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Elon Musk says 'the worst is over' for Tesla

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Elon Musk said he's had an "excruciating" year so far, often working 120-hour weeks to get Tesla Model 3 production on track, according to a New York Times interview. He also described the sequence of events that led to his infamous "taking Tesla pri...
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Security theater meets DEF CON as room searches spark controversy

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Enlarge / This sign is an invitation for a room search at some Las Vegas hotels. (credit: Getty Images)

In the wake of the mass shooting in Las Vegas in October of 2017, hotels in the city started drafting more aggressive policies regarding security. Just as Caesars Entertainment was rolling out its new security policies, the company ran head on into DEF CON—an event with privacy tightly linked to its culture.

The resulting clash of worlds—especially at Caesars Palace, the hotel where much of DEF CON was held—left some attendees feeling violated, harassed, or abused, and that exploded onto Twitter this past weekend.

Caesars began rolling out a new security policy in February that mandated room searches when staff had not had access to rooms for over 24 hours. Caesars has been mostly tolerant of the idiosyncratic behavior of the DEF CON community, but it's not clear that the company prepared security staff for dealing with the sorts of things they would find in the rooms of DEF CON attendees. Soldering irons and other gear were seized, and some attendees reported being intimidated by security staff.

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DeepMind AI matches health experts at spotting eye diseases

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DeepMind has successfully developed a system that can analyze retinal scans and spot symptoms of sight-threatening eye diseases. Today, the AI division -- owned by Google's parent company Alphabet -- published "early results" of a research project wi...
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Google tracked banned words to refine rumored China search engine

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If Google is planning a search engine for China, how is it planning to obey the country's strict censorship laws from day one? By getting some practice in first, apparently. The Intercept has obtained documents reportedly showing that Google has been...
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Chrome now using native Windows 10 notifications, Action Center

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As of today, Chrome users on Windows 10 are going to start seeing Chrome notifications delivered as regular Windows notifications. This means that the Chrome notifications will use the same styling as Windows notifications and that they'll all show up in the Action Center.

Google is doing a staged rollout of the new notifications; currently, 50 percent of users with the current stable version of Chrome, 68, will be opted in to the native notifications. That percentage will increase over the coming days or weeks. If you don't want to wait, the "Enable native notifications" option in chrome://flags can be used to force the use of Windows-style notifications right now.

This is a very welcome change because it means that Chrome's notifications will now respect Windows' settings. In particular, Focus Assist (previously known as Quiet Hours) means that notifications will automatically be suppressed when you're playing a game or mirroring your screen, or at certain times of day. For those of us with lots of Chrome notifications (I personally have Calendar, Slack, and Twitter, among others), this will make the alerts much less annoying and make Web apps feel a lot more like real software.

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Idaho prison inmates exploited tablet vulnerability to steal $225,000 in credits

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A group of 364 prison inmates housed across a series of Idaho corrections facilities collectively stole nearly $225,000 worth of digital credits by exploiting a vulnerability in tablets provided by a company called JPay, according to the Associated Press. JPay is a private company that provides digital services like email, music, games, and money transfer to prison inmates.

JPay provides inmates with access to the outside world, and prisons often adopt its services to help with rehabilitation and education. It does not appear to use taxpayer money to fund any of its services, nor does any of its revenue from digital sales typically go to the state. Instead, JPay will either let family members or friends of inmates purchase the tablet for them, or it will foot the bill for the device itself, as it did for 53,000 inmates in the New York State prison system earlier this year.

 Image: JPlay

The company appears to earn revenue in part by charging inmates for email use and digital media downloads, using a credit system to do so. “Having one of these tablets helps your loved ones pass the time, keep engaged and stay connected to you,” reads the company’s product page for the JP5 tablet.

By “intentionally exploiting a vulnerability within JPay to improperly increase their JPay account balances,” hundreds of inmates were credit their own accounts, Idaho Department of Correction spokesman Jeff Ray explained in a statement.

It’s not immediately clear what the vulnerability was, or how so many different inmates were able to exploit it, though presumably there was some form of clandestine communication about the hack being passed between inmates across various facilities. JPay has recovered around $65,000 worth of the credits, and it has suspended inmates’ ability to use those credits to download music and mobile games until the company has been compensated for its losses. Inmates are still allowed to use email, the report states.

According to the AP, most inmates gave themselves $1,000 in credits, while the largest amount was just under $10,000 worth. “This conduct was intentional, not accidental. It required a knowledge of the JPay system and multiple actions by every inmate who exploited the system’s vulnerability to improperly credit their account,” Ray added.

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