Did birds still migrate during ice ages?

Science - Posted On:2020-02-18 19:14:59 Source: arstechnica

Even thought it was, in most ways, identical to the present planet, the Earth still looked very different at the bottom of the last ice age 20,000 years ago. The globe was around 4°C cooler on average, and ice sheets covered large portions of the Northern Hemisphere, including Canada and Scandinavia. One thing you might wonder, given how much of the planet was barely habitable, is what migratory species did.

Given the loss of all that habitat to mile-thick glacial ice and a reduced winter-summer contrast courtesy of Earth’s orbital cycles, some researchers have hypothesized that bird migration wasn’t much of a thing then. Is it possible that bird species turned this behavior on and off through the ice ages?

A team led by Yale’s Marius Somveille tested this idea with a model of the factors controlling migratory behavior—and it predicts patterns surprisingly similar to the present day.

Read More

SpaceX Wants To Launch 4 Tourists Into Super High Orbit

science - Posted On:2020-02-18 19:14:59 Source: slashdot

SpaceX is working with Space Adventures to launch up to four tourists into a super high orbit, possible by the end of next year. "Ticket prices are not being divulged but expected to be in the millions," reports NBC Los Angeles. From the report: For this trip, paying customers will skip the space station and instead orbit two to three times higher, or roughly 500 miles to 750 miles above Earth. It's a lofty goal that would approach the record 850-mile-high orbit achieved by Gemini 11's Pete Conrad and Dick Gordon in 1966. The tourist flight "will forge a path to making spaceflight possible for all people who dream of it," SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell said in a statement. SpaceX will use the same kind of Dragon capsule that will launch NASA astronauts to the space station, possibly in another few months. The capsule has flown only once in space so far, making its debut last year in a successful test flight without a crew. Space Adventures spokeswoman Stacey Tearne said the tourist flight could occur in the last quarter of 2021. The company is in discussions with "several potential clients." No professional pilot or astronaut will be required, Tearne said, because the Dragon is fully autonomous. But passengers will be able to control the spacecraft if required, she said in an email. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Cloud spending said to top $30B in Q4 as Amazon, Microsoft battle for market share

Cloud - Posted On:2020-02-18 18:45:00 Source: techcrunch

We all know the cloud infrastructure market is extremely lucrative; analyst firm Canalys reports that the sector reached $30.2 billion in revenue for Q4 2019. Cloud numbers are hard to parse because companies often lump cloud revenue into a single bucket regardless of whether it’s generated by infrastructure or software. What’s interesting about Canalys’s numbers […]

Read More

Dharma Ransomware Attacks Italy in New Spam Campaign

Security - Posted On:2020-02-18 18:45:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

Threat actors are distributing the Dharma Ransomware in a new spam campaign targeting Windows users in Italy.    [...]

Read More

Almost Half of Connected Medical Devices Are Vulnerable To Hackers Exploiting BlueKeep

science - Posted On:2020-02-18 18:29:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: Connected medical devices are twice as likely to be vulnerable to the BlueKeep exploit than other devices on hospital networks, putting patients and staff at additional risk from cyber attacks. This is especially concerning when healthcare is already such a popular target for hacking campaigns. BlueKeep is a vulnerability in Microsoft's Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) service which was discovered last year, and impacts Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2 and Windows Server 2008. According to figures in a new report from researchers at healthcare cybersecurity company CyberMDX, 22% of all Windows devices in a typical hospital are exposed to BlueKeep because they haven't received the relevant patches. And when it comes to connected medical devices running on Windows, the figure rises to 45% -- meaning almost half are vulnerable. Connected devices on hospital networks can include radiology equipment, monitors, x-ray and ultrasound devices, anesthesia machines and more. If these devices aren't patched, it's possible that destructive cyber attacks searching for machines vulnerable to BlueKeep could put hospital networks -- and patients -- at risk. "One of the key problems for hospitals is that many devices are classed as obsolete: Windows 7, for example, is vulnerable to BlueKeep and no longer supported by Microsoft, but remains common across hospital networks," adds ZDNet. "Any further vulnerabilities uncovered in Windows 7 -- and other out-of-support operating systems -- aren't guaranteed security patches, leaving networks potentially at further risk going forward." Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Twitter acquires Stories template maker Chroma Labs

Apps - Posted On:2020-02-18 18:15:00 Source: techcrunch

Is “Twitter Stories” on the way? Or will we just get tools to send prettier tweets? Well now Twitter has the talent for both as it’s just acquired Chroma Labs. Co-founded by Instagram Boomerang inventor John Barnett, Chroma Labs’ Chroma Stories app let you fill in stylish layout templates and frames for posting collages and […]

Read More

Google Stadia Is Coming To Samsung, Asus, and Razer Phones On February 20th

games - Posted On:2020-02-18 18:15:00 Source: slashdot

In a blog post today, Google announced that Stadia will work on some Android phones from Samsung, Asus, and Razer starting on February 20th. Up until this point, Stadia only worked on certain Pixel phones. The Verge reports: Here's the full list of the 19 newly supported phones, which includes the Samsung Galaxy S20 line that's releasing on March 6th: [Samsung Galaxy S8 --> Galaxy S20 Ultra, Razer Phone, Razer Phone 2, Asus ROG Phone, and Asus ROG Phone II.] These new additions -- combined with the current support for the Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3A, Pixel 3A XL, and Pixel 4 -- mean that you can now play Stadia games on 26 different Android phones. Stadia's iOS app doesn't let you play games, though, so you will have to keep waiting if you want to play Stadia games on your iPhone or iPad. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

“The Switcher” improves: Witcher 3 reduces blur, now works with Steam, GOG

Gaming & Culture - Posted On:2020-02-18 18:00:00 Source: arstechnica

In bringing The Witcher 3 to Nintendo Switch late last year, the porting team at Saber Interactive already pulled off an impressive feat. This week, the developer went one step further with the port's biggest patch yet, and the included quality-of-life changes just elevated its value—especially for the game's fans on PC.

The Thursday patch was hinted at by Saber in late January in a tweet that has since been deleted, and after launching exclusively in Korea in the wee hours of the morning, it began rolling out across the globe through Thursday. While CD Projekt Red has yet to release a comprehensive list of patch notes about smaller bug fixes and tweaks, two of its biggest changes are front-and-center in the opening menus: cloud-save support, and an overhauled "post-processing" list of toggles.

The former only works with the game's PC version, but you're in luck whether you've purchased the game via GOG or Steam. Choose either storefront, then enter your username and password in a Web interface to confirm that you want to connect your Switch copy with your PC version. Doing this allows you to either upload or download a single save file with either service, since both support cloud saves by default. CDPR's official update includes two warnings for longtime PC players: the Switch version will only recognize save files whose names haven't been manually edited, and any saves that contain metadata from modded versions of the game could affect Switch performance.

Read More

We've Just Seen the First Use of Deepfakes In an Indian Election Campaign

politics - Posted On:2020-02-18 17:45:00 Source: slashdot

The Delhi Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has partnered with political communications firm The Ideaz Factory to create "positive campaigns" using deepfakes to reach different linguistic voter bases, reports Nilesh Christopher reports via Motherboard. It marks the debut of deepfakes in election campaigns in India. From the report: On February 7, a day ahead of the Legislative Assembly elections in Delhi, two videos of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Manoj Tiwari criticizing the incumbent Delhi government of Arvind Kejriwal went viral on WhatsApp. While one video had Tiwari speak in English, the other was him speaking in the Hindi dialect of Haryanvi. "[Kejriwal] cheated us on the basis of promises. But now Delhi has a chance to change it all. Press the lotus button on February 8 to form the Modi-led government," he said. One may think that this 44-second monologue might be a part of standard political outreach, but there is one thing that's not standard: These videos were not real. [The original video can be viewed here.] "Deepfake technology has helped us scale campaign efforts like never before," Neelkant Bakshi, co-incharge of social media and IT for BJP Delhi, tells VICE. "The Haryanvi videos let us convincingly approach the target audience even if the candidate didn't speak the language of the voter." Tiwari's fabricated video was used widely to dissuade the large Haryanvi-speaking migrant worker population in Delhi from voting for the rival political party. According to Bakshi, these deepfakes were distributed across 5,800 WhatsApp groups in the Delhi and NCR region, reaching approximately 15 million people. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Apple’s new iPad Pro could be delayed due to the coronavirus, report claims

Tech - Posted On:2020-02-18 17:29:59 Source: arstechnica

Apple published a note to investors this week saying that it will miss its quarterly guidance for the next quarter because of the impact the COVID-19 coronavirus has had on supply lines and Chinese consumer demand. The note says that Apple expects "worldwide iPhone supply will be temporarily constrained" and that Apple and its partners may not be able to make enough iPhones to meet demand around the world.

During the company's last quarterly earnings call on January 28, it already gave an unusually large guidance range because of concerns about the health crisis, but the situation seems to be worse than Apple predicted. Several manufacturing facilities that assemble Apple products in China have been shut down amid the Chinese government's efforts to contain the virus, and the investor note says that while those facilities are now coming back online, they're still behind schedule.

"While our iPhone manufacturing partner sites are located outside the Hubei province—and while all of these facilities have reopened—they are ramping up more slowly than we had anticipated," Apple says.

Read More

Ring cameras are more secure now, but your neighbors still snoop with them

Policy - Posted On:2020-02-18 17:14:59 Source: arstechnica

Ring, Amazon's line of cloud-connected home surveillance equipment, faced a high-profile series of camera hacks late last year. That string of breaches—though traumatic for the families that were targeted—has at least finally led to one silver lining: increased security for user accounts.

Two-factor authentication of some kind is now mandatory for all accounts, Ring announced today. Every device owner and authorized user will have to enter a one-time, six-digit code, sent through email or SMS, in order to log in to a Ring account.

While email and SMS are not necessarily the most secure forms of two-factor authentication out there, either is a sight better than what Ring had been mandating before, which was nothing. The ease with which bad actors were able to access huge numbers of Ring cameras, take control of them, and harass homeowners with them was in large part due to weak security on those Ring accounts.

Read More

ISPs Sue Maine, Claim Web-Privacy Law Violates Their Free-Speech Rights

yro - Posted On:2020-02-18 17:14:59 Source: slashdot

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The broadband industry is suing Maine to stop a Web-browsing privacy law similar to the one killed by Congress and President Donald Trump in 2017. Industry groups claim the state law violates First Amendment protections on free speech and the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution. The Maine law was signed by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills in June 2019 and is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2020. It requires ISPs to get customers' opt-in consent before using or sharing sensitive data. As Mills' announcement in June said, the state law "prohibits a provider of broadband Internet access service from using, disclosing, selling, or permitting access to customer personal information unless the customer expressly consents to that use, disclosure, sale or access. The legislation also prohibits a provider from refusing to serve a customer, charging a customer a penalty or offering a customer a discount if the customer does or does not consent to the use, disclosure, sale or access of their personal information." Customer data protected by this law includes Web-browsing history, application-usage history, precise geolocation data, the content of customers' communications, IP addresses, device identifiers, financial and health information, and personal details used for billing. Home Internet providers and wireless carriers don't want to seek customer permission before using Web-browsing histories and similar data for advertising or other purposes. On Friday, the four major lobby groups representing the cable, telco, and wireless industries sued the state in US District Court for the District of Maine, seeking an injunction that would prevent enforcement of the law. In the lawsuit, the groups said the state law "imposes unprecedented and unduly burdensome restrictions on ISPs', and only ISPs', protected speech," while imposing no requirements on other companies that deliver services over the internet. The plaintiffs are America's Communications Association, CTIA, NCTA, and USTelecom. The law allegedly violates the First Amendment because it "limits ISPs from advertising or marketing non-communications-related services to their customers; and prohibits ISPs from offering price discounts, rewards in loyalty programs, or other cost-saving benefits in exchange for a customer's consent to use their personal information," the lawsuit claims. As for how the Maine law violates the Supremacy Clause, the lawsuit says it's "because it allows consumers to dictate (by opting out or declining to opt in) when ISPs can use or disclose information that they must rely on to comply with federal law, rendering 'compliance with both' state and the foregoing federal laws 'impossible.'" Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Amazon’s Ring finally mandates two-factor authentication on all accounts

Policy - Posted On:2020-02-18 17:00:00 Source: arstechnica

Ring, Amazon's line of cloud-connected home surveillance equipment, faced a high-profile series of camera hacks late last year. That string of breaches—though traumatic for the families that were targeted—has at least finally led to one silver lining: increased security for user accounts.

Two-factor authentication of some kind is now mandatory for all accounts, Ring announced today. Every device owner and authorized user will have to enter a one-time, six-digit code, sent through email or SMS, in order to log in to a Ring account.

While email and SMS are not necessarily the most secure forms of two-factor authentication out there, either is a sight better than what Ring had been mandating before, which was nothing. The ease with which bad actors were able to access huge numbers of Ring cameras, take control of them, and harass homeowners with them was in large part due to weak security on those Ring accounts.

Read More

Do trade shows still matter in the age of online business?

Hardware - Posted On:2020-02-18 16:45:00 Source: techcrunch

The death of Mobile World Congress 2020 started as a trickle. First, it was an understandably nervous ZTE. As a Chinese company, it was undoubtedly going to receive extra scrutiny — never mind that ZTE’s Shenzhen headquarters are a two-hour flight from Wuhan. Soon enough, South Korea’s LG backed out, followed by Nvidia and Ericsson. […]

Read More

Fast-and-Loose Culture of Esports is Upending Once Staid World of Chess

games - Posted On:2020-02-18 16:30:00 Source: slashdot

Grandmasters and upstarts are reinventing the game online, becoming its most visible ambassadors and arguably its first entertainers. From a report: On Twitch, the most popular internet platform to livestream esports, time spent watching chess has risen by more than 500 percent since 2016, according to data from the company. With that consumption has come some money, mostly donations from viewers facilitated by Twitch but also in sponsorship dollars. That growth persuaded Botez in September to try livestreaming chess full time. She now has more than 60,000 followers on Twitch. And while streaming is offering players like Botez a new way to make a living from their chess skills, it's also giving new life to one of the oldest games in the world. "It's crazy to me to have this kind of support and this kind of viewership online for chess," Botez said. "Chess has always been a passion of mine, but it was never something that was popular. It was never something I would have imagined would have grown to what it is today." Chess came to the attention of Twitch less than four years ago, when the company formed a partnership with Chess.com, the largest chess website, with almost 33 million members. "Across all the different various competitive games on Twitch, chess has seen some of the most substantial growth in the same period of time than any other esport in the world," said Justin Dellario, Twitch's vice president of global esports. The rise of esports -- both in terms of competitive gaming and more social online gaming -- first gained attention in the 1990s and the early 2000s before emerging in the past 10 years. The gaming and esports market research company Newzoo forecast that 2019 esports revenues would hit $1.1 billion. Twitch is by far the largest esports platform. Chess hasn't enjoyed similar growth. While the game has a young, marketable genius in world champion Magnus Carlsen, it has struggled to attract the kind of money that can help sustain its growth. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Can Solar Power Compete With Coal? In India, It's Gaining Ground

news - Posted On:2020-02-18 16:00:00 Source: slashdot

Electricity from sunlight costs less, a hopeful sign for developing nations building out their power grids. From a report: In a dusty northwest India desert dotted with cows and the occasional camel, a solar-power plant is producing some of the world's cheapest energy. Built in 2018 by India's Acme Solar Holdings, it can generate 200 megawatts of electricity, enough to power all the homes in a middle-size U.S. town. Acme sells the electricity to distributors for 2.44 rupees (3.4 cents) a kilowatt-hour, a record low for solar power in India, a country that data trackers say has the world's cheapest solar energy. More remarkable, the power costs less to generate in India than the cheapest competing fossil fuel -- coal -- even with subsidies removed and the cost of construction and financing figured in, according to the Indian government and industry trackers. Price-conscious Indian utilities are eager to snap up that power. "We are infamous for low cost," says Sandeep Kashyap, Acme's president. Solar power has entered a new global era. The industry was long dependent on subsidies and regulatory promotions. Now, technological innovation and falling solar-panel prices have made solar power inexpensive enough to compete on its own with other fuel sources in some regions [Editor's note: the link may be paywalled.], when it comes to newly built plants. That could turbocharge growth of renewables in the global energy industry, especially in fast-growing Asian markets where much of the world's energy infrastructure expansion will take place. Governments in many solar markets -- including China, the biggest -- are phasing out or reducing supports. Solar-plant development is going mainstream, with finance provided by global investors like Goldman Sachs Group, Singaporean sovereign-wealth fund GIC and huge Western pension and private-equity funds. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

Hackers exploit critical vulnerability found in ~100,000 WordPress sites

Biz & IT - Posted On:2020-02-18 15:14:59 Source: arstechnica

Hackers are actively exploiting a critical WordPress plugin vulnerability that allows them to completely wipe all website databases and, in some cases, seize complete control of affected sites.

The flaw is in the ThemeGrill Demo Importer installed on some 100,000 sites, and it was disclosed over the weekend by Website security company WebARX. By Tuesday, WebArx reported that the flaw was under active exploit with almost 17,000 attacks blocked so far. Hanno Böck, a journalist who works for Golem.de, had spotted active attacks several hours before and reported them on Twitter.

— hanno (@hanno) February 18, 2020

"There's currently a severe vuln in a wordpress plugin called "themegrill demo importer" that resets the whole database," Böck wrote. "https://webarxsecurity.com/critical-issue-in-themegrill-demo-importer/ It seems attacks are starting: Some of the affected webpages show a wordpress 'hello world'-post. /cc If you use this plugin and your webpage hasn't been deleted yet consider yourself lucky. And remove the plugin. (Yes, remove it, don't just update.)"

Read More

This Could Be Microsoft's Most Important Product in 2020. If it Works

politics - Posted On:2020-02-18 15:14:59 Source: slashdot

Alfred Ng, writing for CNET: Building 83 doesn't stand out on Microsoft's massive Redmond, Washington, headquarters. But last week, the nameless structure hosted what might be the software giant's most important product of 2020. Tucked away in the corner of a meeting room, a sign reading "ElectionGuard" identifies a touchscreen that asks people to cast their votes. An Xbox adaptive controller is connected to it, as are an all-white printer and a white ballot box for paper votes. If you didn't look carefully, you might have mistaken all that for an array of office supplies. ElectionGuard is open-source voting-machine software that Microsoft announced in May 2019. In Microsoft's demo, voters make their choices by touchscreen before printing out two copies. A voter is supposed to double-check one copy before placing it into a ballot box to be counted by election workers. The other is a backup record with a QR code the voter can use to check that the vote was counted after polls close. With ElectionGuard, Microsoft isn't setting out to create an unhackable vote -- no one thinks that's possible -- but rather a vote in which hacks would be quickly noticed. The product demo was far quieter than the typical big tech launch. No flashy lights or hordes of company employees cheering their own product, like Microsoft's dual screen phone, its highly anticipated dual-screen laptop or its new Xbox Series X. And yet, if everything goes right, ElectionGuard could have an impact that lasts well beyond the flashy products in Microsoft's pipeline. ElectionGuard addresses what has become a crucial concern in US democracy: the integrity of the vote. The software is designed to establish end-to-end verification for voting machines. A voter can check whether his or her vote was counted. If a hacker had managed to alter a vote, it would be immediately obvious because encryption attached to the vote wouldn't have changed. The open-source software has been available since last September. But Microsoft gets its first real-world test on Tuesday, when ElectionGuard is used in a local vote in Fulton, Wisconsin. Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Read More

US Govt Warns of Ransomware Attacks on Pipeline Operations

Security - Posted On:2020-02-18 15:00:00 Source: bleepingcomputer

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) today alerted organizations across all critical U.S. infrastructure sectors about a recent ransomware attack that affected a natural gas compression facility. [...]

Read More

ISPs sue Maine, claim Web-privacy law violates their free-speech rights

Policy - Posted On:2020-02-18 15:00:00 Source: arstechnica

The broadband industry is suing Maine to stop a Web-browsing privacy law similar to the one killed by Congress and President Donald Trump in 2017. Industry groups claim the state law violates First Amendment protections on free speech and the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution.

The Maine law was signed by Democratic Gov. Janet Mills in June 2019 and is scheduled to take effect on July 1, 2020. It requires ISPs to get customers' opt-in consent before using or sharing sensitive data. As Mills' announcement in June said, the state law "prohibits a provider of broadband Internet access service from using, disclosing, selling, or permitting access to customer personal information unless the customer expressly consents to that use, disclosure, sale or access. The legislation also prohibits a provider from refusing to serve a customer, charging a customer a penalty or offering a customer a discount if the customer does or does not consent to the use, disclosure, sale or access of their personal information."

Customer data protected by this law includes Web-browsing history, application-usage history, precise geolocation data, the content of customers' communications, IP addresses, device identifiers, financial and health information, and personal details used for billing.

Read More