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Sony Pictures Leak Reveals Quashed Plan To Upload Phony Torrents

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 5:05am
retroworks writes Motherboard.vice offers an interesting scoop from the hacked Sony Pictures email trove. A plan championed by Polish marketing employee Magda Mastalerz was to upload false versions of highly-pirated Sony programming, effectively polluting torrent sites with false positives. For example, a "Hannibal"-themed anti-piracy ad to popular torrent sites disguised as the first episode. Sony Pictures legal department quashed the idea, saying that if pirate sites were illegal, it would also be illegal for Sony Pictures to upload onto them. There were plans in WW2 to drop phony counterfeit currency to disrupt markets, and I wonder why flooding underground markets with phony products isn't widespread. Why don't credit card companies manufacture fake lists of stolen credit card numbers, or phony social security numbers, for illegal trading sites? For that matter, would fake ivory, fake illegal porn, and other "false positives" discourage buyers? Or create alibis?

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SpaceX Set To Create 300 New US Jobs and Expand Facilities

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 3:02am
littlesparkvt writes The SpaceX manufacturing plant in McGregor, TX is set to spend $46 million on an expansion that would create 300 full-time jobs. SpaceX is proposing to invest $46.3 million in the site during the next five years. They will spend $32.4 million in real property improvements and $13.9 million in personal property improvements.

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9th Circuit Will Revisit "Innocence of Muslims" Takedown Order

Mon, 12/15/2014 - 12:10am
The Associated Press, as carried by ABC News, reports that "An 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pasadena will hear arguments Monday by Google, which owns YouTube, disputing the court's decision to remove Innocence of Muslims from the popular video sharing service." At the heart of the earlier take-down order, which was the result of a 2-1 split from a 3-judge panel, is the assertion of copyright by actress Cindy Lee Garcia, who appeared in the film, but in a role considerably different from the one she thought she was playing. Google is supported in its appeal by an unusual alliance that includes filmmakers, Internet rivals such as Yahoo and prominent news media companies such as The New York Times that don't want the court to infringe on First Amendment rights. Garcia has support from the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Musicians. If the court upholds the smaller panel's ruling, YouTube and other Internet companies could face takedown notices from others in minor video roles.

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How Identifiable Are You On the Web?

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 9:22pm
An anonymous reader writes How identifiable are you on the web? This updated browser fingerprinting tool implements the current state of the art in browser fingerprinting techniques(including canvas fingerprinting) to show you how unique your browser is on the web. Good food for thought when three-letter agencies talk about "mere metadata."

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Apparent Islamic Terrorism Strikes Sydney

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 6:36pm
An anonymous reader send this link to a developing situation in Sydney, Australia, being reported on via live feed at the Guardian, and covered by various other news outlets as well. According to CNN's coverage, "CNN affiliate Seven Network said that at least 13 people are being held at the Lindt Chocolate Cafe. It published a photograph of people inside the cafe holding a black flag with Arabic writing on it. The flag reads: "There is no God but God and Mohammed is the prophet of God." From The New York Times' coverage: The police have shut down parts of the city’s transport system, and closed off the mall area. They would not confirm how many people were being held hostage inside the cafe, nor whether those inside are armed. Local media reports said that the airspace over Sydney had been closed and the famed Sydney Opera House evacuated. Television images showed heavily armed officers with their weapons trained on the cafe.

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Microsoft To Open Source Cloud Framework Behind Halo 4 Services

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 3:55pm
angry tapir writes Microsoft plans to open-source the framework that helps developers of cloud services like those behind Halo 4. Project Orleans is a framework built by the eXtreme Computing Group at Microsoft Research using .NET, designed so developers who aren't distributed systems experts can build cloud services that scale to cope with high demand and still keep high performance. The Orleans framework was used to build several services on Azure, including services that are part of Halo 4. The code will be released under an MIT license on GitHub early next year.

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Spanish Media Group Wants Gov't Help To Keep Google News In Spain

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 2:35pm
English-language site The Spain Report reports that Google's response to mandated payments for linking to and excerpting from Spanish news media sources — namely, shutting down Google News in Spain — doesn't sit well with Spanish Newspaper Publishers' Association, which issued a statement [Thursday] night saying that Google News was "not just the closure of another service given its dominant market position," recognising that Google's decision "will undoubtedly have a negative impact on citizens and Spanish businesses. Given the dominant position of Google (which in Spain controls almost all of the searches in the market and is an authentic gateway to the Internet), AEDE requires the intervention of Spanish and community authorities, and competition authorities, to effectively protect the rights of citizens and companies." Irene Lanzaco, a spokeswoman for AEDE, told The Spain Report by telephone that "we're not asking Google to take a step backwards, we've always been open to negotiations with Google" but, she said: "Google has not taken a neutral stance. Of course they are free to close their business, but one thing is the closure of Google News and quite another the positioning in the general index." Asked if the newspaper publishers' association had received any complaints from its members since Wednesday's announcement by Google, Mrs. Lanzaco refused to specify, but said: "Spanish publishers talk to AEDE constantly."

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Ask Slashdot: Best Software For Image Organization?

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 1:37pm
Wycliffe writes Like many people, I am starting to get a huge collection of digital photos from family vacations, etc. I am looking for some software that allows me to rate/tag my own photos in a quick way. I really don't want to spend the time tagging a bunch of photos and then be locked into a single piece of software, so what is the best software to help organize and tag photos so that I can quickly find highlights without being locked into that software for life? I would prefer open source to prevent lock-in and also prefer Linux but could do Windows if necessary.

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French Cabbies Say They'll Block Paris Roads On Monday Over Uber

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 12:36pm
mrspoonsi writes Parisian taxi drivers have vowed to block roads leading into the French capital on Monday to protest a court's refusal to ban urban ridesharing service UberPOP. Like their counterparts in large cities across the globe, Parisian taxi drivers are fed up with what they see as unfair competition from Uber's popular smartphone taxi service. UberPOP, which uses non-professional drivers using their own cars to take on passengers at budget rates, has 160,000 users in France, according to the company. A commercial court in Paris ruled on Friday that a new law making it harder for Uber drivers to solicit business could not be enforced until the government had published full details of the restrictions. "It's the straw that breaks the camel's back," said Ibrahima Sylla, president of France Taxis, whose organisation has joined several others in calling for the early morning protest on Monday. They have urged taxi drivers to gather at the northern Roissy Charles de Gaulle airport and the southern Orly airport at 05:00 am before slowly converging on the city in a bid to block arterial highways. "This is a fight against Uber. We're fed up. Allowing UberPOP means leaving 57,000 French taxis high and dry, and thus 57,000 families. And that is out of the question," said Sylla.

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Forbes Blasts Latests Windows 7 Patch as Malware

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 11:38am
Forbes contributor Jason Evangelho has nothing good to say about a recent Windows 7 patch that's causing a range of trouble for some users. He writes: If you have Windows 7 set to automatically update every Tuesday, it may be to permanently disable that feature. Microsoft has just confirmed that a recent update — specifically KB 3004394 — is causing a range of serious problems and recommends removing it. The first issue that caught my attention, via AMD’s Robert Hallock, is that KB 3004394 blocks the installation or update of graphics drivers such as AMD’s new Catalyst Omega. Nvidia users are also reporting difficulty installing GeForce drivers, though I can’t confirm this personally as my machines are all Windows 8.1. Hallock recommended manually uninstalling the update, advice now echoed officially by Microsoft. More troubles are detailed in the article; on the upside, Microsoft has released a fix.

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Raspberry Pi In Space

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 10:40am
mikejuk (1801200) writes "When British astronaut Tim Peake heads off to the International Space Station in November 2015 he will be accompanied on his 6-month mission by two augmented Rapsberry Pis, aka Astro Pis. The Astro Pi board is a Raspberry Pi HAT and provides gyroscope, accelerometer and magnetometer and sensors for temperature, barometric pressure and humidity. It also has a real time clock, LED display and some push buttons — it sounds like the sort of addon that we could do with down here on earth as well! It will also be equipped with both camera module and an infra-red camera. UK school pupils are being challenged to write Rapberry Pi apps or experiments to run in space. During his mission Tim Peake will deploy the Astro Pis, upload the winning code whilst in orbit, set them running, collect the data generated and then download it to be distributed to the winning teams.

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Job Postings Offer Clues to Future of Google Fiber

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 9:43am
New submitter Admiral Jimbob McGif writes Even as a massive firestorm burns uncontrollably threatening to scorch the very foundations of the internet with AT&T indefinitely halting future GigaPower FTTH rollouts due to uncertainty over the future of net neutrality and the Obama administration proposing to regulate the internet under Title 2, highly suggestive jobs were recently added to Google Careers. These Google Fiber related positions include: "City Manager", "Community Impact Manager" and "Plant Manager" in all potential Google Fiber cities. Perplexing inconsistences abound, such as Portland, Phoenix, San Jose and Atlanta positions being listed as local. Whereas San Antonio, Raleigh, Charlotte, and Nashville are listed as telecommute positions. One is inclined to speculate as to what these job postings mean despite Google's disclaimer: "Not all cities where we're exploring hiring a team will necessarily become Google Fiber cities." Would Google post jobs as an act of posturing much like AT&T's supposed "Gigabit smoke screen" bluff? Or, should we expect to see these so called Fiber Huts springing up like so many mushrooms after a heavy rain in an additional 9 metro areas? At the rate Google is going, is it too soon to speculate over Fiber Dojos popping up in Japan?

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Last Three Years the Quietest For Tornadoes Ever

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 8:38am
schwit1 writes The uncertainty of science: 2014 caps the quietest three year period for tornadoes on record, and scientists really don't understand why. "Harold Brooks, a meteorologist with the National Severe Storms Laboratory in Norman, Okla., said there's no consistent reason for the three-year lull — the calmest stretch since a similar quiet period in the late 1980s — because weather patterns have varied significantly from year to year. While 2012 tornado activity was likely suppressed by the warm, dry conditions in the spring, 2013 was on the cool side for much of the prime storm season before cranking up briefly in late May, especially in Oklahoma, SPC meteorologist Greg Carbin said. Then, activity quickly quieted for the summer of 2013."

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Vinyl Record Pressing Plants Struggle To Keep Up With Demand

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 7:29am
An anonymous reader writes The WSJ reports that the revival of vinyl records, a several-year trend that many figured was a passing fad, has accelerated during 2014 with an astounding 49 percent sales increase over 2013 (line chart here). Some listeners think that vinyl reproduces sound better than digital, and some youngsters like the social experience of gathering around a turntable. The records are pressed at a handful of decades-old, labor-intensive factories that can't keep up with the demand; but since the increased sales still represent only about 2 percent of US music sales, there hasn't been a rush of capital investment to open new plants. Raw vinyl must now be imported to America from countries such as Thailand, since the last US supplier closed shop years ago. Meanwhile, an industry pro offers his take on the endless debate of audio differences between analog records and digital formats; it turns out there were reasons for limiting playing time on each side back in the day, apart from bands not having enough decent material.

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Google Suggests Separating Students With 'Some CS Knowledge' From Novices

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 6:39am
theodp writes To address the challenge of rapidly increasing CS enrollments and increasing diversity, reports the Computing Education Blog, Google in November put out an RFP to universities for its invite-only 3X in 3 Years: CS Capacity Award program, which aims "to support faculty in finding innovative ways to address the capacity problem in their CS courses." In the linked-to RFP document, Google suggests that "students that have some CS background" should not be allowed to attend in-person intro CS courses where they "may be more likely to create a non-welcoming environment," and recommends that they instead be relegated to online courses. According to a recent NSF press release, this recommendation would largely exclude Asian and White boys from classrooms, which seems to be consistent with a Google-CodeCademy award program that offers $1,000 bonuses to teachers who get 10 or more high school kids to take a JavaScript course, but only counts students from "groups traditionally underrepresented in computer science (girls, or boys who identify as African American, Latino, American Indian or Alaska Native)." The project suggested in the Google RFP — which could be worth $1.5 million over 3 years to a large CS department — seems to embrace-and-extend a practice implemented at Harvey Mudd College years ago under President Maria Klawe, which divided the intro CS offering into separate sections based upon prior programming experience to — as the NY Times put it — reduce the intimidation factor of young men, already seasoned programmers, who dominated the class. Google Director of Education and University Relations Maggie Johnson, whose name appears on the CS Capacity RFP, is also on the Board of Code.org (where Klawe is coincidentally an Advisory Board member), the K-12 learn-to-code nonprofit that has received $3+ million from Google and many millions more from other tech giants and their execs. Earlier this week, Code.org received the blessing of the White House and NSF to train 25,000 teachers to teach CS, stirring unease among some educators concerned about the growing influence of corporations in public schools.

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Judge Rules Drug Maker Cannot Halt Sales of Alzheimer's Medicine

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 5:32am
HughPickens.com writes Andrew Pollack reports at the NYT that a federal judge has blocked an attempt by the drug company Actavis to halt sales of an older form of its Alzheimer's disease drug Namenda in favor of a newer version with a longer patent life after New York's attorney general filed an antitrust lawsuit accusing the drug company of forcing patients to switch to the newer version of the widely used medicine to hinder competition from generic manufacturers. "Today's decision prevents Actavis from pursuing its scheme to block competition and maintain its high drug prices," says Eric Schneiderman, the New York attorney general. "Our lawsuit against Actavis sends a clear message: Drug companies cannot illegally prioritize profits over patients." The case involves a practice called product hopping where brand name manufacturers make a slight alteration to their prescription drug (PDF) and engage in marketing efforts to shift consumers from the old version to the new to insulate the drug company from generic competition for several years. For its part Actavis argued that an injunction would be "unprecedented and extraordinary" and would cause the company "great financial harm, including unnecessary manufacturing and marketing costs." Namenda has been a big seller. In the last fiscal year, the drug generated $1.5 billion in sales. The drug costs about $300 a month.

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Facebook Drops Bing Search Results

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 4:15am
New submitter mrflash818 writes Facebook has dumped search results from Microsoft's Bing after the social networking giant earlier this week launched its own tool for finding comments and other information. According to Reuters, Facebook confirmed the move Friday. TechCrunch, drawing on the same Reuters story as VentureBeat, says "The report says that Facebook’s new search tool will give users the ability to filter through old comments and other information from friends. Facebook has been building out its search products for a long time, using Bing as an extra layer to provide results beyond the Interest Graph in an effort to avoid letting rival Google into the system."

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Proposed Theme Park Would Put BBC Shows On Display

Sun, 12/14/2014 - 1:50am
According to the Guardian, a "developing deal" for a theme park located in Kent could transform various BBC shows into Disney-style in-person experiences. Says the article: BBC Worldwide, the commercial arm of the BBC, has struck a deal with a Kuwait-backed property developer to allow a range of its programmes and characters to be “brought to life” at a new £2bn theme park and holiday resort to be built by the Thames estuary in north Kent, in partnership with Paramount Pictures. London Resort Company Holdings has signed a development agreement with BBC Worldwide to feature the corporation’s intellectual property at the London Paramount Entertainment Resort, which promises to “combine the glamour of Hollywood with the best of British culture." Shows named include Top Gear, Sherlock, and Dr. Who; I think I'd rather visit a theme park that was entirely based on Monty Python's Flying Circus, but a Top Gear racetrack or simulator would be fun.

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OpenMotics Offers Open Source (and Open Hardware) Home Automation

Sat, 12/13/2014 - 10:09pm
Home automation is a recurring topic around here; we've had stories about X-10-based home-brewed systems, a protocol designed for automation, and more than a few Ask Slashdots. Now, an anonymous reader writes OpenMotics is an open source home automation hardware and software system that offers features like switching lights and outputs, multi-zone heating and cooling, power measurements, and automated actions. The system encompasses both open source software and hardware. For interoperability with other systems, the OpenMotics Gateway provides an API through which various actions can be executed. The project was open sourced 2 years ago and was started about 10 years. The choice to open source the project was very conscious: we want to offer a system where users are in full control over their home automation system.

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The Shale Boom Won't Stop Climate Change; It Could Make It Worse

Sat, 12/13/2014 - 7:18pm
Lasrick writes Energy expert H-Holger Rogner walks through the realities of the shale-gas boom, the 'game-changer' that has brought about a drop in energy prices and greatly reduced carbon emissions. But despite the positive impact on carbon emissions, Rogner points out that the cheap gas brought about by fracking shale may already be affecting investments into renewable energy, nuclear energy, and energy efficiency by offering more attractive investment opportunities: 'At today's prices of $4 to $5 per million British thermal units, gas-fired electricity holds a definite competitive advantage over new nuclear construction and unsubsidized renewables.' But natural gas is still a fossil fuel that emits carbon dioxide. 'A much higher share of natural gas in the energy mix would eventually raise emissions again, especially if gas not only displaces coal but also non-fossil energy sources. Moreover, methane, the chief component of natural gas, is itself a heat-trapping greenhouse gas with 25 times the warming effect of carbon dioxide. If total methane leakage—from drilling through end use—is greater than about 4 percent, that could negate any climate benefits of switching from coal and oil to gas.'

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