Earth

'Infarm' Startup Wants To Put a Farm In Every Grocery Store (techcrunch.com) 1

Infarm, a 40-plus person startup based in Berlin, imagines a future where every grocery store has its own farm packed with herbs, vegetables and fruit. "The plants themselves are being monitored by multiple sensors and fed by an internet-controlled irrigation and nutrition system," reports TechCrunch. "Growing out from the center, the basil is at ascending stages of its life, with the most outer positioned ready for you, the customer, to harvest." From the report: The concept might not be entirely new -- Japan has been an early pioneer in vertical farming, where the lack of space for farming and very high demand from a large population has encouraged innovation -- but what potentially sets Infarm apart, including from other startups, is the modular approach and go-to-market strategy it is taking. This means that the company can do vertical farming on a small but infinitely expandable scale, and is seeing Infarm place farms not in offsite warehouses but in customer-facing city locations, such as grocery stores, restaurants, shopping malls, and schools, enabling the end-customer to actually pick the produce themselves. In contrast, the Infarm system is chemical pesticide-free and can prioritize food grown for taste, color and nutritional value rather than shelf life or its ability to sustain mass production. Its indoor nature means it isn't restricted to seasonality either and by completely eliminating the distance between farmer and consumer, food doesn't get much fresher. When a new type of herb or plant is introduced, Infarm's plant experts and engineers create a recipe or algorithm for the produce type, factoring in nutrition, humidity, temperature, light intensity and spectrum, which is different from system to system depending on what is grown. The resulting combination of IoT, Big Data and cloud analytics is akin to "Farming-as-a-Service," whilst , space permitting, Infarm's modular approach affords the ability to keep adding more farming capacity in a not entirely dissimilar way to how cloud computing can be ramped up at the push of a button.
The Almighty Buck

Fake Online Stores Reveal Gamblers' Shadow Banking System (reuters.com) 21

randomErr shares an exclusive report from Reuters: A network of dummy online stores offering household goods has been used as a front for internet gambling payments. The seven sites in Europe to sell items including fabric, DVD cases, and maps are fake outlets. The faux store fronts are a multinational system to disguise payments for the $40 billion global online gambling industry. Online gambling is illegal in many countries and some U.S. states. The dummy sites underline a strategy which regulators, card issuers and banks have yet to tackle head-on. The scheme found by Reuters involved websites which accepted payments for household items from a reporter but did not deliver any products. Instead, staff who answered helpdesk numbers on the sites said the outlets did not sell the product advertised, but that they were used to help process gambling payments, mostly for Americans.
Security

Judge Sentences Man To One Year In Prison For Hacking Smart Water Readers In Five US Cities (bleepingcomputer.com) 43

An anonymous reader writes: A Pennsylvania man was sentenced to one year and one day in prison for hacking and disabling base stations belonging to water utility providers in five cities across the U.S. East Coast. Called TGB, these devices collect data from smart meters installed at people's homes and relay the information to the water provider's main systems, where it is logged, monitored for incidents, and processed for billing. Before he was fired by the unnamed TGB manufacturing company, Flanagan's role was to set up these devices. After he was fired, Flanagan used former root account passwords to log onto the devices and disable their ability to communicate with their respective water utility providers' upstream equipment. He wasn't that careful, as the FBI was able to trace back the attacks to his home. Apparently, the guy wasn't that silent, leaving behind a lot of clues. Flanagan's attacks resulted in water utility providers not being able to collect user equipment readings remotely. This incurred damage to the utility providers, who had to send out employees at customer premises to collect monthly readings. He was arrested in Nov 2014, and later pleaded guilty.
Education

The Mere Presence of Your Smartphone Reduces Brain Power, Study Shows (utexas.edu) 66

An anonymous reader shares a study: Your cognitive capacity is significantly reduced when your smartphone is within reach -- even if it's off. That's the takeaway finding from a new study from the McCombs School of Business at The University of Texas at Austin. McCombs Assistant Professor Adrian Ward and co-authors conducted experiments with nearly 800 smartphone users in an attempt to measure, for the first time, how well people can complete tasks when they have their smartphones nearby even when they're not using them. In one experiment, the researchers asked study participants to sit at a computer and take a series of tests that required full concentration in order to score well. The tests were geared to measure participants' available cognitive capacity -- that is, the brain's ability to hold and process data at any given time. Before beginning, participants were randomly instructed to place their smartphones either on the desk face down, in their pocket or personal bag, or in another room. All participants were instructed to turn their phones to silent. The researchers found that participants with their phones in another room significantly outperformed those with their phones on the desk, and they also slightly outperformed those participants who had kept their phones in a pocket or bag.
The Almighty Buck

Who Americans Spend Their Time With (theatlas.com) 88

Data scientist Henrik Lindberg has a series of fascinating charts based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics that show who people in the United States spend their time with over the course of their lifetime. Check out the charts here. From a report on Quartz: Some of the relationships Lindberg found are intuitive. Time with friends drops off abruptly in the mid-30s, just as time spent with children peaks. Around the age of 60 -- nearing and then entering retirement, for many -- people stop hanging out with co-workers as much, and start spending more time with partners. Others are more surprising. Hours spent in the company of children, friends, and extended family members all plateau by our mid-50s. And from the age of 40 until death, we spend an ever-increasing amount of time alone. Those findings are consistent with research showing that the number of friends we have peaks around age 25, and plateaus between the ages of 45 and 55. Simply having fewer social connections doesn't necessarily equal loneliness. The Stanford University psychologist Linda Carstensen has found that emotional regulation improves with age, so that people derive more satisfaction from the relationships they have, whatever the number. Older people also report less stress and more happiness than younger people.
Businesses

The High-Tech Jobs That Created India's Gilded Generation Are Disappearing (washingtonpost.com) 128

An anonymous reader shares a report: Information technology services account for 9.5 percent of the India's gross domestic product, according to the India Brand Equity Foundation (IBEF), but now, after decades of boom, the future of the industry seems precarious. Since May, workers' groups have reported unusually numerous layoffs. The Forum for IT Employees (FITE) estimates that 60,000 workers have lost their jobs in the past few months (syndicated source). "Employees are being rated as poor performers so companies can get rid of them," said FITE's Chennai coordinator, Vinod A.J. IT companies and some government officials say the numbers have been exaggerated, but industry experts say the country's digital wunderkinds have much to fear. "For the first time, companies are touching middle management," said Kris Lakshmikanth, chief of a recruitment firm called Head Hunters India. Bias against Indians abroad is also compounding workers' fears of layoffs and downsizing at home. President Trump has stoked anxiety among Indian techies, who make up the majority of applicants for the H-1B visa program for highly skilled foreign workers. Trump has talked about sharply restricting H-1Bs, and this year the number of applications dropped a staggering 16 percent as companies prepared for Trump's immigration cutbacks. Instead, Indian outsourcing companies such as Infosys started recruiting Americans, bowing to Trump's calls for "America First." On Monday, India's Prime Minister Modi will meet Trump to talk about trade, visas and climate issues.
Government

Supreme Court Partially Revives Travel Ban, Will Hear Appeal (bloomberg.com) 451

From a report: The U.S. Supreme Court partially revived President Donald Trump's travel ban and said the justices will hear arguments in the fall. The justices said the ban can apply for now only to people who don't have a "credible claim of a bona fide relationship with a person or entity in the United States." From a NYT report: Mr. Trump's revised executive order, issued in March, limited travel from six mostly Muslim countries for 90 days and suspended the nation's refugee program for 120 days. The time was needed, the order said, to address gaps in the government's screening and vetting procedures. [...] The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in San Francisco, recently blocked both the limits on travel and the suspension of the refugee program. It ruled on statutory rather than constitutional grounds, saying Mr. Trump had exceeded the authority granted him by Congress. The court agreed to review both cases, and said it would hear arguments in October, noting that the government had not asked it to act faster.
Microsoft

Google Chrome Bests Microsoft Edge, Mozilla Firefox, Opera In Independent Battery Life Tests (betanews.com) 99

An anonymous reader shares a report: YouTuber Linus Tech Tips has pitted Microsoft Edge against Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox and Opera and discovered that it does not deliver as strong a performance as Microsoft claims. Linus Tech Tips took four Dell Inspiron laptops, with the same specs, and found that Microsoft Edge trails Chrome and Opera in battery life tests. It would seem that it still beats Firefox, after all. However, the results are much, much closer than what Microsoft's own tests indicate. On average, the difference between Chrome, which offers the best battery life, and Microsoft Edge is under 40 minutes. Opera comes closer to Microsoft Edge than Chrome in this test. Even Creators Update, which based on Microsoft's test should help Microsoft Edge obliterate the competition, didn't help make it faster than Chrome. Linus says he used the same methodology that Microsoft used in its set of battery tests earlier this year, in which it declared Edge as the winner.
United States

Ohio Government Websites Hacked With Pro-Islamic State Messages (bloomberg.com) 189

An anonymous reader quotes Bloomberg: The websites of Ohio Governor John Kasich and other state government agencies were hacked on Sunday with a posting professing love for the jihadist group Islamic State. Ten state websites and two servers were affected, and they've been taken off line for an investigation with law enforcement into how the hackers were able to deface them, said Tom Hoyt, a spokesman for the Ohio Department of Administrative Services... The same pro-Islamic State message, accompanied by music, were also shown on Sunday on the website of Brookhaven, a town on New York's Long Island about 50 miles (80 kilometers) from Manhattan, the New York Post reported... Ohio Treasurer Josh Mandel, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate in 2018, posted on Facebook that the Department of Rehabilitation and Correction website had been hacked and said, "Wake up freedom-loving Americans. Radical Islam infiltrating the heartland."
Education

Why So Many Top Hackers Come From Russia (krebsonsecurity.com) 247

Long-time Slashdot reader tsu doh nimh writes: Brian Krebs has an interesting piece this week on one reason that so many talented hackers (malicious and benign) seem to come from Russia and the former Soviet States: It's the education, stupid. Krebs's report doesn't look at the socioeconomic reasons, but instead compares how the U.S. and Russia educate students from K-12 in subjects which lend themselves to a mastery in coding and computers -- most notably computer science. The story shows that the Russians have for the past 30 years been teaching kids about computer science and then testing them on it starting in elementary school and through high school. The piece also looks at how kids in the U.S. vs. Russia are tested on what they are supposed to have learned.
Fossbytes also reports that Russia claimed the top spot in this year's Computer Programming Olympics -- their fourth win in six years -- adding that "the top 9 positions out of 14 were occupied by Russian or Chinese schools." The only two U.S. schools in the top 20 were the University of Central Florida (#13) and MIT (#20).
The Almighty Buck

Ethereum Exchange Reimburses Customer Losses After 'Flash Crash' (gdax.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes: "The price of ethereum crashed as low as 10 cents from around $319 in about a second on the GDAX cryptocurrency exchange on Wednesday," reports CNBC, calling it "a move that is being blamed on a 'multimillion dollar market sell' order... As the price continued to fall, another 800 stop loss orders and margin funding liquidations caused ethereum to trade as low as 10 cents." An executive for the exchange said "Our matching engine operated as intended throughout this event and trading with advanced features like margin always carries inherent risk."

Though some users complained they lost money, the price rebounded to $325 -- and according to a report on one trading site, "one person had an order in for just over 3,800 ethereum if the price fell to 10 cents on the GDAX exchange," reports CNBC. "Theoretically this person would have spent $380 to buy these coins, and when the price shot up above $300 again, the trader would be sitting on over $1 million." Yet the currency exchange announced Friday that they're honoring everyone's gains, while also reimbursing customers who suffered losses. "We view this as an opportunity to demonstrate our long-term commitment to our customers and belief in the future of this industry."

Crime

90 Cities Install A Covert Technology That Listens For Gunshots (businessinsider.com) 280

An anonymous reader quotes Business Insider: In more than 90 cities across the US, including New York, microphones placed strategically around high-crime areas pick up the sounds of gunfire and alert police to the shooting's location via dots on a city map... ShotSpotter also sends alerts to apps on cops' phones. "We've gone to the dot and found the casings 11 feet from where the dot was, according to the GPS coordinates," Capt. David Salazar of the Milwaukee Police Dept. told Business Insider. "So it's incredibly helpful. We've saved a lot of people's lives."

When three microphones pick up a gunshot, ShotSpotter figures out where the sound comes from. Human analysts in the Newark, California, headquarters confirm the noise came from a gun (not a firecracker or some other source). The police can then locate the gunshot on a map and investigate the scene. The whole process happens "much faster" than dialing 911, Salazar said, though he wouldn't disclose the exact time.

The company's CEO argues their technology deters crime by demonstrating to bad neighborhoods that police will respond quickly to gunshots. (Although last year Forbes discovered that in 30% to 70% of cases, "police found no evidence of a gunshot when they arrived.") And in a neighborhood where ShotSpotter is installed, one 60-year-old man is already complaining, "I don't like Big Brother being in all my business."
Earth

Los Angeles Tests Reflective 'Cool Pavement' On Streets (dailynews.com) 115

mikeebbbd writes: As reported in the Los Angeles Daily News, during the current heatwave various officials swooped down on streets coated with an experimental light-gray sealer that makes the old asphalt into a "cool street" -- and it works, with average temperature differences between coated streets and adjacent old asphalt around 10F. At a large parking lot, the temperature reduction was over 20F. If the material holds up and continues to meet other criteria, LA plans to use it on more pavement rehab projects, which could eventually make a difference in the heat island effect. The "CoolSeal" coating is apparently proprietary to a company named GuardTop LLC, costs $25-40K/mile, and lasts 5-7 years. At that price, it's might not be used a lot, at least at first; typical slurry seals run $15-30K/mile.
Cellphones

Software Developer Explains Why The Ubuntu Phone Failed (itwire.com) 129

troublemaker_23 quotes ITWire: A developer who worked with the Ubuntu Phone project has outlined the reasons for its failure, painting a picture of confusion, poor communication and lack of technical and marketing foresight. Simon Raffeiner stopped working with the project in mid-2016, about 10 months before Canonical owner Mark Shuttleworth announced that development of the phone and the tablet were being stopped.
Raffeiner says, for example, that "despite so many bugs being present, developers were not concentrating on fixing them, but rather on adding support for more devices." But he says he doesn't regret the time he spent on the project -- though now he spends his free time "traveling the world, taking photographs and creating bad card games, bad comics and bad games."

"Please note that this post does not apply to the UBPorts project, which continues to work on the phone operating system, Unity 8 and other components."
Wireless Networking

How A Contractor Exploited A Vulnerability In The FCC Website (wirelessestimator.com) 68

RendonWI writes: A Wisconsin wireless contractor discovered a flaw in the FCC's Antenna Structure Registration (ASR) database, and changed the ownership of more than 40 towers from multiple carriers and tower owners into his company's name during the past five months without the rightful owners being notified by the agency, according to FCC documents and sources knowledgeable of the illegal transfers. Sprint, AT&T and key tower companies were targeted in the wide-ranging thefts... Changing ASR ownership is an easy process by applying online for an FCC Registration Number (FRN) which is instantly granted whether the factual or inaccurate information is provided. Then, once logged in, an FRN holder can submit a form stating that they are the new owner of any or multiple structures in the database. As soon as it is submitted, the change is immediately reflected in the ASR.
Earth

What Happens When Geoengineers 'Hack The Planet'? (thebulletin.org) 190

Dan Drollette shares an article by an Oxford physics professor who's concerned about the popularity of radical new proposals to fight global warming. The Christian Science Monitor wonders if it's time to re-engineer our climate. MIT's Technology Review basically thinks the answer is "yes," having described it earlier as "cheap and easy." The Atlantic seems quite smitten with Economist writer Oliver Morton's vision of remaking the planet, which geoengineering booster Jane Long breathlessly called "geopoetry." The idea received recent coverage (much of it favorable) by New Scientist, NBC, and in TED talks; I myself have recently participated in an NPR panel discussion on the subject... But what has really catapulted the idea into the public eye is Harvard's reckless plan for a privately-funded field trial testing some of the key elements needed... Proceeding to field experimentation crosses a thin red line beyond which lies the slippery slope down to ever-larger field trials and ultimately deployment.
Harvard's experiment -- which is partially funded by Bill Gates -- is "subject to no governance save what Harvard chooses to impose upon itself," according to the article. The experiment involves "putting something in the atmosphere to reflect more sunlight back out into space," which the article warns will create "enduring" effects -- and require humanity to commit to maintaining the same atmospheric conditions forever.
United States

Does US Have Right To Data On Overseas Servers? We're About To Find Out (arstechnica.com) 254

Long-time Slashdot reader quotes Ars Technica: The Justice Department on Friday petitioned the US Supreme Court to step into an international legal thicket, one that asks whether US search warrants extend to data stored on foreign servers. The US government says it has the legal right, with a valid court warrant, to reach into the world's servers with the assistance of the tech sector, no matter where the data is stored.

The request for Supreme Court intervention concerns a 4-year-old legal battle between Microsoft and the US government over data stored on Dublin, Ireland servers. The US government has a valid warrant for the e-mail as part of a drug investigation. Microsoft balked at the warrant, and convinced a federal appeals court that US law does not apply to foreign data.

According to the article, the U.S. government told the court that national security was at risk.
Open Source

Linus Explains What Surprises Him After 25 Years Of Linux (linux.com) 175

Linus Torvalds appeared in a new "fireside chat" with VMware Head of Open Source Dirk Hohndel. An anonymous reader writes: Linus explained what still surprises him about Linux development. "Code that I thought was stable continually gets improved. There are things we haven't touched for many years, then someone comes along and improves them or makes bug reports in something I thought no one used. We have new hardware, new features that are developed, but after 25 years, we still have old, very basic things that people care about and still improve... Our processes have not only worked for 25 years, we still have a very strong maintainer group... And as these maintainers get older and fatter, we have new people coming in."

Linus also says he's surprised by the widespread popularity of Git. "I expected it to be limited mostly to the kernel -- as it's tailored to what we do... In certain circles, Git is more well known than Linux." And he also shares advice if you want to get started as an open source developer. "I'm not sure my example is the right thing for people to follow. There are a ton of open source projects and, if you are a beginning programmer, find something you're interested in that you can follow for more than just a few weeks... If you can be part of a community and set up patches, it's not just about the coding, but about the social aspect of open source. You make connections and improve yourself as a programmer."

Linus also says that "I really like what I'm doing. I like waking up and having a job that is technically interesting and challenging without being too stressful so I can do it for long stretches; something where I feel I am making a real difference and doing something meaningful not just for me."
Privacy

State Legislators Want Surveillance Cameras To Catch Uninsured Drivers (arstechnica.com) 268

An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: A Rhode Island legislative committee has approved a bill that would greatly expand the surveillance state through the deployment of license plate readers. For the first time in the US, these devices would be attached along Rhode Island highways and roads for the stated purpose of catching uninsured motorists from any state... The legislation spells out that the contractor for the project would get 50 percent of the fines paid by uninsured motorists ensnared under the program. The state and the contractor would each earn an estimated $15 million annually. Fines are as high as $120.

Many police departments nationwide are using surveillance cameras tacked onto traffic poles and police vehicles to catch traffic violators and criminal suspects. The proceeds from traffic fines usually are divvied up with contractors. But according to the Rhode Island lawmaker sponsoring this legislation, it's time to put surveillance cameras to a new purpose -- fining uninsured motorists.

Bug

Researcher Finds Critical OpenVPN Bug Using Fuzzing (zdnet.com) 47

"Guido Vranken recently published 4 security vulnerabilities in OpenVPN on his personal blog," writes long-time Slashdot reader randomErr -- one of which was a critical remote execution bug. Though patches have been now released, there's a lesson to be learned about the importance of fuzzing -- bug testing with large amounts of random data -- Guido Vranken writes: Most of these issues were found through fuzzing. I hate admitting it, but...the arcane art of reviewing code manually, acquired through grueling practice, are dwarfed by the fuzzer in one fell swoop; the mortal's mind can only retain and comprehend so much information at a time, and for programs that perform long cycles of complex, deeply nested operations it is simply not feasible to expect a human to perform an encompassing and reliable verification.
ZDNet adds that "OpenVPN's audits, carried out over the past two years, missed these major flaws. While a handful of other bugs are found, perhaps OpenVPN should consider adding fuzzing to their internal security analysis in the future."

Guido adds on his blog, "This was a labor of love. Nobody paid me to do this. If you appreciate this effort, please donate BTC..."

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