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Google Sets Timeline For Deprecating 'Classic' Google Sites

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 17:45
Google has announced that its structured wiki- and webpage-creation tool "Google Sites," which it launched in 2008 after acquiring JotSpot, will be shutting down in 2021. 9to5Google reports: This morning an email was dispatched to "active" users of classic Sites detailing its retirement, which will take place over the next year. The email, which had the subject line "Migrate your classic sites to new Google Sites," headlined that the service will be fully shut down on September 1, 2021. To begin this transition, classic Sites creation will be disabled on November 1, 2020, after which point users will have a little under a year to move to the new Google Sites. Alongside this announcement was the launch of the Classic Sites Manager, which aims to assist in the conversion of classic Sites to new Sites. [A new Google Sites was introduced to the masses to replace the withering shell of classic Sites and become a part of G Suite -- allowing for easy integration with Docs, Sheets, and Slides.] It allows you to convert, archive, or delete any classic Sites on your account, as well as export a spreadsheet of all your sites to Google Sheets. Users are encouraged to begin their transition today to avoid disruptions in the future. Additionally, G Suite admins are given a different timeline to transition, according to the G Suite Updates Blog. This modified schedule sees website creation being disabled in May of 2021, followed by the loss of editing capabilities in October, and the complete shutdown of classic Sites in December, at which point you can no longer view any sites that have not transitioned. This transition was originally delayed due to a number of features from classic Sites not being available in the revamped version, which has since been remedied. Any classic Sites that do not transition before the deadline will automatically be archived and saved to the owner's Google Drive. A draft will be created in the new Google Sites to replace it if needed.

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Toshiba Formally and Finally Exits Laptop Business

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 17:02
The Register reports that Toshiba has transferred its remaining shares of Dynabook to Sharp, thus ending the company's time as a PC vendor. From the report: [...] As the 2000s rolled along Toshiba devices became bland in comparison to the always-impressive ThinkPad and the MacBook Air, while Dell and HP also improved. Toshiba also never really tried to capture consumers' imaginations, which didn't help growth. As the PC market contracted and Lenovo, Dell and HP came to dominate PC sales in the 2010s, Toshiba just became a less likely brand to put on a laptop shopping list. By 2018 the company saw the writing on the wall and sold its PC business unit to Sharp for a pittance -- just $36 million changed hands - but retained a 19.9 percent share of the company with an option in Sharp's favor to buy that stock. Sharp quickly renamed the business to "Dynabook," a product name Toshiba had used in Japan, and set about releasing new models and reviving the brand. Which brings us to June 30th, 2020, when Sharp exercised its option to acquire the 19.9 percent of Dynabook shares it did not already own. On Tuesday, Toshiba transferred those shares and announced the transaction on Thursday.

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Government's PACER Fees Are Too High, Federal Circuit Says

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 16:25
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Bloomberg Law: The U.S. government charges too much for access to an electronic database of federal court records, the Federal Circuit ruled in a decision curbing a revenue stream the court system uses to help fund other programs. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed a lower court's decision that the government was not authorized under federal law to spend $192 million in Public Access to Court Records system fees on court technology projects. The lower court "got it just right" when it limited the government's use of PACER revenues to the costs of operating the system, the court said in a precedential opinion Thursday. "We agree with plaintiffs and amici that the First Amendment stakes here are high," the court said. But it said it doesn't foresee the lower court's interpretation "as resulting in a level of user fees that will significantly impede public access to courts." The ruling is a win for public access to court information, as PACER fees will go down if the ruling withstands a possible government appeal. But access still won't be free, despite calls for the government to stop charging for it. The Federal Circuit said it was up to Congress to decide whether to require free access. Challengers said PACER fees were too high, while the government said the middle ground reached by the lower court made the fees too low. Fees for downloading a copy of a filing run 10 cents per page, up to $3 per document. The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts collected more than $145 million in fees in 2014 alone, according to the complaint in the case. Under a 2020 change to the fee waiver rules, about 75% of users pay nothing each quarter.

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A Private Equity Firm Bought Ancestry, and Its Trove of DNA, for $4.7B

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 15:41
The genealogy company Ancestry has been acquired by investment firm Blackstone for $4.7 billion, changing ownership of the company and its trove of user-submitted DNA from a set of investment firms to another private equity firm. From a report: The announcement was made in a press release published earlier this week by Blackstone, which shared it had "reached a definitive agreement to acquire Ancestry from Silver Lake, GIC, Spectrum Equity, Permira, and other equity holders for a total enterprise value of $4.7 billion." Ancestry is known for its genealogy and home DNA testing services. According to its website, the company has 3 million paying subscribers, 27 billion records, and 100 million family trees. The website also says that over 18 million people have been DNA tested through the company. "To be crystal clear, Blackstone will not have access to user data and we are deeply committed to ensuring strong consumer privacy protections at the company," a spokesperson for Blackstone told Motherboard in an email. "We will not be sharing user DNA and family tree records with our portfolio companies." A spokesperson from Ancestry also said the company's relationship with its users would remain the same.

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Why We Have a 'TikTok Problem'

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 15:06
An anonymous reader shares an analysis: As national security expert Lucas Kunce notes, Facebook is in fact the reason we have a TikTok problem to begin with. When Twitter launched a TikTok-like product Vine years before, Facebook actively killed the product by refusing to let Vine access its APIs on the same terms other corporations got. Mark Zuckerberg personally made the call to shut off access to Vine, and Twitter eventually shut the product down. Then, Facebook allowed TikTok to advertise massively on its platform, at a time Zuckerberg was currying favor with the Chinese Communist Party to try to get into the Chinese market. In other words, Zuckerberg killed an American competitor using anti-competitive means, and promoted a Chinese competitor for his own business interests. Now we have a TikTok problem, but that's because policymakers refused to enforce anti-monopoly rules against tech giants.

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At Talkspace, Startup Culture Collides With Mental Health Concerns

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 14:24
The therapy-by-text company Talkspace -- which has raised more than $100 million from investors -- made burner phones available for fake reviews and doesn't adequately respect client privacy, former employees say. From a report: The app launched in 2014 to positive press but lukewarm customer reviews, with ratings of about three stars out of five on both the Google and Apple app stores, according to a Times analysis. Users complained about glitchy software and unresponsive therapists. In 2015 and 2016, according to four former employees, the company sought to improve its ratings: It asked workers to write positive reviews. One employee said that Talkspace's head of marketing at the time asked him to compile 100 fake reviews in a Google spreadsheet, so that employees could submit them to app stores. Mr. Lori (an ex-employee) said that Talkspace gave employees "burner" phones to help evade the app stores' techniques for detecting false reviews. "They said, 'Don't do it here. Do it at home. Give us five-star ratings because we have too many bad reviews,'" Mr. Lori said. Mr. Reilly, the Talkspace lawyer, disputed this account, saying that employees were free to write reviews any way they liked. "We alerted employees if they were to leave a review, to do it from their personal phones -- not from the Talkspace office network, as that would cause issues with the app store," Mr. Reilly said in an emailed statement. "To be clear: We have never used fake identities or encouraged anybody to do so; there is no event involving 'burner' phones, and the idea in and of itself is nonsensical relative to the large number of reviews outstanding."

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Gates Foundation Teams Up With Vaccine Maker To Produce $3 Covid-19 Shots

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 13:43
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said it is backing the world's largest vaccine maker, Serum Institute of India, to churn out 100 million doses of coronavirus vaccine for poorer countries and price them at less than $3. From a report: The move comes as governments around the world, including the U.S. and U.K., strike vaccine production deals with the manufacturers of a handful of promising, late-stage vaccine development projects. The Gates Foundation as well as Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance -- an organization which helps negotiate and finance vaccines for poor countries -- said they would back privately held Serum Institute, or SII, to speed up the manufacturing of Covid-19 vaccine doses for the developing countries once any are proven effective. SII is one of several contracted manufacturers already tapped by AstraZeneca to make a vaccine in development at the University of Oxford. The Pune, India-based SII is the go-to vaccine supplier for the World Health Organization and others and produces 1.5 billion doses of other vaccines every year, making it the largest in the world by volume. The three organizations said the collaboration will help ensure that lower and middle-income countries won't be forgotten if a coronavirus vaccine is found. "Researchers are making good progress on developing safe and effective vaccines for Covid-19," said Bill Gates in a statement. "But making sure everyone has access to them, as soon as possible, will require tremendous manufacturing capacity and a global distribution network."

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Massive Hack Hits Reddit

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 13:04
A massive attack has hit Reddit today after at least tens of Reddit channels (subreddits) have been hacked and defaced to show messages in support of Donald Trump's reelection campaign, ZDNet reports. From the report: The hacks are still ongoing at the time of writing, but we were told Reddit's security team is aware of the issue and has already begun restoring defaced channels. A partial list of impacted channels (subreddits) is available below, according to ZDNet's research: r/NFL, r/49ers, r/TPB (The Pirate Bay's Reddit channel), r/BlackMirror, r/Beer, r/Vancouver, r/Dallas, r/Gorillaz, r/Podcasts, r/freefolk, r/StartledCats, r/TheDailyZeitgeist, r/Supernatural, r/GRE, r/GMAT, r/greatbritishbakeoff, r/11foot8, r/truecrimepodcasts, r/Leafs, r/weddingplanning, r/Chadsriseup, r/bertstrips, r/CFB ...and many many other more.

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In support of interoperabilityIn support of interoperabilitySVP of Global Affairs

GoogleBlog - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 13:00

Open software interfaces have been an integral part of the innovation economy. They enable the interoperability that has always let software developers build on each other’s work. And the interoperability of open software interfaces is what lets different technologies like apps work together on a variety of devices and platforms: That’s why you can take a photo on an Apple phone, save it onto Google’s cloud servers, and edit it on a Surface tablet. Our legal case with Oracle turns on our belief that interoperability has been good for innovation, good for developers, and good for consumers.

The Supreme Court has heard from 250 leading computer scientists, businesses, and software developers who share this conviction. The Court also recently asked for additional information about how courts should respect a jury’s decision that a given use (like the reuse of software interfaces) constitutes allowable fair use. 

Today, we filed a supplemental brief explaining how the jury in our case heard from over a dozen witnesses, reviewed hundreds of documents, and then unanimously agreed with our position. America’s Constitution enshrines the right to a jury trial. The Supreme Court has recognized the important role of a jury in deciding nuanced, fact-specific questions like the ones in this case.

A decision in Oracle’s favor would limit consumers’ freedom to use technologies on a range of devices. It would upend the way developers have always used software interfaces, locking them into existing platforms and giving copyright owners new power to control the building blocks of new technologies. And it would erode the traditional role of the jury in evaluating all the facts relevant to a decision.  

We look forward to making this case to the Court on October 7.

Interoperability has been good for innovation, good for developers, and good for consumers.
Categories: Technology

US Government Contractor Embedded Software in Apps To Track Phones

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 12:25
A small U.S. company with ties to the U.S. defense and intelligence communities has embedded its software in numerous mobile apps, allowing it to track the movements of hundreds of millions of mobile phones world-wide, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday, citing people familiar with the matter and documents it reviewed. From the report: Anomaly Six, a Virginia-based company founded by two U.S. military veterans with a background in intelligence, said in marketing material it is able to draw location data from more than 500 mobile applications, in part through its own software development kit, or SDK, that is embedded directly in some of the apps. An SDK allows the company to obtain the phone's location if consumers have allowed the app containing the software to access the phone's GPS coordinates. App publishers often allow third-party companies, for a fee, to insert SDKs into their apps. The SDK maker then sells the consumer data harvested from the app, and the app publisher gets a chunk of revenue. But consumers have no way to know whether SDKs are embedded in apps; most privacy policies don't disclose that information. Anomaly Six says it embeds its own SDK in some apps, and in other cases gets location data from other partners. Anomaly Six is a federal contractor that provides global-location-data products to branches of the U.S. government and private-sector clients. The company told The Wall Street Journal it restricts the sale of U.S. mobile phone movement data only to nongovernmental, private-sector clients. Numerous agencies of the U.S. government have concluded that mobile data acquired by federal agencies from advertising is lawful. Several law-enforcement agencies are using such data for criminal-law enforcement, the Journal has reported, while numerous U.S. military and intelligence agencies also acquire this kind of data.

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YouTube Will Stop Emailing Subscribers About New Videos Next Week

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 11:45
A lot happens on YouTube, and the Google video site has for ages emailed subscribers that opted into alerts about new uploads and livestreams. YouTube is getting rid of these emails next week as very few people opened alerts about new videos from their inbox. From a report: The rationale is "less than 0.1% of these emails are opened," the company said. Messages about your "account, mandatory service announcements, etc." remain, with Google hoping that the broader change today will help "you more easily spot and pay attention to the important emails." It reflects companies increasingly wanting to reduce information overload.

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To Head Off Regulators, Google Makes Certain Words Taboo

Slashdot.org - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 11:04
As Google faces at least four major antitrust investigations on two continents, internal documents obtained by The Markup show its parent company, Alphabet, has been preparing for this moment for years, telling employees across the massive enterprise that certain language is off limits in all written communications, no matter how casual. From a report: The taboo words include "market," "barriers to entry," and "network effects," which is when products such as social networks become more valuable as more people use them. "Words matter. Especially in antitrust law," reads one document titled "Five Rules of Thumb for Written Communications." "Alphabet gets sued a lot, and we have our fair share of regulatory investigations," reads another. "Assume every document will become public." The internal documents appear to be part of a self-guided training session for a wide range of the company's more than 100,000 employees, from engineers to salespeople. One document, titled "Global Competition Policy," says it applies not only to interns and employees but also to temps, vendors, and contractors. The documents explain the basics of antitrust law and caution against loose talk that could have implications for government regulators or private lawsuits.

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Cadets learn to codeCadets learn to code

GoogleBlog - Fri, 08/07/2020 - 11:00

Each morning at 9:30 a.m, Makayla Davis of Aberdeen, Mississippi logs on to start her day. Instead of simply watching TV, hanging out or getting roped into yard work, Makayla is learning cryptography, network fundamentals and penetration testing techniques. 

She is one of 24 Air Force Junior ROTC cadets from 12 states participating in the inaugural Air Force JROTC Cyber Academy, an eight-week virtual course that will earn each cadet three college credits and prepare them for valuable industry certifications. She started the program when one of her teachers told her about the opportunity. “I was excited to learn new things that I could bring back to my school,” she says.

The course is part of the JROTC-CS Demonstration Project, a collaboration between the Air Force JROTC and CSforALL, aimed at growing the talent pipeline in critical technology careers. The project is funded through an advisory consortium of nonprofits, federal agencies and corporate sponsors, including Google. Google supports CSforALL, in addition to other organizations such as 4-H, Kapor Center and the Computer Science Teachers’ Association to ensure that all students, regardless of background, have equitable access to computer science learning opportunities.

The Air Force JROTC serves more than 125,000 cadets at nearly 900 high schools across the U.S. and overseas, but only 36 percent of those schools offer an AP computer science course. JROTC-CS aims to develop a way to increase computer science and cybersecurity programs at all JROTC high schools, and offer opportunities for cadets to develop skills, explore technical career paths and earn industry certifications, scholarships and more.

“This program embodies the AFJROTC mission: developing young citizens,” says Colonel Stephen T. Sanders, Director, HQ AFJROTC. “Whether our cadets have military or civilian careers in mind, we are preparing them for the future.”

The AFJROTC Cyber Academy is offered through Mississippi State University and was intended to be an on-campus experience. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the program went virtual and the cadets, instructors and mentors are logging in from all over the country. The team includes instructors and mentors from Mississippi State, the National Cybersecurity Training and Education Center (NCyTE) at Whatcom Community College in Washington State and Moraine Valley Community College in Illinois. 

Like everyone working or learning from home, the pivot to virtual created some challenges for the JROTC cadets. CSforALL raised funds to make sure all students had devices to participate virtually. In week six, the cadets have broken into project teams to research security challenges and share recommendations back to the group. Makayla’s team is exploring the use of deterrents, which are ways to prevent people from entering a site. She is excited at the prospect of developing a cybersecurity plan for her school, where she’ll be a “cybersecurity ambassador” when she returns.

Makayla and her fellow cadets have plans that go way beyond high school, though. “I’m thinking about how to combine cybersecurity with psychology for my future career,” she says.

As part of our work to ensure all students have access to CS education, we’re supporting CS4ALL’s JROTC-CS program and their cadets as they pivot to virtual classes.
Categories: Technology