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Windows 10 Calculator Will Soon Be Able To Graph Math Equations

2 hours 27 min ago
Earlier this month, Microsoft made the source code for its Windows calculator available on GitHub. This has spurred developers to add new features to the app, like a new graphing mode that will make its way to the official Windows Calculator app. The "Graphing Mode" is one of 30+ suggestions that open-source contributors have proposed so far. The ZDNet reports: As its name implies, Graphing Mode will allow users to create graphs based on mathematical equations, in a similar way to Matlab's (way more advanced) Plotting Mode. The feature was proposed by Microsoft engineer Dave Grochocki, also a member of the Windows Calculator team. In a GitHub issue Grochocki submitted to support his proposal, he argued that a graphing mode would help students learn algebra easier. "High school algebra is the gateway to mathematics and all other disciplines of STEM," Grochocki said. "However, algebra is the single most failed course in high school, as well as the most failed course in community college." By adding a Graphing Mode to Windows Calculator, an app included with all Windows 10 versions, the Microsoft engineer hopes to provide students and teachers with a free tool to help schools across the world. "Physical graphing calculators can be expensive, software solutions require licenses and configuration by school IT departments, and online solutions are not always an option," he added. "Graphing capabilities in their daily tools are essential for students who are beginning to explore linear algebra as early as 8th grade. [...] At present, Windows Calculator does not currently have the needed functionality to meet the demands of students." There's no timeline for when the new graphing mode will arrive, but it should arrive soon.

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Researchers Created Reprogrammable Molecular Algorithms For DNA Computers

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 11:30pm
dmoberhaus writes: In a major breakthrough for DNA computing, researchers from UC Davis, Caltech and Maynooth University developed a technique for creating molecular algorithms that can be reprogrammed. Prior to this research, molecular algorithms had to be painstakingly designed for specific purposes, which is "like having to build a new computer out of new hardware just to run a new piece of software," according to the researchers. This new technique could blow open the door for a host of futuristic DNA computing applications -- nanofactories, light-based computers, etc. -- that would've been impossible before. The paper was published this week in Nature.

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Lithuanian Pleads Guilty To Stealing $100 Million From Google, Facebook

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 10:10pm
schwit1 writes: Evaldas Rimasauskas, a Lithuanian citizen, concocted a brazen scheme that allowed him to bilk Facebook and Google out of more than $100 million. The crime defrauded Google of $23 million and Facebook of $99 million. Rimasauskas committed the crimes between 2013 to 2015, an indictment was issued in 2017, and he was formally indicted Wednesday in New York after he pleaded guilty to wire fraud, aggravated identity theft, and three counts of money laundering. "As Evaldas Rimasauskas admitted today, he devised a blatant scheme to fleece U.S. companies out of over $100 million, and then siphoned those funds to bank accounts around the globe," said U.S. Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman in a DoJ press release. How did he do it? The indictment reveals that he simply billed the companies for the amounts and they paid the bills. Rimasauskas was able to trick company employees into wiring the money to multiple bank accounts that he controlled and had set up in institutions in Cyprus, Lithuania, Hungary, Slovakia, and Latvia.

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Insider Threats Pose the Biggest Security Risk

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 9:30pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: According to a new study 91 percent of IT and security professionals feel vulnerable to insider threats, and 75 percent believe the biggest risks lie in cloud applications like popular file storage and email solutions including Google Drive, Gmail and Dropbox. The report from SaaS operations management specialist BetterCloud also shows 62 percent of respondents believe the biggest security threat comes from the well-meaning but negligent end user. Among other findings are that 46 percent of IT leaders (heads of IT and above) believe that the rise of SaaS applications makes them the most vulnerable. In addition 40 percent of respondents believe they are most vulnerable to exposure of confidential business information such as financial information and customer lists. Only 26 percent of C-level executives say they've invested enough to mitigate the risk of insider threats, compared to 44 percent of IT managers.

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FEMA Data Breach Hits 2.5 Million Disaster Survivors

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 8:50pm
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) unlawfully shared the private information of 2.3 million hurricane and wildfire survivors with a federal contractor that was helping them find temporary housing, an inspector general from the Department of Homeland Security said Friday. The data includes "20 unnecessary data fields" such as "electronic funds transfer number," "bank transit number" and addresses. CNN reports: FEMA said it began filtering the data in December 2018 to prevent this information from being shared, but a more permanent fix may not be finalized until June 2020. "Since discovery of this issue, FEMA has taken aggressive measures to correct this error. FEMA is no longer sharing unnecessary data with the contractor and has conducted a detailed review of the contractor's information system," said Lizzie Litzow, press secretary for FEMA, in a statement. "To date, FEMA has found no indicators to suggest survivor data has been compromised. FEMA has also worked with the contractor to remove the unnecessary data from the system and updated its contract to ensure compliance with Department of Homeland Security (DHS) cybersecurity and information-sharing standards. As an added measure, FEMA instructed contracted staff to complete additional DHS privacy training."

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Microsoft Revived and Killed Clippy in a Single Day

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 8:11pm
The dream of the '90s was alive in Microsoft Teams this week when Microsoft's old office assistant, Clippy, showed up. From a report: If you used Microsoft Office between 1997 and 2001, you likely remember Clippy as the animated paperclip that popped up and offered tips for using the software. Microsoft did away with Clippy in 2001, so people were surprised to see Clippy stickers appear in Microsoft Teams this week. And they were even more surprised when, just a day later, Microsoft offed the little guy again. On Tuesday, Clippy appeared as an animated pack of stickers for Microsoft Teams. The stickers were released on the Office Developer GitHub page, but by the next day, they had vanished. Clippy was around just long enough to rally old fans, and there's now a user petition to bring Clippy back.

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Police Officers In Berlin Had To Break Up Fight Between Supporters of Two Rival YouTubers

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 7:30pm
More than 100 police officers were deployed to break up a mass brawl reportedly organized by two rival YouTube stars in Berlin. The BBC reports: The fight broke out on Thursday evening on Alexanderplatz square in the German capital, police said, adding that nine people were arrested. More than 400 people had gathered after two social media influencers reportedly urged their fans to join a face-off. As tensions escalated, a large melee involving around 50 people erupted. Officers used pepper spray and tear gas after attempts to disperse the crowds with loudspeakers failed. As police intervened, clashes spilled over in a nearby subway, where rocks picked up from railway lines were reportedly thrown. The YouTubers who reportedly started this mess are named "Thatsbekir" and "Bahar Al Amood," both of which denied that they were at fault for the brawl in social media posts.

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Germany Urged To Champion Global Treaty To Ban 'Killer Robots'

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 6:50pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: Nobel Peace Prize laureate Jody Williams and other activists warned on Thursday that fully autonomous weapons could be deployed in just 3-4 years and urged Germany to lead an international campaign for a ban on so-called "killer robots." Williams, who won the Nobel in 1997 for leading efforts to ban landmines, told reporters Germany should take bold steps to ensure that humans remained in control of lethal weapons. "You cannot lead from the rear," she said. Critics fear that the increasingly autonomous drones, missile defense systems and tanks made possible by new artificial intelligence could turn rogue in a cyber-attack or as a result of programming errors. German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas called last week for action to ensure human control of lethal weapons, but is pushing a non-binding declaration rather than a global ban, given opposition by the United States, Russia and China. The United Nations and European Union have called for a global ban, but discussions so far have not yielded a clear commitment to conclude a treaty. Activists from over 100 non-governmental groups gathered in Berlin this week to pressure Maas and the German government to take more decisive action after twice endorsing a ban on fully autonomous weapons in their 2013 and 2018 coalition accords.

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Dashcam Video Shows Tesla Steering Toward Lane Divider - Again

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 6:10pm
AmiMoJo shares a report from Ars Technica: The afternoon commute of Reddit user Beastpilot takes him past a stretch of Seattle-area freeway with a carpool lane exit on the left. Last year, in early April, the Tesla driver noticed that Autopilot on his Model X would sometimes pull to the left as the car approached the lane divider -- seemingly treating the space between the diverging lanes as a lane of its own. This was particularly alarming, because just days earlier, Tesla owner Walter Huang had died in a fiery crash after Autopilot steered his Model X into a concrete lane divider in a very similar junction in Mountain View, California. Beastpilot made several attempts to notify Tesla of the problem but says he never got a response. Weeks later, Tesla pushed out an update that seemed to fix the problem. Then in October, it happened again. Weeks later, the problem resolved itself. This week, he posted dashcam footage showing the same thing happening a third time -- this time with a recently acquired Model 3. "The behavior of the system changes dramatically between software updates," Beastpilot told Ars. "Human nature is, 'if something's worked 100 times before, it's gonna work the 101st time.'" That can lull people into a false sense of security, with potentially deadly consequences.

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The US Desperately Needs a 'Fiber For All' Plan

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 5:30pm
The Electronic Frontier Foundation has published a new report calling for a "fiber for all" plan to combat the broadband access crisis in the United States. Government data and independent analysis show we are falling behind the rest of the developed world in this area, and "the U.S. is the only country that believes having no plan will solve this issue," writes Ernesto Falcon from the EFF. "We are the only country to completely abandon federal oversight of an uncompetitive, highly concentrated market that sells critical services to all people, yet we expect widely available, affordable, ultra-fast services. But if you live in a low-income neighborhood or in a rural market today, you know very well this is not working and the status quo is going to cement in your local broadband options to either one choice or no choice." From the report: Very small ISPs and local governments with limited budgets are at the frontline of deploying fiber to the home to fix these problems, but policymakers from the federal, state, and local level need to step up and lead. At least 19 states still have laws that prohibit local governments from deploying community broadband projects. Worst yet, both AT&T and Verizon are actively asking the FCC to make it even harder for small private ISPs to deploy fiber, so that the big incumbents can raise prices and suppress competition, a proposal EFF has urged the FCC to reject. This is why we need to push our elected officials and regulators for a fiber-for-all-people plan to ensure everyone can obtain the next generation of broadband access. Otherwise, the next generation of applications and services won't be usable in most of the United States. They will be built instead for markets with better, faster, cheaper, and more accessible broadband. This dire outcome was the central thesis to a recently published book by Professor Susan Crawford (appropriately named Fiber) and EFF agrees with its findings. If American policymakers do not remedy the failings in the US market and actively pursue ways to drive fiber deployment with the goal of universal coverage, then a staggering number of Americans will miss out on the latest innovations that will occur on the Internet because it will be inaccessible or too expensive. As a result, we will see a worsening of the digital divide as advances in virtual reality, cloud computing, gaming, education, and things we have not invented yet are going to carry a monopoly price tag for a majority of us -- or just not be accessible here. This does not have to be so, but it requires federal, state, and local governments to get to work on policies that promote fiber infrastructure to all people. Most of the talk lately has been about 5G networks, but the less-spoken truth about these networks is that they need dense fiber networks to make them work. "One estimate on the amount of fiber investment that needs to occur is as much as $150 billion -- including fiber to the home deployments -- in the near future, and we are far below that level of commitment to fiber," the report says.

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MIT Develops Algorithm To Accelerate Neural Networks By 200x

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 4:50pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from ExtremeTech: MIT researchers have reportedly developed an algorithm that can accelerate [neural networks] by up to 200x. The NAS (Neural Architecture Search, in this context) algorithm they developed "can directly learn specialized convolutional neural networks (CNNs) for target hardware platforms -- when run on a massive image dataset -- in only 200 GPU hours," MIT News reports. This is a massive improvement over the 48,000 hours Google reported taking to develop a state-of-the-art NAS algorithm for image classification. The goal of the researchers is to democratize AI by allowing researchers to experiment with various aspects of CNN design without needing enormous GPU arrays to do the front-end work. If finding state of the art approaches requires 48,000 GPU arrays, precious few people, even at large institutions, will ever have the opportunity to try. Algorithms produced by the new NAS were, on average, 1.8x faster than the CNNs tested on a mobile device with similar accuracy. The new algorithm leveraged techniques like path level binarization, which stores just one path at a time to reduce memory consumption by an order of magnitude. MIT doesn't actually link out to specific research reports, but from a bit of Google sleuthing, the referenced articles appear to be here and here -- two different research reports from an overlapping group of researchers. The teams focused on pruning entire potential paths for CNNs to use, evaluating each in turn. Lower probability paths are successively pruned away, leaving the final, best-case path. The new model incorporated other improvements as well. Architectures were checked against hardware platforms for latency when evaluated. In some cases, their model predicted superior performance for platforms that had been dismissed as inefficient. For example, 7x7 filters for image classification are typically not used, because they're quite computationally expensive -- but the research team found that these actually worked well for GPUs.

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The New York Times CEO Warns Publishers Ahead of Apple News Launch

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 4:13pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: Apple is expected to launch an ambitious new entertainment and paid digital news service on Monday, as the iPhone maker pushes back against streaming video leader Netflix. But it likely will not feature the New York Times. Mark Thompson, chief executive of the biggest U.S. newspaper by subscribers, warned that relying on third-party distribution can be dangerous for publishers who risk losing control over their own product. "We tend to be quite leery about the idea of almost habituating people to find our journalism somewhere else," he told Reuters in an interview on Thursday. "We're also generically worried about our journalism being scrambled in a kind of Magimix (blender) with everyone else's journalism."

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Devin Nunes Faces an Uphill Battle in His Lawsuit Against Twitter

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 3:33pm
Devin Nunes, R-Calif., escalated the feud between conservatives and Twitter earlier this week with a lawsuit accusing the company of defamation and negligence -- two different allegations, one of which poses a more serious question for the social media platform and technology companies in general. Nunes is claiming that Twitter negligently violated its terms of service when it allowed people onto its online "premises" to say false or disparaging things about him. He is seeking $250 million in damages due to "pain, insult, embarrassment, humiliation, emotional distress and mental suffering, and injury to [Nunes'] personal and professional reputations" brought on by what Twitter users said about him. From a report: Defamation is an interesting legal matter to discuss, at least in theory, but suing for defamation is seldom profitable in reality. Negligence may not sound as exciting as defamation, but this theory of liability quietly drives most successful civil litigation. Relatively easy to prove, it generally requires that the defendant show conduct that came up short of what can be expected, and that this shortcoming caused the plaintiff's damages. [...] The primary reason that technology companies are not sued into oblivion is the existence of the Communications Decency Act, or CDA, and in particular Section 230, which states that providers of an interactive computer service shall not be treated as the publisher or speaker of any information provided by another information content provider. Ordinarily, a lawsuit like this is properly filed against the Twitter user or account (like "Devin Nunes' Mom") and not Twitter itself. Section 230 and the CDA have become the targets of growing backlash against the idea that technology companies should not be held responsible for what is published on their platforms. Technology companies have voluntarily taken steps to moderate some content, such as extremism, conspiracy theories and fake news, but most personal insults and parodies are still allowed to flourish. Section 230, however, isn't necessarily bulletproof. At least one federal court has stressed that the statute does not "create a lawless no-man's-land on the internet." That provides some basis for Nunes' claim that Twitter has been negligent in keeping its platform from being used to spread damaging statements about him. But a negligence claim against Twitter may still be precluded by the CDA. The test is whether the cause of action requires the court to treat Twitter as the publisher or speaker of content provided by another. In the meantime, one of the Twitter parody accounts that is mocking Nunes -- Devin Nunes' Cow (@DevinCow) -- has gained a lot of attention, with its followers count jumping from about 1200 followers last week to more than 615,000 followers -- and in doing so, surpassed the number of followers Devin Nunes has (about 399k).

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Researchers Built an 'Online Lie Detector.' Honestly, That Could Be a Problem

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 2:45pm
A group of researchers claims to have built a prototype for an "online polygraph" that uses machine learning to detect deception from text alone. But as a few machine learning academics point out, what these researchers have actually demonstrated is the inherent danger of overblown machine learning claims. From a report: When Wired showed the study to a few academics and machine learning experts, they responded with deep skepticism. Not only does the study not necessarily serve as the basis of any kind of reliable truth-telling algorithm, it makes potentially dangerous claims: A text-based "online polygraph" that's faulty, they warn, could have far worse social and ethical implications if adopted than leaving those determinations up to human judgment. "It's an eye-catching result. But when we're dealing with humans, we have to be extra careful, especially when the implications of whether someone's lying could lead to conviction, censorship, the loss of a job," says Jevin West, a professor at the Information School at the University of Washington and a noted critic of machine learning hype. "When people think the technology has these abilities, the implications are bigger than a study."

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Intel Says It Will Stop Developing Compute Cards

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 2:06pm
Intel will not develop new Compute Cards, the company said this week. From a report: Compute Cards were Intel's vision of modular computing that would allow customers to continually update point of sale systems, all-in-one desktops, laptops and other devices. Pull out one card, replace it with another, and you have a new CPU, plus RAM and storage. "We continue to believe modular computing is a market where there are many opportunities for innovation," an Intel spokesperson told Tom's Hardware. "However, as we look at the best way to address this opportunity, we've made the decision that we will not develop new Compute Card products moving forward. We will continue to sell and support the current Compute Card products through 2019 to ensure our customers receive the support they need with their current solutions, and we are thankful for their partnership on this change."

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TypeScript's Quiet, Steady Rise Among Programming Languages

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 1:27pm
Microsoft's programming language TypeScript has become one of the most popular languages among developers, at least according to a report published by the analyst firm RedMonk this week. Wired: TypeScript jumped from number 16 to number 12, just behind Apple's programming language Swift in RedMonk's semiannual rankings, which were last published in August. Microsoft unveiled TypeScript in 2012, and while it hasn't grown as quickly as Swift -- which has grown faster than any other language, ever since RedMonk started compiling the rankings in 2011 -- TypeScript's own ascendance is impressive, given the sheer number of available programming languages. More and more applications these days use TypeScript. Google's programming framework Angular, the second most popular tool of its type according to data released last year by the startup NPM, is written in TypeScript. So is Vue, an increasingly popular framework finding a home both among smaller companies and tech giants like Alibaba. But RedMonk doesn't look at how many jobs are available for people skilled in a particular language, nor how many companies actually use the language. Instead, the firm tries to spot trends in developer interest by looking at how many projects on GitHub use certain languages, and how many questions are asked about those languages on the programmer Q&A site Stack Overflow. The idea is to get a sense of where the software development profession is heading.

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A Eulogy For Every Product Google Has Ruthlessly Killed (145 and Counting)

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 12:49pm
An anonymous reader shares a report: Tez. Trendalyzer. Panoramio. Timeful. Bump! SlickLogin. BufferBox. The names sound like a mix of mid-2000s blogs and startups you'd see onstage at TechCrunch Disrupt!. In fact, they are just some of the many, many products that Google has acquired or created -- then killed. While Google is notorious for eliminating underperforming products -- because even though these products often don't cost much for ongoing operations, they can pose a serious legal liability for the company -- it's rare to hear them spoken of after they've been shuttered. In fact, Killed By Google is the first website to memorialize them all in one place. Created by front-end developer Cody Ogden, the site features a tombstone and epitaph for each product the company has killed since it originated.

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As 'Subscription Fatigue' Sets In, the OTT Reckoning May Be Upon Us

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 12:00pm
An anonymous reader writes: Deciding which streaming outlet you want to subscribe to can be just as hard as finding a show itself. With options from big players like Netflix, HBO Now, Hulu, Showtime, Amazon and YouTube Premium -- and looming new platforms from the likes of Disney, Apple, AT&T and NBCUniversal -- consumers are already starting to grow frustrated with the crowded streaming marketplace as "subscription fatigue" sets in, according to Deloitte's 13th edition of its Digital Media Trends survey. Viewers are taking advantage of these options: the average video consumer subscribes to three video streaming services, said Deloitte. But they're growing frustrated over just how many options they have. Nearly half of those surveyed, at 47 percent, said they are frustrated by the growing number of subscriptions and services to watch their shows. And this audience grows attached to the content: 57 percent of consumers said it frustrates them when shows and movies disappear from their streaming libraries.

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AT&T's 5G E Falls Short of T-Mobile and Verizon 4G Speeds: OpenSignal

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 11:20am
AT&T's "5G Evolution" cellular service isn't just controversial and arguably misleading, it's also slower than the 4G speeds offered by rivals T-Mobile and Verizon, according to a new report today from OpenSignal. From a report: Over a one-month period spanning January 28 through February 26, OpenSignal compared the average performance of "5G E capable" phones and "all others" on AT&T's network with similarly equipped devices on T-Mobile's, Verizon's, and Sprint's networks -- a fair test in that all four of the major U.S. carriers have deployed pre-5G, late-stage 4G technologies across the country. Only Sprint's network fell behind AT&T's performance, though that's no surprise, as the fourth-place carrier's network has lagged behind its rivals in performance for years.

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Over 100,000 GitHub Repos Have Leaked API or Cryptographic Keys

Fri, 03/22/2019 - 10:42am
A scan of billions of files from 13 percent of all GitHub public repositories over a period of six months has revealed that over 100,000 repos have leaked API tokens and cryptographic keys, with thousands of new repositories leaking new secrets on a daily basis. From a report: The scan was the object of academic research carried out by a team from the North Carolina State University (NCSU), and the study's results have been shared with GitHub, which acted on the findings to accelerate its work on a new security feature called Token Scanning, currently in beta. The NCSU study is the most comprehensive and in-depth GitHub scan to date and exceeds any previous research of its kind. NCSU academics scanned GitHub accounts for a period of nearly six months, between October 31, 2017, and April 20, 2018, and looked for text strings formatted like API tokens and cryptographic keys.

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