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Was Venezuela's 5-Day Blackout Caused By Cyberattacks -- or Wildfires?

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 22:34
What caused a devastating five-day blackout in Venezuela? Two engineers with expertise in geospatial technologies believe the answer lies in images from a NASA weather satellite showing thermal activity, which they superimposed onto Google Earth, the AP reports: Within hours of the attack, the government of embattled President Nicolas Maduro began accusing the U.S. of a cyberattack. Maduro has stuck to that narrative, saying hackers in the U.S. first shut down the Guri Dam and then delivered several "electromagnetic" blows. Engineers have questioned that assertion, contending that the Guri Dam's operating system is on a closed network with no internet connection. Several consulted by The Associated Press speculated that a more likely cause was a fire along one of the electrical grid's powerful 765-kilovolt lines that connect the dam to much of Venezuela. The transmission lines traverse through some of Venezuela's most remote and difficult to access regions on their way toward Caracas, making it difficult to obtain any first-hand information that could back up or pinpoint the location of a fire. Working with an expert at Texas Tech University's Geospatial Technologies Laboratory, Jose Aguilar, an expert on Venezuela's electrical grid, said satellite data indicates that on the day of the blackout there were three fires in close proximity to the 765-kilovolt lines transmitting power generated from the Guri Dam, which provides about 80 percent of Venezuela's electricity... Engineers have warned for years that Venezuela's state-run electricity corporation was failing to properly maintain power lines, letting brush that can catch fire during Venezuela's hot, dry months grow near and up the towering structures.

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Chicago To Shutdown Composting Business Because Regulations Don't Cover Worms

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 21:34
schwit1 shared an article from Reason's "Volokh Conspiracy" blog: Nature's Little Recyclers is a father-son business that does composting on empty residential lots, transforming organic waste into nutrient-rich soil. Last year, the business's worms processed 10 tons of banana peels and cups from the Chicago Marathon that would otherwise have gone to a landfill. But Chicago officials are going to shut the business down -- and not because the city doesn't think composting is a good thing (the city's sustainability website directs people to Nature's Little Recyclers). Rather, the city's business and zoning regulations weren't designed to accommodate small and innovative operations like Nature's Little Recyclers. "None of these operations met the criteria for garden composting or an on-site organic waste composting operation," said Anel Ruiz, spokesperson for the Department of Public Health, in a statement to Block Club Chicago, adding "Further, these sites are not properly zoned for commercial composting." But another perspective was shared by lawyer Amy Hermalik, associate director of the Institute for Justice Clinic on Entrepreneurship at the University of Chicago. "The city will unofficially imply there's wiggle room, saying it only enforces certain ordinances against 'bad operators,' but that leaves businesses subject to shifting political winds or personal whims, Hermalik said. 'They [the city] have an incredible amount of power to do as they please.'"

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VR Company Co-Founder Spends an Entire Week in a VR Headset

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 20:34
An anonymous reader quotes PC Gamer: Not too long into a 168-hour VR marathon session, Jak Wilmot admits the monotony got to him. Wilmot, who is the co-founder of Disrupt VR, also says this experiment is "quite possibly the dumbest thing" he's ever done. So, why do it? For science, of course. I can't imagine immersing myself in a virtual world for a full week, nonstop night and day. Wilmot did it, though, for the most part -- he allowed himself 30 seconds to switch VR headsets when needed, and 30 seconds without a headset on to eat, if required. Other than those small breaks, he spent every other moment in VR... There doesn't seem to be some big takeaway from this experiment (aside from, perhaps, don't drink coffee while playing VR), though one thing I also found interesting was his integration back into the real world when the experiment was over. "I have never appreciated the smell of outside air so much. One thing we cannot replicate is nature. We can do it visually and auditorally, but there is something about the energy of outside that is amazing," Wilmot observed. PC Gamer calls it "probably at least partially a publicity stunt. But it's still interesting to see how donning a VR headset for an extended period of time and essentially living in virtual worlds can mess with the mind." Wilmot wore VR gear while working -- and even while showering (with the VR gear protected by plastic), blacking out his windows so he couldn't tell day from night, calling it "a week in the future..." "I almost feel like I'm in my own 500-suare-foot spaceship," he says at one point, "and I'm really missing earth, and I'm missing nature." Early on he also reported some mild claustrophobia. You can watch the moment where after seven days he removes the headset and returns to conventional reality, joking "Oh my gosh, the graphics are so good." He reports a slight disorientation as his eyes catch up with real ilfe, and says it changed his perspective on people in the real world, seeing them as "individuals in one collection, one environment -- as avatars."

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Las Vegas Approves The Boring Company's Underground Loop

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 19:34
The Boring Company's tunnel project in Chicago is "in doubt" (according to the Chicago Tribune), while a project connecting Washington to Baltimore "is waylaid in the environmental-review process." But it looks like Las Vegas will officially get a tunnel from Elon Musk, CNET reports, "perhaps within this year." The billionaire's Boring Company on Tuesday got the approval from the 14-member board of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA) to build and operate an underground loop that would carry people in autonomous electric vehicles at the city's convention center. Musk has responded to the approval in a tweet, saying he'll make the tunnel "operational by end of year," even though the convention center's expansion won't be done until 2021, according to LVCVA's release... A LVCVA spokeswoman said in an email that the underground loop will be ready in 2021 if the contract with the Boring company is approved at LVCVA's board meeting on June 11. The Las Vegas Sun has more details, pointing out that travellers would be carried in electric vehicles moving through two parallel tunnels, one running in each direction. And that fleet of electric vehicles "could include Tesla's Model X and Model 3 and a vehicle with capacity for about 16 people â" all manufactured by Musk. All the vehicles would be fully autonomous, meaning they won't have backup drivers, and would move at speeds of up to 50 mph." The mayor of Las Vegas, also a member of the board, actually voted against the tunnel, calling the Boring Company "exploratory at this time" and warning that "we are considering handing over the reins of our most important industry."

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Is Amazon's AWS Approaching 'War' for Control of Elasticsearch?

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 18:34
Long-time Slashdot reader jasenj1 and Striek both shared news of a growing open source controversy. "Amazon Web Services on Monday announced that it's partnering with Netflix and Expedia to champion a new Open Distro for Elasticsearch due to concerns of proprietary code being mixed into the open source Elasticsearch project," reports Datanami. "Elastic, the company behind Elasticsearch, responded by accusing Amazon of copying code, inserting bugs into the community code, and engaging with the company under false pretenses..." In a blog post, Adrian Cockcroft, the vice president of cloud architecture strategy for AWS, says the new project is a "value added" distribution that's 100% open source, and that developers working on it will contribute any improvements or fixes back to the upstream Elasticsearch project. "The new advanced features of Open Distro for Elasticsearch are all Apache 2.0 licensed," Cockroft writes. "With the first release, our goal is to address many critical features missing from open source Elasticsearch, such as security, event monitoring and alerting, and SQL support...." Cockroft says there's no clear documentation in the Elasticsearch release notes over what's open source and what's proprietary. "Enterprise developers may inadvertently apply a fix or enhancement to the proprietary source code," he wrote. "This is hard to track and govern, could lead to breach of license, and could lead to immediate termination of rights (for both proprietary free and paid)." Elastic CEO Shay Banon responded Tuesday to AWS in a blog post, in which he leveled a variety of accusations at the cloud giant. "Our products were forked, redistributed and rebundled so many times I lost count," Banon wrote. "There was always a 'reason' [for the forks, redistributions, and rebundling], at times masked with fake altruism or benevolence. None of these have lasted. They were built to serve their own needs, drive confusion, and splinter the community." Elastic's commercial code may have provided an "inspiration" for others to follow, Banon wrote, but that inspiration didn't necessarily make for clean code. "It has been bluntly copied by various companies and even found its way back to certain distributions or forks, like the freshly minted Amazon one, sadly, painfully, with critical bugs," he wrote.

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3-5 Degree Rise in Arctic Temperatures Called 'Inevitable'

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 17:34
An anonymous reader quotes the Guardian: Sharp and potentially devastating temperature rises of 3C to 5C in the Arctic are now inevitable even if the world succeeds in cutting greenhouse gas emissions in line with the Paris agreement, research has found. Winter temperatures at the north pole are likely to rise by at least 3C above pre-industrial levels by mid-century, and there could be further rises to between 5C and 9C above the recent average for the region, according to the UN. Such changes would result in rapidly melting ice and permafrost, leading to sea level rises and potentially to even more destructive levels of warming. Scientists fear Arctic heating could trigger a climate "tipping point" as melting permafrost releases the powerful greenhouse gas methane into the atmosphere, which in turn could create a runaway warming effect. "What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic," said Joyce Msuya, the acting executive director of UN Environment... Even if all carbon emissions were to be halted immediately, the Arctic region would still warm by more than 5C by the century's end, compared with the baseline average from 1986 to 2005, according to the study from UN Environment. That is because so much carbon has already been poured into the atmosphere. The oceans also have become vast stores of heat, the effect of which is being gradually revealed by changes at the poles and on global weather systems, and will continue to be felt for decades to come. The findings were presented at the UN Environment assembly Wednesday, where a report written by 250 scientists and experts from over 70 countries also warned that "damage to the planet is so dire that people's health will be increasingly threatened unless urgent action is taken."

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Linux Foundation Launches New Tools Supporting The Open Source Community

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 16:34
"The Linux Foundation is launching a new platform designed to sustain open-source communities," reports SD Times: CommunityBridge was announced at this week's Open Source Leadership Summit. The Linux Foundation plans to launch a number of tools to the open-source community throughout the next two years. The platform is currently being released with Community Bridge Funding to help developers raise and spend funding; CommunityBridge Security for potential vulnerabilities and fixes; and CommunityBridge People for networking and making connections with mentors and mentees. "In making the announcement, Jim Zemlin, executive director of the Linux Foundation, said on stage at the conference that the Linux Foundation would match funding for any organization that donated funds to CommunityBridge projects," reports FierceTelecom. "Following up on those announcements, Microsoft-owned GitHub said it would donate $100,000 to CommunityBridge and invited maintainers of CommunityBridge projects to take part in GitHub's maintainer program."

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Is Believing In Meritocracy Bad For You?

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 15:34
An anonymous reader quotes Fast Company: Although widely held, the belief that merit rather than luck determines success or failure in the world is demonstrably false. This is not least because merit itself is, in large part, the result of luck. Talent and the capacity for determined effort, sometimes called "grit," depend a great deal on one's genetic endowments and upbringing. This is to say nothing of the fortuitous circumstances that figure into every success story. In his book Success and Luck, the U.S. economist Robert Frank recounts the long-shots and coincidences that led to Bill Gates's stellar rise as Microsoft's founder, as well as to Frank's own success as an academic. Luck intervenes by granting people merit, and again by furnishing circumstances in which merit can translate into success. This is not to deny the industry and talent of successful people. However, it does demonstrate that the link between merit and outcome is tenuous and indirect at best. According to Frank, this is especially true where the success in question is great, and where the context in which it is achieved is competitive. There are certainly programmers nearly as skilful as Gates who nonetheless failed to become the richest person on Earth. In competitive contexts, many have merit, but few succeed. What separates the two is luck. In addition to being false, a growing body of research in psychology and neuroscience suggests that believing in meritocracy makes people more selfish, less self-critical, and even more prone to acting in discriminatory ways. The article cites a pair of researchers who "found that, ironically, attempts to implement meritocracy leads to just the kinds of inequalities that it aims to eliminate. "They suggest that this 'paradox of meritocracy' occurs because explicitly adopting meritocracy as a value convinces subjects of their own moral bona fides."

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Stanford Unveils New AI Institute, Built To Create 'A Better Future For All Humanity'

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 14:00
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Mercury News: Amid a worldwide race for supremacy in artificial intelligence, Stanford University on Monday will unveil a new institute dedicated to using AI to build the best-possible future (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source). The Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence is co-directed by Fei-Fei Li, a former chief scientist for AI at Google, now a Stanford computer science professor. The institute will take advantage of Stanford's strength in a variety of disciplines, including AI, computer science, engineering, robotics, business, economics, genomics, law, literature, medicine, neuroscience and philosophy, according to promotional materials. Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is scheduled to deliver the keynote speech at Monday's official launch. Stanford's AI institute will work in partnership with a number of other university facilities and initiatives, including the Center on AI Safety, the Center for Ethics in Society, the Center for International Security and Cooperation, and the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research, plus AI4ALL, which aims to boost diversity in AI fields. The 78 faculty members assigned to the institute reflect the diversity of fields the university intends to cover in its research and teaching, coming from disciplines including computer science, medicine, law, business, economics, environmental science, linguistics, political science and philosophy. Although the institute highlights the importance of AI being "broadly representative of humanity" across gender, ethnicity, nationality, culture and age, its faculty also reflect the gender gap in technology -- only 18 percent are women. About three quarters of the faculty are white. Courses will include "The Politics of Algorithms," "Theoretical Neuroscience," "AI-assisted Health Care" and "Regulating Artificial Intelligence."

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Facebook's WhatsApp Explores Using Google To Fight Misinformation

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 13:00
An anonymous reader shares a report: WhatsApp is working on a major new feature to tackle the spread of misinformation on its service. The Facebook-owned chat app is internally testing a new option that would allow a user to quickly verify the legitimacy of images they have received on WhatsApp by checking if those images had ever appeared on the web before. [...] The unnamed feature relies on Google's reverse image search function to let WhatsApp users upload an image and find where it has appeared on the web. This is a clever solution by WhatsApp, which protects all messages and media content on its platform with end-to-end encryption. While hugely beneficial to end users, using encryption also significantly curtails WhatsApp's ability to scan the content of messages and media on its platform. In emerging markets, users are exhibiting a growing appetite for sharing information through images. In places like India, WhatsApp's largest market and where the service is grappling with the spread of false information, the feature could potentially help many users quickly verify facts and get more context about the image they have received.

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Solar Panel Splits Water To Produce Hydrogen

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 11:00
schwit1 shares a report from IEEE Spectrum: A team at Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, or KU Leuven, says it has developed a solar panel that converts sunlight directly into hydrogen using moisture in the air. The prototype takes the water vapor and splits it into hydrogen and oxygen molecules. If it scales successfully, the technology could help address a major challenge facing the hydrogen economy. A small but growing number of facilities are producing "green" hydrogen using electrolysis, which splits water molecules using electricity -- ideally from renewable sources such as wind and solar. Other researchers, including the team in Belgium, are developing what's called direct solar water-splitting technologies. These use chemical and biological components to split water directly on the solar panel, forgoing the need for large, expensive electrolysis plants. KU Leuven sits on a grassy campus in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking northern region of Belgium. Earlier this month, professor Johan Martens and his team at the Center for Surface Chemistry and Catalysis announced their prototype could produce 250 liters of hydrogen per day on average over a full year, which they claim is a world record. A family living in a well-insulated Belgian house could use about 20 of these panels to meet their power and heating needs during an entire year, they predict. The solar panel measures 1.65 meters long -- roughly the height of a kitchen refrigerator, or this reporter -- and has a rated power output of about 210 watts. The system can convert 15 percent of the solar energy it receives into hydrogen, the team says. That's a significant leap from 0.1 percent efficiency they first achieved 10 years ago.

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'Halo Drive' Would Use Black Holes To Power Spaceships

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 08:00
A new study from researchers at Columbia University in New York suggests future spaceships could use black holes as powerful launch pads to explore the universe. The study "envisions firing laser beams that would curve around a black hole and come back with added energy to help propel a spacecraft to near the speed of light," reports Space.com. "Astronomers could look for signs that alien civilizations are using such a 'halo drive,' as the study dubs it, by seeing if pairs of black holes are merging more often than expected." From the report: Study author David Kipping, an astrophysicist at Columbia University in New York, came up with the idea of the halo drive through what he calls "the gamer's mindset." Using what he called a "halo drive" -- named for the ring of light it would create around a black hole -- Kipping found that even spaceships with the mass of Jupiter could achieve relativistic speeds. "A civilization could exploit black holes as galactic waypoints," he wrote in a study accepted by the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society and detailed online Feb. 28 in the arXiv preprint server. The major drawback of a halo drive would be that "one has to travel to the nearest black hole," Kipping said. "It's akin to paying a one-time toll fee to ride the highway system. You have to pay some energy to reach the nearest access point, but after that, you can ride for free as a long as you like." The halo drive works only in close proximity to a black hole, at a distance of about five to 50 times the black hole's diameter. "This is why you have to travel to the nearest black hole first and [why you] can't simply do this across light-years of space," Kipping said. "We still first require a means to travel to nearby stars to ride the highway system. Kipping is now investigating ways to exploit other astronomical systems for relativistic flight. Such techniques "may not be quite as efficient or fast as the halo-drive approach, but these systems possess the deep energy reserves needed for these journeys," Kipping said.

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Scientists Call For Global Moratorium On Gene Editing of Embryos

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 04:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Leading scientists have called for a global moratorium on the use of powerful DNA editing tools to make genetically modified children. The move is intended to send a clear signal to maverick researchers, and the scientific community more broadly, that any attempt to rewrite the DNA of sperm, eggs or embryos destined for live births is not acceptable. Beyond a formal freeze on any such work, the experts want countries to register and declare any plans that scientists may put forward in the future, and have these discussed through an international body, potentially run by the World Health Organization. Alongside technical debates about the possible benefits of creating genetically modified babies, the scientists said no decisions should be made to go ahead without broad public support. Eric Lander, founding director of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Massachusetts, calls for the moratorium with 16 other experts in the journal Nature. Emmanuelle Charpentier and Feng Zhang, who helped discover and develop the most common gene editing tool, CRISPR, contributed to the article. The call comes four months after Chinese researcher He Jiankui used human embryos modified with CRISPR to create twin girls resistant to HIV.

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Kamala Harris Introduces Bill To Send Millions To Local Governments For Tech Support

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 03:10
Senator and Democratic presidential candidate Kamala Harris has introduced legislation that would allocate millions of dollars for local government to create dedicated teams that could "update and rebuild" government systems. The Verge reports: The United States Digital Service, an office established in 2014 after the widespread failures of Healthcare.gov, provides IT support for the federal government, bringing technologists into the government to work on tools like federal websites. It's continued to operate under the Trump administration, and some states, Harris' office notes, have experimented with similar teams. Harris' bill, the Digital Service Act, would provide an annual $50 million to the federal service, but it also goes further, allocating $15 million per year to state and local governments to create similar teams. Harris' bill, the Digital Service Act, would provide an annual $50 million to the federal service, but it also goes further, allocating $15 million per year to state and local governments to create similar teams. Under the plan, the national Digital Service would offer two-year grants, giving state and local governments between $200,000 and $2.5 million per year. Those governments would be required to take on 20 percent of costs and to spend at least half of the money on talent, rather than tech. The national Digital Service, under the proposal, would report bi-annually to Congress on the progress of the grantees. The bill would provide funding through 2027.

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Man Arrested For Selling One Million Netflix, Spotify, Hulu Passwords

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 02:30
Police in Australia have arrested a man who allegedly made AU $300,000 (US $211,000) running a website which sold the account passwords of popular online subscription services including Netflix, Spotify, Hulu, PSN, and Origin. From a report: The 21-year-old man was arrested on Tuesday in Sydney, Australia, following an international investigation by the FBI and the Australian Federal Police into the website Wicked Gen. The Wicked Gen website bragged that it had over 120,000 users and almost one million sets of account details, offering monthly and yearly membership plans for those who wanted "access to thousands of premium accounts across a huge range of services." The account passwords, however, were not obtained via legitimate means. Instead the details were typically obtained through credential stuffing using swathes of usernames and passwords leaked through other data breaches, without the knowledge of their genuine owners.

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ISPs Strike Deal With Vermont To Suspend State Net Neutrality Law

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 01:50
The state of Vermont has agreed to suspend enforcement of its net neutrality law pending the outcome of a lawsuit against the Federal Communications Commission. In October 2018, five industry groups representing major internet providers and cable companies sued Vermont seeking to block a state law barring companies that do not abide by net neutrality rules from receiving state contracts. But, as Ars Technica reports, "the lobby groups and state agreed to delay litigation and enforcement of the Vermont law in a deal that they detailed in a joint court filing yesterday." From the report: The delay will remain in place until after a final decision in the lawsuit seeking to reverse the FCC's net neutrality repeal and the FCC's preemption of state net neutrality laws. Vermont is one of 22 states that sued the FCC in that case in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Tech companies and consumer advocacy groups are also opposing the FCC in the same case. Oral arguments were held last month, and DC Circuit judges will likely issue a decision in the coming months. An FCC loss in that case could entirely restore federal net neutrality rules, potentially making the Vermont law redundant. But a partial loss for the FCC could leave the federal repeal in place while allowing states to enforce their own net neutrality laws. The Vermont delay would remain in place until after all appeals are exhausted in the FCC case, which could potentially reach the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Renewable Energy Reduces the Highest Electric Rates In the Nation

Slashdot - Sob, 2019-03-16 00:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: Coal is the primary fuel source for Midwest electric utilities. Michigan Technological University researchers found that increasing renewable and distributed generation energy sources can save Michigan electric consumers money. As renewable energy technologies and access to distributed generation like residential solar panels improve, consumer costs for electricity decrease. Making electricity for yourself with solar has become more affordable than traditional electricity fuel sources like coal. However, as three Michigan Tech researchers contend in a new study, while utility fuel mixes are slowly shifting away from fossil fuels toward renewable sources, Michigan utilities, and U.S. utilities broadly, continue a relationship with fossil fuels that is detrimental to their customers. In the paper, Prehoda and co-authors Joshua M. Pearce, Richard Witte Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering, and Chelsea Schelly, associate professor of sociology, note that in the U.S., "70 percent of coal plants run at a higher cost than new renewable energy and by 2030 all of them will." The researchers provide a breakdown of savings per kilowatt hour by county that Michigan residents could achieve if they produce their own electricity with solar photovoltaic panels. The most significant impacts of distributed generation with solar are in the Upper Peninsula, where residential customers could see savings of approximately 7 cents per kilowatt hour. Assuming the average residential consumer uses 600 kilowatt hours of electricity monthly, this is a savings of $42 per utility bill. Downstate, the average savings per utility bill under the researchers' model is approximately $30 monthly. However, not all Michigan consumers can take advantage of the opportunity to self-generate, as some utilities are blocking additional net-metered distributed generation in their areas. The study has been published in the journal Energies.

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Google Play Apps With 150 Million Installs Contain Aggressive Adware

Slashdot - Pią, 2019-03-15 23:50
Researchers from Checkpoint Software have identified a massive adware campaign that invaded the Google Play Store with more than 200 highly aggressive apps that were collectively downloaded almost 150 million times. "The 210 apps discovered by researchers from security firm Checkpoint Software bombarded users with ads, even when an app wasn't open," reports Ars Technica. "The apps also had the ability to carry out spearphishing attacks by causing a browser to open an attacker-chosen URL and open the apps for Google Play and third-party market 9Apps with a specific keyword search or a specific application's page. The apps reported to a command-and-control server to receive instructions on which commands to carry out." From the report: Once installed, the apps installed code that allowed them to perform actions as soon as the device finished booting or while the user was using the device. The apps also could remove their icon from the device launcher to make it harder for users to uninstall the nuisance apps. The apps all used a software development kit called RXDrioder, which Checkpoint researchers believe concealed its abusive capabilities from app developers. The researchers dubbed the campaign SimBad, because many of the participating apps are simulator games. "With the capabilities of showing out-of-scope ads, exposing the user to other applications, and opening a URL in a browser, SimBad acts now as an Adware, but already has the infrastructure to evolve into a much larger threat," Checkpoint researchers wrote. The top 14 apps were collectively downloaded a whopping 75 million times, with the No. 1 app receiving 10 million installs and the next 13 getting 5 million downloads each. The next 53 each received 1 million downloads. The remainder received 500,000 or fewer downloads each. Checkpoint has a full list of all the apps here.

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Tesla's New Model Y SUV Hits the Right Note By Playing It Safe

Slashdot - Pią, 2019-03-15 23:10
Last night, Tesla CEO Elon Musk unveiled the company's brand new electric SUV, the Model Y. The car is only slightly larger than the Model 3 and shares 75% of its parts, leaving many people wanting more. But, as USA Today reports, "The ho-hum reaction to Tesla's new electric SUV is, oddly enough, exactly what the company needs. [F]or a company that needs a little less pizzazz and a little more substance to make good on its promise to become a sustainable force in the auto industry, the Model Y hit the right marks." From the report: It's essentially a crossover version of the Tesla Model 3 compact car, bearing the design hallmarks of a hatchback and sharing the same architectural platform as its car sibling. That Tesla devotees weren't rewarded with sizzling new features on the Model Y illustrates that the company is getting serious about selling vehicles. After all, a compact SUV is precisely what Americans want: a driveable vehicle that puts safety first and flash second. Versions with five and seven seats will be available, with starting prices ranging from $39,000 for the base version to $60,000 for a performance model. If Musk had tried to break new technological barriers or adopt outlandish styling on the Model Y, he would have risked making the vehicle too difficult to manufacture and unappealing to conventional SUV buyers. The first-available model will start at $47,000 and arrive in fall 2020. You can place a refundable deposit of $2,500 to secure your place in line when the vehicle becomes available. The base model of the Model Y -- the $39,000 version -- won't be available until "sometime in 2021," Musk said. Families can make the Model Y their primary vehicle since the battery range goes from 230 miles to 300 miles depending on the version. That stacks up well against other EVs on the market, such as the Chevrolet Bolt's 238 and the Hyundai Kona's 258. And while techies might not find the Model Y exhilarating, it will come equipped with software and sensors capable of autonomous driving, whenever it becomes legal. But buyers will have to pay for the system upgrade of $3,000 to $5,000.

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The Intercept Shuts Down Access To Snowden Trove

Slashdot - Pią, 2019-03-15 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Daily Beast: First Look Media announced Wednesday that it was shutting down access to whistleblower Edward Snowden's massive trove of leaked National Security Agency documents. Over the past several years, The Intercept, which is owned by First Look Media, has maintained a research team to handle the large number of documents provided by Snowden to Intercept journalists Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald. But in an email to staff Wednesday evening, First Look CEO Michael Bloom said that as other major news outlets had "ceased reporting on it years ago," The Intercept had decided to "focus on other editorial priorities" after expending five years combing through the archive. "The Intercept is proud of its reporting on the Snowden archive, and we are thankful to Laura Poitras and Glenn Greenwald for making it available to us," Bloom wrote. He added: "It is our hope that Glenn and Laura are able to find a new partner -- such as an academic institution or research facility -- that will continue to report on and publish the documents in the archive consistent with the public interest." Poitras reprimanded First Look Media for its decision to shut down its archives, and lay off 4 percent of its staff who had maintained them. "This decision and the way it was handled would be a disservice to our source, the risks we've all taken, and most importantly, to the public for whom Edward Snowden blew the whistle," she wrote. "Late Thursday evening, Greenwald tweeted that both he and Poitras had full copies of the archives, and had been searching for a partner to continue research," reports The Daily Beast.

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