An anonymous reader shares a report: A former Microsoft worker has been arrested and charged with mail fraud, in an alleged scheme to steal $10 million worth of digital currency from his ex-employer and use the funds to finance extravagant purchases, including a Tesla and lakefront home. Volodymyr Kvashuk, a 25-year-old software developer and Ukrainian citizen who worked for Microsoft from 2016 to 2018, allegedly took advantage of a testing program meant to simulate customer purchases. He made test accounts to obtain Microsoft gift cards and then sold some or all of them through online resellers.
The database of Bulgaria's National Revenue Agency (NRA), which was hacked over the weekend and sent to local reporters, is now being shared on hacking forums, ZDNet has learned from sources in the threat intelligence community. From a report: Download links to the hacked database have been shared by a hacked data trader known as Instakilla, believed to be operating out of Bulgaria. ZDNet obtained a copy of the database and verified its authenticity with local sources, and this is a copy of the same database sent to local media over the weekend. The database contains 57 folders, 10.7 GB in size, and holds personal and financial information consistent with what Bulgarian newspapers reported receiving over the weekend. This includes personally identifiable information, tax information, from both the NRA, and from other government agencies who shared their data.
Back in 2015, Apple introduced pressure-sensitive iPhone screens alongside 3D Touch as a potentially major hardware-software innovation, but barely supported the feature, leading to informed speculation that all of 2019's iPhones would lose their pressure-sensing hardware. This week's release of the fourth iOS 13 and iPadOS 13 developer betas appears to put the final nail in 3D Touch's coffin, tightening up the responsiveness of its replacement: Context Menus. From a report: If you aren't already familiar with 3D Touch, the concept was simple: slight, medium, and heavy pressure on an iPhone's screen could be recognized differently, such that a light press would open an app while a firm press in the same spot would instead conjure up a contextual menu. Apple sometimes nested additional "peek and pop" features within iPhone apps using the same pressure sensitivity, giving users extra options if they pressed down more on the screen.
Over the last few beta releases of iOS 13 and iPadOS 13, Apple has been rolling out a replacement called Context Menus -- a change it set the stage for last year by releasing the iPhone XR without 3D Touch hardware. Back then, Apple said it was giving the XR an alternative called "Haptic Touch" that pulled up the same sort of contextual menus as earlier iPhones, but did so using two tricks: Instead of pressure, it sensed button press time, counting an extra split-second as a stronger button press, confirming the different intent with a "thump" from the phone's vibration feature. Now iPad users will get a version of Haptic Touch minus the haptics.
ZDNet: Slack published more details about a password reset operation that ZDNet reported earlier today. According to a statement the company published on its website, the password reset operation is related to the company's 2015 security breach. In March 2015, Slack said hackers gained access to some Slack infrastructure, including databases storing user credentials. Hackers stole hashed passwords, but they also planted code on the company's site to capture plaintext passwords that users entered when logging in. At the time, Slack reset passwords for users who it believed were impacted, and also added support for two-factor authentication for all accounts. But as ZDNet reported earlier today, the company recently received a batch of Slack users credentials, which prompted the company to start an investigation into its source and prepare a password reset procedure. "We immediately confirmed that a portion of the email addresses and password combinations were valid, reset those passwords, and explained our actions to the affected users," Slack said. In a message on its website, Slack said this batch of credentials came via its bug bounty program. The company said it initially believed the data came from users who had their PCs infected with malware, or users who reused passwords across different services.
There are now upward of 700,000 podcasts, according to the podcast production and hosting service Blubrry, with between 2,000 and 3,000 new shows launching each month. From a report: The frequency with which podcasts start (and then end, or "podfade," as it's coming to be known in the trade) has produced a degree of cultural exhaustion. We're not necessarily sick of listening to interesting programs; but we're definitely tired of hearing from every friend, relative and co-worker who thinks they're just an iPhone recording away from creating the next "Serial." "Anyone can start one and so anyone who thinks they can start one will do it," said Nicholas Quah, who runs an industry newsletter called Hot Pod. "It's like the business of me." "Being a podcast host plays into people's self-importance," said Karen North, a clinical professor of communication at the Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism at the University of Southern California. And it projects that importance to others. Public speaking and consulting gigs now often go to "the person who's the expert and has the podcast," she said.
People use all kinds of metrics to tout the popularity of their shows, whether it's the number of iTunes reviews they get or the total downloads they receive per month. These metrics mean different things and don't necessarily connote success. And as recent social media scandals have shown, popularity can be purchased. But Dr. North said that having a big audience doesn't necessarily matter. "When people interview experts, even if nobody ever listens to the podcast, hosts get the benefit of learning from and networking with the guest," she said. "It's a great stunt." Call him cynical, but Jordan Harbinger, host of "The Jordan Harbinger Show" podcast, thinks there is a "podcast industrial complex." Hosts aren't starting shows "because it's a fun, niche hobby," he said. "They do it to make money or because it will make them an influencer."
Netflix said on Wednesday that it will roll out a cheaper subscription plan in India, one of the last great growth markets for global companies, as the streaming giant scrambles to find ways to accelerate its slowing growth worldwide. From a report: The company added 2.7 million new subscribers in the quarter that ended in June this year, it said today, far fewer than the 5 million figure it had forecasted earlier this year. The company said lowering its subscription plan, which starts at $9 in the U.S., would help it reach more users in India and expand its overall subscriber base. The new plan will be available in India in Q3. According to third-party research firms, Netflix has fewer than 2 million subscribers in India. Netflix started to test a lower-priced subscription plan in India and some other markets in Asia late last year. The plan restricts the usage of the service to one mobile device and offers only the standard definition viewing (~480p). During the period of testing, which was active as of two months ago, the company charged users as low as $4. [...] For Netflix, the decision to lower its pricing in India comes at a time when it has hiked the subscription cost in many parts of the world in recent quarters. In the U.S., for instance, Netflix said earlier this year that it would raise its subscription price by up to 18%.
Uber passengers in multiple cities were startled Wednesday when they were charged 100 times the advertised fare for short trips, a glitch that sparked jokes about surge pricing gone wild. From a report: Riders in cities including Washington and San Diego took to social media to post about the sky-high rates, a problem that Uber confirmed, although it declined to say how widespread the issue was. Some who ordered food for quick delivery said they were also overcharged. One social media user reported that Uber maxed out her husband's card with a charge of $1,905, when it was supposed to be $19.05. "Not cool, especially on his birthday," she added. Another woman posted to social media that she was charged $1,308 for a $13.08 trip. The charge was so high it triggered a fraud alert, according to a screen shot the rider posted on Twitter.
Uber said the glitch has been fixed. The company said the fare would be corrected so riders are charged only the amount for their actual trip, though they may temporarily see an inaccurate trip fare on their credit or debit cards. Passengers won't need to dispute the charges with their banks.
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PetaPixel: Amazon discounted a wide range of camera gear for Prime Day this week, but some photographers scored what may be the best deals of their lives. Thanks to a pricing error, many people were able to purchase high-end camera gear bundles, some worth over $5,000, for just around $100. It all started when someone noticed that the $550 Sony a6000 and 16-50mm lens bundle was being listed at just $94.50 on Amazon, and the person shared the "deal" on Slickdeals, where it hit the front page.
Many users were able to see the same price and place orders, while other users reported still seeing the normal price of $550. And it wasn't 3rd-party sellers that the $94.50 price applied to -- the gear was being sold and shipped by Amazon. But then people noticed that other cameras and bundles were also being sold for $94.50, and that's when the real frenzy started. "Literally everything is $94.48," one member writes. "I have bought like 10k worth of stuff that was like 900 dollars total." "I got a $13,000 lens for $94," another member writes regarding their Canon EF 800mm f/5.6L IS order. "LOL waiting for the cancellation but thats like 99.3% off." Other members spoke to Amazon customer service about their order and were told that the order would indeed ship. Others also reported that they successfully price matched gear at retailers such as Best Buy and Walmart.
DoNotPay, a free chatbot that offers AI-powered legal counsel, has a new service called Free Trial Card that will help you cancel free trials before you get charged. Wired reports: The Free Trial Card is a virtual credit card you can use to sign up for free trials of any service anonymously, instead of using your real credit card. When the free trial period ends, the card automatically declines to be charged, thus ending your free trial. You don't have to remember to cancel anything. If you want, the app will also send an actual legal notice of cancelation to the service. The DoNotPay app will send you an email when you sign up for a service and another when your trial ends -- a way of nudging you with the reminder that if you want to convert your trial into a paid subscription, you'll need to update your payment info and hand over your actual credit card number.
In an interview with Norah O'Donnell of "CBS Evening News," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos explained why he's investing much of his Amazon fortune in the development of space technologies through his aerospace company Blue Origin. Why? "Because I think it's important," Bezos said. "I think it is important for this planet. I think it's important for the dynamism of future generations. It is something I care deeply about. And it is something I have been thinking about all my life." From the report: Bezos -- who says "you don't choose your passions, your passions choose you" -- became fascinated with space when he was a child watching astronauts Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong land on the moon, he tells O'Donnell. Further, developing space technologies is critical for human beings to have a long future, Bezos says. "We humans have to go to space if we are going to continue to have a thriving civilization," Bezos says. "We have become big as a population, as a species, and this planet is relatively small. We see it in things like climate change and pollution and heavy industry. We are in the process of destroying this planet. And we have sent robotic probes to every planet in the solar system -- this is the good one. So, we have to preserve this planet."
To do that will require being able to live and work in space, says Bezos. "We send things up into space, but they are all made on Earth. Eventually it will be much cheaper and simpler to make really complicated things, like microprocessors and everything, in space and then send those highly complex manufactured objects back down to earth, so that we don't have the big factories and pollution generating industries that make those things now on Earth," Bezos says. "And Earth can be zoned residential." It will be "multiple generations" and "hundreds of years" before this is a reality, Bezos said on CBS, but with Blue Origin he is working to develop the technology that will make it possible.
Todd Austin, a professor at the University of Michigan, is working on an approach known as Morpheus that aims to frustrate hackers trying to gain control of microchips by presenting them with a rapidly changing target. At a conference in Detroit this week organized by the U.S. Defense Department's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Austin described how the prototype Morpheus chip works. MIT Technology Review reports: The aim is to make it incredibly difficult for hackers to exploit key software that helps govern the chip's operation. Morpheus does this by repeatedly randomizing elements of the code that attackers need access to in order to compromise the hardware. This can be achieved without disrupting the software applications that are powered by the processor. Austin has been able to get the chip's code "churning" to happen once every 50 milliseconds -- way faster than needed to frustrate the most powerful automated hacking tools. So even if hackers find a vulnerability, the information needed to exploit it disappears in the blink of an eye.
There's a cost to all this: the technology causes a slight drop in performance and requires somewhat bigger chips. The military may accept this trade-off in return for greater security on the battlefield, but it could limit Morpheus's appeal to businesses and consumers. Austin said a prototype has already resisted every known variant of a widely-used hacking technique known as a control-flow attack, which does things like tampering with the way a processor handles memory in order to allow hackers to sneak in malware. More tests lie ahead. A team of U.S. national security experts will soon begin probing the prototype chip to see if they can compromise its defenses, and Austin also plans to post some of Morpheus's code online so that other researchers can try to find flaws in it, too.
Author and programmer Jeff Geerling explains in a blog post why the new Raspberry Pi 4 needs a fan. Unlike previous Pis that didn't require a fan or heatsink to avoid CPU throttling, the Pi 4 is a different beast and "pretty much demands a fan," writes Geerling. "Not only does the CPU get appreciably hot even under normal load, there are a number of other parts of the board that heat up to the point they are uncomfortable to touch." After 5 minutes at idle, he recorded the CPU/System-on-a-Chip (SoC) was around 60C, and it climbed to the 60-70C range when using the USB ports.
"[I]magine if you're truly using the Pi 4 as a desktop replacement, with at least one external USB 3.0 hard drive attached, WiFi connected and transferring large amounts of data, a USB keyboard and mouse, a few browser windows open (the average website these days might as well be an AAA video game with how resource-intense it is), a text editor, and a music player," writes Geerling. "This amount of load is enough to cause the CPU to throttle in less than 10 minutes." So, Geerling did what any programmer and DIYer would do and decided to add a fan himself to the official case -- and in addition to the blog post describing the process, he made a 22-minute-long video showing you what he did. From the post: Without any ventilation, it's kind of a little plastic oven inside the Pi 4 case. A heat sink might help in some tiny way, but that heat has nowhere to go! So I decided to follow the lead of Redditor u/CarbyCarberson and put a fan in the top cover. [...] After installing the fan, I booted the Pi and ran "stress --cpu 4" and let it go for an hour. The entire time, the CPU's temperature stayed at or under 60C (140F), a full 20C lower than the throttling point.
There are some other options which may be even easier than modifying the official case, like the Fan Shim from Pimoroni or purchasing a 3rd party case with a fan built in. But this option was easy enough and all I needed to complete the project was a $4 fan and a $7 hole saw drill bit (which I can use for other projects in the future).
The California Energy Commission has awarded nearly $70 million to state schools to replace more than 200 diesel school buses with new, all-electric school buses. Electrek reports: The commission approved the funding this week. A total of $89.8 million has now been earmarked for new electric buses at schools in 26 California counties, as the commission's School Bus Replacement Program works toward this goal. A study published in Economics of Education Review last month showed diesel retrofits had positive results on both respiratory health and test scores. Eliminating emissions from these buses completely will do even more to protect children from dangerous emissions while cutting air pollution. The new buses will eliminate nearly 57,000 pounds of nitrogen oxides, and nearly 550 pounds of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) emissions annually.
The exact number of buses going to California school districts is unclear -- the energy commission only says "more than 200." If the entirety of the $70 million went to just 200 buses, that'd be $350,000 per bus. But while the exact cost of each bus is unknown, the commission does estimate that "schools will save nearly $120,000 in fuel and maintenance costs per bus over 20 years." Some estimates have noted that electric school buses tend to cost about $120,000 more than diesel buses -- if that's the case here, the price will be equal in the end, with added health benefits. Funding for the electric buses is supplied by the voter-approved California Clean Energy Jobs Act, and the commission's Clean Transportation Program will provide the charging infrastructure to support the buses.
Oakland, California has followed San Francisco and Somerville, Massachusetts in banning the use of facial recognition in public spaces. Motherboard reports: A city ordinance passed Tuesday night which prohibits the city of Oakland from "acquiring, obtaining, retaining, requesting, or accessing" facial recognition technology, which it defines as "an automated or semi-automated process that assists in identifying or verifying an individual based on an individual's face." The ordinance amends a 2018 law which requires any city staff member to get approval from the chair of Oakland's Privacy Advisory Commission before "seeking or soliciting funds" for surveillance technology. State and federal funding for surveillance technology must also be approved by the chair, per the ordinance. According to a public memo by Rebecca Kaplan, Oakland City Council President, the ban was instituted on the basis that facial recognition is often inaccurate, lacks established ethical standards, is invasive in nature, and has a high potential for government abuse.
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