Censorship

Indonesia Moves To Ban Same-Sex Emojis On Messaging Apps (thestack.com) 338

An anonymous reader writes: The Indonesian government has this week demanded that instant messaging apps available in the country remove all same-sex emoticons from their platforms, or face heavy sanctions. While homosexuality is not illegal in the country, it remains a controversial issue in the Muslim-dominated country. Now in the latest effort to crackdown on gay rights, Indonesian authorities want to ban emojis, stickers and emoticons which depict same-sex couples, the rainbow flag, and any symbol that symbolises the lesbian, bay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community. Apps that have been targeted by the demands include the popular Asian messaging app LINE, Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter. The Indonesian Communication and Information Ministry added that a particular concern was that children would find the bright coloured stickers appealing.
Desktops (Apple)

Kim Jong-Un Found To Be Mac User 195

jones_supa writes: He might hate the United States, but he sure digs those designed-in-California computers. You probably wouldn't take Kim Jong-un as a Mac user. Usually, in photos of him checking out military computers, we see the North Korean dictator in front of a PC with a Dell monitor. However, a handful of photos of the supreme leader at his own desk show him with Macs, leading to the assumption that while the military may use PCs, his personal preference is Mac. Reuters correspondent James Pearson, who covers both Koreas, tweeted out a fresh image of little Kim using a MacBook Pro inside an aircraft. There are other images, including a 2013 image of Kim Jong-un at his desk with an iMac. That same year, the South Korean newspaper Chosun published a photo from North Korean Central News Agency, which features an Apple iMac. This might also explain why the country's home-grown Linux distribution Red Star imitates OS X.
Space

It's Official: LIGO Scientists Make First-Ever Observation of Gravity Waves (economist.com) 446

A few days ago, we posted reports that a major finding -- the discovery of the long-predicted gravity waves -- was expected to be formally announced today, and reader universe520 is the first to note this coverage in the Economist : It is 1.3 billion years after two black holes merged and sent out gravitational waves. On Earth in September 2015, the faintest slice of those waves was caught. That slice, called GW150914 and announced to the world on February 11th, is the first gravitational wave to be detected directly by human scientists. It is a triumph that has been a century in the making, opening a new window onto the universe and giving researchers a means to peer at hitherto inaccessible happenings, perhaps as far back in time as the Big Bang. Reader DudeTheMath adds: NPR has a nice write-up of the newly-published results: "[R]esearchers say they have detected rumblings from that cataclysmic collision as ripples in the very fabric of space-time itself. The discovery comes a century after Albert Einstein first predicted such ripples should exist. ... The signal in the detector matches well with what's predicted by Einstein's original theory, according to [Saul] Teukolsky [of Cornell], who was briefed on the results." Update: 02/11 18:08 GMT by T : Worth reading: this letter, inspirational and informative, from MIT president L. Rafael Reif, about the discovery. (Hat tip to Brian Kulak.)
Twitter

Twitter's Timeline Option Puts Important Tweets Up Top (engadget.com) 46

Twitter is doing its best to make sure you see the best content in your timeline (at least thats what its hoping its doing with today's announcement of a new timeline option). The new feature drops what Twitter determines are the best tweets at the top of a user's timeline. For now, this feature is optional, so users can opt-in to see this timeline. In the coming weeks, it will slowly be rolled out to all users.
Twitter

Twitter Launches Trust and Safety Council To Help Put End To Trolling (thestack.com) 204

An anonymous reader writes: Twitter has announced a new trust and safety council to stamp out bullying and trolling on the microblogging site. The Twitter Trust & Safety Council will initially be formed of around 40 bodies, including the Cyber Civil Rights Initiative, ICT Watch, NetSafe, and Samaritans. These organisations, along with safety experts, academics and security researchers, will work to ensure a safe and secure platform for users to express themselves freely and safely. The Council's main focus will be to protect minors, encourage 'greater compassion and empathy on the internet,' and promote efforts in media literacy and digital citizenship. Community groups will also participate to help prevent online 'abuse, harassment, and bullying,' as well as mental health problems and suicide.
Security

Hackers Leak DHS Staff Directory, Claim FBI Is Next (csoonline.com) 81

itwbennett writes: On Sunday, the name, title, email address, and phone number of more than 9,000 DHS employees, with titles ranging from engineers, to security specialists, program analysts, InfoSec and IT, all the way up to director level was posted on Twitter. 'The account went on to claim that an additional data dump focused on 20,000 FBI employees was next,' writes CSO's Steve Ragan. The hacker told Motherboard that the data was obtained by "compromising the email account of a DoJ employee, although he would not elaborate on how that account was accessed in the first place."
Twitter

Twitter Tackles Terrorists In Targeted Takedown (betanews.com) 100

Mark Wilson writes: Having previously battled trolls, Twitter has now turned its attention to terrorists and their supporters. The site has closed down more than 125,000 accounts associated with terrorism since the middle of 2015, it announced in a statement. Although a full breakdown of figures is not provided, Twitter says most of these accounts were related to ISIS. Having increased the size of its account review team, the site has reduced the time it takes to investigate accounts that are reported, and has also started to investigate 'accounts similar to those reported'.
Censorship

Julian Assange May Surrender To British Police On Friday (twitter.com) 327

bestweasel writes: As reported by The Guardian and others, Julian Assange has announced via Wikileaks that: "Should the UN announce tomorrow that I have lost my case against the United Kingdom and Sweden, I shall exit the embassy at noon on Friday to accept arrest by British police as there is no meaningful prospect of further appeal. ... However, should I prevail and the state parties be found to have acted unlawfully, I expect the immediate return of my passport and the termination of further attempts to arrest me."
Microsoft

Microsoft To Acquire SwiftKey Predictive Keyboard Technology Company For $250M (hothardware.com) 118

MojoKid writes: SwiftKey has been one of the more popular predictive keyboard offerings in the mobile space since it was first released in beta form on the Android market back in 2010. What made SwiftKey so appealing was its intelligent predictive texting technology. SwiftKey isn't a simple keyboard replacement. Rather, the software uses a combination of artificial intelligence technologies that give it the ability to learn usage patterns and predict the next word the user most likely intends to type. SwiftKey refines its predictions, learning over time by analyzing data from SMS, Facebook, and Twitter messages, then offering predictions based on the text being entered at the time. It is estimated that SwiftKey is installed on upwards of 500 million mobile devices. According to reports, Microsoft is apparently buying the UK-based company for a cool $250 Million. What Microsoft intends to do with SwiftKey is not clear just yet, but the company has been purchasing mobile apps at a good clip as of late.
The Internet

How the Raspberry Pi Can Automatically Tweet Complaints About Your Slow Internet (ibtimes.co.uk) 154

An anonymous reader writes: Contacting your internet provider to complain about slow browsing speeds is a tiresome chore which none of us enjoy, but one man has found a solution. He has configured a Raspberry Pi computer to automatically tweet a complaint to Comcast when his internet falls below 50Mbps, well below the 150Mbps he pays for. Wouldn't it be nice if ISPs wrote a rebate check each month to reflect the percentage of their promised throughput that was actually available?
Security

NSA Hacker Chief Explains How To Keep Him Out of Your System (wired.com) 70

An anonymous reader writes: Rob Joyce, the nation's hacker-in-chief, took up the ironic task of telling a roomful of computer security professionals and academics how to keep people like him and his elite corps out of their systems. Joyce himself did little to shine a light on the TAO's classified operations. His talk was mostly a compendium of best security practices. But he did drop a few of the not-so-secret secrets of the NSA's success, with many people responding to his comments on Twitter.
Social Networks

Why Does Twitter Refuse To Shut Down Donald Trump? (vortex.com) 832

Lauren Weinstein writes: The conclusion appears inescapable. Twitter apparently has voluntarily chosen to 'look the other way' while Donald Trump spews forth a trolling stream of hate and other abuses that would cause any average Twitter user to be terminated in a heartbeat. There's always room to argue the proprietary or desirability of any given social media content terms of service — or the policy precepts through which they are applied. It is also utterly clear that if such rules are not applied to everyone with the same vigor, particularly when there's an appearance of profiting by making exceptions for particular individuals, the moral authority on which those rules are presumably based is decimated, pointless, and becomes a mere fiction. Would you rather Twitter shut down no account ever, apply a sort of white-listing policy, or something in the middle?
Crime

The Dark Arts: Meet the LulzSec Hackers (hackaday.com) 63

szczys writes: Reputations are earned. When a small group of hackers who were part of Anonymous learned they were being targeted for doxing (having their identities exposed) they went after the would-be doxxer's company, hard, taking down two of the company websites, the CEO's Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo, and even his World of Warcraft accounts. The process was fast, professional, and like nothing ever seen before. This was the foundation of Lulz Security and the birth of a reputation that makes LulzSec an important part of black hat history. Good companion piece and update to some of our earlier posts about the hack; that would-be doxxer was Aaron Barr.
Twitter

A Customer-Driven Business Model For Twitter (jeffreifman.com) 65

reifman writes: As revolving door of Twitter executives makes headlines and its $100+ million quarterly losses continue, it's not clear the company will survive the year without being acquired for a quarter of its offering price. The solution for Twitter's business challenges could be to adopt an engaging feature rich subscriber model that reaffirms its status as the platform of a global democratic communication hub. Here are fifteen ideas for Twitter to transform into a profitable user-centered business including integration of open source Signal for secure phone calls and direct messaging, Stellar for payments and domain mapping and blog hosting with your feed front and center.
Earth

Flat-Earth Argument Results in Rap Battle (npr.org) 235

New submitter mjjochen writes: A little something to make you smile (or cry). NPR reports on astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson calling out rapper B.o.B. in a Twitter (& rap) argument over the status of the earth (are we round or flat?). Rapper B.o.B. references the usual conspiracy theories to support his case in his throwdown (music). Neil deGrasse Tyson responds (actually, his nephew does), on why B.o.B.'s points are not very well-informed (music). As Tyson puts it, "Duude — to be clear: Being five centuries regressed in your reasoning doesn't mean we all can't still like your music." Shall we start leeching the four humors from the body again to achieve balance? Hrm.
Advertising

German Court: "Sharing" Your Amazon Purchases Is Spamming (reuters.com) 195

An anonymous reader writes: A court in Germany has ruled that the 'Share' links which Amazon provides to customers directly after making a purchase at the site are unlawful. The "Share" functionality provides buttons which allow the consumer to signal a new purchase via Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or email. The court, ratifying an earlier decision made at a lower court, declared that emails initiated via the Share function constitute "unsolicited advertising and unreasonable harassment."
Facebook

Nielsen Adds Facebook To Social TV Ratings (hollywoodreporter.com) 28

New submitter AnneMackay451 writes with news that the Nielsen media audience measuring company will now include social media buzz into its ratings. From the article: "Nielsen wants to know what TV shows are getting the biggest buzz on Facebook. The measurement firm is expanding its Twitter TV Ratings to include data from Facebook and, eventually, Instagram. The new reports are being rebranded as Nielsen's Social Content Ratings. The new ratings will measure online buzz about TV programs and streaming originals when they launch later this year. Social conversations will be measured both during a show's airtime and 24-hours-a-day."
Space

Growing Flowers In Space (nasa.gov) 44

An anonymous reader writes: This weekend, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly posted a picture of the first flower to bloom in space. The International Space Station has been home to the Veggie plant growth facility for almost two years, and scientists have been working hard to figure out how to keep crops alive in microgravity. It's a challenge to keep plants properly heated and hydrated, and their current specimens been attacked by mold as well. "More crops for Veggie are heading to the orbiting laboratory aboard SpaceX-8. The Veg-03 run will include two sets of Chinese cabbage, and one set of red romaine lettuce. In 2018, there are plans to launch dwarf tomato seeds to the space station. Smith said the lessons learned from growing zinnia flowers will be critical in the process of growing tomatoes, a fellow flowering plant. Studies are also in progress to see how adjusting the lighting in the Veggie plant growth facility can affect plan mineral composition. There will be preflight testing to determine what 'light recipe' to use aboard the station."
Space

SpaceX Successfully Launches Jason-3 Satellite, Rocket Landing Partial Success (theverge.com) 118

An anonymous reader writes: SpaceX successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket today carrying the Jason-3 ocean monitoring satellite. "Jason-3 data will be used for monitoring global sea level rise, researching human impacts on oceans, aiding prediction of hurricane intensity, and operational marine navigation," NASA said. Unfortunately Space X reports that the attempt to land the Falcon 9 on a drone platform was only a partial success. According to the company twitter page: "First stage on target at droneship but looks like hard landing; broke landing leg." Update: 01/18 04:16 GMT by S : Here's a brief video of the landing attempt (somewhat loud).
Games

John Romero Creates New Doom Level (gamasutra.com) 104

jones_supa writes: Legendary game developer John Romero took to Twitter to spread the word that he has made a comeback to the world of Doom by designing an all new level. Romero's return to the game that jumpstarted his career in game development is a fun little Friday surprise for developers, especially Doom enthusiasts, some of whom are thanked in the readme file accompanying the level. The new level, E1M8B (ZIP), is described simply as "My Boss level replacement for e1m8...22 years later." E1M8 is, incidentally, the final level of Doom's first episode, Knee-Deep in the Dead.

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