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The Ambitions and Challenges of Mesh Networks and the Local Internet Movement
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 06:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's net-positives-and-net-negatives department:
Lashdots writes: Two artists in New York are hatching a plan to teach kids about the internet by building their own. They'll be creating a small, decentralized network, similar to a mesh network, to access other computers, and they'll be developing their own simple social network to communicate with other people. It's part of a growing movement to supplement the Internet with resilient, local alternatives. "And yet, while the decentralized, ad hoc network architecture appeals philosophically to tech-savvy users fed up with monopolistic ISPs, nobody’s found a way to make mesh networks work easily and efficiently enough to replace home Internet connections. Built more for resiliency than for speed, each participating router must continuously search for the best paths to far-flung machines. For now, that makes them of limited interest to many ordinary consumers who simply want to check their email and watch movies."

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Cyberlock Lawyers Threaten Security Researcher Over Vulnerability Disclosure
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 05:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's what-year-is-this department:
qubezz writes: Security researcher Phar (Mike Davis/IOActive) gave his 30 days of disclosure notice to Cyberlock (apparently a company that makes electronic lock cylinders) that he would release a public advisory on vulnerabilities he found with the company's security devices. On day 29, their lawyers responded with a request to refrain, feigning ignorance of the previous notice, and invoking mention of the DMCA (this is not actually a DMCA takedown notice, as the law firm is attempting to suppress initial disclosure through legal wrangling). Mike's blog states: "The previous DMCA threats are from a company called Cyberlock, I had planned to do a fun little blog post (cause i ... hate blog posts) on the fun of how I obtained one, extracted the firmware bypassing the code protection and figured out its "encryption" and did various other fun things a lock shouldn't do for what its marketed as.. But before I could write that post I needed to let them know what issues we have deemed weaknesses in their gear.. the below axe grinderery is the results. (sic)" What should researchers do when companies make baseless legal threats to maintain their security-through-obscurity?
Related: Bitcoin exchange company Coinbase has been accused of spying on a dark net researcher.

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SpaceX Testing Passenger Escape System Tomorrow
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 04:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's coming-home-safely department:
An anonymous reader writes: On Wednesday, SpaceX will be performing the first test of a prototype for its passenger capsule escape system. Most rockets have a launch abort system that will save the lives of its crew within the first few minutes of launch, but not beyond a relatively low altitude. SpaceX is designing the new system to be able to return astronauts safely whether they're close to the ground or near orbit.

The Dragon capsule will fire eight SuperDraco thrusters, each capable of producing 120,000 lbs of axial thrust in under a second. With that amount of thrust, the capsule can get half a kilometer away from a failing rocket in under 5 seconds. SpaceX will have 270 sensors aboard the prototype, including a crash test dummy. The main mission goals include: determining the best sequencing for the launch abort timeline, getting all eight thrusters to fire in unison, and seeing how an aborted launch affects both the inside of the capsule and the area around it. The test is planned to start at 7 a.m. EDT (11:00 UTC), but they have a 7.5-hour window if there are minor delays.


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Police Can Obtain Cellphone Location Records Without a Warrant
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 03:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's your-data-is-our-data department:
mi writes: A new ruling from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals found by a margin of 9-2 that law enforcement does not need to get a warrant to grab your cell phone's location records. The justices ruled that there is no expectation of privacy for your location when you're using a cell phone. This decision (PDF) was based on a case in which a man was convicted of robbery after months of location data was given to authorities by his cell phone carrier, MetroPCS. Police got the information using a court order, rather than a warrant, because there were less stringent requirements involved. One of the judges wrote: "We find no reason to conclude that cellphone users lack facts about the functions of cell towers or about telephone providers' recording cell tower usage."

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Report: Microsoft Considering Salesforce Acquisition
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 03:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's go-big-or-go-home department:
An anonymous reader writes: Bloomberg reports that Microsoft is considering making a bid for CRM and cloud software company Salesforce, after hearing that Salesforce was entertaining an offer from another company. No talks are underway, but Salesforce has started working with investment banks to figure out how it wants to respond to such offers. Salesforce has a market value of about $50 billion, so any sort of acquisition would be a huge business deal.

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Google Can't Ignore the Android Update Problem Any Longer
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 03:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's i-bet-they-can department:
An anonymous reader writes: An editorial at Tom's Hardware makes the case that Google's Android fragmentation problem has gotten too big to ignore any longer. Android 5.0 Lollipop and its successor 5.1 have seen very low adoption rates — 9.0% and 0.7% respectively. Almost 40% of users are still on KitKat. 6% lag far behind on Gingerbread and Froyo. The article points out that even Microsoft is now making efforts to both streamline Windows upgrades and adapt Android (and iOS) apps to run on Windows.

If Google doesn't adapt, "it risks having users (slowly but surely) switch to more secure platforms that do give them updates in a timely manner. And if users want those platforms, OEMs will have no choice but to switch to them too, leaving Google with less and less Android adoption." The author also says OEMs and carriers can no longer be trusted to handle operating system updates, because they've proven themselves quite incapable of doing so in a reasonable manner.


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GOG Announces Open Beta For New Game Distribution Platform
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 02:30 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's taking-advantage-of-valve's-stumble department:
New submitter Donaithnen writes: Like many geeks, I'm against the idea of DRM in general and have championed GOG.com's DRM-free approach to selling games online. Yet like many geeks, I've also often succumbed to the temptation of Steam because of the convenience of tracking, installing, and playing my PC game purchases through the launcher (not to mention the compulsion of collecting achievements, and watching the total playtime for my favorite games (to my occasional dismay). Now, GOG has announced the open beta for GOG Galaxy, an entirely optional launcher to allow those who want (and only those who want) to have all the same features when playing GOG games.

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Intel Launches Xeon E7-8800 and E7-4800 V3 Processor Families
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 02:00 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's xeonward-and-upward department:
MojoKid writes: Intel is taking the wraps off of its latest processors for enterprise server and pro workstation applications today, dubbed the Xeon E7-8800 / 4800 v3. Like its high-end desktop processors, the Xeon E7-8800 / 4800 v3 product families are based on the Haswell-EX CPU core. These new Xeons, however, offer a plethora of other enhancements and are packing significantly more cores than any current desktop processor. The highest-end Xeon E7-8800 series processors, for example, are 18 core chips. Previous generation Xeon E7 v2 processors were based on the Ivy Bridge-EX core, while the new E7 v3 parts are based on Haswell-EX, though both are manufactured on Intel's 22nm process node. Next generation Broadwell-EX based Xeons will make the move to 14nm. Xeon E7-8800 / 4800 v3 series processors have 32-lanes of PCIe 3.0 connectivity per socket, TSX is enabled in all SKUs, they offer support for both DDR3 and DDR4 memory (though, not simultaneously), and can address up to 6TB of memory in a 4-socket configuration or 12TB in an 8-socket setup. Intel has also goosed the chip's QPI interface speeds to 9.6GT/s.

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Mark and Joel Make Autonomous Drones in Their Spare Time (Video)
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 01:45 PM
By Roblimo from Slashdot's when-a-drone-hits-your-eye-like-a-big-pizza-pie-that's-a-lawsuit department:
Mark F. Brown and Joel Rozenweig build autonomous drones; that is, drones that don't need an operator every second. You tell the autonomous drone, "Pick up package # 941A at the loading dock and deliver it to 451 Bradbury St.' and off it goes. It's going to be a while yet before that happens, but one day....

Back in the present, dronemaking is still a hobby for Mark and Joel, something they do for fun after spending their workdays as software engineers at Intel. Joel says there is 'remarkably little' crossover between their jobs and their hobby, and that (so far) Intel has contributed little beyond some Edison modules (which you can buy for less than $50) and travel to the Embedded Linux Conference, where they gave a talk accompanied by these slides. NOTE: We have a little bonus for you today. We try to keep videos to 10 minutes or less, but we have no such constraints on transcript length. So if you want the 'full' version of this interview, please read the transcript.

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Opportunity Rover Reaches Martian Day 4,000 of Its 90-Day Mission
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 12:45 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's awesome-engineers-doing-awesome-work department:
An anonymous reader writes: Let's take a moment to appreciate the incredible engineering, scientific, and planning skill that went into the construction and deployment of the Opportunity rover. It landed on Mars with the goal of surviving 90 sols (Martian days), and it has just logged its 4,000th sol of harvesting valuable data and sending it back to us. The Planetary Society blog has posted a detailed update on Opportunity's status, and its team's plans for the future. The rover's hardware, though incredibly resilient, is wearing down. They reformatted its flash drive to block off a corrupted sector, and that solved some software problems that had cropped up. They're currently trying to figure out why the rover unexpectedly rebooted itself. Those events are incredibly dangerous to the rover's survival, so their highest priority right now is diagnosing that issue.

Fortunately, weather on Mars is good where the rover is, and it's still able to harvest upwards of 500 Watt-hours of energy from its solar panels. Opportunity recently completed a marathon on Mars and took an impressive picture of the Spirit of St. Louis crater, and the rover will soon be on its way to enormous clay deposits that could provide valuable information about where we can look for water when we eventually put people on Mars. As always, you can look through Opportunity's images at the official website.


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Ask Slashdot: Most Chromebook-Like Unofficial ChromeOS Experience?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 12:15 PM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's get-your-company-to-pay-for-it-wink-wink department:
An anonymous reader writes: I am interested in Chromebooks, for the reasons that Google successfully pushes them: my carry-around laptops serve mostly as terminals, rather than CPU-heavy workhorses, and for the most part the whole reason I'm on my computer is to do something that requires a network connection anyhow. My email is Gmail, and without particularly endorsing any one element, I've moved a lot of things to online services like DropBox. (Some offline capabilities are nice, but since actual Chromebooks have been slowly gaining offline stuff, and theoretically will gain a lot more of that, soon, I no longer worry much about a machine being "useless" if the upstream connection happens to be broken or absent. It would just be useless in the same way my conventional desktop machine would be.) I have some decent but not high-end laptops (Core i3, 2GB-4GB of RAM) that I'd enjoy repurposing as Chromebooks without pedigree: they'd fall somewhat short of the high-end Pixel, but at no out-of-pocket expense for me unless I spring for some cheap SSDs, which I might.

So: how would you go about making a Chromebook-like laptop? Yes, I could just install any Linux distro, and then restrain myself from installing most apps other than a browser and a few utilities, but that's not quite the same; ChromeOS is nicely polished, and very pared down; it also seems to do well with low-memory systems (lots of the current models have just 2GB, which brings many Linux distros to a disk-swapping crawl), and starts up nicely quick.

< article continued at Slashdot >

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Twitter Stops Users From Playing DOS Games Inside Tweets
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 11:30 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-fun-allowed department:
jones_supa writes: Twitter has killed off an interesting trend of playing DOS games in tweets. Last week, users discovered they could use the new "Twitter Cards" embedding feature to bundle full DOS games within tweets. Running DOSBox inside the web browser is possible thanks to an Emscripten port of DOSBox called Em-DOSBox. The games were pulled from Internet Archive's collection of 2,600 classic titles, many of which still lack proper republishing agreements with the copyright holder. So, is embedding games within Twitter Cards, against the social network's terms of service? Either way, Twitter has now blocked such activity, likely after seeing the various news reports and a stream of Street Fighter II, Wolfenstein 3D and Zool cheering up people's timelines.

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Microsoft: No More 'Patch Tuesday' For Windows 10 Home Users
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 10:45 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's no-more-patchy-coverage department:
citpyrc writes: According to the Register, Microsoft is making some changes to how it rolls out updates in Windows 10. Home users will receive updates as they come out, rather than queueing them all up on "patch Tuesday." Business users will have the option to set their own update cycle, so they can see if any of the patches accidentally break anything for home users before trying them out. There will also be an optional peer-to-peer updating mechanism for Windows 10. Microsoft announced a service called Advanced Threat Analytics, which employs various machine learning techniques to identify malware on a network. As a premium service, top-dollar customers can pay for Microsoft to monitor black-hat forums and alert the company if any of its employees' identities are stolen.

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Extreme Exoplanet Volcanism Possibly Detected On 55 Cancri E
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 10:00 AM
By Soulskill from Slashdot's fun-place-to-visit-but-i-wouldn't-want-to-live-there department:
astroengine writes: Using data from NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope, astronomers have revealed wild atmospheric changes on a well studied exoplanet — changes that they suspect are driven by extreme volcanic activity. Over a period of two years, the team, led by University of Cambridge researchers, noted a three-fold change in temperature on the surface of 55 Cancri e. The super-Earth planet orbits a sun-like star 40 light-years away in the constellation of Cancer. It is twice the size of Earth and 8-times our planet's mass. 55 Cancri e is well-known to exoplanet hunters as the "diamond planet" — a world thought to be carbon-rich, possibly covered in hydrocarbons. But this new finding, published in the arXiv pre-print service, has added a new dimension to the planet's weird nature. "This is the first time we've seen such drastic changes in light emitted from an exoplanet, which is particularly remarkable for a super-Earth," said co-author Nikku Madhusudhan, of Cambridge's Institute of Astronomy, in a press release. "No signature of thermal emissions or surface activity has ever been detected for any other super-Earth to date."

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The Challenge of Getting a Usable QWERTY Keyboard Onto a Dime-sized Screen
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 09:16 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's you-will-fail-at-that-task department:
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from Spain and Germany are building on Carnegie Mellon's work to attempt to create workable text-input interfaces for wearables, smartwatches and a new breed of IoT devices too small to accomodate even the truncated soft keyboards familiar to phone users. In certain cases, the screen area in which the keyboard must be made usable is no bigger than a dime. Of all the commercial input systems I've used, Graffiti seems like it might be the most suited to such tiny surfaces.

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Is It Worth Learning a Little-Known Programming Language?
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 08:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's worth-it-to-whom? department:
Nerval's Lobster writes: Ask a group of developers to rattle off the world's most popular programming languages, and they'll likely name the usual suspects: JavaScript, Java, Python, Ruby, C++, PHP, and so on. Ask which programming languages pay the best, and they'll probably list the same ones, which makes sense. But what about the little-known languages and skill sets (Dice link) that don't leap immediately to mind but nonetheless support some vital IT infrastructure (and sometimes, as a result, pay absurdly well)? is it worth learning a relatively obscure language or skill set, on the hope that you can score one of a handful of well-paying jobs that require it? The answer is a qualified yes—so long as the language or skill set in question is clearly on the rise. Go, Swift, Rust, Julia and CoffeeScript have all enjoyed rising popularity, for example, which increases the odds that they'll remain relevant for at least the next few years. But a language without momentum behind it probably isn't worth your time, unless you want to learn it simply for the pleasure of learning something new.

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USBKill Transforms a Thumb Drive Into an "Anti-Forensic" Device
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 08:00 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's content-scrambling-system department:
Orome1 writes with a snippet from a report at net-security.org; a hacker going by Hephaestos has shared with the world a Python script that, when put on an USB thumb drive, turns the device in an effective kill switch for the computer in which it's plugged in. USBkill, as the programmer dubbed it, "waits for a change on your USB ports, then immediately kills your computer." The device would be useful "in case the police comes busting in, or steals your laptop from you when you are at a public library," Hephaestos explained.

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How the NSA Converts Spoken Words Into Searchable Text
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 07:16 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's message-could-not-be-lawfullly-transcribed department:
Presto Vivace writes: Dan Froomkin reports at The Intercept: "Though perfect transcription of natural conversation apparently remains the Intelligence Community's 'holy grail,' the Snowden documents describe extensive use of keyword searching as well as computer programs designed to analyze and 'extract' the content of voice conversations, and even use sophisticated algorithms to flag conversations of interest." I am torn between admiration of the technical brilliance of building software like this and horror as to how it is being used. It can't just be my brother and me who like to salt all phone conversations with interesting keywords.

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The BBC Looks At Rollover Bugs, Past and Approaching
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's ought-to-be-enough-for-anybody department:
New submitter Merovech points out an article at the BBC which makes a good followup to the recent news (mentioned within) about a bug in Boeing's new 787. The piece explores various ways that rollover bugs in software have led to failures -- some of them truly disastrous, others just annoying. The 2038 bug is sure to bite some people; hopefully it will be even less of an issue than the Year 2000 rollover. From the article:

It was in 1999 that I first wrote about this," comments [programmer William] Porquet. "I acquired the domain name 2038.org and at first it was very tongue-in-cheek. It was almost a piece of satire, a kind of an in-joke with a lot of computer boffins who say, 'oh yes we'll fix that in 2037' But then I realised there are actually some issues with this.

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Appeals Judge Calls Prenda an "Ingenious Crooked Extortionate Operation"
Posted by News Fetcher on May 05 '15 at 06:30 AM
By timothy from Slashdot's bad-actor-seems-a-fair-description department:
ktetch-pirate ("pirate politician" Andrew Norton) writes with this news from his blog: [Monday] was the long-awaited appeals court hearing in the ongoing Prenda copyright troll saga. Almost exactly two years after Judge Otis Wright went sci-fi on Prenda and its principles, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals held an appeals hearing requested by Prenda on the sanctions, and it was not a pretty day for Prenda. Highlights included Senior Judge Pregerson calling Prenda's operation an "Ingenious Crooked Extortionate Operation" after describing in detail how they operate.

Prenda also astonished the judges by welcoming the idea of a criminal contempt hearing, which Legal blog Popehat thinks is likely to happen, on top of the sanctions being sustained.


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