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Facebook

Facebook Expands Online Commerce Role, But Says "No Guns, Please" 191

The New York Times reports that Facebook's newly staked-out role as a site to facilitate local, person-to-person sales (ala Craigslist) has a new wrinkle: the site has announced a site-wide policy restricting firearms sales that applies to personal sales, though not to licensed dealers or gun clubs. According to the story, Although Facebook was not directly involved in gun sales, it has served as a forum for gun sales to be negotiated, without people having to undergo background checks. The social network, with 1.6 billion monthly visitors, had become one of the worldâ(TM)s largest marketplaces for guns and was increasingly evolving into an e-commerce site where it could facilitate transactions of goods. ... Facebook said it would rely on its vast network of users to report any violations of the new rules, and would remove any post that violated the policy. Beyond that, the company said it could ban users or severely limit the ways they post on Facebook, depending on the type and severity of past violations. If the company believed someoneâ(TM)s life was in danger, Facebook would work with law enforcement on the situation. The policy applies as well to private sales that occur using Facebook Messenger, though the company does not scan Messenger exchanges and must rely on user reports.

Submission + - Nvidia GPUs Break Google Chrome's Incognito Mode

An anonymous reader writes: Nvidia GPUs don't clear out memory previously-allocated, and neither does Chrome before releasing memory back to the shared memory pool. If the user would be watching pr0n (for example) via Incognito Mode, close the session, and then open Diablo 3, while the game launches he'd see snapshots of the "private" browsing session in Diablo's loading screen.
Programming

ESP8266 Basic Interpreter Lowers IoT Entry Bar For Amateur Programmers (esp8266basic.com) 112

New submitter mmiscool writes: ESP8266 Basic is a project less than 6 moths old. It is open source and designed specifically for the internet of things. The ESP8266 microcontroller costs less than $3, and once the basic firmware is loaded to the device a user can connect to it using Wi-Fi and start programming right inside their web browser. No wires, no software or plugins to install. Just a simple text editor. There is now a community, primarily older folks who fell in love with Basic on the Commodore, who are using it for controlling a variety of projects. The code is amazingly simple and includes commands for interfacing with neo pixels, OLED displays, Temperature sensors, hobby servo motors and of course the blinky LED. It also provides commands for browser widgets that can be used to construct interfaces for the device like textboxes, buttons, sliders and dropdowns. The bottom line is that Basic is not dead, and has finally made its way into the internet of things. Make last year ran a three-part series on the chip (here's part one), but things have advanced quite a bit since then, when people were first noticing that the ESP8266 is more powerful than the tasks for which it was first marketed.
EU

Uber In Retreat Across Europe 460

HughPickens.com writes: Mark Scott reports at the NY Times that Uber is rapidly expanding its ride-hailing operations across the globe but some of Uber's fiercest opposition has come in Europe, where the culture clash between the remorseless competition of the US tech industry and the locals' respect for tradition and deference to established interests is especially stark. In Frankfort, Uber shut its office after just 18 months of operation spurred in part by drivers like Hasan Kurt, the owner of a local licensed taxi business, who had refused to work with the American service. Uber antagonized local taxi operators by prioritizing its low-cost service, and then could not persuade enough licensed drivers to sign up, even after it offered to pay for licenses and help with other regulatory costs that totaled as much as $400 for new drivers. "It's not part of the German culture to do something like" what Uber did says Kurt. "We don't like it, the government doesn't like it, and our customers don't like it."

Uber also pulled out of Hamburg and Düsseldorf after less than two years of operating in each of those German cities. In Amsterdam, Uber recently stopped offering UberPop, in Paris and Madrid, Uber has been confronted by often violent opposition from existing taxi operators, while in London, local regulators are mulling changes that could significantly hamper Uber's ambitions there. Uber's aggressive tactics have turned off potential customers like Andreas Müller who tried the company's Frankfurt service after first using Uber on a business trip in Chicago. Müller said he liked the convenience of paying through his smartphone, but soon turned against the company after reading that it had continued operating in violation of court orders and did not directly employ its drivers, who are independent contractors. "That might work in the U.S., but that's not how things are done here in Germany," says Müller. "Everyone must respect the rules."
Businesses

For a Missouri Cassette Tape Factory, Obsolesence is Just a 12-Letter Word (arstechnica.com) 169

The Missouri-based National Audio Company, reports Ars Technica, is sweeping up in a category that our future-looking selves might twenty years ago have imagined would be dead and buried in the year 2015: making and selling audiocassettes. There are fewer and fewer competitors in the tape-making business, but NAC still has a healthy market for cassettes -- in October, the company noted "a 31 percent increase in order volume over the previous year." From the article: [Company president Steve Stepp] said that as his competitors began bailing out of the cassette business once CDs came to prominence, NAC started buying up their machinery. “It would have been incredibly expensive 30 to 35 years ago when [cassette manufacturing machines] were new on the market, but when our competitors bailed out of the business and started making CDs, we went round the country and bought [them] out," he said. Some artists are still releasing music on tape, but about 70 percent of what the company sells is blank cassettes; there are an awful lot of tape decks out there; my father alone still buys a few hundred blanks each year.
Cloud

The Data Center Density Debate: Generational Change Brings Higher Densities (datacenterfrontier.com) 45

1sockchuck writes: Over the past decade, there have been repeated predictions of the imminent arrival of higher rack power densities. Yet extreme densities have remained focused in high performance computing. Now data center providers are beginning to adapt their designs for higher densities. One of these companies is Colovore, which is among a cliuster of companies adopting chilled-water cooling doors for their cabinets (LinkedIn is another). They say the move to higher densities is driven in part by a generational change in IT teams, as younger engineers are less worried about high-density strategies using water in the data center. "A lot of them grew up with PC gaming and water cooling right in their living room," said a Colovore executive.
Math

Understanding the Antikythera Mechanism (hackaday.com) 75

szczys writes: We attribute great thinking to ancient Greece. This is exemplified by the Antikythera Mechanism. Fragments of the mechanism were found in a shipwreck first discovered in 1900 and visited by researchers several times over the next century. It is believed to be a method of tracking the calendar and is the first known example of what are now common-yet-complicated engineering mechanisms like the differential gear. A few working reproductions have been produced and make it clear that whomever designed this had an advanced understanding of complex gear ratios and their ability to track the passage of time and celestial bodies. Last year research by two scientists suggested that the device might be much older than previously thought.
Encryption

How Is the NSA Breaking So Much Crypto? (freedom-to-tinker.com) 217

schwit1 writes: There have been rumors for years that the NSA can decrypt a significant fraction of encrypted Internet traffic. In 2012, James Bamford published an article quoting anonymous former NSA officials stating that the agency had achieved a "computing breakthrough" that gave them "the ability to crack current public encryption." The Snowden documents also hint at some extraordinary capabilities: they show that NSA has built extensive infrastructure to intercept and decrypt VPN traffic and suggest that the agency can decrypt at least some HTTPS and SSH connections on demand.

However, the documents do not explain how these breakthroughs work, and speculation about possible backdoors or broken algorithms has been rampant in the technical community. Yesterday at ACM CCS, one of the leading security research venues, we and twelve coauthors presented a paper that we think solves this technical mystery.

If a client and server are speaking Diffie-Hellman, they first need to agree on a large prime number with a particular form. There seemed to be no reason why everyone couldn't just use the same prime, and, in fact, many applications tend to use standardized or hard-coded primes. But there was a very important detail that got lost in translation between the mathematicians and the practitioners: an adversary can perform a single enormous computation to "crack" a particular prime, then easily break any individual connection that uses that prime.

Australia

Australians Set To Pay 50% More For Apps After Apple Price Spike (heraldsun.com.au) 117

SlappingOysters writes: Within 36-hours the price of Apple apps is set to increase in Australia, Sweden and Indonesia. It will bring the price of buying an app out of alignment with the value of the Australian dollar, and leave the country's Apple fans paying 50% more for their iOS software than their American counterparts. It's unfortunate timing, with the recent launch of the iPhone 6s and the upcoming fourth generation of Apple TV.
DRM

How the Car Industry Has Hidden Its Software Behind the DMCA 126

Lucas123 writes: The DCMA has allowed carmakers to keep third parties from looking at the code in their electronic control modules. The effect has been that independent researchers are wary of probing vehicle code, which may have lead companies like Volkswagen to get away with cheating emissions tests far longer than necessary. In a July letter to the U.S. Copyright Office, the Environmental Protection Agency expressed its own concern of the protection provided by the DMCA to carmakers, saying it's "difficult for anyone other than the vehicle manufacturer to obtain access to the software." Kit Walsh, an attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, said the legal uncertainly created by the DMCA "makes it easier for manufacturers to conceal intentional wrongdoing. The EFF has petitioned the U.S. Copyright Office for an exemption to the DMCA for embedded vehicle code so that independent research can be performed on electronic control modules (ECMs), which run a myriad of systems, including emissions. Eben Moglen was right.
Programming

The Most Important Obscure Languages? 429

Nerval's Lobster writes: If you're a programmer, you're knowledgeable about "big" languages such as Java and C++. But what about those little-known languages you only hear about occasionally? Which ones have an impact on the world that belies their obscurity? Erlang (used in high-performance, parallel systems) springs immediately to mind, as does R, which is relied upon my mathematicians and analysts to crunch all sorts of data. But surely there are a handful of others, used only by a subset of people, that nonetheless inform large and important platforms that lots of people rely upon... without realizing what they owe to a language that few have ever heard of.
Programming

COBOL Comes To Visual Studio 2015 86

New submitter dmleonard618 writes: Micro Focus isn't writing off COBOL just yet. The company is trying to win developers over with COBOL with the latest release of Visual COBOL for Visual Studio. The new solution aims to bring back the ancient language and make it relevant again. "Visual COBOL for Visual Studio 2015 is the next generation of COBOL development solutions, designed for today's application developer to do just that, in a productive and cost-effective way," said Micro Focus' Ed Airey.
Cellphones

Mobile Phone Data Can Track the Spread of Infectious Diseases 21

jan_jes writes: Researchers have used anonymous mobile phone records for more than 15 million people to track the spread of rubella disease in Kenya and were able to quantitatively show that mobile phone data can predict seasonal disease patterns. The researchers compared the cellphone analysis with a highly detailed dataset on rubella incidence in Kenya. They matched; the cellphone movement patterns lined up with the rubella incidence figures. In both of their analyses, rubella spiked three times a year. This showed the researchers that cellphone movement can be a predictor of infectious-disease spread.

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