Businesses

Let's Take This Open Floor Plan To the Next Level 57

Posted by timothy
from the transparent-floors dept.
theodp writes: In response to those of you who are unhappy with your Open Office, McSweeney's has some ideas for taking the open floor plan to the next level. "Our open floor plan was decided upon after rigorous research that primarily involved looking at what cool internet companies were doing and reflexively copying them," writes Kelsey Rexroat. "We're dismayed and confused as to why their model isn't succeeding for our own business, and have concluded that we just haven't embraced the open floor plan ideals as fully as we possibly can. So team, let's take this open floor plan to the next level!" Among the changes being implemented in the spirit of transparency and collaboration: 1. "All tables, chairs, and filing cabinets will be replaced by see-through plastic furnishings." 2. "All desks will be mounted on wheels and arranged into four-desk clusters. At random intervals throughout the day, a whistle will blow, at which point you should quickly roll your desk into a new cluster." 3. "Employees' desktops will be randomly projected onto a movie screen in the center of the office." 4. "You can now dial into a designated phone line to listen in on any calls taking place within the office and add your opinion." Some workplaces might make you question just how tongue-in-cheek this description is.
Media

Android, Chromecast To Get HBO Now 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the bringing-balance-to-the-force dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Google's I/O 2015 conference opened with a surprise announcement: that Chromecast, Android TV, and other Android devices will soon be able to offer HBO Now. "The announcement marks the end of a 7-week exclusive that Apple had on HBO's stand-alone streaming and on-demand video service," reports Digital Trends, and it also further weakens the exclusivity of cable TV packages. "Traditional TV subscriptions are slowly starting to slip," one newspaper reports, "as more people watch online video." Other online streaming sites are already confronting the popularity of HBO's "Game of Thrones" series, with Netflix already experiencing a 33% dip in their online traffic during the new season's online premiere and Amazon rushing to discount their "Game of Thrones" graphic novels, and the turmoil seems to be continuing in the online video space. "Shortly after the premier of the new season, HBO Now seems to have taken the top spot when it comes to internet traffic," reports one technology site, "causing a huge dent in Netflix's attempt to make it to the top."
Communications

Professional Internet Troll Sues Her Former Employer 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the guessing-there's-no-health-care-with-that-job dept.
baegucb sends a followup to the news from March that professional internet trolls were operating by the hundreds at factories in Russia. A woman hired to be one of these trolls, Lyudmila Savchuk, spoke to the media about her job, which led to her being fired. She's now suing her former employer and providing further details about how they operate. "The 'troll factory' operates based on very weird schemes, but all those firms are connected to each other, even though they are separate legal entities," she said. "I knew it was something bad, but of course I never suspected that it was this horrible and this large-scale." She describes how they flooded comment sections with pro-Putin responses, pushed out over 100 blog posts each shift, and doctored images to suit their employers' needs. Savchuk is now gathering activists to oppose this form of internet propaganda.
Robotics

Florida Hospital Shows Normal Internet Lag Time Won't Affect Remote Robotic Surgeries 121

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-complaining-about-your-ping dept.
Lucas123 writes: Remote robotic surgery performed hundreds or even thousands of miles away from the physician at the controls is possible and safe, according to the Florida Hospital that recently tested Internet lag times for the technology. Roger Smith, CTO at the Florida Hospital Nicholson Center in Celebration, Fla., said the hospital tested the lag time to a partner facility in Ft. Worth, Texas and found it ranged from 30 to 150 milliseconds, which surgeons could not detect as they moved remote robotic laparoscopic instruments. The tests, performed using a surgical simulator called a Mimic, will now be performed as if operating remotely in Denver and then Loma Linda, Calif. The Mimic Simulator system enables virtual procedures performed by a da Vinci robotic surgical system, the most common equipment in use today; it's used for hundreds of thousands of surgeries every year around the world. With a da Vinci system, surgeons today can perform operations yards away from a patient, even in separate but adjoining rooms to the OR. By stretching that distance to tens, hundreds or thousands of miles, the technology could enable patients to receive operations from top surgeons that would otherwise not be possible, including wounded soldiers near a battlefield. The Mimic Simulator was able to first artificially dial up lag times, starting with 200 milliseconds all the way up to 600 milliseconds.
Crime

Feds Bust a Dark-Web Counterfeit Coupon Kingpin 86

Posted by Soulskill
from the coupon-for-free-living-arrangements-at-a-penitentiary dept.
Sparrowvsrevolution writes: The dark web has become the go-to corner of the Internet to buy drugs, stolen financial data, guns...and counterfeit coupons for Clif bars and condoms? The FBI indicted Beauregard Wattigney yesterday for wire fraud and trademark counterfeiting on digital black market sites Silk Road and Silk Road 2. Wattigney allegedly spoofed coupons for dozens of products and sold collections of them online in exchange for Bitcoin. The FBI accused him of doing $1 million worth of collective damage to the companies he made coupons for, but a fraud consultancy believes the total financial cost of his actions was much higher. Wattigney also offered expensive lessons that taught people how to make their own coupons. "In his tutorials, [he] explained the simple breakdown of barcode creation using the increasingly universal GS1 standard: GS1 codes begin with a 'company prefix' that can be copied from any of the company's products. The next six digits are the 'offer code,' which can be any random number for a counterfeit coupon, followed by the savings amount listed in cents and the required number of item purchases necessary to receive the discount."
The Internet

FCC Proposes To Extend So-Called "Obamaphone" Program To Broadband 369

Posted by samzenpus
from the internet-to-the-people dept.
jfruh writes: The FCC's Lifeline program subsidizes phone service for very poor Americans; it gained notoriety under the label "Obamaphone," even though the program started under Reagan and was extended to cell phones under Clinton. Now the FCC is proposing that the program, which is funded by a fee on telecom providers, be extended to broadband, on the logic that high-speed internet is as necessary today as telephone service was a generation ago.
The Courts

Adblock Plus Victorious Again In Court 311

Posted by samzenpus
from the win-again dept.
New submitter Xochil writes: AdBlock Plus has successfully defended itself in court for the second time in five weeks. The Munich Regional Court ruled against media companies ProSiebenSat1 and IP Deutschland. The companies sued Eyeo, the company behind Adblock Plus, asking the court to ban the distribution of the free ad-blocking software, saying it hurts their ad-based business model. An Eyeo release says in part: "We are elated at the decision reached today by the Munich court, which is another win for every internet user. It confirms each individual’s right to block annoying ads, protect their privacy and, by extension, determine his or her own internet experience. This time it also confirms the legitimacy of our Acceptable Ads initiative as a compromise in the often contentious and rarely progressive world of online advertising."
Education

A Ph.D Thesis Defense Delayed By Injustice 77 Years 129

Posted by samzenpus
from the better-late-than-never dept.
Taco Cowboy writes: A story about a 102-year old lady doing her PhD thesis defense is not that common, but when the thesis defense was delayed by a whopping 77 years, that gotta raise some eyebrows. Ingeborg Syllm-Rapoport studied diphtheria at the University of Hamburg in Germany and in 1938, the 25-year old Protestant-raised, German-born Ingeborg submitted for her doctorate thesis defense. She was denied her chance for her defense because her mother was of the Jewish ancestry, making her an official "cross-breed". As such the Nazi regime forbid the university from proceeding with her defense, for "racial reasons".

She became one of the thousands of scholars and researchers banished from German academe, which at the time included many of the world's most prestigious research institutions, because of Jewish ancestry or opposition to Nazi policies. Many of them ended up suffering or dying in concentration camps. Rudolf Degkwitz, Syllm's professor, was imprisoned for objecting to euthanizing children. Syllm, however, was able to reach the United States and earned her medical degree from the old Women's Medical College of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Eventually she married a fellow physician named Samuel Mitja Rapoport, had a family, and moved back to Germany in the 1950s, where she achieved prominence in neonatology. Syllm-Rapoport, who is now 102 years old, might have remained just a doctor (if a very accomplished one) had not the present dean of the Hamburg medical school, Uwe Koch-Gromus, heard her story from a colleague of her son, Tom Rapoport, a Harvard cell biologist.

Determined to do what he could to mitigate this wrong, Koch-Gromus arranged Syllm-Rapoport's long-delayed defense. Despite failing eyesight, she brushed up on decades of developments in diphtheria research with the help of friends and the Internet. Koch-Gromus called the 45-minute oral exam given by him and two colleagues on 13 May in her Berlin living room "a very good test. Frau Rapoport has gathered notable knowledge about what's happened since then. Particularly given her age, she was brilliant."
Security

Insurer Won't Pay Out For Security Breach Because of Lax Security 117

Posted by Soulskill
from the ounce-of-prevention-is-worth-a-ton-of-green dept.
chicksdaddy writes: In what may become a trend, an insurance company is denying a claim from a California healthcare provider following the leak of data on more than 32,000 patients. The insurer, Columbia Casualty, charges that Cottage Health System did an inadequate job of protecting patient data. In a complaint filed in U.S. District Court in California, Columbia alleges that the breach occurred because Cottage and a third party vendor, INSYNC Computer Solution, Inc. failed to follow "minimum required practices," as spelled out in the policy. Among other things, Cottage "stored medical records on a system that was fully accessible to the internet but failed to install encryption or take other security measures to protect patient information from becoming available to anyone who 'surfed' the Internet," the complaint alleges. Disputes like this may become more common, as insurers anxious to get into a cyber insurance market that's growing by about 40% annually use liberally written exclusions to hedge against "known unknowns" like lax IT practices, pre-existing conditions (like compromises) and so on.
Social Networks

Linux/Moose Worm Targets Routers, Modems, and Embedded Systems 110

Posted by Soulskill
from the moose-is-the-penguin's-natural-enemy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Security firm ESET has published a report on new malware that targets Linux-based communication devices (modems, routers, and other internet-connected systems) to create a giant proxy network for manipulating social media. It's also capable of hijacking DNS settings. The people controlling the system use it for selling "follows," "likes," and so forth on social media sites like Twitter, Instagram, Vine, Facebook, and Google+. Affected router manufacturers include: Actiontec, Hik Vision, Netgear, Synology, TP-Link, ZyXEL, and Zhone. The researchers found that even some medical devices were vulnerable to the worm, though it wasn't designed specifically to work with them.
Businesses

Charter Strikes $56B Deal For Time Warner Cable 196

Posted by timothy
from the shaky-nervous-laughter dept.
mpicpp writes with word that Charter Communications has struck a $56 billion deal to buy Time Warner Cable; if the deal goes through (which the article says is likely, according to Macquarie Research analyst Amy Yong -- at least more likely than the recently scotched Comcast-Time Warner deal), it would mean that the second- and third-largest U.S. cable companies would share a letterhead, and more than 20 percent of the country's ISP market. From the linked Reuters article: The Federal Communications Commission immediately served notice that it would closely scrutinize the deal, focusing not only on absence of harm but benefits to the public. Charter, in which Malone-chaired Liberty Broadband Corp owns about 26 percent, is offering about $195.71 in cash-and-stock for each Time Warner Cable share, based on Charter's closing price on May 20. Including debt, the deal values Time Warner Cable at $78.7 billion. A key area of regulatory concern would be competition in broadband Internet.
Businesses

Large Amount of Star Citizen Art Assets Leaked 107

Posted by samzenpus
from the pre-pre-release dept.
jones_supa writes: A huge batch of work-in-progress assets for Star Citizen have leaked to the public. An unknown person, likely connected with Cloud Imperium Games in some way, provided a link to the 48 gigabytes of content. The link has now been taken down, but as we know, it's hard to remove material from Internet after once put there. Being a CryEngine game, it has been suggested that it might be possible to view some of the assets using CryEngine development tools. Leaks are always quite the conundrum with the opportunities they present to curious fans and competitor companies, but can also be very depressing for the developers and publisher of the game.
United Kingdom

Leaked Document Shows Europe Would Fight UK Plans To Block Porn 253

Posted by samzenpus
from the things-that-are-worth-fighting-for dept.
Mark Wilson writes: Before the UK elections earlier in the month, David Cameron spoke about his desire to clean up the internet. Pulling — as he is wont to do — on parental heartstrings, he suggested that access to porn on computers and mobiles should be blocked by default unless users specifically requested access to it. This opt-in system was mentioned again in the run-up to the election as Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Sajid Javid assured peopled that the party "will age restrict online porn". But it's not quite that simple. There is the small problem of Europe. A leaked EU Council document shows that plans are afoot to stop Cameron's plans in its tracks — and with the UK on the verge of trying to debate a better deal for itself within Europe, the Prime Minister is not in a particularly strong position for negotiating on the issue. Cameron has a fight on his hands, it seems, if he wants to deliver on his promise that "we need to protect our children from hardcore pornography". Documents seen by The Sunday Times reveal that the EU could make it illegal for ISPs and mobile companies to automatically block access to obscene material. Rather than implementing a default block on pornography, the Council of the European Union believes that users should opt in to web filtering and be able to opt out again at any time; this is precisely the opposite to the way Cameron would like things to work.
Privacy

Privacy Behaviors Changed Little After Snowden 113

Posted by Soulskill
from the just-another-speed-bump-in-the-new-cycle dept.
An anonymous reader writes: An article in Communications of the ACM takes a look at how Edward Snowden's revelations about government surveillance have changed privacy behaviors across the world. The results are fairly disappointing. While the news that intelligence agencies were trawling data from everyday citizens sparked an interest in privacy, it was small, and faded quickly. Even through media coverage has continued for a long time after the initial reports, public interest dropped back to earlier levels long ago. The initial interest spike was notably less than for other major news events. Privacy-enhancing behaviors experienced a small surge, but that too failed to impart any long-term momentum. The author notes that the spike in interest "following the removal of privacy-enhancing functions in Facebook, Android, and Gmail" was stronger than the reaction to the government's privacy-eroding actions.
Education

Google and Gates-Backed Khan Academy Introduces "Grit"-Based Classroom Funding 118

Posted by samzenpus
from the effort-counts dept.
theodp writes: Their intentions are no doubt good, but some will be troubled by Google and Khan Academy's recently-concluded LearnStorm initiative, which pitted kids-against-kids, schools-against-schools, and cities-against-cities in a 3-month learning challenge for prizes based not only on students' mastery of math skills on Khan Academy, but also their perceived 'hustle' (aka 'grit'). "Points are earned by mastering math skills and also for taking on challenging new concepts and persevering," explained a Khan Academy FAQ. A blog entry further explained, "They've earned points and prizes not only for mastering math skills but also for showing 'hustle,' a metric we created to measure grit, perseverance, and growth. They competed over 200,000 hours of learning and 13.6 million standards-aligned math problems. In addition, thanks to the generosity of Google.org, DonorsChoose.org, and Comcast's Internet Essentials, 34 underserved schools unlocked new devices for their classrooms and free home internet service for eligible families, increasing student access to online learning tools like Khan Academy." Apparently funded by a $2 million Google grant, the Google, Khan Academy, and DonorsChoose grit-based classroom funding comes on the heels of the same organizations' gender-based classroom funding initiative. Supported by some of the world's wealthiest individuals and corporations, Khan Academy's Board members include a Google Board member (Diane Green), spouse of a Google Board member (Ann Doerr), and the Managing Partner of Bill Gates' bgC3 (Larry Cohen); former Board members include Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt.
Operating Systems

Google Developing 'Brillo' OS For Internet of Things 227

Posted by Soulskill
from the won't-run-on-your-brilloPad dept.
An anonymous reader writes: A new report from The Information (paywalled) says Google is working on an operating system called "Brillo" that would be a platform for Internet-of-things devices. It's supposedly a lightweight version of Android, capable of running on devices with extremely limited hardware — as little as 32 MB of RAM, for example. The company is expected to launch the code for Brillo at its I/O event next week. This is particularly relevant now that Google has acquired Nest, Dropcam, and Revolv — a trio of "smart home" companies whose devices could potentially by unified by Brillo.
Google

Cute Or Creepy? Google's Plan For a Sci-Fi Teddy Bear 102

Posted by timothy
from the teddy-ruxpin-pinned-it-on-the-one-armed-man dept.
HughPickens.com writes: Time Magazine reports that Google has designed and patented an "anthropomorphic device" that could take the form of a "doll or toy" and interact both with people as well as tech gadgets echoing the "super toy" teddy bear featured in Stephen Spielberg's 2001 movie AI. This could be one of Google's creepiest patents yet — especially if movies like "Chuckie" still give you nightmares. The patent filing diagrams a stuffed teddy bear and a bunny rabbit outfitted with microphones, speakers, cameras and motors as well as a wireless connection to the internet. If it senses you're looking at it, the fuzzy toy will rotate its head and look back at you. Once it receives and recognizes a voice command prompt, you can then tell it to control media devices in your home (e.g. turn on your music or TV). According to the patent filing: "To express interest, an anthropomorphic device may open its eyes, lift its head, and/or focus its gaze on the user or object of its interest. To express curiosity, an anthropomorphic device may tilt its head, furrow its brow, and/or scratch its head with an arm. To express boredom, an anthropomorphic device may defocus its gaze, direct its gaze in a downward fashion, tap its foot, and/or close its eyes. To express surprise, an anthropomorphic device may make a sudden movement, sit or stand up straight, and/or dilate its pupils."

The patent adds that making the device look "cute" should encourage even the youngest members of a family to interact with it. But Mikhail Avady, from SmartUp, said he thought it belonged in "a horror film", and the campaign group Big Brother Watch has also expressed dismay. "When those devices are aimed specifically at children, then for many this will step over the creepy line," says Avady. "Children should be able to play in private and shouldn't have to fear this sort of passive invasion of their privacy."
Security

Adult Dating Site Hack Reveals Users' Sexual Preference, Extramarital Affairs 173

Posted by Soulskill
from the another-day,-another-breach dept.
An anonymous reader notes this report from Channel 4 News that Adult FriendFinder, one of the largest dating sites in the world, has suffered a database breach that revealed personal information for 3.9 million of its users. The leaked data includes email addresses, IP addresses, birth dates, postal codes, sexual preferences, and information indicating which of them are seeking extramarital affairs. There even seems to be data from accounts that were supposedly deleted. Channel 4 saw evidence that there were plans for a spam campaign against these users, and others are worried that a blackmail campaign will follow. "Where you've got names, dates of birth, ZIP codes, then that provides an opportunity to actually target specific individuals whether they be in government or healthcare for example, so you can profile that person and send more targeted blackmail-type emails," said cybercrime specialist Charlie McMurdy.
Communications

Academics Build a New Tor Client Designed To Beat the NSA 63

Posted by timothy
from the non-spy-vs-spy dept.
An anonymous reader writes: In response to a slew of new research about network-level attacks against Tor, academics from the U.S. and Israel built a new Tor client called Astoria designed to beat adversaries like the NSA, GCHQ, or Chinese intelligence who can monitor a user's Tor traffic from entry to exit. Astoria differs most significantly from Tor's default client in how it selects the circuits that connect a user to the network and then to the outside Internet. The tool is an algorithm designed to more accurately predict attacks and then securely select relays that mitigate timing attack opportunities for top-tier adversaries.
Security

Telstra Says Newly Acquired Pacnet Hacked, Customer Data Exposed 15

Posted by samzenpus
from the getting-to-know-all-about-you dept.
An anonymous reader writes: Telstra’s Asian-based data center and undersea cable operator Pacnet has been hacked exposing many of the telco’s customers to a massive security breach. The company said it could not determine whether personal details of customers had been stolen, but it acknowledged the possibility. The Stack reports: "Telstra said that an unauthorized third party had been able to gain access to the Pacnet business management systems through a malicious software installed via a vulnerability on an SQL server. The hack had taken place just weeks before Telstra acquired the Asian internet service provider for $550mn on 16 April this year. The telecom company confirmed that it had not been aware of the hack when it signed the deal in December 2014."