Social Networks

Facebook Knocks "Six Degrees of Separation" Down a Few Notches (i-programmer.info) 47

mikejuk writes: Six degrees of separation is the, already well established, idea that any individual is connected to any other via six network nodes. New research has discovered that the average between Facebook users is just three and a half: "We know that people are more connected today than ever before. Over the past five years, the global Facebook community has more than doubled in size. Today we're announcing that during that same time period, the degrees of separation between a typical pair of Facebook users has continued to decrease to 3.57 degrees, down from 3.74 degrees in 2011. This is a significant reflection of how closely connected the world has become." This may all be true and Facebook makes us better connected, but it leaves the question of the quality of the connections open. Are Facebook friends anything like real friends?
Businesses

Startup Uses Sensor Networks To Debug Science Experiments (xconomy.com) 10

gthuang88 writes: Environmental factors like temperature, humidity, or lighting often derail life science experiments. Now Elemental Machines, a startup from the founders of Misfit Wearables, is trying to help scientists debug experiments using distributed sensors and machine-learning software to detect anomalies. The product is in beta testing with academic labs and biotech companies. The goal is to help speed up things like biology research and drug development. Wiring up experiments is part of a broader effort to create "smart labs" that automate some of the scientific process.
Technology

World's Smallest Optical Switch Uses a Single Atom (gizmag.com) 28

Zothecula writes: The rapid and on-going development of micro-miniature optical electronic devices is helping to usher in a new era of photonic computers and light-based memories that promise super-fast processor speeds and ultra-secure communications. However, as these components are shrunk ever further, fundamental limits to their dimensions are dictated by the wavelength of light itself. Now researchers at ETH Zurich claim to have overcome this limitation by creating both the world's smallest optical switch using a single atom, and accompanying circuitry that appears to break the rules by being smaller than the wavelength of the light that passes through it.
Facebook

Study Finds Sleep Deprivation Increases Compulsive Facebook Usage (thestack.com) 38

An anonymous reader writes: A study at UC Irvine has taken a reverse approach to the customary interest in the relationship between technology and tiredness, finding that people who make themselves tired through excessive use of social media such as Facebook are considerably more likely to continue compulsive use of it and deepen their exhaustion. Lead researcher Gloria Mark says "If you're being distracted, what do you do? You go to Facebook. It's lightweight, it's easy, and you're tired."
Windows

Windows 10 Gets Core Console Host Enhancements (nivot.org) 169

x0n writes: As of Windows 10 TH2 (10.0.1058), the core console subsystem has support for a large number of ANSI and VT100 escape sequences. This is likely to prepare for full Open SSH server/client integration, which is already underway over on github. It looks like xterm is finally coming to Windows. OpenSSH was previously announced (last year) by the very forward-looking PowerShell team. The linked article provides some context, and explains that the console host isn't the same as either cmd.exe or powershell.exe, but there is a lot of overlap in functionality.
Displays

Unreal Engine Will Soon Allow Developers To Build Games Inside of VR (roadtovr.com) 32

An anonymous reader writes: Epic Games, the creators of Unreal Engine, has been a longstanding supporter of VR. They were on board way back when Oculus sparked the VR industry in 2012 with a Kickstarter that would snowball into a rekindling of consumer virtual reality. Having been one of the first major game engines to support VR headsets like the Rift, the company has been aggressively positioning Unreal Engine as the go-to tool for VR developers. Now they're taking a massive next step, showing the first look at bringing developers themselves inside of virtual reality to craft games with the full set of UE4 tools at their fingertips. That means that developers can place and manipulate objects from right within a world in progress; the video demo in the linked story is impressive.
Bitcoin

Ask Slashdot: Time To Get Into Crypto-currency? If So, Which? 191

Qbertino writes: With the ever-looming cyberpunk future in close proximity, I'm starting to wonder if it isn't time to get myself familiar with crypto currency as a means of trade. Bitcoin is all the hype, but the blockchain has flaws, in that it isn't as anonymous as one would hope for — you can track past transactions. Rumors of Bitcoin showing cracks are popping up and also there are quite a few alternatives out there. So I have some questions: Is getting into dealing with crypto currency worthwhile already? Is Bitcoin the way to go, or will it falter under wide use / become easily trackable once NSA and the likes adapt their systems to doing exactly that? What digital currency has the technical and mind-share potential to supersede bitcoin? Are there feasible cryptocurrencies that have the upsides of Bitcoin (such as a mathematical limit to their amount) but are fully anonymous in transactions? What do the economists and digi-currency nerds here have to contribute on that? What are your experiences with handling and holding cryptocurrency? And does Bitcoin own the market or is it still flexible enough for an technology upgrade?
Microsoft

Even With Telemetry Disabled, Windows 10 Talks To Dozens of Microsoft Servers (voat.co) 458

An esteemed reader writes: Curious about the various telemetry and personal information being collected by Windows 10, one user installed Windows 10 Enterprise and disabled all of the telemetry and reporting options. Then he configured his router to log all the connections that happened anyway. Even after opting out wherever possible, his firewall captured Windows making around 4,000 connection attempts to 93 different IP addresses during an 8 hour period, with most of those IPs controlled by Microsoft. Even the enterprise version of Windows 10 is checking in with Redmond when you tell it not to — and it's doing so frequently.
Twitter

Twitter Tackles Terrorists In Targeted Takedown (betanews.com) 88

Mark Wilson writes: Having previously battled trolls, Twitter has now turned its attention to terrorists and their supporters. The site has closed down more than 125,000 accounts associated with terrorism since the middle of 2015, it announced in a statement. Although a full breakdown of figures is not provided, Twitter says most of these accounts were related to ISIS. Having increased the size of its account review team, the site has reduced the time it takes to investigate accounts that are reported, and has also started to investigate 'accounts similar to those reported'.
Botnet

Online Museum Displays Decades of Malware (thestack.com) 37

An anonymous reader writes: archive.org has launched a Museum of Malware, which devotes itself to a historical look at DOS-based viruses of the 1980s and 1990s, and gives viewers the opportunity to run the viruses in a DOS game emulator, and to download 'neutered' versions of the code. With an estimated 50,000 DOS-based viruses in existence by the year 2000, the Malware Museum's 65 examples should be seen as representative of an annoying, but more innocent era of digital vandalism.
Security

Avast SafeZone Browser Lets Attackers Access Your Filesystem (softpedia.com) 33

An anonymous reader writes: Just two days after Comodo's Chromodo browser was publicly shamed by Google Project Zero security researcher Tavis Ormandy, it's now Avast's turn to be publicly scorned for failing to provide a "secure" browser for its users. Called SafeZone, and also known as Avastium, Avast's custom browser is offered as a bundled download for all who purchase or upgrade to a paid version of Avast Antivirus 2016. This poor excuse of a browser was allowing attackers to access files on the user's filesystem just by clicking on malicious links. The browser wouldn't even have to be opened, and the malicious link could be clicked in "any" browser.
Desktops (Apple)

Scareware Signed With Apple Cert Targets OS X Machines (threatpost.com) 39

msm1267 writes: A unique scareware campaign targeting Mac OS X machines has been discovered, and it's likely the developer behind the malware has been at it a while since the installer that drops the scareware is signed with a legitimate Apple developer certificate.

"Sadly, this particular developer certificate (assigned to a Maksim Noskov) has been used for probably two years in similar attacks," said Johannes Ullrich, dean of research of the SANS Institute's Internet Storm Center, which on Thursday publicly disclosed the campaign. "So far, it apparently hasn't been revoked by Apple."

Cellphones

Foxconn Set To Acquire Sharp Corporation For $5.6 Billion (appleinsider.com) 43

Foxconn, a Taiwanese electronics contract manufacturing/assembly company, is reported to be finalizing a deal to acquire Sharp Corporation for $5.6 billion, with the beleaguered company having finally rejected a proposed government rescue package in favor of the deal. Foxconn, formerly known as Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd, was brought to media attention in 2010, when the company installed suicide nets to stop the high number of employee suicides at company dorms. Although it seems out of the ordinary that one of the world's few producers of LCD panels is negotiating with Foxconn, the deal is expected to go through, making it one of the biggest foreign takeovers of a Japanese company.
AI

Financial Advisers Disrupted By AI (bloomberg.com) 71

schwit1 writes: Banks are watching wealthy clients flirt with robo-advisers, and that's one reason the lenders are racing to release their own versions of the automated investing technology this year, according to a consultant. Robo-advisers, which use computer programs to provide investment advice online, typically charge less than half the fees of traditional brokerages, which cost at least 1 percent of assets under management.

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