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Bot Tweeted Names And Photos Of Venmo Users Who Bought Drugs

slashdot feed - 1 hour 38 min ago
Since Venmo's transactions are "public" by default and broadcast on Venmo's API, a Python programmer decided to publicize a few of them, reports the Mercury News: The creator of the bot named "Who's buying drugs on Venmo" under the Twitter handle @venmodrugs says he wanted users to consider their privacy settings before using Venmo. The bot finds Venmo transactions that include words such as heroin, marijuana, cocaine, meth, speed or emojis that denote drugs and tweets the transaction with the names of the sender and receiver and the sender's photo, if there is one... "I wanted to demonstrate how much data Venmo was making publicly available with their open API and their public by default settings and encourage people to consider their privacy settings," Joel Guerra, the creator of the bot, told Motherboard, a technology news outlet run by Vice. He shut the bot after 24 hours, according to a Medium essay titled "Why I blasted your 'drug' deals on Twitter": I chose drugs, sex and alcohol keywords as the trigger for the bot because because they were funny and shocking. I removed the last names of users because I didn't want to actually contribute to the problem of lack of privacy... I braced myself for backlash but the response was overwhelmingly positive. People understood my point and I had sparked a lot of discussion about online privacy and the need for users to do a better job of understanding the terms of software they were using -- and a lot of discussion about how companies need to do a better job of informing customers how their data was being used... After about 24 hours of tweeting everyone's drug laden Venmo transactions I shut down the bot (Python script!!) and deleted all the tweets. I had successfully made my point and gotten more attention than I had imagined possible. Thousands of people were reading tweets and articles about the bot and discussing data privacy. I saw no further value in tweeting out anyone's personal transactions anymore. However, all I ever did was format the data and automate a Twitter account -- the data is still readily available. His closure of the bot drew some interesting reactions on Twitter. "booooooooo. I was so entertained by this." "I remember I had a dealer take my phone and set venmo to private lol." "we're looking to add a Python developer to our team and I think you'd be a good fit."

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Ask Slashdot: Should I Ditch PHP?

slashdot feed - 4 hours 38 min ago
Long-time Slashdot reader Qbertino does PHP for a living, but says he's growing "increasingly frustrated with the ignorant and clueless in the vincinity of PHP." Crappy code and baaaaad application setups is one thing, but people refusing to fix them or simply not even understanding the broader implications of bad applications or attempting SEO with gadgets while refusing to fix 3.5 MB-per-pagecall are just minor tidbits in a history of increasingly unnerving run-ins with knuckledragers in the "web agency" camp... Will I leave the larger part of this backwards stuff behind if I move to another server-side programming language such as Java or Kotlin for professional work in the broader web area? Do I have a chance to do quality work on quality projects using PHP, or are those slim compare to other programming languages? In short, should I ditch PHP? "I think .NET is a much cleaner language to work in with Microsoft's excellent Visual Studio IDE and debugger," argues Slashdot reader Agret , adding "there are many large projects in my city hiring .NET developers and being a strongly typed language the code quality is generally better than PHP." But what's been your experience? And would a frustrated developer find more quality projects by ditching PHP?

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'The Cashless Society is a Con -- and Big Finance is Behind It'

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 23:34
An anonymous reader quotes this opinion piece by former derivatives broker Brett Scott: Banks are closing ATMs and branches in an attempt to 'nudge' users towards digital services -- and it's all for their own benefit... I recently got a letter from my bank telling me that they are shutting down local branches because "customers are turning to digital", and they are thus "responding to changing customer preferences". I am one of the customers they are referring to, but I never asked them to shut down the branches... I am much more likely to "choose" a digital option if the banks deliberately make it harder for me to choose a non-digital option. In behavioural economics this is referred to as "nudging". If a powerful institution wants to make people choose a certain thing, the best strategy is to make it difficult to choose the alternative... Digital systems may be "convenient", but they often come with central points of failure. Cash, on the other hand, does not crash. It does not rely on external data centres, and is not subject to remote control or remote monitoring. The cash system allows for an unmonitored "off the grid" space. This is also the reason why financial institutions and financial technology companies want to get rid of it. Cash transactions are outside the net that such institutions cast to harvest fees and data. A cashless society brings dangers. People without bank accounts will find themselves further marginalised, disenfranchised from the cash infrastructure that previously supported them. There are also poorly understood psychological implications about cash encouraging self-control while paying by card or a mobile phone can encourage spending. And a cashless society has major surveillance implications. While a cashless society might make it cheaper to run a bank, "A cashless society is not in your interest..." argues the author. "We must recognise every cash machine that is shut down as another step in financial institutions' campaign to nudge you into their digital enclosures."

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Uber Bans Driver Who Secretly Livestreamed Hundreds of Passengers

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 20:34
Lauren Weinstein tipped us off to this story from Mashable: Hundreds of Uber and Lyft rides have been broadcast live on Twitch by driver Jason Gargac this year, St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported Saturday, all of them without the passengers' permission. Gargac, who goes by the name JustSmurf on Twitch, regularly records the interior of his car while working for Uber and Lyft with a camera in the front of the car, allowing viewers to see the faces of his passengers, illuminated by his (usually) purple lights, and hear everything they say. At no point does Gargac make passengers aware that they are being filmed or livestreamed. Due to Missouri's "one-party consent" law, in which only one party needs to agree to be recorded for it to be legal (in this case, Gargac is the consenting one), what Gargac is doing is perfectly legal. That doesn't mean it's not 100 percent creepy. Sometimes, to confirm who they are for their driver, the passengers say their full names. Not only that, Gargac has another video that shows the view out the front of his car so that people can see where he's driving, giving away the locations of some passengers' homes. All the while, viewers on Twitch are commenting about things like the quality of neighborhoods, what the passengers are talking about, and of course, women's looks. Gargac himself is openly judgmental about the women he picks up, commenting to his viewers about their appearances before they get in his car and making remarks after he drops them off. He also regularly talks about wanting to get more "content," meaning interesting people, and is open about the fact that he doesn't want passengers to know they are on camera. "I feel violated. I'm embarrassed," one passenger told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "We got in an Uber at 2 a.m. to be safe, and then I find out that because of that, everything I said in that car is online and people are watching me. It makes me sick." The offending driver announced today on Twitter that he's at least "getting rid of the stored vids." He calls this move "step #1 of trying to calm everyone down." Hours ago his Twitch feed was made inaccessible. Lyft and Twitch have not yet responded to Mashable's request for a comment. But Uber said they've (temporarily?) banned Gargac from accessing their app "while we evaluate his partnership with Uber."

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NetBSD 8.0 Released

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 19:34
Slashdot reader fisted quotes NetBSD.org: The NetBSD Project is pleased to announce NetBSD 8.0, the sixteenth major release of the NetBSD operating system. This release brings stability improvements, hundreds of bug fixes, and many new features. Some highlights of the NetBSD 8.0 release are: — USB stack rework, USB3 support added. — In-kernel audio mixer (audio_system(9)). — Reproducible builds — PaX MPROTECT (W^X) memory protection enforced by default — PaX ASLR enabled by default — Position independent executables by default[...] NetBSD is free. All of the code is under non-restrictive licenses, and may be used without paying royalties to anyone.

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New Trailers Debuted at Comic-Con Include Aquaman, Shazam, and The Simpsons

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 18:34
Today Comic-Con attendees were treated to new trailers and previews for a slew of upcoming geek-friendly movies. An anonymous reader writes: Besides footage from Wonder Woman 1984, there were also trailers for DC's Aquaman movie, plus a new DC superhero franchise with a lighter tone, Shazam. (And there was also a very apocalyptic preview of Godzilla: King of the Monsters.) Numerous celebrities were on-hand to tout their upcoming films. Johnny Depp introduced the trailer for Fantastic Beasts 2: The Crimes of Grindelwald -- in character -- while Bruce Willis and Samuel L. Jackson introduced the trailer for M. Night Shyamalan's Glass. Jamie Lee Curtis even plugged her return to the Halloween franchise 40 years after the original, revealing that her character has been waiting all these decades to kill Michael Myers after his release from prison. TV Guide has collected most of the trailers for TV shows, including season 11 of Doctor Who, the revival of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, and new seasons of Marvel's Iron Fist and Fear the Walking Dead. There was apparently also a trailer for Marvel's mutant series The Gifted -- and a preview for the 30th season of The Simpsons featuring this Halloween's "Treehouse of Horror XXIX", which includes a parody of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

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Cell Phone Radiation May Affect Memory Performance In Adolescents, Study Finds

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 17:34
dryriver quotes Science Daily: Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields may have adverse effects on the development of memory performance of specific brain regions exposed during mobile phone use. These are the findings of a study involving nearly 700 adolescents in Switzerland. The investigation, led by the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, will be published on Monday, 23 July 2018 in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Health Perspectives. The study to be published found that cumulative RF-EMF brain exposure from mobile phone use over one year may have a negative effect on the development of figural memory performance in adolescents, confirming prior results published in 2015. Figural memory is mainly located in the right brain hemisphere, and association with RF-EMF was more pronounced in adolescents using the mobile phone on the right side of the head. 'This may suggest that indeed RF-EMF absorbed by the brain is responsible for the observed associations.' said Martin Röösli, Head of Environmental Exposures and Health at Swiss TPH.

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A Fifth Undocumented Cisco Backdoor Has Been Discovered

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 16:34
Cisco released 25 security updates Wednesday, including a critical patch removing an undocumented password for "root" accounts of Cisco Policy Suite (sold to ISPs and large corporate clients). "The vulnerability received a rare severity score of 9.8 out of a maximum of 10 on the CVSSv3 scale," reports Bleeping Computer. An anonymous reader quotes Tom's Hardware: Over the past few months, not one, not two, but five different backdoors joined the list of security flaws in Cisco routers.... In March, a hardcoded account with the username "cisco" was revealed. The backdoor would have allowed attackers to access over 8.5 million Cisco routers and switches remotely. That same month, another hardcoded password was found for Cisco's Prime Collaboration Provisioning software, which is used for remote installation of Cisco's video and voice products. Later this May, Cisco found another undocumented backdoor account in Cisco's Digital Network Architecture Center, used by enterprises for the provisioning of devices across a network. In June, yet another backdoor account was found in Cisco's Wide Area Application Services, a software tool for Wide Area Network traffic optimization... Whether or not the backdoor accounts were created in error, Cisco will need to put an end to them before this lack of care for security starts to affect its business.

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The Tech Industry's War On Kids

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 15:34
Long-time Slashdot reader RoccamOccam summarizes an article now circulating on the web sites of several schools: Child and adolescent psychologist Richard Freed writes, "...parents have no idea that lurking behind their kids' screens and phones are a multitude of psychologists, neuroscientists, and social science experts who use their knowledge of psychological vulnerabilities to devise products that capture kids' attention for the sake of industry profit. What these parents and most of the world have yet to grasp is that psychology—a discipline that we associate with healing—is now being used as a weapon against children." Stanford psychology researcher B.J. Fogg, has developed the "Fogg Behavior Model", which he claims is a well-tested method to change behavior and, in its simplified form, involves three primary factors: motivation, ability, and triggers. Describing how his formula is effective at getting people to use a social network, the psychologist says in an academic paper that a key motivator is users' desire for "social acceptance," although he says an even more powerful motivator is the desire "to avoid being socially rejected." Ramsay Brown, the founder of Dopamine Labs, says in a KQED Science article, "We have now developed a rigorous technology of the human mind, and that is both exciting and terrifying. We have the ability to twiddle some knobs in a machine learning dashboard we build, and around the world hundreds of thousands of people are going to quietly change their behavior in ways that, unbeknownst to them, feel second-nature but are really by design."

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Lawmakers Call On Amazon and Google To Reconsider Ban On Domain Fronting

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 14:34
An anonymous reader quotes CyberScoop: Amazon and Google face sharp questions from a bipartisan pair of U.S. senators over the tech giants' decisions to ban domain fronting, a technique used to circumvent censorship and surveillance around the world. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., sent a letter on Tuesday to Google CEO Larry Page and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos over decisions by both companies in April to ban domain fronting. Amazon then warned the developers of encrypted messaging app Signal that the organization would be banned from Amazon's cloud services if the service didn't stop using Amazon's cloud as cover. "We respectfully urge you to reconsider your decision to prohibit domain fronting given the harm it will do to global internet freedom and the risk it will impose upon human rights activists, journalists, and others who rely on the internet freedom tools," the senators wrote.

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LambdaMOO, MUDs, and 'When the Internet Was Young'

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 13:34
Slashdot reader travers_r shares "a peek into the early days of internet culture and multiplayer gaming." (Apparently this MOO has been running continuously for 28 years.) "From the looks of it, squatters run it now..." LambdaMOO was different from the earliest MUDs, which were Tolkienesque fantasies -- hack-and-slash games for Dungeons & Dragons types with computer access, mostly college students. LambdaMOO was one of the first social MUDs, where people convened largely to play-act society, and what might have been "one of the first MUDs to be run by an adult," [co-creator Pavel] Curtis believes... Everybody comes through the Coat Closet the first time they visit LambdaMOO, entering the Living Room through a curtain of clothes, like children into Narnia. In between the textual rooms and objects they explore, there's a faster-moving flow of words, the coursing real-time chatter of LambdaMOO's other users. This is a Multi-User Domain: a chatroom and a world at once, a place where telling takes the place of being... [I]t's nearly impossible to describe to a modern computer user what that means, because although MUDs once made up 10 percent of internet traffic, their dominance was obliterated by the arrival of the visual, hyperlinked, page-based Web. To anyone weaned on images and clicked connections, every explanation sounds batty: A MUD is a text-based virtual reality. A MUD is a chatroom built by talking. A MUD is Dungeons & Dragons all around the world. A MUD is a map made of words. The science fiction writer Philip K. Dick once defined reality as "that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away," and in that sense a MUD is a real place. But a MUD is also nothing more than a window of text, scrolling along as users describe and inhabit a place from words. Undark titled their piece "a mansion filled with hidden worlds: when the internet was young," describing the mansion's halls as "really just a string of code, where people once lived, and still do, in some way or another, as someone must, until the server winks out." I logged in a few times in 1997, so I'm probably in there too... The article describes reading a Usenet newsgroup about MUDs back in 1990. "Approximately half of the contributors thought it was a game; the other half vehemently and heatedly disagreed." Does all this bring back memories for any Slashdot readers?

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Bing Now Provides Exact Snippets of Code for Developers' Queries

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 12:34
"Bing has launched a new intelligent search feature which provides the exact piece of code a developer is looking for," writes Search Engine Journal. An anonymous reader quotes their report: The code snippet will appear right on the search results page itself, which means users will not have to skim through long threads and articles to find the one thing they're looking for. Bing calls this new feature a "Code Sample Answer" and says it's designed to help save developers' time. "Many of us are developers too, and we thought: what if Bing were intelligent enough to do this for us? What if it could save users' time by automatically finding the exact piece of code containing the answer to the question? That is how Code Sample Answer was born..." A Code Sample Answer will trigger only when Bing intelligently detects the coding intent with high confidence. "To achieve this level of precision for query intent detection, Bing's natural language processing pipelines for developers leverages patterns found in training data from developer queries collected over the years containing commonly used terms and text structure typical for coding queries. The system also leverages a multitude of click signals to improve the precision even further"... [I]t also covers other tools used by developers. For example, a Code Sample Answer can be triggered when searching for git commands and their syntax. Bing extracts "the best matched code samples from popular, authoritative and well moderated sites like Stackoverflow, Github, W3Schools, MSDN, Tutorialpoints, etc. taking into account such aspects as fidelity of API and programming language match, counts of up/down-votes, completeness of the solution and more." JAXenter.com notes they obtained similar results using the privacy-friendly search engine DuckDuckGo, and ultimately asks whether this functionality could affect the search habits of developers. "Is this new feature enough to make Bing a viable search engine tool for programmers or will Google be the go-to for hunting down source code?"

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State Senator Wants A Law Forcing Bots To Admit They're Not Human

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 11:34
An anonymous reader writes: Several commentators are calling for a law that requires bots to admit they are not human. There is a bill in California that would do just that. A new paper argues that these laws may look Constitutional but actually raise First Amendment issues. The New York Times reports: Bots are easy to make and widely employed, and social media companies are under no legal obligation to get rid of them. A law that discourages their use could help, but experts aren't sure how the one [state senator Robert] Hertzberg is trying to push through, in California, might work. For starters, would bots be forced to identify themselves in every Facebook post? In their Instagram bios? In their Twitter handles? The measure, SB-1001, a version of which has already left the senate floor and is working its way through the state's Assembly, also doesn't mandate that tech companies enforce the regulation. And it's unclear how a bill that is specific only to California would apply to a global internet... All parties agree that the bill illustrates the difficulty that lawmakers have in crafting legislation that effectively addresses the problems constituents confront online. As the pace of technological development has raced ahead of government, the laws that exist on the books -- not to mention some lawmakers' understandings of technology -- have remained comparatively stagnant. The Times seems to question whether the law should be targeted at the creators of bots instead of the platforms that host them, pointing out that tech companies like Twitter "have the power to change dynamics on their platforms directly and at the scale that those problems require."

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Hello Games Received Death Threats Over 'No Man's Sky'

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 10:34
The Guardian revisits the disastrous 2016 launch of the massive open-universe videogame No Man's Sky, in a new interview with company director Sean Murray: "I've never liked talking to the press. I didn't enjoy it when I had to do it, and when I did it, I was naive and overly excited about my game. There are a lot of things around launch that I regret, or that I would do differently." He is reluctant to relive the particulars of what happened in the weeks and months following No Man's Sky's release in August 2016 ("I find it really personal, and I don't have any advice for dealing with it," he says), but it involved death threats, bomb threats sent to the studio and harassment of people who worked at Hello Games on a frightening scale. They were in regular contact with Scotland Yard and the Metropolitan police... "I remember getting a death threat about the fact that there were butterflies in our original trailer, and you could see them as you walked past them, but there weren't any butterflies in the launch game. I remember thinking to myself: 'Maybe when you're sending a death threat about butterflies in a game, you might be the bad guy....'" Despite the controversy, No Man's Sky sold extremely well, and plenty of its players have stuck by it. A year after release, when Hello Games released the Atlas Rises update, about a million people showed up to play, and the average playtime was 45 hours.... It is still recognisable as the lonely, abstractly beautiful space-exploration game I played in 2016, but three big updates have added a lot more. It is now definitely a better game, with much more to do and a clearer structure... Now you can also construct bases, drive around in vehicles and -- as of next week -- invite other players to explore with you, in groups of four. You can crew a freighter together, or colonise a planet with ever-expanding constructions. "You are still a tiny speck in an infinite universe," writes the Guardian. "it's just that now, you have some company." Murray describes it as a "Star Trek away team vibe." In another interview, Murray concedes that during the five years they'd spent in development, "We talked about the game way earlier than we should have talked about the game.... "

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Is Python the Future of Programming?

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 09:34
The Economist argues that Guido Van Rossum resembled the reluctant Messiah in Monty Python's Life of Brian. An anonymous reader quotes their report: "I certainly didn't set out to create a language that was intended for mass consumption," he explains. But in the past 12 months Google users in America have searched for Python more often than for Kim Kardashian, a reality-TV star. The rate of queries has trebled since 2010, while inquiries after other programming languages have been flat or declining. The language's popularity has grown not merely among professional developers -- nearly 40% of whom use it, with a further 25% wishing to do so, according to Stack Overflow, a programming forum -- but also with ordinary folk. Codecademy, a website that has taught 45 million novices how to use various languages, says that by far the biggest increase in demand is from those wishing to learn Python. It is thus bringing coding to the fingertips of those once baffled by the subject. Pythonistas, as aficionados are known, have helped by adding more than 145,000 packages to the Cheese Shop, covering everything from astronomy to game development.... Python was already the most popular introductory language at American universities in 2014, but the teaching of it is generally limited to those studying science, technology, engineering and mathematics. A more radical proposal is to catch 'em young by offering computer science to all, and in primary schools. Hadi Partovi, the boss of Code.org, a charity, notes that 40% of American schools now offer such lessons, up from 10% in 2013. Around two-thirds of 10- to 12-year-olds have an account on Code.org's website. Perhaps unnerved by a future filled with automated jobs, 90% of American parents want their children to study computer science. "The CIA has employed Python for hacking, Pixar for producing films, Google for crawling web pages and Spotify for recommending songs," notes the Economist. Though Van Rossum was Python's Benevolent Dictator For Life, "I'm uncomfortable with that fame," he tells the magazine. "Sometimes I feel like everything I say or do is seen as a very powerful force."

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Ecuador Will Be Handing Assange Over To UK Authorities 'In Coming Weeks Or Days': RT

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 08:00
Ecuador is planning to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to UK authorities in the "coming weeks or even days," RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said, citing her own sources. Simonyan reported the news in a recent tweet, which was reposted by WikiLeaks. Slashdot reader Okian Warrior first shared the news. Daily Express reports: Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan is said to be involved in the diplomatic effort, which has come weeks ahead of a visit by new Ecuadorian president, Lenin Moreno, who called Mr Assange an "inherited problem." He also referred to the exiled WikiLeaks founder as a "stone in the shoe." Sources close to Assange claim he was not aware of the talks, but believe America is piling "significant pressure" on Ecuador to give him up, according to the Sunday Times. The sources claim that America has threatened to block a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if he is not removed from the embassy, based in Knightsbridge, west London.

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Equador Will Be Handing Assange Over To UK Authorities 'In Coming Weeks Or Days': RT

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 08:00
Ecuador is planning to hand over WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to UK authorities in the "coming weeks or even days," RT editor-in-chief Margarita Simonyan said, citing her own sources. Simonyan reported the news in a recent tweet, which was reposted by WikiLeaks. Slashdot reader Okian Warrior first shared the news. Daily Express reports: Foreign Office minister Sir Alan Duncan is said to be involved in the diplomatic effort, which has come weeks ahead of a visit by new Ecuadorian president, Lenin Moreno, who called Mr Assange an "inherited problem." He also referred to the exiled WikiLeaks founder as a "stone in the shoe." Sources close to Assange claim he was not aware of the talks, but believe America is piling "significant pressure" on Ecuador to give him up, according to the Sunday Times. The sources claim that America has threatened to block a loan from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) if he is not removed from the embassy, based in Knightsbridge, west London.

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Nanoengineer Finds New Way To Recycle Lithium-Ion Batteries

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 05:00
Zheng Chen, a 31-year-old nanoengineer at UC San Diego, says he has developed a way to recycle used cathodes from spent lithium-ion batteries and restore them to a like-new condition. The cathodes in some lithium-ion batteries are made of metal oxides that contain cobalt, a metal found in finite supplies and concentrated in one of the world's more precarious countries. Los Angeles Times reports how it works: The process takes degraded particles from the cathodes found in a used lithium-ion battery. The particles are then pressurized in a hot alkaline solution that contains lithium salt. Later, the particles go through a short heat-treating process called annealing, in which temperatures reach more than 1,400 degrees Fahrenheit. After cooling, Chen's team takes the regenerated particles and makes new cathodes. They then test the cathodes in batteries made in the lab. The new cathodes have been able to maintain the same charging time, storage capacity and battery lifetime as the originals did. Details of the recycling method were recently published in the research journal Green Chemistry, submitted by Chen and two colleagues.

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Star Trek: Discovery's Season 2 Trailer Teases Spock, Christopher Pike, and Tig Notaro

slashdot feed - Sat, 07/21/2018 - 02:00
CBS has released a "Season Two Premiere" for Star Trek Discovery, offering the first look at the upcoming season of the show on CBS All Access. The first season launched late last year and finished up in February after a brief hiatus. The Verge reports of what to expect from the upcoming season, which is expected to premiere sometime in early 2019: [It] appears to begin with Captain Christopher Pike (Anson Mount) coming aboard and taking control of the USS Discovery after a series of mysterious "red bursts" are detected, simultaneously spread out across 30,000 light years. Burnham later claims "Spock is linked to these signals." New series guest star Tig Notaro makes a very Tig Notaro joke, Pike encourages the crew to "have a little fun," Tilly yells about "the power of math" -- a good time, in other words. (After all, the whole thing is set the tune of Lenny Kravitz's "Fly Away," so you know it's real.) Bonus: at the end we meet another, very sniffly alien Discovery crew member, proving Saru and the bridge androids aren't the sole non-humans aboard the ship, as we once feared. At the Discovery panel at San Diego Comic Con's Hall H, a new Star Trek series was announced, called Star Trek: Short Treks. It is "a series of monthly short-form stories that will function like bonus content and air on CBS All Access in conjunction with the larger Star Trek: Discovery series," reports The Verge. "CBS says Short Treks, which will air in installments of about 10 to 15 minutes, is 'an opportunity for deeper storytelling and exploration of key characters and themes that fit into... the expanding Star Trek universe.'"

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ADHD Drugs Aren't Doing What You Think, Scientists Warn

slashdot feed - Fri, 07/20/2018 - 22:30
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Inverse: The study authors Lisa Weyandt, Ph.D., a professor of psychology at the University of Rhode Island, and Tara White, Ph.D., an assistant professor of Behavioral and Social Sciences at Brown University, started out investigating the effects of ADHD medications in students that actually have a diagnosable attention deficit disorder. They showed that in these students, there is decreased activity in the areas of the brain controlling "executive functions," which can make it hard for them to stay organized or focused. But because both authors work with college students, they soon became more interested in the misuse of Adderall. In students whose brains aren't affected by ADHD, does Adderall act as a supercharger? Does it make those areas fly into overdrive and unlock otherwise untapped intellectual ability, as all pill-popping students hope? Weyant and White's double-blind, placebo-controlled study on 13 college students was a small sample, they admit, but their experiment had a rigorous study design. Neither the students nor the researchers knew who was getting Adderall and who was getting placebo sugar pill. The six tests evaluated different aspects of cognition, like working memory, reading ability and reaction time. While students on Adderall did make fewer errors on a reaction time test, it actually worsened working memory, as shown by a decline in performance on a task where they had to repeat sequences of numbers. In short, Adderall improved focus and attention -- but it didn't actually make anyone smarter. The research has been published in the journal Pharmacy.

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