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Mitel Buys Polycom For $1.96B In Enterprise Communications Consolidation Play
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 03:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's hungry-hungry-hippos department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from TechCrunch: Mitel announced that it would acquire Polycom in a cash-and-stock deal with a total value of $1.96 billion, creating a company with combined sales of $2.5 billion and 7,700 employees. Polycom's acquisition by Mitel comes at a key time in the world of enterprise communications and collaboration. On one hand, it is a time of massive change and evolution. For years a lot of the services that companies used were based on legacy networking, but in the last decade there has been a big shift to IP-based networks for many of these services. However, at the same time the whole space has been massively disrupted by startups that are upsetting by tapping into the next phase of digital services -- the internet. Companies like Microsoft by way of services like Skype and Yammer, and smaller startups like Slack, are overturning the whole idea of how people who are not in the same office floor can communicate and collaborate for work. These solutions are way cheaper than a lot of the legacy offerings; they tap into the cloud-based services that are now ubiquitous to share and work on files; and they are also built in very user-friendly ways, based around tech that ordinary consumers are using. Both companies compete against the likes of Cisco and Avaya. Mitel is perhaps best known for its IP telephony solutions, including PBX systems, while Polycom is a leader in conferencing services. They also cover SIP technology, and customers span 82% of Fortune 500 companies.

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US Anti-Encryption Law Is So 'Braindead' It Will Outlaw File Compression
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 01:43 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's zombie-legislation department:
An anonymous reader writes: The bill released Thursday by Senators Richard Burr and Dianne Feinstein to force U.S. companies to build backdoors into their encryption systems has been further dissected by experts. In less than 24 hours after the Court Orders Act of 2016 draft was released, 43,000 signatures have been added to a petition calling for the bill to be withdrawn. Bruce Schneier, the writer of the books on modern cryptography, said the bill would make most of what the NSA does illegal, unless no such agency is willing to backdoor its own encrypted communications. "This is the most braindead piece of legislation I've ever seen," Schneier told The Register. "The person who wrote this either has no idea how technology works or just doesn't care." Schneier says cryptographic code will be affected by this legislation, as well as "lossy compression algorithms" that are used to reduce the size of images for sending through email, which won't work in reverse and add back the data removed. Files that can't be decrypted on demand to their original state, and files that can't be decompressed back to their exact originals, all look the same to this draft now. He said even deleted data could be covered in this legislation.

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Google Updates Chrome Web Store Policy, Requires Devs To Be More Transparent About User Data
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 01:43 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's bolstering-security department:
An anonymous reader writes: On Friday, Google announced it is making changes to Chrome Web Store's User Data Policy to ensure developers are more transparent about how their extensions handle customer data. The company has notified developers and is giving them three months to comply with the changes. Come July 15, 2016, company says, extensions that violate the policy will be removed from the Chrome Web Store.The announcement comes amid a report that pointed out a rogue extension in the Chrome Web Store. The incident was one of many we have seen in the past few months. Following are the requirements that a developer must meet: 1. Be transparent about the handling of user data and disclose privacy practices. 2. Post a privacy policy and use encryption, when handling personal or sensitive information. 3. Ask users to consent to the collection of personal or sensitive data via a prominent disclosure, when the use of the data isn't related to a prominent feature.

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Facebook Employees Ask Mark Zuckerberg If They Should Try To Stop a Donald Trump Presidency
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 12:12 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's don't-mess-with-Facebook department:
An anonymous reader writes: Mark Zuckerberg didn't shy from condemning several of Trump's views at his company's developer conference earlier this week. Things are getting tenser now. Gizmodo's Michael Nunez is reporting about a political discussion inside Facebook wherein employees appear to be asking Zuckerberg whether the company should try to "help prevent President Trump in 2017." Every week, Facebook employees vote in an internal poll on what they want to ask Zuckerberg in an upcoming Q&A session. A question from the March 4 poll was: "What responsibility does Facebook have to help prevent President Trump in 2017?"An excerpt from the report which talks about Facebook's position :But what's exceedingly important about this question being raised -- and Zuckerberg's answer, if there is one -- is how Facebook now treats the powerful place it holds in the world. It's unprecedented. More than 1.04 billion people use Facebook. It's where we get our news, share our political views, and interact with politicians. It's also where those politicians are spending a greater share of their budgets. And Facebook has no legal responsibility to give an unfiltered view of what's happening on their network.

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Google Play Music To Add Podcast Support on April 18, Says Report
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 12:12 PM
By manishs from Slashdot's affinity-for-podcasts department:
An anonymous reader writes: Google Play Music could add a hub for podcasts on Monday, April 18. The speculation comes as news outlets spotted a leaked NPR email member-only newsletter which claims that the company 'worked with Google to ensure that public radio is represented in the Google Play environment' and reveals the launch date. Google announced plans to add podcasts to Google Play Music app in October last year. It's a welcome move -- whenever it actually happens. Google, unlike Apple and Microsoft, as of today doesn't offer any built-in app in its mobile operating system which could allow users to subscribe and listen to their favorite podcasts. And podcasts are increasingly becoming popular.

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Apple Considering Google-Like 'Paid Search' On App Store
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 10:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's squeeze-more-money department:
Apple is considering big changes to the App Store, according to a Bloomberg report. The publication claims that the iPhone maker has a team working on "paid searches" -- something similar to Google's model. Under this, the company will charge its developers for showing their apps among top search results. Apple critic John Gruber writes: This sounds like a terrible idea. The one and only thing Apple should do with App Store search is make it more accurate. They don't need to squeeze any more money from it. More accurate, reliable App Store search would help users and help good developers. It's downright embarrassing that App Store search is still so bad. Google web search is better for searching Apple's App Store than the App Store's built-in search. That's the problem Apple needs to address.

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Scientists Build Smallest, Single Atom, Working Heat Engine
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 10:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's going-smaller department:
William Herkewitz, writing for Popular Mechanics: Physicists have just built the smallest working engine ever created. It's a heat-powered motor barely larger than the single atom it runs on. Designed and build by a team of experimental physicists led by Johannes at the University of Mainz in Germany, the single atom engine is about as efficient as your car at transforming the changing temperature into mechanical energy. While scientists have previously created several micro-engines consisting of a mere 10,000 particles, Johannes's new engine blows these out of the water by paring down the machine to a singular atom housed in a nano-sized cone of electromagnetic radiation. The project is outlined today in the journal Science. "The engine has the same working principles as the well-known [combustion] car engine," Johannes says. It follows the same four strokes; expanding then cooling, contracting then heating.There's some confusion here. The article says it's a "four-stroke" engine. But as we know, a four-stroke engine consists of an intake stroke, a compression stroke, a power stroke, and an exhaust stroke -- things that the engine in the article doesn't seem to have. The article doesn't mention how a single atom is able to mimic all the effects of a combustion engine. Update: 04/15 18:24 GMT by M :The article appears to have been updated for clarification.

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AMC Drops 'Texting Friendly' Theaters Idea
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 10:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's all-sorted-then department:
netbuzz writes: Stung by a ferocious backlash on social media, AMC Entertainment this morning took to Twitter to announce that it will not be experimenting with "texting friendly" movie theaters, a trial balloon floated only days ago by the company's boss. "NO TEXTING AT AMC. Won't happen. You spoke. We listened," the company said.That escalated quickly.

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After 150 Years, the American Productivity Miracle Is 'Over'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's let's-not-underestimate-power-of-Internet department:
An anonymous reader shares an article on Quartz: Economist Robert Gordon has spent his career studying what makes the US labor force one of the world's most productive. And he has some bad news. American workers still produce some of most economic activity per hour of any economy in the world. But the near-miraculous productivity growth that essentially transformed the US into one of the world's most affluent societies is permanently in the country's rearview mirror. In his new book, The Rise and Fall of American Growth, the Northwestern University professor lays out the case that the productivity miracle underlying the American way of life was largely a one-time deal. It was driven by a flurry of technologies -- electric lights, telephones, automobiles, indoor plumbing -- that fundamentally transformed millions of American lives within a matter of decades. By comparison, Gordon argues, today's technological advancements -- Uber, Facebook, Amazon.com -- will touch the productivity of the American economy lightly -- if at all. And a combination of demographic factors, such as the aging of the US population, and sociological problems such as growing inequality and educational performance that's worsened in comparison to many other rich nations, will stymie economic growth for the foreseeable future.For those not following Gordon's work, he has been expressing these views for quite some time now. Here's
< article continued at Slashdot's let's-not-underestimate-power-of-Internet department >

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'Blackhole' Exploit Kit Author Gets 7 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's showing-the-door department:
An anonymous reader writes: A Moscow court this week convicted and sentenced seven hackers for breaking into countless online bank accounts -- including "Paunch," the nickname used by the author of the infamous "Blackhole" exploit kit. Once an extremely popular crimeware-as-a-service offering, Blackhole was for several years responsible for a large percentage of malware infections and stolen banking credentials, and likely contributed to tens of millions of dollars stolen from small to mid-sized businesses over several years. According to Russia's ITAR-TASS news network, Dmitry "Paunch" Fedotov was sentenced on April 12 to seven years in a Russian penal colony. In October 2013, the then 27-year-old Fedotov was arrested along with an entire team of other cybercriminals who worked to sell, develop and profit from Blackhole."He was helping a lot of gangs that were robbing Russian banks," Krebs tweeted, "They tend not to have a sense of humor about that."

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Researchers Find Vulnerabilities In Microsoft's and Google's Short URL Services
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 09:32 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's cool-urls-show-who-its-cool-creator-is department:
An anonymous cites an article on Ars Technica: Two security researchers have published research exposing the potential privacy problems connected to using Web address shortening services. When used to share data protected by credentials included in the Web address associated with the content, these services could allow an attacker to gain access to data simply by searching through the entire address space for a URL-shortening service (PDF) in search of content, because of how predictable and short those addresses are. Both Microsoft and Google have offered URL shortening services embedded in various cloud services. Microsoft included the 1drv.ms URL shortening service in its OneDrive cloud storage service and a similar service (binged.it) for Bing Maps -- "branded" domains of the bit.ly domain shortening service. Microsoft has stopped offering the OneDrive embedded shortener, but existing URLs are still accessible. Google Maps has an embedded a tool that creates URLs with the goo.gl domain. Vitaly Shmatikov of Cornell Tech and visiting researcher Martin Georgiev conducted an 18-month study in which they focused on OneDrive and Google Maps. "We did not perform a comprehensive scan of all short URLs (as our analysis shows, such a scan would have been within the capabilities of a more powerful adversary)," Shmatikov wrote in a blog post today, "but we sampled enough to discover interesting information and draw important conclusions." One of those conclusions was that Microsoft's OneDrive shortened URLs were entirely too easy to traverse.

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Alien 'Wow!' Signal Could Be Explained After Almost 40 Years
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 08:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's let's-wait-and-watch department:
An anonymous reader cites a report on The Guardian: A former analyst with the US Department of Defence is on the trail of a 'cold case' -- an unexplained signal that some believe could have come from extraterrestrials. Way back in 1977 something amazing happened. Astronomer Jerry Ehman was using the Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope to sweep the sky for possible signals from extraterrestrial civilisations. He found something. While pointing towards a grouping of stars called Chi Sagittarii on 15 August, he received a powerful blast of radio waves that lasted for 72 seconds. He circled it on the readout and wrote: "Wow!" Analysis of the signal showed that it displayed all the hallmarks of coming from interstellar space, and it became something of a cause celebre for those involved in SETI, the search for extraterrestrial intelligence.In some other news, cosmologist and theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking says he doesn't expect the humanity to find intelligent alien life for at least another 20 years.

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Phorm, the Deep Packet Inspection Ad-Injector Company, Ceases Trading
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 08:11 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's good-riddance department:
Reader mccalli writes: Phorm, a controversial UK deep-packet inspection/ad-injection company discussed on Slashdot many times before, has ceased trading today. Phorm was controversial for, among other things, editing and approving UK government advice on privacy, offering hospitality to the police prior to a decision over prosecution, and being the subject of an EU investigation for its practices and close relationship with the then UK government. The Register has a more editorialized version of the news, but it is fair to say that Phorm will not be mourned by fans of internet privacy.

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Microsoft Sending Minecraft To Summer School
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 06:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's learning-to-code-in-a-fun-way department:
Reader theodp writes: Four months after its one hour Minecraft "infomercial" ran in schools around the world as part of the Hour of Code, Microsoft announced the release of Minecraft: Education Edition. From the announcement: "Minecraft: Education Edition early access will be available in 11 languages and 41 countries. During the summer months, we are also going to be focused on working with educators on building out lesson plans, sharing learning activity ideas, and creating re-usable projects." Microsoft bought Minecraft for $2.5 billion back in 2014. "What many may not realize," said Microsoft last November as it announced a Minecraft-themed tutorial that it would inspire students to learn computer science skills, and "that Minecraft has the power to transform learning on a global scale. By creating a virtual world and then advancing in it, students can learn digital citizenship, empathy, social skills and even improve their literacy "while getting real-time feedback on their problem-solving skills from the teacher." At the time, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told teachers that Minecraft is key to getting girls involved in computer science. So is Minecraft really all that?

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CIA Is Investing Heavily In Firms That Do Social Media Mining and Surveillance
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 06:52 AM
By manishs from Slashdot's mining-and-surveillance-for-"good" department:
Lee Fang, reporting for The Intercept, lists more than three-dozen companies that have received funding from CIA. In-Q-Tel, the CIA's venture capital firm, the publication claims, has invested in 38 companies that research on "social media mining and surveillance." The unpublicized In-Q-Tel companies are: Aquifi, Beartooth, CliQr, CloudPassage, Databricks, Dataminr, Docker, Echodyne, Epiq Solutions, Geofeedia, goTenna, Headspin, Interset, Keyssa, Kymeta, Lookout, Mapbox, Mesosphere, Nervana, Orbital Insight, Orion Labs, Parallel Wireless, PATHAR, Pneubotics, PsiKick, Rocket Lab, Skincential Sciences, Soft Robotics, Sonatype, Spaceflight Industries, Threatstream, Timbr.io, Transient Electronics, TransVoyant, TRX Systems, Voltaiq, and Zoomdata. From the report: Bruce Lund, a senior member of In-Q-Tel's technical staff, noted in a 2012 paper that "monitoring social media" is increasingly essential for government agencies (PDF) seeking to keep track of "erupting political movements, crises, epidemics, and disasters, not to mention general global trends."CIA also recently funded Clearista, a skin care product company that collects DNA.

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UC Davis Spent $175,000 To Bury Search Results After Cops Pepper-Sprayed Protestors
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 05:12 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's better-luck-next-time department:
An anonymous reader quotes a report from The Verge: The University of California, Davis spent at least $175,000 to improve its reputation on the internet after images of campus police pepper-spraying protestors went viral in 2011, according to documents obtained by The Sacramento Bee. The money went to public relations firms that promised to clean up the university's search results. One company outlined a plan for "eradication of references to the pepper spray incident," according to the documents, and was eventually paid nearly $93,000, including expenses, for a six-month campaign in 2013. After that, the Bee reports, the university paid $82,500 to another PR firm to create and follow through on a "search engine results management strategy." The latter firm was later given thousands more in other contracts to build a university social media program, and to vet its communications department.

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Feds: TVA Executive Traded Nuclear Information For Cash In Chinese Espionage Case
Posted by News Fetcher on April 15 '16 at 02:32 AM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's two-count-indictment department:
mdsolar quotes a report from Knoxville News Sentinel: An East Tennessean who served as a senior manager in the Tennessee Valley Authority's nuclear program swapped information with one of China's top nuclear power companies in exchange for cash, according to federal court records unsealed Thursday. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Knoxville on Thursday announced an espionage conspiracy indictment against China General Nuclear Power, Chinese nuclear engineer Szuhsiung 'Allen' Ho, and Ho's firm, Energy Technology International. Prosecutors said Ho conspired with the companies to lure nuclear experts in the U.S. into providing information to allow China to develop and produce nuclear material based on American technology and under the radar of the U.S. government. Ho was taken into custody in Atlanta on Thursday afternoon and will be returned to U.S. District Court in Knoxville to face the two-count indictment. The indictment consists of one count of conspiracy to illegally engage and participate in the production and development of special nuclear material outside the U.S. and one count of conspiracy to act in the U.S. as an agent of a foreign government.

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Apple Deprecating Quicktime For Windows, Micro Trends Urges Users To Uninstall
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '16 at 11:52 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's shhh-don't-tell-anyone department:
harryjohnston writes: Usually when a vendor deprecates a software product and stops releasing security updates, they provide some sort of advance notice that they're intending to do so. The least we would expect is for them to announce an unexpected end-of-life themselves. However, Trend Micro released a security advisory today describing two zero-day vulnerabilities for Quicktime for Windows, and according to them, Apple told Trend Micro -- but apparently nobody else -- that they have deprecated Quicktime for Windows and will not be releasing a patch. The Register has an article on the announcement. Apple did not respond to their request for comment.

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Shockwave Images Help NASA In Development of 'Quiet' Supersonic Jet
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '16 at 09:02 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's art-gallery department:
An anonymous reader writes: NASA is working on developing a next-generation supersonic jet that can break the sound barrier with a soft "thump" instead of a sonic boom. They are using a technique called schlieren imagery to "visualize supersonic flow phenomena with full-scale aircraft in flight" with the sun as the backdrop for the photos. According to a NASA blog post, viewing shock waves and their density is crucial to the project so engineers can work on a design to minimize those reverberations. While the Quiet Supersonic Technology (QueSST) research aircraft is being developed, stunning images were captured of a supersonic jet flying at Mach 1.05 with the sun in the background. NASA says when QueSST is operational, it could "unlock the future to commercial supersonic flight over land," essentially ushering in a new era of aviation that could allow us to get from point A to point B faster and without the loud roar of the Concorde as it breaks the sound barrier.

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Report: US Government Worse Than All Major Industries On Cyber Security
Posted by News Fetcher on April 14 '16 at 06:11 PM
By BeauHD from Slashdot's graded-on-a-curve department:
schwit1 quotes a report from Reuters: U.S. federal, state and local government agencies rank in last place in cyber security when compared against 17 major private industries, including transportation, retail and healthcare, according to a new report released Thursday. The analysis, from venture-backed security risk benchmarking startup SecurityScorecard, measured the relative security health of government and industries across 10 categories, including vulnerability to malware infections, exposure rates of passwords and susceptibility to social engineering, such as an employee using corporate account information on a public social network. Educations, telecommunications and pharmaceutical industries also ranked low, the report found. Information services, construction, food and technology were among the top performers. And we are supposed to trust them with healthcare? This report comes after President Obama recently unveiled a commission of private, public and academic experts to bolster the U.S. cyber security sector.

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