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Submission + - Its time to have a talk about Slashdot technology 3

hackwrench writes: On top of not fixing the problems that Slashdot has. the new owners have added an annoying ad that persistently blocks actual usage on every load.
Slashdot also frequently launches users some distance into comments for no explicable reason.
It doesn't do Unicode.
The new interface is horrendous. Fortunately it can be switched off.
Features that used to be free are now subscription-only items.
Let's all hash it out. Not just technological issues but editorial grievances as well. And how many of us are on a moderation ban list for some long forgotten stupid reason?

Submission + - Paypal disguises 13% price hike as 'Policy Update'. (paypal.com) 2

turbotalon writes: In an email sent to users February 7th, Paypal is disguising a 13% rate hike as a 'Policy Update.' Roughly one quarter of the 'policy changes' are rate hikes, yet their emailed summary glosses over the rate hike, focussing instead on a few of the 'policy changes' with one sentence at the end about 'changing some of the fees we charge'.

Additionally, they have added a "non-discouragement clause" for sellers that provides:

"In representations to your customers or in public communications, you agree not to mischaracterize PayPal as a payment method. At all of your points of sale (in whatever form), you agree not to try to dissuade or inhibit your customers from using PayPal; and, if you enable your customers to pay you with PayPal, you agree to treat PayPal’s payment mark at least at par with other payment methods offered."

Reading the full text of the update reveals the following fees are increasing:
  Standard transaction fee
  International currency exchange fees
  In-store transaction fees
  Micro-payment fees
  Cross-border transaction fees

Submission + - Richard Hatch Dies at 71 (tmz.com)

computerman413 writes: TMZ reports that Richard Hatch has passed away at 71 from pancreatic cancer. Hatch played Apollo on the original Battlestar Galactica, and had a recurring role as terrorist Tom Zarek on the reimagined Battlestar Galactica.

Submission + - House Passes Email Privacy Bill

Obfiscator writes: The US House of Representatives passed a bill to require federal agencies to obtain a warrant before being granted access to email communications. From the article: "This Act will fix a constitutional flaw in ECPA, which currently purports to allow the government to compel a provider to disclose email contents in some cases without a warrant, in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The Email Privacy Act ensures that the content of our emails are protected in the same way that the Fourth Amendment protects the items we store in our homes."

The full text of the bill is here, although somewhat hard to read since it's a modification of a previous bill. This appears to be the most relevant part: "a governmental entity may require the disclosure by a provider of electronic communication service of the contents of a wire or electronic communication that is in electronic storage with or otherwise stored, held, or maintained by that service only if the governmental entity obtains a warrant issued using the procedures described in the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure."

Submission + - Politics Have Turned Facebook Into a Steaming Cauldron of Hate (backchannel.com) 1

mirandakatz writes: America has never been more divided, and on social media, people are blocking, muting, and unfriending each other left and right. At Backchannel, Jessi Hempel argues that Facebook is the last place we should be having political discussion right now: "We know the “filter bubble” about which Eli Pariser first wrote back in 2011 is part of the problem—it limits the viewpoints we see to those that reflect the opinions we already have. And yet we double down on that bubble, muting and blocking and unfriending people who think differently from us, if they make it into our social streams at all. We hate ourselves a tiny bit for this. And yet, if we do the opposite—engage on social media with people who hold different viewpoints—it almost always goes sideways." If you really want to understand people who don't think the same way as you? Get off of Facebook, and into the real world.

Submission + - How The IRS Can Empty Your Bank Account Without Warning (zerohedge.com) 2

schwit1 writes: Having just filed his 2016 taxes, a Zero Hedge reader submits the following bizarre story.

On January 20, the reader filed his Federal tax return using Tim Geithner's favorite TurboTax software, which the IRS formally accepted three days later, on January 24. One week later, on January 31, the IRS made an automatic deposit into the reader's bank account, who then used the refund to pay down his credit card debt the very next day.

This is when things turned bizarre, because as our readers writes, just two days later, without warning, on orders of the IRS his bank empties out the bank account handing over its contents to the IRS:

"the IRS emptied our bank account February 3, 2017 for erroneous refund with no notice! (please see attached letter).

The only other thing I could think of was that TurboTax did not work correctly and calculated to large of a refund but the letter from the IRS stated it was a "processing error at the Internal Revenue Service". The refund we received was the same as what TurboTax calculated. I researched the IRS manual about erroneous refunds and could not find anything referring to a "R17" code as stated in the letter.

Called them. Our return was fine. The amount of refund was fine. Not an identity theft problem. Error on their side. According to the person I spoke with they are doing this to a large block of filers. They seemed hesitant to give more info.

He then adds that "in our phone conversation they told me that the return was fine and the refund amount was correct, it was not an over refund issue but some kind of IRS internal error and they would reissue the same refund after receiving the money back. It makes absolutely no sense to me but this is what I was told."

So, as our reader summarizes, "no outstanding taxes. Never been audited. Always file on time. Not a small business, just a normal employee W2, not a structuring issue. Only typical deductions and student loan interest. Scrambling to cancel auto payments and trying to figure out how we will pay mortgage and any payment that will not accept credit card.

Submission + - Barnes and Noble recalls 147,000 NOOK Tablet 7 power adapters due to shock risk (betanews.com)

BrianFagioli writes: Want to know something shocking? Like, literally shocking? Barnes and Noble is recalling 147,000 faulty NOOK Tablet 7 power adapters due to shock risk. In other words, owners of this tablet could face an electricity related injury when charging it.

If you own this tablet, it is important that you stop using the charger immediately. While there is no guarantee that you will be injured, it is not worth the risk. Barnes and Noble will replace the power adapter at no charge. To make up for the inconvenience, the company will also give you a free gift.

Submission + - New Malware Threats: Ransomworm Is Coming, Are You Ready?

mikehusky writes: In 2016, there were over 4,000 ransomware attacks every day. This was a 300% increase over 2015, when there were 1,000 attacks every day, and it’s likely to get worse in 2017.

In the first quarter of 2016, cyber criminals used ransomware to steal $209 million from US businesses with an expected $1B for the entire year. Crypto ransomware has grown in popularity since it started with Cryptolocker in 2013, and we can expect to see more clever ransomware as cyber criminals try to make money in 2017. .Source

Submission + - Trump Fires Attorney General (politico.com) 3

Humbubba writes: President Donald Trump fired the nation's acting attorney general Monday night after she refused to defend an executive order he issued last week restricting immigration in the name of national security.

In an act of high political drama just ten days after taking office, Trump replaced Obama administration appointee Sally Yates with the U.S. Attorney in Alexandria, Va., Dana Boente.

"The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel," a White House statement said. "Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration."

Submission + - As administration drafts new cyber order, experts call for more action

mikehusky writes: Before Greg Touhill’s term ended as the first federal chief information security officer, he came to an important conclusion: agencies don’t need any more policies around cybersecurity and technology.

In fact, Touhill said on Jan. 23 that the Office of Management and Budget had identified 63 policies that needed to be rescinded under an initiative called Project CRUFT. .Source

Submission + - Oxygen From Earth's Atmosphere May Be Traveling To the Moon's Surface (theverge.com)

An anonymous reader writes: New research shows that oxygen from Earth could be journeying all the way out to the Moon, where it then gets lodged inside the lunar soil. It’s a process that’s likely been happening for 2.4 billion years, ever since oxygen formed around our planet, meaning the Moon’s soil may contain trapped particles from Earth’s ancient atmosphere. This oxygen exchange, detailed in a study published today in Nature Astronomy, supposedly occurs for just a few days during the Moon’s 27-day orbit. Most of the time, the Moon is constantly being blasted with solar wind — fast streams of charged particles emanating from the Sun. But for five days of every lunar orbit, the Moon passes into Earth’s magnetotail, the portion of the planet’s magnetic field that stretches outward away from the Sun. This tail shields the Moon from the solar wind, and allows charged oxygen ions from Earth to travel to the lunar surface, according to the study. That means the Moon — a dead rock incapable of supporting life — is being showered with the byproducts of life here on Earth. In fact, the source of most of the oxygen in our atmosphere is biological, created by plants during photosynthesis. It’s a process that experts have suspected for a while but haven’t been able to confirm until today. Researchers have also suggested that other atmospheric components, such as nitrogen and noble gases, are getting to the Moon this way based on lunar soil samples.

Submission + - Soyuz launches successfully from French Guiana (nasaspaceflight.com)

schwit1 writes: A Russian Soyuz rocket, built for Arianespace and launched from French Guiana, successfully placed a commercial satellite in geosynchronous orbit on Friday.

The launch has some significance. First, it was the first time a Soyuz rocket placed a payload into geosynchronous orbit. Second, the payload was the first satellite built by a German company in more than 25 years

Finally, and most important, it demonstrated that at least one configuration of the Soyuz rocket is still operational as Russia investigates the corrupt practices at the company that has been building upper stage engines for both its Soyuz and Proton rockets.

Submission + - Humans, not climate change, wiped out Australian megafauna (phys.org)

schwit1 writes: New evidence involving the ancient poop of some of the huge and astonishing creatures that once roamed Australia indicates the primary cause of their extinction around 45,000 years ago was likely a result of humans, not climate change.

Led by Monash University in Victoria, Australia and the University of Colorado Boulder, the team used information from a sediment core drilled in the Indian Ocean off the coast of southwest Australia to help reconstruct past climate and ecosystems on the continent. The core contains chronological layers of material blown and washed into the ocean, including dust, pollen, ash and spores from a fungus called Sporormiella that thrived on the dung of plant-eating mammals, said CU Boulder Professor Gifford Miller.

Miller, who participated in the study led by Sander van der Kaars of Monash University, said the sediment core allowed scientists to look back in time, in this case more than 150,000 years, spanning Earth's last full glacial cycle. Fungal spores from plant-eating mammal dung were abundant in the sediment core layers from 150,000 years ago to about 45,000 years ago, when they went into a nosedive, said Miller, a professor in the Department of Geological Sciences.

"The abundance of these spores is good evidence for a lot of large mammals on the southwestern Australian landscape up until about 45,000 years ago," he said. "Then, in a window of time lasting just a few thousand years, the megafauna population collapsed."

Submission + - The backlash against self-driving cars officially begins (cnn.com)

Paul Fernhout writes: "An organization that advocates for professional drivers has urged New York to ban self-driving cars from the state's roads for 50 years. The Upstate Transportation Association fears that self-driving cars will eliminate thousands of jobs and damage the local economy."

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