BlackBerry Messenger To Shut Down In May

mobile - Posted On:2019-04-19 06:14:57 Source: slashdot

The consumer version of Blackberry Messenger is shutting down May 31. CNET reports: Emtek, the company BlackBerry partnered with in 2016 to run the consumer version of the messaging app, said in a blog post Thursday that the technology industry is "very fluid" and despite "substantial efforts," users have moved on to other platforms. "We poured our hearts into making this a reality, and we are proud of what we have built to date," Emtek said. Mark Wilson, BlackBerry's chief marketing officer, said that though the company is disappointed, BBM users won't be without a secure messaging platform. They can now go to the Google Play store to download BBMe, the enterprise version of the app that BlackBerry continues to run. The app will be free the first year. Then a 6-month subscription will cost $2.49. BlackBerry is working on an iOS app. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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TESS Discovers Its First Earth-Sized Planet

science - Posted On:2019-04-19 03:14:57 Source: slashdot

Iwastheone shares a report from MIT News: NASA's Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, TESS, has discovered its first Earth-sized exoplanet. The planet, named HD 21749c, is the smallest world outside our solar system that TESS has identified yet. In a paper published today in the journal Astrophysical Journal Letters, an MIT-led team of astronomers reports that the new planet orbits the star HD 21749 -- a very nearby star, just 52 light years from Earth. The star also hosts a second planet -- HD 21749b -- a warm "sub-Neptune" with a longer, 36-day orbit, which the team reported previously and now details further in the current paper. The new Earth-sized planet is likely a rocky though uninhabitable world, as it circles its star in just 7.8 days -- a relatively tight orbit that would generate surface temperatures on the planet of up to 800 degrees Fahrenheit. The discovery of this Earth-sized world is nevertheless exciting, as it demonstrates TESS' ability to pick out small planets around nearby stars. In the near future, the TESS team expects the probe should reveal even colder planets, with conditions more suitable for hosting life. Slashdot reader RockDoctor shares a link to the paper at Arxiv, adding: The 'b' object in the system (the largest perturbation on the star's light) is estimated at 2.61*Radius_earth, and 22.7*Mass_earth for a surface gravity of 3.332*littleG_Earth. If it has a "surface" in any recognizable sense rather than gradual transitions between gas mixtures, liquid mixtures, and the digested remains of any "metals" (lithium or higher, as the astronomers say). The 'c' object is more poorly constrained. The authors give a radius (0.892*Radius_earth, derived from the depth of the eclipses), but only put an upper limit on the mass at The TESS mission has a Science Requirement "of providing 50 transiting planets smaller than 4*Radius_earth with measured masses," and the 'b' planet fits that criterion, but the 'c' planet does not, yet, have a well-enough constrained mass. Keep on catching planets! Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Source Code of Iranian Cyber-Espionage Tools Leaked on Telegram

it - Posted On:2019-04-19 01:44:57 Source: slashdot

In an incident reminiscent of the Shadow Brokers leak that exposed the NSA's hacking tools, someone has now published similar hacking tools belonging to one of Iran's elite cyber-espionage units, known as APT34, Oilrig, or HelixKitten. From a report: The hacking tools are nowhere near as sophisticated as the NSA tools leaked in 2017, but they are dangerous nevertheless. The tools have been leaked since mid-March on a Telegram channel by an individual using the Lab Dookhtegan pseudonym. Besides hacking tools, Dookhtegan also published what appears to be data from some of APT34's hacked victims, mostly comprising of username and password combos that appear to have been collected through phishing pages. ZDNet was previously aware of some of these tools and victim data after this reporter received a tip in mid-March. In a Twitter DM, a Twitter user shared some of the same files that were discovered today on Telegram, and we believe that this Twitter user is the Telegram Lab Dookhtegan persona. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Global Attention Span Is Narrowing and Trends Don't Last As Long, Study Reveals

technology - Posted On:2019-04-18 23:44:58 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: It's just as you suspected; the information age has changed the general attention span. A recently published study from researchers at the Technical University of Denmark suggests the collective global attention span is narrowing due to the amount of information that is presented to the public. Released on Monday in the scientific journal Nature Communications, the study shows people now have more things to focus on -- but often focus on things for short periods of time. The researchers studied several modes of media attention, gathered from several different sources, including (but not limited to): the past 40 years in movie ticket sales; Google books for 100 years; and more modernly, 2013 to 2016 Twitter data; 2010 to 2018 Google Trends; 2010 to 2015 Reddit trends; and 2012 to 2017 Wikipedia attention time. The researchers then created a mathematical model to predict three factors: the "hotness" of the topic, its progression throughout time in the public sphere and the desire for a new topic, said Dr Philipp Hovel, an applied mathematics professor of University College Cork in Ireland. The empirical data found periods where topics would sharply capture widespread attention and promptly lose it just as quickly, except in the cases of publications like Wikipedia and scientific journals. For example, a 2013 Twitter global trend would last for an average of 17.5 hours, contrasted with a 2016 Twitter trend, which would last for only 11.9 hours. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Google to Block Logins from Embedded Browser Frameworks

Security - Posted On:2019-04-18 21:14:59 Source: bleepingcomputer

To increase protection against man-in-the-middle (MitM) attacks, Google in June will block sign-ins from embedded browser frameworks, which are used with some forms of phishing. [...]

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Amazon Will No Longer Sell Chinese Goods In China

technology - Posted On:2019-04-18 20:59:59 Source: slashdot

Amazon announced today that it will close its marketplace in China in the coming months, meaning Amazon customers in the country will no longer be able to buy goods from Chinese merchants. "Amazon did not explain why it was withdrawing its marketplace service, saying only it will instead focus on selling goods shipped from other countries into China," reports CNN. From the report: "We are notifying sellers we will no longer operate a marketplace on, and we will no longer be providing seller services on effective July 18," the company said in a statement. Amazon's platform competes for Chinese sellers with Tmall, owned by the country's e-commerce leader Alibaba. Users logging onto Amazon's Chinese site after July 18 will see products sold from its global store, the company said. "Over the past few years, we have been evolving our China online retail business to increasingly emphasize cross-border sales, and in return we've seen very strong response from Chinese customers," Amazon said. It will retain its other operations in China, such as cloud computing services. It will also continue to sell its Kindle e-readers and content in the country. "Amazon's commitment to China remains strong. We have built a solid foundation here in a number of successful businesses and we will continue to invest and grow in China," the company added. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Why Juul and Republican Lawmakers Want To Raise the Minimum Vaping Age To 21

politics - Posted On:2019-04-18 20:14:59 Source: slashdot

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell announced a new bill today that would block all tobacco and vape purchases for Americans under 21 years old, citing widespread public health risks. Surprisingly, vaping companies don't appear to be too concerned, as Juul's CEO Kevin Burns issued this statement supporting the measure: "JUUL Labs is committed to eliminating combustible cigarettes, the number one cause of preventable death in the world and to accomplish that goal, we must restrict youth usage of vapor products. Tobacco 21 laws fight one of the largest contributors to this problem -- sharing by legal-age peers -- and they have been shown to dramatically reduce youth usage rates." The Verge says it all has to do with Big Vape's image: Over the past year, Juul has come under the FDA's fire for its massive popularity among young people. So supporting a higher minimum age could help its image and take some of the regulatory pressure off. From an industry perspective, the move is fairly low risk since the product is already embedded in the population, and people under age 21 may already be addicted, says Kathleen Hoke, a law professor at the University of Maryland. "We can change this age to 21 but we're going to have to work extraordinarily hard at the state and local level to actually get cigarettes or vape products or chew out of the hands of the 18 to 20 year olds," she says. [T]he bill's success will depend on how it's crafted. Rob Crane, professor of family medicine at The Ohio State University and president of the Preventing Tobacco Addiction Foundation, is skeptical that it will really hold tobacco retailers responsible for selling to people who are underage. From the more than 450 cities and counties that have passed Tobacco 21 laws, "what we have found that does work is when you make local health departments under civil law do the enforcement," he says. "For a rogue retailer that keeps on selling, there's a risk of license suspension." But if the law winds up penalizing convenience store clerks who sell vapes and tobacco products to kids, the retailer who's profiting gets off scot-free, he says. In the end, Crane is skeptical of the motivations behind the bill, no matter what form it takes. "This is all a PR move to keep Juul out of the hot seat from the FDA." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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How Squishy Robotics created a robot that can be safely dropped out of a helicopter

Gadgets - Posted On:2019-04-18 20:00:00 Source: techcrunch

If you want to build a robot that can fall hundreds of feet and be no worse the wear, legs are pretty much out of the question. The obvious answer, then, is a complex web of cable-actuated rods. Obvious to Squishy Robotics, anyway, whose robots look delicate but are in fact among the most durable out there.

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The Source Code For All Infocom Text Adventure Classics Has Been Released

games - Posted On:2019-04-18 19:44:58 Source: slashdot

You can now download the source code of every Infocom text adventure game, thanks to archivist Jason Scott who uploaded the code to GitHub. "There are numerous repositories under the name historicalsource, each for a different game," reports Ars Technica. "Titles include, but are not limited to, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Planetfall, Shogun, and several Zork games -- plus some more unusual inclusions like an incomplete version of Hitchhiker's sequel The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, Infocom samplers, and an unreleased adaptation of James Cameron's The Abyss." From the report: The code was uploaded by Jason Scott, an archivist who is the proprietor of His website describes itself as "a glimpse into the history of writers and artists bound by the 128 characters that the American Standard Code for Information Interchange (ASCII) allowed them" -- in particular those of the 1980s. He announced the GitHub uploads on Twitter earlier this week. The games were written in the LISP-esque "Zork Implementation Language," or ZIL, which you could be forgiven for not being intimately familiar with already. Fortunately, Scott also tweeted a link to a helpful manual for the language on Gamasutra, which first reported the news, notes that Activision still owns the rights to Infocom games and could request a takedown if it wanted. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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The HotList is The Latest Instagram Phishing Scam Attack

Security - Posted On:2019-04-18 19:29:59 Source: bleepingcomputer

A phishing scam called The HotList is the latest scam currently making its way through Instagram. This scam pretends to be a list of pictures ranked on how "Hot" they are, but just leads to a fake Instagram login page that is used to steal account logins and passwords. [...]

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First Japan-Built Airliner In 50 Years Takes On Boeing and Airbus

technology - Posted On:2019-04-18 18:59:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: More cities in Asia and Europe are seeking to link up with each other and the global air travel network. The Mitsubishi Regional Jet, the first airliner built in Japan since the 1960s, began certification flights last month in Moses Lake, Washington, to satisfy that demand. Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd.'s new airliner is testing the skies just as rivals are moving to sell off their manufacturing operations for jets with up to 160 seats. Boeing is set to buy 80 percent of the Embraer SA's commercial operations in a joint venture, while Bombardier last year sold control of its C Series airliner project to Airbus SE and is exploring "strategic options" for its regional-jet operations. At stake, particularly in the market for jets with fewer seats, is $135 billion in sales in the two decades through 2037, according to industry group Japan Aircraft Development Corp. With few seats and smaller fuselages, regional jets are a different class of aircraft from larger narrow-body planes such as Boeing's 737 or Airbus's A320. The MRJ has a range of about 2,000 miles, while a smaller variant can haul up to 76 people for about the same distance. A longtime supplier of aircraft components to Boeing, Mitsubishi Heavy is developing the MRJ to emerge from its customer's shadow. After spending at least $2 billion over more than a decade, the manufacturer is looking to get its jet certified and start deliveries to launch partner ANA Holdings. Mitsubishi expects to have the plane ready for customers next year, a timetable that will test the company, said Mitsubishi Aircraft President Hisakazu Mizutani. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Netflix Will Invest Up To $100 Million In a NYC Production Hub

yro - Posted On:2019-04-18 18:14:59 Source: slashdot

Netflix is establishing an NYC production hub that will include six sound stages in Brooklyn and an expanded office in Manhattan's Flatiron District. "It should create 'hundreds of jobs' (including 127 executive, marketing and production development roles) over the next five years, and should foster up to $100 million in investments, according to Governor Cuomo," reports Engadget. From the report: The sound stages will also have the capacity for "thousands" of jobs, Cuomo said, although that's likely to vary widely based on what's in production at any given time. Not surprisingly, there are financial incentives attached to the move. The state is offering up to $4 million in tax credits over 10 years, although those are contingent on Netflix's ability to both create the 127 promised office jobs and keep the 32 existing positions. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Cyber Attack Forces The Weather Channel Off the Air

Security - Posted On:2019-04-18 18:00:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

The Weather Channel stopped its live broadcasting this morning due to a security incident that lasted for at least 90 minutes. [...]

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In new gaffe, Facebook improperly collects email contacts for 1.5 million

Biz & IT - Posted On:2019-04-18 17:59:59 Source: arstechnica

Facebook's privacy gaffes keep coming. On Wednesday, the social media company said it collected the stored email address lists of as many as 1.5 million users without permission. On Thursday, the company said the number of Instagram users affected by a previously reported password storage error was in the "millions," not the "tens of thousands" as previously estimated.

Facebook said the email contact collection was the result of a highly flawed verification technique that instructed some users to supply the password for the email address associated with their account if they wanted to continue using Facebook. Security experts almost unanimously criticized the practice, and Facebook dropped it as soon as it was reported.

In a statement issued to reporters, Facebook wrote:

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Microsoft buys Express Logic, adds a third operating system to its IoT range

Tech - Posted On:2019-04-18 17:44:59 Source: arstechnica

Not content with having a Windows-based Internet of Things platform (Windows 10 IoT) and a Linux-based Internet of Things platform (Azure Sphere), Microsoft has added a third option. The company has announced that it has bought Express Logic and its ThreadX real-time operating system for an undisclosed sum.

Real-time operating systems (RTOSes) differ from more conventional platforms in their predictability. With an RTOS, a developer can guarantee that, for example, interrupt handling or switching from one process to another takes a known, bounded amount of time. This gives applications strong guarantees that they'll be able to respond in time to hardware events, timers, or other things that might make an application want to use the CPU. This predictability is essential for control applications; for example, ThreadX was used in NASA's Deep Impact mission that hurled a large object at a comet. ThreadX was also used in the iPhone 4's cellular radio controller, and ThreadX is embedded in the firmware of many Wi-Fi devices. These tasks need the determinism of an RTOS because there are timing constraints on how quickly they need to respond.

Linux can be built with various options to offer more predictable behavior and so can address some similar scenarios. But ThreadX has another big advantage up its sleeve: it's tiny. A minimal ThreadX installation takes 2,000 bytes of storage and needs 1KB of RAM, far less than Linux can use. By way of comparison, Microsoft's Sphere hardware (which uses a custom-designed ARM processor with various security features embedded) has 4MB of RAM for applications and 16MB of storage. There are an estimated 6.2 billion deployments of ThreadX running on several dozen different kinds of processor or microcontroller.

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Ask Slashdot: What's a Good Chair For a Software Developer?

askslashdot - Posted On:2019-04-18 17:44:59 Source: slashdot

AmiMoJo writes: It's time to buy a new chair so I'm turning to Slashdot for recommendations. The Herman Miller Aeron seems to be the go-to, much like the Model M for keyboards, but I've heard that there are some other good options on the market. I need something that is comfortable and durable -- too many chairs get squeaky and loose because I can't sit still and keep shifting my weight around. Many are difficult to maintain as well, e.g. the screws attacking the back are often under plastic attached with very stiff clips so you can't easily give them a quick tighten. What does Slashdot recommend for my posterior? It's been more than a decade since readers sought recommendations for a quality chair for desktop coding, or back-friendly chairs. In fact, it's been almost two decades since a user inquired about the perfect computer chair. Hopefully office chairs have improved in quality/design since then... Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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Instagram hides Like counts in leaked design prototype

Apps - Posted On:2019-04-18 17:00:01 Source: techcrunch

“We want your followers to focus on what you share, not how many likes your posts get. During this test, only the person who share a post will see the total number of likes it gets.” That’s how Instagram describes a seemingly small design change test with massive potential impact on users’ well-being. Hiding Like […]

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Facebook is working on an AI voice assistant similar to Alexa, Google Assistant

Tech - Posted On:2019-04-18 17:00:00 Source: arstechnica

Facebook is working on developing an AI voice assistant similar in functionality to Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, according to a report from CNBC and a later statement from a Facebook representative.

The CNBC report, which cites "several people familiar with the matter," says the project has been ongoing since early 2018 in the company's offices in Redmond, Washington. The endeavor is led by Ira Snyder, whose listed title on LinkedIn is "Director, AR/VR and Facebook Assistant at Facebook." Facebook Assistant may be the name of the project. CNBC writes that Facebook has been reaching out to vendors in the smart-speaker supply chain, suggesting that Portal may only be the first of many smart devices the company makes.

When contacted for comment, Facebook sent a statement to Reuters, The Verge, and others, saying: "We are working to develop voice and AI assistant technologies that may work across our family of AR/VR products including Portal, Oculus, and future products."

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Ajit Pai Proposes Blocking China-Owned Telecom From US Phone Market

yro - Posted On:2019-04-18 17:00:00 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: FCC Chairman Ajit Pai has proposed denying China Mobile USA's application to offer telecom services in the U.S., saying the Chinese government-owned company poses a security risk. The FCC is scheduled to vote on an order to deny the application at its open meeting on May 9, and Pai yesterday announced his opposition to China Mobile entering the U.S. market. "After reviewing the evidence in this proceeding, including the input provided by other federal agencies, it is clear that China Mobile's application to provide telecommunications services in our country raises substantial and serious national security and law enforcement risks," Pai said. "Therefore, I do not believe that approving it would be in the public interest. I hope that my colleagues will join me in voting to reject China Mobile's application." China Mobile filed its application in 2011, and has repeatedly complained about the government's lengthy review process. According to Pai's announcement, China Mobile's application sought authority "to provide international facilities-based and resale telecommunications services between the U.S. and foreign destinations." In simpler terms, the company was seeking "a license to connect calls between the United States and other nations" and "was not seeking to provide domestic cell service and compete in the country with businesses like AT&T and Verizon," The New York Times wrote yesterday. An FCC official told reporters that such calls "could be intercepted for surveillance and make the domestic network vulnerable to hacking and other risks," the Times wrote. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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MoviePass Has Lost Over 90% of Its Subscribers in Less Than a Year, Leaked Documents Reveal

technology - Posted On:2019-04-18 16:14:59 Source: slashdot

MoviePass users apparently hit the exits en masse after it scaled back the number of movies users could see each month. From a report: The flailing cinema-subscription provider has seen its subscriber rolls plunge from a peak of more than 3 million to just 225,000 in under a year, according to a new report. The numbers were reported by Business Insider, which cited "internal data" it had obtained. Asked for comment, a MoviePass spokeswoman declined to confirm the subscriber figure. In June 2018, MoviePass claimed it had signed up more than 3 million subscribers for its $9.95 monthly plan, which let customers see one movie every single day. But that proved unsustainable, and MoviePass was forced to change that to a three-movies-per-month plan. In August 2018, MoviePass began to convert subscribers on annual subscription plans to the three-movies-per-month subscription plan, by giving annual subscribers the option to either cancel or refund their annual subscription or continue on the new three-movies-per-month subscription plan. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

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