Hitman convicted thanks to fitness watch location data

An alleged hitman has learned hard lessons about the the value of GPS data on fitness watches. A Liverpool jury has found Mark Fellows guilty of the 2015 murder of mob boss Paul Massey in part thanks to location info from the accused’s Garmin Foreru…

Source: Engadget – Hitman convicted thanks to fitness watch location data

Google Criticized Over Its Handling of the End of Google+

Long-time Slashdot reader Lauren Weinstein shares his report on how Google is handling the end of its Google+ service. He’s describing it as “a boot to the head: when you know that Google just doesn’t care any more” about users “who have become ‘inconvenient’ to their new business models.”

We already know about Google’s incredible user trust failure in announcing dates for this process. First it was August. Then suddenly it was April. The G+ APIs (which vast numbers of web sites — including mine — made the mistake of deeply embedding into their sites), we’re told will start “intermittently failing” (whatever that actually means) later this month.
It gets much worse though. While Google has tools for users to download their own G+ postings for preservation, they have as far as I know provided nothing to help loyal G+ users maintain their social contacts… As far as Google is concerned, when G+ dies, all of your linkages to your G+ friends are gone forever. You can in theory try to reach out to each one and try to get their email addresses, but private messages on G+ have always been hit or miss…
And with only a few months left until Google pulls the plug on G+, I sure as hell wouldn’t still be soliciting for new G+ users! Yep — believe it or not — Google at this time is STILL soliciting for unsuspecting users to sign up for new G+ accounts, without any apparent warnings that you’re signing up for a service that is already officially the walking dead! Perhaps this shows most vividly how Google today seems to just not give a damn about users who aren’t in their target demographics of the moment. Or maybe it’s just laziness.
I’d be more upset about this if I actually used Google+ — but has Google been unfair to the users who do? “[T]he way in which they’ve handled the announcements and ongoing process of sunsetting a service much beloved by many Google users has been nothing short of atrocious,” Weinstein writes, “and has not shown respect for Google’s users overall.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Google Criticized Over Its Handling of the End of Google+

Livepatching With Linux 5.1 To Support Atomic Replace & Cumulative Patches

With the Linux 5.1 kernel cycle that should get underway in just over one month’s time, there will now be the long in development work (it’s been through 15+ rounds of public code review!) for supporting atomic replace and cumulative patches…

Source: Phoronix – Livepatching With Linux 5.1 To Support Atomic Replace & Cumulative Patches

Is California's PG&E The First Climate Change Bankruptcy?

“California’s largest power company intends to file for bankruptcy as it faces tens of billions of dollars in potential liability following massive wildfires that devastated parts of the state over the last two years,” reports the Washington Post.
Calling it “a climate change casualty,” one Forbes contributor notes that PG&E’s stock has now lost 90% of its mid-October value after a giant November wildfire, adding that “Future investors will look back on these three months as a turning point, and wonder why the effects of climate change on the economic underpinnings to our society were not more widely recognized at the time.”

Climate scientists may equivocate about the degree to which Global Warming is contributing to these fires until more detailed research is complete, but for an investor who is used to making decisions based on incomplete or ambiguous information, the warning signs are flashing red… there is no doubt in my mind that Global Warming’s thumb rests on the scale of PG&E’s decision to declare bankruptcy.

And the Wall Street Journal is already describing it as “the first climate-change bankruptcy, probably not the last,” noting that it was a prolonged drought that “dried out much of the state and decimated forests, dramatically increasing the risk of fire.”

“This is a fairly new development,” said Bruce Usher, a professor at Columbia University’s business school who teaches a course on climate and finance. “If you are not already considering extreme weather and other climatic events as one of many risk factors affecting business today, you are not doing your job”…
In less than a decade, PG&E, which serves 16 million customers, saw the risk of catastrophic wildfires multiply greatly in its vast service area, which stretches from the Oregon border south to Bakersfield. Weather patterns that had been typical for Southern California — such as the hot, dry Santa Ana winds that sweep across the region in autumn, stoking fires — were now appearing hundreds of miles to the north. “The Santa Ana fire condition is now a Northern California fire reality, ” said Ken Pimlott, who retired last month as director of the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, or Cal Fire. “In a perfect world, we would like to see all [of PG&E’s] equipment upgraded, all of the vegetation removed from their lines. But I don’t know anybody overnight who is going to catch up.” PG&E scrambled to reduce fire risks by shoring up power lines and trimming millions of trees. But the company’s equipment kept setting fires — about 1,550 between mid-2014 through 2017, or more than one a day, according to data it filed with the state.
The global business community is recognizing the risks it faces from climate change. This week, a World Economic Forum survey of global business and thought leaders found extreme weather and other climate-related issues as top risks both by likelihood and impact.
Other factors besides climate change may also have pushed PG&E towards bankruptcy, according to the article. They’re required by California state regulations to provide electrical service to the thousands of people moving into the state’s forested areas, yet “an unusual California state law, known as ‘inverse condemnation,’ made PG&E liable if its equipment started a fire, regardless of whether it was negligent.”
In declaring bankruptcy, PG&E cited an estimated $30 billion in liabilities — plus 750 lawsuits from wildfires potentially caused by its power lines.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Is California’s PG&E The First Climate Change Bankruptcy?

Libhandy 0.0.7 Released For Building Adaptive/Mobile GTK Applications

Libhandy is the library backed by Purism for use on their Librem 5 among other potential use-cases for allowing adaptive GTK+ widgets depending upon screen real estate. It’s still a ways out from version 1.0, but libhandy 0.0.7 was released this weekend as the latest achievement…

Source: Phoronix – Libhandy 0.0.7 Released For Building Adaptive/Mobile GTK Applications

GoFundMe launches campaign for government workers hit by shutdown

People have frequently used GoFundMe to lend a helping hand to others in need of some help, but the site itself is getting involved in light of the US government shutdown. The company has teamed up with Deepak Chopra to launch a donation campaign fo…

Source: Engadget – GoFundMe launches campaign for government workers hit by shutdown

Mark Zuckerberg's Mentor 'Shocked and Disappointed' — But He Has a Plan

Early Facebook investor Roger McNamee published a scathing 3,000-word article adapted from his new book Zucked: Waking Up to the Facebook Catastrophe. Here’s just one example of what’s left him “shocked and disappointed”:
Facebook (along with Google and Twitter) has undercut the free press from two directions: it has eroded the economics of journalism and then overwhelmed it with disinformation. On Facebook, information and disinformation look the same; the only difference is that disinformation generates more revenue, so it gets better treatment…. At Facebook’s scale — or Google’s — there is no way to avoid influencing the lives of users and the future of nations. Recent history suggests that the threat to democracy is real. The efforts to date by Facebook, Google and Twitter to protect future elections may be sincere, but there is no reason to think they will do anything more than start a game of whack-a-mole with those who choose to interfere. Only fundamental changes to business models can reduce the risk to democracy.
Google and Facebook “are artificially profitable because they do not pay for the damage they cause,” McNamee argues, adding that some medical researchers “have raised alarms noting that we have allowed unsupervised psychological experiments on millions of people.”

But what’s unique is he’s offering specific suggestions to fix it.

“I want to set limits on the markets in which monopoly-class players like Facebook, Google and Amazon can operate. The economy would benefit from breaking them up. A first step would be to prevent acquisitions, as well as cross subsidies and data sharing among products within each platform.”
“Another important regulatory opportunity is data portability, such that users can move everything of value from one platform to another. This would help enable startups to overcome an otherwise insurmountable barrier to adoption.”
“Given that social media is practically a public utility, I think it is worth considering more aggressive strategies, including government subsidies.”
“There need to be versions of Facebook News Feed and all search results that are free of manipulation.”
“I would like to address privacy with a new model of authentication for website access that permits websites to gather only the minimum amount of data required for each transaction…. it would store private data on the device, not in the cloud. Apple has embraced this model, offering its customers valuable privacy and security advantages over Android.”
“No one should be able to use a user’s data in any way without explicit, prior consent. Third-party audits of algorithms, comparable to what exists now for financial statements, would create the transparency necessary to limit undesirable consequences.”
“There should be limits on what kind of data can be collected, such that users can limit data collection or choose privacy. This needs to be done immediately, before new products like Alexa and Google Home reach mass adoption.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Mark Zuckerberg’s Mentor ‘Shocked and Disappointed’ — But He Has a Plan

Amazon Is Rolling Out a 'Robotic Tech Vest' to Keep Workers From Getting Hit by Robots

Amazon has begun rolling out a “new worker safety wearable” to over 25 of its locations over the past year, TechCrunch reported on Friday—namely, a “Robotic Tech Vest” that alerts robots to the location of workers within a facility in order to prevent workplace accidents.

Read more…

Source: Gizmodo – Amazon Is Rolling Out a ‘Robotic Tech Vest’ to Keep Workers From Getting Hit by Robots

Amazon adds remastered 'Baywatch' to Prime Video on January 20th

If you’re feeling nostalgic for the 90s, Prime Video may have something you can binge on. Amazon is adding Baywatch — yes, the classic TV series and not Dwayne Johnson’s flick — to its lineup for US, Canada and Australia. You’ll even be able to enj…

Source: Engadget – Amazon adds remastered ‘Baywatch’ to Prime Video on January 20th

Are You Ready For DNS Flag Day?

Long-time Slashdot reader syn3rg quotes the DNS Flag Day page:

The current DNS is unnecessarily slow and suffers from inability to deploy new features. To remediate these problems, vendors of DNS software and also big public DNS providers are going to remove certain workarounds on February 1st, 2019. This change affects only sites which operate software which is not following published standards. Are you affected?
The site includes a form where site owners can test their domain — it supplies a helpful technical report about any issues encountered — as well as suggestions for operators of DNS servers and DNS resolvers, researchers, and DNS software developers. The Internet Systems Consortium blog also has a list of the event’s supporters, which include Google, Facebook, Cisco, and Cloudflare, along with some history. “Extension Mechanisms for DNS were specified in 1999, with a minor update in 2013, establishing the ‘rules of the road’ for responding to queries with EDNS options or flags. Despite this, some implementations continue to violate the rules.

“DNS software developers have tried to solve the problems with the interoperability of the DNS protocol and especially its EDNS extension by various workarounds for non-standard behaviors… These workarounds excessively complicate DNS software and are now also negatively impacting the DNS as a whole. The most obvious problems caused by these workarounds are slower responses to DNS queries and the difficulty of deploying new DNS protocol features. Some of these new features (e.g. DNS Cookies) would help reduce DDoS attacks based on DNS protocol abuse….

“Our goal is a reliable and properly functioning DNS that cannot be easily attacked.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Are You Ready For DNS Flag Day?

Tesla Drastically Increases Supercharger Prices around the World

As if the end of free Supercharging periods wasn’t bad enough news, Tesla has now drastically increased Supercharging prices around the world. Downtown locations in New York have been hit with a 33% increase ($0.24/kWh to $0.32/kWh), while prices in California have gone from $0.26/kWh to as high as 0.36 per kWh. This is the result of Tesla transitioning from state/region pricing to per-station pricing, which “better reflect differences in local electricity costs and site usage.”

Last year, Tesla already increased Supercharger costs in the US. In some places, the increase was as much as 100 percent — though most regions saw their rates increase by 20 to 40 percent. This time around, prices are going up globally and the US is getting another price increase. In Norway, one of Tesla’s most important markets and where there’s one of the highest concentration of Superchargers, the cost of using a Supercharger station went from 1,40 NOK to 1,86 NOK per kWh. It looks like the price went up globally by roughly 33% based on most markets reviewed by Electrek.


Source: [H]ardOCP – Tesla Drastically Increases Supercharger Prices around the World

FDA Chief Threatens to Take E-cigarettes off the Market

“Horrified” at the rapid rise in teen vaping, Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb says he is “about ready” to stop e-cigarette sales and force makers through the formal drug approval process. The tobacco industry has repeatedly been told to stop marketing to teens and advertising candy-flavored products, but words have evidently fallen on deaf ears. “It will be game over for these products until they can successfully traverse the regulatory process.”

There’s little debate that vaping has hit record highs among children and teens. Last November, the figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found a 78 percent increase in vaping by high school students, with 3.6 million high school and middle school students now using e-cigarettes. Gottlieb said he has met repeatedly with the vape industry. “I find myself debating with tobacco makers and retailers the merits of selling fruity flavors in ways that remain easily accessible to kids,” he said.


Source: [H]ardOCP – FDA Chief Threatens to Take E-cigarettes off the Market

E-Cigs Like Juul Face 'Existential Threat' Over Teen Smoking, FDA Says

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is continuing to increase pressure on tobacco and e-cigarette makers to take significant measures to keep their products out of the hands of teens, with the agency indicating that Juul in particular needs to make good on its commitments to doing so. Now, FDA Commissioner Scott…

Read more…

Source: Gizmodo – E-Cigs Like Juul Face ‘Existential Threat’ Over Teen Smoking, FDA Says

Venezuela's Government Blocks Access To Wikipedia

Haaretz (with contributions from Reuters and the Associated Press) reports:
According to NetBlocks, a digital rights group that tracks restrictions to the internet, as of 12 January, Venezuela largest telecommunications provider CANTV has prevented access to Wikipedia in all languages. The internet observatory told Haaretz the ban was discovered by attempting “to access Wikipedia and other services 60,000 times from 150 different points in the country using multiple providers.”
Roughly 16 million people have access to the internet in the South American country ravaged by poverty and now facing a political crisis as leader Nicolas Maduro attempts to cling to power following a highly contested re-election last year. Wikipedia receives on average 60 million views from the country every month.
According to NetBlocks, the ban was likely imposed after a Wikipedia article listed newly-appointed National Assembly president Juan Guaidà as âoepresident number 51 of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela,â ousting Maduro from his presidential status on Wikipedia… Alp Toker, the head of NetBlocks, explained to Haaretz that the block followed a string of controversial edits on the Spanish-language article for Guaido as well as other related articles.

Long-time Slashdot reader williamyf identifies himself as “a Venezuelan in Venezuela.” He reports that “The method used seems to be to intercept the SSL handshake and not a simple DNS block,” adding “the situation is developing.”
In May of last year the government declared a “state of emergency” that authorized the government to police the internet and filter content, rights activists reported Monday. They added that now Venezuela’s new leaders plan to introduce legislation requiring messaging service providers to censor content, and implementing other so-called “content security” measures.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Venezuela’s Government Blocks Access To Wikipedia