Science & Tech News

How Hollywood Got Hacked: Studio at Center of Netflix Leak Breaks Silence

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 12:40pm
Earlier this year, hackers obtained and leaked the episodes of TV show Orange Is the New Black. In a candid interview, Larson Studios' chief engineer David Dondorf explained how the audio post-production business allowed the hacker group to gain access to the Netflix original content. Dandorf says the company hired private data security experts to find how it was breached. The investigation found that the hacker group had been searching the internet for PCs running older versions of Windows and stumbled across an old computer at Larson Studios still running Windows 7. From the report: Larson's employees just didn't know all that much about it. Having a computer running an ancient version of Windows on the network was clearly a terrible lack of oversight, as was not properly separating internal servers from the internet. "A lot of what went on was ignorance," admitted Rick Larson. "We are a small company. Did we even know what the content security departments were at our clients? Absolutely not. I couldn't have told you who to call. I can now." It's a fascinating story about how the hacker group first made contact and tried to threaten Larson Studios' president and his wife, and how they responded. Worth a read.

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Even Telecom Workers Don't Want To Talk On the Phone

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 12:08pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: Of the 1,000 Americans surveyed by Fundera, more than half said they prefer email, even though an often overflowing inbox has been proven to hinder productivity. Other methods of communicating paled in comparison. For instance, face-to-face conversations came in a distant second, preferred by only 15.8% of respondents, while phone calls came in at the bottom across 17 different industries. Even telecom workers don't want to talk on the phone: 70% would prefer to use instant messages or email.

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Just 14 People Make 500,000 Tons of Steel a Year in Austria

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 11:25am
An anonymous reader shares a Bloomberg Businessweek feature: The Austrian village of Donawitz has been an iron-smelting center since the 1400s, when ore was dug from mines carved out of the snow-capped peaks nearby. Over the centuries, Donawitz developed into the Hapsburg Empire's steel-production hub, and by the early 1900s it was home to Europe's largest mill. With the opening of Voestalpine AG's new rolling mill this year, the industry appears secure. What's less certain are the jobs. The plant, a two-hour drive southwest of Vienna, will need just 14 employees to make 500,000 tons of robust steel wire a year -- vs. as many as 1,000 in a mill with similar capacity built in the 1960s. Inside the facility, red-hot metal snakes its way along a 700-meter (2,297-foot) production line. Yet the floors are spotless, the only noise is a gentle hum that wouldn't overwhelm a quiet conversation, and most of the time the place is deserted except for three technicians who sit high above the line, monitoring output on a bank of flatscreens. "We have to forget steel as a core employer," says Wolfgang Eder, Voestalpine's chief executive officer for the past 13 years. "In the long run we will lose most of the classic blue-collar workers, people doing the hot and dirty jobs in coking plants or around the blast furnaces. This will all be automated."

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Snapchat's New Snap Map Lets You Share Your Location With Friends

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 10:45am
Snapchat is expanding into the world of mapping. A new feature announced on Wednesday called Snap Maps will let the app's 166 million users share their locations with each other, according to a company blog post. From a report: From the default camera view, you pinch with two fingers to zoom out and see the map. Friends who have opted into sharing their location through Snap Map (it's off by default) will appear in Bitmoji form. You can share with select friends, all friends, or with no one if you pick "Ghost Mode." Snapchat is very quick to note that your location is only updated when you open the app -- so there shouldn't be any background tracking to worry about.

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Honda Shuts Down Factory After Finding NSA-derived Wcry In Its Networks

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 10:05am
A Honda factory near Tokyo was shuttered for over 24 hours this week after its computers became infected with WannaCry, the same ransomware virus responsible for crippling systems in dozens of countries last month, the car manufacturer said Wednesday. From a report: The automaker shut down its Sayama plant northwest of Tokyo on Monday after finding that WCry had affected networks across Japan, North America, Europe, China, and other regions, Reuters reported Wednesday. Discovery of the infection came on Sunday, more than five weeks after the onset of the NSA-derived ransomware worm, which struck an estimated 727,000 computers in 90 countries. [...] Honda officials didn't explain why engineers found WCry in their networks 37 days after the kill switch was activated. One possibility is that engineers had mistakenly blocked access to the kill-switch domain. That would have caused the WCry exploit to proceed as normal, as it did in the 12 or so hours before the domain was registered. Another possibility is that the WCry traces in Honda's networks were old and dormant, and the shutdown of the Sayama plant was only a precautionary measure. In any event, the discovery strongly suggests that as of Monday, computers inside the Honda network had yet to install a highly critical patch that Microsoft released in March.

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Smoking is finally dying out among young people in the UK and US

New Scientist - Breaking news - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 10:00am
Now only 15.5 per cent of people in the UK are smokers. The largest declines have been seen in the first generation to grow up among anti-smoking laws
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Best evidence yet that Parkinson’s could be autoimmune disease

New Scientist - Breaking news - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 10:00am
People with Parkinson's show an immune response to brain cell markers that suggests the condition could be caused by having an over-active immune system
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This handy robot will iron your clothes so you don’t have to

New Scientist - Breaking news - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 9:35am
The TEO robot uses a camera to detect creases and can then "iteratively reduce the wrinkleness" of garments using a standard household iron
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Buckyballs mysteriously show up in cold space and warp starlight

New Scientist - Breaking news - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 9:30am
These molecular carbon cages could be used as tracers to understand how prebiotic molecules form in space
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LA’s endangered pumas to be saved by a $60m bridge over highway

New Scientist - Breaking news - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 9:29am
Pumas in Santa Monica are trapped in small areas bisected by big roads, on which many die – but an ambitious wildlife crossing promises to change that
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Walmart to Vendors: Get Off Amazon's Cloud

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 9:26am
Amazon vs. Walmart saga continues. It turns out, Walmart isn't thrilled about its partners using Amazon's cloud, and it's telling them to get off it (alternative source). From a report: Walmart is telling some technology companies that if they want its business, they can't run applications for the retailer on Amazon's leading cloud-computing service, Amazon Web Services, several tech companies say. [...] Walmart, loath to give any business to Amazon, said it keeps most of its data on its own servers and uses services from emerging AWS competitors, such as Microsoft's Azure.

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Etsy Slashes Almost a Quarter Of Its Staff In Attempt To Refocus

Slashdot Updates - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 8:48am
Etsy, the online market for artisan and handmade goods, said on Wednesday that it will reduce its workforce by 15 per cent on top of another round of job cuts announced last month. From a report: CEO Josh Silverman announced this morning that Etsy was laying off 15 percent of its workforce. That's in addition to layoffs that were announced in early May; the total workforce reduction comes in at 22 percent, or about 230 employees. Silverman said the layoffs were part of an effort to focus on Etsy's "vital few initiatives," though he didn't specify exactly what parts of the company were being a drag. The only indication was that the company would focus on its "core marketplace."

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Bizarre new deep-sea creatures discovered off Australian coast

New Scientist - Breaking news - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 6:00am
Faceless fish, giant sea spiders, and other strange species have been found 4-km-deep off the east coast of Australia
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UK foxes thankfully spared the baying pack, unlike Theresa May

New Scientist - Breaking news - Wed, 06/21/2017 - 4:59am
One good outcome of the hung parliament chaos will be a Queen's speech devoid of an utterly unscientific vow to resume fox-hunting, says Stephen Harris
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Top UK Supermarket Laser Prints Labels On Avocados To Reduce Waste

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 11:00pm
One of the largest British retailers in London, M&S, is opting in for laser-printed barcodes to reduce paper waste. "The labels, which are etched onto fruit's skins with lasers instead of stickers, will save 10 tons of paper and five tons of glue every year according to M&S," reports The Telegraph. The labels will be etched into the skins of avocados, but "could soon be introduced to other fruit and vegetables and adopted by other supermarkets which are looking for new waste reduction techniques." The labels themselves include the shop logo, best before date, country of origin and product code for entering at the till. What's more is that the avocado's skin is the only area impacted by the lasers -- none of the fruit gets damaged. Bruce66423 writes: Print the information usually on the packaging to reduce waste. Excellent idea -- although the Aldi (the radically cheap, all own brand chain) alternative is to leave avocados untouched and get the cashiers to enter the code.

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Study Finds Yoga Works As Well As Physical Therapy For Back Pain

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 7:30pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TIME: Another study is touting the benefits of yoga -- this time, for people with back problems. The new research put yoga head-to-head against physical therapy and found the two were equally good at restoring function and reducing the need for pain medication over time. In the new study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine, a group of 320 people did 12 weeks of yoga or physical therapy, or they simply received a book and newsletters about coping with back pain. People in the active treatment groups reported that their pain was less intense than it was at the start of the study and that they were able to physically move more. Some were also able to reduce, or even stop, their pain medications. Those improvements stuck around for a full year after the study was over. This research is unique because the people in the study were racially diverse, and most were from low-income families. Many had pre-existing medical conditions. That's important, say the researchers, because chronic back pain -- which affects about 10% of U.S. adults -- has a greater impact on minorities and people of lower socioeconomic status.

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Sweden Passes Bill To Become Carbon Neutral By 2045

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 5:40pm
Sweden is the first country to significantly upgrade its carbon ambitions since the Paris accord in 2015. The country has passed a new bill committing to cut its net carbon emissions to zero by 2045. New Scientist reports: The law was drawn up by a cross-party committee and passed with an overwhelming majority in parliament by 254 votes to 41. The legislation establishes an independent Climate Policy Council and requires an action plan to be updated every four years. Sweden had previously committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2050. It already gets 83 per cent of its electricity from nuclear energy and hydropower, having met its 2020 target of 50 per cent renewable energy eight years ahead of schedule. To achieve carbon-neutral status, the country will focus on reducing emissions from transport by increasing the use of biofuels and electric vehicles. It plans to cut domestic emissions by at least 85 per cent, and offset remaining emissions by planting trees or investing in projects abroad.

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The Best And Worst ISP's According To Consumer Reports

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 5:00pm
In the August 2017 issue of Consumer Reports magazine, the nonprofit organization ranked internet service providers based off customer satisfaction. According to the report, many consumers still don't like their broadband and television provider, and don't believe they receive a decent value for the high price they pay for service. DSLReports summarizes the findings: The report [...] names Chattanooga municipal broadband provider EPB as the most-liked ISP in the nation. EPB was followed by Google Fiber, Armstrong Cable, Consolidated Cable and RCN as the top-ranked ISPs in the nation. Google Fiber "was the clear winner for internet service," notes the report, "with the only high score for value." Google Fiber also received high marks for customer support and service. But large, incumbent ISPs continue to be aggressively disliked due to high prices and poor customer service, according to the report. Despite endless annual promises that customer service is the company's priority, Comcast ranked number 27 out of the 32 providers measured. The company's survey results were weighed down by low consumer marks for value, channel selection, technical support, customer service and free video on demand offerings. The least-liked ISPs in the nation, according to the report, are: Charter (Spectrum), Cable ONE, Atlantic broadband, Frontier Communications, and Mediacom. Not coincidentally, the two largest ISPs in that list just got done with massive mergers or acquisitions that resulted in higher prices and worse service than consumers saw previously.

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Mozilla Launches Privacy-Minded 'Firefox Focus' Browser For Android

Slashdot Updates - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 4:20pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from VentureBeat: Mozilla today launched a new browser for Android. In addition to Firefox, the company now also offers Firefox Focus, a browser dedicated to user privacy that by default blocks many web trackers, including analytics, social, and advertising. You can download the new app now from Google Play. Because Google isn't as strict as Apple, Android users can set Firefox Focus as their default browser. There are many use cases for wanting to browse the web without being tracked, but Mozilla offers a common example: reading articles via apps "like Facebook." On iOS, Firefox Focus is basically just a web view with tracking protection. On Android, Firefox Focus is the same, with a few additional features (which are still "under consideration" for iOS): Ad tracker counter -- Lists the number of ads that are blocked per site while using the app. Disable tracker blocker -- For sites that are not loading correctly, you can disable the tracker blocker to fix the issues. Notification reminder -- When Firefox Focus is running in the background, a notification will remind you so you can easily tap to erase your browsing history.

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Walk really fast to stop a wobbly suitcase ruining your holiday

New Scientist - Breaking news - Tue, 06/20/2017 - 4:01pm
When a suitcase in motion becomes unstable, it can rock back and forth from wheel to wheel. Researchers have determined why that happens and how to stop it
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