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The NSA’s voice-recognition system raises hard questions for Echo and Google Home

  • Suppose you’re looking for a single person, somewhere in the world. (We’ll call him Waldo.) You know who he is, nearly everything about him, but you don’t know where he’s hiding. How do you find him?

    The scale is just too great for anything but a computerized scan. The first chance is facial recognition — scan his face against cameras at airports or photos on social media — although you’ll be counting on Waldo walking past a friendly camera and giving it a good view. But his voice could be even better: How long could Waldo go without making a phone call on public lines? And even if he’s careful about phone calls, the world is full of microphones — how long before he gets picked up in the background while his friend talks to her Echo?


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    13 hours 43 min ago

Linus Torvalds declares Intel fix for Meltdown/Spectre ‘COMPLETE AND UTTER GARBAGE’

  •  The always outspoken Linus Torvalds, best known for his continuing work on the innermost code of Linux systems, has harsh words to say and accusations to level against Intel. His evaluation of Intel’s latest proposed fix for the Meltdown/Spectre issue: “the patches are COMPLETE AND UTTER GARBAGE.” Read More

    13 hours 56 min ago

Buyer beware: Nokia Body Cardio smart scale will get a little dumber this week

  • Did you buy Nokia’s (formerly Withings’) most expensive smart scale, the Body Cardio? Unfortunately, Pulse Wave Velocity, one of its highlight features that tracks the speed of your blood flow, is being unceremoniously deactivated on January 24.

    According to Nokia, which sent out a notice to N users and posted on its website, the feature is being switched off due to it requiring a “different level of regulatory approval” – in layman’s terms, Nokia could find itself in legal trouble if it kept the PWV function up and running. 

    In this age, it’s a blessing and a curse that products can be updated post-release. Sure, most companies use this as a benefit, adding onto products with pro-consumer updates. But in the case of Nokia, those who paid good money ($80 more than the next cheapest scale) have found themselves in an unfortunate situation. And because it's a Wi-Fi connected smart gadget, you can't avoid the automatic update.

    Nokia points out that all other features are unaffected, and thankfully, the company’s offering a plan to make it up to customers. If you’ve purchased a Body Cardio smart scale, you can opt in to a $30 credit to spend or get a full refund through this page.

    Via Engadget

    13 hours 57 min ago

Amazon's futuristic new grocery store lets you truly grab and go

  • Image credit: Amazon

    Amazon has already made life rough for traditional brick-and-mortar stores with its wildly popular (and powerful) digital marketplace, so it may come as a surprise that Amazon just opened a brick-and-mortar grocery store of its own called Amazon Go.

    You can find the 1,800 square-foot store in Amazon's home turf of downtown Seattle, but what you won't find are any check-out lines or human cashiers. Instead, aside from a few humans who hang around to keep the place stocked, it's all fully automated. 

    All you need is a special app for Amazon Go, which registers you as you walk in, much as turnstile monitors read your tickets at a subway station. You then grab all of your items and simply walk out.

    Cameras inside the shelves and throughout the store register which items you've picked up and add them to your virtual cart, and the system apparently works so well that you can put an item back on your shelf and it will register as leaving your virtual cart.

    The New York Times reports that the system also does a good job of thwarting shoplifting, such as when it noticed that the reporter tried to hide an item by wrapping a shopping bag around it. As far as the bags themselves go, you're expected to bring your own – no shopping carts or baskets exist in Amazon Go, either.

    The concept has been in the testing phase for a while now, and we first covered it back toward the end of 2016. Amazon says it currently has no plans to implement the system in Whole Foods, which Amazon bought to much fanfare last year.

    Maybe too convenient?

    Amazon also downplayed the devastating effect a wide adoption of this shift might play on cashier employment, pointing to the human cooks and stockers that are (still) needed to run the place.

    As the Times notes, the US Department of Labor reported in 2016 that 3.5 million Americans held cashier jobs in May of 2016, and 900,000 of those were employed in grocery stores. 

    In many smaller towns, cashier positions are often among the only reliable jobs. Amazon's statement also leaves out that stocker and food preparation jobs already exist alongside cashier jobs in many traditional stores already.

    14 hours 38 sec ago

Missed Tinder connection leads to campus-wide search for the girl of this guy’s dreams

  • Last week, a Missouri State student accidentally swiped left on a girl named Claudia. One mass email (and presumably several confused Claudias) later, and the two have found each other again, if only to laugh together on Twitter. Like any good investigator, Hayden Moll took what little he knew about his missed connection — her name was Claudia and she attended Missouri State — and applied an effective method to find her. By which I mean he proceeded to email every Claudia in the college to find the right one instead of, I don’t know, searching Facebook or Twitter. I’d…

    This story continues at The Next Web

    Or just read more coverage about: Tinder

    14 hours 20 min ago

Apple debuts a dashboard for artists that tracks both streams and purchases

  •  Apple today launched a new dashboard that will allow artists on Apple Music to track fans’ listening and buying habits and view a variety of analytics about their music, according to Billboard, which had the launch exclusive from Apple. The dashboard, called Apple Music for Artists, is currently available only for select beta users ahead of a broader launch planned for later this spring. Read More

    14 hours 30 min ago

Don't download Intel's latest Spectre and Meltdown patch, Intel warns

  • If you own a PC or Mac using an Intel processor and have been patiently waiting for Spectre and Meltdown patches appear on Windows Update or Mac App Store updates, you shouldn't download it.

    That’s the latest directive from Intel, who cited spontaneous reboot and system instability problems – first reported January 11 – following its latest firmware patch aimed to defend against the Spectre and Meltdown exploit vulnerabilities. The company issued a blog post today warning both its partners and end users.

    “We recommend that OEMs, cloud service providers, system manufacturers, software vendors, and end users stop deployment of current versions on specific platforms,” Intel EVP Neil Shenoy writes, “as they may introduce higher than expected reboots and other unpredictable system behavior.”

    Intel is just now getting to the bottom of the problem, having identified the root cause of these issues in Broadwell and Haswell-generation chips. The firm claims to have already issued early versions of fixes for these issues to its partners, but not yet a final release.

    However, Intel has yet to directly address similar issues affecting both older and more recent processors than the Broadwell and Haswell families, namely Ivy Bridge, Skylake, Kaby Lake, and Coffee Lake generations. However, it has named processors from those families as suffering from the problem in official documentation.

    In short, while computing device vendors and other Intel partners work with Intel to fix these issues at the top level and hopefully avoid these faulty patches, the firm also asking end users to stay away from the latest processor updates. However, the firm stresses users should keep their devices up-to-date and secure with with all other software releases.

    (Don't worry, AMD is suffering a similar fate, with Microsoft recently having to halt a patch from the firm for similar reasons.)

    If your machine automatically updates through Windows 10 Update or the Mac App Store and you’re experiencing these problems, it’s unknown when a fix will be available for you.

    Via The Verge

    14 hours 34 min ago

Top 5 Linux server distros of 2018

  • As a free and open source operating system, Linux is the ideal candidate for setting up your own server. The community of developers behind each Linux distribution (distro) regularly review the source code of their chosen OS to make sure it's free of bugs.

    When it comes to servers, the emphasis should obviously be on stability. While upgrades are a good thing on the face of it, they have the potential to interfere with the smooth running of your server.

    We’ve highlighted some of our favourite Linux server distros in this article, including operating systems that offer long term support, stability, and ideally a fast setup process.

    Debian is over 20-years-old and in part owes that longevity to the emphasis placed on producing a stable operating system. This is crucial if you want to set up a server as updates can sometimes clash badly with existing software, as we’ve already mentioned.

    There are three branches of Debian, named 'Unstable', 'Testing' and 'Stable'. To become part of the Stable current release, packages must have been reviewed for several months as part of the Testing release. This results in a much more reliable system – but don't expect Debian to incorporate much 'bleeding edge' software as a result. 

    You can get started with Debian using a minimal Network Boot image which is less than 30MB in size.

    While Ubuntu is best known for bringing desktop Linux to the masses, its Server variant is also extremely competitive. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu has developed LTS (Long Term Support) versions of Ubuntu Server, which like the desktop flavour can be updated up to five years after the date of release, saving you the trouble of upgrading your server repeatedly.

    If you're intent on building your own cloud platform, you can also download Ubuntu Cloud Server. Canonical claims that over 55% of OpenStack clouds already run on Ubuntu. For a fee, Canonical will even set up a managed cloud for you using BootStack.

    OpenSUSE (formerly SUSE Linux) is a Linux distro specifically designed for developers and system admins wishing to run their own server. The easy-to-use installer can be configured to use 'Text Mode' rather than install a desktop environment to get your server up and running.

    OpenSUSE will automatically download the minimum required packages for you, meaning only essential software is installed. The YaST Control Center allows you to configure network settings, such as setting up a static IP for your server. You can also use the built in Zypper package manager to download and install essential server software such as postfix.

    Fedora is a community developed operating system based on the commercial Linux distro Red Hat. Fedora Server is a special implementation of the OS, allowing you to deploy and manage your server using the Rolekit tool. The operating system also includes a powerful PostgreSQL Database Server. 

    Fedora Server also includes FreeIPA, enabling you to manage authentication credentials, access control information and perform auditing from one central location. 

    You can download the full 2.3GB ISO image of Fedora Server using the link below. The same page contains a link to a minimal 511MB NetInstall Image from Fedora's Other Downloads section for a faster barebones setup.

    Like Fedora, CentOS is a community developed distribution of Linux, originally based on the commercial OS Red Hat Enterprise Linux. In light of this, the developers behind CentOS 7 have promised to provide full updates for the OS until the end of 2020, with maintenance updates until the end of June 2024 – which should save the trouble of performing a full upgrade on your server in the near future.

    You can avoid unnecessary packages by installing the 'minimal' ISO from the CentOS website, which at 792MB can fit onto a 90 minute CD-R. If you're eager to get started, the site also offers preconfigured AWS instances and Docker images.

    14 hours 36 min ago

Ex-Uber Maps exec Brian McClendon running for office

  •  Brian McClendon, a notable engineering executive at startups and large tech companies, including Google and Uber, has announced his candidacy to run for the open seat of secretary of state of Kansas. He will compete in the Democratic primary scheduled for August 7th. McClendon has been a lifelong engineer, growing up in the state and receiving his undergraduate degree in electrical engineering… Read More

    14 hours 43 min ago