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Submission + - NYT: Uber Engineers Geofenced Apple HQ to Cover Up iPhone Fingerprinting

theodp writes: Uber CEO Travis Kalanick's drive to win in life, writes the New York Times' Mike Isaac, has led to a pattern of risk-taking that has put his ride-hailing company on the brink of implosion, including a previously unreported encounter with Apple CEO Tim Cook in early 2015 that threatened the ride-sharing company with an iPhone ban death sentence: "For months, Mr. Kalanick had pulled a fast one on Apple by directing his employees to help camouflage the ride-hailing app from Apple’s engineers. The reason? So Apple would not find out that Uber had secretly been tracking iPhones even after its app had been deleted from the devices, violating Apple’s privacy guidelines. But Apple was on to the deception, and when Mr. Kalanick arrived at the midafternoon meeting sporting his favorite pair of bright red sneakers and hot-pink socks, Mr. Cook was prepared. 'So, I’ve heard you’ve been breaking some of our rules,' Mr. Cook said in his calm, Southern tone. Stop the trickery, Mr. Cook then demanded, or Uber’s app would be kicked out of Apple’s App Store. For Mr. Kalanick, the moment was fraught with tension. If Uber’s app was yanked from the App Store, it would lose access to millions of iPhone customers — essentially destroying the ride-hailing company’s business. So Mr. Kalanick acceded."

Submission + - A battery made of molten metals (mit.edu)

Z00L00K writes: This story came out a while ago, but didn't seem to surface:

A novel rechargeable battery developed at MIT could one day play a critical role in the massive expansion of solar generation needed to mitigate climate change by midcentury. Designed to store energy on the electric grid, the high-capacity battery consists of molten metals that naturally separate to form two electrodes in layers on either side of the molten salt electrolyte between them. Tests with cells made of low-cost, Earth-abundant materials confirm that the liquid battery operates efficiently without losing significant capacity or mechanically degrading — common problems in today’s batteries with solid electrodes. The MIT researchers have already demonstrated a simple, low-cost process for manufacturing prototypes of their battery, and future plans call for field tests on small-scale power grids that include intermittent generating sources such as solar and wind.


Submission + - Wall Street IT Engineer Hacks Employer to See If He'll Be Fired (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: A Wall Street engineer was arrested for planting credentials-logging malware on his company's servers. According to an FBI affidavit, the engineer used these credentials to log into fellow employees' accounts. The engineer claims he did so only because he heard rumors of an acquisition and wanted to make sure he wouldn't be let go.

In reality, the employer did look at archived email inboxes, but he also stole encryption keys needed to access the protected source code of his employer's trading platform and trading algorithms. Using his access to the company's Unix network (which he gained after a promotion last year), the employee then rerouted traffic through backup servers in order to avoid the company's traffic monitoring solution and steal the company's source code.

The employee was caught after he kept intruding and disconnecting another employee's RDP session. The employee understood someone hacked his account and logged the attacker's unique identifier. Showing his total lack of understanding for how technology, logging and legal investigations work, the employee admitted via email to a fellow employee that he installed malware on the servers and hacked other employees.

Submission + - Time to break up the google? I think so! (google.com)

shanen writes: Don't think of it as a penalty for success. It's the reward of incentivized reproduction. We don't need a google monopoly, but rather a herd of little googles all working to build on the strong foundation. Two results: (1) Competition will drive faster improvements, and (2) We'll get meaningful choice and more freedom.

Submission + - Second parchment manuscript copy of Declaration of Independence found (bostonglobe.com)

Okian Warrior writes: Two Harvard University researchers announced Friday that they have found a second parchment manuscript copy of the Declaration of Independence in a tiny records office in southern England.

The only other parchment copy is maintained by the National Archives in Washington, D.C., researchers Emily Sneff and Danielle Allen said in a statement.

The newly discovered document — which the two have dated to the 1780s — was found in the town of Chichester archives, and is believed to have originally belonged to Duke of Richmond who was known as the “Radical Duke,’’ for the support he gave to Americans during the Revolutionary War, the researchers said.

Submission + - A Terrible Decision by the Internet Archive May Lead to Widespread Blocking (vortex.com)

Lauren Weinstein writes: We can stipulate at the outset that the venerable Internet Archive and its associated systems like Wayback Machine have done a lot of good for many years — for example by providing chronological archives of websites who have chosen to participate in their efforts. But now, it appears that the Internet Archive has joined the dark side of the Internet, by announcing that they will no longer honor the access control requests of any websites.

Submission + - Devuan Jessie 1.0.0 stable release candidate announced (devuan.org)

jaromil writes: Devuan 1.0.0-RC is announced, following its beta 2 release last year. The Debian fork that spawned over systemd controversy is reaching stability and plans long term support. Devuan deploys an innovative continuous integration setup: with fallback on Debian packages, it overlays its own modifications and then uses the merged source repository to ship images for 11 ARM targets, a desktop and a minimal live, vagrant and qemu virtual machines and the classic installer isos. The release announcements contains several links to project that have already adopted this distribution as a base OS.

Submission + - EFF Says Google Chromebooks Are Still Spying on Students (softpedia.com)

schwit1 writes: In the past two years since a formal complaint was made against Google, not much has changed in the way they handle this.

Google still hasn't shed its "bad guy" clothes when it comes to the data it collects on underage students. In fact, the Electronic Frontier Foundation says the company continues to massively collect and store information on children without their consent or their parents'. Not even school administrators fully understand the extent of this operation, the EFF says.

According to the latest status report from the EFF, Google is still up to no good, trying to eliminate students privacy without their parents notice or consent and "without a real choice to opt out." This, they say, is done via the Chromebooks Google is selling to schools across the United States.

Submission + - Britain Set For First Coal-Free Day Since Industrial Revolution (theguardian.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The UK is set to have its first ever working day without coal power generation since the Industrial Revolution, according to the National Grid. The control room tweeted the predicted milestone on Friday, adding that it is also set to be the first 24-hour coal-free period in Britain. The UK has had shorter coal-free periods in 2016, as gas and renewables such as wind and solar play an increasing role in the power mix. The longest continuous period until now was 19 hours – first achieved on a weekend last May, and matched on Thursday. Hannah Martin, head of energy at Greenpeace UK, said: “The first day without coal in Britain since the Industrial Revolution marks a watershed in the energy transition. A decade ago, a day without coal would have been unimaginable, and in 10 years’ time our energy system will have radically transformed again." Britain became the first country to use coal for electricity when Thomas Edison opened the Holborn Viaduct power station in London in 1882. It was reported in the Observer at the time that “a hundred weight of coal properly used will yield 50 horse power for an hour.” And that each horse power “will supply at least a light equivalent to 150 candles”.

Submission + - Ask Slashdot: How Do You Explain "Don't Improve My Software Syndrome" or DIMSS? 7

dryriver writes: I am someone who likes to post improvement suggestions for different software tools I use on the internet. If I see a function in a software that doesn't work well for me or could work better for everyone else, I immediately post suggestions as to how that function could be improved and made to work better for everybody. A striking phenomenon I have come across in posting such suggestions is the sheer number of "why would you want that at all" or "nobody needs that" or "the software is fine as it is" type responses from software users. What is particularly puzzling is that its not the developers of the software rejecting the suggestions — its users of the software that often react sourly to improvement suggestions that could, if implemented well, benefit a lot of people using the software in question. I have observed this happening online for years even for really good software feature/function improvement ideas that actually wound up being implemented. My question is — what causes this behavior of software users on the internet? Why would a software user see a suggestion that would very likely benefit many other users of the software and object loudly to that suggestion, or even pretend that "the suggestion is a bad one"?

Submission + - Red Hat Suffers Massive Data Center Network Outage

An anonymous reader writes: According to multiple reports on Twitter, the Fedora Infrastructure Status page, and the #fedora-admin Freenode IRC channel, Red Hat is suffering a massive network outage at their primary data center. Details are sketchy at this point, but it looks to be impacting the Red Hat Customer Portal; as well as all their repositories (including Fedora, EPEL, Copr); their public build system, Koji; and a whole host of other popular services. There is no ETA for restoration of services at this point.

Submission + - Russia is better at encouraging women into tech?

randomErr writes: A new study from Microsoft based on interviews with 11,500 girls and young women across Europe finds their interest in engineering or technology subjects drops dramatically at age 15. The reason found are that girls follow gender stereotypes, have few female role models, peer pressure and a lack of encouragement from parents and teachers. Russia is different. According to Unesco, 29% of women worldwide are in science research, compared with 41% in Russia. In the UK, about 4% of inventors are women, whereas the figure is 15% in Russia. Russian girls view Stem far more positively, with their interest starting earlier and lasting longer, says Julian Lambertin, managing director at KRC Research, the firm that oversaw the Microsoft interviews.

Submission + - Light Sail propulsion could reach Sirius sooner than Alpha Centauri (arxiv.org)

RockDoctor writes: A recent proposition to launch probes to other star systems driven by lasers which remain in the Solar system has garnered considerable attention. But recently published work suggests that there are unexpected complexities to the system.

One would think that the closest star systems would be the easiest to reach. But unless you are content with a fly-by examination of the star system, with much reduced science returns, you will need to decelerate the probe at the far end, without any infrastructure to assist with the braking.

By combining both light-pressure braking and gravitational slingshots, a team of German, French and Chilean astronomers discover that the brightness of the destination star can significantly increase deceleration, and thus travel time (because higher flight velocities can be used. Sling-shotting around a companion star to lengthen deceleration times can help shed flight velocity to allow capture into a stable orbit.

The 4.37 light year distant binary stars Alpha Centauri A and B could be reached in 75 years from Earth. Covering the 0.24 light year distance to Proxima Centauri depends on arriving at the correct relative orientations of Alpha Centauri A and B in their mutual 80 year orbit for the sling shot to work. Without a companion star, Proxima Centauri can only absorb a final leg velocity of about 1280km/s, so that leg of the trip would take an additional 46 years.

Using the same performance characteristics for the light sail the corresponding duration for an approach to the Sirius system, almost twice as far away (8.58ly), is a mere 68.9 years, making it (and it's white dwarf companion) possibly a more attractive target.

Of course, none of this addresses the question of how to get any data from there to here. Or, indeed, how to manage a project that will last longer than a working lifetime. There are also issues of aiming — the motion of the Alpha Centauri system isn't well-enough known at the moment to achieve the precise manoeuvring needed without course corrections (and so, data transmission from there to here) en route.

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