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Typing 'http://:' Into a Skype Message Trashes the Installation Beyond Repair
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '15 at 06:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's bug-of-the-year department:
An anonymous reader writes: A thread at the Skype community forums has brought to light a critical bug in Microsoft's Skype clients for Windows, iOS and Android: typing the incorrect URL initiator <tt>http://:</tt> into a text message on Skype will crash the client so badly that it can only be repaired by installing an older version and awaiting a fix from Microsoft. The bug does not affect OS X or the 'Metro'-style Windows clients — which means, effectively, that Mac users could kill the Skype installations on other platforms just by sending an eight-character message.

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nmap Maintainer Warns He Doesn't Control nmap SourceForge Mirror
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '15 at 05:15 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's shorter-weekend department:
vivaoporto writes: Gordon Lyon (better known as Fyodor, author of nmap and maintainer of the internet security resource sites insecure.org, nmap.org, seclists.org, and sectools.org) warns on the nmap development mailing list that he does not control the SourceForge nmap project.

According to him the old Nmap project page (located at http://sourceforge.net/projects/nmap/, screenshot) was changed to a blank page and its contents were moved to a new page (http://sourceforge.net/projects/nmap.mirror/, screenshot) which is controlled by sf-editor1 and sf-editor3, in a pattern mirroring the much discussed takeover of the GIMP-Win page discussed last week on Ars Technica, IT World and eventually this week on Slashdot.

On Monday, Sourceforge promised to stop "presenting third party offers for unmaintained SourceForge projects," and to their credit Fyodor states, "So far they seem to be providing just the official Nmap files," but reiterates "that you should only download Nmap from our official SSL Nmap site: https://nmap.org/download.html."

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Google Diversity Report Straight Out of 'How To Lie With Statistics' Playbook
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '15 at 04:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's not-unlike-every-other-corporate-report department:
theodp writes: Among the books recommended by Bill Gates for beach reading this summer is How to Lie With Statistics, the published-in-1954-but-timely-as-ever introduction to the (mis)use of statistics. So, how can one lie with statistics? "Sometimes it is percentages that are given and raw figures that are missing," explains the book, "and this can be deceptive too." So, does this explain Google's just-released Diversity Report and the accompanying chock-full-o-percentages narrative (find-all-%-image), which boasts "the Black community in grew [sic] by 38 percent", while the less-impressive raw figures — e.g., the number of Google employees increased by 5,928, but the ranks of Black females only increased by 35 (less than 0.6% of the net increase) — are relegated to a PDF of its EEO-1 Report that's linked to in the fine-print footnotes? To be fair to Google, Microsoft, Twitter, Apple and Amazon didn't want people to see their EEO-1 numbers, either.

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PayPal Will Be Able To Robo-Text/Call Users With No Opt-out Starting July 1
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '15 at 03:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's change-your-listed-phone-number-to-their-customer-support-line department:
OutOnARock notes that as PayPal separates from eBay in the coming months, new terms of service are set to take effect on July 1st. Most of the changes unexciting, but one provision has consumer rights groups up in arms: PayPal is granting itself the ability to use automated systems to call and text users. These robocalls could happen for something as serious as debt collection or as frivolous as advertisements. What's more, the company grants the same rights to its affiliates. Activists are questioning the legality of these changes. "Given that both the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (which created the Do Not Call list) and the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act ban most robocalling and texting, this seemed in direct opposition to consumer protections granted Americans by Congress." PayPal says it will comply with all laws, but their actions may spark a legal debate about whether terms of service can qualify as "written consent."

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100kb of Unusual Code Protecting Nuclear, ATC and United Nations Systems
Posted by News Fetcher on June 03 '15 at 01:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's norton-antivirus-from-1991 department:
An anonymous reader writes: For an ex-academic security company still in the seeding round, startup Abatis has a small but interesting roster of clients, including Lockheed Martin, the Swiss military, the United Nations and customers in the civil nuclear and air traffic control sectors. The company's product, a kernel driver compatible with Windows, Linux and Unix, occupies just 100kb with no dependencies, and reportedly achieves a 100% effectiveness rate against intruders by preventing unauthorized I/O activity. The CEO of Abatis claims, "We can stop zero day malware — the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns." The software requires no use of signature files, white-listing, heuristics or sandboxing, with a separate report from Lockheed Martin confirming very significant potential for energy savings — up to £125,000 per year in a data center with 10,000 servers.

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Tim Cook: "Weakening Encryption Or Taking It Away Harms Good People"
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 10:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's plans-i-crpytion-scheme-for-only-good-people department:
Patrick O'Neill writes: Over the last year, Apple CEO Tim Cook has repeatedly made headlines as a spearpoint in the new crypto wars. As FBI director James Comey pushes for legally mandated backdoors on encryption, Cook has added default strong encryption to Apple devices and vocally resisted Comey's campaign. Echoing warnings from technical experts across the world, Cook said that adding encryption backdoors for law enforcement would weaken the security of all devices and "is incredibly dangerous," he said last night at the Electronic Privacy Information Center awards dinner. "So let me be crystal clear: Weakening encryption or taking it away harms good people who are using it for the right reason."

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Building Amazon a Better Warehouse Robot
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 08:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's like-battlebots-but-kinda-boring department:
Nerval's Lobster writes: Amazon relies quite a bit on human labor, most notably in its warehouses. The company wants to change that via machine learning and robotics, which is why earlier this year it invited 30 teams to a "Picking Contest." In order to win the contest, a team needed to build a robot that can outpace other robots in detecting and identifying an object on a shelf, gripping said object without breaking it, and delivering it into a waiting receptacle. Team RBO, composed of researchers from the Technical University of Berlin, won last month's competition by a healthy margin. Their winning design combined a WAM arm (complete with a suction cup for lifting objects) and an XR4000 mobile base into a single unit capable of picking up 12 objects in 20 minutes—not exactly blinding speed, but enough to demonstrate significant promise. If Amazon's contest demonstrated anything, it's that it could be quite a long time before robots are capable of identifying and sorting through objects at speeds even remotely approaching human (and thus taking over those jobs). Chances seem good that Amazon will ask future teams to build machines that are even smarter and faster.

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Mystery Company Blazes a Trail In Fusion Energy
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 06:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's here-comes-the-sun department:
sciencehabit writes: Of the handful of startup companies trying to achieve fusion energy via nontraditional methods, Tri Alpha Energy Inc. has always been the enigma. Publishing little and with no website, but apparently sitting on a cash pile in the hundreds of millions, the Foothill Ranch, California-based company has been the subject of intense curiosity and speculation. But last month Tri Alpha lifted the veil slightly with two papers, revealing that its device, dubbed the colliding beam fusion reactor, has shown a 10-fold improvement in its ability to contain the hot particles needed for fusion over earlier devices at U.S. universities and national labs. 'They've improved things greatly and are moving in a direction that is quite promising,' says plasma physicist John Santarius of the Fusion Technology Institute at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

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New SOHO Router Security Audit Uncovers Over 60 Flaws In 22 Models
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 04:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's my-god,-it's-full-of-flaws department:
Home and small-office routers have become a hotbed for security research lately, with vulnerabilities and poor security practices becoming the rule, rather than the exception. A new security audit by researchers from Universidad Europea de Madrid only adds to that list, finding 60 distinct flaws in 22 different device models. They posted details of their research on the Full Disclosure mailing list, and the affected brands include D-Link, Belkin, Linksys, Huawei, and others. Many of the models they examined had been distributed to internet customers across Spain by their ISPs. About half of the flaws involve Cross Site Scripting and Cross Site Request Forgery capabilities, though there is at least one backdoor with a hard-coded password. Several routers allow external attackers to delete files on USB storage devices, and others facilitate DDoS attacks.

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The Bizarre Process Used For Approving Exemptions To the DMCA
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's assume-a-spherical-librarian department:
harrymcc writes: The Digital Millennium Copyright Act imposes severe penalties on those who overcome copy-protection technologies. It allows for exemptions for a variety of purposes — but in a weird proviso, those exemptions must be re-approved by the Librarian of Congress every three years. Over at Fast Company, Glenn Fleishman takes a look at this broken system and why it's so bad for our rights as consumers. "The Librarian has opted to require one or more 'champions' or proponents of a carefully defined category, like "Audiovisual works – educational uses – colleges and universities," to file a brief. His office also opens the floor to rebuttals from opponents. Further, the Librarian sunsets every exemption every three years—something not required by the law, and which requires champions to arise again to launch a new defense. The office also doesn't propose its own examples of circumvention that should be permitted, even though the law permits it to do so."

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Senate Passes USA Freedom Act
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 02:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's agreeing-to-disagree-about-agreeing department:
schwit1 points out that the U.S. Senate has passed the USA Freedom Act by a vote of 67-32, sending it on to President Obama, who is expected to sign it into law. The bill removes mass metadata collection powers from the NSA, but also grants a new set of surveillance powers to replace them. Telecoms now hang on to that data, and the government can access it if they suspect the target is part of a terrorism investigation and one of the call's participants is overseas. "The second provision revived Tuesday concerns roving wiretaps. Spies may tap a terror suspect's communications without getting a renewed FISA Court warrant, even as a suspect jumps from one device to the next. The FISA Court need not be told who is being targeted when issuing a warrant. The third spy tool renewed is called "lone wolf" in spy jargon. It allows for roving wiretaps. However, the target of wiretaps does not have to be linked to a foreign power or terrorism."

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Fabs Now Manufacturing Carbon Nanotube Memory, Which Could Replace NAND and DRAM
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's still-waiting-on-my-isolinear-chips department:
Lucas123 writes: Nantero, the company that invented carbon nanotube-based non-volatile memory in 2001 and has been developing it since, has announced that seven chip fabrication plants are now manufacturing its Nano-RAM (NRAM) wafers and test chips. The company also announced aerospace giant Lockheed Martin and Schlumberger Ltd., the world's largest gas and oil exploration and drilling company, as customers seeking to use its chip technology. The memory, which can withstand 300 degrees Celsius temperatures for years without losing data, is natively thousands of times faster than NAND flash and has virtually infinite read/write resilience. Nantero plans on creating gum sticks SSDs using DDR4 interfaces. NRAM has the potential to create memory that is vastly more dense that NAND flash, as its transistors can shrink to below 5 nanometers in size, three times more dense than today's densest NAND flash. At the same time, NRAM is up against a robust field of new memory technologies that are expected to challenge NAND flash in speed, endurance and capacity, such as Phase-Change Memory and Ferroelectric RAM (FRAM).

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Microsoft To Support SSH In Windows and Contribute To OpenSSH
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 01:16 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's headlines-you-probably-didn't-expect department:
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft has announced plans for native support for SSH in Windows. "A popular request the PowerShell team has received is to use Secure Shell protocol and Shell session (aka SSH) to interoperate between Windows and Linux – both Linux connecting to and managing Windows via SSH and, vice versa, Windows connecting to and managing Linux via SSH. Thus, the combination of PowerShell and SSH will deliver a robust and secure solution to automate and to remotely manage Linux and Windows systems." Based on the work from this new direction, they also plan to contribute back to the OpenSSH project as well.

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Perl 5.22 Released
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 01:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's onward-and-upward department:
kthreadd writes: Version 5.22 of the Perl programming language has just been released. A major new feature in this release is the double diamond operator; like the regular diamond operator it allows you to quickly read through files specified on the command line but does this in a much safer way by not evaluating special characters in the file names. Other new features include hexadecimal floating point numbers, improved variable aliasing and a nicer syntax for repetition in list assignment. Also, historical Perl modules CGI.pm and Module::Build are removed from the core distribution.

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Cable Companies Hate Cord-Cutting, but It's Not Going Away (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 12:30 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's parting-with-a-cable-company-is-such-sweet-sorrow department:
On May 29, Steven J. Vaughan Nichols (known far and wide as SJVN) wrote an article for ZDNet headlined, Now more than ever, the Internet belongs to cord-cutters. A few days before that, he wrote another one headlined, Mary Meeker's Internet report: User growth slowing, but disruption full speed ahead. And last December he wrote one titled, Reports show it's becoming a cord cutter's world. SJVN obviously sees a trend here. So do a lot of other people, including cable TV and local TV executives who are biting their nails and asking themselves, "Whatever shall we do?" So far, says SJVN, the answers they've come up with are not encouraging.

NOTE from Roblimo: We're trying something different with this video, namely keeping it down to about 4 minutes but running a text transcript that covers our 20+ minute conversation with SJVN. Is this is a good idea? Please let us know.

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FBI Is Behind Mysterious Flights Over US Cities
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 12:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-such-bureau department:
New submitter kaizendojo sends a report from the Associated Press indicating the FBI has a small fleet of planes that fly across the U.S. carrying surveillance equipment. The planes are registered with fictitious companies to hide their association with the U.S. government. The FBI says they're only used for investigations that are "specific" and "ongoing," but they're often used without getting permission from a judge beforehand. "Some of the aircraft can also be equipped with technology that can identify thousands of people below through the cellphones they carry, even if they're not making a call or in public. Officials said that practice, which mimics cell towers and gets phones to reveal basic subscriber information, is rare." The AP identified at least 50 FBI-controlled planes, which have done over 100 flights since late April. The AP adds that they've seen the planes "orbiting large, enclosed buildings for extended periods where aerial photography would be less effective than electronic signals collection."

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Ask Slashdot: Your Most Unusual Hardware Hack?
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 11:15 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's my-water-into-wine-machine department:
An anonymous reader writes: Another Slashdotter recently asked what kind of things someone can power with an external USB battery. I have a followup along those lines: what kind of modifications have you made to your gadgets to do things that they were never meant to do? Consider old routers, cell phones, monitors, etc. that have absolutely no use or value anymore in their intended form. What can you do with them?

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GameStop Swoops In To Buy ThinkGeek For $140 Million
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 10:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's will-pay-you-8-cents-for-used-annoy-a-trons department:
Lirodon writes: Remember a few days ago, when Slashdot's former parent company was the subject of a $122 million takeover bid by Hot Topic? Well, another geeky retailer entered the fray in the battle for ThinkGeek, and won. GameStop will be acquiring Geeknet for $140 million. The video game retailer has promised synergies, such as in-store pickup and integration with its rewards program.

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Professional Russian Trolling Exposed
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 10:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's in-ex-soviet-russia department:
An anonymous reader writes: Today the New York Times published a stunning exposé revealing the strategies used by one of the Web's greatest enemies: professional, government-backed "internet trolls." These well-paid agent provocateurs are dedicated to destroying the value of the Internet as an organizing and political tool. The trolling attacks described within are mind-boggling -- they sound like the basis of a Neal Stephenson novel as much as they do real life -- but they all rely on the usual, inevitable suspects of imperfect security and human credulity.

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Intel Adopts USB-C Connector For 40Gbps Thunderbolt 3, Supports USB 3.1, DP 1.2
Posted by News Fetcher on June 02 '15 at 09:16 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ok-that's-pretty-cool department:
MojoKid writes: The high speed Thunderbolt interface standard, which is used for everything from hyper-fast external storage solutions to external graphics cards, has been slow to take off. You can blame the high-priced Thunderbolt peripherals and the uber-expensive cables (at least when compared to your garden-variety USB cables). For most people, USB 3.0 is "good enough" and making a huge investment into the Thunderbolt ecosystem has been reserved for those in the professional video editing arena. However, Intel is looking to change all of that with Thunderbolt 3. Thunderbolt 3 once again doubles the maximum bandwidth, this time jumping from 20Gbps to a whopping 40Gbps. While that is impressive in its own right, the truly big news is that Thunderbolt 3 is moving away from the Mini DisplayPort connector and is instead adopting the USB-C connector. As a result Thunderbolt will also support USB 3.1 (which is currently spec'd at 10Gbps) and can optionally provide up to 100W of power (in compliance with the USB Power Delivery spec) to charge devices via USB-C (like the recently introduced 12-inch Apple MacBook).

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