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NASA Shares Curiosity's New Mars Photos
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 04:21 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's mountains-of-Mars department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
"Curiosity is making us giddy by showing us some of the most amazing vistas we have ever seen on Mars," reports NASA. On the web site for their Mars Science Lab, they're sharing mission updates, but also all the raw photos as they're transmitted back by their Curiosity rover, which is travelling up a Martian mountain. "The plan so far has been to drive about 1/3 mile, stop to drill and drive again sampling the layers of the mountain as Curiosity makes her way up."

Curiosity is trying to determine whether Mars ever had environments capable of supporting simple life forms. NASA points out that it took Curiosity four years to reach its current location, joking about one wall of layered sandstone, "Wait, is this the Utah or Mars?"

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Firefox 49 Postponed One Week Due To Unexpected Bugs
Posted by News Fetcher on September 12 '16 at 12:12 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's grappling-with-Giphy-GIFs department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Softpedia:
Mozilla has announced this week that it is delaying the release of Firefox 49 for one week to address two unexpected bugs. Firefox 49, which was set for release on Tuesday, September 13, will now launch the following Tuesday, on September 20...

Firefox 49 is an important release in Mozilla's grand scheme of things when it comes to Firefox. This is the version when Mozilla will finish multi-process support rollout (a.k.a. e10s, or Electrolysis), and the version when Firefox launches the new WebExtensions API that replaces the old Add-ons API, making Firefox compatible with Chromium extensions.

Firefox's release manager explained the delays as "two blocking issues and the need for a bit more time to evaluate the results of their fixes/backouts" -- one of which apparently involves opening Giphy GIFS on Twitter.

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Amazon Will Open 100 Retail Stores
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 08:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's goodbye-Seattle department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
Amazon plans to open "as many as 100" retail stores in shopping malls by the end of next year, according to Business Insider. The 300- to 500-square-foot stores will sell familiar Amazon hardware products like Kindles and Fire TV, "but the broader goal is to drive more traffic to Amazon's online store, as these devices make it easier to purchase items there" -- and to promote Amazon's Echo personal assistant.

Amazon stores have already quietly opened in 12 states, including six stores in California and more stores in New York, Texas, Virginia, and Massachusetts. But now the brick-and-mortar stores "have emerged from the test phase with a goal to expand and grow," according to one Amazon job posting, and Business Insider reports that new Amazon stores "are popping up almost every week in shopping malls across the country."

The article has pictures of the new Amazon stores, and points out that the company also experienced disappointing results from an earlier experiment with Amazon trucks.

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A Very Detailed Dissection of a Frame From DOOM
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 06:53 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's weaponizing-demons-for-a-brighter-tomorrow department:
DOOM 2016 "cleverly re-uses old data computed in the previous frames...1331 draw calls, 132 textures and 50 render targets," according to a new article which takes a very detailed look at the process of rendering one 16-millisecond frame. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:

The game released earlier this year uses the Vulkan API to push graphics quality and performance at new levels. The article sheds light on rendering techniques, mega-textures, reflection computation... all the aspects of a modern game engine.

Some of the information came from "The Devil is in the Details," a July presentation at the SIGGRAPH 2016 conferences on graphics by Tiago Sousa, id's lead renderer programmer, and senior engine programmer Jean Geffroy. (And there's also more resources at the end of the article, including a July interview with five id programmers by Digital Foundry.) "Historically id Software is known for open-sourcing their engines after a few years, which often leads to nice remakes and breakdowns," the article notes. "Whether this will stand true with id Tech 6 remains to be seen but we don't necessarily need the source code to appreciate the nice graphics techniques implemented in the engine."

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Linux Kernel 3.14 Series Has Reached End of Life
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 04:12 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's today's-the-day department:
Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes an article on Softpedia: it looks like the Linux kernel maintainers decided that there's no need to maintain the Linux kernel 3.14 LTS series anymore, so earlier today, September 11, 2016, they decided to release that last maintenance update, version 3.14.79, and mark the series as EOL (End of Life). Famous Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman was the one to make the big announcement, and he's urging users who want to still run a long-term supported kernel version to move to the Linux 4.4 LTS series, which is currently the most advanced LTS branch, or use the latest stable release, Linux kernel 4.7.3...

Linux kernel 3.14.79 is a very small update that changes a total of 12 files, with 45 insertions and 17 deletions, thus fixing a bug in the EXT4 file system, a networking issue related to the Reliable Datagram Sockets (RDS) protocol, and updating a few HID, s390, SCSI, networking drivers.

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Are Governments Denying Internet Access To Their Political Opponents?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 02:54 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's offline-opposition department:
"Keeping your enemies offline can cripple their chances of overthrowing you," reports the MIT Technology Review. Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes their article:

Whether or not your ethnic group has political power is a crucial factor determining your access to the Internet, according to a new analysis. The effect varies from country to country, and is much less pronounced in democratic nations. But the study, published today in Science, suggests that besides censorship, another way national governments prevent opposing groups from organizing online is by denying them Internet access in the first place, says Nils Weidmann, a professor of political science at the University of Konstanz in Germany.

Researchers used a geolocation database to create a map showing subnetwork activity for a large volume of internet traffic, then compared it with geographic data for the world's ethnic groups. "They concluded that excluded groups had significantly lower access compared to the groups in power, and that this can't be explained by other economic or geographic factors (like living in rural vs. urban areas)... 'You don't have to censor if the opposition doesn't get access at all.' "

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US Goverment Employees Targetted By New 'GovRAT' Malware
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 02:54 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's feds-vs-phishers department:
Security researchers have detected an upgrade to the GoVRAT malware, which targets government employees and bypasses antivirus tools using stolen digital certificates. An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld:
Through GovRAT, hackers can potentially steal files from a victim's computer, remotely execute commands, or upload other malware to the system... The malware features an additional function to secretly monitor network traffic over the victim's computer -- something with scary consequences. "If you're downloading something from a particular resource, the hackers can intercept the download and replace it with malware," said InfoArmor CIO Andrew Komarov on Friday.

Last year, InfoArmor said that earlier versions of GovRAT had attacked more than 15 governments around the world, in addition to seven financial institutions and over 100 corporations.

The security researchers say GovRAT comes with "a stolen database of 33,000 Internet accounts, some of which belong to U.S. government employees," including names, email addresses and hashed passwords.

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Dolphins Recorded Having a Conversation For The First Time
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 01:32 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's day-of-the-dolphins department:
For the first time Russian researchers have recorded a conversation between two dolphins -- Yasha and Yana -- who were talking to each other in a pool. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Telegraph:

Scientists developed an underwater microphone which could distinguish the animals' different "voices" [and] have now shown that dolphins alter the volume and frequency of pulsed clicks to form individual "words" which they string together into sentences in much the same way that humans speak...

âoeThis language exhibits all the design features present in the human spoken language, this indicates a high level of intelligence and consciousness in dolphins, and their language can be ostensibly considered a highly developed spoken language, akin to the human language... Humans must take the first step to establish relationships with the first intelligent inhabitants of the planet Earth by creating devices capable of overcoming the barriers that stand in the way of using languages and in the way of communications between dolphins and people."

The dolphins listened to an entire "sentence" before replying, according to the article, which points out that dolphin brains are larger and more complex than the brains of humans.

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Ubuntu-Based Elementary OS 0.4 'Loki' Achieves Stable Release
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 12:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Ubuntu-with-an-app-store department:
"Today, Elementary 0.4 (code-named 'Loki'), achieves stable status," BetaNews reported Friday, applauding the "clean and functional" app tiles in its software center.

Elementary OS (stylized as elementary OS) isn't the most popular Linux distro, and it certainly isn't the best. However, this Ubuntu-based operating system is focusing on something that some competitors do not -- user interface, which ultimately contributes to the overall user experience. It is because of this that Elementary is so important to the Linux community -- it matters.

Developers focused on internationalization for this release, part of an effort to "grow the market" for open-souce software, according to the elementary blog, which proudly points out that 73% of the 1.2 million downloads for their "design-oriented" OS came from closed-source operating systems.

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Steve Wozniak May Swap His Tesla For A Chevy Bolt
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 10:52 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's pre-release-test-drive department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a San Jose Mercury News article about "Apple co-founder and electric vehicle fan Steve Wozniak."
Woz posted a picture of himself, smiling, next to a new, white Chevy Bolt. General Motors gave Woz the fully electric sedan for an extended test drive. He liked it. "I expect to be switching cars soon!" Woz wrote in a photo caption.

The battery-powered Bolt is due for release late this year. The four-door hatchback has an advertised range of 200 miles per charge, with a sticker price around $37,500. The EV will compete head-to-head with the Tesla Model 3. The Tesla entry-level sedan, expected to start at $35,000, will be released late next year.

It's interesting to read Wozniak's later comments on the post. "A lot of things wrong with the Tesla model S are done correctly (my opinion) in this car... It gets down to my product ideas of balance and getting the most from the least. Try to make things simple and affordable but very adequate. This car hits my sweet spot."

And in response to the obvious question, Woz replied "Maybe one Segway would fit. And a seat can be folded down."

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IoT Devices With Default Telnet Passwords Used As Botnet
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 10:52 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's telnetting-into-your-refrigerator department:
Slashdot reader stiebing.ja writes:
IoT devices, like DVR recorders or webcams, which are running Linux with open telnet access and have no passwords or default passwords are currently a target of attacks which try to install malware which then makes the devices a node of a botnet for DDoS attacks. As the malware, called Linux/Mirai, only resides in memory, once the attack has been successful, revealing if your device got captured isn't so easy, and also analyzing the malware is difficult, as it will vanish on reboot.

Plus the malware lays low at first, though "it is obvious that the main purpose is still for a DDoS botnet," according to MalwareMustDie, and it's designed to spread rapidly to other IoT devices using a telnet scanner. "According to the experts, several attacks have been detected in the wild," according to the article, which warns that many antivirus solutions are still unable to detect the malware, and "If you have an IoT device, please make sure you have no telnet service open and running."

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Should We Seed Life On Alien Worlds?
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 09:32 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Project-Genesis department:
Slashdot reader sciencehabit quotes an article from Science magazine: Astronomers have detected more than 3000 planets beyond our solar system, and just a couple of weeks ago they discovered an Earth-like planet in the solar system next door. Most -- if not all -- of these worlds are unlikely to harbor life, but what if we put it there? Science chatted with theoretical physicist Claudius Gros about his proposed Genesis Project, which would send artificially intelligent probes to lifeless worlds to seed them with microbes. Over millions of years, they might evolve into multicellular organisms, and, perhaps eventually, plants and animals. In the interview, Gros talks artificial intelligence, searching for habitable planets, and what kind of organisms he'd like to see evolve.
"The robots will have to decide if a certain planet should receive microbes and the chance to evolve life," the physicist explains -- adding that it's very important to avoid introducing new microbes on planets where life already exists.

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When Your Boss Is An Algorithm
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 08:11 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's great-gig-rebellion department:
Slashdot reader Presto Vivace shares an article on FT.com about "workers without a workplace, striking against a company that does not employ them...managed not by people but by an algorithm that communicates with them via their smartphones."

And what they are rebelling against is an app update... They might be free to choose when to work but not how to work or, crucially, how much they are paid... Some gig-economy workers and unions are bringing this question to court. They argue that these companies' algorithms exert so much control over workers that they are really employees in the eyes of the law and thus owed hourly minimum wages, sick pay, holiday pay and the like.

The article offers a detailed look at historical precedents for today's strict "service level assessments," noting that for the companies, "algorithmic management solves a problem: how to instruct, track and evaluate a crowd of casual workers you do not employ, so they deliver a responsive, seamless, standardized service." But for workers in the gig economy -- 800,000 in the U.S. alone -- the question becomes whether reporting to an algorithm in an app is liberating -- or exploitative?

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EU Finance Ministers Line Up Behind $21B Tax Ruling Against Apple
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 06:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's show-of-unanimity department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes the Associated Press: Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem urged Apple Saturday to "get ready" to pay up, as he and counterparts from other EU nations lined up behind a finding that the technology giant owes billions of euros due to more than a decade of improperly low taxation. Apple's bill could reach 19 billion euros ($21 billion) with interest, and both the company and Ireland, Apple's European headquarters are appealing the European Commission ruling. But on the last day of an EU finance ministers' meeting focused on ways to harmonize tax rules for international companies, Dijsselbloem told reporters that these "have an obligation to pay taxes in a fair way."
"International tax loopholes are a thing of the past," he said. Apple will have to pay back taxes both in the United States and Europe, he added, "so get ready to do that." Philip Hammond, his British counterpart, said the EU was keen "to make sure that international corporations pay the right tax at the right place. That's the fair way to do it, and we are going to make sure it happens." Austria, France, and Italy are reportedly also watching the case closely.

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CureCoin Cryptocurrency Enters Third Year of Helping Disease Researchers
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 06:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's crunch-for-the-cure department:
Millions of people have donated their unused computer power as part of "a global movement of teams and individuals committed to Protein Folding research," according to a special anniversary update at CureCoin.net. And after two years, CureCoin is now the fourth-largest contributor to Stanford's massively distributed computing project for disease research. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
CureCoin rewards citizen scientists participating in life science research through Stanford's Folding@home... It's actually very easy to participate -- basic account setup can take as little as 20 minutes, and you're contributing computing power with a PC or Mac while earning the tokens...

CureCoin uses a blockchain token called CURE as the means of reward. There is a growing market and exchange network for the coin. Occasional market volatility puts penny stocks to shame -- which if you are risk averse, makes it fun to watch nonetheless.

Sounds more useful than that cryptocurrency which rewards its users for participating in denial-of-service attacks.

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Why Sys-Admins Are Disabling The Lights on WiFi Access Points
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 04:11 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's bright-and-shiny department:
More than a dozen IT professionals said they've disabled the LEDs on wireless access points, according to a Network World article shared by Slashdot reader alphadogg:
Some users don't want a beacon shining in their eyes as they try to get to sleep and others worry about the health effects of a blue light glowing all night. Some even resort to unplugging the gear when they're not using it.... "It seems when you are sick and laying in a hospital bed and have trouble sleeping, the single LED shining in your eyes is an issue," [says the wireless network staff specialist for Penn State College of Medicine]. "I get it and understand it..."

Network pros say they have begun asking vendors such as Cisco if they can provide an easier way to dim, rather than turn off the lights on the access points entirely, via wireless controllers. And some would like to see more granular control, such that the power light could be left on to comfort end users that the device is working, but blinking lights could be turned off or dimmed to avoid bothering them.

End users have tried "all sorts of makeshift fixes -- from Post-it notes to bandages to condom wrappers," but one network architect complains that when they disable the LEDs altogether, "I invariably get a ticket (or more) that the access point is offline and wireless is broken because there are no lights on..." On the plus side, when they then re-enable the LED lghts, "magically the wireless performance and coverage is perfect!"

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DNA Confirms Cause of 1665 London's Great Plague
Posted by News Fetcher on September 11 '16 at 12:01 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's all-fall-down department:
Slashdot reader JThaddeus writes: The BBC reports that a 17th-century mass grave uncovered in London confirms the identity of the bacteria responsible for the Great Plague of 1665-1666. "Testing in Germany confirmed the presence of DNA from the Yersinia pestis bacterium -- the agent that causes bubonic plague -- rather than another pathogen." The grave contains approximately 3,500 skeletons... Teeth were removed from some of the skulls, and their pulp tested at the Max Planck Institute in Germany. Positive results were found in 5 of 20 individuals tested.

"To reassure anyone worried whether plague bacterium was released from the excavation work or scientific analysis, it doesn't survive in the ground," reports the BBC. The 3,500 graves represent roughly 3.5% of London's 100,000 victims of the Great Plague -- one-quarter of the city's entire population.

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Alleged Proprietors of 'DDOS For Hire' Service vDOS Arrested
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '16 at 07:53 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's teenagers-in-trouble department:
Long-time Slashdot reader pdclarry writes: Brian Krebs reports that the two youthful (18-year-old) alleged proprietors of vDOS, the DDOS service have been arrested in Israel on a complaint from the FBI. They have been released on $10,000 bond each, their passports lifted, and they have been placed under house arrest, and banned from using the Internet for 30 days. They were probably identified through a massive hack of the vDOS database recently [reported Friday morning on Slashdot]. Krebs also reports that vDOS's DNS addresses were hijacked by the firm BackConnect Security to get out from under a sustained DDOS attack, and that his site, krebsonsecurity.com has been under a sustained DDOS attack since his last article was published, with the packets containing the string "godiefaggot". Those attacks continue, but, as he has been the target of many DDOS attacks in the past, he's covered by a DDOS protection firm.
The two teenagers coordinated more than 150,000 denial-of-service attacks over the last two years, according to Krebs, using at least four servers in Bulgaria.

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Malware Infects 70% of Seagate Central NAS Drives, Earns $86,400
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '16 at 06:32 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's malware-mining-money department:
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: A new malware family has infected over 70% of all Seagate Central NAS devices connected to the Internet. The malware, named Miner-C or PhotoMiner, uses these hard-drives as an intermediary point to infect connected PCs and install software that mines for the Monero cryptocurrency... The crooks made over $86,000 from Monero mining so far.

The hard drives are easy to infect because Seagate does not allow users to delete or deactivate a certain "shared" folder when the device is exposed to the Internet. Over 5,000 Seagate Central NAS devices are currently infected.

Researchers estimates the malware is now responsible for 2.5% of all mining activity for the Monero cryptocurrency, according to the article. "The quandary is that Seagate Central owners have no way to protect their device. Turning off the remote access NAS feature can prevent the infection, but also means they lose the ability to access the device from a remote location, one of the reasons they purchased the hard drive in the first place."

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Arrests Made After Group Hacks CIA Director's AOL Account
Posted by News Fetcher on September 10 '16 at 05:11 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's you've-got-jail department:
Slashdot reader FullBandwidth writes:
U.S. authorities have arrested two North Carolina men accused of hacking into the private email accounts of high-ranking U.S. intelligence officials. [The men] will be extradited next week to Alexandria, where federal prosecutors for the Eastern District of Virginia have spent months building a case against a group that calls itself Crackas With Attitude... Authorities say the group included three teenage boys being investigated in the United Kingdom.
The group used social engineering to access the email accounts of John Brennan, the director of the CIA, as well as the Director of National Intelligence, and former FBI deputy director Mark Giuliano, according to the article. One exploit involved "posing as a Verizon technician and tricking the company's tech-support unit into revealing the CIA director's account number, password and other details." An FBI affidavit alleges that a British teenager named "Cracka" also began forwarding the calls of a former FBI deputy director "to a number associated with the Free Palestine Movement," while "D3F4ULT" paid for a campaign of harassing phone calls. In addition, "According to the affidavit, Cracka appears to have gotten into the law enforcement database simply by calling an FBI help desk and asking for Giuliano's password to be reset..."

"One member told CNN [In a video interview] that he smoked marijuana 'all day every day' and was 'probably' high when gaining access to high-level accounts."

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