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Transportation

World's Largest Aircraft Crashes Its Second Flight (theverge.com) 144

Not too long after it completed its first test flight, the Airlander 10 -- the world's largest aircraft -- has crashed its second test flight. Since the 300-foot long aircraft contains 38,000 cubic meters of helium inside its hull, the crash was all but sudden. You can see in a video posted to YouTube from witnesses on the ground that the aircraft slowly descended to the ground, nose first. The BBC has published some close-up photos of the cockpit, which sustained damages. There were no injuries in the crash, according to a tweet from Hybrid Air Vehicles. The company did also deny eyewitness reports of the aircraft being damaged in a collision with a telegraph pole.
Microsoft

Microsoft Details Its 24-Core 'Holographic Processor' Used In HoloLens (pcworld.com) 110

The processor powering Microsoft's HoloLens augmented reality headset has been a mystery -- until now. During the annual Hot Chips conference in Cupertino, California, Microsoft revealed some juicy details about the secretive chip. PCWorld reports: "The HoloLens' HPU is a custom 28nm coprocessor designed by TSMC, The Register reports. The chip packs 24 Tensilica digital signal processor (DSP) cores. As opposed to more general-purpose CPU cores, DSPs are a specialized technology designed for rapidly processing data flowing in from the world -- a no doubt invaluable asset while rendering augmented reality environments in real time. Microsoft's HPU also contains roughly 65 million logic gates, 8MB of SDRAM, and 1GB of traditional DDR3 RAM. It draws less than 10W of power, and features PCIe and standard serial interfaces. The HPU's dedicated hardware is up to 200 times faster than performing the same calculations via software on the less-specialized 14nm Intel Cherry Trail CPU. Microsoft added custom instructions to the DSP cores that allow the HPU to churn through HoloLens-specific tasks even faster, The Register reports. The HPU can perform roughly 1 trillion calculations per second, and the data it passes to the CPU requires little additional processing."
Facebook

Facebook Knows Your Political Preferences (businessinsider.com) 183

Facebook knows a lot more about its users than they think. For instance, the New York Times reports, the company is categorizing its users as liberal, conservative, or moderate. These details are valuable for advertisers and campaign managers, especially ahead of the election season. From a BusinessInsider report: For some, Facebook is able to come to conclusions about your political leanings easily, if you mention a political party on your page. For those that are less open about politics on social media, Facebook makes assumptions based on pages you like. As The New York Times explained, if you like Ben and Jerry's Facebook page and most of the other people that like that page identify as liberal, Facebook might assume you too are liberal.
Bitcoin

'SingularDTV' Will Use Ethereum For DRM On A Sci-Fi TV Show (rocknerd.co.uk) 77

It's "an epic sci-fi adventure about the human race's journey into a theoretical technological Singularity." Or is it an "entertainment industry boondoggle...part DRM snake oil marketing, part pseudo-Bitcoin scam and part sincere Singularitarian weirdness?" Long-term Slashdot reader David Gerard writes: SingularDTV is an exciting new blockchain-based entertainment industry startup. Their plan is to adapt the DRM that made $121.54 for Imogen Heap, make their own completely pre-mined altcoin and use that to somehow sell two million views of a sci-fi TV show about the Singularity. Using CODE, which is explicitly modeled on The DAO ... which spectacularly imploded days after its launch. There's a white paper [PDF], but here's an analysis of why these schemes are a terrible idea for musicians.
'Singular' will be a one-hour adventure/drama "that explores the impact technology will have on the future of our planet and how it will shape the evolution of our human race," set in the years 2021 to 2045, "as an unprecedented technological revolution sweeps over the world..."
Twitter

Twitter Announces New Blocking and Filtering Features (wired.co.uk) 117

Twitter just began rolling out "new ways to control your experience," promising the two new features "will give you more control over what you see and who you interact with on Twitter." An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from Wired UK: First up, notification settings will allow those using Twitter on the web or on desktop to limit the notifications they receive for @ mentions, RTs, and other interactions to just be from people they follow. The feature can be turned on through the notifications tab. Twitter is also expanding its quality filter -- also accessible through notifications. "When turned on, the filter can improve the quality of Tweets you see by using a variety of signals, such as account origin and behavior," the company's product manager Emil Leong said in a blog post.

In December 2015, the company changed its rules to explicitly ban "hateful conduct" for the first time, while back in February last year, Twitter's then-CEO Dick Costolo admitted the network needed to improve how it handled trolls and abuse. In a leaked memo he said: "I'm frankly ashamed of how poorly we've dealt with this issue during my tenure as CEO. It's absurd. There's no excuse for it. I take full responsibility for not being more aggressive on this front. It's nobody else's fault but mine, and it's embarrassing."

Meanwhile, the Twitter account of Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales was hacked on Saturday.
Security

Password Strength Meters on Websites Are Doing a Terrible Job (theregister.co.uk) 147

An anonymous reader shares a report on The Register: Password strength meters used during web sites' signup process remain incapable of doing their job, says Compound Eye developer Mark Stockley. Indeed, a majority of security experts consider the tools a useless control that grant little more than an illusion of protection. Stockley revisited his examination of five popular password meters and found they failed to prevent users from entering the world's worst passwords. "You can't trust password strength meters on websites," Stockley says. "The passwords I used in the test are all, deliberately, absolutely dreadful ... they're chosen from a list of the 10,000 most common passwords and have characteristics I thought the password strength meters might overrate." The basis for his argument is that the meters rate character complexity but fail to identify those combinations that can be guessed outright such as popular passwords or those based on cliches.
AI

RealDoll CEO Aims To Make Its Sex Dolls Love You Back Via AI App (mirror.co.uk) 200

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mirror.co.uk: Matt McMullen, CEO of RealDoll, revealed the next step in making the high-end sex toys will be to give them artificial intelligence to replicate humans more closely than ever. "We are building an AI system which can either be connected to a robotic doll OR experienced in a VR environment," he revealed as part of an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit. "I think it will allow for an option that never existed before, and for some, may represent a happiness they [users] never thought they could have. We are designing the AI to be fun and engaging, more than focusing on whether it can fool you into thinking it's a person," he said. He later added, when someone asked if dolls will ever love us back: "I hope that we can at least simulate that," McMullen responded. "That's the goal." In addition to AI and VR, Teledildonics are coming to the sex industry as well. "Teledildonics is technology for remote sex where tactile sensations are communicated over a data link between the participants -- with Siri, Alexa, Cortana and other AI software," reports Mirror.co.uk. The company is "putting the finishing touches" on its AI app, with plans to release it within the next six months. Oh, and it's also working on releasing a RealDoll with a robotic head by the end of 2017 to celebrate its 20th anniversary.
Social Networks

Metropolitan Police To Target Online Hate Crime and Abuse (bbc.com) 161

A new team of specialist police officers is being set up to investigate online hate crimes, including abuse on Twitter and Facebook. The London-based hub will include a team of five officers who will support victims and identify online abuse, reports BBC. From the report: The two-year pilot will cost 1.7m pound and has received 452,000 pound from the Home Office, the London Mayor's office said. A spokesman said there was "no place for hate" in London and there would be a "zero tolerance" of online abuse. The team, which will be set up in the coming months, will identify the location of crimes and allocate them to the appropriate force. They will work with a team of volunteers. The Mayor's Office for Policing And Crime (Mopac) said social media "provides hate crime perpetrators with a veil of anonymity, making it harder to bring them to justice and potentially impacting on a larger number of people".
Power

Will New Battery Technologies Smash The Old Order? (telegraph.co.uk) 254

"The world's next energy revolution is probably no more than five or ten years away," reports The Telegraph. "Cutting-edge research into cheap and clean forms of electricity storage is moving so fast that we may never again need to build 20th Century power plants in this country..." Slashdot reader mdsolar quotes their article: The US Energy Department is funding 75 projects developing electricity storage, mobilizing teams of scientists at Harvard, MIT, Stanford, and the elite Lawrence Livermore and Oak Ridge labs in a bid for what it calls the "Holy Grail" of energy policy. You can track what they are doing at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E). There are plans for hydrogen bromide, or zinc-air batteries, or storage in molten glass, or next-generation flywheels, many claiming "drastic improvements" that can slash storage costs by 80pc to 90pc and reach the magical figure of $100 per kilowatt hour in relatively short order.

"Storage is a huge deal," says Ernest Moniz, the U,S. Energy Secretary and himself a nuclear physicist. He is now confident that the U.S. grid and power system will be completely "decarbonized" by the middle of the century.

One energy consultant predicts the energy storage market will be worth $90 billion in 2025 -- 100 times larger than it is today.
Space

Maybe There's No Life in Space Because We're Too Early 250

Long-time Slashdot reader sehlat shares "a highly accessible summary" of a new theory about why we haven't yet find life on other planets -- that "we're not latecomers, but very, very early." From Lab News: The universe is 13.8 billion years old, with Earth forming less than five billion years ago. One school of thought among scientists is that there is life billions of years older than us in space. But this recent study in the Journal of Cosmology and Astroparticle Physics argues otherwise... "We find that the chance of life grows much higher in the distant future..."

Stars larger than approximately three times the Sun's mass will perish before life has a chance to evolve... The smallest stars weigh less than a tenth as much as the sun and will glow for 10 trillion years, meaning life has lot of time to begin on those planets orbiting them in the 'habitable zone'. The probability of life increases over time so the chance of life is many times higher in the distant future than now.

The paper ultimately concludes that life "is most likely to exist near 0.1 solar-mass stars ten trillion years from now."
Security

A New Wireless Hack Can Unlock Almost Every Volkswagen Sold Since 1995 (arstechnica.com) 115

Volkswagen isn't having the best of times. Tens of millions of vehicles sold by Volkswagen AG over the past 20 years are vulnerable to theft because keyless entry systems can be hacked using cheap technical devices, reports Wired (alternate source). Security experts of the University of Birmingham were able to clone VW remote keyless entry controls by eavesdropping nearby when drivers press their key fobs to open or lock up their cars. ArsTechnica reports: The first affects almost every car Volkswagen has sold since 1995, with only the latest Golf-based models in the clear. Led by Flavio Garcia at the University of Birmingham in the UK, the group of hackers reverse-engineered an undisclosed Volkswagen component to extract a cryptographic key value that is common to many of the company's vehicles. Alone, the value won't do anything, but when combined with the unique value encoded on an individual vehicle's remote key fob -- obtained with a little electronic eavesdropping, say -- you have a functional clone that will lock or unlock that car. VW has apparently acknowledged the vulnerability, and Greenberg (writer at Wired) notes that the company uses a number of different shared values, stored on different components. The second affects many more makes, "including Alfa Romeo, Citroen, Fiat, Ford, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Opel, and Peugeot," according to Greenberg. It exploits a much older cryptographic scheme used in key fobs called HiTag2. Again it requires some eavesdropping to capture a series of codes sent out by a remote key fob. Once a few codes had been gathered, they were able to crack the encryption scheme in under a minute.
Communications

This Is What the World's Spies Used Instead of MSN Messenger (vice.com) 65

An anonymous reader writes: What do spies use to chat online? A terribly ugly Windows programme. At least, that's what the Five Eyes intelligence alliance (made up of the US, UK, Australia, New Zealand and Canada) was using back in 2003, according to a newly released Snowden document. "The Five-Eyes SIGINT [signals intelligence] Directors will soon be using a new tool to enhance their collaboration on subjects ranging from current intelligence objectives to future collection planning," reads an issue of SID Today, the NSA's internal newsletter, dating from September 2003. InfoWorkSpace (IWS), as the tool is called, allowed text chat, audio conferencing, shared screen views, and virtual whiteboards, the newsletter explains. It adds that, at the time, some 4,000 NSA and Five Eyes employees were already using IWS to work on a number of topics, such as international terrorism, real-time collection coordination, and Operation Enduring Freedom, the term given to operations in Afghanistan from 2001 to 2014. The newsletter announcement refers to SIGINT Directors gaining access to the tool. Another Snowden document published by The Intercept notes that senior officials held their first virtual meeting with IWS around December 2003, but that "GCHQ was unable to attend due to a computer failure."
China

China To UK: 'Golden' Ties At Crucial Juncture Over Nuclear Delay (reuters.com) 170

mdsolar quotes a report from Reuters: China has cautioned Britain against closing the door to Chinese money and said relations were at a crucial juncture after Prime Minister Theresa May delayed signing off on a $24 billion nuclear power project. In China's sternest warning to date over May's surprise decision to review the building of Britain's first nuclear plant in decades, Beijing's ambassador to London said that Britain could face power shortages unless May approved the Franco-Chinese deal. "The China-UK relationship is at a crucial historical juncture. Mutual trust should be treasured even more," Liu Xiaoming wrote in the Financial Times. "I hope the UK will keep its door open to China and that the British government will continue to support Hinkley Point -- and come to a decision as soon as possible so that the project can proceed smoothly." The comments signal deep frustration in Beijing at May's move to delay, her most striking corporate intervention since winning power in the political turmoil which followed Britain's June 23 referendum to leave the European Union.
Advertising

Suicide Squad Fan Suing Studio For 'False Advertising' Over Lack of Joker Scenes (independent.co.uk) 260

An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Independent: Reddit user BlackPanther2016 has threatened to begin legal action against Warner Bros and DC Comics later this week, claiming that teasing Joker scenes in trailers that did not make the final film amounts to "unjust false advertising." The disgruntled superhero fan argued in a post on Movies subreddit that he should receive a refund after driving 300 miles to London to watch "specific scenes explicitly advertised in TV ads" only to leave feeling ripped off. He says he will file a lawsuit on August 11, with his "lawyer" brother leading the case. Part of his litigious post reads: "Suicide Squad trailers showcased several specific Joker scenes that I had to pay for the whole movie just so that I can go watch those specific scenes that Warner Bros/DC Comics had advertised in their trailers and TV spots. These scenes are: when Joker banged his head on his car window, when Joker says 'Let me show you my toys,' when Joker punches the roof of his car, when Joker drops a bomb with his face all messed up and says, 'Bye bye!' None of these scenes were in the movie." Last week, Suicide Squad fans petitioned to shut down rotten tomatoes over negative reviews.
Windows

London's Metropolitan Police Still Running 27,000 Windows XP Desktops (thestack.com) 166

An anonymous reader writes: London's Met Police has missed its deadline for abandoning the out-of-date operating system Windows XP, as findings reveal 27,000 computers still run on the software two years after official support ended. Microsoft stopped issuing updates and patches for Windows XP in Spring 2014, meaning that any new bugs and flaws in the operating system are left open to attack. A particularly risky status for the UK capital's police force – itself running operations against hacking and other cybercrime activity. The figures were disclosed by Conservative politician Andrew Boff. The Greater London Assembly member said: 'The Met should have stopped using Windows XP in 2014 when extended support ended, and to hear that 27,000 computers are still using it is worrying.' As in similar cases across civil departments, the core problem is bespoke system development, and the costs and time associated with integrating a new OS with customized systems.
Privacy

Police Scotland Told To Pay Journalist $13,000 Over Illegal Intercepts (theguardian.com) 44

Reader Bruce66423 writes: A former police officer turned journalist whose privacy was criminally breached by Scotland's finest is due to receive 10,000 Pound ($13,000) for the damage their actions caused. Other victims didn't seek compensation. It is not clear whether criminal proceedings against the officers responsible for ignoring clear rules against their behaviour will follow.From the report: The investigatory powers tribunal ruled the force had breached the human rights of Gerard Gallacher, a former police officer turned freelance journalist, who had spent 18 months investigating a cold murder case in which a prime suspect had been released without charge. Gallacher said he suffered "invasion of privacy, familial strife, personal stress and strain and loss of long-standing friendships" after detectives accessed 32 days of his communications data, ignoring clear court rulings to protect journalists and their sources. Police Scotland had been braced for an adverse ruling after Sir Stanley Burnton, the communications interception commissioner, ruled last November that the force had been reckless in its repeated abuse of its powers.
Earth

Being Lazy Is a Sign of High Intelligence, Study Suggests (independent.co.uk) 254

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Independent: Findings from a U.S.-based study seem to support the idea that people with a high IQ get bored less easily, leading them to spend more time engaged in thought. And active people may be more physical as they need to stimulate their minds with external activities, either to escape their thoughts or because they get bored quickly. Researchers from the Florida Gulf Coast University gave a classic test -- dating back three decades -- to a group of students. The 'need for cognition' questionnaire asked participants to rate how strongly they agree with statements such as "I really enjoy a task that involves coming up with new solutions to problems," and "I only think as hard as I have to." The researchers, led by Todd McElroy, then selected 30 'thinkers' and 30 'non-thinkers' from the pool of candidates. Over the next seven days both groups wore a device on their wrist which tracked their movements and activity levels, providing a constant stream of data on how physically active they were. Results showed the thinking group were far less active during the week than the non-thinkers. "Ultimately, an important factor that may help more thoughtful individuals combat their lower average activity levels is awareness," said McElroy, according to The British Psychological Society. "Awareness of their tendency to be less active, coupled with an awareness of the cost associated with inactivity, more thoughtful people may then choose to become more active throughout the day."
Printer

UK Copyright Extension On Designed Objects Is 'Direct Assault' On 3D Printing (arstechnica.com) 187

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: A recent extension of UK copyright for industrially manufactured artistic works represents "a direct assault on the 3D printing revolution," says Pirate Party founder Rick Falkvinge. The UK government last month extended copyright for designs from 25 years to the life of the designer plus 70 years. In practice, this is likely to mean a copyright term of over 100 years for furniture and other designed objects. Writing on the Private Internet Access site, Falkvinge says that the copyright extension will have important consequences for makers in the UK and EU: "This change means that people will be prohibited from using 3D printing and other maker technologies to manufacture such objects, and that for a full century." Falkvinge points out a crucial difference between the previous UK protection for designs, which was based on what are called "design rights" plus a short copyright term, and the situation now, which involves design rights and a much-longer copyright term. With design rights, "you're absolutely and one hundred percent free to make copies of it for your own use with your own tools and materials," Falkvinge writes. "When something is under copyright, you are not. Therefore, this move is a direct assault on the 3D printing revolution." "Moving furniture design from a [design right] to copyright law means that people can and will indeed be prosecuted for manufacturing their own furniture using their own tools," Falkvinge claims.
Security

Hackers Make the First-Ever Ransomware For Smart Thermostats (vice.com) 213

Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, writing for Motherboard: One day, your thermostat will get hacked by some cybercriminal hundreds of miles away who will lock it with malware and demand a ransom to get it back to normal, leaving you literally in the cold until you pay up a few hundred dollars. This has been a scenario that security experts have touted as one of the theoretical dangers of the rise of the Internet of Things, internet-connected devices that are often insecure. On Saturday, what sounds like a Mr. Robot plot line came one step closer to being reality, when two white hat hackers showed off the first-ever ransomware that works against a "smart" device, in this case, a thermostat. Luckily, Andrew Tierney and Ken Munro, the two security researchers who created the ransomware, actually have no ill intention. They just wanted to make a point: some Internet of Things devices fail to take simple security precautions, leaving users in danger. "We don't have any control over our devices, and don't really know what they're doing and how they're doing it," Tierney told Motherboard. "And if they start doing something you don't understand, you don't really have a way of dealing with it." Tierney and Munro, who both work UK-based security firm Pen Test Partners, demonstrated their thermostat ransomware proof-of-concept at the hacking conference Def Con on Saturday, fulfilling the pessimistic predictions of some people in security world.
Networking

Myths Persist About Running Public Wi-Fi in the UK (arstechnica.co.uk) 20

If you're running a Wi-Fi hotspot in the U.K., Ars Technica found most of the available legal advice online was either "ill-informed" or "invented", and "the same wrong advice repeated by multiple sources -- including vendors offering to help clients ensure compliance with the 'rules.'" An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: If you run a public Wi-Fi service, can you be held responsible if someone uses it to infringe copyright, defame someone or commit a crime? Ars Technica examines the situation under English law on intermediary liability, as well as looking at data protection law and obligations (or not) to store traffic data for law enforcement.

According to Ars, much publicised "guidance" for would-be Wi-Fi operators indicates that an operator would be liable, but the legal experts who spoke to Ars are far less convinced.

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