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Afilias vanishes from battle to run Colombia's trendy .co after El Reg probes technical docs, allegations of a stitch-up

The Register - 1 hour 21 min ago
Afil-alas, we hardly knew ye

Afilias has pulled out of a controversial race to run Colombia’s trendy .co top-level domain – just days after fresh accusations emerged that the tendering process favored the American corp.…

Categories: Technology

How China Is Hunting Down Coronavirus Critics

Slashdot - 1 hour 21 min ago
"As China ramps up efforts to control the narrative around the coronavirus outbreak, it is also expanding its efforts to leverage online platforms to track down people who dare to speak out," reports Vice. "From tracking down Twitter users using their mobile numbers to hacking WeChat accounts to find out someone's location, Beijing is eager to stop any negative news from being shared online -- and is will to use intimidation, arrests and threats of legal action." From the report: Joshua Left, a 28-year-old entrepreneur who runs a self-driving car startup in Wuhan, China, arrived in San Francisco in mid-January for a vacation, just as the first reports of a new "SARS-like" virus outbreak in China reached the U.S. He almost immediately began worrying about his family back in his hometown of Wuhan, where the disease appeared to originate, and where panic was starting to set in. Concerned that his family might not be getting information on the scale of the burgeoning epidemic, he posted messages on his WeChat account sharing information he was afraid were not available inside China. "But then things started to get weird," he told VICE News. Left, who asked not to be identified by his full Chinese name, said he first received a warning message from WeChat administrators. Then he began receiving strangely specific messages that appeared to come from four of his friends on WeChat, all asking him for his location, what hotel he was staying at in San Francisco, what his room number was, and what his U.S. phone number was. Then his cell phone received a warning message that someone in Shanghai was trying to log into his account. Finally, when he wouldn't tell them where he was staying, the same accounts all simultaneously began urging him to return to China as soon as possible. Left told VICE News the he believes his friends only sent the messages after they were coerced by agents from the Ministry of State Security in an attempt to get him to reveal his location, and part of a much wider effort by the Chinese government to crack down on any dissenting voices who are sharing content related to the coronavirus outbreak. The report also mentions a separate incident where agents from the Ministry of State Security detained and interrogated a Chinese resident for criticizing the Chinese government's delayed response to the coronavirus outbreak on Twitter. After the resident refused to meet with the Ministry over the phone, the agents showed up at his front door with a screenshot of his tweet that they say "attacks the Communist Party of China." The resident was forced to sign a "promise note" saying he would not repeat the "threat" he had made.

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Supreme Court Rejects Apple Appeal In Patent Fight With VirnetX

Slashdot - 1 hour 58 min ago
New submitter John Trumpian shares a report from Reuters: The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to hear Apple's bid to avoid paying about $440 million in damages for using patent licensing firm VirnetX's internet security technology without permission in features such as FaceTime video calling. The justices rejected Apple's appeal in the long-running case in which a federal jury in 2016 found that Apple had infringed VirnetX's patents and awarded $302 million. A judge later increased that amount to $439.7 million including interest and other costs. The case dates back to 2010 when Nevada-based VirnetX filed suit in federal court in the Eastern District of Texas accusing Cupertino, California-based Apple of infringing four patents for secure networks, known as virtual private networks, and secure communications links. VirnetX said Apple infringed with its FaceTime and VPN on Demand features in products such as the iPhone and iPad. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit in Washington, which specializes in patent disputes, upheld the judgment against Apple last year.

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r/NoSleep, One of the Largest Subreddits On Reddit, Goes Dark In IP-Theft Protest

Slashdot - 2 hours 38 min ago
Fortran IV writes: In an attempt to "start a conversation" about copyright and IP theft, one of the largest subreddits on Reddit.com, the horror sub r/NoSleep, has gone private for a week. NoSleep, with nearly 14 million subscribers, is one of the largest collections of horror fiction on the internet; MIT used it to train an AI system to write horror stories. Authors retain copyright to all stories on NoSleep, but piracy remains an ongoing problem, so the moderators have elected to shutter the sub from 02/24/2020 to 03/02/2020 to draw attention to the issue.

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HP Ink: No way, Xerox. We're not accepting your takeover. Well, we'd never say never. Maybe even maybe? Hello, you still there? Please?

The Register - 3 hours 9 sec ago
Absolutely not entertaining an offer that could you just repeat one more time?

HP on Monday delivered better quarterly financial results than expected.…

Categories: Technology

Petnet's Smart Pet Feeder Goes Offline For a Week, Can't Answer Customers At All

Slashdot - 3 hours 21 min ago
The app-driven, cloud-connected "smart" pet feeder from Petnet recently suffered an outage that knocked units offline for a week, leaving pets hungry and customers angry. An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from Ars Technica: Petnet began posting messages on Twitter on February 14 advising customers that some of its SmartFeeders "will appear offline," although they still would nominally work to dispense food. Of course, when something doesn't work, most people will try to turn it off and back on again, as that's the first-line repair for basically everything with a power switch. That, alas, was not the solution here, and Petnet explicitly advised against turning feeders off or on, adding, "We will continue to provide updates on this matter." The next update to the company's Twitter feed came four days later, on February 18, when it said it was working with a third-party service provider and would "release more information as we learn more." Finally on February 21, a full week after users began to notice something was amiss, Petnet said it had resolved the problem and would be pushing a reset and an update to affected customers. Users were distinctly unhappy, not only with the outage but also with the company's lack of response and a clear lack of avenues for contacting them. "Does that same third party pick up your phones, answer your emails, pay your lease (property address is available for rent) and support your customers?" one customer tweeted on February 18. Another, on February 21, said, "Why were your emails not delivering? Why isnt anyone answering the phone or returning calls? Your website still claims support Mon-Sat by phone email and twitter. You've been silent for a week." Customers aren't the only ones unable to reach the company. Ars' request for comment sent to the press contact Petnet lists on its company website bounced back with an error indicating the email address does not exist.

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ZX Spectrum Next, An Advanced Version of the Original 8-Bit Home Computer, Has Been Released

Slashdot - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 23:40
hackertourist shares an update on the status of the "ZX Spectrum Next" Kickstarter campaign: In 2017, a Kickstarter campaign was started to design and build "an updated and enhanced version of the ZX Spectrum totally compatible with the original, featuring the major hardware developments of the past many years packed inside a simple (and beautiful) design by the original designer, Rick Dickinson, inspired by his seminal work at Sinclair Research." They didn't quite make their original planned delivery date (2018), but they made good on their promise in the end: the first machine was delivered on February 6 of this year. The Spectrum Next contains a Z80 processor on an FPGA, 1MB of RAM expandable to 2MB, hardware sprites, 256 colors, RGB/VGA/HDMI video output, and three AY-3-8912 audio chips. A Raspberry Pi Zero can be added as an expansion board. The computer can emulate any of the original Spectrum variants, but it also supports add-ons that have been designed by the Spectrum community over the years, such as games loaded onto SD cards, better processors and more memory, and improved graphics.

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Intuit To Buy Credit Karma For $7.1 Billion, Creating Financial Data Giant

Slashdot - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 23:20
Intuit -- the accounting, tax filing and financial planning software giant behind QuickBooks, TurboTax and Mint, confirmed that it plans to acquire Credit Karma -- the fintech startup with more than 100 million registered users, which lets people check their credit scores, shop for credit cards and loans, file taxes and more. "By joining forces with Credit Karma, we can create a personalized financial assistant that will help consumers find the right financial products, put more money in their pockets and provide insights and advice," Sasan Goodarzi, Intuit's chief executive, said in a statement announcing the deal. TechCrunch reports: Intuit said it would pay $7.1 billion for Credit Karma, making this Intuit's biggest-ever acquisition to date, and one of the biggest in the category of privately-held fintech companies. Intuit also announced its quarterly earnings today in which it reported revenue growth of 13% on revenues of $1.7 billion, beating analyst estimates of $1.68 billion. However, it missed analysts' average expectations for earnings per share: it reported non-GAAP EPS of $1, while they were forecasting $1.03. Intuit plans to keep Credit Karma -- which makes more than $1 billion in revenues annually -- as a standalone operation, run by CEO Kenneth Lin, who cofounded the startup with Ryan Graciano and Nichole Mustard. The acquisition is an obvious fit for Intuit, where it will serve two purposes. Intuit can tap Credit Karma's customer base and range of services -- it partners with some 100 financial service providers in its marketplace -- to complement those it already offers, to help upsell those users to Intuit's premium, paid services. And Intuit can use it to grow its wider business by tapping a set of consumers -- typically younger users -- that Credit Karma has possibly been more successful in capturing than Intuit has.

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RIP Katherine Johnson: The extraordinary NASA mathematician astronauts trusted over computers

The Register - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 22:45
'She was an American hero and her pioneering legacy will never be forgotten'

Obit  Katherine Johnson, the pioneering African-American mathematician whose calculations ensured NASA's astronauts safely set foot on the Moon in 1969, died today. She was 101.…

Categories: Technology

Hydro-Quebec To Commercialize Glass Battery Co-Developed By John Goodenough

Slashdot - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 22:40
An anonymous reader quotes a report from IEEE Spectrum: A rapid-charging and non-flammable battery developed in part by 2019 Nobel Prize winner John Goodenough has been licensed for development by the Canadian electric utility Hydro-Quebec. The utility says it hopes to have the technology ready for one or more commercial partners in two years. Hydro-Quebec, according to Karim Zaghib, general director of the utility's Center of Excellence in Transportation Electrification and Energy Storage, has been commercializing patents with Goodenough's parent institution, the University of Texas at Austin, for the past 25 years. As Spectrum reported in 2017, Goodenough and Maria Helena Braga, professor of engineering at the University of Porto in Portugal, developed a solid-state lithium rechargeable that used a glass doped with alkali metals as the battery's electrolyte. (The electrolyte is the material between cathode and anode and is often a liquid in today's batteries, which typically means it's also flammable and potentially vulnerable to battery fires.) Braga said her and Goodenough's battery is high capacity, charges in "minutes rather than hours," performs well in both hot and cold weather, and that its solid-state electrolyte is not flammable. Hydro-Quebec's Gen 3 battery "can be glass or ceramic, but it is not a [lithium] polymer," Zaghib said of the Goodenough/Braga battery's electrolyte. "So with Daimler (which is also working with Hydro-Quebec to develop a second-gen lithium solid-state battery), it's an organic compound, and with John Goodenough, it's an inorganic compound. The inorganic compound has higher ionic conductivity compared to the polymer." "That means the ions shuttle back and forth more readily between cathode and anode, which could potentially improve a battery's capacity, charging speed, or other performance metrics," adds IEEE Spectrum. We interviewed John B. Goodenough soon after his solid-state battery was announced. You can read his responses to your questions here.

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Google Cloud CEO Called Oracle Cloud a 'Disgrace'

Slashdot - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 22:01
An anonymous reader shares a report: Veteran Silicon Valley executive Thomas Kurian surprised the tech world two years ago when he suddenly left Oracle to become CEO of Google Cloud. The reason may have just gotten a bit clearer. Kurian apparently had an unhappy tenure as head of Oracle's cloud, according to a lawsuit. He felt pressured by top management, including Oracle founder Larry Ellison. And he clashed with his people at Oracle, berating execs who reported to him for work he considered "atrocious" and "awful," the lawsuit alleges. The suit, filed on behalf of a group of investors led by Union Asset Management Holding AG, a Frankfurt-based investment firm, accused Oracle's top executives of painting an upbeat picture of the tech giant's cloud momentum in 2017 to 2018, even though they knew the company was falling behind in the cloud wars. The suit was originally filed in 2018. The amended suit, which was first reported by the Register, was filed last week. Kurian's email was part of a shareholder lawsuit before a federal court in California which claims that Oracle had misled investors on the state of its cloud business. Oracle rejected the suit's claims. "The suit has no merit and Oracle will vigorously defend against these claims," spokesperson Deborah Hellinger told Business Insider in an email. [...] The suit cited Kurian's email in which he also told Miranda that Oracle's cloud software "was considered so atrocious" that it was simply "a disgrace."

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Coronavirus Outbreak Has 'Pandemic Potential' But It's Not There Yet, WHO Says

Slashdot - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 21:22
The deadly outbreak of a novel coronavirus has the world on edge, but it has not yet developed into a pandemic, according to the World Health Organization. From a report: Although WHO has declared the outbreak a "public health emergency of international concern," the outbreak has not met the criteria needed to be described as a pandemic when it comes to its geographical spread and impact, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said during a press briefing with reporters on Monday. "Our decision about whether to use the word 'pandemic' to describe an epidemic is based on an ongoing assessment of the geographical spread of the virus, the severity of disease it causes and the impact it has on the whole society," Ghebreyesus said during the briefing. "For the moment, we are not witnessing the uncontained global spread of this virus and we are not witnessing large-scale severe disease or deaths," he said. "Does this virus have pandemic potential? Absolutely it has. Are we there yet from our assessment? Not yet. So how should we describe the current situation? What we see are epidemics in different parts of the world, affecting countries in different ways and requiring a tailored response."

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World Wide Web's Sir Tim swells his let's-remake-the-internet startup with Bruce Schneier, fellow tech experts

The Register - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 21:05
Inrupt promises a pro-privacy solution to managing, protecting personal data

Sir Tim Berners-Lee, inventor of the World Wide Web, has staffed up his startup, dubbed Inrupt, with a handful of notable hires that make its internet salvation mission a bit more plausible.…

Categories: Technology

Netflix Adds Top 10 Feature So You Can See What Everyone's Watching

Slashdot - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 20:42
Overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content on Netflix? Now you can jump on the bandwagon and check out the streaming service's most popular options. Netflix has added a Top 10 feature, the company said Monday. From a report: "Starting today you'll notice something new when you go on Netflix: The Top 10 row," the company said in a tweet. "The lists update daily to show what's popular in your country and are broken into three categories: Netflix overall, shows & films." The most popular Netflix offerings in your country should show up in their own row once you log in to your Netflix account, the company said. "The list is rolling out globally now and should be on your homepage by the end of the day at the latest."

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Afrinic's new CEO promises change of culture at org laid low by allegations of corruption and dysfunction

The Register - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 20:11
Eddy Kayihura hopes to fix troubled regional internet registry

Interview  In November, Rwandan IT expert Eddy Kayihura took over as CEO of Afrinic – Africa’s troubled regional internet registry, which is responsible for allocating the continent's IP addresses among other resources. This month he spoke to The Register about his plans for the future, including the overhaul of the registry.…

Categories: Technology

Mapping Wikipedia

Slashdot - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 20:03
An unprecedented data set shows where the encyclopedia's editors are, where they aren't, and why. From a report: Wikipedia matters. In a time of extreme political polarization, algorithmically enforced filter bubbles, and fact patterns dismissed as fake news, Wikipedia has become one of the few places where we can meet to write a shared reality. We treat it like a utility, and the U.S. and U.K. trust it about as much as the news. But we know very little about who is writing the world's encyclopedia. We do know that just because anyone can edit, doesn't mean that everyone does: The site's editors are disproportionately cis white men from the global North. We also know that, as with most of the internet, a small number of the editors do a large amount of the editing. But that's basically it: In the interest of improving retention, the Wikimedia Foundation's own research focuses on the motivations of people who do edit, not on those who don't. The media, meanwhile, frequently focus on Wikipedia's personality stories, even when covering the bigger questions. And Wikipedia's own culture pushes back against granular data harvesting: The Wikimedia Foundation's strong data-privacy rules guarantee users' anonymity and limit the modes and duration of their own use of editor data. But as part of my research in producing Print Wikipedia, I discovered a data set that can offer an entry point into the geography of Wikipedia's contributors. Every time anyone edits Wikipedia, the software records the text added or removed, the time of the edit, and the username of the editor. (This edit history is part of Wikipedia's ethos of radical transparency: Everyone is anonymous, and you can see what everyone is doing.) When an editor isn't logged in with a username, the software records that user's IP address. I parsed all of the 884 million edits to English Wikipedia to collect and geolocate the 43 million IP addresses that have edited English Wikipedia. I also counted 8.6 million username editors who have made at least one edit to an article. The result is a set of maps that offer, for the first time, insight into where the millions of volunteer editors who build and maintain English Wikipedia's 6 million pages are -- and, maybe more important, where they aren't.

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Labs in the US Will Start Looking For the New Coronavirus This Week

Slashdot - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 19:22
Six public health labs in the US plan to start monitoring the general population for the new coronavirus this week. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the risk of the virus still remains low for the general population. But activating the disease surveillance network will allow the CDC and other public health officials to find any undetected virus circulating through the country. From a report: "It's important because right now, all the efforts are focused on people who have a direct link to China, or a direct link to lab-confirmed cases. There's no system in place to detect low-level transmission that might be under the radar," says Edward Belongia, the director of the Center for Clinical Epidemiology and Population Health at the Marshfield Clinic Research Institute. The six labs -- in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago, and New York City -- are already part of the nationwide influenza surveillance network, and they conduct regular monitoring of all types of viruses. At the labs, samples from sick people are tested for various pathogens, creating a big-picture look at how much various diseases are spreading through the community. Surveillance hasn't started yet, in part because of problems with the test for the novel coronavirus developed by the CDC. The test that will be used for surveillance that was designed to diagnose people who have symptoms of the illness caused by the virus called COVID-19. It was distributed to public health labs around the country last week, but the majority of the labs had trouble running it. The CDC says this often happens during the rollout of a new test, but it has not specified what the reasons for the errors are. Vote in our coronavirus poll.

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Huawei unfolds latest shot at the phone-tablet hybrid with reinforced hinge and reassuringly Xs-sive price

The Register - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 19:14
At least it didn't head back to the drawing board like Samsung

Huawei has lifted the lid on its latest pholdable – the Mate Xs. This is the follow-up to last year's coveted tablet hybrid, which was released in China late last year.…

Categories: Technology

HackerOne's Bug Bounties Skyrocketed To $40 Million in 2019

Slashdot - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 18:45
Bug bounty platform HackerOne paid out $40 million in bounties in 2019, roughly equal to the total for all previous years combined. From a report: Moreover, the company announced that its community almost doubled in the past year to 600,000 registered hackers. The announcement comes as the cybersecurity industry struggles with a workforce shortage, which is in turn compounded by growing cyberattacks that could cost the industry $6 trillion by 2021. As companies invest significant resources in battling external threats, HackerOne aims to pay good actors to find bugs before bad actors enter the fray, reducing the need for costly remediation measures further down the line. Founded in 2012, HackerOne essentially connects companies with security researchers, or "white hat hackers," who receive cash incentives to find and report software vulnerabilities. The San Francisco-based company has raised north of $100 million since its inception, including a $36.4 million tranche a few months back, and has paid out $82 million in bounties since its inception. According to HackerOne, U.S.-based hackers earned 19% of all bounties in 2019, followed by hackers in India (10%), Russia (8%), China (7%), Germany (5%), and Canada (4%). These figures were released as part of HackerOne's annual hacker report, which included a survey of 3,150 hackers.

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SpaceX Falcon 9 meets watery end, and NASA needs someone to go to Mars and whack its mole

The Register - Mon, 24/02/2020 - 18:18
Also: Musical Soyuz seats ahead of next ISS mission

Roundup  SpaceX gets its feet wet, digging for victory with Mars InSight and a changing of the ISS guard await rocket fanciers in this week's summary of space news.…

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