Amazon fixes security flaws allowing smart home hijacks

Some smart home device owners may have dodged a bullet. Amazon recently patched 13 security flaws in an operating system for the Internet of Things, FreeRTOS, as well as Amazon Web Services connection modules. The holes let intruders crash devices,…

Source: Engadget – Amazon fixes security flaws allowing smart home hijacks

Trolls Are Still Actively Trying to Influence Brexit and US Elections

TechCrunch reports:
A major new campaign of disinformation around Brexit, designed to stir up U.K. ‘Leave’ voters, and distributed via Facebook, may have reached over 10 million people in the U.K., according to new research. The source of the campaign is so far unknown, and will be embarrassing to Facebook, which only this week claimed it was clamping down on “dark” political advertising on its platform. Researchers for the U.K.-based digital agency 89up allege that Mainstream Network — which looks and reads like a “mainstream” news site but which has no contact details or reporter bylines — is serving hyper-targeted Facebook advertisements aimed at exhorting people in Leave-voting U.K. constituencies to tell their MP to “chuck Chequers.” Chequers is the name given to the U.K. Prime Ministers’s proposed deal with the EU regarding the U.K.’s departure from the EU next year.
ABC News reports:
When the Justice Department unsealed criminal charges detailing a yearslong effort by a Russian troll farm to “sow division and discord in the U.S. political system,” it was the first federal case alleging continued foreign interference in U.S. elections. Earlier Friday, American intelligence officials released a rare public statement asserting that Russia, China, Iran and other countries are engaged in ongoing efforts to influence U.S. policy and voters in future elections. The statement didn’t provide details on those efforts. That stood in contrast with the criminal charges, which provided a detailed narrative of Russian activities…
The criminal complaint provided a clear picture that there is still a hidden but powerful Russian social media effort aimed at spreading distrust for American political candidates and causing divisions on social issues such as immigration and gun control…. Court papers describe how the operatives in Friday’s case would analyze U.S. news articles and decide how they would draft social media messages about those stories. They also show that Russian trolls have stepped up their efforts with a better understanding the U.S. political climate and messages that are no longer riddled with misspellings.
CNN notes that one week before America’s 2016 presidential election, “one of the Kremlin-backed accounts denied that Russian meddling, saying: ‘Russia’s Putin says Moscow not trying to influence U.S. election.'”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – Trolls Are Still Actively Trying to Influence Brexit and US Elections

NVIDIA Developers Express Interest In Helping Out libc++/libstdc++ Parallel Algorithms

NVIDIA developers have expressed interest in helping the open-source GCC libstdc++ and LLVM Clang libc++ standard libraries in bringing up support for the standardized parallel algorithms…

Source: Phoronix – NVIDIA Developers Express Interest In Helping Out libc++/libstdc++ Parallel Algorithms

Tougher emissions rules helped cut US air pollution deaths in half

There’s little doubt that air quality has generally improved in the US in recent decades, but quantifying that improvement has been difficult. However, a recently published University of North Carolina study might have produced a more tangible figur…

Source: Engadget – Tougher emissions rules helped cut US air pollution deaths in half

Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight With Bits of Halley's Comet

An anonymous reader quotes Space.com:
If you’re a meteor enthusiast, the year 2018 has been very kind to you. This past summer, the annual Perseid meteor shower reached its peak the day after a new moon, ensuring that no moonlight would hinder those spotting celestial streakers. And looking ahead to December, the Geminid meteor shower, the most prolific of all of the annual displays, will reach its peak when an almost-first-quarter moon is setting during the late evening hours. This will make for excellent viewing conditions. And coming almost midway between these two popular showers, this weekend brings one of the most reliable meteor events. A sort of lesser version of the summertime Perseids, the Orionid meteor shower should reach its peak activity early on Sunday morning…

[Y]ou should wait until around 2 a.m. in your local time zone, when Orion will have climbed well above the horizon. And just prior to the break of dawn, at around 5 a.m., Orion will appear highest in the sky toward the south. That’s when Orionid viewing will be at its best… Past studies have demonstrated that about half of all observed Orionids leave trails that last longer than those of other meteors of equivalent brightness. This is undoubtedly connected to the makeup of Halley’s Comet; the object produces meteors that start burning up very high in our atmosphere, at around 80 miles (130 km) up, possibly because they are composed of lightweight material. This suggests they came from the diffuse surface of Halley’s nucleus as opposed to its core.

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Source: Slashdot – Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight With Bits of Halley’s Comet

Facebook carried ads from mysterious pro-Brexit group for months

While Facebook might be making strides in clamping down on fake news and shady political ads, there appear to have been holes in its strategy. The UK’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee has published data showing that Facebook carried ads…

Source: Engadget – Facebook carried ads from mysterious pro-Brexit group for months

Climate Modeller Wins $10,000 Wager Against Solar Physicists, Fails To Collect

Layzej writes: Back in 2005, solar physicists Galina Mashnich and Vladimir Bashkirtsev made a $10,000 bet that global temperatures, driven primarily by changes in the Sun’s activity, would fall over the next decade. The bet would compare the then record hot years between 1998 to 2003 with that between between 2012 and 2017. With temperatures falling from their peak during the 1998 super El-Nino, and solar output continuing to fall, this seemed like a sure bet. The results are now in and all datasets show that climate modeler James Annan is the clear winner. At the time of the wager, Annan had supposed that the reputation of the scientists involved would be enough to ensure payment once the bet was settled. Unfortunately, as was the case with Alfred Russel Wallace’s famous 1870 bet against flat-Earthers, the losing parties have refused to pay up.
“More precisely, Bashkirtsev is refusing to pay,” writes the climate modeler on his blog, “and Mashnich is refusing to even reply to email.

“With impressive chutzpah, Bashkirtsev proposed we should arrange a follow-up bet which he would promise to honour.”

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Source: Slashdot – Climate Modeller Wins ,000 Wager Against Solar Physicists, Fails To Collect

Watch the visual effects for 'Ant-Man and The Wasp' come to life

One of the most entertaining aspects of Ant-Man and The Wasp was how the film played with the characters’ shrinking and growing powers. Marvel obviously relied on CGI to turn that building into a roller suitcase and that Helly Kitty pez dispenser int…

Source: Engadget – Watch the visual effects for ‘Ant-Man and The Wasp’ come to life

Trump: What We Really Need Right Now Is a Lot More Nukes

The U.S. has had a brief respite from nuclear apocalypticism after that brief period when Donald Trump seemed pretty likely to start a war with North Korea via Twitter. But this being Trump, the power of the U.S. nuclear arsenal has never seemed very far from his mind, and on Saturday he announced the country will be…

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Source: Gizmodo – Trump: What We Really Need Right Now Is a Lot More Nukes

Slashdot Asks: Should 'Crunch' Overtime Be Optional?

An anonymous reader quotes Forbes:
Rockstar Games co-founder and VP Dan Hauser unleashed a storm of controversy when he casually stated in an interview with Vulture that “We were working 100-hour weeks” putting the finishing touches on Red Dead Redemption 2. Reaction was swift with many condemning the ubiquitous practice of crunch time in the video game industry in general and Rockstar’s history of imposing harsh demands on its employees in particular… Hauser responded that he was talking about a senior writing team of four people working over a three-week period. This kind of intense short-term engagement was common for the team which had been working together for 12 years. Hauser went on to say that Rockstar doesn’t “ask or expect anyone to work anything like this”. Employees are given the option of working excessive overtime but doing so is a “choice” not a requirement.
A QA tester at Rockstar’s Lincoln studio in the UK has taken to Reddit to answer questions and clarify misconceptions about overtime at Rockstar that have arisen in the wake of Hauser’s comments…. He has no knowledge of working conditions at other Rockstar studios. The first thing the poster points out is that he and other QA testers (with the possible exception of salaried staff) are paid for their overtime work. He then writes “The other big thing is that this overtime is NOT optional, it is expected of us. If we are not able to work overtime on a certain day without a good reason, you have to make it up on another day. This usually means that if you want a full weekend off that you will have to work a double weekend to make up for it… We have been in crunch since October 9th 2017 which is before I started working here….”
[A] requirement to opt into weekly overtime shifts and more than a year of required crunch time ranging from 56 to 81.5 hours spent at work each week is a far, far cry from Hauser’s claim that overtime is a “choice” offered to Rockstar’s employees. The good news is that Rockstar has changed its overtime policies in response to the negative press engendered by Hauser’s 100-hours comment [according to the verified Rock Star employed on Reddit]. Beginning next week “all overtime going forward will be entirely optional, so if we want to work the extra hours and earn the extra money (As well as make yourself look better for progression) then we can do, but there is no longer a rule making us do it.”

The videogame correspondent for Forbes argues that this “crunch time is the norm” idea in the videogame industry “is unconscionable and untenable. No one, in any line of work, should be expected to sacrifice their family for their job. If people want to devote their life to their job, they should be able to do so but those who would rather work a standard work-week should also be able to do so without suffering adverse job-related consequences.” But what do Slashdot’s readers think?
Should ‘crunch’ overtime be optional?

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – Slashdot Asks: Should ‘Crunch’ Overtime Be Optional?

Tesla's future 'dog mode' would prevent humans from panicking

Tesla already has a feature to prevent its electric car interiors from overheating. Not everyone knows that, though, and that’s a problem when people may call the cops or break into your ride to rescue a pet that’s actually quite safe. You might no…

Source: Engadget – Tesla’s future ‘dog mode’ would prevent humans from panicking

Popular Mechanics Defends Elon Musk — While He Tweets About Fortnite

The November issue of Popular Mechanics includes a message from its editors that Elon Musk is “under attack,” arguing that while some criticisms have merit, “much of it is myopic and small-brained, from sideline observers gleefully salivating at the opportunity to take him down a peg.”
But what have these stock analysts and pontificators done for humanity? Elon Musk is an engineer at heart, a tinkerer, a problem-solver — the kind of person Popular Mechanics has always championed — and the problems he’s trying to solve are hard. Really hard. He could find better ways to spend his money, that’s for sure. And yet there he is, trying to build gasless cars and build reusable rockets and build tunnels that make traffic go away. For all his faults and unpredictability, we need him out there doing that. We need people who have ideas. We need people who take risks. We need people who try.
The magazine includes statements from 12 high-profile supporters, including investor Mark Cuban, who writes “When you invest in a company run by an entrepreneur like Elon, you are investing in the mindset and approach that an entrepreneur brings to the table as much as you are valuing the net present value of future cash flows. That is not typical for public companies that are overwhelmingly run by hired CEOs. My advice for Elon is simple: Be yourself. Be true to your mission. Respect your investors. Ignore your critics.”

Meanwhile, in a Friday post on Twitter, Musk jokingly claimed that he’d purchased and then deleted the game of Fortnite, posting a doctored Marketwatch article quoting him as saying “I had to save these kids from eternal virginity.”
“Had to been done,” tweeted Musk, adding “ur welcome”.

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Source: Slashdot – Popular Mechanics Defends Elon Musk — While He Tweets About Fortnite

Large Steel Balls Wreak Havoc on Seattle Neighborhood After Driver Fails to Secure His Load

The Seattle Police Department (SPD) was forced to shut down a road in West Seattle on Wednesday after a semi-truck unleashed its massive load of steel balls onto its streets. The 2-pound grinding balls, ultimately totaling a dumped load of 44,000 pounds of steel, wreaked havoc on the neighborhood and damaged several…

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Source: Gizmodo – Large Steel Balls Wreak Havoc on Seattle Neighborhood After Driver Fails to Secure His Load

Report: Tech-Loving Saudi Prince Suspected in Jamal Khashoggi's Death Has Twitter Troll Army

Saudi crown prince and heir to the throne Mohammed bin Salman is big on PR. He’s fond of selling himself as a Silicon Valley-style disruptor eager to take Saudi Arabia into the future as a regional tech and logistics hub, trying to ink big deals with international tech giants that could help solidify his claim to the…

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Source: Gizmodo – Report: Tech-Loving Saudi Prince Suspected in Jamal Khashoggi’s Death Has Twitter Troll Army

Google Assistant may soon have a web app for lists and notes

Google Assistant might soon have its own list- and note-taking functions instead of leaning on third-party apps. The 9to5Google team has sifted through the Google search app’s code to discover an unannounced “Lists and Notes” web app for Assistant t…

Source: Engadget – Google Assistant may soon have a web app for lists and notes

As PHP Group Patches High-Risk Bugs, 62% of Sites Still Use PHP 5

America’s Multi-State Information Sharing & Analysis Center is operated in collaboration with its Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Cybersecurity and Communications — and they’ve got some bad news.
MS-ISAC released an advisory warning government agencies, businesses, and home users of multiple high-risk security issues in PHP that can allow attackers to execute arbitrary code. Furthermore, if the PHP vulnerabilities are not successfully exploited, attackers could still induce a denial-of-service condition rendering the probed servers unusable… The PHP Group has issued fixes in the PHP 7.1.23 and 7.2.11 releases for all the high-risk bugs that could lead to DoS and arbitrary code execution in all vulnerable PHP 7.1 and 7.2 versions before these latest updates.
But meanwhile, Threatpost reported this week that 62% of the world’s web sites are still running PHP version 5 — even though its end of life is December 31st. “The deadlines will not be extended, and it is critical that PHP-based websites are upgraded to ensure that security support is provided,” warned a recent CERT notice.
So far Drupal is the only CMS posting an official notice requiring upgrades to PHP 7 (by March, three months after the PHP 5.6’s end of life deadline). Threatpost notes that “There has been no such notice from WordPress or Joomla.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.



Source: Slashdot – As PHP Group Patches High-Risk Bugs, 62% of Sites Still Use PHP 5