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Mysterious, Phony Cell Towers Found Throughout US

Wed, 03/09/2014 - 03:01
Trachman writes: Popular Science magazine recently published an article about a network of cell towers owned not by telecommunication companies but by unknown third parties. Many of them are built around U.S. military bases. "Interceptors vary widely in expense and sophistication – but in a nutshell, they are radio-equipped computers with software that can use arcane cellular network protocols and defeat the onboard encryption. ... Some interceptors are limited, only able to passively listen to either outgoing or incoming calls. But full-featured devices like the VME Dominator, available only to government agencies, can not only capture calls and texts, but even actively control the phone, sending out spoof texts, for example."

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You Got Your Windows In My Linux

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 23:17
snydeq writes: Ultimately, the schism over systemd could lead to a separation of desktop and server distros, or Linux server admins moving to FreeBSD, writes Deep End's Paul Venezia. "Although there are those who think the systemd debate has been decided in favor of systemd, the exceedingly loud protests on message boards, forums, and the posts I wrote over the past two weeks would indicate otherwise. I've seen many declarations of victory for systemd, now that Red Hat has forced it into the enterprise with the release of RHEL 7. I don't think it's that easy. ... Go ahead, kids, spackle over all of that unsightly runlevel stuff. Paint over init and cron, pam and login. Put all of that into PID1 along with dbus. Make it all pretty and whisper sweet nothings about how it's all taken care of and you won't have to read a manual or learn any silly command-line stuff. Tune your distribution for desktop workloads. Go reinvent Windows."

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NATO Set To Ratify Joint Defense For Cyberattacks

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 19:02
An anonymous reader writes: At the upcoming NATO meeting, according to the NY Times, the 28 member states are expected to ratify "a far-reaching change in the organization's mission of collective defense: For the first time, a cyberattack on any of the 28 NATO nations could be declared an attack on all of them, much like a ground invasion or an airborne bombing." A former NATO ambassador describes NATO's technological capability as "pretty basic" and suggests any counter-cyberattacks would likely be lodged by member states (meaning the U.S. and maybe Britain). He opines, "It's a measure of how far we've come on this issue that there's now a consensus that a cyberattack could be as devastating as any other kind of attack, maybe even more so." Helpfully, the agreement avoids defining what sort of "cyberattack" would warrant an armed response. The Times describes the agreement as "deliberately unclear."

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Ask Slashdot: the State of Free Video Editing Tools?

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 18:20
New submitter Shadow99_1 writes I used to do a lot of video editing (a few years ago, at an earlier job) and at that time I used Adobe Premiere. Now a few years later I'm looking to start doing some video editing for my own personal use, but I have a limited budget that pretty well excludes even thinking about buying a copy of Adobe Premiere. So I ask slashdot: What is the state of free (as in beer or as in open source) video editing tools? In my case... I support a windows environment at work and so it's primarily what I use at home. I am also using a camcorder that uses flash cards to record onto, so for me I need a platform that supports reading flash cards. So that is my focus but feel free to discuss video editing on all platforms. I've been looking forward to the Kickstarted upgrade to OpenShot; based on the project's latest update, early versions of an installer should start appearing soon. Video editing is a big endeavor, though, and ambitious announcements and slipped schedules both seem to be the norm: an open-source version of Lightworks was announced back in 2010. Some lighter open-source options include Pitivi (raising funds to get to version 1.0) and Kdenlive, also in active development (most recent release was in mid-May). Pitiviti's site links to a sobering illustration about many of the shorter- and longer-lived projects in this area.

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Code.org Discloses Top Donors

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 16:21
theodp (442580) writes "Under the leadership of Code.org, explained the ACM, it joined CSTA, NCWIT, NSF, Microsoft and Google in an effort "to reshape the U.S. education system," including passing a federal law making Computer Science a "core subject" in schools. If you're curious about whose money helped fuel the effort, Code.org's Donors page now lists those who gave $25,000+ to $3,000,000+ to the K-12 CS cause (the nonprofit plans to raise $20-30 million for 2015-16 operations). Microsoft is at the top of the list as a Platinum Supporter ($3,000,000+), while Bill Gates is Gold ($1,000,000+), and Steve Ballmer is Silver ($500,000+). Interestingly, six of Code.org's ten biggest donors are also Founders of Mark Zuckerberg's FWD.us tech immigration reform PAC."

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In Maryland, a Soviet-Style Punishment For a Novelist

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 15:42
An anonymous reader writes A 23-year-old teacher at a Cambridge, Md. middle school has been placed on leave and—in the words of a local news report — "taken in for an emergency medical evaluation" for publishing, under a pseudonym, a novel about a school shooting. The novelist, Patrick McLaw, an eighth-grade language-arts teacher at the Mace's Lane Middle School, was placed on leave by the Dorchester County Board of Education, and is being investigated by the Dorchester County Sheriff's Office, according to news reports from Maryland's Eastern Shore. The novel, by the way, is set 900 years in the future."

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Low-Carb Diet Trumps Low-Fat Diet In Major New Study

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 13:12
An anonymous reader writes: The NY Times reports on a new study (abstract) showing that low-carb diets have better health benefits than low-fat diets in a test without calorie restrictions. "By the end of the yearlong trial, people in the low-carbohydrate group had lost about eight pounds more on average than those in the low-fat group. They had significantly greater reductions in body fat than the low-fat group, and improvements in lean muscle mass — even though neither group changed their levels of physical activity. While the low-fat group did lose weight, they appeared to lose more muscle than fat. They actually lost lean muscle mass, which is a bad thing,' Dr. Mozaffarian said. 'Your balance of lean mass versus fat mass is much more important than weight. And that's a very important finding that shows why the low-carb, high-fat group did so metabolically well.' ... In the end, people in the low-carbohydrate group saw markers of inflammation and triglycerides — a type of fat that circulates in the blood — plunge. Their HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, rose more sharply than it did for people in the low-fat group. Blood pressure, total cholesterol and LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, stayed about the same for people in each group."

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Researchers Say Neanderthals Created Cave Art

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 10:00
An anonymous reader writes with news of a study that suggests an engraving in Gorham's Cave in Gibraltar was made by Neanderthals more than 39,000 years ago. Belying their reputation as the dumb cousins of early modern humans, Neanderthals created cave art, an activity regarded as a major cognitive step in the evolution of humankind, scientists reported on Monday in a paper describing the first discovery of artwork by this extinct species. The discovery is "a major contribution to the redefinition of our perception of Neanderthal culture," said prehistorian William Rendu of the French National Centre for Scientific Research, who was not involved in the work. "It is a new and even stronger evidence of the Neanderthal capacity for developing complex symbolic thought" and "abstract expression," abilities long believed exclusive to early modern humans.

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Finland's Nuclear Plant Start Delayed Again

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 07:08
mdsolar writes with news about further delays to Finland's Olkiluoto 3 nuclear reactor. "Areva-Siemens, the consortium building Finland's biggest nuclear reactor, said on Monday the start date of the much delayed project will be pushed back to late 2018 — almost a decade later than originally planned. Areva-Siemens blamed disagreements with its client Teollisuuden Voima (TVO) over the plant's automation system, the latest blow for a project that has been hit by repeated delays, soaring costs and disputes. "The delays are because the planning of the plant has taken needlessly long," Jouni Silvennoinen, TVO's project head, told Reuters on Monday. "We haven't examined the supplier's detailed schedules yet, but our preliminary view is that we could do better (than 2018)."

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Hidden Obstacles For Delivery Drones

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 03:04
An anonymous reader writes: A few days ago we talked over some of the difficulties faced by makers of autonomous car software, like dealing with weather, construction, and parking garages. Today, the NY Times has a similar article about delivery drones, examining the safety and regulatory problems that must be solved in addition to getting the basic technology ready. "[R]researchers at NASA are working on ways to manage that menagerie of low-flying aircraft. At NASA's Moffett Field, about four miles from Google's headquarters in Mountain View, Calif., the agency has been developing a drone traffic management program that would in effect be a separate air traffic control system for things that fly low to the ground — around 400 to 500 feet for most drones. Much like the air traffic control system for conventional aircraft, the program would monitor the skies for weather and traffic. Wind is a particular hazard, because drones weigh so little compared with regular planes." Beyond that, the sheer scale of infrastructure necessary to get drone delivery up and running in cities across the U.S. is staggering. Commercial drones aren't going to have much range, particularly when carrying something heavy. They'll be noisy, and the products they're transporting will still need to be relatively close by. What other issues do Amazon, DHL, Google, and other need to solve?

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Hackers Behind Biggest-Ever Password Theft Begin Attacks

Tue, 02/09/2014 - 01:01
An anonymous reader writes Back in August, groups of Russian hackers assembled the biggest list of compromised login credentials ever seen: 1.2 billion accounts. Now, domain registrar Namecheap reports the hackers have begun using the list to try and access accounts. "Overnight, our intrusion detection systems alerted us to a much higher than normal load against our login systems. ... The group behind this is using the stored usernames and passwords to simulate a web browser login through fake browser software. This software simulates the actual login process a user would use if they are using Firefox/Safari/Chrome to access their Namecheap account. The hackers are going through their username/password list and trying each and every one to try and get into Namecheap user accounts." They report that most login attempts are failing, but some are succeeding. Now is a good time to check that none of your important accounts share passwords.

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Tox, a Skype Replacement Built On 'Privacy First'

Mon, 01/09/2014 - 23:59
An anonymous reader writes: Rumors of back door access to Skype have plagued the communication software for the better part of a decade. Even if it's not true, Skype is owned by Microsoft, which is beholden to data requests from law enforcement. Because of these issues, a group of developers started work on Tox, which aims to rebuild the functionality of Skype with an emphasis on privacy. "The main thing the Tox team is trying to do, besides provide encryption, is create a tool that requires no central servers whatsoever—not even ones that you would host yourself. It relies on the same technology that BitTorrent uses to provide direct connections between users, so there's no central hub to snoop on or take down."

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The Passenger Pigeon: A Century of Extinction

Mon, 01/09/2014 - 13:13
An anonymous reader writes On September 1, 1914, Martha, the last passenger pigeon was found dead in her aviary at the Cincinnati Zoo. When the first European settlers arrived in North America at least one of every four birds on the continent was a passenger pigeon, making them the most numerous birds in North America, and perhaps in the world. From the article: "But extinction apparently doesn't ring with the finality it used to. Researchers are working to 'de-extinct' the bird. They got their hands on some of the 1,500 or so known passenger pigeon specimens and are hoping to resurrect the species through some Jurassic Park-like genetic engineering. Instead of using frog DNA to fill out the missing parts of a dinosaur's genetic code as in Michael Crichton's story, the real-life 'bring-back-the-passenger pigeon' researchers are using the bird's closest relative, the band-tailed pigeon.

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