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VR Treatment For Lazy Eye In Children Gets FDA Approval

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 22:30
The Food and Drug Administration approved a virtual reality-based treatment for children with the visual disorder amblyopia, or lazy eye, the company behind the therapy announced today. The Verge reports: Luminopia's approach uses TV and movies to develop the weaker eye and train the eyes to work together. Patients watch the show or movie through a headset that shows the images to each eye separately. The images shown to the stronger eye have a lower contrast, and the images are presented with overlays that force the brain to use both eyes to see them properly. Kids using the therapy and wearing glasses had more improvement in their vision than a similar group of kids who did not use the therapy and just wore corrective glasses full time during a clinical trial of the technology. After 12 weeks watching the shows one hour per day, six days per week, 62 percent of kids using the treatment had a strong improvement in their vision. Only around a third of the kids in the comparison group had similar improvements over the course of the 12 weeks. Luminopia has over 700 hours of programming in its library, and it partnered with kids' content distributors like Nelvana and Sesame Workshop to develop the tool. The authors of the clinical trial wrote that they think that the option to pick popular videos might be one reason users stuck to the program -- people followed the treatment plan 88 percent of the time. Less than 50 percent of patients stick to eye patches or blurring drops. With the approval, Luminopia joins only a handful of companies with clearance to offer a digital therapeutic as a prescription treatment for medical conditions. Last year, the FDA approved a prescription video game called EndeavorRx, which treats ADHD in kids between eight and 12 years old. Luminopia said in a statement that it plans to launch the treatment in 2022.

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Fed To Ban Policymakers From Owning Individual Stocks

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 21:50
An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNBC: Responding to a growing controversy over investing practices, the Federal Reserve announced Thursday a wide-ranging ban on officials owning individual stocks and bonds and limits on other activities as well. The ban includes top policymakers such as those who sit on the Federal Open Market Committee, along with senior staff. Future investments will have to be confined to diversified assets such as mutual funds. Fed officials can no longer have holdings in shares of particular companies, nor can they invest in individual bonds, hold agency securities or derivative contracts. The new rules replace existing regulations that, while somewhat restrictive, still allowed officials such as regional presidents to buy and sell stocks. "These tough new rules raise the bar high in order to assure the public we serve that all of our senior officials maintain a single-minded focus on the public mission of the Federal Reserve," Fed Chairman Jerome Powell said in a statement. Under the new rules, the officials will have to provide 45 days' notice in advance of buying or selling any securities that are still allowed. They also will be required to hold the securities for at least a year, and they cannot buy or sell funds during "heightened financial market stress," a news release announcing the moves said. "I'm hopeful that swift action will allow us to put this behind us and get us back focused on the job ahead," Atlanta Fed President Raphael Bostic told CNBC during a "Closing Bell" interview.

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Google trims the cut its Play Store takes from digital subscriptions, ebooks, music streaming

The Register - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 21:33
But with 97 per cent of Android devs offering free software, web giant's share of mobile ad spend matters more

Google is cutting the fee it charges Play Store app developers for digital subscriptions from 30 per cent during the first 12 months to 15 per cent at all times.…

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Google Unmasks Two-year-old Phishing and Malware Campaign Targeting YouTube Users

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 21:09
Almost two years after a wave of complaints flooded Google's support forums about YouTube accounts getting hijacked even if users had two-factor authentication enabled, Google's security team has finally tracked down the root cause of these attacks. From a report: In a report published today, the Google Threat Analysis Group (TAG) attributed these incidents to "a group of hackers recruited in a Russian-speaking forum." TAG said the hackers operated by reaching out to victims via email with various types of business opportunities. YouTubers were typically lured with potential sponsorship deals. Victims were asked to install and test various applications and then publish a review. Apps typically used in these schemes involved antivirus software, VPN clients, music players, photo editors, PC optimizers, or online games. But unbeknownst to the targets, the hackers hid malware inside the apps. Once the YouTube creators received and installed the demo app, the installer would drop malware on their devices, malware which would extract login credentials and authentication cookies from their browsers and send the stolen data to a remote server. The hackers would then use the authentication cookies to access a YouTuber's account -- bypassing the need to enter a two-factor authentication (2FA) token -- and move to change passwords and the account's recovery email and phone numbers. With the victims locked out of their accounts, the hackers would typically sell the hijacked YouTube channel on underground marketplaces for stolen identities.

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Twitter Algorithms Amplify Right-leaning Political Content More Than Left-leaning, Company Says Citing Own Research

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 20:23
Twitter is publicly sharing research findings today that show that the platform's algorithms amplify tweets from right-wing politicians and content from right-leaning news outlets more than people and content from the political left. From a report: The research did not identify whether or not the algorithms that run Twitter's Home feed are actually biased toward conservative political content, because the conclusions only show bias in amplification, not what caused it. Rumman Chowdhury, the head of Twitter's machine learning, ethics, transparency and accountability team, called it "the what, not the why" in an interview with Protocol. "We can see that it is happening. We are not entirely sure why it is happening. To be clear, some of it could be user-driven, people's actions on the platform, we are not sure what it is. It's just important that we share this information," Chowdhury said. The META team plans to conduct what she called a "root-cause analysis" to try to discover the "why," and that analysis will likely include creating testable hypotheses about how people use the platform that could help show whether it's the way users interact with Twitter or the algorithm itself that is causing this uneven amplification. Twitter didn't define for itself what news outlets and politicians are "right-leaning" or belong to right-wing political parties, instead using definitions from other researchers outside the company. The study looked at millions of tweets from politicians across seven countries and hundreds of millions of tweets of links from news outlets, not tweets from the outlets themselves.

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Amazon is Now a Bigger Shipper in the US than FedEx

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 19:57
Amazon is not primarily known as a logistics company, but in 2020 the company shipped more parcels than FedEx. From a report: Logistics is a $1.5 trillion business -- and it has long been controlled by a handful of key players, like FedEx, UPS and the U.S. Postal Service. Now Amazon is poised to conquer it. Amazon has 21% of the U.S. shipping market -- right behind UPS (24%) and ahead of FedEx (16%). The USPS remains dominant with 38%, and all other shippers account for just 1% of the market, according to Pitney Bowes, which tracks the global shipping and e-commerce industry. Amazon's rise is remarkable, as it had zero share of the U.S. shipping market as recently as 2014, and it relied on legacy shippers like FedEx and UPS for all of its deliveries. Since then, Amazon has poured resources into building a network of warehouses, trucks, planes and delivery drivers. As it strengthened its own shipping arm, Amazon took its business away from the other shippers. Now, the company is turning shipping from a cost to a source of revenue by offering its logistics capabilities as a service.

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Gov. Parson Doubles Down on Push To Prosecute Reporter Who Found Security Flaw in State Site

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 19:07
Gov. Mike Parson escalated his war with the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on Wednesday when his political operation published a video doubling down on his attack against a reporter who informed the state that a state website revealed teacher Social Security numbers. From a report: The video is produced by Uniting Missouri, a political action committee created by Parson supporters to back his 2020 election campaign. The PAC continues to raise and spend large sums of money to promote Parsonâ(TM)s political agenda. It operates without direct input from Parson on its activities. "The St. Louis Post-Dispatch is purely playing politics," the ad states. "Exploiting personal information is a squalid excuse for journalism." The ad comes less than a week after Parson's widely criticized demand for an investigation and prosecution of the reporter who discovered the security flaw in a state website, along with "all those involved." Parson read a statement calling the reporter "a hacker" to reporters gathered outside his Missouri Capitol office last Thursday, then left without taking questions. John Hancock, chairman of Uniting Missouri, declined to discuss any specifics about the video.

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Google Stadia's Salvaged Future as a Back-end Cloud Service is Here

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 18:32
Quick Google Stadia recap: Things have not been great. From a report: Google's AAA cloud gaming service launched in 2019 to middling reviews and since then has severely undershot Google's sales and usage estimates by hundreds of thousands of users. The company shut down its first-party studio, "Stadia Games & Entertainment (SG&E)," before it could ever develop a game, and it did so one week after lead executive Phil Harrison gave the division a positive progress report. Several key executives have left the struggling division, like Assassin's Creed co-creator and SG&E leader Jade Raymond, Stadia's VP and head of product, John Justice, and Engineering Lead Justin Uberti. When Google killed the game division at the beginning of the year, an accompanying blog post hinted that big changes were coming to Google's strategy: "In 2021, we're expanding our efforts to help game developers and publishers take advantage of our platform technology and deliver games directly to their players." Rather than continuing to push Stadia as a consumer-facing, branded service, Google seems to want to pivot the service to what would essentially be "Google Cloud Gaming Platform." This would be a back-end, white-label service that could power other companies' products, just like a million other Google Cloud products, like database hosting and push messaging. Google said it believes a back-end service "is the best path to building Stadia into a long-term, sustainable business." This all brings us to this Batman game presented by AT&T Wireless.

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Executive exodus from Intel depth and tracking tech arm RealSense continues

The Register - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 18:01
Former CTO leaves for car tech biz

Another key executive who was part of Intel's RealSense group – which is winding down operations – left the company this month.…

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Google Lowers Play Store Fees To 15% on Subscription Apps, as Low as 10% for Media Apps

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 17:46
Google is lowering commissions on all subscription-based businesses on the Google Play Store, the company announced today. From a report: Previously, the company had followed Apple's move by reducing commissions from 30% to 15% on the first $1 million of developer earnings. Now, it will lower the fees specifically for app makers who generate revenue through recurring subscriptions. Instead of charging them 30% in the first year, which lowers to 15% in year two and beyond, Google says developers will only be charged 15% from day one. The company says 99% of developers will qualify for a service fee of 15% or less, as Google is also further reducing fees for specific vertical apps in the Play Media Experience Program. These will be adjusted to as low as 10%, it says.

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'Windows 11 has been successfully downloaded,' says update for Xbox version of <i>Microsoft Flight Simulator</i>

The Register - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 17:12
What? No. Noooooooooooooooooo

Updated  Microsoft appears to have torn up the infamous Windows 11 hardware compatibility list by inflicting the code on its latest games console.…

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Sam Altman's Worldcoin Wants To Scan Eyeballs in Exchange for Crypto

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 17:05
As investors race to capitalize on surging interest in cryptocurrencies, startups are getting creative in how they onboard a generation of crypto users to their first wallets. From a report: Worldcoin is perhaps one of the most audacious efforts to bribe the world to embrace their currency. The startup, founded by OpenAI CEO Sam Altman and Alex Blania, wants to put a crypto wallet (and some of their currency) onto every human's smartphone, but in order to do so they have to build a way to determine whether someone is a unique human. Worldcoin is aiming to make their proof-of-personhood network in the least dystopian way possible, that being said, it still requires scanning a billion people's eyeballs with a 5-pound chromatic sphere called "The Orb." The internet has developed with a very amorphous mesh of user networks. Bot networks operate alongside real people using their real identities, alongside users impersonating real people, alongside pseudonymous users. This can be a recipe for misaligned user incentives, as modern social media platforms have showcased, but when it comes to finance it can also be a recipe for fraud and inequality. Worldcoin wants to avoid all of that while ensuring equitable distribution of their currency, ensuring that each human on earth only signs up for one wallet in their network. Worldcoin CEO Alex Blania tells TechCrunch that the currency is part of a larger effort to drive a more unified and equitable global economy driven by the internet economy, something cryptocurrencies notably haven't nailed in their first several years.

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We regret to inform you there's an RCE vuln in old version of WinRAR. Yes, the file decompression utility

The Register - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 16:25
Update to v6.02 – or don't, but on your head be it

A remote code execution vulnerability existed in an old and free trial version of WinRAR, according to infosec firm Positive Technologies.…

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Roku Tells Customers it is Unable To Strike a Deal With YouTube

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 16:25
Roku on Thursday told customers via a post on its corporate blog that it has still not been able to strike a distribution agreement with YouTube TV, which has been removed from Roku's channel store for five months. From a report: It's the first time Roku has directly acknowledged the issue to its customers. Roku says YouTube TV parent Google has made anti-competitive demands in distribution negotiations, which still haven't been resolved. In the blog post, Roku says Google has made anti-competitive demands in carriage agreements, including asking Roku to create a dedicated search results row for YouTube within the Roku smart TV interface and demanding certain features on Roku that they don't insist on getting from other streaming platforms. Roku reiterated that "our concerns with Google are not about money," but striking an agreement with fair distribution terms. "We have not asked for a single change in the financial terms of our existing agreement," Roku writes in the blog post. " In fact, Roku does not earn a single dollar from YouTube's ad supported video sharing service today, whereas Google makes hundreds of millions of dollars from the YouTube app on Roku."

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Apple's Product Design Has Improved Since Jony Ive Left

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 15:43
Bloomberg: There was a sense that, without the moderating influence of the late Steve Jobs, perhaps Jony Ive started to prioritize aesthetics a little too much. Since he stepped down as chief designer at the end of 2019, Apple seems to have reemphasized function. From the iPhone to Apple TV to the Macbook, gone are the days of "The user be damned, we think this looks cool." Monday's unveiling of a new Macbook Pro lineup of laptops provides evidence of the shift. Headline features released five years ago under Ive's aegis have been scrapped. Gone is the so-called "butterfly" keyboard, which rendered the device thinner but whose clunky mechanics made typing more difficult; farewell too to the Touch Bar, a touch sensitive strip display along the top of the keyboard which could show functions for the web browser one moment and mixing tools for music apps the next, but was almost impossible to use without looking; back are HDMI ports, which let you plug the computer into high-definition displays without using an adapter. Perhaps this would have happened under Ive, but Evans Hankey, who now heads the industrial design team, has overseen plenty of other tweaks that seem to indicate a change of philosophy. [...] But there is merit in sometimes listening to your customers, particularly when the pendulum has swung too far away from function and towards form. After all, you're liable to lose professional customers -- architects, musicians, film-makers -- if they can't plug their laptops into external monitors. And professional users can afford to pay for the top-of-the-range devices that are more profitable to Apple. Dieter Rams, a significant influence on Ive, compiled 10 principles for "Good Design." Number three was "good design is aesthetic." Apple seems to have remembered numbers two and four: "good design makes a product useful" and "good design makes a product understandable."

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GIMP 2.99.8 is here but what's happened to 3.0? If only stuff would not break all the time

The Register - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 15:35
Keeping up with technology changes 'taking a toll on development'

GIMP 2.99.8, a development version with many new features, has been released, but 3.0 is taking its time due to system changes that break things.…

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Nvidia GeForce Now's RTX 3080 Plan Upgrades You To 1440p and 120fps at $100 for 6 Months

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 15:02
Nvidia's new RTX 3080 plan for GeForce Now is probably the biggest upgrade for its cloud-streaming service since it turned on RTX ray tracing for subscribers over two years ago. From a report: The new plan is targeted at more traditional gamers for whom 60fps simply doesn't cut it, and it'll cost $100 for every six months you're signed up. In addition to the RTX ray tracing of the Priority plan, it offers 8-hour sessions, up to 1440p and 120fps gaming on PC and Mac (1600p on MacBooks), 4K HDR 60fps with 7.1 surround audio on Nvidia Shield (using DLSS) and up to 120fps on select Android devices. On iOS, GeForce Now has to use Safari rather than a dedicated app, which likely either can't handle or is too locked down to hit the higher frame rates.) According to the company, MacBooks are the second most popular device it sees used by the service, which isn't surprising given how poor the Mac's gaming is compared to PCs. The new MacBook Pro models, with their 120Hz displays, will be able to take advantage of the higher resolution and frame rates.

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After more than a decade of development, South Korea has a near miss with Nuri rocket test

The Register - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 14:59
Nation playing catch-up following release from 1979 ban

South Korea today came close to joining the small club of nations that can build and launch their own orbital-class rockets, with its maiden attempt blasting off successfully, but failing to deploy the payload.…

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Developers offered browser-based fun in VSCode.dev and Java action in Visual Studio Code

The Register - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 14:05
Looking at code here, there and (almost) everywhere

Microsoft has whipped the covers off yet another take on code-in-the-browser with a lightweight version of Visual Studio Code, while unveiling the version 1.0 release of support for Red Hat Java in the freebie source wrangler.…

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Donald Trump To Launch Social Media Platform Called Truth Social

Slashdot - Thu, 21/10/2021 - 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Donald Trump has announced plans to launch a social media platform called TRUTH Social that will rolled be out early next year. The former president, who was banned from Facebook and Twitter earlier this year, says his goal is to rival the tech companies that have denied him the megaphone that was paramount to his rise. "I'm excited to soon begin sharing my thoughts on TRUTH social and to fight back against big tech," Trump said in a statement. Trump announced the news in a press release on Wednesday, saying the platform will be open to "invited users" for a beta launch in November, with plans to make it available to the broader public in the beginning of next year. Truth social will be a product of a new venture called the Trump Media & Technology Group which was created through a merger with Digital World Acquisition Corp. The group said it seeks to become a publicly listed company. Users can sign up to be put on a waiting list or pre-order the app via the App Store.

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