Tuesday, 16 October

00:00 EDT

'Hyperalarming' Study Shows Massive Insect Loss [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Washington Post: Insects around the world are in a crisis, according to a small but growing number of long-term studies showing dramatic declines in invertebrate populations. A new report suggests that the problem is more widespread than scientists realized. Huge numbers of bugs have been lost in a pristine national forest in Puerto Rico (Warning: source may be paywalled; alternative source), the study found, and the forest's insect-eating animals have gone missing, too. The latest report, published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, shows that this startling loss of insect abundance extends to the Americas. The study's authors implicate climate change in the loss of tropical invertebrates. Bradford Lister, a biologist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York, has been studying rain forest insects in Puerto Rico since the 1970s. "We went down in '76, '77 expressly to measure the resources: the insects and the insectivores in the rain forest, the birds, the frogs, the lizards," Lister said. He came back nearly 40 years later, with his colleague Andrés García, an ecologist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico. What the scientists did not see on their return troubled them. "Boy, it was immediately obvious when we went into that forest," Lister said. Fewer birds flitted overhead. The butterflies, once abundant, had all but vanished. García and Lister once again measured the forest's insects and other invertebrates, a group called arthropods that includes spiders and centipedes. The researchers trapped arthropods on the ground in plates covered in a sticky glue, and raised several more plates about three feet into the canopy. The researchers also swept nets over the brush hundreds of times, collecting the critters that crawled through the vegetation. Each technique revealed the biomass (the dry weight of all the captured invertebrates) had significantly decreased from 1976 to the present day. The sweep sample biomass decreased to a fourth or an eighth of what it had been. Between January 1977 and January 2013, the catch rate in the sticky ground traps fell 60-fold. The study also found a 30-percent drop in anole lizards, which eat arthropods. Some anole species have disappeared entirely from the interior forest. Another research team captured insect-eating frogs and birds in 1990 and 2005, and found a 50 percent decrease in the number of captures. The authors attribute this decline to the changing climate.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Monday, 15 October

23:00 EDT

Paul Allen—Microsoft co-founder, Seahawks owner, and space pioneer—dies at 65 [Ars Technica]

(credit: Miles Harris)

Paul Allen, who with Bill Gates founded Microsoft, has died at the age of 65. His death comes shortly after he resumed treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma; the cancer had returned after being in remission for nine years.

Allen was a Seattle native and went to high school with Gates. The two kept in touch at university—Allen at Washington State, Gates at Harvard—and when Allen dropped out in 1975 to start a company to develop software for the MITS Altair 8800, he soon convinced Gates to follow. That company was Micro-Soft, which shed its hyphen the following year. In 1980, Microsoft was chosen by IBM to develop DOS for its new PC. With the success of the PC and PC compatibles, Microsoft became hugely successful.

Allen had his first run-in with cancer in 1982, when he was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma and drastically cut back his work at the company while recovering. He formally left Microsoft in 1983, but he retained his share of ownership and became a billionaire when the company went public in 1986.

Read 4 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Uncle's 'HELP' Written With Fallen Trees Reaches Hurricane Evacuee — Who Sends It [News : NPR]

Amber Gee

Amber Gee viewed satellite images of the hurricane-ravaged Florida Panhandle and noticed a distress signal outside her grandmother's house.

(Image credit: Bay County, Florida Emergency Services/Screenshot by NPR)

Should TV Drug Ads Be Forced To Include A Price? Trump's Team Says Yes [News : NPR]

President Donald Trump listened in January as Stephen Ubl, President and CEO of Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, second from left, introduced himself during a meeting at the White House. The sky-high prices of some drugs are a big issue for some voters this fall.

With high drug prices a hot election issue, drugmakers and the Trump administration are jockeying over how to bring prices down. But critics say the proposed fixes don't have enforcement teeth.

(Image credit: Pool/Ron Sachs/Getty Images)

Google CEO says it’s ‘important for us to explore’ search in China [The Verge - All Posts]

Google CEO Sundar Pichai publicly addressed his company’s plans to re-enter the Chinese market with a search and news-oriented product, telling a crowd at Wired’s 25th anniversary summit that such a service would be capable of serving 99 percent of queries. Pichai described the Chinese market as “important for us to explore” given its size and the very high likelihood that it will become the largest and most lucrative internet-using population on the planet.

“We wanted to learn what it would look like if Google were in China,” Pichai said. “It’s very early, we don’t know whether we would or could do this in China but we felt like it was important for us to explore. I think it’s important for us given how important the market is and how...

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22:00 EDT

The Full Photoshop CC Is Coming To the iPad In 2019 [Slashdot]

The "real version" of Photoshop is coming to the iPad next year, complete with a user interface similar to the desktop application and all the main tools. Ars Technica reports: Photoshop for iPad has a user interface structured similarly to the desktop application. It is immediately familiar to users of the application but tuned for touch screens, with larger targets and adaptations for the tablet as well as gestures to streamline workflows. Both touch and pencil input are supported. The interface is somewhat simpler than the desktop version, and although the same Photoshop code is running under the hood to ensure there's no loss of fidelity, not every feature will be available in the mobile version. The first release will contain the main tools while Adobe plans to add more in the future. Cloud syncing is a key element of Photoshop on iPad. Edits made on the iPad will be synchronized transparently with the desktop -- no conversions or import/export process to go through. Using a feature not available in the iPad version should then be as simple as hitting save and then opening the file on the desktop, picking up where you left off. Adobe is also reportedly building a tablet painting app called Project Gemini, which "simulates real brushes, paints, and materials as well as the interactions between them," reports Ars. "It combines raster graphics, vector drawing, and the Photoshop engine into a single application designed for artwork and illustration."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

21:00 EDT

Already facing an uphill misinformation fight, Facebook loses to scammers, too [Ars Technica]

A partial screenshot of one of the scam profiles pushing an adult dating scam on Facebook.

Enlarge / A partial screenshot of one of the scam profiles pushing an adult dating scam on Facebook.

Responding to critics in the US Congress and elsewhere who say Facebook isn’t doing enough to stop the flow of disinformation, the social network in recent days has purged hundreds of accounts it found were designed to sway elections, sow social division, and prop up ruthless governments. The focus has left an opening for scammers who routinely use Facebook to send unsuspecting users to fraudulent dating sites.

Randy Abrams, a senior security analyst at Webroot, told Ars that the account belonging to one of his family members was recently compromised. The people behind the compromise used the hacked account to send Abrams requests to like various accounts, which all showed images of scantily clad women inviting visitors to view videos. Many of the fake profiles had followers and likes in excess of 6,500, an indication the scam has been gaining traction. At the time this post went live, the campaign remained active, even after Ars reported it to the company's PR representatives.

The videos redirected to a variety of sites that invited viewers to meet nearby women who wanted sex. Many of the images on these sites showed nude women and asked visitors to enter credit card numbers to proceed. Clicking the browser's back arrow created an endless series of new sites. The only way to get out of the never-ending loop was to close the tab.

Read 13 remaining paragraphs | Comments

Printer Makers Are Crippling Cheap Ink Cartridges Via Bogus 'Security Updates' [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: Printer maker Epson is under fire this month from activist groups after a software update prevented customers from using cheaper, third party ink cartridges. It's just the latest salvo in a decades-long effort by printer manufacturers to block consumer choice, often by disguising printer downgrades as essential product improvements. For several decades now printer manufacturers have lured consumers into an arguably-terrible deal: shell out a modest sum for a mediocre printer, then pay an arm and a leg for replacement printer cartridges that cost relatively-little to actually produce. The Electronic Frontier Foundation now says that Epson has been engaged in the same behavior. The group says it recently learned that in late 2016 or early 2017, Epson issued a "poison pill" software update that effectively downgraded user printers to block third party cartridges, but disguised the software update as a meaningful improvement. The EFF has subsequently sent a letter to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, arguing that Epson's lack of transparency can easily be seen as "misleading and deceptive" under Texas consumer protection laws. "When restricted to Epson's own cartridges, customers must pay Epson's higher prices, while losing the added convenience of third party alternatives, such as refillable cartridges and continuous ink supply systems," the complaint notes. "This artificial restriction of third party ink options also suppresses a competitive ink market and has reportedly caused some manufacturers of refillable cartridges and continuous ink supply systems to exit the market."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Arachnophobia is irrational [Pharyngula]

You are allowed to have irrational fears, and it’s fine if you have a personal aversion. What is not fine is when you use that irrational fear as an excuse to disrupt other people’s lives, as has happened lately with ten schools in England closed for three weeks because headteachers were afraid of a spider infestation.

Hundreds more children have been told to stay at home after the presence of false widow spiders has closed a tenth school.

Thousands of families have now been affected by closures across east and north London since last week after infestations of the venomous were discovered on school sites.

Parents have spoken out against the disruption caused by schools deciding to close their doors for up to three weeks on the discovery of the spiders, calling it “over the top” and “ridiculous”.

John F Kennedy Special School became the latest school in Newham to close due to spiders on Friday. Campuses in nearby Stratford and Beckton have also been closed for the foreseeable future.

These spiders are close relatives of the ones I’m working with — apparently, they’re finding Steatoda grossa in the schools (I’ve got Steatoda triangulosa and Parasteatoda tepidariorum). They can bite, and cause an unpleasant blistering and rash, but you have to really torment the little beasties before they can do any harm. OK, I can imagine schoolkids doing exactly that, but the problem isn’t the spiders, it’s the malicious little thugs in your classroom.

But here’s the thing: you can’t get rid of them. They’re everywhere. They tend to hide in out of the way corners, so you probably don’t see them very often, but really, they are ubiquitous. Lately I’ve been searching for them and have become fine-tuned to spotting them, and they’re everywhere: they’re in your homes, your attics, your garages; they are lurking under your bed and other furniture, they’re quietly making cobwebs in the corners of your window frames, they’ve filled up your crawlspaces and the spaces within your walls. If they’re in the schools, they are in the students’ homes. They love those nice shadowy spaces in all human constructions — we’re in a long-term commensal relationship with these spiders. They’re not picking on schools selectively.

I’m sorry, but if you’re going to shut down schools over this routine and mostly harmless occupation by a few small organisms, you’re just going to have to shut down all of England. And Europe. And Asia. And the Americas. The spiders haven’t figured out how to live in Antarctica yet, so I guess we’re all going to have to hide in that continent, quivering in fear of itsy-bitsy spiders.

Until they move in to whatever shelters we build, that is.


The histrionics are over the top. Check out the photos on this article — they’ve got exterminators in biohazard suits hosing down the schools with pesticides. I’d be more afraid of the goop they’re spraying than of spiders.

Now with twice as many grandbaby pictures! [Pharyngula]

I may have to rename the blog, since doubling the number of grandchildren means this is more aptly named “Grandkids and Spiders”. Or “Spiders and Grandkids”? Maybe it depends on which I see more of.

Iliana Myers Hughart

There’s a heck of a lot more to identity than what genes you carry [Pharyngula]

I’ve done the 23andMe test. I’m 50% Scandinavian.

More significantly, I knew my great-grandparents personally; my great-grandmother was a Swedish immigrant, while my great-grandfather was part of a Norwegian-American community in Minnesota that had been around for generations. They spoke some kind of Norwegian/Swedish/English pidgin, they had connections with the Old Country, we ate Scandinavian food at home, we went to a church that had services in Swedish and Norwegian.

I think I can confidently say that I’m a Scandinavian-American.

The other 50% of my genome is mostly English/Irish/Scot. That side of my family emigrated to America in the 17th/18th century. All cultural vestiges of that connection have been scoured clean by a few hundred years of history, poverty, and total immersion in this mongrel American pastiche we live in, and they retained no connections with family on the other side of the Atlantic. I wouldn’t be as comfortable with claiming to be a British-American, despite my genes sending a clear signal of my biological ancestry.

Elizabeth Warren is not Indian. A few genetic scraps from a distant ancestor do not make you an Indian, any more than the 0.6% of my DNA that is Iberian makes me a Spaniard.

Bustamante’s analysis places Warren’s Native American ancestor between six and 10 generations ago, with the report estimating eight generations. “The identity of the sample donor, Elizabeth Warren, was not known to the analyst during the time the work was performed,” the report says.

Eight generations back means she’s about 0.4% Indian, with zero cultural association. No Indian tribe recognizes her as a member. I think it was a terrible mistake for Warren to play the genetic essentialist game and essentially vindicate racist arguments about one drop of blood making you a member of a racial group, and if vague rumors of a distant relative being a Cherokee princess makes you an Indian, then a multitude of people who belong with 99% certainty to the oppressor genetic group that committed genocide get to play Indian. This is just wrong.

That said, I have a bit of sympathy for her in that she’s trying to defend herself against a racist bigot who has been mocking her remote, slight Indian affiliation by using it as a pejorative. Warren did not use her ancestry as a tool to gain an advantage, to her credit, and it’s shameful that anyone would think that association with one of the most strongly oppressed groups in this country is a way exploit the system.

We’re now at the point where we’re grimacing a bit at Warren’s exaggeration of her connection to Indian culture, while at the same time we’re tolerating a president who openly expresses contempt for Indian culture. All the hypocrites who are berating Warren ought to be even more aghast that Trump is frequently using “Pocahantas” as a slur. But they aren’t.

Also, it’s naive to think that Trump would pay up on his $1 million dollar bet. He’s always been a welcher.


Jennifer Raff weighs in. She’s an expert on this stuff.

Federal Judge Rules In Favor Of Trump In Stormy Daniels Defamation Lawsuit [News : NPR]

Adult film actress Stormy Daniels arrives for the opening of the "Venus" adult entertainment fair in Berlin last week.

The lawsuit was filed over a tweet President Trump sent in April suggesting Daniels was lying about being threatened in 2011 not to go public with her story of an alleged sexual encounter with Trump.

(Image credit: Markus Schreiber/AP)

Apple fixes its new bagel emoji with cream cheese and a doughier consistency [The Verge - All Posts]

Apple’s most egregious crime in recent memory — a subpar bagel emoji — has been rectified, as first spotted by Jeremy Burge of Emojipedia. In the fourth beta release of iOS 12.1, it appears that the bagel has been replaced with a new icon that features both cream cheese and a doughier consistency more reminiscent of a fresh, hand-rolled bagel and not the frozen and machine-cut grocery store variety it was accused of emulating in its original form.

If you haven’t been following the bagel emoji controversy, it’s likely because you have better ways to spend your time. But to catch you up quickly: the iOS bagel emoji — like Android’s goofy cheeseburger one that generated negative headlines last year — was widely decried for its unappetizing...

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20:00 EDT

Most Americans Can't Tell the Difference Between a Social Media Bot and A Human, Study Finds [Slashdot]

A new study from Pew Research Center found that most Americans can't tell social media bots from real humans, and most are convinced bots are bad. "Only 47 percent of Americans are somewhat confident they can identify social media bots from real humans," reports The Verge. "In contrast, most Americans surveyed in a study about fake news were confident they could identify false stories." From the report: The Pew study is an uncommon look at what the average person thinks about these automated accounts that plague social media platforms. After surveying over 4,500 adults in the U.S., Pew found that most people actually don't know much about bots. Two-thirds of Americans have at least heard of social media bots, but only 16 percent say they've heard a lot about them, while 34 percent say they've never heard of them at all. The knowledgeable tend to be younger, and men are more likely than women (by 22 percentage points) to say they've heard of bots. Since the survey results are self-reported, there's a chance people are overstating or understating their knowledge of bots. Of those who have heard of bots, 80 percent say the accounts are used for bad purposes. Regardless of whether a person is a Republican or Democrat or young or old, most think that bots are bad. And the more that a person knows about social media bots, the less supportive they are of bots being used for various purposes, like activists drawing attention to topics or a political party using bots to promote candidates.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

The New and Improved MacBook Keyboards Have the Same Old Problems [Slashdot]

Casey Johnston, writing for The Outline: Apple never actually caved to user complaints that its top-of-the-line computers developed sticky or dead keyboards very easily, despite having now been served with several keyboard-related class action lawsuits. In June, the company offered to repair computers with these keyboards for free for four years following the date of purchase (the cost of being without their computer notwithstanding). It claimed only a "small percentage" of users were affected. I was one of them, several times, and there were many, many others. Compared to this time last year, its computer sales are down ten percent, and not a few people have been holding off on purchasing any computer from its line in fear of getting stuck with a keyboard that doesn't work. In July, Apple slightly redesigned the very low profile butterfly keyboard on its MacBooks and MacBook Pros, not because "a small percentage" of the previous version was rendered useless by a speck of dust, the company said, but to make it quieter; it even invited the tech press to try it out. iFixit teardowns of the hardware revealed that, in fact, Apple had added a silicone membrane under the keys that looks quite a bit like it's meant to keep dust and debris from lodging under the key and locking it up. Was that the idea? No, Apple unequivocally said. [...] But checking around online, it appears the new keyboards have the same old issues. They may be delayed, but they happen nonetheless. The MacRumors forum has a long thread about the the "gen 3 butterfly keyboard" where users have been sharing their experiences since Apple updated the design.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Paul Allen, Microsoft co-founder, RIP [Boing Boing]

Paul Allen, billionaire co-founder of Microsoft, philanthropist, science fiction fan, and founder of Seattle's Museum of Pop Culture (formerly the Experience Museum Project), has died from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 65.

"From technology to science to music to art, I’m inspired by those who’ve blurred the boundaries, who’ve looked at the possibilities, and said, “What if...? In my own work, I’ve tried to anticipate what’s coming over the horizon, to hasten its arrival, and to apply it to people’s lives in a meaningful way." -- Paul Allen

Allen's professional timeline is quite something:

  • 1953: Paul Allen is born January 21, 1953 in Seattle, Washington
  • 1968: While at Lakeside School, Paul meets Bill Gates. A friendship that would later produce one of the world’s most innovative companies, Microsoft.
  • 1969: Attends first rock concert, where he sees Jimi Hendrix at Seattle Center Coliseum
  • 1975: Founds Microsoft 
  • 1982: In September, Paul is diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Nearly eight months later, doctors said he had beaten the disease.
  • 1983: Officially resigns from Microsoft in March
  • 1986: Founds Vulcan Inc. in Seattle as an investment and project management firm with his sister, Jody Allen
  • 1988: Establishes The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation
  • 1988: Purchases the Portland Trail Blazers
  • 1988: Rescues Seattle Cinerama from demolition by purchasing and restoring the theater
  • 1990: The Paul G. Allen Family Foundation makes its first grant.
  • 1990: Becomes a billionaire at age 37
  • 1995: Makes his single biggest investment to date by purchasing a 18.5% stake in Dreamworks
  • 1996: Purchases the St. Paul’s Hospital in London, which would reopen later after renovations as The Hospital Club
  • 1997: Creates Vulcan Productions, an independent film production company
  • 1997: Purchases the Seattle Seahawks, preventing the NFL team from relocating to California
  • 2002: Donates $14 million to the University of Washington to construct the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science and Engineering
  • 2003: Launches the Allen Institute for Brain Science (AIBS) with $100 million in seed money
  • 2004: SpaceShipOne becomes the first privately-based effort to successfully put a civilian in suborbital space, winning the Ansari X Prize
  • 2004: Opens the Flying Heritage Collection, a private collection of warbirds, in Arlington, Washington
  • 2008: Lifetime philanthropic giving reaches $1 billion in total
  • 2009: Becomes a minority owner in Seattle Sounders, the MLS team
  • 2011: Releases memoir “Idea Man”
  • 2011: Announces the launch of Stratolaunch Systems. The venture’s goal is to create an air launch to orbit system
  • 2012: Opens the Living Computer Museum, an interactive collection of vintage mainframes and machines, to the public in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood
  • 2013: Announces expansion of the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence, aiming to model it after the Brain Science Institute
  • 2014: Seattle Seahawks win the Super Bowl over the Denver Broncos
  • 2014: Pledges $100 million to support efforts to stop Ebola outbreak in West Africa
  • 2014: Founds the Allen Institute for Cell Science 
  • 2017: Locates the wreck of the USS Indianapolis
  • 2018: Dies on Oct. 15 in Seattle of complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

More about Paul Allen in this statement posted by his umbrella company Vulcan Inc.

And here is the New York Times obituary.

19:00 EDT

Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Dies of Cancer At Age 65 [Slashdot]

CNBC is reporting that Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen has died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Vulcan Inc. said in a statement Monday that Allen passed this afternoon in Seattle at the age of 65. From the report: "While most knew Paul Allen as a technologist and philanthropist, for us he was a much-loved brother and uncle, and an exceptional friend. Paul's family and friends were blessed to experience his wit, warmth, his generosity and deep concern," [Paul Allen's sister, Jody Allen] said in a statement. "For all the demands on his schedule, there was always time for family and friends. At this time of loss and grief for us -- and so many others -- we are profoundly grateful for the care and concern he demonstrated every day." Earlier this month, Allen revealed that he had started treatment for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, the same type of cancer he overcame nine years earlier. The longtime CEO left Microsoft when he was first diagnosed with the disease. Allen also ranked among the world's wealthiest individuals. As of Monday afternoon, he ranked 21st on Forbes' list of billionaires with an estimated net worth of $20.3 billion. UPDATE: Added a link to a statement from Vulcan Inc. on behalf of the Allen Family and Paul G. Allen network.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Former Google+ UI Designer Suggests Inept Management Played Role In Demise [Slashdot]

An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Morgan Knutson, a UI designer who seven years ago, spent eight months at Google working on its recently shuttered social networking product Google+ and who, in light of the shutdown, decided to share on Twitter his personal experience with how "awful the project and exec team was." It's a fairly long read, but among his most notable complaints is that former Google SVP Vic Gundotra, who oversaw Google+, ruled by fear and never bothered to talk with Knutson, whose desk was "directly next to Vic's glass-walled office. He would walk by my desk dozens of times during the day. He could see my screen from his desk. During the 8 months I was there, culminating in me leading the redesign of his product, Vic didn't say a word to me. No hello. No goodbye, or thanks for staying late. No handshake. No eye contact." He also says Gundotra essentially bribed other teams within Google to incorporate Google+'s features into their products by promising them handsome financial rewards for doing so atop their yearly bonuses. "You read that correctly, "tweeted Knutson. "A f*ck ton of money to ruin the product you were building with bloated garbage that no one wanted." Gundotra is today the cofounder and CEO of AliveCor, maker of a device that captures a "medical grade" E.K.G. within 30 seconds; AliveCor has gone on to raise $30 million from investors, including the Mayo Clinic. Asked about Knutson's characterization of him, Gundotra suggested the rant was "absurd" but otherwise declined to comment. Knutson goes on to paint "a picture of a political, haphazard, wasteful and ultimately disappointing division where it was never quite clear who should be working on what or why," reports TechCrunch.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A dating website for Trump supporters leaked its customers' data ON DAY ONE [Boing Boing]

Donalddaters.com is an app for people who want to have sex with white supremacists; it launched today and promptly leaked all 1600 of its users' data: "users' names, profile pictures, device type, their private messages — and access tokens, which can be used to take over accounts."

The data was accessible from a public and exposed Firebase data repository, which was hardcoded in the app. Shortly after TechCrunch contacted the app maker, the data was pulled offline.

Donald Daters, a dating app for Trump supporters, leaked its users’ data [Zack Whittaker/Techcrunch]

Epson is teaching the internet not to install security updates [Boing Boing]

More on the story of how Epson tricked its customers into installing a fake "update" to their printers so that they would stop accepting third-party and refilled ink cartridges: not only does this force Epson customers to pay more for ink, but it puts everyone on the internet at risk, by teaching people not to update their devices.

If you were affected by this scam, please get in touch with your state, phone number, and whether you saved the original receipt and (better still!) packaging.

Activist, author, and EFF member Cory Doctorow tells Motherboard that Epson customers in other states that were burned by the update should contact the organization. That feedback will then be used as the backbone for additional complaints to other state AGs.

"Inkjet printers are the trailblazers of terrible technology business-models, patient zero in an epidemic of insisting that we all arrange our affairs to benefit corporate shareholders, at our own expense,” Doctorow told me via email.

Doctorow notes that not only is this kind of behavior sleazy, it undermines security by eroding consumer faith in the software update process. Especially given that some printers can be easily compromised and used as an attack vector into the rest of the home network.

“By abusing the updating mechanism, Epson is poisoning the security well for all of us: when Epson teaches people not to update their devices, they put us all at risk from botnets, ransomware epidemics, denial of service, cyber-voyeurism and the million horrors of contemporary internet security,” Doctorow said.

“Infosec may be a dumpster-fire, but that doesn't mean Epson should pour gasoline on it," he added.

Printer Makers Are Crippling Cheap Ink Cartridges Via Bogus 'Security Updates' [Karl Bode/Motherboard]

Microsoft Co-Founder Paul Allen Dies At 65 [News : NPR]

Paul Allen greets NFL Hall of Famer and former Seahawk Kenny Easley as his number is retired at CenturyLink Field last year.

Allen died from complications of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in Seattle on Monday, according to his company, Vulcan Inc.

(Image credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

'Rogue Killers' May Have Murdered Saudi Journalist, Trump Suggests [News : NPR]

President Trump talks to reporters outside the White House on Monday about his conversation with Saudi King Salman bin Abdul-Aziz Al Saud regarding missing journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Saudis have denied any knowledge of Jamal Khashoggi's whereabouts. "We're going to try getting to the bottom of it very soon," Trump said. He dispatched Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Riyadh.

(Image credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Critic Of Federal Public Lands Management To Join Department Of The Interior [News : NPR]

Wyoming attorney Karen Budd-Falen, recently named as Deputy Solicitor for Parks and Wildlife at the Department of the Interior, sits in her law office in Cheyenne, Wyo.

The Department of the Interior has chosen a prominent property rights attorney in Wyoming as their new deputy solicitor. Its a controversial appointment for environmental groups.

(Image credit: Mead Gruver/AP)

Outgoing Nextdoor CEO not amused by @bestofnextdoor [The Verge - All Posts]

Last week, Nextdoor co-founder and soon-to-be-former CEO Nirav Tolia took the stage with angel investor Jason Calacanis at startup event LAUNCH Scale for a morning “fireside chat” about Nextdoor and its success. It didn’t quite go how Tolia probably expected.

“Anybody here follow @bestofnextdoor?” Calacanis asks the crowd in the clip, which LAUNCH just posted on Twitter this afternoon. “You’re all going to love this.” Onscreen was projected a picture of a screenshot from the “parody” Twitter account, featuring a print of Vincent Van Gogh’s “Starry Night” with the sublime caption: “Not sure of authenticity.”

Tolia did not, in fact, “love this.” “When I showed up today and your team sprung that, sprung that, that tweet on me,” he says,...

Continue reading…

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dead at 65 [The Verge - All Posts]

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen died today from complications with non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma. He was 65. Allen said earlier this month that he was being treated for the disease.

Allen was a childhood friend of Bill Gates, and together, the two started Microsoft in 1975. He left the company in 1983 while being treated for Hodgkin’s lymphoma and remained a board member with the company through 2000. He was first treated for non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma in 2009, before seeing it go into remission.

In a statement given to ABC News, Gates said he was “heartbroken by the passing of one of my oldest and dearest friends.” He went on to commend his fellow co-founder for his life after Microsoft:

From our early days together at Lakeside School, through...

Continue reading…

A dinosaur obsession leads to stolen fossils and prison time in this new book [The Verge - All Posts]

On a Sunday in May 2012, the fossilized skeleton of an eight-foot-tall T. rex relative called Tarbosaurus bataar went up for auction in New York City. The bidding started at $875,000, but there was a problem: the bones had been poached from Mongolia and were in the United States illegally.

At the New York auction, a lawyer working on behalf of the Mongolian government dialed up a judge and tried to stop the sale. Nearly 1,000 miles away in Florida, Eric Prokopi, the man who had obtained the bones from a Mongolian dealer and painstakingly prepared them for sale, paced the beach where he was celebrating his daughter’s birthday. He was waiting for the auctioneer’s hammer to finalize the sale, and its consequences.

Continue reading…

Facebook expands ban on voting misinformation ahead of US midterms [The Verge - All Posts]

Facebook is going to begin banning false information involving voting ahead of the US’s midterm elections next month. It’s something the company has done before, but amid growing tensions with Congress and the public, these new rules are set to be tougher and more comprehensive than those prior.

Before the 2016 elections, Facebook banned posts that provided misinformation as to where people could go to vote and at what time polls opened or closed. But in today’s announcement, the Silicon Valley giant plans to push further, banning posts that advertise false voting methods, like sending a text to vote, or posts claiming primary votes will be counted in the general election.

Facebook
Example of content Facebook...

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Rocket car won’t break 1,000 miles per hour unless company raises $33 million [The Verge - All Posts]

The company behind Project Bloodhound, a UK-based initiative to break 1,000 miles per hour in a rocket-powered car, is in dire straits. The Bloodhound Supersonic Car is all but built, and it reached speeds of over 200 mph in a test last year. But the company says it needs to raise £25 million (just shy of $33 million) or it will go broke.

Bloodhound Programme Ltd announced on Monday that it has entered into administration, which, like bankruptcy, is a process where control of the company gets passed to an “administrator” whose goal is to repay creditors as quickly as possible. The business advisory firm that was hired (FRP Advisory LLP) says it has started talking to potential investors, according to the BBC. Until now, the project was...

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Former VR film company Jaunt is giving up on VR to focus on augmented reality [The Verge - All Posts]

Virtual reality video company Jaunt — which helped spur the early growth of VR video — is shifting its focus to augmented reality, winding down “a number” of its VR-related services, and laying off a “significant portion” of its staff.

In a Medium post entitled “The Future of Jaunt is AR,” Jaunt wrote that it would focus on developing technologies that could create augmented reality content at a large scale. “We will be winding down a number of VR products and content services in the coming weeks,” reads the post. “This unfortunately means that some of our valued and highly talented colleagues will be moving on ... These highly skilled individuals have contributed to our position as a leader in the immersive industry, and the decision to...

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18:00 EDT

Facebook To Ban Misinformation On Voting In Upcoming US Elections [Slashdot]

"Facebook will ban false information about voting requirements and fake reports of violence or long lines at polling stations in the run-up to and during next month's U.S. midterm elections," reports Reuters. The latest efforts are to reduce voter manipulation across its platform. From the report: The world's largest online social network, with 1.5 billion daily users, has stopped short of banning all false or misleading posts, something that Facebook has shied away from as it would likely increase its expenses and leave it open to charges of censorship. The ban on false information about voting methods, set to be announced later on Monday, comes six weeks after Senator Ron Wyden asked Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg how Facebook would counter posts aimed at suppressing votes, such as by telling certain users they could vote by text, a hoax that has been used to reduce turnout in the past. The information on voting methods becomes one of the few areas in which falsehoods are prohibited on Facebook, a policy enforced by what the company calls "community standards" moderators, although application of its standards has been uneven. It will not stop the vast majority of untruthful posts about candidates or other election issues.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Fire At AT&T Facility Causes Outage For Over a Million U-Verse Fiber Customers In Texas [Slashdot]

New submitter JustChapman writes: Local Dallas/Fort Worth WFAA is reporting a major outage of AT&T U-Verse fiber internet, due to a lightening strike at a switching facility in Richardson, TX. Apparently the strike took out primary and secondary power systems, setting fire to the building. One commenter states a representative allegedly said that 1.5 million customers are currently without service.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

17:00 EDT

Winamp 6, due out in 2019, aims to whip more llama ass [Ars Technica]

Computer monitor using Winamp.

Enlarge (credit: Keng Susumpow / Flickr)

Rejoice, llama-whipping fans, a new version of Winamp is set to be released in 2019, according to a Monday report by TechCrunch.

Alexandre Saboundjian, the CEO of Radionomy, said that the upgrade would bring a "complete listening experience."

AudioValley, Radionomy's parent company, did not immediately respond to Ars' request for comment.

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