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Ask Slashdot: What Makes a Good Work Environment For Developers and IT?
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 02:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's don't-put-fresca-in-the-fridge-and-tell-us-there's-soda department:
An anonymous reader writes: I've been unexpectedly placed in charge of our small technology department at work. We have three dedicated developers, two dedicated IT people, and one 'devops' guy who does some of both. It's the first team I've managed, and I'd like to do a good job of it, so I ask you: what makes a good work environment? I have my own likes and dislikes, of course, and I'm sure everyone can appreciate things like getting credit for their work and always having the break room fridge stocked. But I'd like to hear about the other things, big and small, that make it more fun (or at least less un-fun) to come into work every day. This can be anything — methods of personal communication, HR policies (for example, how can reviews be not-terrible?), amenities at the office, computer hardware/software, etc. I also wouldn't mind advice on how to represent my team when dealing with other departments.

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The Unlikely Effort To Build a Clandestine Cell Phone Network
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 01:31 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's can't-stop-the-signal department:
Lashdots writes: Electronic surveillance has raised concerns among Americans and pushed an estimated 30% of them to protect their privacy in some form. Artist Curtis Wallen has taken that effort to dramatic lengths, documenting how to create a "clandestine communications network" using pre-paid phones, Tor, Twitter, and encryption. The approach, which attempts to conceal any encryption that could raise suspicions, is "very passive" says Wallen, so "there's hardly any trace that an interaction even happened." This is not easy, of course. In fact, as he discovered while researching faulty CIA security practices, it's really, comically hard. "If the CIA can't even keep from getting betrayed by their cell phones, what chance do we have?" he says. Still, he believes his system could theoretically keep users' activities hidden, and while it's hard, it's not impossible.

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EFF Fighting Automakers Over Whether You Own Your Car
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 12:46 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what's-yours-is-ours department:
An anonymous reader writes: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act contains anti-circumvention prohibitions that affect everything from music files to cell phones. The EFF noticed that it could apply to cars as well, so they asked for an exemption to be put in place so car owners would be free to inspect and modify the code running on their vehicles. It turns out U.S. automakers don't agree — they filed opposition comments through trade associations. "They say you shouldn't be allowed to repair your own car because you might not do it right. They say you shouldn't be allowed to modify the code in your car because you might defraud a used car purchaser by changing the mileage. They say no one should be allowed to even look at the code without the manufacturer's permission because letting the public learn how cars work could help malicious hackers, "third-party software developers" (the horror!), and competitors. John Deere even argued that letting people modify car computer systems will result in them pirating music through the on-board entertainment system, which would be one of the more convoluted ways to copy media (and the exemption process doesn't authorize copyright infringement, anyway)."

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NSA's Former General Council Talks Privacy, Security, and Snowden's 'Betrayal'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 12:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i'll-bet-they-loved-it department:
blottsie writes: In his first interview since retiring as general council to the NSA, Rajesh De offers detailed insights into the spy agency's efforts to find balance between security and privacy, why the NSA often has trouble defending itself in public, the culture of "No Such Agency," and what it was like on the inside when the Snowden bombshell went off. He describes the mood after the leaks: "My sense of it was that there were two overriding emotions among the workforce. The first was a deep, deep [feeling] of betrayal. Someone who was sitting next to them—being part of the team helping keep people safe, which is really what people at the agency think they are doing—could turn around and do something so self-aggrandizing and reckless. There was also a deep sense of hurt that a lot of what was in the media was not entirely accurate. Questioning the motives and legality of what NSA employees were being asked to do to keep Americans safe—all within the legal policy construct that we've been given—that was difficult for the NSA workforce."

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Why the Framework Nuclear Agreement With Iran Is Good For Both Sides
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-sending-nukes-via-uber department:
Lasrick writes: Ariane Tabatabai breaks down the details of the framework agreement between Iran and the P5+1 that was announced Thursday. It appears to be better than most analysts expected, with positive outcomes for both sides. It truly seems historic: "A number of these steps will, in effect, be irreversible. They will not just limit Iran's nuclear capability for 10 to 15 years, but will reshape it entirely and indefinitely. ... [B]oth sides stand to gain from the framework agreement, which should also be considered a victory for the global nonproliferation regime. Ahead of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference that begins in late April, where no major achievements in nonproliferation are likely to be announced, the framework agreement is a very important success."

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Microsoft To Stop Enabling 'Do Not Track' By Default
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's do-not-do-not-track department:
An anonymous reader writes: The history of the do-not-track setting for web browsers has been rife with debate. It took a long time for web experts to come to anything resembling a consensus on how it should be implemented, and the process isn't over yet. Microsoft took criticism for enabling the do-not-track setting by default in Internet Explorer. While it sounds good in theory, many worried it would just spur websites to completely disregard the setting (and some, like Yahoo, did just that). Now, Microsoft has reversed their stance. The do-not-track setting will not be enabled by default in the company's future browsers. They say, "Put simply, we are updating our approach to DNT to eliminate any misunderstanding about whether our chosen implementation will comply with the W3C standard. ... As a result, DNT will not be the default state in Windows Express Settings moving forward, but we will provide customers with clear information on how to turn this feature on in the browser settings should they wish to do so."

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Google: Less Than One Percent of Android Devices Are Affected By Harmful Apps
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 10:01 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's two-nines-security department:
jfruh writes: One of the selling points of iOS is that its more restrictive nature makes it more secure. But even though it's easier for users to accidentally install malicious apps on Android, data collected by Google (PDF) indicates that less than one percent of Android users have actually done so. Quoting: "During October 2014, the lowest level of device hygiene was 99.5% and the highest level was 99.65%, so less than 0.5% of devices had a Potentially Harmful Application (PHA) installed (excluding non-malicious Rooting apps). During that same time period, approximately 0.25% of devices had a non-malicious Rooting application installed. ... Worldwide, excluding non-malicious Rooting applications, PHAs are installed on less than 0.1% of devices that install applications only from Google Play. Non-rooting PHAs are installed on approximately 0.7% of devices that are configured to permit installation from outside of Google Play. Additionally, the second graph shows devices with any PHA (including Rooting applications). Rooting applications are installed on about 0.5% of devices that allow sideloading of applications from outside of Google Play."

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The Dystopian Lake Filled By the World's Tech Sludge
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 09:16 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's scifi-waiting-to-happen department:
New submitter trevc sends this story from the BBC:
Hidden in an unknown corner of Inner Mongolia is a toxic, nightmarish lake created by our thirst for smartphones, consumer gadgets and green tech. The city-sized Baogang Steel and Rare Earth complex dominates the horizon, its endless cooling towers and chimneys reaching up into grey, washed-out sky. Stretching into the distance, lies an artificial lake filled with a black, barely-liquid, toxic sludge. ... You may not have heard of Baotou, but the mines and factories here help to keep our modern lives ticking. It is one of the world’s biggest suppliers of “rare earth” minerals. These elements can be found in everything from magnets in wind turbines and electric car motors, to the electronic guts of smartphones and flatscreen TVs.

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Building an NES Emulator
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 08:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's thank-you-mario,-but-that-register-is-in-another-castle department:
An anonymous reader writes: Programmer Michael Fogleman recently built his own emulator for the original Nintendo Entertainment System. He's now put up a post sharing many technical insights he learned along the way. For example: "The NES used the MOS 6502 (at 1.79 MHz) as its CPU. The 6502 is an 8-bit microprocessor that was designed in 1975. ... The 6502 had no multiply or divide instructions. And, of course, no floating point. There was a BCD (Binary Coded Decimal) mode but this was disabled in the NES version of the chip—possibly due to patent concerns. The 6502 had a 256-byte stack with no overflow detection. The 6502 had 151 opcodes (of a possible 256). The remaining 105 values are illegal / undocumented opcodes. Many of them crash the processor. But some of them perform possibly useful results by coincidence. As such, many of these have been given names based on what they do." It's an interesting look at how software and hardware interacted back then, and what it takes to emulate that in modern times. Fogleman released the source code on GitHub.

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Court Refuses To Dismiss AT&T Throttling Case
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 07:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's time-to-pay-the-piper department:
Taco Cowboy sends news that a federal judge has shot down AT&T's attempt to dismiss a lawsuit alleging the company deceived customers by throttling their mobile data speeds. The suit was filed by the Federal Trade Commission after it found AT&T was charging customers for "unlimited" data plans, but then throttling their bandwidth once certain thresholds were reached. AT&T tried to have the suit thrown out by saying the FTC was exceeding its authority. Judge Edward Chen disagrees (PDF), saying jurisdiction for their conduct had not yet passed to the Federal Communications Commission when it occurred. The throttling affected "at least 3.5 million customers."

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The Democratization of Medical Diagnosis and Discovery
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 07:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's next-level-hypochondria department:
An anonymous reader writes: As wearable fitness devices become popular, we're seeing the beginning of a change in how untrained people can monitor their own health. On top of that, we also have access now to powerful data-sharing tools — if a patient has the means and the interest to look at the data from a doctor's medical scans, she can. A post at the NY Times argues this is leading to the democratization of medical discovery. Physicians and researchers are now saying, "Better-informed patients ... are more likely to take better care of themselves, comply with prescription drug regimens and even detect early-warning signals of illness." These tools also allow easier aggregation of data from large groups of patients (hopefully anonymized), which can provide more accurate assessments of the typical course of disease than current methods, which often rely on interpretations of interpretations.

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DHS Wants Access To License-plate Tracking System, Again
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 06:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's lesson-not-learned department:
schwit1 writes: The Department of Homeland Security is seeking bids from companies able to provide law enforcement officials with access to a national license-plate tracking system — a year after canceling a similar solicitation over privacy issues. The reversal comes after officials said they had determined they could address concerns raised by civil liberties advocates and lawmakers about the prospect of the department's gaining widespread access, without warrants, to a system that holds billions of records that reveal drivers' whereabouts. "If this goes forward, DHS will have warrantless access to location information going back at least five years about virtually every adult driver in the U.S., and sometimes to their image as well," said Gregory T. Nojeim, senior counsel for the Center for Democracy & Technology. ... The largest commercial database is owned by Vigilant Solutions, which as of last fall had more than 2.5 billion records. Its database grows by 2.7 million records a day.

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Microsoft Engineer: Open Source Windows Is 'Definitely Possible'
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 05:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's cats-and-dogs-living-together department:
An anonymous reader writes: Speaking at ChefCon, Microsoft Technical Fellow Mark Russinovich talked briefly about the prospect of some or all of Windows going open source. He said, "It's definitely possible. It's a new Microsoft." Russinovich acknowledged the reality that most developers and IT workers have embraced open source software to run some or all of their machines, and that means Microsoft needs to adapt. He also noted that Microsoft is beginning to adopt a strategy familiar to open source vendors: give away the software, and then sell support and related products. "It lifts them up and makes them available for our other offerings, where otherwise they might not be. If they're using Linux technologies that we can't play with, they can't be a customer of ours."

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TrueCrypt Audit: No NSA Backdoors
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 05:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's assuming-you-can-trust-the-auditors department:
Mark Wilson writes: A security audit of TrueCrypt has determined that the disk encryption software does not contain any backdoors that could be used by the NSA or other surveillance agencies. A report prepared by the NCC Group (PDF) for the Open Crypto Audit Project found that the encryption tool is not vulnerable to being compromised. However, the software was found to contain a few other security vulnerabilities, including one relating to the use of the Windows API to generate random numbers for master encryption key material. Despite this, TrueCrypt was given a relatively clean bill of health with none of the detected vulnerabilities considered severe enough to lead "to a complete bypass of confidentiality in common usage scenarios."

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DHS: Drug Infusion Pumps Vulnerable To Trivial Hacks
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 04:15 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's maintaining-the-proper-dosage department:
chicksdaddy writes with news of a DHS warning about the vulnerability of a popular brand of drug pumps. "The Department of Homeland Security warned that drug infusion pump management software sold by Hospira contains serious and exploitable vulnerabilities that could be used to remotely take control of the devices.

The MedNet server software manages drug libraries, firmware updates, and configurations of Hospira intravenous pumps. DHS's Industrial Control System Computer Emergency Response Team (ICS-CERT) said in an advisory issued Tuesday that the MedNet software from the firm Hospira contains four critical vulnerabilities – three of them capable of being exploited remotely. The vulnerabilities could allow a malicious actor to run malicious code on and take control of the MedNet servers, which could be used to distribute unauthorized modifications to medication libraries and pump configurations.

The vulnerabilities were discovered by independent security researcher Billy Rios and reported to both Hospira and ICS-CERT. The vulnerabilities vary in their severity. Among the most serious is Rios's discovery of a plaintext, hard-coded password for the SQL database used by the MedNet software (CVE-2014-5405e). By obtaining that password, an attacker could compromise the MedNet SQL server and gain administrative access to the workstation used to manage deployed pumps."


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Laptop Destroyed Over Snowden Leaks Is Now an Art Exhibit
Posted by News Fetcher on April 03 '15 at 01:45 AM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's one-man's-junk department:
An anonymous reader sends word that a busted MacBook Air and a Western Digital hard drive that once held Snowden revelations are going on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. "The remains of computer hardware which had contained the Guardian's London trove of Snowden documents – and which was destroyed on the rather spiteful demands of GCHQ personnel – have gone on display at the Victoria and Albert Museum. While the frankly unremarkable remnants of a MacBook Air are uninteresting in and of themselves – who among us has not taken an angle grinder to an errant machine? – the causes of the MacBook Air's destruction are seemingly interesting enough to merit those remnants being considered art and subsequently included in V&A's new exhibition about 'the museum as a public space and the role of public institutions in contemporary life.' Disconcertingly titled All of This Belongs to You, the exhibition is to include 'three specially curated displays,' among which is Ways to be Secret, which will examine what the curators describe as 'the contradiction between our concern for online privacy and our obsession with sharing via social media.'"

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Costs Soar on NASA Communications Upgrade Program
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '15 at 11:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's more-money department:
schwit1 writes A new GAO report has found that NASA's effort to upgrade the ground-based portion of its satellite communications system, used by both military satellites and manned spacecraft, is more than 30 percent over budget, with its completion now delayed two years to 2019. Worse, the GAO found that this problem program was actually one of three that have had budget problems. And that doesn't include the disastrously overbudget James Webb Space Telescope. "In its latest assessment of NASA's biggest programs, the U.S. Government Accountability Office identified the Space Network Ground Segment Sustainment (SGSS) as one of three — not counting the notoriously overbudget James Webb Space Telescope — that account for most of the projected cumulative cost growth this year. The others are the Magnetospheric Multiscale Mission, which launched March 12, and the Ice, Cloud, and Land Elevation Satellite-2, or ICESat-2, mission, the congressional watchdog agency said."

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Ankle Exoskeleton Takes a Load Off Calf Muscles To Boost Walking Efficiency
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '15 at 08:45 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's stepping-easy department:
Zothecula writes We might have started off in the water, but humans have evolved to be extremely efficient walkers, with a walk in the park being, well, a walk in the park. Human locomotion is so efficient that many wondered whether it was possible to reduce the energy cost of walking without the use of an external energy source. Now researchers at Carnegie Mellon and North Carolina State have provided an answer in the affirmative with the development of an unpowered ankle exoskeleton."

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The World Lost an Oklahoma-Sized Area of Forest In 2013, Satellite Data Show
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '15 at 06:15 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's how-many-oklahomas-are-left? department:
merbs writes Oklahoma spans an area in the American South that stretches across almost 70,000 square miles. That's almost exactly the same area of global forest cover that was lost in a single year. High resolution maps from Global Forest Watch, tapping new data from a partnership between the University of Maryland and Google, show that 18 million hectares (69,500 square miles) of tree cover were lost from wildfires, deforestation, and development the year before last. The maps were created by synthesizing 400,000 satellite images collected by NASA's Landsat mission.

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Sony Buys, Shuts Down OnLive
Posted by News Fetcher on April 02 '15 at 04:31 PM
By samzenpus from Slashdot's circle-of-business department:
Jay Maynard writes The OnLive gaming service that rose from the dead and became an inexpensive way to get high-end performance on low-end hardware has now been purchased by Sony Entertainment. Their games, desktop, and SLGo Second Life services will all end on April 30, 2015, and be free to use until then."

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