Internal Documents Reveal NSA Cafeteria Sucks

An anonymous reader writes: As reported by Motherboard, Emily Crose, a FOIA researcher, obtained emailed complaints showing how life at the NSA can be incredibly mundane:"The cafe menu items and pricing are out of control! Weighing the food to get more money, the scales are not properly adjusted, ripping us off. They stopped serving fried eggs at the OPS1 breakfast bar because it's faster and cheaper to get them. Now if you go to the grill the price is inflated. What's the difference between the grilled chicken at the grill and the grilled chick at the chicken shack?" A person who used to work in the intelligence community told that they could confirm that the NSA cafeteria is "depressingly bad." "Maybe not the worst cafeteria I've ever eaten in but worse than the time I ate at US run military base mess hall," they said, asking to remain anonymous. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2021-07-26 17:00:01 preview's
Olympics Opening Ceremony Ratings Fall To 33-year Low

Ratings for the Olympic Games opening ceremony were down 36% compared to 2016, according to preliminary numbers from NBC Universal. From a report: The figures for the Tokyo Games event mark the lowest audience for an Olympics opening ceremony event in over three decades, per Reuters. Roughly $1 billion has been spent on advertising around the Olympics. Ratings are the only real metric marketers can use to justify much of that spend. About 17 million people watched the event on broadcast and streaming, according to NBC. Early broadcast numbers suggest some 10 million people watched the event on linear TV. By comparison, about 26.5 million people and 27.8 million people tuned in to the Olympic opening events in Rio in 2016 and Pyeongchang in 2018, respectively. Some of this is out of NBC's hands. Without fans in the stands, the content may not be as compelling to viewers this year as it has been in the past. Some reviews of the opening ceremony pegged it as downbeat compared to previous ceremonies, others described it as boring. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2021-07-26 14:30:03 preview's
Toyota Led on Clean Cars. Now Critics Say It Works To Delay Them.

Toyota bet on hydrogen power, but as the world moves toward electric the company is fighting climate regulations in an apparent effort to buy time. From a report: The Toyota Prius hybrid was a milestone in the history of clean cars, attracting millions of buyers worldwide who could do their part for the environment while saving money on gasoline. But in recent months, Toyota, one of the world's largest automakers, has quietly become the industry's strongest voice opposing an all-out transition to electric vehicles -- which proponents say is critical to fighting climate change. Last month, Chris Reynolds, a senior executive who oversees government affairs for the company, traveled to Washington for closed-door meetings with congressional staff members and outlined Toyota's opposition to an aggressive transition to all-electric cars. He argued that gas-electric hybrids like the Prius and hydrogen-powered cars should play a bigger role, according to four people familiar with the talks. Behind that position is a business quandary: Even as other automakers have embraced electric cars, Toyota bet its future on the development of hydrogen fuel cells -- a costlier technology that has fallen far behind electric batteries -- with greater use of hybrids in the near term. That means a rapid shift from gasoline to electric on the roads could be devastating for the company's market share and bottom line. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2021-07-26 13:30:02 preview's
European Commission Starts Legal Action Against 23 EU Countries Over Copyright Rules

France, Spain, Italy and 20 other EU countries may be taken to court for their tardiness in enacting landmark EU copyright rules into national law, the European Commission said on Monday as it asked the group to explain the delays. From a report: The copyright rules, adopted two years ago, aim to ensure a level playing field between the European Union's trillion-euro creative industries and online platforms such as Google, owned by Alphabet, and Facebook. Some of Europe's artists and broadcasters, however, are still not happy, in particular over the interpretation of a key provision, Article 17, which is intended to force sharing platforms such as YouTube and Instagram to filter copyrighted content. The Commission said it had sent letters of formal notice, the first step of its infringement proceedings, to the countries group asking for explanations. The deadline for enacting the EU rules was June 7. The other countries are Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Croatia, Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Greece, Finland, Ireland, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Latvia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Sweden, Slovenia and Slovakia. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2021-07-26 12:45:01 preview's
EU Pushes for Changes To Google's Flight and Hotel Search Results

The European Union is pushing for clarity from Google about how the company processes flight and hotel searches. From a report: The tech giant must explain why it ranks certain flights and hotels above others and provide more clarity about how it calculates prices, European Union regulators demanded Monday, accusing the company of having "misled" consumers. The final prices that Google displays should include all fees and taxes that can be calculated in advance, regulators said in a statement. "EU consumers cannot be misled when using search engines to plan their holidays," EU Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders said. "We need to empower consumers to make their choices based on transparent and unbiased information." The regulators are giving Google two months to propose a fix to the issues or face possible unspecified sanctions. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2021-07-26 12:15:01 preview's
Facebook, Twitter and Other Tech Giants To Target Attacker Manifestos, Far-right Militias in Database

A counterterrorism organization formed by some of the biggest U.S. tech companies including Facebook and Microsoft is significantly expanding the types of extremist content shared between firms in a key database, aiming to crack down on material from white supremacists and far-right militias, the group told Reuters. From the report: Until now, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism's (GIFCT) database has focused on videos and images from terrorist groups on a United Nations list and so has largely consisted of content from Islamist extremist organizations such as Islamic State, al Qaeda and the Taliban. Over the next few months, the group will add attacker manifestos -- often shared by sympathizers after white supremacist violence -- and other publications and links flagged by U.N. initiative Tech Against Terrorism. It will use lists from intelligence-sharing group Five Eyes, adding URLs and PDFs from more groups, including the Proud Boys, the Three Percenters and neo-Nazis. The firms, which include Twitter and Alphabet 's YouTube, share "hashes," unique numerical representations of original pieces of content that have been removed from their services. Other platforms use these to identify the same content on their own sites in order to review or remove it. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2021-07-26 11:30:01 preview's
Google Explored New Safari-like Redesign for Chrome in 2016 -- But Decided Against It

Chris Lee, a former staff interaction designer at Google, writes in a blog post: Chrome Home was an ambitious redesign of mobile Chrome's main UI. It brought Chrome's toolbar to the bottom of the screen and turned in into a peeking panel that could be swiped to expose additional controls. I created the original concept and pitch for Chrome Home in 2016. It was based off two insights: 1. Phones were growing in size, and we had opportunity to innovate in creating a gestural, spatial interface that would still be usable with one hand. 2. Mobile Chrome was also growing in features - but because its minimalist interface kept everything behind a "three dot" menu, these features were underutilized and hard to access. The idea caught traction internally, eventually becoming a Chrome org priority. I then led a team to execute and iterate on the concept. Executing on Chrome Home required rethinking not just the toolbar, but almost all of Chrome's UI: search, bookmarks, tabs, prompts, etc. To inform our decisions, we used a variety of prototyping and testing approaches of increasing fidelity. Ultimately, such a fundamental change to a web browser required nothing short of building it into the product and testing it in longitudinal studies and live beta experiments. We heard a mixture of reactions. The feature gained a cult following among the tech community. But for some mainstream users, the change felt disorienting. Chrome serves billions of users around the globe with varying tech literacy. I became increasingly convinced that launching Chrome Home would not serve all our users well. So just as I strongly as I had pitched the original concept, I advocated for us to stop the launch -- which took not a small amount of debate. Lee adds, "oh, and Safari in iOS 15 picked up some similar ideas and criticisms." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2021-07-26 10:45:01 preview's
Story and Street Style Converge in The World Ends With You

The iconic action RPG introduced a world of gamers to Japanese fashion. Now with a sequel on the way, its influence has only grown.
2021-07-26 08:15:02 preview's
Baseball's Newest Anti-Cheating Technology: Encrypted Transmitters for Catchers' Signals

First Major League Baseball experimented with automated umpiring of balls and strikes in the minor leagues. Now the Verge reports they're trying a time-saving tactic that might also make it harder to cheat: Baseball has a sign stealing problem — or at least, a technological one, seeing how reading another team's pitches is technically legal, but using Apple Watches or telephoto cameras and then suspiciously banging on trash cans is very much not. But soon the MLB may try fighting fire with fire: on August 3rd, it plans to begin testing an encrypted wireless communication device that replaces the traditional flash of fingers with button taps, according to ESPN. The device, from a startup called PitchCom, will be tested in the Low-A West minor league first. As you'd expect from something that's relaying extremely basic signals, it's not a particularly complicated piece of kit: one wristband transmitter for the catcher with nine buttons to signal "desired pitch and location," which sends an encrypted audio signal to receivers that can squeeze into a pitcher's cap and a catcher's helmet. The receivers use bone-conduction technology, so they don't necessarily need to be up against an ear, and might theoretically be harder to eavesdrop on. (Bone conduction stimulates bones in your head instead of emitting audible sound.) "MLB hopes the devices will cut down on time spent by pitchers stepping off the rubber and changing signals," reports the Associated Press, noting another interesting new rule. "A team may continue to use the system if the opposing club's device malfunctions." But don't worry about that, reports ESPN: Hacking the system, the company says, is virtually impossible. PitchCom uses an industrial grade encryption algorithm and transmits minimal data digitally, making it mathematically impossible for someone to decrypt intercepted transmissions, according to the company. Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2021-07-26 07:45:01 preview's
'Disinformation for Hire' is Becoming a Booming Industry

Sunday the BBC reported YouTube influencers were offered money to spread vaccine misinformation. But according to the New York Times, that's just the tip of the iceberg. "The scheme appears to be part of a secretive industry that security analysts and American officials say is exploding in scale: disinformation for hire: Private firms, straddling traditional marketing and the shadow world of geopolitical influence operations, are selling services once conducted principally by intelligence agencies. They sow discord, meddle in elections, seed false narratives and push viral conspiracies, mostly on social media. And they offer clients something precious: deniability. "Disinfo-for-hire actors being employed by government or government-adjacent actors is growing and serious," said Graham Brookie, director of the Atlantic Council's Digital Forensic Research Lab, calling it "a boom industry." Similar campaigns have been recently found promoting India's ruling party, Egyptian foreign policy aims and political figures in Bolivia and Venezuela. Mr. Brookie's organization tracked one operating amid a mayoral race in Serra, a small city in Brazil. An ideologically promiscuous Ukrainian firm boosted several competing political parties. In the Central African Republic, two separate operations flooded social media with dueling pro-French and pro-Russian disinformation. Both powers are vying for influence in the country. A wave of anti-American posts in Iraq, seemingly organic, were tracked to a public relations company that was separately accused of faking anti-government sentiment in Israel. Most trace to back-alley firms whose legitimate services resemble those of a bottom-rate marketer or email spammer... For-hire disinformation, though only sometimes effective, is growing more sophisticated as practitioners iterate and learn. Experts say it is becoming more common in every part of the world, outpacing operations conducted directly by governments. The result is an accelerating rise in polarizing conspiracies, phony citizen groups and fabricated public sentiment, deteriorating our shared reality beyond even the depths of recent years... Commercial firms conducted for-hire disinformation in at least 48 countries last year — nearly double from the year before, according to an Oxford University study. The researchers identified 65 companies offering such services... Platforms have stepped up efforts to root out coordinated disinformation. Analysts especially credit Facebook, which publishes detailed reports on campaigns it disrupts. Still, some argue that social media companies also play a role in worsening the threat. Engagement-boosting algorithms and design elements, research finds, often privilege divisive and conspiratorial content. The article also notes "a generation" of populist political leaders around the world who have risen "in part through social media manipulation. "Once in office, many institutionalize those methods as tools of governance and foreign relations." Read more of this story at Slashdot.
2021-07-26 03:45:01