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Microsoft

Microsoft Bungles This Week's Windows 10 Anniversary Update (zdnet.com) 14

An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes ZDNet: Microsoft rolled out this week the seventh Cumulative Update of fixes to Windows 10 Anniversary Update since the Anniversary version of Windows 10 began going to customers on August 2...causing installation issues for some users. I don't know how many are affected -- it's definitely nowhere near "all" -- but reports are coming in on Twitter and in Microsoft support forums from those who can't install the update, resulting (at least for some) in an endless loop of repeated attempts...

But a few of those affected have pointed out that when Microsoft first delivered this update to its "Release Preview" ring of Insider testers at the start of this week, some testers reported the installation failure/reboot issue. Despite those reports, Microsoft still pushed this update out to those not in the Insider program... Unsurprisingly, this issue is triggering a round of "What's the point of Insider testing?" questions. It looks to some like Microsoft is just ignoring Insider feedback...

Paul Thurrott reports that the problems are "widespread... Microsoft is pushing the idea that you should always patch your machine on the day the update is released as they often release security patches that fix vulnerabilities. But, until the company can get a handle on their quality control issues...it feels like every time you run Windows update you are rolling the dice."
Open Source

Linux Mint Unveils New 'Mintbox Mini Pro' Desktop (linuxmint.com) 24

It's been 18 months since the original Mintbox Mini launched, and this week saw the release of the new Mintbox Mini Pro (which costs just $100 more). BrianFagioli quotes BetaNews: That extra money gets you a faster processor, more powerful graphics, double the storage, twice the RAM, improved Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and an additional Ethernet port... This diminutive desktop is the same size as the previously-released Mintbox... Thankfully, it retains the same cute appearance and Linux Mint branding.
Their article calls it a "beautiful little computer that comes pre-loaded with Linux Mint 18 Cinnamon (64-bit)," and the Linux Mint blog promises this fanless device offers "better passive cooling thanks to an all-metal black housing" -- and comes with six different USB ports.
Transportation

FAA Sued Over Federal Drone Registry (technical.ly) 85

"Last December, the FAA rushed an arbitrary and ineffectual recreational drone-owners' registry into effect, mere days before Christmas and just in time to criminalize the flying of toys by thousands of children and hobbyists," argued The Daily Signal. Now Slashdot reader jenningsthecat reports on a promising legal challenge filed by a drone hobbyist who's also a lawyer, who is now "receiving financial help with his suit from the D.C. area Drone User Group (DC DUG). In his Petitioner's Brief, John Taylor maintains that "(f)or the first century of American aviation and beyond, the federal government made no attempt whatsoever to regulate recreational model aircraft", and that "(t)he FAA seeks to revise history (PDF) when it argues its failure to register model aircraft, or otherwise treat them in any manner as 'aircraft,' in the past was the exercise of an 'enforcement discretion.'"
On a fund-raising page for the challenge, the group calls the federal registry "deeply concerning to users and prospective users of small unmanned aircraft."
Databases

Yahoo Insiders Believe Hackers Could Have Stolen Over 1 Billion Accounts (businessinsider.com) 26

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Business Insider: The actual tally of stolen user accounts from the hack Yahoo experienced could be much larger than 500 million, according to a former Yahoo executive familiar with its security practices. The former Yahoo insider says the architecture of Yahoo's back-end systems is organized in such a way that the type of breach that was reported would have exposed a much larger group of user account information. To be sure, Yahoo has said that the breach affected at least 500 million users. But the former Yahoo exec estimated the number of accounts that could have potentially been stolen could be anywhere between 1 billion and 3 billion. According to this executive, all of Yahoo's products use one main user database, or UDB, to authenticate users. So people who log into products such as Yahoo Mail, Finance, or Sports all enter their usernames and passwords, which then goes to this one central place to ensure they are legitimate, allowing them access. That database is huge, the executive said. At the time of the hack in 2014, inside were credentials for roughly 700 million to 1 billion active users accessing Yahoo products every month, along with many other inactive accounts that hadn't been deleted. In late 2013, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer said the company had 800 million monthly active users globally. It currently has more than 1 billion.
Space

Implication of Sabotage Adds Intrigue To SpaceX Investigation (washingtonpost.com) 98

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: The long-running feud between Elon Musk's space company and its fierce competitor United Launch Alliance took a bizarre twist this month when a SpaceX employee visited its facilities at Cape Canaveral, Fla., and asked for access to the roof of one of ULA's buildings. About two weeks earlier, one of SpaceX's rockets blew up on a launchpad while it was awaiting an engine test. As part of the investigation, SpaceX officials had come across something suspicious they wanted to check out, according to three industry officials with knowledge of the episode. SpaceX had still images from video that appeared to show an odd shadow, then a white spot on the roof of a nearby building belonging to ULA, a joint venture between Lockheed Martin and Boeing. The SpaceX representative explained to the ULA officials on site that it was trying to run down all possible leads in what was a cordial, not accusatory, encounter, according to the industry sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation. The building, which had been used to refurbish rocket motors known as the SMARF, is just more than a mile away from the launchpad and has a clear line of sight to it. A representative from ULA ultimately denied the SpaceX employee access to the roof and instead called Air Force investigators, who inspected the roof and didn't find anything connecting it to the rocket explosion, the officials said. This week, ten members of Congress sent a four-page letter to several government agencies about the SpaceX explosion, raising the question as to whether or not SpaceX should be leading the investigation. Elon Musk said the investigation into what went wrong is the company's "absolute top priority." He added, "We've eliminated all of the obvious possibilities for what occurred there. So what remains are the less probable answers." SpaceX aims to resume flights in November.
NASA

Rosetta's 12-Year Mission Ends With Landing On Comet (sciencemag.org) 33

sciencehabit writes: It was an unusual grand finale. The crowded European Space Agency (ESA) operations center in Darmstadt, Germany, waited in silence and then the signal from the descending Rosetta mission simply stopped at 1.19 pm local time showing that the spacecraft had, presumably, landed on comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko some 40 minutes earlier, due to the time the signal takes to reach Earth. Mission controllers hugged each other; there was gentle applause from onlookers; and that was it. There were no last minute crises. Seven of Rosetta's instruments kept gathering data until the end. Holger Sierks, principal investigator of the 12-year mission's main camera, showed the gathered staff, officials, and journalists Rosetta's final picture: a rough gravelly surface with a few larger rocks covering an area 10 meters across. Earlier, it had snapped the interior of deep pits on the comet (shown above, from an altitude of 5.8 kilometers) that may show the building blocks it is made of. "It's very crude raw data but this will keep us busy," Sierks said. It is hoped that this last close-up data grab will help to clarify the many scientific questions raised by Rosetta.
Government

Feds Go After Mylan For Scamming Medicaid Out of Millions On EpiPen Pricing (arstechnica.com) 136

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Over the nine or so years that Mylan, Inc. has been selling -- and hiking the price -- of EpiPens, the drug company has been misclassifying the life-saving device and stiffing Medicaid out of full rebate payments, federal regulators told Ars. Under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program, drug manufacturers, such as Mylan, can get their products covered by Medicaid if they agree to offer rebates to the government to offset costs. With a brand-name drug such as the EpiPen, which currently has no generic versions and has patent protection, Mylan was supposed to classify the drug as a "single source," or brand name drug. That would mean Mylan is required to offer Medicaid a rebate of 23.1 percent of the costs, plus an "inflation rebate" any time Mylan raises the price of the brand-name drug at a rate higher than inflation. Mylan has opted for such price increases -- a lot. Since Mylan bought the rights to EpiPen in 2007, it has raised the price on 15 separate occasions, bringing the current list price to $608 for a two-pack up from about $50 a pen in 2007. That's an increase of more than 500 percent, which easily beats inflation. But instead of classifying EpiPen as a "single source" drug, Mylan told regulators that it's a "non-innovator multiple source," or generic drug. Under that classification, Mylan is only required to offer a rebate of 13 percent and no inflation rebates. It's unclear how much money Mylan has skipped out on paying in total to state and federal governments. But according to the state health department of Minnesota, as reported by CNBC, the misclassification cost that state $4.3 million this year alone.
Medicine

Print-On-Demand Bone Could Quickly Mend Major Injuries (sciencemag.org) 25

sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: If you shatter a bone in the future, a 3D printer and some special ink could be your best medicine. Researchers have created what they call "hyperelastic bone" that can be manufactured on demand and works almost as well as the real thing, at least in monkeys and rats. Though not ready to be implanted in humans, bioengineers are optimistic that the material could be a much-needed leap forward in quickly mending injuries ranging from bones wracked by cancer to broken skulls. Researchers at Northwestern University, Evanston, in Illinois are working on a hyperelastic bone, which is a type of scaffold made up of hydroxyapatite, a naturally occurring mineral that exists in our bones and teeth, and a biocompatible polymer called polycaprolactone, and a solvent. Hydroxyapatite provides strength and offers chemical cues to stem cells to create bone. The polycaprolactone polymer adds flexibility, and the solvent sticks the 3D-printed layers together as it evaporates during printing. The mixture is blended into an ink that is dispensed by the printer, layer by layer, into exact shapes matching the bone that needs to be replaced. The idea is, a patient would come in with a nasty broken bone -- say, a shattered jaw -- and instead of going through painful autograft surgeries or waiting for a custom scaffold to be manufactured, he or she could be x-rayed and a 3D-printed hyperelastic bone scaffold could be printed that same day.
Government

New California Law Allows Test of Autonomous Shuttle With No Driver (fortune.com) 26

If you live in California, you may soon start to see self-driving cars on the road with no operators to be seen. California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law on Thursday a bill that allows a self-driving vehicle with no operator inside to test on a public road. Currently, companies are legally able to test self-driving cars in California as long as the operators are located inside the vehicles when they are being tested. Fortune reports: The bill introduced by Democratic Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla allows testing in Contra Costa County northeast of San Francisco of the first full-autonomous vehicle without a steering wheel, brakes, accelerator or operator. New legislation was necessary because although driverless vehicles can be tested on private land like the office park, the shuttle will cross a public road on its loop through the campus. The new law means that two cube-like Easymile shuttles that travel no faster than 25 mph (40 kph) will be tested for a period of up to six months before being deployed and used by people. In an interview with Reuters in March, Bonilla said the "natural tension" between regulators concerned about safety and lawmakers trying to encourage innovation in their state necessitated a new bill. "They're risk averse and we're saying we need to open the door here and take steps (to innovate)," Bonilla said, calling the driverless shuttle project "a very wise first out-of-the-gate opportunity" to show how the technology could work safely.
Communications

Facebook 'Messenger Day' Is the Chat App's New Snapchat Stories Clone (techcrunch.com) 13

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Facebook is stealing the Stories format and invading countries where Snapchat isn't popular yet. Today in Poland it launched "Messenger Day," which lets people share illustrated filter-enhanced photos and videos that disappear in 24 hours, just like on Snapchat. Much of the feature works exactly like Snapchat Stories, with the ability to draw or add text to images. Facebook's one big innovation with Messenger Day is the use of graphic filters as suggestions for what to share, instead of just to celebrate holidays and events or to show off your location like with Snapchat's geofilters. At the top of the Messenger thread list, users see a row of tiles representing "My Day" and friends' Days they can watch, but there are also prompts like "I'm Feeling," "Who's Up For?" and "I'm Doing." Tapping on these tiles provides a range of filters "I'm feeling [...] so blue" with raindrops and a bubbly blue font, "I'm feeling [...] blessed" with a glorious gold sparkly font, "Who's up for [...] road trip" with a cute car zooming past, or "Who's up for [...] Let's grab drinks" with illustrated beer mugs and bottles that cover the screen. This feature allows people to share visually appealing images even if they aren't great artists or especially creative. These prompts could also spur usage when people are bored, sparking their imagination. Messenger is already an app people use all day with close friends, so it could end up a better home for the Stories format than cramming it into Facebook's core app, which the company tested as "Quick Updates" and scrapped.
Government

New US 'Secret' Clearance Unit Hires Firm Linked To 2014 Hacks (reuters.com) 21

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: A U.S. government bureau set up to do "secret" and "top secret" security clearance investigations has turned for help to a private company whose login credentials were used in hack attacks that looted the personal data of 22 million current and former federal employees, U.S. officials said on Friday. Their confirmation of the hiring of KeyPoint Government Solutions by the new National Background Investigations Bureau (NBIB) comes just days ahead of the bureau's official opening, scheduled for next week. Its creation was spurred, in part, by the same hacks of the Office of Personnel Management that have been linked to the credentials of KeyPoint, one of four companies hired by the bureau. The officials asked not to be named when discussing sensitive information. A spokesman for OPM said the agency in the past has said in public statements and in congressional testimony that a KeyPoint contractor's stolen credentials were used by hackers to gain access to government personnel and security investigations records in two major OPM computer breaches. Both breaches occurred in 2014, but were not discovered until April 2015, according to investigators. One U.S. official familiar with the hiring of KeyPoint said personnel records were hacked in 2014 from KeyPoint and, at some point, its login credentials were stolen. But no evidence proves, the official said, that the KeyPoint credentials used by the OPM hackers were stolen in the 2014 KeyPoint hack. OPM officials said on Thursday one aim for NBIB is to reduce processing time for "top secret" clearances to 80 days from 170 days and for "secret" clearances to 40 days from 120 days.
Music

USB-IF Publishes Audio Over USB Type-C Specifications (anandtech.com) 111

An anonymous reader quotes a report from AnandTech: The USB Implementers Forum this week published the USB Audio Device Class 3.0 (direct download) specification, which standardizes audio over USB Type-C interface. The new spec enables hardware makers to eliminate traditional 3.5mm mini-jacks from their devices and use USB-C ports to connect headsets and other audio equipment. Makers of peripherals can also build their audio solutions, which use USB-C instead of traditional analog connectors. Developers of the standard hope that elimination of mini-jacks will help to make devices slimmer, smarter and less power hungry. As reported, the USB Audio Device Class 3.0 specification supports both analog and digital audio. Analog audio is easy to implement and it does not impact data transfers and other functionality of USB-C cables since it uses the two secondary bus (SBU) pins. The USB ADC 3.0 defines minimum interoperability across analog and digital devices in order to avoid confusion of end-users because of incompatibility. In fact, all ADC 3.0-compliant hosts should support the so-called headset adapter devices, which allow to connect analog headsets to USB-C. However, digital audio is one of the primary reasons why companies like Intel wanted to develop the USB-C audio tech on the first place, hence, expect them to promote it. According to the USB ADC 3.0 standard, digital USB-C headphones will feature special multi-function processing units (MPUs), which will, to a large degree, define the feature set and quality of headsets. The MPUs will handle host and sink synchronization (this is a key challenge for digital USB audio), digital-to-analog conversion, low-latency active noise cancellation, acoustic echo canceling, equalization, microphone automatic gain control, volume control and others. Such chips will also contain programmable amplifiers and pre-amplifiers, which are currently located inside devices. Besides, USB ADC 3.0-compatible MPUs will also support USB Audio Type-III and Type-IV formats (the latest compressed formats), but will retain compatibility with formats supported by ADC 1.0 and 2.0. Finally, among the mandated things set to be supported by USB-C Audio devices are new Power Domains (allows devices to put certain domains in sleep mode when not in use) as well as BADD (basic audio device definition) 3.0 features for saving power and simplified discovery and management of various audio equipment (each type of devices has its own BADD profile).
Republicans

Newsweek Website Attacked After Report On Trump, Cuban Embargo (talkingpointsmemo.com) 260

After Newsweek published a report titled "How Donald Trump's Company Violated The United States Embargo Against Cuba," the site found itself on the receiving end of a "massive" denial-of-service attack that managed to shut down the site for several hours. TPM reports: Editor-In-Chief Jim Impoco noted that the attack came as the story earned national attention. "Last night we were on the receiving end of what our IT chief called a 'massive' DoS (denial of service) attack," Impoco wrote in an email to TPM. "The site was down most of last evening, at a time when Kurt Eichenwald's story detailing how Donald Trump's company broke the law by violating the U.S. trade embargo against Cuba was being covered extensively by prominent cable news programs. Our IT team is still investigating the hack." Later Friday afternoon, Impoco emailed TPM that in an initial investigation, the "main" IP addresses linked to the attack were found to be Russian. It should be noted that it is possible to fake an IP address. "As with any DDoS attack, there are lots of IP addresses, but the main ones are Russian, though that in itself does not prove anything," he wrote. "We are still investigating." Eichenwald tweeted Friday morning: "News: The reason ppl couldnt read #TrumpInCuba piece late yesterday is that hackers launched a major attack on Newsweek after it was posted."
Government

Researchers Ask Federal Court To Unseal Years of Surveillance Records (arstechnica.com) 22

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Two lawyers and legal researchers based at Stanford University have formally asked a federal court in San Francisco to unseal numerous records of surveillance-related cases, as a way to better understand how authorities seek such powers from judges. This courthouse is responsible for the entire Northern District of California, which includes the region where tech companies such as Twitter, Apple, and Google, are based. According to the petition, Jennifer Granick and Riana Pfefferkorn were partly inspired by a number of high-profile privacy cases that have unfolded in recent years, ranging from Lavabit to Apple's battle with the Department of Justice. In their 45-page petition, they specifically say that they don't need all sealed surveillance records, simply those that should have been unsealed -- which, unfortunately, doesn't always happen automatically. The researchers wrote in their Wednesday filing: "Most surveillance orders are sealed, however. Therefore, the public does not have a strong understanding of what technical assistance courts may order private entities to provide to law enforcement. There are at least 70 cases, many under seal, in which courts have mandated that Apple and Google unlock mobile phones and potentially many more. The Lavabit district court may not be the only court to have ordered companies to turn over private encryption keys to law enforcement based on novel interpretations of law. Courts today may be granting orders forcing private companies to turn on microphones or cameras in cars, laptops, mobile phones, smart TVs, or other audio- and video-enabled Internet-connected devices in order to conduct wiretapping or visual surveillance. This pervasive sealing cripples public discussion of whether these judicial orders are lawful and appropriate."
Yahoo!

Yahoo Open Sources a Deep Learning Model For Classifying Pornographic Images (venturebeat.com) 110

New submitter OWCareers writes: Yahoo today announced its latest open-source release: a model that can figure out if images are specifically pornographic in nature. The system uses a type of artificial intelligence called deep learning, which involves training artificial neural networks on lots of data (like dirty images) and getting them to make inferences about new data. The model that's now available on GitHub under a BSD 2-Clause license comes pre-trained, so users only have to fine-tune it if they so choose. The model works with the widely used Caffe open source deep learning framework. The team trained the model using its now open source CaffeOnSpark system.
The new model could be interesting to look at for developers maintaining applications like Instagram and Pinterest that are keen to minimize smut. Search engine operators like Google and Microsoft might also want to check out what's under the hood here.
The tool gives images a score between 0 to 1 on how NSFW the pictures look. The official blog post from Yahoo outlines several examples.

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