Items tagged with: after
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19684386
Posted by sjcsjc (karma: 6823)
Post stats: Points: 114 - Comments: 97 - 2019-04-17T17:07:59Z
#HackerNews #after #brains #death #four #hours #partially #pig #revived
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Elon Musk's Falcon Heavy launched a satellite into orbit for a Saudi Arabian company.
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19643761
Posted by support_ribbons (karma: 457)
Post stats: Points: 176 - Comments: 36 - 2019-04-12T11:13:10Z
#HackerNews #after #booster #delivery #landing #nails #satellite #spacex #triple
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In the past, Roku seemed to be more of a neutral platform compared with streaming media player rivals like Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV. The company gave everyone else’s content equal footing through…
Article word count: 1008
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19618541
Posted by e1ven (karma: 11846)
Post stats: Points: 91 - Comments: 65 - 2019-04-09T20:19:48Z
#HackerNews #after #longer #neutral #platform #roku #todays #update
In the past, Roku seemed to be more of a neutral platform compared with streaming media player rivals like Amazon Fire TV or Apple TV. The company gave everyone else’s content equal footing through its add-on channels and in Roku search, as it had nothing of its own to promote. That’s changing with the rollout of Roku OS 9.1, beginning today. The update adds a feature that automatically plays back The Roku Channel’s movies and TV shows at times; another that better showcases the channel’s free content in genre-focused searches; and one that introduces a new navigation menu with offers for other Roku products.
These features arrive alongside other changes, like a new guest mode and easier sign-in to subscriptions.
Among the more innocuous changes are the new guest mode and automatic account linking.
Roku in January first announced an “auto sign out mode,” which allowed guests to sign into subscription channels using their own accounts instead of the Roku owner’s credentials. And guests could specify when their credentials would expire on that device — a useful feature in particular for Airbnb operators. Today, “auto sign out mode” is being rebranded as “guest mode,” and can now be enabled or disabled on select devices. It also now allows Roku owners to sign out the guests themselves.
Meanwhile, Roku is making it easier for customers who move to set up new Roku devices by addressing one of the bigger headaches: logging in again to all your streaming account subscriptions. With Automatic Account Link, Roku users won’t have to re-enter their credentials when activating a new Roku player or Roku TV — the subscription data will simply copy over from their existing account.
At launch, this feature is supported on less than 10 subscriptions, including Pandora and Sling TV. But Roku says more are in the works.
More notably are the changes Roku is introducing today that will see it promoting its own content and products to users.
For starters, a change to Roku Search (currently only in the U.S.) is now organizing content more visually.
When users search for a genre like “comedy” or “action,” the content is displayed in a more Netflix-like fashion with larger image thumbnails and rows you scroll through horizontally. However, Roku has decided to organize content by type instead of, say, subsets of “comedy” or “action,” or whatever genre was being searched.
So while a service like Netflix lets you drill down into genres (e.g. Romantic Comedy, Action Comedy, Family Comedy, TV Comedy, etc.), Roku instead is organizing search results by whether the content is free, subscription, on-demand or 4K.
That’s not really an issue — in fact, it can be useful — but it’s worth noting that the second row from the top is “free.” Not surprisingly, this points users to the free, ad-supported content from The Roku Channel alongside other free sources.
That’s similar to how a search for “free” works on Roku today, but Roku OS 9.1 is giving free content more visibility by giving it a prominent spot in the now more visual, genre-based searches, too.
With Voice Search, however, The Roku Channel gets its biggest push yet.
With Roku OS 9.1, when you search for movies and TV shows using your voice, content available on The Roku Channel that matches those results will automatically begin playing in some scenarios. That includes The Roku Channel’s ad-supported fare as well as content from any of the premium subscriptions you have through The Roku Channel.
“Playback will occur when the movie or show is available only in The Roku Channel, or when a customer specifically indicates the channel name in their voice command,” writes Roku, in a blog post.
The company even acknowledges that this product change introduces a bit of favoritism into its previously unbiased search platform.
“If playback from a voice command is not available for a specific movie or show, you’ll continue to see unbiased search results ordered by price, so you can choose the best viewing option,” the company says, detailing how voice search works when The Roku Channel can’t be favored.
It’s not exactly a huge disservice to customers to start playing a title from the only available source for their request. But it is a way to juice views of The Roku Channel content instead of allowing users to choose to rent or buy the title elsewhere.
Today, voice search kicks users over to a search results list where users see all the options for streaming a title, which includes The Roku Channel, when available, as well as places where the movie or show can be purchased or rented. Those who don’t like ads often choose to buy or rent, rather than stream a free, ad-supported version. The 9.1 update makes this choice more difficult because titles autoplay.
Roku says other channels will gain automatic playback in the weeks ahead, which will work best when a customer says the full title and the channel name in the voice command.
Along with autoplaying some voice search results, Roku is adding voice commands: “replay” to go back a few seconds; “turn closed captions on/off; and “turn display off” for Roku TVs that offer the Fast TV Start feature.
Roku TV models will also receive the Automatic Volume Leveling feature that arrived to Roku players in Roku OS 9.
Another Roku OS 9.1 feature will advertise more Roku products to users through a My Offers link that appears in the left navigation menu of the Roku home screen.
Here, users can check to see if they’re eligible for special discounts on Roku products, accessories or — yep, even content subscriptions. The link appears when those personalized discounts are available, and users can make a purchase directly from the ad itself using their remote.
Roku OS 9.1 is rolling out as a software update to select Roku streaming players today (a full list is in the release notes), and will reach all supported players in the coming weeks. Roku TV models are expected to receive the update in early summer.
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Washington state's attorney general said Motel 6 shared information about approximately 80,000 guests in the state and that guests faced questioning from ICE, detainment and deportation as a result.
Article word count: 710
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19585640
Posted by duxup (karma: 5723)
Post stats: Points: 122 - Comments: 94 - 2019-04-05T18:32:37Z
#HackerNews #12m #after #giving #guest #ice #improperly #lists #motel #pay
The hotel chain Motel 6 agreed on Thursday to pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit filed by Washington state claiming hotel guest information was improperly provided to immigration officials, according to Attorney General Bob Ferguson.
Updated at 7:50 a.m. ET
The hotel chain Motel 6 has agreed to pay $12 million to settle a lawsuit filed by the state of Washington after several locations gave information on thousands of guests to Immigration and Customs Enforcement without warrants.
Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson said Thursday that Motel 6 shared the information of about 80,000 guests in the state from 2015 to 2017.
That led to targeted investigations of guests with Latino-sounding names, according to Ferguson. He said many guests faced questioning from ICE, detainment or deportation as a result of the disclosures.
Itʼs the second settlement over the companyʼs practice in recent months.
Motel 6 also has signed a legally binding commitment to no longer share guest information without a warrant at any of its locations nationwide, a practice the chain says it has already ended.
"Motel 6ʼs actions tore families apart and violated the privacy rights of tens of thousands of Washingtonians," Ferguson said in a statement. "Our resolution holds Motel 6 accountable for illegally handing over guestsʼ private information without a warrant."
"The company has also implemented a system of additional controls to ensure corporate oversight and compliance in cases where law enforcement requests are made."
The Phoenix New Times first uncovered the practice in September 2017 when reporter Antonia Farzan investigated two Motel 6 locations in Phoenix.
"We got a tip that this was happening, started talking to local immigration attorneys and definitely kept hearing from people that this was a trend," Farzan told NPRʼs Ari Shapiro at the time. "They didnʼt really know what was behind it but that they kept seeing people get picked up at Motel 6."
Following initial media reports, Motel 6 released a statement saying that the practice had been discontinued and that it would issue a directive to each of its locations to clarify "that they are prohibited from voluntarily providing daily guest lists to ICE." The hotel said at the time that the practice was implemented "at the local level without the knowledge of senior management."
Washington state sued the company a few months later, alleging employees at seven locations in the Puget Sound region violated state consumer-protection law when they also released guest information.
Ferguson said at the time that the hotels would turn over entire guest lists to authorities.
"According to our interviews with employees at Motel 6," he told NPRʼs Scott Simon, "ICE agents would circle the names that looked Latino-sounding and ran those names through a database and then would detain individuals based on those random checks."
The statement from Ferguson about Thursdayʼs settlement detailed several cases of guests whose names were provided to ICE, including one Seattle man who stayed at a Motel 6 near Sea-Tac for one night, wrapping Christmas presents for his children.
"ICE agents approached him in the hotelʼs parking lot, detained him and deported him some days later," the statement reads. "The man was the sole provider for the household, and his wife is currently struggling to support their toddler and four other children."
Motel 6 has agreed to also train its employees not to release guest information improperly and maintain a 24-hour hotline to help employees when they receive requests for information. The company will also be required to create a tool on its website for guests to report possible violations.
The state says more than $10 million of the settlement fund will be paid out to affected guests — including those who did not have any contact with ICE after their information was disclosed.
In November, Motel 6 settled a separate lawsuit filed in Arizona by the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund. That lawsuit identified eight Latino plaintiffs who were detained, including one who was deported.
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Study points toward lifelong neuron formation in the human brain’s hippocampus, with implications for memory and disease
Article word count: 1086
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19485558
Posted by Elof (karma: 867)
Post stats: Points: 193 - Comments: 22 - 2019-03-25T18:53:55Z
#HackerNews #adult #after #all #brain #does #grow #neurons #new #says #study #the
If the memory center of the human brain can grow new cells, it might help people recover from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), delay the onset of Alzheimer’s, deepen our understanding of epilepsy and offer new insights into memory and learning. If not, well then, it’s just one other way people are different from rodents and birds.
For decades, scientists have debated whether the birth of new neurons—called neurogenesis—was possible in an area of the brain that is responsible for learning, memory and mood regulation. A growing body of research suggested they could, but then a Nature paper last year raised doubts.
Now, a new study published today in another of the Nature family of journals—Nature Medicine—tips the balance back toward “yes.” In light of the new study, “I would say that there is an overwhelming case for the neurogenesis throughout life in humans,” Jonas Frisén, a professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, said in an e-mail. Frisén, who was not involved in the new research, wrote a News and Views about the study in the current issue of Nature Medicine.
Not everyone was convinced. Arturo Alvarez-Buylla was the senior author on last year’s Nature paper, which questioned the existence of neurogenesis. Alvarez-Buylla, a professor of neurological surgery at the University of California, San Francisco, says he still doubts that new neurons develop in the brain’s hippocampus after toddlerhood.
“I don’t think this at all settles things out,” he says. “I’ve been studying adult neurogenesis all my life. I wish I could find a place [in humans] where it does happen convincingly.”
For decades, some researchers have thought that the brain circuits of primates—including humans—would be too disrupted by the growth of substantial numbers of new neurons. Alvarez-Buylla says he thinks the scientific debate over the existence of neurogenesis should continue. “Basic knowledge is fundamental. Just knowing whether adult neurons get replaced is a fascinating basic problem,” he said.
New technologies that can locate cells in the living brain and measure the cells’ individual activity, none of which were used in the Nature Medicine study, may eventually put to rest any lingering questions.
A number of researchers praised the new study as thoughtful and carefully conducted. It’s a “technical tour de force,” and addresses the concerns raised by last year’s paper, says Michael Bonaguidi, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California Keck School of Medicine.
The researchers, from Spain, tested a variety of methods of preserving brain tissue from 58 newly deceased people. They found that different methods of preservation led to different conclusions about whether new neurons could develop in the adult and aging brain.
Brain tissue has to be preserved within a few hours after death, and specific chemicals used to preserve the tissue, or the proteins that identify newly developing cells will be destroyed, said Maria Llorens-Martin, the paper’s senior author. Other researchers have missed the presence of these cells, because their brain tissue was not as precisely preserved, says Llorens-Martin, a neuroscientist at the Autonomous University of Madrid in Spain.
Jenny Hsieh, a professor at the University of Texas San Antonio who was not involved in the new research, said the study provides a lesson for all scientists who rely on the generosity of brain donations. “If and when we go and look at something in human postmortem, we have to be very cautious about these technical issues.”
Llorens-Martin said she began carefully collecting and preserving brain samples in 2010, when she realized that many brains stored in brain banks were not adequately preserved for this kind of research. In their study, she and her colleagues examined the brains of people who died with their memories intact, and those who died at different stages of Alzheimer’s disease. She found that the brains of people with Alzheimer’s showed few if any signs of new neurons in the hippocampus—with less signal the further along the people were in the course of the disease. This suggests that the loss of new neurons—if it could be detected in the living brain—would be an early indicator of the onset of Alzheimer’s, and that promoting new neuronal growth could delay or prevent the disease that now affects more than 5.5 million Americans.
Rusty Gage, president of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies and a neuroscientist and professor there, says he was impressed by the researchers’ attention to detail. “Methodologically, it sets the bar for future studies,” says Gage, who was not involved in the new research but was the senior author in 1998 of a paper that found the first evidence for neurogenesis. Gage says this new study addresses the concerns raised by Alvarez-Buylla’s research. “From my view, this puts to rest that one blip that occurred,” he says. “This paper in a very nice way… systematically evaluates all the issues that we all feel are very important.”
Neurogenesis in the hippocampus matters, Gage says, because evidence in animals shows that it is essential for pattern separation, “allowing an animal to distinguish between two events that are closely associated with each other.” In people, Gage says, the inability to distinguish between two similar events could explain why patients with PTSD keep reliving the same experiences, even though their circumstances have changed. Also, many deficits seen in the early stages of cognitive decline are similar to those seen in animals whose neurogenesis has been halted, he says.
In healthy animals, neurogenesis promotes resilience in stressful situations, Gage says. Mood disorders, including depression, have also been linked to neurogenesis.
Hsieh says her research on epilepsy has found that newborn neurons get miswired, disrupting brain circuits and causing seizures and potential memory loss. In rodents with epilepsy, if researchers prevent the abnormal growth of new neurons, they prevent seizures, Hsieh says, giving her hope that something similar could someday help human patients. Epilepsy increases someone’s risk of Alzheimer’s as well as depression and anxiety, she says. “So, it’s all connected somehow. We believe that the new neurons play a vital role connecting all of these pieces,” Hsieh says.
In mice and rats, researchers can stimulate the growth of new neurons by getting the rodents to exercise more or by providing them with environments that are more cognitively or socially stimulating, Llorens-Martin says. “This could not be applied to advanced stages of Alzheimer’s disease. But if we could act at earlier stages where mobility is not yet compromised,” she says, “who knows, maybe we could slow down or prevent some of the loss of plasticity [in the brain].”
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Yes, I am a bit of financial data nerd
Morgan Housel said it best when he compared investing to being an airline pilot:#money #growth #capital #markets #chart #real #SP500 #after #inflation
Ninety percent of the job is uneventful to the point of automation; ten percent of the job is terrifying and requires complex skills and a flawlessly calm demeanor.
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19443925
Posted by SamuelAdams (karma: 366)
Post stats: Points: 265 - Comments: 250 - 2019-03-20T16:39:22Z
#HackerNews #after #again #barriers #drives #fine #months #software #tesla #update #working
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When 8th grader Sonia Bokhari joined social media for the first time, she discovered that her mom and sister had been posting about her for her entire life.
Article word count: 1394
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19442514
Posted by laurex (karma: 6008)
Post stats: Points: 158 - Comments: 66 - 2019-03-20T14:25:17Z
#HackerNews #about #after #and #discovering #media #posted #quit #social #was #what
By Sonia Bokhari6 minute Read
This story is part of The Privacy Divide, a series that explores the fault lines and disparities—cultural, economic, philosophical—that have developed around digital privacy and its impact on society.
“Ha, that’s funny!” My 21-year old sister would comment when she saw my mother’s most recent Facebook update or her latest tweet. Social media has been significant to my sister’s social life since she was 13, and she has constantly posted on Twitter and Facebook for nearly a decade.
My parents had long ago made the rule that my siblings and I weren’t allowed to use social media until we turned 13, which was late, compared to many of my friends who started using Instagram, Wattpad, and Tumblr when we were 10 years old.
While I was sometimes curious what my sister was laughing at and commenting on, and what my friends liked about it, I didn’t really have much of an interest in social media, and since I didn’t have a smartphone and wasn’t allowed to join any sites at all until I was 13, it wasn’t much of an issue for me.
Then, several months ago, when I turned 13, my mom gave me the green light and I joined Twitter and Facebook. The first place I went, of course, was my mom’s profiles. That’s when I realized that while this might have been the first time I was allowed on social media, it was far from the first time my photos and stories had appeared online. When I saw the pictures that she had been posting on Facebook for years, I felt utterly embarrassed, and deeply betrayed.
There, for anyone to see on her public Facebook account, were all of the embarrassing moments from my childhood: The letter I wrote to the tooth fairy when I was five years old, pictures of me crying when I was a toddler, and even vacation pictures of me when I was 12 and 13 that I had no knowledge of. It seemed that my entire life was documented on her Facebook account, and for 13 years, I had no idea.
I could understand why my mother would post these things; to our extended family and her friends they were cute, funny moments. But to me they were mortifying. Scrolling through my sister’s tweets, I saw what my sister had been laughing about. She would frequently quote me and the random things I would say, it seemed anything I had ever said to her that she thought was funny was fair game. Things I had no idea she was posting online.
I had just turned 13, and I thought I was just beginning my public online life, when in fact there were hundreds of pictures and stories of me that, would live on the internet forever, whether I wanted it to be or not, and I didn’t have control over it. I was furious; I felt betrayed and lied to.
I gave myself time to calm down and simply told my mother and my older sister who had done this, “Don’t do this anymore without my permission,” and ever since then they haven’t posted about me online, without my permission. I confessed that I felt like my privacy was violated, because I felt like they had no right to take pictures of me or quote me on their Facebook and Twitter accounts without my permission.
They were surprised when they heard how I felt, genuinely surprised. They didn’t know I would get so upset over it, because their intentions weren’t to embarrass me, but to keep a log and document what their little sister/youngest daughter was doing in her early childhood and young teenage years.
Teens get a lot of warnings that we aren’t mature enough to understand that everything we post online is permanent, but parents should also reflect about their use of social media and how it could potentially impact their children’s lives as we become young adults.
In the months since I discovered my unauthorized social media presence, I became more active on Facebook and Twitter. But it wasn’t until I’d been on social media for around nine months that I thought seriously about my digital footprint.
Every October my school gave a series of presentations about our digital footprints and online safety. The presenters from an organization called OK2SAY, which educates and helps teenagers about being safe online, emphasized that we shouldn’t ever post anything negative about anyone or post unapproved inappropriate pictures, because it could very deeply affect our school lives and our future job opportunities. They also warned us about online predators, which was something that always stressed me out when I was online, because I could scroll through any profile of a person I don’t know and they could’ve been someone that wanted to do me harm. But since I hadn’t been contacting strangers or sharing very personal information online, I had the luxury of not having very much to worry about it.
While I hadn’t posted anything negative on my accounts, these conversations, along with what I had discovered posted about me online, motivated me to think more seriously about how my behavior online now could affect my future.
Despite everything that had happened with my mom and sister, I had made one of the most common mistakes; all of my social media accounts were public. So I immediately made my accounts private. I removed anything that included my location in it. Then I deleted all of my posts. I realized that being 13 and using social media wasn’t a fantastic idea, even though I wasn’t obsessed with it and was using it appropriately. My accounts now remain dormant and deactivated. I do plan to use my social media accounts sometime in the future, possibly not until after I graduate high school.
It may be a dramatic move to be 13 and choose to completely opt out of social media, but my experiences with my family and the warnings and horror stories I heard at school were enough to convince me that I’d rather stay sheltered from this part of the internet for now. I don’t really feel like I’m missing out on certain parts of my social life, because I feel like I’m being spared from what could potentially be dangerous for me at such a young age.
I also have a lot more opportunities to be social outside of the digital world, especially in middle school and entering high school now that there are more extracurriculars and clubs available for students to meet and socialize through. My friends consider me to be a goody-two-shoes and somewhat lame for not using social media, but they still treat me just the same and my practice of being safe has influenced them to also try to remain as safe as they can be online.
My friends are active social media users, but I think they are more cautious than they were before. They don’t share their locations or post their full names online, and they keep their accounts private. I think in general my generation has to be more mature and more responsible than our parents, or even teens and young adults in high school and college.
For instance, Instagram is the most popular platform for everyone in my school, but even those who post constantly are more aware than people just a few years ago about how much information the internet is absorbing about us. We are more cautious than people have been before.
We are also the next generation of engineers and innovators, and we’re well aware of how much worse data mining and privacy could get if people continue to be apathetic.
For my generation, being anonymous is no longer an option. For many of us, the decisions about our online presence are made before we can even speak. I’m glad that I discovered early on what posting online really means. And even though I was mortified at what I found that my mom and sister had posted about me online, it opened up a conversation with them, one that I think all parents need to have with their kids. And probably most importantly, it made me more aware of how I want to use social media now and in the future.
Sonia Bokhari is an 8th grader and a persuasive and narrative writer. She is also the leader of her middle school’s Gay-Straight Alliance and a member of the school’s Environmental Club.
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Remember Noël Godin ? That guy here started an "Internationale" of comedic anarchists looking around for the worst pieces of shit and shoving a pie in their faces, fun stuff.
#shitposting #anarchist meme for cool people
#alt-right #fascism #egg #antifa #Australia #Christchurch
#NewZealand #Politics #News #Anning #FraserAnning
#Egg #EggMorePoliticians #RightWing #RightWinged
#RightWingedExtremism #Discrimination #Islamophobia
#NoDiscrimination #StopDiscrmination #after #anningfraser
#australian #culture #egg #eggs #new #newzealand #official
#reaction #shooting #teen #webculture #zealand #french #anarchism
#comedy #humor #praxis
I post every day meme about anarchy and other cool stuff.
Feel free to download and/or share them ! 😀
#after #attack #cathedral square #cathedral square mosque #christchurch #condolences #dead #deadly #jacinda ardern #mosque #new #new zealand #oan newsroom #offers #president #president trump #trump #uncategorized #zealand
There’s a glob of stringy, black rubber spilling out of the street at the corner of Speed and Fernwood in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood. A block away on Rosedale, the same spongy substance that…
Article word count: 1928
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19392404
Posted by gumby (karma: 13242)
Post stats: Points: 194 - Comments: 148 - 2019-03-14T19:03:59Z
#HackerNews #abandons #after #fiber #google #left #louisville #signs #visible
Photo: Elena Scotti (Photos: Shutterstock
There’s a glob of stringy, black rubber spilling out of the street at the corner of Speed and Fernwood in Louisville’s Highlands neighborhood. A block away on Rosedale, the same spongy substance that covers most of Google Fiber’s buried lines in the city snakes in and out of the asphalt.
Google Fiber, Alphabet’s gigabit broadband service, started its relationship with Louisville in 2015. After a two-year delay and negotiations over its rollout, the company adopted a novel but cost-effective plan to bring ultrafast internet speeds to Kentucky’s largest city. This February, only 16 months after it turned on its service, Google Fiber announced plans to turn it off, making Louisville, one of only 19 cities to get Google Fiber since its launch in 2010, the first to lose it. Now, the most visible sign of the tech giant’s screw up is lying all over the roads.
“I literally just got done driving around, looking at streets with Google,” said Metro Councilman Brandon Coan. Strands of errant sealant are “everywhere,” he said outside a coffee shop in his district, one of a few where Google Fiber ran lines before its abrupt departure. “I’m confident that Google and the city are going to negotiate a deal … to restore the roads to as good a condition as they were when they got here. Frankly, I think they owe us more than that.”
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The damage goes deeper than the roads. In Louisville, a minor league city with major league ambitions, Google Fiber left behind disappointed consumers, unfulfilled promises of transformative economic development, and a slew of embarrassing headlines for a city that allowed the tech giant to use it as a guinea pig.
But Google Fiber got something out of its time here. It learned that nanotrenching—the cost-saving process of burying fiber optic cables just two inches underground—was a bust. “We currently do not have plans that call for 2 inch trenches, our primary specifications are focused on going deeper,” a Google Fiber spokesperson said in an email.
“It is such a shame to think that we wouldn’t be having any of this conversation if they would have dug their little holes two inches deeper,” Coan said.
In October 2017, when Google Fiber started signing up customers in three Louisville neighborhoods, the ISP was a year removed from a “pause” that saw its CEO resign and more than 100 employees laid off. Turns out, disrupting the telecom industry is wildly expensive, full of intractable regulatory challenges, and opposed by powerful incumbent companies.
The plan in Louisville was to revive the effort with what some were calling Google Fiber 2.0. But first, the city had to agree to one major stipulation: Google Fiber wanted to see if it could scale a method for installing fiber cables that was easier to implement, and easier on the bottom line, than hanging lines from utility poles.
The company had buried fiber lines in other cities, but in Louisville it wanted to go shallower. Nanotrenching called for burying cables just two inches underground, rather than the typical six inches. The company also wanted to cover the trenches with epoxy, rather than the typical asphalt mix. In an email, a Google Fiber spokesperson said the company had “already performed limited trials of two-inch trenches in other markets, and believed it was a promising new method of deployment.” In Louisville, Google Fiber wanted to see if two-inch trenches would work at scale, an attempt that the spokesperson described as “ambitious” and a “lean into innovation.”
Local leaders were concerned. The city sent a team to other cities where a company spokesperson said “limited trials” with two-inch trenches had been conducted, and it sought the advice of outside experts.
“What [Google Fiber] told Louisville was that they didn’t think they could make their traditional construction work, but would we be open to letting them use a new construction technique,” said Grace Simrall, Louisville’s Chief of Civic Innovation and Technology. “There were lots of aspects that we asked a lot of questions about, trying to make them aware that we thought this might have challenges, but they, having done parts of Nashville and San Antonio this way, told us they felt confident they could make this work.”
After years of trying to woo Google—an effort that included spending around $400,000 on legal fees to defend an ultimately unused city ordinance that made it easier for Google Fiber to use utility poles—Louisville was in no position to say no.
Ted Smith, Simrall’s predecessor in City Hall, began working to make the city more “fiber friendly” in 2011 and credited three-term Mayor Greg Fischer, a Democrat, with recognizing that “mid-sized American cities were getting left behind.” (Disclosure: My wife is a Democratic State Representative from a part of Louisville that did not receive Google Fiber.)
“We worked very hard for many years to make the case that Louisville was a city that understands the value of cost-effective high-speed broadband,” he said.
It’s little surprise then that Louisville agreed to let Google futz around with its roads. The town of 600,000 is perpetually trying to catch up with the population and business growth in peer cities such as Austin, Nashville, and Raleigh, which are all Google Fiber cities. Louisville finally had a chance to join the cool kids.
The enthusiasm after Louisville accepted Google Fiber’s offer tells the story. Gigabit internet would help make Louisville “a technologically innovative community,” igniting a “transformation” that would result in a “citizenry that’s more skilled, engaged and prosperous” than ever before, local leaders said.
That didn’t happen. By March of 2018, just five months after Google Fiber launched its nanotrenching trial, the method began to fail. Not only was the sealant spilling out onto roads, leaving fiber lines exposed, but the shallow trenches left cables vulnerable during routine road maintenance.
“If anyone understood road technology or tire technology, [they]would know it’s going to be a problem,” said Jim Hayes, president of the Fiber Optics Association and a decades-long veteran of the industry.
The problem, Hayes said, is that tires easily grabbed the epoxy and ripped it out of the ground. The shorter trench walls also left less asphalt for the sealant to adhere to. Typical microtrenching, a “well-accepted method of installing fiber,” involves burying cables at least six inches deep with a groove that’s no more than an inch wide, Hayes said. “I’ve never heard of any problems with microtrenching.”
Last summer Google Fiber pitched a solution to the problem it created. It would rip out the epoxy and fill in the trenches with asphalt. “It was like, ‘Oh, in retrospect, that seems like an obvious way to fill the hole in the road,’” Coan said.
“They bid out the work to replace the sealant with asphalt,” Simrall said. But before the work started, Google Fiber saw customers lose service when the process of repaving roads damaged fiber lines. “So they shifted their attention to addressing that,” she said.
Then, last month, Google Fiber threw up its hands and quit. The company wouldn’t say how many customers it had at that point, only that the number was “very small” compared to other Fiber cities. Last summer, the local Fox TV affiliate found that the company had pulled permits to wire areas covering about 11,000 households, but it’s not clear how many installations were completed.
In a blog post, Google Fiber explained what happened. “[T]rialing” a “different type of construction method” in Louisville had failed, it said. Fixing it would be too expensive, so instead, it was skipping town, and taking the lessons learned elsewhere.
“This was not an easy decision for us,” a Google Fiber spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “We came to Louisville because Google Fiber is working to change an entrenched industry and we saw a chance to bring great service to Louisville’s residents. Naturally there will be unexpected challenges when you do something ambitious, and at scale, for the first time and we underestimated some of those hurdles. We couldn’t be more appreciative of the partnership we’ve had with the City of Louisville, which embraced the need for competition in this industry as part of its larger initiatives around innovation and emerging technology.”
Simrall insists that Google Fiber was “very sincere in their belief they could make it work,” and had planned to use two-inch trenches in all other Google Fiber cities if it did. That’s little consolation to many Louisvillians, who watched one of the world’s richest companies sweep into town with major fanfare, rip up the roads to test an unproven technique, and peace out when it bombed.
“I was shocked. I was disappointed,” said Candace Jaworski, president of the Louisville Digital Association, a non-profit that pushes for innovation in Louisville and campaigned to bring Google Fiber here. Jaworski was looking forward to one day becoming a Google Fiber customer and seeing the change broadband could deliver to Portland, one of the country’s poorest neighborhoods and one of the first where Google Fiber was available.
“Google Fiber getting in and getting folks into the internet out in the West End was going to be huge with catching up that part of town with the rest,” Jaworski said. “Talk about dangling a carrot and not ever being able to get it.”
Ben Carter was lucky enough to get bite of that carrot. An attorney in the Highlands, Carter said Google Fiber provided wildly fast internet and “rock solid” customer service for the time he had it. When he got the news that Google Fiber was ending its operations in Louisville, he was disappointed, and not just because he would lose the blazing internet speed that he enjoyed primarily for its “Tim Allen, way-more-power-than-you-need” quality.
“It seemed like Louisville was batting above its weight a bit in terms of what cities were getting Google Fiber,” he said of the “coup” that the city pulled off in landing Google Fiber. “Louisville isn’t often on those lists.”
Now that Google Fiber is gone, Councilman Coan is worried that Louisville’s reputation will take a hit. “If you’re not paying attention, you’d say, ‘Oh, well. Louisville is just not a good enough city for Google Fiber.’ That’s not true.”
In the end, it may be that Google Fiber was not good enough for Louisville. Alphabet seems to be scaling back the ambitions of Google Fiber as wireless broadband technology advances and the limitations of fighting entrenched telecom giants become clear, said Matt Wood, the vice president of policy at broadband advocacy group Free Press. Its experimentation in Louisville is evidence enough that Google Fiber was looking for a new way forward. But like so many of its “other bets”—the heading under which Alphabet groups ambitious projects such as its life sciences play Verily, self-driving car company Waymo, and Access, the business unit that operates Google Fiber—the company seems to have lost this one.
That’s not to say Google Fiber isn’t responsible for major changes in broadband access. Some cities, including Nashville, the object of Louisville’s envy, have seen access to gigabit internet soar since Google Fiber arrived. Incumbent ISPs such as AT&T and Comcast have accelerated their fiber operations, including in Louisville, thanks to the competition from Google. That means more people are online, conducting more searches, and looking at more ads.
“Their revenue comes from the eyeball side,” Wood said. “Getting more people connected has always been for them...a means to an end.”
And if its failure in Louisville is the beginning of the end for Google Fiber, Coan said, “It would make me feel better. It would make Louisville feel better.”
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Certificates with 63-bit serial numbers touch off mass revocation blitz.
Article word count: 936
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19374758
Posted by jonburs (karma: 965)
Post stats: Points: 148 - Comments: 89 - 2019-03-13T01:06:51Z
#HackerNews #after #and #apple #certificates #godaddy #google #hurt #misissue #world
A world of hurt after GoDaddy, Apple, and Google misissue >1 million certificates
A major operational error by GoDaddy, Apple, and Google has resulted in the issuance of at least 1 million browser-trusted digital certificates that don’t comply with binding industry mandates. The number of non-compliant certificates may be double that number, and other browser-trusted authorities are also likely to be affected.
The snafu is the result of the companiesʼ misconfiguration of the open source EJBCA software package that many browser-trusted authorities use to generate certificates that secure websites, encrypt email, and digitally sign code. By default, EJBCA generated certificates with 64-bit serial numbers, in keeping, it seemed, with an industry mandate that serial numbers contain 64 bits of output from a secure pseudo-random number generator. Upon further scrutiny, engineers discovered that one of the 64 bits must be a fixed value to ensure the serial number is a positive integer. As a result, the EJBCA default produced a serial number with 63 bits of entropy.
The 63 bits is far off the mark of the required 64 bits and, as such, poses a theoretically unacceptable risk to the entire ecosystem. (Practically speaking, there’s almost no chance of the certificates being maliciously exploited. More about that later.) Adam Caudill, the security researcher who blogged about the mass misissuance last weekend, pointed out that it’s easy to think that a difference of 1 single bit would be largely inconsequential when considering numbers this big. In fact, he said, the difference between 2^63 and 2^64 is more than 9 quintillion.
Section 7.1 of the Baseline Requirements for publicly trusted certificates is clear that the minimum threshold for serial numbers must be no fewer than 64 bits of entropy. The 2016 ballot that enacted this requirement referred to a 2008 proof-of-concept hack in which researchers, using a raft of PlayStation consoles to generate cryptographic collisions in the MD5 hash algorithm, essentially became a rogue authority that could generate browser-trusted certificates at will. In 2012, state-sponsored malware dubbed Flame used a similar technique to hijack Microsoft’s widely used Windows update mechanism.
Almost no chance of exploitation
With all that said, despite the shortcomings of the misissued certificates, there is very little chance their non-compliant entropy can be exploited. Certificates are now generated using SHA256, a modern algorithm that doesn’t have the known vulnerabilities of MD5. The 64-bit requirement, rather, is more a matter of insuring against new attacks that will likely be discovered in the coming decades.
What that means is that, while the revocation and reissuance of between 1 million and 2 million certificates (at the time this post went live, researchers were still debating the number) is a major undertaking, there is virtually no security threat posed by the error.
“This is a big deal for CAs and their customers,” Caudill told Ars. “The impact of replacing large numbers of certificates is substantial. From a threat perspective though, this isn’t exploitable. It would require a major breakthrough in cryptography, and even then, 63 bits of entropy provides a huge safety margin. This is a problem because of impact to people and companies; hackers aren’t going to start forging certificates because of this.”
In online forums discussing the problem, a GoDaddy official initially said his company issued more than 1.8 million certificates that didn’t comply with the 64-bit requirement. Under industry rules, GoDaddy had five days to revoke the certificates, but GoDaddy said it wouldn’t be able to make that deadline for all the certificates identified.
“Within the next 30 days”
“Our goal is to reissue all the certificates within the next 30 days,” wrote Daymion Reynolds, who is senior director of SSL/PKI security products at GoDaddy. “We have started the revocation process. We have a significant number of customers that use manual methods for managing their certificates, so being agile for them is difficult. We want to keep our customers using https through the entire revocation period. Due to the large number of certificates and the benign nature of the issue, our plan is to revoke in a responsible way.”
In an update posted Tuesday, Reynolds revised the estimate of misissued live certificates to about 12,000 and another 273,784 certificates that were “orphaned,” meaning they were stopped in mid-issuance for reasons including requestor cancellation and system errors. Reynolds said that the original estimate of more than 1.8 million certificates was based on a “more aggressive criteria than necessary.” Caudill and other researchers asked Reynolds to provide additional details before accepting the revised number.
An Apple official said here that the total number of non-compliant certificates his company issued was about 878,000, although the number of certificates that were still valid, and not expired and not revoked as of last Thursday, was about 558,000. A Google official, meanwhile, estimated the company had issued more than 100,000 non-complying certificates since 2016, but that as of late last month, only about 7,100 of them remained valid.
Both Apple and Google use their publicly trusted authorities to issue certificates for use internally and by affiliated organizations. Caudill said additional certificate authorities may also be affected.
An Apple representative told Ars the company has taken the following steps:
* Stopped issuance of certificates with non-compliant serial numbers, and is continuing to work with users to revoke impacted certificates * Configured the software to generate serial numbers with 16 octets, ensuring entropy greater than 64 bits * Reinstated alerts for detecting serial numbers suspected to be insufficient in length * Enhanced validator software that checks certificates for SSL Baseline compliance to evaluate collections of certificates instead of individual certificates. These enhancements are expected to be implemented by April 30, 2019.
A Google representative provided this link as comment for this post.
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A Facebook spokesperson said the company is in the process of restoring the ads.
Article word count: 369
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19363561
Posted by edward (karma: 21814)
Post stats: Points: 117 - Comments: 84 - 2019-03-11T22:38:16Z
#HackerNews #ads #after #backtracks #breakup #calling #facebook #for #removing #warren
Facebook removed several ads placed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s presidential campaign that called for the breakup of Facebook and other tech giants.
But the social network later reversed course after POLITICO reported on the takedown, with the company saying it wanted to allow for "robust debate."
Story Continued Below
The ads, which had identical images and text, touted Warrenʼs recently announced plan to unwind "anti-competitive" tech mergers, including Facebook’s acquisition of WhatsApp and Instagram.
“Three companies have vast power over our economy and our democracy. Facebook, Amazon, and Google," read the ads, which Warrenʼs campaign had placed Friday. "We all use them. But in their rise to power, they’ve bulldozed competition, used our private information for profit, and tilted the playing field in their favor.”
A message on the three ads said: “This ad was taken down because it goes against Facebookʼs advertising policies.”
By signing up you agree to receive email newsletters or alerts from POLITICO. You can unsubscribe at any time.
A Facebook spokesperson confirmed the ads had been taken down but said the company is in the process of restoring them.
“We removed the ads because they violated our policies against use of our corporate logo," the spokesperson said. "In the interest of allowing robust debate, we are restoring the ads.”
Warren swiped at Facebook over the removal, citing it as evidence the company has grown too powerful.
"Curious why I think FB has too much power? Letʼs start with their ability to shut down a debate over whether FB has too much power," she tweeted. "Thanks for restoring my posts. But I want a social media marketplace that isnʼt dominated by a single censor."
More than a dozen other Facebook ads from Warren about her tech proposal were not affected.
The Massachusetts Democrat has staked out an aggressive stance toward Silicon Valleyʼs biggest companies, going further than many of the other Democratic 2020 candidates.
The affected ads, which included a video, directed users to a petition on Warren’s campaign website urging them “to support our plan to break up these big tech companies.”
The ads were limited in size and reach, with each costing under $100, according to disclosure details listed online.
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As she sat in the airport with a one-way ticket in her hand, Tiffany Filler wondered how she would pick up the pieces of her life, with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt and nothing to show…
Article word count: 2965
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19345462
Posted by DyslexicAtheist (karma: 11327)
Post stats: Points: 115 - Comments: 114 - 2019-03-09T10:16:50Z
#HackerNews #after #being #claims #expelled #for #grade #hacking #innocence #student #tufts
As she sat in the airport with a one-way ticket in her hand, Tiffany Filler wondered how she would pick up the pieces of her life, with tens of thousands of dollars in student debt and nothing to show for it.
A day earlier, she was expelled from Tufts University veterinary school. As a Canadian, her visa was no longer valid and she was told by the school to leave the U.S. “as soon as possible.” That night, her plane departed the U.S. for her native Toronto, leaving any prospect of her becoming a veterinarian behind.
Filler, 24, was accused of an elaborate months-long scheme involving stealing and using university logins to break into the student records system, view answers, and alter her own and other students’ grades.
The case Tufts presented seems compelling, if not entirely believable.
There’s just one problem: In almost every instance that the school accused Filler of hacking, she was elsewhere with proof of her whereabouts or an eyewitness account and without the laptop she’s accused of using. She has alibis: fellow students who testified to her whereabouts; photos with metadata putting her miles away at the time of the alleged hacks; and a sleep tracker that showed she was asleep during others.
Tufts is either right or it expelled an innocent student on shoddy evidence four months before she was set to graduate.
– – –
Guilty until proven innocent
Tiffany Filler always wanted to be a vet.
Ever since she was a teenager, she set her sights on her future career. With almost four years under her belt at Tufts, which is regarded as one of the best schools for veterinary medicine in North America, she could have written her ticket to any practice. Her friends hold her in high regard, telling me that she is honest and hardworking. She kept her head down, earning cumulative grade point averages of 3.9 for her masters and 3.5 for her doctorate.
For a time, she was even featured on the homepage of Tufts’ vet school. She was a model final-year student.
Tufts didn’t see it that way.
Filler was called into a meeting on the main campus on August 22 where the university told her of an investigation. She had “no idea” about the specifics of the hacking allegations, she told me on a phone call, until October 18 when she was pulled out of her shift, still in her bloodied medical scrubs, to face the accusations from the ethics and grievance committee.
For three hours, she faced eight senior academics, including one who is said to be a victim of her alleged hacks. The allegations read like a court docket, but Filler said she went in knowing nothing that she could use to defend herself.
Tufts said she stole a librarian’s password to assign a mysteriously created user account, “Scott Shaw,” with a higher level of system and network access. Filler allegedly used it to look up faculty accounts and reset passwords by swapping out the email address to one she’s accused of controlling, or in some cases obtaining passwords and bypassing the school’s two-factor authentication system by exploiting a loophole that simply didn’t require a second security check, which the school has since fixed.
Tufts accused Filler of using this extensive system access to systematically log in as “Scott Shaw” to obtain answers for tests, taking the tests under her own account, said to be traced from either her computer — based off a unique identifier, known as a MAC address — and the network she allegedly used, either the campus’s wireless network or her off-campus residence. When her grades went up, sometimes other students’ grades went down, the school said.
In other cases, she’s alleged to have broken into the accounts of several assessors in order to alter existing grades or post entirely new ones.
Tiffany Filler, left, with her mother in a 2017 photo at Tufts University.
The bulk of the evidence came from Tufts’ IT department, which said each incident was “well supported” from log files and database records. The evidence pointed to her computer over a period of several months, the department told the committee.
“I thought due process was going to be followed,” said Filler, in a call. “I thought it was innocent until proven guilty until I was told ‘you’re guilty unless you can prove it.ʼ”
Like any private university, Tufts can discipline — even expel — a student for almost any reason.
“Universities can operate like shadow criminal justice systems — without any of the protections or powers of a criminal court,” said Samantha Harris, vice president of policy research at FIRE, a rights group for America’s colleges and universities. “They’re without any of the due process protections for someone accused of something serious, and without any of the powers like subpoenas that you’d need to gather all of the technical evidence.”
Students face an uphill battle in defense of any charges of wrongdoing. As was the case with Filler, many students aren’t given time to prepare for hearings, have no right to an attorney, and are not given any or all of the evidence. Some of the broader charges, such as professional misconduct or ethical violations, are even harder to fight. Grade hacking is one such example — and one of the most serious offenses in academia. Where students have been expelled, many have also faced prosecution and the prospect of serving time in prison on federal computer hacking charges.
Harris reviewed documents we provided outlining the university’s allegations and Filler’s appeal.
“It’s troubling when I read her appeal,” said Harris. “It looks as though [the school has] a lot of information in their sole possession that she might try to use to prove her innocent, and she wasn’t given access to that evidence.”
Access to the university’s evidence, she said, was “critical” to due process protections that students should be given, especially when facing suspension or expulsion.
A month later, the committee served a unanimous vote that Filler was the hacker and recommended her expulsion.
– – –
A RAT in the room
What few facts Filler and Tufts could agree on is that there almost certainly was a hacker. They just disagreed on who the hacker was.
Struggling for answers and convinced her MacBook Air — the source of the alleged hacks — was itself compromised, she paid for someone through freelance marketplace Fiverr to scan her computer. Within minutes, several malicious files were found, chief among which were two remote access trojans — or RATs — commonly used by jilted or jealous lovers to spy on their exes’ webcams and remotely control their computers over the internet. The scan found two: Coldroot and CrossRAT. The former is easily deployed, and the other is highly advanced malware, said to be linked to the Lebanese government.
Evidence of a RAT might suggest someone had remote control of her computer without her knowledge. But existence of both on the same machine, experts say, is unlikely if not entirely implausible.
Thomas Reed, director of Mac and Mobile at Malwarebytes, the same software used to scan Filler’s computer, confirmed the detections but said there was no conclusive evidence to show the malware was functional.
“The Coldroot infection was just the app and was missing the launch daemon that would have been key to keeping it running,” said Reed.
Even if it were functional, how could the hacker have framed her? Could Filler have paid someone to hack her grades? If she paid someone to hack her grades, why implicate her — and potentially the hacker — by using her computer? Filler said she was not cautious about her own cybersecurity — insofar that she pinned her password to a corkboard in her room. Could this have been a stitch-up? Was someone in her house trying to frame her?
The landlord told me a staff resident at Tufts veterinary school, who has since left the house, “has bad feelings” and “anger” toward Filler. The former housemate may have motive but no discernible means. We reached out to the former housemate for comment but did not hear back, and therefore are not naming the person.
Filler took her computer to an Apple Store, claiming the “mouse was acting on its own and the green light for the camera started turning on,” she said. The support staff backed up her files but wiped her computer, along with any evidence of malicious software beyond a handful of screenshots she took as part of the dossier of evidence she submitted in her appeal.
It didn’t convince the grievance committee of possible malicious interference.
“Feedback from [IT]indicated that these issues with her computer were in no way related to the alleged allegations,” said Angie Warner, the committee’s acting chair, in an email we’ve seen, recommending Filler’s expulsion. Citing an unnamed IT staffer, the department claimed with “high degree of certainty” that it was “highly unlikely” that the grade changes were “performed by malicious software or persons without detailed and extensive hacking ability.”
Unable to prove who was behind the remote access malware — or even if it was active — she turned back to fighting her defense.
– – –
It took more than a month before Filler would get the specific times of the alleged hacks, revealing down to the second when each breach happened
Filler thought she could convince the committee that she wasn’t the hacker, but later learned that the timings “did not factor” into the deliberations of the grievance committee, wrote Tufts’ veterinary school dean Joyce Knoll in an email dated December 21.
But Filler said she could in all but a handful of cases provide evidence showing that she was not at her computer.
In one of the first allegations of hacking, Filler was in a packed lecture room, with her laptop open, surrounded by her fellow vet school colleagues both besides and behind her. We spoke to several students who knew Filler — none wanted to be named for fear of retribution from Tufts — who wrote letters to testify in Filler’s defense.
All of the students we spoke to said they were never approached by Tufts to confirm or scrutinize their accounts. Two other classmates who saw Filler’s computer screen during the lecture told me they saw nothing suspicious — only her email or the lecture slides.
Another time Filler is accused of hacking, she was on rounds with other doctors, residents and students to discuss patients in their care. One student said Filler was “with the entire rotation group and the residents, without any access to a computer” for two hours.
For another accusation, Filler was out for dinner in a neighboring town. “She did not have her laptop with her,” said one of the fellow student who was with Filler at dinner. The other students sent letters to Tufts in her defense. Tufts said on that occasion, her computer — eight miles away from the restaurant — was allegedly used to access another staff member’s login and tried to bypass the two-factor authentication, using an iPhone 5S, a model Filler doesn’t own. Filler has an iPhone 6. (We asked an IT systems administrator at another company about Duo audit logs: They said if a device not enrolled with Duo tried to enter a valid username and password but couldn’t get past the two-factor prompt, the administrator would only see the device’s software version and not see the device type. A Duo spokesperson confirmed that the system does not collect device names.)
Filler, who wears a Xiaomi fitness and sleep tracker, said the tracker’s records showed she was asleep in most, but not all of the times she’s accused of hacking. She allowed TechCrunch to access the data in her cloud-stored account, which confirmed her accounts.
The list of accusations included a flurry of activity from her computer at her residence, Tufts said took place between 1am and 2am on June 27, 2018 — during which her fitness tracker shows she was asleep — and from 5:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. on June 28, 2018.
But Filler was 70 miles away visiting the Mark Twain House in neighboring Hartford, Connecticut. She took two photos of her visit — one of her in the house, and another of her standing outside.
We asked Jake Williams, a former NSA hacker who founded cybersecurity and digital forensics firm Rendition Infosec, to examine the metadata embedded in the photos. The photos, taken from her iPhone, contained a matching date and time for the alleged hack, as well as a set of coordinates putting her at the Mark Twain House.
While photo metadata can be modified, Williams said the signs he expected to see for metadata modification weren’t there. “There is no evidence that these were modified,” he said.
Yet none of it was good enough to keep her enrolled at Tufts. In a letter on January 16 affirming her expulsion, Knoll rejected the evidence.
“Date stamps are easy to edit,” said Knoll. “In fact, the photos you shared with me clearly include an ‘edit’ button in the upper corner for this exact purpose,” she wrote, referring to the iPhone software’s native photo editing feature. “Why wait until after you’d been informed that you were going to be expelled to show me months’ old photos?” she said.
“My decision is final,” said her letter. Filler was expelled.
Filler’s final expulsion letter. (Image: supplied)
– – –
The little things
Filler is back home in Toronto. As her class is preparing to graduate without her in May, Tufts has already emailed her to begin reclaiming her loans.
News of Filler’s expulsion was not unexpected given the drawn-out length of the investigation, but many were stunned by the result, according to the students we spoke to. From the time of the initial investigation, many believed Filler would not escape the trap of “guilty until proven innocent.”
“I do not believe Tiffany received fair treatment,” said one student. “As a private institution, it seems like we have few protections [or]ways of recourse. If they could do this to Tiffany, they could do it to any of us.”
TechCrunch sent Tufts a list of 19 questions prior to publication — including if the university hired qualified forensics specialists to investigate, and if law enforcement was contacted and whether the school plans to press criminal charges for the alleged hacking.
“Due to student privacy concerns, we are not able to discuss disciplinary matters involving any current or former student of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University,” said Tara Pettinato, a Tufts spokesperson. “We take seriously our responsibility to ensure our students’ privacy, to maintain the highest standards of academic integrity, and to adhere to our policies and processes, which are designed to be fair and equitable to all students.”
We asked if the university would answer our questions if Filler waived her right to privacy. The spokesperson said the school “is obligated to follow federal law and its own standards and practices relating to privacy,” and would not discuss disciplinary matters involving any current or former student.
The spokesperson declined to comment further.
But even the little things don’t add up.
Tufts never said how it obtained her IP address. Her landlord told me Tufts never asked for it, let alone confirmed it was accurate. Courts have thrown out cases that rely on them as evidence when others share the same network. MAC addresses can identify devices but can be easily spoofed. Filler owns an iPhone 6, not an iPhone 5S, as claimed by Tufts. And her computer name was different to what Tufts said.
And how did she allegedly get access to the “Scott Shaw” password in the first place?
Warner, the committee chair, said in a letter that the school “does not know” how the initial librarian’s account was compromised, and that it was “irrelevant” if Filler even created the “Scott Shaw” account.
Many accounts were breached as part of this apparent elaborate scheme to alter grades, but there is no evidence Tufts hired any forensics experts to investigate. Did the IT department investigate with an inherent confirmation bias to try to find evidence that connected Filler’s account with the suspicious activity, or were the allegations constructed after Filler was identified as a suspect? And why did the university take months from the first alleged hack to move to protect user accounts with two-factor authentication, and not sooner?
“The data they are looking at doesn’t support the conclusions they’ve drawn,” said Williams, following his analysis of the case. “It’s entirely possible that the data they’re relying on — is far from normal or necessary burdens of evidence that you would use for an adverse action like this.
“They did DIY forensics,” he continued. “And they opened themselves up to legal exposure by doing the investigation themselves.”
Not every story has a clear ending. This is one of them. As much as you would want answers reading this far into the story, we do, too.
But we know two things for certain. First, Tufts expelled a student months before she was set to graduate based on a broken system of academic-led, non-technical committees forced to rely on weak evidence from IT technicians who had no discernible qualifications in digital forensics. And second, it doesn’t have to say why.
Or as one student said: “We got her side of the story, and Tufts was not transparent.”
Extra Crunch members — join our conference call on Tuesday, March 12 at 11AM PST / 2PM EST with host Zack Whittaker. He’ll discuss the story’s developments and take your questions. Not a member yet? Learn more about Extra Crunch and try it free.
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HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19342503
Posted by LinuxBender (karma: 5071)
Post stats: Points: 151 - Comments: 34 - 2019-03-08T21:45:15Z
#HackerNews #after #crew #down #dragon #flight #historic #spacex #splashes #test
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Switching music providers made inmates’ old music useless
Article word count: 470
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19295934
Posted by Tomte (karma: 44485)
Post stats: Points: 123 - Comments: 77 - 2019-03-03T18:29:56Z
#HackerNews #11m #after #digital #florida #inmates #lost #music #prisons #sued #worth
Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge
A Florida prison inmate is suing after a switch between contractors removed prisoners’ access to millions of dollars’ worth of their own music. As reported by The Florida Times-Union, William Demler filed a class-action suit against the Florida Department of Corrections (FDOC) — which he says falsely promised to let inmates buy music permanently through one digital media provider, then cut off their access to sign a more lucrative deal with another.
Demler’s complaint involves Florida’s digital music player program, which let inmates buy a specially designed media player for $99 or $119, then buy individual songs or audiobooks for $1.70 apiece. The complaint claims that prisons heavily advertised the program, run by contractor Access Corrections, with promises that inmates could keep songs forever. Between 2011 and 2017, prisoners spent roughly $11.3 million to buy 6.7 million files in total, and Demler himself spent roughly $569 buying music, plus more money for the player itself.
"Prisoners could pay $25 to ship a burned CD to a family member"
But in 2018, the FDOC switched to a new company called JPay, which didn’t honor the earlier purchases. The agency required inmates to trade in their music players for new multimedia tablets, or to pay $25 and have the players shipped to someone outside prison. (They could also pay to ship a CD containing the music.)
Demler’s complaint argues that the FDOC rolled out JPay’s tablet system — and required inmates to turn in their old media players — “to realize even higher profit margins.” As a result, it’s “effectively stolen millions of dollars of digital music and books from the prisoners in its custody.” The Times-Union notes that outside the music program, JPay has helped the FDOC make millions of dollars off commissions for money transfers, video calls, and other services, which are often provided at a massively inflated cost. The FDOC didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
Access and JPay have both been referred to as the aspiring “iTunes of the prison world,” offering MP3 files that replace older, physical media storage formats. But as with similar services outside prison, these systems have muddied the meaning of “owning” songs — while serving a user base with little money and few other options for music.
In 2016, Michigan inmates filed a class-action antitrust lawsuit against another prison MP3 company, which was requiring them to buy a second media player if they wanted to listen to songs after leaving prison. That suit was tossed in 2017. This time, the complaint argues that the FDOC is effectively confiscating private property without due process, in violation of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. If it’s certified by a judge, Demler’s case could cover any Florida inmate who spent money on songs they can no longer play.
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Residents of cities like Chester, outside Philadelphia, fear a rise in pollution from incinerators after China’s recycling ban
Article word count: 1448
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19262998
Posted by chriskanan (karma: 3214)
Post stats: Points: 71 - Comments: 101 - 2019-02-27T13:14:11Z
#HackerNews #after #bans #burn #china #cities #imports #moment #reckoning #recyclables
The conscientious citizens of Philadelphia continue to put their pizza boxes, plastic bottles, yoghurt containers and other items into recycling bins.
But in the past three months, half of these recyclables have been loaded on to trucks, taken to a hulking incineration facility and burned, according to the city’s government.
It’s a situation being replicated across the US as cities struggle to adapt to a recent ban by China on the import of items intended for reuse.
The loss of this overseas dumping ground means that plastics, paper and glass set aside for recycling by Americans is being stuffed into domestic landfills or is simply burned in vast volumes. This new reality risks an increase of plumes of toxic pollution that threaten the largely black and Latino communities who live near heavy industry and dumping sites in the US.
About 200 tons of recycling material is sent to the huge Covanta incinerator in Chester City, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia, every day since China’s import ban came into practice last year, the company says.
Zulene Mayfield stands in front of her old house in Chester, Pennsylvania. Mayfield moved to Delaware because she says she couldn’t live in her home anymore despite still owning it
Zulene Mayfield stands in front of her old house in Chester, Pennsylvania. Mayfield moved to Delaware because she says she couldn’t live in her home anymore despite still owning it Photograph: Hannah Yoon/The Guardian
“People want to do the right thing by recycling but they have no idea where it goes and who it impacts,” said Zulene Mayfield, who was born and raised in Chester and now spearheads a community group against the incinerator, called Chester Residents Concerned for Quality Living.
“People in Chester feel hopeless – all they want is for their kids to get out, escape. Why should we be expendable? Why should this place have to be burdened by people’s trash and shit?”
Some experts worry that burning plastic recycling will create a new fog of dioxins that will worsen an already alarming health situation in Chester. Nearly four in 10 children in the city have asthma, while the rate of ovarian cancer is 64% higher than the rest of Pennsylvania and lung cancer rates are 24% higher, according to state health statistics.
The dilemma with what to do with items earmarked for recycling is playing out across the US. The country generates more than 250m tons of waste a year, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), with about a third of this recycled and composted.
Until recently, China had been taking about 40% of US paper, plastics and other recyclables but this trans-Pacific waste route has now ground to a halt. In July 2017, China told the World Trade Organization it no longer wanted to be the end point for yang laji, or foreign garbage, with the country keen to grapple with its own mountains of waste.
Cathy Morse stands on her porch at her home in Chester, Pennsylvania. Though she would like to move, she can’t because it’s her mother’s home and her mother is elderly and unable to leave.
Cathy Morse stands on her porch at her home in Chester, Pennsylvania. Though she would like to move, she can’t because it’s her mother’s home and her mother is elderly and unable to leave. Photograph: Hannah Yoon/The Guardian
Since January 2018, China hasn’t accepted two dozen different recycling materials, such as plastic and mixed paper, unless they meet strict rules around contamination. The imported recycling has to be clean and unmixed – a standard too hard to meet for most American cities.
It is “virtually impossible to meet the stringent contamination standards established in China”, said a spokeswoman for the city of Philadelphia, who added that the cost of recycling has become a “major impact on the city’s budget”, at around $78 a ton. Half of the city’s recycling is now going to the Covanta plant, the spokeswoman said.
There isn’t much of a domestic market for US recyclables – materials such as steel or high-density plastics can be sold on but much of the rest holds little more value than rubbish – meaning that local authorities are hurling it into landfills or burning it in huge incinerators like the one in Chester, which already torches around 3,510 tons of trash, the weight equivalent of more than 17 blue whales, every day.
“This is a real moment of reckoning for the US because of a lot of these incinerators are aging, on their last legs, without the latest pollution controls,” said Claire Arkin, campaign associate at Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives. “You may think burning plastic means ‘poof, it’s gone’ but it puts some very nasty pollution into the air for communities that are already dealing with high rates of asthma and cancers.”
Trucks full of garbage used to drive down Thurlow street in Chester to get to the Covanta incinerator.
Trucks full of garbage used to drive down Thurlow street in Chester to get to the Covanta incinerator. Photograph: Hannah Yoon/The Guardian
Hugging the western bank of the Delaware River, which separates Pennsylvania and New Jersey, Chester City was once a humming industrial outpost, hosting Ford and General Motors plants. Since the war, however, Chester has been hollowed out, with an exodus of jobs ushering in an era where a third of people live in poverty.
The industry that remains emits a cocktail of soot and chemicals upon a population of 34,000 residents, 70% of them black. There’s a waste water treatment plant, a nearby Kimberly-Clark paper mill and a medical waste facility. And then there’s Covanta’s incinerator, one of the largest of its kind in the US.
Just a tiny fraction of the trash burned at the plant is from Chester – the rest is funneled in via truck and train from as far as New York City and North Carolina. The burning of trash releases a host of pollutants, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides and particulate matter, which are tiny fragments of debris that, once inhaled, cause an array of health problems.
Ashley Melecio, center, sits with her daughter Da’miaa Morales, left, and her son Da’ahmeer Melecio-Martinez at her home in Chester, PA., on Friday, January 18, 2019. She says she doesn’t let her kids play outside because of all the traffic and because of how bad it smells. Residents live right behind the Covanta incinerator that is now burning around 200 tons of garbage and recycling a day.
Ashley Melecio, center, sits with her daughter Da’miaa Morales, left, and her son Da’ahmeer Melecio-Martinez at her home in Chester, Pennsylvania. She says she doesn’t let her kids play outside because of all the traffic and because of how bad it smells. Photograph: Hannah Yoon/The Guardian
It’s difficult to single out the exact cause of any cancer but a host of studies have identified possible links between air pollution and ovarian and breast cancers, which are unusually prevalent in Chester. A 1995 report by the EPA found that air pollution from local industry provides a “large component of the cancer and non-cancer risk to the citizens of Chester”.
“There are higher than normal rates of heart disease, stroke and asthma in Chester, which are all endpoints for poor air,” said Dr Marilyn Howarth, a public health expert at the University of Pennsylvania who has advised Chester activists for the past six years.
Howarth said residents now risk a worsened exposure to pollution due to increased truck traffic rumbling through their streets, bringing recycling to the plant. Once burned, plastics give off volatile organics, some of them carcinogenic.
“It is difficult to link any single case of cancer, heart disease or asthma directly to a particular source. However, the emissions from Covanta contain known carcinogens so they absolutely increase the risk of cancer to area residents.”
Zulene Mayfield stands on the street she used to live on in Chester, Pennsylvania. Behind her is the Covanta incinerator.
Zulene Mayfield stands on the street she used to live on in Chester, Pennsylvania. Behind her is the Covanta incinerator. Photograph: Hannah Yoon/The Guardian
Covanta say that pollution controls, such as scrubbers in smokestacks, will negate toxins emitted by recyclables. After passing through the emissions control system, the plant’s eventual output is comfortably below limits set by state and federal regulators, the company says, with emissions of dioxins far better than the expected standard.
The company also argues that incineration is a better option than simply heaping plastic and cardboard in landfills.
“In terms of greenhouse gases, it’s better sending recyclables to an energy recovery facility because of the methane that comes from a landfill,” said Paul Gilman, Covanta’s chief sustainability officer. “Fingers crossed Philadelphia can get their recycling program going again because these facilities aren’t designed for recyclables, they are designed for solid waste.”
A garbage truck drives through a residential neighborhood to get to the Covanta incinerator in Chester, Pennsylvania.
A garbage truck drives through a residential neighborhood to get to the Covanta incinerator in Chester, Pennsylvania. Photograph: Hannah Yoon/The Guardian
Covanta and its critics agree that the whole recycling system in the US will need to be overhauled to avoid further environmental damage. Just 9% of plastic is recycled in the US, with campaigns to push up recycling rates obscuring broader concerns about the environmental impact of mass consumption, whether derived from recycled materials or not.
“The unfortunate thing in the United States is that when people recycle they think it’s taken care of, when it was largely taken care of by China,” said Gilman. “When that stopped, it became clear we just aren’t able to deal with it.”
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Boss sent Mark Weathers a work email on Good Friday, then called him in church during Easter weekend to make him work, religious-discrimination suit alleges.
Article word count: 580
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19220988
Posted by gnicholas (karma: 6057)
Post stats: Points: 118 - Comments: 97 - 2019-02-21T22:08:53Z
#HackerNews #after #calls #check #claims #didnt #email #fired #lawsuit #manager #take #yelp
Mark Weathers’ path to termination at Yelp started with an email his boss sent him a few minutes before midnight on Good Friday. Weathers didn’t answer it, because he wasn’t checking his email a few minutes before midnight on Good Friday.
That’s according to a religious-discrimination lawsuit that Weathers filed against the San Francisco online-review company, claiming he was fired after not being responsive to work communications “24/7/365.”
A Yelp spokesperson said the suit was without merit. “Yelp respects religious and personal responsibilities and makes reasonable accommodations when requested,” the spokesperson said in an emailed statement. “While the company does not typically comment on personnel actions, the claims alleged here are inaccurate and Yelp will respond to them in the appropriate forum.”
Weathers worked as a San Francisco-based security manager for Yelp from October 2016 till June 2018, according to the suit filed Tuesday in San Francisco County Superior Court.
On Good Friday last March, Weathers’ boss, head of security Rick Lee, sent him an email about an employee in Yelp’s Phoenix offices seeking after-hours access to a building, the suit said. After Weathers failed to respond to the 11:49 p.m. email, an upset Lee called him Saturday to find out why his message had not been answered, the suit said.
“Mr. Weathers indicated that he had not checked his email because it was Easter weekend and he was spending time with his family and attending church services,” according to the suit. “In fact, Mr. Weathers was attending a church-sponsored event when he answered Mr. Lee’s phone call. Mr. Lee said Mr. Weathers needed to be responsive, even while he was attending church services.”
The following day, Easter Sunday, while Weathers was in church with his family, Lee emailed him and site managers, and told Weathers to contact the managers to find out what happened with the after-hours-access request and make sure it didn’t happen again, the suit said.
“He demanded that Mr. Weathers provide an ‘after action review’ to him by the close of business the following day, necessitating that Mr. Weathers contact each of his co-workers on Easter Sunday,” the suit alleged. “In addition, Mr. Lee admonished, ‘Each leader on this email should make a regular practice of checking email and setting cell phones to take inbound calls 24/7/365.ʼ”
Weathers provided the report, and explained to Lee that he had “made a choice to focus on Easter Weekend,” as it was a very important weekend for him, so he did not check email as he would on other weekends, the suit said.
“Mr. Lee responded, ‘You should be checking emails and vmails/inbound calls every day (regardless of weekend or holiday),ʼ” the suit claimed. Lee, according to the suit, said he understood that Weathers would need to turn off devices during church services, but that “a 12-hour gap of non-checking is not acceptable.” Lee reminded Weathers that one Christmas Eve, Lee had spent four hours working on an incident, when he would have preferred to be with his family, the suit said.
Lee also told Weathers, who is pursuing a degree in ministry leadership and has a severely autistic son, that he didn’t care about Weathers’ religious holidays or children, the suit claimed.
Meetings with Lee and Yelp’s human resources department led up to Weathers’ firing on June 5, 2018, according to the suit. Weathers claims Yelp discriminated against him on the basis of religion, and fired him in part over his religious practices. He is seeking unspecified damages.
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Research puts a number on the proportion of people leaving full-time careers in science after the birth of their first child.
Article word count: 654
HN Discussion: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=19203458
Posted by chriskanan (karma: 3166)
Post stats: Points: 76 - Comments: 132 - 2019-02-19T22:20:31Z
#HackerNews #after #child #female #first #full-time #half #leave #nearly #science #scientists
A woman on maternity holding her baby looks at a painting in the State Hermitage Museum, Russia
Having a child can lead to scientists switching or quitting their careers.Credit: Peter Kovalev\TASS via Getty
More than 40% of women with full-time jobs in science leave the sector or go part time after having their first child, according to a study of how parenthood affects career trajectories in the United States. By contrast, only 23% of new fathers leave or cut their working hours.
The analysis (see ‘Parents in science’), led by Erin Cech, a sociologist at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, might help to explain the persistent under-representation of women in jobs that involve science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). The study also highlights the impact of fatherhood on a career in science, she says.
Source: Ref. 1
Career versus family
Given that 90% of people in the United States become parents during their working lives, Cech and Mary Blair-Loy, a sociologist at the University of California, San Diego, sought to better understand what happens to scientists’ careers after they start a family.
They used the Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System, a database provided by the US National Science Foundation that contains information from surveys of the US STEM workforce every two to three years.
From the 2003 data, Cech and Blair-Loy picked the child-free scientists in full-time employment and tracked their familial status in the next wave of the survey, in 2006. This gave them two groups of scientists to compare — 841 who became parents during this period, and 3,365 who remained childless throughout. The researchers also looked at how these individuals’ careers changed between 2003 and 2010.
They report that new parents are significantly more likely to leave a full-time science career for full-time non-science careers than their child-free colleagues^1.
By the end of the study period, 23% of men and 43% of women who had become parents had left full-time STEM employment. They either went part time, switched to non-STEM careers or left the workforce altogether. This compared to 16% of child-free men and 24% of child-free women. The team controlled for potential confounding differences between people with and without children.
For a subset of the people who had left science, the data set also included an entry on why they had left science. Around half of the new parents in this subset cited family-related reasons, compared with just 4% of people without children.
Taken together, these findings suggest that parenthood is an important driver of gender imbalance in STEM employment, the team says.
But Cech says that this the first time research has shown the proportion of new parents facing difficulties reconciling family life with science. She adds that there is a striking impact on new fathers as well as mothers.
“STEM work is often culturally less tolerant and supportive of caregiving responsibilities than other occupations,” Cech says. “So mothers — and fathers — may feel squeezed out of STEM work and pulled into full-time work in non-STEM fields”.
A ‘structural’ problem
Virginia Valian, a psychologist at the City University of New York, says: “The results showing that fathers also leave STEM reinforces the hypothesis that the problem is a structural one, in which dedicated professionals are not expected to have a personal life, and, indeed, are punished for so doing.”
Ami Radunskaya, a mathematician at Pomona College in Claremont, California, who mentors young female mathematicians, says women can become exhausted from constantly having to prove themselves in a professional environment that is, “at best, challenging to everyone and, at worst, openly sexist”.
“These young women are smart and tenacious,” she says. “When these young women start a family, they realize that this exhaustion and stress is not sustainable.”
Radunskaya suggests several measures that could help to improve the situation. Policies on family leave should send the message that having children is expected and accepted, for example. Senior researchers should mentor junior members of staff, and people should accept the challenges women in science may face. “We need to have candid, non-blaming conversations about [these issues],” she adds.
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