students into later start times.... But no one anticipated the crush of opposition that followed. Angry parents signed an online petition and filled the school committee chamber, turning the plan into one of the biggest crises of Mayor Marty Walsh's tenure. The city summarily dropped it. The failure would eventually play a role in the superintendent's resignation... Big districts stagger their start times so a single fleet of buses can serve every school: dropping off high school students early in the morning, then circling back to get the elementary and middle school kids. If you're going to push high school start times back, then you've probably got to move a lot of elementary and middle schools into earlier time slots. The district knew that going in, and officials dutifully quizzed thousands of parents and teachers at every grade level about their preferred start times. But they never directly confronted constituents with the sort of dramatic change the algorithm would eventually propose -- shifting school start times at some elementary schools by as much as two hours. Even more... Hundreds of families were facing a 9:30 to 7:15 a.m. shift. And for many, that was intolerable. They'd have to make major changes to work schedules or even quit their jobs... Nearly 85% of the district had ended up with a new start time, and "In the end, the school start time quandary was more political than technical... This was a fundamentally human conflict, and all the computing power in the world couldn't solve it." But will the whole drama play out again? "Last year, even after everything went sideways in Boston, some 80 school districts from around the country reached out to the whiz kids from MIT, eager for the algorithm to solve their problems."

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Comcast Outbids Fox With $40 Billion Offer For Sky In Auction

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 18:34
Comcast outbid Rupert Murdoch's Twenty-First Century Fox after offering $40 billion in an auction on Saturday. According to Yahoo Finance, "The U.S. cable giant bid $22.59 a share for control of London-listed Sky, bettering a $20.49 dollars-a-share offer by Fox, Britain's Takeover Panel said." From the report: Buying Sky will make Philadelphia-based Comcast, which owns the NBC network and Universal Pictures, the world's largest pay-TV operator with around 52 million customers. Chairman and chief executive Brian Roberts has had his eye on Sky as a way to help counter declines in subscribers for traditional cable TV in its core U.S. market as viewers switch to video-on-demand services like Netflix and Amazon. Comcast's knock-out offer thwarted Murdoch's long-held ambition to win control of Sky, and is also a setback for U.S. entertainment giant Walt Disney which would have likely been its ultimate owner. Disney agreed a separate $71 billion deal to buy most of Fox's film and TV assets, including its existing 39 percent stake in Sky, in June and would have taken full ownership after a successful Fox takeover.

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NSA's 'Codebreaker Challenge' Features Exploiting Blockchain To Steal Ethereum

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 17:34
"The National Security Agency's 2018 Codebreaker Challenge kicked off on Friday, 9/21, and runs through 12/31," writes Slashdot reader eatvegetables. Each year's challenge -- which is open to U.S. students -- comes with its own (fictitious) backstory which the organizers say is "meant for providing realistic context." This year's story? A new strain of ransomware has managed to penetrate several critical government networks and NSA has been called upon to assist in remediating the infection to prevent massive data losses. For each infected machine, an encrypted copy of the key needed to decrypt the ransomed files has been stored in a smart contract on the Ethereum blockchain* and is set to only be unlocked upon receipt of the ransom payment. Your mission is to ultimately (1) find a way to unlock the ransomware without giving in to the attacker's demands and (2) figure out a way to recover all of the funds already paid by other victims. * For the purposes of this challenge, a private blockchain has been created with no real monetary value associated with the Ether. "The first half focuses on network protocol analysis and binary reverse-engineering," writes eatvegetables, while "The second half is all about attempting to exploit the blockchain." An email address from "a recognized U.S. school or university" is required, and the original submission notes that America's college students "are already hard at work trying to push their school to the top of the leaderboard."

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Should The US Government Break Up Google, Twitter, and Facebook?

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 16:34
The Bay Area Newsgroup reports: Political momentum for a crackdown on Silicon Valley's social media giants got a boost this week when a state attorney general said he would tell U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions next week that Google, Facebook and Twitter should be broken up. Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry wants the federal government to do to the social media firms what it did to Standard Oil in 1911, according to a Louisiana newspaper report Tuesday... "This can't be fixed legislatively," Landry told the paper. "We need to go to court with an antitrust suit." He or another high official from his office will next week present the break-up proposal to Sessions... Landry, president of the National Association of Attorneys General, had spent months with his colleagues probing what they described as anti-competitive practices by Facebook, Google and Twitter, according to the paper. CNET reports: On Friday, Bloomberg reported it had obtained a draft of a potential White House executive order that asks certain government agencies to recommend actions that would "protect competition among online platforms and address online platform bias." The order, reportedly in its preliminary stages, asks US antitrust authorities to "thoroughly investigate whether any online platform has acted in violation of the antitrust laws."

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Top 20+ iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max features [Video]

9to5Mac - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 15:55

Yesterday marked the official launch day of the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max, an upgrade over last year’s groundbreaking iPhone X release. Although iPhone XS is an ‘S’ model year upgrade, which generally means more refinements than radical new changes, there is still a lot to digest from a feature standpoint.

Most notably, this year’s release includes the largest iPhone display ever conceived — the 6.5-inch iPhone XS Max. Watch our hands-on video as we step through some of my favorite iPhone XS features. more…

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Cody Wilson, 3D-Printed Gun Pioneer, Arrested In Taiwan

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 15:34
Cody Wilson, maker of the first 3D-printed plastic gun, has been arrested in Taiwan. Long-time Slashdot reader SonicSpike quotes Reason: Earlier this week, Texas police issued a warrant for his arrest. Wilson, they claimed, found a woman on sugardaddymeet.com, a website that requires all users to assert they are 18 or over, then met her and paid for sex with her. Police say the woman was actually 16, which made that act a violation of Texas penal code 22.011 (A)(2)(a), regarding sex with a minor, which is legally considered sexual assault regardless of consent or payment. While Taiwan has no formal extradition treaty with the U.S., and Wilson was not said to have been doing anything directly criminal in Taiwan, the press there reports that he was arrested without incident because the U.S. had revoked his passport, making his mere presence in Taiwan illegal. (The U.S. government has the power to revoke the passports of people facing felony arrest warrants.) Wilson was then, according to The New York Times, "delivered...to the National Immigration Agency" in Taiwan. It is expected to deport him to the U.S. to face those charges, which carry a potential 2 to 20 years in prison and $10,000 fine. A reporter for Ars Technica visited Wilson's home weapons printing company, and was told that "A management restructuring is coming." But they also contacted Adam Bhala Lough, who directed and wrote a documentary film about Wilson. Prior to Wilson's arrest, Lough argued that "Without Cody, it can't last. It's like Tesla and Elon Musk, you can't separate the two. "If he comes home and faces the music, there is a chance Defense Distributed will survive because it is a totally independent company without a board or any regulatory body. And the buyers of these products -- not to generalize, but at least the ones I met while doing the documentary -- they won't care about buying a product from an [accused] pedophile. In fact they may be even more emboldened by the idea that Cody was 'set-up' or that it is a 'deep-state conspiracy' against him, even if (or when) he admits to it."

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Space Junk Successfully Captured In Orbit For the First Time (with Video)

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 14:34
"The Surrey Space Center successfully used a net to capture a piece of artificial space junk in orbit for the first time in history on Sunday," writes Slashdot reader dmoberhaus. "The video was just released Wednesday and is quite stunning." "Not only does the net look cool as hell, it's addressing a major problem for the future of space exploration," reports Motherboard: The test was carried about by the RemoveDEBRIS satellite, an experimental space debris removal platform built by an international consortium of space companies and university research centers. There are tens of thousands of pieces of fast-moving space junk in orbit, which range from the centimeter-scale all the way to entire rocket stages. Some of these pieces are moving faster than a bullet and all of them pose a serious danger to other satellites and crewed capsules... Removing this junk from orbit is particularly challenging because of the various sizes of the debris, its erratic tumbling motion, and the fact that some pieces are moving as fast as 30,000 miles per hour. The successful experiment follows six years of Earth-based testing, according to a professor at the lead research institution, the Surrey Space Centre. "While it might sound like a simple idea, the complexity of using a net in space to capture a piece of debris took many years of planning, engineering and coordination."

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Purism Launches First Security Key with Tamper-Evident Protection for Laptops

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 13:34
An anonymous reader quotes Softpedia: Purism announced Thursday that its highly anticipated Librem Key security key is now available for purchase as the first and only OpenPGP-based smart card to offer a Heads-firmware-integrated tamper-evident boot process for laptops. Developed in partnership with Nitrokey, a company known for manufacturing open-source USB keys that enable secure encryption and signing of data for laptops, Purism's Librem Key is dedicated to Librem laptop users, allowing them to store up to 4096-bit RSA keys and up to 512-bit ECC keys on the security key, as well as to securely generate new keys directly on the device. Librem Key integrates with the secure boot process of the latest Librem 13 and 15 laptops... Designed to let Librem laptop users see if someone has tampered with the software on their computers when it boots, Librem Key leverages the Heads-enabled TPM (Trusted Platform Module) chip in new Librem 13 and Librem 15 laptops. According to Purism, when inserted, the security key will blink green to show users that the laptop hasn't been tampered with, so they can continue from where they left off, and blinks red when tampering has occurred. Purism's web site explains: With so many attacks on password logins, most security experts these days recommend adding a second form of authentication (often referred to as "2FA" or "multi-factor authentication") in addition to your password so that if your password gets compromised the attacker still has to compromise your second factor. USB security tokens work well as this second factor because they are "something you have" instead of "something you know" like a password is, and because they are portable enough you can just keep them in your pocket, purse, or keychain and use them only when you need to login to a secure site.

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New video tests Apple Watch Series 4 fall detection with varying results

9to5Mac - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 13:19

One of the Apple Watch Series 4 features Apple touted on stage last week was fall detection. With this featured enabled, the Apple Watch can detect when you’ve fallen and offer to call emergency services.

A new video takes a (less-than-scientific) look at just how well the feature works.

more…

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Do iPhone X cases fit the iPhone XS?

9to5Mac - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 13:00

The iPhone X and iPhone XS carry a lot of similarities in terms of design, but as always, one of the biggest questions is whether or not cases for the iPhone X will fit this year’s model.

Read on to find out…

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Did John Deere Just Swindle California's Farmers Out of Their Right to Repair?

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 12:34
An anonymous reader quotes a new Wired opinion piece by Kyle Wiens and Elizabeth Chamberlain from iFixit: A big California farmers' lobbying group just blithely signed away farmers' right to access or modify the source code of any farm equipment software. As an organization representing 2.5 million California agriculture jobs, the California Farm Bureau gave up the right to purchase repair parts without going through a dealer. Farmers can't change engine settings, can't retrofit old equipment with new features, and can't modify their tractors to meet new environmental standards on their own. Worse, the lobbyists are calling it a victory.... John Deere and friends had already made every single "concession" earlier this year... Just after the California bill was introduced, the farm equipment manufacturers started circulating a flyer titled "Manufacturers and Dealers Support Commonsense Repair Solutions." In that document, they promised to provide manuals, guides, and other information by model year 2021. But the flyer insisted upon a distinction between a right to repair a vehicle and a right to modify software, a distinction that gets murky when software controls all of a tractor's operations. As Jason Koebler of Motherboard reported, that flyer is strikingly similar -- in some cases, identical word-for-word -- to the agreement the Farm Bureau just brokered... Instead of presenting a unified right-to-repair front, this milquetoast agreement muddies the conversation. More worryingly, it could cement a cultural precedent for electronics manufacturers who want to block third-party repair technicians from accessing a device's software.

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This week’s top stories: iPhone XS & Apple Watch Series 4 release, new iPad & AirPower hints, more

9to5Mac - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 12:01

In this week’s top stories: The iPhone XS and Apple Watch Series 4 arrive, iOS 12, watchOS 5, and tvOS 12 are released to the public, hope for AirPower continues, and more. Read on for all of this week’s top stories.

more…

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New Custom Linux Distro is Systemd-Free, Debian-Based, and Optimized for Windows 10

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 11:34
An anonymous reader quotes MSPowerUser: Nearly every Linux distro is already available in the Microsoft Store, allowing developers to use Linux scripting and other tools running on the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL). Now another distro has popped up in the Store, and unlike the others it claims to be specifically optimised for WSL, meaning a smaller and more appropriate package with sane defaults which helps developers get up and running faster. WLinux is based on Debian, and the developer, Whitewater Foundry, claims their custom distro will also allow faster patching of security and compatibility issues that appear from time to time between upstream distros and WSL... Popular development tools, including git and python3, are pre-installed. Additional packages can be easily installed via the apt package management system... A handful of unnecessary packages, such as systemd, have been removed to improve stability and security. The distro also offers out of the box support for GUI apps with your choice of X client, according to the original submission. WLinux is open source under the MIT license, and is available for free on GitHub. It can also be downloaded from Microsoft Store at a 50% discount, with the development company promising the revenue will be invested back into new features.

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Apple Park Visitor Center adds new, one-of-a-kind Avenues depicting Apple Watch Series 4, iPhone XS in exquisite detail

9to5Mac - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 11:00

While standard Apple retail locations around the world have been receiving new graphic panels and 3D Feature Bays for the launch of the Apple Watch Series 4, iPhone XS, and upcoming iPhone XR, Apple Park Visitor Center is a wholly unique place. Coinciding with yesterday’s product launches, the store section of the space received some new and incredibly unique displays.

more…

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Apple prepares back-up plans for UK staff in case Battersea development plans are delayed

9to5Mac - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 10:57

Back in 2016, it was reported that Apple planned to create a new UK campus in the iconic Battersea Power Station along the Thames. Now, The Times reports that Apple has started to make contingency plans out of fear its new British headquarters could be delayed.

more…

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Report details Apple’s aversion to adult language, violence and nudity in original TV content efforts

9to5Mac - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 10:36

As Apple’s original content powers up, we have heard rumblings of the types of shows Apple is looking for. Apple is seemingly looking for television that reflects its brand, eschewing darker themes and adult content that is common to high-profile TV dramas like Game of Thrones.

There had been some murmurs that Apple was relaxing slightly, and opening up to a mixture of family-friendly and mature material. However, a new report from Wall Street Journal largely says the opposite. It says Apple wants quality content with stars and broad appeal, bbut not ‘gratuitous sex, profanity or violence’.

more…

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Mystery Solved: FBI Closed New Mexico Observatory to Investigate Child Porn

Slashdot - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 10:34
"The mysterious 11-day closure of a New Mexico solar observatory stemmed from an FBI investigation of a janitor suspected of using the facility's wireless internet service to send and receive child pornography, federal court documents showed..." An anonymous reader quotes the Washington Post: In July, FBI agents investigating child sexual exploitation traced the location of several IP addresses linked to child pornography activity to the observatory, according to a 39-page search warrant application. During an interview with federal authorities on Aug. 21, the facility's chief observer said he had found, on a number of occasions, the same laptop hidden and running in various seldom-used offices around the observatory. He described the contents of the laptop as "not good," according to court documents. A federal agent immediately went to the observatory, located deep within Lincoln National Forest, and took the laptop into evidence... Aside from continuing to "feverishly" search the facility, the documents state that the janitor said, "it was only a matter of time before the facility 'got hit,'" and that he "believed there was a serial killer in the area, and that he was fearful that the killer might enter the facility and execute someone." In response to the janitor's behavior, the management of the observatory, without input from the FBI, shut it down and evacuated its personnel. The facility's cleaning contract with the janitor's parents was also terminated. The warrant application specified that the janitor "has a key to the building and unlimited access to the building, and is familiar with which offices are used only a handful of times a year." It also says that the janitor was the only person in the facility at the time of the alleged downloads.

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Twitter says it’s possible some private DMs were sent to the wrong people

9to5Mac - Sat, 09/22/2018 - 10:00

Twitter disclosed this week that a bug in its “Account Activity API” may have been at fault for sending some people’s direct messages to Twitter developers. As noted by CNET, Twitter has located and resolved the bug, and says it is “very sorry this happened.”

more…

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