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Updated: 20 hours 57 min ago

Apple Yanks iOS 8 Update

Wed, 24/09/2014 - 20:27
alphadogg writes Within hours of releasing an iOS 8 update to address assorted bugs in the new iPhone and iPad operating system Apple has been forced to pull the patch, which itself was causing iPhone 6 and 6 Plus users grief. Reports filled Apple support forums that the iOS 8 update was cutting off users' cell service and making Touch ID inoperable. The Wall Street Journal received this statement from Apple: "We have received reports of an issue with the iOS 8.0.1 update. We are actively investigating these reports and will provide information as quickly as we can. In the meantime we have pulled back the iOS 8.0.1 update."

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Seattle Passes Laws To Keep Residents From Wasting Food

Wed, 24/09/2014 - 19:42
schwit1 writes The new rules would allow garbage collectors to inspect trash cans and ticket offending parties if food and compostable material makes up 10 percent or more of the trash. The fines will begin at $1 for residents and $50 for businesses and apartment buildings. "SPU doesn’t expect to collect many fines, says Tim Croll, the agency’s solid-waste director. The city outlawed recyclable items from the trash nine years ago, but SPU has collected less than $2,000 in fines since then, Croll says. 'The point isn’t to raise revenue,' he said. 'We care more about reminding people to separate their materials.'"

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Stanford Promises Not To Use Google Money For Privacy Research

Wed, 24/09/2014 - 18:57
An anonymous reader writes Stanford University has pledged not to use money from Google to fund privacy research at its Center for Internet and Society — a move that critics claim poses a threat to academic freedom. The center has long been generously funded by Google but its privacy research has proved damaging to the search giant as of late. Just two years ago, a researcher at the center helped uncover Google privacy violations that led to the company paying a record $22.5 million fine. In 2011-2012, the center's privacy director helped lead a project to create a "Do Not Track" standard. The effort, not supported by Google, would have made it harder for advertisers to track what people do online, and likely would have cut into Google's ad revenue. Both Stanford and Google say the change in funding was unrelated to the previous research.

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Remote Exploit Vulnerability Found In Bash

Wed, 24/09/2014 - 18:12
kdryer39 sends this news from CSO: A remotely exploitable vulnerability has been discovered by Stephane Chazelas in bash on Linux, and it is unpleasant. The vulnerability has the CVE identifier CVE-2014-6271. This affects Debian as well as other Linux distributions. The major attack vectors that have been identified in this case are HTTP requests and CGI scripts. Another attack surface is OpenSSH through the use of AcceptEnv variables. Also through TERM and SSH_ORIGINAL_COMMAND. An environmental variable with an arbitrary name can carry a nefarious function which can enable network exploitation.

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Mangalyaan Successfully Put Into Mars Orbit

Wed, 24/09/2014 - 06:00
knwny writes: India's Mars satellite Mangalyaan was successfully placed into orbit around Mars early on Wednesday following a 10-month journey from Earth. India thus joins the U.S., the European Space Agency and the former Soviet Union in having successfully completed a Mars mission. It is, however, the only one to have done so on the first attempt. Headed by the Indian space agency ISRO, Mangalyaan was made in 15 months at a cost of just around 74 million USD — the cheapest inter-planetary mission ever to be undertaken.

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Popular Wi-Fi Thermostat Full of Security Holes

Wed, 24/09/2014 - 05:20
Threatpost reports: Heatmiser, a U.K.-based manufacturer of digital thermostats, is contacting its customers today about a series of security issues that could expose a Wi-Fi-connected version of its product to takeover. Andrew Tierney, a "reverse-engineer by night," whose specialty is digging up bugs in embedded systems wrote on his blog, that he initially read about vulnerabilities in another one of the company's products, NetMonitor, and decided to poke around its product line further. This led him to discover a slew of issues in the company's Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats running firmware version 1.2. The issues range from simple security missteps to critical oversights.For example, when users go to connect the thermostat via a Windows utility, it uses default web credentials and PINs. ...Elsewhere, the thermostat leaks Wi-Fi credentials, like its password, username, Service Set Identifier (SSID) and so on, when its logged in. Related: O'Reilly Radar has an interesting conversation about what companies will vie for control of the internet-of-things ecosystem.

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Fukushima Radiation Still Poisoning Insects

Wed, 24/09/2014 - 03:10
sciencehabit writes: Eating food contaminated with radioactive particles may be more perilous than previously thought — at least for insects. Butterfly larvae fed even slightly tainted leaves collected near the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station were more likely to suffer physical abnormalities and low survival rates than those fed uncontaminated foliage, a new study finds. The research suggests that the environment in the Fukushima region, particularly in areas off-limits to humans because of safety concerns, will remain dangerous for wildlife for some time. In other lingering radiation news, reader Rambo Tribble writes: Forest detritus, contaminated in the aftermath of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster (abstract), is decaying at a much slower rate than normal, building up and creating a significant fire risk. This, in turn, is creating a real potential for the residual radioactive material to be distributed, through smoke, over a broad area of Europe and Russia. Looking at different possible fire intensities, researchers speculate, "20 to 240 people would likely develop cancer, of which 10 to 170 cases may be fatal." These figures are similar to those hypothesized for Fukushima.

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Debian Switching Back To GNOME As the Default Desktop

Wed, 24/09/2014 - 01:03
An anonymous reader writes: Debian will switch back to using GNOME as the default desktop environment for the upcoming Debian 8.0 Jessie release, due out in 2015. The decision is based on accessibility and systemd integration, along with a host of other reasons. Debian switched away from GNOME back in 2012 .

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Now That It's Private, Dell Targets High-End PCs, Tablets

Wed, 24/09/2014 - 00:22
jfruh writes: If Dell has a reputation in the PC market, it's as the company that got low-end PCs to customers cheaply. But after the great drama of founder Michael Dell taking the company private, the company is following a new path, adding higher-quality (and more expensive) products like the Venue 8 7000, the thinnest tablet on the market today, to its lineup. One analyst notes that "Because they are no longer reporting to Wall Street, they can be more competitive."

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PayPal Integrates Bitcoin Processors BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 23:40
An anonymous reader writes: PayPal today announced partnerships with three major Bitcoin payment processors: BitPay, Coinbase and GoCoin. The eBay-owned company wants to help digital goods merchants accept Bitcoin payments, although it is starting with those located in the U.S. and Canada first ("We are considering expanding to other markets," a PayPal spokesperson told TNW. "Stay tuned.") PayPal says it chose to integrate the third-party functionality directly in the PayPal Payments Hub because the aforementioned trio already offers its customers protections when dealing with the virtual currency. The company envisions anything that can be obtained digitally, such as video games and music, being sold in Bitcoin.

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Apple's TouchID Fingerprint Scanner: Still Hackable

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 22:58
electronic convict writes: A year ago, security researcher Marc Rogers demonstrated how to spoof the TouchID sensor in the iPhone 5S using some Elmer's glue and glycerol — oh, and a high resolution camera and a laser printer. Has TouchID security improved at all on the iPhone 6? Not really, Rogers reports in his latest post, in which he again hacks the iPhone 6's TouchID sensors using the same method as before. "Fake fingerprints created using my previous technique were able to readily fool both devices [the 6 and the 5S]," he reports. Rogers, however, says there's no reason to panic, as the attack requires substantial skill, patience and a good clear fingerprint. As he writes: "We use locks on our doors to keep criminals out not because they are perfect, but because they are both convenient and effective enough to meet most traditional threats."

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Study Links Pacific Coastal Warming To Changing Winds

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 22:15
tranquilidad writes: In a paper published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, two authors ascribe the majority of northeast pacific coastal warming to natural atmospheric circulation and not to anthropogenic forcing. In AP's reporting, Ken Caldeira, an atmospheric scientist with the Carnegie Institution for Science, says the paper's authors, "...have not established the causes of these atmospheric pressure variations. Thus, claims that the observed temperature increases are due primarily to 'natural' processes are suspect and premature, at best." The paper's authors, on the other hand, state, "...clearly, there are other factors stronger than the greenhouse forcing that is affecting...temperatures," and that there is a "surprising degree to which the winds can explain all the wiggles in the temperature curve."

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Sci-fi Predictions, True and False (Video 1)

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 21:33
Science fiction is the domain of predicting future technology. But we rarely stop to account for which predictions come true, which don't, and which are fulfilled in... unexpected ways. A panel at the recent science fiction convention in Detroit explored this subject in depth, from Star Trek's communicators to nanotech and cloning. Panelists include writer and forensic science expert Jen Haeger; professor and generally fascinating guy Brian Gray; and expert in Aeronautical Management and 20-year veteran of the Air Force Douglas Johnson. In this video, they run down a list of science fiction predictions, both successful and unsuccessful, and evaluate how realistic or far-fetched each now seems.

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Phablet Reviews: Before and After the iPhone 6

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 14:36
Velcroman1 writes Bigger is better. No, wait, bigger is worse. Well, which is it? Apple's newly supersized 4.7-inch iPhone 6 and the jumbo, 5.5-inch iPhone 6 Plus are a marked departure for the company, which has clung to the same, small screen size for years. It has gone so far as to publicly deride larger phones from competitors, notably Samsung, even as their sales grew to record highs. Tech reviewers over the years have tended to side with Apple, in general saddling reviews of the Samsung Galaxy Note – a 5.3-inch device that kicked off the phablet push in 2012 – with asides about how big the darn thing was. Are tech reviewers being fair when they review the iPhone 6 Plus? Here's what some of them said today, compared with how they reviewed earlier phablets and big phones from the competition.

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US Strikes ISIL Targets In Syria

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 13:55
Taco Cowboy writes The United States of America has launched airstrikes, along with some of its Arab partners such as Jordan, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Qatar, against ISIL targets in Syria. ... Before the airstrike was officially announced to the press, a Syrian man living in Raqqa, Syria, tweeted about the bombings and the sounds of air drones all over Raqqa. ... Tomahawk missiles were launched from USS Arleigh Burke in the Red Sea. Stealth fighters such as F-22s were also involved in the strike.

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Do Specs Matter Anymore For the Average Smartphone User?

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 13:14
ourlovecanlastforeve writes: While reviewing a recent comparison of the Nexus 5 and the iPhone 6, OSNews staffer Thom Holwerda raises some relevant points regarding the importance of specs on newer smartphones. He observes that the iPhone 6, which is brand new, and the Nexus 5 launch apps at about the same speed. Yes, they're completely different platforms and yes, it's true it's probably not even a legitimate comparison, but it does raise a point: Most people who use smartphones on a daily basis use them for pretty basic things such as checking email, casual web browsing, navigation and reminders. Those who use their phones to their maximum capacity for things like gaming are a staunch minority. Do smartphone specs even matter for the average smartphone user anymore? After everyone releases the biggest phone people can reasonably hold in their hand with a processor and GPU that can move images on the display as optimally as possible, how many other moons are there to shoot for?

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Anonymous Peer-review Comments May Spark Legal Battle

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 10:15
sciencehabit writes: The power of anonymous comments — and the liability of those who make them — is at the heart of a possible legal battle embroiling PubPeer, an online forum launched in October 2012 for anonymous, postpublication peer review. A researcher who claims that comments on PubPeer caused him to lose a tenured faculty job offer now intends to press legal charges against the person or people behind these posts — provided he can uncover their identities, his lawyer says.

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CIA Tested Primitive Chatbots For Interrogation In the 1980s

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 07:18
New submitter ted_pikul writes: Newly declassified documents reveal that, 30 years ago, the CIA pitted one of its own agents against an artificial intelligence interrogator in an attempt to see whether or not the technology would be useful. The documents, written in 1983, describe a series of experimental tests (PDF) in which the CIA repeatedly interrogated its own agent using a primitive AI called Analiza. The intelligence on display in the transcript is clearly undeveloped, and seems to contain a mixed bag of predetermined threats made to goad interrogation subjects into spilling their secrets as well as open-ended lines of questioning.

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DuckDuckGo Now Blocked In China

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 05:22
wabrandsma sends this news from Tech In Asia: Privacy-oriented search engine DuckDuckGo is now blocked in China. On Sunday DuckDuckGo founder and CEO Gabriel Weinberg confirmed to Tech in Asia that the team has noticed the blockage in China on Twitter. DuckDuckGo had been working fine in mainland China since its inception, aside from the occasional 'connection reset' experienced when accessing many overseas websites from within the country. But now the search engine is totally blocked in China. ... [T]he GreatFire index of blocked sites suggest that DuckDuckGo got whacked on September 4. DuckDuckGo joins Google in being censored and blocked in the nation. Google, after years of being throttled by China's Great Firewall since the web giant turned off its mainland China servers in 2010, was finally blocked totally in June this year.

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US Revamping Its Nuclear Arsenal

Tue, 23/09/2014 - 03:19
FreedomFirstThenPeac writes: As a former Cold Warrior (both launch officer side and staff analytical mathematician side), I now appreciate the bitterness I saw in former WW2 warriors when they would see a Japanese car. According to the NY Times, a new assembly plant in Kansas is "part of a nationwide wave of atomic revitalization that includes plans for a new generation of weapon carriers. This expansion comes under a president who campaigned for 'a nuclear-free world' and made disarmament a main goal of American defense policy." Mind you, Mutual Assured Destruction is a dangerous path, and one we managed to negotiate only because we were lucky (and we were) and because we were careful (and we were). As a strategy, it only works with rational people (e.g., world powers with lots to lose) who might have irrational expectations that they will win in the long run. (The rapid fall of imperialist Russia was helpful — I have seen blackboard talks on this as a mathematical result in game theory. This speed minimized the time we spent in the high-risk regions while transiting from MAD to where we were in the 1990s). The Times article says, "The original idea was that modest rebuilding of the nation’s crumbling nuclear complex would speed arms refurbishment, raising confidence in the arsenal’s reliability and paving the way for new treaties that would significantly cut the number of warheads. Instead, because of political deals and geopolitical crises, the Obama administration is engaging in extensive atomic rebuilding while getting only modest arms reductions in return."

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