Robinhood Glitch Steals From the Poor, Gives To the Rich

theodp writes: On its Careers page, zero-commission online broker Robinhood explains its founders “decided it was more important to build products that would provide everyone with access to the financial markets, not just the wealthy. Two years after heading to New York, they moved back to California and built Robinhood — a company that leverages technology to encourage everyone to participate in our financial system.” But on Monday, at least, the advantage went to the wealthy. Bloomberg reports that Robinhood suffered an outage that lasted the entire U.S. trading day and prevented customers from making trades as stocks surged after last week’s rout (status). Just another reminder that we’re all just one technology fail away from chaos.

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Nvidia’s GPU Technology Conference Will Now Be Online Only Due To Coronavirus Concerns

Nvidia has announced it has shifted its GPU Technology Conference (GTC) to be online-only due to concerns from the coronavirus outbreak. People who had registered for the event, which was originally set to be held in San Jose, California, from March 22nd to March 26th, will get a full refund. The Verge reports: “This decision to move the event online instead of at the San Jose Convention Center reflects our top priority: the health and safety of our employees, our partners and our customers,” the company said in a statement. Nvidia says company founder and CEO Jensen Huang will still deliver a keynote, and that it’s working with speakers to begin publishing talks online. The online version of the event will still take place from March 22nd to March 26th. Other tech events cancelled due to the coronavirus include Mobile World Congress, Facebook’s F8 developer conference, and the Game Developers Conference.

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Earth May Have Been a ‘Water World’ 3 Billion Years Ago, Scientists Find

An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Guardian: Scientists have found evidence that Earth was covered by a global ocean that turned the planet into a “water world” more than 3 billion years ago. Telltale chemical signatures were spotted in an ancient chunk of ocean crust which point to a planet once devoid of continents, the largest landmasses on Earth. If the findings are confirmed by future work, they will help researchers to refine their theories on where and how the first single-celled life emerged on Earth, and what other worlds may be habitable.

“An early Earth without emergent continents may have resembled a ‘water world’, providing an important environmental constraint on the origin and evolution of life on Earth, as well as its possible existence elsewhere,” the scientists write in Nature Geoscience. Their work centered on a geological site called the Panorama district in north-western Australia’s outback, where a 3.2 billion-year-old slab of ocean floor has been turned on its side. Locked inside the ancient crust are chemical clues about the seawater that covered Earth at the time. The scientists focused on different types of oxygen that seawater had carried into the crust. In particular, they analyzed the relative amounts of two isotopes, oxygen-16 and the ever-so-slightly-heavier oxygen-18, in more than 100 samples of the stone. They found that seawater contained more oxygen-18 when the crust was formed 3.2 billion years ago. The most likely explanation, they believe, is that Earth had no continents at the time, because when these form, the clays they contain absorb the ocean’s heavy oxygen isotopes. The Earth wasn’t entirely landless, however. “The scientists suspect that small ‘microcontinents’ may have poked out of the ocean here and there,” the report adds. “But they do not think the planet hosted vast soil-rich continents like those that dominate Earth today.”

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Was This Life’s First Meal?

sciencehabit shares a report from Science Magazine: Studies of the origin of life are replete with paradoxes. Take this doozy: Every known organism on Earth uses a suite of proteins — and the DNA that helps build it — to construct the building blocks of our cells. But those very building blocks are also needed to make DNA and proteins. The solution to this chicken-and-egg conundrum may lie at the site of hydrothermal vents, fissures in the sea floor that spew hot water and a wealth of other chemicals, researchers report today. Scientists say they have found that a trio of metal compounds abundant around the vents can cause hydrogen gas and carbon dioxide (CO2) to react to form a collection of energy-rich organic compounds critical to cell growth. And the high temperatures and pressures around the vents themselves may have jump-started life on Earth, the team argues. The new work is “thrilling,” says Thomas Carell, an origin of life chemist at Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich who was not affiliated with the new project. The organic molecules the study generated include formate, acetate, and pyruvate, which Carell calls “the most fundamental molecules of energy metabolism,” the process of converting nutrients into cell growth. The new results support a long-held idea about the origin of life known as “metabolism first hypothesis.” It posits that geochemical processes on early Earth created a stew of simple energy-rich compounds that drove the synthesis of complex molecules, which eventually provided the materials for Darwinian evolution and life. The findings appear in the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution.

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Source: Slashdot Is Shutting Down

AmiMoJo writes: Freedb, the community-generated database of music CD metadata, is shutting down on March 31, 2020. The service was set up as a free alternative to CDDB. Many CD-ripping applications pull metadata from Freedb to save the user having to type it in manually, but the service has some major limitations and has now been superseded by MusicBrainz. This wouldn’t be the first time Freedb shut down. In 2006, the site shut down due to a disagreement among its developers, only to be brought back to life a few months later.

It’s unclear why Freedb is shutting down after all these years.

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‘Have I Been Pwned’ Is No Longer For Sale

Troy Hunt, the owner and founder of the well-known and respected data breach notification website “Have I Been Pwned,” announced in a blog post today that his website is no longer being sold and will continue running independently. The news comes several months after Hunt announced he was actively looking for a buyer.

Last June, Hunt wrote: “To date, every line of code, every configuration and every breached record has been handled by me alone. There is no ‘HIBP team,’ there’s one guy keeping the whole thing afloat. It’s time for HIBP to grow up. It’s time to go from that one guy doing what he can in his available time to a better-resourced and better-funded structure that’s able to do way more than what I ever could on my own.”

Now, according to Hunt, “unexpected changes” with the business model of the party believed to be the purchaser of the service “made the deal infeasible.” “It wasn’t something I could have seen coming nor was it anything to do with HIBP itself, but it introduced a range of new and insurmountable barriers,” writes Hunt in today’s blog post. Hunt goes on to explain what’s been happening since April 2019 and how the service will operate in the future.

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Newly Obtained Documents Show Huawei Role In Shipping Prohibited US Gear To Iran

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Reuters: China’s Huawei, which for years has denied violating American trade sanctions on Iran, produced internal company records in 2010 that show it was directly involved in sending prohibited U.S. computer equipment to Iran’s largest mobile-phone operator. Two Huawei packing lists, dated December 2010, included computer equipment made by Hewlett-Packard Co and destined for the Iranian carrier, internal Huawei documents reviewed by Reuters show. Another Huawei document, dated two months later, stated: “Currently the equipment is delivered to Tehran, and waiting for the custom clearance.”

The packing lists and other internal documents, reported here for the first time, provide the strongest documentary evidence to date of Huawei’s involvement in alleged trade sanctions violations. They could bolster Washington’s multifaceted campaign to check the power of Huawei, the world’s leading telecommunications-equipment maker. The newly obtained documents involve a multi-million dollar telecommunications project in Iran that figures prominently in an ongoing criminal case Washington has brought against the Chinese company and its chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou. The daughter of Huawei’s founder, Meng has been fighting extradition from Canada to the United States since her arrest in Vancouver in December 2018. Huawei and Meng have denied the charges, which involve bank fraud, wire fraud and other allegations. The documents, which aren’t cited in the criminal case, provide new details about Huawei’s role in providing an Iranian telecom carrier with numerous computer servers, switches and other equipment made by HP, as well as software made by other American companies at the time, including Microsoft, Symantec and Novell. “A U.S. indictment alleges that Huawei and Meng participated in a fraudulent scheme to obtain prohibited U.S. goods and technology for Huawei’s Iran-based business, and move money out of Iran by deceiving Western banks,” the report adds. “The indictment accuses Huawei and Meng of surreptitiously using an “unofficial subsidiary” in Iran called Skycom Tech Co Ltd to obtain the prohibited goods.”

The documents also show that Chinese company, Panda International Information Technology Co, was involved in shipping gear to Iran too.

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Pixel 4 feature drop adds new emoji, scheduled dark mode, faster Google Pay

Android’s March Security Update is starting to roll out, and with it Google is announcing the second-ever “Feature Drop” for the Pixel 4. Feature Drops are a new update scheme that sees Google leverage its OS development skills into quarterly mini-updates for the Pixel line. This quarter the Pixel line is getting new emojis, the scheduled dark mode feature from Android 11, faster access to Google Pay, and several other features.

The Pixel 4 is currently on Android 10, which comes with Unicode Emoji 12.0. The Pixel 4 is getting an emoji update, but this isn’t 2020’s Unicode Emoji 13.0, which should be out along with Android 11. The Pixel is getting Emoji 12.1, which as the name suggests, this is a half-step between 12 and 13 that accelerates the release of some Emoji 13 features. As Emojipedia details, it includes 23 new gender-neutral emojis like “a gender-neutral fire fighter, astronaut, person in wheelchair, judge, and more. With skin-tone support included, the tally equals 138 additions.” Additionally, there are new skin tone combinations for the “couple” emoji that weren’t supported in Emoji 12. Google says there are 169 new emoji in this update.

The Android 11 Developer Preview introduced a scheduled dark mode that could turn on at sundown and off at sunrise, and that feature is being backported to the Pixel 4 on Android 10. There’s also a new feature that goes in the complete opposite direction—a high-brightness mode. The Pixel 4 has a pretty undersized battery, and higher-brightness won’t help, but sometimes you’re outside and really just want to see the display.

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Source: Tech – Ars Technica

AT&T’s new online TV has contracts, hidden fees, big 2nd-year price hike

An AT&T streaming box for TVs and a TV remote control.

Enlarge / This TV device and remote comes with AT&T TV. (credit: AT&T)

Streaming video services often provide an escape from the hidden fees, contracts, and other pricing annoyances common in cable TV. But that’s decidedly not the case with AT&T’s new live-TV online service, which mirrors cable plans by charging more than the advertised price, locking customers into contracts, and socking them with big price increases after a promotional rate expires.

AT&T TV, which was available in 13 markets during its testing phase, is now available nationwide, AT&T announced today. Aside from going nationwide and its slightly lower promotional prices, the service hasn’t changed much since we wrote about it last August. (Note that AT&T TV is not the same as the similarly named AT&T TV Now.)

The AT&T TV home page features several plans starting at $49.99 per month, while noting that the advertised price is good for only 12 months and does not include taxes and fees. How much are the taxes and fees? You’ll have to order the service to find out. I went through nearly all of the checkout process today, entering my name, address, and credit card details, hoping to figure out the full price so I could include that detail in this article. But the online portal requires that you hit “submit order” without knowing how much taxes and fees will add to your monthly bill.

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Biz & IT – Ars Technica

First Case of Coronavirus Confirmed In New York State

A woman who recently traveled to Iran is New York’s first confirmed case of the novel coronavirus (Warning: source paywalled; alternative source), New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sunday night. The Wall Street Journal reports: The woman, who wasn’t named, is in her late 30s and contracted the virus while traveling abroad in Iran. She has respiratory symptoms and is isolated in her home, according to the governor’s office. She isn’t in serious condition and has been in a controlled situation since arriving in New York, according to the governor’s office. “There is no cause for surprise — this was expected,” the governor said in a statement. “I said from the beginning it was a matter of when, not if, there would be a positive case of novel coronavirus in New York.” A state official said the woman is in Manhattan. The report says there’s been a total of eight other cases in New York City, but all of those people had tested negative.

“As of Sunday, 32 people in New York, including the one positive case, have been tested for coronavirus infection,” reports The Wall Street Journal, citing New York state health officials. “All the other tests were negative.” If the virus spreads, New York City health officials said there are roughly 1,200 hospital beds throughout the city that could be used.

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