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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 + - 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 + - One Woman's Brilliant "Fuck You" to Wikipedia Trolls (backchannel.com)

mirandakatz writes: Now 22, Emily Temple-Wood has been editing Wikipedia for a decade, making her one of few young, female editors on the site. Along with that status has come a slew of harassment, including death and rape threats. To fight back, she's come up with a brilliant solution, which she's dubbed the "Fuck You" project: for every harassing email, death threat, or request for nude photos that she receives, she creates a Wikipedia biography on a notable woman scientist who was previously unknown to the free online encyclopedia. She may not be able to silence the trolls, but she can taunt them with what misogynists hate the most—successful women.

Submission + - FBI Has a National Watchlist That Gives Companies Real Time Updates on Employees (theintercept.com)

schwit1 writes: Rap Back has been advertised by the FBI as an effort to target individuals in "positions of trust," such as those who work with children, the elderly, and the disabled. According to a Rap Back spokesperson, however, there are no formal limits as to "which populations of individuals can be enrolled in the Rap Back Service." Civil liberties advocates fear that under Trump's administration the program will grow with serious consequences for employee privacy, accuracy of records, and fair employment practices.

Rap Back has been advertised by the FBI as an effort to target individuals in "positions of trust," such as those who work with children, the elderly, and the disabled. According to a Rap Back spokesperson, however, there are no formal limits as to "which populations of individuals can be enrolled in the Rap Back Service." Civil liberties advocates fear that the program will grow with serious consequences for employee privacy, accuracy of records, and fair employment practices.

Submission + - Microsoft disables p2p Skype protocol starting March 1, 2017

Artem Tashkinov writes: In a recent update of Skype for Windows Microsoft has announced that starting March 1, 2017 older, p2p versions of Skype will cease to work. This affects Skype for Windows versions 7.16 and below, Skype for Mac version 7.0 to 7.18 and the native Linux client (its only functional version 4.3). This news is especially unpleasant for Linux users of Skype, since the new "cloud ready" version of Skype for Linux is nothing more than a packaged Google Chromium web browser with Node.js running a web version of Skype, which means its memory consumption is huge and it's unable to store your conversation history locally indefinitely like the native client did.

Submission + - Chrome Kills Ability to Disable Plugins, Hides HTTPS Info in Dev Tools (bleepingcomputer.com)

An anonymous reader writes: Google has made a few changes to recent Chrome versions that most users are bound to disagree with since it takes away some of their control over the browser. The biggest of these is the removal of the chrome://plugins page in the upcoming Chrome 57 version, which practically prevents users from disabling Chrome plugins such as Widevine DRM, Native Client, Flash and the built-in PDF viewer.

The last two can still be disabled via options in the Settings section, but effectively, Google will prevent users from disabling the Widevine DRM and Native Client (NaCl), which are ironically two of the biggest sources of crashes and bugs in Chrome.

Furthermore, Google has also moved the information about a websites HTTPS status to the Dev Tools panel. This means that instead of clicking on an icon and seeing the site's certificate info, you now have to open Dev Tools, search for the Security tab, and find the certificate info in the bottom right panel.

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".

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