EU

EU Gives Ultimatum To Facebook and Twitter: Obey Us Or We'll Start Regulating (theregister.co.uk) 335

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Register: The EU Commission has fired a shot across Facebook and Twitter's bows, having issued a proclamation decreeing that "social media platforms" must do more to remove "illegal content inciting hatred, violence and terrorism online." Although what is said in the EU proclamation is nothing new -- indeed, in the UK, the measures proposed by the EU's talking heads have been standard practice for years -- what matters here is not what is being said publicly, but instead the threat of what might happen unless Facebook appeases the bloc's leaders. The EU said that platforms should appoint dedicated points of contact for police forces and other State agencies to talk to about illegal content; appoint trusted content moderators ("flaggers," in EU-ese); and invest in "automatic detection technologies." In addition, illegal content should be deleted within "specific timeframes."

All straightforward; nothing new there, at least from the British perspective. Yet the threat is in the EU's later words: "Today's communication is a first step and follow-up initiatives will depend on the online platforms' actions to proactively implement the guidelines. The Commission will carefully monitor progress made by the online platforms over the next months and assess whether additional measures are needed."

Education

2017 'Ig Nobel' Prizes Recognize Funny Research On Cats, Crocodiles, and Cheese (improbable.com) 20

An anonymous reader writes: "The 27th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony" happened Thursday at Harvard's Sanders theatre, recognizing real (but unusual) research papers from all over the world "that make people laugh, then think." This year's prize in the physics category went to Marc-Antoine Fardin, who used fluid dynamics to probe the question "Can a cat be both a solid and a liquid?"

Six prize-winning Swiss researchers also demonstrated that regular playing of a didgeridoo is an effective treatment for obstructive sleep apnoea and snoring, while two Australians tested how contact with a live crocodile affects a person's willingness to gamble. And five French researchers won the medicine prize for their use of advanced brain-scanning technology to investigate "the neural basis of disugst for cheese."

You can watch the ceremony online -- and Reuters got an interesting quote from the editor of the Annals of Improbable Research, who founded the awards ceremony 27 years ago. "We hope that this will get people back into the habits they probably had when they were kids of paying attention to odd things and holding out for a moment and deciding whether they are good or bad only after they have a chance to think."
Security

Security.txt Standard Proposed, Similar To Robots.txt (bleepingcomputer.com) 86

An anonymous reader writes: Ed Foudil, a web developer and security researcher, has submitted a draft to the IETF — Internet Engineering Task Force — seeking the standardization of security.txt, a file that webmasters can host on their domain root and describe the site's security policies. The file is akin to robots.txt, a standard used by websites to communicate and define policies for web and search engine crawlers...

For example, if a security researcher finds a security vulnerability on a website, he can access the site's security.txt file for information on how to contact the company and securely report the issue. According to the current security.txt IETF draft, website owners would be able to create security.txt files that look like this:

#This is a comment
Contact: security@example.com
Contact: +1-201-555-0123
Contact: https://example.com/security
Encryption: https://example.com/pgp-key.tx...
Acknowledgement: https://example.com/acknowledg...
Disclosure: Full

Earth

Mind-Altering Cat Parasite Linked To a Whole Lot of Neurological Disorders (sciencealert.com) 209

schwit1 shares a report from ScienceAlert: The brain-dwelling parasite Toxoplasma gondii is estimated to be hosted by at least 2 billion people around the world, and new evidence suggests the lodger could be more dangerous than we think. While the protozoan invader poses the greatest risk to developing fetuses infected in the womb, new research suggests the parasite could alter and amplify a range of neurological disorders, including epilepsy, Alzheimer's, and Parkinson's, and also cancer. "This study is a paradigm shifter," says one of the team, neuroscientist Dennis Steindler from Tufts University. "We now have to insert infectious disease into the equation of neurodegenerative diseases, epilepsy, and neural cancers." The findings are part of an emerging field of research looking into how T. gondii, which is usually transmitted to humans via contact with cat faeces (or by eating uncooked meat), produces proteins that alter and manipulate the brain chemistry of their infected hosts.
Businesses

At Burning Man While Your Startup Burns (techcrunch.com) 199

There's a difference between clearing your head, and ditching your dying startup to do drugs in the desert. From a report: Whether you're going to Burning Man, Ibiza, SXSW, or some big international tech conference, the message you send is the same. If your startup isn't succeeding, you're skipping out on the dirty work while hoping some miracle revelation or networking connection will save you. And it probably won't. For those less familiar, Burning Man is when 70,000 people build a temporary city of tents and RVs in the Nevada desert where no money is exchanged, and instead everyone seeks to gift strangers with giant art installations, workshops, food, drinks, and celebrations. But I get a sinking feeling when I notice or hear about the leaders of a struggling startup trying to dance or dose away their troubles. Being out of a contact for several days to a week since there's no reliable cellular connection and a stigma against phone use creates a decision-making bottleneck that can slow down your company. Ex-Oculus founder Palmer Luckey here points out how juice presser startup Juicero's founder Doug Evans took off to Burning Man for week. That's despite the company recently admitting it needed to lower prices after Bloomberg reporters revealed you could simply squeeze Juicero juice packs by hand without the $400 machine. In the middle of that week Evans was at Burning Man, Juicero announced it would suspend sales of its juicer and juice packs as it desperately tries to find an acquirer. While Evans handed over the CEO title to former Coca-Cola exec Jeff Dunn late last year, the company told TechCrunch "Evans is Juicero's full time Founder and Chairman of the Board and very active within the company."
Businesses

Amazon Was Tricked By a Fake Law Firm Into Removing a Popular Product, Costing the Seller $200,000 (cnbc.com) 98

Eugene Kim, reporting for CNBC: Shortly before Amazon Prime Day in July, the owner of the Brushes4Less store on Amazon's marketplace received a suspension notice for his best-selling product, a toothbrush head replacement. The email that landed in his inbox said the product was being delisted from the site because of an intellectual property violation. In order to resolve the matter and get the product reinstated, the owner would have to contact the law firm that filed the complaint. But there was one problem: the firm didn't exist. Brushes4Less was given the contact information for an entity named Wesley & McCain in Pittsburgh. The website wesleymccain.com has profiles for five lawyers. A Google image search shows that all five actually work for the law firm Brydon, Swearengen & England in Jefferson City, Missouri. The phone number for Wesley & McCain doesn't work while the address belongs to a firm in Pittsburgh called Robb Leonard Mulvihill. The person who supposedly filed the complaint is not registered to practice law in Pennsylvania. One section on Wesley & McCain's site stole language from the website of the Colby Law Office. The owner of Brushes4Less agreed to tell his story to CNBC but asked that we not use his name out of concern for his privacy. As far as he can tell, and based on what CNBC could confirm, Amazon was duped into shutting down the seller's key product days before the site's busiest shopping event ever.
Operating Systems

Is Apple Copying Palm's WebOS? (salon.com) 188

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Salon: Released in 2009 by Palm -- the same company that popularized the PDA in the 1990s -- WebOS pioneered a number of innovations, including multiple synchronized calendars, unified social media and contact management, curved displays, wireless charging, integrated text and Web messaging, and unintrusive notifications [that have all been copied by the mobile operating systems that defeated it on the marketplace]. The operating system, built on top of a Linux kernel, was also legendary for how easily it could be upgraded by users with programming skills. WebOS was also special in that it used native internet technologies like JavaScript for local applications. That was a huge part of why it was able to do so much integration with Web services, something its competitors at the time simply couldn't match.

Apple's upcoming iOS 11 once again demonstrates how far ahead of its time WebOS really was. The yet-to-be-released Apple mobile system has essentially copied the WebOS model for switching apps by having the user swipe upward from the bottom to reveal several "cards" that represent background applications. While Apple's decision to remove its massively overworked Home button is an improvement, it is still an inferior way of switching apps, compared to what you could do on WebOS eight years ago.

Social Networks

Some Instagram Employees Sell Verification For Thousands of Dollars (mashable.com) 56

An anonymous reader shares a report from Mashable, written by Kerry Flynn: "I mean if Mashable wants to pay for it, I can get you a blue check over night," reads a recent Twitter direct message. This is a guy who knows a guy, a middleman in the black market for Instagram verification, where anyone from a seasoned publicist to a 22-year-old digital marketer will offer to verify an account -- for a price. The fee is anywhere from a bottle of wine to $15,000, according to a dozen sources who have sold verification, bought verification for someone else, or directly know someone who has done one or the other. "These guys pay all their bills from one to two blue checks a month," another message from the middleman added later. The product for sale isn't a good or a service. It's a little blue check designated for public figures, celebrities, and brands on Instagram. It grants users a prime spot in search as well as access to special features. More importantly, it's a status symbol. But it's clear from people who spoke on the condition of anonymity, many of whom have their own blue checkmarks, that a black market for Instagram verification is alive and well. "Instagram has helped create this underground market," the report adds. "While anyone can apply for verification on Facebook and on Twitter, Instagram has made itself exclusive and therefore rather elitist. Influencers who have press clippings and work with big brands on sponsorship deals often can't manage to get that elusive blue checkmark, according to several verified and unverified influencers and people who have sold verification."
Privacy

Instagram Hack Targets Celebrities (bbc.com) 32

Instagram has revealed a flaw in its systems revealed "a number of" stars' phone numbers and email addresses to cyber-attackers. From a report: The Facebook-owned social network has emailed verified members, usually prominent figures, to let them know. It said it believed "one or more" attackers had targeted high-profile stars to get their contact information. Instagram said passwords had not been stolen but warned users to watch for suspicious activity on their accounts. However, it did not say which accounts had been affected. The security breach was made possible due to a bug in the company's own software.
Television

Mayweather-McGregor Streaming Glitches Prompt Lawsuit Against Showtime (hollywoodreporter.com) 118

Customers who paid $99.99 to watch the Conor McGregor-Floyd Mayweather fight are suing Showtime due to the quality of their stream and buffering issues. From a report via Hollywood Reporter: Portland, Ore., boxing fan Zack Bartel paid to stream the fight in high-definition through the Showtime app but says all he saw was "grainy video, error screens, buffer events, and stalls." Bartel is suing Showtime for unlawful trade practices and unjust enrichment, alleging the network rushed its pay-per-view streaming service to the market without securing the bandwidth necessary to support the scores of cable-cutting fans. The complaint, which is largely composed of screenshots and tweets, is seeking for each member of the class actual damages or $200 in statutory damages, whichever is greater. The proposed class includes Oregon consumers who viewed Showtime's app advertisement on iTunes and paid $99.99 to stream the fight, but were unable to view the fight live on the app "in HD at 1080p resolution and at 60 frames per second, and who experienced ongoing grainy video, error screens, buffer events, and stalls instead." Showtime senior vp sports communications director, Chris DeBlasio, says: "We have received a very limited number of complaints and will issue a full refund for any customer who purchased the event directly from Showtime and were unable to receive the telecast." DeBlasio recommends users contact their cable or satellite provider if they experienced any issues.
NASA

NASA's Cassini Probe Begins Its 'Grand Finale' Through Saturn's Atmosphere (space.com) 44

An anonymous reader quotes Space.com: After orbiting Saturn for more than 13 years, NASA's Cassini spacecraft is getting ready to say goodbye. On Monday (August 14), Cassini made the first of five passes through Saturn's upper atmosphere, kicking off the last phase of the mission's "Grand Finale." After completing those five dives, Cassini will come back around again one last time, plunging into Saturn's atmosphere on September 15. This will be a suicide maneuver: Cassini will burn up in the ringed planet's thick air, turning into a meteor in the Saturn sky...

Cassini's radar will be able to look into the atmosphere and see features as small as 16 miles (25 km) wide, about 100 times smaller than what it could see from its usual orbital positions. The Grand Finale will include one final swing by Saturn's largest moon, Titan, on Sept. 11. Titan's gravity will slow Cassini's orbit around Saturn and bend its path to send the spacecraft toward its September 15 encounter with the planet... Cassini will keep sending back data on September 15 until it gets to an altitude where atmospheric density is about twice what it encountered during its final five passes, NASA officials said. At that point, mission controllers will lose contact with the probe because its thrusters won't be able to keep Cassini's antenna pointed toward Earth; there will simply be too much air to push against.

The second dip happens this weekend, and NASA has created a special web page tracking Cassini's current location for its final 28 days.
Communications

Atlas 5 Rocket Launches $400 Million NASA Satellite Into Space (spaceflightnow.com) 51

A new communications hub has been successfully deployed in space today thanks to the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. "TDRS is a critical national asset have because of its importance to the space station and all of our science missions, primarily the Hubble Space Telescope and Earth science missions that use TDRS," said Tim Dunn, NASA's TDRS-M launch director. Spaceflight Now reports: With its main engine running at full throttle, the Atlas 5 booster lifted off at 8:29 a.m. EDT (1229 GMT) from Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral. The 191-foot-tall rocket, generating 860,000 pounds of thrust, aimed eastward and accelerated out of the atmosphere with NASA's TDRS-M spacecraft. Within just five minutes, the rocket had shed 92 percent of its liftoff weight and transitioned to the high-energy Centaur upper stage. An elliptical parking orbit was achieved within 18 minutes of takeoff, beginning a 90-minute quiescent coast higher through space to reach the optimum conditions for the second burn by Centaur. That minute-long boost over the Indian Ocean propelled the 7,610-pound payload into a customized high-perigee geosynchronous transfer orbit. The spacecraft was deployed by the launcher at T+plus 1 hour, 53 minutes to cheers and handshakes all around.

The $408 million TDRS-M was built and launched with the sole purpose to extend the useful life of NASA's constant communications infrastructure, supporting the astronauts around-the-clock aboard the International Space Station, supplying contact with the Hubble Space Telescope and transmitting the data from almost 40 science spacecraft studying Earth's environment and space.

Power

Samsung Galaxy Note 4 Batteries Are Being Recalled For Overheating Risk (theverge.com) 77

According to The Verge, over 10,000 batteries for the Galaxy Note 4 are being recalled for risk of overheating that could lead to burns or fires. Given last year's Note 7 fiasco, this recall sure doesn't sound good. It is, however, far more limited than the Note 7 recall and doesn't appear to be Samsung's fault. The Verge reports: Only phones refurbished through AT&T's insurance program and handled by FedEx Supply Chain are impacted by the recall. Some of the refurbished phones apparently ended up with "counterfeit" batteries that include anomalies that could make them overheat. Fortunately, the Note 4 has a replaceable battery, so this recall isn't as big of a deal. Owners can just buy a new battery to use in their phone until the recall is taken care of. FedEx is currently sending out replacement batteries as well as boxes for returning the recalled phones. "FedEx Supply Chain is conducting this recall of non-genuine Samsung batteries as some of them are counterfeit," the spokesperson said. "The refurbishment program was managed by FedEx Supply Chain and operated independently of Samsung. Any affected owners should contact FedEx Supply Chain at 1-800-338-0163 or go online at www.exchangemybattery.com for more information." There's only been one report of a phone overheating and no damage to people or property because of it.
Government

Justice Department Demands 1.3 Million IP Addresses Related To Anti-Trump Website (theverge.com) 392

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: In a blog post today, online web hosting provider DreamHost disclosed that it has been involved in a months-long legal battle with the Justice Department over records on visitors to an anti-Trump website. The dispute focuses on a Justice Department demand for information on data related to disruptj20.org, which describes itself as a group of activists "building the framework needed for mass protests to shut down the inauguration of Donald Trump and planning widespread direct actions to make that happen." DreamHost is taking issue with a warrant issued by the department for "all files" related to the website, which DreamHost says would compel them to turn over electronic data like visitor logs. That would include IP addresses and other information that could be used to identify anyone who visited the site. "The request from the DOJ demands that DreamHost hand over 1.3 million visitor IP addresses -- in addition to contact information, email content, and photos of thousands of people -- in an effort to determine who simply visited the website," the company said in its blog post. The warrant, DreamHost argues, would also require it to hand over any communications that are even tangentially related to the website.

"In essence, the Search Warrant not only aims to identify the political dissidents of the current administration, but attempts to identify and understand what content each of these dissidents viewed on the website," the company said in a legal filing arguing against the warrant. A hearing on the situation is set for Friday in Washington, DC Superior Court.

Communications

iOS 10 Quietly Deprecated A Crucial API For VoIP and Communication Apps (apple.com) 122

neutrino38 warns that iOS 10 includes a significant change "overlooked by the general public": It deprecates an API that is crucial for VoIP and other instant messaging applications that enable keeping one socket active despite the fact that the application would run in the background. As a replacement, developers need to use PushKit: when an incoming call is to be forwarded to an iOS VoIP client, the VoIP infrastructure needs to:

- withold the call
- contact Apple push infrastructure using a proprietary protocol to wake up the client app remotely
- wait for the application to reconnect to the infrastructure and release the call when it is ready

This "I know better than you" approach is meant to further optimize battery life on iOS devices by avoiding the use of resources by apps running in background. It has also the positive effect of forcing developers to switch to a push model and remove all periodic pollings that ultimately use mobile data and clog the Internet. However, the decision to use an Apple infrastructure has many consequences for VoIP providers:

- the reliability of serving incoming calls is directly bound to Apple service
- Apple may revoke the PushKit certificate. It thus has life and death decision power over third-party communication infrastructures
- organizations wanting to setup IPBX and use iOS client have no option but to open access for the push services of Apple in their firewall
- It is not possible to have iOS VoIP or communication clients in network disconnected from the Internet - Pure standard SIP clients are now broken on iOS

The original submission argues that Apple is creating "the perfect walled garden," adding that "Ironically, the only VoIP 'app' that is not affected is the (future?) VoLTE client that will be added to iOS one day."
Privacy

Game of Thrones Hackers Demand Ransom (bbc.com) 70

An anonymous reader shares a report: Hackers who have leaked Game of Thrones scripts and other data from entertainment company HBO have released a note demanding a ransom payment. In a new dump, they also published a script for the as yet unbroadcast fifth episode of the current series. Company documents and video episodes of other HBO shows were also shared. The hackers claim to have 1.5TB of data in total, but HBO has said it does not believe its email system has been compromised. Documents in the latest leak were marked "HBO is falling," according to the Wired news site, and included legal information, employment agreements and other company files. The Associated Press reports that some documents appeared to contain personal contact information for Game of Thrones actors.
AMD

AMD Confirms Linux 'Performance Marginality Problem' On Ryzen (phoronix.com) 120

An anonymous reader writes: Ryzen customers experiencing segmentation faults under Linux when firing off many compilation processes have now had their problem officially acknowledged by AMD. The company describes it as a "performance marginality problem" affecting some Ryzen customers and only on Linux. AMD confirmed Threadripper and Epyc processors are unaffected; they will be dealing with the issue on a customer-by-customer basis, and their future consumer products will see better Linux testing/validation. Ryzen customers believed to be affected by the problem can contact AMD Customer Care. Michael Larabel writes via Phoronix: "With the Ryzen segmentation faults on Linux they are found to occur with many, parallel compilation workloads in particular -- certainly not the workloads most Linux users will be firing off on a frequent basis unless intentionally running scripts like ryzen-test/kill-ryzen. As I've previously written, my Ryzen Linux boxes have been working out great except in cases of intentional torture testing with these heavy parallel compilation tasks. [AMD's] analysis has also found that these Ryzen segmentation faults aren't isolated to a particular motherboard vendor or the like, contrary to rumors/noise online due to the complexity of the problem."
Android

Google Now Permits Android Apps That Facilitate Gambling With Real Money (betanews.com) 44

Mark Wilson shares a report from BetaNews: Google has relaxed its rules surrounding real-money gambling apps in Google Play -- in some countries, at least. There has been a ban on apps and games that allow users to gamble with real money since 2013, but that has now changed. While there was previously a ban in place due to the difficulty in policing ages and complying with different gambling laws around the world, real-money gambling apps are now permitted in the UK, France and Ireland. The new rules stipulate that developers must submit their gambling apps for a special vetting process, and they must have an IARC content rating. Other rules include a ban on the use of Google payment services, a requirement to display information about responsible gambling, and a requirement to block underage use. The full list of requirements [can be viewed here].
Businesses

Amazon's New Refunds Policy Will 'Crush' Small Businesses, Outraged Sellers Say (cnbc.com) 335

Amazon sellers are up in arms over a new returns policy that will make it easier for consumers to send back items at the merchant's expense. From a report: Marketplace sellers who ship products from their home, garage or warehouse -- rather than using Amazon's facilities -- were told this week by email that starting Oct. 2, items they sell will be "automatically authorized" for return. That means a buyer will no longer need to contact the seller before sending an item back, and the merchant won't have the opportunity to communicate with the customer. If a consumer is returning an electronic device because it's difficult to use, for example, the seller won't be able to offer help before being forced to pay a refund. "Customers will be able to print a prepaid return shipping label via the Online Return Center instantly," the email said. Additionally, Amazon said that it's introducing "returnless refunds," a feature that the company said is "highly requested by sellers." The change enables sellers to offer a refund without taking back an item that may be expensive to ship and hard to resell.
EU

Company Gets 45,000 Bad Facebook Reviews After Teenaged Hacker's Unjust Arrest (bleepingcomputer.com) 295

An anonymous reader quotes BleepingComputer: Over 45,000 users have left one-star reviews on a company's Facebook page after the business reported a security researcher to police and had him arrested in the middle of the night instead of fixing a reported bug. The arrest took place this week in Hungary after an 18-year-old found a flaw in the online ticket-selling system of Budapesti Közlekedési Központ, Budapest's public transportation authority. The young man discovered that he could access BKK's website, press F12 to enter the browser's developer tools mode, and modify the page's source code to alter a ticket's price. Because there was no client or server-side validation put in place, the BKK system accepted the operation and issued a ticket at a smaller price...

The teenager -- who didn't want his name revealed -- reported the issue to BKK, but the organization chose to contact the police and file a complaint, accusing the young man of hacking their systems... BKK management made a fatal mistake when they brazenly boasted in a press conference about catching the hacker and declaring their systems "secure." Since then, other security flaws in BKK's system have surfaced on Twitter. As details of the case emerged, public outrage grew against BKK and its manager Kálmán Dabóczi, especially after it was revealed that BKK was paying around $1 million per year for maintenance of its IT systems, hacked in such a ludicrously simple manner.

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