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Microsoft Confirms It Is Dropping Windows 8.1 Support

SlashDot - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 23:04
snydeq (1272828) writes "Microsoft TechNet blog makes clear that Windows 8.1 will not be patched, and that users must get Windows 8.1 Update if they want security patches, InfoWorld's Woody Leonhard reports. 'In what is surely the most customer-antagonistic move of the new Windows regime, Steve Thomas at Microsoft posted a TechNet article on Saturday stating categorically that Microsoft will no longer issue security patches for Windows 8.1, starting in May,' Leonhard writes. 'Never mind that Windows 8.1 customers are still having multiple problems with errors when trying to install the Update. At this point, there are 300 posts on the Microsoft Answers forum thread 'Windows 8.1 Update 1 Failing to Install with errors 0x80070020, 80073712 and 800F081F.' The Answers forum is peppered with similar complaints and a wide range of errors, from 800F0092 to 80070003, for which there are no solutions from Microsoft. Never mind that Microsoft itself yanked Windows 8.1 Update from the corporate WSUS update server chute almost a week ago and still hasn't offered a replacement.'"

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IRS Can Now Seize Your Tax Refund To Pay a Relative's Debt

SlashDot - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 20:59
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Just in time for the April 15 IRS filing deadline comes news from the Washington Post that hundreds of thousands of taxpayers expecting refunds are instead getting letters informing them of tax debts they never knew about: often a debt incurred by their parents. The government is confiscating their checks, sometimes over debts 20—30 years old. For example, when Mary Grice was 4 (in 1960), her father died ... 'Until the kids turned 18, her mother received survivor benefits from Social Security ... Now, Social Security claims it overpaid someone in the Grice family in 1977. ... Four years after Sadie Grice died, the government is coming after her daughter. ... "It was a shock," says Grice, 58. "What incenses me is the way they went about this. They gave me no notice, they can't prove that I received any overpayment, and they use intimidation tactics, threatening to report this to the credit bureaus."' The Treasury Department has intercepted ... $75 million from debts delinquent for more than 10 years according to the department's debt management service. 'The aggressive effort to collect old debts started three years ago — the result of a single sentence tucked into the farm bill lifting the 10-year statute of limitations on old debts to Uncle Sam.'"

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Saturn May Have Given Birth To a Baby Moon

SlashDot - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 19:05
astroengine (1577233) writes "NASA's Saturn-orbiting Cassini spacecraft has imaged something peculiar on the outermost edge of the gas giant's A-ring. A bright knot, or arc, has been spotted 20 percent brighter than the surrounding ring material and astronomers are interpreting it as a gravitational disturbance caused by a tiny moon. "We have not seen anything like this before," said Carl Murray of Queen Mary University of London. 'We may be looking at the act of birth, where this object is just leaving the rings and heading off to be a moon in its own right.'"

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Mozilla Appoints Former Marketing Head Interim CEO

SlashDot - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 18:29
itwbennett (1594911) writes "Following the contentious and ultimately failed appointment of Brendan Eich as CEO last month, the Mozilla Corporation has appointed Chris Beard to the board of directors and made him interim CEO. Beard starting working as chief marketing officer for Mozilla in 2004, and oversaw the launch of its current browser, Firefox, in 2005. Beard also managed the launches of Firefox on Android and the Firefox OS for mobile phones." See the official announcement. Quoting: "We began exploring the idea of Chris joining the Board of Directors some months ago. Chris has been a Mozillian longer than most. He’s been actively involved with Mozilla since before we shipped Firefox 1.0, he’s guided and directed many of our innovative projects, and his vision and sense of Mozilla is equal to anyone’s. I have relied on his judgement and advice for nearly a decade. This is an excellent time for Chris to bring his understanding of Mozilla to the Board."

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First Phase of TrueCrypt Audit Turns Up No Backdoors

SlashDot - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 17:51
msm1267 (2804139) writes "A initial audit of the popular open source encryption software TrueCrypt turned up fewer than a dozen vulnerabilities, none of which so far point toward a backdoor surreptitiously inserted into the codebase. A report on the first phase of the audit was released today (PDF) by iSEC Partners, which was contracted by the Open Crypto Audit Project (OCAP), a grassroots effort that not only conducted a successful fundraising effort to initiate the audit, but raised important questions about the integrity of the software. The first phase of the audit focused on the TrueCrypt bootloader and Windows kernel driver; architecture and code reviews were performed, as well as penetration tests including fuzzing interfaces, said Kenneth White, senior security engineer at Social & Scientific Systems. The second phase of the audit will look at whether the various encryption cipher suites, random number generators and critical key algorithms have been implemented correctly."

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Google Buys Drone Maker Titan Aerospace

SlashDot - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 15:00
garymortimer (1882326) writes "Google has acquired drone maker Titan Aerospace. Titan is a New Mexico-based company that makes high-flying solar powered drones. There's no word on the price Google paid, but Facebook had been in talks to acquire the company earlier this year for a reported $60 million. Presumably, Google paid more than that to keep it away from Facebook. 'Google had just recently demonstrated how its Loon prototype balloons could traverse the globe in a remarkably short period of time, but the use of drones could conceivably make a network of Internet-providing automotons even better at globe-trotting, with a higher degree of control and ability to react to changing conditions. Some kind of hybrid system might also be in the pipeline that marries both technologies.'"

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Will This Flying Car Get Crowdfunded?

SlashDot - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 14:18
cartechboy (2660665) writes "We all just have too much money on our hands, and we really want a flying car, right? Well that's what Skylys thinks, as it's trying to crowdfund a flying car. According to its website, 'In detail we aim to create an urban dual-mode, hybrid flight and electric drive motorized vehicle that fits into sustainable mobility.' How much money does it need? Oh about $3,111,075. Apparently the company has run out of money and needs more to 'start construction on our two prototypes to confirm our technical specifications; pay the chaps in the legal department; industrial engineers and take up occupancy of our future offices in Silicon Valley, where our backers can of course pay us a visit.'"

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Reviving a Commodore 64 Computer Using a Raspberry Pi

SlashDot - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 13:35
concertina226 (2447056) writes "A group of Commodore fans are working on a new emulator with the ability to turn the Raspberry Pi £30 computer into a fully functioning Commodore 64 fresh from the 1980s. Scott Hutter, creator of the Commodore Pi project, together with a team of developers on Github, are seeking to build a native Commodore 64 operating system that can run on Raspberry Pi. 'The goal will be to include all of the expected emulation features such as SID sound, sprites, joystick connectivity, REU access, etc. In time, even the emulation speed could be changed, as well as additional modern graphics modes,' he writes on his website."

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Jenny McCarthy: "I Am Not Anti-Vaccine'"

SlashDot - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 07:04
Hugh Pickens DOT Com (2995471) writes "Jenny McCarthy is claiming she has been misunderstood and is not anti-vaccine. In an op-ed in the Chicago Sun-Times, McCarthy tries to ignore everything she's been saying about vaccines for years and wipe the record clean. 'People have the misconception that we want to eliminate vaccines,' McCarthy told Time magazine science editor Jeffrey Kluger in 2009. 'Please understand that we are not an anti-vaccine group. We are demanding safe vaccines. We want to reduce the schedule and reduce the toxins.' But Kluger points out that McCarthy left the last line out of that quotation: 'If you ask a parent of an autistic child if they want the measles or the autism, we will stand in line for the f--king measles.' That missing line rather changes the tone of her position considerably, writes Phil Plait and is a difficult stance to square with someone who is not anti-vaccine. As Kluger points out, her entire premise is false; since vaccines don't cause autism, no one has to make the choice between measles (and other preventable, dangerous diseases) and autism. Something else McCarthy omitted from her interview with Kluger: 'I do believe sadly it's going to take some diseases coming back to realize that we need to change and develop vaccines that are safe,' said McCarthy. 'If the vaccine companies are not listening to us, it's their f*cking fault that the diseases are coming back. They're making a product that's sh*t. If you give us a safe vaccine, we'll use it. It shouldn't be polio versus autism.' Kluger finishes with this: 'Jenny, as outbreaks of measles, mumps and whooping cough continue to appear in the U.S.—most the result of parents refusing to vaccinate their children because of the scare stories passed around by anti-vaxxers like you—it's just too late to play cute with the things you've said.' For many years McCarthy has gone on and on and on and on and on and on about vaccines and autism. 'She can claim all she wants that she's not anti-vax,' concludes Plait, 'but her own words show her to be wrong.'"

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44% of Twitter Users Have Never Tweeted

SlashDot - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 04:03
First time accepted submitter RileyWalz (3614865) writes "Twopcharts (a third party website that records and monitors activity on Twitter) is reporting that about 44 percent of all 947 million accounts on Twitter have never posted a single tweet. Of the 550 million users who have tweeted before, 43 percent posted their last tweet over a year ago. And only about 13.3 percent have tweeted in the last 30 days. This could be a sign of many users just signing up and forgetting about their account, or they just prefer reading other's posts. Twitter is not commenting on this data, saying that they do not talk about third-party information related to its service."

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First Glow-In-the-Dark Road Debuts In Netherlands

SlashDot - Mon, 04/14/2014 - 01:02
An anonymous reader writes "A 500 meter (0.3 mile) stretch of road in the Netherlands has opened without the standard crop of streetlights lining its perimeter. The streetlights are believed to be unnecessary since the road markings were painted on with a mix of photo-luminescent powder, which absorbs sunlight during the day and radiates a portion of that energy back at night. Whether the modified road paint can withstand harsh weather or even provide sufficient lighting given insufficient exposure to sunlight during the day remains to be seen. The project was orchestrated by Studio Roosegaarde, which in the future plans to implement weather-sensitive road markings that would inform drivers when outside temperatures drop or rise above certain levels."

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Seattle Bookstores Embrace Amazon.com

SlashDot - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 21:55
An anonymous reader writes "Even though many independent bookstores around the country blame their closing on competition from Amazon.com, bookstores in Seattle are booming thanks to Amazon's growth. It turns out many of the thousands of new workers at their downtown headquarters are avid readers who prefer shopping at the local stores. '"A lot of our customers work at Amazon," said Tracy Taylor, the general manager at the Elliott Bay Book Company, one of the city's largest independent booksellers. The store, about a mile from Amazon headquarters, last year earned what Ms. Taylor called the "first substantial profit" in almost 20 years, enough to even pay employee bonuses.'"

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Pluto May Have Deep Seas and Ancient Tectonic Faults

SlashDot - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 19:50
astroengine (1577233) writes "In July 2015 we get our first close look at the dwarf planet Pluto and its moon, Charon — a fact that has scientists hypothesizing more than ever about what we might see there. One of the latest ideas put forward is that perhaps the collision that likely formed Pluto and Charon heated the interior of Pluto enough to give it an internal liquid water ocean, which also gave the small world a short-lived plate tectonics system, like that of Earth."

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Russia Wants To Establish a Permanent Moon Base

SlashDot - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 17:27
An anonymous reader writes "Having established its presence in the Crimean Peninsula, Russia is now shooting for a bit loftier goal, a permanent Moon base. 'As reported by the Voice of Russia, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told the government daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta that establishing a permanent Moon base has become one of the country's top space priorities. "The moon is not an intermediate point in the [space] race, it is a separate, even a self-contained goal," Rogozin reportedly said. "It would hardly be rational to make some ten or twenty flights to the moon, and then wind it all up and fly to the Mars or some asteroids."'"

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Is Germany Raising a Generation of Illiterates?

SlashDot - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 14:00
StartsWithABang (3485481) writes "Over at Starts With A Bang, the weekly question comes in from Germany, where we're informed: 'In Germany, many teachers have adopted a new way of teaching children to write properly. The way is called "Writing by Reading" and essentially says: Write as you wish, you're not bound by any rules. Recently, this way of teaching has been heavily criticized [link in German], but not before it has been "tested" on several years of school children.' The reading wars have been going on in the US, too, but will this wind up having a negative outcome? Or, as this piece argues, is it likely to be a wash?"

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Private Keys Stolen Within Hours From Heartbleed OpenSSL Site

SlashDot - Sun, 04/13/2014 - 12:56
Billly Gates (198444) writes "It was reported when heartbleed was discovered that only passwords would be at risk and private keys were still safe. Not anymore. Cloudfare launched the heartbleed challenge on a new server with the openSSL vulnerability and offered a prize to whoever could gain the private keys. Within hours several researchers and a hacker got in and got the private signing keys. Expect many forged certificates and other login attempts to banks and other popular websites in the coming weeks unless the browser makers and CA's revoke all the old keys and certificates."

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The Case For a Safer Smartphone

SlashDot - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 22:12
itwbennett writes: "According to the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, people who text and drive increase their chances of 'safety-critical events' by a multiple of 23.2. And new research is constantly rolling out, showing the same thing: 'We can't handle the visual, manual, and cognitive commitment of using a phone while driving,' writes blogger Kevin Purdy. What's needed, Purdy suggests, isn't more laws that will go ignored, but phones that know enough to stop giving us the distractions we ask them for: 'I think the next good phone, the next phone that makes some variant of the claim that it "Fits the way you live," needs to know that we don't know what is good for us when it comes to driving. We want to be entertained and shown new things while doing the often mundane or stressful task of driving. More specifically, those phones should know when we are driving, quiet or otherwise obscure updates from most apps, and be able to offer their most basic functions without needing to turn on a screen or type a single letter.'"

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PC Gaming Alive and Dominant

SlashDot - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 19:01
An anonymous reader writes "Ars reports on a panel at PAX East which delved into the strength of the PC as a platform for games, and what its future looks like. The outlook is positive: 'Even as major computer OEMs produce numbers showing falling sales, the PC as a platform (and especially a gaming platform) actually shows strong aggregate growth.' The panelists said that while consoles get a lot of the headlines, the PC platform remains the only and/or best option for a lot of developers and gamers. They briefly addressed piracy, as well: 'Piracy, [Matt Higby] said, is an availability and distribution problem. The more games are crowdfunded and digitally delivered and the less a "store" figures into buying games, the less of a problem piracy becomes. [Chris Roberts] was quick to agree, and he noted that the shift to digital distribution also helps the developers make more money — they ostensibly don't have everyone along the way from retailers to publishers to distributors taking their cut from the sale.'"

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Ask Slashdot: Are You Apocalypse-Useful?

SlashDot - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 17:58
An anonymous reader writes: "Young people, when choosing a profession, are often told to 'do what you love.' That's why we have experts in such abstruse fields as medieval gymel. But let's talk hypotheticals: if there's a worldwide catastrophe in which civilization is interrupted, somebody specializing in gymel wouldn't provide much use to fellow survivors. In a post-apocalypse world, medical doctors would be useful, as would most scientists and engineers. The bad news for Slashdotters is that decades without computers would render computer science and related professions useless. What do you consider to be the most useful and mostly useless post-apocalypse professions? How long would it take for society to rebuild enough for your profession to be useful?"

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The Comcast/TWC Merger Is About Controlling Information

SlashDot - Sat, 04/12/2014 - 16:51
An anonymous reader sends this excerpt from The Consumerist: "Comcast and proposed merger partner Time Warner Cable claim they don't compete because their service areas don't overlap, and that a combined company would happily divest itself of a few million customers to keeps its pay-TV market share below 30%, allowing other companies that don't currently compete with Comcast to keep not competing with Comcast. This narrow, shortsighted view fails to take into account the full breadth of what's involved in this merger — broadcast TV, cable TV, network technology, in-home technology, access to the Internet, and much more. In addition to asking whether or not regulators should permit Comcast to add 10-12 million customers, there is a more important question at the core of this deal: Should Comcast be allowed to control both what content you consume and how you get to consume it?"

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