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Businesses

Amazon Reaches New High Of 268,900 Employees -- Skyrocketing 47% In Just One Year (geekwire.com) 9

Amazon remains one of the biggest attractors of talent worldwide. During its quarterly earnings, the company said it hired 23,700 employees in the second quarter -- making the total employee headcount at the company 268,900. GeekWire reports: Amazon's headcount has grown by a staggering amount over the last few years. Its employment numbers increased close to 10 percent in the last three months and 47 percent over a year ago, when its employee count stood at a paltry-by-comparison 183,100 people. That's an increase of 85,800 employees in one year -- more than the entire city of Bellingham, Wash.Related: The New York Times report on work challenges at Amazon.
Australia

Australia Has Moved 1.5 Metres, So It's Updating Its Location For Self-Driving Cars (cnet.com) 53

An anonymous reader shares a CNET report: Australia is changing from "down under" to "down under and across a bit". The country is shifting its longitude and latitude to fix a discrepancy with global satellite navigation systems. Government body Geoscience Australia is updating the Geocentric Datum of Australia, the country's national coordinate system, to bring it in line with international data. The reason Australia is slightly out of whack with global systems is that the country moves about 7 centimetres (2.75 inches) per year due to the shifting of tectonic plates. Since 1994, when the data was last recorded, that's added up to a misalignment of about a metre and a half. While that might not seem like much, various new technology requires location data to be pinpoint accurate. Self-driving cars, for example, must have infinitesimally precise location data to avoid accidents. Drones used for package delivery and driverless farming vehicles also require spot-on information.ABC has more details.
Microsoft

Slashdot Asks: Free Upgrade To Windows 10 Ends Today: What's Your Thought On This? 194

Exactly one year ago, Microsoft released Windows 10 to the general public. The latest version of company's desktop operating system brought with it Cortana, and Windows Hello among other features. While users have lauded Windows 10 for performance improvements, the Redmond-based company's aggressive upgrade tactics have spoiled the experience for many. Whether it was installing Windows 10 on computers without users' consent, or eating up tons of bandwidth for users who couldn't afford it, or whether it was deceptive dialog boxes, Microsoft definitely deserves a lot of blame -- and rightfully, a bunch of lawsuits. But many of these things, hopefully, will end today -- July 29, 2016 (or to be exact, Saturday morning 5:59am EDT / 2:59am PDT) Today is officially the last day when eligible Windows 7 and Windows 8 computers could be upgraded to Windows 10 for free of charge. After this, an upgrade to Windows 10 will set you back by at least $119.
We asked you a couple of weeks ago whether or not would you recommend someone to update their computer to Windows 10, and the vast majority of you insisted against it. What's your thought on this now? Those who opt out of updating to Windows 10 will also miss the Anniversary Update -- and its features -- which Microsoft plans to release on August 2 for free of charge.
Security

WhatsApp Isn't Fully Deleting Its 'Deleted' Chats (theverge.com) 37

Facebook-owned messaging app WhatsApp retains and stores chat logs even after those messages have been deleted, according to iOS researcher Jonathan Zdziarski. The Verge reports: Examining disk images taken from the most recent version of the app, Zdziarski found that the software retains and stores a forensic trace of the chat logs even after the chats have been deleted, creating a potential treasure trove of information for anyone with physical access to the device. The same data could also be recoverable through any remote backup systems in place. In most cases, the data is marked as deleted by the app itself -- but because it has not been overwritten, it is still recoverable through forensic tools. Zdziarski attributed the problem to the SQLite library used in coding the app, which does not overwrite by default. WhatsApp was applauded by many privacy advocates for switching to default end-to-end encryption through the Signal protocol, a process that completed this April. But that system only protects data in transit, preventing carriers and other intermediaries from spying on conversations as they travel across the network.
AMD

AMD Extends Polaris GPU Line-up With Mainstream Radeon RX 470 and Radeon RX 460 (hothardware.com) 25

Some more graphics cards news via our long time reader MojoKid: AMD is officially announcing its newest mainstream members of the Polaris graphics family today, known as the Radeon RX 470 and Radeon RX 460. AMD is touting the RX 470 as a perfect companion for 1080p resolution gaming, offering 60+ FPS performance (with anti-aliasing enabled) in popular game titles. The RX 460, on the other hand, is based on Polaris 11 architecture, which has a more budget-minded performance profile. If all you're looking for is an efficient, yet capable eSports gaming card, then AMD claims the RX 460 still has you covered. Peak compute performance for the RX 470 drops in at 4.9 TFLOPs (compared to 5.8 TFLOPs for the Radeon RX 480). The RX 460 has less than half the stream processors and less than half the compute units of the RX 470 and as a result, the peak compute performance stands at 2.2 TFLOPs. Pricing for the Radeon RX 470 and Radeon RX 460 is set at $149 and $99 MSRP, respectively.
Chrome

Ask Slashdot: Best Browser Extensions -- 2016 Edition 121

Reader LichtSpektren writes: Almost eleven years ago, Slashdot featured an Ask titled "Favorite Firefox Extensions?". I thought it might be worthwhile to ask the question again (Editor's note: we couldn't agree more!), but expand the query to all web browsers now that there's more choices available.

Right now my main browser is Firefox, which I use with uBlock Origin, Disconnect, HTTPS Everywhere, Privacy Badger, NoScript, Self-Destructing Cookies, Decentraleyes, Privacy Settings, and Clean Links. (N.B. the first four of these are also available in Chromium-based browsers.) I use Chrome as a secondary browser, with the first four of the aforementioned extensions, plus also Clear Cache and occasionally Flashcontrol.

This one has nothing to do with security or privacy, but Reedy on Chromium is a really nice tool for speed reading.

What do you use?
Let's get this going.
Government

British Spy Agency GCHQ Used URL Shortener To Honeypot Arab Spring Activists (vice.com) 33

The British spy agency GCHQ used a custom URL shortener and Twitter sockpuppets to influence and infiltrate activists during the Iran revolution of 2009 and the Arab Spring of 2011, reports Motherboard, citing leaked documents by Edward Snowden. From the article: The GCHQ's special unit, known as the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group or JTRIG, was first revealed in 2014, when leaked top secret documents showed it tried to infiltrate and manipulate -- using "dirty trick" tactics such as honeypots -- online communities including those of Anonymous hacktivists, among others. The group's tactics against hacktivists have been previously reported, but its influence campaign in the Middle East has never been reported before. I was able to uncover it because I was myself targeted in the past, and was aware of a key detail, a URL shortening service, that was actually redacted in Snowden documents published in 2014. A now-defunct free URL shortening service -- lurl.me -- was set up by GCHQ that enabled social media signals intelligence. Lurl.me was used on Twitter and other social media platforms for the dissemination of pro-revolution messages in the Middle East.
Facebook

Facebook Offering Refunds For Kids' In-App Purchases (pcmag.com) 18

Parents who found themselves with hefty bills after their kids made in-app purchases -- mainly via the now-defunct Facebook Credits -- can now request a refund from Facebook. PCMag reports: The news comes as part of a settlement for a class-action lawsuit brought against the social network in February 2012, and covers those who made any kind of purchase through their Facebook accounts between February 2008 and March 2015. Facebook maintained that it did nothing wrong, as those purchasing digital currency received what they paid for. But California's Family Code stipulates that minors can void contracts they make at any point when they're under 18 years of age. In other words, the legislation is designed to prevent other entities from preying on minors who don't otherwise understand the ramifications of their actions -- like tapping repeatedly on an in-app item to acquire it.
Piracy

Movie Studios 'Take Down' Popular KAT Mirror 89

Following the shut down of KickassTorrents website -- after its alleged owner was arrested, Hollywood studios are playing the game of cat and mouse with pirates to put an absolute end to KickassTorrents. An anonymous reader writes: One of the most popular KAT mirrors has had its domain name taken down following pressure from the major Hollywood studios. The Armenian .AM registry was quick to disable the KAT.am domain, after it received a stark warning from the Motion Picture Association, representing Hollywood's major studios. This notice requires you to immediately (within 24 hours) take effective measures to end and prevent further copyright infringement. All opportunities provided by the website to download, stream or otherwise obtain access to the entertainment content should be disabled permanently," MPA's email reads.As TorrentFreak reports, the takedown of kat.am domain isn't the end of the website. The publication spoke to the operator of the website, and learned that they were "making continuous" attempts to bring the website back -- utilizing the channels available. Kat.am is down already, but kickass.cd and kickass.mx mirros have since cropped up. Slashdot understands that Kickass torrent community is now back in action again, on a whole new domain.
United States

FBI Probes Hacking of Democratic Congressional Group (reuters.com) 137

From a Reuters report: The FBI is investigating a cyber attack against another U.S. Democratic Party group, which may be related to an earlier hack against the Democratic National Committee , four people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The previously unreported incident at the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, or DCCC, and its potential ties to Russian hackers are likely to heighten accusations, so far unproven, that Moscow is trying to meddle in the U.S. presidential election campaign to help Republican nominee Donald Trump. The Kremlin denied involvement in the DCCC cyber-attack. Hacking of the party's emails caused discord among Democrats at the party's convention in Philadelphia to nominate Hillary Clinton as its presidential candidate. The newly disclosed breach at the DCCC may have been intended to gather information about donors, rather than to steal money, the sources said on Thursday.
Communications

Ask Slashdot: How Transparent Should Companies Be When Operational Technology Failures Happen? 82

New submitter supernova87a writes: Last week, Southwest Airlines had an epic crash of IT systems across their entire business when "a router failure caused the airlines' systems to crash [...] and all backups failed, causing flight delays and cancellations nationwide and costing the company probably $10 million in lost bookings alone." Huge numbers of passengers, crew, and airplanes were stranded as not only reservations systems, but scheduling, dispatch, and other critical operational systems had to be rebooted over the course of 12 hours. Passenger delays, which directly attributable to this incident, continued to trickle down all the way from Wednesday to Sunday as the airline recovered. Aside from the technical issues of what happened, what should a public-facing company's obligation be to discuss what happened in full detail? Would publicly talking about the sequence of events before and after failure help restore faith in their operations? Perhaps not aiming for Google's level of admirable disclosure (as in this 18-minute cloud computing outage where a full post-mortem was given), should companies aim to discuss more openly what happened and how they recovered from system failures?
Television

The Mojave Desert: Home of the New Machine Movement (bloomberg.com) 43

pacopico writes: Most people think of the Mojave Desert as a wasteland located somewhere between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. For decades, though, Mojave has served as something of an engineering playground for people in the automotive and aerospace industries. Bloomberg has produced a documentary that looks at what's taking place with these engineers in 2016. There's a dude trying to make a flying car, Richard Branson with Virgin Galactic, a group called Hackrod using artificial intelligence software to make a car chassis, and the hacker George Hotz taking his self-driving car along the Las Vegas strip for the first time. One of the cooler parts of the show has a team of students from UCSD sending up a rocket with a 3D printed engine -- the first time any university team had pulled something like this off. Overall, it's a cool look at the strange desert rat tinkerers.
Earth

Study: Astronauts Who Reach Deep Space 'Far More Likely To Die From Heart Disease' (independent.co.uk) 145

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Astronauts who venture into deep space appear to be much more likely to die from heart disease, according to a new study. In another sign that leaving planet Earth is fraught with danger and a potential blow to hopes of establishing a colony on Mars, researchers discovered deep space radiation appears to damage the body's cardiovascular system. They reported that three out of the seven dead Apollo astronauts died as a result of a cardiovascular disease, such as a heart attack or stroke. Although the numbers are small, that rate of 43 percent is four to five times higher than found among astronauts who flew in low Earth orbit or who did not actually go into space, according to a paper in the journal Scientific Reports. In an attempt to test whether the higher numbers of cardiovascular deaths were simply a statistical blip or a genuine sign of the effect of traveling into deep space, the scientists exposed mice to the same type of radiation that the astronauts would have experienced. After six months, which is the equivalent of 20 human years, the mice showed damage to arteries that is known to lead to the development of cardiovascular disease in humans.
The Almighty Buck

Dark Patterns Across the Web Are Designed To Trick You 113

An anonymous reader writes from a report via Ars Technica: Harry Brignell has posted a 30-minute video documenting dark patterns, deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces (not exclusive to the internet) that trick users into setting up recurring payments, purchasing items added to a shopping cart, or spamming all contacts through pre-checked forms on Facebook games for example. Basically, they're tactics used by online services to get users to do things they wouldn't normally do. Yael Grauer has written an in-depth report on Ars Technica about dark patterns, where he discusses Brignull's work with UX designers and business executives: "Klein [Principal at Users Known and author of UX for Lean Startups] believes many of the worst dark patterns are pushed by businesses, not by designers. 'It's often pro-business at the expense of the users, and the designers often see themselves as the defender or advocate of the user,' she explained. And although Brignull has never been explicitly asked to design dark patterns himself, he said he has been in situations where using them would be an easy solution -- like when a client or boss says they really need a large list of people who have opted in to marketing e-mails. 'The first and easiest trick to have an opt-in is to have a pre-ticked checkbox, but then you can just get rid of that entirely and hide it in the terms of conditions and say that by registering you're going to be opted in to our e-mails,' Brignull said. 'Then you have a 100-percent sign-up rate and you've exceeded your goals. I kind of understand why people do it. If you're only thinking about the numbers and you're just trying to juice the stats, then it's not surprising in the slightest.' 'There's this logical positivist mindset that the only things that have value are those things that can be measured and can empirically be shown to be true, and while that has its merits it also takes us down a pretty dark place,' said digital product designer Cennydd Bowles, who is researching ethical design. 'We start to look at ethics as pure utilitarianism, whatever benefits the most people. Yikes, it has problems.'" Brignull's website has a number of examples of deliberately confusing or deceptive user interfaces.
Television

Apple's Rigid Negotiating Tactics Cost Us 'Skinny Bundles' For Apple TV, Says Report (thenextweb.com) 100

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: According to a new report from The Wall Street Journal, the reason we don't have actual TV channels on the Apple TV is because the company tried to strong-arm networks -- and failed. Apple's Senior Vice President Eddy Cue is said to have taken the wrong approach. In one meeting, he reportedly told TV executives that "time is on my side." Cue is also accused of bluffing executives by claiming other networks -- specifically Disney and Fox -- were already signed up. The company also refused to show off the Apple TV interface, or "sketch it on the back of a napkin," as one media executive requested. Cue also tried to strike hard bargains, says WSJ. He reportedly asked that Disney put off the royalties Apple would have to pay for several years. Those 'skinny bundles' we heard so much about were what Apple was planning to build its TV experience around, too. In 2015, a bundle consisting of Fox, ESPN and Disney content was conceptualized (and priced at $30), but no agreements were ever signed. In an effort to create more original programming, Apple is scheduled to release its 'Planet of the Apps' TV show about app developers next year.

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