2016-10-28T16:05:00+00:00In what is seen as a move that could help boost the spread of Bitcoin, the cryptocurrency will be available to purchase from Swiss railway ticket machines starting next month. Reader Mickeycaskill writes: Swiss Federal Railways (SBB) has more than 1,000 ticket machines and has partnered with regulated financial intermediary SweePay to distribute Bitcoin. Customers need to select mobile top up on the machines, scan the QR code on their Bitcoin digital wallet and enter the number of Swiss Francs, up to 500 CHF, in to the machine, confirm the offer of Bitcoins they receive then identify themselves using a mobile number and a security code sent to their smartphone. While the machine can pay out Bitcoin, for the time being, it will not accept payments made with the cryptocurrency. Furthermore, credit card cannot be used with the machines to buy Bitcoins, SBB is effectively providing a way to swap local currency for a digital version that can be used anywhere around the world, thereby bypassing unfavourable exchange rates"From 11 November 2016, customers will be able to obtain Bitcoin at all SBB ticket machines. Until now, there have only been limited opportunities to purchase Bitcoin in Switzerland," the company was quoted as saying.
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2016-10-28T15:25:00+00:00An anonymous reader shares an Engadget report: Researchers from the Google Brain deep learning project have already taught AI systems to make trippy works of art, but now they're moving on to something potentially darker: AI-generated, human-independent encryption. According to a new research paper, Googlers MartÃn Abadi and David G. Andersen have willingly allowed three test subjects -- neural networks named Alice, Bob and Eve -- to pass each other notes using an encryption method they created themselves. As the New Scientist reports, Abadi and Andersen assigned each AI a task: Alice had to send a secret message that only Bob could read, while Eve would try to figure out how to eavesdrop and decode the message herself. The experiment started with a plain-text message that Alice converted into unreadable gibberish, which Bob could decode using cipher key. At first, Alice and Bob were apparently bad at hiding their secrets, but over the course of 15,000 attempts Alice worked out her own encryption strategy and Bob simultaneously figured out how to decrypt it. The message was only 16 bits long, with each bit being a 1 or a 0, so the fact that Eve was only able to guess half of the bits in the message means she was basically just flipping a coin or guessing at random.ArsTechnica has more details.
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2016-10-28T14:45:00+00:00An anonymous reader writes: The city legislature of Seoul, South Korea, is considering implementing a law that would ban after work messaging to employees, in an effort to reduce work-related stress among employees. Members of the Seoul Metropolitan Council proposed a revision to a public ordinance that would ban after-work messaging to employees of the city's government. The new rule is an attempt to guarantee employees the right to restand states that employee privacy must not be subject to employer contact outside of work hours. If passed, it would ban managers from contacting public sector employees after work hours through phone calls, text messaging, or social networking. Kim Kwang-soo, one of the councilors who submitted the ordinance revision, said that the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) must guarantee the rights of city workers by protecting them from undue stress. He said, "Of course SMG officials must always be prepared for the needs of citizens, but many of them are working under conditions that infringe on their right to rest."
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2016-10-28T14:00:00+00:00The personal data of 550,000 blood donors that includes information about "at-risk sexual behaviour" has been leaked from the Red Cross Blood Service in what has been described as Australia's largest security breach. From an ABC report:The organisation said it was told on Wednesday that a file containing donor information was placed on an "insecure computer environment" and "accessed by an unauthorised person." The file contained the information of blood donors from between 2010 and 2016. The data came from an online application form and included "personal details" and identifying information including names, gender, addresses and dates of birth, a Red Cross statement said. Red Cross Blood Service chief executive Shelly Park said "due to human error" the unsecured data had been posted on a website by a contractor who maintains and develops the Red Cross website.
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2016-10-28T13:00:00+00:00An anonymous reader quotes a report from CNET: Earlier on Thursday Twitter announced it was ending Vine's short run, and the adult site was quick to come to the rescue -- maybe. In a letter from Pornhub VP Corey Price to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey that was shared with CNET, Price lays out the rationale: "We figure since Twitter has dropped (Vine) and is having significant layoffs, that you and your stakeholders could benefit from a cash infusion from the sale of Vine. Not to mention we would be saving Vine gems like 'Damn Daniel,' 'Awkward Puppets' and many more." Pornhub also promises to "restore Vine to Its NSFW glory," saying that clips "of porn in six seconds is more than enough time for most people to enjoy themselves." Unless pointing out a company's recent hardships in a letter and sharing it with a reporter is the latest Silicon Valley negotiating tactic, it seems pretty clear that the offer is a tongue-in-cheek jab at Twitter and its decision to shutter the video looping platform that has caused so much joy and often humiliation. But who knows, maybe Twitter will be willing to deal with Pornhub.
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2016-10-28T10:00:00+00:00sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: A decade ago, a fossil hunter was combing the beach in southeastern England when he found a strange, brown pebble. The surface of it caught his eye: It was smooth and strangely undulating, and also slightly crinkly in some places. That oddly textured pebble, scientists report today, is actually an endocast -- an impression preserved in the rock -- that represents the first known evidence of fossilized brain tissue of a dinosaur (likely a close relative of Iguanodon, a large, herbivorous type of dinosaur that lived about 133 million years ago). Human brains and bird brains are packed tightly into the brain case, so that their convolutions leave an impression of the inside of the case. But dinosaur (and reptile) brains are more loosely fitted; they are surrounded within the brain case by membranes called meninges, tough sheaths that protect and support the brain. So an endocast of a dinosaur brain might be expected to show those structures -- and it did. But beneath them, remineralized in calcium phosphate, the researchers also spied a pattern of tiny capillaries and other cortical tissues -- the sort of fabric you'd expect for the cortex of a brain. That those textures were pressed up against the brain case doesn't necessarily mean that dinosaurs were bigger-brained and smarter than we thought, however: Instead, the dinosaur had likely simply toppled over and been preserved upside down, its brain tissue preserved by surrounding acidic, low-oxygen waters that pickled and hardened the membranes and tissues, providing a template for mineralization. The structure of the brain, studied with scanning electron microscopes, reveal similarities to both birds and crocodiles. The researchers reported their findings in a Special Publication of the Geological Society of London.
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2016-10-28T07:00:00+00:00It looks like we're going to have to wait even longer for CBS's upcoming Star Trek Discovery series, as the production's showrunner, Bryan Fuller, is stepping back. He will however still remain the show's executive producer. Variety reports: The decision was made late last week to hand the day-to-day showrunning reins to "Star Trek" exec producers Gretchen Berg and Aaron Harberts as "Discovery" gears up for the start of filming next month and a May 2017 premiere date. Fuller, who will remain an executive producer, will still be involved in breaking stories, and the show will continue to follow his vision for the universe that this latest "Trek" series will inhabit. Writer-director Akiva Goldsman is also expected to join "Discovery" in a top creative role. He's envisioned as serving as producing support for Berg and Harberts, Fuller and exec producer Alex Kurtzman as they juggle the demands of the series that CBS is counting on to be the marquee selling point for subscriptions to its CBS All Access SVOD service. Sources said there had been some strain between "Star Trek" producer CBS Television Studios and Fuller over the progress of production on the show, as Fuller is also juggling the final weeks of shooting and post-production duties on Starz's upcoming drama "American Gods" and prepping a reboot of "Amazing Stories" for NBC. Fuller has penned the first two scripts for "Discovery" and has hammered out the broader story arc and mythology for the new "Trek" realm. But it became clear that he couldn't devote the amount of time needed for "Discovery" to make its premiere date and with production scheduled to start in Toronto next month.
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2016-10-28T03:30:00+00:00An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Southern Spain will be reduced to desert by the end of the century if the current rate of greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked, researchers have warned. Anything less than extremely ambitious and politically unlikely carbon emissions cuts will see ecosystems in the Mediterranean change to a state unprecedented in the past 10 millennia, they said. The study, published in the journal Science, modeled what would happen to vegetation in the Mediterranean basin under four different paths of future carbon emissions, from a business-as-usual scenario at the worst end to keeping temperature rises below the Paris climate deal target of 1.5C at the other. Temperatures would rise nearly 5C globally under the worst case scenario by 2100, causing deserts to expand northwards across southern Spain and Sicily, and Mediterranean vegetation to replace deciduous forests. Even if emissions are held to the level of pledges put forward ahead of the Paris deal, southern Europe would experience a "substantial" expansion of deserts. The level of change would be beyond anything the region's ecosystems had experienced during the holocene, the geological epoch that started more than 10,000 years ago. The real impact on Mediterranean ecosystems, which are considered a hotspot of biodiversity, could be worse because the study did not look at other human impacts, such as forests being turned over to grow food. The researchers fed a model with 10,000 years of pollen records to build a picture of vegetation in the region, and used that to infer previous temperatures in the Mediterranean. They then ran the model to see what would happen to the vegetation in the future, using four different scenarios of warming, three of them taken from the UN's climate science panel, the IPCC. Only the most stringent cut in emissions -- which is roughly equivalent to meeting the Paris aspiration of holding warming to 1.5C -- would see ecosystems remain within the limits they experienced in the Holocene.
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2016-10-28T01:40:00+00:00BUL2294 writes: Following the arrests earlier this month in India of call center employees posing as IRS or immigration agents, USA Today and Consumerist are reporting that the U.S. Department of Justice has charged 61 people in the U.S. and India of facilitating the scam, bilking millions from Americans thinking they were facing immediate arrest and prosecution. "According to the indictment (PDF) -- which covers 20 individuals in the U.S. and 32 people and five call centers in India -- since about 2012 the defendants used information obtained from data brokers and other sources to call potential victims impersonating officers from the IRS or U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services," reports Consumerist. The report adds: "To give the calls an air of authenticity, the organization was able to 'spoof' phone numbers, making the calls appear to have really come from a federal agency. The callers would then allegedly threaten potential victims with arrest, imprisonment, fines, or deportation if they did not pay supposed taxes or penalties to the government. In instances when the victims agreed to pay, the DOJ claims that the call centers would instruct them to go to banks or ATMs to withdraw money, use the funds to purchase prepaid stored value cards from retail stores, and then provide the unique serial number to the caller. At this point, the operations U.S.-based counterparts would use the serial numbers to transfer the funds to prepaid reloadable cards. The cards would then be used to purchase money orders that were transferred into U.S. bank accounts of individuals or businesses. To make matters worse, the indictment claims that the prepaid debit cards were often registered using personal information of thousands of identity theft victims, and the wire transfers were directed by the organizations using fake names and fraudulent identifications. The operation would then use 'hawalas' -- a system in which money is transferred internationally outside of the formal banking system -- to direct the pilfered funds to accounts belonging to U.S.-based individuals.
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2016-10-28T01:00:00+00:00An anonymous reader quotes a report from Network World: As Phil Schiller explained during today's event, Apple's new MacBook Pros feature four Thunderbolt 3 USB Type-C ports, and conveniently, each of these can be used to charge the machine. Now, USB-C is incredibly versatile, and Apple will use the advanced port for power charging, HDMI and much more. However, with USB-C the only game in town, you might reasonably be wondering: How in the world do I connect my iPhone to my sleek new MacBook Pro? The frustrating answer is that you won't be able to do so out of the box. Instead, you'll have to buy a dongle. This is especially frustrating because many people use their notebooks for a) charging purposes when an outlet isn't necessarily handy and b) for transferring photos and other data. Now, you might reasonably state that you can just rely upon the cloud for items like data transfer, but there's no getting around the fact that Apple's efforts in the cloud still leave much to be desired. How much will it cost to connect your iPhone to your brand new MacBook Pro? Well, Apple sells a USB-C to Lightning cable on its website for $25. While this is undoubtedly frustrating, we can't say that it's entirely unexpected given Apple gave us a preview of its preference for USB-C when it released its 12-in. MacBook last year. Still, it's a funky design choice for a decidedly Pro-oriented device where the last thing a prospective consumer would want to do is spend some extra cash for a dongle after spending upwards of $2,399. Lastly, while we're on the topic of ports, it's worth noting that the new MacBook Pros also do away with the beloved MagSafe connector.
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2016-10-28T00:20:00+00:00You have have the right to vote, but should you have the right to take a selfie at a ballot? According to ABC News, a federal lawsuit is challenging a New York state law that makes it a misdemeanor to show a marked election ballot to others: The lawsuit filed late Wednesday in Manhattan federal court seeks to have the law banning so-called "ballot selfies" declared unconstitutional. The lawsuit says publishing a voted ballot on social media can be a powerful form of political expression. It says that someone claiming they voted without photographic proof reduces the credibility of the individual. Attorney Leo Glickman, who filed the suit on behalf of three voters, says the lawsuit is consistent with claims made in Michigan, Indiana and New Hampshire, where similar laws have been struck down. In a separate report, Mother Jones' Kevin Drum explained the reasoning behind why a law against "ballot selfies" would exist in the first place: Just for the record, then, there is a reason for selfie bans in voting booths: it prevents vote buying. After all, the only way it makes sense to pay people for their votes is if you have proof that they voted the way you told them to. Back in the day that was no problem, but ever since secret ballots became the norm vote buying has died out. Selfies change all that. If I give you ten bucks to vote for my favorite candidate for mayor, I can withhold payment until you show me a selfie proving that you voted for my guy.
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2016-10-27T23:40:00+00:00An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The massive Oracle v. Google litigation has entered a new phase, as Oracle filed papers (PDF) yesterday saying it will appeal its loss on "fair use" grounds to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. For a brief recap of the case: after Oracle purchased Sun Microsystems and acquired the rights to Java, it sued Google in 2010, saying that Google infringed copyrights and patents related to Java. The case went to trial in 2012. Oracle initially lost but had part of its case revived on appeal. The sole issue in the second trial was whether Google infringed the APIs in Java, which the appeals court held are copyrighted. In May, a jury found in Google's favor after a second trial, stating that Google's use of the APIs was protected by "fair use." Oracle's appeal is no surprise, but it will be a long shot. The four-factor "fair use" test is a fairly subjective one, and Oracle lawyers will have to argue that the jury's unanimous finding must be overturned. There are various ways a jury could arrive at the conclusion that Google was protected by fair use. The case will go back to the Federal Circuit, the same appeals court that decided APIs could be copyrighted in the first place. That decision overruled U.S. District Judge William Alsup, the lower court judge, and was extremely controversial in the developer community. However, the same decision that insisted APIs can be copyrighted clearly held the door open to the idea that "fair use" might apply. Unless Oracle pulls off a stunning move on appeal, its massive legal expenditures in this case will be for naught.
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2016-10-27T23:00:00+00:00At a media event on Thursday, Apple CEO Tim Cook said that the Touch ID on the new MacBook Pros will make it incredibly easy for people to do online money transactions. After the event, speaking to reporters Cook made a bold statement about how he sees Apple Pay. CNET reports: "We're going to kill cash," he said. "Nobody likes to carry around cash." He makes most of his purchases with Apple Pay (which is not surprising).Cook's comment comes days after Australia's top banks refused to support Apple Pay, saying that the company has been 'intransigent, closed and controlling'.
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2016-10-27T22:20:00+00:00An anonymous reader writes: Jason Koebler via Motherboard has interviewed James Busch -- a radiologist and owner of "the first 10 Gbps residential connection in the United States" -- at a coffee shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Motherboard reports: "For reference, the Federal Communications Commission officially classifies 'broadband' as 25 Mbps. His connection is 400 times faster than that. Busch found a way to make good use of his 1 Gbps connection, and now he's found a use for 10 Gbps, too. 'An X-ray averages around 200 megabytes, then you have PET scans and mammograms -- 3D mammograms are 10 gig files, so they're enormous,' Busch said. 'We go through terabytes a year in storage. We've calculated out that we save about 7 seconds an exam, which might seem like, 'Who cares,' but when you read 20,000 or 30,000 exams every year, it turns out to be something like 10 days of productivity you're saving just from a bandwidth upgrade.' While 10 gig connections sound excessive at the moment, Busch says his family quickly started using all of its 1 gig bandwidth. 'We ballooned into that gig within eight or nine months. With my kids watching Netflix instead of TV, with me working, we did utilize that bandwidth,' he said. 'There were situations where my daughter would be FaceTiming and the others would be streaming on the 4K TVs and they'd start screaming at each other about hogging the bandwidth. We don't see that at 10 gigs.' So why does Busch have a 10 Gbps and the rest of us don't? For one, 10 Gbps offerings are rare and scattered in mostly rural communities that have decided to build their own internet networks. Most companies that have the technology offer gigabit connections (a still cutting-edge technology only available in a handful of cities) at affordable prices and 10 Gbps connections at comparatively exorbitant ones. In Chattanooga, 1 gig connections are $69.99 per month; 10 gig connections are $299. Thus far, 10 Gbps connections are available in Chattanooga; parts of southern Vermont; Salisbury, North Carolina; and parts of Detroit and Minneapolis. But besides Busch, I couldn't find any other people in the United States who have signed up for one. EPB, the Chattanooga government-owned power utility that runs the network, confirmed that Busch is the city's only 10 Gbps residential customer. Rocket Fiber, which recently began offering 10 Gbps in Detroit, told me that it has 'no customers set in stone,' but that it's in talks with prospective ones. Representatives for U.S. Internet in Minneapolis and Fibrant in Salisbury did not respond to my requests for comment. Michel Guite, president of the Vermont Telephone Company, told me his network has no 10 Gbps customers, either." Read more of this story at Slashdot. src="https://slashdot.org/slashdot-it.pl?op=discuss&id=9823061&smallembed=1" style="height: 300px; width: 100%; border: none;">[...]
2016-10-27T21:40:00+00:00Even though the Apple TV news was considered "boring" by many livestream viewers waiting to catch a glimpse of the new MacBook Pros, there were several big announcements worth mentioning. For starters, Apple announced a new app called "TV" that will "allow you to track your favorite shows and movies across the video apps across the Apple TV platform." What this app essentially does is showcase the content from video providers into a single view, making it easier for Apple TV owners to find content to watch. Apple TV owners will no longer need to search through a bunch of different apps to find the content they like. TechCrunch reports: When launched, the app will display a "Watch Now" section, where you can track the shows and movies you're currently watching. Here, you'll see things like how many minutes you have left on the movie or which season and episode you're on in a series, for example. It will also alert you to new episodes from your favorite shows. From here, you can go into "Up Next" and "Recommended" sections, in order to find new things to watch from across favorite shows, movies, as well as iTunes purchases and rentals. In the "Recommended" section, content is organized into different groups, like trending shows and movies. And similar to iTunes, the TV app features curated "Collections," which are thematic groupings of content, like political shows or thrillers, for instance. Other sections in the TV app, "Library" and "Store," will point you to your prior iTunes purchases, including rentals, or let you browse for more movies and shows to buy. You can also use Siri with the new app, and the assistant is smart enough to know which app to launch to watch the program you ask about. For instance, if you want to watch the game, you just ask to watch the game -- you don't need to know which app is streaming it. You can also say things like "which games are on right now?" or "watch CBS News," without having to navigate to the app directly. This feature, called Siri Live Tune-In, is available today. In addition, while the app is primarily meant to address the challenges of watching across apps on Apple TV, the new TV app will also arrive on iPhone and iPad this December, the company says. Along with the new TV guide app, Apple is rolling out support for Single Sign-On, which was announced at WWDC 2016 as a tvOS feature. This lets you enter your username and password for your pay TV subscription only once, instead of in each video streaming app that requires authentication. Read more of this story at Slashdot. src="https://slashdot.org/slashdot-it.pl?op=discuss&id=9823027&smallembed=1" style="height: 300px; width: 100%; border: none;">[...]