By EditorDavid from Slashdot's hack-me-if-you-can department
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes: "A bunch of computers will try to hack each other in Vegas for a $2 million prize," reports Tech Insider calling it a "historic battle" that will coincide with "two of the biggest hacking conferences, Blackhat USA and DEFCON". DARPA will supply seven teams with a supercomputer. Their challenge? Create an autonomous A.I. system that can "hunt for security vulnerabilities that hackers can exploit to attack a computer, create a fix that patches that vulnerability and distribute that patch -- all without any human interference."
"The idea here is to start a technology revolution," said Mike Walker, DARPA's manager for the Cyber Grand Challenge contest. Yahoo Tech notes that it takes an average of 312 days before security vulnerabilities are discovered -- and 24 days to patch it. "if all goes well, the CGC could mean a future where you don't have to worry about viruses or hackers attacking your computer, smartphone or your other connected devices. At a national level, this technology could help prevent large-scale attacks against things like power plants, water supplies and air-traffic infrastructure.
It's being billed as "the world's first all-machine hacking tournament," with a prize of $2 million for the winner, while the second and third place tem will win $1 million and $750,000.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's free-lunch department
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
A prominent think tank founder argues that a Universal Basic Income is more likely to increase poverty than decrease it. Robert Greenstein, president of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, estimates just in the U.S. the cost would reach $3 trillion a year, "close to 100 percent of all tax revenue the federal government collects... A UBI that's financed primarily by tax increases would require the American people to accept a level of taxation that vastly exceeds anything in U.S. history..."
In a long interview with Vox, he warns that "If you have big, very expensive, and therefore highly politically unrealistic proposals, then I worry that people will look at them and say, 'Okay, we can do one or two pieces,' and too often the pieces that get selected out are pieces where a lot of the money goes to the middle or upper middle class... even UBI's staunchest supporters say we can get there in 15 to 20 years. I am totally not comfortable with any policy prescription that says we wait 15 to 20 years to deal with very deep poverty." He suggests instead focussing on the neediest people first, possibly by subsidizing jobs programs and making housing more affordable.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's home-lend-security department
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
A California man has been charged with eight misdemeanors for renting several apartments under his own name, and then subletting them all. "Apartments in Santa Monica that might fetch $3500 a month as ordinary rentals, are worth three or four times that on a daily or weekly basis," reports one newsweekly, and the subletter notes that he only received two years of probation plus a $3,500 fine, "what one of my properties makes in a month."
On Wednesday three prominent U.S. Senators "called for a regulatory probe into whether short-term rental websites such as Airbnb are taking housing away from long-term renters and pushing up prices," but the number of Americans planning to use Airbnb this summer has apparently already doubled since last year.
The Hotel and Lodging Association of Alaska is complaining that the state's renters "are not required to follow the same state and federal safety mandates that are required for other hotels and lodges creating an unsafe and unfair market for consumers as well as hoteliers." But it seems like currently the only pushback is coming from local and city officials, like the short-term rental rules that Airbnb is currently fighting in their home city of San Francisco. For example, in Maine, the owner of one of Portland's 425 rentals units is now fighting a city order "demanding that he stop renting out part of his home through Airbnb. "Portland has a limited staff to enforce zoning rules, so it comes down on the most egregious cases, said City Hall spokeswoman Jessica Grondin."
I laughed at the quote from the City Hall spokeswoman.
"It's kind of like speeding on the highway. You know it is illegal, you do it anyway, and you get caught."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's we-are-not-alone department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from Vice:
On Saturday night astronomers at the South African MeerKAT radio telescope array fired up 16 of its recently completed dishes and released the first ever image from what is slated to become the worldâ(TM)s most powerful radio telescope. The initial results were incredibly promising: operating with only one quarter of the 64 dishes that will eventually comprise MeerKAT, the telescope was able to find 1300 galaxies in a small corner of the universe where only 70 galaxies were known to exist previously.
Slashdot reader schwit1 quotes a report Agence France-Presse:
MeerKAT's full contingent of 64 receptors will be integrated next year into a multi-nation Square Kilometer Array (SKA) which is is set to become the world's most powerful radio telescope. The images produced by MeerKAT "are far better that we could have expected," the chief scientist of the SKA in South Africa, Fernando Camilo said at the site of the dishes near the small town of Carnarvon, 600 kilometres north of Cape Town. When fully up and running in the 2020s, the SKA... will have a discovery potential 10,000 times greater than the most advanced modern instruments and will explore exploding stars, black holes, dark energy and traces of the universe's origins some 14 billion years ago.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's two-decades-of-DOS-(and-Windows) department
After our story about the ongoing development of FreeDOS, long-time Slashdot reader reybo shares another valuable resource that's been "All free, all the time since 1984": Younger FreeDOS users may not know of the Freeware Hall of Fame, a source of old DOS freeware some of which is on-line 24/7 at www.freewarehof.org . This file base of free programs was begun in 1984 to help small businesses enter the world of computers. It became an international file base distributed to BBSs around the world via floppy disc until Bobbie Sumrada in Memphis gave it a home on CHEERS, her premier BBS. The entire history is on the FreeHOF web site. Also there are downloadable copies of PCBoard, one of the great BBS platforms of all time. Anyone can create a dial-up BBS with this to see what they were like, so long as they have a DOS partition for it. I think MS DOS is also there to download, version 5.n or 6.n. Something you won't find at this site is games. FHOF never distributed games. "No Flash, no Java, no goddam rollovers..." reads one page, which notes that in the mid-'90s they were picked as one of the world's 25 best BBSs by Boardwatch magazine.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's drop-in-any-time! department
An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
"We just came from Oracle, then we go to HP, Google; we're going to do Tesla, Intel, eBay and Yahoo. And Apple, I forgot Apple..." says one San Francisco resident, describing a tour he's providing for his friend from Tokyo. In fact, Silicon Valley's iconic tech companies have discovered tourists are now dropping in on their headquarters. "It was nice to walk between the buildings, take some pictures and see the employees enjoy their lunch break," wrote one visitor to Google's campus, before complaining that Google hadn't also provided them with bathroom access. "We got told not to use the Google bikes as they are for employees only, which was a bit of a shame," another visitor complained.
"Hundreds of people a day visit the Facebook sign and Google's Android sculpture garden in Mountain View," reports the Bay Area Newsgroup, "with many stopping at other tech giants as well, snapping photos and shooting video..." In fact, Tesla, Apple, Facebook, and Google have all now installed stores where tourists can purchase branded merchandise. (Google sells figurines of their Android mascot for $15).
"What you're seeing are people on a pilgrimage..." said Stanford communications professor Fred Turner. "Folks are looking for a physical place behind the kind of dematerialized experience that they have online."
Intel has its own museum, and the Los Altos garage where Steve Jobs started Apple has even been designated a historic site. Are there any other historic tech sites that should be preserved to inspire future generations of tourists?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's online-educators department
"Many of the Computer Science courses that we feared had been assigned to the scrapheap have reappeared in Coursera's catalog," reports i-programmer.info.
Slashdot reader mikejuk shares this update on his original story:
Coursera has a list of 90 courses that have transitioned to the new platform since the old one shut on June 30th and it includes 25 Computer Science ones and the all important [Geoffrey] Hinton course on neural networks. Most of the courses are free but there are no certificates of completion or anything else. While they have specified start dates and cohorts of students will be encouraged to complete them within a set number of weeks, without graded assignments there may not be the same impetus as for the original courses or as for newer courses designed specifically for the new platform.
Coursera says "As has always been our intention, we are working diligently to relaunch the vast majority of the courses from our old platform on the new one." i-programmer.info has apparently removed their original article, and their reporter writes that "I am now willing to retract my accusation of 'cultural vandalism'... Why [Coursera] managed to convey the opposite impression for such a long time may just have been a failure of communication."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's red-tape-dispenser department
RaDag writes: The U.S. government has published a DoD-validated implementation guide, known as a STIG, for EDB Postgres Advanced Server from EnterpriseDB (EDB). This is a first. No other open source database, or open source-based database, has been through the US government's security review process and gotten a STIG published. Having this guide will help agencies seeking an open source-based alternative to costly traditional vendors like Oracle [and] will speed and ease deployment of EDB Postgres, which has database compatibility for Oracle. They're now working with the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force, according to a company statement. It also says that the Department of Defense and other U.S. government agencies "seek open source alternatives to traditional proprietary software," and see their database solution as "an opportunity to quickly reduce costs and shift away from expensive proprietary vendors, particularly as public policy initiatives around the world mandate adoption of more open source."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's going-to-pot department
HughPickens.com writes: Christopher Ingraham writes in the Washington Post that a new study shows that painkiller abuse and overdose are significantly lower in states with medical marijuana laws and that when medical marijuana is available, pain patients are increasingly choosing pot over powerful and deadly prescription narcotics. The researchers "found that, in the 17 states with a medical-marijuana law in place by 2013, prescriptions for painkillers and other classes of drugs fell sharply compared with states that did not have a medical-marijuana law... In medical-marijuana states, the average doctor prescribed 265 fewer doses of antidepressants each year, 486 fewer doses of seizure medication, 541 fewer anti-nausea doses and 562 fewer doses of anti-anxiety medication. But most strikingly, the typical physician in a medical-marijuana state prescribed 1,826 fewer doses of painkillers in a given year."
[P]ainkiller drug companies "have long been at the forefront of opposition to marijuana reform, funding research by anti-pot academics and funneling dollars to groups, such as the Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America, that oppose marijuana legalization..."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's commanding-the-command-line department
FreeDOS was originally created in response to Microsoft's announcement that after Windows 95, DOS would no longer be developed as a standalone operating system, according to a new interview about how (and why) Jim Hall keeps FreeDOS alive. For its newest version, Hall originally imagined "what 'DOS' would be like in 2015 or 2016 if Microsoft hadn't stopped working on MS-DOS in favor of Windows" -- before he decided there's just no such thing as "modern DOS". An anonymous Slashdot reader writes:
No major changes are planned in the next version. "The next version of FreeDOS won't be multitasking, it won't be 32-bit, it won't run on ARM," Hall said. "FreeDOS is still intended for Intel and Intel-compatible computers. You should still be able to run FreeDOS on your old 486 or old Pentium PC to play classic DOS games, run legacy business programs, and support embedded development."
By day, Hall is the CIO for a county in Minnesota, and he's also a member of the board of directors for GNOME (and contributes to other open source projects) -- but he still remembers using DOS's built-in BASIC system to write simple computer programs.
"Many of us older computer nerds probably used DOS very early, on our first home computer..." he tells ComputerWorld. Even without John Romero's new Doom level, "The popularity of DOS games and DOS shareware applications probably contributes in a big way to FreeDOS's continued success." I'd be curious how many Slashdot readers have some fond memories about downloading DOS shareware applications.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's scratching-the-Surface department
An anonymous Slashdot reader quotes a report from fossBytes:
Microsoft has released a security update that has patched a backdoor in Windows RT operating system [that] allowed users to install non-Redmond approved operating systems like Linux and Android on Windows RT tablets.
This vulnerability in ARM-powered, locked-down Windows devices was left by Redmond programmers during the development process. Exploiting this flaw, one was able to boot operating systems of his/her choice, including Android or GNU/Linux.
The Register points out that since Windows RT is "a dead-end operating system" which Microsoft has announced they'll stop developing, "mainstream support for Surface RT tablets runs out in 2017 and Windows RT 8.1 in 2018. This is why a means to bypass its boot mechanisms is highly sought."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Facebook-friends department
Slashdot reader speedplane writes: The New York Times is reporting that renowned Venture Capitalist, Paypal Founder, and Gawker Litigation Funder, Peter Thiel will be speaking at the Republican National Convention. The original story does not state what Thiel will discuss at the convention, only that he'll be speaking the last day, but there's plenty of speculation. Facebook issued a statement that though Thiel is on their board of directors, his appearance was "personal," saying Thiel "is not attending on behalf of Facebook or to represent our views." NBC reports Thiel will be the first openly-gay man to speak at the convention in 16 years, "as party leaders refuse to soften the GOP's formal opposition to gay marriage," noting Thiel "has been a staunch supporter of Donald Trump's run for the oval office, previously supported Ron Paul for president and has identified himself as a conservative libertarian in the past...
Other speakers will include four of Trump's children, Las Vegas casino owner Phil Ruffin, and actor and former underwear model Antonio Sabato Jr."Read Replies (0)