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Updated: 56 min 36 sec ago

Ashley Madison Hack Claims First Victims

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 11:27
wired_parrot writes: Toronto police are reporting that 2 unconfirmed suicides have been linked to the data breach. This follows pleas from other users of the site for the hackers to not release the data before it was exposed- an anonymous gay Reddit user from Saudi Arabia, where homosexuality is illegal, pleaded for the data to be kept private: "I am about to be killed, tortured, or exiled," he wrote. "And I did nothing." And when The Intercept published a piece condemning the puritanical glee over the data dump, one user who commented on the article said she's been "a long term member" of the site because her spouse's medical condition has affected their intimate life. Her spouse knows she's engaged with other Ashley Madison members, she says, but now fears she will likely lose friends and have to find a new job now that her association with the site is out there. Ashley Madison has now offered a $380,000 reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the hackers who leaked the data. Security researcher Troy Hunt has also posted about the kind of emails he's received from users after the data leak.

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Group Seeks Test For Geoengineering Tool To Fight Climate Change

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 10:45
An anonymous reader writes: A group of retired engineers and scientists has been meeting for several years to develop techniques to fight climate change. They've now reached the point where they want to actively test a machine that shoots water droplets into the sky in order to supplement existing clouds and increase the planet's albedo. The group is not aiming for full deployment — in fact, it's not even unanimous in support for prevailing theories in climate science. But they all agree that it's important to learn about such technologies before the situation becomes a crisis. "We need to understand whether this approach is even possible and what the risks are, in the event that we find ourselves looking for ways to extend time and mitigate warming damage." If we're eventually forced to deploy large-scale geoengineering projects to combat climate change, it's not a good idea to grab whatever technology is cheapest or most readily available without knowing how well it works. The group is aware of the ethical concerns surrounding such research, but its director notes, "The fact is humanity is already engaged in unplanned climate engineering. We're doing it through coal plant and shipping emissions every day without understanding it very well."

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Judge Rules That Inglewood, California Cannot Copyright Public Videos

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 10:05
UnknowingFool writes: Recently a judge ruled in California that the city of Inglewood cannot hold copyrights of videos of public city council meetings which they published on their YouTube account and thus cannot sue individuals for copyright infringement for using them. In several YouTube videos, Joseph Teixeira, a resident of Inglewood, California, criticized the mayor, James Butts. Under the account name Dehol Truth, Teixeira took city council meetings posted on their YouTube account and edited them to make pointed criticisms about the mayor. The city responded by registering the videos with copyrights and then suing Teixeira for copyright infringement. Many would say it was a thinly veiled attempt to silence a critic. Teixeira filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that (1) the city cannot claim copyright over public records (videos of public city council meetings) and (2) even if they could, his videos fell under Fair Use. Unsurprisingly, a judge dismissed the city's case, citing California law which bars the city from holding copyrights on most public records. (This case may not be over as Teixeira's pro bono lawyer has not filed for attorney's fees. The ruling can be found here.) What is notable is that the judge dismissed the case with prejudice, so the city cannot refile. Normally judges do not do this unless they feel that the plaintiff's case was so weak that he feels no judge should hear the case ever again. Since the judge agreed with the defendant on the first point, he would not normally need to address Teixeira's Fair Use defense, but he did anyway. Anticipating that the city may appeal his decision, judge ruled that Teixeira's videos substantially met all four factors for Fair Use: There is no evidence Teixeira used the videos for commercial gain and was transformative His work was creative by adding music and commentary to the normally boring council videos Despite the city's claim he used their "entire work", it clear that he only used portions of meetings that lasted as long as four hours editing them down to a max of 15 minutes. Teixeira did not harm the city's market for the videos because the city is barred by state law from recouping more than direct costs of duplication. Even if the city could sell the videos (which they published themselves for free on YouTube), his short videos are not a substitute.

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FBI Informant: Ray Bradbury's Sci-fi Written To Induce Communistic Mass Hysteria

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 09:16
v3rgEz writes: The FBI followed Ray Bradbury's career very closely, in part because an informant warned them that his writing was not enjoyable fantasy, but rather tantamount to psychological warfare. "The general aim of these science fiction writers is to frighten the people into a state of paralysis or psychological incompetence bordering on hysteria," the informant warned. "Which would make it very possible to conduct a Third World War in which the American people would believe could not be won since their morale had seriously been destroyed."

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Twitter Blocks API Access For Sites Monitoring Politicians' Deleted Tweets

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 08:35
An anonymous reader writes: Politwoops is/was a site that monitored the Twitter feeds of politicians and posted any tweets that those politicians later deleted. On May 15, Twitter suspended API access for the U.S. version of Politwoops, and now they've blocked access to the versions of Politwoops running in 30 other countries. Twitter has also blocked access for similar site Diplotwoops, which focused on deleted tweets from diplomats and embassies. Twitter said, "'Imagine how nerve-racking – terrifying, even – tweeting would be if it was immutable and irrevocable? No one user is more deserving of that ability than another. Indeed, deleting a tweet is an expression of the user's voice." Arjan El Fassed, director of the Open State Foundation, which developed Politwoops, disagrees: "What politicians say in public should be available to anyone. This is not about typos but it is a unique insight on how messages from elected politicians can change without notice."

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MIT's New File System Won't Lose Data During Crashes

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 07:54
jan_jes sends news that MIT researchers will soon present a file system they say is mathematically guaranteed not to lose data during a crash. While building it, they wrote and rewrote the file system over and over, finding that the majority of their development time was spent defining the system components and the relationships between them. "With all these logics and proofs, there are so many ways to write them down, and each one of them has subtle implications down the line that we didn’t really understand." The file system is slow compared to other modern examples, but the researchers say their formal verification can also work with faster designs. Associate professor Nickolai Zeldovich said, "Making sure that the file system can recover from a crash at any point is tricky because there are so many different places that you could crash. You literally have to consider every instruction or every disk operation and think, ‘Well, what if I crash now? What now? What now?’ And so empirically, people have found lots of bugs in file systems that have to do with crash recovery, and they keep finding them, even in very well tested file systems, because it’s just so hard to do.”

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Mostly Theater? Taking Aim At White House 'We the People' Petitions

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 07:08
theodp writes: "Since we launched We the People in 2011," wrote the White House last month, "millions of Americans have engaged with their government on the issues that matter to them. This groundbreaking online platform has made petitioning the government, a First Amendment right, more accessible than ever. Over the past few years, the Obama administration has taken a stance on a number of causes that citizens really care about and used the We the People petition platform to voice their concerns." Sounds good, but even if the White House is listening to We the People petitions, as it assured skeptics, one wonders what — and who — exactly they are listening to. Petitions suffer from being aye-only, lack identity and location verification, and appear to have other data quality issues. One attempting to explore the petition data for the 67,022-and-counting signers of a new petition urging a quick response to a court decision that could cut the time international STEM students can work in the U.S. on student visas after graduation, for example, would be stymied by thousands of missing and non-U.S. postal codes. Plotting what location info is available does show that the petitioners are clustered around tech and university hubs, hardly a surprise, but it sheds no context on whether these represent corporate, university, and/or international student interests.

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Judge Orders State Dept, FBI To Expand Clinton Email Server Probe

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 06:26
An anonymous reader writes: In a hearing over Freedom of Information Act requests to the State Department, U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan said that former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn't comply with government policies. He ordered the State Department to reach out to the FBI to see if any relevant emails exist on Hillary Clinton's email server. Judge Sullivan was surprised that the State Department and FBI were not already communicating on the issue following the FBI's seizure of Clinton's email server and three thumb drives of emails. More than 300 emails are being examined for containing classified information, and dozens of the emails were "born classified" based on content. Some of those emails were forwarded outside the government. There are also clues emerging about how some of the classified information made its way onto Clinton's server. The email controversy is beginning to show up on the campaign trail, an unwelcome development for Secretary Clinton. Reporter Bob Woodward, who helped bring down President Nixon, said the scandal reminds him of the Nixon tapes. It is interesting to note that the post-Watergate reforms have helped move the investigation forward.

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Proposed Rules Would Require Gov't Registration For Malaysian Press Sites

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 03:13
Malaysia's Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Dr Salleh Said Keruak has proposed mandatory government registration for web sites operating within Malaysia. This comes after the Malaysian government blocked the online Sarawak Report, and suspended a newspaper called the The Edge "for allegedly posting unverified information." Officials accused these news outlets of publishing inaccurate documents about a corruption scandal that linked the Prime Minister to 1MDB, a state-managed investment firm that reportedly lost billions of taxpayers’ money. ... The proposal to require news websites to register is seen by some as part of the government’s response to the rising outrage over the corruption issue.

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Chinese Scientists Discover Structural Basis of Pre-mRNA Splicing

Mon, 08/24/2015 - 00:09
hackingbear writes: On August 21st, the research team led by Prof. Yigong Shi from School of Life Sciences, Tsinghua University in China published two side-by-side research articles in Science, reporting the long-sought-after structure of a yeast spliceosome at 3.6 angstrom resolution determined by single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM), and the molecular mechanism of pre-messenger RNA splicing. Until now, decades of genetic and biochemical experiments have identified almost all proteins in spliceosome and uncovered some functions. Yet, the structure remained a mystery for a long time. The works, primarily performed by Dr. Chuangye Yan, and Ph.D students Jing Hang and Ruixue Wan under Prof. Yigong Shi's supervision, settled this Holy Grail question and established the structural basis for the related area. This work was supported by funds from the Ministry of Science and Technology and the National Natural Science Foundation of China.

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In Baltimore and Elsewhere, Police Use Stingrays For Petty Crimes

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 21:00
USA Today reports on the widespread use of stingray technology by police to track down even petty criminals and witnesses, as well as their equally widespread reluctance to disclose that use. The article focuses mostly on the city of Baltimore; by cross-checking court records against a surveillance log from the city’s Advanced Technical Team, the USA Today reporters were able to determine at least several hundred cases in which phony ("simulated") cell phone towers were used to snoop traffic. In court, though, and even in the information that the police department provides to the city's prosecutors, the use of these devices is rarely disclosed, thanks to a non-disclosure agreement with the FBI and probably a general reluctance to make public how much the department is using them, especially without bothering to obtain search warrants. From the article: In at least one case, police and prosecutors appear to have gone further to hide the use of a stingray. After Kerron Andrews was charged with attempted murder last year, Baltimore's State's Attorney's Office said it had no information about whether a phone tracker had been used in the case, according to court filings. In May, prosecutors reversed course and said the police had used one to locate him. "It seems clear that misrepresentations and omissions pertaining to the government's use of stingrays are intentional," Andrews' attorney, Assistant Public Defender Deborah Levi, charged in a court filing. Judge Kendra Ausby ruled last week that the police should not have used a stingray to track Andrews without a search warrant, and she said prosecutors could not use any of the evidence found at the time of his arrest.

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Why Car Info Tech Is So Thoroughly At Risk

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 18:48
Cory Doctorow reflects in a post at Boing Boing on the many ways in which modern cars' security infrastructure is a white-hot mess. And as to the reasons why, this seems to be the heart of the matter, and it applies to much more than cars: [M]anufacturers often view bugs that aren't publicly understood as unimportant, because it costs something to patch those bugs, and nothing to ignore them, even if those bugs are exploited by bad guys, because the bad guys are going to do everything they can to keep the exploit secret so they can milk it for as long as possible, meaning that even if your car is crashed (or bank account is drained) by someone exploiting a bug that the manufacturer has been informed about, you may never know about it. There is a sociopathic economic rationality to silencing researchers who come forward with bugs.

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Samsung May Release an 18" Tablet

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 17:27
A report at PC Magazine says that Samsung may soon field a tablet to satisfy people not content with the 7", 9", 12", or even slightly larger tablets that are today's normal stock in trade. Instead, the company is reported to be working on an 18.4" tablet aimed at "living rooms, offices, and schools." There's a lot of couching going on, but it sounds like an interesting idea: It's said to run Android 5.1 Lollipop and be powered by an octa-core 64-bit 1.6GHz Exynos 7580 processor. Other rumored specs include 2GB of RAM, 32GB of internal storage, a microSD card slot with support for cards up to 128GB, and a large 5,700 mAh battery. The device also has an 8-megapixel main camera (and you thought people looked silly taking photos with their iPads) and 2.1-megapixel "secondary camera."

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Tesla Partners With Airbnb, Subsidizes Chargers

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 16:02
Fortune reports that Tesla and Airbnb have teamed up; certain Airbnb properties will get Tesla chargers as a perk. There are 12 locations already equippped with chargers, but expect to see more soon, because Tesla is willing to pay for some of them, at least in California. To get on the list from which Tesla is drawing takes more than an air mattress in a spare room: An existing Airbnb host who lists an entire home, has had more than more than five bookings, and has an average overall star rating of 4+ is eligible to receive a free Tesla charger, which cost $750. The host must pay for the installation, which costs between $200 and $900 depending on the layout of the home.

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In Germany, a Message-in-a-Bottle Found 108 Years After Its Release

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 14:34
schwit1 writes with a report that an early 20th century experiment has generated a belated data point. One of many floating bottles released 108 years ago to study currents was recently found by a German couple; it washed up on a beach in Amrum, Germany. From The Independent: When the couple unfurled the note inside, they found a message in English, German and Dutch. It asked the finder to fill in some information on where and when they had found the bottle, before returning it to the Marine Biological Association in Plymouth. It said whoever did so would be rewarded with one shilling. Communications director of the Marine Biological Association, Guy Baker, told The Daily Telegraph: "It was quite a stir when we opened that envelope, as you can imagine." Once at the association, staff recognised the bottle was one of 1,020 released into the North Sea between 1904 and 1906 as part of a project to test the strength of currents. Mr Baker told the paper: "It was a time when they were inventing ways to investigate what currents and fish did. Many of the bottles were found by fishermen trawling with deep sea nets. Others washed up on the shore, and some were never recovered. Most of the bottles were found within a relatively short time. We're talking months rather than decades."

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Hugos Refuse To Award Anyone Rather Than Submit To Fans' Votes

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 13:12
An anonymous reader writes: You may remember way back in April there was a bit of a kerfuffle over the nominees for the Hugo Awards being "too conservative" based on a voting campaign organized by a group of science fiction fans who wanted to promote hard science fiction over more recent nominees. This was spun as conservatives "ruining" a "progressive" award. The question was left: would the final voters of the Hugo awards accept these nominees, or just take their ball home and refuse to give out anyway awards at all? The votes are in and we know the answer now: they'd rather just not give out any awards. (Wired has a slightly different slant on the process as well as the outcome of this year's awards.)

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Not All Uber Drivers Like Surge Pricing, Either

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 12:05
CNET reports that Uber's practice of surge pricing, which sometimes raises the ire of passengers, isn't universally acclaimed by the company's drivers, either. "[M]ost Uber riders," according the the linked article, "despise surge pricing," though it's not clear quite how that "most" is arrived at. From the piece: They've complained about running up bills totaling hundreds of dollars, and have criticized the company for using surge pricing during emergencies, like Hurricane Sandy and the Sydney hostage crisis. The San Francisco Better Business Bureau gave Uber the grade of an F because of complaints related to surge pricing. And New York lawmakers have even proposed legislation to put limits on how high fares can go. Now some drivers, like [San Francisco Uber driver Peter] Ashlock, are also having second thoughts on surge pricing." On the other hand, what system would you propose to better reward drivers for working at high-demand times?

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Ask Slashdot: Tips For Getting Into Model Railroading?

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 11:02
An anonymous reader writes: A relative of mine has been hinting that he'd like me to take over his model railroad collection in the event of his death (or even before that, to make this a bit less morbid-sounding). I'm intrigued by the idea, because I've been interested in model railroads for years, but too commitment shy and too transient to actually start a collection. That's changed enough that I'd like to start planning a train system, and am looking for advice from people who have been at it for a while. A couple of parameters: 1) I'm only interested for now in HO-scale stuff, so I am not all that interested in the relative merits of the other kinds, cool as they might be. 2) Related, I am somewhat less interested in the rolling stock than I am in the construction and control of the track and surrounding landscape. Interested in learning from experienced model railroad enthusiasts what lessons you've learned over the years that would be useful for a newbie, especially if you've made some cool automation for your system, or have built extensive support structures. This includes negative lessons, too, if you've overloaded circuits or floorboards. I'd *like* to integrate some interesting sensors and control systems, and I see some interesting open source software for this. So: What advice would you give to a late-start railroader? For reference: this set-up may end up living in an unfinished suburban basement.

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Google Relaxes Handset Makers' Requirements for "Must-Include" Android Apps

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 09:41
According to The Verge, anyone who buys a new Android phone may benefit from an interesting change in their phone's default apps: namely, fewer pieces of included bloatware. However, the affected apps might not be the ones that a user concerned with bloatware might care most about (like carrier-specific apps), but are rather some of the standard Google-provided ones (Google+, Google Play Games, Google Play Books and Google Newsstand). These apps will still be available at the Google Play Store, just not required for a handset maker to get Google's blessing. (Also at ZDNet.)

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Windows 95 Turns 20

Sun, 08/23/2015 - 08:27
Etherwalk writes: Windows 95 turns 20 tomorrow, August 24, 2015. Users looking to upgrade from Windows 3.1 should be warned that some reviewers on the Amazon purchase page have been receiving 3.5" high-density floppy disk versions instead of a modern 150 kbps CD-ROM disk. Do you remember first seeing or installing Windows 95? Do you have any systems still running it?

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