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posted by martyb on Saturday December 14, @11:20PM   Printer-friendly
from the count++ dept.

Billboard has announced that YouTube streams will be factored into the Billboard 200 albums chart starting early next year. Video streams from other platforms will also count, including Apple, Spotify, Tidal, and Vevo, and Billboard says the change will also impact genre album consumption charts, like country, Latin, and others. Billboard's charts have historically been seen as a barometer of success within the music industry.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday December 14, @08:59PM   Printer-friendly
from the no-surprises-here dept.

Submitted via IRC for chromas

Online Forum Members Exploited Weak Credentials To Turn Ring Cameras Against Their Owners

To add to all the bad news that is Ring camera's lifecycle to this point comes the report that a group of malcontents has been exploiting default/weak credentials to gain access to cameras. Joseph Cox has the this-would-be-funny-if-it-weren't-so-scary details at Motherboard.

Hackers have created dedicated software for breaking into Ring security cameras, according to posts on hacking forums reviewed by Motherboard. The camera company is owned by Amazon, which has hundreds of partnerships with police departments around the country.

[...] There's not much actual hacking going on. What appears to be happening is purchasers aren't choosing unique passwords when they set up their cameras. They also aren't using the two-factor authentication Ring recommends.

There are enough cameras out there (and more being installed every day), there's an entire forum set up just for the hijacking of Ring cameras/doorbells. Forum members are selling exploit tools to each other which allow these jackasses to brute force Ring devices using credentials (usernames/email addresses and passwords) found elsewhere on the web.

The popular exploitables have even spawned a podcast featuring unsuspecting device owners being trolled by jerks who have gained access to Ring and Nest cameras. This is what's in store for device owners who haven't properly secured their new purchases.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday December 14, @06:38PM   Printer-friendly

The FTC [(US Federal Trade Commission)] is keen to have a piece of Google, in part because it has just set up a new technology task force specifically to monitor tech giants for anti-competitive behavior. But the agency also wants to rebuild its reputation following an embarrassing climbdown in 2012, when its staff found that Google was rigging the search market, but the agency’s commissioners cut a deal and tried to hide the staff report (it is still hiding part of it.)

But the DoJ [(Department of Justice)] reportedly called dibs on Fitbit because it has an ongoing investigation into Google. Who knows what else went on in the background but, while the DoJ is currently the president’s favorite lapdog and Rottweiler, the FTC remains the toothless watchdog.

[...] Not that any of that means that Google won’t get approval to buy Fitbit, even though several organizations have warned that the search giant most likely wants to company in order to hoover up millions of people’s health data and tie it into its vast advertiser-friendly database.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday December 14, @04:18PM   Printer-friendly
from the slow-roasting-grills-of-justice dept.

A federal judge on Tuesday roasted Arkansas' law banning makers of meatless meat products from using words such as "burger," "sausage," "roast," and "meat" in their labeling.
[...] Judge Kristine Baker, of the US District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas, granted a preliminary injunction that prevents the state from enforcing the law while the legal case is ongoing. In her order, Judge Baker made clear that the law appears to violate the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment—as Tofurky argued. She determined that the state will likely lose the case.
[...] "The State argues that Tofurky's labels for its plant-based products are inherently misleading because they use the names and descriptors of traditional meat items but do not actually include the product they invoke, including terms like 'chorizo,' 'hot dogs,' 'sausage,' and 'ham roast,'" Judge Baker noted. Such misleading or false labels would not be protected commercial speech under the First Amendment, the state claimed.

But Judge Baker essentially called that argument bologna.
[...] She went on to cite a ruling in a similar case that determined that "Under Plaintiffs' logic, a reasonable consumer might also believe that veggie bacon contains pork, that flourless chocolate cake contains flour, or that e-books are made out of paper."

"That assumption is unwarranted," she went on. "The labels in the record evidence include ample terminology to indicate the vegan or vegetarian nature of the products."
[...] Meat and dairy industry groups have been increasingly working to try to limit the use of terms like "milk" and "meat" in other states and contexts as meatless and diary-free products continue to grow in popularity. Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Dakota have similar anti-veggie-meat labeling laws. In Wisconsin, lawmakers have considered banning non-dairy products from using the word "milk," such as beverages labeled almond milk.

The latter issue led former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb to quip last year that "You know, an almond doesn't lactate." He said that the Food and Drug Administration is working on a guidance for the use of the term.
Previous Stories:

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday December 14, @01:57PM   Printer-friendly

Ring's Neighbors app is revealing device locations, report says

Data found on Ring's Neighbors app can reveal the exact location of the company's devices -- and, by extent, users' homes, according to a Monday report. Neighbors, a free app from the smart doorbell company, allows users to post and comment on crime and security information in their communities. Ring pitches it as "the new neighborhood watch," and many posts include clips captured by Ring video doorbells and security cameras.

In its report, Gizmodo said it collected data over the last month linked to around 65,800 posts on the Neighbors app and found "hidden geographic coordinates that are connected to each post." That includes latitude and longitude with the precision of up to six decimal points, the report says.

The findings reflect the mounting privacy concerns surrounding the home surveillance company. Ring, which was purchased by Amazon last year for a reported $1 billion, has faced scrutiny for helping police build a surveillance network with its smart doorbells. Police departments that partnered with Ring had access for more than a year to a map outlining where the video doorbells were installed. That feature was removed in July.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday December 14, @11:34AM   Printer-friendly
from the what-do-you-expect-for-$4.5-billion? dept.

Exclusive: documents show Foxconn refuses to renegotiate Wisconsin deal

Whatever Foxconn is building in Wisconsin, it's not the $10 billion, 22 million-square-foot Generation 10.5 LCD factory that President Trump once promised would be the "eighth wonder of the world." At various points over the last two years, the Taiwanese tech manufacturer has said it would build a smaller LCD factory; that it wouldn't build a factory at all; that it would build an LCD factory; that the company could make any number of things, from screens for cars to server racks to robot coffee kiosks; and so on.

Throughout these changes, one question has loomed: given that Foxconn is building something completely different than that Gen 10.5 LCD facility specified in its original contract with Wisconsin, is it still going to get the record-breaking $4.5 billion in taxpayer subsidies?

Documents obtained by The Verge show that Wisconsin officials have repeatedly — and with growing urgency — warned Foxconn that its current project has veered far from what was described in the original deal and that the contract must be amended if the company is to receive subsidies. Foxconn, however, has declined to amend the contract, and it indicated that it nevertheless intends to apply for tax credits.

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday December 14, @09:13AM   Printer-friendly
from the to-the-dump-to-the-dump-to-the-dump-dump-dump dept.

The CBC's "The Current" has a story about how online returns are frequently sent to the dump

'It's pretty staggering': Returned online purchases often sent to landfill, journalist's research reveals

Do you order different sizes of clothing online, knowing you can return the one that doesn't fit?

Did you know the ones you return are sometimes sent straight to landfill?

Online shopping has created a boom in perfectly good products ending up in dumpsters and landfills, according to Adria Vasil, an environmental journalist and managing editor of Corporate Knights magazine.

Amazon has faced accusations of destroying returned items in both France and Germany.

The issue also affects unsold products. Burberry admitted in 2018 that it had incinerated £90 million worth of clothing and accessories in the previous five years. The company stopped the policy last year after a public outcry.

Why? You're returning something that's new and fine?

It actually costs a lot of companies more money to put somebody on the product, to visually eyeball it and say, Is this up to standard, is it up to code? Is this going to get us sued? Did somebody tamper with this box in some way? And is this returnable? And if it's clothing, it has to be re-pressed and put back in a nice packaging. And for a lot of companies, it's just not worth it. So they will literally just incinerate it, or send it to the dumpster

So when you order 3 sizes "to be sure you get the one you want", two of them are probably going to the dump. Not very environmentally friendly. .

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday December 14, @06:52AM   Printer-friendly
from the follow-the-rubles dept.

Russian police raided the Moscow offices of a popular U.S.-owned web server over a Russian search engine giant's ownership claim of its source code, Forbes Russia reported Thursday.

Authorities raided Nginx's Moscow office based on a copyright infingement claim by Russian oligarch Alexander Mamut's Cyprus-registered investment vehicle Lynwood, Forbes Russia cited an unnamed source at the web server as saying. Mamut became part owner of Russia's 1990s-era search giant Rambler with fellow oligarch Vladimir Potanin in 2013 and bought out Potanin's stake three years later.

"We found that Rambler Internet Holding's exclusive right to the Nginx web server has been violated by the actions of third parties," Rambler's spokesperson told Forbes.

"In this regard, Rambler Internet Holding ceded the rights to bring claims and lawsuits linked to rights violations toward Nginx to Lynwood Investments CY Ltd," it continued.

Authorities estimate Rambler's losses from the alleged copyright infringement at 51.4 million rubles ($820,000), according to a copy of a criminal case cited by Forbes and other news outlets.

Original Submission

posted by Fnord666 on Saturday December 14, @04:31AM   Printer-friendly
from the all-your-search-are-belong-to-us dept.

How a Chinese company built a $250 million search hijacking empire:

A publicly listed Chinese company has used a series of offshore shell companies to conceal their ownership of browser extensions that purport to offer a private search engine to users. These extensions with names like Search Encrypt and Hide My Searches engage in a form of ad fraud called search hijacking whereby searches are intercepted and redirected from one search engine to another. Our research has identified almost 7 million users who are affected by these malware extensions, which are helping this company generate almost $250 million a year in revenue.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Saturday December 14, @02:09AM   Printer-friendly
from the real-programmers-edit-files-using-cat-and-sed dept.

After more than a year of development the new features are now ready for the Vim crowds. Popup windows make it possible to show messages, function prototypes, code snippets and anything else on top of the text being edited. They open and close quickly and can be highlighted in many ways. More about that in the article.

Vim 8.2 released : vim online

Vim 8.2 is available! Vim 8.2 is a minor release, a lot of bugs have been fixed, documentation was updated, test coverage was improved, etc. There are a few interesting new features, see below.

For MS-Windows, download the self installing executable.
Signed MS-Windows files will soon be available on the vim-win32-installer site
For Unix you probably want to get the latest version using git, see the github page
Otherwise see the Download page for options.


Before I did the keynote at VimConf 2018 I asked plugin developers what they wanted from Vim. The result was a very long list of requested features. The top two items were clear: Popup windows and text properties.

After more than a year of development the new features are now ready for the Vim crowds. Popup windows make it possible to show messages, function prototypes, code snippets and anything else on top of the text being edited. They open and close quickly and can be highlighted in many ways. More about that below.

This was no small effort. Although the existing window support could be used, popup windows are different enough to require a lot of extra logic. Especially to update the screen efficiently. Also to make it easy for plugin writers to use them; you don't need to tell Vim exactly where to show one, just give a reference point and the text to display, Vim will figure out the size and where the popup fits best.

Text properties can be used for something as simple as highlighting a text snippet or something as complicated as using an external parser to locate syntax items and highlight them asynchronously. This can be used instead of the pattern based syntax highlighting. A text property sticks with the text, also when inserting a word before it. And this is done efficiently by storing the properties with the text.

There's much more at the above link.

Original Submission

posted by martyb on Friday December 13, @11:48PM   Printer-friendly
from the what's-wrong-with-my-browser dept.

BleepingComputer recently published an article which says:

Google is now banning the popular Linux browsers named Konqueror, Falkon, and Qutebrowser from logging into Google services because they may not be secure.

[...] In tests conducted by BleepingComputer, we can confirm that we were unable to log in with Konqueror or Falkon on multiple machines. When attempting to do so, we were told to try a different browser as Konqueror or Falkon may not be secure.

[...] Even stranger, some users have reported that they could still login with Falkon [1, 2].

This has led people to offer a variety of theories for why this is happening including it being an A/B test being done by Google, related to the version of QtWebEngine installed, or maybe even an account setting such as 2FA being enabled.

Google does have discriminating tastes, does it not?

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday December 13, @09:55PM   Printer-friendly
from the storage-shed dept.

Astronauts are Going to Attach a "Robot Hotel" to the Outside of the International Space Station

Robotic helpers are becoming an increasingly important element aboard the International Space Station. It is here where robots like the Robonaut, CIMON, FEDOR, Canadarm2, Dextre, and CIMON 2 (which is currently on its way to the ISS) were tested and validated for space operations. In recent years, the Robotic External Leak Locators (RELL) also proved their worth by conducting extra-vehicular activities (EVAs) and finding leaks.

Unfortunately, sending these robots out to do their tasks has been a long and complicated process. For this reason, NASA has created a new housing unit called the Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS). Developed by the Satellite Servicing Projects Division at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center (with support from the Johnson Space Center), this "robot hotel" launched yesterday (Dec. 4th) and will soon be integrated with the station.

The first residents of the RiTs will be two Robotic External Leak Locators (RELL), which are machines that use mass spectrometers to "sniff" out the presence of gases that could be leaking from the ISS. These RELL units are onboard the ISS right now, the first of which was sent back in 2015 and successfully detected two leaks since its arrival.

For this reason, a second RELL was sent there earlier this year. The addition of the RiTS will assist with their operations by allowing the space station's robotic arm (Dextre) to easily locate, grab, and return them to an external storage space once they're finished their operations. As Mark Neuman, the RiTS hardware manager, explained:

"For each of its stored tools, RiTS will provide heat and physical protection from radiation and micrometeroids, or tiny, high-speed objects hurtling through space. Its thermal system maintains ideal temperatures for the instruments, helping them stay functional."

[...] Once it reaches the ISS, the RiTS will be installed to the station's exterior by astronauts during a spacewalk. Looking to the future, similar units could be applied to exploration missions to the Moon, Mars, and beyond. In the near future, RiTS units and RELL tools could be used to detect potential leaks aboard the Lunar Gateway, or as part of the maintenance of lunar or Martian habitats.

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday December 13, @08:17PM   Printer-friendly
from the electrifying dept.

Lightning is such a common phenomenon that people often overlook just how powerful it is (provided it doesn't hit you, obviously). But over the past decade, research has gradually revealed just how extreme lightning is. This everyday phenomenon is powerful enough to produce antimatter and transform atoms, leaving a radioactive cloud in its wake. Understanding how all of this happens, however, is a real challenge, given just how quickly multiple high-energy events take place.

Now, researchers have used an instrument attached to the International Space Station to track the physical processes that are triggered by a lightning strike. The work tracks how energy spreads out from the site of a lightning bolt into the ionosphere via an electromagnetic pulse.

The work relies on a piece of hardware called the Atmosphere–Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM), an ESA-built instrument attached to its lab module on the International Space Station. It's an impressive piece of hardware, tying together two X-ray/gamma-ray detectors, three UV detectors, two optical-wavelength light meters, and two high-speed cameras.

[...] A paper released by Science today describes ASIM's imaging of a single lightning bolt, which took place in 2018 off the coast of Sulawesi in Indonesia. Optical activity heralded the formation of the lightning bolt and started to intensify about 200 microseconds before the gamma rays began registering in the detectors. The gamma rays were primarily in the form of a transient flash lasting about 40 microseconds, but there was a "long" tail of emissions that extended out to 200 microseconds as their energy gradually declined.

UV light started arriving right at the same time that the gamma-ray burst hit. The initial UV light was produced by ionized oxygen as the lightning bolt moves through the atmosphere. But the UV shifted to what's called an "elve," which is a different phenomenon entirely. In the case of elves, the light is the result of an electromagnetic pulse produced by the lightning bolt itself. This travels into the ionosphere, a sparse layer of ionized gasses that starts about 100km above Earth and extends up to roughly where the ISS orbits. Because the pulse takes time to reach the ionosphere, there's a delay between the lightning and the appearance of the elve.

In this case, that delay was about 10 milliseconds, but the elve persisted for a while. That's because the pulse spreads like a balloon being inflated, tracing out an expanding sphere above the Earth. Different areas of the ionosphere get excited as the sphere makes its way through, ultimately causing UV emissions to extend over an area of up to 800 kilometers.

All of this took place in under 300 milliseconds.

Science, 2019. DOI: 10.1126/science.aax3872 (About DOIs).

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday December 13, @06:40PM   Printer-friendly
from the sometimes-it-really-is-lupus dept.

In the last decade, scientists discovered that blocking a key regulator of the immune system helped unleash the body's natural defenses against several forms of cancer, opening up a new era of cancer immunotherapy. Now Yale scientists have essentially flipped this script and found that when impaired a molecularly similar regulator can cause the damaging immune system attacks on skin and organs that are the hallmark of the autoimmune disease lupus, they report Dec. 11 in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

The study results help explain the origins of lupus and suggest novel ways researchers might be able to restore function of this inhibitor and provide much needed new therapy to treat the disease, the scientists said.

The immune system has a series of regulators designed to prevent it from attacking tissues in its host, a system that goes awry in autoimmune diseases. Yale researchers found that mice lacking an immune system inhibitor called programmed death-1 homolog, or PD-1H, spontaneously developed symptoms that resemble two forms of lupus -- systemic, in which the immune system attacks multiple organs; and cutaneous, which is marked by pronounced skin deformities.

Journal Reference:

Xue Han, Matthew D. Vesely, Wendy Yang, Miguel F. Sanmamed, Ti Badri, Jude Alawa, Francesc López-Giráldez, Patricia Gaule, Sang Won Lee, Jian-Ping Zhang, Xinxin Nie, Ala Nassar, Agedi Boto, Dallas B. Flies, Linghua Zheng, Tae Kon Kim, Gilbert W. Moeckel, Jennifer M. McNiff, Lieping Chen. PD-1H (VISTA)–mediated suppression of autoimmunity in systemic and cutaneous lupus erythematosus. Science Translational Medicine, 2019; 11 (522): eaax1159 DOI: 10.1126/scitranslmed.aax1159

Original Submission

posted by chromas on Friday December 13, @04:59PM   Printer-friendly

The Parker Solar Probe, one of NASA's most extreme spacecraft, has been gathering data on our sun for the past year, revealing some unusual phenomena in the outer atmosphere. But solar science isn't the only feather in PSP's extremely hot hat. Astronomers at the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) have used the probe's specialized camera to detect the faint signal of an asteroid dust trail that has avoided detection for decades. 

Parker is equipped with the Wide-Field Imager for Solar Probe (WISPR), a suite of cameras built specifically for taking photos around the sun. Usually, light from the trail is obscured by the brightness of the sun, but the WISPR cameras are specially designed to filter out all that light, giving astronomers a chance to see the faint dust cloud trailing asteroid 3200 Phaethon.

Phaethon is a well-characterized and slightly bizarre asteroid, about 3.6 miles in width, that more closely resembles a comet. It travels closer to the sun than any other named asteroid but its trail is particularly visible near the star, because it's more densely packed. It also has a dark past.

Original Submission