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Updated: 4 hours 23 min ago

Moxie Marlinspike: GPG Has Run Its Course

Wed, 02/25/2015 - 2:16am
An anonymous reader writes: Security researcher Moxie Marlinspike has an interesting post about the state of GPG-encrypted communications. After using GPG for much of its lifetime, he says he now dreads getting a GPG-encrypted email in his inbox. "Instead of developing opinionated software with a simple interface, GPG was written to be as powerful and flexible as possible. It's up to the user whether the underlying cipher is SERPENT or IDEA or TwoFish. The GnuPG man page is over sixteen thousand words long; for comparison, the novel Fahrenheit 451 is only 40k words. Worse, it turns out that nobody else found all this stuff to be fascinating. Even though GPG has been around for almost 20 years, there are only ~50,000 keys in the "strong set," and less than 4 million keys have ever been published to the SKS keyserver pool ever. By today's standards, that's a shockingly small user base for a month of activity, much less 20 years." Marlinspike concludes, "I think of GPG as a glorious experiment that has run its course. ... GPG isn't the thing that's going to take us to ubiquitous end to end encryption, and if it were, it'd be kind of a shame to finally get there with 1990's cryptography."

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What Happens When Betelgeuse Explodes?

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 11:10pm
StartsWithABang writes: One of the great, catastrophic truths of the Universe is that everything has an expiration date. And this includes every single point of light in the entire sky. The most massive stars will die in a spectacular supernova explosion when their final stage of core fuel runs out. At only an estimated 600 light years distant, Betelgeuse is one (along with Antares) of the closest red supergiants to us, and it's estimated to have only perhaps 100,000 years until it reaches the end of its life. Here's the story on what we can expect to see (and feel) on Earth when Betelgeuse explodes.

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Pebble Time Smartwatch Receives Overwhelming Support On Kickstarter

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 9:08pm
DJAdapt writes: Pebble Time, the successor to the Pebble & Pebble Steel smartwatches, has gone up on crowdfunding site Kickstarter, hitting its $500,000 goal in 17 minutes and hitting the $2M mark in less than an hour. The new wearable is touting a color e-paper display and microphone for responding to notifications. It also has features Pebble users are already familiar with, such as seven days of battery life, water resistance, and an extensive library of watch faces and apps. Will any of you be jumping on this? Holding out for the Apple Watch? Waiting for wearables to get more capable?

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FBI Offers $3 Million Reward For Russian Hacker

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 7:14pm
mpicpp sends word that the FBI and the U.S. State Department have announced the largest-ever reward for a computer hacking case. They're offering up to $3 million for information leading to the arrest of Evgeniy Bogachev, a 31-year-old Russian national. Bogachev is the alleged administrator of the GameOver Zeus botnet, estimated to have affected over a million computers, causing roughly $100 million in damages. "Bogachev has been charged by federal authorities in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, with conspiracy, computer hacking, wire fraud, bank fraud and money laundering... He also faces federal bank fraud conspiracy charges in Omaha, Nebraska related to his alleged involvement in an earlier variant of Zeus malware known as 'Jabber Zeus.'"

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Giant Asian Gerbils May Have Caused the Black Death

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 5:12pm
Dave Knott writes: Rats, long believed to be the scourge that brought the Black Death to 14th-century Europe, may not be the disease-bearing scoundrels we thought they were. Scientists have shifted blame for the medieval pandemic responsible for millions of deaths to a new furry menace: giant gerbils from Asia. University of Oslo researchers, working with Swiss government scientists, say a "pulse" of bubonic plague strains arrived sporadically from Asia. They posit the Yersinia pestis bacterium was likely carried over the Silk Road via fleas on the giant gerbils during intermittent warm spells. The fleas could have then transmitted the disease to humans. The Black Death is believed to have killed up to 200 million people in Europe. Though very rare today, cases of the plague still arise in Africa, Asia, the Americas and parts of the former Soviet Union, with the World Health Organization reporting 783 cases worldwide in 2013, including 126 deaths.

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AMD Unveils Carrizo APU With Excavator Core Architecture

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 4:30pm
MojoKid writes: AMD just unveiled new details about their upcoming Carrizo APU architecture. The company is claiming the processor, which is still built on Global Foundries' 28nm 28SHP node like its predecessor, will nonetheless deliver big advances in both performance and efficiency. When it was first announced, AMD detailed support for next generation Radeon Graphics (DX12, Mantle, and Dual Graphics support), H.265 decoding, full HSA 1.0 support, and ARM Trustzone compatibility. But perhaps one of the biggest advantages of Carrizo is the fact that the APU and Southbridge are now incorporated into the same die; not just two separates dies built into and MCM package. This not only improves performance, but also allows the Southbridge to take advantage of the 28SHP process rather than older, more power-hungry 45nm or 65nm process nodes. In addition, the Excavator cores used in Carrizo have switched from a High Performance Library (HPL) to a High Density Library (HDL) design. This allows for a reduction in the die area taken up by the processing cores (23 percent, according to AMD). This allows Carrizo to pack in 29 percent more transistors (3.1 billion versus 2.3 billion in Kaveri) in a die size that is only marginally larger (250mm2 for Carrizo versus 245mm2 for Kaveri). When all is said and done, AMD is claiming a 5 percent IPC boost for Carrizo and a 40 percent overall reduction in power usage.

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The Case Against E-readers -- Why Digital Natives Prefer Reading On Paper

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 3:47pm
HughPickens.com writes: Michael Rosenwald writes in the WaPo that textbook makers, bookstore owners and college student surveys all say millennials still strongly prefer reading on paper for pleasure and learning. This bias surprises reading experts, given the same group's proclivity to consume most other content digitally. "These are people who aren't supposed to remember what it's like to even smell books," says Naomi S. Baron. "It's quite astounding." Earlier this month, Baron published Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World, a book that examines university students' preferences for print and explains the science of why dead-tree versions are often superior to digital (PDF). Her conclusion: readers tend to skim on screens, distraction is inevitable and comprehension suffers. Researchers say readers remember the location of information simply by page and text layout — that, say, the key piece of dialogue was on that page early in the book with that one long paragraph and a smudge on the corner. Researchers think this plays a key role in comprehension — something that is more difficult on screens, primarily because the time we devote to reading online is usually spent scanning and skimming, with few places (or little time) for mental markers. Another significant problem, especially for college students, is distraction. The lives of millennials are increasingly lived on screens. In her surveys, Baron was surprised by the results to the question of whether students were more likely to multitask in hard copy (1 percent) vs. reading on-screen (90 percent). "When a digital device has an Internet connection, it's hard to resist the temptation to jump ship."

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Firefox 36 Arrives With Full HTTP/2 Support, New Design For Android Tablets

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 3:05pm
An anonymous reader writes: Mozilla today launched Firefox 36 for Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. Additions to the browser include some security improvements, better HTML 5 support, and a new tablet user interface on Android. The biggest news for the browser is undoubtedly HTTP/2 support, the roadmap for which Mozilla outlined just last week. Mozilla plans to keep various draft levels of HTTP/2, already in Firefox, for a few versions. These will be removed "sometime in the near future." The full changelog is here.

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FedEx Won't Ship DIY Gunsmithing Machine

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 2:23pm
An anonymous reader writes Last fall, Defense Distributed — the company created by Cody Wilson of 3D-printed gun fame — announced a DIY gunsmithing machine called the Ghost Gunner. Now, FedEx is refusing to ship the device, saying there are laws or regulations that would prohibit them from shipment. A FedEx spokesperson said, "This device is capable of manufacturing firearms, and potentially by private individuals. We are uncertain at this time whether this device is a regulated commodity by local, state or federal governments. As such, to ensure we comply with the applicable law and regulations, FedEx declined to ship this device until we know more about how it will be regulated." Wilson argues, "They’re acting like this is legal when in fact it’s the expression of a political preference. The artifact that they’re shipping is a CNC mill. There’s nothing about it that is specifically related to firearms except the hocus pocus of the marketing."

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Obama Vetoes Keystone XL Pipeline Bill

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 1:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: As expected, President Obama has vetoed a bill that would have given the green light for construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline. "By saying no to the legislation, Mr. Obama retains the authority to make a final judgment on the pipeline on his own timeline. The White House has said the president would decide whether to allow the pipeline when all of the environmental and regulatory reviews are complete. ... Since 2011, the proposed Keystone pipeline, which would deliver up to 800,000 barrels daily of heavy petroleum from the oil sands of Alberta to ports and refineries on the Gulf Coast, has emerged as a broader symbol of the partisan political clash over energy, climate change and the economy."

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Can Tracking Employees Improve Business?

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 12:59pm
An anonymous reader writes: The rise of wearable technologies and big-data analytics means companies can track their employees' behavior if they think it will improve the bottom line. Now an MIT Media Lab spinout called Humanyze has raised money to expand its technology pilots with big companies. The startup provides sensor badges and analytics software that tracks how and when employees communicate with customers and each other. Pilots with Bank of America and Deloitte have led to significant business improvements, but workplace privacy is a big concern going forward.

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Study: Peanut Consumption In Infancy Helps Prevent Peanut Allergy

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 12:11pm
Mr D from 63 writes: According to a report from the Associated Press, "For years, parents of babies who seem likely to develop a peanut allergy have gone to extremes to keep them away from peanut-based foods. Now a major study suggests that is exactly the wrong thing to do. Here's the published paper in the New England Journal of Medicine. It's interesting how this peanut allergy fear is a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy. The situation involves a complete misconception of risk by many parents, and probably it doesn't stop at peanuts. Is there a bigger underlying problem here?

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NSA Director Wants Legal Right To Snoop On Encrypted Data

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 11:28am
jfruh writes: This may not come as a huge shock, but the director of the NSA doesn't believe that you have the right to encrypt your data in a way that the government can't access it. At a cybersecurity policy event, Michael Rogers said that the U.S. should be able to craft a policy that allows the NSA and law enforcement agencies to read encrypted data when they need to.

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Using Microfinance to Develop Coding Talent (Video)

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 10:46am
Here's a quote from the CodersTrust website: 'CodersTrust is the brainchild of Ferdinand Kjærulff. As a Captain of the Danish army he served as recovery officer in Iraq after the fall of Saddam. He pioneered a recovery project with the allied forces, bringing internet and e-learning to the citizens of the region in which he was stationed. The project was a massive success and inspired him to eventually create CodersTrust – supported by Danida – with a vision to democratize access to education via the internet on a global scale.' A lofty vision, indeed. But with help from the original microfinance company, Grameen Bank, and the Danish International Development Agency (Danida), it seems to be coming true. Note: If you click the "Read" button below this paragraph, the video interview will play automatically.

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Facebook AI Director Discusses Deep Learning, Hype, and the Singularity

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 9:54am
An anonymous reader writes In a wide-ranging interview with IEEE Spectrum, Yann LeCun talks about his work at the Facebook AI Research group and the applications and limitations of deep learning and other AI techniques. He also talks about hype, 'cargo cult science', and what he dislikes about the Singularity movement. The discussion also includes brain-inspired processors, supervised vs. unsupervised learning, humanism, morality, and strange airplanes.

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18 Months On, Grand Theft Auto V's Mount Chiliad Mystery Remains Unsolved

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 9:15am
An anonymous reader writes One of GTA V's juiciest easter eggs is one that gamers have still yet to crack: the symbols on San Andreas' huge mountain that seem to suggest a jetpack is buried somewhere within it. As the game's PC launch — and presumable final uncovering as modders raid the game's code — nears, a new article looks at the lengths conspiracy theorists have gone in a bid to locate it, waiting entire in-game lunar cycles at points of interest on the map, trying to complete the game without killing anybody and even attempting to trigger earthquakes in Los Santos. Will it all have been for nothing?

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H-1B Visas Proving Lucrative For Engineers, Dev Leads

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 8:34am
Nerval's Lobster (2598977) writes Ever wanted to know how much H-1B holders make per year? Developer Swizec Teller, who is about to apply for an H-1B visa, took data from the U.S. Department of Labor and visualized it in a series of graphs that break down H-1B salaries on a state-by-state basis. Teller found that the average engineer with an H-1B makes $87,000 a year, a good deal higher than developers ($74,000) and programmers ($61,000) with the same visa. ("Don't call yourself a programmer," he half-joked on Twitter.) Architects, consultants, managers, administrators, and leads with H-1Bs can likewise expect six-figure annual salaries, depending on the state and company. Teller's site is well worth checking out for the interactive graphs, which he built with React and D3.js. The debate over H-1Bs is an emotional one for many tech pros, and research into the visa's true impact on the U.S. labor market wasn't helped by the U.S. Department of Labor's recent decision to destroy H-1B records after five years. "These are the only publicly available records for researchers to analyze on the demand by employers for H-1B visas with detail information on work locations," Neil Ruiz, who researches visa issues for The Brookings Institution, told Computerworld after the new policy was announced in late 2014.

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UK Scientists Claim 1Tbps Data Speed Via Experimental 5G Technology

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 7:52am
Mark.JUK writes A team of Scientists working at the University of Surrey in England claim to have achieved, via an experimental lab test, performance of 1Tbps (Terabit per second) over their candidate for a future 5G Mobile Broadband technology. Sadly the specifics of the test are somewhat unclear, although it's claimed that the performance was delivered by using 100MHz of radio spectrum bandwidth over a distance of 100 metres. The team, which forms part of the UK Government's 5G Innovation Centre, is supported by most of the country's major mobile operators as well as BT, Samsung, Fujitsu, Huawei, the BBC and various other big names in telecoms, media and mobile infrastructure. Apparently the plan is to take the technology outside of the lab for testing between 2016 and 2017, which would be followed by a public demo in early 2018. In the meantime 5G solutions are still being developed, with most in the early experimental stages, by various different teams around the world. Few anticipate a commercial deployment happening before 2020 and we're still a long way from even defining the necessary standard.

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Google Knocks Explicit Adult Content On Blogger From Public View

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 7:10am
Ellie K writes As of 23 March 2015, Google will remove blogs on its Blogger platform that don't conform to its new anti-adult policies. This is an abrupt reversal of policy. Until today, Google allowed "images or videos that contain nudity or sexual activity," and stated that "Censoring this content is contrary to a service that bases itself on freedom of expression." The linked article quotes the message which has been sent to Blogger users thus: (...) In the coming weeks, we'll no longer allow blogs that contain sexually explicit or graphic nude images or video. We'll still allow nudity presented in artistic, educational, documentary, or scientific contexts, or presented where there are other substantial benefits to the public from not taking action on the content. The new policy will go into effect on the 23rd of March 2015. After this policy goes into effect, Google will restrict access to any blog identified as being in violation of our revised policy. No content will be deleted, but only blog authors and those with whom they have expressly shared the blog will be able to see the content we've made private.

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Valve To Reveal Virtual Reality Dev Kit Next Week At GDC

Tue, 02/24/2015 - 6:31am
An anonymous reader writes Gaming giant Valve has been researching augmented and virtual reality for some time. Early on, the company worked closely with Oculus, sharing research findings and even adding support for TF2 to Oculus' first VR headset, the DK1, back in 2013. After demonstrating their own prototype VR headset at Steam Dev Days in early 2014, and then a modified version later in the year, Valve is now ready to take the wraps off a 'previously unannounced ... SteamVR Dev Kit,' which will make its debut at GDC next week. SteamVR is the name of the software adaptation of Steam's 'Big Picture' mode that the company revealed early last year, allowing players to browse their Steam library and play supported games all in virtual reality.

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