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Updated: 6 hours 42 min ago

Remote Code Execution Vulnerability Found In Windows HTTP Stack

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 6:20am
jones_supa writes: A remote code execution vulnerability exists in the Windows HTTP stack that is caused when HTTP.SYS parses specially-crafted HTTP requests. An attacker who has successfully exploited this vulnerability could execute arbitrary code under the SYSTEM context. Details of the bug are withheld, but exploit code is floating around. Microsoft describes the issue in security bulletin MS15-034. An update (KB3042553) is already available for all supported editions of Windows 7, Windows Server 2008 R2, Windows 8, Windows Server 2012, Windows 8.1, and Windows Server 2012 R2. As a workaround, Microsoft offers disabling IIS kernel caching.

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World's Oldest Stone Tools Discovered In Kenya

Wed, 04/15/2015 - 1:11am
sciencehabit writes: Researchers say they have found the oldest tools made by human ancestors—stone flakes dated to 3.3 million years ago. That's 700,000 years older than the oldest-known tools to date, suggesting that our ancestors were crafting tools several hundred thousand years before our genus Homo arrived on the scene. If correct, the new evidence could confirm disputed claims for very early tool use, and it suggests that ancient australopithecines like the famed 'Lucy' may have fashioned stone.

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New Samsung SSD 840 EVO Read Performance Fix Coming Later This Month

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 11:45pm
An anonymous reader writes: The Samsung SSD 840 EVO read performance bug has been on the table for over six months now. Initially Samsung acknowledged the issue fairly quickly and provided a fix only a month after the news hit the mainstream tech media, but reports of read performance degradation surfaced again a few weeks after the fix had been released, making it clear that the first fix didn't solve the issue for all users. Two months ago Samsung announced that a new fix is in the works and last week Samsung sent out the new firmware along with Magician 4.6 for testing, which will be available to the public later this month.

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US Navy Researchers Get Drones To Swarm On Target

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 10:20pm
coondoggie writes: The Office of Naval Research today said it had successfully demonstrated a system that lets small-unmanned aircraft swarm and act together over a particular target. The system, called Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology (LOCUST) features a tube-based launcher that can send multiple drones into the air in rapid succession. The systems then use information sharing between the drones, allowing autonomous collaborative behavior in either defensive or offensive missions, the Navy said.

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EU To Hit Google With Antitrust Charges

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 8:16pm
Bruce66423 sends news that the European Union has decided to hit Google with antitrust charges that could lead to fines of over $6 billion. The EU has been investigating Google for five years now. "The European Commission has highlighted four main areas of concern in its investigation: potential bias in Google’s search results, scraping content from rival websites, agreements with advertisers that may exclude rival search-advertising services and contracts that limit marketers from using other platforms." They're also keeping an eye on Android-related business practices.

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New Horizons Captures First Color Image of Pluto and Charon

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 7:05pm
192_kbps writes: NASA published today the first color image of Pluto and Charon captured by the New Horizons probe, revealing a reddish world. "The fastest spacecraft ever launched, New Horizons has traveled a longer time and farther away - more than nine years and three billion miles - than any space mission in history to reach its primary target. Its flyby of Pluto and its system of at least five moons on July 14 will complete the initial reconnaissance of the classical solar system. This mission also opens the door to an entirely new "third" zone of mysterious small planets and planetary building blocks in the Kuiper Belt, a large area with numerous objects beyond Neptune's orbit." The picture is blurry, but far better than the few pixels Hubble can resolve, the image whets the appetite for New Horizon's closest approach on July 14th."

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Cracking Passwords With Statistics

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 6:10pm
New submitter pjauregui writes: When users are asked to create a "secure" password, most sites simply demand things like "must contain 1 uppercase letter and one punctuation character." But those requirements often lead to users picking exactly 1 uppercase letter, and using it to begin their password. What was intended to increase randomness is instead creating structure that statistical analysis can exploit. This article starts by asking the reader, "Think like a hacker and ask yourself how fast your passwords might be able to be cracked based on their structure." The author then describes his method for cracking passwords at scale, efficiently, stating that many attackers approach this concept headfirst: They try any arbitrary password attack they feel like trying with little reasoning. His post is a discussion that demonstrates effective methodologies for password cracking and how statistical analysis of passwords can be used in conjunction with tools to create a time boxed approach to efficient and successful cracking.

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Road To Mars: Solving the Isolation Problem

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 4:09pm
An anonymous reader writes: As space technology matures, new missions are being funded and humanity is setting its goals ever further. Space agencies are tackling some of the new problems that crop up when we try to go further away than Earth's moon. This New Yorker article takes a look at research into one of the biggest obstacles: extended isolation. Research consultant Jack Stuster once wrote, "Future space expeditions will resemble sea voyages much more than test flights, which have served as the models for all previous space missions." Long-duration experiments are underway to test the effects of isolation, but it's tough to study. You need many experiments to derive useful conclusions, but you can't just ship 100 groups of a half-dozen people off to remote areas of the globe and monitor all of them. It's also borderline unethical to expose the test subjects to the kind of stress and danger that would be present in a real Mars mission. The data collected so far has been (mostly) promising, but we have a long way to go. The technology and the missions themselves will probably come together long before we know how to deal with isolation. At some point, we'll just have to hope our best guess is good enough.

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How Mission Creep Killed a Gaming Studio

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 3:26pm
Nerval's Lobster writes: Over at Kotaku, there's an interesting story about the reported demise of Darkside Game Studios, a game-development firm that thought it finally had a shot at the big time only to collapse once its project requirements spun out of control. Darkside got a chance to show off its own stuff with a proposed remake of Phantom Dust, an action-strategy game that became something of a cult favorite. Microsoft, which offered Darkside the budget to make the game, had a very specific list of requirements for the actual gameplay. The problem, as Kotaku describes, is those requirements shifted after the project was well underway. Darkside needed more developers, artists, and other skilled tech pros to finish the game with its expanded requirements, but (anonymous sources claimed) Microsoft refused to offer up more money to actually hire the necessary people. As a result, the game's development imploded, reportedly followed by the studio. What's the lesson in all this? It's one of the oldest in the book: Escalating and unanticipated requirements, especially without added budget to meet those requirements, can have devastating effects on both a project and the larger software company.

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Chrome 42 Launches With Push Notifications

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 2:44pm
An anonymous reader writes: Google today launched Chrome 42 for Windows, Mac, and Linux with new developer tools. Chrome 42 offers two new APIs (Push API and Notifications API) that together allow sites to send notifications to their users even after the given page is closed. While this can be quite an intrusive feature for a browser, Google promises the users have to first grant explicit permission before they receive such a message.

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Fifty Years of Moore's Law

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 2:00pm
HughPickens.com writes: IEEE is running a special report on "50 Years of Moore's Law" that considers "the gift that keeps on giving" from different points of view. Chris Mack begins by arguing that nothing about Moore's Law was inevitable. "Instead, it's a testament to hard work, human ingenuity, and the incentives of a free market. Moore's prediction may have started out as a fairly simple observation of a young industry. But over time it became an expectation and self-fulfilling prophecy—an ongoing act of creation by engineers and companies that saw the benefits of Moore's Law and did their best to keep it going, or else risk falling behind the competition." Andrew "bunnie" Huang argues that Moore's Law is slowing and will someday stop, but the death of Moore's Law will spur innovation. "Someday in the foreseeable future, you will not be able to buy a better computer next year," writes Huang. "Under such a regime, you'll probably want to purchase things that are more nicely made to begin with. The idea of an "heirloom laptop" may sound preposterous today, but someday we may perceive our computers as cherished and useful looms to hand down to our children, much as some people today regard wristwatches or antique furniture." Vaclav Smil writes about "Moore's Curse" and argues that there is a dark side to the revolution in electronics for it has had the unintended effect of raising expectations for technical progress. "We are assured that rapid progress will soon bring self-driving electric cars, hypersonic airplanes, individually tailored cancer cures, and instant three-dimensional printing of hearts and kidneys. We are even told it will pave the world's transition from fossil fuels to renewable energies," writes Smil. "But the doubling time for transistor density is no guide to technical progress generally. Modern life depends on many processes that improve rather slowly, not least the production of food and energy and the transportation of people and goods." Finally, Cyrus Mody tackles the question: what kind of thing is Moore's Law? "Moore's Law is a human construct. As with legislation, though, most of us have little and only indirect say in its construction," writes Mody. "Everyone, both the producers and consumers of microelectronics, takes steps needed to maintain Moore's Law, yet everyone's experience is that they are subject to it."

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SpaceX Dragon Launches Successfully, But No Rocket Recovery

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 1:18pm
New submitter monkeyzoo writes: SpaceX has successfully launched a Falcon 9 rocket carrying a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft en route to the International Space Station with supplies (including an Italian espresso machine). This was also the second attempt to land the launch rocket on a barge, but that was not successful. Elon Musk tweeted that the rocket landed on the recovery ship but too hard to be reused. Video of the launch is available on the SpaceX webcast page.

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Denver TSA Screeners Manipulated System In Order To Grope Men's Genitals

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 12:35pm
McGruber writes: The CBS affiliate in Denver reports: "Two Transportation Security Administration screeners at Denver International Airport have been fired after they were discovered manipulating passenger screening systems to allow a male TSA employee to fondle the genital areas of attractive male passengers." According to law enforcement reports obtained during the CBS4 investigation, a male TSA screener told a female colleague in 2014 that he "gropes" male passengers who come through the screening area at DIA. "He related that when a male he finds attractive comes to be screened by the scanning machine he will alert another TSA screener to indicate to the scanning computer that the party being screened is a female. When the screener does this, the scanning machine will indicate an anomaly in the genital area and this allows (the male TSA screener) to conduct a pat-down search of that area." Although the TSA learned of the accusation on Nov. 18, 2014 via an anonymous tip from one of the agency's own employees, reports show that it would be nearly three months before anything was done."

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MIT's Picture Language Lets Computers Recognize Faces Through Inference

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 11:53am
itwbennett writes: MIT researchers are working on a new programming language called Picture, which could radically reduce the amount of coding needed to help computers recognize objects in images and video. It is a prototype of how a relatively novel form of programming, called probabilistic programming, could reduce the amount of code needed for such complex tasks. In one test of the new language, the researchers were able to cut thousands of lines of code in one image recognition program down to fewer than 50.

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IT Consultant Talks About 'Negotiating for Nerds' (Video)

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 11:12am
Matt Heusser did a Slashdot video interview back in 2013 titled How to Become an IT Expert Companies Seek Out and Pay Well. Despite noise from a few yammerheads about Matt getting 'free advertising' on Slashdot, which is unlikely since the vast majority of Slashdot users are more likely to compete with him than to hire him, most of the people who saw that video (or read the transcript) knew he was giving helpful advice to peers who might want to get out of the cubicle and work for themselves. Today, Matt is with us again. This video is about 'Negotiating for Nerds.' Matt talks about negotiating a pay raise or consulting fee increase, starting with learning who has the actual power to negotiate with you. This is essential knowledge if you are employed (or self-employed) in IT and want to make sure you're getting all you are worth.

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The Makerspace Is the Next Open Source Frontier

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 10:25am
An anonymous reader writes: Jono Bacon explains that in the same way open source spawned millions of careers and thousands of companies, the same openness has massive potential when applied to products. It could potentially jumpstart a revolution in how we conceptualize, build, and share things and how we experiment and innovate to push the boundaries of science and technology. He outlines some steps for adapting open source principles to physical creations: "...we will need to create a premise of a blueprint bundle. In much the same way I can download a branch from Git or a tarball with some code, complete with build system, we will want to be able to download a single branch or tarball with the full software, hardware designs, and more for how to create an open product. ... we will need to figure out how we collaborate and improve different pieces of these projects. For example, if someone refines a 3D printed piece of a drone, how do they fork the blueprints, submit their changes, have them reviewed, and get them merged into the project? Another question could relate to automated testing: when building physical products we can't always afford to build and test new physical hardware for it to then crash and burn, so how can we have unit tests for hardware or test in a virtual setting?"

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Chess Grandmaster Used iPhone To Cheat During Tournament

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 9:45am
SternisheFan sends this quote from the Washington Post: Gaioz Nigalidze's rise through the ranks of professional chess began in 2007, the year the first iPhone was released. In hindsight, the timing might not be coincidental. On Saturday, Nigalidze, the 25-year-old reigning Georgian champion, was competing in the 17th annual Dubai Open Chess Tournament when his opponent spotted something strange. "Nigalidze would promptly reply to my moves and then literally run to the toilet," Armenian grandmaster Tigran Petrosian said. "I noticed that he would always visit the same toilet partition, which was strange, since two other partitions weren't occupied." Petrosian complained to the officials. After Nigalidze left the bathroom once more, officials inspected the interior and say they found an iPhone wrapped in toilet paper and hidden behind the toilet. "When confronted, Nigalidze denied he owned the device," according to the tournament's Web site. "But officials opened the smart device and found it was logged into a social networking site under Nigalidze's account. They also found his game being analyzed in one of the chess applications." Nigalidze was expelled from the tournament, which is still ongoing and features more than 70 grandmasters from 43 countries competing for a first-place prize of $12,000. The Georgian's career is now under a microscope. His two national titles are under suspicion.

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In New Zealand, a Legal Battle Looms Over Streaming TV

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 8:57am
SpacemanukBEJY.53u writes After a threat from a law firm, two New Zealand ISPs have withdrawn services that let their customers navigate to content sites outside the country that world normally be geo-blocked. Using VPNs or other services to access content restricted by region isn't specifically outlawed in either New Zealand or in neighboring Australia, but it appears the entertainment industry is prepared to go to court to try and argue that such services can violate copyright law. Intellectual property experts said the situation in New Zealand, if it goes to court, could result in the first test case over the legality of skirting regional restrictions.

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Cornell Study: For STEM Tenure Track, Women Twice As Likely To Be Hired As Men

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 8:22am
_Sharp'r_ writes In the first "empirical study of sexism in faculty hiring using actual faculty members", Cornell University researchers found that when using identical qualifications, but changing the sex of the applicant, "women candidates are favored 2 to 1 over men for tenure-track positions in the science, technology, engineering and math fields." An anonymous reader links to the study itself.

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Microsoft Starts Working On an LLVM-Based Compiler For<nobr> <wbr></nobr>.NET

Tue, 04/14/2015 - 7:40am
An anonymous reader writes Are the days of Microsoft's proprietary compiler over? Microsoft has announced they've started work on a new .NET compiler using LLVM and targets their CoreCLR — any C# program written for the .NET core class libraries can now run on any OS where CoreCLR and LLVM are supported. Right now the compiler only supports JIT compilation but AOT is being worked on along with other features. The new Microsoft LLVM compiler is called LLILC and is MIT-licensed.

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