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Linux

Linux Kernel 4.10 Officially Released With Virtual GPU Support (softpedia.com) 90

"Linus Torvalds announced today the general availability of the Linux 4.10 kernel series, which add a great number of improvements, new security features, and support for the newest hardware components," writes Softpedia. prisoninmate quotes their report: Linux kernel 4.10 has been in development for the past seven weeks, during which it received a total of seven Release Candidate snapshots that implemented all the changes that you'll soon be able to enjoy on your favorite Linux-based operating system... Prominent new features include virtual GPU (Graphics Processing Unit) support, new "perf c2c" tool that can be used for analysis of cacheline contention on NUMA systems, support for the L2/L3 caches of Intel processors (Intel Cache Allocation Technology), eBPF hooks for cgroups, hybrid block polling, and better writeback management. A new "perf sched timehist" feature has been added in Linux kernel 4.10 to provide detailed history of task scheduling, and there's experimental writeback cache and FAILFAST support for MD RAID5... Ubuntu 17.04 (Zesty Zapus) could be the first stable OS to ship with Linux 4.10.
It required 13,000 commits, plus over 1,200 merges, Linus wrote in the announcement, adding "On the whole, 4.10 didn't end up as small as it initially looked."
Bug

Google Discloses An Unpatched Windows Bug (Again) (bleepingcomputer.com) 121

An anonymous reader writes: "For the second time in three months, Google engineers have disclosed a bug in the Windows OS without Microsoft having released a fix before Google's announcement," reports BleepingComputer. "The bug in question affects the Windows GDI (Graphics Device Interface) (gdi32.dll)..." According to Google, the issue allows an attacker to read the content of the user's memory using malicious EMF files. The bad news is that the EMF file can be hidden in other documents, such as DOCX, and can be exploited via Office, IE, or Office Online, among many.

"According to a bug report filed by Google's Project Zero team, the bug was initially part of a larger collection of issues discovered in March 2016, and fixed in June 2016, via Microsoft's security bulletin MS16-074. Mateusz Jurczyk, the Google engineer who found the first bugs, says the MS16-074 patches were insufficient, and some of the issues he reported continued to remain vulnerable." He later resubmitted the bugs in November 2016. The 90-days deadline for fixing the bugs expired last week, and the Google researcher disclosed the bug to the public after Microsoft delayed February's security updates to next month's Patch Tuesday, for March 15.

Microsoft has described Google's announcements of unpatched Windows bugs as "disappointing".
Debian

Mozilla Thunderbird Finally Makes Its Way Back Into Debian's Repos (softpedia.com) 47

prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: A year ago, we told you that, after ten long years, the Debian Project finally found a way to switch their rebranded Iceweasel web browser back to Mozilla Firefox, both the ESR (Extended Support Release) and normal versions, but one question remained: what about the Mozilla Thunderbird email, news, and calendar client? Well, that question has an official answer today, as the Mozilla Thunderbird packages appear to have landed in the Debian repositories as a replacement for Icedove, the rebranded version that Debian Project was forced to use for more than ten years due to trademark issues. "Thunderbird is back in Debian! We also renamed other related packages to use official names, e.g. iceowl-extension -> lightning. For now, we need testers to catch existing issues and things we haven't seen until now," said Christoph Goehre in the mailing list announcement. You can find out how to migrate your Icedove profiles to Thunderbird via Softpedia's report.
Cellphones

Shamed In Super Bowl Ads, Verizon Introduces Unlimited Data Plans (theverge.com) 172

A surprise announcement Sunday revealed that tomorrow Verizon will begin offering introductory plans with unlimited data.*

* Customers "will get full LTE speeds until they reach 22GB of usage," reports The Verge, "after which they'll be subject to reduced data speeds and de-prioritization."

An anonymous reader writes: Other carriers have similar limits. "For Sprint it's 23GB. T-Mobile has a slightly higher threshold of 26GB... AT&T matches Verizon at 22GB," reports The Verge. Verizon says their cap is "to ensure a quality experience for all customers... While we don't expect to do that very often, network management is a crucial tool that benefits all Verizon customers." The $80-a-month plan also includes hotspot tethering -- up to 10 gigabytes -- and "includes 'HD' video as opposed to the 480p/DVD-quality video that T-Mobile One customers get by default."

In a Sunday YouTube video, the head of Verizon's wireless effort says customer interviews found "Some of the heavier users of data -- the power users -- had data anxiety." But it's still a surprising move. Engadget reports that in the past Verizon "frequently tried its hardest to discourage unlimited data users," but today is "facing stiff competition from T-Mobile, which engineered a dramatic comeback in recent years and upped the ante by making unlimited data standard through the One plan."

Verizon's pricing was also targeted heavily last week in a barrage of Super Bowl ads by both Sprint and T-Mobile just last Sunday. T-Mobile showed a masochistic woman calling Verizon just to enjoying hearing about the overages, taxes and fees she incurred by exceeding her data limit, while Sprint showed a man who was trying to escape his Verizon contract by faking his own death.
Businesses

Human Resources Startup Zenefits Is Laying Off Almost Half Its Employees (buzzfeed.com) 76

An anonymous reader shares a report: Zenefits will lay off 45% of its employees in an effort to slash costs, according to an internal memo this morning that was obtained by BuzzFeed News, a stark acknowledgment by the embattled human resources startup that its onetime expectations for growth were vastly inflated. Roughly 430 workers will be cut, including 250 in Zenefits' San Francisco headquarters and 150 in its office in Tempe, Arizona, leaving the company with about 500 employees, according to the memo and a person briefed on the matter. That's about a third of the size it was a year ago, when it ousted its founding CEO, Parker Conrad, over revelations that it flouted state regulations for selling health insurance. Thursday's announcement, coming on the morning after the one-year anniversary of Conrad's departure, is the third round of layoffs -- and the largest -- to hit the company since the crisis began.
Communications

Linux Kernel 3.18 Reaches End of Life (softpedia.com) 101

prisoninmate quotes a report from Softpedia: Linux kernel 3.18.48 LTS is here and it's the last in the series, which was marked for a January 2017 extinction since mid-April last year. According to the appended shortlog, the new patch changes a total of 50 files, with 159 insertions and 351 deletions. It brings an updated networking stack with Bluetooth, Bridge, IPv4, IPv6, CAIF, and Netfilter improvements, a couple of x86 fixes, and a bunch of updated USB, SCSI, ATA, media, GPU, ATM, HID, MTD, SPI, and networking (Ethernet and Wireless) drivers. Of course, this being the last maintenance update in the series, you are urged to move to a newer LTS branch, such as Linux kernel 4.9 or 4.4, which are far more secure and efficient than Linux 3.18 was. But Linux 3.18 appears to be used by Google and other vendors on a bunch of Android-powered devices, and even some Chromebooks use Linux kernel 3.18 on Chrome OS, so here's what the kernel developer suggests you do if you can't upgrade. "If you are _stuck_ on 3.18 (/me eyes his new phone), well, I might have a plan for you, that first involves you yelling very loudly at your hardware vendor and refusing to buy from them again unless they cut this crap out. After you properly vent to them, drop me an email and let's see what we can come up with, you aren't in this sinking ship alone, and it's obvious your vendor isn't going to help out," said Greg Kroah-Hartman in the mailing list announcement.
Advertising

Comcast Should Stop Claiming It Has 'Fastest Internet,' Ad Board Rules (arstechnica.com) 36

The advertising industry's self-regulation body said Comcast should stop saying in advertisements that it "delivers the fastest internet in America" and the "fastest in-home Wi-Fi." The evidence Comcast uses to substantiate those claims is not sufficient, ruled the National Advertising Review Board (NARB). Ars Technica reports: Verizon had challenged Comcast's advertising claims, leading to today's ruling. Comcast said today that it disagreed with the findings but will comply with the decision. Comcast used crowdsourced speed test data from Ookla to make its claim about Xfinity Internet speeds. "Ookla's data showed only that Xfinity consumers who took advantage of the free tests offered on the Speedtest.net website subscribed to tiers of service with higher download speeds than Verizon FiOS consumers who took advantage of the tests," today's NARB announcement said. The Ookla data's accuracy wasn't questioned, but it was judged to be "not a good fit for an overall claim that an ISP delivers 'America's fastest Internet.'" The ad review board said Comcast's "America's Fastest Internet" claims gave the impression that Comcast offers "overall Internet speed superiority in all tiers of service that it provides." The Comcast ads also give the impression that Comcast "delivers the fastest download and upload speeds," whereas the Ookla data showed that the top 10 percent of Verizon FiOS customers had higher upload speeds than the top 10 percent of Comcast customers.
Cellphones

Sony's Latest Smartphone Camera Sensor Can Shoot At 1,000fps (theverge.com) 86

Sony has taken the wraps off of its latest smartphone camera sensor which it says can shoot 1080p slow-motion video at 1,000 frames per second. "The new 3-layer CMOS sensor -- an industry first -- can capture slow motion video about eight times faster than its competition with minimal focal pane distortion, according to Sony," reports The Verge. From their report: The sensor can also take 19.3MP images in 1/120th of a second, which Sony says is four times faster than other chips, thanks to high-capacity DRAM, and a 4-tier construction on the circuit section used to convert analog video signals to digital signals. All of that fancy camera talk basically means this sensor blows every camera currently in a smartphone out of the water. Although the iPhone 7 and the Google Pixel can shoot 1080p slow-motion video at 120fps, they are still miles behind what Sony has reached with its latest sensor. At 1,000fps it even surpasses the Sony RX 100 V, which can only shoot at 960fps.
Social Networks

Kaspersky Lab Promises New Backup Tool To Help Unhappy Social Media Users Quit (kaspersky.com) 54

Kaspersky Lab surveyed 16,750 people and concluded that often negative experiences on social experience overpower their positive effects -- and they're doing something about it. JustAnotherOldGuy pointed us to their latest announcement. 59% have felt unhappy when they have seen friends' posts from a party they were not invited to, and 45% revealed that their friends' happy holiday pictures have had a negative influence on them. Furthermore, 37% also admitted that looking at past happy posts of their own can leave them with the feeling that their own past was better than their present life. Previous research has also demonstrated peoples' frustration with social media as 78% admitted that they have considered leaving social networks altogether. The only thing that makes people stay on social media is the fear of losing their digital memories, such as photos, and contacts with their friends.

To help people decide more freely if they want to stay in social media or leave without losing their digital memories, Kaspersky Lab is developing a new app -- FFForget will allow people to back up all of their memories from the social networks they use and keep them in a safe, encrypted memory container and will give people the freedom to leave any network whenever they want, without losing what belongs to them -- their digital lives.

The FFForget app will be released in 2017, but there's already a web page where you can sign up for early access. Kaspersky plans to monetize this by creating both a free version of the app -- limited to one social network -- and a $1.99-per-month version which automatically backs up social content from Facebook, Google, Twitter, and Instagram in real-time with a fancier interface and more powerful encryption.
Communications

IMDb Is Shutting Down Its Long-Running, Popular Message Boards After 16 Years (polygon.com) 168

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Polygon: After 16 years, IMDb's message boards and the ability to privately message other users is shutting down, with many members of the community openly mourning the loss of the section. IMDb, which stands from the Internet Movie Database, is one of the world's biggest databases for film and television. According to the company, there is information on more than 4.1 million titles and 7.7 million personalities available on the site as of January 2017. The message board, which was introduced in 2001, reportedly remains one of the most used services on the website, but despite that, the company is getting ready to shut it down, citing a desire to foster a positive environment and serve its audience the best way it can. "After in-depth discussion and examination, we have concluded that IMDb's message boards are no longer providing a positive, useful experience for the vast majority of our more than 250 million monthly users worldwide," a statement on the site reads. "The decision to retire a long-standing feature was made only after careful consideration and was based on data and traffic. Because IMDb's message boards continue to be utilized by a small but passionate community of IMDb users, we announced our decision to disable our message boards on February 3, 2017 but will leave them open for two additional weeks so that users will have ample time to archive any message board content they'd like to keep for personal use. During this two-week transition period, which concludes on February 19, 2017, IMDb message board users can exchange contact information with any other board users they would like to remain in communication with (since once we shut down the IMDb message boards, users will no longer be able to send personal messages to one another)."
Businesses

US Probes Panasonic Unit For Alleged Bribery Violations (bloomberg.com) 28

A Panasonic inflight entertainment and communications systems subsidiary is under investigation by U.S. authorities for allegedly breaking bribery and securities laws. From a report: Panasonic Avionics Corp. is being probed by the U.S. Department of Justice and Securities and Securities Exchange Commission for violating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Osaka-based company said in a statement Thursday. Panasonic said it's cooperating with the agencies, and evaluating the potential financial impact of the probe. The announcement of the probe mars an otherwise positive earnings release for Panasonic, which raised its full-year profit and revenue forecasts. The subsidiary is part of a corporate division that also makes mobile phones, projectors and surveillance cameras with a total of 33,000 employees. The segment had $6.7 billion in sales in the nine months ended Dec. 31, or 14 percent of total revenue.
EU

EU Announces Deal To End All Wireless Roaming Charges (venturebeat.com) 113

The European Union took a big step toward creating a Digital Single Market today with the announcement of a deal that would end roaming charges for mobile consumers across the continent. From a report on VentureBeat: The plan had originally been announced two years ago when the European Commission unveiled an ambitious plan to create a DSM that would unify the continent's fractured rules around digital content, ecommerce, and mobile communications. However, the plan to end roaming charges across boarders ran into stiff opposition from telecom carriers worried about profits and consumers who were concerned about limits it imposed on data usage. As a result, the proposal appeared dead at one point last year. But negotiators said today they had reached an agreement on technical issues like sharing carrier costs across networks and a gradual phase-out of caps on data usage.
IOS

The Future of iOS is 64-Bit Only -- Apple To Stop Support For 32-Bit Apps (computerworld.in) 105

Your ability to run 32-bit apps on an iOS device is coming to an end. As several other Apple news sites have reported, Apple has updated the pop-up warning in the iOS 10.3 beta to say that the 32-bit app you're running "will not work with future versions of iOS." The warning goes on to say that the "developer of this app needs to update it to improve its compatibility." From a ComputerWorld article (edited for clarity): In October 2014, Apple told developers that all new apps created after February 1, 2015 must have 64-bit support. Shortly after, Apple announced that all updates to apps must also be 64-bit compatible. Any 32-bit apps submitted to Apple after June 2015 would be rejected. Last September, Apple announced that it was going to remove apps from the App Store that did not "function as intended, don't follow current review guidelines, or are outdated." Presumably, this would include apps that did not meet the 64-bit requirement. Apple does not state which version of iOS will be 64-bit only, but since this is a major development, you can probably assume that this will happen in iOS 11. An announcement will likely be made during Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference this summer. The switch to 64-bit only support means that older iOS devices built on 32-bit architecture will not be able to upgrade to the new iOS. This includes the iPhone 5, 5c, and older, the standard version of the iPad (so not the Air or the Pro), and the first iPad mini.
GNU is Not Unix

KDE Plasma 5.9 Released (softpedia.com) 89

KDE has announced the release and general availability of the KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop environment for GNU/Linux operating systems. While it only took a few months to develop and isn't a long-term supported (LTS) version like KDE Plasma 5.8, the update does have several new features and improving Wayland support. Softpedia reports: Probably the most important one, which will make many KDE users upgrade from KDE Plasma 5.8 LTS or previous versions, is the return of Global Menus, a feature that was available in the KDE 4 series of the desktop environment. Only now, after numerous requests from users, did the KDE developers manage to implement Global Menus again in KDE Plasma 5.9. Quite a multitude of improvements have landed in the KDE Plasma 5.9 desktop environment for those who use the next-generation Wayland display server. These include the ability to take screenshots, support for using the color picker, implementation of borderless maximized windows for full-screen support, and support for dragging apps by clicking on an empty area of the user interface using the Breeze style. KDE Plasma Wayland support allows users to set color schemes for windows, which may come in handy for accessibility, implements auto-hide support for panels, and properly displays the window icon on the panel when using X11 apps. Moreover, there's now a new settings tool for configuring touchpads, which you can see in action in the second video attached below. Wayland users can also set up gestures and relative motions. KDE Plasma 5.9 also adds several cool new tools that promise to enhance your productivity. For example, you'll be able to drag a screenshot taken with the Spectacle utility from the notification pop-up straight into a web browser form, chat window, or email composer. There's also a brand-new drag and drop functionality that lets you add widgets directly to the system tray area, and it's now possible to add widgets directly from the full-screen Application Dashboard launcher. KRunner actions like "Open containing folder" and "Run in Terminal" are now displayed in the application launchers for search results powered by KRunner, of course, and there's now a new applet that lets users group multiple widgets together in a single one. You can read the announcement and download KDE Plasma 5.9 via their website.
AI

Elon Musk Thinks We Will Have To Use AI This Way To Avoid a Catastrophic Future (cnbc.com) 110

Elon Musk has long said that artificial intelligence will have to augment human abilities, rather than compete with them, in order to avoid a portentous future. He has been active in trying to find ways to evaluate and reduce potential risks posed by AI. From a report: On Monday, Musk tweeted out a set of principles for AI research and development created by a group of scientists at a recent conference for the Future of Life Institute (of which Musk is a board member). Musk said in response to a comment that ensuring AI augments human abilities is "critical to the future of humanity." Musk recently told a Twitter user that there may be an announcement "next month" regarding such as device, which Musk has called, in the past, a neural lace.
Government

FDA Confirms Toxicity of Homeopathic Baby Products; Maker Refuses To Recall (arstechnica.com) 309

Last year in November, the Federal Trade Commission issued an enforcement policy statement that requires over-the-counter (OTC) homeopathic drugs and product makers to disclose in their advertisement and labeling that there is no evidence that homeopathic products are effective. At around the same time the FTC issued the statement, the Food and Drug Administration was investigating homeopathic teething gels and tablets, which may have been improperly diluted, thus causing serious harm to infants. The FDA investigated 10 infant deaths and more than 400 reports of seizures, fever, and vomiting and confirmed Friday that belladonna, also known as deadly nightshade, was the prime suspect. When the FDA notified the products' maker, Hyland's, the company would not agree to recall the products. Ars Technica reports: Hyland's has been defensive since the FDA first opened the investigation last September. In an October press release, the company referred to agency's warnings as a source of "confusion" and assured consumers that the products are safe and effective. Still, the company discontinued distribution in the U.S. The National Center for Homeopathy, which has ties with Hyland's, slammed the FDA, calling the agency's warnings "arbitrary and capricious." In an "action alert," the organization went on to suggest that warning was prompted by "groups interested in seeing homeopathy destroyed" and led to "fear mongering" by the media. As before, the FDA is urging parents to avoid the homeopathic teething products and toss any already purchased. The FDA does not evaluate or approve the homeopathic products, which have no proven health benefit. Belladonna is an active ingredient in those products, but is supposed to be heavily diluted. Homeopaths belief that ailments and diseases can be cured by trace amounts or "memories" of toxic substances that mimic or cause similar symptoms. Homeopathy is a pseudoscience that has been squarely debunked, offering no more than a placebo effect. In its announcement Friday, the FDA said it had found inconsistent amounts of belladonna in Hyland's products. Some of the amounts were "far exceeding" what was intended.
Communications

US Intelligence Seeks a Universal Translator For Text Search In Any Language (arstechnica.com) 47

An anonymous reader quotes a report from Ars Technica: The Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Agency (IARPA), the U.S. Intelligence Community's own science and technology research arm, has announced it is seeking contenders for a program to develop what amounts to the ultimate Google Translator. IARPA's Machine Translation for English Retrieval of Information in Any Language (MATERIAL) program intends to provide researchers and analysts with a tool to search for documents in their field of concern in any of the more than 7,000 languages spoken worldwide. The specific goal, according to IARPA's announcement, is an "'English-in, English-out' information retrieval system that, given a domain-sensitive English query, will retrieve relevant data from a large multilingual repository and display the retrieved information in English as query-biased summaries." Users would be able to search vast numbers of documents with a two-part query: the first giving the "domain" of the search in terms of what sort of information they are seeking (for example, "Government," "Science," or "Health") and the second an English word or phrase describing the information sought (the examples given in the announcement were "zika virus" and "Asperger's syndrome"). The system would be used in situations like natural disasters or military interventions in remote locations where the military has little or no local language expertise. Those taking on the MATERIAL program will be given access to a limited set of machine translation and automatic speech recognition training data from multiple languages "to enable performers to learn how to quickly adapt their methods to a wide variety of materials in various genres and domains," the announcement explained. "As the program progresses, performers will apply and adapt these methods in increasingly shortened time frames to new languages... Since language-independent approaches with quick ramp up time are sought, foreign language expertise in the languages of the program is not expected." The good news for the broader linguistics and technology world is that IARPA expects the teams competing on MATERIAL to publicly publish their research. If successful, this moonshot for translation could radically change how accessible materials in many languages are to the rest of the world.

Facebook

Mark Zuckerberg Drops Lawsuits To Force Hundreds of Hawaiians To Sell Him Land (theguardian.com) 75

Last week, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg filed a lawsuit to force owners of several small parcels of land to sell to the highest bidder since these property owners are surrounded by Zuckerberg's land holdings and therefore have lawful easement to cross his private property. Ever since the story broke, Zuckerberg has faced major backlash from people all over the world, especially those living on the Hawaiian islands. On Wednesday, said he was "reconsidering" the set of lawsuits; today he announced that he will drop the lawsuits altogether. The Guardian reports: "Upon reflection, I regret that I did not take the time to fully understand the quiet title process and its history before we moved ahead," Zuckerberg wrote. "Now that I understand the issues better, it's clear we made a mistake." The process is controversial in Hawaii, where many view it as a tool of dispossession first employed by sugar barons, but later adopted by the wealthy malihini (newcomers) seeking vacation homes. Hawaii state representative Kaniela Ing, who emerged as one of the key critics of the lawsuits, said that he was "happy" and "humbled" by Zuckerberg's announcement. "It's not everyday where you face off with one of the most influential billionaires, best PR professionals and best attorneys in the world and win," he said. "It's a victory for everyone who shared the story on social media, for native Hawaiians, and for people everywhere. The parcels at stake in the Zuckerberg case were kuleana -- land granted to native Hawaiians in the 1850s after land was privatized for the first time in Hawaii -- contained within the boundaries of his 700-acre, $100m estate. Kuleana lands are especially important, law professor Kapua Sproat explained to the Guardian, because native Hawaiians view land as an "ancestor" or family member, rather than as a possession. "We understand that for native Hawaiians, kuleana are sacred and the quiet title process can be difficult," he wrote. "We want to make this right, talk with the community, and find a better approach." The CEO promised to hold discussion with "community leaders" representing native Hawaiians and environmentalists, and added that he is "looking for more ways to support the community as neighbors."
Chrome

Chrome Now Reloads Pages 28% Faster (techcrunch.com) 124

Google has announced that it has worked with Facebook and Mozilla to make page reloads in Chrome for desktop and mobile significantly faster. According to Google's data, reloading sites with the latest version of Chrome should now be about 28 percent faster. From a report: Typically, when you reload a page, the browser ends up making hundreds of network requests just to see if the images and other resources it cached the first time you went to a site are still valid. As Google engineer Takashi Toyoshima notes in today's announcement, users typically reload pages because they either look broken or because the content looks like it should have been updated (think old-school live blogs). He argues that when browser developers first added this feature, it was mostly because broken pages were common. Today, users mostly reload pages because the content of a site seems stale.
China

China Cracks Down On International VPN Usage (thestack.com) 68

An anonymous reader writes: China's government has announced a 14-month crackdown on the use of unauthorised Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), commonly used by visitors and native activists, amongst others, to communicate with the world beyond the Great Firewall of China. Sunday's announcement [Chinese] from the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology reiterated regulations first outlined in 2002, but which have since been subject to sparse, selective or lenient enforcement. The new announcement promises a 'clean up' regarding the VPN situation in China, beginning immediately and running until March of 2018.

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