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Submission + - Roomba's Next Big Step Is Selling Maps of Your Home to the Highest Bidder (gizmodo.com)

AmiMoJo writes: The Roomba is generally regarded as a cute little robot friend that no one would consider to be a potential menace. But for the last couple of years, the robovacs have been quietly mapping homes to maximize efficiency. Now, the device’s makers plan to sell that data to smart home device manufacturers, turning the friendly robot into a creeping, creepy little spy. While it may seem like the information that a Roomba could gather is minimal, there’s a lot to be gleaned from the maps it’s constantly updating. It knows the floor plan of your home, the basic shape of everything on your floor, what areas require the most maintenance, and how often you require cleaning cycles, along with many other data points.

According to the EULA, sharing with some third parties is optional, unless they are the government or Roomba sells itself or part of itself or reorganizes or goes bankrupt.

Submission + - Maritime Disaster in The Artic On The Rise (nytimes.com)

cdreimer writes: According to a report in The New York Times, maritime disaster is on the rise as global warming melts polar ice and opens the Artic to commercial ship traffic:

"When the Crystal Serenity, a 1,000-passenger luxury liner, sails in August on a monthlong Arctic cruise through the Northwest Passage, it will have a far more utilitarian escort: a British supply ship. The Ernest Shackleton, which normally resupplies scientific bases in Antarctica, will help with the logistics of shore excursions along the route from Alaska to New York through Canada’s Arctic Archipelago. But the escort ship will also be there should the Serenity become stuck in ice or if something else goes wrong. The Shackleton can maneuver through ice and will be carrying emergency water and rations for the liner’s passengers and 600 crew members, gear for containing oil spills and a couple of helicopters. As global warming reduces the extent of sea ice in the Arctic, more ships — cargo carriers as well as liners like the Serenity taking tourists to see the region’s natural beauty — will be plying far-northern waters. Experts in maritime safety say that raises concerns about what will happen when something goes wrong."

The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has recently agreed to phase-out of the use of heavy fuel oil (HFO) in the Artic that would be impossible to clean up.

Submission + - World's first floating wind farm emerges off coast of Scotland (bbc.co.uk)

AmiMoJo writes: The world's first full-scale floating wind farm has started to take shape off the north-east coast of Scotland. The revolutionary technology will allow wind power to be harvested in waters too deep for the current conventional bottom-standing turbines. The manufacturer hopes to cash in on a boom in the technology, especially in Japan and the west coast of the US, where waters are deep. The tower, including the blades, stretches to 175m and weighs 11,500 tonnes.

The price of energy from bottom-standing offshore wind farms has plummeted 32% since 2012, and is now four years ahead of the government's expected target. Another big price drop is expected, taking offshore wind to a much lower price than new nuclear power.

Submission + - US Government Dumps Kaspersky After Espionage Insinuations

Rick Zeman writes: The Washington Post writes the that the US General Services Administration has dumped Kaspersky products because of their alleged ties to the Russian Government saying, "... the agency’s statement suggested a vulnerability exists in Kaspersky that could give the Russian government backdoor access to the systems it protects, though they offered no explanation or evidence of it." Kaspersky, of course, denies this, offering their source code up for US Government review, but "Three current and former defense contractors told The Post that they knew of no specific warnings circulated about Kaspersky in recent years, but it has become an unwritten rule at the Pentagon not to include Kaspersky as a potential vendor on new projects."

Submission + - Skylake/Kaby Lake microcode finally fixed

KiloByte writes: After much feet-dragging and trying to sweep the thing under the carpet, Intel has finally released a microcode update that fixes that serious hyper-threading issue we had before.

If you have one of affected processor models (or any Sky/Kaby Lake, to be safe), you'd better install the update immediately. New microcode versions are shipped by Debian and all competent distributions; on Windows you need a BIOS/UEFI update. Sorry if your machine vendor ignores you, like most do.

All known hyper-threading issues are now fixed, after the update you can turn HT back on.

Submission + - Creating the largest neutrino detectors in the world (lbl.gov)

HanzoSpam writes: The Long-Baseline Neutrino Facility (LBNF) will house the international Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment (DUNE), which will be built and operated by a group of roughly 1,000 scientists and engineers from 30 countries.

When complete, LBNF/DUNE will be the largest experiment ever built in the U.S. to study the properties of mysterious particles called neutrinos. Unlocking the mysteries of these particles could help explain more about how the universe works and why matter exists at all.

The DOE’s Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory (Fermilab), located outside Chicago, will generate a beam of neutrinos and send them 1,300 kilometers (800 miles) through the Earth to Sanford Lab, where a four-story-high, 70,000-ton detector will be built beneath the surface to catch those neutrinos.

Submission + - How Cyberwarfare Makes Everyone A Target (wsj.com)

cdreimer writes: According to a report by The Wall Street Journal (paywalled, alternative website), "the war taking place across the global internet, everyone is a combatant—and a target": "This is already a banner year for hacks, breaches and cyberwarfare, but the past week was exceptional. South Carolina reported hackers attempted to access the state’s voter registration system 150,000 times on Election Day last November—part of what former Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson alleges is a 21-state attack perpetrated by Russia. And U.S. intelligence officials alleged that agents working for the United Arab Emirates planted false information in Qatari news outlets and social media, leading to sanctions and a rift with Qatar’s allies. Meanwhile, Lloyd’s of London declared that the takedown of a major cloud service could lead to monetary damages on par with those of Hurricane Katrina. Threats to the real world from the cyberworld are worse than ever, and the situation continues to deteriorate. A new kind of war is upon us, one characterized by coercion rather than the use of force, says former State Department official James Lewis, a cybersecurity specialist at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Businesses and individuals now are directly affected in ways that were impossible in the first Cold War. In another age, the threat of nuclear annihilation loomed over everyone’s heads, but the cloak-and-dagger doings of global powers remained distinct from the day-to-day operations of businesses. Now, they are hopelessly entangled. The often-unfathomable priorities of terrorists, cybercriminals and state-affiliated hackers only makes things worse."

Submission + - What to do now that wireless routers have locked firmware/bootloaders? 1

thejynxed writes: Awhile ago the FCC in the USA implemented a rule that required manufacturers to restrict end-users from tampering with the radio outputs on wifi routers. It was predicted that manufacturers would take the lazy way out by locking down the firmware/bootloaders of the routers entirely instead of partitioning off access to the radio transmit power and channel ranges. This has apparently proven to be the case, as even now routers that were previously marketed as "Open Source Ready" or "DD-WRT Compatible" are coming with locked firmware. In my case, having noticed this trend, I purchased three routers from Belkin, Buffalo, and Netgear in Canada, the UK, and Germany respectively, instead of the USA, and the results: All three routers had locked firmware/bootloaders, with no downgrade rights and no way to install Tomato, DD-WRT, OpenWRT, etc. It seems the FCC rule is an example of the wide-reaching effect of US law on the products sold in other nations, etc. So, does anyone know a good source of unlocked routers or other technical information on how to bypass this ridiculous outcome of FCC over-reach and manufacturer laziness?

Submission + - Predatory Journals Hit By "Star Wars" Sting (discovermagazine.com)

intellitech writes: From the article:

Inspired by previous publishing “stings”, I wanted to test whether ‘predatory‘ journals would publish an obviously absurd paper. So I created a spoof manuscript about “midi-chlorians” – the fictional entities which live inside cells and give Jedi their powers in Star Wars. I filled it with other references to the galaxy far, far away, and submitted it to nine journals under the names of Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin.

Four journals fell for the sting. The American Journal of Medical and Biological Research (SciEP) accepted the paper, but asked for a $360 fee, which I didn’t pay. Amazingly, three other journals not only accepted but actually published the spoof. Here’s the paper from the International Journal of Molecular Biology: Open Access (MedCrave), Austin Journal of Pharmacology and Therapeutics (Austin) and American Research Journal of Biosciences (ARJ) I hadn’t expected this, as all those journals charge publication fees, but I never paid them a penny.


Submission + - Massive Pokemon Go event ends in disaster (techcrunch.com)

thegarbz writes: A Pokemon Go Fest hosted in Chicago and attended by between 15-20,000 people has ended in disaster. The event was plagued by logistical issues resulting in 3+ hour long delays getting into Chicago's Grant Park which had only a single entry point for all attendees. Those people who were lucky enough to get into the paid event were greeted with a completely overloaded cell network unable to cope with the number of people trying to get online at the same time. The occasional person who was able to connect experienced a never ending string of game breaking bugs when attempting to catch the rare Pokemon created specifically for this event.

Niantic have announced they will be refunding the tickets for all attendees as well as giving affected players $100 worth of in game currency.

Elsewhere in the world upcoming fests are already plagued with early logistics problems as each venue individually decides how many people may attend and if tickets will be required. Threads are starting to appear on Reddit with complaints by people who have planned and booked trips to the events only to find out later that the event will be limited.

Submission + - Tech-Bankrolled Code.org and Its Donors Declare AP CS Victory

theodp writes: Thanks to its College Board partnership, it seems that tech-bankrolled Code.org is now the gatekeeper of the nation's Advanced Placement Computer Science scores. In a blog post entitled Girls set AP Computer Science record...skyrocketing growth outpaces boys, the nonprofit reported that the goal ("engaging those who are traditionally underrepresented with essential computing tools and multidisciplinary opportunities") of the new AP CS Principles course (aka Coding Lite) had been achieved, thanks to the largest College Board AP exam launch in history. "The growth among female students has been incredible," Code.org explained, "increasing participation in AP CS exams by 135% since 2016. Not to be outdone, underrepresented minorities have increased participation by nearly 170% over last year!" Among those taking to Twitter to celebrate the good news were $3+ million Code.org donors Microsoft and Google. And Melinda Gates, a $1 million Code.org donor with husband Bill, called Code.org's charts of total female and underrepresented minorities "the best graph you see all week". While Code.org and its AP CS participation news were celebrated by the press, some individuals took to Twitter, Facebook, and blogs to question what exactly the limited data the nonprofit provided meant. "An interesting graph," replied @WendyRamosAbbo to @melindagates, "but for perspective, add Males and Non Minorities? Q:how do you define underrepresented race or resource availability?" And the Computing Education Blog interestingly struggles with the question of Why are underrepresented minorities and poor over-represented in Code.org courses? Citing Apple CEO Tim Cook's call for Donald Trump to make coding a requirement in every public school at a recent White House meeting of tech CEOs, Stanford Prof Larry Cuban said Coding is The New Vocationalism, so you better get ready for more of those Saturday AP CS exam study sessions at Microsoft (5 hours) and Facebook (12 hours), kids!

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