By manishs from Slashdot's truth-is-out-there department
The Intercept has today published 200-page documents revealing details about Harris Corp's Stingray surveillance device, which has been one of the closely guarded secrets in law enforcement for more than 15 years. The firm, in collaboration with police clients across the U.S. have "fought" to keep information about the mobile phone-monitoring boxes from the public against which they are used. The publication reports that the surveillance equipment carries a price tag in the "low six figures." From the report:The San Bernardino Sheriff's Department alone has snooped via Stingray, sans warrant, over 300 times. Richard Tynan, a technologist with Privacy International, told The Intercept that the "manuals released today offer the most up-to-date view on the operation of" Stingrays and similar cellular surveillance devices, with powerful capabilities that threaten civil liberties, communications infrastructure, and potentially national security. He noted that the documents show the "Stingray II" device can impersonate four cellular communications towers at once, monitoring up to four cellular provider networks simultaneously, and with an add-on can operate on so-called 2G, 3G, and 4G networks simultaneously.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's hate-data-caps department
Netflix hates data caps. The on-demand movies and TV shows service has asked the US Federal Communications Commission to declare that home internet data caps are unreasonable and that they limit customers' ability to watch online video. From an article on DSLReports:Netflix has long has an adversarial relationship with ISPs, and often for good reason. Usage caps on fixed-line networks are specifically designed to protect ISP TV revenues from Netflix competition, allowing an ISP to both complicate and generate additional profit off of the shift away from legacy TV. "Data caps (especially low data caps) and usage based pricing ("UBP") discourage a consumer's consumption of broadband, and may impede the ability of some households to watch Internet television in a manner and amount that they would like," said Netflix in a new filing with the FCC. "For this reason, the Commission should hold that data caps on fixed Âline networks ÂÂand low data caps on mobile networksÂÂ may unreasonably limit Internet television viewing and are inconsistent with Section 706." Netflix's filing comes as ISP's increasingly turn to broadband usage caps to take advantage of the lack of broadband competition in many markets. Fearing FCC crackdown both Comcast and AT&T raised their caps to one terabyte, though many ISPs still cap usage at much-lower allotments. High, low, or somewhere in between, Netflix highlights that there is no good reason to implement caps on well-managed fixed-line networks, despite a decade of ISPs trying to justify the price gouging.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's diversity department
Mic published a report last week in which it criticized the gender divide at Apple's last two iPhone events. The reporter noted that at iPhone 7 event, women spoke for roughly eight minutes at stage compared to men, who spoke for 99. Furthermore, most of the women and people of color who appeared onstage weren't Apple representatives. An Apple spokesperson, who shared the information "off-the-record", had a weird response. The email read, "We may have different interpretations of diversity." The email continues, via Mic report, "he pointed to 'two African-Americans' who spoke at the keynote, neither of whom are actually employed by Apple. He also mentioned 'a Canadian, and a British woman.'" The reporter has defended the use of "off-the-record" information, noting that Apple PR didn't warn her beforehand -- and as an important ethic in journalism -- they didn't reach an agreement before the Apple PR decided to share things.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's final-frontier department
Earlier this year, Jeff Bezos, the founder of Blue Origin said he would unveil details about his company's orbital rocket sometime "later this year." He is now delivering on the promise. Bezos has released some preliminary details about the "New Glenn" rocket which employs seven of the company's new generation BE-4 rocket engines. The rocket, named after the first American to reach orbit, is bigger than Elon Musk's Falcon Heavy rocket. Bezos said he intends to launch the New Glenn in less than a decade from now. The Verge reports: The New Glenn will incorporate reusability, according to an email update from Bezos. The first stage of the rocket will be able to land post-launch, similar to how Blue Origin's New Shepard vehicle lands after a flight. However, the New Shepard is only capable of going to sub-orbital space, so it's not traveling as fast or as high as a rocket going to orbit. Landing an orbital rocket post-launch will put Blue Origin in a whole new ball game. And it looks like there will be a lot of rocket to land. The New Glenn will be 23 feet in diameter and range between 270 and 313 feet high. That height depends on if there is one upper stage or two on top of the rocket. With just one upper stage, the rocket will be able to send satellites and people into lower Earth orbit (LEO). But with two upper stages, the New Glenn is capable of taking payloads beyond LEO. The main portion of the rocket will be powered by seven BE-4s, an engine that Blue Origin is currently developing. It's the same engine that the company hopes to sell to the United Launch Alliance to power the future Vulcan rocket. Combined, the BE-4s should provide 3.85 million pounds of thrust, according to Bezos. That's more thrust than the 2 million pounds the Delta IV Heavy is capable of, and slightly less than the 5 million pounds SpaceX's Falcon Heavy can pull off.Bezos said: Our vision is millions of people living and working in space, and New Glenn is a very important step. It won't be the last of course. Up next on our drawing board: New Armstrong. But that's a story for the future.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's redefining-courage department
theodp writes: Every fall," writes The Intercept's Sam Biddle, "internet and its resident tech mumblers congregate for The Apple Event, a quasi-pagan streaming-video rite in which Tim Cook boasts of just how much money his company is making (a lot) and just how much good it's introducing to the world (this typically involves a new iPhone). This is merely annoying most years; but in 2016, when Apple is loudly, publicly denying its tax obligations around the world, it's just gross." Biddle finds Apple's use of the word 'courage' to describe the corporate ethos that pushed the company to remove the headphone plug from the newest iPhone while offering a new pair of $160 jack-free earbuds particularly irksome: "Removing a headphone jack or adding 20 headphone jacks does not require courage; engineers are very smart, but their job does not typically require much bravery. Courage is more often found in, say, running into a burning school to rescue the students and class rodent. Or, maybe, you could call courageous the act of paying the many billions you owe around the world into the system that ensures those students have all of the resources they need in order to learn and grow. Just a hint: Collaborative spreadsheet software doesn't count [introducing new real-time collaboration features, Cook called iWork a "very important tool in education"].Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's microsoft-loves-linux department
After neglecting Linux's Skype client for years, Microsoft released a new app of Skype for Linux in July, giving comfort to millions of users. The app, however, had a fair share of bugs. Microsoft today has updated the app to iron out those bugs, and introduced a handful of interesting options. An anonymous reader writes: There were plenty of users who complained that Skype for Linux was reconnecting automatically when not using the app for a certain amount of time and Microsoft has already acknowledged the bug. This new version fixes the problem, so everything should work correctly after updating. Additionally, Skype for Linux 1.7 introduces a new grid layout of the group calls, but also fixes the standard behavior of unread messages. According to Microsoft, this means that "when opening chat with unread messages, the view will focus on the first unread message and as you scroll, messages will be marked as read."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's grappling-with-Giphy-GIFs department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes Softpedia:
Mozilla has announced this week that it is delaying the release of Firefox 49 for one week to address two unexpected bugs. Firefox 49, which was set for release on Tuesday, September 13, will now launch the following Tuesday, on September 20...
Firefox 49 is an important release in Mozilla's grand scheme of things when it comes to Firefox. This is the version when Mozilla will finish multi-process support rollout (a.k.a. e10s, or Electrolysis), and the version when Firefox launches the new WebExtensions API that replaces the old Add-ons API, making Firefox compatible with Chromium extensions.
Firefox's release manager explained the delays as "two blocking issues and the need for a bit more time to evaluate the results of their fixes/backouts" -- one of which apparently involves opening Giphy GIFS on Twitter.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's goodbye-Seattle department
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
Amazon plans to open "as many as 100" retail stores in shopping malls by the end of next year, according to Business Insider. The 300- to 500-square-foot stores will sell familiar Amazon hardware products like Kindles and Fire TV, "but the broader goal is to drive more traffic to Amazon's online store, as these devices make it easier to purchase items there" -- and to promote Amazon's Echo personal assistant.
Amazon stores have already quietly opened in 12 states, including six stores in California and more stores in New York, Texas, Virginia, and Massachusetts. But now the brick-and-mortar stores "have emerged from the test phase with a goal to expand and grow," according to one Amazon job posting, and Business Insider reports that new Amazon stores "are popping up almost every week in shopping malls across the country."
The article has pictures of the new Amazon stores, and points out that the company also experienced disappointing results from an earlier experiment with Amazon trucks.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's weaponizing-demons-for-a-brighter-tomorrow department
DOOM 2016 "cleverly re-uses old data computed in the previous frames...1331 draw calls, 132 textures and 50 render targets," according to a new article which takes a very detailed look at the process of rendering one 16-millisecond frame. An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
The game released earlier this year uses the Vulkan API to push graphics quality and performance at new levels. The article sheds light on rendering techniques, mega-textures, reflection computation... all the aspects of a modern game engine.
Some of the information came from "The Devil is in the Details," a July presentation at the SIGGRAPH 2016 conferences on graphics by Tiago Sousa, id's lead renderer programmer, and senior engine programmer Jean Geffroy. (And there's also more resources at the end of the article, including a July interview with five id programmers by Digital Foundry.) "Historically id Software is known for open-sourcing their engines after a few years, which often leads to nice remakes and breakdowns," the article notes. "Whether this will stand true with id Tech 6 remains to be seen but we don't necessarily need the source code to appreciate the nice graphics techniques implemented in the engine."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's today's-the-day department
Slashdot reader prisoninmate quotes an article on Softpedia: it looks like the Linux kernel maintainers decided that there's no need to maintain the Linux kernel 3.14 LTS series anymore, so earlier today, September 11, 2016, they decided to release that last maintenance update, version 3.14.79, and mark the series as EOL (End of Life). Famous Linux kernel maintainer Greg Kroah-Hartman was the one to make the big announcement, and he's urging users who want to still run a long-term supported kernel version to move to the Linux 4.4 LTS series, which is currently the most advanced LTS branch, or use the latest stable release, Linux kernel 4.7.3...
Linux kernel 3.14.79 is a very small update that changes a total of 12 files, with 45 insertions and 17 deletions, thus fixing a bug in the EXT4 file system, a networking issue related to the Reliable Datagram Sockets (RDS) protocol, and updating a few HID, s390, SCSI, networking drivers.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's offline-opposition department
"Keeping your enemies offline can cripple their chances of overthrowing you," reports the MIT Technology Review. Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes their article:
Whether or not your ethnic group has political power is a crucial factor determining your access to the Internet, according to a new analysis. The effect varies from country to country, and is much less pronounced in democratic nations. But the study, published today in Science, suggests that besides censorship, another way national governments prevent opposing groups from organizing online is by denying them Internet access in the first place, says Nils Weidmann, a professor of political science at the University of Konstanz in Germany.
Researchers used a geolocation database to create a map showing subnetwork activity for a large volume of internet traffic, then compared it with geographic data for the world's ethnic groups. "They concluded that excluded groups had significantly lower access compared to the groups in power, and that this can't be explained by other economic or geographic factors (like living in rural vs. urban areas)... 'You don't have to censor if the opposition doesn't get access at all.' "Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's feds-vs-phishers department
Security researchers have detected an upgrade to the GoVRAT malware, which targets government employees and bypasses antivirus tools using stolen digital certificates. An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld:
Through GovRAT, hackers can potentially steal files from a victim's computer, remotely execute commands, or upload other malware to the system... The malware features an additional function to secretly monitor network traffic over the victim's computer -- something with scary consequences. "If you're downloading something from a particular resource, the hackers can intercept the download and replace it with malware," said InfoArmor CIO Andrew Komarov on Friday.
Last year, InfoArmor said that earlier versions of GovRAT had attacked more than 15 governments around the world, in addition to seven financial institutions and over 100 corporations.
The security researchers say GovRAT comes with "a stolen database of 33,000 Internet accounts, some of which belong to U.S. government employees," including names, email addresses and hashed passwords.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's day-of-the-dolphins department
For the first time Russian researchers have recorded a conversation between two dolphins -- Yasha and Yana -- who were talking to each other in a pool. An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes The Telegraph:
Scientists developed an underwater microphone which could distinguish the animals' different "voices" [and] have now shown that dolphins alter the volume and frequency of pulsed clicks to form individual "words" which they string together into sentences in much the same way that humans speak...
âoeThis language exhibits all the design features present in the human spoken language, this indicates a high level of intelligence and consciousness in dolphins, and their language can be ostensibly considered a highly developed spoken language, akin to the human language... Humans must take the first step to establish relationships with the first intelligent inhabitants of the planet Earth by creating devices capable of overcoming the barriers that stand in the way of using languages and in the way of communications between dolphins and people."
The dolphins listened to an entire "sentence" before replying, according to the article, which points out that dolphin brains are larger and more complex than the brains of humans.Read Replies (0)