Computers & Linux News

Consumer Reports No Longer Recommends the Tesla Model 3

SlashDot - 0 sec ago
Consumer Reports is pulling its recommendation of the Tesla Model 3, citing reliability issues with the car. "Tesla buyers are more likely to be satisfied with their car than customers of any other brand, according to Consumer Reports," reports CNN. "Yet the publication says many customers reported problems with the Model 3, including loose body trim and glass defects." From the report: "Consumers expect their cars to last -- and not be in the repair shop. That's why reliability is so important," said Jake Fisher, senior director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports. Tesla pointed to its overall customer satisfaction rating from Consumer Reports and said it has corrected many of the problems found in the survey. "We take feedback from our customers very seriously and quickly implement improvements any time we hear about issues," said the company statement. It said the survey was conducted from July through September, "so the vast majority of these issues have already been corrected through design and manufacturing improvements, and we are already seeing a significant improvement in our field data." Last May, the product testing website failed to give the Model 3 a recommendation due to issues with braking, but ultimately reversed its decision after Tesla released a firmware update improving the car's breaking distance by nearly 20 feet.

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Unearthed Emails Show Google, Ad Giants Know They Break Privacy Laws

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AmiMoJo shares a report from The Register: Privacy warriors have filed fresh evidence in their ongoing battle against real-time web ad exchange systems, which campaigners claim trample over Europe's data protection laws. The new filings -- submitted today to regulators in the UK, Ireland, and Poland -- allege that Google and industry body the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) are well aware that their advertising networks flout the EU's privacy-safeguarding GDPR, and yet are doing nothing about it. The IAB, Google -- which is an IAB member -- and others in the ad-slinging world insist they aren't doing anything wrong. The fresh submissions come soon after the UK Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) revealed plans to probe programmatic ads. These are adverts that are selected and served on-the-fly as you visit a webpage, using whatever personal information has been scraped together about you to pick an ad most relevant to your interests. [...] The ICO's investigation will focus on how well informed people are about how their personal information is used for this kind of online advertising, which laws ad-technology firms rely on for processing said private data, and whether users' data is secure as it is shared on these platforms.

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American Airlines Has Cameras In Their Screens Too

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An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News: A viral photo showing a camera in a Singapore Airlines in-flight TV display recently caused an uproar online. The image was retweeted hundreds of times, with many people expressing concern about the privacy implications. As it turns out, some seat-back screens in American Airlines' premium economy class have them, too. Sri Ray was aboard an American Airlines Boeing 777-200 flight to Tokyo in September 2018 when he noticed something strange: a camera embedded in the seat back of his entertainment system. The cameras are also visible in this June 2017 review of the airline's premium economy offering by the Points Guy, as well as this YouTube video by Business Traveller magazine. American Airlines spokesperson Ross Feinstein confirmed to BuzzFeed News that cameras are present on some of the airlines' in-flight entertainment systems, but said "they have never been activated, and American is not considering using them." Feinstein added, "Cameras are a standard feature on many in-flight entertainment systems used by multiple airlines. Manufacturers of those systems have included cameras for possible future uses, such as hand gestures to control in-flight entertainment." After Twitter user Vitaly Kamluk saw a similar lens on Singapore Airlines and tweeted photos of the system last week, the airline responded from its official Twitter account, saying the cameras were "disabled." Still, the airlines could quell passengers' concerns by covering the lenses with a plastic cover, if indeed there is no use for the camera.

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Queensland, Australia Drivers Set To Get Emoji Number Plates

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The unusual move is set to be rolled out by Personalised Plates Queensland (PPQ) from next month, allowing drivers to adorn their number plates with a touch of emotion. From a report: Royal Automobile Club of Queensland (RACQ) spokeswoman Rebecca Michael said it was no different from allowing drivers to express themselves with other available themes like their favorite footy team. "For quite some time we've seen that you can support your favourite team or your favourite town with a symbol on your number plate," Dr Michael told 7News Brisbane. "And using an emoji is no different." But before your mind goes straight to the gutter, no, you won't be able to completely replace the letters and numbers on your number plate with an eggplant or smiling poo emoji. The smartphone symbols won't be included in rego numbers and are simply decorative.

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Nike Bricks Its Shoes With a Faulty Firmware Update

SlashDot - 35 min 51 sec ago
AmiMoJo writes: Nike users are experiencing some technical difficulties in the wild world of connected footwear. Nike's $350 "Adapt BB" sneakers are the latest in the company's line of self-lacing shoes, and they come with the "Nike Adapt" app for Android and iOS. The app pairs with the shoes and lets you adjust the tightness of the laces, customize the lights (yeah, there are lights), and see, uh, how much battery life your shoes have left. The only problem: Nike's Android app doesn't work. Android users report that their new kicks aren't paring with the app properly, and some customers report failed firmware updates for the shoes, which render them unable to pair with the app at all. "My left shoe won't even reboot." writes one owner.

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Right To Repair Legislation Is Officially Being Considered In Canada

SlashDot - 1 hour 14 min ago
Canada is the newest frontier in the fight for the "right to repair" after an Ontario politician introduced a bill on Thursday that would ensure individuals and independent professionals can repair brand-name computers and phones cheaply and easily. From a report: Manufacturers make it incredibly difficult to repair our broken devices ourselves. Instead of taking a smashed phone to a local repair professional for an affordable fix, a complex matrix of trade secrets and government intervention often means consumers have to make a pricey trip to the Genius Bar or buy a new device entirely. This is bad for your wallet, but also bad for the planet. Ontario Liberal Party MPP Michael Coteau ran into this issue head-first after his daughter dropped his Samsung smartphone. An official repair job from the manufacturer was more expensive than just getting a new phone from his carrier, he told me over the phone. "It's a shame," Coteau said, "because the Samsung S8 was very good for me. Everything was perfect. I would've kept using it. But now I've replaced it." On Thursday, Coteau introduced a private member's bill in provincial parliament that, if passed, would be the first "right to repair" law for electronic devices in North America. More than a dozen US states are currently considering similar bills, but nothing is on the books yet in the US or in Canada.

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Facebook Continued To Identify Users Who Are Interested in Nazis -- and Then Used the Info To Let Advertisers Target Them, Investigation Finds

SlashDot - 1 hour 54 min ago
An anonymous reader shares a report: Facebook makes money by charging advertisers to reach just the right audience for their message -- even when that audience is made up of people interested in the perpetrators of the Holocaust or explicitly neo-Nazi music. Despite promises of greater oversight following past advertising scandals, a Times review shows that Facebook has continued to allow advertisers to target hundreds of thousands of users the social media firm believes are curious about topics such as "Joseph Goebbels," "Josef Mengele," "Heinrich Himmler," the neo-nazi punk band Skrewdriver and Benito Mussolini's long-defunct National Fascist Party. Experts say that this practice runs counter to the company's stated principles and can help fuel radicalization online. "What you're describing, where a clear hateful idea or narrative can be amplified to reach more people, is exactly what they said they don't want to do and what they need to be held accountable for," said Oren Segal, director of the Anti-Defamation League's center on extremism. After being contacted by The Times, Facebook said that it would remove many of the audience groupings from its ad platform.

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Japan Wants To Boost the Use of Electric Vehicles as a Power Source During Natural Disasters

SlashDot - 2 hours 35 min ago
Japan, a country which frequently suffers natural calamities such as tsunamis, typhoons, and earthquakes is looking to further harness the power of batteries used in electric vehicles (EVs) during such disasters, local media reports. From a report: Nissan, which produces the Leaf, the world's best-selling EV model, plans to hold an event in March to let people stay overnight in their cars and try using the electricity stored in their car batteries to simulate the experience of being in an emergency, according to Japanese newswire Jiji. A fully charged electric vehicle can supply power to a standard home for up to four days, a Nissan official told the news outlet. The company last year came to an agreement with Tokyo's Nerima Ward and the city of Yokosuka to provide EVs for free in emergency situations. Nerima also last year (link in Japanese) implemented a system whereby owners of EVs would be able to loan their vehicles out for free to those in need during a disaster, and also started using EVs for its fleet of police patrol cars.

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Amazon To Fund Computer Science Classes at 1,000 US High Schools

SlashDot - 3 hours 15 min ago
Amazon said its Future Engineer program will fund computer science classes at more than 1,000 high schools in all 50 states by this fall. From a report: This is a rapid expansion for the program that launched in November. Down the road, Amazon aims to reach more than 10 million kids with the coding activities and lessons each year and provide more than 100,000 students in more than 2,000 high schools access to introductory or advanced computer science courses. As part of the program, Amazon also plans to award 100 students with four-year, $10,000 scholarships and paid internships at the company to gain work experience. Future Engineer is part of a larger $50 million investment from Amazon in computer science and STEM education.

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Earth's Atmosphere Extends Much Farther Than Previously Thought

SlashDot - 3 hours 59 min ago
Contrary to general belief that Earth's atmosphere stops a bit over 62 miles from the surface, a new study based on observations made over two decades ago by the joint US-European Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) satellite shows that it actually extends as far 391,000 miles (630,000 km) or 50 times the Earth's diameter. This makes the Moon a very high altitude aircraft. From a report: Launched on December 2, 1995 atop an Atlas IIAS launcher from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, SOHO is parked in the first Lagrange point (L1) 930,000 miles (1.5 million km) from Earth where it has carried out studies of the Sun and the solar winds, and will continue to do so until at least 2020. From this vantage point, the observatory's Solar Wind Anisotropie (SWAN) instrument is able to measure the presence of hydrogen by looking at the Lyman-alpha line in the solar spectrum. And what works for the Sun, works for Earth. By turning SWAN on the Earth at the right times of the year, SOHO was able to detect hydrogen atoms from the atmosphere and measure how far out they extend into what space scientists call the geocorona. While the existence of the geocorona is well known -- the telescope set up by the Apollo 16 astronauts on the Moon even photographed it -- no one was sure how far out it reaches until now. By looking at data collected by SOHO in the mid 1990s, scientists from Russia's Space Research Institute and elsewhere were able to work out the extent and density of the geocorona. What they found was that sunlight on the day side of the Earth compresses the hydrogen until it reaches a density of 70 atoms per cubic cm at an altitude of 37,000 miles (60,000 km), and on the night side it can expand out until it has a density of only 0.2 atoms per cubic cm at the distance of the Moon's orbit. According to the study leader Igor Baliukin, the geocorona is so tenuous that it poses no hazard to astronauts or spacecraft.

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Google Researchers Say Software Alone Can't Mitigate Spectre Chip Flaws

SlashDot - 4 hours 40 min ago
A group of researchers say that it will be difficult to avoid Spectre bugs in the future unless CPUs are dramatically overhauled. From a report: Google researchers say that software alone is not enough to prevent the exploitation of the Spectre flaws present in a variety of CPUs. The team of researchers -- including Ross McIlroy, Jaroslav Sevcik, Tobias Tebbi, Ben L Titzer and Toon Verwaest -- work on Chrome's V8 JavaScript engine. The researchers presented their findings in a paper distributed through ArXiv and came to the conclusion that all processors that perform speculative execution will always remain susceptible to various side-channel attacks, despite mitigations that may be discovered in future.

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Linux Foundation Launches ELISA, an Open Source Project For Building Safety-Critical Systems

SlashDot - 5 hours 20 min ago
The Linux Foundation today launched Enabling Linux in Safety Applications (ELISA), an open source project comprising tools intended to help companies build and certify Linux-based systems whose failure could result in loss of human life, significant property damage, or environmental damage. From a report: In partnership with British chip designer Arm, BMW, autonomous platforms company Kuka, Linutronix, and Toyota, ELISA will work with certification and standardization bodies in "multiple industries" to establish ways Linux can form the foundation of safety-critical systems across industries.

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Pinterest Cracks Down on Anti-Vaxxers, Pressuring Facebook To Follow

SlashDot - 5 hours 57 min ago
Social network Pinterest has taken a big step to stop the spread of false content that is damaging people's health, which could put pressure on competitors to follow. From a report: Pinterest said Wednesday that it would no longer return any search results, including pins and boards, for terms related to vaccinations, whether in favor or against them. It took that step in late 2018 after noticing that the majority of shared images on Pinterest cautioned people against vaccinations, despite medical guidelines demonstrating that most vaccines are safe for most people. Pinterest told CNBC on Wednesday that it's been hard to remove this anti-vaccination content entirely, so it put the ban in place until it can figure out a more permanent strategy. It's working with health experts including doctors, as well as the social media analysis company called Storyful to come up with a better solution, the company said.

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Scientists Dressed Horses Like Zebras To Figure Out Why They Have Stripes

SlashDot - 6 hours 41 min ago
Why do zebras have stripes? From a report: Evolutionary biologists have proposed many possible theories, such as camouflage or vision aids for recognizing individual zebras. But in recent years, pest control has emerged as the leading explanation for zebra stripes. Researchers led by Tim Caro, an evolutionary ecologist at UC Davis, set out to test this idea in the field. The results, published Wednesday in PLOS ONE, reveal that stripes are a powerful deterrent to horse flies, a common nuisance that suck blood and bite flesh. The experiment managed to find the most delightful way to help explain these uniquely patterned coats -- by getting horses to cosplay as zebras.

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Oracle Claims a Fighter of Pirated Apps is a Front For Ad Fraud

SlashDot - 7 hours 25 min ago
A company that claims to combat app piracy is a pirate itself, according to a report Oracle released this week. From a report: Oracle claims the company, Tapcore, has been perpetrating a massive ad fraud on Android devices by infecting apps with software that ring up fake ad impressions and drain people's data. Based in The Netherlands, Tapcore works with developers to identify when apps are pirated and then enables developers to make money from those bootleg copies by serving ads. Oracle says that Tapcore's anti-piracy code was a Trojan horse that was generating fake mobile websites to trick ad serving platforms into paying them for non-existent ad inventory. "The code is delivering a steady stream of invisible video ads and spoofing domains," Dan Fichter, VP of software development at Oracle Data Cloud, tells Ad Age. "On all those impressions it looked like the advertiser was running ads on legitimate mobile websites. Not only were they not on a website, they were on an invisible web browser." On its website, Tapcore says it works with more than 3,000 apps, serving 150 million ad impressions a day. The apps whose pirated versions it has worked with include titles like "Perfect 365," "Draw Clash of Clans," "Vertex" and "Solitaire: Season 4," according to Oracle's report.

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Montana Legislator Introduces Bills To Give His State His Own Science

SlashDot - 8 hours 25 min ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The legislator in question is Republican Joe Read, who represents an area north of Missoula, home of many fine scientists at the University of Montana. Read has eight bills under consideration in the current session of the legislature, and two of those focus on climate change. One of them focuses on his state's role in any greenhouse gas regulatory program that would be instituted under a future president. Read is apparently unaware of past legal precedent indicating that the federal government has the legal ability to regulate pollutants. Instead, the preamble of the bill seemingly argues that Montana's emissions are all due to commerce that takes place within the state, and thus "any federal greenhouse gas regulatory program in the form of law or rule violates the 10th Amendment of the Constitution of the United States." As a result, the bill would prohibit state agencies, officials, and employees from doing anything to cooperate with federal efforts to limit greenhouse gas emissions. If passed, the Montana government "may not implement or enforce in any way any federal regulation, rule, or policy implementing a federal greenhouse gas regulatory program." But if you thought Read's grasp of constitutional law was shaky, you should check out his reason for objecting to doing anything about climate change. That's laid out in his second bill, which targets both science education and in-state programs designed to reduce carbon emissions. And it doesn't mince words, suggesting that pretty much all the scientists have it wrong: "the [US] National Climate Assessment makes the same errors as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and the National Academy of Sciences is also fundamentally wrong about climate change."

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Severe Vulnerabilities Uncovered In Popular Password Managers

SlashDot - 11 hours 25 min ago
chiefcrash shares a report from ZDNet: Independent Security Evaluators (ISE) published an assessment on Tuesday with the results of testing with several popular password managers, including LastPass and KeePass. The team said that each password management solution "failed to provide the security to safeguard a user's passwords as advertised" and "fundamental flaws" were found that "exposed the data they are designed to protect." The vulnerabilities were found in software operating on Windows 10 systems. In one example, the master password which users need to use to access their cache of credentials was stored in PC RAM in a plaintext, readable format. ISE was able to extract these passwords and other login credentials from memory while the password manager in question was locked. It may be possible that malicious programs downloaded to the same machine by threat actors could do the same. The report has summarized the main findings based on each password management solution. Here's what ISE had to say about LastPass and KeePass -- two of the most popular password managers available: "LastPass obfuscates the master password while users are typing in the entry, and when the password manager enters an unlocked state, database entries are only decrypted into memory when there is user interaction. However, ISE reported that these entries persist in memory after the software enters a locked state. It was also possible for the researchers to extract the master password and interacted-with password entries due to a memory leak." "KeePass scrubs the master password from memory and is not recoverable. However, errors in workflows permitted the researchers from extracting credential entries which have been interacted with. In the case of Windows APIs, sometimes, various memory buffers which contain decrypted entries may not be scrubbed correctly."

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NASA Eyes Colossal Cracks In Ice Shelf Near Antarctic Station

SlashDot - 14 hours 25 min ago
NASA is keeping an eye on the Brunt Ice Shelf, home to the British Antarctic Survey's Halley VI Research Station, which has growing cracks that are threatening to unload an iceberg soon. "NASA/USGS Landsat satellites are monitoring the action as the cracks grow," reports CNET. "When the iceberg calves, it could be twice the size of New York City. That would make it the largest berg to break off the Brunt ice shelf since observations of the area began in 1915." From the report: An annotated view of the ice shelf shows the cracks as they relate to the Halley VI station. The crack leading up the middle is especially concerning. It's been stable for 35 years, but NASA says it's now extending northward as fast as 2.5 miles (4 kilometers) per year. As of December, Halley station was home to around 30 science and technical staff on missions to study the ice shelf and climate change in the polar region. The BAS completed a relocation of the futuristic-looking Halley station in 2017, placing it farther away from the unpredictable cracking. "It is not yet clear how the remaining ice shelf will respond following the break, posing an uncertain future for scientific infrastructure and a human presence on the shelf that was first established in 1955," NASA says. NASA says iceberg calving is "a normal part of the life cycle of ice shelves, but the recent changes are unfamiliar in this area."

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Israel To Launch First Privately Funded Moon Mission

SlashDot - Wed, 2019-02-20 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: A team of Israeli scientists is to launch what will be the first privately funded mission to land on the moon this week, sending a spacecraft to collect data from the lunar surface. Named Beresheet, the Hebrew word for Genesis, the 585kg (1,290lb) robotic lander will blast off from Florida at 01.45 GMT on Friday, propelled by one of Elon Musk's SpaceX Falcon 9 rockets. Once it touches down, in several weeks, it will measure the magnetic field of the moon to help understand how it formed. Beresheet will also deposit a "time capsule" of digital files the size of coins containing the Bible, children's drawings, Israel's national anthem and blue and white flag, as well as memories of a Holocaust survivor. While it is not a government-led initiative, the state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) corporation joined as a partner. If the mission is successful, Israel will become the fourth country, after Russia, the U.S. and China, to reach the moon. "This is the lowest-budget spacecraft to ever undertake such a mission," an IAI statement said of the $100 million project. "The superpowers who managed to land a spacecraft on the moon have spent hundreds of millions." It added that although it was a private venture, Beresheet was a "national and historic achievement."

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Cybersecurity Expert Questions Existence of Embedded Camera On SIA's Inflight Entertainment Systems

SlashDot - Wed, 2019-02-20 21:10
Vitaly Kamluk, an information security expert and a high-ranking executive of cybersecurity company Kaspersky Lab, went on Twitter with concerns about an embedded camera in Singapore Airlines' (SIA) inflight entertainment systems. He tagged SIA in his post on Sunday, asking the airline to clarify how the camera is being used. Yahoo News reports: SIA quickly allayed his fears of unwanted surveillance by assuring Kamluk that the cameras have been disabled, with no plans to use them in the future. Not all of their devices sport the camera, though -- SIA explained that only some of its newer inflight entertainment systems come with cameras embedded in the hardware. In another tweet, SIA affirmed that the cameras were already built in by the original equipment manufacturers in newer inflight entertainment systems. Kamluk recommended that it's best to disable the cameras physically -- with stickers, for example -- to provide better peace of mind. In 2017, entertainment device developer Panasonic Avionics said it was studying how eye tracking can be used for a better passenger experience. As the report mentions, "Cameras can be used for identity recognition on planes, which in turn, would allow for in-flight biometric payment (much like Face ID on Apple devices) and personalized services."

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