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    - The Boring Company's First Tunnel Is All Dug Up
    Elon Musk has tweeted images of his tunnel-boring machine with the caption "Congratulations @BoringCompany on completing the LA/Hawthorne tunnel! Cutting edge technology!" The update comes a couple weeks after Musk showed off the Boring Company's LA tunnel and said it was "on track" for an opening party on December 10th. Ars Technica reports: The tunnel appears to end at what The Boring Company calls "O'Leary Station," which is located on a piece of commercial property that The Boring Company purchased in Hawthorne. This location is close to, but not the same as, the location for which The Boring Company recently received approval to build a tunnel entrance within a residential garage. "O'Leary Station" references a SpaceX/Boring Company employee who recently passed away. The Hawthorne tunnel is just a test tunnel for The Boring Company, which also plans to complete a second, 3.6-mile, one-way tunnel from Los Angeles Metro to Dodger Stadium. Eventually, the company wants to dig a tunnel in Chicago between O'Hare International Airport and the city's downtown.

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    - Mars Opportunity Rover Appears To Contact Earth; Turns Out To Be a False Alarm
    dmoberhaus writes: NASA's Mars Opportunity rover appeared to briefly make contact with the agency's Deep Space Network on Thursday afternoon after 5 months of silence. In June, a dust storm took Opportunity offline and every attempt to bring the rover back to life has failed. NASA scientists were hoping that seasonal winds that sweep the planet from November to February might blow the dust off of Opportunity's solar panels. Was this the rover's first attempt trying to get back into contact with Earth? Update 11/17/18: No. It turns out that the data received by the Deep Space Network was not from the Opportunity rover. "Today [the Deep Space Network website] showed what looked like a signal from Opportunity," JPL said in a tweet. "As much as we'd like to say this was an #OppyPhoneHome moment, further investigation shows these signals were not an Opportunity transmission. Test data or false positives can make it look like a given spacecraft is active on [the Deep Space Network website]. Our work to reestablish comms continues."

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    - Some Birds Are Excellent Tool-Makers
    brindafella writes: Veterinary scientists from Viena have shown that Goffin's cockatoos can do an excellent job of remaking cardboard into tools to get rewards. This follows on from earlier experiments with the New Caledonian crow that can select tools for its purposes. So, birds are definitely not "bird-brained." "[The study] tells us that the cockatoos' mind is highly flexible and that they can modify their solution to a problem in order to save effort," said Alice Auersperg, a cognitive biologist at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna and lead author of the paper. The Australian Broadcast Company explains how the study was conducted: "[S]ix trained birds were given a piece of cardboard and placed in front of a cage that had food accessible through a small hole, but placed at different distances away. The birds used their beak to cut strips of cardboard they then used to reach the food. Importantly, when the food was close, the birds made a shorter strip. When it was far away, they made a longer strip. But when the researchers made the hole in the cage smaller, only one of the birds was able to fashion their cardboard tool to be narrow enough to fit through the hole. The successful bird was the only female in the group, and the researchers think she was able to do this because her beak was small enough to make a narrow tool."

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    - Facebook Filed a Patent To Predict Your Household's Demographics Based On Family Photos
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News: Facebook has submitted a patent application for technology that would predict who your family and other household members are, based on images and captions posted to Facebook, as well as your device information, like shared IP addresses. The application, titled "Predicting household demographics based on image data," was originally filed May 10, 2017, and made public today. The system Facebook proposes in its patent application would use facial recognition and learning models trained to understand text to help Facebook better understand whom you live with and interact with most. The technology described in the patent looks for clues in your profile pictures on Facebook and Instagram, as well as photos of you that you or your friends post. It would note the people identified in a photo, and how frequently the people are included in your pictures. Then, it would assess information from comments on the photos, captions, or tags (#family, #mom, #kids) -- anything that indicates whether someone is a husband, daughter, cousin, etc. -- to predict what your family/household actually looks like. According to the patent application, Facebook's prediction models would also analyze "messaging history, past tagging history, [and] web browsing history" to see if multiple people share IP addresses (a unique identifier for every internet network). A Facebook spokesperson said in response to the story, "We often seek patents for technology we never implement, and patents should not be taken as an indication of future plans."

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    - Man Spoofs GPS To Fake Shop Visits For Profit, Gets Caught
    AmiMoJo writes: A man in Japan used GPS spoofing to fake 2.7 million visits to shops in the Aeon Kyushu chain. Each visit rewarded him with two "WAON" points, with the total worth around 5.3 million yen ($45,000). The man used 45 laptops to continually spoof GPS readings and launch the Aeon Kyushu app, collecting two points each time.

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    - EFF, MuckRock Partner To See How Local Police Are Trading Your Car's Location
    v3rgEz writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation and transparency non-profit MuckRock helped file over a thousand public records requests, looking into how local police departments were trading away sensitive data on where you drive and park, picked up by their use of automated license plate recognition devices. They've just published the results of those requests, including looking at how hundreds of departments freely share that data with hundreds of other organizations -- often with no public oversight. Explore the data yourself, or, if your town isn't yet in their database, requests its information free on MuckRock and they'll file a request for it. "[Automated license plate readers (ALPR)] are a combination of high-speed cameras and optical character recognition technology that can identify license plates and turn them into machine-readable text," reports the EFF. "What makes ALPR so powerful is that drivers are required by law to install license plates on their vehicles. In essence, our license plates have become tracking beacons. After the plate data is collected, the ALPR systems upload the information to a central a database along with the time, date, and GPS coordinates. Cops can search these databases to see where drivers have traveled or to identify vehicles that visited certain locations. Police can also add license plates under suspicion to 'hot lists,' allowing for real-time alerts when a vehicle is spotted by an ALPR network."

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    - Bill Godbout, Early S-100 Bus Pioneer, Perished In the Camp Wildfire
    evanak writes: Bill Godbout was one of the earliest and most influential supports of the S-100 bus in the mid-1970s. He passed away last week due to the Camp wildfire in Concow, California, according to a Vintage Computer Federation blog post. More than 50 other people also died in the fires, but chances are Mr. Godbout was the only one with a license to fly blimps. "Godbout was born October 2, 1939," the blog post reads. "He talked about his introduction to computing in an interview with InfoWorld magazine for their February 18, 1980 issue. 'My first job out of college was with IBM. I served a big-system apprenticeship there, but I think the thing that really triggered [my interest] was the introduction of the 8008 by Intel,' he said. 'I was fascinated that you could have that kind of capability in a little 18-pin package.'" Godbout's family has set up a GoFundMe campaign to support their needs in this difficult time.

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    - People Sensitive To Caffeine's Bitter Taste Drink More Coffee, Study Finds
    An anonymous reader quotes a report from NPR: A team of researchers conducted their analysis using data stored in something called the UK Biobank. More than 500,000 people have contributed blood, urine and saliva samples to the biobank, which scientists can use to answer various research questions. The volunteers also filled out questionnaires asking a variety of health-related questions, including how much coffee they drink. Part of what determines our sensitivity to bitter substances is determined by the genes we inherit from our parents. So the researchers used genetic analysis of samples from the biobank to find people who were more or less sensitive to three bitter substances: caffeine, quinine (think tonic water) and a chemical called propylthiouracil that is frequently used in genetic tests of people's ability to taste bitter compounds. Then they looked to see if people sensitive to one or more of these substances drank more or less coffee than people who were not sensitive. To the researchers' surprise, people who were more sensitive to caffeine reported increased coffee consumption compared with people who were less sensitive. The result was restricted to the bitterness of caffeine. People sensitive to quinine and propylthiouracil -- neither of which is in coffee -- tended to drink less coffee. The effect of increased caffeine sensitivity was small: it only amounted to about two tablespoons more coffee per day. But by analyzing so many samples, the researchers were able to detect even small differences like that. The reason may be that people "learn to associate that bitter taste with the stimulation that coffee can provide," says one of the study authors.

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    - Apple's Siri May Soon Process Voice Locally On a Device, No Cloud Required
    Proudrooster writes: "Apple wants Siri to become more useful to users when not connected to the internet, including the possibility of an offline mode that does not rely on a backend server to assist with voice recognition or performing the required task, one that would be entirely performed on the user's device," reports Apple Insider. Just give it 10 years and everything old is new again. Siri will join the ranks of Ford/Microsoft Sync and Intel Edison. Do any other phones/cars/speakers have this option right now? The new capabilities are outlined in a recently-published patent application that describes an "Offline personal assistant." "Rather than connected to Apple's servers, the filing suggests the speech-to-text processing and validation could happen on the device itself," reports Apple Insider. "On hearing the user make a request, the device in question will be capable of determining the task via onboard natural language processing, working out if the requested task as it hears it is useful, then performing it. "

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    - Hacker Says They Compromised ProtonMail; ProtonMail Calls BS
    A hacker going by the name AmFearLiathMor is claiming to have hacked ProtonMail and stolen "significant" amounts of data. They have posted a ransom demand to an anonymous Pastebin but it reads like a prank, as it states that the alleged hackers have access to underwater drone activity and treaty violations in Antarctica. Lawrence Abrams writes via BleepingComputer: According to the message, a hacker going by the name AmFearLiathMor makes quite a few interesting claims such as hacking ProtonMail's services and stealing user's email, that ProtonMail is sending their user's decrypted data to American servers, and that ProtonMail is abusing the lack of Subresource Integrity (SRI) use to purposely and maliciously steal their user's passwords. After reading the Pastebin message (archive.is link), which is shown in its entirety below minus some alleged keys, and seeing the amount of claims, the first thing that came to mind was a corporate version of the sextortion scams that have been running rampant lately. As I kept reading it, though, it just felt like a joke. ProtonMail posted on Twitter that this is a hoax and that there is no evidence that anything states is true. The encrypted email service provided a statement to BleepingComputer: "We believe this extortion attempt is a hoax, and we have seen zero evidence to suggest otherwise. Not a single claim made is true and many of the claims are unsound from a technical standpoint. We are aware of a small number of ProtonMail accounts that have been compromised as a result of those individual users falling for phishing attempts. However, there is zero evidence of a breach of our infrastructure."

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    - Mark Shuttleworth Reveals Ubuntu 18.04 Will Get a 10-Year Support Lifespan
    At the OpenStack Summit in Berlin last week, Ubuntu Linux founder Mark Shuttleworth said in a keynote that Ubuntu 18.04 Long Term Support (LTS) support lifespan would be extended from five years to 10 years. "I'm delighted to announce that Ubuntu 18.04 will be supported for a full 10 years," said Shuttleworth, "In part because of the very long time horizons in some of industries like financial services and telecommunications but also from IoT where manufacturing lines for example are being deployed that will be in production for at least a decade." ZDNet reports: Ubuntu 18.04 released in April 2018. While the Ubuntu desktop gets most of the ink, most of Canonical's dollars comes from server and cloud customers. It's for these corporate users Canonical first extended Ubuntu 12.04 security support, then Ubuntu 14.04's support, and now, preemptively, Ubuntu 18.04. In an interview after the keynote, Shuttleworth said Ubuntu 16.04, which is scheduled to reach its end of life in April 2021, will also be given a longer support life span. When it comes to OpenStack, Shuttleworth promised again to support versions of OpenStack dating back to 2014's IceHouse. Shuttleworth said, "What matters isn't day two, what matters is day 1,500." He also doubled-down on Canonical's promise to easily enable OpenStack customers to migrate from one version of OpenStack to another. Generally speaking, upgrading from one version of OpenStack is like a root canal: Long and painful but necessary. With Canonical OpenStack, you can step up all the way from the oldest supported version to the newest one with no more than a second of downtime.

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    - Alphabet Unit Halts Glucose-Detecting Contact Lens Project
    An anonymous reader shares a report from Reuters: Alphabet's life sciences division Verily said on Friday that it was putting on hold one of its oldest and highest-profile projects, a smart contact lens designed to help monitor sugar levels. The project, started in 2014, aimed to help diabetics better manage their blood sugar levels by embedding sensors on a contact lens to monitor the glucose levels in their tears. In a blog update, Verily cited here insufficient consistency in the correlation between tear glucose and blood glucose concentrations to support the requirements of a medical device. On the bright side, Alphabet and Verily said they would continue to work on two other "Smart Lens" projects -- one for presbyopia (far-sightedness), and another to improve sight following cataract surgery.

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    - Virginia To Produce 25K-35K Additional CS Grads As Part of Amazon HQ2 Deal
    theodp writes: Developers! Developers! Developers! To make good on the proposal that snagged it a share of the Amazon HQ2 prize, the State of Virginia is also apparently on the hook for doubling the annual number of graduates with computer science or closely related degrees, with a goal to add 25,000 to 35,000 graduates (Amazon's HQ2 RFP demanded info on "education programs related to computer science"). To do that, the state will establish a performance-based investment fund for higher education institutions to expand their bachelor's degree programs, and spend up to $375 million on George Mason University's Arlington campus and a new Virginia Tech campus in Alexandria. The state will also spend $50 million on STEM + CS education in public schools and expanding internships for higher education students. Amazon is certainly focused on boosting the ranks of software engineer types. Earlier this month, Amazon launched Amazon Future Engineer, a program that aims to teach more than 10 million students a year how to code, part of a $50 million Amazon commitment to computer science education that was announced last year at a kickoff event for the Ivanka Trump-led White House K-12 CS Initiative. And on Wednesday, Amazon-bankrolled Code.org -- Amazon is a $10+ million Diamond Supporter of the nonprofit; CS/EE grad Jeff Bezos is a $1+ million Gold Supporter -- announced it has teamed with Amazon Future Engineer to build and launchHour of Code: Dance Party, a signature tutorial for this December's big Hour of Code (powered by AWS in 2017), which has become something of a corporate infomercial (Microsoft recently boasted "learners around the world have completed nearly 100 million Minecraft Hour of Code sessions"). Students participating in the Dance Party tutorial, Code.org explained, can choose from 30 hits like Katy Perry's "Firework" and code interactive dance moves and special effects as they learn basic CS concepts. "The artists whose music is used in this tutorial are not sponsoring or endorsing Amazon as part of licensing use of their music to Code.org," stresses a footnote in Code.org's post. So, don't try to make any connections between Katy Perry's Twitter endorsement of the Code.org/Amazon tutorial later that day and those same-day follow-up Amazon and Katy Perry tweets touting their new exclusive Amazon Music streaming deal, kids!

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    - BlackBerry Buys Cybersecurity Firm Cylance For $1.4 Billion
    wiredmikey shares a report from SecurityWeek: BlackBerry on Friday announced that it has agreed to acquire endpoint security firm Cylance for $1.4 billion in cash. "We plan on immediately expanding the capabilities across BlackBerry's 'chip-to-edge' portfolio, including QNX, our safety-certified embedded OS that is deployed in more than 120 million vehicles, robot dogs, medical devices, and more," a BlackBerry company spokesperson told SecurityWeek. "Over time, we plan to integrate Cylance technology with our Spark platform, which is at the center of our strategy to ensure data flowing between endpoints (in a car, business, or smart city) is secured, private, and trusted." Cylance has raised roughly $300 million in funding [prior being acquired]. BlackBerry describes the "Spark platform" as a secure chip-to-edge communications platform "designed for ultra-security and industry-specific safety-certifications, such as ISO 26262 in automobiles."

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    - Dutch Government Report Says Microsoft Office Telemetry Collection Breaks EU GDPR Laws
    "The Register reports that Microsoft has been accused of breaking EU's GDPR law by harvesting information through Office 365 and sending it to U.S. servers," writes Slashdot reader Hymer. "The discovery was made by the Dutch government." From the report: The dossier's authors found that the Windows goliath was collecting telemetry and other content from its Office applications, including email titles and sentences where translation or spellchecker was used, and secretly storing the data on systems in the United States. Those actions break Europe's new GDPR privacy safeguards, it is claimed, and may put Microsoft on the hook for potentially tens of millions of dollars in fines. The Dutch authorities are working with the corporation to fix the situation, and are using the threat of a fine as a stick to make it happen. The investigation was jumpstarted by the fact that Microsoft doesn't publicly reveal what information it gathers on users and doesn't provide an option for turning off diagnostic and telemetry data sent by its Office software to the company as a way of monitoring how well it is functioning and identifying any software issues. Much of what Microsoft collects is diagnostics, the researchers found, and it has seemingly tried to make the system GDPR compliant by storing Office documents on servers based in the EU. But it also collected other data that contained private information and some of that data still ended up on U.S. servers.

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