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Submission + - Obamacare repeal has gig economy worried (computerworld.com)

dcblogs writes: Repealing the Affordable Care Act without a replacement leaves some 18 million without health insuance in the first year alone, the Congressional Budget Office warned Tuesday. Millions more will lose insurance later on. The estimate includes independent, or gig, workers who use Fiverr's job marketplace. "The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is incredibly important," said Brent Messenger, Fiverr's global head of community. A wholesale repeal of the ACA, or Obamacare, will not only "negatively impact our marketplace but the gig economy as a whole," he said. Republicans in Congress and President-elect Donald Trump are promising an Obamacare replacement, but so far they haven't delivered it. That is making people nervous, because some of the ACA's provisions — including coverage for pre-existing conditions — are very important, especially to older independent workers, Jane Langeman, an independent management consultant and president of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP), "Many of us are on our second-career as independent business owners and have a lot of life and pre-existing conditions under our belts," said Langeman. "The Affordable Care Act made it easier for business owners to even get health insurance, especially when faced with pre-existing health conditions," she said.

Submission + - Who Is Killing the Towns of Western Massachusetts? (backchannel.com) 1

mirandakatz writes: If Western Massachusetts is going to retain its population—particularly its younger residents—it needs 21st century internet. That's easier said than done: Governor Charlie Baker appears to be favoring an approach that gives money to incumbent telecoms companies, and prevents towns from seizing control of their connectivity. At Backchannel, Susan Crawford argues that "because of Governor Baker, many of the people of Western MA, especially younger residents, will have to move somewhere. And even a region rich in culture, with second-home owners who otherwise might want to stay full time, will find itself populated with ghosts. Unhappy ghosts, with lousy, overpriced internet access."

Submission + - Latest Adobe Acrobat Reader Update Silently Installs Chrome Extension (bleepingcomputer.com) 1

An anonymous reader writes: The latest Adobe Acrobat Reader security update (v15.023.20053), besides delivering security updates, also secretly installs the Adobe Acrobat extension in the user's Chrome browser.

There is no mention of this "special package" on Acrobat's changelog, and surprise-surprise, the extension comes with anonymous data collection turned on by default.

Submission + - Mathematicians find optimal video game double jump strategy. (jstor.org)

RobertJ1729 writes: Mathematicians Aaron Broussard, Martin Malandro, and Abagayle Serreyn have cracked the code for the optimal video game multi-jump, a normal jump followed by additional jumps initiated in midair without the aid of a platform, to determine the highest achievable jump, and have described strategies human players or AI can use in real time to select successful multi-jumps in real time. Their results (doi) are published in the December issue of The American Mathematical Monthly . From the paper's introduction:

A multi-jump is a finite sequence of jumps where the first jump is initiated from the ground and the rest are initiated in midair. The number of jumps in a multi-jump is the length of the multi-jump, so a double jump is a multi-jump of length two. Several video games, such as Chair Entertainment Group(R)’s Shadow Complex(TM) and Nintendo(R)’s Super Smash Bros.(TM) Melee, feature triple jumps or multi-jumps of even longer length.

The basic problem we consider in this paper is the following. Suppose that a character in a two-dimensional side-scrolling video game wishes to use a multi-jump to jump to the right from a fixed starting point across a gap and land on a fixed platform. ...We therefore assume that the character has a known finite sequence of jump arcs available to her and faces the problem of selecting when to jump in midair, i.e., to switch from the arc of one jump to the next, so as to land on the platform. ...

Provided the platform is reachable by a multi-jump, we give strategies for solving this problem on the fly for both player-controlled and artificial intelligence (AI)-controlled characters. In the simplest situation all jumps available to the character are equal and fully concave (Definition 5). In this situation we give a simple strategy (the line method) that is usable by both players and AI. In our experience the majority of games featuring multi-jumps are covered by this situation. We give two further strategies for AI-controlled characters in more-complicated situations. Our first AI strategy is very general, in that it applies to any collection of standard jump functions (Definition 1). We also give a faster (less computationally intensive) AI strategy for collections of standard jump functions whose derivative inverses are known and computable exactly.

Submission + - President Obama Signs Legislation Establishing Information Control Agency

stephenmac7 writes: President Obama has recently signed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2017, which "authorizes FY2017 appropriations and sets forth policies regarding the military activities of the Department of Defense (DOD), military construction, and the national security programs of the Department of Energy (DOE)." Perhaps more notably, it establishes a new Department of State agency, the Global Engagement Center, that some claim may be the beginning of an Orwellian propaganda agency. Its task is to “understand, expose, and counter foreign state and non-state propaganda and disinformation aimed at undermining United States national security interests" and support “the development and dissemination of fact-based narratives and analysis to counter propaganda and disinformation directed at the United States and” its partners and allies. It is also authorized to gather information from intelligence agencies and financially support various groups, apparently of its own choosing, including “civil society groups, media content providers, nongovernmental organizations, federally funded research and development centers, private companies, or academic institutions.”

Submission + - US Releases Declassified Report On Russian Hacking (theverge.com)

An anonymous reader writes: The Office of the Director of National Intelligence has released its unclassified report on Russian hacking operations in the United States. “We assess Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered an influence campaign in 2016 aimed at the U.S. presidential election,” according to the report. “Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. We further assess Putin and the Russian Government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump.” The report, titled “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions in Recent U.S. Elections,” details the successful hack of the Democratic National Committee. “The Kremlin’s campaign aimed at the U.S. election featured disclosures of data obtained through Russian cyber operations; intrusions into U.S. state and local electoral boards; and overt propaganda,” according to the report. The report states that Russian intelligence services made cyber-attacks against “both major U.S. political parties” to influence the 2016 election. The report also publicly names Guccifer 2.0 and DCLeaks.com, two sources of stolen information released to the public, as Russian operatives working on behalf of the country’s military intelligence unit, the GRU. Officials from the organization were recently the target of U.S. sanctions. WikiLeaks is also cited as a recipient of stolen information. The report also notes that the U.S. has determined Russia “accessed elements of multiple state or local electoral boards,” though no vote-tallying processes were tampered with. The FBI and CIA have “high confidence” the election tampering was ordered by Putin to help then-candidate Trump, according to the report. NSA has “moderate confidence” in the assessment.

Submission + - Google Bans AdNauseam Chrome Extension, the Ad Blocker That Clicks on All Ads (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Google has banned the AdNauseam Chrome extension from the Chrome Web Store, an add-on that became very popular with users because it automatically clicked on all ads on a page, which prevented advertisers from building profiles on the extension's users.

Google didn't provide any in-depth details about why it did so, only saying that "An extension should have a single purpose that is clear to users," but the AdNauseam team suspects the extension's purpose might have played a role in having their product banned, which they say contradicts "Google’s business model."

Nevertheless, when Google bans a Chrome extension, it also takes proactive steps that prevent users from updating or re-installing the add-on. This mechanism helps Google ban malware-laced Chrome extension, but it can inadvertently serve as a tool to blackball developers or any unwanted add-ons.

Users that want to bypass Google's ban and install the AdNauseam extension can do so by following this tutorial that shows them how to load the extension using Chrome's Developer Mode. The AdNauseam Firefox and Opera extensions remain standing, and the AdNauseam source code is available on GitHub.

Submission + - US Federal Trade Commission sues D-Link for having terrible security (betanews.com)

Mark Wilson writes: D-Link is facing a lawsuit brought against it by the US Federal Trade Commission for the poor security of its routers and connected cameras. The FTC says the company failed to take reasonable steps to protect users from hackers.

The FTC is seeking to improve the security of all IoT (internet of things) devices in the wake of compromised devices being used to launch high-profile DDoS attacks such as Marai and Leet Botnet. D-Link argues that the charges brought against it are "unwarranted and baseless" and plans to "vigorously defend itself".

The Taiwanese company says that the FTC "fails to allege, as it must, that actual consumers suffered or are likely to suffer actual substantial injuries".

Submission + - Everyday things on the web the EU Commission wants to make illegal (juliareda.eu)

schwit1 writes: In a few days, scandal-prone Günther Oettinger will stop being Europe’s top internet policy maker – he’s being promoted to oversee the EU budget.

But before leaving, the outgoing Digital Commissioner submitted dangerous plans that undermine two core foundations of the internet: Links and file uploads. While Oettinger is going away, his lobby-dictated proposals are here to stay.

These proposals are pandering to the demands of some news publishers to charge search engines and social networks for sending traffic their way (yes, you read that right), as well as the music industry’s wish to be propped up in its negotiations with YouTube.

Here’s what may otherwise become illegal:
01 Sharing what happened 20 years ago
02 Tweeting a creative news headline
03 Posting a blog post to social media
04 Pinning a photo to an online shopping list
05 A search engine indexing the web for you
06 A portfolio hosting site not monitoring your uploads
07 Github allowing unmonitored commits
08 Wikipedia ACCEPTING unmonitored uploads
09 Training your own artificial intelligence

Despite all the new restrictions on hyperlinks and uploads, sites like MegaUpload, which was famously shut down by US authorities for allegedly systematically infringing copyright, would not be affected.

That’s proof: This law is not aimed at sites that actually play fast and loose with copyright – it’s meant to get social networks and search engines to fork over money to struggling European cultural industries.

Submission + - Trump's Treasury pick appears to be part of a federal investigation (muckrock.com)

v3rgEz writes: Trump's transition strategy of picking some of the shadiest people on earth is still going strong. The latest: According to the FBI, his Treasury pick Steven Mnuchin is involved with an "ongoing investigation", as reported by Mike Best over at the FOIA site MuckRock. Best requested Mnuchin's FBI files, but the request was rejected under the grounds of an open investigation, likely related to Mnuchin's superbly-timed exit from Relativity Media — right before it cratered.

Submission + - Android Ransomware Infects Smart TV, LG Refuses to Help (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: An LG smart TV owner was infected with Android ransomware. The user says he tried to reset the TV to factory settings, but the reset procedure available in online documentation didn't work. When the software engineer contacted LG, the company told him to visit one of their service centers, where one of its employees could reset his TV.

This angered the user because factory reset procedures shouldn't be secret, but also because the service center visit implied a $340 bill. The ransomware asked the user to pay $500 to unlock his TV, which means he would be better if he bought a new TV altogether, seeing as the infected TV was already a few years old.

Submission + - Pentagon Confirms Russia Has a Submarine Nuke Delivery Drone (popularmechanics.com)

schwit1 writes: The Pentagon has confirmed that a new Russian nuclear delivery drone is real. The undersea drone, which carries an enormous nuclear warhead to destroy coastal cities and military bases, was tested late last month. The test was leaked by unnamed sources to The Washington Free Beacon.

Russia calls the system "Ocean Multipurpose System 'Status-6," and it is allegedly capable of traveling underwater to distances of to 6,200 miles. It can submerge to depths of 3,280 feet and travel at speeds of up to 56 knots.

Submission + - Top DoE Scientist Fired by Obama Administration 1

RoccamOccam writes: Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas), chair of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology, released a wide-ranging report on Tuesday that shows how senior Obama administration officials retaliated against a leading scientist and plotted ways to block a congressional inquiry surrounding key research into the impact of radiation.

A top DoE scientist (Dr. Noelle Metting) who liaised with Congress on the matter was fired by the Obama administration for being too forthright with lawmakers, according to the report, which provides an in-depth look at the White House’s efforts to ensure senior staffers toe the administration’s line.

Submission + - It's not you, Slashdot, it's me. 5

BuckB writes: When I was a young man, I read Slashdot in order to amaze my friends with useful facts. It was even my homepage for awhile. Sure, there was time when I cheated and went to cnet or wired. With Slashdot, I could count on high quality debate on controversial topics, even though I knew in my heart that most of the readers were Apple fans, while I am a closeted Microsofterian. Now the stories are mainly non-tech — no, that's the real reason — the stories are now mainly fake or click-bait or alarmist, and the discussions are completely uninformed, insulting, to the point of being indistinguishable from an MSNBC forum.

I'll still remember you fondly. And I'll check back now and then. You'll do fine without me, find more people who enjoy insulting contributions and upvoting rumors and gossip. But maybe, just maybe, you'll think back to when you were a leader and attracted the kinds of people like me.

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