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Google Announces Android Cross-Licensing Program 'PAX' -- But Why?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 08 '17 at 11:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's don't-be-evil department:
"Linux and open-source software have had to contend with intellectual property legal challenges for years," writes ZDNet. "Now, Google has started a new effort to bring peace to potential Android IP sore points: PAX... a royalty-free, community-patent cross-license."
PAX is starting with nine members: Google, Samsung Electronics, LG Electronics, HTC, Foxconn Technology Group, Coolpad, BQ, HMD Global, and Allview. These companies own more than 230,000 global patents. PAX's purpose is to create a "community-driven [patent] clearinghouse, developed together with our Android partners, [that] ensures that innovation and consumer choice -- not patent threats -- will continue to be key drivers of our Android ecosystem. PAX is free to join and open to anyone."
Slashdot reader Andy Updegroved writes:
The question is why? The announcement and the related website are extremely brief, and although everyone is invited to get a copy of the cross license, Google reserves the right to decide first whether your motives are pure and you can keep a secret. And so far, the only members of the "PAX Community" listed are existing Google business partners. Is Google aware of some new patent tempest brewing just over the horizon, about to burst into public view? And will any other company names and logos be added to the PAX Community Web page? We'll just have to stay tuned to find out.

Andy Updegrove tells ZDNet it does involve "formal cross-licenses between participants, and therefore enforceable rights, but not an infrastructure to do more (at least insofar as one can tell from the initial announcement)."

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After 25 Years, 'Lost' OS/2 2.0 Build 6.605 Finally Re-Discovered
Posted by News Fetcher on April 08 '17 at 10:32 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's old-OS's department:
"In a fascinating example of poor timing, disk images of OS/2 2.0 pre-release level 6.605 from July/September 1991 were missing for over 25 years, only to show up literally one day after after the 25th anniversary of the OS/2 2.0 release," writes the site OS/2 Museum. An anonymous reader writes:

It's the last OS/2 2.0 pre-release which didn't use the Workplace Shell (WPS), but "instead utilized the same old Desktop Manager as OS/2 1.2/1.3, which makes it the closest surviving relative of the Microsoft OS/2 2.0 SDK." Featuring a 16-bit/32-bit hybrid kernel and a "DOS Window" icon (as well as a few games like Reversi and Klondike Solitaire), "the look and feel was not quite the same as OS/2 1.3 and in fact was a cross between OS/2 1.3 and Windows 3.1."

The elusive 6.605 pre-release fell between 6.149 and 6.167 -- and "It is not known what possessed IBM to assign it a completely out-of-sequence number."

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ARCA Plans 2018 Launch For Revolutionary Single-Stage Rocket
Posted by News Fetcher on April 08 '17 at 09:12 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's all-in-one-piece department:
An aerospace company is building a cheap, simple, lightweight rocket that they hope will redefine the microsatellite industry. Eloking quotes New Atlas:
New Mexico-based ARCA Space Corporation has announced that it is developing the world's first Single Stage to Orbit (SSTO) launch vehicle that can deliver both a small payload and itself into low Earth orbit, at a cost of about US$1 million per launch. Dubbed the Haas 2CA after the 16th century rocket pioneer Conrad Haas, the new booster uses a linear aerospike engine instead of conventional bell-shaped rocket engines to do away with multiple stages. [YouTube video]

They're working with six different NASA centers and have scheduled their first launch for 2018. The rocket will be 53 feet tall (16 meters) with a diameter of just 4.95 feet (1.5 meters), and will weigh 1,210 pounds when empty, but 35,887 pounds when fueled, "thanks to ACRA's proprietary composite materials for the propellant tanks and other components."

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Should The FBI Have Arrested 'The Hacker Who Hacked No One'?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 08 '17 at 07:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's blaming-the-programmer department:
Last week The Daily Beast ran an article about the FBI's arrest of "the hacker who hacked no one." In December they'd arrested 26-year-old Taylor Huddleston, "the author of a remote administration tool, or RAT, called NanoCore that happens to be popular with hackers." It's been "linked to intrusions in at least 10 countries," reported Kevin Poulsen, but "as Huddleston sees it, he's a victim himself -- hackers have been pirating his program for years and using it to commit crimes."
The article quotes Huddleston's lawyer, as well as a Cornell law professor who warns of the "chilling effect" of its implications on programmers. But it also says security experts who examined the software are "inherently skeptical" of Huddleston's claim that the software was intended for legal use, since that's "a common claim amongst RAT authors." Security researcher Brian Krebs also sees "a more complex and nuanced picture" after "a closer look at the government's side of the story -- as well as public postings left behind by the accused and his alleged accomplices."
Click through for the rest of the story.

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Belgian Scientists Inhibit Protein Responsible For Allergic Reactions
Posted by News Fetcher on April 08 '17 at 07:51 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's asthma-eczema-and-allergies department:
lhunath writes: Scientists at the University of Gent exposed the TSLP protein's function in triggering allergic reactions such as asthma and eczema. The team then developed a protein-based inhibitor used to capture TSLP and prevent its bioactivity as it associates with its natural receptors. Using this method, allergic reactions can be inhibited before they are triggered. The team's results were recently published in Nature, where they share a vision that their work "will guide therapeutic approaches that manipulate human TSLP-mediated signalling to treat allergic diseases."

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Ransomware Asks For High Score Instead of Money
Posted by News Fetcher on April 08 '17 at 05:13 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's do-you-want-to-play-a-game department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: Rensenware" forces players to get a high score in a difficult PC shoot-em-up to decrypt their files. As Malware Hunter Team noted yesterday, users on systems infected with Rensenware are faced with the usual ransomware-style warning that "your precious data like documents, musics, pictures, and some kinda project files" have been "encrypted with highly strong encryption algorithm." The only way to break the encryption lock, according to the warning, is to "score 0.2 billion in LUNATIC level" on TH12 ~ Undefined Fantastic Object. That's easier said than done, as this gameplay video of the "bullet hell" style Japanese shooter shows. As you may have guessed from the specifics here, the Rensenware bug was created more in the spirit of fun than maliciousness. After Rensenware was publicized on Twitter, its creator, who goes by Tvple Eraser on Twitter and often posts in Korean, released an apology for releasing what he admitted was "a kind of highly-fatal malware." The apology is embedded in a Rensenware "forcer" tool that Tvple Eraser has released to manipulate the game's memory directly, getting around the malware's encryption without the need to play the game (assuming you have a copy installed, that is). While the original Rensenware source code has been taken down from the creator's Github page, a new "cut" version has taken its place, showing off the original joke without any actually malicious forced encryption.

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Wolves May Be 'Re-Domesticating' Into Dogs
Posted by News Fetcher on April 08 '17 at 02:30 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's unforeseen-consequences department:
sciencehabit quotes a report from Science Magazine: It happened thousands of years ago, and it may be happening again: Wolves in various parts of the world may have started on the path to becoming dogs. That's the conclusion of a new study, which finds that the animals are increasingly dining on livestock and human garbage instead of their wild prey, inching closer and closer to the human world in some places. But given today's industrialized societies, this closeness might also bring humans and wolves into more conflict, with disastrous consequences for both. To find out how gray wolves might be affected by eating more people food, Thomas Newsome, an evolutionary biologist at the Deakin University in Melbourne, Australia, and his colleagues examined studies of what's happened to other large carnivores that live close to people. Newsome's 2014 study of a dingo population in Australia's Tanami Desert showed that the wild dogs' habit of dining almost exclusively on junk food at a waste management facility had made them fat and less aggressive. They were also more likely to mate with local dogs and had become "cheeky," says Newsome, daring to run between his legs as he set out traps for them. Most intriguingly, the dumpster dingoes' population formed a genetic cluster distinct from all other dingoes -- indicating that they were becoming genetically isolated, a key step in forming a new species. Is this happening to gray wolves? The conditions are ripe for it, says Newsome, noting that human foods already make up 32% of gray wolf diets around the world. The animals now mostly range across remote regions of Eurasia and North America, yet some are returning to developed areas. The paper has been published in the journal Bioscience.

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There's an Earth-like Planet With an Atmosphere Just 39 Light-years Away
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 11:40 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hot-and-steamy department:
Artem Tashkinov quotes a report from Washington Post: There are a lot of good reasons to be captivated by the exoplanet GJ 1132b. Located in the constellation Vela, it's a mere 39 light-years from Earth -- just a hop, skip and a jump in galactic terms. It's similar to Earth in terms of size and mass, and it dances in a close-in orbit around its star, a dimly burning red dwarf. And, astronomers recently discovered, it has an atmosphere. The finding, published in the Astronomical Journal, is the first detection of an atmosphere around a terrestrial "Earth-like" planet orbiting a red dwarf star -- and it suggests there could be millions more. Although the researchers call the planet "Earth-like," the term is only applicable in its broadest sense. GJ 1132b is so close to its sun that it more likely resembles Venus than Earth. Astronomers estimate its average temperature to be about 700 degrees Fahrenheit, and that's without taking into account the potential greenhouse effect of its atmosphere. It is also probably tidally locked, meaning that gravity keeps one side of the planet constantly facing the star, while the other is cast in permanent shadow. GJ 1132b would not make a cozy home for life -- at least, not life as we know it.

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RightHand Robotics Automates a New Type of Warehouse Work: Recognizing, Picking Up Items From Boxes
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 07:31 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's completely-automated department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Quartz: A startup called RightHand robotics recently began piloting technology that automates a task robots have previously struggled to master: recognizing and picking up items from boxes. RightHand can't say which companies are part of its pilot project and Amazon didn't reply to a request for comment. But the new technology could help the ecommerce giant with a problem that has long vexed it. Like robots elsewhere, Amazon's robots retrieve entire shelves and transport them to humans who pick out items from them. They can find and move a shelf that holds a box of shirts, but they aren't capable of removing the single shirt from that box to be packed into an order. In order to pick items from boxes, robots need to master the more complex task of identifying a wide range of objects and adjusting their grips accordingly. RightHand robotics, which was started by a team of researchers from Harvard Biorobotics Lab, the Yale Grab Lab, and MIT, built a solution called RightPick that, according to co-founder Leif Jentoft, can pick items at a rate of 500 to 600 per hour -- a speed on par with a human worker. It uses a machine learning background and a sensitized robot hand to recognize and handle thousands of items.

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Google Accused of 'Extreme' Gender Pay Discrimination By US Labor Department
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's equality-for-all department:
The U.S. Department of Labor is accusing Google of discriminating against its female employees and violating federal employment laws with its salaries for women. "We found systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce," Janette Wipper, a Department of Labor regional director, testified in court in San Francisco on Friday. The Guardian reports: Google strongly denied the accusations of inequities, claiming it did not have a gender pay gap. The allegations emerged at a hearing in federal court as part of a lawsuit the DoL filed against Google in January, seeking to compel the company to provide salary data and documents to the government. Google is a federal contractor, which means it is required to allow the DoL to inspect and copy records and information about its its compliance with equal opportunity laws. Last year, the department's office of federal contract compliance programs requested job and salary history for Google employees, along with names and contact information, as part of the compliance review. Google, however, repeatedly refused to hand over the data, which was a violation of its contractual obligations with the federal government, according to the DoL's lawsuit. Labor officials detailed the government's discrimination claims against Google at the Friday hearing while making the case for why the company should be forced to comply with the DoL's requests for documents. Wipper said the department found pay disparities in a 2015 snapshot of salaries and said officials needed earlier compensation data to evaluate the root of the problem and needed to be able to confidentially interview employees.

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Adidas Plans To Mass-Produce Its First 3D-Printed Shoe
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's one-size-fits-all department:
Adidas has revealed that it will be mass-producing its first 3D-printed shoe, dubbed the Futurecraft 4D. "The mid-sole of the shoe is created using a process known as Continuous Liquid Interface Production, in which the design is essentially pulled out of a vat of liquid polymer resin, and fixed into its desired shape using ultraviolet light," reports The Verge. Adidas is collaborating with Silicon Valley startup Carbon, which created the "Continuous Liquid Interface Production" method that will ultimately make mass-production 3D printing a reality. The Verge reports: [T]his is still new technology, and Adidas isn't leaping two-footed into the 3D-printed future just yet. Only 5,000 pairs of Futurecraft shoes will go on sale later this year, although the company says it aims to produce 100,000 pairs in total by the end of 2018. "This is a milestone not only for us as a company but also for the industry," Adidas' Gerd Manz told Reuters. "We've cracked some of the boundaries." The cost of a pair of Futurecraft 4Ds is not yet known, but Adidas says it will be in the "premium" price range.

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Italy Bans Uber
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's expect-the-unexpected department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: A court just banned Uber from using its apps in Italy -- yes, all of Italy. The court ruled in favor of the country's taxi drivers -- who filed the suit -- claiming Uber was "unfair competition." Now Uber can't use it's apps -- including UberBlack, Uber LUX, X, and Select -- and it can't promote or advertise itself at all within the country. For all intents and purposes, Uber is banned in Italy.

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Over 90% of College Students Today Regularly Use Netflix, But Only 34% Are Actually Paying For Their Own Account
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's college-life department:
According to a new survey from LendEDU, more than 90% of today's college students have access to a Netflix account they regularly use, while only 8% who responded to the survey said they don't have a Netflix account. What some may find even more surprising is that of the 90% of students who have access to Netflix, only 34% of them are actually paying for their own Netflix account. Streaming Observer News reports: That actually goes right in line with numbers from Piper Jaffray that showed almost 40% of teens watch Netflix every single day. Their closest competitors, Amazon Prime Video and Hulu, each came in at just 3% each for daily use. Of course, that doesn't mean they're all paying for Netflix. 54% of respondents to LendEDU's survey said they use a family member's or friend's account, and 5% more said they used a boyfriend/girlfriend or ex's account. While only 34% of college students are actually paying for their own Netflix account, that's apparently not too big of a concern for Netflix, who has taken a relatively lax attitude towards password sharing in recent years.

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Walt Mossberg Is Retiring
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 04:51 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's well-accomplished-careers department:
Walt Mossberg, a well-respected and long-time tech journalist, announced via The Verge that he will be retiring in June of this year. In his announcement post, he starts by reflecting on where it all began: It was a June day when I began my career as a national journalist. I stepped into the Detroit Bureau of The Wall Street Journal and started on what would be a long, varied, rewarding career. I was 23 years old, and the year was 1970. That's not a typo. So it seems fitting to me that I'll be retiring this coming June, almost exactly 47 years later. I'll be hanging it up shortly after the 2017 edition of the Code Conference, a wonderful event I co-founded in 2003 and which I could never have imagined back then in Detroit. I didn't make this decision lightly or hastily or under pressure. It emerged from months of thought and months of talks with my wise wife, my family, and close friends. It wasn't prompted by my employer or by some dire health diagnosis. It just seems like the right time to step away. I'm ready for something new.

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Microsoft's Surface Pro 5 Said To Move To Intel Kaby Lake Processors
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 03:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's coming-soon department:
Windows watcher Paul Thurrott has revealed the first credible details about Microsoft's Surface Pro 5. TechCrunch reports: The Surface Pro 5 will have the same power connector currently used on the Surface Pro 4 and Surface Book, which is a long, thin magnetic jack. The upcoming device will also use Intel's Kaby Lake processors, and it makes perfect sense that the company would want to jump to the latest and greatest chips in its new generation hardware. Other details, including price, the use of USB-C, and basically anything regarding size and hardware design aren't yet known, though Thurrott reports the changes to the Pro 5 won't be a "dramatic" departure from the existing generation.

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WikiLeaks Reveals Grasshopper, the CIA's Windows Hacking Tool
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 03:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's daily-dose-of-paranoia department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Next Web: In case you haven't had your dose of paranoia fuel today, WikiLeaks released new information concerning a CIA malware program called "Grasshopper," that specifically targets Windows. The Grasshopper framework was (is?) allegedly used by the CIA to make custom malware payloads. According to the user guide: "Grasshopper is a software tool used to build custom installers for target computers running Microsoft Windows operating systems." Grasshopper is designed to detect the OS and protection on any Windows computer on which it's deployed, and it can escape detection by anti-malware software. If that was enough for you to put your computer in stasis, brace yourself for a doozy: Grasshopper reinstalls itself every 22 hours, even if you have Windows Update disabled. As if this wasn't alarming enough, the Grasshopper user guide even states upfront that Grasshopper uses bits from a toolkit taken from Russian organized crime.

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Canonical Founder Talks About Ubuntu Desktop Switching From Unity To GNOME, And Focus On Cloud
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 02:12 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's moving-forward department:
Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth on Friday talked about the move to switch Ubuntu's desktop user interface from Unity to GNOME, and putting a stop to development of Ubuntu software for phones and tablet: I would like to thank all of you for your spirit and intellect and energy in the Unity8 adventure. [...] Many elements of the code in the Ubuntu Phone project continue -- snaps grew out of our desire to ship apps reliably and efficiently and securely, the unity8 code itself will continue to be useful for UBports and other projects. And the ideas that we have pushed for are now spreading too. Finally, I should celebrate that Ubuntu consists of so many overlapping visions of personal computing, that we have the ability to move quickly to support the Ubuntu GNOME community with all the resources of Canonical to focus on stability, upgrades, integration and experience. That's only possible because of the diversity of shells in the Ubuntu family, and I am proud of all of our work across that full range.

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Senate Confirms Neil Gorsuch To Supreme Court
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 02:12 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's history-in-the-making department:
halfEvilTech quotes a report from Washington Post: The U.S. Senate confirmed Neil M. Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday. On a vote of 54 to 45, senators confirmed Gorsuch, 49, a Denver-based judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. He will become the 113th person to serve on the Supreme Court and is scheduled to be sworn in Monday. Gorsuch's confirmation was the result of a rule change in the Senate. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used the power of his position to change the rules of the Senate to lower the threshold on Supreme Court nominations to end debate from 60 to 51 votes. Therefore, "all presidential nominees for executive branch positions and the federal courts need only a simple majority vote to be confirmed by senators," reports Washington Post. It is unclear as to what exactly Gorsuch's confirmation means for the tech industry. However, it is certain that Gorsuch will "face cases that demand a solid command of the complex issues digital technology raises, from copyright and privacy to intellectual property rights and data storage," writes Issie Lapowsky via Wired.

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Microsoft Formally Bans Emulators On Xbox, Windows 10 Download Shops
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 12:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's tough-stance department:
Microsoft is officially banning emulators from Windows Store. The company has updated the Windows Store policy to announce the changes. The new rules bar any applications that emulate pre-existing game systems, resulting in the removal of a popular program that supported games from Nintendo and Sega and other consoles. From a report on ArsTechnica: An affected developer was notified of the change on Tuesday when its product, Universal Emulator, was delisted from the Windows Store. While no proof of a letter or notice from Microsoft was published, the developers at NESBox linked to relevant changes in the Windows Store application rules, dated March 29, which now include this line: "Apps that emulate a game system are not allowed on any device family." This list of general Windows Store rules, written for developers, received a massive update to its "Gaming and Xbox" requirements; these used to contain only one sentence, and it referred hopeful Windows Store game developers to the ID@Xbox program. That existing program requires pre-approval by Microsoft, but developers will soon be able to publish their games directly to both Xbox and Windows 10 marketplaces by paying a one-time fee of $100 or less as part of the Xbox Live Creators Program.

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GNOME Dev Schaller Assures Ubuntu Users the Move To Step Away From Unity Will Bring Consistency Across Linux Distros
Posted by News Fetcher on April 07 '17 at 12:50 PM
By msmash from Slashdot's one-goal department:
Earlier this week, Canonical announced that Ubuntu will be ditching Unity as the default user interface on desktops to go back to GNOME next year. The company also said that it will be ending development of Ubuntu software for phones and tablets, in what is a push to focus on cloud. In a blog post, Christian Schaller, a developer on Fedora and GNOME (and Senior Software Engineering Manager at Red Hat), offered some assurance to the community that this is the right move in the grand scheme of things. He writes on an official blog post: We look forward to keep working with great Canonical and Ubuntu people like Allison Lortie and Robert Ancell on projects of shared interest around GNOME, Wayland and hopefully Flatpak. It is worth mentioning that even as we [have] been competing with Unity and Ubuntu, we have also been collaborating with them, most recently on [the] integration of features they wanted from GNOME Software such as user reviews. Of course now sharing a bigger set of technologies collaboration will be even easier. I am personally happy to see this convergence of efforts happening because I have -- for a long time -- felt that the general level of investment in the Linux desktop has not been great enough to justify the plethora of Linux desktops out there. Now having reached a position where Canonical, Endless, Red Hat and Suse again share one desktop technology stack and along with consulting companies such as Centricular, CodeThink, Collabora and Igalia helping push parts of the stack forward, we are at least all pulling in the same direction. This change should also make life easier for ISV who now have a more clear target if they want to try to integrate their UI with the Linux desktop as 'the linux desktop' becomes a more meaningful term with this change.

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