/.

Syndicate content Slashdot
News for nerds, stuff that matters
Updated: 6 hours 29 min ago

Engineer Gets Tired Of Waiting For Telecom Companies To Wire His town -- So He Does It Himself

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 12:05pm
Gurb, 75 kilometers north of Barcelona, is a quiet farming community of 2,500. It has suddenly become a popular place, thanks to being the birthplace of Guifi.net, one of the world's "most important experiments in telecommunications." It was built by an engineer who got tired of waiting for Telefonica, the Spanish telecom giant, to provide internet access to the people of his community. At first he wanted an internet access for himself, but it soon became clear that he also wanted to help his neighbors. Guifi has grown from a single wifi node in 2004, to 30,000 working nodes today, including some fiber connections, with thousands more in the planning stages. An article on Backchannel today documents the tale of Guifi. From the article: The project is a testament to tireless efforts -- in governance, not just in adding hardware and software -- by Ramon Roca (the engineer who started it) and his colleagues. They've been unwavering in their commitment to open access, community control, network neutrality, and sustainability. In 2004, he bought some Linksys WiFI hackable routers with a mission to get himself and his neighbors connected to the Internet. This is how he did it: Roca turned on a router with a directional antenna he'd installed at the top of a tall building near the local government headquarters, the only place in town with Internet access -- a DSL line Telefonica had run to municipal governments throughout the region. The antenna was aimed, line of sight, toward Roca's home about six kilometers away. Soon, neighbors started asking for connections, and neighbors of neighbors, and so on. Beyond the cost of the router, access was free. Some nodes were turned into "supernodes" -- banks of routers in certain locations, or dedicated gear that accomplishes the same thing -- that could handle much more traffic in more robust ways. The network connected to high-capacity fiber optic lines, to handle the growing demand, and later connected to a major "peering" connection to the global Internet backbone that provides massive bandwidth. Guifi grew, and grew, and grew. But soon it became clear that connecting more and more nodes wasn't enough, so he created a not-for-profit entity, the Guifi.net Foundation. The foundation, thanks to its cause and a cheerful community, has received over a million Euros to date -- from various sources including several levels of government. But as the article notes, a million Euros is a drop in the bucket next to the lavish subsidies and favors that state-approved monopolies such as Telefonica have enjoyed for decades. The article adds: The Guifi Foundation isn't the paid provider of most Internet service to end-user (home and business) customers. That role falls to more than 20 for-profit internet service providers that operate on the overall platform. The ISPs share infrastructure costs according to how much demand they put on the overall system. They pay fees to the foundation for its services -- a key source of funding for the overall project. Then they offer various kinds of services to end users, such as installing connections -- lately they've been install fiber-optic access in some communities -- managing traffic flows, offering email, handling customer and technical support, and so on. The prices these ISPs charge are, to this American (Editor's note: the author is referring to himself) who's accustomed to broadband-cartel greed, staggeringly inexpensive: 18 to 35 Euros (currently about $26-$37) a month for gigabit fiber, and much less for slower WiFi. Community ownership and ISP competition does wonders for affordability. Contrast this with the U.S. broadband system, where competitive dial-up phone access -- phone companies were obliged to let all ISPs use the lines as the early commercial Internet flourished in the 1990s -- gave way to a cartel of DSL and cable providers. Except in a few places where there's actual competition, we pay way more for much less.Read the story in its entirety here.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

France: Windows 10 Collects 'Excessive Personal Data', Issues Microsoft With Formal Warning

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 11:25am
France's National Data Protection Commission (CNIL) has ordered Microsoft to "stop collecting excessive data and tracking browsing by users without consent," adding that Microsoft must comply with the French Data Protection Act within next three months. BetaNews reports: In addition to this, the chair of CNIL has notified Microsoft that it needs to take "satisfactory measures to ensure the security and confidentiality of user data." The notice comes after numerous complaints about Windows 10, and a series of investigations by French authorities which revealed a number of failings on Microsoft's part. Microsoft is accused of not only gathering excessive data about users, but also irrelevant data. The CNIL points to Windows 10's telemetry service which gathers information about the apps users have installed and how long each is used for. The complaint is that "these data are not necessary for the operation of the service."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Japan Will Make Its Last-Ever VCR This Month

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 10:44am
An anonymous reader writes: Most of us stopped using video cassette recorders a very, very long time ago. By 2008, DVD had officially replaced VHS as the preferred home media format, and the glory days of the 1980s -- when VHS and Betamax battled it out to be the number-one choice for watching and recording movies and television at home -- were very much in the rear-view mirror. So it might surprise you to learn that VCRs are still being manufactured -- at least they were until this month. Funai Electric, the last remaining Japanese company to make the units, has announced that the company will cease production on its VCR units, due to declining sales and difficulty acquiring parts. Their VCRs are made in China and sold in many territories, including North America, under brand names like Sanyo, but last year's figures reported just 750,000 sales worldwide.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Android Nougat Won't Boot If Your Phone's Software Is Corrupt Or Has Malware

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 10:06am
An anonymous reader shares a report on Android Authority: In a bid to increase the security of the Android operating system, Google has introduced a new check for malware as part of the boot process in all Android devices. Until Marshmallow, Android devices ran the check as part of the boot process and in Marshmallow, the phone would warn you that it was compromised but would continue to let the phone boot up. In Nougat however, Google is taking this security check to the next level. On the Android Developer's blog, the company explains that Android Nougat strictly enforces that boot check, giving you far more than a warning. The good news is that if your phone is infected with types of malware, it will refuse to boot or will boot in a limited capacity mode (presumably akin to safe mode). The bad news however, is that some non-malicious corruption of data could also mean that your phone will refuse to boot up. Considering that corrupted data may not always be malicious -- even a single-byte error could cause your phone to refuse to boot up -- Android Nougat brings additional code to guard against corruption.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Firefox To Block Non-Essential Flash Content In August 2016, Require Click-To-Activate In 2017

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 9:25am
Mozilla has announced that it plans to discontinue support for Flash in Firefox. Starting next month, Firefox will block Flash content "that is not essential to the user experience." Also, starting sometime in 2017, the browser will require click-to-activate approval from users before a website activates the Flash plugin for any content. In a blogpost, the company writes:Mozilla and the Web as a whole have been taking steps to reduce the need for Flash content in everyday browsing. Over the past few years, Firefox has implemented Web APIs to replace functionality that was formerly provided only by plugins. This includes audio/video playback and streaming capabilities, clipboard integration, fast 2D and 3D graphics, WebSocket networking, and microphone/camera access. As websites have switched from Flash to other web technologies, the plugin crash rate in Firefox has dropped significantly. [...] We continue to work closely with Adobe to deliver the best possible Flash experience for our users.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Software Flaw Puts Mobile Phones and Networks At Risk Of Complete Takeover

Wed, 07/20/2016 - 8:45am
Dan Goodin, reporting for Ars Technica: A newly disclosed vulnerability could allow attackers to seize control of mobile phones and key parts of the world's telecommunications infrastructure and make it possible to eavesdrop or disrupt entire networks, security experts warned Tuesday. The bug resides in a code library used in a wide range of telecommunication products, including radios in cell towers, routers, and switches, as well as the baseband chips in individual phones. Although exploiting the heap overflow vulnerability would require great skill and resources, attackers who managed to succeed would have the ability to execute malicious code on virtually all of those devices. The code library was developed by Pennsylvania-based Objective Systems and is used to implement a telephony standard known as ASN.1, short for Abstract Syntax Notation One."The vulnerability could be triggered remotely without any authentication in scenarios where the vulnerable code receives and processes ASN.1 encoded data from untrusted sources," researchers who discovered the flaw wrote in an advisory published Monday evening. "These may include communications between mobile devices and telecommunication network infrastructure nodes, communications between nodes in a carrier's network or across carrier boundaries, or communication between mutually untrusted endpoints in a data network."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

WikiLeaks Releases 300K Turkey Government Emails In Response To Erdogan's Post-Coup Purges

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 7:40pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from RT: Despite a massive cyberattack on its website, WikiLeaks has published the first batch of nearly 300,000 emails from the Turkish ruling AKP party's internal server and thousands of attached files in response to the Ankara government's widespread post-coup purges. Some 294,548 emails pertaining to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan's Justice and Development Party (AKP) were made public on Tuesday at 11:00pm Ankara time. WikiLeaks says that the release of almost 300,000 email bodies together with several thousand attached files, is just part one in the series and encompasses 762 mailboxes beginning with 'A' through to 'I.' All emails are attributed to "akparti.org.tr," the primary domain of the main political force in the country, and cover a period from 2010 up until July 6, 2016, just a week before the failed military coup. The NGO also revealed that one of the emails contained an Excel database of the cell phone numbers of AKP deputies. Prior to the release WikiLeaks suffered a "sustained attack" as it warned that Turkish government entities might try to interfere with the publication of the AKP material. The attacks are still continuing and users are experiencing difficulties in accessing the material. WikiLeaks reassured the public that they are "winning" the battle. A few hours after the release, WikiLeaks tweeted a screenshot showing the database to be blocked in Turkey, claiming that Ankara "ordered [the release] to be blocked nationwide." More than 200 people have died and over 1,400 injured from the attempted coup. Thousands of people have also been detained and/or lost their posts across the judiciary, military, interior ministry and civil service sectors. The Turkish president Erdogan is blaming the U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen for orchestrating the attempted coup.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Facebook Pitches Laser Beams As The High-Speed Internet Of The Future

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 5:25pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report from PCWorld: Facebook says it has developed a laser detector that could open the airwaves to new high-speed data communications systems that don't require dedicated spectrum or licenses. The component, disclosed on Tuesday in a scientific journal, comes from the company's Connectivity Lab, which is involved in developing technology that can help spread high-speed internet to places it currently doesn't reach. At 126 square centimeters, Facebook's new laser detector is thousands of times larger. It consists of plastic optical fibers that have been "doped" so they absorb blue light. The fibers create a large flat area that serves as the detector. They luminesce, so the blue light is reemitted as green light as it travels down the fibers, which are then bundled together tightly before they meet with a photodiode. It's described in a paper published on Tuesday in the journal Optica. Facebook says there are applications for the technology both indoors and outdoors. Around the home, it could be used to transmit high-definition video to mobile devices. Outdoors, the same technology could be used to establish low-cost communications links of a kilometer or more in length. In tests, the company managed to achieve a speed of 2.1Gbps using the detector, and the company thinks it can go faster. By using materials that work closer to infrared, the speed could be increased. And using yet-to-be developed components that work at wavelengths invisible to the human eye, the speed could be increased even more. If invisible to humans, the power could also be increased without danger of harming someone, further increasing speed and distance.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Technology Is Making Doctors Feel Like Glorified Data Entry Clerks

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 4:45pm
An anonymous reader writes from a report via Fast Company: The average day for a doctor consists of hours of data entry. Since the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009 took effect in January of 2011, which incentivized providers to adopt electronic medical records, hospitals have spent millions, sometimes billions, on computer systems that weren't designed to help providers treat patients to begin with. The technology was supposed to reduce inefficiencies, make doctors' lives easier, and improve patient outcomes, but in fact it has done the opposite. "Frankly, the main incentive is to document exhaustively so you cover your ass and get paid," says Jay Parkinson, a New York-based pediatrician and the founder of health-tech startup Sherpa. The systems are flooding doctors with important and utterly meaningless alerts. One of the biggest problems is that the systems have made it very difficult for doctors to share information between one another, which is what the systems were intended to do all along. Why? "Because it doesn't help the bottom line of the biggest medical record vendors or the hospitals to make it easy for patients to change doctors," reports Fast Company. Since it often takes weeks, or months for data to be sent to and from facilities, that, according to Consumers Union staff attorney Dana Mendelsohn, increases the chances of doctors ordering duplicate tests. All of this reduces the time doctors have with their patients. A recent study shows that the average time doctors spend with their patients is about eight minutes and 12% of their time, down from 20% of their time in the late 1980s. "This group is 15 times more likely to burn out than professionals in any other line of work," reports Fast Company. "And much of the research on the topic concludes that 'documentation overload' is a key factor." To help alleviate this pain, medical groups are working to reduce the data-entry burden for doctors, so they can in turn spend more of their time with patients.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Amazon Patents Way To Turn Lampposts, Church Steeples Into Drone Perches

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 4:05pm
An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Consumerist: Amazon has received a patent that shows what drones may be doing when they're not flying throughout the sky delivering packages: sitting on lampposts and church steeples. "Amazon was recently awarded a patent for docking and recharging stations that would be built on tall, existing structures like lampposts, cell towers, or church steeples," reports The Consumerist. "Once the drone is done making a delivery, it would be able to land on the station, recharge and refuel, as well as pick up additional packages." A "central control system" would then be able to control each docking station and connect the docked drone(s) with a local or regional packaged handling center or central facility. Based on weather or package data, the drones may be commanded accordingly. The patent says the system will not only provide directions based to the drone, but will have the ability to redirect the unmanned aerial vehicle based on the most favorable conditions, such as a route with less wind. The patent describes a system in which the drone delivers a package to the platform that then moves the item via a "vacuum tube, dumbwaiter, elevator, or conveyor to the ground level." From there, the package could be transferred to an Amazon Locker or a local delivery person. The docking stations could also act as cell towers that "provide local free or fee-based Wi-Fi services. This can enable cities to provide free Wi-Fi in public parks, buildings, and other public areas without bearing the burden of installing some, or all, of the necessary infrastructure."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

MIT's Ori Robotic Modular Furniture Is Designed To Make Small Places Feel More Roomy

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 3:20pm
An anonymous reader writes: MIT's Media Lab has produced Ori, a range of robotic, modular furniture designed to make small places feel more roomy. The Architect's Newspaper reports: "With its name coming from the Japanese word 'origami,' the furniture system combines robotics, architecture, and design to let interiors double-up as bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, and offices. Teaming up with Swiss product designer Yves Behar, founder and CEO of Ori and research scientist at MIT Hasier Larrea has his eyes set on fundamentally altering the 'experience and economics of the urban built environment.' Speaking in a press release, Larrea added that 'Ori's systems make possible the effortless and magical transformation of interior spaces, providing the totally new experience of having our interior space intelligently conform to our activities, rather than our activities being forced to conform to our interior space.' A movable mainframe, containing a variety of concealable furniture and storage, is the core concept in Ori's modular and mechatronic furniture. Using the wall mounted control panel, the module can move across the floor and deploy different pieces of furniture. This can all be done remotely through the Ori app as well." Ori is not on the market yet, but inquiries can be made via Ori's website.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Library of Congress Hit With a Denial-Of-Service Attack

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 2:40pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Library of Congress (LOC) announced via Twitter Monday that they were the target of a denial-of-service attack. The attack was detected on July 17 and has caused other websites hosted by the LOC, including the U.S. Copyright Office, to go down. In addition, employees of the Library of Congress were unable to access their work email accounts and to visit internal websites. The outages continue to affect some online properties managed by the library. "In June 2015, the Government Accountability Office, or GAO, published a limited distribution report -- undisclosed publicly though it was sourced in a 2015 GAO testimony to the Committee on House Administration -- highlighting digital security deficiencies apparent at the Library of Congress, including poor software patch management and firewall protections," reports FedScoop.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Safari Browser May Soon Be Just As Fast As Chrome With WebP Integration

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 2:00pm
An anonymous reader writes from a report via The Next Web: The Safari browser included in Apple's iOS 10 and macOS Sierra software is testing WebP, technology from Google that allows developers to create smaller, richer images that make the web faster. Basically, it's a way for webpages to load more quickly. The Next Web reports: "WebP was built into Chrome back at build 32 (2013!), so it's not unproven. It's also used by Facebook due to its image compression underpinnings, and is in use across many Google properties, including YouTube." Microsoft is one of the only major players to not use WebP, according to CNET. It's not included in Internet Explorer and the company has "no plans" to integrate it into Edge. Even though iOS 10 and macOS Sierra are in beta, it's promising that we will see WebP make its debut in Safari latest this year. "It's hard to imagine Apple turning away tried and true technology that's found in a more popular browser -- one that's favored by many over Safari due to its speed, where WebP plays a huge part," reports The Next Web. "Safari is currently the second most popular browser to Chrome." What's also interesting is how WebP isn't mentioned at all in the logs for Apple's Safari Technology Preview.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Google and Bing Have No Obligation To Censor Searches For Torrents

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 1:20pm
Microsoft and Google are under no obligation to weed out 'torrent' results from their respective search engines, the High Court of Paris has ruled. BetaNews adds: French music industry group SNEP went to court on behalf of a trio of artists, requesting that Microsoft and Google automatically filter out links to pirated material. The group had called for a complete block on searches that include the word 'torrent' as well as blocking sites whose name includes the word. The court found that SNEP's request was far too broad, saying: "SNEP's requests are general, and pertain not to a specific site but to all websites accessible through the stated methods, without consideration for identifying or even determining the site's content, on the premise that the term 'Torrent' is necessarily associated with infringing content".The court added that 'torrent' is a common noun, which has a range of different meanings.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Pokemon Go Doubles Nintendo's Stock Price

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 12:40pm
An anonymous reader quotes a report form Reuters: Shares of Japan's Nintendo Co soared another 14 percent on Tuesday, more than doubling the firm's market capitalization to 4.5 trillion yen ($42.5 billion) in just seven sessions since the mobile game Pokemon GO was launched in the United States. The phenomenal success of Pokemon GO -- now available in 35 countries, the majority in Europe, and most recently in Canada -- has triggered massive buying in Nintendo shares, surprising even some seasoned market players. Nintendo shares ended Tuesday up 14.4 percent at 31,770 yen, bringing its gains to more than 100 percent since the launch of the game on July 6. Turnover in Nintendo shares hit 703.6 billion yen, surpassing the record for trading turnover in individual shares it set on Friday, of 476 billion yen. Trading in Nintendo shares roughly accounted for a quarter of the entire trading on the Tokyo Stock Exchange's main board. The success of Pokemon GO, unforeseen even by its creators, has boosted hopes that Nintendo could capitalize on a line-up of popular characters ranging from Zelda to Super Mario to strengthen its new foray into augmented reality. Pokemon GO is now the biggest mobile game of all time in the United States.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Windows 10 Warns Chrome and Firefox Users About Battery Drain, Recommends Switching To Edge

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 12:00pm
A month after Microsoft claimed that its Edge web browser is more power efficient than Google Chrome and Firefox, the company is now warning Windows 10 users about the same. VentureBeat reports: Microsoft has turned on a new set of Windows Tips that warn Windows 10 users that Google Chrome or Mozilla Firefox is draining their laptop's battery. The solution, according to the notification, is to use Microsoft Edge.In a statement to the publication, the company said: "These Windows Tips notifications were created to provide people with quick, easy information that can help them enhance their Windows 10 experience, including information that can help users extend battery life. That said, with Windows 10 you can easily choose the default browser and search engine of your choice."

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

UK 'Emergency' Bulk Data Slurp Permissible In Pursuit Of 'Serious Crime'

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 11:20am
An anonymous reader writes: Bulk collection of data from phone calls and emails by carriers acting under government orders could be permissible in the pursuit of 'serious crime'. That's the preliminary ruling in a case brought by Brexit chief minister David Davis against PM Theresa May before the European Union's highest court. The ruling suggests bulk collection and retention of customer data might not be in breach of the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights -- if it's done legally and with safeguards. Davis with Labour Party deputy leader Tom Watson and others brought their case to the European Court of Justice in February.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

A Google Maps Glitch Turned This Korean Fishing Town Into a 'Pokemon Go' Haven

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:40am
Madison Margolin, reporting for Motherboard: A glitch in Google Maps has turned the small fishing town of Sokcho, South Korea, into a Pokemon Go tourist haven. The globally popular mobile game hasn't launched yet in South Korea, but that hasn't stopped clever gamers from finding a way to play it anyways. The city of Sokcho is taking full advantage of it, according to this video by the Wall Street Journal. Because of Cold War era laws preventing North Korea from obtaining maps of the country, the use of Google Maps is restricted in South Korea, the WSJ reports. However, a fluke in the system allows it to work in Sokcho, in the northeast corner of the country, just outside the DMZ (demilitarized zone) between North and South Korea. Sokcho is outside the range of indexing grids that Pokemon Go developers used for mapping restrictions of South Korea and other countries.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Army Special Operations Command Ditching Android For iPhone, Says Report

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 10:00am
The United States Army's Special Operations Command is ditching its Android phones for the "faster" iPhone, according to a report. The source cited in the story says that Android phones were freezing unexpectedly, which was one of the reasons they decided to give the iPhone 6s a spin. Gizmodo adds: The smartphones allow members of the Special Operations Command to access rich information about the battlefield. There's also quickly accessible information, like a weapons and ammunitions guide. Other apps can help with high altitude jumps; another can detect radiation. While DARPA helped develop the program on Android due to the operating system's open platform, Apple's hardware is apparently superior enough to warrant the switch.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.

Brazil Judge Orders Phone Carriers To Block WhatsApp Message App

Tue, 07/19/2016 - 9:20am
A Brazilian judge has ordered wireless phone carriers to block access to Facebook's WhatsApp indefinitely, starting on Tuesday, the third such incident against the popular phone messaging app in eight months. Reuters report: The decision by Judge Daniela Barbosa Assuncao de Souza in the southeastern state of Rio de Janeiro applies to Brazil's five wireless carriers. The reason for the order was not known due to legal secrecy in an ongoing case, and will only be lifted once Facebook surrenders data, Souza's office said. Sao Paulo-based representatives at WhatsApp, which is owned by Facebook Inc, as well as the Brazilian five carriers -- Telefonica Brasil SA, America Movil SAB's Claro, TIM Participacoes SA, Oi SA and Nextel Participacoes SA.

Read more of this story at Slashdot.