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Ad network uses advanced malware technique to conceal CPU-draining mining ads

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Enlarge (credit: Lisa Brewster / Flickr)

The rise of drive-by cryptocurrency mining on a growing number of websites has led to a renewed demand for ad-blocking software. Web users are seeking new ways to ward off hidden code that saddles computers with resource-draining coin mining. Now some miners are employing a trick first popularized by botnet software that bypasses ad blocking.

Domain-name algorithms are a software-derived means for creating a nearly unlimited number of unique domain names on a regular basis. DGAs, as they're usually called, came to light in 2008 following the release of the highly viral Conficker worm. To prevent whitehats from seizing the domain names Conficker used to receive command and control instructions, the malware generated hundreds of new, unique domains each day that infected computers would check for updates. In the event that old domains were sinkholed, Conficker needed to reach only one of the new addresses for it to remain under its creator's control. The burden of registering more than 90,000 new domain names every year has proved so great to whitehats that Conficker continues to operate even now.

Researchers at China-based Netlab 360 reported over the weekend that an advertising network is using DGAs to conceal the in-browser currency-mining code it runs on websites. Normally, the ad network will redirect visitor browsers to serve.popad.net, which hosts ads that load coinhive.min.js. That's the JavaScript code that bogs down visitor computers by making them participate in a giant mining pool hosted by coinhive.com, which keeps 30 percent of the proceeds and gives the remainder to the advertiser or website that provided the referral. In most cases, all of this happens behind the scenes with no visible sign of what's happening, with the exception of over-revving fans and decreasing computer performance.

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leonick
54 days ago
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Breaking news: Malware behaves like malware!
Sweden
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Evidence mounts that laptops are terrible for students at lectures

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Do you use a laptop or tablet to take notes during school lectures or meetings? If so then maybe you should reconsider pen and paper because there’s increasing evidence that using laptops during lectures decreases learning which can result in lower grades, reports The New York Times.

A study at Princeton University and the University of California, investigated this by asking some students to take notes at a lecture using pen and paper, while another group used laptops. The experiment found that the students who used a laptop did not understand the lecture as well as those who wrote their notes out by hand. The researchers hypothesized that this was because students who wrote notes by hand had to process what the lecturer was saying and in effect summarize what was being said to keep up with the lecture. The researchers noted that “laptop note takers’ tendency to transcribe lectures verbatim rather than processing information and reframing it in their own words is detrimental to learning.”

Another study by researchers at York University and McMaster University tested students by asking them to look up things on their laptop that were unrelated to their lecture, like cinema session times. Unsurprisingly, they didn't remember as much of the lecture, and those sitting near them were adversely affected too. Further, a study from the United States Military Academy tested students’ achievements in an economics class by comparing the performance of students based on whether laptops or tablets were restricted, unrestricted, or not permitted at all. The study found that the students who did not have access to a device performed significantly better than those who did.

There’s also evidence that writing by hand improves motor skills, memory, and creativity. So, the next time you think about lugging your laptop into class or a meeting for the purposes of taking notes, maybe bring a notebook and pen instead.

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leonick
146 days ago
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This seems weird, why aren't the student writing by hand transcribing too? Have they never held a pen before or is the teach going far too fast?

Either way, sounds like students should be taught how to take notes, not that using laptops is a problem.
Sweden
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Super Mario Run’s 200 Million Downloads Didn’t Result in ‘Acceptable Profit’ for Nintendo

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Andrew Webster, writing for The Verge:

Nintendo’s first mobile game, Super Mario Run, was enormously popular — but that doesn’t mean it was a success for the company. During its most recent earnings report, Nintendo revealed that Mario Run has been downloaded 200 million times, 90 percent of which came from outside of Japan. However, Nintendo says that despite these big numbers, the game has “not yet reached an acceptable profit point.” While Nintendo didn’t reveal any specifics with regards to conversion rates, a big sticking point for many with Super Mario Run was its comparatively large price point; it’s free to download, but requires a one-time fee of $9.99 to unlock the whole game.

In contrast, Fire Emblem Heroes — which utilizes a more typical free-to-play structure, with plentiful microtransactions — has been a much more lucrative title for Nintendo.

I’d love to know Nintendo’s conversion rate on the $9.99 in-app purchase. It must be pretty low for 200 million downloads not to be profitable enough.

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leonick
172 days ago
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Not exactly surprising. 9.99$ is a lot for a mobile game and Super Mario Run is mechanically very basic even for a mobile game.
Sweden
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tingham
173 days ago
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My guess is that this is just PR for an impending conversion to the "traditional" F2P business model and to soften the blow that forthcoming games from Nintendo on non-Nintendo platforms will likely all be following the FEH pattern.

Kinda sad that they don't just say, "F2P works better for us so we're changing."
Cary, NC

Movie Studios Launch Movies Anywhere Service

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Services that promise to consolidate your digital movie collection in one place have come and gone over the years, so I was initially skeptical when I heard about Movies Anywhere, a new US-only service launched by Disney and other movie studios. However, after some preliminary testing of the service, I’m optimistic that Movies Anywhere stands a chance to become the first such service to catch on.

As reported by The Verge:

The big difference here is selection. Warner Bros., Universal, Sony Pictures, and Twentieth Century Fox have all signed on to Movies Anywhere. Along with Disney’s films, that gives the service a launch library of more than 7,300 titles.

Another differentiator with Movies Anywhere is platform support:

The promise of “buy once, watch anywhere” only works if a customer’s preferred device supports the service in question. The Movies Anywhere app will be available for iOS, Apple TV, Android, Android TV, Amazon Fire devices, and as part of Roku’s offerings. It will also support Chromecast, and titles will also [be] watchable through the service’s standalone website. And while apps for competing services have usually been clunky or awkward, the brief demo we saw of the Movies Anywhere app looked sleek and well-designed.

Movies Anywhere also gives customers the choice of where to buy their movies, though not without caveats on iOS.

Movies Anywhere will let customers browse for titles they’re interested in within the app itself, then allowing them to complete the purchase with their retailer of choice at the very end. (Android users will have the ability to purchase from Google Play, Amazon, or Vudu; those with Apple devices will only be able to purchase from iTunes, unless they head to a browser to purchase from a competitor directly.)

I tried to purchase a movie from the Movies Anywhere iOS app and sure enough, the only option was to buy it from iTunes. The workaround is to log into the Movies Anywhere service in Safari or another web browser, which will present you with the full menu of purchasing options. One other limitation that affects all platforms is that Movies Anywhere does not tell you how much a movie costs on each service. If you’re looking for a bargain, you’ll have to follow the link to each service to see how much they charge.

In the limited time I’ve had to try Movies Anywhere, I’ve been impressed. Logging into iTunes and Amazon Prime Video was quick and easy, and the movies I own on both providers showed up almost instantly in the iOS app and on the Movies Anywhere website. Playback happens in the Movies Anywhere app in a player that supports subtitles, closed-captioning, AirPlay, chapters, 15-second skipping ahead and back, and the option to pick up where you left off or start over if you exit the player. If Movies Anywhere can continue to grow its library of titles, the promise of all your movies anywhere you want them may finally become a reality.

Movies Anywhere is available on the App Store (US only).

→ Source: theverge.com

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leonick
191 days ago
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What a wonderfully iron name. Movies Anywhere, so long as it is within the US.
Sweden
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Ringer Volume/Media Volume

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Our new video ad campaign has our product's name shouted in the first 500 milliseconds, so we can reach the people in adjacent rooms while the viewer is still turning down the volume.
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leonick
233 days ago
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Why would you let the button control ringer volume to begin with?

I set it once and have never had a need o change it beside with mute switch.
Sweden
DragonJTS
231 days ago
Because... what the hell, why does it control ringer voume!?
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Public Policy Polling: 45 Percent of Trump Voters Think Whites Face the Most Racial Discrimination in U.S.

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Public Policy Polling:

The reason Trump hasn’t lost more ground for his widely panned response to the attack is probably that many of his supporters agree with some of the beliefs that led white supremacists to rally in Charlottesville in the first place. Asked what racial group they think faces the most discrimination in America, 45% of Trump voters say it’s white people followed by 17% for Native Americans with 16% picking African Americans, and 5% picking Latinos. Asked what religious group they think faces the most discrimination in America, 54% of Trump voters says it’s Christians followed by 22% for Muslims and 12% for Jews. There is a mindset among many Trump voters that it’s whites and Christians getting trampled on in America that makes it unlikely they would abandon Trump over his “both sides” rhetoric.

The idea that white Christians are the most discriminated against group in America is both bonkers and disgusting. And that’s how we wound up with a bonkers, disgusting president.

Overall 89% of Americans have a negative opinion of neo-Nazis to 3% with a positive one, and 87% have an unfavorable opinion of white supremacists to 4% with a positive one. Just 11% agree with the sentiment that it’s possible for white supremacists and neo-Nazis to be ‘very fine people,’ to 69% who say that’s not possible.

These numbers are much less depressing. But I’m really curious about the people in the middle, who have neither a positive nor negative opinion of Nazis. Who is neutral or undecided on Nazism and white supremacy?

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leonick
242 days ago
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"These numbers are much less depressing."

Yes, though probably only because the question was their opinion of neo-nazis. If the question was regarding views commonly held by neo-nazis the result would, sadly, probably be different.

Like how people will hold racist opinions but take great offense if called a racist.
Sweden
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4 public comments
lkeeney
241 days ago
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Well that's disturbing...!
Apex, North Carolina
lmoffeit
241 days ago
mom and dad definitely do! I almost commented on a FB post of theirs last night, but deleted it.
lkeeney
241 days ago
I've been hiding everything they share! It's the only way I can stay FB friends with them!
toddgrotenhuis
241 days ago
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"The idea that white Christians are the most discriminated against group in America is both bonkers and disgusting. And that’s how we wound up with a bonkers, disgusting president."
Indianapolis
mareino
241 days ago
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Maybe they misunderstood the verb "face" and read it as "the face of"?
Washington, District of Columbia
emdot
242 days ago
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Just ugh.
San Luis Obispo, CA
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