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Microsoft Puts $500 Million Towards Affordable Seattle Area Housing

Microsoft says they're committing $500 million towards an affordable housing program in the Pudget Sound region around Seattle. More specifically, $225 million will be invested "at below market rate returns, focused on preserving and developing new middle-income housing on King County’s Eastside," $250 million will be invested "at market rate returns," while $25 million will be donated as a philanthropic grant to address homelessness. Microsoft points out that the Seattle region has seen a 21% increase in jobs and a 13% increase in housing since 2011, and feels at least partially responsible for the growing housing problem. The Seattle Times notes that the announcement comes days after Microsoft revealed plans to modernize their Redmond campus, and that the company is sitting on $135 billion in cash reserves and short-term investments, to put things in perspective. Microsoft made a video for the project, which you can check out below:

For Microsoft, the fund is also a call to action. The company wants philanthropies and businesses to step up with aid, Smith said. Smith said he's open to others contributing to Microsoft's fund and has had talks with executives at other companies. But few have the same amount of cash on hand, he said. He noted Boeing has much of its money tied up in aircraft construction. Smith said he's talked with leaders from Amazon, but declined to disclose details. Convincing the private sector to jump on board might be hard. In Silicon Valley, companies such as Cisco and Microsoft’s LinkedIn have donated $52 million toward a similar housing-loan program, but companies like Google and Facebook have instead chosen to build or advocate for housing near their Silicon Valley headquarters.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas January 17, 2019 8:18 AM (CST)

New Magecart Attack Used a Compromised Advertising Agency to Deliver Its Payload

Magecart Group 12 is suspected of compromising an ad agency that delivers advertising to eCommerce websites. By directly injecting payment skimming code into JavaScript libraries provided by French online advertising company, Adverline to its eCommerce customers, it enabled all websites embedded with the script to load the skimming code. Thus the group was able to steal payment information from consumers by infecting a 3rd party website. This allows the Magecart groups to expand their reach and pilfer more data. Once information is entered into a webpage's typing form, the script will copy the information and it is stored until the victim closes the webpage. At that point, the information is sent to a remote server.

In Adverline's case, code was injected into a JavaScript library for retargeting advertising. It's an approach used by e-commerce websites where visitors are tagged so they can be delivered specific ads that could attract them back to the websites. At the time of our research, the websites embedded with Adverline's retargeting script loaded Magecart Group 12's skimming code, which, in turn, skims payment information entered on webpages then sends it to its remote server.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru January 16, 2019 5:56 PM (CST)

Palmer Luckey Details His Vision of Reshaping National Security During Interview

During an interview with CNN, former Oculus VR founder Palmer Luckey detailed his vision for national security. After selling his Oculus VR technology to Facebook and leaving the company he founded behind, Palmer Luckey co-founded Anduril Industries in Orange County, California. There his team of visionaries have developed a futuristic military technology system called Lattice. Lattice allows the military, law enforcement, and first responders to detect, see, and share information with real time tracking maps using head up display (HUD) technology similar to what is available to fighter jet pilots. For example, autonomous drones could scan areas to detect forest fires. When a fire is detected, a human monitoring multiple drone sensor feeds would request that fire fighting robots be deployed at the edge of the fire. These autonomous robots could continue fighting the fire even when overwhelmed by the flames. These situations would surely harm a human, but by being able to see every aspect of the emergency using the Lattice system, first responders could be kept out of harm's way. Palmer Luckey says that it has been the dream of the American military to have HUD technology available to foot soldiers on the ground. This increased situational awareness will save lives as drones and sensors will show soldiers the type of threat that is present. Not only will it detect that an intruder is in an area, it will allow the military to make decisions based on how many and how well armed the enemy is so that soldiers can be better prepared for encounters. He even gave an example during the interview where soldiers could see enemy troop movement on the opposite side of a mountain and thus make an informed decision to prepare for battle, call in backup, or withdraw to a safe place. Previously the soldiers would have been ambushed and possibly suffer casualties.

His decision to launch Anduril was prescient. As US military leaders worry other countries are developing more advanced technologies, Pentagon officials now want to work closer with emerging companies and Silicon Valley to adopt new tools, such as artificial intelligence. "I'm much more concerned about other countries like Russia and China building technology that they use to oppress their own people and also expanding their sphere of influence over other countries," said Luckey, adding he doesn't intend to sell Anduril's technology to China or Russia. "We can't afford to say, 'Just let Russia have the best military technology. Let's let China have the best military technology,'" Luckey told Segall. "I'd rather have us moving quickly trying to build the best technology for the United States."

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru January 16, 2019 3:08 PM (CST)

Intel Changed Its Spirit in 2018

Intel certainly faced some issues these past few years. Their 10nm process has been plagued with delays, their CEO is MIA, their other processes aren't keeping up with demand, and Spectre/Meltdown have created serious security concerns. But WCCFTech points out that the company has reinvented its public face this past year. Instead of being secretive and uncommunicative, Intel is now one of the most active companies on social media. More specifically, WCCF pointed out how Intel officials are giving quick and solid responses to serious questions on Twitter, and Intel laid out a promising roadmap at CES. Whether they follow up on those promises is another story, but this more communicative "neo-Intel" can only be a good thing.

For the first time ever, Intel had conceded that AMD's Ryzen was competition. I had not expected Intel to even acknowledge AMD's Ryzen - as has been their modus operandi for a while now - but IAD actually contained a slide showing an AMD processor beating out Intel's on a singular benchmark (cinebench) while the next slide showed why Intel still offered superior value in tens of other scenarios thanks to its architecture. In the same breath, Intel unveiled its brand new next-generation architecture that would mark the first step of its new vision: Sunny Cove... Raja's innovation comes packaged with a more down to earth approach to interaction with consumers. I have very rarely seen high ranking executives of any public company openly discussing plans and answering queries of the public on any social media - but this is the new norm for Intel and something all other semiconductors (and public companies) can take cues from.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas January 16, 2019 12:45 PM (CST)

Nvidia Confirms Adaptive Sync Only Works on Pascal and Turing GPUs

Nvidia has already stated that support for adaptive sync monitors is limited to Turing and Pascal GPUs, aka the GeForce 10 series and up. But the wording was a little ambiguous, and some hoped that Nvidia would eventually add support for the 900 series. But an Nvidia representative on the GeForce forums confirmed that the company has no plans to support adaptive sync on Maxwell. However, it's not clear if this is due to a hardware limitation or some other factor.

coth: Any word on when VRR will be available on GTX 900 series? ManuelGuzmanNV: Sorry but we do not have plans to add support for Maxwell and below.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas January 16, 2019 12:20 PM (CST)

AMD Surprised Analysts with Powerful Product Launches at CES 2019

Patrick Moorhead has written a comprehensive overview of the upcoming AMD product lineup that was on display at CES 2019. He was surprised that AMD could create such a powerful GPU as the Radeon VII with 7 nm technology. The 29% uplift in gaming performance and 36% boost to productivity applications over a Vega 64 is quite compelling, but of course that is going by AMD supplied numbers. Reviews will ultimately tell the truth. The new 7 nm desktop CPU previewed at the trade show proves AMD is ready to compete directly with Intel as it equaled the Intel part while using 30% less power. Intel should be worried as it was clear that a second 8 core chip could be integrated into the package. The AMD notebook lineup sounds incredible on paper as 12 hours of battery life on an ultrathin laptop featuring AMD graphics is something that Mr. Moorhead is looking forward to. The AMD EPYC "Rome" live demonstration showed why Intel should be concerned about maintaining its data-center dominance as the AMD offering was clearly 15% faster than 2 of the Intel Xeon Platinum 8180 chips combined.

It was a triumphant return to the big stage in Las Vegas for AMD. The company's Radeon VII announcement was totally stealthy -- a masterful stroke that shows that things are about to get really interesting competitively- if AMD can deliver in volume. The 3rd Gen Ryzen desktop processor appears sets a new standard for performance and efficiency, and the 2nd Gen Ryzen mobile processor, if the battery measurements are true in the real world, could be a real gamechanger for notebooks. Rome is a harbinger of good things to come for EPYC and AMD's datacenter efforts. Nice work, AMD.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru January 16, 2019 12:08 PM (CST)

SuperData Breaks Down the Global Gaming Market

A recent report from market research firm SuperData, which VentureBeat was kind enough to share, paints an interesting picture of the global gaming market in 2018. Among PC gamers, there's certainly a perception that mobile games, console games and free-to-play titles are eating into or even blowing past the traditional PC market, and dragging some good IPs with them, but the SuperData data attaches hard numbers to those assumptions. The "mobile" gaming market, for example, made $61.6 billion dollars in 2018, which is quite a sum compared to the $7.6 billion the "Premium PC" market made. F2P. P2P, and "social" PC games made $16.7B $4.2B, and $7.5B. respectively, while the entire "premium console" market edged out the PC market at $10.9B.

Meanwhile, interactive media generated $5.2 billion in game viewing content, as viewership crossed 850 million viewers. Twitch had a smaller audience than YouTube (183 million versus 594 million), but it generated more revenue since Twitch draws more dedicated viewers who spend directly to support their favorite creators. Donations and channel subscriptions accounted for 32 percent of video revenue on Twitch compared to only 9 percent on YouTube. Esports generated $1.2 billion in revenue. Augmented reality, mixed reality, and virtual reality revenue rose from $4.4 billion for hardware and software in 2017 to $6.6 billion in 2018.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas January 16, 2019 11:34 AM (CST)

Check Point Finds Fortnite Login Vulnerability

Security experts from Check Point Research claim they found a bug in Fortnite's login system that allowed potential attackers to hijack accounts. Unlike the thousands of Fortnite scams that already exist online, this hack allegedly didn't require entering any login credentials or financial info. According to the researchers' technical writeup, the exploit used existing authentication tokens tied to other accounts and a vulnerability related to old Epic Games domains. Once logged in, the attacker could buy V-Bucks, listen in on chat, and presumably mess with Fortnite accounts in other ways. Fortunately, CPR says that "a fix was responsibly deployed" after informing Epic Games. Check out a video of the exploit below:

The code opens a window and makes an oAuth request to the SSO provider server (in our case, Facebook) with all user cookies and the crafted "state" parameter. Facebook then responds with a redirection to "account.epicgames.com" which contains the SSO token ("code" parameter) and the crafted "state" parameter that was previously affected by the attacker. As the user has already logged on with his Facebook account, the server "account.epicgames.com" makes a redirection to the URL that is found within the crafted "state" parameter. In our case, the redirection goes to "ut2004stats.epicgames.com" with the XSS payload and the Facebook user oAuth token. Finally, the token is then extracted from the request and sent to the attackers' server (for POC purposes we used "ngrok" server - 0aa62240.ngrok.io). The attacker now has the users' Facebook token and can make a login to the victims' account.

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas January 16, 2019 10:13 AM (CST)

Robots Command Humans to Cleanup Spills in Grocery Stores

Lidar equipped robots called "Marty" from Ahold Delhaize are now being deployed in the USA to count inventory, detect spills and summon human employees over to clean up the mess. These autonomous robots are equipped with 8 cameras and are monitored by employees in foreign countries who will verify a spill before allowing the robot to alert store employees over a loudspeaker. Giant/Martin's and Stop & Shop brands are rolling them out in addition to Food Lion, and Hannaford. Walmart and Schnucks are using robots to count inventory.

A robot observed Tuesday at a Stop & Shop store in Seekonk, Massachusetts, alerted store associates to a price tag that had fallen in one aisle, and a tiny sprig of herbs in another. After moving along for a few minutes, it returned to the scene of each spill and waited until an employee pushed a button to acknowledge that the debris was picked up. A union that represents Giant and Stop & Shop workers says it's keeping an eye on Marty.

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru January 15, 2019 6:42 PM (CST)

Foreign Nationals Charged with Hacking the SEC to Steal Financial Statements

Two Ukrainians; Artem Radchenko and Oleksandr Ieremenko have been charged with hacking into the Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Electronic Data Gathering, Analysis and Retrieval (EDGAR) system. The cyber-criminals accessed the network and stole thousands of files containing confidential financial statements such as annual and quarterly earning reports. These filings contain non-public information that is required to be reported to the SEC. The defendants sold this information to others before it was distributed to the general public. This allowed them to affect the stock prices of companies and benefit from orchestrating stock trades based on information not known to the general public. This created an uneven playing field and thus harmed the general public for their own gain. In the 16-count indictment unsealed today, the pair is charged with securities fraud conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, computer fraud conspiracy, wire fraud, and computer fraud. "The SEC also filed a civil complaint today charging Ieremenko along with several other individuals and entities."

"The defendants charged in the indictment announced today engaged in a sophisticated hacking and insider trading scheme to cheat the securities markets and the investing public," U.S. Attorney Craig Carpenito said. "They targeted the Securities and Exchange Commission with a series of sophisticated and relentless cyber-attacks, stealing thousands of confidential EDGAR filings from the Commission's servers and then trading on the inside information in those filings before it was known to the market, all at the expense of the average investor."

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru January 15, 2019 3:58 PM (CST)

The Nike Adapt BB Is the Latest Iteration of the Self-Lacing Shoe

The Nike Adapt BB is a $350 self-lacing shoe with wireless charging. A custom motor and gear train senses the tension needed by the foot and adjusts accordingly to keep the foot snug. The tensile strength of the underfoot lacing can pull up to 32 pounds of force and the tension of the laces can be adjusted with an app. Nike promises to provide customers with new digital services and features over time with opt-in firmware updates.

"That's where the brain, or FitAdapt tech, kicks in. By manual touch or by using the Nike Adapt app on a smartphone, players can input different fit settings depending on different moments of a game. For example, during a timeout, a player can loosen the shoe before tightening it up as they re-enter the game. In a forthcoming feature, they can even prescribe a different tightness setting for warm-ups. Plus, players can opt in to firmware updates for the FitAdapt technology as they become available, sharpening the precision of fit for players and providing new digital services over time."

Discussion
Posted by cageymaru January 15, 2019 1:22 PM (CST)

Amazon is Allegedly Canceling Subscribe & Save Orders to Charge Customers More

Amazon says their Subscribe & Save program allows customers to save on items they frequently order, but some users of the program on Slickdeals claim Amazon is trying to overcharge them. In a nutshell, Amazon allegedly cancels the S&S orders, then automatically re-orders the items at higher prices. Amazon customer service told an S&S user that Amazon can cancel and re-enter an S&S order at any time, without a notification to the customer, but Slickdeals didn't find such a clause in the programs's Terms and Conditions. When Slickdeals reached out to customer service themselves, Amazon said "We don't do any such things. If the price is changed for an item on our website it will only be changed for future subscribe and save orders and the current order will not be affected. The discount will be applied to the new price."

According to Slickdealer JVGeneration, "Amazon canceled a Subscribe & Save order and removed it from my canceled orders page. They tried to ship it with my Subscribe & Save at full price. The only proof I had for the lower price was an email confirmation -- they had removed all traces of the original order from my account."

Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas January 15, 2019 12:40 PM (CST)