By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Old-MacDonald-had-a-tractor-he-couldn't-repair department
Manufacturers lock consumers into restrictive "user agreements," and inside "there's things like you won't open the case, you won't repair," complains a U.S. advocacy group called The Repair Association. But now the issue is getting some more attention in the American press. An anonymous reader quotes NPR:
Modern tractors, essentially, have two keys to make the engine work. One key starts the engine. But because today's tractors are high-tech machines that can steer themselves by GPS, you also need a software key -- to fix the programs that make a tractor run properly. And farmers don't get that key. "You're paying for the metal but the electronic parts technically you don't own it. They do," says Kyle Schwarting, who plants and harvests fields in southeast Nebraska... "Maybe a gasket or something you can fix, but everything else is computer controlled and so if it breaks down I'm really in a bad spot," Schwarting says.
He has to call the dealer. Only dealerships have the software to make those parts work, and it costs hundreds of dollars just to get a service call. Schwarting worries about being broken down in a field, waiting for a dealer to show up with a software key.
The article points out that equipment dealers are using those expensive repair calls to offset slumping tractor sales. But it also reports that eight U.S. states, including Nebraska, Illinois and New York, are still considering bills requiring manufacturers to sell repair software, adding that after Massachusetts passed a similar lar, "car makers started selling repair software."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's way-back-machines department
"Today, we look back at the classic era of home computing that existed alongside the dreariness of business computing and the heart-pounding noise and colour of the arcades," writes the site Den of Geek. An anonymous reader reports:
The article remembers the days of dial-up modems, obscure computer magazines, and the forgotten phenomenon of computer clubs. ("There was a time when if you wanted to ask a question about something computer related, or see something in action, you'd have to venture outside and into another building to go and see it.") Gamers grappled with old school controllers, games distributed on cassette tapes, low-resolution graphics and the "playground piracy" of warez boards -- when they weren't playing the original side-scrolling platformers like Mario Bros and Donkey Kong at video arcades.
In a world where people published fanzines on 16-bit computers, shared demo programs, and even played text adventures, primitive hardware may have inspired future coders, since "Old computers typically presented you with a command prompt as soon as you switched them on, meaning that they were practically begging to be programmed on." Home computers "mesmerised us, educated us, and in many cases, bankrupted us," the article remembers -- until they were replaced by more powerful hardware. "You move on, but you never fully get over your first love," it concludes -- while also adding that "what came next was pretty amazing."
Does this bring back any memories for anybody -- or provoke any wistful nostalgic for a bygone era? Either way, I really liked the way that the article ended. "The most exciting chapter of all, my geeky friends? The future!"Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's if-you-were-using-Windows-7 department
"Microsoft this week boosted by 28% its claim of how much enterprises can save by deploying Windows 10," writes Computerworld. An anonymous reader quotes their report:
The revised estimate came from a Microsoft-commissioned analysis first done in mid-2016 by Forrester Research. Then, Forrester said the per-worker savings over a three-year stretch would be $404. To reach that number, the research firm interviewed four Microsoft customers that had begun moving to Windows 10, then modeled a hypothetical organization with 24,000 Windows devices, and a large number of mobile workers among the 20,000 employees. Using that pretend company, Forrester forecast the difference between running Windows 10 and retaining Windows 7.
Late last year, Forrester interviewed another quartet of Windows early 10 adopters, then added that data to what it had originally. The new per-employee savings: $515 over three years, a jump of almost a third... Forrester's increase in the number of mobile workers -- the total climbed by 460 employees -- was the biggest factor in the changed estimate... The bottom line, said Forrester and Microsoft, was that the migration to Windows 10 would pay for itself -- the breakeven point when savings equal costs -- in 14 months.
The report says IT administrators "estimate a 20% improvement in management time, as Windows 10 requires less IT time to install, manage, and support with in-place deployment and more self-service functions," while because of the OS's security software, "security events requiring IT remediation are reduced or avoided by 33%."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's starting-a-startup department
Slashdot reader ben-hnb is a developer who loves the idea of running a startup, or being one of the ones who got in early. But how exactly does he get there?
I've got no "business" experience. Everyone seems to want to get on the startup incubator train -- the latest U.K. model I've seen, Launchpad, would even train (MA!) and support me financially for a year while developing the initial product. This just one in a long list of different models, from the famous Y-Combinator three-month model to the 500 Startups four-month seed program and simple co-working spaces with a bit of help, like Launch 22.
If you wanted to get a startup going, where would you go to first and why? Or would you just strike out in your bedroom/garage?
Leave your best answers in the comments. How would you launch a software startup?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's off-the-wire department
An anonymous reader quotes this report from the cryptocurrency news site Bitcoin.com:
Bitfinex, on Wednesday, filed a lawsuit against Wells Fargo for suspending its outgoing U.S. dollars wire transfers. In addition to "a preliminary and permanent injunction against Wells Fargo," the exchange is seeking compensatory damages in excess of $75,000 and any additional relief the court may deem fair as well as a jury trial for the case... The court document states that Bitfinex is a customer of four Taiwan-based banks but is not itself a customer of Wells Fargo. However, its banks in Taiwan use Wells Fargo as a correspondent bank to process U.S. dollar wire transfers, which is a normal practice in cross-border payments.
"So far, close to US$180M in funds is locked up in Wells Fargo accounts," writes The Merkle, "with no clear path to a resolution in sight." But a Bitfinex representative on social media pointed out that "Funds are not frozen," adding that Wells Fargo is just a correspondent bank, and "They have chosen to block wire transfers between us and our customers which we are challenging in court."
Another post from BFX_Brandon states that "If we allow them to simply flip a switch and disrupt business, then there becomes a precedence in the Bitcoin industry beyond just Bitfinex, so we believe it is the appropriate time to take action."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's spray-on-storage department
Researchers at Duke University have developed "spray-on" digital memory using only an aerosol jet printer and nanoparticle inks. An anonymous reader quotes Duke Today:
The device, which is analogous to a 4-bit flash drive, is the first fully-printed digital memory that would be suitable for practical use in simple electronics such as environmental sensors or RFID tags. And because it is jet-printed at relatively low temperatures, it could be used to build programmable electronic devices on bendable materials like paper, plastic or fabric...
The new material, made of silica-coated copper nanowires encased in a polymer matrix, encodes information not in states of charge but instead in states of resistance. By applying a small voltage, it can be switched between a state of high resistance, which stops electric current, and a state of low resistance, which allows current to flow. And, unlike silicon, the nanowires and the polymer can be dissolved in methanol, creating a liquid that can be sprayed through the nozzle of a printer.
Amazingly, its write speed is three microseconds, "rivaling the speed of flash drives." The information can be re-written many times, and the stored data can last for up to 10 years.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hole-in-the-cloud department
"A trove of records containing personal and health information on close to a million people was exposed after a former developer working at a telemarketing company uploaded a backup of its database to the internet," writes ZDNet. An anonymous reader quotes their report:
The data contained personal and health-related information, such as names, addresses, dates of birth, phone numbers, email addresses, Social Security numbers, health insurance information, and other data relating to the types of health problems the individuals have regarding the products they need, though many of the records were truncated or incomplete. An examination showed that the database was used to market products to thousands of customers by telemarketers at HealthNow -- no longer a registered business as of 2015. Several records we've seen included customized notes written by staff who were tasked with calling customers, such as when they are home and any other relevant information on the subject.
The database apparently lingered online for years in an AWS instance until it was discovered two weeks ago in search results from Shodan by a Twitter user calling himself Flash Gordon. Databreaches.net, which investigated the breach with ZDNet, believes this as a teachable moment. "Before you give your personal or health insurance information to telemarketers or firms that call to offer you supplies for diabetes or back pain or other conditions, think twice."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's under-the-hedge department
"The transition to internet protocol version 6 has opened up a whole new range of threat vectors that allow attackers to set up undetectable communications channels across networks, researchers have found."
Slashdot reader Bismillah summarizes a report from IT News.
Researchers at NATO's Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence and Estonia's University of Tallinn have worked out how to set up communications channels using IPv6 transition mechanisms, to exfiltrate data and for systems control over IPv4-only and dual-stack networks -- without being spotted by network intrusion detection systems.
The article argues that "Since IPv6 implementations and security solutions are relatively new and untested, and systems engineers aren't fully aware of them, the new protocol can become a network backdoor attackers can exploit undetected." The researchers' paper is titled "Hedgehog In The Fog."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Cathedral-and-the-bizarre department
An anonymous reader writes:
Open source guru Eric S. Raymond has announced public brainstorming on a "gallery of hacker archetypes to help motivate newbies" by defining several different psychologies commonly found among programmers. He's unveiled an initial list developed with a friend, along with some interesting commentary. (Algorithmicists often have poor social skills and "a tendency to fail by excessive cleverness. Never let them manage anyone!")
Raymond cautions that "No hacker is only one of these" -- though apparently most of the hackers he knows appear to be two of them, "an indication that we are, even if imperfectly, zeroing in on real traits." But the blog post ends by asking "What archetypes, if any, are we missing?"
It'll be interesting to see if Slashdot readers if they recognize themselves in any of the archetypes. But the blog post also answers the inevitable question. What archetype is Eric S. Raymond? "Mostly Architect with a side of Algorithmicist and a touch of Jack-of-All-Trades."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's asking-Ask department
"The Ask.com search engine went through some sort of technical issue late Friday night, as its servers were exposing the internal Apache server status page, revealing recently processed search queries," reports BleepingComputer. An anonymous reader writes:
The issue is now fixed, but a copy of the server status page with some search queries can still be viewed in Google's search engine cache. "Some of the weirdest search queries were collected by users in a Hacker News thread," reports BleepingComputer, adding "As you'd expect, the server page included plenty of searches for porn."
The issue also affected localized Ask.com servers, such as uk.ask.com/server-status, us.ask.com/server-status, and de.ask.com/server-status, but no user data was exposed, as the search queries passed through load balancers and already hid user IPs.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's messing-with-Texas department
"I had the displeasure of being awoken at midnight to the sounds of civil-defense/air-raid sirens," writes very-long-time Slashdot reader SigIO, blaming "some schmuck with a twisted sense of humor." The Dallas News reports:
Rocky Vaz, director of Dallas' Office of Emergency Management, said that all 156 of the city's sirens were activated more than a dozen times... Dallas officials blame computer hacking for setting off emergency sirens throughout the city early Saturday... It took until about 1:20 a.m. to silence them for good because the emergency system had to be deactivated. The system remained shut down Saturday while crews safeguarded it from another hack.
The city has figured out how the emergency system was compromised and is working to prevent it from happening again, he said... The city said the system should be restored Sunday or Monday.
City officials reported 4,400 calls to their 9-1-1 emergency phone number in the first four hours of Saturday morning, with over 800 occurring in that first 15 minutes when all 156 sirens started going off simultaneously.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fond-of-FidoNet department
Ars Technica reports on vintage computing hobbyists "resurrecting digital communities that were once thought lost to time...some still running on original 8-bit hardware." Sometimes using modern technology like Raspberry Pi and TCPser (which emulates a Hayes modem for Telnet connections), they're reviving decades-old dial-up bulletin board systems (or BBSes) as portals "to places that have been long forgotten." An anonymous reader writes:
One runs the original software on a decades-old Commodore 128DCR. Another routes telnet connections across a real telephone circuit that connects to a Hayes modem. And after 23 years, the Dura-Europos BBS is back in business, using an Apple IIe running its original GBBS Pro software -- augmented with a modern CFFA3000 compact flash drive, and a Raspberry Pi running TCPser. [It's at dura-bbs.net, using port 6359.] Ars Technica blames "the meteoric rise of the World Wide Web and the demise of protocols that came before it" for the death of BBSes. "Owners of older 8-bit machines had little reason to maintain their hardware as their userbase migrated to the open pastures of the Web, and the number of bulletin board systems plummeted accordingly...
"Despite the threat of extinction, however, it turns out that some sysops never quite gave up on the BBS," and for many modern-day users, "it's simply a matter of 'dialing' the BBS using a domain name and port number instead of a phone number in their preferred terminal software." There they'll find primitive BBS games like STARTREK, Chess, and Blackjack, but also "old conversation threads dating back decades were available verbatim... It's like a buried digital time capsule."
< article continued at Slashdot's fond-of-FidoNet department
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