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Tor Browser Security Under Scrutiny

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 15:20
msm1267 writes: The keepers of Tor commissioned a study testing the defenses and viability of their Firefox-based browser as a privacy tool. The results (PDF) were a bit eye-opening since the report's recommendations don't favor Firefox as a baseline for Tor, rather Google Chrome. But Tor's handlers concede that budget constraints and Chrome's limitations on proxy support make a switch or a fork impossible.

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Linus Torvalds: 'I Still Want the Desktop'

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 14:37
darthcamaro writes: Linux has clawed its way into lots of places these days. But at the LinuxCon conference in Chicago today Linus Torvalds was asked where Linux should go next. Torvalds didn't hesitate with his reply. "I still want the desktop," Torvalds said, as the audience erupted into boisterous applause. Torvalds doesn't see the desktop as being a kernel problem at this point, either, but rather one about infrastructure. While not ready to declare a "Year of the Linux Desktop" he still expects that to happen — one day.

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Researchers Find Security Flaws In Backscatter X-ray Scanners

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 13:55
An anonymous reader writes: Researchers from UC San Diego, University of Michigan, and Johns Hopkins say they've found security vulnerabilities in full-body backscatter X-ray machines deployed to U.S. airports between 2009 and 2013. In lab tests, the researchers were able to conceal firearms and plastic explosive simulants from the Rapiscan Secure 1000 scanner, plus modify the scanner software so it presents an "all-clear" image to the operator even when contraband was detected. "Frankly, we were shocked by what we found," said lead researcher J. Alex Halderman. "A clever attacker can smuggle contraband past the machines using surprisingly low-tech techniques."

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Helsinki Aims To Obviate Private Cars

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 13:08
New submitter NBSCALIDBA writes: Eeva Haaramo reports on Helsinki's ambitious plan to transform city transportation. From on-demand buses to city bikes to Kutsuplus mini-transport vans, the Finnish capital is trying to change the whole concept of getting around in a city. "Under the plan, all these services will be accessed through a single online platform. People will be able to buy their transport in service packages that work like mobile phone tariffs: either as a complete monthly deal or pay as you go options based on individual usage. Any number of companies can use the platform to offer transport packages, and if users find their travel needs change, they'll be able to switch packages or moved to a rival with a better deal."

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How To Read a Microbiome Study Like a Scientist.

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 12:26
bmahersciwriter (2955569) writes Scientific reports have increasingly linked the bacteria in your gut to health and maladies, often making wild-sounding claims. Did you hear about the mice who were given fecal transplants from skinny humans and totally got skinny! Well, some of the more gut-busting results might not be as solid as they seem. Epidemiologist Bill Hanage offers five critical questions to ask when confronted by the latest microbiome research.

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Google Receives Takedown Request Every 8 Milliseconds

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:43
Via TorrentFreak comes news that Google is now being asked to remove one million links per day (or an average of one takedown notice every 8ms). In 2008, they received one takedown request approximately every six days. From the article: The massive surge in removal requests is not without controversy. It’s been reported that some notices reference pages that contain no copyrighted material, due to mistakes or abuse, but are deleted nonetheless. Google has a pretty good track record of catching these errors, but since manual review of all links is unachievable, some URLs are removed in error. ... The issue has also piqued the interest of U.S. lawmakers. Earlier this year the House Judiciary Subcommittee had a hearing on the DMCA takedown issue, and both copyright holders, Internet service providers, and other parties are examining what they can do to optimize the process. In the meantime, the number of removal requests is expected to rise and rise, with 10 million links per week being the next milestone.

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World's First 3D Printed Estate Coming To New York

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 11:05
New submitter Randy-tanner (3791853) writes A well known New York architect & contractor has begun construction on what is possibly the largest 3D printing related project ever undertaken. He is 3D printing an entire estate, which includes an in-ground swimming pool, a pool house, and a huge 2400 square foot home. The project is expected to take two years to complete, and if all goes as planned the printer will automatically insert rebar into the concrete.

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Qt Upgrades From LGPLv2.1 to LGPLv3

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 10:29
Digia has announced that existing Qt modules will now be covered under the LGPLv3 in addition to the LGPLv2.1, GPLv3, and the enterprise (proprietary) license. New modules will be dropping LGPLv2.1 and GPLv3+ and be released under the LGPLv3 and GPLv2+ instead. This should be a good move: new Qt modules will be Apache license compatible, LGPLv3 code can trivially be converted to GPLv3, and Digia is even releasing a few modules it intended to make proprietary as Free Software. The KDE Free Qt Foundation is on board. The move was made because of device vendors exploiting a loophole in the GPLv2/LGPLv2.1 that denied users the right to modify Qt or write their own applications. Digia has some self-interest as well, since those vendors were exploiting the tivoization loophole to avoid buying enterprise licenses. From the announcement: We also consider locked-down consumer devices using the LGPL’ed version of Qt to be harmful for the Qt ecosystem. ... Because of this, we are now adding LGPL v3 as a licensing option to Qt 5.4 in addition to LGPL v2.1. All modules that are part of Qt 5.3 are currently released under LGPL v2.1, GPL v3 and the commercial license. Starting with Qt 5.4, they will be released under LGPL v2.1, LGPL v3 and the commercial license. ... In Qt 5.4, the new Qt WebEngine module will be released under LGPL v3 in the open source version and under a LGPLv2.1/commercial combination for Qt Enterprise customers. ... Adding LGPLv3 will also allow us to release a few other add-ons that Digia before intended to make available solely under the enterprise license. ... The first module, called Qt Canvas3D, will give us full WebGL support inside Qt Quick. ... The second module is a lightweight WebView module ... There is a final add-on that will get released under LGPL v3. This module will give native look and feel to the Qt Quick Controls on Android. This module can’t be released under LGPL v2.1, as it has to use code that is licensed under Apache 2.0, a license that is incompatible with LGPL v2.1, but compatible with LGPL v3.

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51% of Computer Users Share Passwords

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 09:50
An anonymous reader writes Consumers are inadvertently leaving back doors open to attackers as they share login details and sign up for automatic log on to mobile apps and services, according to new research by Intercede. While 52% of respondents stated that security was a top priority when choosing a mobile device, 51% are putting their personal data at risk by sharing usernames and passwords with friends, family and colleagues. The research revealed that consumers are not only sharing passwords but also potentially putting their personal and sensitive information at risk by leaving themselves logged in to applications on their mobile devices, with over half of those using social media applications and email admitting that they leave themselves logged in on their mobile device.

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Interviews: Bjarne Stroustrup Answers Your Questions

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 09:08
Last week you had a chance to ask Bjarne Stroustrup about programming and C++. Below you'll find his answers to those questions. If you didn't get a chance to ask him a question, or want to clarify something he said, don't forget he's doing a live Google + Q & A today at 12:30pm Eastern.

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Your Phone Can Be Snooped On Using Its Gyroscope

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 07:51
stephendavion (2872091) writes Researchers will demonstrate the process used to spy on smartphones using gyroscopes at Usenix Security event on August 22, 2014. Researchers from Stanford and a defense research group at Rafael will demonstrate a way to spy on smartphones using gyroscopes at Usenix Security event on August 22, 2014. According to the "Gyrophone: Recognizing Speech From Gyroscope Signals" study, the gyroscopes integrated into smartphones were sensitive enough to enable some sound waves to be picked up, transforming them into crude microphones.

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Heartbleed To Blame For Community Health Systems Breach

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 07:12
An anonymous reader writes: The Heartbleed vulnerability is the cause of the data breach at Community Health Systems, which resulted in 4.5 million records (containing patient data) being compromised. According to a blog post from TrustedSec, the attackers targeted a vulnerable Juniper router and obtained credentials, which allowed them access to the network's VPN.

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How Patent Trolls Destroy Innovation

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 04:16
walterbyrd sends this story from Vox: Everyone agrees that there's been an explosion of patent litigation in recent years, and that lawsuits from non-practicing entities (NPEs) — known to critics as patent trolls — are a major factor. But there's a big debate about whether trolls are creating a drag on innovation — and if so, how big the problem is. A new study (PDF) by researchers at Harvard and the University of Texas provides some insight on this question. Drawing from data on litigation, R&D spending, and patent citations, the researchers find that firms that are forced to pay NPEs (either because they lost a lawsuit or settled out of court) dramatically reduce R&D spending: losing firms spent $211 million less on R&D, on average, than firms that won a lawsuit against a troll. "After losing to NPEs, firms significantly reduce R&D spending — both projects inside the firm and acquiring innovative R&D outside the firm," the authors write. "Our evidence suggests that it really is the NPE litigation event that causes this decrease in innovation."

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Wheel Damage Adding Up Quickly For Mars Rover Curiosity

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 02:35
An anonymous reader writes: The folks in charge of the Mars rover Curiosity have been trying to solve an increasingly urgent problem: what to do about unexpected wheel damage. The team knew from the start that wear and tear on the wheels would slowly accumulate, but they've been surprised at how quickly the wheels have degraded over the past year. Emily Lakdawalla at the Planetary Society blog has posted a detailed report on the team's conclusions as to what's causing the damage and how they can mitigate it going forward. Quoting: "The tears result from fatigue. You know how if you bend a metal paper clip back and forth repeatedly, it eventually snaps? Well, when the wheels are driving over a very hard rock surface — one with no sand — the thin skin of the wheels repeatedly bends. The wheels were designed to bend quite a lot, and return to their original shape. But the repeated bending and straightening is fatiguing the skin, causing it to fracture in a brittle way. The bending doesn't happen (or doesn't happen as much) if the ground gives way under the rover's weight, as it does if it's got the slightest coating of sand on top of rock. It only happens when the ground is utterly impervious to the rover's weight — hard bedrock. The stresses from metal fatigue are highest near the tips of the chevron features, and indeed a lot of tears seem to initiate close to the chevron features."

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Solar Plant Sets Birds On Fire As They Fly Overhead

SlashDot - Wed, 08/20/2014 - 01:10
Elledan writes: Federal investigators in California have requested that BrightSource — owner of thermal solar plants — halt the construction of more (and bigger) plants until their impact on wildlife has been further investigated. "Unlike many other solar plants, the Ivanpah plant does not generate energy using photovoltaic solar panels. Instead, it has more than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door. Together, they cover 1,416 hectares. Each mirror collects and reflects solar rays, focusing and concentrating solar energy from their entire surfaces upward onto three boiler towers, each looming up to 40 stories high. The solar energy heats the water inside the towers to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes." The concentrated solar energy chars and incinerates the feathers of passing birds. BrightSource estimates about a thousand bird die this way every year, but an environmental group claims the real number is much higher.

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Operating Systems Still Matter In a Containerized World

SlashDot - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 23:10
New submitter Jason Baker writes: With the rise of Docker containers as an alternative for deploying complex server-based applications, one might wonder, does the operating system even matter anymore? Certainly the question gets asked periodically. Gordon Haff makes the argument on Opensource.com that the operating system is still very much alive and kicking, and that a hardened, tuned, reliable operating system is just as important to the success of applications as it was in the pre-container data center.

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Fifth Edition Dungeons and Dragons Player's Handbook Released

SlashDot - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 22:05
New submitter GammaKitsune writes: "The Player's Handbook for the fifth edition of Dungeons and Dragons, formerly known as "D&D Next," released today to major bookstores and online retailers across the U.S. The Player's Handbook, which contains core rules for gameplay and character creation, is one of thee core rulebooks that developer Wizards of the Coast plans to release in 2014. The Monster Manual is scheduled to release in late September, and the Dungeon Master's Guide will release in mid November. Also out today is the first of two adventure modules in which players team up to battle against the dragon goddess Tiamat. Fifth edition has a lot to prove following the highly-controversial fourth edition, the rise of competing roleplaying game Pathfinder, and two years of public playtesting. Initial reviews posted on Amazon appear overwhelmingly positive at the time of writing, but more skeptical gamers may wish to take a look at the free "Basic Rules" posted on the official D&D website. The basic rules contain all the bare essentials needed to create a character or run your own adventure, and will serve both as a free introduction for new players and as a holdover for long time players until the remaining two rulebooks are released.

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Comcast Training Materials Leaked

SlashDot - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 21:05
WheezyJoe writes: The Verge reports on leaked training manuals from Comcast, which show how selling services is a required part of the job, even for employees doing tech support. The so-called "4S training material" explicitly states that 20 percent of a call center employee's rating for a given call is dependent on effectively selling the customer new Comcast services. "There are pages of materials on 'probing' customers to ferret out upsell opportunities, as well as on batting aside customer objections to being told they need to buy something. 'We can certainly look at other options, but you would lose which you mentioned was important to you,' the guide suggests clumsily saying to an angry customer who doesn't want to buy any more Comcast services." Images of the leaked documents are available on the Verge, making for fun reading.

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Netflix CEO On Net Neutrality: Large ISPs Are the Problem

SlashDot - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 19:21
KindMind writes: At Wired, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings has posted his take on net neutrality. He lays the problem at the feet of the large ISPs. Hastings says, "Consider this: A single fiber-optic strand the diameter of a human hair can carry 101.7 terabits of data per second, enough to support nearly every Netflix subscriber watching content in HD at the same time. And while technology has improved and capacity has increased, costs have continued to decline. A few more shelves of equipment might be needed in the buildings that house interconnection points, but broadband itself is as limitless as its uses. We'll never realize broadband's potential if large ISPs erect a pay-to-play system that charges both the sender and receiver for the same content. ... It's worth noting that Netflix connects directly with hundreds of ISPs globally, and 99 percent of those agreements don't involve access fees. It is only a handful of the largest U.S. ISPs, which control the majority of consumer connections, demanding this toll. Why would more profitable, larger companies charge for connections and capacity that smaller companies provide for free? Because they can."

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If Fusion Is the Answer, We Need To Do It Quickly

SlashDot - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 17:58
Lasrick writes: Yale's Jason Parisi makes a compelling case for fusion power, and explains why fusion is cleaner, safer, and doesn't provide opportunities for nuclear smuggling and proliferation. The only downside will be the transition period, when there are both fission and fusion plants available and the small amount of "booster" elements (tritium and deuterium) found in fusion power could provide would-be proliferators what they need to boost the yield of fission bombs: "The period during which both fission and fusion plants coexist could be dangerous, however. Just a few grams of deuterium and tritium are needed to increase the yield of a fission bomb, in a process known as 'boosting.'" Details about current research into fusion power and an exploration of relative costs make fusion power seem like the answer to a civilization trying to get away from fossil fuels.

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