By EditorDavid from Slashdot's rumbles-in-the-jungles department
In the wake of major earthquakes in both Japan and Ecuador, one British newspaper asks: Why are we so bad at predicting earthquakes? In 2015 seismologists told Vice, "The more we study them, the harder they look to predict, and "there's a shortage of instrumenation." But today the Telegraph newspaper concludes that we actually have two problems: first, "science is hopeless at predicting earthquakes and, second, we keep building cities on major fault-lines..." They cite a new book called Earth-Shattering Events which reports that nearly half the world's large cities are in earthquake-prone areas, adding, "we don't just build our cities on fault-lines, we also tend to rebuild them, in the same place, but no more robust, time and time again." In 1976 one quake in China killed more than 750,000 people, while a 2004 quake in Indonesia killed 170,000. "The Earth will move and there's not a thing we can do to stop it," the Telegraph concludes, arguing that we need to learn more from our past.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's in-your-base department
An anonymous reader writes: FinFisher, the hacker that broke into Italian firm Hacking Team, has published a step-by-step account of how he carried out the attacks, what tools he used, and what he learned from scouting HackingTeam's network. Published on PasteBin, the attack's timeline reveals he entered their network through a zero-day exploit in an (unnamed) embedded device, accessed a MongoDB database that had no password, discovered backups in the database, found a BES admin password in the backups, and eventually got admin access to the Windows Domain Server. From here, it was easy to reach into their email server and steal all the company's emails, and later access Git repos and steal the source code of their surveillance software.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's Oops department
An anonymous reader writes: North Korea failed to launch an intermediate-range missile on Friday, multiple news outlets, citing American and South Korean military officials, are reporting. The failure, The Washington Post reports, caused the regime an embarrassing blow on the most important day of the year on the North Korean calendar. For those unaware, North Korea had planned -- and tried -- to launch a missile to mark the 104th anniversary of the birthday of the country's 'eternal president,' Kim Il Sung.ABC further reports: "It was a fiery, catastrophic attempt at a launch that was unsuccessful," Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Friday. U.S. officials are still assessing, but it was likely a road-mobile missile, given that it was launched from a location not usually used for ballistic missile launches, on the country's east coast, he said. The UN Security Council issued a statement saying its members "strongly condemned" the North's firing of a ballistic missile, which it said constituted a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions although the launch was a failure. "We strongly condemn North Korea's missile test in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolutions, which explicitly prohibit North Korea's use of ballistic missile technology," the official said.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's use-the-fork,-Luke department
An anonymous reader writes: "When DARPA funded research into a brain-computer interface, artist and engineer Joel Murphy and his former student Conor Russomanno built a working prototype," reports Popular Science. After a crowdfunding campaign, the team successfully developed an Open Source version -- a $399 headset that can register brain-wave electricity (named Ultracortex), along with a $99 board named Ganglion that can use those signals to control mechanical devices. "We want it to essentially be a Lego kit that you get in the mail, which also just happens to be a brain-computer interface," says Russomanno.
Their web site is already accepting pre-orders, though because both the hardware and software are open source, you can also generate your own headset with a 3D printer. And according to the article, two British students are now using the technology to create an app that issues commands to a smartphone by winking.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's piracy-is-bad department
Ernesto Van der Sar, reporting for TorrentFreak: The MPAA wants Internet providers and services to take stronger actions against persistent copyright infringers. Ideally, the most egregious pirates should lose their accounts permanently, the group says. To accomplish this ISPs should be required to track the number of notices they receive for each account. In recent weeks, many groups and individuals have voiced their opinions about the future of the DMCA, responding to a U.S. Copyright Office consultation. This includes the MPAA, which acts on behalf of the major Hollywood studios. In a 71-page submission the group outlines many problems with the current law, asking for drastic reforms. Ideally, the group would like search engines to enforce a "stay down" policy ensuring that content can't reappear under different URLs. In addition, it would like registrars to suspend domain names of pirate sites, such as The Pirate Bay.The problem is that ISPs don't necessarily see this abuse as a problem.Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's totally-not-racist department
An anonymous reader writes: Microsoft's newest online AI, CaptionBot, tries to identify what's in an uploaded photo, using two recognition APIs recently released by Microsoft Cognitive Services for app developers-- "Computer Vision" and "Emotion". But while Microsoft brags that their AI "can understand thousands of objects, as well as the relationships between them," bloggers are also sharing funny examples of CaptionBot's many mistakes. While it correctly identified Bea Arthur, Ozzy Osbourne and Joan Jett, and a movie poster with Arnold Schwarzenegger, it mistakenly identified Gene Simmons of KISS as "a woman in a red jacket...sitting on a motorcycle," described a wedding dress as "a cat wearing a tie," mistook Michelle Obama for a cellphone, and described one man's Twitter avatar as "a close up of two giraffes near a tree."
But CNNMoney reports that the AI is apparently programmed to ignore all images of Hitler and other Nazi symbolism (as well as Osama bin Laden), reporting that Microsoft's AI "often came back with 'I really can't describe the picture' and a confused emoji. It did, however, identify other Nazi leaders like Joseph Mengele and Joseph Goebbels."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's if-at-first-you-don't-succeed department
An anonymous reader writes: Google and Oracle executives met for six hours Friday in an unsuccessful attempt to resolve an ongoing copyright lawsuit. "Because an agreement couldn't be made, the next phase of the case will head to court in May, where a jury will decide if Google had the right to use certain parts of Oracle's programming language, Java, for free or if it owes Oracle damages..." reports Business Insider. "Last month, Google said that its damages expert strongly disagreed that it should owe Oracle upward of $8 billion for using certain parts of Oracle's software in its smartphone operating system, Android."
Friday's court-ordered talk included both Google CEO Sundar Pichai and Oracle CEO Safra Catz, and it marks the second time the two companies have failed to reach an out-of-court settlement, a fact alluded to by the case's judge in newly-released documents. "After an earlier run at settling this case failed, the court observed that some cases just need to be tried," reports the court docket. "This case apparently needs to be tried twice."Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's up-next-on-iTunes department
Edward Snowden criticized the FBI for leaving open security holes found in the iPhone, predicting the hack will now become globally available by the end of 2016. "Personally, I think we'll see it by the end of August," he wrote to his two million followers on Twitter, where one British newspaper reports Snowden was also "recently invited into a Twitter private group chat with a lot of teenage girls who didn't know who he was." (Snowden asked them to call him "Ed," and warned them that if they messaged him, the NSA would read their messages.) Friday Snowden also tweeted a 2013 article about the U.C. Davis police officer who used pepper spray on protesters, writing that the officer was later awarded $38,000 "for his 'pain and suffering'." But Snowden has also been collaborating with French electronic musician Jean-Michel Jarre, contributing samples of his voice to a six-minute track to be included on an upcoming album. "Technology can actually increase privacy," Snowden says on the track, which is available on YouTube. "The question is: Why are our private details that are transmitted online, why are your private details that are stored on our personal devices, any different than the details and private records of our lives that are stored in our private journals?"Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's patch-it-already department
An anonymous reader cites an article on Ars Technica: More than 3 million Internet-accessible servers are at risk of being infected with crypto ransomware because they're running vulnerable software, including out-of-date versions of Red Hat's JBoss enterprise application, researchers from Cisco Systems said Friday. About 2,100 of those servers have already been compromised by webshells that give attackers persistent control over the machines, making it possible for them to be infected at any time, the Cisco researchers reported in a blog post. The compromised servers are connected to about 1,600 different IP addresses belonging to schools, governments, aviation companies, and other types of organizations. Some of the compromised servers belonged to school districts that were running the Destiny management system that many school libraries use to keep track of books and other assets. Cisco representatives notified officials at Destiny developer Follett Learning of the compromise, and the Follett officials said they fixed a security vulnerability in the program. Follett also told Cisco the updated Destiny software also scans computers for signs of infection and removes any identified backdoors.Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's to-speed-read-or-not department
Wouldn't it be great if you could read a novel in an hour or two? Certainly, many people do that. The phenomenon of speed reading is nothing new with plenty of people claiming that they have grown habituated -- or taught themselves into -- reading things in an accelerated fashion. Not everyone -- including yours truly -- is a fan of this. There are several studies that suggest that 'speed reading' result in people missing out on lots of tidbits. A New York Times article, published Friday, also suggests the same. Jeffrey M. Zacks, and Rebecca Treiman, in an op-ed, citing a recent article in Psychological Science in the Public Interest, claim that "it's extremely unlikely you can greatly improve your reading speed without missing out on a lot of meaning." They write: Certainly, readers are capable of rapidly scanning a text to find a specific word or piece of information, or to pick up a general idea of what the text is about. But this is skimming, not reading. We can definitely skim, and it may be that speed-reading systems help people skim better.Which brings us to the question: What's your view on speed reading?Read Replies (0)
By EditorDavid from Slashdot's breaking-records department
An anonymous reader writes: Today is Record Store Day, an event which includes exclusive vinyl releases distributed only through record stores. But besides complaints about scalpers hoarding the limited-edition releases, musicians and labels say the event monopolizes all of the available production capacity for pressing vinyl records, creating delays as long as six months and inflating vinyl record prices as high as $30. "The bottleneck persists even though plants work around the clock for months to accommodate the surge in orders leading up to Record Store Day," writes the New Yorker, noting that the demand for vinyl records has now increased six-fold over the last eight years.
Part of the problem appears to be big labels. (One insisted on printing 2,100 copies of their 1974 novelty hit "Kung Fu Fighting" for the independent record store event, the New Yorker notes, "meaning that an up-and-coming band's new album could, in theory, be delayed.") Meanwhile, with current techniques, one production plant still has to scrap up to 20% of the records it presses due to quality issues -- although in the last four months, two companies have introduced new faster technologies for pressing vinyl records.
This year's records include a Dr. Who track called "Genesis of the Daleks" and a track from the "Star Wars: The Force Awakens" soundtrack on a vinyl picture disc, as well as releases from Anthrax, David Bowie, Johnny Cash, Miles Davis, the Flaming Lips, and even Devo members Mark Mothersbaugh and Gerald Casale. Metallica -- this year's "ambassador" for the event -- plans to stream a live performance at Rasputin Records in Berkeley California.)Read Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's please-buy-new-idevice department
Apple says it expects its users to replace their iPhone and Apple Watch after (more like, every) three years. The company adds that it expects a Mac user to replace their computer after four years. The iPhone maker shared the expectations in a recently released document as part of its latest environmental push. In the document, Apple underscores how much its products contribute to the greenhouse gas lifecycle. The Guardian reports: Within a new question and answer section Apple said: "Years of use, which are based on first owners, are assumed to be four years for OS X and tvOS devices and three years for iOS and watchOS devices." That assessment doesn't take into account the recycling of devices, their reconditioning and their resale, of course, but when you buy a new iPhone 6S for $649 (starting price, off-contract), Apple expects it to last three years, something many suspected. Apple has been accused of intentionally slowing down iPhones every time a new one is released, although there is little evidence to support the theory.Also see: Apple's Recycling Initiatives Recover $40 Million In GoldRead Replies (0)
By manishs from Slashdot's prepare-goodbye-letter-for-fossil-fuels department
James Hakner, writing for Phys.org: The worldwide reliance on burning fossil fuels to create energy could be phased out in a decade, according to an article published by a major energy think tank in the UK. Professor Benjamin Sovacool, Director of the Sussex Energy Group at the University of Sussex, believes that the next great energy revolution could take place in a fraction of the time of major changes in the past. But it would take a collaborative, interdisciplinary, multi-scalar effort to get there, he warns. And that effort must learn from the trials and tribulations from previous energy systems and technology transitions. In a paper published in the peer-reviewed journal Energy Research & Social Science, Professor Sovacool analyses energy transitions throughout history and argues that only looking towards the past can often paint an overly bleak and unnecessary picture. Moving from wood to coal in Europe, for example, took between 96 and 160 years, whereas electricity took 47 to 69 years to enter into mainstream use. But this time the future could be different, he says -- the scarcity of resources, the threat of climate change and vastly improved technological learning and innovation could greatly accelerate a global shift to a cleaner energy future.There's no doubt that we will soon reach a point wherein solar and wind will be readily available and feasible to the vast majority but, the decade timeframe feels like a stretch. We must acknowledge the financial and political challenges that we face today. Private and government-backed companies have invested billions of dollars into plants that turn fossil fuels into electricity. Ditching these plants means losing a lot of capital and owing investors with plenty of explanations. There are several forces at play here.Read Replies (0)