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    - Unpatched Linux Bug May Open Devices To Serious Attacks Over Wi-Fi
    Long-time Slashdot reader Kekke shared this article from Ars Technica: A potentially serious vulnerability in Linux may make it possible for nearby devices to use Wi-Fi signals to crash or fully compromise vulnerable machines, a security researcher said. The flaw is located in the RTLWIFI driver, which is used to support Realtek Wi-Fi chips in Linux devices. The vulnerability triggers a buffer overflow in the Linux kernel when a machine with a Realtek Wi-Fi chip is within radio range of a malicious device. At a minimum, exploits would cause an operating-system crash and could possibly allow a hacker to gain complete control of the computer. The flaw dates back to version 3.10.1 of the Linux kernel released in 2013... The vulnerability is tracked as CVE-2019-17666. Linux developers proposed a fix on Wednesday that will likely be incorporated into the OS kernel in the coming days or weeks. Only after that will the fix make its way into various Linux distributions. Nico Waisman, who is a principal security engineer at Github [and discovered the bug] said he has not yet devised a proof-of-concept attack that exploits the vulnerability in a way that can execute malicious code on a vulnerable machine. "I'm still working on exploitation, and it will definitely... take some time (of course, it might not be possible)," he wrote in a direct message. "On paper, [this] is an overflow that should be exploitable. Worst-case scenario, [this] is a denial of service; best scenario, you get a shell." The article notes that the flaw "can't be triggered if Wi-Fi is turned off or if the device uses a Wi-Fi chip from a different manufacturer."

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    - The Most Important Right-To-Repair Hearing Yet Is On Monday
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: On Monday, the right-to-repair movement will have its best chance at advancing legislation that would make it easier to repair your gadgets. The Massachusetts state legislature is holding a three-hour hearing on the Digital Right to Repair act, a bill that would require electronics manufacturers to sell repair parts and tools, make repair guides available, and would prevent them from using software to artificially prevent repair. So far this year, 19 other states have considered similar legislation. It hasn't passed in any of them. But Massachusetts is one of the most likely states to pass the legislation, for a few different reasons. Most notably, the legislation is modeled on a law passed unanimously in Massachusetts in 2012 that won independent auto shops the right to repair, meaning lawmakers there are familiar with the legislation and the benefits that it has had for auto repair shops not just in Massachusetts but around the country. Crucially, important legislative hurdles have already been cleared in the state: Both the House and Senate bills are identical and has broad support from both Democrats and Republicans in the legislature. The hearing is going to be held in the Gardner Auditorium, which holds 600 people, making this the largest and highest-profile hearing on the topic in any state thus far.

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    - Apple Hid a Lightning Connector For Debugging In the Apple TV 4K's Ethernet Port
    Twitter user Kevin Bradley discovered a Lightning port hidden in the Apple TV 4K's ethernet port. There's a number of theories for why the port exists, but one of the more logical explanations is that it's simply there for Apple to use for debugging. 9to5Mac reports: While earlier Apple TV models had Micro USB and USB-C, the Apple TV 4K dropped all outwardly-facing ports other than Ethernet and HDMI. Under the hood, however, there's a hidden Lightning port, as Bradley discovered. The Lightning port is hidden in the ethernet connector on the Apple TV 4K. Bradley teased on Twitter: "None of us looked THAT closely to the hardware of the AppleTV 4K and the magic locked in the ethernet port until fairly recently." As for getting the Lightning port itself to work, Steven Barker said in a tweet that this is proving to be "difficult." The Lightning port is stuck at the very back of the ethernet port. Ultimately, it's not really clear what the Lightning port discovery could mean. One thing it could lead towards is the expansion of jailbreak capabilities for the Apple TV 4K, though Bradley cautions: "Just because we know it's lightning doesn't mean anything past that. Just because we find a way in doesn't mean anything will DEFINITELY be released due to what we discover. The barrier for entry might be way too high."

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    - Air Force Finally Retires 8-Inch Floppies From Missile Launch Control System
    Five years after CBS publicized the fact that the Air Force still used eight-inch floppy disks to store data critical to operating the Air Force's intercontinental ballistic missile command, the aerial and space warfare service branch decided it was time to officially retire them. Ars Technica reports: The system, once called the Strategic Air Command Digital Network (SACDIN), relied on IBM Series/1 computers installed by the Air Force at Minuteman II missile sites in the 1960s and 1970s. Despite the contention by the Air Force at the time of the 60 Minutes report that the archaic hardware offered a cybersecurity advantage, the service has completed an upgrade to what is now known as the Strategic Automated Command and Control System (SACCS), as Defense News reports. SAACS is an upgrade that swaps the floppy disk system for what Lt. Col. Jason Rossi, commander of the Air Force's 595th Strategic Communications Squadron, described as a "highly secure solid state digital storage solution." The floppy drives were fully retired in June. But the IBM Series/1 computers remain, in part because of their reliability and security. And it's not clear whether other upgrades to "modernize" the system have been completed. Air Force officials have acknowledged network upgrades that have enhanced the speed and capacity of SACCS' communications systems, and a Government Accountability Office report in 2016 noted that the Air Force planned to "update its data storage solutions, port expansion processors, portable terminals, and desktop terminals by the end of fiscal year 2017." But it's not clear how much of that has been completed.

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    - Unnatural Selection: the Eye-Opening Netflix Docuseries On Gene Editing
    Dream McClinton from The Guardian writes about a new Netflix docuseries, called Unnatural Selection, that "explores the various forms of genetic engineering, as well as the societal and environmental implications of its research and use." An anonymous reader shares an excerpt from the report: Today, we are learning the language in which God created life," said then-president Bill Clinton, alongside the British prime minister, Tony Blair, in 2000. In the grainy archival clip, scientists and dignitaries had just mapped out the human genome, dissecting the complex science of biological being to code sequences of A, C, G and T in a style similar to binary computer code. But almost 20 years later, science has surpassed this once-unimaginable feat with the discovery of technology which can alter that genetic code. This zeitgeist-y innovation is the subject of a new Netflix series, Unnatural Selection, from film-makers Joe Egender and Leeor Kaufman, and explores the various forms of genetic engineering, as well as the societal and environmental implications of its research and use. The four-part docuseries delves into the burgeoning field of gene technology, made possible by the aforementioned human genome project and the discovery of the Clustered Regularly Interspaced Short Palindromic Repeats or Crispr. Co-discovered by Dr Jennifer Doudna, the gene serves a bit like "a molecular scalpel", she says, essentially removing and replacing gene material in a DNA strand. The technology makes it possible to modify genetics, giving it near unlimited biological potential, or as Salk Institute developmental biologist Professor Juan Izpuisua Belmonte puts it, "... rewriting the book of life." For Egender and Kaufman, the series had to tell the broader, more intricate story of genetic engineering, a story filled with great risk, benefits, consequences, emotions, sentiments and future, to better illuminate the field and further the discussion on the technology. "[M]any are depending on gene therapy treatment to change and possibly save lives," writes McClinton. "But, the series shows, the treatments are expensive, with some emerging drugs costing over $500,000, and patients are often at the mercy of startup genetic therapy companies who choose to weigh the 'meaning' of the treatment versus the cost for the patient, leaving many to fight their insurance companies for the cost of treatment."

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    - Tesla Gets the Go-Ahead To Build Cars In China
    Tesla has been granted approval to start manufacturing its cars in China. The BBC reports: The electric carmaker, which is run by billionaire Elon Musk, is building a $2 billion factory in the eastern city of Shanghai. Tesla plans to build at least 1,000 of its Model 3s each week in the Chinese factory, which could be up and running within weeks. The new factory will give Tesla access to China, which is the world's biggest car market. It would also help the company avoid higher import tariffs that are imposed on cars made in the US. The new factory, known as the Gigafactory 3, is the first fully-foreign owned car plant in China. Permission to build the plant has been seen as a sign that Beijing is looking to open up its car market. Authorities in Shanghai have offered Tesla some help to speed up construction of the plant. Meanwhile, China excluded Tesla vehicles from a 10% tax on cars.

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    - California Launches First Statewide Earthquake Early Warning System
    hcs_$reboot writes: Everyone in California will now receive earthquake alerts on their phones seconds before the ground begins to shake, giving residents up to 20 seconds of warning before shaking begins. Developed by seismologists at the University of California, Berkeley, the MyShake application (residents will need to download the app to receive the alerts in areas without cell phone coverage) is designed to alert the public when a magnitude 4.5 earthquake or greater has been detected and has been shown to be faster than other alert delivery methods. The wireless emergency alerts will be sent in the event of a more significant quake, magnitude 5.0 or greater. The system does not predict earthquakes. Rather, it uses numerous seismic stations to detect the start of an earthquake and light-speed communications to send the data to computers that instantly calculate location, magnitude, intensity of shaking and create alerts to be distributed to areas that will be affected. When the MyShake app was released back in 2016 it already detected over 200 earthquakes in more than ten countries. A paper describing the early results gives a general idea of the app's success: "On a typical day about 8,000 phones provide acceleration waveform data to the MyShake archive. The on-phone app can detect and trigger on P waves and is capable of recording magnitude 2.5 and larger events. The largest number of waveforms from a single earthquake to date comes from the M5.2 Borrego Springs earthquake in Southern California, for which MyShake collected 103 useful three-component waveforms. The network continues to grow with new downloads from the Google Play store everyday and expands rapidly when public interest in earthquakes peaks such as during an earthquake sequence."

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    - Motorola Teases the New Razr Phone In November Event Invitation
    Motorola has sent out invitations to an event on Nov. 13, where the rumored foldable Razr phone could launch. CNET reports: Motorola said the evening event in downtown Los Angeles will feature the "highly anticipated unveiling of a reinvented icon." The save the date is a gif showing a device being folded and unfolded. "An original unlike any other," it reads, also displaying the numeric 11/13/19 date. According to the invitation, the event will feature special guests and musical performers, as well as "a journey through immersive experiences." "You're going to flip," Motorola's invite says. Motorola's Razr phone is rumored to have a foldable screen, but instead of opening out into a tablet, the phone could fold vertically to fit inside pockets. "It's also been reported that the phone will cost $1,500; measure 6.2 inches; run on a Qualcomm Snapdragon 710 processor; come in white, black and gold; and have a 2,730mAh battery, 4GB or 6GB of RAM and 64GM or 128GB of storage," reports CNET.

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    - DeepMind AI Beats Humans At Deciphering Damaged Ancient Greek Tablets
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from New Scientist: Yannis Assael at DeepMind and his colleagues trained a neural network, a type of AI algorithm, to guess missing words or characters from Greek inscriptions, on surfaces including stone, ceramic and metal, that were between 1500 and 2600 years old. The AI, called Pythia, learned to recognize patterns in 35,000 relics, containing more than 3 million words. The patterns it picks up on include the context in which different words appear, the grammar, and also the shape and layout of the inscriptions. Given an inscription with missing information, Pythia provides 20 different suggestions that could plug the gap, with the idea that someone could then select the best one using their own judgement and subject knowledge. "It's all about how we can help the experts," says Assael. To test the system, the team hid nine letters of a Greek personal name from Pythia. It managed to fill in the blanks. In a head-to-head test, where the AI attempted to fill the gaps in 2949 damaged inscriptions, human experts made 30 per cent more mistakes than the AI. Whereas the experts took 2 hours to get through 50 inscriptions, Pythia gave its guesses for the entire cohort in seconds. The arXiv paper is available here.

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    - MediaLab Buys Kik
    The Kik Messenger app has officially been acquired by U.S.-based holding company MediaLab. The news comes just one day before the app was scheduled to shut down. From a report: The blog post noted that MediaLab plans to keep the app alive and also outlines ideas it has to improve the app moving forward. It is noted that the acquiring company plans to partner with Kik CEO Ted Livingston and the remaining 19 team members and is still dedicated to expanding the Kin integration. MediaLab stated that it has a long term commitment to Kik and seeing the app succeed, but also noted the urgent need to cover expenses. The blog post stated that in the coming weeks ads will be introduced to Kik Messenger. The holding company acknowledged that some Kik users may not like this idea, but stated plans to bring in the ads in a "non-intrusive" way that "in no way takes away from what makes Kik great." "No annoying full screen video takeovers or things like that," the blog post stated. Other changes MediaLab plans to make to the app include pulling back features it said were not optimized. Kik's video chat toggle and third party bots platform will be discontinued, with MediaLab noting that it wants to eradicate spam bots and unwanted messages. It also stated it will update the app's software to make it faster, more reliable, and "less buggy." "Ted Livingston and the rest of the team at Kik have spent the last nine years building something truly special," the blog post stated. "At the risk of sounding cheesy, we are still passionate believers in what the internet promised to bring in its early days -- a connected and shared experience amongst people regardless of geography or time zone. Kik is one of those amazing places that brings us back to those early aspirations."

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    - Imgur Won't Support Reddit's NSFW Communities Anymore Because They Put Its 'Business At Risk'
    In a blog post published earlier this week, image-sharing site Imgur wrote that it won't display any content from Reddit's NSFW communities on its site. The Verge reports: If you search for, say, r/NSFW on Imgur, you'll hit a landing page that reads: "As of Oct 2019, Imgur will no longer display NSFW Imgur r/subsections associated with Reddit subreddits." They also helpfully link to a couple alternatives that you can use in Imgur's place. No content, however, has been deleted or moved, and any NSFW images previously uploaded to Reddit and hosted on Imgur are staying at their original URLs. You can also still upload NSFW images to Imgur as long as they're marked "hidden." The move came because, as Imgur wrote in its post, "over the years, these pages have put Imgur's user growth, mission, and business at risk." That's oddly strong language to use, and it points to Reddit's own problems with moderation.

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    - Home Builders Ditch Nest After Google Ties Devices To Digital Assistant
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg: Several residential builders have stopped buying and installing Google's Nest devices after the internet giant overhauled how Nest technology works with other gadgets. The Alphabet Inc. unit bought Nest in 2014 for $3.2 billion to enter the so-called smart-home market. Nest has become one of the largest makers of internet-connected thermostats, smoke alarms and locks. The devices were popular with builders who saw a Nest gadget as a way to increase the value of properties. But earlier this year, that began to change as Google exerted more control over Nest and started changing the underlying technology. As a more independent business, Nest developed software that helped its gadgets communicate with a wide range of products from other manufacturers, through accounts set up directly by users. As of the end of August this year, however, consumers need a Google account -- and access to the company's voice-based Google Assistant service -- to integrate new Nest products with other devices in their homes. The move may help the internet giant weave its Google Assistant deeper into people's lives. But for builders it's just a pain because Nest devices no longer work so well with the other gadgets they install in homes, such as audio and entertainment systems, and alarms and other security gear. It's also a less enticing user proposition with all the privacy permissions that Google Assistant requires. That's spurred some builders -- who collectively purchase tens of thousands of Nest devices each year -- to avoid Nest products.

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    - Indians Are Using TikTok To Learn English
    China's TikTok this week launched an education program in India as the popular short-video app looks to expand its offering and assuage local authority in one of its biggest markets. From a report: This is the first time TikTok has launched a program of this kind in any market, a spokesperson told TechCrunch. TkTok, owned by the world's most valued startup Bytedance, said it's working with a number of content creators and firms in India to populate the platform with educational videos. These bite-sized clips cover a range of topics, from school-level science and math concepts to learning new languages. The social app is also featuring videos that offer tips on health and mental awareness, and motivational talks. The social platform, which is used by more than 200 million users in India every month, said its education program is aimed at "democratizing learning for the Indian digital community on the platform." (TikTok had 120 million monthly active users in April this year.) It has partnered with edtech startups Vedantu, Toppr, Made Easy and Gradeup that will produce educational content for TikTok.

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    - Boeing Pilot Complained of 'Egregious' Issue With 737 Max in 2016
    A Boeing pilot working on the 737 Max said in messages from 2016 that a new automated system was making the plane difficult to control in flight simulators, more than two years before it was grounded following two deadly crashes. From a report: The pilot, Mark Forkner, complained that the system, known as MCAS, was causing him trouble. "It's running rampant in the sim," he said in a message to a colleague, referring to the simulator. "Granted, I suck at flying, but even this was egregious," he went on to say, according to a transcript of the exchange reviewed by The New York Times. The 737 Max was grounded earlier this year after crashing twice in five months, killing 346 people. In both cases, MCAS malfunctioned based on erroneous data, sending the planes into unrecoverable nose dives. Mr. Forkner, the chief technical pilot for the plane, went on to say that he had lied to the Federal Aviation Administration. "I basically lied to the regulators (unknowingly)," Mr. Forkner says in the messages. The messages are from November 2016. Eight months earlier, Mr. Forkner had asked the F.A.A. if it would be O.K. to remove mention of MCAS from the pilot's manual. The F.A.A., which at the time believed the system would only activate in rare cases and wasn't particularly dangerous, approved Mr. Forkner's request.

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    - Lebanon Withdraws Plan To Charge a Fee on WhatsApp Calls as the Country Faces Its Biggest Protests
    Demonstrators and police clashed in Lebanon this week as thousands of people rallied against the government's handling of an economic crisis, in one of the biggest protests the country has seen in years. From a report: The government-backed down from plans, announced hours earlier, to tax voice calls made through the Facebook-owned WhatsApp messaging software as people vented their anger at the political elite in the second nationwide protests in less than a month. Protesters blocked roads across Lebanon with burning tyres and security forces fired tear gas at demonstrators in central Beirut early on Friday, Lebanese media said. Dozens of people were wounded, the Red Cross said. Lebanon's internal security forces said 60 police were wounded. "I was sitting at home and I saw the people on the move and so I came out," said Cezar Shaaya, an accountant protesting in Beirut. "I am married, I have mortgage payments due every month and I am not working. It's the state's fault."

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