Ubuntu Gets Snappier Video Playback With Chromium Snap For VA-API Acceleration

For Ubuntu users running the Chromium web browser and wanting to enjoy better video acceleration with Gallium3D or Intel hardware, there is now a Chromium Snap for testing that features VA-API video acceleration support for GPU-based decoding…

Source: Phoronix – Ubuntu Gets Snappier Video Playback With Chromium Snap For VA-API Acceleration

Samsung updates older Gear watches with handy fitness tools

As focused as Samsung might be on the Galaxy Watch, it still has plenty of affection for its older smartwatches. It’s rolling out an update for the Gear S3 and Gear Sport that adds a flurry of welcome features, particularly if you’re fitness-minded….

Source: Engadget – Samsung updates older Gear watches with handy fitness tools

Russia says Facebook and Twitter are violating data laws

Russia has long wanted heavyweight social networks to store data inside the country, but now that’s becoming more than a vague threat. Communications overseer Roskomnadzor has started “administrative proceedings” against Facebook and Twitter after t…

Source: Engadget – Russia says Facebook and Twitter are violating data laws

GoFundMe Set Up for Fyre Festival Victim Raises More Than $150,000 in Days

A pair of dueling Fyre Festival documentaries—one on Hulu and one on Netflix—are giving viewers a better idea of how a festival-turned-shitshow managed to so badly botch its spectacular promise of being one of the greatest events the world had ever known. While countless people were burned by the scam, Maryann Rolle’s…

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Source: Gizmodo – GoFundMe Set Up for Fyre Festival Victim Raises More Than 0,000 in Days

Ancient Climate Change Triggered Warming That Lasted Thousands of Years

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Phys.Org: A rapid rise in temperature on ancient Earth triggered a climate response that may have prolonged the warming for many thousands of years, according to scientists. Their study, published online in Nature Geoscience, provides new evidence of a climate feedback that could explain the long duration of the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM), which is considered the best analogue for modern climate change. The findings also suggest that climate change today could have long-lasting impacts on global temperature even if humans are able to curb greenhouse gas emissions.

Increased erosion during the PETM, approximately 56 million years ago, freed large amounts of fossil carbon stored in rocks and released enough carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas, into the atmosphere to impact temperatures long term, researchers said. Scientists found evidence for the massive carbon release in coastal sediment fossil cores. They analyzed the samples using an innovative molecular technique that enabled them to trace how processes like erosion moved carbon in deep time. Global temperatures increased by about 9 to 14.4 degrees Fahrenheit during the PETM, radically changing conditions on Earth. Severe storms and flooding became more common, and the warm, wet weather led to increased erosion of rocks. As erosion wore down mountains over thousands of years, carbon was released from rocks and transported by rivers to oceans, where some was reburied in coastal sediments. Along the way, some of the carbon entered the atmosphere as greenhouse gas.

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Source: Slashdot – Ancient Climate Change Triggered Warming That Lasted Thousands of Years

Dutch Surgeon Wins Landmark 'Right To Be Forgotten' Case

AmiMoJo shares a report from The Guardian: A Dutch surgeon formally disciplined for her medical negligence has won a legal action to remove Google search results about her case in a landmark “right to be forgotten” ruling. The doctor’s registration on the register of healthcare professionals was initially suspended by a disciplinary panel because of her postoperative care of a patient. After an appeal, this was changed to a conditional suspension under which she was allowed to continue to practice. But the first results after entering the doctor’s name in Google continued to be links to a website containing an unofficial blacklist, which it was claimed amounted to “digital pillory.” It was heard that potential patients had found the blacklist on Google and discussed the case on a web forum. The surgeon’s lawyer, Willem van Lynden, said the ruling was groundbreaking in ensuring doctors would no longer be judged by Google on their fitness to practice. “Now they will have to bring down thousands of pages: that is what will happen, in my view. There is a medical disciplinary panel but Google have been the judge until now. They have decided whether to take a page down — and why do they have that position?” Van Lynden said.

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Source: Slashdot – Dutch Surgeon Wins Landmark ‘Right To Be Forgotten’ Case

Tesla Model 3 Is Heading To Europe

The Tesla Model 3 has cleared its last regulatory hurdle in Europe and will soon go on sale in the continent home to Audi, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz. “Deliveries should start in February for the Long Range Battery version of the midsize sedan — the same variant first sold in the U.S. — according to Tesla, after Dutch vehicle authority RDW issued the OK,” reports Bloomberg. From the report: The European launch is crucial for Tesla as it navigates what Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk called a “very difficult” road ahead. The company is cutting jobs so it can profitably deliver lower-priced versions of the Model 3, Tesla’s first car targeted for the mass market. Musk has pointed to sales of the sedan in Europe and China as a main reason he isn’t concerned about any potential setback caused by a halving of the U.S. federal tax credit, to $3,750, on Tesla purchases as of Jan. 1. With the Model 3, Tesla also has an opportunity to broaden its attack on the premium car market dominated by Germany’s BMW AG, Daimler AG-owned Mercedes-Benz and Volkswagen AG’s Audi. Tesla, based in Palo Alto, California, said in its third-quarter shareholder letter that “the midsized premium sedan market in Europe is more than twice as big as the same segment in the U.S.” The Model 3 became the top-selling luxury car there last year, outstripping the Audi Q5, BMW 3 Series and other well-known models. Analysts and industry executives, however, have observed that competition with Tesla cuts across traditional categories.

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Source: Slashdot – Tesla Model 3 Is Heading To Europe

Who Did the Worst MLK Day Tweet?

For most of us, Martin Luther King Jr. Day is a time to reflect on one of the most honorable and morally righteous figures in our country’s history… and/or to sit at home eating Cheez-Its and watching a bad Netflix show. But for the denizens of Online, MLK Day is a time to tweet extremely badly. And boy, did people…

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Source: Gizmodo – Who Did the Worst MLK Day Tweet?

Next Dodge Challenger to be electrified, says FCA boss

By Zac Palmer

Dodge is the last of Detroit’s Big Three to truly keep the muscle car purpose and heritage alive with the Challenger and Charger. As the Mustang and Camaro have transitioned to sports car-like experiences, the high-horsepower Dodges ha…

Source: Engadget – Next Dodge Challenger to be electrified, says FCA boss

Facebook's Plans For Space Lasers Revealed

Two new observatories are being built on Mount Wilson in California — home to the 100-inch Hooker telescope, one of the largest aperture telescopes in the world, and CHARA array, the world’s largest optical interferometer. As IEEE Spectrum reports, “they could house Facebook’s first laser communications systems designed to connect to satellites in orbit.” From the report: Construction permits issued by the County of Los Angeles show that a small company called PointView Tech is building two detached observatories on the mountain peak. PointView is the company that IEEE Spectrum revealed last year to be a previously unknown subsidiary of Facebook working on an experimental satellite called Athena. In April, PointView sought permission from the U.S. Federal Communications Commission to test whether E-band radio signals could “be used for the provision of fixed and mobile broadband access in unserved and underserved areas.”

That application was still pending at the FCC before the current U.S. federal government shutdown took effect, but it and other public documents and presentations now strongly suggest that PointView is planning to utilize laser technology, possibly both in Athena and future spacecraft. […] Planning documents show that construction work on PointView’s Mount Wilson observatories began in July and passed inspection in the middle of December. If the observatories are part of a laser satellite installation, they might use an optical ground station conceptually similar to [German company Mynaric]. This transmits its own laser beam up into the atmosphere for a drone — or potentially a satellite — to lock on to. Facebook and the Mount Wilson Institute didn’t comment, but the report does go on to cite scientific papers authored by Facebook researchers suggesting that the company is committing resources to orbital lasers. “In a series of papers published in 2017 and 2018, engineers Raichelle Aniceto and Slaven Moro subjected multiple components, including an optical modem, to radiation similar to that experienced on orbit,” reports IEEE Spectrum.

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Source: Slashdot – Facebook’s Plans For Space Lasers Revealed

Fedora 30 Going Through Its Formalities To Ship With & Built By The GCC 9 Compiler

With each new Fedora release you can pretty much be guaranteed it will be using the latest and greatest releases of the GNOME desktop, the most recent stable kernel, and it’s also been very punctual in switching over to new major releases of the GCC compiler — generally being the first of the major Linux distributions adopting the annual major GNU compiler releases. With Fedora 30 due out in May, it should ship with GCC 9.1 as would be standard practice. It’s not guaranteed though as FESCo hasn’t signed off on it with this change request coming in past the deadline…

Source: Phoronix – Fedora 30 Going Through Its Formalities To Ship With & Built By The GCC 9 Compiler

New Phobos Ransomware Exploits Weak Security To Hit Targets Around the World

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: A prolific cybercrime gang behind a series of ransomware attacks is distributing a new form of the file-encrypting malware which combines two well known and successful variants in a series of attacks against businesses around the world. Dubbed Phobos by its creators, the ransomware first emerged in December and researchers at CoveWare have detailed how it shares a number of similarities with Dharma ransomware.

Like Dharma, Phobos exploits open or poorly secured RDP ports to sneak inside networks and execute a ransomware attack, encrypting files and demands a ransom to be paid in bitcoin for returning the files, which in this case are locked with a .phobos extension. The demand is made in a ransom note — and aside from ‘Phobos’ logos being added to the ransom note, it’s exactly the same as the note used by Dharma, with the same typeface and text use throughout. Phobos is being distributed by the gang behind Dharma and likely serves as an insurance policy for malicious campaigns, providing attackers with a second option for conducting attacks, should Dharma end up decrypted or prevented from successfully extorting ransoms from victims.

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Source: Slashdot – New Phobos Ransomware Exploits Weak Security To Hit Targets Around the World

Spotify Will Soon Let You Mute, Block Artists

Spotify, one of the largest music streaming platforms available, is readying a “don’t play this artist” feature in its apps that will let you mute artists you don’t want to hear from. “The feature simply lets you block an entire artist from playing, so that songs from the artist will never play from a library, playlist, chart list, or even radio stations on Spotify,” reports The Verge. From the report: The block feature works on songs by an individual artist, but it doesn’t currently apply to tracks that an artist is featured on. Thurrott first spotted the feature, and notes that Spotify originally decided not to offer blocking “after serious consideration” back in 2017. Spotify has now reversed that decision.

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Source: Slashdot – Spotify Will Soon Let You Mute, Block Artists

Machinima's YouTube gaming channel has effectively disappeared

Machinima’s YouTube gaming channel has been essentially scrubbed from the internet, as most videos on the site have been set to private and unplayable. Neither video creators nor users of the channel were notified, Kotaku reported, so the news sent a…

Source: Engadget – Machinima’s YouTube gaming channel has effectively disappeared

Google Fined $57 Million By French Data Privacy Body For Failing To Comply With EU's GDPR Regulations

schwit1 shares a report from VentureBeat: Google has been hit by a $57 million fine by French data privacy body CNIL (National Data Protection Commission) for failure to comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) regulations. The CNIL said that it was fining Google for “lack of transparency, inadequate information and lack of valid consent regarding the ads personalization,” according to a press release issued by the organization. The news was first reported by the AFP. What the CNIL is effectively referencing here is dark pattern design, which attempts to encourage users into accepting terms by guiding their choices through the design and layout of the interface. This is something that Facebook has often done too, as it has sought to garner user consent for new features or T&Cs.
It’s worth noting here that Google has faced considerable pressure from the EU on a number of fronts over the way it carries out business. Back in July, it was hit with a record $5 billion fine in an Android antitrust case, though it is currently appealing that. A few months back, Google overhauled its Android business model in Europe, electing to charge Android device makers a licensing fee to preinstall its apps in Europe. Google hasn’t confirmed what its next steps will be, but it will likely appeal the decision as it has done with other fines. “People expect high standards of transparency and control from us,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat. “We’re deeply committed to meeting those expectations and the consent requirements of the GDPR. We’re studying the decision to determine our next steps.”

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Source: Slashdot – Google Fined Million By French Data Privacy Body For Failing To Comply With EU’s GDPR Regulations

Report: Toyota and Panasonic to create an electric car-battery spinoff company

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Source: Ars Technica – Report: Toyota and Panasonic to create an electric car-battery spinoff company