W3C Erects DRM As Web Standard

Slashdot - 25 min 58 sec ago
The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) has formally put forward highly controversial digital rights management as a new web standard. "Dubbed Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), this anti-piracy mechanism was crafted by engineers from Google, Microsoft, and Netflix, and has been in development for some time," reports The Register. "The DRM is supposed to thwart copyright infringement by stopping people from ripping video and other content from encrypted high-quality streams." From the report: The latest draft was published last week and formally put forward as a proposed standard soon after. Under W3C rules, a decision over whether to officially adopt EME will depend on a poll of its members. That survey was sent out yesterday and member organizations, who pay an annual fee that varies from $2,250 for the smallest non-profits to $77,000 for larger corporations, will have until April 19 to register their opinions. If EME gets the consortium's rubber stamp of approval, it will lock down the standard for web browsers and video streamers to implement and roll out. The proposed standard is expected to succeed, especially after web founder and W3C director Sir Tim Berners-Lee personally endorsed the measure, arguing that the standard simply reflects modern realities and would allow for greater interoperability and improve online privacy. But EME still faces considerable opposition. One of its most persistent vocal opponents, Cory Doctorow of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, argues that EME "would give corporations the new right to sue people who engaged in legal activity." He is referring to the most recent controversy where the W3C has tried to strike a balance between legitimate security researchers investigating vulnerabilities in digital rights management software, and hackers trying to circumvent content protection. The W3C notes that the EME specification includes sections on security and privacy, but concedes "the lack of consensus to protect security researchers remains an issue." Its proposed solution remains "establishing best practices for responsible vulnerability disclosure." It also notes that issues of accessibility were ruled to be outside the scope of the EME, although there is an entire webpage dedicated to those issues and finding solutions to them.

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Categories: Science

'Dig Once' Bill Could Bring Fiber Internet To Much of the US

Slashdot - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 11:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: If the U.S. adopts a "dig once" policy, construction workers would install conduits just about any time they build new roads and sidewalks or upgrade existing ones. These conduits are plastic pipes that can house fiber cables. The conduits might be empty when installed, but their presence makes it a lot cheaper and easier to install fiber later, after the road construction is finished. The idea is an old one. U.S. Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-Calif.) has been proposing dig once legislation since 2009, and it has widespread support from broadband-focused consumer advocacy groups. It has never made it all the way through Congress, but it has bipartisan backing from lawmakers who often disagree on the most controversial broadband policy questions, such as net neutrality and municipal broadband. It even got a boost from Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who has frequently clashed with Democrats and consumer advocacy groups over broadband -- her "Internet Freedom Act" would wipe out the Federal Communications Commission's net neutrality rules, and she supports state laws that restrict growth of municipal broadband. Blackburn, chair of the House Communications and Technology Subcommittee, put Eshoo's dig once legislation on the agenda for a hearing she held yesterday on broadband deployment and infrastructure. Blackburn's opening statement (PDF) said that dig once is among the policies she's considering to "facilitate the deployment of communications infrastructure." But her statement did not specifically endorse Eshoo's dig once proposal, which was presented only as a discussion draft with no vote scheduled. The subcommittee also considered a discussion draft that would "creat[e] an inventory of federal assets that can be used to attach or install broadband infrastructure." Dig once legislation received specific support from Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), who said that he is "glad to see Ms. Eshoo's 'Dig Once' bill has made a return this Congress. I think that this is smart policy and will help spur broadband deployment across the country."

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Categories: Science

Hackers Claim Access To 300 Million iCloud Accounts, Demand $75,000 From Apple To Delete the Cache of Data

Slashdot - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 10:40pm
A hacker or group of hackers calling themselves the "Turkish Crime Family" claim they have access to at least 300 million iCloud accounts, and will delete the alleged cache of data if Apple pays a ransom by early next month. Motherboard is reporting that the hackers are demanding "$75,000 in Bitcoin or Ethereum, another increasingly popular crypto-currency, or $100,000 worth of iTunes gift cards in exchange for deleting the alleged cache of data." From the report: The hackers provided screenshots of alleged emails between the group and members of Apple's security team. One also gave Motherboard access to an email account allegedly used to communicate with Apple. "Are you willing to share a sample of the data set?" an unnamed member of Apple's security team wrote to the hackers a week ago, according to one of the emails stored in the account. (According to the email headers, the return-path of the email is to an address with the @apple.com domain). The hackers also uploaded a YouTube video of them allegedly logging into some of the stolen accounts. The hacker appears to access an elderly woman's iCloud account, which includes backed-up photos, and the ability to remotely wipe the device. Now, the hackers are threatening to reset a number of the iCloud accounts and remotely wipe victim's Apple devices on April 7, unless Apple pays the requested amount. According to one of the emails in the accessed account, the hackers claim to have access to over 300 million Apple email accounts, including those use @icloud and @me domains. However, the hackers appear to be inconsistent in their story; one of the hackers then claimed they had 559 million accounts in all. The hackers did not provide Motherboard with any of the supposedly stolen iCloud accounts to verify this claim, except those shown in the video.

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Categories: Science

Don’t Buy the Latest Trump Surveillance Hype

Wired News - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 10:18pm
Rep. Devin Nunes made some unprecedented statements today. But even if they're true, they don't prove what the White House wishes they did. The post Don't Buy the Latest Trump Surveillance Hype appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

GNOME 3.24 Released

Slashdot - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 10:00pm
prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: GNOME 3.24 just finished its six-month development cycle, and it's now the most advanced stable version of the modern and popular desktop environment used by default in numerous GNU/Linux distributions. It was developed since October 2016 under the GNOME 3.23.x umbrella, during which it received numerous improvements. Prominent new features of the GNOME 3.24 desktop environment include a Night Light functionality that promises to automatically shift the colors of your display to the warmer end of the spectrum after sunset, and a brand-new GNOME Control Center with redesigned Users, Keyboard and Mouse, Online Accounts, Bluetooth, and Printer panels. As for the GNOME apps, we can mention that the Nautilus file manager now lets users browse files as root (system administrator), GNOME Photos imitates Darktable's exposure and blacks adjustment tool, GNOME Music comes with ownCloud integration and lets you edit tags, and GNOME Calendar finally brings the Week view. New apps like GNOME Recipes are also part of this release. The full release notes can be viewed here. Softpedia notes in conclusion: "As mentioned before, it will take at least a couple of weeks for the new GNOME 3.24 packages to land on the stable repositories of your favorite distro, which means that you'll most probably be able to upgrade from GNOME 3.22 when the first point release, GNOME 3.24.1, is out on April 12, 2017."

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Categories: Science

The Senate Prepares to Send Internet Privacy Down a Black Hole

Wired News - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 9:32pm
Senators could vote as early as today to not only reverse the Obama-era FCC's action but block the agency from passing similar rules in the future. The post The Senate Prepares to Send Internet Privacy Down a Black Hole appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

DIY robotics kit gives STEM students tools to automate biology and chemistry experiments

Kurzweil AI - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 9:28pm

Bioengineers combined a Lego Mindstorms system (left) with a motorized pipette (center) for dropping fluids, allowing for simple experiments like showing how liquids of different salt densities can be layered. (credit: Riedel-Kruse Lab)

Stanford bioengineers have developed liquid-handling robots to allow students to modify and create their own robotic systems that can transfer precise amounts of fluids between flasks, test tubes, and experimental dishes.

The bioengineers combined a Lego Mindstorms robotics kit with a cheap and easy-to-find plastic syringe to create robots that approach the performance of the far more costly automation systems found at universities and biotech labs.

Step-by-step DIY plans

Children 10–13 years old built and explored the functionality of these robots by performing experiments (credit: Lukas C. Gerber et al./PloS Biology)

The idea is to enable students to learn the basics of robotics and the wet sciences in an integrated way. Students learn STEM skills like mechanical engineering, computer programming, and collaboration while gaining a deeper appreciation of the value of robots in life-sciences experiments.

“We really want kids to learn by doing,” said Ingmar Riedel-Kruse, assistant professor of bioengineering and a member of Stanford Bio-X, who led the team. “We show that with a few relatively inexpensive parts, a little training and some imagination, students can create their own liquid-handling robots and then run experiments on it — so they learn about engineering, coding, and the wet sciences at the same time.”

In an open-access paper in the journal PLoS Biology and on Riedel-Kruse’s lab website, the team offers step-by-step building plans and several fundamental experiments targeted to elementary, middle and high school students. They also offer experiments that students can conduct using common household consumables like food coloring, yeast or sugar.

In one experiment, colored liquids with distinct salt concentrations are layered atop one another to teach about liquid density. Other tests measure whether liquids are acids like vinegar or bases like baking soda, or which sugar concentration is best for yeast.

Funding was provided by grants from the National Science Foundation (Cyberlearning and National Robotics Initiative).


Stanford University School of Engineering | SFENG Robots Riedel Kruse v4

Abstract of Liquid-handling Lego robots and experiments for STEM education and research

Liquid-handling robots have many applications for biotechnology and the life sciences, with increasing impact on everyday life. While playful robotics such as Lego Mindstorms significantly support education initiatives in mechatronics and programming, equivalent connections to the life sciences do not currently exist. To close this gap, we developed Lego-based pipetting robots that reliably handle liquid volumes from 1 ml down to the sub-μl range and that operate on standard laboratory plasticware, such as cuvettes and multiwell plates. These robots can support a range of science and chemistry experiments for education and even research. Using standard, low-cost household consumables, programming pipetting routines, and modifying robot designs, we enabled a rich activity space. We successfully tested these activities in afterschool settings with elementary, middle, and high school students. The simplest robot can be directly built from the widely used Lego Education EV3 core set alone, and this publication includes building and experiment instructions to set the stage for dissemination and further development in education and research.

Categories: Science

17,000 AT&T Workers Go On Strike In California and Nevada

Slashdot - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 9:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Fortune: Approximately 17,000 workers in AT&T's traditional wired telephone business in California and Nevada walked out on strike on Wednesday, marking the most serious labor action against the carrier in years. The walkout -- formally known as a grievance strike -- occurred after AT&T changed the work assignments of some of the technicians and call center employees in the group, the Communications Workers of America union said. The union would not say how long the strike might last. A contract covering the group expired last year and there has been little progress in negotiations over sticking points like the outsourcing of call center jobs overseas, stagnant pay, and rising health care costs. The union said it planned to file an unfair labor charge with the National Labor Relations Board over the work assignment changes. "A walkout is not in anybody's best interest and it's unfortunate that the union chose to do that," an AT&T spokesman told Fortune. "We're engaged in discussion with the union to get these employees back to work as soon as possible."

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Categories: Science

Nintendo Is Repairing Left Joy-Cons With<nobr> <wbr></nobr>... a Piece of Foam?

Slashdot - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 8:40pm
While Nintendo remains silent on the issue of some left Joy-Con controllers becoming desynced from the Switch console, it appears it has a solution for those affected. No, it's not avoidance of aquariums or all other wireless devices; instead, it's apparently as simple as a foam sticker placed in the right spot. From a report: Early reviews and, later, actual retail units of the Nintendo Switch highlighted an apparent hardware flaw in the design of the left Joy-Con controller. In certain scenarios -- like when played some distance from the console using the Joy-Con Grip -- some left Joy-Cons could lose sync and players would find themselves unable to accurately control what's happening on the screen. While a day one console update fixed this issue for some, it's remained for others and Nintendo has done little to assuage would-be consumers that it's solved the issue for good. But, a Joy-Con sent in for repair by CNET's Sean Hollister was returned with one small enhancement a week later and -- lo and behold -- it works. That enhancement: A small piece of conductive foam.

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Categories: Science

Plans For London-Paris Electric Flight in 'Next Decade' Unveiled

Slashdot - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 8:00pm
A start-up has unveiled ambitious plans to offer an electric-powered commercial flight between London and Paris in the next ten years. From a report: Wright Electric believes the proposed low-emission electric plane would offer a cheaper alternative to jet fuel for airlines and consumers. However, the start-up's bid to revolutionize short-haul flights relies on the continued advancement of battery technology. The company, who pitched to investors this week, would be forced to switch to a hybrid of aviation fuel and electricity if the advances in battery technology fail to materialise.

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Categories: Science

Silly YouTube, Don’t You Know Making the Internet Nicer Is Impossible?

Wired News - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 7:59pm
Heavy-handed algorithms aren't the only culprit here—there's plenty of human error too. The post Silly YouTube, Don't You Know Making the Internet Nicer Is Impossible? appeared first on WIRED.
Categories: Science

Heart tissue grown on spinach leaves

Science Daily - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 7:27pm
Researchers face a fundamental challenge as they seek to scale up human tissue regeneration from small lab samples to full-size tissues and organs: how to establish a vascular system that delivers blood deep into the developing tissue. Researchers have now successfully turned to plants, culturing beating human heart cells on spinach leaves that were stripped of plant cells.
Categories: Science

Tracing aromatic molecules in the early Universe

Science Daily - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 7:27pm
A molecule found in car engine exhaust fumes that is thought to have contributed to the origin of life on Earth has made astronomers heavily underestimate the amount of stars that were forming in the early Universe, a study has found. That molecule is called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. On Earth it is also found in coal and tar. In space, it is a component of dust.
Categories: Science

Humans, smartphones may fail frequently to detect face morph photos

Science Daily - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 7:27pm
Both humans and smartphones show a degree of error in distinguishing face morph photos from their 'real' faces on fraudulent identity cards, new research has found.
Categories: Science

Too much structured knowledge hurts creativity, shows study

Science Daily - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 7:27pm
Structure organizes human activities and help us understand the world with less effort, but it can be the killer of creativity, concludes a new study.
Categories: Science

Ebay Asks Users To Downgrade Security

Slashdot - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 7:20pm
Ebay has started to inform customers who use a hardware key fob when logging into the site to switch to receiving a one-time code sent via text message. The move from the company, which at one time was well ahead of most e-commerce companies in providing more robust online authentication options, is "a downgrade to a less-secure option," say security reporter Brian Kerbs. He writes: In early 2007, PayPal (then part of the same company as Ebay) began offering its hardware token for a one-time $5 fee, and at the time the company was among very few that were pushing this second-factor (something you have) in addition to passwords for user authentication. I've still got the same hardware token I ordered when writing about that offering, and it's been working well for the past decade. Now, Ebay is asking me to switch from the key fob to text messages, the latter being a form of authentication that security experts say is less secure than other forms of two-factor authentication (2FA). The move by Ebay comes just months after the National Institute for Standards and Technology (NIST) released a draft of new authentication guidelines that appear to be phasing out the use of SMS-based two-factor authentication.

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Categories: Science

'Extreme and Unusual' Climate Trends Continue After Record 2016

Slashdot - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 6:40pm
From a report on BBC: In the atmosphere, the seas and around the poles, climate change is reaching disturbing new levels across the Earth. That's according to a detailed global analysis from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). It says that 2016 was not only the warmest year on record, but it saw atmospheric CO2 rise to a new high, while Arctic sea ice recorded a new winter low. The "extreme and unusual" conditions have continued in 2017, it says. Reports earlier this year from major scientific bodies - including the UK's Met Office, Nasa and NOAA -- indicated that 2016 was the warmest year on record. The WMO's State of the Global Climate 2016 report builds on this research with information from 80 national weather services to provide a deeper and more complete picture of the year's climate data.

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Categories: Science

Optical tool monitors brain's circulatory response to pain

Science Daily - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 6:32pm
A new report demonstrates that an optical imaging tool used to monitor regional blood flow and tissue oxygenation may be used to track the brain's response to acute pain in infants, children, and adults.
Categories: Science

'Spectacular-looking' endangered frog species discovered in Ecuador's cloud forests

Science Daily - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 6:32pm
It's not every day someone gets to say, 'I've discovered a new species.' It's a claim that biologist Chris Funk can happily make. Funk and collaborators, who've spent years exploring the tropical climes of South America to study the region's dizzying biodiversity, have documented a new species of rainfrog they've named the Ecuadorian rainfrog (Pristimantis ecuadorensis).
Categories: Science

Brain 'rewires' itself to enhance other senses in blind people

Science Daily - Wed, 22/03/2017 - 6:32pm
The brains of those who are born blind make new connections in the absence of visual information, resulting in enhanced, compensatory abilities such as a heightened sense of hearing, smell and touch, as well as cognitive functions (such as memory and language) according to a new study.
Categories: Science