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Music

It Took a Couple Decades, But the Music Business Looks Like It's Okay Again (recode.net) 125

According to latest number from RIAA, music sales in the first half of the year were up 8.4 percent, to $3.4 billion -- the best performance the music industry has seen since its peak days back in the CD era. Recode adds: That boom is fueled entirely by the growth of paid subscription services. This year's numbers include Apple Music, which didn't exist a year ago but has 17 million worldwide subscribers today, as well as Spotify, which has been growing faster than Apple and has 40 million global subs. Digital downloads via stores like iTunes, meanwhile, are falling behind. Those sales dropped 17 percent to $1 billion. And some people still buy CDs, but soon that business will be a footnote: Those sales dropped 14 percent and now make up just 20 percent of U.S. sales. All good, right? Not according to Cary Sherman, who runs the RIAA, the labels' American trade group. He has a Medium post complaining that YouTube doesn't pay enough for all the music it streams, almost all of which is free.
Security

Top US Undergraduate Computer Science Programs Skip Cybersecurity Classes (darkreading.com) 173

Kelly Jackson Higgins, reporting for Dark Reading: A new study reveals that none of the top 10 U.S. university computer science and engineering program degrees requires students take a cybersecurity course. There's the cybersecurity skills gap, but a new study shows there's also a major cybersecurity education gap -- in the top U.S. undergraduate computer science and engineering programs. An analysis of the top 121 US university computer science and engineering programs by CloudPassage found that none of the top 10 requires students take a cybersecurity class for their degree in computer science, and three of the top 10 don't offer any cybersecurity courses at all. The alarming study also reveals that only one (University of Alabama) out of the 121 schools required three or more cybersecurity classes to graduate. "With more than 200,000 open cybersecurity jobs in 2015 in the U.S. alone and the number of threat surfaces exponentially increasing, there's a growing skills gap between the bad actors and the good guys," Robert Thomas, CEO of CloudPassage, told SCMagazine.com.
It's funny.  Laugh.

A Lot of People Carelessly Plug In Random USB Drives Into Their Computers (vice.com) 391

An anonymous reader writes: Scientists have proven that a lot of people will carelessly plug in a USB drive found on the ground, exposing themselves to potential infections from malware. The researchers dropped 297 USB flash drives on a university campus and saw that in 48% of the cases, people picked them up, plugged them in, and opened files from the drive on their computers. Should such people be mocked? Would you plug in a USB drive that you found on the ground? Bruce Schneier, an American cryptographer, computer security and privacy specialist makes a good point: People get USB sticks all the time. The problem isn't that people are idiots, that they should know that a USB stick found on the street is automatically bad and a USB stick given away at a trade show is automatically good. The problem is that the OS trusts random USB sticks. The problem is that the OS will automatically run a program that can install malware from a USB stick. The problem is that it isn't safe to plug a USB stick into a computer.
Security

Bill Introduced To Require ID When Purchasing "Burner Phones" (house.gov) 556

insitus quotes a report from Speier.House.Gov: Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) introduced the Closing the Pre-Paid Mobile Device Security Gap Act of 2016, which would require people to present identification when purchasing "burner phones" and other pre-paid mobile devices, as well as requiring merchants to keep records of those purchases. "Burner phones" are pre-paid phones that terrorists, human traffickers, and narcotics dealers often use to avoid scrutiny by law enforcement because they can be purchased without identification and record-keeping requirements. This bill would close that legal gap. "This bill would close one of the most significant gaps in our ability to track and prevent acts of terror, drug trafficking, and modern-day slavery," said Speier. "The 'burner phone' loophole is an egregious gap in our legal framework that allows actors like the 9/11 hijackers and the Times Square bomber to evade law enforcement while they plot to take innocent lives. The Paris attackers also used 'burner phones.' As we've seen so vividly over the past few days, we cannot afford to take those kinds of risks. It's time to close this 'burner phone' loophole for good."
AT&T

AT&T, Comcast Kill Local Gigabit Expansion Plans In Tennessee 165

An anonymous reader writes from an article on DSLRReports: For some time now municipal broadband operator EPB Broadband has been saying that a state law written by ATT and Comcast lobbyists have prevented the organization from expanding its gigabit broadband offerings (and ten gigabit broadband offerings) throughout Tennessee. Three state laws currently exist in more than twenty states, and prohibit towns from deploying their own broadband -- or often even striking public/private partnerships -- even in cases of obvious market failure. A proposal that would have recently lifted this statewide restriction in Tennessee was recently shot down thanks to ATT and Comcast lobbying. The proposal was shot down by a 5-3 vote, with Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, a former ATT executive, being one of the votes against. Even a new compromise proposal (which would have simply let EPB expand slightly in the same county where it is headquartered as well as one adjoining country) was shot down, after 27 broadband industry lobbyists -- most of whom belonging to ATT and Comcast -- fought in unison to kill the proposal. Last year the FCC voted to dismantle broadband protectionist bills in both Tennessee and North Carolina, though these efforts remain bogged down in court. ISP-loyal lawmakers in the states have argued that the FCC's attempt to shoot down these laws violates their states' rights, though letting Comcast and ATT write awful state telecom law doesn't appear to generate the same disdain.
Communications

Belgian Home Affairs Minister: Terrorists Communicate Via PlayStation 4 (qz.com) 202

bricko writes with story at Quartz reporting the words of Belgium's home affairs minister Jan Jambon, who says that ISIL operators communicate using their PlayStation 4s; "which allows terrorists to communicate with each other and is difficult for the authorities to monitor. 'PlayStation 4 is even more difficult to keep track of than WhatsApp,' he said. The gaming console also was implicated in ISIL's plans back in June, when an Austrian teen was arrested for downloading bomb plans to his PS4." This seems a strange place to concentrate investigators' energies; terrrorists could be communicating in the chat session on the side of many social media games, too, or by any number of other means; Jambon would do well to read through some of the movie plotlines that Bruce Schneier has gathered.
Mars

Going To Mars Via the Moon (mit.edu) 151

An anonymous reader writes: Getting anywhere in space is a difficult proposition — at least, if you want to get there in a timely manner. Rocket propulsion requires combustion mass. The more mass you take, the more you need. A team at MIT has found that establishing fuel-generating infrastructure on the Moon could reduce launch mass for missions to Mars by up to 68%. "They found the most mass-efficient path involves launching a crew from Earth with just enough fuel to get into orbit around the Earth. A fuel-producing plant on the surface of the moon would then launch tankers of fuel into space, where they would enter gravitational orbit. The tankers would eventually be picked up by the Mars-bound crew (PDF), which would then head to a nearby fueling station to gas up before ultimately heading to Mars." The technology to make this happen is not difficult to build; it just requires a lot of money. Once it's in place, it'll cut down on expensive launch costs. As the commercial space industry gets going and launches happen more often, such an investment starts to make more and more sense.
Software

There Is No .bro In Brotli: Google/Mozilla Engineers Nix File Type As Offensive 781

theodp writes: Several weeks ago, Google launched Brotli, a new open source compression algorithm for the web. Since then, controversy broke out over the choice of 'bro' as the content encoding type. "We are hoping to establish a file ending .bro for brotli compressed files, a command line tool 'bro' for compressing and uncompressing brotli files, and a accept/content encoding type 'bro'," explained Google software engineer Jyrki Alakuijala. "Can I talk you out of it?," replied Mozilla SW engineer Patrick McManus. "'bro' has a gender problem, even though the dual meaning is unintentional. It comes of[f] misogynistic and unprofessional due to the world it lives in." Despite some pushback from commenters, a GitHub commit made by Google's Zoltan Szabadka shows that there will be no '.bro' in Brotli. "I have asked a feminist friend from the North American culture-sphere, and she advised against bro," explained Alakuijala. "We have found a compromise that satisfies us, so we don't need to discuss this further. Even if we don't understand why people are upset from our cultural standpoint, they would be (unnecessarily) upset and this is enough reason not to use it."
Build

Hardware Projects (and Pranks) That Have Scared Observers 193

In the wake of the arrest of Ahmed Mohamed in Irving, Texas, for carrying to school an electronics project believed by a teacher to look like a bomb, Make Magazine has a timely reminder that Ahmed's project is one of many home-brew efforts that sparked (or could have sparked) extreme reactions. Make's list includes a few from tinkerers -- and pranksters -- that not only looked like bombs, but were fully intended to look that way. ("Back in 1967, Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak was arrested for building a metronome and storing it in a friend’s locker. He rigged a tin-foil contract sensor to the metronome in the locker, and set up the device to tick faster when his buddy opened the locker.") The article doesn't note the 2007 incident in Boston in which a guerilla advertising campaign for "Aqua Teen Hunger Force" raised fears of a terrorism and led to two arrests. Gawker has a slightly more pointed article about other students who have specifically brought home-assembled clocks to school, without being arrested.
United Kingdom

UK Labour Party's Support For Homeopathy Grows 414

An anonymous reader writes: The UK's Labour Party is currently led by Jeremy Corbyn, who has shown support for homeopathy in the past. So has Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell. (So-called 'shadow' posts in the UK government essentially comprise an alternative Cabinet with positions held by party members in opposition to the party in power.) Now, homeopathy seems to have additional support from the newly-appointed shadow health minister, Heidi Alexander. "I know lots of people who know about benefits of homeopathy. Whether it's the right use of public money is another thing altogether. I'm open to hearing the argument as to why people may think it appropriate."
Firefox

How to Quash Firefox's Silent Requests 294

An anonymous reader writes: Unlike older versions of Firefox, more recent versions will make a request to a destination server just by hovering over a link. No CSS, no JavaScript, no prefetch required. Try it for yourself. Disable CSS and JavaScript and fire up iftop or Windows Resource Monitor, hover over some links and watch the fun begin. There once was a time when you hovered over a link to check the 'real link' before you clicked on it. Well no more. Just looking at it makes a 'silent request.' This behavior is the result of the Mozilla speculative connect API . Here is a bug referencing the API when hovering over a thumbnail on the new tab page. And another bug requesting there be an option to turn it off. Strangely enough the latter bug is still labeled WONTFIX even though the solution is in the comments (setting network.http.speculative-parallel-limit to 0).

Firefox's own How to stop Firefox from making automatic connections also mentions setting network.http.speculative-parallel-limit to 0 to to stop predictive connections when a user "hovers their mouse over thumbnails on the New Tab Page or the user starts to search in the Search Bar" but no mention regarding hovering over a normal link. Good thing setting network.http.speculative-parallel-limit to 0 does appear to disable speculative connect on normal links too. One can expect Firefox to make requests in the background to its own servers for things such as checking for updates to plugins etc. But silently making requests to random links on a page (and connecting to those servers) simply by hovering over them is something very different.
AI

Answering Elon Musk On the Dangers of Artificial Intelligence 262

Lasrick points out a rebuttal by Stanford's Edward Moore Geist of claims that have led the recent panic over superintelligent machines. From the linked piece: Superintelligence is propounding a solution that will not work to a problem that probably does not exist, but Bostrom and Musk are right that now is the time to take the ethical and policy implications of artificial intelligence seriously. The extraordinary claim that machines can become so intelligent as to gain demonic powers requires extraordinary evidence, particularly since artificial intelligence (AI) researchers have struggled to create machines that show much evidence of intelligence at all.
The Internet

Internet Dating Scams Target Older American Women 176

HughPickens.com writes: The NYT reports: "Janet N. Cook, a church secretary in Virginia, had been a widow for a decade when she joined an Internet dating site and was quickly overcome by a rush of emails, phone calls and plans for a face-to-face visit. "I'm not stupid, but I was totally naïve," says Cook, now 76, who was swept off her feet by a man who called himself Kelvin Wells and described himself as a middle-aged German businessman looking for someone "confident" and "outspoken" to travel with him to places like Italy, his "dream destination." But very soon he began describing various troubles, including being hospitalized in Ghana, where he had gone on business, and asked Cook to bail him out. In all, she sent him nearly $300,000, as he apparently followed a well-honed script that online criminals use to bilk members of dating sites out of tens of millions of dollars a year."

According to the Times internet scammers are targeting women in their 50s and 60s, often retired and living alone, who say that the email and phone wooing forms a bond that may not be physical but that is intense and enveloping. Between July 1 and Dec. 31, 2014, nearly 6,000 people registered complaints of such confidence fraud with losses of $82.3 million, according to the federal Internet Crime Complaint Center. Older people are ideal targets because they often have accumulated savings over a lifetime, own their homes and are susceptible to being deceived by someone intent on fraud. The digital version of the romance con is now sufficiently widespread that AARP's Fraud Watch Network has urged online dating sites to institute more safeguards to protect against such fraud. The AARP network recommends that dating site members use Google's "search by image" to see if the suitor's picture appears on other sites with different names. If an email from "a potential suitor seems suspicious, cut and paste it into Google and see if the words pop up on any romance scam sites," the network advised. The website romancescams.org lists red flags to look for to identify such predators, who urgently appeal to victims for money to cover financial setbacks like unexpected fines, money lost to robbery or unpaid wages. Most victims say they are embarrassed to admit what happened, and they fear that revealing it will bring derision from their family and friends, who will question their judgment and even their ability to handle their own financial affairs."It makes me sound so stupid, but he would be calling me in the evening and at night. It felt so real. We had plans to go to the Bahamas and to Bermuda together," says Louise Brown. "When I found out it was a scam, I felt so betrayed. I kept it secret from my family for two years, but it's an awful thing to carry around. But later I sent him a message and said I forgave him."
Medicine

The Cure Culture: Our Obsession With Cures That Are 'Just Around the Corner' 204

citadrianne writes: Cures for major disease always seem just a few short years away. We constantly read about promising new treatments for cancer, diabetes, HIV, ALS, and more. While the prognosis for these diseases has improved over the years — sometimes greatly — we still focus doggedly on the cure. "The idea of a cure is simpler, it's more appealing as a fantasy." This article takes a look at so-called "Cure Culture" — the focus on reaching for a cure when our scientific efforts may be better expended attacking a disease in other ways. It asks, "Why are we telling our children, our friends, and our family members that we are going to cure them? ... What does it mean to be cured of a disease that is encoded within your DNA from the moment you become a zygote until the moment you are dead? ... And why are we eschewing or overlooking treatments—real, honest-to-god treatments—that can let patients lead longer, more normal lives?
Security

Researcher Who Reported E-voting Vulnerability Targeted By Police Raid in Argentina 116

TrixX writes: Police have raided the home of an Argentinian security professional who discovered and reported several vulnerabilities in the electronic ballot system (Google translation of Spanish original) to be used next week for elections in the city of Buenos Aires. The vulnerabilities (exposed SSL keys and ways to forge ballots with multiple votes) had been reported to the manufacturer of the voting machines, the media, and the public about a week ago. There has been no arrest, but his computers and electronics devices have been impounded (Spanish original). Meanwhile, the information security community in Argentina is trying to get the media to report this notorious attempt to "kill the messenger." Another source (Spanish original).

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