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Submission + - Microsoft Abandons Modules, Reverts to Traditional Data Center Design (

miller60 writes: After years of deploying cloud capacity in enclosures resembling shipping containers, Microsoft has updated its data center design, returning to a more traditional data hall with a slab floor and hot-aisle containment. The new Generation 5 design also uses a fan wall to manage airflow through the server rooms. The redesign arrives as Microsoft’s cloud computing business is experiencing rapid growth, as the company continues to both build its own data centers and also leasing third-party "wholesale" IT space. Microsoft says the previous modular design, which it had used since 2008, was extremely efficient but it couldn't manufacture the enclosures fast enough to keep pace with its cloud deployments.

Submission + - Our Cell Phone Alerts Will Be Hacked (

mirandakatz writes: The wireless emergency alert that went out to New Yorkers' cell phones last week after the Chelsea bombing kicked off a new flurry of conversation about the system—while some, like the NYPD, hailed the system as the future of policing, others, like Chuck Schumer, called for the FCC to modernize the currently retro technology. At Backchannel, Peter Moskowitz looks at the vulnerabilities in the system, and uncovers a chilling truth: as long as these systems have existed, they've been hacked, and it's only a matter of time before our cell phones get pinged with false alarms of tsunamis or zombie attacks. And that has the potential to incite mass panic.

North Korea Has Just 28 Websites ( 138

In September of 2014, NetCraft confirmed there to be over 1 billion websites on the world wide web. There are over 140 million .com and .net domains alone, as well as millions of websites for each country code top-level domain (ccTLD), such as .de for Germany and .cn for China. But in North Korea, the number of websites the country has registered for its top-level domain is in the double digits. Motherboard reports: On Tuesday, apparently by mistake, North Korea misconfigured its nameserver, essentially a list that holds information on all of the domains that exist for .kp, allowing anyone to query it and get the list. In other words, a snafu by North Korea's system administrators allowed anyone to ask the country's nameserver: "can I have all of your information on this domain?" and get an answer, giving everyone a peek into the strange world of North Korea's web. North Korea has only 28 registered domains, according to the leaked data. "We didn't think there was much in the way of internet resources in North Korea, and according to these leaked zone files, we were right," Doug Madory, a researcher at Dyn, a company that monitors internet use and access around the world, told Motherboard. Some of the sites aren't reachable, perhaps because after Bryant discovered them, they are being deluged with traffic.

Amazon Says It Puts Customers First - But Its Pricing Algorithm Doesn't ( 110

ProPublica has a report today in which it warns Amazon shoppers about the results that they see on the shopping portal. It notes that people often hope that the results that come up first after a search are the best deals, and that's what Amazon will have you believe, but its algorithm doesn't work that way. In what may surprise many, in more than 80 percent of cases, Amazon ranks its own products, or those of its affiliate partners higher. From the report: Amazon does give customers a chance to comparison shop, with a listing that ranks all vendors of the same item by "price + shipping." It appears to be the epitome of Amazon's customer-centric approach. But there, too, the company gives itself an oft-decisive advantage. Its rankings omit shipping costs only for its own products and those sold by companies that pay Amazon for its services. Erik Fairleigh, a spokesman for Amazon, said the algorithm that selects which product goes into the "buy box" accounts for a range of factors beyond price. "Customers trust Amazon to have great prices, but that's not all -- vast selection, world-class customer service and fast, free delivery are critically important," he said in an e-mailed statement. "These components, and more, determine our product listings."

Submission + - Opera Offers Free Native VPN To Everyone Using Its Desktop Browser

Mickeycaskill writes: Opera is switching on its native virtual private network (VPN) feature for all users, claiming to be the first major browser to offer such functionality.

A beta has been available since April and follows the acquisition of VPN service SurfEasy last March. Opera claims using a VPN can provide more freedom and greater privacy when using the web.

The VPN effectively allows users to unblock firewalls, stop your browser session from leaking onto public Wi-Fi networks, and make it more difficult for websites to track your location and identify your computer.

“If people knew how the internet truly works, I believe they all would use a VPN,” said Krystian Kolondra, head of Opera for computers.

Submission + - Chinese Hackers Control Tesla Model S From Miles Away

Trailrunner7 writes: Modern vehicles are stuffed with computers, which is nice, but the downside is they're vulnerable to the kind of attacks that have plagued conventional PCs for years. Researchers Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller demonstrated this several times over the last couple of years, and now a team of researchers from Keen Security Lab has picked up the baton. The Keen Lab team researched the software systems on Tesla vehicles and found methods to remotely unlock the doors, open the sunroof, and even apply the brakes from 12 miles away.

The Keen researchers have reported the vulnerabilities to Tesla Motors and the company is in the process of fixing them and will issue a software update soon.

When Blind People Do Algebra, the Brain's Visual Areas Light Up ( 69

People born without sight appear to solve math problems using visual areas of the brain. NPR has a fascinating report on this: A functional MRI study of 17 people blind since birth found that areas of visual cortex became active when the participants were asked to solve algebra problems, a team from Johns Hopkins reports in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. "And as the equations get harder and harder, activity in these areas goes up in a blind person," says Marina Bedny, an author of the study and an assistant professor in the department of psychological and brain sciences at Johns Hopkins University. In 19 sighted people doing the same problems, visual areas of the brain showed no increase in activity. "That really suggests that yes, blind individuals appear to be doing math with their visual cortex," Bedny says. The findings, published online Friday, challenge the idea that brain tissue intended for one function is limited to tasks that are closely related.

Right To Be Forgotten? Web Privacy Debate in Italy After Women's Suicide ( 424

The suicide of a woman who battled for months to have a video of her having sex removed from the internet is fuelling debate in Italy on the "right to be forgotten" online. The 31-year-old, identified as Tiziana, was found hanged at her aunt's home in Mugnano, close to Naples in the country's south on Tuesday, reports Agence France-Presse. From the report: Her death came a year after she sent a video of herself having sex to some friends, including her ex-boyfriend, to make him jealous. The video and her name soon found their way to the web and went viral, fuelling mockery of the woman online. The footage has been viewed by almost a million internet users. In a bid to escape the humiliation, Tiziana quit her job, moved to Tuscany and tried to change her name, but her nightmare went on. The words "You're filming? Bravo," spoken by the woman to her lover in the video, have become a derisive joke online, and the phrase has been printed on T-shirts, smartphone cases and other items. After a long court battle, Tiziana recently won a "right to be forgotten" ruling ordering the video to be removed from various sites and search engines, including Facebook.

Autonomous Vehicles Won't Give Us Any More Free Time, Says Study ( 233

An anonymous reader writes: People hoping that the driverless cars of the future will give them more free time while travelling may be in for a disappointment. Increased productivity is one of the expected benefits of self-driving cars, but a new study claims that they will have little impact. The study showed that nearly 36 percent of Americans say they would be so apprehensive using a driverless vehicle that they would only watch the road. Meanwhile, UK drivers were even more cautious at 44 per cent. "Currently, in the US, the average occupant of a light-duty vehicle spends about an hour a day traveling -- time that could potentially be put to more productive use," said Michael Sivak, research professor at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. "Indeed, increased productivity is one of the expected benefits of self-driving vehicles."

Submission + - Working Round The 'Big Data Bottleneck' In Modern CPUs (

An anonymous reader writes: Modern CPU architecture is built to retrieve large chunks of data, to limit the number of time-consuming journeys between the central controller and the location of the data in memory banks. When you're fetching the first data block of a picture for Photoshop, bringing along the adjacent block makes sense, because you're probably going to need it. But when you're making ten calls to a 'sparse' dataset, where each of the items you want is resident in different memory allocation, and none of them have any relevant adjacent data, the architecture is fighting the intention.

Researchers from MIT have addressed the problem by creating a C++ extension that gathers these requests into one queue for each core, and then forces the cores to swap and negotiate which requests they can most efficiently handle for the minimum number of journeys to memory. In earluy tests, access to sparse datasets has been increased by up to four times using this method, and promises even greater increases with a dedicated architecture. Contributing researcher Vladimir Kiriansky explains why the teams called the extension 'Milk', and why the name also explains the challenge: "It’s as if, every time you want a spoonful of cereal, you open the fridge, open the milk carton, pour a spoonful of milk, close the carton, and put it back in the fridge."


Alibaba Engineers Fired for Mooncake Hacking ( 85

On the eve of Mid-Autumn Festival, some people will go to great lengths to get mooncakes, the traditional gift for family, friends and colleagues. At Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., four engineers tried to rig the distribution system of the e-commerce giant's mooncake selloff -- and were fired for their effort (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternate source), reports WSJ. From the report: Alibaba confirmed it fired the four this week, after they hacked into the internal website that allows employees to purchase the company's signature mooncakes, with an orange fluffy Alibaba mascot inside. The Hangzhou-based company allocates one free box to each employee for the holiday, and sells extras on the site at cost -- 59 yuan (about $9) for a box of four.

Submission + - Connected cars will create 98% of mobile-to-mobile traffic by 2021 (

Lucas123 writes: By 2021, telematics and in-vehicle-infotainment systems will create up to 98% of all data traffic on mobile-to-mobile networks, according to a new study. The study, by U.K.-based Juniper Research, claims that data-intensive applications such as Internet radio, music streaming apps and information services will generate approximately 6,000 petabytes of data annually by 2021 — the equivalent of more than 300 billion hours of music streaming. Along with entertainment services, in-vehicle 4G Wireless SIM Cards will provide "over-the-air" (OTA) vehicle software updates, as well as subscription updates for drivers and passengers. And, vehicle-to-vehicle and vehicle-to-infrastructure technology, which will assist autonomous cars in navigating through traffic, will also add to the data deluge over mobile networks.

Verizon Is Moving From Telephone Poles To Light Poles for Smart Devices ( 22

An anonymous reader shares a Fortune report:Verizon is moving from telephone poles to street lighting poles with its latest acquisition to bolster its Internet of things business. The telecom giant has been looking for new growth areas around connected smart devices -- including water meters, self-driving cars, and drones -- as some of its traditional markets slow. On Monday, Verizon said it was buying privately-held Sensity, a company that puts sensors in LED street lamps to perform functions such as monitoring traffic and detecting security threats. Terms of the deal have not been disclosed. It's the latest in a string of acquisitions to bolster the carrier's IoT unit. Verizon agreed to pay $2.4 billion for truck tracking service Fleetmatics last month and startup Telogis, another fleet-tracker, earlier this summer.
The Almighty Buck

Digital Wallets Have Yet To Catch On, JPMorgan Executive Says ( 206

Despite major tech companies working aggressively on making digital wallet solutions available everywhere, these digital payment apps in our smartphones are yet to gain traction, according to Chief Executive of Consumer Banking JP Morgan Chase & Co. From a Reuters report: Apple Pay, Android Pay, and Samsung Pay are being used for less than 1 percent of payments at retailers, Gordon Smith said, citing industry data at an investor conference. Ultimately, the convenience of paying with phones will bring a surge of use from consumers, but it is impossible to know when that inflexion point will be reached, said Smith.

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