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Russia Bans VPNs To Stop Users From Looking at Censored Sites
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '17 at 08:31 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's meanwhile-in-Russia department:
Russia is cracking down on software that allows users to view internet sites banned by the government. From a report: President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill that prohibits services, including virtual private networks (VPNs), that enable users to skirt government censorship efforts. The law will take effect on November 1. Russian internet regulator Roskomnadzor maintains a blacklist of thousands of websites. Leonid Levin, chairman of a parliamentary committee on information policy and communications, said the law signed by Putin does not "introduce any new restrictions and especially no censorship." "My colleagues only included the restriction of access to information that is already forbidden by law or a court decision," he told state news agency RIA Novosti earlier this month.

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Travis Kalanick To Uber CEO Candidates: I'm 'Steve Jobsing' It And Will Return
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '17 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's never-say-never department:
Kara Swisher, reporting for Recode: Warring factions within factions, conflicting back-channeling, intense media scrutiny, questionable foreign influences and a capricious leader whose jarring moves leave everyone in a state of perpetual uncertainly. The Trump administration, right? Well, yes, but also Uber, as it nears its much anticipated decision on who will be its next CEO. And, according to sources, that top leader is not going to be a woman, as the board of the car-hailing company struggles to move forward. To add to the drama: Some directors worry that its former CEO Travis Kalanick -- who was ousted -- is trying to game the outcome in his favor, after he told several people that he was "Steve Jobs-ing it." It is a reference to the late leader of Apple, who was fired from the company, only to later return in triumph.

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Apple's Next iPhone: Facial-Recognition, All-Screen Design
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '17 at 07:10 AM
By msmash from Slashdot's up-next department:
Apple may have just revealed the features you could expect in the next iPhone. Last week, the company released the firmware of the HomePod, a smart speaker which it will begin selling later this year. In the code, the company has accidentally spilled some features about at least one of the iPhone models. Developer Steve Troughton-Smith looked at the code to find that the next iPhone is going to feature facial recognition and a brand new "bezel-less" design. From a report: The near bezel-less design has long been expected, with leaks and rumours suggesting that Apple was following Samsung's design moves with the Galaxy S8 and producing a smartphone that resembles Android-creator Andy Rubin's upcoming Essential phone. Apple is not the first company to use IR-based face recognition as a means of unlocking devices and authenticating users. Microsoft's Windows Hello IR-based face recognition is found in its Surface line as well as Windows 10 computers from other manufacturers.

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Football-Playing Robots Compete At RoboCup 2017
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '17 at 04:30 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's robot-sportsballing department:
An anonymous reader quotes Phys.org:
With steely focus, player number 3 scored a stunning opening goal in the first few minutes of the high-stakes football match between a dominant Bordeaux and their plucky Chinese opponents. But as the crowds cheered, the pint-sized player, known as Arya, showed none of the customary swagger of triumphant strikers. In fact, robot number 3 and its teammates showed no emotion at all as they continued to exterminate their rivals' hopes of victory at RoboCup 2017 in Japan. The game, which Bordeaux won 4-0, was one of the gripping final matches in a four-day event that saw about 3,000 researchers and engineering students from 40 countries displaying the prowess of their latest robotic inventions on the football pitch.
Ranging in design from humanoids with human faces to more skeletal contraptions, the robots were programmed to be self-directed and played strategically without being given instructions. The robots "see" using a camera installed in their heads, while installed with artificial intelligence to recognise the spacing and objects in the sight... [A]bility to play as a team was the "winning factor" in Bordeaux University's triumph, according to associate professor Olivier Ly, who acted as coach and positioned his team's players. "We developed lots of features on the team play... The robots play together, try to do some passes," he said.
Robot teamwork "was a completely unresearched area for computer engineers" when the competition started 20 years ago, according to the president of the RoboCup Federation.

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Facebook Funds 'Defending Digital Democracy' Initiative At Harvard
Posted by News Fetcher on July 31 '17 at 12:31 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's fund-request department:
An anonymous reader quotes Diginomica:
A fresh initiative aimed at information sharing about election threats and dubbed Defending Digital Democracy has the financial support of Facebook and the academic muscle of Harvard behind it. Will the project succeed where similar initiatives have failed...? On 19 July and backed by a $500,000 initial grant from Facebook, the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard Kennedy School launched a new, bipartisan initiative called the Defending Digital Democracy Project. The project will be co-led by Robby Mook, Democrat Hillary Clinton's 2016 presidential campaign manager, and Matt Rhoades, Republican Mitt Romney's 2012 campaign manager. The hope is that creating a unique and bipartisan team comprised of top-notch political operatives and leaders in the cyber and national security world, the project will be able to to identify and recommend strategies, tools, and technology to protect democratic processes and systems from cyber and information attacks.
The group will also assess new technologies (including blockchain) to secure elections, and wants to create an information sharing infrastructure modeled "on similar efforts within the tech industry to share tech intelligence." The article says Facebook's chief security officer "hopes that election officials who are wary of cooperating with the federal government will be more receptive to working with an independent group tied to Harvard and the tech industy," and the group also includes Google's director for Information Security and Privacy.

"Facebook plans to host state and local election officials at its D.C. office later this year to discuss the information sharing organization, and launch the organization in early 2018."

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Luxembourg Just Passed A New Asteroid Mining Law
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 09:50 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's rocks-from-space department:
Remember when NASA visited an asteroid with $10 quintillion worth of minerals? Now the lucrative asteroid-mining industry is being pursued by "the European banking hub with a population not much bigger than Albuquerque's," reports Bloomberg, as low-cost reconnaissance missions are already looking "increasingly feasible." An anonymous reader writes:

Last week Luxembourg's parliament unanimously passed an asteroid mining law (which goes into effect Tuesday) "that gives companies ownership of what they extract from the celestial bodies..." according to Engadget. "Luxembourg's law is pretty similar to the one President Obama signed back in 2015 in that it gives mining companies the right to keep their loot. Both of them also take advantage of a loophole in the UN's Outer Space Treaty, which states that nations can't claim and occupy the moon and other celestial bodies. They don't give companies ownership of asteroids, after all, only the minerals they extract.. Unlike the U.S. version, though, a company's major stakeholders don't need to be based in Luxembourg to enjoy its protection -- they only need to have an office in country."

Bloomberg reports that the law "could serve as a model for other small countries hoping to explore asteroids -- and to get a piece of the booming space business," since the tiny country is also offering to buy equity stakes in any companies which relocate to Luxembourg. "Luxembourg's success in attracting these companies should show other small countries that space isn't just for superpowers any more... Competition has made space achievable for many more companies, and for the countries that support them."
For the last few years Luxembourg has begun quietly investing in asteroid mining, including a joint venture with "Deep Space Industries" to build a spacecraft to test asteroid-mining technologies -- while another collaboration with Kleos Space is working on "in-space manufacturing technology."

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A Robot At DEFCON Cracked A Safe Within 30 Minutes
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 05:50 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's automating-larceny department:
schwit1 shared an article from the BBC:
Using a cheap robot, a team of hackers has cracked open a leading-brand combination safe, live on stage in Las Vegas. The team from SparkFun Electronics was able to open a SentrySafe safe in around 30 minutes... After the robot discovered the combination was 51.36.93, the safe popped open -- to rapturous applause from the audience of several hundred... The robot, which cost around $200 to put together, makes use of 3D-printed parts that can be easily replaced to fit different brands of combination safe. It cannot crack a digital lock -- although vulnerabilities in those systems have been exposed by other hacking teams in the past.

Though the safe had a million possible combinations using three two-digit numbers, the last number had slightly larger indents on the dial -- reducing the possible combinations to just 10,000. And in addition, "the team also discovered that the safe's design allows for a margin of error to compensate for humans getting their combination slightly wrong" -- which meant that the robot only had to check every third number. "Using this method, they could cut down the number of possible combinations to around 1,000."

"Some SentrySafe models come with an additional lock and key, but the team was able to unlock it by using a Bic pen."

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O'Reilly Media Asks: Is It Time To Build A New Internet?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 05:50 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's so-ubiquitous-it-will-disappear department:
An anonymous reader shares an article from O'Reilly Media's VP of content strategy:
It's high time to build the internet that we wanted all along: a network designed to respect privacy, a network designed to be secure, and a network designed to impose reasonable controls on behavior. And a network with few barriers to entry -- in particular, the certainty of ISP extortion as new services pay to get into the "fast lane." Is it time to start over from scratch, with new protocols that were designed with security, privacy, and maybe even accountability in mind? Is it time to pull the plug on the abusive old internet, with its entrenched monopolistic carriers, its pervasive advertising, and its spam? Could we start over again?
That would be painful, but not impossible... In his deliciously weird novel Someone Comes To Town, Someone Leaves Town, Cory Doctorow writes about an alternative network built from open WiFi access points. It sounds similar to Google's Project Fi, but built and maintained by a hacker underground. Could Doctorow's vision be our future backboneless backbone? A network of completely distributed municipal networks, with long haul segments over some public network, but with low-level protocols designed for security? We'd have to invent some new technology to build that new network, but that's already started.
The article cites the increasing popularity of peer-to-peer functionality everywhere from Bitcoin and Blockchain to the Beaker browser, the Federated Wiki, and even proposals for new file-sharing protocols like IPFS and Upspin. "Can we build a network that can't be monopolized by monopolists? Yes, we can..."

"It's time to build the network we want, and not just curse the network we have."

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HackerRank Tries To Calculate Which US States Have The Best Developers
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 03:12 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's United-States-of-Developers department:
An anonymous reader writes:
Palo Alto-based HackerRank, which offers online programmng challenges, "dug into our data of about 450,000 unique U.S. developers to uncover which states are home to the best software engineers, and which pockets of the country have the highest rate of developer growth." Examining the 24 months from 2015 through the end of 2016, they calculated the average score for each state in eight programming-related domains. (Algorithms, data structures, functional programming, math, Java, Ruby, C++, and Python.) But it seems like low-population states would have fewer people taking the tests, meaning a disproportionate number of motivated and knowledgeable test takers could drastically skew the results. Sure enough, Wyoming -- with a population of just 584,153 -- has the smallest population of any U.S. state, but the site's second-highest average score, and the top score in three subject domains -- Ruby, data structures, and algorithms. And the District of Columbia -- population 681,170 -- has the highest average score for functional programming.

California, New York and Virginia still had the highest number of developers using the site, while Alaska, Wyoming and South Dakota not surprisingly had the least number of developers. But maybe the real take-away is that programmers are now becoming more distributed. HackerRank's announcement notes that the site "found growing developer communities and skilled developers all across the country. Previously, the highest concentrations of developers did not stray far from the tech hubs in California. Hawaii, Colorado, Virginia, and Nevada demonstrated the fastest growth in terms of developer activity on the HackerRank platform..." In addition, "we've had a noticeable uptick in customers across industries, from healthcare to retail and finance, with strong demand for identifying technical skills quickly."

< article continued at Slashdot's United-States-of-Developers department >

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It Will Take Fedora More Releases To Switch Off Python 2
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 01:52 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's version-conversions department:
An anonymous reader quotes Phoronix:
Finalizing Fedora's switch from Python 2 to Python 3 by default is still going to take several more Fedora release cycles and should be done by the 2020 date when Python 2 will be killed off upstream. While much of Fedora's Python code is now compatible with Py3, the /usr/bin/python still points to Python 2, various python-* packages still mean Python 2... The end game is to eventually get rid of Python 2 from Fedora but that is even further out.

Fedora is now gathering feedback on a Wiki page explaining the switch.

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Petition Asks Adobe To Open-Source Flash To Preserve Internet History
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 01:52 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's extra-Flashy department:
An anonymous reader quotes BleepingComputer:
A petition is asking Adobe to release Flash into the hands of the open-source community. Finnish developer Juha Lindstedt started the petition a day after Adobe announced plans to end Flash support by the end of 2020. "Flash is an important piece of Internet history and killing Flash means future generations can't access the past," Lindstedt explains in the petition's opening paragraph. "Games, experiments and websites would be forgotten." The developer wants Adobe to open-source Flash or parts of its technology so the open-source community could take on the job of supporting a minimal version of the Flash plugin or at least create a tool to accurately convert old SWF and FLA files to modern HTML5, canvas data, or WebAssembly code... Lindstedt is asking users to sign the petition by starring the project on GitHub. At the time of writing, the petition has garnered over 3,000 stars.
A reporter at ZDNet counters that "the only way to really secure Flash is to get rid of it... If Flash lives, people will continue to use it, and without security support, it will be even more insecure than ever."
He points out there's already several programs that convert Flash into other formats -- and that Adobe already open sourced its Flex framework for building Flash applications back in 2008 (now supported by the Apache Software Foundation as Apache Flex). "In other words, we don't need the Flash source code to convert or create Flash files. Just let Flash go already...!

"Usually, I'm favor with open-sourcing everything and anything. Not this time. Flash has proven to be a net of endless security holes. It's time to let it go for once and for all.

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Should The Government Fix Slow Internet Access?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 12:33 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's Should-The-Government-Fix-America's-Worst-Internet-Access? department:
An anonymous reader quotes a story from Nate Silver's FiveThirtyEight site about "the worst internet in America":
FiveThirtyEight analyzed every county's broadband usage using data from researchers at the University of Iowa and Arizona State University and found that Saguache, Colorado was at the bottom. Only 5.6 percent of adults were estimated to have broadband... It has some of the worst internet in the country. That's in part because of the mountains and the isolation they bring... Its population of 6,300 is spread across 3,169 square miles 7,800 feet above sea level, but on land that is mostly flat, so you can almost see the full scope of two mountain ranges as you drive the county's highway...
But Saguache isn't alone in lacking broadband. According to the Federal Communications Commission, 39 percent of rural Americans -- 23 million people -- don't have access. In Pew surveys, those who live in rural areas were about twice as likely not to use the internet as urban or suburban Americans.

In Saguache County download speeds of 12 Mbps (with an upload speed of 2 Mbps) cost $90 a month, and the article points out that when it comes to providing broadband, "small companies and cooperatives are going it more or less alone, without much help yet from the federal government." But that raises an inevitable question. Should the federal government be subsidizing rural internet access?

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Microbe New To Science Found In Self-Fermented Beer
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 11:12 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's microbe-brewery department:
sciencehabit writes: In May 2014, a group of scientists took a field trip to a small brewery in an old warehouse in Seattle, Washington -- and came away with a microbe scientists have never seen before. In so-called wild beer, the team identified a yeast belonging to the genus Pichia, which turned out to be a hybrid of a known species called P. membranifaciens and another Pichia species completely new to science. Other Pichia species are known to spoil a beer, but the new hybrid seems to smell better.

Their investigation offered a proof-of-concept for a new methodology for studying spontaneously fermented beers -- especially since the brewmaster admitted that like many brewers making wild beers, "he had no idea what microbes were living in the barrel staves that had inoculated his beer."
The scientists dubbed the new hybrid Pichia apotheca -- which is Greek for "warehouse."

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CNET Pranked By Web Site's Fake 'All Out War' Hack During DEFCON
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 09:52 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's social-engineering department:
In a piece describing the paranoid vibe in Las Vegas during the DEFCON convention, CNET reported Friday that the Wet Republic web site "had two images vandalized" with digital graffiti. But their reporter now writes that "my paranoia finally got the best of me, and it turned out to be an ad campaign."

The images included a scribbled beard and eye patch on a photo of bikini model, along with the handwritten message "It's all out war." CNET's updated story now reports that "It looked like a prank you'd see from a mischievous hacker..."
When I spotted the vandalism on the Wet Republic site Friday morning, it looked like other attacks I'd seen throughout the week, such as a Blue Screen of Death on a bus ticket machine... Hakkasan, which hosts the event at MGM Grand, said the "vandalism" was part of the cheeky advertisements for a seasonal bikini contest it's been running since 2015. The "all-out war" is between the models in the competition, not between hackers and clubs. Hakkasan's spokeswoman said nothing on its network has been compromised. So maybe not everything online in Las Vegas is getting hacked this week, and this n00b learned to calm down the hard way.
For that matter, maybe that blue screen of death was also just another random Windows machine crashing.

CNET's reporter made one other change to his article. He removed the phrase "when hackers are in town for Defcon, everything seems to be fair game."

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Unpaid Internships Lead To Lower-Paying Jobs, Study Finds
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 08:32 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's working-for-free department:
The Guardian reports:
Almost every graduate taking an unpaid internship can expect to be worse off three years later than if they had gone straight into work. That is the shock finding of the first survey of its kind of the career trajectories of tens of thousands of students over a six-year period. The study, conducted by the Institute for Social and Economic Research at the University of Essex, reveals that, three-and-a-half years after graduating, former interns face a salary penalty of approximately £3,500, compared with those who went straight into paid work, and £1,500 compared with those who went into further study... The study also found that those who took internships were less likely to go on to professional or managerial roles or be satisfied with their career compared with those who had gone straight into work.
Slashdot reader BarbaraHudson warns unpaid internships are also "a possible indicator of a large oversupply of workers to jobs available and downward pressure on pay." Anyone else want to share thoughts about the current job market for professionals -- or your own horror stories about your first job after college?

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Honolulu Targets 'Smartphone Zombies' With Crosswalk Ban
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 08:32 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's walk-but-don't-talk department:
Templer421 shares news from Reuters:
A ban on pedestrians looking at mobile phones or texting while crossing the street will take effect in Hawaii's largest city in late October, as Honolulu becomes the first major U.S. city to pass legislation aimed at reducing injuries and deaths from "distracted walking." The ban comes as cities around the world grapple with how to protect phone-obsessed "smartphone zombies" from injuring themselves by stepping into traffic or running into stationary objects. Starting Oct. 25, Honolulu pedestrians can be fined between $15 and $99, depending on the number of times police catch them looking at a phone or tablet device as they cross the street, Mayor Kirk Caldwell told reporters gathered near one of the city's busiest downtown intersections on Thursday... People making calls for emergency services are exempt from the ban... Opponents of the Honolulu law argued it infringes on personal freedom and amounts to government overreach.

Meanwhile, the city of London has tried putting pads on their lamp posts "to soften the blow for distracted walkers."

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Microsoft Further Pledges Linux Loyalty, Joins Cloud Native Computing Foundation
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 07:10 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's extending-an-embrace department:
BrianFagioli quotes BetaNews: Today, Microsoft further pledges its loyalty to Linux and open source by becoming a platinum member of the Cloud Native Computing Foundation. If you aren't familiar, the CNCF is a part of the well-respected Linux Foundation (of which Microsoft is also a member). With the Windows-maker increasingly focusing its efforts on the cloud -- and profiting from it -- this seems like a match made in heaven. In fact, Dan Kohn, Executive Director of the foundation says, "We are honored to have Microsoft, widely recognized as one of the most important enterprise technology and cloud providers in the world, join CNCF as a platinum member." "CNCF is a part of the Linux Foundation, which helps govern for a wide range of cloud-oriented open source projects, such as Kubernetes, Prometheus, OpenTracing, Fluentd, Linkerd, containerd, Helm, gRPC, and many others," says John Gossman Azure Architect, Microsoft. "Since we joined the Linux Foundation last year, and now have decided to expand that relationship to CNCF membership as a natural next step to invest in open source communities and code at multiple levels, especially in the area of containers."
The announcement notes that Microsoft has already been contributing code to the Kubernetes project, "as well as running Kubernetes as part of the Azure Container Service."

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Ask Slashdot: What Can You Do With Old Coaxial Cable?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 04:30 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's home-improvement department:
Long-time Slashdot reader Theaetetus writes:

I recently bought a house and the previous owner left some coax (mostly RG59) running between rooms for cable distribution. I'm a cord cutter and don't need cable, and I've already run CAT6e everywhere. But before I pull the RG59 out and try to seal the various holes he left, I figured I'd pick Slashdot's brain: can anyone think of a good non-cable use for spare coax lines?

Leave your best answers in the comments. What can you do with old coaxial cable?

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After Emissions Scandal, Volkswagen Pledges Charging Stations Across The US
Posted by News Fetcher on July 30 '17 at 12:32 AM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's clean-air-acts department:
Here's how the Volkswagen emissions scandal ends in California -- and the rest of America. An anonymous reader quotes the Bay Area News Group:
In a decision with lasting implications for the growth of electric vehicles, state regulators on Thursday approved Volkswagen's plan to invest nearly $1 billion in California's EV network as penalty for its diesel-emission cheating scandal... San Jose and San Francisco are two of six cities slated for expanded community charging stations. A Volkswagen subsidiary, Electrify America, also will target low-income communities for at least 35 percent of the projects... The first phase calls for $120 million to build 400 charging stations with between 2,000 and 3,000 chargers. About $75 million will be used to develop a high-speed, highway charging network, mostly consisting of 150 kilowatt fast-chargers. The other $45 million will build community charging stations in six metro areas: San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Diego. Another $44 million will build a "Green City" in Sacramento. It will provide access to zero-emission vehicles to low-income residents, through ride-sharing and other programs. As part of the 10-year comprehensive plan, Electrify America will build a nationwide network of fast-charging stations with universal technology.

That nationwide network is expected to cost another $2 billion.

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Will 'Smart Cities' Violate Our Privacy?
Posted by News Fetcher on July 29 '17 at 09:50 PM
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's knowing-when-you've-been-bad-or-good department:
An anonymous reader quotes Computerworld's article on the implications of New York City's plan to blanket the city with "smart" kiosks offering ultrafast Wi-Fi.
The existence of smart-city implementations like Intersection's LinkNYC means that New Yorkers won't actually need mobile contracts anymore. Most who would otherwise pay for them will no doubt continue to do so for the convenience. But those who could not afford a phone contract in the past will have ubiquitous fast connectivity in the future. This strongly erodes the digital divide within smart cities. A 2015 study conducted by New York City found that more than a quarter of city households had no internet connectivity at home, and more than half a million people didn't own their own computer...
Over the next 15 years, the city will go through the other two phases, where sensor data will be processed by artificial intelligence to gain unprecedented insights about traffic, environment and human behavior and eventually use it to intelligently re-direct traffic and shape other city functions... And as autonomous cars gradually roll out, New York will be well positioned to be one of the first cities to legalize them, because they'll be safer thanks to 5G, sensors and data from all those kiosks.
Intersection, a Google-backed startup, has already installed 1,000 of the kiosks in New York, and is planning to install 7,000 more. The sides of the kiosk have screens which show alerts and other public information -- as well as advertisements, which cover all the costs of the installations and even bring extra money into the city coffers.
New York's move "puts pressure on other U.S. cities to follow suit," the article also points out, adding that privacy policies "are negotiated agreements between the company and the city. So if a city wants to use those cameras and sensors for surveillance, it can."

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