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A Look at the NSA's Most Powerful Internet Attack Tool

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the big-gun dept.

United States 154

realized writes in with a closer look at the NSA's QUANTUM system. "Today QUANTUM packs a suite of attack tools, including both DNS injection (upgrading the man-on-the-side to a man-in-the-middle, allowing bogus certificates and similar routines to break SSL) and HTTP injection. That reasonable enough. But it also includes gadgets like a plug-in to inject into MySQL connections, allowing the NSA to quietly mess with the contents of a third-party's database. (This also surprisingly suggests that unencrypted MySQL on the internet is common enough to attract NSA attention.) And it allows the NSA to hijack both IRC and HTTP-based criminal botnets, and also includes routines which use packet-injection to create phantom servers, and even attempting (poorly) to use this for defense."

Conservation Communities Takes Root Across US

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the if-you-plant-it-they-will-eat dept.

Earth 116

Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Kate Murphy reports at the NYT about a growing number of so-called agrihoods, residential developments where a working farm is the central feature, in the same way that other communities may cluster around a golf course, pool or fitness center. At least a dozen projects across the country are thriving, enlisting thousands of home buyers who crave access to open space, verdant fields and fresh food. 'I hear from developers all the time about this,' says Ed McMahon. 'They've figured out that unlike a golf course, which costs millions to build and millions to maintain, they can provide green space that actually earns a profit.'

Agritopia, outside Phoenix, has sixteen acres of certified organic farmland, with row crops (artichokes to zucchini), fruit trees (citrus, nectarine, peach, apple, olive and date) and livestock (chickens and sheep). Fences gripped by grapevines and blackberry bushes separate the farm from the community's 452 single-family homes, each with a wide front porch and sidewalks close enough to encourage conversation. The hub of neighborhood life is a small square overlooking the farm, with a coffeehouse, farm-to-table restaurant and honor-system farm stand. The square is also where residents line up on Wednesday evenings to claim their bulging boxes of just-harvested produce, eggs and honey, which come with a $100-a-month membership in the community-supported agriculture, or CSA, program.

'Wednesday is the highlight of my week,' says Ben Wyffels. 'To be able to walk down the street with my kids and get fresh, healthy food is amazing.' Because the Agritopia farm is self-sustaining, no fees are charged to support it, other than the cost of buying produce at the farm stand or joining the CSA. Agritopia was among the first agrihoods — like Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.; Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Ill.; South Village in South Burlington, Vt.; and Hidden Springs in Boise, Idaho. 'The interest is so great, we're kind of terrified trying to catch up with all the calls,' says Quint Redmond adding that in addition to developers, he hears from homeowners' associations and golf course operators who want to transform their costly-to-maintain green spaces into revenue-generating farms. Driving the demand, Redmond says, are the local-food movement and the aspirations of many Americans to be gentlemen (or gentlewomen) farmers. 'Everybody wants to be Thomas Jefferson these days.'"
The city of Detroit is planning a 26.9-acre urban farm project on one of its vacant high school properties. Produce from the project will be included in meals for students in the district and later to the larger community.

Engine Data Reveals That Flight 370 Flew On For Hours After It "Disappeared"

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the nailing-dow-the-time dept.

Transportation 382

Advocatus Diaboli writes "Aviation investigators and national security officials believe the plane flew for a total of five hours based on data automatically downloaded and sent to the ground from the Boeing Co. 777's engines as part of a routine maintenance and monitoring program. As part of its maintenance agreements, Malaysia Airlines transmits its engine data live to Rolls-Royce for analysis. The system compiles data from inside the 777's two Trent 800 engines and transmits snapshots of performance, as well as the altitude and speed of the jet. Those snippets are compiled and transmitted in 30-minute increments, said one person familiar with the system." Update: 03/14 11:41 GMT by S : The WSJ has since updated its report to say the data was from the plane's satellite-communication system. However, Malaysian authorities have denied both scenarios, saying neither Boeing nor Rolls-Royce received data past 1:07am (the flight initially disappeared off radar at 1:30am).

VLC Finally Launches App For Windows 8

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the happy-ending-forever dept.

Windows 170

SmartAboutThings writes "After a long journey of more than one year, which included even a successfully ended Kickstarter campaign, the VLC app for Windows 8 is officially here. VLC for Windows 8 is currently in beta, and it lacks some important features, such as the ability to open music files or support for Windows RT devices. On the good side, VLC for Windows 8 supports the same codecs as the VLC application for desktop, from MPEG-1 to H.265, through WMV3 and VC-1; it also supports multiple-audio tracks selection, embedded subtitles, background audio playback, Live Tiles, removable storage and DLNA servers."

Google Flu Trends Gets It Wrong Three Years Running

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the coughedword-coughedword dept.

Stats 64

wabrandsma writes with this story from NewScientist: "Google may be a master at data wrangling, but one of its products has been making bogus data-driven predictions. A study of Google's much-hyped flu tracker has consistently overestimated flu cases in the US for years. It's a failure that highlights the danger of relying on big data technologies.

Evan Selinger, a technology ethicist at Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, says Google Flu's failures hint at a larger problem with the algorithmic approach taken by technology companies to deliver services we all want to use. The problem is with the assumption that either the data that is gathered about us, or the algorithms used to process it, are neutral. Google Flu Trends has been discussed at slashdot before: When Google Got Flu Wrong."

What If the Next Presidential Limo Was a Tesla?

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the anything-that'll-turn-into-a-pumpkin-please dept.

Government 330

cartechboy writes "The presidential limo is known as "The Beast," and it's getting to be about that time where it's replaced. Currently The Beast is a General Motors creation with a Cadillac badge, but what if the next presidential limo was a Tesla? Stick with me here. The Beast is a massive vehicle, which means there would be plenty of room in the structure to have a long battery pack a la Model S. Plus, it could use the upcoming Model X's all-wheel-drive system. Tesla's air suspension would keep it from encountering high-centering issues. There could even be a charging port on both the front and back so a battery truck could hook up while driving, like in-flight refueling. Obviously the battery pack would need to have extra protection so it wouldn't have any issues with road debris, but that's a minor issue. Tesla is an American company, and that's a requirement for The Beast. So is it that far fetched to think the next presidential limo could be a Tesla?"

FISA Court Reverses Order To Destroy NSA Phone Data

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the rule-of-men-and-not-of-law dept.

Communications 59

itwbennett writes "The U.S. Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court has temporarily reversed its earlier order that call records collected by the National Security Agency should be destroyed after the current five-year limit. The court modified its stand after a District Court in California on Monday ordered the government to retain phone records it collects in bulk from telecommunications carriers, as the metadata could be required as evidence in two civil lawsuits that challenge the NSA's phone records program under section 215 of the Patriot Act."

Amazon Hikes Prime Membership Fee

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the what-the-market-will-bear dept.

Businesses 276

An anonymous reader writes with official news that, as expected, "Amazon officially announced that it is increasing Prime Membership fees from $79 to $99. Amazon Students will pay $49, and participants of Amazon Fresh (the grocery shopping service) will continue to have a $299 fee. The price hike in Prime Membership is attributed to rising shipping costs, but some wonder if the 'real question around Prime is whether it's sustainable at all, even at a higher price.'"

Microsoft Dumping License Fees For Windows Phone?

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the as-price-approaches-zero dept.

Windows 125

Nerval's Lobster writes "For years, Microsoft remained adamant about its licensing fees for Windows Phone: if a smartphone manufacturer wanted to include the software on its devices, it would need to pay Microsoft a certain amount per unit. That was a logical strategy for Microsoft, which became a very big company thanks to licensing fees for Windows and other platforms. Unlike some of those other products, however, Windows Phone has struggled for adoption in its marketplace, which is dominated by Apple and Google. In response, suggests the Times of India, Microsoft may have dumped licensing fees for two Indian smartphone makers, Karbonn and Lava (Xolo). Microsoft's biggest rival, Google, gives its Android mobile operating system away for free, a maneuver that helped it gain spectacular market-share in a relatively short amount of time. If Microsoft pursues a similar strategy in different markets, it could encourage more smartphone manufacturers to produce Windows Phone devices, which could increase the platform's market-share—but there are no guarantees that scenario will actually play out. The smartphone market is increasingly saturated, and Microsoft's opponents have no intention of allowing Windows Phone to gain any ground."

Mt. Gox Knew It Was Selling Phantom Bitcoin 2 Weeks Before Collapse

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the but-y'know-what-the-heck dept.

The Almighty Buck 263

An anonymous reader writes "Mt. Gox CEO Mark Karpeles wrote in a sworn declaration in the company's U.S. bankruptcy filing he suspected hundreds of thousands of bitcoins were missing on Feb. 7, more than two weeks before it finally halted trading. That means Mt. Gox allowed its customers to continue trading, knowing that its bitcoin stash was wiped out and collecting as much as US$900,000 in trading fees. Since Mt. Gox said it was also missing $27.3 million in cash from customer deposits, it raises the possibility that customers — despite seeing a cash balance displayed in their account — might have actually been buying bitcoins that did not exist, with cash that was already long gone."

1GB of Google Drive Storage Now Costs Only $0.02 Per Month

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the even-I-can-do-that-math dept.

Google 335

SmartAboutThings writes "Up until today, I always had the impression that cloud storage was pretty expensive and I'm sure that many will agree with me. It's a good thing that some bright minds over at Google have the same impressions as they now have drastically discounted the monthly storage plans on Google Drive. The new monthly storage plans and their previous prices are as follows: $1.99 for 100GB (previously $4.99), $9.99 for 1TB (previously $49.99), and $99.99 for 10TB.The 2 dollar plan per month means that the price for a gigabyte gets down to an incredibly low price of only two cents per month."

TrustyCon was the 'Rebel Conference' Across the Street From RSA 2014 (Video)

Roblimo posted about 5 months ago | from the the-most-interesting-people-are-often-in-the-rebel-groups dept.

Security 20

RSA holds big-time annual security conferences. The 2014 U.S. edition had 25,000 attendees, Stephen Colbert as the closing keynote speaker, and a major controversy (and some anger) from potential speakers and attendees over RSA's reputed $10 million contract with NSA to make sure the company's encryption software had back doors the secretive agency could use to spy on people and companies that use RSA software. This is part of a story that might be called The Snowden Revelations if it is made into a movie, but right now it's still controversial, and enough of a bombshell in the IT security industry that F-Secure's Mikko Hyppönen decided not to speak at this year's U.S. RSA conference, followed by Bruce Schneier, DEFCON founder Jeff Moss, Princeton professor Ed Felten, and other security luminaries.

And so, TrustyCon -- the Trustworthy Technology Conference -- was born. It was a sellout, with 400 people attending at $50 a head, and another 300 on a waiting list who couldn't get in. Slashdot's Tim Lord managed to get in, and got to speak briefly with several people there, including one of the TrustyCon organizers, Joel Wallenstrom. These were crude interviews, done on a "catch as catch can" basis, and the sound in them is poor. (Google sent a camera crew and shot over seven hours of the conference speakers, which you can watch on YouTube if you want to view TrustyCon presentations in good HD with great sound.). Will there be another TrustyCon next year? According to The Register, "The conference organizers said that, at this point, the plan is to hold another get-together next year, but that a final decision will be made closer to the time."

Singapore To Regulate Virtual Currency Exchanges

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the autocratic-state-being-one dept.

Bitcoin 51

SpankiMonki writes "Following on the heels of the Mt Gox bankruptcy, the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) plans to impose new regulations on currency exchanges dealing in bitcoin and other virtual currencies. Virtual currency exchanges would need to verify their customers' identities and report any suspicious transactions under the new rules.

The MAS said its regulation of virtual currency intermediaries — which include virtual currency exchanges and vending machines — was tailored specifically to the money-laundering and terrorism financing risks they posed. However, the new regulations would do nothing to ensure the solvency of virtual currency intermediaries or the safety of their client's funds."

Is the New "Common Core SAT" Bill Gates' Doing?

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the secret-machinations dept.

Education 273

theodp writes "'I want to explain why Common Core is among the most important education ideas in years,' wrote Bill Gates in a USA Today op-ed last month that challenged the "dangerous misconceptions" of those who oppose the initiative (pretty confident for a guy who conceded there wasn't much to show for his earlier $5B education reform effort!). 'The Gates Foundation helped fund this process,' acknowledged Gates in quite an understatement of his influence. Receiving $6.5M in Gates Grants was Student Achievement Partners, whose founder David Coleman was dubbed the 'Architect of the Common Core.' So it's not too surprising that at last week's SXSWedu, Coleman — now President and CEO of The College Board (no stranger to Gates money itself) — announced a dramatic overhaul of the SAT that includes a new emphasis on evidence-based reading and writing and evidence analysis, which the AJC's Maureen Downey calls 'reflective of the approach of the Common Core State Standards.'" (Read more, below.)

Tested: Asus Chromebox Based On Haswell Core i3

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the who-needs-a-bigger-one dept.

Chrome 103

MojoKid writes "The Asus Chromebox is a tiny palm-sized machine similar in form and footprint to Intel's line of NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini PCs. One of the higher-end Asus Chromebox variants coming to market employs Intel's 4th generation Haswell Core series processor architecture with Integrated HD 4400 graphics. The machine is packed with fair number of connectivity options including four USB 3.0 SuperSpeed ports, HDMI and DisplayPort output, a microSD Flash card slot, 802.11n dual-band WiFi, and Bluetooth 4.0. It also sports a 1.7GHz dual-core Core i3-4010U processor with Hyper-Threading for four logical processing threads and 4GB of DDR3 1600MHz memory. Finally, the onboard 16GB SSD storage might be appear a bit meager, but it's backed up by 100GB of Google Drive cloud storage for 2 years. In testing, the device proved to be capable in some quick and dirty browser-based benchmarks. For the class of device and use case that the Chromebox caters to, Google has covered most of what folks look for with the Chrome OS. There's basic office productivity apps, video and media streaming apps, and even a few games that you might care to fire up. The Asus Chromebox handles all of these usage types with ease and it's also barely audible while consuming only about 18 Watts under load."

Power Cables' UV Flashes Apparently Frighten Animals

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the what-can-you-see? dept.

Power 183

Rambo Tribble writes "Ultraviolet light flashes, or "corona", may be scaring animals and altering behavior. An international scientific team, first studying behavioral anomalies in reindeer near power lines, have found that sporadic flashes of UV from the lines are probably responsible. As most mammals can see into the UV spectrum, this has broad implications for the disruption of animal behavior. From the BBC article: "Since, as the researchers added, coronas 'happen on all power lines everywhere,' the avoidance of the flashes could be having a global impact on wildlife.""

Top U.S. Scientific Misconduct Official Quits In Frustration With Bureaucracy

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the an-exit-interview-I'd-like-to-overhear dept.

Government 172

sandbagger writes "The director of the U.S. government office that monitors scientific misconduct in biomedical research has resigned after 2 years out of frustration with the 'remarkably dysfunctional' federal bureaucracy. Officials at the Office of Scientific Integrity spent 'exorbitant amounts of time' in meetings and generating data and reports to make their divisions look productive, David Wright writes. He huge amount of time he spent trying to get things done made much of his time at ORI 'the very worst job I have ever had.'"

White House: Get ACA Insurance Coverage, Launch Start-Ups

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the have-your-neighbors-pay-the-rent-too dept.

Businesses 578

dcblogs writes that the Obama Administration is urging tech entrepreneurs "to sign up for health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, and said having the coverage will give them the 'freedom and security' to start their own businesses. 'There is strong evidence that when affordable healthcare isn't exclusively tied to employment, in more instances people choose to start their own companies,' wrote White House CTO Todd Park in a post to launch its #GeeksGetCovered campaign. Bruce Bachenheimer, a professor of management at Pace University and director of its Entrepreneurship Lab, said the effort is part of a broader appeal by the White House to get younger and healthier people to sign-up for Obamacare, and is in the same vein as President Obama's recent appearance on Between Two Ferns." Removing the tax structures that make companies by default intermediaries in the provision of health insurance, and allowing more interstate (and international) competition in health finance options would help on that front, too, aside from who's actually footing the insurance bill.

Replicant Hackers Find and Close Samsung Galaxy Back-door

timothy posted about 5 months ago | from the in-their-spare-time dept.

Handhelds 81

gnujoshua writes "Paul Kocialkowski (PaulK), a developer for the Replicant project, a fully free/libre version of Android, wrote a guest blog post for the Free Software Foundation announcing that whlie hacking on the Samsung Galaxy, they "discovered that the proprietary program running on the applications processor in charge of handling the communication protocol with the modem actually implements a back-door that lets the modem perform remote file I/O operations on the file system." They then replaced the proprietary program with free software.

While it may be a while before we can have a 100% free software microcode/firmware on the the cellular hardware itself, isolating that hardware from the rest of your programming and data is a seemingly important step that we can take right now. At least to the FSF anyhow. What do others think: is a 100% free software mobile device important to you?"

Community Pick

Amazon Prime Increasing Cost

Anonymous Coward writes | about 5 months ago

0

An anonymous reader writes "We are writing to provide you advance notice that the price of your Student Prime membership will be increasing. The annual rate will be $49 when your membership renews on February 28, 2015.

Even as fuel and transportation costs have increased, the price of Prime has remained the same for nine years. Since 2005, the number of items eligible for unlimited free Two-Day Shipping has grown from one million to over 20 million. We also added unlimited access to over 40,000 movies and TV episodes with Prime Instant Video and a selection of over 500,000 books to borrow from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library.

For more information about your Prime membership, visit our Prime membership page.

Sincerely,

The Amazon Prime Team"

Link to Original Source

Stanford Researchers Spot Medical Conditions, Guns, and More In Phone Metadata

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the you-are-your-data dept.

United States 193

An anonymous reader writes "Since the NSA's phone metadata program broke last summer, politicians have trivialized the privacy implications. It's 'just metadata,' Dianne Feinstein and others have repeatedly emphasized. That view is no longer tenable: Stanford researchers crowdsourced phone metadata from real users, and easily identified calls to 'Alcoholics Anonymous, gun stores, NARAL Pro-Choice, labor unions, divorce lawyers, sexually transmitted disease clinics, a Canadian import pharmacy, strip clubs, and much more.' Looking at patterns in call metadata, they correctly diagnosed a cardiac condition and outed an assault rifle owner. 'Reasonable minds can disagree about the policy and legal constraints,' the authors conclude. 'The science, however, is clear: phone metadata is highly sensitive.'"

Google Sued Over Children's In-App Android Purchases

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the won't-somebody-please-think-of-the-children? dept.

Google 321

jfruh writes "Android apps sold through the Google Play app store require the user to enter their username and password before making an in-app purchase — but once they've done that, they can continue to do so for half an hour without re-authenticating. Now a lawsuit is claiming this loophole allows children to run up in-app purchases on their parents' credit cards, 'causing Google to pocket millions of dollars.'"

Diamond Suggests Presence of Water Deep Within Earth

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the deep-water dept.

Earth 48

sciencehabit writes "A 40 micrometer crystal trapped inside a diamond unearthed by magma in Brazil could help settle a long-standing debate about the amount of water in Earth's mantle. Spectroscopic analysis reveal that the crystal contains hydrogen-oxygen bonds, which suggests it's composed of at least 1.4% water. The place where the diamond was produced--Earth's lower mantle--may not be typical of the entire lower mantle, but if it is then there could be a lot of water down there. This would be important, as changes in the temperature in the mantle could cause it to expel highly pressurized steam, which could lead to volcanic eruptions."

Mars Rover Opportunity Faces New Threat: Budget Ax

samzenpus posted about 5 months ago | from the no-rover-for-you dept.

NASA 185

astroengine writes "NASA's baseline budget for the year beginning Oct. 1 pulls the plug on the 10-year-old Mars rover Opportunity, newly released details of the agency's fiscal 2015 spending plan show. The plan, which requires Congressional approval, also anticipates ending the orbiting Mars Odyssey mission on Sept. 30, 2016. 'There are pressures all over the place,' NASA's planetary science division director Jim Green said during an advisory council committee teleconference call on Wednesday."

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