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Rise In CO2 Has 'Greened Planet Earth'

SlashDot - Tue, 04/26/2016 - 1:37am
schwit1 quotes a report from BBC: Carbon dioxide emissions from industrial society have driven a huge growth in trees and other plants. A new study says that if the extra green leaves prompted by rising CO2 levels were laid in a carpet, it would cover twice the continental USA. Climate skeptics argue the findings show that the extra CO2 is actually benefiting the planet. But the researchers say the fertilization effect diminishes over time. They warn the positives of CO2 are likely to be outweighed by the negatives. The lead author, Professor Ranga Myneni from Boston University, told BBC News the extra tree growth would not compensate for global warming, rising sea levels, melting glaciers, ocean acidification, the loss of Arctic sea ice, and the prediction of more severe tropical storms. The new study is published in the journal Nature Climate Change by a team of 32 authors from 24 institutions in eight countries. A new study has also shown that ever since Americans first heard the term global warming in the 1970's, the weather has actually improved for most people living in the U.S. The study published in the journal Nature found that 80% of the U.S. population lives in counties experiencing more pleasant weather than they did four decades ago.

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Goldman Sachs Launches GS Bank, An Internet Bank With A $1 Minimum Deposit

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 10:02pm
An anonymous reader recaps a report from TechCrunch: Traditionally, Goldman Sachs has functioned like a run-of-the-mill investment bank with minimums to open an account in the range of $10 million, and returns not guaranteed. Goldman is opening its doors to the masses today with the launch of GS Bank, an FDIC-insured, internet-based savings bank. Anyone with an internet connection and a dollar can join, as that is what each account's minimum balance must be. GS Bank's interest rates give customers an annual yield of 1.05 percent, a rate that trumps the average U.S. saving's bank yield of .06 percent APY. GS Bank was a result of Goldman's acquisition of GE Capital Bank, the online retail bank previously run by General Electric's capital arm. The move is to diversify revenue streams and strengthen liquidity. GS Bank currently has total deposits of around $114 billion. In other news from the multinational banking firm, Goldman Sachs believes virtual-reality and augmented-reality "will be the next generation computing platform" worth $80 billion by 2025.

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Valve Inks Deal With Lionsgate Adding Over 100 Movie Titles To Steam Platform

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 8:34pm
MojoKid quotes a report from HotHardware: Valve took a major step in growing its Steam digital distribution platform today by adding movie rentals to the mix. The addition of movies to Steam's catalog is a first, and it was made possible through a deal with Lionsgate Entertainment that immediately fleshes out the service with more than 100 flicks. Steam is currently the biggest digital distribution platform for games, and while it has a long way to go before it can claim the same for movies, there's little doubt Valve wants to take it there. In a press release announcing the deal, Valve said Lionsgate was "one of the first major studios to license films" for streaming on Steam, which hints that it's attempting to lure other studios as well. You can view the entire catalog here.

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Symantec: Cruz and Kasich Campaign Apps May Expose Sensitive Data

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 7:51pm
An anonymous reader writes: Apps released by the campaigns of Republican presidential contenders Ted Cruz and John Kasich have the potential for hackers to access users' personal information. According to an independent analysis by Symantec, the "Cruz Crew" app could allow third parties to capture a phone's unique identifying number and other personal information while the Kasich 2016 app could expose users' location data and information about other apps installed on the phones. First it was Veracode that reported potential vulnerabilities with the apps, now it's Symantec. Apparently the Cruz campaign updated its app to resolve the issues after the Veracode report was released. Kasich spokesman Rob Nichols said the security experts didn't know what they were talking about. Both campaigns have yet to respond to the latest Symantec analysis. Neither security firm found any issues in the app released by the campaign of Democrat Bernie Sanders. Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton do not have campaign apps.

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Facebook Is Building A Standalone Camera App To Encourage Its 1.6 Billion Users To Share More

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 7:07pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: According to a report in The Wall Street Journal, Facebook engineers in London are working on a standalone camera app with a big live-streaming component. Similar to Snapchat, the app would open straight into a camera to foster immediate capturing and posting of photos and videos, as well as letting users stream via Facebook Live. With billions of smartphones in the world and near-ubiquitous high-speed data connections, Facebook sees a huge opportunity to get its 1.6 billion users sharing more than ever before. A camera app may help the company do that, and better compete with Snapchat at the same time. Facebook has recently rolled out a major live video update allowing anyone to post live streams of themselves to their timeline. Previously, only celebrities and public figures were allowed to use the feature. With this new Facebook Live update and standalone camera app reportedly in the works, the only thing holding Mark Zuckerberg back with his plan to triple the size of his social network is affordable internet.

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New 'Tunneling' State of Water Molecules Discovered by Scientists

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 6:24pm
MikeChino quotes a report from Inhabitat: Scientists just discovered a new state of water molecules that displays some pretty unexpected characteristics. This discovery, made by researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), reveals that water molecules "tunnel" in ultra-small hexagonal channels (measuring only 5 angstrom across) of the mineral beryl. Basically, this means the molecules spread out when they are trapped in confined spaces, taking a new shape entirely. The ORNL used neutron scattering and computational modeling to reveal the "tunneling" state of water that breaks the rules of known fundamentals seen in gas, liquid, or solid state. The researchers said the discovery describes the behavior of water molecules present in tightly confined areas such as cell walls, soils, and rocks. The study was published in Physical Review Letters on April 22.

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Your Pay Is About To Go Up

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 5:41pm
The Department of Labor's overtime rule is expected to be updated some time later this summer, and when it does, you will soon be entitled to overtime pay if you make less than $50,000 per year. According to Gawker, "It now appears that even if you are a salaried employee or some sort of 'manager,' you will still be entitled to time-and-a-half pay for working more than 40 hours per week, as long as your total salary falls under the threshold." How did they come to this conclusion? Gawker points out that the Department of Labor promotes a Wall Street Journal story which says that "The threshold would be increased to $970, or $50,440 annually. That level is about the 40th percentile of weekly earnings for salaried workers." Hamilton Nolan writes, "This rule has been a matter of political contention for years. But now that it is actually approaching, its import is becoming clear: overtime pay, which has long been isolated to a minority of workers, is about to be extended to almost the entire middle class."

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Software Audits: How High-Tech Software Vendors Play Hardball

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 4:57pm
snydeq writes: InfoWorld's Dan Tynan offers an inside look at how high-tech software vendors such as Adobe, Oracle, and IBM play hardball over software licensing, pushing customers to "true up" to the tune of billions of dollars per year -- and using the threat of audits as a sales tool to close lucrative deals. "When it comes to software audits, the code of omerta prevails," Tynan writes. "It's not a question of whether your organizations' software licenses will get audited. It's only a question of when, how often, and how painful the audits will be. The shakedown is such a sure thing that nearly every customer we contacted asked us to keep their names out of this story, lest it make their employers a target for future audits."

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US Justice Dept Approves Charter's Time Warner Cable Purchase With Conditions

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 4:13pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: The U.S. Justice Department has approved Charter Communications Inc's proposed purchase of Time Warner Cable Inc and Bright House networks, which would create the second-largest broadband provider and third largest video-provider. The Justice Department valued the purchase of Time Warner Cable at $78 billion and Bright House at $10.4 billion. Under terms, New Charter has agreed to refrain from telling its content providers that they cannot also sell shows online. The deal must also be approved by the Federal Communications Commission. FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler said Monday he circulated an order seeking approval of the merger with conditions that "will directly benefit consumers by bringing and protecting competition to the video marketplace and increasing broadband deployment."

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Mozilla Seeks New Home For Email Client Thunderbird

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 3:30pm
Reader chefmonkey writes: In a report commissioned by Mozilla to explore the next home for Thunderbird, two potential new hosts have been offered: the Software Freedom Conservancy (host to git, boost, QEMU, and a host of other projects) and The Document Foundation (home of LibreOffice). At the same time, the report discusses completely uncoupling Thunderbird from the rest of the Mozilla codebase and bringing in a dedicated technical architect to chart the software's roadmap. Given that the two named organizations are already on board with taking Thunderbird under their wing, is this a new lease on life for the email program Mozilla put out to pasture four years ago?In December last year, Mozilla Foundation chairperson Mitchell Baker had argued that the organization should disentangle itself from the Thunderbird email client in order to focus on Firefox. It appears the Firefox-maker is all set to part ways with Thunderbird.

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Swedish ISP Vows to Protect Users From a Piracy Witch Hunt

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 3:00pm
Ernesto Van der Sar, reporting for TorrentFreak: Swedish Internet service provider Bahnhof says it will do everything in its power to prevent copyright holders from threatening its subscribers. The provider is responding to a recent case in which a competing ISP was ordered to expose alleged BitTorrent pirates, reportedly without any thorough evidence. At the birth ground of The Pirate Bay, media outfit Crystalis Entertainment received permission from the court to identify several BitTorrent users, based on their IP-addresses. The case, which could be the first of many, was filed against the local ISP TeliaSonera who handed over the requested information without putting up much of a fight. This prompted the competing Internet provider Bahnhof to issue a warning. The company notes that the copyright holder in question doesnâ(TM)t have a very strong case, and it criticizes Telia for caving in too easily.

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Does More Carbon Dioxide Mean Increased Crop Water Productivity?

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 2:30pm
An anonymous reader points us to an Ars Technica report: For the most part, we think of rising levels of carbon dioxide as an environmental problem. But atmospheric CO2 can also boost agricultural productivity by helping plants grow. How do these potential issues balance out? In an investigation recently published in Nature Climate Change, scientists have looked into the global implications of carbon dioxide's ability to enhance agricultural productivity. Increased levels of CO2 can enhance photosynthesis and reduce leaf-level transpiration, the process by which some of the water that plants draw from the ground gets released back into the atmosphere. These changes can reduce growing seasons and water loss. The result could be an increase in what's called "crop water productivity," i.e. the amount of food produced for each unit of water expended. If elevated CO2 levels increase crop yield and reduce water consumption at large scales, this could help ensure water and food security despite the climate disruptions. By combining data from a massive network of field experiments and global crop models, the scientists claimed that depending on the crop type, global crop water productivity will increase by 10 to 27 percent by the 2080s. Arid regions exhibited large increases that were based on crop type.

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US Begins Dropping 'Cyberbombs' On ISIS

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 1:40pm
In what appears to be a significant shift in its tactic to battle against the terrorist organization, the U.S. has begun launching cyberattacks against ISIS (non-paywall link). The New York Times reports that the Department of Defense's Cyber Command unit is mounting cyberattacks against the terrorist organization. The Cyber Command unit aims to stop the organization from spreading its message. The Times reports: The goal of the new campaign is to disrupt the ability of the Islamic State to spread its message, attract new adherents, circulate orders from commanders and carry out day-to-day functions, like paying its fighters. A benefit of the administration's exceedingly rare public discussion of the campaign, officials said, is to rattle the Islamic State's commanders, who have begun to realize that sophisticated hacking efforts are manipulating their data. Potential recruits may also be deterred if they come to worry about the security of their communications with the militant group. "We are dropping cyberbombs," Robert O. Work, deputy secretary of defense said. "We have never done that before."

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US Wants Its Own Secure and Self-Destructing Messaging App -- And It's Willing to Pay

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 1:00pm
Long time reader schwit1 writes: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), an agency within the Department of Defense historically known for creating the Internet itself, has published a call for companies to submit proposals to build a robust messaging platform that the military could use for secure communication of everything from intelligence to procurement contracts. "Troops on the ground in denied communications environments would have a way to securely communicate back to HQ and DoD back office executives could rest assured that their logistics system is efficient, timely and safe from hackers," according to the DARPA proposal. The request for proposals, reported earlier by the UK's Telegraph outlet, also says that the messaging platform should incorporate a customized blockchain, the distributed ledger technology that underpins the digital currency bitcoin, for recording messages and contract information. The proposal says such a distributed ledger would allow the military to conduct its business in a more efficient and secure fashion.Motherboard's Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai reports that DARPA is willing to pay people to make this app. "This project falls under the rules of the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program. During the first phase, according to the program's rules, successful applicants might be awarded no more than $150,000 for one year. The companies and researchers who are part of phase one can then be eligible for a phase two award of up to $1 million for two years. Lastly, during phase three, the company or companies can pursue commercialization, and receive no funds from the federal government."

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Spy Chief Complains That Edward Snowden Sped Up Spread of Encryption By 7 Years

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 12:10pm
An anonymous reader cites an article on The Intercept: The director of national intelligence on Monday blamed NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden for advancing the development of user-friendly, widely available strong encryption. "As a result of the Snowden revelations, the onset of commercial encryption has accelerated by seven years," James Clapper said. The shortened timeline has had "a profound effect on our ability to collect, particularly against terrorists," he said. When pressed by The Intercept to explain his figure, Clapper said it came from the National Security Agency. "The projected growth maturation and installation of commercially available encryption -- what they had forecasted for seven years ahead, three years ago, was accelerated to now, because of the revelation of the leaks." Asked if that was a good thing, leading to better protection for American consumers from the arms race of hackers constantly trying to penetrate software worldwide, Clapper answered no. "From our standpoint, it's not ⦠it's not a good thing," he said."Of all the things I've been accused of," Snowden said, "this is the one of which I am most proud."

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Active Drive-By Exploits Critical Android Bugs, Care Of Hacking Team

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 11:30am
Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica: An ongoing drive-by attack is forcing ransomware onto Android smartphones by exploiting critical vulnerabilities in older versions of Google's mobile operating system still in use by millions of people, according to research scheduled to be published Monday. The attack combines exploits for at least two critical vulnerabilities contained in Android versions 4.0 through 4.3, including an exploit known as Towelroot, which gives attackers unfettered "root" access to vulnerable phones. The exploit code appears to borrow heavily from, if not copy outright, some of these Android attack scripts, which leaked to the world following the embarrassing breach of Italy-based Hacking Team in July. Additional data indicates devices running Android 4.4 may also be infected, possibly by exploiting a different set of vulnerabilities.Blue Coat, a California-based provider of security and networking solutions writes: This is the first time, to my knowledge; an exploit kit has been able to successfully install malicious apps on a mobile device without any user interaction on the part of the victim. During the attack, the device did not display the normal "application permissions" dialog box that typically precedes installation of an Android application. After consulting with analyst Joshua Drake of Zimperium, he was able to confirm that the Javascript used to initiate the attack contains an exploit against libxslt that was leaked during the Hacking Team breach. Drake also confirmed that the payload of that exploit, a Linux ELF executable named module.so, contains the code for the "futex" or "Towelroot" exploit that was first disclosed at the end of 2014.

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Over 1M BeautifulPeople Dating Site User Details Leak Online

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 10:50am
An anonymous reader writes: Personal information of over one million users stored by popular dating site BeautifulPeople has leaked, and is now accessible online. We already knew that BeautifulPixel.com was hacked (it happened in November 2015), but this is the first confirmation from a security researcher that the details are legitimate. (BeautifulPeople had downplayed it at the time, saying that it was a staging server, and not a production server, that was hacked.) Security researcher Troy Hunt, citing a source, noted that the data has been sold online. The leaked personal information include email addresses, phone numbers, as well as hair color, weight, job and other details.Troy also noted that of the 1.1 million users details,170 of them have government email addresses. Some of you may remember BeautifulPixel as the creator the "Shrek" virus.

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Stephen Hawking Suggests Black Holes Are Possible Portals To Another Universe

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 10:00am
An anonymous reader shares an article on Science World Report: Stephen Hawking, in a recent lecture held at the Harvard University, claimed that black holes could be portals to a parallel universe. The celebrated physicist spoke at length about black holes and suggested that they neither store materials absorbed by them nor physical information about the object that created them. Known as the information paradox, the theory goes against the scientific rule that information on a system belonging to a particular time can be used to understand its state at a different time. Over the years, it has been speculated that black holes do not retain information about the stars from which they are formed, except storing their electrical charge, angular momentum and mass. According to Hawking, as per that theory, it was believed that identical black holes might be formed by an infinite quantity of matter configurations. However, quantum mechanics has signaled the opposite by revealing that black holes could only be formed by particles with explicit wavelengths. If the characteristics of the bodies that create black holes are not deprived, then they include a lot of information that is not revealed to the outside world, according to the physicist. "For more than 200 years, we have believed in the science of determinism, that is that the laws of science determine the evolution of the universe" Stephen Hawking said. If information was lost in black holes, we wouldn't be able to predict the future because the black hole could emit any collection of particles."This is in contrast to some of Hawking's earlier views. In 2014, for instance, Hawking suggested that black holes don't exist, at least not like we think.

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Nearly All New Diesel Cars Exceed Official Pollution Limits

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 9:10am
An anonymous reader writes: The Guardian, citing a comprehensive set of data, reports that 97% of all modern diesel cars emit more toxic nitrogen oxide (NOx) pollution on the road than the official limit. A quarter of this voluminous number emits at least six times more than the limit. From the report, "Surprisingly, the tiny number of models that did not exceed the standard were mostly Volkswagens, the carmaker whose cheating of diesel emissions tests emerged last year sparked the scandal. Experts said the new results show that clean diesel cars can be made but that virtually all manufacturers have failed to do so. The new data, from testing industry leader Emissions Analytics (EA), follows the publication this week by the Department for Transport of emissions results for 37 vehicles, all of which emitted more NOx on the road than the official limit. But the new data covers more than 250 vehicles in more stringently standardised road conditions. EA found that just one of 201 Euro 5 diesels, the EU standard from 2009, did not exceed the limit, while only seven of 62 Euro 6 diesels, the stricter standard since 2014, did so. Diesel cars must meet an official EU limit for NOx but are only tested in a laboratory under fixed conditions. All vehicles sold pass this regulation but, when taken out on to real roads, almost all emit far more pollution. There is no suggestion that any of the cars tested broke the law on emissions limits or used any cheat devices. Mayoral candidates in London, the city with the worst air quality in Britain, have seized on the DfT data to call for tighter controls on polluting traffic -- including a ban on diesel cars."Caroline Pidgeon, the Lib Dem mayoral candidate, said: "The figures are exactly the reason why we need to speed up the introduction of the ultra-low emission zone so that it starts in 2018. Ultimately we will need to ban diesel vehicles from much of London and we need a mayor prepared to take these tough decisions and work with people to make these changes happen."

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Google Appears To Be Working On Bringing Android Apps to Chrome OS

SlashDot - Mon, 04/25/2016 - 8:30am
The Wall Street Journal reported late last year that Google plans to merge Chrome OS and Android. The search giant, at the time, had refuted such claims while adding that it continues to work on "bringing together" the best of both operating systems. It appears, one such step is adding the Google Play (Android's marquee app store) to Chrome OS. Several users are reporting that they have seen an option -- "Enable Android apps to run on your Chromebook" -- which would understandably allow them to run mobile apps on the desktop platform. Unfortunately, the feature isn't working just yet. Bolstering this theory is another such instance in the source code, which says "over a million apps and games on Google Play" will be made available to Chromebook users. A report on Ars Technica speculates this move as the demise of Chrome Web Store, the marketplace for extensions and themes for Chrome, which hasn't received any significant improvement or feature in years. At any rate, the timing of this discovery is interesting as Google's developer conference -- I/O -- is just around the corner (May 18-22).

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