Communications

FCC Suspends Net Neutrality Comments, As Chairman Pai Mocks 'Mean Tweets' (gizmodo.com) 184

An anonymous reader writes:Thursday the FCC stopped accepting comments as part of long-standing rules "to provide FCC decision-makers with a period of repose during which they can reflect on the upcoming items" before their May 18th meeting. Techdirt wondered if this time to reflect would mean less lobbying from FCC Chairman Ajit Pai, but on Friday Pai recorded a Jimmy Kimmel-style video mocking mean tweets, with responses Gizmodo called "appalling" and implying "that anyone who opposes his cash grab for corporations is a moron."

Meanwhile, Wednesday The Consumerist reported the FCC's sole Democrat "is deploying some scorched-earth Microsoft Word table-making to use FCC Chair Ajit Pai's own words against him." (In 2014 Pai wrote "A dispute this fundamental is not for us five, unelected individuals to decide... We should also engage computer scientists, technologists, and other technical experts to tell us how they see the Internet's infrastructure and consumers' online experience evolving.") But Pai seemed to be mostly sticking to friendlier audiences, appearing with conservative podcasters from the Taxpayer Protection Alliance, the AEI think tank and The Daily Beast.

The Verge reports the flood of fake comments opposing Net Neutrality may have used names and addresses from a breach of 1.4 billion personal information records from marketing company River City Media. Reached on Facebook Messenger, one woman whose named was used "said she hadn't submitted any comments, didn't live at that address anymore and didn't even know what net neutrality is, let alone oppose it."

Techdirt adds "If you do still feel the need to comment, the EFF is doing what the FCC itself should do and has set up its own page at DearFCC.org to hold any comments."
Government

Microsoft Blasts Spy Agencies For Leaked Exploits Used By WanaDecrypt0r (engadget.com) 324

An anonymous reader shares Engadget's report about Microsoft's response to the massive WanaDecrypt0r ransomware attack: Company president Brad Smith has posted a response to the attack that roasts the NSA, CIA and other intelligence agencies for hogging security vulnerabilities instead of disclosing them to be fixed. There's an "emerging pattern" of these stockpiles leaking out, he says, and they cause "widespread damage" when that happens. He goes so far as to liken it to a physical weapons leak -- it's as if the US military had "some of its Tomahawk missiles stolen"... Microsoft had already floated the concept of a "Digital Geneva Convention" that required governments to report security holes, but the idea has gained a new sense of urgency in light of the recent ransomware chaos... While Microsoft makes its own efforts by rushing out patches and sharing concerns with other companies, it also chastises customers who could have closed the WannaCry hole two months earlier but didn't.
BrianFagioli shared a BetaNews article arguing Microsoft "should absolutely not shoulder any of the responsibility. After all, the vulnerability that led to the disaster was patched back in March." But troublemaker_23 notes that ITwire still faults Microsoft for not planning ahead, since in February 150 million people were still using Windows XP.
Communications

Our Obsession With Trailers Is Making Movies Worse (cnet.com) 28

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via CNET: Our increasing obsession with trailers is changing how we watch movies. We're becoming audiences afraid of surprise, audiences that would rather watch movies we're certain we'll like than risk watching films that surprise us into love. In some cases, this fixation is even lowering the quality of movies themselves by encouraging bad filmmaking habits. The most extreme example happened when Warner Bros. released such a successful trailer for 'Suicide Squad' it brought on the company that cut it to edit the whole film -- dropping the director's original cut altogether. [...] Thanks to trailers' easy accessibility on YouTube and those shot-by-shot breakdowns that quickly appear online once trailers drop, anyone interested in a given flick can pore over all the available footage for hours -- even if that leads to major spoilers for them and everyone they share it with.
Television

Streaming Services Will Pay Writers More Under New Writers Guild Pact (deadline.com) 64

An anonymous reader quotes Deadline: Netflix, Amazon and Hulu will be paying a lot more in writers' residuals under the new WGA film and TV contract. New details, outlined by WGA West, reveal that high-budget shows they run will generate anywhere between $3,448-$34,637 more residuals per episode over the life of the three-year contract than they did under the old contract, depending on the platform and the length of the show. Essentially, it's the same deal the Director's Guild of America got in their negotiations last December. The WGA contract, which has been unanimously approved by the WGA West board and the WGA East council, now goes to the guilds' members for final ratification. Voting begins Friday and concludes May 24.
For every half-hour of a high-budget show, Netflix will be paying $19,058 more in residuals than it did under the old contract.
Open Source

Open Source SQL Database CockroachDB Hits 1.0 (infoworld.com) 80

An anonymous reader quotes InfoWorld: CockroachDB, an open source, fault-tolerant SQL database with horizontal scaling and strong consistency across nodes -- and a name few people will likely forget -- is now officially available. Cockroach Labs, the company behind its development, touts CockroachDB as a "cloud native" database solution -- a system engineered to run as a distributed resource. Version 1.0 is available in both basic and for-pay editions, and both boast features that will appeal to enterprises.

The company is rolling the dice with its handling of the enterprise edition by also making those components open source and trusting that enterprises will pay for what they use in production.

United Kingdom

British PM Candidate Promises Social Media Crackdown (politico.eu) 218

Theresa May's party "is expected to win a majority at the June 8 election," reports Reuters -- and she's promising they'll pass new social media laws. An anonymous reader quotes Politico: They want to introduce a new measure that could fine or punish internet firms which fail to adequately flag and take down content harmful to minors or "direct users unintentionally to hate speech, pornography or other sources of harm," according to a press release. "The internet has brought a wealth of opportunity but also significant new risks which have evolved faster than society's response to them," May said. "We want social media companies to do more to help redress the balance and will take action to make sure they do"... The Conservative digital platform also promises to better protect Brits' personal information, compelling social media companies to trash user records from before the age of 18. The party plans to encourage the development of digital by default government and business services, as well.
The Almighty Buck

WanaDecrypt0r Ransomware Earns Just $26,000 In Ransom Payments (krebsonsecurity.com) 222

An anonymous reader quotes Krebs On Security: As thousands of organizations work to contain and clean up the mess from this week's devastating Wana ransomware attack, the fraudsters responsible for releasing the digital contagion are no doubt counting their earnings and congratulating themselves on a job well done. But according to a review of the Bitcoin addresses hard-coded into Wana, it appears the perpetrators of what's being called the worst ransomware outbreak ever have made little more than USD $26,000 so far from the scam...

It's worth noting that the ransom note Wana popped up on victim screens (see screenshot above) included a "Contact Us" feature that may have been used by some victims to communicate directly with the fraudsters... I find it depressing to think of the massive financial damage likely wrought by this ransom campaign in exchange for such a comparatively small reward.

The Almighty Buck

Up To 1.4M More Fake Wells Fargo Accounts Possible (siliconvalley.com) 91

An anonymous reader quotes the Bay Area Newsgroup: Wells Fargo may have opened as many as 3.5 million bogus bank accounts without its customers' permission, attorneys for customers suing the bank have alleged in a court filing, suggesting the bank may have created far more fake accounts than previously indicated. The plaintiffs' new estimate of bogus bank accounts is about 1.4 million, or 67%, higher than the original estimate -- disclosed last year as part of a settlement with regulators -- that up to 2.1 million accounts were opened without customers' permission... The attorneys covered a period from 2002 to 2017, rather than the previously scrutinized five-year stretch from 2011 to some time in 2016 in which the bank acknowledged setting up unauthorized accounts.
Wells Fargo terminated 5,300 employees for creating fake accounts, and their CEO now acknowledges that "we had an incentive program and a high-pressure sales culture within our community bank that drove behavior that many times was inappropriate and inconsistent with our values." In a possibly-related story, Wells Fargo plans to shut 450 branches over the next two years.
Government

Did The UK Police Hire Foreigners To Hack Hundreds of Activists? (bbc.co.uk) 72

Big Hairy Ian shared this story from the BBC: Undercover counter-extremism officers used hackers in India to access the emails of journalists and environmental activists, it has been claimed... The Independent Police Complaints Commission said it had received an anonymous letter, which alleged covert officers from the Metropolitan Police's National Domestic Extremism and Disorder Intelligence Unit contacted Indian police officers for help to enlist hackers. The letter alleges the hackers accessed the email accounts of hundreds of people, including members of political and environmental pressure groups and journalists.
"The letter said the monitoring included the 'email accounts of radical journalists who reported on activist protests (as well as sympathetic photographers) including at least two employed by the Guardian newspaper,'" the Guardian reports, adding that the letter provided the names of 10 campaigners -- and the passwords for their accounts.
Earth

French President-Elect Macron Urges Action On Climate Change (newsweek.com) 174

After Sunday's election in France, Macron's victory "is likely to be a boon for the French digital economy and its startup scene," writes a foreign policy think tank blog, "but the country's frosty relationship with U.S. tech companies is likely to remain over the next five years." Yet even before he was elected as France's new president, Emmanuel Macron was already warning the U.S. that withdrawing from the international Paris Climate change agreement could cost America its brightest innovators. Thelasko writes: French President elect Emmanuel Macron has a message to U.S. scientists and engineers working on climate change. "Please, come to France. You are welcome. It's your nation. We like innovation. We want innovative people. We want people working on climate change, energy renewables and new technologies. France is your nation."
Newsweek reports this week that without America's involvement, the Paris Climate agreement "will have no way of meeting its goals of reducing global net carbon emissions" -- but that Macron could persuade the U.S. to honor its agreement. ("It reportedly took just one phone call conversation between Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the president for Trump to reconsider withdrawing entirely for NAFTA, another international agreement signed into law prior to his tenure in the Oval Office.") And in the meantime, Macron has also promised not to cut France's energy-research budget, and will even reinforce it "to accelerate our initiative."
Bug

Google Found Over 1,000 Bugs In 47 Open Source Projects (helpnetsecurity.com) 55

Orome1 writes: In the last five months, Google's OSS-Fuzz program has unearthed over 1,000 bugs in 47 open source software projects... So far, OSS-Fuzz has found a total of 264 potential security vulnerabilities: 7 in Wireshark, 33 in LibreOffice, 8 in SQLite 3, 17 in FFmpeg -- and the list goes on...
Google launched the program in December and wants more open source projects to participate, so they're offering cash rewards for including "fuzz" targets for testing in their software. "Eligible projects will receive $1,000 for initial integration, and up to $20,000 for ideal integration" -- or twice that amount, if the proceeds are donated to a charity.
United States

The Woman Who Saved Manhattan From a Freeway Running Through It (bbc.com) 171

dryriver quotes a report from BBC: A massive freeway project dreamed up by city planner Robert Moses would have destroyed Greenwich Village and altered much of Lower Manhattan if not for one woman's efforts -- those of Jane Jacobs. As vast tracts of this U.S. journalist's adopted New York were razed to make way for theoretically fast-flowing urban freeways potted about with soulless high-rise housing projects for the urban poor, Jane Jacobs, skeptical of grand plans and nobody's victim, took on the City of New York through her urgent writing and by galvanizing protest groups who took to the streets of Manhattan to save the city from being dismembered, disinfected and depopulated. Robert Moses wanted to clean up New York while investing heavily in its infrastructure: its public parks, swimming pools, bridges, playgrounds, parkways, Shea Stadium, Lincoln Center and the United Nations headquarters. For many years, New York's intellectual elite supported such developments, including the destruction of working-class neighborhoods Moses saw as "cancerous growths" in need of surgical removal. He accrued ever more power and pushed through and proposed ever more radical schemes -- notably expressways that sliced through quarters of the city like blunt knives. This powerful and disdainful planner made enemies, and none more so than Jane Jacobs.
DRM

FSF Supports Today's Boston March Against DRM In HTML5 (defectivebydesign.org) 89

Atticus Rex writes: A small artist-led group called Ethics in Tech is joining the long-simmering struggle between streaming video giants and Internet freedom activists over whether the Web should include Digital Rights Management in its technical standards. This Saturday, Ethics in Tech will lead a march on the W3C, the body -- led by Web inventor Tim Berners-Lee -- that decides on Web standards.
The Free Software Foundation is promoting the march, and their "Defective By Design" site is sharing this quote from the march's organizers. Dear W3C: we demand you comply with UNESCO and international civil and political rights. Halt EME -- ensure the protection of a secure, accessible, and open web. Make ethical standards or stand on the wrong side of history.
China

China Is On Track To Fully Phase Out Cash (vice.com) 212

An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from a report via Motherboard: Experts believe it won't be long before China, the first country to introduce paper money, becomes the first to go totally cashless. In a poky sex toy shop in Sanlitun shopping district in central Beijing, a placard with a QR code is strategically placed next to a pink, vein-knobbled dildo called the Super Emperor, and a clitoral pump. Just scan your phone, and walk out with your purchase. The cigarette vendor across the street accepts smartphone payments too. A fast-moving queue of customers purchase smokes by scanning their phones over a tatty cardboard QR code. All the bars in Sanlitun, equal parts seedy and swish, still take cash, but have likewise implemented cashless pay, largely through the ubiquitous WeChat and Alipay app, as primary payment platforms. Beijing taxi drivers accept smartphone payments too. No one in the area uses physical money, for sex toys or otherwise. Largely due to China's vibrant fintech landscape, the recent rise of phone payments in the country has shunted cash onto the endangered list, perhaps somewhere alongside the pangolin. Many experts believe it won't be long before China, the first country to introduce paper money, also becomes the first to phase it out to become fully cashless. But when will this moment come?
The Internet

Cable Lobby Survey Backfires; Most Americans Support Net Neutrality (consumerist.com) 119

New submitter Rick Schumann writes from a report via Consumerist: The NCTA hired polling firm Morning Consult to survey people about their attitudes toward net neutrality. In the results and a blog post about the survey, the organization crows that clearly, everyone thinks regulation is bad. Here's the "TL;DR" version: The NCTA claims Americans want "light touch" regulation of the "internet," but did not ask about regulation of internet service providers. The survey claims most voters believe regulation will harm innovation and investment, but their own numbers show that just as many people believe it won't. Most people don't believe the internet should be regulated like a "public utility," which is good because that's not what net neutrality does. When people were asked their feelings about what neutrality actually does, they overwhelmingly support it.
The Almighty Buck

Gorilla Glass Maker Corning Gets $200 Million From Apple's US Manufacturing Investment Fund (techcrunch.com) 34

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Apple made news and scored some positive PR earlier this month when the company announced a $1 billion fund aimed at investing in U.S.-based manufacturing. Now it's ready to announce the first big investment from its Advanced Manufacturing Fund. New York-based Corning Incorporated will be receiving $200 million from the tech giant's coffers, money that will go toward its Harrodsburg, Kentucky R&D facility. Corning is a logical first choice for Apple. The two companies have worked closely for roughly a decade, when Apple first pushed Corning to create a chemically strengthened glass for the iPhone. The resulting product, Gorilla Glass, has since become the standard for nearly every smartphone maker out there. As Apple helpfully adds in a news release touting the funding, the relationship thus far "has created and sustained nearly 1,000 U.S. jobs across Corning's R&D, manufacturing and commercial functions, including over 400 in Harrodsburg." And indeed, aside from a brief dalliance with synthetic sapphire crystal a couple of years back, it's been a pretty fruitful partnership.
Businesses

Blocked From US Tech Investing, China Goes To Israel Instead (cnet.com) 73

Struggling to seal deals in the United States as regulatory scrutiny tightens, Chinese companies looking to invest in promising technology are finding a warmer welcome for their cash in Israel. From a report: Unfazed by this change, which was brought on in part by a new administration focused on US protectionism, Chinese investors are putting their money in Israeli companies instead. Last year, Chinese investment in Israel surged tenfold to $16.5 billion, a record, with money going to Israeli internet, cybersecurity and medical device companies. In contrast, Chinese investors scrapped a record $26.3 billion in previously announced US deals.
Businesses

Google Releases Study Defending YouTube's Value To Music Biz; Trade Bodies Hit Back (billboard.com) 80

The ongoing tussle between YouTube and the music industry took a new turn this week when Google assured everyone that its video platform doesn't have any negative impact on the other streaming music services -- despite all the free music it offers. From a report: A Google-commissioned report into how YouTube impacts on the wider music economy has -- somewhat unsurprisingly -- found that the hugely popular, yet much-maligned platform significantly drives sales and stops users from visiting pirate music services. According to a European study carried out by RBB Economics, if music content was removed from YouTube around 85 percent of the time that users spend on the platform would switch to lower value channels, such as TV, radio or internet radio. RBB claimed there would also be a significant increase in time spent listening to pirated content (up 29 percent), while only 15 percent of heavy users, defined as someone who watches more than 20 hours of music videos per month, would switch to higher value offerings like subscription streaming services. In the U.K., that number increases to 19 percent; in France it's 12 percent. [...] In response, music trade bodies poured scorn on the paper's findings. "Google's latest publicity push once again seeks to distract from the fact that YouTube, essentially the world's largest on-demand music service, is failing to license music on a fair basis and compensate artists and producers properly by claiming it is not liable for the music it is making available," reads a statement from IFPI. "Services like YouTube, that are not licensing music on fair terms, hinder the development of a sustainably healthy digital music market," claimed the international trade body, repeating its regular call for tighter regulation around safe harbour licensing.
Communications

Cyberattack Hits England's National Health Service With Ransom Demands (theguardian.com) 202

Hospitals across England have been hit by a large-scale cyber-attack, the NHS has confirmed, which has locked staff out of their computers and forced many trusts to divert emergency patients. The IT systems of NHS sites across the country appear to have been simultaneously hit, with a pop-up message demanding a ransom in exchange for access to the PCs. NHS Digital said it was aware of the problem and would release more details soon. Details of patient records and appointment schedules, as well as internal phone lines and emails, have all been rendered inaccessible. From a report: "The investigation is at an early stage but we believe the malware variant is Wanna Decryptor. At this stage we do not have any evidence that patient data has been accessed. We will continue to work with affected organisations to confirm this. NHS Digital is working closely with the National Cyber Security Centre, the Department of Health and NHS England to support affected organisations and to recommend appropriate mitigations. "This attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organisations from across a range of sectors. "Our focus is on supporting organisations to manage the incident swiftly and decisively, but we will continue to communicate with NHS colleagues and will share more information as it becomes available." NPR adds: The problem erupted around 12:30 p.m. local time, the IT worker says, with a number of email servers crashing. Other services soon went down -- and then, the unidentified NHS worker says, "A bitcoin virus pop-up message had been introduced on to the network asking users to pay $300 to be able to access their PCs. You cannot get past this screen." The attack was not specifically targeted at the NHS and is affecting organizations from across a range of sectors, it appears. The report adds: Images that were posted online of the NHS pop-up look nearly identical to pop-up ransomware windows that hit Spain's Telefonica, a powerful attack that forced the large telecom to order employees to disconnect their computers from its network -- resorting to an intercom system to relay messages. Telefonica, Spain's largest ISP, has told its employees to shut down their computers.

Update
: BBC is reporting that similar attacks are being reported in the UK, US, China, Russia, Spain, Italy, Vietnam, Taiwan today.
Spam

Nuisance Call Firm Keurboom Hit With Record Fine (bbc.com) 81

An anonymous reader writes: A cold-calling firm has been fined a record $515,000 by the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) for making almost 100 million nuisance calls. Keurboom Communications called people, sometimes at night, to see if they were eligible for road-accident or PPI compensation, the ICO said. It breached privacy laws by calling people without their consent. The company has since gone into liquidation but the ICO said it was committed to recovering the fine. It said it had received more than 1,000 complaints about automated calls from the Bedfordshire-registered company. The ICO said Keurboom Communications called some people repeatedly and during unsocial hours. It also hid its identity so that people would find it harder to complain. "The unprecedented scale of its campaign and Keurboom's failure to co-operate with our investigation has resulted in the largest fine issued by the Information Commissioner for nuisance calls," said Steve Eckersley, head of enforcement at the ICO.
Microsoft

Microsoft Is Surprisingly Comfortable With Its New Place In a Mobile, Apple, and Android World (fastcompany.com) 73

An anonymous reader writes: The company that once held a mock funeral for the iPhone -- complete with dedicated "iPhone trashcans" -- now has a very different attitude about the company of Jobs. The Microsoft whose old CEO Steve Ballmer in 2007 famously predicted the iPhone had "no chance; no chance at all" of getting market share, now readily accepts and embraces a world where the iPhone and Android dominate personal computing. Microsoft talked a lot here at its Build 2017 developer conference about extending Windows experiences over to iOS and Android devices. And it's not just about fortifying Windows. Microsoft says it not only wants to connect with those foreign operating systems, but by bringing over functionality from Windows 10 (along with content) it hopes to "make those other devices better," as one Microsoft rep said in a press briefing yesterday. The developers here at Build cheered when Microsoft announced XAML Standard 1.0, which provides a single markup language to make user interfaces that work on Windows, iOS, and Android. In one demo, the company demonstrated how an enterprise sales app could be extended to an iOS device so someone could continue capturing a potential client's data on a mobile device. Windows not only sent over the client data that had already been captured, but also the business-app shell that had captured it.
Education

Why Doesn't Harvard Want To Talk About Its Mystery Microsoft Azure Project? (geekwire.com) 51

theodp writes: GeekWire's Tom Krazit reports, "Microsoft Azure appears to have scored a high-profile customer: Harvard University's prestigious CS50 computer science class, not that anybody wants to talk about it." A deleted-today-but-still-cached Microsoft Technical Case Study on the software giant's GitHub account touts the success of a recent DevOps collaboration effort between Microsoft's Azure team and an unnamed "major U.S. research university." "This U.S. university is world-class," explains the case study, "well known for its research and its alumni. For now, they would prefer to remain anonymous, so this document will refer to them as 'the university' (the case study web page, however, is a not-so-anonymous 'CS50.html')." Like many IT projects, there seems to be a disconnect between the software vendor and the client. "The project we defined and delivered was exactly what they were looking for," boasts the case study's three Microsoft authors, who add that "full deployment and migration will wait until summer." Contacted for comment by GeekWire, however, Harvard CS professor extraordinaire David Malan seemed less committed to the relationship. "We're actually still on AWS," Malan wrote, "though most every summer we do tend to re-evaluate our apps' architecture for the coming year, with AWS, Azure, Google, et al. always among the candidates. So no plans yet, but happy to reach out toward summer's end if we've made any decisions!"
Verizon

Verizon Outbids AT&T For Nationwide 5G Wireless Spectrum (theverge.com) 34

Verizon has agreed to pay $3.1 billion for wireless spectrum holder Straight Path Communications, beating out rival AT&T, which had offered to buy Straight Path for $1.6 billion in stock. Verizon's acquisition will give it access to the frequencies necessary to build a 5G network across the U.S. The Verge reports: The news that AT&T was aiming to buy the Glen Allen, VA-based Straight Path was first reported last month, prompting a bidding war between the carriers that the WSJ describes as "unusually intense." Straight Path's purchase gives Verizon access to millimeter wave frequencies that are set to be used by 5G networks across the United States, making it a useful purchase from the start. Experts have also noted that the company's owner may also be afforded even more spectrum in future auctions with the FCC, potentially giving Verizon access to the entire 39GHz band down the line.
Google

German Publishers' Lawsuit Against Google May Backfire (npr.org) 29

jowifi writes: VG Media, a German publishing company, filed a lawsuit against Google claiming Google's use of snippets in their search results infringed the publishers' copyrights. However, the suit may backfire because the Berlin court is now reviewing the law itself to determine if it is even valid. The question arose because Germany did not submit the rule for review by the EU before enacting it, violating an EU Directive. If the law is invalidated, the decision could present problems for a proposed EU-wide directive that is similar to the German rule. Germany's rule had a rough start when it was implemented in 2014. Google refused to pay fees to publishers, instead allowing them to opt in to having snippets shown. One publisher declined to opt in, but changed their mind after traffic from Google dropped 40% and traffic from Google News dropped 80%. Handelsblatt Global explains why Germany decided not to notify the EU about the draft of this law: "While typically a formality, notification reviews of national laws by Brussels can take up to two years or more. In 2013, Germany did not submit the copyright law for notification, citing a Justice Ministry argument that the law's scope was so limited, it didn't fall under the E.U.'s notification requirement."
Patents

Cloudflare Declares War On a Patent Troll With a $50,000 Bounty (fortune.com) 54

Internet security company Cloudflare has declared war on a company called Blackbird that consists of a group of lawyers who file patent lawsuits against tech and retail firms. In a blog post titled "Standing Up to a Dangerous New Breed of Patent Troll," Cloudflare called Blackbird's business model destruction and unethical, and announced a $50,000 bounty to anyone who would help invalidate Blackbird's patents. Fortune reports: "There's no social value here. There's no support for a maligned inventor. There's no competing business or product. There's no validation of an incentive structure that supports innovation. This is a shakedown where a patent troll, Blackbird Tech, creates as much nuisance as it can so its attorney-principals can try to grab some cash. Cloudflare does not intend to play along," said the blog post. While patent trolling has been around for years -- and is a particular bug bear of the tech industry -- Cloudflare says Blackbird's model of trolling involves a new and unethical twist. Specifically, the company says Blackbird's lawyer-executives are violating their professional obligations by buying the claims of potential clients and engaging in questionable fee-splitting arrangements. Here is how Cloudflare, which says it is filing complaints with the state bars of Massachusetts and Illinois, explains it: "Blackbird's 'new model' seems to be only that its operations set out to distort the traditional Attorney-Client relationship. Blackbird's website makes a direct pitch of its legal services to recruit clients with potential claims and then, instead of taking them on as a client, purchases their claims and provides additional consideration that likely gives the client an ongoing interest in the resulting litigation. In doing so, Blackbird is flouting its ethical obligations meant to protect clients and distorting the judicial process by obfuscating and limiting potential counterclaims against the real party in interest."
Education

'The Traditional Lecture Is Dead' (wired.com) 233

Rhett Allain, an Associate Professor of Physics at Southeastern Louisiana University, writing for Wired: What is the traditional lecture? It is a model of learning in which a teacher possesses the knowledge on a given topic and disseminates it to students. This model dates to the beginning of education, when it was the only way of sharing information. In fact, you occasionally still see the person presenting the lecture called a reader, because way back before the internet and even the printing press, a teacher would literally read from a book so students could copy it all down. Now, don't get me wrong. The traditional lecture model worked wonderfully for eons. But it is an outdated idea (free pass for adblockers). Close your eyes and imagine yourself in a college physics course with a professor giving a traditional lecture. Now open your eyes. Did you envision The Best Physics Lecture EVAR? I doubt it. You probably pictured someone droning on and on in front of a chalkboard or PowerPoint presentation. No way that is more engaging or interesting than an episode of The Mechanical Universe , and if you're a teacher who uses traditional lectures, just stop and play the show instead. Everyone will be better off. You may think by now that I think most physics professors are dolts. I promise that's not the case. But traditional lectures simply aren't effective. Research shows students don't learn by hearing or seeing, they learn by doing, a model often called active learning. Physics faculty should start thinking about how they can go beyond just a traditional lecture. There are some easy things they can do (or students can ask them to do) to make learning more engaging. First, make students read the book outside of class, rather than in class. If your lecture merely covers the material in the textbook, why make students buy the textbook? Now, you may put a different spin on the material, but still. You're merely repeating what students can read on their own. Let them do that on their own time, and use the classroom for experiments and demonstrations and so forth.
Businesses

Amazon Is the 2nd Most Popular App Among Teens, Says Study (cnbc.com) 56

An anonymous reader writes: When it comes to apps they're using these days, teens and millennials say Snapchat is king -- no surprise there. But second place? It's not Instagram: It's Amazon. This is according to a survey -- The 2017 Love List Brand Affinity Index, run by Conde Nast and Goldman Sachs -- that asked 2,345 U.S. millennial and Gen Z shoppers about their fashion, retail and consumer preferences. The survey skewed towards younger consumers. One question asked which apps they were using currently that they weren't using a few months ago: Snapchat and Amazon came in first and second. (Other popular apps -- Instagram, Twitter and Pinterest -- came in third, fourth and fifth respectively.) "Users are looking for efficiency, speed and convenience, and Amazon hits all those buckets," said Conde Nast chief marketing officer Pam Drucker Mann told CNBC. On a side note, it appears people generally don't have many gripes with Amazon. Early results of our poll from Wednesday suggests Amazon is the last company (of the five tech giants) whose services people are keen on ditching. Also, regardless of how some of us feel about Snapchat, the company seems to be a hit among teenagers.
The Courts

Man To Pay $300,000 In Damages For Hacking Employer (bbc.com) 69

An anonymous reader writes: A former private security officer in California must pay nearly $319,000 in damages for attacking his employer's computer systems. Yovan Garcia accessed payroll records at Security Specialists, which provides private security patrols, to inflate the number of hours he had worked. He later hacked the firm's servers to steal data and defaced its website. District Judge Michael Fitzgerald said Garcia had used the stolen data to help set up a rival business. Security Specialists first noticed issues with Mr Garcia's pay records in July 2014, about two years after he joined. In one example, they showed he had worked 12 hours per day over a two-week period and was owed 40 hours of overtime pay, when in fact he only worked eight hours per day.
Facebook

Snap CEO Evan Spiegel Is Not Afraid of Facebook (recode.net) 42

An anonymous reader writes: Snap CEO Evan Spiegel addressed on Wednesday what many have been hoping he would address for months: What he thinks about Facebook and the fact the social giant is copying all of Snapchat's best features. On Snap's Q1 earnings call Wednesday, Spiegel was asked bluntly: "Does Facebook scare you? Why or why not?" Spiegel laughed. Then talked about how important it is to be creative. Then said this: "At the end of the day, just because Yahoo, for example, has a search box, it doesn't mean they're Google." Fun fact: Yahoo is an investor in Snap.
Ubuntu

Ubuntu Arrives in the Windows Store, Suse and Fedora Are Coming To the Windows Subsystem For Linux (venturebeat.com) 212

At its Build developer conference today, Microsoft announced that Ubuntu has arrived in the Windows Store. From a report: The company also revealed that it is working with Fedora and Suse to bring their distributions to the Windows Subsystem for Linux (WSL) in Windows 10. At the conference last year, Microsoft announced plans to bring the Bash shell to Windows. The fruits of that labor was WSL, a compatibility layer for running Linux binary executables (in ELF format) natively on Windows, which arrived with the Windows 10 Anniversary Update released in August 2016. Microsoft also partnered with Canonical to allow Ubuntu tools and utilities to run natively on top of the WSL. By bringing Ubuntu to the Windows Store, the company is now making it even easier for developers to install the tools and run Windows and Linux apps side by side. Working with other Linux firms shows that Microsoft's deal with Canonical was not a one-time affair, but rather part of a long-term investment in the Linux world.
Businesses

Amazon To Build Homeless Shelter In Its New Seattle Headquarters (cnn.com) 238

Amazon is trying to do its part to help the homelessness problem in its hometown of Seattle. The company announced on Wednesday that it would donate more than 47,000 square feet of space within its newest Seattle headquarters building as a permanent location to house homeless people. CNNMoney reports: "Mary's Place does incredible, life-saving work every day for women, children, and families experiencing homelessness in the Seattle community," Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. "We are lucky to count them as neighbors and thrilled to offer them a permanent home within our downtown Seattle headquarters." Amazon is partnering with local nonprofit Mary's Place to create 65 rooms, which will house more than 200 homeless people every night. The new Mary's Place shelter will open in early 2020. It will also have a resource center like those the nonprofit offers in North Seattle and White Center, where 40-plus local nonprofits and volunteers work with staff to help families obtain employment and permanent housing.
United Kingdom

Call Center Operator and His Cousin Steal $645,000 From UK Water Supplier (bleepingcomputer.com) 97

An anonymous reader writes: "An unnamed UK-based regional water supply company lost over $645,000 in a sophisticated scam that involved social engineering, an inside man, and international bank transfers," reports BleepingComputer. According to a recently disclosed report, one of the water supplier's call center operators was taking screenshots of customer details and sending this data to his cousin in the UK. This person would trick other call center operators to reset the passwords for those accounts, add his bank account info to the account, and request a refund for previous transactions. Their operation was discovered after customers, usually small-to-medium businesses, discovered they couldn't access their accounts anymore, and also reported new bank account details. A search of the CRM logs revealed that only one call center operator had accessed those profiles, albeit he never initiated or approved refunds. When questioned, the arrogant employee signed an affidavit allowing investigators to search his home PC, thinking they would never discover anything, since he already wiped his hard drive. They did because he forgot to delete his shadow volume copies, where investigators discovered copies of emails sent to his cousin in the UK. These emails contained the screenshots of his work PC with SMB client data. In the end, the call center employee ended up helping authorities secure a conviction for his cousin.
Software

Zillow Faces Lawsuit Over 'Zestimate' Tool That Calculates a House's Worth (washingtonpost.com) 231

According to The Washington Post, "a homeowner has filed suit against online reality giant Zillow, claiming the company's controversial 'Zestimate' tool repeatedly undervalued her house, creating a 'tremendous road block' to its sale." From the report: The suit, which may be the first of its kind, was filed in Cook County Circuit Court by a Glenview, Ill., real estate lawyer, Barbara Andersen. The suit alleges that despite Zillow's denial that Zestimates constitute "appraisals," the fact that they offer market-value estimates and "are promoted as a tool for potential buyers to use in assessing [the] market value of a given property," shows that they meet the definition of an appraisal under state law. Not only should Zillow be licensed to perform appraisals before offering such estimates, the suit argues, but it also should obtain "the consent of the homeowner" before posting them online for everyone to see. In an interview, Andersen told me she is considering bringing the issue to the Illinois attorney general because it affects all property owners in the state. She has also been approached about turning the matter into a class action, which could touch millions of owners across the country. In the suit, Andersen said that she has been trying to sell her townhouse, which overlooks a golf course and is in a prime location, for $626,000 -- roughly what she paid for it in 2009. Houses directly across the street but with greater square footage sell for $100,000 more, according to her court filing. But Zillow's automated valuation system has apparently used sales of newly constructed houses from a different and less costly part of town as comparables in valuing her townhouse, she says. The most recent Zestimate is for $562,000. Andersen is seeking an injunction against Zillow and wants the company to either remove her Zestimate or amend it. For the time being, she is not seeking monetary damages, she told me.
Advertising

Facebook Downranks News Feed Links To Crappy Sites Smothered In Ads (techcrunch.com) 95

Facebook's New Feed algorithm is targeting links that send people to crappy websites filled with advertisements. According to their blog post, Facebook defines a "low-quality site" as one "containing little substantive content, and that is covered in disruptive, shocking or malicious ads." TechCrunch reports: The change could help Facebook fight fake news, as fakers are often financially motivated and blanket their false information articles in ads. High-quality sites may see a slight boost in referral traffic, while crummy sites will see a decline as the update rolls out gradually over the coming months. Facebook tells me that the change will see it refuse an immaterial number of ad impressions that earned it negligible amounts of money, so it shouldn't have a significant impact on Facebook's revenue. Facebook product manager for News Feed Greg Marra tells me Facebook made the decision based on surveys of users about what disturbed their News Feed experience. One pain point they commonly cited was links that push them to "misleading, sensational, spammy, or otherwise low-quality experiences... [including] sexual content, shocking content, and other things that are going to be really disruptive." Today's change is important because if users don't trust the content on the other side of the links and ads they see in News Feed, they'll click them less. That could reduce Facebook's advertising revenue and the power it derives from controlling referral traffic. Getting sent to a low-quality, shocking site from News Feed could also frustrate users and cause them to end their Facebook browsing session, depriving the social network of further ad views, engagement and content sharing.
Google

'Google Is As Close To a Natural Monopoly As the Bell System Was In 1956' (promarket.org) 248

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ProMarket: In terms of market share and profit margins, the big digital platforms, particularly Google and Facebook, enjoy an astounding level of dominance. Google, in effect the world's largest media company, has an 88 percent market share in search advertising. Facebook (including Instagram, Messenger, and WhatsApp) controls over 70 percent of social media on mobile devices. Together, the two firms received 85 cents of every new dollar spent in online advertising in the first quarter of 2016. Amazon has an over 70 percent share in the e-book market. Along with Apple and Microsoft, they are now the most valuable companies (in terms of market capitalization) in the world. The rise of digital platforms has had profound political, economic, and social effects, not least of which on the creators of content. While the internet brought immense benefits to consumers of content, the so-called "creative class" -- authors, journalists, filmmakers, musicians, artists -- has been particularly ravaged by the digital economy. This ravaging, and its roots in the monopolization of content delivery and data in the hands of a few digital giants, are at the heart of the new book Move Fast and Break Things: How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy by media scholar Jonathan Taplin. In the book, Taplin explores the way in which the internet came to be dominated by a handful of monopoly platforms, and the subsequent capturing of regulators that has since all but ensured their dominance would not be challenged in court. In an interview with ProMarket, Taplin said in response to a question: "I would say Google is as close to a natural monopoly as the Bell System was in 1956. If you came to me and said 'Hey, I want to start a company to compete with Google in search,' I would say you're out of your mind and don't waste your energy or your time or your money, there's just no way. Classic economics would say that if there's a business in which there are 35 percent net margins, that would attract a huge amount of new capital to capture some of that, and none of that has happened. That tells you there's something wrong."
Transportation

New York Begins Taking Applications For Self-Driving Car Tests (fastcompany.com) 13

An anonymous reader writes: New York Governor Andrew Cuomo says the state is now taking applications to test self-driving cars on public roadways. The program requires licensees to have a $5 million insurance policy. Cars must also pass federal and New York automotive safety standards and all test reports must be submitted to the state by March of next year.
Businesses

How One Little Cable Company Exposed Telecom's Achilles' Heel (backchannel.com) 197

Reader mirandakatz writes: Forget net neutrality -- the real fight is over controlling price-gouging monopolies. As Susan Crawford writes at Backchannel, a little-known cable company, Cable One, just exposed the telecommunications industry's Achilles' heel: regulation. Cable One has been raising its data transmission prices quickly, and it's making cable giants very, very nervous. If people begin noticing that there's no competition, that Americans are paying too much for too little, and that the entire country is suffering as a result, that's a big problem for Big Cable. As Crawford writes, 'don't fixate on net neutrality... Even though the state of internet access is an issue that touches the bank accounts and opportunities of hundreds of millions of Americans and gazillions of businesses, very few people understand what's actually going on. Now you are among them. Do something about it.'
EU

US To Ban Laptops in All Cabins of Flights From Europe (thedailybeast.com) 435

An anonymous reader shares an article: The Department of Homeland Security will ban laptops in the cabins of all flights from Europe to the United States, European security officials told The Daily Beast. An official announcement is expected Thursday. Initially a ban on laptops and tablets was applied only to U.S.-bound flights from 10 airports in North Africa and the Middle East. The ban was based on U.S. fears that terrorists have found a way to convert laptops into bombs capable of bringing down an airplane. It is unclear if the European ban will also apply to tablets. DHS said in a statement to The Daily Beast: "No final decisions have been made on expanding the restriction on large electronic devices in aircraft cabins; however, it is under consideration. DHS continues to evaluate the threat environment and will make changes when necessary to keep air travelers safe."
Communications

A Bot Is Flooding the FCC's Website With Fake Anti-net Neutrality Comments (zdnet.com) 102

An anonymous reader writes: A bot is thought to be behind the posting of thousands of messages to the FCC's website, in an apparent attempt to influence the results of a public solicitation for feedback on net neutrality. A sizable portion of those comments are fake, and are repeating the same manufactured response again and again, ZDNet reports. So much so that more than 58,000 identical comments have been posted since the feedback doors were opened, now representing over one-in-ten comments on the FCC's feedback docket. The comment reads as following: "The unprecedented regulatory power the Obama Administration imposed on the internet is smothering innovation, damaging the American economy and obstructing job creation. I urge the Federal Communications Commission to end the bureaucratic regulatory overreach of the internet known as Title II and restore the bipartisan light-touch regulatory consensus that enabled the internet to flourish for more than 20 years."

ZDNet claims that all other comments follow the same pattern: the bot appears to cycle through names in an alphabetical order, leaving the person's name, and postal address and zip code. And some -- if not all -- of these comments are fake, the publication adds, claiming that it reached out to the people and many of them confirmed that they had not left any comments on the website.
Businesses

Apple Becomes First US Company To Top $800 Billion Value (bloomberg.com) 75

According to Bloomberg, "Apple became the first U.S. company with a market value of more than $800 billion as investors bet the next iPhone will spur a resurgence in sales." From the report: The stock rose 1 percent Tuesday to close at $153.99 in New York, giving it a market capitalization of about $803 billion. The shares have gained 33 percent since the start of the year, helped by a buyback program that Chief Executive Officer Tim Cook extended to total $210 billion last week, from $175 billion last year. Apple's rise to the top of the world's largest equity market highlights the emergence of mobile technology and the relative decline of the oil industry in recent years. Exxon Mobil Corp.'s value peaked in the fall of 2007, when oil prices climbed toward $100 a barrel. In November of that year, PetroChina Co. briefly became the first global company with a market capitalization of more than $1 trillion. Apple's revenue grew in the most recent fiscal quarter even as iPhone unit sales fell.
Businesses

Why Do Gas Station Prices Constantly Change? Blame the Algorithm (wsj.com) 109

Retailers are using artificial-intelligence software to set optimal prices, testing textbook theories of competition, says a WSJ report. An anonymous reader shares the article: One recent afternoon at a Shell-branded station on the outskirts of this Dutch city, the price of a gallon of unleaded gas started ticking higher, rising more than three-and-a-half cents by closing time. A little later, a competing station three miles down the road raised its price about the same amount. The two stations are among thousands of companies that use artificial-intelligence software to set prices (Editor's note: the link could be paywalled; alternative source). In doing so, they are testing a fundamental precept of the market economy. [...] Advances in AI are allowing retail and wholesale firms to move beyond 'dynamic pricing' software, which has for years helped set prices for fast-moving goods, like airline tickets or flat-screen televisions. Older pricing software often used simple rules, such as always keeping prices lower than a competitor. These new systems crunch mountains of historical and real-time data to predict how customers and competitors will react to any price change under different scenarios, giving them an almost superhuman insight into market dynamics. Programmed to meet a certain goal -- such as boosting sales -- the algorithms constantly update tactics after learning from experience. Even as the rise of algorithms determining prices poses a challenge to anti-trust law, authorities in the United States and Europe haven't opened probes or accused anyone of impropriety for using AI to set prices.
Government

Trump Fires FBI Director James Comey (washingtonpost.com) 810

The White House said today that President Trump has fired FBI director James Comey. Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a statement: "President Donald J. Trump informed FBI Director James Comey that he has been terminated and removed from office. President Trump acted based on the clear recommendations of both Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. 'The FBI is one of our Nation's most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement,' said President Trump. A search for a new permanent FBI Director will begin immediately." The Washington Post reports: Earlier in the day, the FBI notified Congress that Comey misstated key findings involving the Hillary Clinton email investigation during testimony last week, saying that only a "small number" of emails had been forwarded to disgraced congressman Anthony Weiner, not the "hundreds and thousands" he'd claimed in his testimony. The letter was sent to the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, more than a week after Comey testified for hours in defense of his handling of the Clinton probe. In defending the probe at last week's hearing, Comey offered seemingly new details to underscore the seriousness of the situation FBI agents faced last fall when they discovered thousands of Clinton aide Huma Abedin's emails on the computer of her husband, Anthony Weiner. "Somehow, her emails were being forwarded to Anthony Weiner, including classified information," Comey said, adding later, "His then-spouse Huma Abedin appears to have had a regular practice of forwarding emails to him for him I think to print out for her so she could then deliver them to the secretary of state." At another point in the testimony, Comey said Abedin "forwarded hundreds and thousands of emails, some of which contain classified information." Neither of those statements is accurate, said people close to the investigation. Tuesday's letter said "most of the emails found on Mr. Weiner's laptop computer related to the Clinton investigation occurred as a result of a backup of personal electronic devices, with a small number a result of manual forwarding by Ms. Abedin to Mr. Weiner." The letter also corrected the impression Mr. Comey's testimony had left with some listeners that 12 classified emails were among those forwarded by Abedin to Weiner.
Businesses

'Silicon Valley Is Missing Unicorns Because It Doesn't Understand Poor People' (cnbc.com) 202

An anonymous reader writes: Silicon Valley might be hunting unicorns in the wrong places. According to one top federal health official, entrepreneurs and investors are overlooking one massive population: Low-income Americans who qualify for Medicaid. That's a big mistake, given that new funds are available for those that are bringing IT innovation to the space, said Medicaid chief medical officer Andrey Ostrovsky. "My gut is that it's a big opportunity with $500 billion in federal spend every year in a system that hasn't evolved technologically much since 1965," Ostrovsky said. "There are unicorns sitting in there," he added.
United States

Tunnel Collapses At Nuclear Facility Once Called 'An Underground Chernobyl Waiting To Happen' (gizmodo.com) 188

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: Managers at the Hanford Site in Washington State told workers to "take cover" Tuesday morning after a tunnel leading to a massive plutonium finishing plant collapsed. The emergency is especially worrisome, since Hanford is commonly known as "the most toxic place in America," with one former governor calling it "an underground Chernobyl waiting to happen." Worrisome might actually be an understatement. An emergency has been declared. The accident occurred near the 200 East Area, the home of several solid waste sites. More specifically, the tunnel that collapsed was one filled with highly radioactive train cars that once carried spent fuel rods containing deeply dangerous plutonium and uranium from a reactor on the Columbia River to the processing facility. Those reactors once produced plutonium for America's nuclear arsenal, though production ended in 1980. The cleanup process that followed has gone on for nearly 30 years. Back to the poor workers, though. They've been instructed to stay indoors, and one manager reportedly sent out a message telling workers to "secure ventilation in your building" and "refrain from eating or drinking." When you can't even have a glass of water, you know the nuclear emergency is bad. The U.S. Department of Energy sent out a press release around 1pm EST that said "facility personnel have been evacuated," while workers at nearby sites have been instructed to stay indoors. A spokesperson also told the press that "there was no evidence to suggest that radioactive materials had been released and that all of the workers in the area were accounted for."
Government

Officials Fear Russia Could Try To Target United States Through Kaspersky AV (go.com) 173

Russia's growing aggression toward the United States has deepened concerns among U.S. officials that Russian spies might try to exploit one of the world's most respected cybersecurity firms to snoop on Americans or sabotage key U.S. systems, according to an ABC News investigation. From the report: Products from the company, Kaspersky Lab, based in Moscow, are widely used in homes, businesses and government agencies throughout the United States, including the Bureau of Prisons. Kaspersky Lab's products are stocked on the shelves of Target and Best Buy, which also sells laptops loaded by manufacturers with the firm's anti-virus software. But in a secret memorandum sent last month to Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Senate Intelligence Committee raised possible red flags about Kaspersky Lab and urged the intelligence community to address potential risks posed by the company's powerful market position. "This [is an] important national security issue," declared the bipartisan memorandum, described to ABC News by congressional sources.
Piracy

Spotify Used 'Pirate' MP3 Files In Its Early Days: Report (torrentfreak.com) 44

According to Rasmus Fleischer, one of the early The Pirate Bay figures, Spotify used unlicensed music in its early days. From a report: "Spotify's beta version was originally a pirate service. It was distributing MP3 files that the employees happened to have on their hard drives," he reveals. Rumors that early versions of Spotify used 'pirate' MP3s have been floating around the Internet for years. People who had access to the service in the beginning later reported downloading tracks that contained 'Scene' labeling, tags, and formats, which are the tell-tale signs that content hadn't been obtained officially. Solid proof has been more difficult to come by but Fleischer says he knows for certain that Spotify was using music obtained not only from pirate sites, but the most famous pirate site of all.
Microsoft

Microsoft Is Planning To Turn Windows 10 PCs Into Amazon Echo Competitors (theverge.com) 82

Speaking of Amazon's Echo devices, it appears Microsoft also wants a slice of this nascent market. The Verge's Tom Warren claims that Microsoft has been working on a feature for Windows 10 that would allow it "to better compete with devices like Amazon's Echo." Dubbed HomeHub, the feature is designed to create "a family environment for a PC with shared access to calendars, apps, and even a new welcome screen." He adds: Microsoft is even planning to support smart home devices like Philips' Hue lights, to enable Windows 10 to act as a hub to control and manage smart home hardware. While we've heard about HomeHub before, The Verge has obtained internal concepts of exactly how Microsoft is imagining HomeHub will work. The major addition is a new welcome screen that includes an "always on" digital corkboard to let families use to-do lists, calendars, and notes. The welcome screen is really designed for kitchen PCs and new smaller hardware with screens that will support Cortana voice commands from across the room.
Businesses

Canonical Founder Says Recent Changes In Ubuntu Were Necessary To Prepare the Company For an IPO (zdnet.com) 128

An anonymous reader writes: Canonical was doing well with Ubuntu and cloud and container-related technologies, such as Juju, LXD, and Metal-as-a-Service (MaaS). In addition, its OpenStack and Kubernetes software stacks, according to Shuttleworth, are growing by leaps and bounds on both the public and private cloud. Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth said "in the last year, Ubuntu cloud growth had been 70 percent on the private cloud and 90 percent on the public cloud." In particular, "Ubuntu has been gaining more customers on the big five public clouds." What hadn't succeeded was Canonical's attempt to make Unity the universal interface for desktops, tablets, and smartphones. Shuttleworth was personally invested in this project, but at day's end, it wasn't getting enough adoption to make it profitable. So, Shuttleworth said with regret, Unity had to be dropped. This move also means Canonical will devote more of its time to "putting the company on the path to a IPO. We must figure out what steps we need to take moving forward." That means focusing on Canonical's most profitable lines. Specifically, "Ubuntu will never die. Ubuntu is the default platform on cloud computing. Juju, MaaS, and OpenStack are nearly unstoppable. We need to work out more of our IoT path. At the same time, we had to cut out those parts that couldn't meet an investors' needs. The immediate work is get all parts of the company profitable."
Businesses

Ask Slashdot: How To Improve At Work When You're Not Getting Feedback? 222

An anonymous reader writes: Too many managers avoid giving any kind of feedback, regardless of whether it's positive or negative. If you work for a boss who doesn't provide feedback, it's easy to feel rudderless. It can be especially disorienting if you're new in the role, new to the company, or a recent graduate new to the workforce. In the absence of specific guidance, is there any way to know what the average boss would want you to work on? What would you advise someone who works in IT, engineering, coding, designing or any similar industry?
Bitcoin

ISPs Could Take Down Large Parts of Bitcoin Ecosystem If They Wanted To (bleepingcomputer.com) 72

An anonymous reader writes: A rogue ISP could take down large parts of the Bitcoin ecosystem, according to new research that will be presented in two weeks at the 38th IEEE Symposium on Security and Privacy in San Jose, USA. According to the researchers, there are two types of attack scenarios that could be leveraged via BGP hijacks to cripple the Bitcoin ecosystem: hijacking mining proceeds, causing double-spending errors, and delaying transactions. These two (partition and delay) attacks are possible because most of the entire Bitcoin ecosystem isn't as decentralized as most people think, and it still runs on a small number of ISPs. For example, 13 ISPs host 30% of the entire Bitcoin network, 39 ISPs host 50% of the whole Bitcoin mining power, and 3 ISPs handle 60% of all Bitcoin traffic. Currently, researchers found that around 100 Bitcoin nodes are the victims of BGP hijacks each month.

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