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Submission + - Even the CEO's job is susceptible to automation, McKinsey report says (

colinneagle writes: Global management consultants McKinsey and Company said in a recent report that many of the tasks that a CEO performs could be taken over by machines.

Those redundant tasks include "analyzing reports and data to inform operational decisions; preparing staff assignments; and reviewing status reports," the report says.

This potential for automation in the executive suite is in contrast to "lower-wage occupations such as home health aides, landscapers, and maintenance workers," the report says. Those jobs aren't as suitable for automation, according to the report. The technology has not advanced enough.

Submission + - OS/2 – Yes, THAT OS/2 – is getting an upgrade (

colinneagle writes: There are some technologies that just refuse to die, kept alive and kicking by a small but very devoted and enthusiastic cluster of users. The Amiga is one such example, still running more than 20 years after the last Amiga rolled off the lines.

Also still kicking is OS/2, IBM's last stab at a competing operating system to Windows, which the company abandoned in 1996 after its fourth and final major release, known as OS/2 Warp. An organization called Arca Noae not only continues development of the OS but also offers support to companies still using OS/2.

According to TechRepublic, which was at the show, the new distribution of that OS is codenamed Blue Lion, which will feature both new functionality as well as upgrades to the existing OS. The focus will be on running a full OS/2 implementation on bare metal, not just in virtual machines, according to Arca Noae. Blue Lion will add modern ACPI versions, USB 1.1 and 2.0, AHCI support for Serial ATA disks like SSDs, and a myriad of new drivers. New features include a completely reworked installation process that will allow for installation from USB drives, the ability to check for updates over the Internet while doing the installation, and improving SMP support. The developers are also working on network installation.

Submission + - A 'black market' for wireless cell service has popped up in Canada (

colinneagle writes: Two recent reports tell the story of one enterprising Canadian who takes advantage of a loophole to provide substantially cheaper wireless cell service for a one-time $100 payment.

How exactly he does it appears to be unclear, but it involves pricing discrepancies in Canada, where lower-populated provinces like Manitoba and Saskatchewan see much cheaper cell service. Basically, the scheme involves signing up for an account in one of these regions, where Canadian wireless service provider Koodo offers a 5GB monthly data plan for $48, then selling the account to people who live in more populated regions of the country, where the same plan typically costs at least $90.

This loophole has apparently been around for a while, with both of the aforementioned articles pointing to a forum conversation started in 2008 on a site called This post showed a $55 monthly plan (available for $49.50 if you sign up with your own device) that offers unlimited calling, texting, and 5GB of data. The forum's moderators, however, posted an update five years after the discussion was started warning that "any discussion regarding getting this deal outside of Manitoba or Saskatchewan will no longer be allowed."

One article also says other people offer similar services on Craigslist.

Submission + - Wi-Fi router's 'pregnant women' setting sparks vendor rivalry in China (

colinneagle writes: When one Chinese technology vendor, Qihoo, launched a new Wi-Fi router with a safety setting for "pregnant women," a rival vendor took offense to the implication that their routers might be dangerous. Xiamo, which also sells Wi-Fi routers, took to its page on Chinese social media site Weibo to denounce Qihoo's pregnant women mode as a "marketing tactic," and clarify that "Wi-Fi usage is safe."

Zhou Hongyi, chief executive and president of Qihoo, acknowledged in a statement to the South China Morning Post that there is no evidence supporting claims that Wi-Fi routers pose a risk for birth defects. But he said the company is appealing to consumers' beliefs, whether they are supported by science or not.

"We are targeting people who are afraid of radiation," Hongyi said. "We aren't scientists. We haven't done many experiments to prove how much damage the radiation from Wi-Fi can cause. We leave the right of choice to our customers."

Submission + - Ransomware creator apologizes for 'sleeper' attack, releases decryption keys (

colinneagle writes: Last week, a new strain of ransomware called Locker was activated after having been sitting silently on infected PCs. Security firm KnowBe4 called Locker a "sleeper" campaign that, when the malware's creator "woke it up," encrypted the infected devices' files and charged roughly $24 in exchange for the decryption keys. This week, an internet user claiming to be the creator of Locker publicly apologized for the campaign and appears to have released the decryption keys for all the devices that fell victim to it, KnowBe4 reported in an alert issued today. Locker's creator released this message in a PasteBin post, along with a link to a file hosted on containing the decryption keys. The malware creator also said that an automatic decryption process for all devices that were affected by Locker will begin June 2nd.

However, the post did not mention anything about providing a refund to victims who paid the 0.1 bitcoin (equal to $22.88 at the time this was posted and about $24 last week) required for the decryption keys since last week.

KnowBe4 CEO Stu Sjouwerman says the files released do not appear to be malicious after brief analysis, and that "it does contain a large quantity of RSA keys and Bitcoin addresses." But he warned those interested to only open these files "at your own risk until further analyses are performed." Sjouwerman speculated that the malware creator may have been spooked by attention from law enforcement or Eastern European organized crime syndicates that are behind most ransomware campaigns.

Submission + - This $9 computer might be more useful than Raspberry Pi (

colinneagle writes: A small team of engineers and artists that make up Next Thing Co. launched a Kickstarter campaign today for Chip, their $9 single-board computer that boasts Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and a larger processor than Raspberry Pi's most powerful models.

The tiny device runs a 1 GHz R8 ARM processor, and comes with 512MB of RAM and 4GB of storage. In comparison, the Raspberry Pi B and B+ models feature a 900 MHz quad-core ARM Cortex 7 processor. The Chip comes with a built-in composite output to connect to monitors and supports adapters for VGA or HDMI. It runs Debian Linux and comes preloaded with the Scratch programming language for those who might be new to coding.

Most noteworthy, though, is the Pocket Chip – a small device with a crude-looking screen and hard-key keyboard that plugs into the Chip and makes for portable computing. It may not be an iPhone killer, but it's an impressively inexpensive mobile form factor.

Submission + - Maritime cybersecurity firm: 37% of Microsoft servers vulnerable to hacking

colinneagle writes: A report from maritime cybersecurity firm CyberKeel claims that spot spot checks at 50 different maritime sites revealed that 37% of the servers running Microsoft were still vulnerable because they had not been patched.

But what's most interesting is what happens when hackers can breach security in shipping environments, including one case in which "drug gangs were able to smuggle entire container loads of cocaine through Antwerp, one of Belgium's largest ports, after its hackers breached the port's IT network," said Rear Adm. Marshall Lytle, assistant commandant responsible for USCG Cyber Command.

Submission + - Hackers can exploit security flaw to create 'no iOS zone'

colinneagle writes: The RSA Conference is usually full of theoretical hacks, but one that was disclosed this week seems like a godsend to Apple haters.

Researchers Yair Amit and Adi Sharabani, who both work for the mobile security firm Skycure, disclosed a new iOS hack which can cause targeted iPhones or iPads to enter a perpetual reboot loop, effectively rendering the devices all but useless. The researchers noted that the security flaw exists in iOS 8 and can be triggered via manipulated SSL certificates sent to a device over a Wi-Fi network. What's more, a previous iOS bug disclosed by Skycure, dubbed WiFiGate, enables attackers to create their own Wi-Fi network and "force external devices to automatically connect to it." Taken together, attackers can effectively create what is referred to as a "No iOS Zone."

The research firm adds that even when a victim knows that an errant Wi-Fi connection is wreaking havoc on their device, they can't exit out of the reboot loop to even turn it off. A video demonstration of what the hack looks like on an affected device is available at Network World.

Submission + - Florida teen charged with felony hacking for using password teacher gave him ( 2

colinneagle writes: A 14-year-old middle school student in Holiday, Florida, was arrested this week and charged with "an offense against a computer system and unauthorized access," which is a felony. The student reportedly used an administrator password to log into a teacher's computer and change the background image to a photo of two men kissing.

The student also revealed his secrets after he was caught – the password was the teacher's last name, and the teacher had typed it in in full view of the students. The student said many other students used these administrators' passwords (their teachers' last names) so they can screen-share and video chat with other students.

The student was briefly held in a nearby detention center, and the county Sheriff warned that other teenagers caught doing the same thing will "face the same consequences."

Submission + - Microsoft and others are paying Adblock Plus creator to stop blocking them (

colinneagle writes: A few weeks back, it was rumored that web content giants Microsoft, Google, and Amazon might sue the maker of Adblock Plus, the Firefox/Chrome plugin that blocks ad content on web pages. Instead, they are bribing the company.

According to a new report from the Financial Times (registration required), Microsoft, Google, Amazon and content delivery provider Taboola have been quietly paying Eyeo, the German company that developed Adblock Plus, to let their links slip through Adblock Plus's filters.

Eyeo has what it calls "acceptable ads," which can be whitelisted and bypass its program filters. This tends to be for smaller companies with "non-intrusive" ads, according to Eyeo's site. Microsoft and the other companies are hardly small, and people often want to block them. In fact, this is not new. Taboola, which counts MailOnline, Business Insider, and NBC News as customers, was added to the Adblock Plus whitelist last November to serve ads in the form of "sponsored content" at the bottom of news articles.

Submission + - How Vivaldi compares with, and improves upon, other web browsers (

colinneagle writes: Blogger Andy Patrizio writes about the new web browser Vivaldi from the former CEO of Opera Software Jon Stephenson von Tetzchner:

"Von Tezchner told Tom's Hardware Guide that Vivaldi aims to pick up where Opera Software left off when it abandoned the Presto engine for Google's open-source Blink and Chromium software. The thing is, Vivaldi uses Chromium as its rendering engine. It also uses a lot of Node.js modules, Chrome's Javascript runtime, and the React Javascript library.

But it also has some nice new features, such as thumbnails of the websites you have open and stacking tabs at the top. This way, instead of a whole bunch of tabs across the top, you can group related ones, much like the way you can make folders on an iPhone by dropping one app on top of another. You can also pull down the menu bar and, instead of tabs, the whole site is rendered in a small box at the top, so you can see the site, not just its name. The new browser also comes packed with a "Notes" feature that allows users to mark down notes about a site. So you can leave a note to yourself about why you came to a particular site in the first place, or something you want to remember about it. There's also a "speed dial" feature that allows users to quickly access sites from one place, and you can make multiple speed dials for different groups of sites."

The article includes a chart showing benchmarks comparing Vivaldi to Chrome and IE.

Submission + - Kim Dotcom offers up secure 'Skype Killer' voice chat (

colinneagle writes: Kim Dotcom, the controversial German expat living in New Zealand whose file-sharing site was busted by U.S. federal agents, has launched an end-to-end encrypted voice and video chat service that operates through the browser called MegaChat, which will now be available for free to the 15 million registered users of his file-sharing service Mega.

MegaChat aims to provide an alternative to the current voice and video chat services which Dotcom himself has accused of cooperating with government snooping. "No U.S.-based online service provider can be trusted with your data," Dotcom once claimed. "Skype has no choice. They must provide the U.S. government with backdoors."

However, Dotcom has also claimed that there are backdoors in Chrome and Firefox, so if you are using them to browse, how can he guarantee end-to-end encryption? And while Mega is great for file sharing, its track record for security is a little dubious. Right after its launch, there was criticism of the implementation of the site's security, from cross-site scripting flaws to poorly implemented encryption, and later it was found that Mega passwords could be extracted with basic hacking tools.

Submission + - Intuit gets greedy, nearly doubles price of TurboTax (

colinneagle writes: In the 2014 Deluxe edition ($59.99), which was always sufficient to do self-employment taxes, Intuit has removed Schedule C, D, and E, which self-employed people use. The full Schedule C is now only available in the Home & Business version, which runs $99.99, while Schedule E and the complete Schedule D, which has importation brokerage data, are now only available in their Premier edition or higher ($89.99). If you have Deluxe, like me, you will get prompted to make a purchase of an additional $30 to $40.

Needless to say, Intuit is getting skinned alive on Amazon. As of this writing, Turbo Tax 2014 has 852 one-star ratings on Amazon and just 81 five-star ratings, and TurboTax has been far and away the most popular home tax prep software on the market for years.

H&R Block, which has always run a distant second to TurboTax, smells blood in the water and is offering a free copy of its tax prep software, federal and state, to the many furious TurboTax users. There isn't a site for this, you have to email H&R Block at and include your name, address, and phone number, operating system and a photo, scan, or email showing proof of TurboTax Basic or Deluxe purchase. Once approved, H&R Block will then send a link for one free download of H&R Block Deluxe + State tax software. You can even import last year’s tax return from TurboTax into the H&R Block tax software.

Submission + - Verizon Wireless did not dump Microsoft Lumia phones, it sold out (

colinneagle writes: Some irresponsible reports around the technology blogosphere have noted that Microsoft Lumia phones have disappeared from sale on the Verizon Wireless website, and jumped to the conclusion that Verizon stopped selling them online. In fact, they are sold out.

Microsoft confirmed that its Lumia models are sold out, not discontinued. “ has temporarily sold out of Lumia smartphones. We’re looking forward to bringing more Lumias to market with Verizon,” a Microsoft spokesperson told me via email. A representative for Verizon Wireless also confirmed the sold out phones and that Lumia devices are still available in Verizon Wireless stores.

The articles in question (I won't name names) note that non-Lumia phones like the HTC One (H8) and Samsung ATIV SE are still for sale. But apparently some people couldn't bother to send an inquiry to Microsoft's and Verizon's media relations departments to ask.

Submission + - Google built its own self-driving car ( 1

colinneagle writes: In May, Google released a teaser image showing a mock-up of the autonomous vehicle it planned to build. Today, the company followed up with an image showing the finished product. Google says the first edition of its self-made self-driving car will feature “temporary manual controls as needed while we continue to test and learn.” When Google introduced its prototype back in May, the company claimed its self-driving cars “won’t have a steering wheel, accelerator pad, or brake pedalbecause they don’t need them.” Apparently, it still has yet to reach that point.

The development is an important step forward for Google’s driverless car efforts, which have been deemed impractical by many of late. Last year, the Financial Times reported that Google had difficulty finding manufacturing partners that would build vehicles featuring the self-driving capabilities used in its Prius. In that light, maybe Google’s willingness to build its own hardware just to get the technology on the road means that its self-driving car team knows something the rest of the industry doesn’t.

"Survey says..." -- Richard Dawson, weenie, on "Family Feud"