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Humans Are Causing the Earth To Wobble More Than It Should, NASA Finds

Iwastheone shares a report from BGR: When looking at the Earth from afar it appears to be a perfect sphere, but that actually isn't the case. Because Earth isn't uniform on all sides due to land masses that shift and change over time, our planet actually wobbles a bit when it spins. Now, a new study by researchers with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory and several universities and science centers has pinpointed the causes of Earth's imperfect spin, called "polar motion," and they found that humans are contributing to it. The researchers used a wealth of data gathered over 100 years to build mathematical models to trace the causes of the wobble and found that three factors are at play, and mankind is responsible for one of them. Two of the three factors identified by the scientists are glacial rebound and mantle convection. Glacial rebound happens when thick ice sheets physically push down on land masses, compressing them, but then release that pressure upon melting. The land then balloons back up over time, causing Earth's spin to wobble as if slightly off-axis. The effects of the last ice age, which would have compressed a huge amount of land across many continents, is still being felt today in the form of glacial rebound. Mantle convection, the other uncontrollable factor in Earth's wobble, relates to our planet's inner workings. The plates on Earth's surface are in constant flux due to the movement of liquid rock far beneath our feet. The researchers believe these currents also contribute to the planet's imperfect spin. The third and final factor identified by the scientists is the massive loss of ice on Greenland and other areas, which is the direct result of global warming thanks to human activities. The researchers estimate that Greenland has lost roughly 7,500 gigatons, or 7,500,000,000,000 metric tons of ice due to global warming. All that ice loss has happened in the 20th century, and greenhouse gas production has been cited as the primary culprit. Losing all that mass has caused a significant shift on the planet and has contributed to the wobble as well.

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Millennials More Likely To Fall For Scams Than Baby Boomers

A new report from the Better Business Bureau suggests that millennials are now more likely to fall victim to a scam than Baby Boomers. Washington Examiner reports: The Better Business Bureau reports that 69 percent of scam victims are under the age of 45. Young adults heading off to college are especially gullible, the group says. "College students can be easy targets for scammers and identity thieves. They are old enough to have money, young enough to be vulnerable and are likely unsupervised as many are away from home for the first time," writes Heather Massey of the Better Business Bureau. Phishing scams now target cell phones as well as email and social media. "Millennials spend a lot of time on Facebook or other social media sites, where they can target them with these messages," said Jim Hegarty, Better Business Bureau president and CEO. College students also use sensitive information frequently, like student IDs, Social Security numbers, and banking information.

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Google Ends Cryptocurrency Ad Ban For Certain Kinds of Ads

Earlier this year, Google updated its financial services-ad policies to ban any advertising about cryptocurrency-related content, including initial coin offerings (ICOs), wallets, and trading advice. Google appears to be reversing course with a new policy starting in October that will allow regulated cryptocurrency exchanges to buy ads in the U.S. and Japan. Advertising about ICOs, wallets and trading advice are reportedly still not allowed. CNBC reports: Google's updated policy applies to advertisers all over the world, though the ads can only run in the U.S. and Japan, and interested parties will need to apply for certification to serve ads in each country individually. Google's move follows Facebook, which started allowing pre-approved cryptocurrency advertisers in June. Google parent company Alphabet gets roughly 86 percent of its total revenue from advertising. The company booked more than $54 billion in ad revenue in the first half of 2018.

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Microsoft To Bring Multi-User Virtualization To Windows, Office With Windows Virtual Desktop Service

An anonymous reader quotes a report from ZDNet: On Sept. 24, Microsoft announced what it's calling the Windows Virtual Desktop (WMD). WVD will allow users to virtualize Windows 7 and 10, Office 365 ProPlus apps and other third-party applications by running them remotely in Azure virtual machines. Using WMD, customers will be able to provide remote desktop sessions with multiple users logged into the same Windows 10 or Windows Server virtual machine. They also can opt to virtualize the full desktop or individual Microsoft Store and/or line-of-business applications. The WMD service also supports full VDI with Windows 10 and Windows 7, Microsoft officials told Ars Technica. (Those wanting to virtualize Windows 7 after Microsoft support ends in January 2020 will be able to do so for three years without paying for Extended Security Updates.) Licenses for WVD will be provided for no additional cost as part of Windows Enterprise and Education E3 and E5 subscriptions. The aforementioned Windows 10 Enterprise for Virtual Desktops edition won't be released as a separate version of Windows 10 at all. That name is just for licensing purposes, officials said. Microsoft officials said a public preview of WVD will be available later this year, and those interested can request notification of the preview's availability. To use WVD, users need an Azure subscription and will be charged for the storage and compute their virtual machines use. Microsoft also plans to offer WVD via Microsoft Cloud Solution Providers and is working with third parties like Citrix to build on top of WVD, officials said.

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Xbox Announces Mouse and Keyboard Support

Xbox's Phil Spencer announced today that mouse and keyboard support is coming to Xbox One. Crytek's Warface will be the first game to test the feature when it becomes available in October via the Xbox Insider Program. IGN reports: The idea behind mouse and keyboard support will be as a tool for developers, so they can choose how they want the control style integrated, if they want it integrated at all. "If you're a dominant FPS player right now on controller and you're worried that all the sudden you're gonna get swamped because a bunch of mouse and keyboard players are gonna get flooded into your game, that's not what we're doing," said Spencer. "We're putting choice into the hands of the developers about the games that they want to bring." We can expect to hear more about mouse and keyboard support during the XO18 fan event in Mexico City on November 10.

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Uber Wins Key Ruling In Its Fight Against Treating Drivers As Employees

A federal appeals court ruled on Tuesday that drivers "seeking to be classified as employees rather than independent contractors must arbitrate their claims individually, and not pursue class-action lawsuits," reports Reuters. Ars Technica explains the significance of this ruling: Employees are guaranteed to earn federal minimum wage and are entitled to overtime pay if they work more than 40 hours per week. Uber employees, in contrast, are paid by the ride and might earn much less than minimum wage if they drive at a slow time of day. California law also gives employees the right to be reimbursed for expenses they incur on the job, which would be significant for Uber drivers who otherwise are responsible for gas, maintenance, insurance, and other expenses of operating an Uber vehicle. Hence, the question of whether Uber drivers are employees or independent contractors is a big and important one. It's also a question that isn't addressed at all in Tuesday's ruling, as the courts never get to the substance of the plaintiffs' arguments about employment law. Instead, a three-judge panel of the 9th Circuit court ruled that the drivers signed away their rights to sue in court when they signed up to be Uber drivers. Uber's agreement with drivers requires that this kind of dispute be handled by private arbitration rather than by a lawsuit in the public courts. The court cited a Supreme Court ruling handed down in May that held that federal labor law did not preempt arbitration agreements. [...] the decision means that each driver's case must be fought on an individual, case-by-case basis. Class-action lawsuits in the federal courts allow plaintiffs to effectively pool their resources. [...] But under arbitration, each driver's case will be considered individually. Most won't have the resources to afford top-tier legal representation, and drivers won't have the inherent leverage that comes from being able to bargain as a group.

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Safari's 'Siri Suggested' Search Results Highlighted Conspiracy Theories, Fake News

An anonymous reader quotes a report from BuzzFeed News: Apple's Safari, one of the internet's most popular web browsers, has been surfacing debunked conspiracies, shock videos, and false information via its "Siri Suggested Websites" feature. Such results raise questions about the company's ability to monitor for low-quality information, and provide another example of the problems platforms run into when relying on algorithms to police the internet. As of yesterday, if you typed "Pizzagate" into Apple's Safari, the browser's "Siri Suggested Website" prominently offered users a link to a YouTube video with the title "PIZZAGATE, BIGGEST SCANDAL EVER!!!" by conspiracy theorist David Seaman (the video doesn't play, since Seaman's channel was taken down for violating YouTube's terms of service). The search results appeared on multiple versions of Safari. Apple removed all examples of the questionable Siri Suggested sites provided to it by BuzzFeed News. [W]hen BuzzFeed News entered incomplete search terms that might suggest contentious or conspiratorial topics (as shown below), the search algorithms directed us toward low-quality websites, message boards, or YouTube conspiracy videos rather than reliable information or debunks about those topics. Meanwhile, Google does not feature such unreliable pages in its top search results. Those suggested results matter since Safari is one of the internet's most popular web browsers -- some estimates suggest it has captured over 10% of the browser market share. The poor suggestions may be a result of a "data void," which is "what happens when a term doesn't have 'natural informative results' and manipulators seize upon it," reports BuzzFeed. "Many of the sites surfaced by the Siri Suggested feature came from conspiracy or junk sites hastily assembled to fill that void." In a statement, Apple said: "Siri Suggested Websites come from content on the web and we provide curation to help avoid inappropriate sites. We also remove any inappropriate suggestions whenever we become aware of them, as we have with these. We will continue to work to provide high-quality results and users can email results they feel are inappropriate to"

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Across The Arctic, Lakes Are Leaking Dangerous Greenhouse Gases

An anonymous reader shares a report: Set against the austere peaks of the Western Brooks Range, the lake, about 20 football fields in size, looked like it was boiling. Its waters hissed, bubbled and popped as a powerful greenhouse gas escaped from the lake bed. Some bubbles grew as big as grapefruits, visibly lifting the water's surface several inches and carrying up bits of mud from below. This was methane. As the permafrost thaws across the fast-warming Arctic, it releases carbon dioxide, the top planet-warming greenhouse gas, from the soil into the air. Sometimes, that thaw spurs the growth of lakes in the soft, sunken ground, and these deep-thawing bodies of water tend to unleash the harder-hitting methane gas. But not this much of it. This lake, which Katey Walter Anthony, an ecologist who has studied 300 lakes across the tundras of the Arctic, dubbed Esieh Lake, looked different. And the volume of gas wafting from it could deliver the climate system another blow if lakes like this turn out to be widespread. The first time Walter Anthony saw Esieh Lake, she was afraid it might explode -- and she is no stranger to the danger, or the theatrics, of methane. In 2010, the University of Alaska at Fairbanks posted a video of the media-savvy ecologist standing on the frozen surface of an Arctic lake, then lighting a methane stream on fire to create a tower of flame as tall as she is. It got nearly half a million views on YouTube. So now, in the Arctic's August warmth, she had come back to this isolated spot with a small research team, along with her husband and two young sons, to see what secrets Esieh Lake might yield. Was it simply a bizarre anomaly? Or was it a sign that the thawing Arctic had begun to release an ancient source of methane that could worsen climate change? One thing she was sure of: If the warming Arctic releases more planet-warming methane, that could lead to... more warming. Scientists call this a feedback loop.

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Firefox Monitor Will Inform You of Data Breaches

Earlier this year, Mozilla announced Firefox Monitor, a service that will inform you if your online accounts were hacked in a recent data breach. It's now available to general public. A report adds: For the new security-focused tool, Mozilla partnered with Troy Hunt, the renowned security expert behind Have I Been Pwned? (HIBP), which is a database of data breaches that allows anyone to discover whether one of their online accounts has been compromised. The first iteration of Firefox Monitor is, for all intents and purposes, a clone of HIBP. After you enter your email address and hit the scan button, you're told which online services have leaked your personal details (if any). You can also sign up to be notified of any future data breaches involving one or more of your email addresses.

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Fedora 29 Beta Now Available For Download With Improved Raspberry Pi Support

The Fedora Project announced Tuesday the beta availability of Fedora 29 -- the latest version of the free and open-source Fedora OS. From a report: It features updated packages, improved support for Raspberry Pi, and more. "Highlighting Fedora 29 Beta is the addition of modularity across all Fedora editions. First delivered in Fedora 28 Server, modularity enables multiple versions of the same software (like Node.js) to be selected on a per-system basis, with parallel installation done through containers. This can provide some users the ability to use tried-and-true versions of software while enabling other users to work with just-released innovation without impacting the overall stability of the Fedora operating system," says Matthew Miller, Fedora Project Leader. Miller further says, "The importance of ARM to IoT has not been lost on Fedora, and Fedora 29 Beta aims to make the Fedora operating system a home for both ARM and IoT. These features start with enhanced ZRAM support for swap on ARMv7 and aarch64, which can improve the performance and reliability of Fedora 29 Beta on ARM Single Board Computers, like the Raspberry Pi. These devices are used by 'makers' and in developmental IoT solutions."

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Myst, One of the Most Influential Games Ever, Turns 25

harrymcc writes: On September 24, 1993, Myst debuted as a CD-ROM game for the Mac. The mysterious, puzzle-laden adventure went on to become the best-selling game title of its era, inspiring a devoted following and multiple sequels. But for all the people who loved Myst, it was disrespected by many in the gaming industry, who found it less engaging than previous adventures and even blamed it for killing of the earlier genre of more action-packed adventuring. Over at Fast Company, Benj Edwards provides an appreciation of Myst but also talks to game designers about the game's still-complex legacy.

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Do You Know Cobol? If So, There Might Be a Job for You.

Despite its advanced age, Cobol is still the most prevalent programming language in the financial-services industry world-wide. Software programmed in Cobol powers millions of banking transactions every day and underpins critical computer mainframes. WSJ: And Cobol isn't going away anytime soon. Banks and other companies have come to the uncomfortable realization that ripping out old mainframes is pricey and complicated. Transitioning to new systems is likely to take years, and besides, a lot of the older tech works just fine. The problem is that Cobol isn't popular with new programmers. So, with a generation of Cobol specialists retiring, there is a continuing hunt to find a new generation of programmers to service this technology. In Texas, Mr. Hinshaw's (an anecdote in the story) company, the Cobol Cowboys, a group of mostly older programmers, is training U.S. military veterans in the programming language. Accenture is coaching hundreds of Cobol programmers every year in India and the Philippines to work at banks. In Malaysia, one consultancy that provides engineers versed in Cobol for its clients, iTAc MSC Outsourcing, has adopted the slogan "Keeping the Dinosaurs Alive." A host of companies offer online courses in Cobol in places like South Africa, India and Bangladesh. Developing economies are key technology-outsourcing centers for banks. Further reading: Major Banks and Parts of Federal Gov't Still Rely On COBOL, Now Scrambling To Find IT 'Cowboys' To Keep Things Afloat.

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Internet Society Partners with Facebook To Expand Internet Connectivity in Africa

The Internet Society, a global non-profit organization dedicated to the open development, evolution and use of the Internet, today announced that it is partnering with Facebook to develop Internet Exchange Points (IXP) throughout Africa. From a press release: An Internet Exchange Point is where multiple local and international networks, ISPs and content providers interconnect their networks together to efficiently exchange Internet traffic through an arrangement commonly referred to as Peering. Currently, 42% of countries in Africa lack IXPs, which means that most of their domestic Internet traffic is exchanged through points outside their respective country, usually through satellite or submarine fiber across multiple international hubs to reach their destination. This can result in poor end-user experiences and discourages hosting content locally, which are some of the key factors towards the development of the local Internet ecosystem. Peering at IXPs helps keep domestic Internet traffic local by offloading traffic from relatively expensive international links onto more affordable local links. As a result, ISPs are able to offer improved Internet experiences for end-users and spur interest in hosting content locally. The Internet Society and Facebook will collaborate in promoting IXP infrastructure development, training and community engagement with the objective of increasing the number of IXPs and supporting the expansion of existing IXPs to meet the growing demand in Africa. Studies have shown that Internet users throughout Africa benefit from Peering as it enables faster, more affordable and reliable access to content.

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Trump Administration Asks For Public Input on Data Privacy

The federal government wants to know the best way to protect your privacy online. On Tuesday, the Department of Commerce released a request for public comments as it outlined the Trump administration's approach to consumer data privacy. A report adds: In the proposal, the National Telecommunications and Information Administration, a branch under the Commerce Department, recommended privacy regulations focused on giving users control over how their data is used by tech companies. The proposal comes a day before the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation is set to hold a hearing on consumer privacy, with companies like Apple, Google and Amazon testifying. The Commerce Department found public concern with how personal information has been used by tech companies and is taking a "risk-based flexibility" approach for privacy regulations. "The administration takes these concerns seriously and believes that users should be able to benefit from dynamic uses of their information, while still expecting organizations will appropriately minimize risks to users' privacy," the department wrote in the document.

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A Nuclear Startup Will Fold After Failing To Deliver Reactors That Run on Spent Fuel

Transatomic Power, an MIT spinout that drew wide attention and millions in funding, is shutting down almost two years after the firm backtracked on bold claims for its design of a molten-salt reactor. From a report: The company, founded in 2011, plans to announce later today that it's winding down. Transatomic had claimed its technology could generate electricity 75 times more efficiently than conventional light-water reactors, and run on their spent nuclear fuel. But in a white paper published in late 2016, it backed off the latter claim entirely and revised the 75 times figure to "more than twice," a development first reported by MIT Technology Review. Those downgrades forced the company to redesign its system. That delayed plans to develop a demonstration reactor, pushing the company behind rival upstarts like TerraPower and Terrestrial Energy, says Leslie Dewan, the company's cofounder and chief executive. The longer timeline and reduced performance advantage made it harder to raise the necessary additional funding, which was around $15 million. "We weren't able to scale up the company rapidly enough to build a reactor in a reasonable time frame," Dewan says.

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