Facebook

Facebook Asks British Users To Submit Their Nudes as Protection Against Revenge Porn (betanews.com) 136

Mark Wilson writes: Following on from a trial in Australia, Facebook is rolling out anti-revenge porn measures to the UK. In order that it can protect British users from failing victim to revenge porn, the social network is asking them to send in naked photos of themselves. The basic premise of the idea is: send us nudes, and we'll stop others from seeing them .
Worms

Giant Predatory Worms Are Invading France (qz.com) 213

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: In a Peer J study published on May 22, "Giant worms chez moi!" zoologist Jean-Lou Justine of the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle in Paris, entomologist colleagues, and Pierre Gros, outline a discovery that "highlights an unexpected blind spot of scientists and authorities facing an invasion by conspicuous large invasive animals." About 100 citizen scientists ultimately contributed to the assessment of this alien invasion, identifying five giant predatory worm species in France that grow up to 10 inches long. The study relied on contributors' worm sightings, reported "mainly by email, sometimes by telephone." Researchers requested photographs and details about locality. In 2013, the Washington Post reports, "a group of terrorized kindergartners claimed they saw a mass of writhing snakes in their play field." These were giant flatworms! The study concludes that the alien creatures appear to reproduce asexually. They prey on other, smaller earthworms, stunning them with toxins. "The planarian also produces secretions from its headplate and body that adhere it to the prey, despite often sudden violent movements of the latter during this stage of capture," researcher note. In other words, the hammerheads produce a substance that allows them to stick to victims while killing them. The study points out that invasive alien flatworms have been spotted in New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Brazil, and Australia. But the five species of hammerhead flatworms invading France are giants, growing up to 27 centimeters.
Space

Astronomers Discovered the Fastest-Growing Black Hole Ever Seen (wral.com) 69

Long-time Slashdot reader Yhcrana shares "some good old fashioned astronomy news." Astronomers have discovered "a black hole 20 billion times the mass of the sun eating the equivalent of a star every two days," reports the New York Times. The black hole is growing so rapidly, said Christian Wolf, of the Australian National University, who led the team that found it in the depths of time, "that it is probably 10,000 times brighter than the galaxy it lives in." So bright, that it is dazzling our view and we can't see the galaxy itself. He and his colleagues announced the discovery in a paper to be published in the Publications of the Astronomical Society of Australia...

The blaze from material swirling around this newly observed drainpipe into eternity -- known officially as SMSS J215728.21-360215.1 -- is as luminous as 700 trillion suns, according to Wolf and his collaborators. If it were at the center of our own galaxy, the Milky Way, it would be 10 times brighter than the moon and bathe the Earth in so many X-rays that life would be impossible. Luckily it's not anywhere nearby. It is in fact 12 billion light years away, which means it took that long for its light to reach us, so we are glimpsing this cataclysm as it appeared at the dawn of time, only 2 billion years after the Big Bang, when stars and galaxies were furiously forming.

Music

YouTube Unveils New Streaming Service 'YouTube Music,' Rebrands YouTube Red (gizmodo.com) 107

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Gizmodo: YouTube Music, a streaming music platform designed to compete with the likes of Spotify and Apple Music, officially has a launch date: May 22nd. Its existence will also shift around YouTube and Google's overall media strategy, which has thus far been quite the mess. YouTube Music will borrow the Spotify model and offer a free, ad-supported tier as well as a premium version. The paid tier, which will be called YouTube Music Premium, will be available for $9.99 per month. It will debut in the U.S., Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, and South Korea before expanding to 14 other countries.

One of the selling points for YouTube Music will be the ability to harness the endless amount of information Google knows about you, which it will use to try to create customized listening experiences. Pitchfork reported that the app, with the help of Google Assistant, will make listening recommendations based on the time of day, location, and listening patterns. It will also apparently offer "an audio experience and a video experience," suggesting perhaps an emphasis on music videos and other visual content. From here, Google seems to be focused on making its streaming strategy a little less wacky. Google Play Music, the company's previous music streaming service that is still inexplicably up and running despite teetering on the brink of extinction for years, will slowly be phased out according to USA Today.
Meanwhile, the paid streaming subscription service, known as YouTube Red, is being rebranded to YouTube Premium and will cost $11.99 per month instead of $9.99. (Pitchfork notes that existing YouTube Red subscribers will be able to keep their $9.99 rate.) YouTube Premium will include access to YouTube Music Premium. Here's a handy-dandy chart that helps show what is/isn't included in the two plans.
Transportation

Tesla Model X Breaks Electric Towing Record By Pulling Boeing 787 (inverse.com) 235

A Tesla Model X has set the world record for heaviest tow by electric production passenger vehicle when it pulled a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner at the Melbourne Airport in Australia. The video can be viewed on YouTube. Inverse reports: As probably expected, the plane far exceeds the Model X's recommended tow limit of around 5,000 pounds. In fact, the weight of the unloaded 787 with a minimal amount of fuel came closer to around 300,000 pounds. The airline pulled the Dreamliner around 1,000 feet down the tarmac. The stunt was part of a wider campaign around Qantas' new work with Tesla, which involves offering high-powered chargers at its Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Adelaide facilities as well as offsetting miles for Tesla drivers that are also frequent flyer members.
Medicine

James Harrison, Who Has Helped Save Lives of More Than 2.4 Million Australian Babies, Retires (cnn.com) 97

Most people, when they retire, get a gold watch. James Harrison deserves so much more than that. From a report: Harrison, known as the "Man With the Golden Arm," has donated blood nearly every week for 60 years. After all those donations, the 81-year-old Australian man "retired" Friday. The occasion marked the end of a monumental chapter. According to the Australian Red Cross Blood Service, he has helped saved the lives of more than 2.4 million Australian babies. Harrison's blood has unique, disease-fighting antibodies that have been used to develop an injection called Anti-D, which helps fight against rhesus disease. This disease is a condition where a pregnant woman's blood actually starts attacking her unborn baby's blood cells. In the worst cases, it can result in brain damage, or death, for the babies.
Science

Reporter Shares Experience of Visiting a Flat Earth Convention (vice.com) 356

Tom Usher, reporting for Vice: I arrived at the venue -- a Jurys Inn hotel -- on a wet Saturday morning, to discover that the event was essentially a small carpeted convention room boasting a few cameras, some stalls selling merchandise, and 70 or so attendees watching PowerPoint presentations beamed onto a wall. As I entered, I was offered a gift of "fluoride-free" toothpaste. This made perfect sense, given the location. A popular conspiracy theory states that governments across the world have been putting fluoride in our water supply to tranquilize the masses, despite the fact the only piece of "evidence" for this theory -- which involves both the Nazis and the Communists -- has been widely discredited. With the tone set for the day, I sat down to watch some speeches.

The speakers all seemed well aware of how "globe-earthers" view the idea of a flat Earth, i.e. ludicrous, and their talk of the current scientific establishment felt very "us versus them" -- a nice bit of truther tribalism. One speaker talked at length about the moon, and how its orbit proved the Earth couldn't be spherical, which seemed a little counterintuitive. Another talked about how the Egyptian pyramid structure points toward clues that the Earth is a flat diamond shape, supported by pillars. Between sounding off about the Vatican and the fact that the establishment has indoctrinated us to believe all sorts of things, including that the Earth is a sphere, a third speaker suggested that cancer is caused by negative emotions and argued that dinosaurs didn't exist.
The story also explores why some people still believe these long-debunked theories. Further reading: The bizarre tale of the flat-Earth convention that fell apart (CNET).
The Almighty Buck

Tesla's Giant Battery In Australia Reduced Grid Service Cost By 90 Percent (electrek.co) 251

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Electrek: Tesla's giant Powerpack battery in Australia has been in operation for about 6 months now and we are just starting to discover the magnitude of its impact on the local energy market. A new report now shows that it reduced the cost of the grid service that it performs by 90% and it has already taken a majority share of the market. It is so efficient that it reportedly should have made around $1 million in just a few days in January, but Tesla complained last month that they are not being paid correctly because the system doesn't account for how fast Tesla's Powerpacks start discharging their power into the grid.

The system is basically a victim of its own efficiency, which the Australian Energy Market Operator confirmed is much more rapid, accurate and valuable than a conventional steam turbine in a report published last month. Now McKinsey and Co partner Godart van Gendt presented new data at the Australian Energy Week conference in Melbourne this week and claimed that Tesla's battery has now taken over 55% of the frequency control and ancillary services (FCAS) services and reduced cost by 90%.
"In the first four months of operations of the Hornsdale Power Reserve (the official name of the Tesla big battery, owned and operated by Neoen), the frequency ancillary services prices went down by 90 percent, so that's 9-0 per cent," said Gendt via Reneweconomy. "And the 100MW battery has achieved over 55 percent of the FCAS revenues in South Australia. So it's 2 percent of the capacity in South Australia achieving 55 percent of the revenues in South Australia."
Australia

Australia To Ban Cash Purchases Over $10,000 (theguardian.com) 272

Long-time Slashdot reader skegg writes: Last night was federal budget night in Australia, and one of the announcements means Australians will face a crackdown on cash-in-hand payments in an attempt by the government to reduce money laundering and tax evasion. The government has turned its attention to the "black economy" in an attempt to raise billions of extra dollars and intends to limit cash payments for purchase goods and services to $10,000.
The financial services minister argues that currently the status quo "gives some businesses an unfair competitive advantage."
Wikipedia

Decade Old Academic Paper on Global Climate Zones Named the Most Cited Source on Wikipedia (theguardian.com) 37

An academic paper on global climate zones written by three Australians more than a decade ago has been named the most cited source on Wikipedia, having being referenced more than 2.8m times. From a report: The authors of the paper, who are still good friends, had no idea about the wider impact of their work until recently. The paper, published in 2007 in the journal Hydrology and Earth System Sciences, used contemporary data to update a widely used model for classifying the world's climates. Known as the Koppen Climate Classification System, the model was first published by climatologist Wladimir Koppen in 1884, but it had not been comprehensively updated for decades.

The lead author of the paper is Dr Murray Peel, a senior lecturer in the department of infrastructure engineering at the University of Melbourne, and he co-authored the updated climate map with geography professor Brian Finlayson and engineering professor Thomas McMahon, both now retired. "We are amazed, absolutely amazed at the number of citations," Finlayson told Guardian Australia from his home in Melbourne. "We are not so much amazed at the fact it's been cited as we are about the number of people who have cited it."

Australia

Australia's Largest Bank Lost The Personal Financial Histories Of 12 Million Customers, And Did Not Tell Them About It (buzzfeed.com) 52

The Commonwealth Bank, the largest bank in Australia, has lost the personal financial histories of 12 million customers, and chose not to reveal the breach to consumers, in one of the largest financial services privacy breaches ever to occur in Australia, BuzzFeed News reports. From the report: BuzzFeed News can reveal that the nation's largest bank lost the banking statements for customers from 2004 to 2014 after a subcontractor lost several tape drives containing the financial information in 2016. While the bank initially notified the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner (OAIC) of the breach shortly after it became aware of it in 2016, a spokesperson for the OAIC told BuzzFeed News it was now making further inquiries into the privacy breach, following a damning report into the bank's culture released on Tuesday. Angus Sullivan, Commonwealth Bank's acting group executive of retail banking services told BuzzFeed News in a statement: "We take the protection of customer data very seriously and incidents like this are not acceptable. We want to assure our customers that no action is required and we apologise for any concern the incident may cause." "We undertook a thorough forensic investigation, providing further updates to our regulators after its completion. We also put in place heightened monitoring of customer accounts to ensure no data compromise had occurred."
Earth

Great Barrier Reef Gets $379 Million Boost After Coral Dies Off (bloomberg.com) 104

The Great Barrier Reef is being given a $379 million boost by Australia in the battle to save the world's largest living structure as it faces mounting challenges such as climate change, agricultural runoff and a coral-eating starfish. From a report: "Like reefs all over the world, the Great Barrier Reef is under pressure," Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said in a statement on Sunday, calling the funding the largest granted to the famous tourist icon. "A big challenge demands a big investment -- and this investment gives our reef the best chance." [...] The new funding comes after Deloitte Access Economics valued the reef last year at A$56 billion, based on an asset supporting tens of thousands of jobs and which contributes A$6.4 billion a year to the economy. Still, that was before a study released this month in Nature showed about 30 percent of the reef, which is bigger than Japan, died off in 2016 during an extended marine heatwave.
Australia

Movements of Pedestrians and Vehicles in Inner-city Liverpool To Be Captured by Cameras and Smartphones To Help Local Council Map Potential Tweaks To Streets (smh.com.au) 26

Jacob Saulwick, reporting for The Sydney Morning Herald: The movement of pedestrians and vehicles in inner-city Liverpool will be captured by upgraded CCTV cameras and smartphones. The project, part-funded by the federal government's $50 million "Smart Cities" program, aims to help the local council map potential tweaks to streets and planning rules, in an area undergoing rapid development. "It gives us the opportunity to be more experimental in our CBD to get better outcomes for the people using it," the chief executive of Liverpool City Council, Kiersten Fishburn, said. The street grid of downtown Liverpool was laid out in 1827 by Robert Hoddle, who would go on to survey and plot Melbourne's distinctive grid. And Liverpool is changing fast, with a proposed local environment plan to allow denser and residential development around the inner city, as well as the opening of University of Wollongong and Western Sydney University campuses.
EU

Facebook To Put 1.5 Billion Users Out of Reach of New EU Privacy Law (reuters.com) 95

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Facebook: If a new European law restricting what companies can do with people's online data went into effect tomorrow, almost 1.9 billion Facebook users around the world would be protected by it. The online social network is making changes that ensure the number will be much smaller. Facebook members outside the United States and Canada, whether they know it or not, are currently governed by terms of service agreed with the company's international headquarters in Ireland. Next month, Facebook is planning to make that the case for only European users, meaning 1.5 billion members in Africa, Asia, Australia and Latin America will not fall under the European Union's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which takes effect on May 25. That removes a huge potential liability for Facebook, as the new EU law allows for fines of up to 4 percent of global annual revenue for infractions, which in Facebook's case could mean billions of dollars.
Australia

UK, Australia Investigating Facebook Amid Cambridge Analytica Data Scandal (go.com) 40

Both the United Kingdom and Australia said Thursday that they have opened formal investigations into Facebook amid allegations that their citizens' data was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. ABC News reports: The Information Commissioner's Office in the U.K. is "looking at how data was collected from a third party app on Facebook and shared with Cambridge Analytica. We are also conducting a broader investigation into how social media platforms were used in political campaigning," according to Commissioner Elizabeth Denham. The office will investigate Facebook, along with 29 other organizations that have not been named.

Earlier Thursday, Australia said it had opened a formal investigation into the tech giant amid allegations that Australian users' data was improperly shared with Cambridge Analytica. "Today I have opened a formal investigation into Facebook, following confirmation from Facebook that the information of over 300,000 Australian users may have been acquired and used without authorization," Angelene Falk, Australia's acting information commissioner and acting privacy commissioner, said. According to Falk, Australia will work with international regulatory agencies to investigate whether Facebook violated the country's privacy act. Under Australian law, the commissioner has the power to issue fines of up to $1.6 million to organizations that fail to comply with the act, according to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. Australia and the U.K. joined the United States and Israel in investigating Facebook's breach of privacy.

Transportation

The World's Fastest Delivery Drone Takes Off (technologyreview.com) 44

A couple of years ago, Zipline, a California-based startup, created a national drone delivery system to ship blood and drugs to remote medical centers in Rwanda. Now it has developed what it claims is the world's swiftest commercial delivery drone, with a top speed of 128 kilometers an hour (a hair shy of 80 miles per hour). From a report: Zipline is hoping its new fixed-wing aerial robot, which is both speedier and easier to maintain than its predecessor, will help it win business in an industry that's attracted plenty of big players. They include Amazon, which has been testing its Prime Air drone delivery service for years in the UK and elsewhere, and Project Wing, part of Alphabet's secretive X lab, which is using its drones to deliver pharmaceuticals and burritos in a pilot project in Australia.
It's funny.  Laugh.

April Fool's Day Roundup 95

It might be a holiday for most of us today, but for tech companies, April Fool's is the day when they work overtime to send weird press releases. So far we have seen Google Maps help users find Waldo, and Google Australia rethink its brand name (to Googz). T-Mobile has revivedthe Sidekick as the world's first smart shoe phone. Google has also added a feature to its file manager app Files Go that detects bad jokes from your phone. Snapchat has finally found a way to make fun of Facebook. Languages learning app Duolingo has launched a range of craft beers. Chinese smartphone maker OnePlus has launched a cryptocurrency. Some more here. What's your favorite prank so far today?
Software

Software Glitch Robs Formula 1 World Champ of Season's First Win (theregister.co.uk) 123

Formula One world champion Lewis Hamilton was left fuming after a software glitch denied him an easy win in the first race of the 2018 season on Sunday. From a report: Hamilton held a comfortable lead in Australia's Melbourne grand prix from the start. After pitting for fresh rubber ahead of the Ferraris of Kimi Raikkonen and Sebastian Vettel, Hamilton looked set for an easy win. Then both of the American Haas team's cars had to be taken off the circuit after their wheel nuts became loose. That triggered a virtual safety car (VSC). The VSC is a fairly new concept: while active, the drivers have to slow down, they cannot overtake, and they must not go below minimum times for each circuit sector. Failure to follow the rules will result in penalties. This is all done to preserve the race state while giving safety marshals time to clear debris or vehicles off the track.

While the VSC was active on Sunday, second-placed Vettel ducked into the pit lane, where the virtual car's speed rules did not apply, picked up fresh tires, and emerged ahead of Hamilton to take first place. Vettel was able to do this because Hamilton's car software miscalculated the minimum sector time according to the VSC rules, causing the Brit to slow down more than was necessary. The code thought Vettel would spend 15 seconds in the pits; the Ferrari driver and his team took just 11 seconds.

Australia

'How I Went Dark In Australia's Surveillance State For 2 Years' (cnet.com) 235

schwit1 shares a report from CNET, written by Claire Reilly: In 2015, during the transition from paper to Opal [contactless public transit cards], Australia passed sweeping new data retention laws. These laws required all Australian internet service providers and telecommunications carriers to retain customers' phone and internet metadata for two years -- details like the phone number a person calls, the timestamps on text messages or the cell tower a phone pings when it makes a call. Suddenly, Australians were fighting for the right to stay anonymous in a digital world. On one side of the fence: safety-conscious civilians. They argued that this metadata was a powerful tool and that the ability to track a person's movements through phone pings or call times was vital for law enforcement. On the other side of the fence: digital civil libertarians. They argued that the data retention scheme was invasive and that this metadata could be used to build up an incredibly detailed picture of someone's life. And sitting in a barn two paddocks away from that fence: me, switching out burner phones and researching VPNs. When it emerged that police had the power to search Opal card data, track people's movements and match this to individual users, it was the last straw. August 2016 rolled around, paperless tickets were phased out and I hatched my plan. The Black Opal. The concept of the Black Opal is simple. Buy your transport card. Pay cash. Top up with cash (preferably in a new location each time). Never register it. Never link it to your credit or debit card. Live off the grid. Stay away from The Man.

[Reilly discusses the problems she faced:] All the top-up machines at train stations, light rail stops and ferry terminals were card-only affairs. One tap on that baby and you were back in the system. So, if I was busing downtown for a work meeting, I'd have to factor in extra time to get to an ATM, get cash out and then find somewhere to top up my card. Running for the train with friends, I was the one who had to divert three blocks, change jackets, burn off my fingerprints and find a nondescript corner store to top up. Here's what I learned. No one likes the paranoid one. [...] I finally came undone last week. Racing for a flight, I forgot about my Black Opal. I'd had an unusually busy week on public transport, and my balance was low. On the train to the airport terminal, it hit me. Did I have enough money on my card to pay the AU$17.76 tap-off fee that they use to gouge tourists at the airport? As I rode up the escalators and the exit turnstiles came into view, my heart sank. No ATM. No cash in my wallet. Just a row of bright green Opal readers and a top-up machine. Card only. With one trip, my years of off-grid living were undone. I slumped against the top-up machine and swiped my debit card. I was just 9 cents short, but it cost me so much more than that. My Black Opal was dead.

Earth

World Cities Go Dark For 'Earth Hour' Climate Campaign (afp.com) 141

An anonymous reader quotes the AFP: Earth Hour, which started in Australia in 2007, is being observed by millions of supporters in 187 countries, who are turning off their lights at 8.30pm local time in what organisers describe as the world's "largest grassroots movement for climate change"... In Paris, the Eiffel Tower plunged into darkness as President Emmanuel Macron urged people to join in and "show you are willing to join the fight for nature". "The time for denial is long past. We are losing not only our battle against climate change, but also our battle against the collapse of biodiversity," he said on Twitter. Moscow's Red Square also fell dark and the Russian section of the International Space Station dipped its lights, the Ria Novisti news agency said... UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the event "comes at a time of huge pressure on people and planet alike. Resources and ecosystems across the world are under assault. Earth hour is an opportunity to show our resolve to change."
Other landmarks "going dark" include the Empire State Building in New York and the Sydney Opera House, as well as the harbour skylines of Hong Kong and Singapore.

Slashdot Top Deals