Would You Give Up Google For $17,000 a Year? The Federal Reserve Wants To Know

The Federal Reserve wants to know what the internet is worth to you. The answer could help the central bank solve one of the most puzzling paradoxes of the modern economy: The current expansion is the longest in history, yet productivity gains are weak and GDP growth, while steady, is far from stellar. From a report: In a speech last week, Fed Chairman Jerome Powell raised the possibility that the problem is with the data itself. GDP measures the value of products and services that are bought and sold. But many of the greatest technological innovations of the internet age are free. Search engines, e-mail, GPS, even Facebook — the official economic statistics are not designed to capture the benefits they generate for businesses and consumers. “Good decisions require good data, but the data in hand are seldom as good as we would like,” Powell said. Instead, Powell cited recent work by MIT economist Erik Brynjolfsson, one of the leading academics on the intersection of technology and the economy. In a paper with Avinash Collis of the National Bureau of Economic Research and Felix Eggers of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, the authors conducted massive surveys to estimate the monetary value that users place on the tools of modern life.

The results? The median user would need about $48 to give up Facebook for one month. The median price of giving up video streaming services like YouTube for a year is $1,173. To stop using search engines, consumers would need a median $17,530, making it the most valuable digital service. The authors also conducted more limited surveys with students in Europe on other popular platforms. One month of Snapchat was valued at about 2.17 euros. LinkedIn was just 1.52 euros. But giving up WhatsApp? That would require a whopping 536 euros. Twitter, however, was valued at zero euros.

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Source: Slashdot – Would You Give Up Google For ,000 a Year? The Federal Reserve Wants To Know

A Code Glitch May Have Caused Errors In More Than 100 Published Studies

Scientists have uncovered a glitch in a piece of code that could have yielded incorrect results in over 100 published studies that cited the original paper. From a report: The glitch caused results of a common chemistry computation to vary depending on the operating system used, causing discrepancies among Mac, Windows, and Linux systems. The researchers published the revelation and a debugged version of the script, which amounts to roughly 1,000 lines of code, last week in the journal Organic Letters. “This simple glitch in the original script calls into question the conclusions of a significant number of papers on a wide range of topics in a way that cannot be easily resolved from published information because the operating system is rarely mentioned,” the new paper reads. “Authors who used these scripts should certainly double-check their results and any relevant conclusions using the modified scripts in the [supplementary information].” Yuheng Luo, a graduate student at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, discovered the glitch this summer when he was verifying the results of research conducted by chemistry professor Philip Williams on cyanobacteria. The aim of the project was to “try to find compounds that are effective against cancer,” Williams said.

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Source: Slashdot – A Code Glitch May Have Caused Errors In More Than 100 Published Studies

India's Reliance Jio Unveils Video Call Assistant To Help Businesses Automate Customer Support

Before Google moves to bring its human-sounding robot calling service Duplex to help users automate their interactions with businesses to international markets, an Indian giant is deploying its own solution to get a jumpstart on the local market. From a report: Reliance Jio today unveiled AI-powered Video Call Assistant service that will allow businesses to automate their customer support and other communications. The service, built in collaboration with Radisys, a U.S.-based subsidiary of Reliance Industries, can be accessed via a 4G phone call and does not require installation of any additional app, Jio said. Executives of Reliance Jio demonstrated the technology on Monday at the third installment of Indian Mobile Congress, similar to but not affiliated with the trade show Mobile World Congress. They said they have already courted a number of customers for this service, including HDFC Bank. In the demo, a user dials a regular phone number and sees a video chat option. Once tapped, the user is greeted by a pre-recorded video message from a human. To demonstrate the AI’s capabilities, an executive of Reliance Jio asked the bot what was the interest rate on personal loans. The human-looking bot was able to answer the question without any delay. The company, which became the largest telecom operator in India in three years, is also offering audio and text bot options to brands, executives said. “It may be a large business or small, our bot service is built for all,” one of the two executives said.

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Source: Slashdot – India’s Reliance Jio Unveils Video Call Assistant To Help Businesses Automate Customer Support

Uber Lays Off Another 350 Employees Across Eats, Self-driving and Other Departments

Uber has just laid off around 350 employees across a variety of teams within the organization, marking what the company says is its third and final phase of layoffs of the process it began earlier this year, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said to employees today in an email. From a report: Those affected include employees from Eats, performance marketing, Advanced Technologies Group, recruiting, as well as various teams within the global rides and platform departments. Some employees have also been asked to relocate. “Days like today are tough for us all, and the ELT and I will do everything we can to make certain that we won’t need or have another day like this ahead of us,” Khosrowshahi wrote in the email. “We all have to play a part by establishing a new normal in how we work: identifying and eliminating duplicate work, upholding high standards for performance, giving direct feedback and taking action when expectations aren’t being met, and eliminating the bureaucracy that tends to creep as companies grow.” In total, the layoffs represent about 1% of the company, an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch. Further reading: Uber Posts $5.2 Billion Loss and Slowest Ever Growth Rate (August 2019).

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Source: Slashdot – Uber Lays Off Another 350 Employees Across Eats, Self-driving and Other Departments

Inside Mark Zuckerberg's Private Meetings With Conservative Pundits

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been hosting informal talks and small, off-the-record dinners with conservative journalists, commentators and at least one Republican lawmaker in recent months to discuss issues like free speech and discuss partnerships, Politico reported on Monday. From the report: The dinners, which began in July, are part of Zuckerberg’s broader effort to cultivate friends on the right amid outrage by President Donald Trump and his allies over alleged “bias” against conservatives at Facebook and other major social media companies. “I’m under no illusions that he’s a conservative but I think he does care about some of our concerns,” said one person familiar with the gatherings, which multiple sources have confirmed. News of the outreach is likely to further fuel suspicions on the left that Zuckerberg is trying to appease the White House and stay out of Trump’s crosshairs. The president threatened to sue Facebook and Google in June and has in the past pressured the Justice Department to take action against his perceived foes. “The discussion in Silicon Valley is that Zuckerberg is very concerned about the Justice Department, under Bill Barr, bringing an enforcement action to break up the company,” said one cybersecurity researcher and former government official based in Silicon Valley. “So the fear is that Zuckerberg is trying to appease the Trump administration by not cracking down on right-wing propaganda.”

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Source: Slashdot – Inside Mark Zuckerberg’s Private Meetings With Conservative Pundits

Thoma Bravo To Buy Sophos For $3.9 Billion

Private equity firm Thoma Bravo said today it plans to buy UK-based cyber-security giant Sophos for $7.40 per share, for a total value of $3.9 billion, both companies announced today. From a report: The sale price represents a 37% premium on the Sophos market trading price, as recorded on Friday, at the end of the trading. The Sophos board of directors said they plan to “unanimously recommend” the acquisition offer to their shareholders. Before today’s announcement, Thoma Bravo acquired a minority stake in McAfee last year and was rumored to be interested in buying the whole company. It is unclear how today’s Sophos acquisition will impact plans to buy McAfee, but the two companies — Sophos and McAfee — are classic rivals on the cyber-security market and share a product portfolio, so the door seems to have closed on the McAfee deal.

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Source: Slashdot – Thoma Bravo To Buy Sophos For .9 Billion

Apple Responds To Reports That It is Sharing Data With Tencent

Over the weekend, reports emerged that claimed that Apple was sending users’ browsing details to Tencent to run it against Chinese company’s safe browsing feature. In a statement on Monday, an Apple spokesperson has offered a clarification: Apple protects user privacy and safeguards your data with Safari Fraudulent Website Warning, a security feature that flags websites known to be malicious in nature. When the feature is enabled, Safari checks the website URL against lists of known websites and displays a warning if the URL the user is visiting is suspected of fraudulent conduct like phishing. To accomplish this task, Safari receives a list of websites known to be malicious from Google, and for devices with their region code set to mainland China, it receives a list from Tencent. The actual URL of website you visit is never shared with a safe browsing provider and the feature can be turned off.

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Source: Slashdot – Apple Responds To Reports That It is Sharing Data With Tencent

Booking Holdings Is Latest to Pull Out of Libra Association

Booking Holdings, an online travel company that operates Kayak.com and Priceline.com among other websites, said it’s withdrawing from participation in the Libra Association, an ambitious and controversial Facebook-led project to create a new cryptocurrency. From a report: The Norwalk, Connecticut-based company joins PayPal, Stripe, Visa, Mastercard, MercadoLibre and EBay in leaving the project in the past two weeks. The plan has came under intense scrutiny from lawmakers and regulators who feared that Libra could be used for criminal purposes and undercut countries’ monetary policy, among myriad other concerns.

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Source: Slashdot – Booking Holdings Is Latest to Pull Out of Libra Association

Planting Tiny Spy Chips in Hardware Can Cost as Little as $200

An anonymous reader shares a report: More than a year has passed since Bloomberg Businessweek grabbed the lapels of the cybersecurity world with a bombshell claim: that Supermicro motherboards in servers used by major tech firms, including Apple and Amazon, had been stealthily implanted with a chip the size of a rice grain that allowed Chinese hackers to spy deep into those networks. Apple, Amazon, and Supermicro all vehemently denied the report. The NSA dismissed it as a false alarm. The Defcon hacker conference awarded it two Pwnie Awards, for “most overhyped bug” and “most epic fail.” And no follow-up reporting has yet affirmed its central premise.

But even as the facts of that story remain unconfirmed, the security community has warned that the possibility of the supply chain attacks it describes is all too real. The NSA, after all, has been doing something like it for years, according to the leaks of whistle-blower Edward Snowden. Now researchers have gone further, showing just how easily and cheaply a tiny, tough-to-detect spy chip could be planted in a company’s hardware supply chain. And one of them has demonstrated that it doesn’t even require a state-sponsored spy agency to pull it off — just a motivated hardware hacker with the right access and as little as $200 worth of equipment.

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Source: Slashdot – Planting Tiny Spy Chips in Hardware Can Cost as Little as 0

San Francisco Wants to Require Companies To Get Permits Before Rolling Out 'Emerging Technology'

Companies in San Francisco might soon to be required to get a permission slip from the city before rolling out their new innovations in public spaces. From a report: On Tuesday, Norman Yee, president of the city’s Board of Supervisors, introduced a bill that would create the Office of Emerging Technology (OET). Entrepreneurs looking to deploy any emerging technology “upon, above, or below” city properties or public rights-of-way would need to first obtain a pilot permit from the OET’s director. “As a city, we must ensure that such technologies ultimately result in a net common good and that we evaluate the costs and benefits so that our residents, workers and visitors are not unwittingly made guinea pigs of new tech,” said Yee in a statement to the San Francisco Chronicle. Over the years San Francisco’s tech companies have deployed all kinds of inventions in public spaces, including package delivery robots and dockless electric scooters. But because these innovations were, well, innovative, no specific rules initially existed to govern their use.

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Source: Slashdot – San Francisco Wants to Require Companies To Get Permits Before Rolling Out ‘Emerging Technology’

G7 Taskforce Warns Global Crytocurrencies Like Libra Pose Risks, May Not Be Approved

“Stablecoin” cryptocurrencies like Libra pose a risk to the global financial system, warns a new report by the G7 group of nations.

An anonymous reader quotes the BBC:

The G7 taskforce that produced the report includes senior officials from central banks, the International Monetary Fund and the Financial Stability Board, which coordinates rules for the G20 economies. It says backers of digital currencies like Libra must be legally sound, protect consumers and ensure coins are not used to launder money or fund terrorism…. The draft report says: “The G7 believe that no stablecoin project should begin operation until the legal, regulatory and oversight challenges and risks are adequately addressed….”

The draft report outlines nine major risks posed by such digital currencies. It warns that even if Libra’s backers address concerns, the project may not get approval from regulators… “Addressing such risks is not necessarily a guarantee of regulatory approval for a stablecoin arrangement,” the report says.

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Source: Slashdot – G7 Taskforce Warns Global Crytocurrencies Like Libra Pose Risks, May Not Be Approved

NASA Consultant 'Convinced We Found Evidence of Life on Mars in the 1970s'

“A consultant for NASA slammed the agency for deliberately ignoring the results of the experiment he handled that showed signs of alien life on Mars,” reports the International Business Times. “According to the consultant, NASA refuses to conduct new life-detection tests on the Red Planet.”

Engineer Gilbert Levin served as a principal investigator on NASA’s Viking missions, which sent two identical landers to Mars. For his role, Levin handled the missions’ biological experiments known as Labeled Release (LR). These experiments focused on identifying living microorganisms on Mars. The experiments were sent to the Red Planet through the Viking 1 and Viking 2 missions in 1975….

“As the experiment progressed, a total of four positive results, supported by five varied controls, streamed down from the twin Viking spacecraft landed some 4,000 miles apart,” Levin wrote in Scientific American. “The data curves signaled the detection of microbial respiration on the Red Planet,” he continued. “The curves from Mars were similar to those produced by LR tests of soils on Earth. It seemed we had answered that ultimate question.”

Despite the results of the LR experiment, the findings were discarded by NASA due to the agency’s previous experiment on Mars.

More from Levin’s article in Scientific American:
Life on Mars seemed a long shot. On the other hand, it would take a near miracle for Mars to be sterile. NASA scientist Chris McKay once said that Mars and Earth have been “swapping spit” for billions of years, meaning that, when either planet is hit by comets or large meteorites, some ejecta shoot into space. A tiny fraction of this material eventually lands on the other planet, perhaps infecting it with microbiological hitch-hikers.

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Source: Slashdot – NASA Consultant ‘Convinced We Found Evidence of Life on Mars in the 1970s’

Apple's Safari Browser Is Sending Some Users' IP Addresses To China's Tencent

“Apple, which often positions itself as a champion of privacy and human rights, is sending some IP addresses from users of its Safari browser on iOS to Chinese conglomerate Tencent — a company with close ties to the Chinese Communist Party,” reports the Reclaim the Net blog:

Apple admits that it sends some user IP addresses to Tencent in the “About Safari & Privacy” section of its Safari settings…. The “Fraudulent Website Warning” setting is toggled on by default which means that unless iPhone or iPad users dive two levels deep into their settings and toggle it off, their IP addresses may be logged by Tencent or Google when they use the Safari browser. However, doing this makes browsing sessions less secure and leaves users vulnerable to accessing fraudulent websites…

Even if people install a third-party browser on their iOS device, viewing web pages inside apps still opens them in an integrated form of Safari called Safari View Controller instead of the third-party browser. Tapping links inside apps also opens them in Safari rather than a third-party browser. These behaviors that force people back into Safari make it difficult for people to avoid the Safari browser completely when using an iPhone or iPad.

Engadget adds that it’s “not clear” whether or not Tencent is actually collecting IP addresses from users outside of China. (“You’ll see mention of the collection in the U.S. disclaimer, but that doesn’t mean it’s scooping up info from American web surfers.”)

But Reclaim the Net points out that the possibility is troubling, in part because Safari is the #1 most popular mobile internet browser in America, with a market share of over 50%.

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Source: Slashdot – Apple’s Safari Browser Is Sending Some Users’ IP Addresses To China’s Tencent

Was Flash Responsible For 'The Internet's Most Creative Era'?

A new article this week on Motherboard argues that Flash “is responsible for the internet’s most creative era,” citing a new 640-page book by Rob Ford on the evolution of web design.

[O]ne could argue that the web has actually gotten less creative over time, not more. This interpretation of events is a key underpinning of Web Design: The Evolution of the Digital World 1990-Today (Taschen, $50), a new visual-heavy book from author Rob Ford and editor Julius Wiedemann that does something that hasn’t been done on the broader internet in quite a long time: It praises the use of Flash as a creative tool, rather than a bloated malware vessel, and laments the ways that visual convention, technical shifts, and walled gardens have started to rein in much of this unvarnished creativity.

This is a realm where small agencies supporting big brands, creative experimenters with nothing to lose, and teenage hobbyists could stand out simply by being willing to try something risky. It was a canvas with a built-in distribution model. What wasn’t to like, besides a whole host of malware?

The book’s author tells Motherboard that “Without the rebels we’d still be looking at static websites with gray text and blue hyperlinks.” But instead we got wild experiments like Burger King’s “Subservient Chicken” site or the interactive “Wilderness Downtown” site coded by Google.

There were also entire cartoon series like Radiskull and Devil Doll or Zombie College — not to mention games like “A Murder of Scarecrows” or the laughably unpredictible animutations of 14-year-old Neil Cicierega.

But Ford tells Motherboard that today, many of the wild ideas have moved from the web to augmented reality and other “physical mediums… The rise in interactive installations, AR, and experiential in general is where the excitement of the early days is finally happening again.”

Motherboard calls the book “a fitting coda for a kind of digital creativity that — like Geocities and MySpace pages, multimedia CD-ROMs, and Prodigy graphical interfaces before it — has faded in prominence.”

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Source: Slashdot – Was Flash Responsible For ‘The Internet’s Most Creative Era’?

Wired Remembers the Glory Days of Flash

Wired recently remembered Flash as “the annoying plugin” that transformed the web “into a cacophony of noise, colour, and controversy, presaging the modern web.”

They write that its early popularity in the mid-1990s came in part because “Microsoft needed software capable of showing video on their website, MSN.com, then the default homepage of every Internet Explorer user.” But Flash allowed anyone to become an animator. (One Disney artist tells them that Flash could do in three days what would take a professional animator 7 months — and cost $10,000.)

Their article opens in 2008, a golden age when Flash was installed on 98% of desktops — then looks back on its impact:

The online world Flash entered was largely static. Blinking GIFs delivered the majority of online movement. Constructed in early HTML and CSS, websites lifted clumsily from the metaphors of magazine design: boxy and grid-like, they sported borders and sidebars and little clickable numbers to flick through their pages (the horror).

Flash changed all that. It transformed the look of the web…

Some of these websites were, to put it succinctly, absolute trash. Flash was applied enthusiastically and inappropriately. The gratuitous animation of restaurant websites was particularly grievous — kitsch abominations, these could feature thumping bass music and teleporting ingredients. Ishkur’s ‘guide to electronic music’ is a notable example from the era you can still view — a chaos of pop arty lines and bubbles and audio samples, it looks like the mind map of a naughty child…

In contrast to the web’s modern, business-like aesthetic, there is something bizarre, almost sentimental, about billion-dollar multinationals producing websites in line with Flash’s worst excess: long loading times, gaudy cartoonish graphics, intrusive sound and incomprehensible purpose… “Back in 2007, you could be making Flash games and actually be making a living,” remembers Newgrounds founder Tom Fulp, when asked about Flash’s golden age. “That was a really fun time, because that’s kind of what everyone’s dream is: to make the games you want and be able to make a living off it.”
Wired summarizes Steve Jobs’ “brutally candid” diatribe against Flash in 2010. “Flash drained batteries. It ran slow. It was a security nightmare. He asserted that an era had come to an end… ‘[T]he mobile era is about low power devices, touch interfaces and open web standards — all areas where Flash falls short.'” Wired also argues that “It was economically viable for him to rubbish Flash — he wanted to encourage people to create native games for iOS.”

But they also write that today, “The post-Flash internet looks different. The software’s downfall precipitated the rise of a new aesthetic…one moulded by the specifications of the smartphone and the growth of social media,” favoring hits of information rather than striving for more immersive, movie-emulating thrills.

And they add that though Newgrounds long-ago moved away from Flash, the site’s founder is now working on a Flash emulator to keep all that early classic content playable in a browser.

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Source: Slashdot – Wired Remembers the Glory Days of Flash

Can A New TED-ED Video Series Teach Students To 'Think Like A Coder'?

An anonymous reader writes:
TED Conferences has its own educational YouTube channel (now with 10 million subscribers and over 1.5 billion views). Two weeks ago it launched a 10-episode animated series about computer programming, and its first episode — The Prison Break — has already been viewed nearly a quarter of a milllion times.

In the 7-minute video, a programmer wakes up in a prison cell — with total amnesia — and discovers a “mysterious stranger” squeezing through the jail cell’s bars. It’s a floating anthropomorphic drone, saying it needs the programmer’s help to rescue a dystopian future world “in turmoil. Robots have taken over.” The video introduces the computer programming concept of a loop — since escaping the jail cell involves testing a key in every possible position. And the video’s page on the TED-Ed web site offers links to related resources from Code.org and Free Code Camp, as well as from Advent of Code, “which is run by Eric Wastl, who consulted extensively on Think Like a Coder and inspired quite a few of the puzzles.”

The episode ends with the programmer dangling from the flying drone, off on an attempt to recover three artifacts — nodes of memory, power, and creation — that are currently being used for “nefarious purposes.”

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Source: Slashdot – Can A New TED-ED Video Series Teach Students To ‘Think Like A Coder’?

Researchers Prove Humans Are Still Better Than AI at 'Angry Birds'

An anonymous reader quotes the I-Programmer site:

Humans! Rest easy, we still beat the evil AI at the all-important Angry Birds game. Recent research by Ekaterina Nikonova and Jakub Gemrot of Charles University (Czech Republic) indicates why this is so….

“Firstly, this game has a large number of possibilities of actions and nearly infinite amount of possible levels, which makes it difficult to use simple state space search algorithms for this task. Secondly, the game requires a planning of sequences of actions, which are related to each other… For example, a poorly chosen first action can make a level unsolvable by blocking a pig with a pile of objects. Therefore, to successfully solve the task, a game agent should be able to predict or simulate the outcome of it is own actions a few steps ahead.”

The researchers also report that the game requires AI to distinguish “between multiple birds, their abilities and optimum tapping times…”

“Despite the fact we have come close to a human-level performance on selected 21 levels, we still lost to 3 out of 4 humans in obtaining a maximum possible total score.”

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Source: Slashdot – Researchers Prove Humans Are Still Better Than AI at ‘Angry Birds’

NVIDIA's Job Listings Reveal 'Game Remastering' Studio, New Interest In RISC-V

An anonymous reader quotes Forbes:

Nvidia has a lot riding on the success of its GeForce RTX cards. The Santa Clara, California company is beating the real-time ray tracing drum loudly, adamant on being known as a champion of the technology before AMD steals some of its thunder next year with the PlayStation 5 and its own inevitable release of ray-tracing enabled PC graphics cards.

Nvidia has shown that, with ray tracing, it can breathe new life into a decades-old PC shooter like id Software’s Quake 2, so why not dedicate an entire game studio to remastering timeless PC classics? A new job listing spotted by DSOGaming confirms that’s exactly what Nvidia is cooking up.

The ad says NVIDIA’s new game remastering program is “cherry-picking some of the greatest titles from the past decades and bringing them into the ray tracing age, giving them state-of-the-art visuals while keeping the gameplay that made them great.” (And it adds that the initiative is “starting with a title that you know and love but we can’t talk about here!”)

Meanwhile, a China-based industry watcher on Medium reports that “six RISC-V positions have been advertised by NVIDIA, based in Shanghai and pertaining to architecture, design, and verification.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – NVIDIA’s Job Listings Reveal ‘Game Remastering’ Studio, New Interest In RISC-V

Millions Watch As Entire Fortnite Ecosystem Becomes a Black Hole

“Fortnite just blew up its entire map and all that’s left is a black hole,” reports TechCrunch.

Some are speculating that this is simply a teaser for a new Fortnite map, but it’s unclear when that new map will arrive… Fortnite’s website is currently just a Twitch stream featuring a black hole.

The Washington Post reports:
Anyone looking for clues on Fortnite’s multiple social media accounts were left staring at the same image. The same black hole greets all visitors to Fortnite’s Instagram. And intrepid players discovered that inputting the infamous “Konami code” launches a Galaga-style shooting game starring the mascot of Greasy Grove restaurant Durrr Burger….
As the event happened, many Twitch users reported having trouble using the popular streaming service, with more than 4 million people watching the event. Millions more tuned in on YouTube and Twitter, as well…. Rumors have swirled that the famous Fortnite map was going to be completely replaced, and given that everything’s now gone, it sounds plausible…

Fortnite’s Season 10 has been expected to end soon, and since last year, spectacular one-time live events within the game have been used to build hype, signal changes to the one map the game has used for two years, and usher in a new season and battle pass. This time, players who logged in at 2 p.m. Eastern time witnessed a rocket launch from the Dusty Divot area of the island, which turned into multiple rockets, all zipping around in a manner similar to the rocket that players saw in the first season-ending live event in Season 4. The rockets then converged onto an area where a meteor was landing, and the collision caused players to fly up into the air to witness a black hole suck the entirety of the game inside.

And since then, players have been left with nothing but the black hole.

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Source: Slashdot – Millions Watch As Entire Fortnite Ecosystem Becomes a Black Hole

Study: Many Popular Medical Apps Send User Info To 3rd Or 4th Parties

dryriver writes:

A study in the British Medical Journal that looked at 24 of the 100s of Medical apps available on Google Play found that 79% pass all sorts of user info — including sensitive medical info like what your reported symptoms are and what medications you are taking in some cases — on to third and fourth parties. A German-made and apparently very popular medical app named Ada was found to share user data with trackers like Facebook, Adjust and Amplitude for example. [Click here for the article in German.] The New York Times also warned recently about apps that want to retrieve/store your medical records.

From the conclusion of the study: “19/24 (79%) of sampled apps shared user data. 55 unique entities, owned by 46 parent companies, received or processed app user data, including developers and parent companies (first parties) and service providers (third parties). 18 (33%) provided infrastructure related services such as cloud services. 37 (67%) provided services related to the collection and analysis of user data, including analytics or advertising, suggesting heightened privacy risks. Network analysis revealed that first and third parties received a median of 3 (interquartile range 1-6, range 1-24) unique transmissions of user data. Third parties advertised the ability to share user data with 216 “fourth parties”; within this network (n=237), entities had access to a median of 3 (interquartile range 1-11, range 1-140) unique transmissions of user data. Several companies occupied central positions within the network with the ability to aggregate and re-identify user data.”

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Source: Slashdot – Study: Many Popular Medical Apps Send User Info To 3rd Or 4th Parties