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Yandex Maps Blurs Military Installations Which Brings Attention to Secret Facilities

Russia's premier mapping service, Yandex Maps, has started blurring images of all military installations in Israel and Turkey. This includes small military installations in the middle of cities that weren't previously known to be a military property. Now anyone can just look on the Yandex maps and find all the secret military installations in Israel and Turkey. Of course Russia doesn't have its secret military installations blurred out as this would immediately bring attention to them.

Fortunately (from an OSINT perspective), this has had the unintended effect of revealing the location and exact perimeter of every significant military facility within both countries, if one is obsessive curious enough to sift through the entire map looking for blurry patches. Matching the blurred sites to un-blurred (albeit downgraded) imagery available through Google Earth is a method of "tipping and cueing," in which one dataset is used to inform a more detailed analysis of a second dataset. My complete list of blurred sites in both Israel and Turkey totals over 300 distinct buildings, airfields, ports, bunkers, storage sites, bases, barracks, nuclear facilities, and random buildings.

Posted by cageymaru December 11, 2018 6:25 PM (CST)

Verizon to Absorb a $4.6 Billion Charge for Yahoo and AOL

New Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg is taking an aggressive approach to reviewing business units and cost-saving measures. After reporting that Verizon was laying off over 10,000 workers yesterday, today CNBC is reporting that the company is taking a goodwill impairment charge of $4.6 billion in value for its Oath media business which include AOL and Yahoo. A 5-year strategic planning review of Oath's business prospects resulted in unfavorable adjustments to Oath's financial projections.

Verizon's Media business, branded Oath, has experienced increased competitive and market pressures throughout 2018 that have resulted in lower than expected revenues and earnings. These pressures are expected to continue and have resulted in a loss of market positioning to our competitors in the digital advertising business. Oath has also achieved lower than expected benefits from the integration of the Yahoo Inc. and AOL Inc. businesses. As a result, the Company expects to record a non-cash goodwill impairment charge of approximately $4.6 billion ($4.5 billion after-tax) in the fourth quarter of 2018. The goodwill balance of the Oath reporting unit was approximately $4.8 billion prior to the incurrence of this impairment charge.

Posted by cageymaru December 11, 2018 5:29 PM (CST)

Town Rejects Comcast and Chooses to Build Its Own Broadband Network

At a recent special town meeting, voters in Charlemont, Massachusetts rejected a proposal from the Comcast Cable Co. for cable internet. Instead the town decided to build their own municipal fiber network. The cost of the Comcast proposal would have been $462,123 and would have only covered 96% of the households in the area. Choosing to build their own network will cost the town an extra $1 million over 20 years, but the cost to taxpayers could be the same, as the town would not seek to make a profit on its citizens. Plus the town will be able to sell its internet service to other areas for a profit. Proponents of the town building their own network noted that since the town would own the network, everyone would be treated the same. They were very wary of Comcast's data caps, extra fees, older HFC [hybrid fiber-coaxial] technology, future pricing, limited control over future network build-outs, slowdowns for competing streaming services and customer service horror stories. Westfield Gas & Electric has already completed the design of the fiber distribution network, utility poles, preliminary designs and cost estimates. If the town gets 72% of the residents to sign up for the service, no extra property tax will be needed.

The town plans to charge $79 a month for standalone Internet service with gigabit download and upload speeds and no data caps, though the price could rise to $99 a month if fewer than 40 percent of households buy the service. The town also plans to offer phone and TV service at rates cheaper than Comcast's. If only 40 percent of households subscribe to the town broadband service, the effect on the tax rate would be about 66 cents per $1,000 valuation. With 59 percent of households taking broadband service, the tax hike would be 29 cents, similar to that for Comcast. But if 72 percent or more of households subscribe to the municipal-owned network, there is no tax impact, because subscriber fees would pay for it.

Posted by cageymaru December 11, 2018 4:05 PM (CST)

Google CEO Tells Lawmakers That It Has No Plans to Launch Chinese Search Engine

Google CEO Sundar Pichai has told a U.S. congressional panel Tuesday that it has no plans to relaunch its search engine in China. "But he added that internally Google has 'developed and looked at what search could look like. We've had the project underway for a while. At one point, we've had over 100 people working on it is my understanding.'" Google employees have been vocal in their disapproval of project Dragonfly, the internal name for the censored Chinese search engine.

"Right now, there are no plans to launch search in China," Pichai told the U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. Pichai said there are no current discussions with the Chinese government. He vowed that he would be "fully transparent" with policymakers if the company brings search products to China.

Posted by cageymaru December 11, 2018 2:14 PM (CST)

Lift's Octadecarotor Aircraft is Almost Ready to Fly

While Uber, Google, and others are working on flying taxis, a small company from Austin, Texas intends to beat them to the punch. Lift Aircraft has developed a manned, 18-rotor VTOL aircraft called "Hexa," and they say it'll be ready soon. The company will start selling flight time in 2019, and claim the craft is significantly easier to fly that a helicopter. The controls are based on a "joystick and an iPad Pro," and ground control can take over if something happens to the pilot. Small batteries are mounted under each rotor for reliability, and they're supposedly good for about 10-15 minutes of flight. Check out the aircraft in action below:

Pilots will undertake a brief VR training session before they head out to the launch pad, to familiarize themselves with the control scheme. On the joystick, it's as simple as push to go in any direction, with a thumb control for altitude and an index finger control for yaw (the company initially thought a twist-to-turn yaw control would be more intuitive, but found it harder to use in flight tests than a separate control). The iPad touchscreen console will make things even simpler for beginner pilots, enabling one-touch takeoff and landing, and walking you through simple beginner tutorials much like you'd do as a first timer on a DJI drone. "There's not a lot of training required," Chasen tells us. "It's sort of like a video game, a game that you get to fly in." From there, you're off. As the Hexa will be flying under the ultralight classification (meaning it requires no certification or pilot's license), you'll be limited to flying under 700 feet, or 1200 feet in some locations, and not over any populated areas. Maximum speed for ultralights is 55 knots, or about 63 mph/101 km/h in terms of ground speed, and Chasen says if the Hexa turns out to be capable of going faster than that, it'll be electronically restricted from doing so.

Posted by alphaatlas December 11, 2018 12:16 PM (CST)

Watch Google's CEO Sundar Pichai Testify Before Congress

Google chief executive Sundar Pichai testifies before the House Judiciary Committee on Alphabet Inc. unit's social media practices.

After a year of avoiding the spotlight -- and the political scrutiny that's befallen his peers at Facebook and Twitter -- Pichai is set to deliver his first-ever testimony to Congress on Tuesday. The appearance is shaping up to be a major test of Pichai's skills in managing the company's reputation at a time when several of Silicon Valley's biggest names are in crisis -- and when many of Google's employees are in revolt.

Posted by cageymaru December 11, 2018 12:10 PM (CST)

Intel Is Feeling the Heat from Amazon's Homegrown Chips

Intel has dominated the server market with a 96.6% market share even after AMD reentered the competition. Intel seems secure, but the landscape of the server market is different from conventional tech markets as 10 corporations have the purchasing power to command 35% of the total sales in the server market. In the NY Times article, Shane Rau at research firm IDC said, "Each one of these companies is so large, they represent a market unto themselves." For a large corporation like Amazon, which generates 56% of its revenue from its Amazon Web Services subsidiary, to start making its own chips will surely affect Intel's profits in the future. Google has already designed three generations of A.I. chips and eventually wants to design its own CPUs. Amazon has the volume to get their chip designs manufactured through cutting edge foundries such as TSMC and others. Dozens of small chip design houses exist today and waiting in the wings to take their part of the server market pie.

Intel acknowledges that companies like Amazon want to reduce their dependency on one big chip supplier. "I am not unaware of the dynamic," Lisa Spelman, an Intel vice president, said. "Our goal is to understand and respectfully acknowledge that desire." Intel's data center group, which sells both server and A.I. chips, pulled in $6.1 billion, a 26 percent increase over the previous year. The group now accounts for more than 30 percent of Intel's revenue.

Posted by cageymaru December 11, 2018 11:47 AM (CST)

Blockchain Storefront RobotCache Signs on 700 Games from 22 Publishers

According to a report by VentureBeat, RobotCache's ambitious blockchain-based gaming storefront is making significant progress. Despite being in early access, the company claims to have signed on 700 games from 22 publishers. Interestingly, publishers are supposed to get a 95% sales cut from the platform, as opposed to 70% from Steam or 88% on the Epic Games Store. The store will also allow users to resell games, but they'll only get 25% of the game's price back in return. THQ Nordic, Paradox Interactive, and inXile are among the publishers that have already joined the platform, but the CEO says "We are talking to everybody in the industry now."

"We welcome other stores coming to market because for too long, it has been a monopoly," Jacobson said. And, as mentioned, the Iron currency can still be used as a reward for mining and to purchase games. But it's more like an airline mileage plan now, rather than a cryptocurrency. "We are solving the hardest blockchain problems," Jacobson said. "We hope to be one of the largest mining pools in the world with a big user base."

Posted by alphaatlas December 11, 2018 10:30 AM (CST)

Infinity Blade Removed from iOS App Store

In a surprise move, Epic Games announced that they are removing all three Infinity Blade games from the iOS App Store. The games have long been a staple of the App Store's gaming section, and both Apple and Epic frequently used the series to show off advances in mobile hardware and Unreal Engine. Epic Games claims that "it has become increasingly difficult for our team to support the Infinity Blade series at a level that meets our standards," while noting that existing owners will still be able to play, and that a big update is still coming to Infinity Blade III. While the loss of Infinity Blade isn't exactly Earth shattering, Touch Arcade notes that this says a lot about the state of Apple's App Store as a gaming platform.

Epic is on top of the world right now, and it being "increasingly difficult" to support likely has everything to do with the dismal state of premium games on the App Store in 2018 and it just not being worth Epic's while to continue supporting the Infinity Blade trilogy. Just let that sink in for a minute. The game company that has the biggest hit in the world, and is raking in so much cash that they're even opening their own online game distribution platform for developers with absurdly generous terms can't make sense out of continuing to maintain their mobile games. Their mobile games which have been extensively featured by Apple at every possible opportunity and were effectively platform-defining when they were released are now ... increasingly difficult to support. What in the hell.

Posted by alphaatlas December 11, 2018 9:55 AM (CST)

Amazon Fires Employees for Leaking Internal Data

The Wall Street Journal claims that Amazon has fired "several employees" for selling company data to independent merchants. According to Kitguru's interpretation of the report, the workers allegedly sold user email addresses, unbanned accounts, and deleted negative reviews for money, and merchants who bought the company data used it to "manipulate customer perception and target advertisements." The problem is particularly rampant in China and India, and customer support employees in those countries are allegedly getting their access to sensitive data revoked. Fortunately, Amazon is appears to be coming down hard on the practice, as they have with other forms of fraud and abuse that plagued their storefrontin the past.

Getting an Amazon seller onto your side is not cheap, as payments were expected to range between $80 and $2,000. On average, bad reviews were often removed in bulks of five for approximately $300 per transactions. "We have zero tolerance for abuse of our systems and if we find bad actors who have engaged in this behaviour, we will take swift action against them, including terminating their selling accounts, deleting reviews, withholding funds, and taking legal action," exclaims an Amazon spokesperson. "We are conducting a thorough investigation of these claims."

Posted by alphaatlas December 11, 2018 9:37 AM (CST)

LG HomeBrew Craft Beer Making Machine Is Debuting at CES 2019

LG has announced the unveiling of its LG HomeBrew craft beer making machine at CES 2019. The easy to use device utilizes single-use capsules to create up to 5 liters of craft beer in 2 weeks. The capsules contain all the malt, yeast, hop oil and flavoring needed to create a batch of craft beer. Users can monitor the status of their beverage creations with an Android or iOS device, as the machine automates the whole procedure from fermentation, carbonation and aging to serving and cleaning. The machine not only makes the entire process foolproof; it even cleans up for itself afterwards. Some of the craft beer recipes that will ship with the machine include hoppy American IPA, golden American Pale Ale, full-bodied English Stout, zesty Belgian-style Witbier and dry Czech Pilsner.

"LG HomeBrew is the culmination of years of home appliance and water purification technologies that we have developed over the decades," said Song Dae-hyun, president of LG Electronics Home Appliance & Air Solution Company. "Homebrewing has grown at an explosive pace but there are still many beer lovers who haven't taken the jump because of the barrier to entry and these are the consumers we think will be attracted to LG HomeBrew."

Posted by cageymaru December 11, 2018 9:08 AM (CST)

Bad Default Configurations Leave Ethereum Wallets Exposed

According to a ZDNet report, bad default configurations in popular Ethereum software are leaving users' wallets wide open to exploitation, and hackers are taking advantage of it. The misconfiguration exposes the standard JSON-RPC interface commonly found in Ethereum software to the internet, which allows attackers to easily scan for vulnerable clients and issue commands, such as wallet transfers. ZDnet claims that scans for the vulnerable port ramped up at least a week ago. While the value of Ethereum has plunged to less than 10% of what it was worth in January, according to CoinMarketCap, all the ETH in circulation is still worth over $9 billion USD. Thanks to Schtask for the tip.

However, the problem with port 8545 isn't new. Back in August 2015, the Ethereum team sent out a security advisory to all Ethereum users about the dangers of using mining equipment and Ethereum software that exposes this API interface over the Internet, recommending that users take precautions by either adding a password on the interface, or using a firewall to filter incoming traffic for port 8545. Many mining rig vendors and wallet app makers have taken precautions to limit port 8545 exposure, or have removed the JSON-RPC interface altogether. Unfortunately, this wasn't an industry-concerted effort, and many devices are still exposed online. But despite warnings from the Ethereum team, many users have failed to check Ethereum clients about this issue.

Update 12/11/18: 360 Netlab claims that over $20 Million in Ethereum has been stolen already. Discussion
Posted by alphaatlas December 11, 2018 8:59 AM (CST)