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Justice Dept. Grants Immunity To Staffer Who Set Up Clinton Email Server
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 12:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-to-suggest-the-need-for-immunity department:
schwit1 writes with this news from the Washington Post: The Justice Department has granted immunity to the former State Department staffer who worked on Hillary Rodham Clinton's private email server, a sign the FBI investigation into possible criminal wrongdoing is progressing. A senior U.S. law enforcement official said the FBI had secured the cooperation of Bryan Pagliano, who worked on Clinton's 2008 presidential campaign before setting up the server in her New York home in 2009. As the FBI looks to wrap up its investigation in the coming months, agents will likely want to interview Clinton and her senior aides about the decision to use a private server, how it was set up, and whether any of the participants knew they were sending classified information in emails, current and former officials said. The inquiry comes against a sensitive political backdrop in which Clinton is the favorite to secure the Democratic nomination for the presidency.

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$500K NSF Grant Boosted Girls' CS Participation At Obama Daughters' $37K/Yr HS
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 12:16 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's every-little-bit-helps department:
theodp writes: On Friday, a paper entitled Creative Computation in High School will be presented at SIGCSE '16. "In this paper," explain the paper's authors, "we describe the success of bringing Creative Computation via Processing into two very different high schools...providing a catalyst for significant increases in total enrollment as well as female participation in high school computer science." One of the two schools that participated in the National Science Foundation-supported project — see NSF awards 1323305 & 1323463 for Creative Computation in the Context of Art and Visual Media — was Sidwell Friends School, which a 2013 SMU news release on the three-year, $500K NSF grant noted was best known as the school attended by President Obama's daughters. Interestingly, in a late-2014 interview, the President lamented that his daughters hadn't taken to coding the way he'd like, adding that "part of what's happening is that we are not helping schools and teachers teach it in an interesting way." Hey, nothing that a $4B 'Computer Science For All' K-12 Program can't fix, right?

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Amazon Just Removed Encryption From the Software Powering Kindles, Smartphones, Tablets
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 10:35 AM
By whipslash from Slashdot's backdoor-or-no-door department:
Patrick O'Neill writes: While Apple continues to resist a court order requiring it to help the FBI access a terrorist's phone, another major tech company took a strange and unexpected step away from encryption. Amazon has removed device encryption from the operating system that powers its Kindle e-reader, Fire Phone, Fire Tablet, and Fire TV devices. The change, which took effect in Fire OS 5, affects millions of users.

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Buffer Sees Clear Benefits To Transparent Employee Salary Policy
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 10:35 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-ok-peeking department:
An anonymous reader writes: At social media startup Buffer, a single leadership decision eliminated salary negotiation for new employees, preempted gender-based salary discrimination, and prompted a flood of job applications. The decision? Make all employee salaries transparent. "We set down transparency as a core value for the company," CEO Joel Gascoigne said in 2014. "And then, once we'd done that, we went through everything. And salaries was one of those key things that we found that [made us] question ourselves: 'Why are we not transparent about this?'" Years later, the policy is still in place (go ahead and calculate your salary as a would-be Buffer employee) — and it presents a fascinating case study for anyone interested in the ways open organizations approach a rather prickly subject: transparency.

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FREAK, Logjam, DROWN All a Result of Weaknesses Demanded By US Gov't
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 09:14 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's home-to-roost department:
itwbennett writes: You need look no further than the FREAK and Logjam attacks in 2015 and the DROWN attack announced just this week to get a sense of 'the dangers of deliberately weakening security protocols by introducing backdoors or other access mechanisms like those that law enforcement agencies and the intelligence community are calling for today,' writes Lucian Constantin. But this isn't a new problem. 'One approach [the government] used throughout the 1990s [to keep encryption under its control] was to enforce export controls on products that used encryption by limiting the key lengths, allowing the National Security Agency to easily decrypt foreign communications,' says Constantin. 'This gave birth to so-called 'export-grade' encryption algorithms that have been integrated into cryptographic libraries and have survived to this day.'

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Maryland Public Buses Record Passengers' Conversations
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 09:14 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-are-entering-a-secured-area department:
mi writes: You may not have heard of it yet, but Maryland Transit Administration began recording passengers' conversations in 2012 — on its own initiative. Legislative efforts to put an end to the practice failed four times since then — but some State Senators keep trying "What [the MTA] is doing is a mass surveillance [...] I can make an argument to tape everybody, everywhere, everywhere they walk, everywhere they talk, and you can make the excuse for homeland security." If we had competing public transport companies, one could've switched to a privacy-respecting competitor. Alas, MTA holds a monopoly and legislation is the only recourse.

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Skydio's Forthcoming Consumer Drones Can Sense and Avoid Obstacles
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 07:42 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's get-outta-my-way department:
moon_unit2 writes: DJI's new Phantom 4 drone may be able to stop if there's an obstacles directly in front of it, but MIT Technology Review has a story about a much more sophisticated self-flying drone, from a startup called Skydio (basically using high-speed visual SLAM, which is no mean feat in such a tiny package). The company's prototype uses several video cameras to navigate around obstacles at high speeds through busy airspace. The technology could make consumer drones much harder to crash, and it could let drones do more complex surveillance tasks. Skydio, founded last year, has so far raised $25 million in funding in a round led by Andreessen Horowitz and Accel Partners.

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Dell Bringing Thunderbolt 3 USB-C Support To Linux
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 07:42 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bring-it-faster department:
Freshly Exhumed writes: A series of posts on the Project Sputnik developers' forum at Dell indicate that hardware on a soon to be released XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop will support Thunderbolt 3 USB Type C, which has been tested on the device with video and USB 3.1 on non-dock devices, although Dell's Type C docks are not yet supported. Intel has already implemented Thunderbolt 3 drivers in the Linux kernel, so this Dell initiative represents a first for a physical implementation on a consumer platform.

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Samsung Ships 15.38TB SSD With Up To 1,200MBps Performance
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 06:26 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's looking-forward-to-the-trickle-down department:
Lucas123 writes: Samsung announced it is now shipping the world's highest capacity 2.5-in SSD, the 15.38TB PM1633a. The new SSD uses a 12Gbps SAS interface and is being marketed for use in enterprise-class storage systems where IT managers can fit twice as many of the drives in a standard 19-inch, 2U rack compared to an equivalent 3.5-inch drive. The PM1633a sports random read/write speeds of up to 200,000 and 32,000 IOPS, respectively. It delivers sequential read/write speeds of up to 1,200MBps, the company said. The SSD can sustain one full drive write (15.38TB) per day, every day over its life, which Samsung claims is two to ten times more data than typical SATA SSDs based on planar MLC and TLC NAND flash technologies. The SSD is based on Samsung's 48-layer V-NAND (3D NAND) technology, which also uses 3-bit MLC flash. Also at Hot Hardware

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The Case Against Algebra
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 06:26 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's not-the-only-possible-swap department:
HughPickens.com writes: Dana Goldstein writes at Slate that political scientist Andrew Hacker proposes replacing algebra II and calculus in the high school and college with a practical course in statistics for citizenship. According to Hacker, only mathematicians and some engineers actually use advanced math in their day-to-day work and even the doctors, accountants, and coders of the future shouldn't have to master abstract math that they'll never need. For many math is often an impenetrable barrier to academic success. Algebra II, which includes polynomials and logarithms, and is required by the new Common Core curriculum standards used by 47 states and territories, drives dropouts at both the high school and college levels. Hacker's central argument is that advanced mathematics requirements, like algebra, trigonometry and calculus, are "a harsh and senseless hurdle" keeping far too many Americans from completing their educations and leading productive lives. "We are really destroying a tremendous amount of talent—people who could be talented in sports writing or being an emergency medical technician, but can't even get a community college degree," says Hacker. "I regard this math requirement as highly irrational." According to Hacker many of those who struggled through a traditional math regimen feel that doing so annealed their character while critics says that mathematics is used as a hoop, a badge, a totem to impress outsiders and elevate a profession's status. "It's not hard to understand why Caltech and M.I.T. want everyone to be proficient in mathematics. But it's not easy to see why potential poets and philosophers face a lofty mathematics bar. Demanding algebra across the board actually skews a student body, not necessarily for the better."

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Incident Raises Concerns About a More Formal Spec For Bitcoin
Posted by News Fetcher on March 03 '16 at 03:34 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's emergent-systems department:
An anonymous reader writes: Aberrant treatment of transactions by Bitcoin miners has renewed concerns that Bitcoin as a protocol may need a stronger specification. OpenBSD savior and Bitcoin entrepreneur Mircea Popescu raised this issue back in 2013 that the current attitude of "the code is the spec" was introducing fragility and harming Bitcoin's vital decentralization. While a lot of fuss has been made about the maximum blocksize, perhaps formalizing the protocol and breaking the current mining cartel is a more urgent and serious problem. The debate going on resurrects many of Datskovskiy's early concerns about Bitcoin's fragility including mining as a necessary bug, but a bug nonetheless.

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Iraq's Mosul Dam Could Burst At Any Time
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '16 at 11:32 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's go-long-on-surfboards department:
MarkWhittington writes: The Mosul Dam, located near the city of Mosul in Northern Iraq, was started by Saddam Hussein in 1981 as a way to bolster his regime and provide power to the surrounding area. It was completed in 1986 and has since generated 3,420 gigawatt/hours per year. Unfortunately, the dam was built on an unstable foundation of gypsum and thus needs constant repairs to plug leaks and maintain its structural integrity. Even more unfortunately, such repair efforts have stopped since the Islamic State seized control of Mosul. The dam could burst at any time, as a consequence. The flood could kill a million people and render a million more homeless. Radio Free Europe reports that Italy's Trevi Group has been contracted to repair and maintain the dam, but it seems like there's a lot to catch up with. (Also at The Guardian and Mother Jones.)

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Pirates Hacked Shipping Firm's CMS To Plan Attacks, Find Valuable Cargo
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '16 at 10:14 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's they-learned-nothing-from-the-wire department:
An anonymous reader writes: Verizon's most recent Data Breach Digest includes a curious hacking case. Apparently a group of sea pirates have hired a hacker who uploaded a Web shell to a shipping company's CMS that allowed them to download cargo inventories and ship routes. They then used this information to attack ships, equipped with a barcode reader (and weapons of course), searching specific crates, emptying all the high-value cargo, and making off with the loot within minutes of launching their attacks.

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Guix Gets Grafts: Timely Delivery of Security Updates
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '16 at 08:41 PM
By timothy from Slashdot's shelter-in-place department:
paroneayea writes: GNU Guix, the functional package manager (and with GuixSD, distribution) got a nice feature yesterday: timely delivery of security updates with grafts. Guix's new grafts feature recursively produces re-linked packages as dependencies without waiting for all to compile when a time-sensitive security upgrade is an issue. This came just in time for this week's OpenSSL security issues, and has been successfully tested by the community. It worked so well that it was able to reproduce the ABI break issue that other traditional distributions experienced also!

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Two Astronauts Return To Earth After Record 340 Days In ISS
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '16 at 07:22 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's study-abroad department:
An anonymous reader writes: U.S. astronaut Scott Kelly and Russian astronaut Mikhail Kornienko returned to Earth Wednesday after spending a year aboard the ISS, conducting experiments for future missions to Mars. Mikhail Kornienko, 55, and Scott Kelly, 52, completed the longest uninterrupted period aboard the ISS since the station was deployed in 2000. Kelly, who has made four trips to the ISS, also breaks the record for cumulative time in space by an American, with 540 days. Kelly and Kornienko performed this mission to study the biological and psychological effects of long stays in space in order to prepare for future missions to Mars in 2030 or sooner. During their stay at the station, both were frequently subjected to medical examination and a battery of tests to study the long-term effects of micro-gravity on the human body.

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Scientists May Have Found Molecular Gatekeeper Of Long-Term Memory
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '16 at 06:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's lord-of-the-flies department:
hackingbear writes: While the general steps of forming a long-term memory are clear, the details, such as how exactly the molecular signals get shuttled to the command center, which generally has tight security, are unclear. A new study, led by neuroscientist Yi Zhong of Tsinghua University in Beijing, may finally have that answer. In the tiny minds of fruit flies, a protein called importin-7 acts to shuttle the memory-triggering signal into the nucleus with its top-level clearance to the restricted area, researchers report in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. With genetic tweaking, the researchers dialed up and down the amount of importin-7 in the flies and then put them through the memory training and test. They found that cranking up levels of the shuttle protein strengthened the long-term memories of the flies, while turning it off weakened their memory. "The current work confirms that [importin-7] is indeed critical at the behavioral level in mediating [long-term memory] consolidation," the authors concluded.

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FBI May Be Opening A Security Hole To Federal Agencies
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '16 at 06:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's closing-one-door-opens-another department:
Lucas123 writes: In its rush to gather information, the FBI blew its chance to retrieve data from the iPhone of one of the San Bernardino terrorists when it ordered his iCloud passcode to be reset shortly after the attacks. Now in its fervor to force Apple to create software that can break its own encryption algorithm, the FBI may be opening a security hole to federal agencies. Over the past four years, the federal government has largely shifted its use of mobile devices from Blackberry to iPhones. One major reason for that is -- you guessed it -- the strong native security. If Apple creates an iPhone skeleton key, it not only threatens the public's privacy, but the security of the federal government as well.

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New DisplayPort 1.4 Standard Can Drive 8K Monitors Over A USB Type-C Cable
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '16 at 06:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's 7,680-x-4,320 department:
AmiMoJo writes: VESA has finalized and released the DisplayPort 1.4 spec, which can drive 60Hz 8K displays and supports HDR color modes at 5K and 8K. The physical interface used to carry DisplayPort data -- High Bit Rate 3 (HBR3), which provides 8.1Gbps of bandwidth per lane -- is still the same as it was in DisplayPort 1.3. The new standard drives higher-resolution displays with better color support using Display Stream Compression (DSC), a "visually lossless" form of compression that VESA says "enables up to [a] 3:1 compression ratio." This data compression, among other things, allows DisplayPort 1.4 to drive 60Hz 8K displays and 120Hz 4K displays with HDR "deep color" over both DisplayPort and USB Type-C cables. USB Type-C cables can provide a USB 3.0 data connection, too.

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New DisplayPort 1.4 Standard Can Drive 8K Monitors Over A USB Type-C Cable
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '16 at 04:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's 7,680-x-4,320 department:
AmiMoJo writes: VESA has finalized and released the DisplayPort 1.4 spec, which can drive 60Hz 8K displays and supports HDR color modes at 5K and 8K. The physical interface used to carry DisplayPort data -- High Bit Rate 3 (HBR3), which provides 8.1Gbps of bandwidth per lane -- is still the same as it was in DisplayPort 1.3. The new standard drives higher-resolution displays with better color support using Display Stream Compression (DSC), a "visually lossless" form of compression that VESA says "enables up to [a] 3:1 compression ratio." This data compression, among other things, allows DisplayPort 1.4 to drive 60Hz 8K displays and 120Hz 4K displays with HDR "deep color" over both DisplayPort and USB Type-C cables. USB Type-C cables can provide a USB 3.0 data connection, too.

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Google Is Testing Voice-Activated Payment App, Hands Free
Posted by News Fetcher on March 02 '16 at 04:32 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's I'll-pay-with-google department:
New submitter eedwardsjr writes: If you've ever wanted to pay just by saying something out loud, then Hands Free is the way to go. Google has released to the public a new app called Hands Free, which lets people pay for items in stores by simply telling the cashier, "I'll pay with Google." The app, available for Android and iOS, is only being piloted in a few locations in the San Francisco area, including some McDonald's and Papa John's restaurants. Hands Free works by tracking your location using Wi-Fi and other sensors in your smartphone to detect whether you're near a participating store. After you say "I'll pay with Google," the cashier confirms your identity by using your initials and the photo you've loaded onto the Hands Free app.

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