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VMware Affirms Open Source Commitment By Becoming Gold Linux Foundation Member
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 12:22 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's reaffirming-commitment department:
Reader BrianFagioli writes: Today, VMware showed its commitment to the open source community by becoming a Linux Foundation Gold Member. The company joins many other successful companies at that level, such as Facebook, Toshiba, and Toyota, to name a few. "VMware has been involved in open source for years, by contributing to existing open source projects as well as open sourcing some of the company's own code. This includes significant participation in and contributions to Linux Foundation projects such as Open Network Automation Platform (ONAP), Cloud Foundry and Open vSwitch, as well as other open source projects including OpenStack. Becoming a Gold member of The Linux Foundation will enable VMware to become even more active in the open source community by leveraging The Linux Foundation's experience and expertise in how to most effectively contribute to and utilize open source technology," says The Linux Foundation.

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New York State To Launch Electric Vehicle Rebate
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 12:22 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-about-that department:
An anonymous reader shares an AP report: New York state will soon launch a rebate intended to make electric vehicles more price competitive with traditional cars. Officials said they'll launch the initiative by April 1. The rebate of up to $2,000 will be available for zero-emission and plug-in electric hybrid vehicles. It's part of an effort to reduce automotive carbon emissions, the state's largest climate change contributor. "We want to make electric vehicles a mainstream option," said state Assemblywoman Amy Paulin, a Westchester County Democrat who leads the Assembly energy committee. "They are becoming more affordable and we need to encourage them." Environmentalists supported the rebate when it was approved by lawmakers in 2016 and have been eagerly awaiting the launch.

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Huge Database Leak Reveals 1.37 Billion Email Addresses and Exposes Illegal Spam Operation
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 12:22 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's boom department:
One of the largest spam operations in the world has exposed its entire operation to the public, leaking its database of 1.37bn email addresses thanks to a faulty backup. From a report: A faulty backup has inadvertently exposed the entire working database of notorious spam operator River City Media (RCM). In all, the database contains more than 1.37 billion email addresses, and for some records there are additional details such as names, real-world addresses, and IP addresses. It's a situation that's described as "a tangible threat to online privacy and security." Details about the leak come courtesy of Chris Vickery from macOS security firm MacKeeper who -- with a team of helpers -- has been investigating since January. River City Media's database ended up online thanks to incorrectly-configured Rsync backups. In the words of Vickery: "Chances are you, or at least someone you know, is affected." The leaked, and unprotected, database is what's behind the sending of over a billion spam emails every day -- helped, as Vickery points out, by "a lot of automation, years of research, and fair bit of illegal hacking techniques." But it's more than a database that has leaked -- it's River City Media's entire operation.

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Pollution Responsible For a Quarter of Deaths of Young Children, Says WHO
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 12:22 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's where-we-are department:
More than 1 in 4 deaths of children under 5 years of age are attributable to unhealthy environments. Every year, environmental risks -- such as indoor and outdoor air pollution, second-hand smoke, unsafe water, lack of sanitation, and inadequate hygiene -- take the lives of 1.7 million children under 5 years, say two new WHO reports. The Guardian adds: "A polluted environment is a deadly one -- particularly for young children," says Dr Margaret Chan, director-general of the WHO. "Their developing organs and immune systems -- and smaller bodies and airways -- make them especially vulnerable to dirty air and water." The harm from air pollution can begin in the womb and increase the risk of premature birth. After birth, air pollution raises the risk of pneumonia, a major cause of death for under fives, and of lifelong lung conditions such as asthma. It may also increase the risk of heart disease, stroke and cancer in later life.

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Social Media 'Increases Loneliness', Says Study
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 09:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's how-we-live department:
An anonymous reader shares a BBC report: Social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest are causing more people to feel alone, according to US psychologists. A report suggests that more than two hours of social media use a day doubled the chances of a person experiencing social isolation. It claims exposure to idealised representations of other people's lives may cause feelings of envy. The study also looked at those using Instagram, Snapchat and Tumblr. "We do not yet know which came first - the social media use or the perceived social isolation," co-author Elizabeth Miller, professor of paediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh, said. "It's possible that young adults who initially felt socially isolated turned to social media. Or it could be that their increased use of social media somehow led to feeling isolated from the real world." Theories in the report suggest the more time a person spends online, the less time they have for real-world interactions.

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Uber's Silicon Valley Employees May Be Looking to Jump Ship
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 09:42 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-going-on department:
Some San Francisco-based recruiters and executives at Uber's rival companies told the Financial Times in a Monday article that the number of Uber employees looking to leave the ride-sharing company has spiked. From a report: "One of the main reasons is lack of faith in senior leadership," one unnamed recruiter that previously worked with Uber told the FT. The news comes as the company weathers waves of criticism regarding its leadership, political stance, and internal culture. An Uber spokesperson told the FT that its current level of departures has been normal.

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What the Death of CRT Display Means For Classic Arcade Machines
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's shape-of-things-to-come department:
An anonymous reader shares a VentureBeat report:The cathode-ray-tube technology that powered the monitors for nearly every classic arcade game in the twentieth century is defunct. Sony, Samsung, and others have left it behind for skinnier and more lucrative LCDs and plasmas, and the CRTs that are left are about to sell out. The current stock of new 29-inch CRT monitors is dwindling. Online arcade cabinet and parts supplier Dream Arcades has fewer than 30 of those large displays sitting on its shelves. When it sells out of the current inventory, it will never get another shipment in that size again. "We've secured enough [of the other sizes] to get us all the way through next year," says Michael Ware, founder of Dream Arcades. "After that, that's it." The future of arcade-cabinet restoration is looking bleak. "The old arcade games are like aging people," says Walter Day, founder of high-score-keeping site Twin Galaxies. "They have old livers and aging kidneys. There will come a day when very few arcade cabinets have original components. Time will wear them out." To be clear, it's not that games like Donkey Kong or Pac-Man will suddenly become unplayable. The games can run on newer LCD screens, but they may not look as the developers intended.

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Exploit that Caused iPhones To Repeatedly Dial 911 Reveals Grave Cybersecurity Threat, Say Experts
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 08:21 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's what's-happening department:
Ben Lovejoy, writing for 9to5Mac: We reported back in October on an iOS exploit that caused iPhones to repeatedly dial 911 without user intervention. It was said then that the volume of calls meant one 911 center was in 'immediate danger' of losing service, while two other centers had been at risk -- but a full investigation has now concluded that the incident was much more serious than it appeared at the time. It was initially thought that a few hundred calls were generated in a short time, but investigators now believe that one tweeted link that activated the exploit was clicked on 117,502 times, each click triggering a 911 call. The WSJ reports that law-enforcement officials and 911 experts fear that a targeted attack using the same technique could prove devastating. Of the 6,500 911 call centers nationwide, just 420 are believed to have implemented a cybersecurity program designed to protect them from this kind of attack.

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IBM Will Sell 50-Qubit Universal Quantum Computer In the Next Few Years
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 07:04 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's they-are-coming department:
Months after laying the groundwork for offerings in emerging tech categories such as artificial intelligence and blockchain, IBM sees quantum computers as a big, if nascent, business opportunity. From a report on ArsTechnica: IBM will build and sell commercial 50-qubit universal quantum computers, dubbed IBM Q, "in the next few years." No word on pricing just yet, but I wouldn't expect much change from $15 million -- the cost of a non-universal D-Wave quantum computer. In other news, IBM has also opened up an API (sample code available on Github) that gives developers easier access to the five-qubit quantum computer currently connected to the IBM cloud. Later in the year, IBM will release a full SDK, further simplifying the process of building quantum software. You can't actually do much useful computation with five qubits, mind you, but fortunately IBM also has news there: the company's quantum simulator can now simulate up to 20 qubits. The idea is that developers should start thinking about potential 20-qubit quantum scenarios now, so they're ready to be deployed when IBM builds the actual hardware.

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Google's Featured Snippets Are Worse Than Fake News
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 07:04 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's trouble-in-news department:
Adrianne Jeffries, reporting for The Outline: Peter Shulman, an associate history professor at Case Western Reserve University in Ohio, was lecturing on the reemergence of the Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s when a student asked an odd question: Was President Warren Harding a member of the KKK? Shulman was taken aback. He confessed that he was not aware of that allegation, but that Harding had been in favor of anti-lynching legislation, so it seemed unlikely. But then a second student pulled out his phone and announced that yes, Harding had been a Klan member, and so had four other presidents. It was right there on Google, clearly emphasized inside a box at the top of the page. "I understand what Google is trying to do, and it's work that perhaps requires algorithmic aid," Shulman said in an email. "But in this instance, the question its algorithm scoured the internet to answer is simply a poorly conceived one. There have been no presidents in the Klan." Google needs to invest in human experts who can judge what type of queries should produce a direct answer like this, Shulman said. "Or, at least in this case, not send an algorithm in search of an answer that isn't simply 'There is no evidence any American president has been a member of the Klan.' It'd be great if instead of highlighting a bogus answer, it provided links to accessible, peer-reviewed scholarship."

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Researchers Suggest Using Blockchain For Electronic Health Records
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 05:40 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's data-for-doctors department:
The CIO at a Boston teaching hospital and two MIT researchers write in the Harvard Business Review that blockchain "has the potential to enable secure lifetime medical record sharing across providers," calling it "a different construct, providing a universal set of tools for cryptographic assurance of data integrity, standardized auditing, and formalized 'contracts' for data access." An anonymous reader quotes their report:

A vexing problem facing health care systems throughout the world is how to share more medical data with more stakeholders for more purposes, all while ensuring data integrity and protecting patient privacy... Today humans manually attempt to reconcile medical data among clinics, hospitals, labs, pharmacies, and insurance companies. It does not work well because there is no single list of all the places data can be found or the order in which it was entered...

Imagine that every electronic health record (EHR) sent updates about medications, problems, and allergy lists to an open-source, community-wide trusted ledger, so additions and subtractions to the medical record were well understood and auditable across organizations. Instead of just displaying data from a single database, the EHR could display data from every database referenced in the ledger. The end result would be perfectly reconciled community-wide information about you, with guaranteed integrity from the point of data generation to the point of use, without manual human intervention.

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Ask Slashdot: What Would Happen If All Software Ran On All Platforms?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 06 '17 at 01:41 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's universal-translators department:
Slashdot reader dryriver writes:
We live in a computing world where the OS you use -- Windows, OS X, Linux, Android, iOS, others -- often determines what software can and cannot be run on a given electronic device. (Let us pretend for a moment that emulators and other options don't exist). What if -- magically -- such a thing as as Universally Compatible Software Application were possible. Software, in other words, that is magically capable of running on any electronic device equipped with enough CPU, GPU and memory capacity to run the software in a usable way.

Example: 3D CAD software that runs on Windows 14, Playstation 7, an Android Smartphone, Nintendo's latest handheld gaming device and an Ubuntu PC in exactly the same way with no compatibility problems whatsoever occurring. What would and would not change in such a computing world?

He also asks an even more important question: will this ever be possible or feasible from a technical standpoint? So leave your best answers in the comments. Will it ever be possible to run all software on all platforms -- and what would happen if we could?

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The US Waged A Secret Cyber War Against North Korean Missiles
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '17 at 09:31 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's malware,-lasers-and-signal-jamming department:
Early Monday morning North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea of Japan, lending a new urgency to Saturday's revelation from the New York Times of America's "secret cyberwar" with North Korea. Slashdot reader Frosty Piss summarizes its suspected effects succinctly: "Soon after ex-President Obama ordered the secret program three years ago, North Korean missiles began exploding, veering off course, or crashing into the sea."

The Times reports the program was started when Obama "concluded that the $300 billion spent since the Eisenhower era on traditional anti-missile systems...had failed the core purpose of protecting the continental United States," with tests of missile interceptors showing an overall failure rate of at least 56%. But after interviewing government officials, the Times concludes that the U.S. "still does not have the ability to effectively counter the North Korean nuclear and missile programs." Options include escalating the cyber and electronic warfare, trying to negotiate a freeze, asking the Chinese to cut off trade and support, or preparing for direct missile strikes on the launch sites, "which Obama also considered, but there is little chance of hitting every target." The New York Times article concludes:
The White House is looking at military options against North Korea, a senior Trump administration official said. Putting U.S. tactical nuclear weapons back in South Korea -- they were withdrawn a quarter-century ago -- is also under consideration, even if that step could accelerate an arms race with the North.

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Sprint Wins $140M Verdict Against Time Warner Cable For Infringing VoIP Patents
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '17 at 08:10 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's profiting-from-patents department:
Sprint "may have just scored its biggest payout yet," reports Ars Technica, pointing out that Sprint's been filing lawsuits over its VoIP patents for more than a decade. An anonymous reader quotes their report:

On Friday, a jury in Sprint's home district of Kansas City said that Time Warner Cable, now part of Charter Communications, must pay $139.8 million for infringing several patents related to VoIP technology. The jury found that TWC's infringement was willful, which means that the judge could increase the damage award up to three times its value... Sprint filed the lawsuits that led to Friday's verdict in 2011, when it sued TWC along with Comcast, Cox, and Cable One, saying the competing companies violated 12 different Sprint VoIP patents.
The article points out that Comcast's response was to immediately file a countersuit, which so far has resulted in an early $7.5 million verdict in their favor.

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Litebook Launches A $249 Linux Laptop
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '17 at 05:22 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's latest-Linux-laptops department:
An anonymous reader writes:
It's "like a Chromebook for Linux users on a budget," reports ZDNet. The new 2.9-pound Litebook uses Intel's Celeron N3150 processor and ships with a 14.1-inch display and a 512-gigabyte hard drive with full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080). For $20 more they'll throw in a 32-gigabyte SSD to speed up your boot time. "Unlike Windows laptops, Litebooks are highly optimized, come without performance hogging bloatware, [are] designed to ensure your privacy, and are entirely free of malware and viruses," writes the company's web site. They also add that their new devices "are affordable, customizable, and are backwards compatible with Windows software."

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FBI Dismisses Child Porn Case Rather Than Reveal Their Tor Browser Exploit
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '17 at 04:01 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's no-charges department:
An anonymous reader writes:
Federal prosecutors just dropped charges against a child pornography suspect rather than reveal the source code for their Tor exploit. Of the 200 cases they're prosecuting nationwide, this is only the second one where the FBI has asked that the case be dismissed. "Disclosure is not currently an option," federal prosecutors wrote in a court ruling Friday. The Department of Justice is still prosecuting 135 different people believed to have accessed an illegal child pornography web site. Before shutting it down, the FBI seized the site and operated it themselves for 13 more days, which allowed them to deploy malware to expose the users' real IP addresses.

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What Happens When Robots Can Deliver Your Groceries?
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '17 at 04:01 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's meals-on-wheels department:
"What if you could get groceries in less than two minutes without even leaving your apartment?" asks VentureBeat. "Another beer...? Think guacamole would go extremely well with those Doritos you just opened?" Several grocery-delivery startups are already working to make this a reality. Slashdot reader moglito summarizes their vision of autonomous indoor-delivery robots from automated refrigerators servicing high-rise apartment buildings.
Coupled with AI algorithms for learning what residents like to consume, and algorithms for automatically restocking those items via a network of suppliers or logistics companies, this "bot-mart" could make grocery shopping a boring and time-consuming thing of the past... Will robots similarly reduce the need for a kitchen next?

Yes, the article also describes cooking robots (which can already prepare burgers, pizza, and sandwiches), as well as new automated delivery vehicles restaurants. "Perhaps the only question remaining is whether there is a business case for this," they point out -- though under some scenarios, it could actually prove cheaper than driving to the grocery store yourself. "Consumers will find it ever easier to get what they want, when they want it, where they want it."

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Windows 10 Build 15048 Has a Windows Mixed Reality Demo You Can Try
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '17 at 02:34 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's insider-previews department:
Microsoft's big push into mixed reality involves headsets from multiple manufacturers (including ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo), and developer kits with Acer's headset will begin a phased rollout this month. But Windows 10's latest "Insider Preview" build already includes a mixed reality simulator with a first-person 3D environment that can be navigated with the W, A, S and D keys. Slashdot reader Mark Wilson writes:
From the look of the changelog for Windows 10 build 15048 that was released a few days ago to Insiders, it looked to be little more than a bug fixing release. But in fact Microsoft has already started to include references to -- and even a portal for -- Windows Mixed Reality. We have seen reference to Windows Holographic in Windows 10 before, but this is the first time there has been anything to play with. It coincides nicely with Microsoft revealing that Windows Mixed Reality is the new name for Windows Holographic, and it gives Insiders the chance to not only see if their computer meets the recommended specs, but also to try out a Windows Mixed reality simulation.

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Microsoft Browser Usage Drops 50% As Chrome Soars
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '17 at 01:22 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's living-off-the-Edge department:
An anonymous reader quotes Network World's report about new statistics from analytics vendor Net Applications:
From March 2015 to February 2017, the use of Microsoft's IE and Edge on Windows personal computers plummeted. Two years ago, the browsers were run by 62% of Windows PC owners; last month, the figure had fallen by more than half, to just 27%. Simultaneous with the decline of IE has been the rise of Chrome. The user share of Google's browser -- its share of all browsers on all operating systems -- more than doubled in the last two years, jumping from 25% in March 2015 to 59.5% last month. Along the way, Chrome supplanted IE to become the world's most-used browser...
In the last 24 months, Mozilla's Firefox -- the other major browser alternative to Chrome for macOS users -- has barely budged, losing just two-tenths of a percentage point in user share. [And] in March 2015, an estimated 69% of all Mac owners used Safari to go online. But by last month, that number had dropped to 56%, a drop of 13 percentage points -- representing a decline of nearly a fifth of the share of two years prior.

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Hidden Backdoor Discovered In Chinese IoT Devices
Posted by News Fetcher on March 05 '17 at 11:52 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's telnet-trouble department:
"A backdoor has been found in devices made by a Chinese tech firm specializing in VoIP products," reports TechRadar. An anonymous reader quotes their article:
Security outfit Trustwave made the discovery of a hidden backdoor in DblTek's devices which was apparently put there to allow the manufacturer access to said hardware -- but of course, it's also open to being exploited by other malicious parties. The backdoor is in the Telnet admin interface of DblTek-branded devices, and potentially allows an attacker to remotely open a shell with root privileges on the target device.

What's perhaps even more worrying is that when Trustwave contacted DblTek regarding the backdoor last autumn -- multiple times -- patched firmware was eventually released at the end of December. However, rather than removing the flaw, the vendor simply made it more difficult to access and exploit. And further correspondence with the Chinese company has apparently fallen on deaf ears.
The firmware with the hole "is present on almost every GSM-to-VoIP device which DblTek makes," and Trustwave "found hundreds of these devices on the net, and many other brands which use the same firmware, so are equally open to exploit."

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